Monday, August 25, 2014


This week, I carved the signs of the zodiac.
[a voice of reason asks:] "The whole thing?"
 - Yes, the whole thing (oy.)












 These are small (but mighty ;)) - 1.75" in diameter (my fingers show the scale and a preparatory drawing).

I know I said I was going to slow down on carving (cough, cough, denial, cough, cough), but then, I got new tools... a little self-bribery was necessary to get through week 3 of the phase 4 block project, and I promised myself some new tools when I finished the project...

Up to now, I've been using mostly very inexpensive (i.e. costing less than a fancy cup of coffee) tools. They've served me well, but I was running into problems in the finer, more delicate areas. My new beauuuutiful, Japanese tiny tools and sharpening stone arrived Monday, and I couldn't help myself - I just had to see what they could do...

I worked on some other pieces and had additional art adventures this week, but right now, I'm so happy that I met my personal goal of finishing (and printing, and photographing) these this week, that I'm going to take a break (and possibly a nap ;))...

Monday, August 18, 2014

phase 5 - have the fortitude to try again

The adventure continues with a busy art week!
Starting to come together...
Last week and early in the week I made this - blue birds of happiness -  as a gift for one of my favorite people. 

I started in plenty of time...I'm especially proud that I matched the background color almost perfectly with color pencil between the buildings and branches (gold star!). It was all going on time and according to plan (haha - uh oh ;) )...but then I decided it really needed the bird with it's wing outstretched...and flowers... I guess I'm still working on fully integrating one of the main conclusions of Tempus Fugit: Things take longer than I think they will. (I was right about the additions though ;)).

Part of the reason is that I usually don't get art things quite right the first try. (I composed, photographed, then decided that it needed different/ more elements). I think this is one of the great things about block prints and collage is that I get to try again (and again, and again ;) Also, as much as I wanted it to be ready on time, I have learned some things from the past - like not rush the varnish! 

I also made this to hang on my wall. 
That's right, Tatiana has learned to use glue and a bone fold! :P
This is my city print cut out and collaged onto a heavier weight of the same color paper
- making it look as if I pulled an extremely sharp and clean print
(or "using the skills I have to fake the ones I don't" ;)  )
As much as I told myself I was going to rest a little and not carve as much for a little while - I was lying (fortitude!)

I made another parrot. It's sort of an inverse but with a variation. With biological things, I think a pure mirror image has a different meaning beyond a change in position, so I modified it subtly - the head is tilted more and the neck a little more extended.

I do looooove parrots

I tried printing with white on toned paper. The blue one turned out best...
may try again on darker papers (fortitude!)
Working with the theme for phase 5 - have the fortitude to try again...
I feel like my blocks are better now than they were 6 months (or even 6 weeks :) ) ago, but I was having trouble pinpointing the exact reason until I realized that there may be multiple factors. So I did an experiment ('cause it's what we do :) ):

#1 Materials
This is the bunny block from this winter. On the left is a print from February, on the right, from this week. I haven't changed the block in any way, the difference comes purely from the change in paper and ink:

The finer marks are showing up better now. On the one hand, the materials are doing the heavy lifting in this improvement, but I feel I played a part in recognizing that this was a better block than it was originally printing and seeking out advice on the ink and paper choices from printmakers who are much more knowledgeable than I am

#2 Refinement 
On the left is the frog print without any drawing, on right with added gray, white and gold ink. It took me a while to figure out how to finish these. To me, the added drawing makes a difference, and I like that it makes each one unique (though it also means that they aren't technically "prints" anymore.) I've given this some thought and decided I'm ok with that because I'm more focused on how it looks than what it's called. I may never be a real printmaker, more like "an artist who uses prints," - it's all good :).

#3 Carving 
Lastly, I think some of it is just trying to be better at carving the blocks. The one on the left is from last month and the one on the right from this week. It's subtle, but I think the light is a little better in the one on the right and there is a greater variety in size and shape of the marks. With the mini-project, I felt like what I needed to get better at carving was to take some time to make lots and lots blocks, and I think spending that concentrated time has helped (...though, now that it's complete, I want to raise the bar for the next project...)

In para-art news:
Spontaneous still life (seriously!, Haha)
 I had the skull out to teach a portraiture
class and the rose is from my garden.
And, naturally, all is within the domain of my Feline Assistant 
My lovely feline assistants and plants seem particularly happy lately. Some shots from my yard (spreading the love :) )

Monday, August 11, 2014

birds, birds, birds

3 new bird prints with ink and color pencil
printing, printing, printing...adding the 3 new blocks to the 2 from mini-project, varying the shade of blue paper and dark blue ink to equal: "my, that's a lot of blue birds!"

preparing the block of their future home - drawing in ballpoint pen on toned linoleum

getting a feel for how it might start to come together.
On the one hand, I carved fewer blocks this week than during the mini project (3 1/2 instead of 6), but also, I took the next step beyond proofing to print and refine final versions.

There's a good bit of drawing in these, and with the variation in color of the ink and paper, no two are alike. I'm getting excited about seeing them all together (steeples fingers - yes, soon now, very soon...)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

mini project inventory and scavenger hunt!

So now that the mini-project (6 blocks a week for a month -> 25 blocks) is complete...time to index the blocks so I can start building my archive of blocks (whahaha!)

For those interested in archiving, the code in the left column, ordered general to specific is:

B (for block) - What is it?
2014 - When is it? 
##- Which is it?
M (for mini-project) - Why is it?

To help me stay motivated, I added a column on the right of a photo scavenger hunt of "things in my house that show up in the blocks."

I think this is pretty funny - a lot of my inspiration comes from things I encounter everyday It's sort of like Freud's concept of "dream work," where the subconscious uses what's on hand in recent memory to make images for dreams; except, for art, the things I have on hand are not random. I chose what to have close, so its more circular - it starts with an idea and loops back around to the idea that already exists (hmmm.)

idea - material representation - art representation - idea
(and because I love color coded charts ;) ...)

Inventory of Mini-Project blocks with inspirations:

Monday, August 4, 2014

phase 4 - block printing mini project, complete!

Mini block project - complete!
6 blocks a week for a month, 25 blocks total
New this week - the 25th and final block.
 Steps along the way:

drawing - ballpoint pen on linoleum block
brown marker over the face so the removed
material is visible. Carving from large
marks to small

blue marker added to get an idea which lines
will print
proof and then corrections

close up of the neck
I also started to test out some color ink and different color paper
testing out some ideas of ways to use the prints
 Though the mini project is complete, I continue to add blocks. 

This week was the submission deadline for the 125th Annual Members' exhibition of the National Association of Women Artists. I wanted to send the owl print...but then I got to thinking (uh oh) - wouldn't it look better if the leaves had just a little bit of color...(so I reprinted them on maps); then...the owl needs a little more drawing in it, and wouldn't it look great if there were a little city in the background - like a Nuremberg Chronicle version of New York? (Yes... sigh).

A Nuremberg-Chronicl-esque version of New York featuring the Empire State building from
one of my photos.
As we see, I ended up remaking the entire piece...yes, I too find myself irritating sometimes.
old version


with added gray, black and white and 3 different golds
the spaces between the buildings are "filled in" with drawing to match the marbling of the paper in the background
maps and text used as the paper
I think it's better now, and I got it in with all its paper work in time (I think - fingers crossed!).

I also went to figure drawing, where I did ok, but was a little slow

In truth, I am very tired.

20 minutes
20 minutes