Monday, September 29, 2014

phase 5 - have the fortitude to try again (and again, and again ;) )

Is there such a thing as too many (art) parrots?
New Parrot Collage this week 30 x 20" :)
new blocks this week
one of my favorite plants was inspirational
A busy art week here in Artlandia! Focusing on phase 5 and trying again, I'd been thinking that one challenging aspect of this one is that it involves an additional layer of judgement - asking what has changed or could change to make trying again a good idea? I made more parrots (more parrots!?!), with a few changes. 

Looking at my lovely plant and seeing how each flower is a slightly different color - I got to thinking how, even though they come from a block, I want each parrot to be unique and un-reproducible. 
Progression L to R: proof - 1) black ink on gray paper, 2) purple ink on regular toned paper, 3) purple ink on marbled paper,
4) purple ink on marbled paper with gold, black, and white ink and gray color pencil
First, after proofing in black ink on gray paper, I switched to a purple gray ink so that I could vary the color slightly with each print and to leave room to add accents by hand in black. 
Then, I decided to try marbling pink paper (yes - pink(!) the one color that is "not my favorite," haha, but it's been on my mind, and I wanted to use this beautiful lime green and gold paper in the background, and I couldn't stop thinking that pink, as the complement of lime, is the right fit...[but re-focusing!]...) The unique patterning of the paper makes each parrot unique and and the organic pattern contrasts well with the manufactured, repeating pattern of the background (thumbs up!)
no drawing left, with drawing on right
left regular toned paper
right marbled paper 

trying to capture the reflection in the eyes in raking light
Lastly, I drew on top of the print with white, black, and gold ink and gray color pencil to add depth and make the eyes react to the light (so the eyes change as the viewer moves in a creepy-yet-wonderful way ;) ).

Carving, marbling, reprinting, and drawing on for these was pretty consuming, and while I wasn't looking the doubt monster crept in and started asking me if all these changes really make a difference that's recognizable to (non-art-parrot-obsessed) others?

Hard to vanquish the doubt monster, (hence all the process photos this week - evidence!) I think the the changes are subtle, but they add up.

[Uh oh - about to indulge my love of similes: ] I think that maybe it's like tires - I know almost nothing about cars/tires. I wouldn't recognize nice ones vs. not as nice from a group, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't enjoy riding in a nice car with the nice tires on it.

Just like I can enjoy a nice car ride without knowing the details of which tires are the best, my hope is that people will look at these and, though the details of marbling the paper or mixing the ink might not stand out or be of interest, they'll feel the individuality of each bird.
example of expanding./ building the tree

And then there's the tree... which is made up from 5 versions of the same block, cut up and reassembled.
The small negative spaces are added with color pencil to match the background.

filling in small areas to create negative space.
The metal circle is a magnet - another exciting development this week!
 I arranged this on a magnetic white board so I could move all the pieces  
without taping them down - it was like playing with
fancy fridge magnets - fun times!
When it was getting close to finished, I decided it needed a dirigible. This may seem kind of random, but air strikes were on my mind and it does something fun with the composition - the airborne object makes the pattern flip back and forth between showing a flat, wallpapered interior space to representing a decorative exterior background (like the gold/patterns in Medieval or Renaissance manuscripts/ altar pieces.)
as seen from the back - looks like
mentos (visual yum :) ).
this week - framed this small (7 x 5") parrot
from last November for exhibition:
Rock, Paper, Scissors: New York State Collage and Assemblage  
at the Greene County Council of the Arts Gallery 
Opening Oct. 11th

It was nice to revisit this piece and see how the idea -
block printed parrot in tree with patterned background, 
has grown and expanded over the past year.

But it wasn't all about parrots this week (though it kind was :P ). I started work on a modified accordion book for the zodiac prints using newly marbled gray paper on the covers.  Even though I've made books by myself before (during Power in Precision project weeks #24 and #34), it's been a while and, to be honest, I'm not this best book maker (I'm clumsy, messy, and terrible at measuring). But...fortitude!...I learned so much from Beth at the pop-up case book class that I decided to give it a shot (making templates so that I only have to measure correctly once - total game changer ;) ). It's not pristine, but I think it's still a pretty cute little object - like an awkward pre-teen of a book.

with the spine in - it opens like a traditional book

remover the spine and - magic! it's an accordion book

Haven't yet glued the pages to the covers or the prints to the pages,
but a preview of what it might look like complete :)

It's hard for me to believe sometimes, but it really does look like this -
 and there are bunnies, lots of bunnies,
 and deer, and chipmunks, and squirrels and birds, birds, birds
(but no parrots)
In para-art news - the Greenport Conservation Area is looking particularly lovely! 

I know - everyone thinks their cats are the cutest (as it should be), but I do really think my Feline Assistants have been particularly, extra, super adorable lately.
Looks like Jr. has picked up some of her big sister's mannerisms from following her around adoringly.

Monday, September 22, 2014

phase 5 - have the fortitude to try again (and again, and again ;) )

new collage! (!!) - 27 x 40"

I think it's funny how my flowers are almost the same color scheme
A very busy week here in Artlandia!
Got the collage together just in time to meet a submission deadline (fingers crossed!)
...but then I look at my studio covered in parts with
dozens of blocks out, and I sort of can believe it

I was feeling pretty tired and started wondering "how many blocks/pieces is this anyway?" (uh oh -will not be asking this again) It turns out, at my best count, to be 20 blocks and 42 pieces (oy! waaaaay more than I thought...)

My senior project included making a faux Medieval manuscript...
and lots and lots of practice writing script. 

carved  and printed the inverse raven this week - I think they were meant to be a pair.
 I've been calling them Huginn and Munin - Thought  to keep Memory company and vice versa.
On the left is the branch where I've used color pencil to
match the background, on the right is a branch with out toning
One thing I find surprising about this piece (in addition to the quantity of blocks/ pieces involved) is the way an efficient process (printmaking) became something excruciatingly inefficient - for example the gray in the background had to be matched and filled in around each piece because the background color is a different shade of gray than the prints. In overlapping objects the background was filled in to match - like filling in the tree branch around the ants or the paper tone around the city
[Self #1 asks Self #2: Why? Why.] all those little gaps in the crown are colored in to match?
O yes  (below my finger is toned, above is the background paper)

close up of the ants -  drawing around them so they
don't stand out from the trunk 
color matching the spaces between the buildings
with the pretty  marbled paper I made 3 weeks ago :)

I also made my first visit to Zea Mays Printmaking as a member ( :D!). I did an orientation and then printed, printed, printed. The final tally:

skulls 8
face 7
city 4
tree trunk 5
tree leaves 7
crown 3
plant heart leaves 3
ravens (R) 4
plant round leaves 3

and 5 "seconds" that I saved to test things out on.
Grand total: 44 good and 49 in all (whew!)

It's exciting to see how they turned out using a press instead of a spoon! And now what to do with them... ( Hmmmmmm :))

I wonder whether something like "Walk, Knave" could be an edition because of the amount of drawing and number of pieces? - I keep thinking of the number of blocks in things like the Triumphal Arch of Maximilian I (195), the Nuremberg Chronicle (645),or 19th French scenic wall paper (Zuber's archive is said to contain more than 100,000 blocks :o ) ...and I feel like I've only just started with the blocks...

In terms of phase 5 and trying again, even though the piece as a whole would be hard to reproduce, having the blocks made it easier to make changes and try again within the piece (like when: the ants need to be blue instead of red, the raven a shade purpler, the city printed in gray not black, etc...).

Sometimes, I find myself annoying.

Can't believe the leaves are starting to turn - I'll miss the flowers.
Luckily, the lovely feline assistants are here to help.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

phase 5 - fortitude!


(More comments Monday - hopefully I will be more eloquent by then (maybe?). This is due for submission tomorrow...onward to the paperwork [also tomorrow ;) ].

Monday, September 15, 2014

Phase 5 - have the fortitude to try again (and again)

The first part of the week was devoted to carving this:
(pats self on back)
 (creepy gold star for me ;) ) And lest there be any denial that carving it again was the right thing to do, here's a comparison of the skull from 8 weeks ago on the left and the skull from this past week on the right.
So what changed? New block material, new tools,additional studying of neck anatomy (yes, yes, yes)...but also, I think I may be becoming a better carver ( :) - the near-obsessive mini project, carving a block a day for a month actually worked!)

You would think this would make me happy, and it does in some ways. After I printed the skull, I was ecstatic... for about 15 minutes, then I curled into a ball on my floor and cried (mature, I know :p).  Possibly, I was just really tired, but also I proofed this on 9/11, and while I was worried about my family who were mid-air-travel, [which maybe wasn't the best idea in hindsight].

On the one hand, I improved (:) ), but to do it, I had to give it time and make it my focus, and that meant letting go of a lot other things, which has real world consequences and puts me on borrowed time (tick tock tick tock tick tock :( ). Every day I wake up all excited to make more blocks, but also anxious feeling like it can't last and afraid that the more I enjoy it, the harder it will be when I have to give it up.

Which brings me  to the big piece I'm working on... (drama, doom, and gloom - hurray!)

The text "Walk, knave, walk" is from a poem - Samuel Butler's Hudibras,canto 1, part 1, and voiced by a parrot.

I love parrots so much not only for how they look (though they are very beautiful!), but also for what they mean to me. I think of the parrot as being like the jester (and an artist who has no secondary source of social authority as a teacher/philosopher/activist, etc.) because they may speak the truth, but have no social authority (which may be why they can speak the truth?)

In tarot pictures il Matta/ the Fool is happy because he's fully in the present (he's frozen, always about to step off the edge of a cliff), and there's always the possibility that he'll turn or stop (hence the directive from Death to walk).

I haven't decided what to do about the background yet (hmmmm - with the deadline approaching I may need to stick with tried and true and glue it to paper on board). I also carved half of the raven before I realize that it's going to print backwards (doh!) I was being hard on myself about this because I'd like to submit this for an upcoming show, but then universe sent me a present and extended the deadline by a week. ( :) ! )

drawing on block
[Having a navel gazing moment here ...], I got to thinking that while it's annoying how I sometimes get things flipped, make wrong turns etc, this is the downside to a characteristic which enables me to work in relief - because the directions don't seem that different to me, I can switch back and forth easily from drawing or sculpting in the positive to carving and sculpting in the negative. Plus, the block won't go to waste - I'll use it somewhere else. Carving the inverse will only take a day or 2, and I can make changes on the second go round (like making it about 10% smaller). [Ok, concluded ;).] Ah Phase 5!

It wasn't all doom and gloom this week..after I finished the skull, I started playing with some of the small blocks from the mini project and organizing them into "creature features" :

I started some drawings on blocks for next week and printed, printed, printed - my clean studio didn't stay that way :)