Monday, February 23, 2015

phase 6 - each art-thing is a responsibility, update

Chipping away at things. This week I made a few smallish pieces - testing out a few different ways to resolve the ground layer and also trying to work out the best order of operations for holding the pieces together and sealing the surface.

11 x 14," I marbled the map and put the city over the city on the map so the roads converge on it and the states become like fields. I also tried something new with the parrot - combining two parrot prints into one to get the variation in the feather color (I love the neon, but thought it was overwhelming on its own.) I used an aerosol acrylic to seal the surface (it also saturated the black).
11 x 14" for this one, I covered the grey paper with gel medium and pressed the surface pieces into it, then coated the whole thing lightly with the aerosol. The ink bled a little (:() , but seems to be holding together more tightly than the aerosol alone. I tried using small fragments of marbled paper in the foreground, then drawing around them to meld them into a single surface. The hill in the background is pastel and watercolor. I like that this puts the foreground physically in front of the background, but I don't know about the seams...they sort of do mimic attention to the ground (isolated points with fuzzy focus around it), but I'm not sure it they're placed ideally yet? (Hmmmmmm.)
15 x 22" I got to do more bedazzling with the automaton bird - gold ink this time with a silver key in its back and faux-jewel eye. Still working on how to capture the metallics best in photographs. For this one, the ground is a single sheet of paper, feathered along the top to soften the point where the ground paper meets the sky paper (- I think this could be taken further next time - Hmmmmmm.)
...I also carved more blocks. I really like this little tiger.

new block this week

Right!?! :)
throw back to the Power in Precision Project - breaking out the quarter to show scale.
The tiger went so well, that I decided to re-evaluate the lion (because they'll only work as a set if all the pieces are of equivalent quality.)  Even though I feel like I just carved this (2 weeks ago) - try, try, try again, and, despite a little internal whining [waaaaa!], I think revisiting it was the right choice.

proof from 2 weeks ago (L); current proof (R)

And now, the Magical Land of No can have Lions, Tigers, and Bears - o my!

Generally, I try not to spread negativity, and since the blog is about doing/making art, which is such a positive thing to me, it's not hard to be upbeat, but I feel like I would be mis-representing the truth if I said phase 6 was moving along smoothly. I don't know if it's the cold, the paperwork I've been working on, this not cheery art article, or these that I encountered this week, or anything/everything on the news, but I feel like I've been a little distracted this week.

On the one hand, I did do/make stuff (phase 1 - check!) I'm working on a very exciting art plan for the summer (more to follow on that - but it's coming together! :) ) I submitted a disk for inclusion in the National Association of Women Artists' registry, housed at the Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists at Rutgers University (It's updated every 5 years, and this would be my first opportunity to be part of it, so I stopped the presses to get that packet together and sent). I also sent submissions in for two shows and re-ordered necessary supplies (time for more blocks and paper...again [sob].) 

On paper, it seems like I'm doing the right things, but I've been feeling like I'm not making as much progress as I'd like with phase 6 - to put it in terms of Philippe Petit's Creativity: The Perfect Crime - it's not just about doing the (art)crime, it's also about getting away with it. I've been thinking over ways to make what I do more viable without changing it's nature. I realize that spending heaps of time sitting on the floor carving miniature tigers is socially extraneous and economically dubious...and still, I can't pretend that it's not the thing I wake up wanting to do more/better. I wonder - if I didn't do this - would I really be doing something more helpful instead? More helpful to whom? And, if I didn't make the things I make, would someone else make them instead? (I tend to think - No, I don't know, and possibly, but probably not). 

So to avoid getting stuck in a rut, I tried another approach, asking - what is the smallest/easiest thing I could do to make some progress (any progress) on phase 6? I went with - physical responsibility - wash the ink plates and brayers, sharpen the tools, sweep the floor, and wash the grassy pillow (that I kneel on to carve and continue to find intriguingly hideous).
It's been a busy few weeks, and I think the time has come to rest. I know, I always say that and then have trouble following through on it, but this time... between the cold and carving, carving, carving, the callouses on my fingers where they're in contact with the tools came away - it doesn't really hurt, but I find it kind of gross and creepy. I think it's a sign that it's time to take a break (trying to look at it as - knowing when to rest is a sign of maturity rather than weakness, right?) Fortitude! :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

phase 6 - each art-thing is a responsibility, continued

Beautifully installed and at the Lichtenstein Center until Feb 28th
 A busy week in Artlandia! Openings for the Ten Spot Show at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and Gallery 46.

black and white stripes with silver boots -
I have to say, this may be
 one of my favorite looks

And! Great pictures of the show in the Berkshire Eagle:
For my sister, who wanted to see the new hairstyle
- all its natural color ( and longer than an inch)
for the first time since...junior high, maybe??
Oddly, to me, it looks faker it's natural black color
than it does dyed.(and so unfortunately emo - haha)
Life imitating Art imitating Life?
 "The Drake" by Eli Merritt
Not only it this dragon sculpture awesome, but -
it's assembled so that it's not dependent on adhesive!(!!)
putting my recent "adhesive issues" into perspective ;)

I had a terrific visit to Pittsfield Massachusetts for the opening and the 10 x 10 festival. I also saw 10 terrific new short plays by the Barrington Stage Company. I don't know much about theater, but love listening to short stories on the radio (nerd! :p) and this was like another level of awesome beyond that. I also got to visit artist studios, which is always a treat, and stop by the Berkshire Museum...where I almost fainted when I walked in and saw taxidermied animals, nature dioramas, and case after case of birds :o.

(Of course, the first thought is "I am surrounded by dead things," [deer in headlights, deep breaths - Eep].) I wouldn't want any living thing to die or be hurt so I could take a photograph, but since that ship has already sailed for these particular creatures, I took pictures. I'd been wanting close up shots of raptor feet and fur over shoulder blades.

[fair warning - griping ahead] Unfortunately, they aren't the best shots because, I conscientiously put the camera battery in the charger the night before, and conscientiously checked (twice) that the camera was in my bag in the morning before leaving...but it helps if the nicely charged battery is actually in the camera (doh!) This is boring and petty, but I mention it because I feel like it's a bit of a phase 6 - Fail (especially because it's not the first (or second, or third) time). Maybe next time I should turn the camera on when I check that it's in the bag before I leave? (Steps that lead to more steps that lead to more steps - oy.)

New bear block, carved when I got home. The visit and building on the memory/photo of a raccoon as the guide
must have helped, because I think this turned out better than the lion (was it only 2 weeks ago?) which is the same scale. (Though the unicorn from January may still be my favorite of the small animals, the bear is growing on me...)

a new plant - being a little bolder and starting to use the broader carving tools more
I continued working on the diptych from last week. It was good to have a break for the openings, so I could steel myself to try something new with these. I covered the surface in a clear acrylic. These are pretty fragile and to get an even coat, the timing is constrained/tricky, but I went for it (no risk, no reward, and really, it's just paper after all, right? ;) ). The acrylic creates an even surface in terms of sheen and seals the paper so that it's less reactive to moisture (and so less likely to wrinkle) and prepares the surface to accept other media without having it react with the glue. After sitting it under weights for a day, I added the landscape in pastel and acrylic. Not sure what I think of that yet (too naturalistic? not naturalistic enough? Hmmmm.) -will finish the diptych, then think about it. 


concluding with a lovely (if random)"seen on the street" picture from this week, just because  :)

Monday, February 9, 2015

phase 6 - each art-thing is a responsibility, continued

An exciting week here in Artlandia - (Drumroll...) That's Bunny and Helicopter on a billboard!(!!!)
(lol - a first step toward arty-world-domination?)
I'm excited to see this familiar piece blown up so that the little flowers and life-scale ants are on display for passing cars.  The show is up as of last Friday, at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and the opening is next Thursday, Feb 12th. I really want to be there to see the show and great pieces by the other artists (check out this gorgeous owl by Melanie Mowinski!) - fingers crossed that Mother Nature allows.

I also delivered the heart for the Love Show opening Feb. 14th in Hudson at Gallery 46. 

It was a busy week in the studio. Even though this isn't done yet (those dots everywhere are magnets - each piece is over a magnetized white board  so everything can be moved around or changed easily until it clicks. Even though it's not quite there yet, I'm starting to get excited about this one - gradually stepping up the size from one sheet (30 x 22") to two (30 x 44").
In process this week
I was a little bummed not to have this further along, but then when I photographed the blocks, I realized that I carved 8 new blocks for it this week (Ooooo - so that's where I left my time, I knew I put it down somewhere ;)). 

New blocks

I'm liking the bees (close-up insect photography is another of my favorite pastimes-in-the-park).

The telephone poles come from my photographs of industrial stuff. I'm going to admit something - I have dozens of pictures of utility poles, and among them, I have favorites; so a particular set came to mind for these. I'm happy that I've kept track of, labeled, and maintained my photos well enough to pull these up right away, but also - Really?!? -  I remember clearly utility poles I saw two and half years ago, but if you were to ask me what I had for breakfast yesterday (:o ?? - doh.)

The birds aren't new blocks, but I've been testing new ways of printing them. The mechanical birds are printed in silver on black paper.  The accents are a more dense silver ink, the beaks are two different gold inks and the wind up key is collaged in a gold paper. I had a lot of fun with these (I got to bedazzle the eyes -who doesn't like to bedazzle?) I enjoy the way the different metallics make these dynamic - the appearance changes as the viewer moves and/or the light shifts. I'm still working on how best to capture the effect in photos, but on the up side - the work is almost guaranteed to be more exciting in-person than in photographs, so there's always an element of surprise for the real time viewer ;).

Still thinking about phase 6 "each art thing is a responsibility," and I'm thinking that  "responsibility" may need to be subdivided into categories - physical responsibility (use of materials, framing/finishing, transportation, delivery, storage, etc.); virtual responsibility (photographing, posting, digital archiving, etc); and conceptual responsibility (owning up to why the work is the way it is.)              
I love the brutality of this technique and the way it contrasts with the content - soft feathers and curling petals carved with very sharp knives and cut out with a razor blade or scissors. It's like trying to sculpt beauty from violence.  I think in a way it comes back to the idea of responsibility because, with this technique, each line requires time and commitment - since relief printing is subtractive (carving away), rather than additive (drawing or painting on), each line is a one shot deal - once material is gone, it's gone (just like the creatures it represents). Sometimes I wonder if this is an art-attempt at rejecting the idea: "it's just a system, no one is responsible," by trying to make something individual in a way that requires devotion. Admittedly, it's still just paper in the end, and is it really possible to be combative out of love rather than bitterness? I don't know (haha - and that is why I should probably just stick with photographing bugs and telephone poles, no?)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

phase 6 - each art-thing is a responsibility, on-going

Developments in Artlandia since Tuesday?
made the final adjustments (the parrot's tail, the placement of the ants, a little work on the shadows) and submitted that application on time, on schedule (two thumbs up!)

:) just in case you're wondering about the rest of the portfolio - the final 10 (fingers crossed!):

Whew! And now that that's in...

A new block for a new piece - this one is framed between two sheets of glass, like an contemporary art/reliquary (haha). The design is loosely based on the coin I made this summer.

A feeling of deja vu came over me working on this, and then "O, um, wait, actually, I've done this before." (Yes - 3 other times, in August, March and February. 2013) Lol - 4th time's the charm? 

"Doctor, doctor, what's in my shirt" ;)
 But I have learned a few things since then...

 This version is printed  on lovely marbled paper
made earlier in the week to resemble heart tissue
under a microscope (Thanks go out to my Dad for this one!)
  Remembered to digitally mirror image
the prep drawing so that this time,
the print is anatomically correct.
[pats self on back]

After a day or two, I was ready to revisit some issues with the portfolio. I ended up pulling the otter to make space of detail shots. On the one hand, it was a little sad pulling it; but on the other, it's good to have pieces beyond the minimum and, in the end, I just felt like something about it wasn't quite right...So, phase 6! Trying to step up and fix it, I realized that it was the volcano (natural disaster) that I don't think was right for this piece - it needed a human-made something...
New power plant block
 Luckily, I have a file called "industrial c#$p," with dozens of photos from my train trips and travels ;)
I added red gouache to the banding on the smoke stacks
and am liking how they relate to the red and white stripes
on the hot air balloon :)
updated verion :)
I feel like this version is much better. It's hard to explain why exactly, but I don't feel like I'm taking nature scenes and mucking them up with industrial stuff; to me, it feels more like the opposite - that the destruction/potential for disaster was always there (that's why I start with the gray marbled paper - a sky full of ashes.) It's more that I'm trying to see/share beautiful moments of "aliveness" that happen amid and in spite of chaos and destruction (and are therefore even more precious). [Hmmmmm.]

I kept going with the plant experiment from 2 weeks ago:

decided that the gold ink wasn't meant
for the  stem/leaves, carved a little more
 and re-printed in grey 
But I didn't give up on the gold completely...after some thought,
I think it's the flowers that are meant to be gold. New flower block
and (fingers crossed!) a good ink mix for the gold :).
starting to come together and get an idea of how it
might look...

Also, kept going with the animals, though I'm not sure how they'll come in to the work yet
Naturally, I think it would look even better with wings :)
Cute kitty picture, just because 
had a "moment" when I realized - this is the first time I've
killed an entire can of ink by myself [small tear of
pride - the little Arty is growing up!]

and a bird picture, also just because :)

In para-art news, I started reading a book about animals in visual culture - An Introduction to Animals and Visual Culture by Randy Malamud [Palgrave Macmillan, 2012]. On the one hand, I feel like I'm getting a lot out of reading this book in terms of thinking about animals in art in a new ways; on the other hand, I'm not sure I entirely agree with the author's views (but don't know enough to add anything to a conversation yet, more thinking/researching...) It also led me to a great article by John Berger (that my local library had on shelf - no need to request it - awesome!): John Berger, "Why Look at Animals," About Looking [Pantheon, 1980], which has been interesting, but challenging [hmmmmm.]