Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

Category: Art in General (page 1 of 4)

Today’s walk

Was another Manresa to Sunset excursion, and back again.

Each walk seems to have a theme, and today it was jellyfish.  This is one of the larger ones I encountered, shown with the nifty rock I found.  Does it count as exercise bonus points that I found said rock at the furthest point of my walk, and hauled it all the way back again?
I think it does.

Rearranging the Furniture

I realize I haven’t written a blog post in a long time – not because I haven’t been doing anything, but rather that I’ve been doing so much that I tire myself out and don’t have the energy to write.

But here’s a quick post!

It’s been about a year since I set up my studio in the new house. And now that I’ve been using it for a while, it’s time to do a bit of fine-tuning.

This week, I got rid of my orange shelves (actually just moved them to the bedroom) and put in large industrial shelving instead.

You can see the old orange shelves in the background of this picture of me at my press. They fit against a little jog in the wall, but still stick out a bit and make it a close fit to get around the press bed.
Me at my press, orange shelves in the background

Orange shelves, gone!
The shelves are gone

Industrial shelving, up!
New shelves in place

And now full of stuff!
Lots of stuff on my new shelves

Next project: all that stuff on the new shelves? Get it organized!
(It is currently entirely randomly placed, mainly to keep the cats off…)

A Banner Day

The problem with big prints, for me, is how to hang them in a show. Custom frames cost an arm and a leg, and I need to keep mine, thank you just the same. So for my upcoming solo show at the Napa County Library, I decided to print La Penitente on cloth and hang her like a banner.

Sarah-Hope had purchased a large hunk of white muslin for curtains, but we decided against them, so that’s what I used for my prints. Here’s something rarely seen: me ironing.
Ironing the fabric

While the studio is mostly set up and ready for me to work, it still has miscellaneous boxes and debris sitting around, so for large-scale inking I set up work tables in the driveway.
Inking up in the driveway

I’ve been thinking about doing some prints on fabric for a while now, along the lines of prayer flags, and had done some test prints back in the old house. I am surprised how easy it is to print on fabric; the ink comes out nice and clear, and you don’t have to worry about too much embossing. Here is the first print done and pulled back from the block.
La Penitente on the press

The block just barely fits on the press – that is the rollers just reach head to toe on her. To make sure the top and bottom came out clearly, I did some hand-rubbing with my apothecary’s pestle. If you look closely you can see the block below the fabric.
Fabric with pestle and embossing

A close-up of the embossment around the face.
The face embossed

I like how the texture of the fabric comes through, and, as seen here, how it complements the texture of La Penitente’s wrap.
Fabric texture detail

One small problem: I haven’t set up my drying system yet. I ended up draping the prints around the house.
Drying the prints in the bathroom

After a few days letting the prints dry, I will try to persuade Sarah-Hope to sew hems and loops for hanging with dowels. And then off to the library we go!
La Penitente drying on the press

My work will be on display at the main branch of the Napa County Library from May 31 through June 28. The library is located at 580 Coombs Street in downtown Napa. There will be a reception and artist’s talk on Friday, June 13, 6 – 7:30 pm.

First Print in the New Studio!

I feel like Victor Frankenstein: “It’s ALIVE!!!” — at least that’s what I can finally say in regard to my art studio.

As you might have guessed by my utter lack of recent blog posts, I’ve been busy with other things than art. As in buying a house. As in moving. As in remodeling, and as in digging up the garden.

Here we are in front of our new house. We love it.
In front of the new house

Owning a house is exciting. And see that garage door? That is the door to my studio. The garage is mine, all mine, and I am well on the way to making it a working space.

It hasn’t been easy. I have way too much stuff, all of it absolutely vitally essential. And much of it in the way. I still can’t circumnavigate the press, but at least now I can roll the wheel to make a print.

Here is the press still partially wrapped from the move.
The press still wrapped

Having finally set up my drafting table so I can carve, today I reached the point where I had a block that I needed to proof. Yay! Here I am taking the last bit of bubble wrap off the press wheel.
Unwrapping the wheel

I also finally cleared off the workbench. First dab of ink at the new house!
First dab!

And printing the first proof.
First print in the new house

And here is the result. I need to do a bit more carving, but I’m pleased with this.

I am also so pleased to finally do some printing. It’s been a long time!

Looking Backwards, Going Forward

“Gallery shows are fine, but Open Studios is the best because you get to see the whole history of what the artist has been working on. It’s much more fun to see the themes that develop over time.”

This was one of the best comments I heard during this year’s Open Studios. I was thinking about that, and the work I put up during Open Studios, and made some connections that I might have otherwise overlooked.

I’ve been billing myself as a printmaker for the past 7 years or so, but before I took up the carving tools most of my work was painting. Particularly, highly saturated and very personal landscapes. Trail’s End and Trees on a Ridge are fairly representative of the work I was doing.

Trail's End  Trees on a Ridge

Over time, I became somewhat dissatisfied with the work I was doing. Color was (is!) great fun, but what about structure? Layout? Was I too stiff? What about gesture? Was I being seduced by the pretty, and missing the essence? And so I began to remove color, and started working primarily in black, white, and blue.

I began more or less representationally, with a black & white(ish) version of Dead Tree. There’s actually quite a bit of subtle color, put in with colored pencil.
Dead Tree 2

I began edging toward abstraction with Pothole #1, North Fork of the Tuolumne River.
Pothole #1

Then I found a compass on eBay, the kind teachers use to draw on chalkboards: big. Then all chaos broke out and I went all abstract. This is one of the black/blue paintings I had on display during Open Studios; it’s called Schism.

And two of my favorites, Minotaur and Stoss.
Minotaur  Stoss

Part of the great fun of these paintings is that they are BIG. I had a live-work loft in Oakland at the time, and tacked huge sheets of watercolor paper — that I bought by the roll — up on the wall. Here I am during Open Studios, standing in front of Palm Trees.
Me and Palm Trees

So what does this have to do with where I am today? Having dragged out and looked at some of my older work, I have noticed this:

Themes: line, motion, circles, cycles, myths, legends, ice, air, the wind, the intangible.

Color: I can see where the exploration of a limited palette led directly to the pleasures of working in black and white on linoleum. And when I put color back into prints, I go right back to the intense saturation of my painted landscapes. (This is not a bad thing.)

Going forward: My prints have been getting larger and larger, and this is a trend I want to continue. Last year I created a lot of prints with intense color; this is also something I want to get back to. And I want to continue to explore line and motion and even time in black and white.
And I want to get back to painting, too. I want a wall that I can tack paper on to and go wild. I want to sweep my whole arm to make a mark. I want to integrate my paintings and my prints in a sort of unified field theory.

I want to get back to work after a couple of months of shows and events. Stay tuned.

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