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Category: Art in General (page 3 of 6)

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.
Knight

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.
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.

New Projects, and more!

It’s always exciting to start a new print, or to finish one.

I just printed the first ‘good’ print of my dungbeetle image. The moment of truth….
Pulling the BAT

And the print. It’s good! Now I can start pulling the edition. And deciding on the final title of the print.
The dungbeetle print

In the meantime, I’m also carving several other prints. This one is tentatively called “Landscape with Drones.” You can see all sorts of experiments and notes for other projects scattered around the worksurface.
Landscape with drones

I’m also taking an advanced intaglio class at Cabrillo College, which is great fun. Right now we’re working on alternative resist methods, which means ways to transfer or make an image on the copper before pouring the ground; the resist is than removed to reveal the copper, which will then be exposed to ferric acid.
Resist plates

On the left, I’ve transferred rubbings of sand dollars and one of my linoleum blocks.
On the right, I’ve transferred a rubbing of a mop head, and also transferred the image of inked feathers onto the copper by running them through a press.
I also want to try dripping wax on a plate, and transferring an image via carbon paper. It’s fun to get crazy!

The Busy-ness of Art

Booth, angled

After a busy year of making art and flitting off for a month’s printmaking in Spain, I realized it was time to pay the piper and make a little money to pay for it all, and so decided to apply for several art fairs that will take place locally this summer. And then I realized: after all these years of setting up and taking down my tent for Open Studios, I had nonetheless managed to have NEVER taken an official photo of my booth.

I needed a booth photo. I had one day. No, actually, I had one afternoon.

Off I went, after my usual morning shift working at Peet’s, to my storage place to pick up everything I would need. Tent, side walls, giant metal grids for hanging framed work, fabric covers for said grids, banner, print bins, and greeting card spinner.

Load car, drive home, unload car.

A very full car

(An aside: I can only do local shows since the combination of small van and large metal grids leaves very little room in the car for the artwork itself, let alone gear for spending any time away from home. Next round of wild and crazy spending might just include foldable wall sections.)

The first order of the day, once all was unloaded and dragged to the back yard, was finding a level piece of ground – no small task, considering the energetic digging of our local team of gophers – that would have a natural-looking background, so one could imagine the final photo was taken, perhaps, at some park, during some festival.

Then came the putting up of the tent. The marketing for art pop-up tents seems to always maintain that it can easily be done by one person. Perhaps this is true, if the person happens to be Superman. For the rest of us mortals, “easily” is not the word that comes to mind.

Putting up the tent

(Photo is of the tent in progress, not the Denver airport.)

Tent up, including the back wall, I could then hang up my banner.

Hanging up the banner

Next, the grids were tied together with computer zip ties and precariously balanced upright, then covered with fabric drapes.

Maggie helps

Maggie and Bob helped direct. Maggie says, Follow me! Put it over here! Bob approves of the banner.

Bob admires the banner

A moment of realization: my plastic white table is lovely to carry, delightful to set up, but looks like heck without a tablecloth. I often use my garish rainbow sarong for a playful booth tablecloth, but this is for a jury deciding if I look professional enough to participate in their festival. Some might like playful, some might not. A quick walk to the local fabric shop was now on the agenda. What luck! As I wandered the aisles, searching for the right fabric, I overheard a man telling a clerk that he found a nice roll of black jersey that he wanted to use for a tablecloth for a display table, and best yet, it cost only $1.99 a yard. The man and clerk looked a bit alarmed as I ran after them, but we all thought it was funny when I explained that I was looking for the exact same thing. And, luckily, there was enough on the roll for both of us.

While out, I picked up lunch, walked home, ate quickly (Bob the cat helped), and set up the table with its new tablecloth.

OK! The basic set-up was finally complete. Now, before adding any art, I did some clean-up. No art fair includes a pile of leaves; time to rake!

Raking the leaves

Insert framed art, insert prints in bins, insert cards in card spinner, insert business cards and postcards in appropriate display doodads. The final results are at the top of this post, and here:

My booth

In an ideal world, I would have started earlier in the day (darn day job!), had a swarm of helpers (darn other peoples’ day jobs!), thought more about what the angle of the sun would be after several hours of setting up, had a floor covering, had perhaps some flower pots or other ‘nice’ touch in front, had more daylight – but all in all, I’m pleased with the results.

The tent in the yard reminded me of the movies or a theater set. The final tent looks lovely, but it’s fun to step back and see all the production setup as well. Bob was hoping I’d leave the tent up permanently as a pavilion for him to relax in, but I am a mean mother and took it all down again. Last night I loaded it all back into the car, and this morning, it all went back into storage.

The tent in the yard

Next stop: applications.

Nobody ever said art was easy. Or if they did, they were wrong.

New Year, New Ideas

Big blocks!

Look what I just got in the mail: five giant linoleum blocks! Each block is 18″ x 24″ – that’s a whole lot of carving coming up. You can see in the picture that I’ve placed one of my ‘saint’ blocks on top of the stack for comparison. Most of my prints to date have been in the range of 4″ to 8″ on any one side, and now I suddenly feel like going BIG. This will be fun.

And as an aside, hooray for good packaging. Last year I ordered some blocks from another online art supplier, and the blocks came damaged, having been thrown loosely into a box that was much too large. These new blocks came carefully wrapped in kraft paper, and then the bundle of blocks was taped into the lovely large flat outer box (which I will save and re-use; I confess to being a box hoarder), and padded with crumpled newsprint. (The arrows point to the tape holding the bundle in place.)

Nice package

The other items I’ve been gathering this month are x-rays. I put a request on my local Freecycle, and a woman responded and gave me stacks of them: full body scans, head scans, chest scans, MRIs – wow. I have some solar plates stowed away in my stash, and will try some experimental etchings incorporating the x-rays.

And next month, I will begin taking an Intermediate Intaglio class at Cabrillo College. I’ve taken the introductory class – twice – and really enjoy the work and the instructor. I’m looking forward to this very much!

So lots of ideas brewing, and new techniques, and new challenges. I think 2013 is shaping up to be an excellent year.

Linoleum block workshop
Would you like to learn how to make linoleum block prints? Here’s your chance! I’m leading a weekend workshop, February 2 & 3, which will teach you all you need to know to get started. Click here for more information and to sign up!

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