Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

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What’s up?

Have you noticed something different about Step by Step?

I’m home sick with a bug right now, with a stuffed head, sore throat, and a voice that alternates between sounding like Minnie Mouse and the devil in the Exorcist. So of course it’s the perfect time to catch up on all my deferred blog maintenance.

First I upgraded versions. Now I’m playing with the look. The blog might appear a bit different from day to day for the next week or so, while I experiment and finalize things. Let me know what you think!

Open Studios, Come and Gone

Today is a quiet day for me: sleeping in, coffee, cats on the lap. Later today I’ll go to the Santa Cruz Art League to help return the art from the Open Studios Preview Show to the artists. And if the sun comes out, maybe my tent will dry and I’ll be able to take it down.

It’s a well-deserved day off. The past two weekends have been chock-full of activity, as I took part in Santa Cruz’s 25th annual Open Studios Art Tour. Not to mention the several weeks of preparation: printing last-minute prints, matting, framing, labeling, putting up the displays, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

Here are some photos of my setup. I have boxes and bins of matted prints on tables underneath a tent, and inside the garage are display panels with framed prints.
The view under the tent

Some paintings on the fence. These had to come down the second weekend, since it was raining. And the tables with the boxes of matted prints also had to come indoors once the tent soaked through and began to leak.

Paintings on the fence

Looking into the garage. It was much less spacious once the tables came in!
Looking into the garage

My wire panels with cloth coverings (sewn by Sarah-Hope):
Prints on the upright panels

My little baby press and a panel describing how I make my block prints:
Informative panel and press

And here are a couple of my mini-lino cards. I found these cut-out cards at an embroidery store, and tracked down the distributor. They are perfect for small prints.
Mini lino cards

I meant to take pictures of people actually visiting and looking at the art, but it was too busy the first weekend, and too quiet the second. Oh well. But thanks to all who visited! It was a lot of fun.

Now to start getting ready for next year’s Open Studios….. I have ideas!

Wild Thing

Let me introduce you to my latest print, The Green Man.

The Green Man

Who is the Green Man? My favorite description comes from the Myth*ing Links website:
“The Green Man is that spirit, energy, presence, inherent in every cell of the vegetative realm, and transmitted to the animal/human realms through the foods we eat, the flowers we smell, the trees we hug.”

The Green Man is nature, yes, but the uncontrolled wild side, full of energy with a hint of danger; the primeval forest deep and dark, that you take lightly at your own peril.

Wikipedia has a somewhat milder description:
“Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or “renaissance,” representing the cycle of growth each spring.”

Green Men appear as carvings in many European cathedrals, an interesting example of the overlap between pagan and Christian iconography. Here is a door knocker from a monastery in Santiago de Compostela, in Spain.

Green Man in Santiago

This print is actually the first woodcut I’ve ever done. I carved it way back in June, when I was a vendor at the Scottish Renaissance Festival. They encouraged vendors to demonstrate their craft, and so rather than work on a linoleum block, my usual block print style, I opted for the more era-appropriate wood block. I had a block from somewhere, that I picked up at some time –who knows where or when– so I gave it a go. I’m quite pleased with the results. Wild thing, I think I love you.

You can see this print, and a whole lot more, if you visit during the Santa Cruz County Cultural Council’s 2010 Open Studios. (That’s a mouthful!) The studios of over 300 local artists will be open the first three weekends of October. My studio, specifically, will be open October 9 & 10 and October 16 & 17, from 10am to 5pm each day. Come on down! It’s an excellent excuse to cross the mountains to Santa Cruz.

Making Progress

I’ve made test prints of the two Fairy Tale blocks I’m working on, and am rawther happy with the results.

Two test prints

On the left is The Frog Prince. The princess lies asleep, clutching her golden ball, while the frog watches. My main issue now is the frog’s eyes. I’m finding it a bit difficult to get both direction of glance and emotional content into amphibian eyeballs. And in black and white, at that. Lots of test scribbles on the sides of my reference photos, but still not quite right. It will come to me one of these days.

In the meantime, I’ve done most of the corrections and adjustments that I noted on the test print for Rapunzel, and am pretty much ready for a final test before printing the edition. I’m looking forward to getting back to the press!

Now in the first round of drawing: Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White. Look for a sneak preview next week!

Storks, Azofra

So my new Camino print is carved, and I printed up the first batch this week. Here it is:

Storks, Azofra

Storks, Azofra
Linoleum block print, 2009
Edition of 15
Image size 8″ x 6″

I just framed one of the new prints this morning, and dropped it off at Michael Angelo Gallery this afternoon. Its place had been held by what I called its stunt double, so all I had to do was take the placeholder off the wall and hang the real one in its place. Good thing I think about details, and have all the wires on all my prints hit the backs of the frames in the same place. It makes hanging a show so much easier!

It’s interesting to me to see the changes in my own work. Looking at my web page of Camino prints, I’m struck immediately by how much white space there is in the new piece. I find it much more difficult to print a block with lots of white; I have to be much more meticulous in applying the ink, using smaller rollers and targeting specific areas to ink at a time. I am also pleased with the variety of textures in this print. I loved the stone, brick, adobe and wattle in the Spanish villages I walked through, and wanted to give a sense of that tactile richness.

If you’d like to see the new print live and in person, come out tonight to Santa Cruz’s First Friday Art Walk, and visit Michael Angelo Gallery for my opening reception between 6 and 8:30pm. It’s at 1111-a River Street, opposite the Tannery. Michael Angelo Gallery is also open every Saturday and Sunday, 11am -5pm, and my prints will be there through December 27.

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