Sunday, December 1, 2013

the impatient printmaker

It's 3am.  Normally I'm never awake at this wee hour of the early morning.  I can't say why I am today, perhaps it was the two packets of chocolate biscuits I ate before bed or my brain in overdrive. 

It has been a long time since I've written a blog as well.  Mostly I suppose because I've been sick and impatient or well and impatient.  Impatience, friend and foe!

My impatience also has led me to the delights of "instant gratification" or near to it.  It is my newest obsession, printmaking.  Not that I will EVER abandon painting but this new or rather old, ancient in fact, artform has always been intriguing to me.

I used to hate the idea of "process", all those steps to a result, but with the loan of a table top etching press from a friend I have found a simple way to make a plate and print it.  It may not be as posh as working with a metal plate as is the traditional way, but scratching on a piece of plastic then inking and printing is vastly satisfying and relatively instant in its result.

The results are varied with regard to how well the plate prints but it works more times than not.  There are so many variables to making a good print . . . the right viscosity of the ink, the right dampness of the soaked paper, and of course, the right press pressure.  

It all serves to just make me want a proper big press, a rather expensive art supply.

The print shown is from some sketches from my first trip to Mexico in August, "tree wrap".

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

a soft day in late autumn

For one of the few times this summer we've shut the house up to enjoy some air conditioning.  It's a hot steaming day in late summer outside.  When retrieving the rubbish bins at the curb I can smell the worms and the moss and the pungentness of the warm air.  Now, as I sit at my drawing table I look outside and wonder at how different an upcoming trip to Mexico will be with regard to flaura and fauna, and if I'll have the stamina without a convenient couch nearby?  

I'm finally feeling stronger in my body, perhaps not to the extent that I can leap about at my exercise dance class but better than I have been in weeks.  Sitting at the drawing table working on drawings for a children's book makes me feel purposeful and industrious.  I'm not just a couch rock with a sore bum from hours of brain numbing tellie while holding down furniture.

It is something I do when I don't feel myself.  It gets me out of my body and into fantasy where there are no statistics and outcomes and monitoring, only freedom.  It's as if these past few weeks have sucked me back into the vortex of the world of cancer and all that that entails.  It's hard to avoid but you have to wipe the cobwebs away and find yourself again through all the medications and late night doctor's appointments, etc. 

One way in which I got prodded from my stupor was by a gift from a friend, a loan, really.  The loan of a small heavy duty German made etching press.  I'm over the moon at having it.  It is something new for me to experiment and teach myself. 

The process of etchings is an ancient one.  My version is of a simplistic nature, scratching lines into a plastic plate, inking the plate, wiping off the excess ink and then using the strong roller tension of the press to make a print on paper.  The paper, usually a heavy watercolour or printmaking paper is soaked and blotted to accept the ink that is in the scratched lines of the plate.

My first little picture has got me inspired for making a series of little "odd" pictures.  The source being from some scribbling I do when I'm holding down furniture and resting as time passes over me.

Already ahead of myself, I hope to make a series of these little odd things, once I've sorted out how to make better prints!  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

another reinvention

Yes, it seems there needs to be another reinvention for the girl.  An unscheduled one.  Having just returned from another surgery I now have been "re-plumbed"!  It takes a minute to get used to this new way of life, especially learning how to eat again in a certain way.  These things I can manage for I'm happy to be on the mend and even if a bit restless.

Unfortunately I think the doctor and I were both a bit surprised that he found more of the "c" monster in me.  He explained it as hair or web-like fibres of cancer that didn't have much mass so didn't show up on the various scans.  He had to cut away.  

I don't know what is to come and work at not fretting about what I don't know.  I hold down furniture resting while scribbling all manner of nonsense, whatever comes to my head or hand.  There isn't much art making desire as yet but I'm beginning to be restless to the need to be "making" something in the near future.  

In a week I see the doctor and we'll have a "talk"!  What the outcome shall be I can't even fathom a guess.  However, I do know that I shall be taking this side road I've stumbled down on my own terms wearing my own hiking boots, using my own map and compass!

There is such a thing as quality of life over quantity.  It's odd though, I still feel so strongly that I will be alright.  Perhaps you could call it deep denial.  Well if it is, as my mother-in-law used to say, "so be it!"

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I can see where I'm going, but it's slow going

I can see where I'm going with my artwork, but it's slow going.  I have this tendency to want there to be symbolic, identifiable imagery in my work instead of the purely abstract.  Yet as I look down the road I see that I must break up the shapes and colours on the canvas and try and find that more abstract way of representing symbols.  It's a challenge I enjoy embracing even though my abilities aren't up to the visions in my head.  As always more experimentation is needed.  I can "think" of what I want to make, but can I "paint" what I think of?  That is the question.

Monday, July 15, 2013

current painting phase3

Other than the fact I seriously stunk up the house today spraying fixative on the charcoal marks of the painting in it's "phase2" it's been a good painting day.

Unfortunately my mister just got home and can smell the stuff everywhere.  My smeller must be faulty.

Here's "phase3" of what was called, "rust & bone".  This painting probably won't retain that name but for now it's the only thing I can think of.
There's more work to be done on the fingers of the hands.  Might toy with adding something in the darkness of the shirt.  You never know . . . . !!!???

Sunday, July 14, 2013

"rust & bone" a work in progress

Once again I start out with an idea for a painting, Gordy makes the stretcher bars to the size I think I want to work with, this time 4' sq. and I proceed with stretching canvas and gessoing (priming).

Then comes the first interesting step, the background.  With the current canvas I thought it might be great to have a "rusted" background.  In the decorative painting world you can actually buy paint that is fashioned with iron particles that will rust with a corrosive solvent sprayed on after the initial layer of iron paint is dry.

My jar of the stuff was about dead. Reconstituting was an effort with more chunks of solid iron pebbles than actual paint emulsion.  Mixing some acrylic medium with it I managed to make something like pebbly iron paste to smash on the canvas panel, laying it down on the floor so that it would stick. Before it was even dry I used the spray bottle of corrosive on it distributing the spray and splatter over the entire surface.

The result was quite pleasing.
Now to the second step, the image overlay. The original idea didn't seem quite right so I looked through my scribbling sketchbooks to find an idea tha will work better with such a lovely forest of rust.

I was inspired by the idea of drawing over the rust with charcoal as well as paint some areas.  I was struck by the image of simple arms with hands meeting and sleeves.  I didn't want there to be a face so thought of gold leafing the face area to play shiney smooth with rough texture.  Tomorrow I shall paint in the area of the hands and arms perhaps leaving the sleeves as nothing more than suggestions.  Will have to see where it leads. 

The lighting looks a bit different from the fist picure because the rust was sealed to keep from turning black.

Once the charcoal has been sprayed with fixative to keep the charcoal from smearing I shall put in the hands and arms in oil paint.

I like how you can assume there is a head and face but the drawing of the bits and bobs lend a bit of pleasant abstraction, as if there's thinking or wandering in the mind going on with this character.  

As always I'm fasinated by depth and flatness.  Stayed tuned for phase3!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hello Summer

Hello Summer!
It's July in it's full brightness of summer.  This summer compared to last is vastly more pleasant.  Last summer we couldn't sit outside for the extreme heat.  This summer my mister and I debate whether we really want to turn on the airconditioning, shutting out the birdsong and warm smell of grass.  Some heat is good, the fan whirring in the background to make my artroom more ventilated.  Until I sweat sitting still I think I'll keep the windows thrown open.

We're having a party today and I've thoroughly cleaned the house.  Only time I ever do is when there's going to be a party.  Funny how I hate to clean but once engaged I'm a house-a-fire for getting EVERYTHING sorted.  Must be a misfiring gene in me somewhere.

Most of the time I'd rather be in the studio slinging paint, but after a recent visit away from home, I came home to regroup as it were. There is so much to see and do and I now know why people clean their houses before they go on holiday.  It is quite unsettling to come home to a dirty house.  Never thought this sort of thing would bother me.  But having it all clean helps me have my mind clear as well.  Rather like having the grass cut.  Why don't we enjoy it in it's wildness, long and lush.  We must be pre-programmed to think it only looking right and calm when mowed!? hmmmmm?

Today's musings are just some scribbling from my travels.  They aren't about anything in particular, just wanderings to keep myself occupied when there was waiting to do at airports, etc.

Full of you (L) and girl interrupted (R)

 Rocky waterfall in sun or moon (far above)
Just above, something about tomorrow.

Left, blood tree, 
below, dolphin moon

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Although completed before the most recent paintings posted, "swamp" is all about environment.  The reference for this painting is from a photograph I took of a green algae swamp surrounded by manicured suburbia.  It was so odd in it's context.  I chose to illustrate just the swamp as a metafore for the wealth and abundance of life in its messy forms. 

However, superimposed on this dramatic environment are gold rectangles that speak to the idea of our minds wanting to regulate and organize everything we see, nature molded under our hands if you will.

And to take it not too seriously for all its drama I put in the Tardis from Dr. Who as if it is either materialising or dematerialising in the environment.  A comment on the changefulness of everything.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Girl without a country found hiding in the weeds!

Current modern love songs bounce around in my head.  They remind me that an artist's work is to express those feelings we can relate to, to speak for our feelings when we haven't the voice.  And though my singing days are long past I try to speak/sing in paint.  And to that end I work in the studio in these fine weather days of summer completing images that are mysteries or confusions that please me.

"Without a country", 30"x40" acrylic, oil, ink and graphite on canvas, 6/2013

Made from the souce of a scribble drawing.

"Hiding in a garden", 24"x50" acrylic, ink, gold leaf and oil on canvas, 6/2013

Originally made as just a drawing over an acrylic ground sketched out in ink, the connotation seemed too "desparate" and not what I had intended.  It wandered around the walls of the house for weeks until I happend on adding random marks in gold leaf to take away some of the angst.   By accident I added the tree trunks from a photo of some cherry trees.  Now the desparateness is pushed back into more of an idea of "hiding" rather than one of sorrow.  At least in my mind! It also "grounds" the painting.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blue Sky Mind completed

"Blue Sky Mind" completed.  
I just couldn't leave well enough alone, just had to add the bluebird after my next door neighbor rang to say she saw one in her yard!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blue Sky Mind

While the blue sky gives way to a soft day of rainy greys I don't mind.  Spring is unfolding ever so magnificently.  The rain only brings more and more wonder to see in the landscape.

I work in the studio with the garage door open to smell the sweet grass and pungent mud.  

On canvas I paint with mud as well as a bit of blue for sky on a new image/abstraction.

The current canvas is another manipulation of disparate images overlapped. A bit of a smudgy old piece of plastic, an image of trees smeared by the speed of having taken the picture out of the car window and one of my little scibbled people.

Together they somehow work into a composition I'm calling, "Blue Sky Mind".  At this stage of developing an image I'm always thinking I should add more.  I'm resisting the urge by setting the canvas aside to dry.

I may yet add to it, but, for now I'm pleased that my original idea has translated well to canvas.

"Blue Sky Mind"  46"x57"x2.5"  acrylic & oil on canvas

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Today's offering, on a rainy day in early Spring are two digital collages.Taking photographs or bits and bobs of scraps of things that I throw on the scanner and then assemble makes for lovely textures, shapes and colours without a particular context.

This is a new way of seeing as I experiment without thought to "what" the image should look like.  I rather like to "respond" to putting images together.  The end result is abstract, certainly, but I hope pleasing to the eye in an unconventional way.  As if you can almost see some nameable thing inside the abstraction. This folly makes me happy and sometimes a bit confused. However, I've decided that being confused is alright and perhaps desireable in the scheme of things.  Because if everything is known and everything is named where is there to go to next?

left, "Walking home"
(made from a reflection of a fork in a plastic cup and image of a manhole cover)

below, "joint"
(made from scanning the bottom of a biscuit pagkage and an interesting wooden stick)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

ruin reverberant

The soft days of spring are here.  I think it must make everyone's hearts lighter in leaving winter behind.  We wait to so long for changes outside the window.  Now with the rains the changes are visually perceptible.  I swear I can see the colour green moving quickly across the dull grass.

So to, in the studio, I feel the excitement of working on my own paintings as I experiment with new ways of looking.  Sometimes only able to realise what's going on outside my door by the drama of a passing thunderstorm.  It's good to be absorbed by concentration but also be able to be aware of the greater world around you.

In painting, I think a world is created in each piece as an attempt to relate to that greater world around us or to give comfort in thinking we can "understand".  We are no longer satisfied with a realistic representation of our world but of, perhaps a relation to our own inner world or the world we wish we could invent.  And so we do, artists invent the world.  And it is always interesting even if not always understandable.

In conjuring this current painting I cut up bits of images on transparencies and put them together out of context.  The resulting image makes me happy although I can't tell you why.  It is not a picture of anything definitive although I know we all tend to "look" for recognisable things in pictures.  Instead, I think it is more a feeling of something.

It is made up of a picture of an abandoned room ruin as a negative and positive image, a microscopic picture of cells, my fork reflection in a plastic deli cup on it's side and an old saxaphone.

Looking at the painting I think of it as a statement on the environs of our closest city, Detroit.  The residents here all "understand" about the decay of the city. Yet it seems that it has been with the city so long that the decay has become rather "institutionalized".  This painting speaks to that, I think.  That's why it is called, "Ruin reverberant", for here in this ruin of a city there is a sense of holding on to the degradation as it is the only legacy that is known.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Veil of tears

My art work is not usually a crafted project, but with the interpretation of this drawing I knew I had to make some crafty additions.

This work is called, "Veil of Tears". It represents the idea of women that are the emotional heart of most relationships as well as the women of certain cultures that live behind veils.
The use of beads is new to me, but it conveys the feeling I was looking for.  I'm also not a political female, but in doing a piece like this it strikes me that modern females are political by inheritance.  By the nature of what we owe to the women who came before us and paved the way for our independence.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

late night restlessness

It has been ages since I've mused here, but tonight I'm restless and awake late, due primarily to overindulgence of supper and desserts!  Oiy!

Over the months I've been absent here I've been happily painting away as well as chasing the elusiveness of commerce with showing and selling pictures.

I haven't produced as many new works as I would like but I'm always thinking of the next image or looking for it in the folds and creases of the everyday.

One that I am proud of came about as a theme challenge with a group of artists.  The challenge was to make an image that represented a theme from mythology, be it personal or from the world's great cultures pantheon.  

I chose "Artemis", the goddess of the hunt.  The idea of a young woman living independent in her own skin but still in connection in the possibilities of life to come, but of a modern version of the idea. I knew I wanted a young woman in a "hoodie".
  Luckily, a close friend's daughter  was just the right age as model for the picture.  Using a model is new for me but I'm pleased with the result as it fits my internal vision for the painting.

It's also a theme that I like for myself in the context of carrying on in life, to be independent of mind spirit and not compromised by fear and apathy.

In the context of cancer it is to me to not be swayed in my strength by the changes of monitoring numbers or categorizations that do not pertain to how I feel.  There's always a threat of it's return when you're on this ride, but I'm more interested in what I can do with my art for the future than wait for some dire thing to happen.  What a waste of time!

  Recently I heard a Kresge Fellow recipient artist give a talk about her working methods and examples of her work. It was most enlightening to me as she claimed a "premise" to her work that was a fascinating look inside her thought process.  In considering my own work I've never felt that I've had a particular premise or major theme to its existence.  I've just always chased whatever idea or fancy that lead down the primrose path.  

I'm curious to apply the idea of "premise" to my own work to see what in the world I'm on about.  It's funny really, because most of the time I'm not sure what any of it "means".  It's not as if you have to know where you're going with art making, but I've decided that the exercise is a good one.  So, if I lay claim to any idea of what I'm chasing in art it would be that I'm fascinated by the idea of the symbology of images.  What does a tree represent to the viewer or a chair or a stag, etc.  With such a broad context I think I can entertain the combination of marks and images, colours, etc. for years to come.

For example, this painting, "A sense of place" has a drawing of a body superimposed with a country road.  It strikes me that if you put a road in a painting it may symbolize traveling or memory, etc.   The figure in the piece might be "remembering" a place.   It's all an illusion but one made as a reference to life, escapism, happiness, longing, belonging.  Take your pick!