Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ritual Matters


Ritual matters, so I won’t be calling this a ‘holiday tree’. It is a Christmas Tree, and we northern folks have been worshipping evergreens for a VERY long time, and will continue. Winter Solstice tree would likely be more accurate, because such things predate Christianity (although the rituals were a little less peaceful back then,the less said the better), but as Christmas celebrate the very important natural cycles of rebirth, I will just say Merry Christmas, and here is my tree for all to see, which looks much like last years tree, and the year before that. This one, oddly enough, will not die. At the tree farm, we left behind a tall stump and strong branches, from which a new tree will grow. There’s some strong symbolism in that.

And gosh, I wanted to write more, and show you more pictures (already on facebook), but it’s Christmas Eve, and it’s time to celebrate.

Merry Christmas All (or whatever you want to call it), because there is no denying that the longest night of winter is now over, and the days will get longer hereafter (at least until next year).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cellular Life

It's a busy time, and I'm still scrambling to get more art done, Year of the Dragon print exchange included (8 on the go of those), so this is a quickie post, let the image speak for itself as I intend to explore many iterations on this theme, and have numerous little foam 'bacteria' stamps ready to go (inventing bacteria is DARNED addictive); lucky you that I'm an artist not a scientist, because I'm having WAY too much fun to stop doing it. Well, 99% are good or neutral (and I just made that number up, remember, I'm an artist, not a scientist) but let's celebrate the small things that keep us going. Yogurt anyone? Or cheese? Beer?  I can't think of any other bacterial delights right now--maybe because it's usually the bacteria doing the consuming...hmmm

PS. If you don't already know, this monoprint was done using an incredibly aged and pitted gelatin plate, and meat tray polystyrene foam.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two of the Three R’s—Gelatin Leaf Prints

Recycle and Reuse
Two ATC Gelatin Leaf Prints overlaid with black and silver technical pen drawings. Some gelatin prints need finishing, and these where from my September batch of leaf prints on card stock.  I have a stack that I really love, but they just don’t seem complete, so I am selecting a few for further renditions into ATC format. I have a clear plastic template that I slide over the A4 print until I find a composition I like, pencil in the outline and repeat the hunt until there are no more good pieces left. (seems like 5 ATC’s per page is the average), then I put the results into my pile of blank ATC’s, where they can be finished with inks and pencils.  With exceptions, they turned out better than I expected, and I think I will make ‘rendering’ select unfinished gelatine prints a habit.  Sometimes ‘recycling’ uncovers new avenues.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Above: Raven and Sun, 2.5”x3.5” gelatin print with stencils and polystyrene (available at Etsy).
WIP: wanted to do a raven motif for a t-shirt for a LONG time, but every time I tried to draw one, it looked like anything but (eagle, vulture, crow, dove, but definitely NOT raven).  Problem is, that I have very little experience with them. Here in southern Ontario, they are just beginning to make a come back, as they move into the forest preserves of the Oak-Ridges Morraine, but they are shy and elusive in this area. I count myself VERY lucky if I manage to hear one “GRONK”, or “Gwoink” or ‘pic’ while flying unseen above the trees.
So I spent alot of time watching you-tube video’s on-line.  Lots of time, lots of video’s, much of it not related to the image. Raven’s playing ball with a dog, raven saying “hello” and ‘come here buddy’, raven interrupting eagle courtship, ravens rolling down a snow slope, ravens waddling across kitchen counters, and raven’s playing with border collies, racing cars, stealing sandwiches and on and on. The charm of all these video’s is that they were captures of real ravens being ravens, and the sometimes unnatural circumstances only highlight their intelligence and adaptability. You would have to blind not to admit after viewing them that we share this planet with other sentient creatures, and ravens are a notable member of the club.  And after all this screen time, I finally feel like I can draw Raven. 
This one is also a gelatin print using stencils and polystyrene.  It’s about 7” wide, and may or may not be finished.

More Ravens and other gelatin prints at Etsy

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fun With Foam for Everyone

loon-foam plate
WARNING: Major Spoiler for certain young family members (who probably don’t read my blog anyway, but just in case, NO PEEKING!)
This is an early Christmas gift in case you want to use the idea. I’ve been using my foam plates for some pretty elaborate fine art projects, but I realized that they make GREAT do-it-yourself stamps, especially for kids. Unlike wood and linoleum, there is no need for carving tools. A ball point pen is all you need, as long as a parent is around to cut the initial shape, or cut out the shape after the pen work is done.
Pictured here is everything you need (click on the image for an enlargement).
Here are the steps.
Cut the foam tray into smaller bits (you can refine the cut later). 
Draw with the ball point pen onto the foam, see my flower stamps. It’s that easy. I draw the entire stamp first, and then cut into the ball point pen outline.  This gives you a smooth rounded edge on the impression (foam cuts have some ragged edges, that won’t show up if they are squished down with the pen).
Flip your foam over, and stick a pinched piece of masking tape on the back. This gives you a handle for stamping. I also label with pen at this stage, and add a ‘this way up’ arrow if that’s important (see the ‘K’ foam stamp in the middle).
Now you can stamp away.  Soft spongy craft store stamp kits work best. Hard ‘office type’ fabric pads don’t work well at all as your stamp is too soft press hard.
For Letters and text, there is an extra step unless you can write backwards in a pleasing way.  I design my letters on tracing paper with a soft pencil, then I flip the tracing paper over the foam plate, then gently with the soft part of my finger, rub the back of the tracing paper. This should transfer the graphite pencil onto the back of the foam without inscribing the foam.
Then I inscribe with ball-point pen all around the transferred letter, but NOT on the transferred pencil letter itself.  This gives you a positive letter image. You could instead flip the tracing paper onto the foam, and then inscribe the lettered part with your pen. In that case, the foam plate will show a negative image, which is also just fine. The lettering will appear white (or whatever colour your paper is) and the shape of your stamp will be the colour of your ink.
Now stamp away!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Life-Drawing Tuesday

It’s all over for the season, but I got behind in posting, so these will be popping up now and again. Maintaining the illusion that a blog-post is a real-time thing is just a little silly too. However, the other notable thing with life-drawing, is sometimes they are best assessed after some time passes (actually, this holds true with a lot of art, and procrastination can be a very good thing anytime you feel ‘stuck’).
Notable here is ‘the hand’. It may not be a great hand, but it’s one of my better ‘hands’ and astounding evidence that I really really did need glasses.  I always had trouble drawing hands, and never seemed to get better at it. Try as I might, I couldn’t even begin to guess where the knuckles and nails where.  Now that I have glasses, I find while I don’t need them for general figure drawing, they are essential for ‘fingers, and toes, eyes, ears and nose’. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Life-Drawing Tuesday

Here’s Greg, a good night for me, having fun with colours, and Greg putting on a good pose.  We have great models.
PS. Decided that I will not worry about sensitive eyes when posting mild nudity.  It’s really really silly to worry about such things when, thankfully, it is perfectly acceptable in public art. Whew, no fig leaves on these either:
Beautiful Nude Public Statue at Union Station Toronto

Celebrations from the Inside


“Yes, we are having fun”

On December 1st, the nursing home put on a Christmas party for the residents and family. Of course, Randy and I attended. I was looking forward to it (free food is always a big draw for me), but had WAY more fun than expected.

1st surprise, is evidenced in the introductory photo.  Here are some folks who are obviously having fun, that I’ve never really gotten to know.


I don’t really know the lady on the right, but in the middle is my Mom-In-Law’s roommate. She only has one available eye to do it (eye patch is permanent now), but she keeps an eye out on my MIL, and, while, my MIL can’t, she gives us an account of her day. Much appreciated as my MIL is mostly non-verbal now. Maureen has her head turned, but she’s a real fan of Dynamo, and owned her own shepherd before she was admitted.  It’s a bad photo, but here I was sitting amoungst friends, people I know and like. I forgot to take a photo of Dolores, the lady who asked me two weeks ago if I would sit with her at this party, because her family wouldn’t be there. That sounds lonely, but Dolores is so much fun, and so sociable, that she has plenty of friends. Just behind me, was Tim, whom I can’t understand very well, but we speak in smiles. I’ve gone into the home exceedingly grumpy (for very good reasons) and Tim will put a smile on my face.


Here’s the resident ‘musician’ (one of them, because he’s not the piano man I was talking about). He played many instruments in his life, but athritis has turned his hands into things that look like broken wings. He now has a ‘digital guitar’ that he plays, he writes songs, and he sings.  Beside him is the music therapist.


More of the d guitar, bad pic again, but you get the idea.

So why did I devote a blog post to this, you may wonder.  Visiting the nursing home has been a discovery for me, the feelings I have of friendship for certain individuals has surprised me. I began the adventure horrified at a all the ‘broken, helpless’ people. I think many never get beyond that, and choose the avoid the scene altogether. and simply stop visiting or visit seldom. But with familiarity. the prejudice falls away. Here are real people, leading rich lives full of meaning, largely without absent family members. Those who are capable, mix, mingle, make friends, gossip, break rules, create art, express themselves and help one another.  It is only those on the outside who see this as a ‘warehouse for old people’ (I term I’ve heard used). 

What makes a home a home are the people within. In this case, residents and staff. When I walked in on Thursday night, and saw all the familiar faces, I felt welcome. When I found an empty chair beside Dolores and fulfilled my promise, I felt I had gained an extended family. I looked ahead and behind me and realized I was surrounded by friends, and it felt really really good. And I sang (badly) Christmas carols with the rest of them.

PS. I took photographs, because it was a public performance, and that’s okay. I’m still being careful not to identify anybody in a real way. (Which is why I don’t name the home)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Garden of Delight—gelatin and polystyrene plate monoprint

Something fun, that actually took quite a long time.
I will try to tease out the steps, but it’s not a ‘how to’ explanation by a long shot.
1. Make a gelatin plate (google gelatin printmaking if you need help with this step, lots of info there)
2.  Go wild with ink, heaps of paper, and apply colours and random textures onto gelatin, repeat process endlessly until something promising appears.  Set these aside for a day, a month, or a year.
3. Make impressions on foam plates.  For the words, I used ball-point pen to flatten the negative spaces. The blue circle is the usual method, where you use the ball-point pen to inscribe the image.  It took me numberous tries, and foam plates to get the words to fit, as I wanted it to look very hand-written, and so didn’t try any typography tricks to measure things out.
4.  Cut a circle template. Cut a circle that matches your foam plate out of an a4 piece of paper, tape the paper over your half-way completed gelatin print. This protects your background print.
5. Paint the circle in acrylic paint (violet in this case).
6. Keep the template in place, as now you can use it to register your foam plate for multiple overprints. I use four marks and compass directions because I like compasses.  (if you click on the image, you might see my pen marks on the plate)
7. Ink the foam plate and press your background colour (dark green),  Let dry. Then paint in details onto the foam and press. Let dry, and repeat until you’re satisfied. I use thick ink for this stage, and it takes more than a day to dry. So I work on other things and try to cultivate patience. I’ve been working on this one for weeks.
8. Once the centre is done, you’ll probably find you need to add something to integrate the background. In this case, I decide to add text to support the theme. While it is a fun image, I was really thinking about how everything eats something, and the implications of that. We are all edible, another metaphor for mortality. Okay, or it’s just fun to play with words, whatever.
That’s it.
I place at high res image on FineArtAmerica, in case you want to have fun looking at details, or see the image sans watermarks.
Also available at Etsy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sketches from the Inside

I don’t like sketchbooks; it’s too difficult to burn/recycle/destroy/bury/hide your mistakes. My normal drawing kit includes a wad of A4 office paper in a clip board, and a small box of pre-cut recycled paper ATC’s.  Duds end up in the weekly recycling pick-up and this gives my muse freedom to secretly roam innumerable creative avenues.
But once a week I visit my Mom In Law at the nursing home.  Due to late stage dementia, she is mostly uncommunicative, and the utterances that she does make are either incomplete or non-sensible, and she cannot understand even a simple conversation.  She is still emotionally responsive to my husband, and sometimes responds to the dog.
To put things bluntly, an hour visit (my husbands standard—he is a very decent man) is a very long time for me to sit in one place ‘doing nothing’. I get bored.
Since a bored grumpy wife, is hardly an asset as a visitor, I decided to bring my sketchbook (mostly blank) for winter visits. It fits in a purse, and requires nothing more than a pencil. Because it is small, I don’t need a table or board, any chair will do.  Also while I felt okay about taking photos outdoors at the home, I do not do so indoors. The courtyard ‘felt’ like a public space, and any resident in the courtyard was either there of their own volition or was there with a family member. Indoors is more of a private space, and many residents (due to their level of infirmity) have no choices at all…so I hesitate to take pictures—which makes it hard to illustrate a story.
Well, here are the sketches. Mostly we sit in the large activity room. It is furnished with dining room tables, a kitchenette, a comfy couch, a piano, and upholstered chairs.  It has a cathedral ceiling finished in pine, a street-facing window wall another large window that looks onto a smaller courtyard. 
That’s Diva the resident cat on the upper left, in her favourite spot, on the couch that butts up against the wall window. She likes to sit there and watch whatever it is that cats like to watch.  On the upper left, there is Maureen, reading the paper. I like Maureen a lot, as she is very dignified and polite, and seems to have an aura of serene contentment. She has some trouble with memory, but is still very much a complete and mature person. She loves Dynamo (many there do) and always tells me about the german shepherd dog she had before she came to the nursing home. There is sadness there, because she can’t remember what happened to that dog. Did family members take it in (we adopted my MIL’s cat) or was the dog discarded—it happens. I’ve met her son, but I would never ask that question.
Lower left, is a couple that always seem to be in the ‘activity’ room when we are there. I really haven’t figured out which one of them is the resident, and which the visitor. They always seem to be deeply engaged in pleasant conversation with one another; the lady always wears a straw hat and dresses nice. We sometimes chat about ex-pets or Dynamo.
On the lower right is ‘the Piano Man’, although he claims to have never played piano before he came to the home. He says he always played the accordian, but now that he has a piano at his fingertips, he plays that, by ear. He is very good to listen to, and even his small mistakes as feels out the next song (he plays from memory, no sheet music) sound melodic.  When he is playing, it feels like some delightful magical spell is spinning through the home.  The first time I heard him play, I clapped and complimented him on his performance. I wanted him to know that he really was an asset, and a joy to listen to. Unfortunately, I only got around to sketching him after he was resting in his wheelchair.  I’m doing all this sketching as unobtrusively as possible, and from a distance, so it’s pretty ‘sketchy’.
My MIL loves birds, and at her home, always maintained bird feeders that dispensed HUGE quantities of bird feed to all and sundry.  She always called gold finches ‘yellow birds’, which was yet another quirk that disguised her dementia from us when she lived at home (ie. I have no idea when, or what year, she forgot that her ‘yellow birds’ where gold finches, because she liked calling things by silly made up names).  In the nursing home activity room, there is a large 6’ x 4’ bird cage that houses exotic finches and we always take her there to see the birds. Most times she seems to enjoy them, at least for awhile.  They have breeding pairs and nest cups hung up and in spring they have babies.  They never stay still for long, so I usually only have several seconds to observe a pose.  This is life drawing on speed.  Probably good practice.
When I’m not sketching, I’m visiting with residents, and bring Dynamo to see people who indicate they would like to pet her.  Sometimes the staff will bring one of their charges to me, if they know the person likes dogs. I’ve become a bit of social butterfly at the home, due to Dynamo’s ambassadorial duties. Good Dog!
Sorry this is long, but last spring so much happened that I didn’t want to talk about.  Probably I’m blathering to make up for all that silence, but, well, that’s enough for now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun With Meat Trays, Part II


Big Chicken, foam and gelatin print on mulberry paper.
The most difficult aspect of printing with foam plates turns out to be supply. It sounds easy; just save up your foam meat trays from your grocery store purchases, or beg neighbours for the same. It turns out, however, that most packaging is damaged in less than intriguing ways, such as raised rectangles in the centre, glue spots, or deckels that are so strongly stamped they raise the inside surface.
I took to scrounging from an office garbage can, were the workers preference for take-out food led to a steady supply of polystyrene clam-shells. Usually the top clam-shell was useable, but of very small dimensions (4x6).  Then there is my supply of dollar store polystyrene plates, that give me a 6” diameter circle. I love the circles, and the thinness of the plates—they are lovely to draw on, but highly limiting.  And so I continuously searched for foam plates, and finally, here they are.
See how I lovingly view my newly acquired ginormous stash of 500!  Yikes. Smaller quantities were not available, as I had to purchase from a whole-sale supply.  The usable surface is 7”x9”, still limiting, but a good size for me to work with. Of course I had to play, and scribble with a plate.  It was a sample (the supplier let me have 1 tray as a sample), so after printing up it’s flat surface, I had some fun. Even these plates have a flaw. Small dots appear on the surface, but it turns out that they can be flattened into submission with a roller.
In other news, I decided to abandon making decent ‘sales’/professional pages on my blog, and decided to use Etsy as my showcase.  The only exceptions will be permanently framed art (as I don’t want to be in the business of shipping glass), and very large works of art (shipping, once again being the Etsy achilles heel, as one must come up with fixed shipping prices that are highly variable when it comes to non-standard sizes).
My revamped Etsy is not just about sales, but also a great presentation interface for sharing my art (without all the blog blather). so I’ll be mentioning it now and again, and leaving this blogs focus on a personal artist’s journal.
Available at Etsy, and an example of foam plate printmaking (this is one of my literal foam plate works).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life Drawing Tuesday

Finally finished a piece I want to show. I’ve been having a horrible time with the reclining poses. Actually discussed this in class and one possibility (I LOVE excuses) given is the lack of background props as reference.  The model lies on a platform in the centre of the room. In the past, we used to use a tall chair rack covered in a blanket as an artificial wall. I do wonder if it helped place the model on the page. In this case, I have to just make it up. I supposed a realist with a lot of spare time could have fun with filling in the entire swath of parquet floor. Me, I’m more partial to abstractions.
And also have started using life drawing in linocuts.
This one’s 11x14, individual linocuts are 2.5x3.5 each, background abstraction is a gelatin print.
Both of these are snapshots, not scan and shadowy corners are not part of the artwork.
Now back to the drawing board.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trout Run Redux

It’s that time of year again; the brook trout, as always after Thanksgiving, are shimmying their way up the rivers and creeks.  Last evening, I stood, with binoculars in hand, by Vivian Creek in the Hollidge Tract and let myself be completely mesmerized by the fish and their tantalizing colours.  Irresistible they are, and are meant to be. All those flashing salmon bellies and fins surely meant to captivate the female eye, and while my aceo’s here are from memory only (that’s the point, to capture the moment) they absolutely do have stark black and white edges on their fins.  So, if you are anywhere near similar habitat, spend a few moments by a clear brook and look down.  Binoculars really help.
As far as I know, these are brook trout, but again, these are drawn from the memory of the moment and are in no way meant to be textbook illustrations.  Looking in on their glittering shaded world always seems to be a magical moment and I wouldn’t want to clutter it up with facts (easy enough to google brook trout for that).  But rest assured, if you have yet to see them for yourself, you will not be disappointed with the reality.
These are the newest entries from my 365 Art Card Project.  Ink on paper, watersoluble pencils, and white gouache, 2.5”x3.5”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Consigned to Ashes—365 Art Card Project

New Linocut, WIP, about 6”x 9”, design is an enlargement of one of my atc’s.
My 365 Art Card Project is back into production after a not so brief hiatus.  Creating incentive to journey forward once more required taking a good long look at where I’d been. The pile was quite a nonsensical jumble so it took quite a large chunk of time to sort, categorize and contemplate what was contained there-in.
Here are some of them, now, after several hours of sorting and thinking, and putting into categories.
A close-up of a sorted portion. This is the box that most compels me.  Sorting the images was an interesting journey in artistic self discovery.  While I have a whole box filled half with landscapes, and half with abstracts, many of which I am quite fond of, they don’t hold the level of fascination with the emergent themes in this assortment of faces, myths, transformations, etc..  So I need to listen and follow their lead and find out where they take me…
Of course while I was at it, I did some winnowing. No point in keeping everything. While I will keep anything that holds even a germ of an idea, successful or not (this is, after all, my ‘idea factory’), some just don’t have much to say for themselves. While they don’t take up much space, it’s impossible to crystallize anything from slush.
I figured they needed a better send-off than recycling.
Somehow I get the feeling that this dude is accusing me of making a mistake? The weird thing is, by the time I noticed that singular eye staring back at me, it was pretty much too late.

All gone.
De-cluttering is good, it leaves room in our lives for more. In the process of burning art, perhaps it leaves room in the mind to embark on new adventures and teaches us to let go of that which is less than compelling; still, I’m feeling a little haunted by that one accusing eye…

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Artwork Unearthed from the Deeps

Now that I’m working once again on my printmaking, my pile of unfinished starts from last March was beginning to weigh me down. It was time to go digging and see what could be rescued, developed and finished.

Above: Man of Flowers and Bird Woman.  Gelatin, foam plate and linocut relief print.  It was almost there, and I had set it aside as it was too pale and I was afraid (thank goodness) to add any more layers to it.  After many months out of sight, the answer was obvious. I inked by hand a few sparse details in black (with a indelible rollerball, a favourite tool) and declared it complete.  The title just ‘is’. I have no idea what this means, the two just popped in and made their appearance. I don’t yet know their story.

Below: Forest Dreaming, Gelatin and foam plate print.  Another almost there print.  Again, I chose not to add another layer, and instead did some very tiny touch-ups with white gouache and a fine brush. Finished.
It feels good to rescue abandoned projects. It lets me move forward with some semblance of continuity after long interruptions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

60 Seconds With Jim—Life Drawing

And 10 minutes with Ursula, figure drawing in blue Prismacolor stick on A4 paper, digitally manipulated (GIMP): basically, I enhanced the contrast and inverted the colours, just to make a quick sketch more fun.
These are one minute poses on A4 paper (I LOVE A4 paper). Jim was held up in traffic and he made up for lost time giving us some great quick poses. My pencils were rocking. After that, the session went down the hill for me, but it was a lively start.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It’s Only Paper and Ink—Work In Progress

Above: detail of Work in Progress.
Below: Two of many sheets of Stonehenge paper, started gelatin prints, using leaves and saran wrap for textures and shapes.


…erm, probably about time I thought of doing tutorials, and I even have a folder of photos stored somewhere on my computer but I forgot the name. You know how it goes…so, sorry, don’t hold your breath…someday, but not today.
But for starters, my best advice is have LOTS of paper on hand. TONS of paper. You can’t possibly have too much paper, and ink too.  And you should have plenty of cheap pre-cut paper. I really like using bright white acid free card stock as it’s cheap enough to experiment with, and nice enough to frame when things do work out. Expect the unexpected, and in the first stages, don’t think, just do. Ink the gelatin, slap on some textures (leaves, lace, stencils, saran wrap, etc.), slap on some paper, do it all over again. I usually start five to ten sheets at a time, often starting them out somewhat similar (ie. begin with yellow as a 1st layer) and as they progress assess and follow their lead.  While I may have a vague idea of where I am going and what I want as an end result, I never really know where I’ll end up.  I leave it all up to chance and experimentation.  Since I use a multitude of techniques and layers, it’s pretty much impossible to do anything twice, which is why even for warm-ups, I use serviceable paper (acid free card stock or mulberry paper), just in case something wonderful appears.
This time I have some foam plate designs started in February and I really want to turn them into finished prints of the elaborate sort so I took the time to slice and dice some Stonehenge paper, which is a wonderful printmaking paper.  Because of that, I’m feeling a bit precious about what I’m doing, and slowing down and getting a bit of a headache, but forging on.
With 10 sheets of paper on the go, I have to
begin developing them further, using whatever I have on hand. The Benthic Fish Fantasy (previous post) is one such foray that came from the set of ten.  Below is a further development of the leaf print above left that came from the same batch.
About 5 layers more of work actually, first  using glassware for added texture, then a fine layer of yellow, then a purple layer & blue layer using newsprint cutouts (the soft curving shapes) followed by a dark circle relief print of a foam plate.  Will this one work out? I have no idea, I just keep going until, a) it’s mud, gack! , b) it turns out .
Actually, a) mud is exactly what happened when I added the dragon foam plate on top (not shown), and then another layer (not shown) until I decided I was going in a terrible direction, but it was still save-able.  I painted the entire circle out in sepia acrylic paint (lots of blow drying in between), and then added yet another dragon foam plate layer in a mix of white, blue and green ink. Phew… now I’m getting somewhere.  This is a thick layer of ink and needs to dry for a day or more if I want some truly crisp layers of colour on top.
Since I’ll be adding more layers with this circular plate, it’s really important to register with as much accuracy as possible. On the back I have for marks, N.S.E.and W. like a compass (I like maps).  I need register marks on the surface of my print to match up to, but they must not be permanent, so I’ve snipped tiny pieces of low tack tape (the little green rectangle in the image below) at each register mark (while the plate is face down, of course) and marked with pen. This should ensure a reasonable (but never perfect) degree of registration for successive layers.  As the sepia layer is acrylic paint and waterproof, I will also be able to retrieve lost details using water and a fine tipped brush (ie. wet and brush away any filled in lines).
So that’s it for now. I’m crossing my fingers, because if I mess up again, this one goes into the recycle bin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)

Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) Here’s a link to the wikipedia entry, Spring Peeper.
Now notice his colour—it’s a pretty darned good match to the leaf he’s sitting on.  We found him, and several others while we lunched on a log in Magnetawan Provincial Park (where my friends live—lucky them), and all of them where the exact same shade of autumn. My friend and I had a real photo fest, duelling camera’s, butts in the air as we bent over and crawled along the forest floor trying to get that perfect shot.  We were a pair of sylvan paparazzi . Most of the time, the camoflage was so good, that we where shooting blind. After I got the photo’s onto my computer, I had to play ‘find the frog’ to enlarge and crop the photo’s. I’m telling you this, because I never see mentions of spring peepers have the ability to change colour, but these photo’s certainly point to that being a strong possibility. I’ve noticed the same thing with American Toads; wherever I find them, they seem to be a pretty good match, sandy yellow in the sand, deep burnt umber on the forest floor, grey and dull on concrete, and beautiful shades of autumn on autumn leaves. Since I’ve yet to do an experiment, I’m only making the assumption by association, but really really wonder…
And now, of course, some art. Unrelated, although I might mention, the spring peeper is highly likely to be turned into a new linocut.
Benthic Fish Fantasy, 9”x6” on Stonehenge paper, gelatin and relief print with linoleum and found objects.
This print is the first of my new series of benthic fish (fantasy). While there are very real, and very weird benthic fish (deep sea dwellers) with glow in the dark lures dangling from their heads, and wicked teeth, and fragile bodies, my linocuts are not scientific diagrams: they are fully imaginary.  I still have more pencil designs waiting to be carved, but as the first three took a total four hours of carving time, I gave the first three a test run.  There will of course, be more.
And if you want to know what real benthic fish look like, Wikipedia on Benthic Fish , and more weird but very real sea creatures: the anglerfish (<—you’ll see why mine are not quite so imaginary after all)


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