Thursday, August 25, 2011

Letting Nature do the Talking

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detail of 5'”x7” gelatin print using found natural objects (flowers from my garden)
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detail of 5'”x7” gelatin print using found natural objects (weeds from my garden)
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5'”x7” gelatin print using found natural objects (flowers from my garden)
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detail of 5'”x7” gelatin print using found natural objects (oak and mulberry leaf from industrial parking lot in Markham Ontario)
I’m busy matting and framing for the show, and thought I’d better scan a few before I lock them behind paper and glass.  Since I started doing gelatin printing, I’ve been fascinated by the results of using found natural objects, but always felt they needed something more—my stamp, literally.  But as I assessed the latest batch with white matt in hand, I began setting some aside as ‘finished’ seeing that I had nothing to add to the picture. Sometimes you need to step back a bit and I don’t have much more to say about it; this time I’ll let nature do the talking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Fine Art of Sitting

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Loon: I’ll Watch Your Back. ATC-sized original hand-pressed linocut.
It’s a busy busy world, and everything we we do has a crazed sense of urgency.  We speak with denigration of people ‘just sitting around’, but much can be accomplished in this position, a thing that every other creature on this planet knows.
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Green Frogs hard a work.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit some very good friends that live in an un-serviced cabin in the woods along the Magnetawan River.  There is no road access, and in summer we wait by the shore of Sunset Bay, Harris Lake for our friends to pick us up in their motor boat.  As we arrived early at our rendezvous, our weekend began with an introduction to the fine art of sitting. For ourselves, as we had no better option than to make ourselves comfortable on a mossy tussock and enjoy, and for the opportunity to observe an active loon nest (sadly barren, as we later were told), but the loon was a fine example of alert watchfulness (and an inspiration for a new linocut).
And that set the tone for the weekend. It was horribly hot, and flies (all of them huge and toothsome) were swarming in battle-ready battalions on the trails, and in this weather there are only two acceptable activities—swimming and sitting.  Of the former, we did enough to turn feet and fingers into pale shrunken things as we made forays along the forested shoreline to a small secluded bay, where, of course, we climbed up onto the rocky shore to sit once again in the shade of tall pines.  Back at the cabin, we turned sitting into an occupation, sitting on the couch, at the dining room table, outdoors at the picnic table, on lawn chairs at the east end of the deck, inside the gazebo, outside the gazebo, on the rocks on the shore, and I, all by my lonesome with camera in hand, on the sand of a little weedy bay to watch the frogs who are the Rock Stars of the fine art of sitting. You can learn something from these guys, as they accomplish a great deal just sitting around.
My husband, camera NOT in hand, followed my example, and observed the culmination of their labour, as one snatched an consumed a fly, and another snared a large dragon fly, which took quite some effort to massage down.  We’ll have to take his word for it; I wasn’t there.
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Green Frog: Yum
PS. Canon 10 mgpx camera used, these frogs let me get REALLY close.

Friday, August 12, 2011

One for the Money

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Chipmunk Dreams, ATC linocut relief hand-printed on Canson Mi-Tientes paper.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.
Now that I'm in 'get ready for September's show mode", this silly ditty seems really apt. Last Saturday I read a news article about a New York artist that sells boxed New York trash (genuine trash hand-picked fresh off of New York streets) at $50 a piece.  The lesson an artist can learn from this is: the absolute importance of packaging and marketing.  After all, if someone out there can successfully sell trash as fine art, well...
So I'm getting busy, putting my thinking cap on, and doing all sorts of not-particularly creative things. Who likes framing? Anyone? How about cutting paper into ever smaller, but accurately measured pieces? Any takers?  Licking and sticking corners….

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Squirrel, ATC linocut relief hand-printed on Canson Mi-Tientes paper, with gold-metallic effect.
As I attended Nature's Creations last year, I realized that most of the passers-by were hikers and dog walkers just out for a jaunt in the forest, the art show was a surprise. And with that in mind, I was determined to have more 'take-away' items, under $50 (the latest gelatin prints I’ve been showing off), and under $10 (cards & atc’s). I'm very happy with the atc linocuts on a card. I struggled with the aspect of devaluing original art by turning it into a greeting card. Happily solved it (with additional labour) by mounting each atc with photo-corners that frame and highlight the art, while in no way damaging the piece with any adhesive. These can be popped out and framed. I also reduced the size of the block to 2x3 so that a standard frame won't shave off a half inch of image (which turns out to be a crucial amount for miniature art). The nuthatch was quite a carving challenge in the fine details; I really MUST use reading glasses to carve these little guys. The chipmunk appeared mysteriously and complete on my page as I was drawing the designs for the squirrel. Very strange when that happens, basically, I started with squirrel in mind, as chipmunk appeared on the page. I didn’t fight it, and just let the pencil do it’s thing, and there he is, preserved for all time.
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3 for the Show! with a lovely natural mosaic of my pesticide free lawn. It’s not a weed if I like it.
This critters, and others will be accompany in September at the Nature’s Creations Show in York Regional Forest, Hollidge Tract, HWY 48 & Cherry Street, Aurora, Ontario, September 24th, 2011.
PS. I will get back to those ‘thoughtful’ blogposts sometime soon, likely after September. Right now, I have A LOT of catching up to do, and am actually quite happy not to share my ‘inner thoughts’ quite yet.

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