Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trout Run Redux

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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.
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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

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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.
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Here are some of them, now, after several hours of sorting and thinking, and putting into categories.
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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…
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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.
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I figured they needed a better send-off than recycling.
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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.
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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

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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.
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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

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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.
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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

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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.

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…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.
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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.
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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)

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Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) Here’s a link to the wikipedia entry, Spring Peeper.
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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.
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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)

Friday, October 7, 2011

A New Line

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More Gelatin Printmaking: this one is a close-up that I did on mulberry paper. It requires two gelatin plates; one large and one small.  I ink up the small one in a colour, then press my linocut into the the small inked-plate.  Then I press the inked linocut onto the large plate, repeat as desired, then lay the mulberry paper on as a result, and then continue with more linocuts and other colours.  I started a bunch of sheets as I really felt that I was in need of warm ups and practice before I moved on to the ‘next big thing’. There are projects that I abandoned way back in February when the big pickles started getting really bad, and I’m almost ready to start tackling them again as I ease my way back in.  This one will likely be turned into an origami lily for my mother-in-law. She is now in Long-term Care aka nursing home, and I thought that some bright origami flowers might be a nice touch at her bedside.
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Here’s my mom-in-law in the rather lovely courtyard of her nursing home.  Yay! Public Health Care, social services and our tax dollars at work. Of course, that’s me on guitar, Dynamo in the middle, and the guy is my husband.
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And the latest linocut finishes off some floral gelatin prints from the summer.  I never cut such fine lines before, and it marks a departure into a new style with an emphasis on line, leaving plenty of room for the elaborate gelatin layers to shine through.
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Mismatched Cats: ACEO Linocut available at Etsy
I’m giving Etsy another shot this season, so I hope you will pardon the odd sales blurb, etc.. This is Rambo (the fat one) and Archer (the tall skinny one). Rambo is my mom-in-law’s cat; well, I guess he’s ours now, but he is still FAT, FAT, FAT. I would never do this to a cat, but I can’t help but think his bulk makes great subject matter.
Enough for now. I need LUNCH, and I need to get downstairs and back to some printmaking.

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