Friday, August 31, 2012

Dreaming With The Greenman

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Dreaming With The Greenman is a mixed-media miniature artwork. The base is a gelatin and polystyrene monotype print, followed by coloured pencil and gold ink. Using started prints as a base opens a door to the subconscious. I am learning to let go, ignore the internal editor and allow myself to be surprised (or not) by what turns up on the page. I’ve seen these two before, and like any archetype, there is a reason they rise to the surface again and again. Making art in such a spontaneous manner becomes an act of discovery.
For really super up close details, I’ve uploaded this to Fineartamerica, but the original was created for a miniature art exhibition. I still haven’t decided if this is one of three to go, but it was created in the dimension of 4” x 5” to suit that specification. More small art for a small world, and easy on the planet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Perfection is Overrated—new kirigami minibooks

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Here are two new mini-books. It's been a long lag between books, and I thought about why I stopped doing them and realized that I wanted something I could freely spread around. It's no fun if only one or three people see them, but my self-imposed production values on my Itty Bitty Books projects were a bit daunting in terms of time and money (full colour, glossy brochure paper, digital graphic design, etc.).
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So I thought I'd try to scale down the itty-bitty books down and go black and white and use pen for spontaneous uncut, unedited originals, and photocopies (pennies) for reproduction. I still spent most of the morning slicing and dicing 20 books, but that's okay. This weekend, I get to leave something fun behind on the gallery brochure table.
One of my inspirations, is Japanese manga art (manga=comic), which is almost exclusively black and white, often sketchy, heavily stylized and yet extremely expressive. My local library has an excellent and growing collection, and the librarian is dedicated to stocking quality work. My latest reading (and I'm sure it has subliminally influenced my two little books) is Nonnonba, by Shigeru Mizuki. It is a memoir of the author's boyhood growing up in Japan of the early 40's. In black and white, the book is still full of colour. With nothing but strokes of a pen he can paint a brilliant blue sky illuminated by a bright yellow sun, there are fields of multi-coloured flowers, yellow straw grass rustling before a weathered dun barn, colourful kimono's, brilliant rainbows, etc. all rendered in black and white. So perhaps, by restricting myself to monochrome, I will stretch my skills a bit.
The 'uncut', 'unedited' part is also creatively important. I can get so bogged down in perfection that I do nothing but stare out the window and never get started. With these little books, I can just scratch away, and those that turn into something share-able will get shared, and the others will be hoarded in secret or recycled accordingly. Hopefully, there will soon be more. Each book folds into an ATC sized 2.5” x 3.5” which means they can be stored alongside any trading card collection.
12083001poi-perfection-is-overrated72Click on the pic to see a 72dpi watermarked version of Volume 1, Perfection is Overrated. The books are free, paper copies picked up in person, (I will try to keep at least one with me always to hand over), or mailed out (SASE), or, by request, I will email you a 300dpi jpeg file, along with fold & cut instructions, and technical support ;-) (as in help, how in #%#$# do I fold this #%%$#@# thing!?!), because if you email me, I know you want it, and will read it, and that makes me feel good. Sometimes making art is a lonely job, so feedback is welcome.
12083001poi-3-cats-i-have723 Cats I Have—Click on the pic to enlarge.
PS. If you are already on my Christmas mailing list, you can be pretty sure that at least one of these will appear in your snail mail stocking. Hints welcome.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Letterbox Spoiler—Mayan Gods


linocut72Linocut in action.

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Jaguar Knight, ACEO 2.5x3.5, linocut, gelatin monoprint & ink pen. This one’s going up on Etsy.
12081702jaguar-knight72This iteration is going to a friend and mentor. This one is purely printmaking for method. The top version has some hand-inked detail in black. The hand-carved image is inspired by Mayan art and from my imagination. Strangely enough, I feel like I know this dude. From what I’ve been reading, that may not be a good thing.  You may notice the background on the lower version looks familiar, and yes, it’s all part of one of those ‘started’ gelatin prints.  I’m so happy I keep this stuff, and wait until the perfect combination of images presents itself.
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Maize God. This linocut is a hand-drawn copy of a Mayan depiction of the Maize God.  In this case, I was striving for a reasonable amount of historical accuracy, and let the act of carving be my contribution of individual style. I always leave my cuts a ‘little rough’ as I want them to have a rustic hand-tooled look, so I don’t reach for precision tools. I want to see those knife marks in the same way that in a painting I want to see brush strokes.  The languid sensuality of this carve, however, is all Maya. The Maize God is depicted as a beautiful young man, holding a corn cob as a symbol of fertility and a blindingly obvious phallic symbol.  In all, I chose it because it is a very sensual image that speaks across the ages.  The one on the left, finishes a gelatin print that I’ve been hanging on to quite awhile. Portions of it are a ghost print transfer from my Gardens of Delight print.
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This one is the Rabbit in the Moon, Moon Goddess.  Again, while hand-drawing the design, I reached for historical accuracy, and while scanning/enlarging and tracing would have been much faster, I feel it was worth the effort as it helped me learn and understand the proportions and forms and quality of line in this ancient work of art. The moon goddess is depicted as a wise old woman sitting in the moon, and I loved how her face and form differed from svelte popular female images of today.  I am actually very happy that letterboxing has led me to take a serious dive into Mayan art, as the research and time spent drawing has been wonderful exploration.
I’ve posted these on Fine Art America in the printmaking section, if you want to have a peak at super magnified details which includes silvery secret highlights.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Finishing Things–Gelatine Printmaking

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So I have a stack of ‘started’ gelatin prints that have been gathering dust and ennui for a long time. Every time I get back to printing, this stack haunts me.  It’s easy to toss into the ‘recycle’ pile really muddy prints, but some, too many, intrigue me in their fine details. I could stare at them for hours, but from any distance, they don’t look like much. So here I am, finishing things.
I have a small stack of tiny pieces. This one is only about three inches long. I let the gelatin print suggest the shapes and feral dogs turned up. The style is no coincidence. I’m designing and carving stamps for a letterboxing meet-up, and the theme is Mayan Ruins. So I’ve been looking at a lot of Mayan artwork. And by coincidence, also reading a fictional account that is rich in details.
With the stamp designs (not shown), 2 are copies of Mayan art. I decided to take the time to draw them freehand, not because I thought they would be better, but so that I could learn something. Taking the time to use eye and hand to reproduce something lets you absorb the information in a way tracing (which would be faster if you just want a reproduction) does not. And I’m fascinated by ancient artworks. For me it is the similarities, not the differences, that catch my eye. Maya to Egyptian to Celtic to Teutonic to Native to, and well, maybe the things that pop out of my head too. But this can be shaped by looking, seeing, thinking, and doing.  I may post my stamps later in the week under the heading of Letterboxing Spoiler Alert, as there may be some letterboxers who would rather be surprised in October and I feel obligated to warn them before I post those carves. I’m in the act of carving them today, but today I’ll post some miniature finished prints from my stack or mixed media as I’m finishing with pens, coloured pencil and metallics.

12081401mayan-king72Look carefully at the right side, and see the Mayan king.
12081401swimming-thru-stars72This one’s called swimming through stars.
12081401gears-wheelsGears, Wheels and Flowers suggested themselves here.
12081401bluejay7212081401bluejay272And these two prints just need me to declare them finished without further embellishments by me. The blue jay is stencilled, the leaf is a collograph and decorative orange background on the right hand piece is foam plate.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rivers of Clover

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Mixed media on A4 Cardstock, gelatin monoprint using found objects overlaid with hand-drawn work in ink.  This is another gelatin monoprint I’ve had for a long time. I used clover, dandelion, and other so-called weeds from my lawn to produce a relief monoprint in blue and yellow.  I loved the transfer of the shapes and textures of the leaves onto the paper, but it lacked definition as a work of art.  So I finally got brave and took a brush pen to it. I began tentatively outlining the shapes of the clover leaves first, trying to find the composition within, then added a few lines of my own, and then settled in and kept adding, with bold and delicate lines, one stroke at a time, then looking at it, and going in again and again, all of one day, and part of another.  At every point, I allowed the natural forms already there to take control, and worked around them and through them, rather than over them. I ‘found’ the compositional elements, rather than ‘made’ them.  And so, while I was doing this rather meticulous work, it had an element of ritual to it all. I questioned ‘why am I doing this?’ and felt a sense of discovery with each new line. The execution itself had importance. It is one thing to observe a thing, and quite another to absorb the information and let it flow through you and back out into the world. And when that happens, art becomes a verb, not a noun.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flower Child

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How about an interlude into crochet. Have I told you I crochet, yet? Well I do. I like to call it hooking, or yarning if I’m being polite. Crocheting sounds prissy, and while I may be many things, prissy I am not.  I only started crochet in March, for practical reasons, but by now I’m pretty much hooked (not asking for pardon on the pun).  At the nursing home I visit, one gentle lady put the appeal of it all down in the simplest terms. It is a way of getting things that no one else has. Such as unique hats, that no one else on earth owns, nor would want to own. When it comes to colour, I completely lack self control, and the colour changing yarns available feed that addiction. This yarn is called Glow In the Dark (I was hoping it did that too, but it doesn’t). I can’t take credit for the design, it was from a pattern (yes, I will share the source if you are actually interested), but it was relaxing to just read the instructions and do for a change. Easier than art, by a VERY LONG shot, as art requires the mind to be continually engaged in high gear. Maybe this too is why I like crochet.
But mostly, it will be such fun to wear this hat, in public, even if it makes my husband, and possibly many others, snigger.
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And it turns out that I’ve been into wearing flowers on my head for a very long time.  I made my own wedding dress, (okay, my husband actually did all the boring stuff, like beading and hems, but I designed it, with lots of hems and beads and no good sense in mind), and the head piece, with, ahem, flowers on my head.
flowerchild3See, look. Flowers on my head, and lots of hems to hem, not to mention long strings of beads.
And fast forward to this year, more flowers on my head.
princess-swag72IMG_4259 Well, the multi-coloured chain was just a temporary migration. I couldn’t help myself. The swag was intended for my bike.
IMG_4233Which is fairly elaborately yarn-bombed. It all started when I realized my bicycle seat was about to disintegrate, so I crocheted a cover, then I thought it would be good to add storage capacity, (beyond the milk-crate basket at the back) so I hooked up a front basket twin water bottle holder (which the husband refers to as a nice pair of jugs), so adding the flower swag was inevitable. After all, it couldn’t get worse, could it?  And yes, I pedal many kilometers on this thing, sometimes carting all my groceries back up a high hill. It’s fun to pass (or be passed by) the spandex crowd. You know, the dudes in their stretchy pants and skinny bikes and competitive attitude.  Sometimes they are even friendly. Once, I got serious complements on my pedalling technique! Serious, because I actually was doing something different from my usual, and it turned out that now I actually make better time because someone noted it. Likely, the guy was surprised that someone riding a bike like mine could pedal at all.
I digress. What the heck. Here’s a lazy susan for you to top it all off.
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And if the story needs a moral; it’s never good to take life (or your blog) too seriously. Lighten up and take time to sniff the flowers.

PS. if you are really into yarny things, you'll find me also on Ravelry , user name kaslkaos, of course.

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