Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sunset on the Edge of Town--foam plate monoprint

13012901sunset-edge-town72bextreme close-up of foam-plate print
I’m still digging through my piles of art, and found 2 foam plate prints I did last year. This one, I love ‘as is’. It is finished, complete.
13012901sunset-edge-town72aanother extreme close-up showing the ‘ragged edge’ of the black acrylic under painting. I save ‘ragged edges’ from Stonehenge paper and use them as ‘stencils’ for the under paintings of these polystyrene prints.
And the whole thing, titled Sunset on the Edge of Town, reminiscent of my view of Scarborough and Toronto from the Oakridges Moraine. Available for sale at Etsy


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Extreme-Close-ups Miniature Gelatin Prints

I’m always getting my nose in my art (not literally, but sometimes there’s less than an inch to spare), and I have to don reading glasses to do that (before I need them for reading). I often get lost in the details, something that is sometimes a bane for composition, but hopefully, experience has grappled that into control. So today I’ll indulge in sharing some extreme close-ups of two works of art.
This is a mermaid, atc-sized, 3.5”x2.5”. I’ve scanned it at 600dpi so that I could show off it’s best features.  Much of the subtle details come from layers of gelatin monoprints using glassware and sprays of water to put ‘random’ textures into the ink. I’ve followed up with picking up details in two tones of coloured pencil, and a sepia fine-liner pen.  A mermaid appeared, a fishy snaky eel-like mermaid, a far cry from the large breasted doe-eyed fantasy version. I’m fascinated by these fish-women, likely due to my own affinity for water whether exploring a lakeshore from a piscine vantage in summer, or gliding across it’s frozen surface in winter.
13012401kelp-mermaid-gelatin-print-aceo72aHere is all of her. I’m pretty sure the sea-weeds are largely inspired by my first and only trip to the Atlantic Ocean last fall.
13012401kelp-mermaid-gelatin-print-aceo72b  13012401kelp-mermaid-gelatin-print-aceo72c
On my last post, I used “You Have a Beautiful Hand” as an illustration for a personal story. This is appropriate, because art IS personal.  But I decided to save the extreme-close-ups for later (as in, now)
At this magnification, the raised texture and sparkle of the gold pen detail becomes apparent.
It almost looks yummy.
Here, the top layer is magenta coloured pencil, below is a layer of egg yellow gelatin monoprint, and the blue comes from pressing an inscribed foam plate onto gelatin that has been inked in blue. The foam plate ‘lifts’ the blue and leaves a solid inscription behind.
Thanks for letting me indulge in the sensuality of colour and form with extreme close-ups.
Yes, I’ve popped them up on Etsy for sale, linked below
Mermaid in the Kelp
You Have a Beautiful Hand

Friday, January 25, 2013

You Have a Beautiful Hand

8”x10” stonehenge paper, gelatin print using foam plates, foam plate relief, gold pen ink and coloured pencil aka Mixed Media.
As some of you may already know, I now volunteer at a local nursing home. Through less than happy circumstance, I found myself visiting weekly, and got to know many of the residents, and made a friend whom I now visit weekly. All of this was formalized as ‘volunteer’ about a month ago, so both my husband and I have little magnetic badges to wear, and my dog, just by being a dog, serves up a dish of ‘pet’ therapy. 
Volunteers are expected to do work that is in keeping with their interests and skills, and for my husband, that meant an outing to a local hockey game! Together, we rode a bus through the town that took us to see all the best Christmas lights, and now I’m assisting with an Art Therapy Program, and it’s been some of the most fun I’ve ever had. We’re still laughing about how doing something you love could be ‘volunteering’.
I love seeing the art that these people do, and sharing their joys and accomplishments. I love even better, when, one on one, someone shares details of their life with me. It’s especially wonderful to see them chatting and socializing with one another during the session, and I get to share the joy by being a part of the group.
My latest gelatin print is directly inspired by these experiences. The gelatin print was from a batch I created for my ‘year of the snake’ submission, but it had some strong compositional elements, so I held it aside for further work.  The ‘beautiful hand’ came up, and I immediately associated it with the residents and the thrill of creation. Mostly, it is one man’s beautiful hand. He is severely disabled and can barely hold a pencil. The other artists ‘assist’ his sketches, but I just help get a grip on the pencil colour of his choice and hold the sketchbook in front of him. Then, for a few brief moments, he draws the pencil across the page, vertically or horizontally with a look of rapture on his face. It is fleeting, but it reminds me of the pure sensuality of pulling colour across the page when I am immersed in my own art, and he deserves to have a few lines on the page to call his own, entirely by his own hand.
There are other wonders, as is the lady who asked for colours to ‘draw angels’, and draw angels she did, in bold solid strokes with strong stout wings and glowing smiles, coloured in yellow and pink and blue.  Powerful angels with infectious smiles.
And the man who plays piano. He is such fun, a great conversationalist, and when he draws, he dabs and dashes and ad libs on the page, resulting in a very lively sketch filled with detail.  His piano playing is very much like that too.
And then there is Mr. C. During the first session, a brief look at his sketchbook told me that he had been a professional artist throughout his life, so already, I felt honoured to be in his presence. But this week, I found out (from the lady who draws angels) that he had won an OSCAR, you know, that ugly but much sought after gold statue that involves a star studded event filled with the rich and famous. Now I feel like ought to bow before him, as this Oscar was award for talent and innovation.  It’s a privilege to stand beside a man like that.
You may wonder why I am being coy about names, but search engines are overly powerful at pulling together bits of information. And, I’ve come to realize there are degrees of ‘public’ information. There is a large difference between telling a stranger on a train about some private moment of your life and having it tattooed on your forehead to be seen by all each and everyday. In the same way, a blog entry can be a bit like telling a stranger on a train, but with search engines, it can morph into ‘tattooed on my forehead’ SO in order to get back to the ‘stranger on a train’ version of public broadcast, I’m using images. So if you want to see who the Oscar winner is, just check out the doodle diary, and google his name. There’s even a video interview. And for those outside of Canada, his film was and still is quite well known, and in the history of fill is still cited as a technical game-changer for its time.
IMG_5678 click to enlarge, and on the left you can read about a very accomplished resident I have the privilege of working with (I’m being careful about naming names as searchable text to preserve some privacy, that’s why I’ll never tell you which ‘home’ I volunteer for)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mont Tremblant and a new kind of trip diary

a1mont-tremlbantEntering Mont Tremblant village. 
I had a little winter holiday, an unexpected luxury. Usually we camp and do everything on the cheap, but my husband won a travel voucher, so for four nights we lived like the rich in a hotel suite complete with kitchen, living room and a separate bedroom. I almost felt sorry for the family of five squeezed into the lozenge shaped 2 bed sliver next door.
After a six and a half hour stint in the car, our first stop was the outdoor skating rink.
IMG_5664 I used to write elaborate diary entries on my holidays. Then I planned to write elaborate trip diaries, but never got around to actually doing it. This time around, I tried the ‘kiss’ principle (keep it simple stupid!) and brought along the tiniest of sketch books and a pencil.  I managed 3 entries in 4 nights, a pretty good ratio. Better yet, I feel I captured memories more succinctly (<—whoot! didn’t even need spell check for that word) than I would have with long-winded typed passages)
IMG_5665This is an x-ray diagram of my low-budget ski attire. I simply take ‘dress in layers’ to an extreme.
a3mont-tremblant-parkMont Tremblant National Park where we went cross-country skiing.

More later, or if I get lazy, I will upload to facebook.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Snakes on the Way—Gelatin Monoprints and Relief Linocut

13011105year-of-the-snake72 (this one was a two colour monoprint, yellow below, followed by red roll-out textured with kirigami (folded and cut) waxed paper)
Here they are, the five best of eight gelatin and relief linocut monoprints. They are all done on 8”x10” Stonehenge paper. In other years, I confess, I was stingy and held back my favourite, because with monoprints, there is ALWAYS a favourite.  This year, I decided to satisfy myself with keeping a good 300dpi scan of each, and showing them off on the blog.
13011104year-of-the-snake72 (this gelatin monoprint done by redistributing rolled out ink with my favourite textured glassware)
13011103year-of-the-snake72   13011101year-of-the-snake72
These gelatin prints  (above and below) done in multiple thin colour layers. Much of the texture comes from my doodled foam plates. The foam lifts ink off of the gelatin leaving the doodles to show up as darker ink.
They will all be available for sale (along with a whole bunch of other fabulous snakes) at Proof Studio Gallery in February, for their annual “Year of ….” Exhibition and Exchange. Thereafter, they travel to OCADU (Ontario College of Art and Design), Ottawa School of Art and Muskoka Art Place Gallery.
The snakes progress from rough sketch to finished art is the most documented ever! So here goes,
[12112705graphite-line-drawing%255B8%255D.jpg] <—the very beginning of the snake project (an impromptu EUREKA sketch)
Graphic Design from Low Tech to High Tech with Gimp (working up, resizing, and compositional adjustments using digital tools)
Gelatin Printmaking-a little tutorial and fresh jellies (tutorial and the recipe for the gelatin monoprints, and pics of the monoprints sans snakes)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gelatin Printmaking-a little tutorial and fresh jellies

Here’s a close-up of one of my latest gelatin prints. I’m using foam-plates with doodles pressed onto an ink plate to get these designs. To tone the contrast down (I’m planning to over-print with my Year of the Snake linocut) I rolled white ink onto the foam plate, rolled a rubber roller over that, so that I could pick up a textured white ink, and then rolled the white over my print. Something you need to see in person, I guess.
Here’s the beginning. A recipe. The hand-written recipe is my latest concoction. Mostly I guess, and guess again, but now I think I need to keep track. This recipe made 10x13 inch plate, 1/2 deep. I could have used more. I don’t know who to credit regarding the addition of vinegar, but it makes the plate last MUCH longer. Now that I use vinegar, I actually miss the mould. Mouldy disintegrating plates are the most fun, but sometimes I want to know that if I put the plate away for a few weeks, I can use it whenever I’m ready again.
I learned the hard way to use an over-sized (spaghetti) pot. I’ve had more boil-overs than I care to admit, as once it gets roiling, it doesn’t stop.  The spaghetti pot will hold a boil-over. However, you must watch your gelatin 100% of the time, and stir slowly, so that it won’t stick or burn or turn into a giant rolling foam monster exploding in your kitchen.
The result should look yellow. That means your gelatin is thick and rubbery, a perfect and durable surface to print on. I don’t worry too much about bubbles. If they don’t pop themselves, I skim a little with paper towel. Mostly though, I just shew them into the corner where they won’t bother me (kind of like sweeping dust bunnies under the bed)
After 12 or more hours, it’s ready for ink. I’m using a cookie sheet so I just have to separate the edge with a knife and gently lift the plate from the sheet, and lay it out on sheet of glass. The cookie sheet becomes a protective lid when I put it away in the refridgerator.
Here’s a fresh bunch of jellies. They are low contrast, as I want to print my Year of the Snake linocut. The detail will be there for those who step in for a closer look.
Yep, I was finger-painting on this one. Wow, that felt good, talk about a ‘hands-on’ experience! The nice thing about finger-painting on gelatin, is that you can just keep moving the colours around until you’re happy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


13010301migrations-gimped72graphite drawing, digital effects with gimp
Musselman’s Lake is still and silent today, encased in ice and snow. It is winter, but up until late December, the local Canada geese, and a few trumpeter swans called it home.  I too call it home, but unlike the geese, I stay put. I don’t like change, I don’t like being changed, and I don’t like seeing things change around me. Routines are comforting, but too many can wrap around the psyche like a shroud, layers and layers of routine can be like being encased in like a cocoon, but the thicker the layers, the more difficult the escape.
Two years ago, I still I held childish illusions of the immutable soul, all of which was stripped away when I was forced to witness an elders decline into dementia. I used to think that the one thing we can hang onto until our very last breath was our sense of self. This turns out to be a fairy tale. But when I thought those things, everything and anything that threatened that sense of self could throw me into a tail spin…a narrow look, a wrong word, a minor failure.  When I believed in fairy tales, there were indeed monsters under the bed.
I now know that we only have our moments, that who we are changes day by day, and time is at most wave that we ride.  I’ve had major rethinks of what consciousness is (aided by science articles in books, magazines and podcasts) and find it ever more mysterious and wonderful—but not under our control.  So who I think I am becomes one more layer of wonder in the universe, like the cardinals brilliant carmine feathers, or the song of whales. And all of us, not just mankind, but birds and mammals, maybe more, vibrate with consciousness, and exude it in our dreams, this thing we cannot grasp, reach, record or quantify except when it’s gone.
So I feel, finally, that I am going in the right direction, a little calmer, and a little more confident. I made some changes too, and volunteer at nursing home where I already had made many friends. More on that later, but it feels good to belong somewhere in an official way. Also, last September, finally, left Ontario for our holidays. Soon we’ll be making a trip into Quebec for some snow fun. Another chip out of the routines. And a minor but significant change, I no longer drive (5 minutes) daily to the local forest for my walks, but instead embrace my neighbourhood on my feet (or bicycle).  Which has given me a new perspective (very positive) on where I live, and new landscapes to explore (rural, cottage, farm, lake). I make choices now at the end of my day, of where I’m going and what I will do. And when it comes to making art, I’m not afraid to let my style veer towards naive, if that is where the muse takes me.
13010301lakeshore-road-stouffville 12120601musselmans-lake
And so, back to the geese, and late December, when the woods were dark and gloomy (no snow then to light the way) so my exercise was always walking around the lake, often at dusk.  And as I walked, it was the geese that would keep me company with their continuous convivial gabble, that often began overhead. I would hear them at a distance, and looking up, racing across the darkening sky, their classic ‘v’ pointing West, not South, their destination very near, and as I walk, also West, I felt very much to be in good company, as we all headed together to the same destination, Musselman’s Lake, to settle in for the night in the company of friends and loved ones.
PS. Artsy folks out there, the drawing is just pencil now. Redo as a linocut? Should I re-jigg the sizes of the elements (bigger otter, or fish) to improve the composition, or take it the way it is as naive art?


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