Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sonata’s at Sunset

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Yearly, it is a great privilege to have the opportunity to hear the most wonderful choir of songsters. The snow has only just melted, the leaves on trees are still tight little buttons of grey, and the grasses are a frost blighted dun, but the frogs, they have no time to waste, and in the least of wetlands, they sing in a frenzy of passion hoping to be the best, and luckiest, and the most prolific of breeders.
They sing in rhythm and harmony, not by accident, but to be heard. It’s impossible to stand out as individual within a wall of white noise, and so it is no coincidence that thousands of frogs make a song out of their collective desires, as each frog pauses and waits for their chance to shine, rhythm builds, and as each frog modulates their volume and tone to distinguish themselves from another, polyphony is achieved, a beautiful thing, that impresses more than just the intended hearer.
The photo was taken last night, at a nearby wetland; it was the 1st concert of 2013 that we, dog, husband and I, formally attended. By that I mean, we walked out to the wetland, and stood, very quietly, to listen and appreciate, well, at least the two-legged attendees. Dog made a variety of “I’m bored” gestures, chewing sticks, jumping up, rubbing in the dry rustling grasses, etc.. I’m sure she would have preferred squirrel watching.
Photo above is digitally tweaked (contrast & brightness, nothing fancy)
Below, is a postcard I made for a postcard exchange. The recipient has a preference for postcards that show places, so I decided to deliver exactly that.
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Text reads:
7:30 PM April 22 2013 Windsor Lake Wetland Whitchurch-Stouffville Ontario Canada Planet Earth Milky Way Galaxy Universe
Spring Peeper, Leopard Frog, Wood Frog, Chorus Frog, sing in concert in celebration and creation of life.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gelatin Printmaking—the Tips Issue

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Fuchsia Leaves, gelatin print on A4 paper.
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I thought these were unfinished starts, but didn’t know how to take them further. Now, seeing them scanned and on screen, I declare them finished, sorry about the lack of cute cats…
I don’t spend all of my time doing the actually messy action part of printmaking. There is much else to do, such as designing, sketching, practice, planning, not to mention fetching yet another coffee and other forms of procrastination… sometimes my jellies spend long stretches of time stored in the refrigerator, gone, almost forgotten. And when I get back to them after a long hiatus, I’m always having to relearn, and rediscover things that I had learned and discovered the last time.
So this time I took notes, AND I”M SHARING THEM.  I suppose I should print them off for myself, but that would be very organized of me. Most likely, I’ll just muddle through the same territories all over again.
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Have fun, in the meantime, I still need to figure out how to “finish’ the print I used as a background for these tips, not to mention a small stack of new starts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

More Gelatin Printmaking—WIP’s

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This is an 8x10 WIP. The patterned background is a scan of a gelatin and foam plate print.  The lynx is a scan of a graphite drawing I did ‘inspired’ by the foam plate. I’ve sent MANY a promising start to recycling by putting on that last fatal layer, so I thought, why not be a little left-brained about it and use GIMP (an image editor) to create some virtual mock-ups.  So that’s what I did here, hmmmm…. does it help? Don’t know.  I’m decidedly doing a linocut of that lynx, so one thing accomplished. Sometimes the jellies help me think. The lynx simply would not have happened without the jelly at my side. But I’m still dithering on do I carve the lynx and plop down as is in black ink, or do I build up a few more layers and risk completely mucking things up. Yah, I know, it’s up to me.
Which reminds me. I assisted with the art therapy at the nursing home, and got to sit down with my favourite and famous film-maker artist. He is WONDERFUL, and I am completely in AWE of him in his presence. He gives me hugs now, WOW!  And I can’t say I’m not flattered. But, more often than not, his sketchbook remains frustratingly blank.  He often lifts the pages to revisit past successes, but can’t get past the blank page. I googled him (wouldn’t you), and sure enough, even in his days of success, when asked about his creative process, he spoke of the need to ‘see’ the whole in his mind, before he could put something down on the page.  So what I thought was entirely the tragedy of dementia (or whatever it is he suffers from), I know these hesitations are nothing new, and, well, come to think of it, entirely familiar, because…
Today, we both agreed, as artists, that making art is SCARY. Yes, exactly that, frightening and difficult. The blank page, and every step thereafter, is like leaping off a precipice.  And, with a severe case of schadenfreude somehow I felt better to be in such exalted company and yet have exactly the same fears. Because when I make art, it never feels good until it is finished, and then only, when finished well (that which get tossed into recycling does not feel good at all), and now I know this probably will never change, and while it may be unpleasant, it’s part of the process that gets things done, that get things up to the finish line, and hopefully to success.
So we soldier on, us artists. And as for his sketchbook, we worked together on a fine spring themed collage. He was meticulous with placement and paper-cutting, and I got in there fast, quick with the glue, before he changed his mind. Because I thought, if it were me, I’d need that, else, in my indecisiveness, I go fetch another coffee, check my facebook page yet again, write another blog post, fetch another coffee and don’t get a damn thing done.
Help, quick, anyone have any paste? 
13041102leaves-fuchsia72a Erm…. and here’s another I can’t figure out how to finish, 8x10, fuchsia leaves, foam plate and gelatin. Any hints? Glue and scissors, anybody?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning Zone—experiments with gelatin plate printing

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One of my little tutorials that probably frustrates the hell out of anyone who likes things spelled out in plain english. Sorry about that, BUT, gelatin printing is all about experimenting, trying something new, allowing things develop, and leaving creative space for the random and unexpected.
I am actually, literally, often AFRAID to begin a session, characterized by the strong urge to make another coffee, check my facebook page, again, and a burgeoning headache. I’ll find any excuse not to go downstairs to my basement (wet-work) studio.  And that’s because I like things to be predictable, and the jellies are anything but. And yet, the very unpredictability inspires me—it just takes me awhile to get going.
The important things are, plenty of ink in lots of colours, so that I’m not afraid to scrape the glass clean and start over again if I make mud instead of rainbows.
And plenty of cheap pre-cut paper. Card stock is your friend. Really.  Cardstock is cheap enough to toss into recycling without shedding tears, and good enough to frame up and hang as a finished print for that special Eureka! moment.  I go through plenty.
Today, I got brave, and tried out a whole bunch of things, often on the backs of other ‘failed’ prints and proofs that I save for this purpose, and some onto fresh card-stock, a few of which will be turned into finished prints, many of which will go out with the newspapers.
gelatin-printmaking-tutorial The background is my usual collection of ‘textures’ swiped onto an inked gelatin plate. The purple is hand-written backwards onto a wet gelatin plate using water-soluble coloured pencils. 
finger-painting-on-gelatin-plateand then it was time to get my hands dirty, and do some finger-painting. I’ll likely be turning this one into finished work (the photo doesn’t do the colours justice), but finger painting can build up subtle beautiful layers.
monoprinting-with-brushand who guessed I like manga by the way I do faces???  The background is once again textures with glasswhere, but I painted the face with a rigger brush directly onto the gelatin, and placed the paper on top, QUICK, VERY QUICK. I was using the printing ink, which is water based, so I ran the risk of it drying out. I’ll need to find out what happens if it drys and needs to be spritzed to re-wet it, or place dampened paper on top. SO MANY VARIATIONS, which is why there is no ‘step by step’ in this tutorial, just a million possibilities to present.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Temptation—Iowa Print Exchange

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It’s that time of year again. The Iowa State University Print Exchange.  This years theme, Temptation. MMMMMMmmmm… I decided to have fun with this one.  So, to protect your virgin eyes, the first images are decidedly work safe. If you are thinking of scrolling down…well, you’ve been warned.
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I need to send 13 of these today, or tomorrow  latest. I love the way the mulberry paper portion curled up into scrolls, very appropriate for the subject matter. As for that, well, blame my catholic up-bringing, but nothing is more intriguing than that which is forbidden, and the Catholic religion has plenty of no-go zones, at least in theory…
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Whoops, here it is.  The nudity is not much, but mixing up the religion could offend, so I left you with plenty of warning. The exchange is for post-cards. To protect posties virgin eyes, the white spaces are folded over, and the image sealed from sight with the ‘temptation’ stamp, which is glued on with rice-paste.  Which means that if the recipient wants to enjoy the art within, they will be have to ‘give in to temptation’ and break the seal. I’m hoping they enjoy the irony when they are done.
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For myself, I really liked getting a chance to stretch my life drawing skills and give them a good run. And I love some of the more ornate fantasy manga (Japanese comics) with their graphic storytelling and layouts, and that influence is there too.  In other words, I had fun with these.
I have a few saved up (I did 18 as fold-over post-cards) and I plan on doing an 8x10 layout edition later, for now, the 5 additional post-card edition is available on Etsy.
In the meantime, if you don’t mind being struck by lightning, I’ve posted a high-resolution scanned image on FineArtAmerica (if it doesn’t show up, you need to remove the ‘mature’ filter)

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