Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hamlet and Ophelia

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9x12 Mixed Media, gelatin relief monoprint with coloured pencil, and pen
I’ve been picking my way through this one, bits at a time for the past month (or more) using coloured pencils and a blue ball point pen. The gelatin print is MUCH older than that, a Hamlet series using an extremely old gelatin plate and stencils.  I kept putting this one aside as ‘finished, but not quite’. Yesterday I scored a brown ball-point pen!  I’m so excited about that because it was exactly what I needed to add impact to a piece that I just couldn’t quite complete.
And here it is.
For detail views, see it posted on FineArtAmerica.
While I won’t list it as mature, if you look closely enough, it is.  Much like the scenes with Hamlet and Ophelia. Watching the play, and reading it, I never quite understood Ophelia.  Oddly enough, as I worked on this piece, it all came clear. Nothing I can explain in words, which is why I do art.
While I will get around to posting on Etsy, I’m in no hurry.  I don’t think its the sort of thing people are expecting, you know, beautiful tragic Ophelia surrounded by pretty flowers, handsome Hamlet in princely gown contemplating Yorick…
 This is not the usual take on Hamlet and Ophelia, this one delves into the subliminal and subconscious. Read closely, Hamlet is ripe with sexual overtones, and they were overt and crass; it is only the changes of the English language through time that obscures the overt sexuality of their relationship. Ophelia's passions are deep, and were turned against her.
So I listed on Etsy anyway...did not list it as mature...lets see if someone gets me in trouble for that.
HAMLET
Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
Lying down at OPHELIA's feet
OPHELIA
No, my lord.
HAMLET
I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA
Ay, my lord.
HAMLET
Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA
I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET
That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
OPHELIA
What is, my lord?
HAMLET
Nothing.
***
OPHELIA
[Sings.]
"By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do't, if they come to't;
By cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.'

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

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8.5x11 inch gelatin plate relief print with coloured pencil
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8x10 inch gelatin plate relief print with coloured pencil

Win some, with these, I hope, but halfway through, I considered both disasters. Gelatin printing is one of those infinitely unpredictable processes, which is exactly what I love about it. It is so exciting when I turn over the page to reveal something beautiful. But more often than not, it is less than that.  This is part of the process, but what really bothers me, is to build up a print of many layers, and then adding that one, ‘what was I thinking?’ indelible disastrous layer. The first became one such, when I added a plain brown relief print layer (the tree). There was nothing in the layers below to tie in the nut brown I’d rolled out. I cannot even begin to explain why I made such a decision, only that I did it. Ooops, and that made me sad. I put it aside.
Often, with such prints, I revisit them days/weeks/months later. In this case, I was very pleased with how the ultramarine coloured pencil applied over the brown pulled everything together, and coloured pencil over thick pebbled relief printing ink makes for an interesting texture indeed.
For the second, I had what I felt was an interesting beginning, and decided to overlay the tree with a two step process…that is, I ink the foam plate, press the ink plate onto the gelatin, which transforms and breaks up the ink, but when I lifted the paper to view the result, it was clear that the background and foreground were at war with one another.  Back to the desk, then.
This one was more touch and go, but in the end, I liked the result. Mulberry pencil strengthened the tree and pushed the background back where it belonged, and I filled a bright negative space with dancing ravens. Done. These two are going into my Etsy Nature and Outdoors Section
IMG_6228Foam plate in progress. Positive space, tree, gently inked in with marker so as to make no indentation. Negative spaces inked in ball point pen. The ink is irrelevant, the pressure of the pen depresses the foam to make the negative space of a relief print.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Another Kind of Work In Progress


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Once upon a time, I quit my day job with plans of becoming an artist. I wasn’t an artist, mostly because I spent all of my free time trying to repair the physic damage cubical-land inflicted. Emotionally, I was not doing well—at all.
Now it’s all well and good to have dreams, but only action counts, and actions are moved along by goals.  It’s important for the more timid amoung us (that would be me) to have very achievable goals so that one is not paralyzed by fear.  So my first goal was to have more art than I knew what to do with.
I now have stacks. I have heaps. I have framed art gathering dust in corners and stacked in spare rooms, and piled high beside me. I shouldn’t admit this, but there, now you know.
IMG_6450Here’s some of my stacks, and the beginning plans of sandwich board sign.
So it’s time to work at my next goal—sell art. Or, shall I say, sell more art. Etsy sales trickle in, but they at least give me a guide as to what sells vs what I wish I could sell (a whole different conversation, that—hint cute cats vs abstract conceptual art).
I live on a busy main road just south of a scenic lake.  Should be good place to hang out my shingle.
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But again, it’s all dreams, talk and empty air without action.
IMG_6446Shiny, but still a long way to go.
So I took a look around my small home (was built as a cottage) where my ‘studio’ consists of scattered spaces throughout the house. Nothing, I assume, that meets the general publics idea of a studio, and wondered. But in the stairwell, which is the front entrance, I see potential. So I cleaned up the dust, the random books, the shed spider bits and accompanying cobwebs (did I say I wasn’t much of a housekeeper?) and discovered things I’d rather not know, like the question ‘do the window sashes need painting and caulking or outright replacement?’ Yikes… But I could put my head back in the sand or plough on with projects that I can tackle…one such being the closet door.
IMG_6447Some of the cat-scratches go into the panelling, nothing not fixable though.  I’ll miss the stencilled leaves though.
It looked nice for about two weeks many years ago, and then the cats discovered the scrumptious texture of the wallpaper. Mmmmmm….and since it’s just about impossible to stop a cat from doing what a cat wants to do, we chose to live with this disaster—for years.
Until now…when I’m on a mission.  When I realize action, however small, is the only thing that counts when pursuing a dream. So next up is scrubbing and scraping. Then painting—hopeful a smooth painted surface will be less appealing to little paws.
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And eventually, I hope to have a space that lets people know that I take my art seriously.
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A little sample corner of what I hope will be a future staircase gallery space.
PS. Sometimes when a project is towering huge, a checklist might not be the best way to go. Sometimes it’s just best to tackle what you can, one tiny bit at a time and see where it takes you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cross Border Collaboration, an Update

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Love this little guy.  I get all caught up in the details though. Last Friday, I put my pencils down, as I thought I was sending the whole project south (and not in a good way).  I work with nose to paper (almost literally, wearing granny glasses). I’m fascinated by the small in my art, even better magnified, and so that yellow was looking really striding. The yellow (and other colours) are opaque layers of water colour, and they make a great ground for the pencils. As you can see, they really grab the colour.  I began everything with inscribed line, and now am using pencils to pull out those details.
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And here’s where I got to. On the left is Claudette’s pristine work.  Now that I look at, stepping slightly away, I really happy with it, the yellow ground is just perfect (as I’d thought in the first place).  I’ve never tried pencils over pure yellow, so what an adventure.  The crabs are pretty much finished, the goat has a ways to go, and that little place for a stamp, I have plans for (no spoilers).  For now, I’m going to rest it for a few days, and move on with other things, like tidying up my stairwell to see if could make a little drop in studio gallery space….hmmmm. Big dreams, small steps, who knows. I have cobwebs to sweep 1st, not to mention paint, carpet removal, ack…small steps, small steps.
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And another extreme close up. My goal was to preserve the yellow ground & red splatters, while dropping the section to the background.  Up close, I became completely mesmerized by the textures, and thought that instead this section was screaming for attention. Well, under magnification, it still is, but now that I see it as whole with the piece, I feel quite good about it. 

PS. the camera has added a slight green tint to the yellow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sometimes Procrastination is a very good friend

13050901solar-flare72a
Solar Flare, 5”x7” gelatin print and coloured pencil on Stonehenge paper.
I confess, I am pretty excited about this one, it was a really really good surprise. You may wonder, how I can be surprised at my own work, but the truth is, I just don’t know when I begin a piece where I am going with it. I just have to start, continue, and see what happens. Often enough, it goes into the trash.
This one began as a rather pale gelatin print start. It must have had something going for it, because I’ve held it my pile for a very long time. I was about to trash it on the day I decided to begin tackling Claudette’s piece in our collaboration. I confess I was too intimidated to do anything but look at her submission, but shied right away from actually doing anything to it.
I did think her work would be an ideal chance to experiment with inscribed line technique and coloured pencil, but I thought it would be best to do up a sample on some ‘scrap’.  So I pulled up my gelatin start and began making marks. I was unafraid, since the work was destined for trash any way. And then I got to liking it.
IMG_6352Here it is when I was just beginning to think, hmmmm….
And below are close-ups. I work very small, so it’s all in the details. After finishing this one off, and proudly posting it to Etsy, I was brave enough to put a line or two into Claudette’s artwork. I’ve done my ‘practice’ piece, after all. So while I can waste huge amounts of precious time procrastinating, this procrastination was time well spent. I don’t think this piece would have happened at all if I hadn’t been too afraid to touch that other work.
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My etsy printmaking portfolio, Solar Flare and others on display.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Cross Border Collaboration

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I found this in my mailbox last night.
My friend and mentor, Claudette from Nebraska, are embarking on a collaboration. For those of you who do not already know, she is the one who steered me towards gelatine and foam printmaking in full colour by sending to me a full box of coloured printing ink, and later a video of foam plate printing technique.  I can honestly and without reservation say my art would not be the same without her influence.
Apparently, we have entirely different approaches to making art.  Mine is rather haphazard, and while it may take me awhile, sometimes a long while, to finally get an image onto the paper, there is not much planning (okay, none) involved.  It’s just ‘GO!’ and cross my fingers that it will something worthy of more than the recycling bin. Claudette, however takes time to plan, contemplate, make trials, etc. She has some very professional credentials under her belt, that she’s fairly modest about (not the first things she told me), so maybe, in kind, that story will come later.
Here’s hers: she actually made two alike.  So I’ll be tackling them as a pair.  I think they are wonderful. She’s done all the hard work of theme and composition, so I could (and well might), relax and take the gift in the mouth, and enhance and fill and line and, well, I’m really looking forward to it. Usually I look at a page, scratch my head, and wonder where the heck I’m going with things. Instead, these should be fun.
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Now here are my two, not alike, not planned, and no strong elements, at least none that can’t be ignored. The first is done in inscribed line technique (using a pointed stylus to press into the paper without pigment), so basically, what she will (or has) received is a blank white page.  At this point in time, only strongly angled light (morning sun in this photo) brings out the image.
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I’m mighty curious where she goes with this, hopefully somewhere I wouldn’t.
And the second image:
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A ‘started’ gelatine print. Again, it’s at a very early stage in the game, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
As you can see, I’m making her work a whole lot harder than  she’s making me work. But that’s just the first two starts.  There will be more, and who knows how things will grow and develop. That is what is so exciting about  a collaboration—a little like live jazz improv, only over a MUCH longer timeline.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Underwater Sunlight

13050201mermaid-nautilus-surrealism
10”x12” watercolour paper, gelatin relief print using found objects and linocuts and pen ink drawing.
Last night I dreamed. We are told that every night we dream, but mostly we have no access to that strange land.  Dreams are common, mostly banal, and all but the most vivid and memorable forgotten, and who knows how many of the best of them are never remembered all. Billions of people sleeping, every night, dreaming, every night, thinking, feeling, being, doing, and most of it never sees the light of day. And then you wake up. If it was a bad dream, something frightening, disgusting, depressing, perhaps you count yourself lucky not to remember. I often catch snippets of dreams so banal it’s impossible to recall the jumble of trivial details, and other times, banal or not, I want to remember, badly…because those experiences, far below the surface of conscious thought, are part of my life, part of my experience and who I am, and I don’t want to lose them. Forgotten dreams remind me of the unseen spaces behind my eyes, the place you cannot look, but an only imagine, piecing it together from memory. Behind me, while I type there is a black scanner with a blue light, a pale apricot coloured wall (don’t ask), a stack of cd’s, a jumble of papers, but I’m only remembering, and I’m sure, until I look back, that it is an imperfect, distorted memory. Dreams are like that, but without the ability to look back and refresh. A forgotten dream is gone forever, except, perhaps then next night, or the nights thereafter, where places and things and themes recur.
Last night, two dreams. One, utterly ordinary, but much wished for, as my recently lost siamese cat, was there on the couch, curled up comfortably, soft and warm. I was reluctant to waken.
But now, as I write this, another springs to the surface, my house was attached to a gallery that was attached to a mall or other vast indoor space. Vast, because once in, I had trouble finding my way back.  Vast because there were outdoor spaces, and a Shakespeare play enacted, but none I’ve ever heard of, with gladiatorial brawls and monsters of ancient greek legend, played by machines and sarcastic ironic actors. Oh, and there were fish in murky algal green pond, amongst less savory things.
About the art: this on just finished. I’m not sure how long I’ve been hanging on to this gelatin print, waiting for it to speak up and tell me how it needs to be finish, but it finally did speak, late this morning, and here it is on the blog.  While I worked on it, I was not remembering the dream, that came after, but I’m not really sure which came first, because conscious thought is just that which skims the surface.
I’ve posted a high-resolution image on FineArtAmerica (for those who like seeing detail/close-ups)
And added it to my Printmaking Portfolio section on Etsy.

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