Monday, September 14, 2009

New Work

A lot has happened around here in the last couple of months and sandwiched between the earth shaking events of daily life I've managed to find a little studio time to produce some new work. Because I've been having so much trouble with my hands (ugly old arthritis) I've temporarily given up on woodblocks and been indulging in solarplate™ intaglio. With this medium all you need to do is get the desired image onto a transparent format and you're good to go. I like to draw directly onto aquaeous media acetate. It allows you to remove and add to your heart's content, take as long as needed, and then just expose it onto the plate using UV light, develop the plate in tap water, harden with a little more UV and print. In this case I've printed many layers of colors and textures and stenciled some blocks of color onto both sides of a very thin, transparent mulberry paper, then printed some small plates on the paper's right side. Meanwhile, I've printed the drawings/images onto another piece of fairly transparent (but not as much as the original paper) and very carefully torn around the image while the paper is damp. Mulberry paper is very tough and almost impossible to tear when it is dry. When dry the images are dampened again, sprinkled with adhesive and placed on the background sheet on a plate and run through the press. Then I may print a bit of color over the top of the two sheets which have now become one. When the image is completely resolved it is trimmed and chine collĂ© to a Western printmaking paper - I like Somerset Satin. It is versatile and has a nice hand and is a soft white. The image above is named Persephone after the ancient myth of Demeter's daughter having eaten a seed of the pomegranate while in the underworld (she was forbidden to eat anything if she wanted to come back up topside) and thereafter having to spend 3 months down under (winter) and the other 9 with us (spring, winter and fall). Her mother brokered that deal. So, she is here with her scythe, watering can, rake, and a few samples of what she's grown so far. Since we have gone from "yard" (rather shabby & kind of unkempt) to "garden" (a place to be kept free of weeds, moles, voles, slugs and looking decent) I see that three of my new images deal with gardening and critters. As you can see there is no mercy in my heart for voles. I don't understand why they were invented in the first place and am certain that the world would be a better place if they were not here. The varmints live on the roots of your most expensive plants. They will gladly pass weeds by giving them nary a thought. They can completely wipe out a yard in a heartbeat. One day your plant is looking robust and healthy and the next day it falls over dead & has no roots. My plan is to lead a hunt and not look back until they are all gone. However, my feeling is that one pregnant vole will always be missed and before you know it you will be infested again. They were probably here with the dinosaurs and will still be here with the cockroaches long after we are gone and forgotten. But, while I'm here I will be doing my best to win the fight.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shirts R Us

The visit to North Dakota involved fish prints on shirts and tie dye shirts, among other things. I didn't get any photos of the fish printing taking place, but I did manage to get this one of the girls in their fish shirts. Camille was having a little problem with her shorts falling off, so Grace has a belt in her hand, ready to help her little sister out. Camille seldom wears anything that is not a dress, and I think I know why. One look at that body in a leotard and look! No hips. It is very hard to keep pants up when there are no hips (or butt) to hold them up. It is awfully cute in its leotard, though, and a budding gymnast. The girls friend, Spencer, came over to fish print and tie dye. Spencer is 1 yr. older than Grace and I had to ask him to squat down so I could get them both in the photo. They are a true Mutt and Jeff, have been friends since birth, and truly enjoy one another's company. They all did some pretty cool tie dye shirts. Many art projects were undertaken - some printmaking, some painting and drawing, all a lot of fun for Grandma and the girls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Painting Grace's Room

Last week, while in Grand Forks visiting the GrandGirls, Grace and I painted her room. She had chosen the paint and her "decor" a year ago, or more, and had the paint all ready to go. Grace is now 11 years old and 61 lbs. of pure tiger. It took us three days, but her room is now very "Grace". She donned her painting suit and booties and we were ready to launch into some very sophisticated painting. As you can see Grace is all business and a mighty force behind the roller. She also did all the brush work around the baseboards and up as far as she could reach in other spots. While we painted we listened to a Lemony Snicket book on tape -- my introduction to these works and I have to say, I think I will read more Lemony Snicket as soon as I finish all the Harry Potter's Grace sent home with me. And, speaking of spots we managed to get quite an array of them around the room. We could not find a ready made stencil for the large ones, so we made our own from poster board and the pizza pan. There were still shelves to be put back up and furniture to be placed when I had to leave, but basically the painting was done for the moment. We even managed to stencil her name on two pillow cases on the bottom bunk. I think she is very pleased with her room. The fleece blanket on the end of her bunk was another project we accomplished in our busy week. In this photo she is also wearing a fish print shirt - yet another project from our busy, busy week. When someone asked her why she wanted the green cirles she replied, " They fit my decor." My Granddaughter, the interior designer. But, she says she wants to be an archeologist.

Monday, July 20, 2009

She's Gone to The Birds

Well, it has finally happened - I have completely (almost) gone to the birds. These are two little bits of whimsy for the garden. A friend was kind enough to donate a carload of doves and crows (decoys) to the studio about a year ago and I have finally made time to get them painted and out to their new roosts. These fellows are not gender specific, however, one did have to sacrifice its tail in order to sit where I wanted it. So, now I suppose it is really having gender issues. The doves are perched on a piece of aluminum "sculpture" that I found at Tuesday Morning, a discount, jobber kind of store where they buy up the stuff that didn't sell at a place gone bankrupt, or damaged freight - that kind of thing. I turned it upside down, sprayed it copper, and perched some black doves on it and looking through it. The crows are healthy, large crows and have copper tubing crests and tails. They are mounted on a snag that stands directly behind the fire pit. Flickers and woodpeckers have been doing a job on this snag for 20 years that I know of, and the snag will not be standing too much longer, but it will probably last as long as the crows do. The wonderful part of our Heckle and Jeckle is that they are very, very quiet. Especially early in the morning - which is more than I can say for Woody Woodpecker and friends.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Susanna and The Voyeurs (2)

When I posted Susanna the other day I somehow neglected to send the photo which could be enlarged. I hope I've corrected that this time. Susanna has been a big hit and was sold at the First Friday Art Walk. This state was printed 11" x 17" and hand color with watercolor & color pencil. The paper is Digital Media archival with Epson Archival inks. Once again, that wide format printer has paid off, by golly.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cinderella Fence Post

To the left is the fence post before its trip to the beauty shop. Actually it was replaced with a new one of the same family as the carpenter ants had about devoured the old one. Several years ago I purchased the ceramic tiles with our address numbers while on a trip to Italy. The numbers have been hanging around the studio, quietly waiting their turn for attention. Last week I had reached critical mass in the procrastination department and set about the beautification of the fence post which had been leaning in one corner taking up space. I received a new tool for Christmas which has an attachment that made cutting the trough for the tile a very easy matter. The cut had to be about 3/8" deep as these were thick tiles. The tiles were then seated with mastic and grouted with a tan sanded grout (left over from another tile project). Then some scroll and floral motifs were carved and the whole thing stained with a Rosewood/Cherry stain (left over from the kitchen). My darling son was gracious enough to bribe a friend to come out with him and set the new post for me. I'm so pleased with it, I wonder why I didn't do it years ago and now have plans to do one for the other end of the driveway. (It is a semi-circle drive with two entrances.) I haven't told the son of the latest plan, yet. ;-)

Susanna and The Voyeurs

Susanna is a composite image (worked in Photoshop) — the forest, a group of men, and Susanna in her bath. It is based on the biblical story of beautiful young Susanna who has dismissed her servants for the day and gone out to her tub for a nice relaxing bath. Some old men take advantage of the chance to watch her and then manage to get into her bath area, accost her and demand sex. She refuses, so to punish her they accuse her of hanky-panky with her lover. But, during the trial, Daniel surfaces and cross examines the men and they have conflicting accounts. Instead of Susanna being stoned to death, the two accusing liars lose their lives for bearing false witness. The moral of the story, I'm sure, is a lofty one about truth & innocence trimphing over lies & false accusations , however I choose to believe that it is if you are going to bathe outdoors do so with a watch-dog on duty. In the biblical story the accusers are pillars of the community, well respected elders. In my version they are a group of church men who have been on some sort of religious retreat. They are more the lookie-loos, than men who would do any harm. The print is digital with watercolor and color pencil. It was printed on a wide format printer with Epson Archival inks on Digital Media paper from Daniel Smith.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Year of the Ox

Finally, my herd of oxen are leaving the premises.  To tell you the truth I was beginning to think they would never leave.  The mess they have left behind will have to be dealt with now.
Many images of bulls, oxen, buffaloes, you name it, have danced in my head since last Fall, but none stayed there long enough to make it onto a block.  Ferdinand has always been a sentimental favorite, but in the end this fellow won out.  There was a fabulous mosaic bull in Cadiz, but the thought of cutting all those little lines for the mosaic idea was more than I could handle, especially since I have two more urgent projects waiting in the wings.
So, here we have Spiral Ox.  That sounds like it could be contagious - some kind of new virus, but he is really a tame and good natured fellow.  He is a reduction print, just one block of precious cherry wood has been sacrificed for this print.  Originally I had planned for him to be lime green, but try as I might, all I could get was brown once the orange body had been printed.  That kind of thing just does not work with reduction methods and transparent ink - surprise! one gets brown every time, which I knew  of course, but for some reason thought I could overcome if I printed it often enough.  Other than that, things went pretty much as planned.  
And now I am off to release the herd at the PO.  I hope they are ready for this!  Hooves away —

Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter in Cadiz

It is good to be home again, but we had an absolutely wonderful time in Spain. I wish we could have seen more, but on the other hand, it was a very restful and relaxing time. We met our daughter, Yvette, her husband, Steve and our two grand- daughters, Grace (10) and Camille (4). They have been living in Norway since January (teaching at American College of Norway) and were ready for someplace warm and sunny with a beach. Cadiz is a magical place - we were in the old town and felt like we had gone back in time to the middle ages with a few modern conveniences, like washer & dryer and indoor plumbing. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment La Casa Cadiz a short walk from the beach. Every day we walked to a new destination: the Museum of Cadiz, the Cathedral, a small church with some early Goyas, the Castle Santa Catalina, the fortress San Sebastian, etc. You can only expect kids to endure so much of the cultural heritage when what they really want to do is go to the beach or the playground ;-) There are pictures of our sightseeing at our sight on Shutterfly. Cadiz, as legend has it, was founded by Hercules and supposedly the Pillars of Hercules are here somewhere. Archeology shows that it was first settled by the Phoenicians, followed by the Carthagenians, the Romans, the Moors, and finally the Christians. It is also the port from which Columbus' second and third voyages departed, however, the locals don't make much noise about that. And, it is where the Constitution of Spain was drawn up and ratified. There are also the University of Cadiz, and the Academy of Art here. Cadiz claims to be the oldest continually inhabited city in Western Europe. Being there Easter Week we were treated to a street procession per night with a different float being carried down the street each night. I could never get close enough to see how they managed to propel these huge, heavy things down the street, but they did it purely with manpower, no horses of any kind employed. I have to admit it is nice to be home to my own bathroom where the paper used can be flushed and not deposited in a can next to the toilet. The apartment we were in is a 17th century building and the plumbing must be nearly that old. ;-) Anyway, the paper does not go down the potty - if you forget you fish it out and put it in the can. A few times of that tends to improve the memory exponentially. Fortunately, the garbage is picked up daily. The streets were more like alleys to us - very narrow, but inhabited by cars, motorbikes, dogs and people. Grace was continually watching out for Grandma's keester. So, now that we are home it is time to get started on that Ox New Year's card - the year is marching on at an amazing pace. I am off to get started on it as we speak!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Foot Bridge With Hand Rail

My last post had to do with the April exhibition at North Bank Gallery, Maps and Bridges.  Since I had a Maps piece I thought I would do a Bridge piece, too.  Naturally, as it would to anyone, my first thought was to do a Foot Bridge with Hand Rail.  This is a color intaglio print.  The green texture is printed on both sides of a very thin mulberry paper and the white foot and hands are chine collĂ© with another mulberry paper.  Both of these, after their run through the press, are put through the press one more time to laminate them to a sheet of Somerset Satin and emboss the plate mark.  You just gotta love a language that allows you play with it so freely, don't you?  Some other ideas, which unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, depending  upon your viewpoint, were: Bridge hand,  Bridge game, Bridge rubber (now that one I thought had great possibilities), from there on they went steadily down hill...  I think I will quit while I'm ahead.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mapping a Traveler's Mind

Next month I'll be participating in a show at North Bank Gallery dealing with Map and Bridge images.  I've always been fascinated with the idea of mapping the brain - especially as it would lend itself to being able to change that part of the brain that allows people to disagree with me. (Especially when that person might happen to inhabit the same residence).  My interest was first spiked (no pun intended) by the story of Phineas Gage, a railway worker who suffered an accident where a long pointed spike pierced his skull and brain in an accident related to an explosion.  His subsequent behavioral changes led to much of today's research and knowledge of which parts of the brain control what actions or processes.  
Well, the first attempt was a dismal failure.  Not only did my model have a really goofy and demented expression, but she looked as if she had been decapitated, and she also had a serious skin condition.  The latter the result of an attempt to use an old canvas which has held many paintings and been gessoed many times and the sanding between layers apparently left a bit to be desired.
After fighting for days I finally gave up and decided she should be a plaster cast, rather than being a no-body.  This way, I reasoned, if a blemish occurred it would be in the plaster and no fault of the painter.  (I like to give myself a way out of these messes ahead of time, if possible.)   Also, I could capitalize on the surface texture instead of fighting it to a stand off. So, with a few modifications, and a little more pigment she became plastered.  In her condition I figured a compass might come in handy.  I think she is finished, unless one of you can give suggestions to improve her.  
By the way, I am really excited about showing Annie Bissett's Three Prophets in this exhibition.  I hope any of you in the Portland/Vancouver area will come by in April and see what all the excitement is about! First Friday artwalks are from 5 - 8pm, but you can come any time during the month.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Last Fall when it was sign up time for Baren Forum Exchange 39 I was about as enthusiastic as one can possibly get, but then I ran into a snag.  The theme was a self portrait as a tree.  I just couldn't get moving on what the heck kind of tree I could possibly be.  I could be a fir because I love the rain, I could talk myself into being just about any tree you can think of, but I could not decide.  Then I was hit with another kidney infection and spent 5 hours one Sat. in the ER with various liquids being dripped into my veins as they waited for my heart rate to go down.  After that it seemed to just take forever to get any energy back again.  I had decided to back out of the exchange on Jan. 1, the last day to withdraw and let some other eager woodblock printer to get their chance in this one.  Wouldn't you know, that very day the Exchange Coordinator sent an email to everyone saying there was no one waiting in the wings and we were already short two people.  Immediately, guilt and obligation moved in and I started cutting and carving and printing furiously.  Suddenly, I had settled on an image and it was full speed ahead.  The deadline was Feb. 1.  I think my prints were 3 days late getting to Connecticut.
The image I finally settled on was of me, as a 5 year old, swinging in the backyard in the apple tree I always wanted, but never actually had.  Instead, I swung from the laundry poles, which of course, was forbidden.  And, for good reason as I eventually fell and broke my arm.  But, I was a swinger and did so at every opportunity.  Finally, when I was an adult my Grandmother gave my Dad an apple tree with 4 or 5 varieties of apple on one tree.  It was his pride and joy, but I was middle aged before it was large enough to support a swing.  Did I mention that my folks had planted a Weeping Willow in the backyard when I was small?  If ever there was a tree that did not offer the possibility of a swing it is a Weeping Willow.  It finally grew too large and they cut it down, but fat lotta good that did me.   So, my image is a fantasy - a complete fabrication, but it would have been true if I had carried a little more clout in the landscaping field at the time.
The print I did for the exchange was a bit more simple.  On the second printing I included a stencil and an additional bokashi, and beefed up the color on the red dress.  When printing for the exchange I ran out of time to do much experimenting, so it came later.  I lost track of how many drops were involved, but I'm guessing about 15, at least.  It seemed like a hundred and I began to think I was going to have to live well past 100 to finish.  The paper is Echizen Kozo from McClains Printmaking supplies and it is truly a joy and the colors do glow!  It is such a pleasure when things do what is promised!  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Virgin Annunciate

It's been a long time between posts, but I have not been idle.  Between finishing the print for an exchange and taking a painting class, there has been little time for anything else.  The painting class was "Techniques of the Masters" taught by Mike Southern at the Kenton Studios in Portland.  The artists covered were the Flemish Masters, Titian and Rubens.   We were each to do an egg tempera based copy of a Flemish Master on a small piece of panel prepared with the traditional gesso and a Titian work on canvas.  I chose the Virgin Annunciate, an early Titian. It was a real personal challenge to stay focused on copying someone else's work – I kept wanting to take off on my own, especially when it came to the drapery, which has always been a challenge.  I think I managed to stay half faithful in end, but a forger I will never be.  Now the challenge will be to somehow make this woman mine.  She is currently residing in the studio where I can look at her every day until I come up with the solution.
Many years ago I would make a value study drawing in graphite and then water color over it. What a surprise to find out I was doing a Titian technique (of sorts - his were in oil) called grisaille, which is simply a painting done in shades of gray from black to white.  The under painting, which was first done in burnt umber, then in grisaille, and then many glazes of transparent oil pigments.  I gotta tell you, Titian worked a whole lot faster then I did.  It took me a month of classes, and sessions between, to finish this little 16 x 20 inch canvas.  But then, I didn't have a cadre of apprentices, either which makes for a handy excuse for being so slow!  (I don't have a wife, either.)
As to the final solution, I have some things in mind, and when they are in place you will see an altered image.  
But, next I will post the woodcut for the exchange.