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.