Monday, November 11, 2013

OMG - More Flags

Will this flag saga never end?  I think I left off with having the background printed (before I left to traverse the world).  That proved to be more problematic than I had anticipated.  I thought the flat of gold textile ink, which was screened onto the fabric, was in the middle of the fabric and that it would be a simple matter to print the border and the flower where I wanted them.  None of this proved to be true.  First - the flat somehow was not in the exact same place on each flag although I am at a loss to explain that since I put them all down in precisely the same place on the bed and pulled them exactly the same.  Oh well - another of those printmaking mysteries.  This made it nigh impossible to get the border and image in the middle of the flat, but I donned my suit of armor, jumped on my white charger, and spear (or brayer) in hand, forged ahead pretending that I knew exactly what I was doing.  Most of them turned out to be, more or less, in the middle.  At any rate, I am pleased with the result and am now ready to move on to the next project, although at the moment I am not entirely certain what that will be.....

Here are the flags hanging above the studio door, ready for Open Studios Tour last weekend:
 And, below is a closeup of three of them:
I'm certain they are going to waft their thoughts of wisdom, beauty, love, friendship and imagination all about the house and garden and we will live in perfect tranquility forever after.  Well, it's a beautiful thought, don't you think?

Of course, these beauties are for sale - you can have a set of your own for a pittance!  If you're interested the set is $100 or $25 each for an individual flag.  Each flag is 12.5" x 16", hemmed and strung on polyester cord. Contact me at Barebonesart@

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Next Flag Iteration

A reasonable person would ask if this flag obsession will ever end.  As things stand at the moment my answer would be, possibly - maybe even probably - not soon.  The thing is, I have promised a few more sets and then Vancouver will be doing Open Studios in November and I'm thinking I would like to have some for sale then.  We'll see if that happens since so far only the fabric has been prepared, cut, and the background printed.

Background?  you ask.  Well, I had the bright (?) idea to print a metallic gold background thinking that the woodblock prints would be more readable, maybe.  To confuse matters more (because why keep it simple, Stupid, when you can complicate it beyond all reasonable standards), I thought this might be as good a time as any to try out the Yudu machine I purchased over a year ago.  You see, I had a coupon.  Need I say more?  but, I will.  I had a coupon for 40% off, and the machines were on sale, and with it all added up they practically paid me to take it off their hands.  So, I did.  I think the machine was about $20 and then I probably spent a hundred on supplies for it.  Yeah, I've been known to exaggerate, but I do recall that the supplies were about 3 times as much as the machine.  AND, since it was such a good deal I should have smelled a skunk.  Michael's Art & Crafts, the skunk, no longer carries Yudu or any of the supplies - so now I must find a place to mail order, I guess.  Because, I love this machine.  It is so easy - and the light table, exposure unit, drying rack, registration posts, printing and everything is in one compact unit.  True, you are restricted to about 12 x 16 inch image but that is big enough for me.

As you can see there is even a timer to set for exposures and drying times.  So, supplies are the only problem, but there are several places on line from which to order, so I'll give that a try and report later.

Two yards of 45" broadcloth will make sixteen 11 x 16 inch flags.  I masked the screen to the size I want for the background and printed away.  These things were hanging willy nilly here and there all over the studio and the clothesline in the garage to dry (80 of them) and then I ironed them to set the ink. (That's more than I've ironed in 30 years). The metallic gold is a water based fabric ink which needs to be heat-set for it to be permanent.  I've tried printing regular old black etching ink over it and it seems to work very well, so that is what I plan to use for the woodblock images.

Here the little lovelies are - all ready for the woodblocks when I return from Turkey.  My Alter-ego wants to get busy printing, but my lousy conscience is saying, rather sternly, "If you are going to be ready to depart the day after tomorrow at some ungodly early hour then you had better start laundering and packing and you can print when you get back home."  That Conscience gal is named Constance because she is Constantly forcing me to do the practical thing.  There is a name for women like her and it starts with B and ends with H and has 5 letters.  And, she's a nag.  But, I suppose I should let her win this one...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Flags Are Finally Flying High

The printing of these was actually completed some time ago, but I just got them up and flying last night.  It was a fir climb up those trees (they are actually Western Red Cedar - not fir, but I couldn't resist a little pun.) If I were really part monkey, like my mother had always told me, it would have been much easier.  As it was, the squirrels were not happy with me, but no one else seemed to care one iota.

Here's a close up of them all in a row.

Just getting the extention ladder down the 45° slope and up against each tree without me plummeting to the bottom of the canyon and kersplatting in the creek was enough of a challenge - I didn't tempt fate by trying to adjust each increment in its proper space.  (Did I mention that the children are not happy that I was on a ladder in the first place?  And that hubby's comment as, "Not a good idea."  It probably wasn't, but they're up now!  Besides, nothing I have ever done that had the tiniest degree of risk involved ever elicited anything other than, "Not a good idea".)

When I started this project I had actually had the foolish idea that I might try to sell these.  Now, knowing how bloomin' bloody much work they are I will make them for friends and family, but as for the marketing and manufacture -- not so much into that, anymore!  You never know, though - give me a few days to recover from the ladder and the climbing and my mind could change - - again.

And, now it is time for violin practice.  I read the other day that if I keep practicing at the rate I'm going in 27 years I'll be an expert.  I think that if we're expecting that I had better up the practice time considerably!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to the Heart of the Matter

Before the beginning of time, or at least before the block for the Puzzle Print occupied my time, there was the Heart.  You may not recall, but the Heart is part of the Peace Health Hospital's fund raiser for their new vascular and heart health unit at SW WA Medical Center.  25 artists were ask to paint a heart and they will be displayed about the city before they are finally auctioned to the highest bidder in mid-September.

Well, this "large gray thing" was delivered about six weeks ago and has ruled my life since.  First off was a thorough wash down, then a couple of coats of oil based primer to make sure the pigment didn't flake off due to weather conditions.  Then the painting began and once the blue for the sky was there it looked for all the world like a giant blue butt.  That was partially because most of the heart was obscured by the folded-up ping pong table.  Eventually the heart's name became Helga because  half a century ago I saw a TV program about cross country skiing and the host's name was Helga and she had the biggest back-side I had ever seen.  Right then and there I proclaimed that I would never cross country ski because I did not want those results.  Of course, later I learned that her shape was probably genetic and had nothing to do with skiing, but still I never took up the sport.  Why risk it?

But, I digress.  The painting of the heart occurred over the ensuing six weeks, or so, and when it was all done I thought it resembled a balloon.  My son agreed and with his and Preston the Welder's help we managed to concoct a balloon floating off into the air with ribbon streamers following.
This involved cutting the pole, tilting the heart, and then welding it into place, bending 1/4 inch rebar to resemble ribbon streamers and welding those to the pole, building (via more welding) an armature and welding that into place.  Covering the armature with quarter inch hardware cloth, then fiberglas repair stuff (messy and incredibly stinky), then Bondo and a lot of sanding.  After that came the attaching of rubber tubing which had been sliced half way through and attached, via epoxy, along the bottom edge of the creation.  Then all that was left was the painting of the additions and the part that had been destroyed through this last process.  I cannot thank my son, Don and his friend, Preston (Kimsey) the welder,  enough for their part in this endeavor.
The ladies and the birds have been the object of several paintings and prints - which will explain why they may look familiar.  They, all nine of them, are dancing and cavorting in a meadow, with birds, birds, more birds, and a butterfly or two.

The finishing touch was the application of some silver jewelry hearts by my darling daughter-in-law, Kara:
This is one of those things I would have futsed with forever if it had stuck around, but mercifully two adorable young movers came on Friday and wrapped and carted Helga away to be clear coated by a local car dealership.  I am very thankful to this man for his donation to the cause as otherwise I would have been applying two or three coats of UV safe finish coats.  Hallelujah!  Helga is off to wherever Hearts go before they go to their spot in downtown Vancouver, WA.  Helga herself will eventually be in front of the Kiggins Theater on Main Street.

Bye-bye Helga!  Did I mention that Helga is over 6' and weighs around 150 lbs.?  She is a big girl and not easily moved.  At least, I couldn't get her to budge an inch.

And now, because I must mention woodblock work at some point in this post, I am eager to return to block printing.  What d'ya wanna bet that the next ones will have to do with printed balloons - maybe??  I am certain of one thing, those girls will be back for sure.   I feel another attempt at moku hanga coming on....  Just what I need: another challenge.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fairy Queen

I'm assuming that you are also participating, or at least know of, the next monumental puzzle print - the babe of Miss Maria of the Monumental Mysteries.  You will recall that the last such endeavor was the City of the World, in which my contribution was a playground for children.  I used a photo of my oldest granddaughter, Grace, on the monkey bars in a park in Madison, WI,  for my inspiration.  I think she was about 4 yrs. old then - now she is an old woman of 15.

The theme for this year's Monumental Puzzle Print is a Fantasy Garden.  The puzzle piece I received reminded me immediately of a butterfly.  But, I thought there would be plenty of butterflies and I should do something that would reflect my younger granddaughter, Camille.  When Camille was around 4 yrs. old she was your ultimate faery queen.  Upon arising in the morning one of her first demands was, "Where is my crown?"  As soon as she located it she whipped on her wings, donned the crown and was good for the day unless they had to go out and then the wings would have to come off in order to get the jacket and and car seat accommodated.  It didn't take long for me to decide that every garden needs fairies - especially ones who carry on long conversations with lady bugs while the fire flies light the night.  (Camille loves bugs!  She thinks the baby leeches are just the cutest things, as they crawl up her arm...)

It will be great fun to see all of the other contributions to the Fantasy Garden and I'm looking forward to the next day and night Printing Party!  Meanwhile, I've decided to take violin lessons and see if I can play it after a hiatus of roughly 60 years.  My poor, long suffering, instructor will be here momentarily. 

BTW, I forgot to mention that Ms. Maria forbids us to proof our blocks.  They do unpredictable things having to do with humidity and lack there of when they have been inked and cleaned and then go to Las Vegas where she resides.  In order to proof both of these blocks I wrapped them in foil, put them through the press, inked and printed them very carefully.  Once they go to Maria they are pretty much gone forever - until she arrives with all of the pieces glued onto their matrix and ready to print the  w-h-o-l-e thing. I believe she said there will be 6 sheets of paper to complete the image - maybe it was more. I know there are a lot of us involved in this project. Printmakers have the most fun!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Change of tune

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I change my tune every time I turn around.   And here we go again.  No sooner than the last entry had been posted I had changed my mind about the imagery to use on the heart.  I'm sticking with the girls dancing through the woods releasing birds with reckless abandon, but they will be more on the order of Procession of the Birds:

 And, somewhere along the line, probably on the reverse, will be some expanded version of Keepers of the Flame.
Both are small intaglio prints I did last year using Solarplate™and inking ala poupeĆ©.  Way back at the beginning of time I made little daubers from scraps of an old chamois stuffed with a cotton ball and secured with twine.  They look like simple little dolls in long dresses, which is the translation of poupeĆ©: doll.  They are used to dab the different colors of ink onto the plate before wiping very carefully.  These little dolls have served me well - and, I trust, will continue to do so.  They sleep in an old coolwhip container when not in use.

It will be interesting to see how these women translate into painting.  Well, we should be finding out soon!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A little distraction

Flags have had to go on hold for a couple of days.  A deadline of Apr. 15 descended upon me with gusto - no, not taxes this time, but another project.  The Peace Health Southwest Medical Foundation is conducting an auction to raise funds to add space and upgrade imaging equipment for their most fragile heart and vascular patients.  25  three foot fiberglas hearts will make their way to Vancouver and corresponding artists studios where they will be painted and towards the end of summer be put up for adoption by the highest bidders.  After that some of them, if not all, will be exhibited as public art around the city.  The sketches of what I plan to do with my giant heart are due tomorrow and never wanting to be ahead of a deadline I have valiantly upheld my tradition of being right down to the wire.  As I was singing along and getting ready to scan the images and printed forms and actually send them off A DAY EARLY, mind you, the scanner won't work.  I've tried everything: turned everything off and back on a couple of times (this is my cure-all and generally works, but not this time), downloaded a driver, tried to re-install the software, kicked, screamed, cried - well, not cried, but almost.  Nothing works, I just keep getting a notice that says, in a very cranky and irritating tone, "this is no longer supported --".  Can they do that?  Just order their machines to quit and not give a person any notice?  Probably yes, because they are the Computer Gods.  I have a call in to my favorite of all time Guru, but he is out of town until tomorrow afternoon.

There was no choice, well - truthfully, their was a choice - I could have bundled this all up and trooped down to Kinkos and had them scan everything, but I chose to photograph the sketches, write the little bio, and send that much off today with a note that the thing I really need to scan will follow tomorrow, one way or another.  I'm really, really, hoping that my Guru will tell me to click this and click that and the scanner will work again.  If I have to buy a new one I am going to be a wee bit upset, (translation: mighty pissed.)

Anyway, the sketches I submitted were:  my dancing women and children - kind of an old stand-by that I've done a million ways if I've done it once, but it is still fun to do:

The plan would be to have the girls dance all the way around - birds and butterflies in abundance and frogs and turtles, ladybugs and snails in the foliage.  Pure fun everywhere.

Or, I could do this - a kind of Remedios Varo type of image.  I've always been fascinated with her work and have many sketches of my own versions of which this is high on the list of favorites.  I could see this on one side of the heart with the tapestry going around to the other side where the rivers and oceans would be made.
 Unless someone makes the decision for me I will vacillate from now until the moment to actually start painting.  Which do you think is the more interesting?  Please help me decide!

Monday, April 8, 2013

5 Flags All In a Row

It seems like ages since I've posted, and that's mainly because it has been ages.  The blocks are all carved, the flags have been printed and hemmed and I'm ready to do a little hand embellishment and string them onto a cord.  I also picked up some wooden beads to intersperse.  These definitely are not your traditional Buddhist Prayer Flags - they have mutated into Sharri's Version Prayer Flags.  I hope they will work the same way and the blessings will still waft their way along the wings of the wind.

Printing went very well.  They were printed with black etching ink with quite a bit of gold metallic powder and transparent base mixed together.  I printed them exactly as you would on paper with the fabric laid on the block using a registration jig so I could get things where they belonged.  If I had laid the block onto the fabric as the Tibetan printers do I would have had totally blind registration and I seem to have enough trouble when I can see what I'm doing.  Then I used a rubber blanket and zipped them through the etching press.  Clive says he has a Tee Shirt printed with letterpress ink and it has lasted for years, and come to think of it, I have a sweatshirt in the same condition.  However, it has not hung out in the rain and sun for any of those years, so this could be a different game.  We'll see!

As soon as I get these babies strung they are going either into the garage or outside where I can spray them with a UV protector.  It must be highly toxic stuff because they tell you to do this outside. Guess I will wear my respirator mask when I do that... it has a haute couture look, if you're a bug.

A friend had some flags in her garden and they gradually disappeared.  She had no idea where they were going.  One day a squirrel nest fell from a tree and there were her flags, they had been shredded into nesting material.  We are wondering if I spray them with Varathane if that would deter the squirrels.  Yet another thing to try.  We will be ready for our totally random and uncontrolled lab trials in a day or two.  So far there isn't any hurry for the UV trials as it is cloudy, rainy, with sudden flashes of sunlight between showers, and very much April in our corner of the map.

 The flowering trees are blooming and the bulbs are signalling that Spring is on its way.  We are swamped (literally) with daffodils of every persuasion, fritelaria (not sure how you spell any of these) and bergonia.  I hope you gardeners will recognize these phonetically and correct my spelling!  However they are spelled they are uplifting and gorgeous.  And, hopefully, flags will be performing the same miracle shortly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Flag Progress:From paper to fabric in one easy motion -

If anyone out there knows of a better way to do this - please! Speak up! Share your knowledge.  Meanwhile, I continue to stumble down the Flag Road left to my own devices.  Since the intended design involves two blocks there is a little matter of registration.  The problem has been how to get the fabric down onto the registration jig in the right place since it is floppy, you know.  So, I went back to when I was doing the large hanga prints and managed to get the floppy paper down by using a carrier sheet.  But, how to get the fabric onto the block with a carrier sheet.  My solution is to use an easy tack adhesive, intended for moving paste-ups and such around.  I sprayed the carrier sheet with the Easy Tack:

So far, so good.  I can flip this over and the fabric doesn't flop to the counter top.  I was able to get it down on the jig in good form.

And, even through the press, using the wonderful little rubber blanket which the PIP printers gave to me.  If you are in the market, I'm sure any printer would be happy to donate a sheet or two.  I just wish PIP used bigger blankets.  A splurge to buy one may be in my future.  We'll see....

I'm pleased!  None of the actual flags will be on purple fabric and this piece is all wonky-wishy.  It is a remnant I found in the bottom of the left-overs box and was a solid color so it was immediately drafted into service.

The fabric ink I had ordered does not roll on and print satisfactorily.  Nor does it paint onto the block and print satisfactorily, therefore I am back to good old oil based etching ink.  It does not stiffen the fabric one iota and should be tough enough to withstand the elements.  I will be trying these out in various parts of the country - if you would like to be a tryer-outer, let me know.  So far, I have one desert dweller and one Northwestern gardner (me).  They will be subjected to blazing hot sun and horrendous hot winds on one side and deluges of water, algae and moss on the other end.  Should they survive one season of this menu I will consider marketing them - otherwise, it is just a fun project and I want them for my garden, anyway.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Great Border Debate

No, not the Northern border, although we do have to watch for those Canadians, and not the Southern border either - but the prayer flag border.  That is the problem.  One should never mess around printing anything more than one way.  It almost always leads to distraction not to mention being stalled on top dead center not knowing which way to go now.

It greatly surprised me that I was drawn to the gold border.  It had looked way to anemic on its own, but add the mum and somehow - the wonder of color theory, I suspect - the central image pops forth, where as in the black/gold border the central image is being controlled.  So now, do I want to pop or stay within bounds.  That is the question.  All opinions will be gratefully accepted.  Please.

Unfortunately, this is a rather poor gold proof, but it was what I had left, having screwed up one way or another on the other 3 or 4 I had ready to go.  I had a devil of a time getting the press set to the correct pressure.  My planets must be whirling around every which way because they are definitely not lined-up properly.  By the time I solved the problem of the press, and the problem of the brayer that was not inking in the middle, I was too spent to print more gold borders.  Bear with me, this may take a while.

However, I did knock 'em dead at luminosity this afternoon when I took a break.  I was a lot younger then.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mum Proof

Today was proofing day on the mum segment of the flag project - here's a sample of the days product:

 I'm happy - there's minimal clean up -

But, then I messed about with the border, thinking I wanted something gold-ish.  The first is black with gold:

And the next is just the gold alone:

I thought I would want the gold alone, but now I'm not sure.  The black with the gold looks pretty rich.  Tomorrow, time allowing, I'll put them together and see which is better.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mum's The Word

It was an all around successful day in the studio.  The Blossom Race was a runaway win with the old fashioned, albeit perennial favorite, Chrysanthemum as the undisputed winner.  Truthfully, there was never any doubt about who the winner would be - friendship had to be in the mix.  The drawing went well and I may have uncovered the secret to getting that transfer paper to do a better job of its intended purpose.  First, the image needs to be 300 dpi.  Second, the paper setting should be on plain white paper.  Third, the ink should be set to black or grayscale.  Fourth, use a baren to burnish the image to the block.  So, there you go - all secrets have been bared for all to see.

The only addition I could ask for would be some Artificial Intelligence that would automatically know not to transfer the lines I decided not to use....   Maybe in a parallel universe.

Meanwhile, tomorrow morning the carving will begin.  Can't wait to get started.  Being a printmaker  is so much like being a kid playing with favorite toys.  Think of the studio as a playpen although  I don't know that parents use those anymore.  I guess kids go to daycare instead.  Well, think of the studio as my daycare without a supervising know-it-all adult.  (Although, at times I could use one....)

The Rose Marches On

A memory must be a wonderful thing to have.  I wish I could remember when I had mine.  There should be a course, somewhere in the academic career of each individual, which would require that all students be mandated to cherish their memories because they will be bound to screw up at some time in their life.  Apparently, that day has arrived, once again, in mine.  Maybe it was wishful thinking, but I could have sworn that the rose was the final prayer flag image.  Alas, it is only the penultimate.  Nevertheless, this is what has happened since the previous post.  At least, this is my memory of it.

The block is carved and ready to proof:

And the proof:

There are a few little spots to clean up, but not too bad for a person with no memory.

So now, as they say, it is back to the drawing board for the final image.  Which one will it be? I had several tied for last place when I thought the rose had won.  It would appear that I need to revert to a previous post to see what the heck those were.  Stay tuned.  Providing I remember to post again the secret will be revealed.

BTW - have I mentioned that I've been doing the brain exercises?  It may not be believable, but I have been very good at doing these 5 days a week.  They are guaranteed to improve ones memory. Hmmmmm. Maybe I should see about a refund.  If I can remember.....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose... On a Flag

Back in the studio after a couple of days of other projects and a day of pure fun with an old friend.  In fact we are so old we go all the way back to 4th or 5th grade (neither of us can remember).  When we get together we giggle like a couple of 4th graders, so maybe that was it and we have failed to progress.  But, I'm rambling which reminds me of roses and that is where we are.  It was a tough fight between sunflower, chrysanthemum, bird of paradise, zinnia, acanthus and, my fave, bells of Ireland.  Rose won not for being faster, but because I remember the roses in front of Pat's house and how she loves them.  And, what do you know, in Flower Language the red rose means love.  Every garden should have lots and lots of love wafting about on the breeze - in fact, I think it may be a law, or a code, or something.

The drawing is ready:

Next is to print it out onto the studio paper and then transfer to the block, sharpen knives, and carve, baby, carve!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Proof of the Pudding

The pudding being the flags, of course.  Chips have been flying around here and there is another batch to be swept up and sent to that great mulch eater that we call "the garden" (which is really the battle ground where we fight for survival against deer, moles, voles and slugs).  But, before that happens (and because there will be a few more when I find out where I need to carve a little deeper or a little more - there's no sense in making extra work my mother used to say -).  Therefore, I show you the block in its more or less pristine condition (sans any ink).  My blocks look more as if I had chewed on them than carved them - not neat and tidy and smooth like David Bull's.

 But they work, and  from this here is the first proof done using Akua Intaglio inks.  I'll be printing these with textile or oil base inks and the orchid itself will probably be printed with some shade of purple ink on the yellow flag:

Not too bad - there is a minimum of cleaning up to do on the block.

Here is a sample of the blossom with the border -  (the same border will be used with each flower)

There will be some registration adjustments, just a slight movement and I'll use my trusty all purpose registration board with these:

With the image printed onto the acetates I can line them up on the registration board and voila! Everything will come out easy as pie. We hope.

There will be some improvisation with these flag prints as they are to be printed on fabric.  The proofs I took today were burnished by hand and the fabric is going to have to go through the press - when all the blocks are ready I'll start fabric trials.  They are all laundered and just waiting for some images - I can hear them in the back of my head, " Is she ever going to get to us or are we just folded fabric sitting here to decorate her studio?"  The answer to all of the above is yes.  OK.  I'm on it.  Just not today because there are other things to do.  Not tomorrow, either, because I'm going across the bridge to the Big City (Portland, OR) and play with the other kids.  Maybe I can get the next drawing done by Tuesday.  We'll see....  There is not a real deadline on these which is very, very nice - but, I have to keep a close watch on self or she will get preoccupied with something else and it could be years before she gets back to these.  I think the alter-ego-task-master-person is going to have to be in charge.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let The Carving Begin, Almost

Probably no one is interested in this, but I thought I would give it a go and see if I could do it.  "It" is documentation of a print from start to finish.  Not knowing quite where the beginning is I decided (quite arbitrarily) to start right after the block has been cut and sanded as smooth as a babies behind.

This method of transferring the image to the block is using the Studio Paper from McClain's.  I have found from experience with the Print From Hell (see previous post) that the ink tends to spread on the wood I'm using and lines are thicker than what I've drawn, which is one of the many reasons I had so much trouble with registration on the PFH, but it works great for one color prints and especially for Western style printmaking.

So, here we go with the image having been scanned and printed via ink jet printer onto the Studio Paper and placed face down on the block:

The ink will stay wet long enough for you to dink about taking photos, etc., so no need to be in a hurry.  However, don't go out for a beer - there isn't enough time for that right now.

Here's the tricky part:

Rub the back with your hand - does not need pressure to transfer.  At least not a lot of pressure.  You can use a baren or the back of a wooden spoon or a smooth river rock or - anything.  McClain's recommends using a slip sheet (maybe if I did that I would get a cleaner transfer?  I'll have to try that next time...)

And:  here is the result using the hand only:

That's not too bad, and certainly clear enough for my purposes on this print.  

And, here we are: all ready to start carving - tomorrow.  Times up for today.  Actually, tomorrow is a social (aka chocolate dessert with friend) day, therefore carving will not start until Friday - but watch the chips fly then!

Aha!  You thought I couldn't hear you, didn't you?  You were saying, "I don't see any kento marks.  She is going to have the same problems she had before - she has forgotten all about registration.  Hoo, boy, she is headed for Print From Hell #2".  Au contraire, mes amis! I do have a plan.  It may be ill begotten, but it is a plan.  We will see when the time comes.  Uh oh.  ;-)

(Isn't printmaking just more fun than a barrel of adolescent primates? One just never knows what's in store for one, does one??  Unless, of course, you are one of those stodgier types who have learned from experience not to experiment and do what you know works.  I have yet to learn that lesson.  Maybe I'm not as smart as an adolescent primate...)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back to the Flags

You may, or may not, recall the Prayer Flag project that I started last Fall, or maybe it was last Summer.  Time just seems to fly by and I feel like I'm running along behind it, as fast as my little feet will go, but I just cannot catch up with it.  It seems like the harder I try the more I get behind.  Nevertheless, I've managed to catch the flag project and today I think I got the drawing done and ready to be transferred to the block.  This flower is the orchid and according to the Language of Flowers site it means "beauty".  Seems fitting for the idea that these flags, as they flutter in the garden, will be releasing the blessings attributed to them.

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but the impetus for this project was the death of a dear friend's husband.  I wanted to do something in his memory and came up with the prayer flags because she is such an avid gardener and loves flowers.  One of his pet names for her was "Beauty" - and so we must have this image.

Tomorrow the image will go on the block and let the carving begin!  By George, I think I've caught this thing.  I knew those new sneakers would be good for more than just sneaking.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Print From Hell Begins...

All of the deadlines have been met except one:  Barenforum exchange # 55, which I foolishly signed up for on Oct. 1, 2012 when Feb. 1, 2013 sounded years away.  I thought I needed something to occupy my time, and then I turned around and flew to North Dakota for a week, and then it was Thanksgiving, and then flew to ND again for Christmas, and then it was Dec. 31, 2012 and I discovered that the Sketchbook Project was due in two weeks.  Their  "next Jan." was tomorrow and my "next Jan." had been 2014.  Well, got to work quickly and did that and the portrait and now it is back to woodblock.

It all started with a simple drawing which I had planned to do Moku Hanga.  This is the drawing:

The theme is motion in nature - immediately I had thought of my daughter, when she was a toddler, and rode on a little seat on the back of my bike.  I updated it with a helmet, but in those days the only thing I really remember was a little plastic strap that went around her middle.  All during our rides she was absolutely dead quiet and I thought she must be scared to death and certain I was out to kill us both. In contrast, her older brother when he rode back there chatted continually about everything in sight.  I never had long straight blond hair, either - call it artistic license.

OK - so got the block carved and proofed and ready to print and realized that I had no way to register this beauty.  Out came the cheater registration system. Voila!  I lined everything up, got my margins all set and pulled some proofs for registration purposes and went to bed.

The next morning the blocks were all waiting for me and I went to work.

I had blocks for blue, red, brown,  and grey and yellow on one block, and a blended blue to green background block.  Oh oh!  Right away I can't get the background to line up properly.  Finally, after hours of trial and error I gave up and carved a new background and printed it - so far Moku Hanga is working great!

It was obvious that I should throw in the towel and start over, but I was already late, so what to do? What to do?  Fuss and fury, what to do!  I did what any half crazed, previously level headed printmaker would do, I opted for hand coloring and got to work on that, which went rather quickly compared to recutting half a dozen blocks.  The only problem was that it looked really goofy with a mix of even sides and sides that went off to nowhere.  So, cut another block!  A frame block to cover all the sins.  I mixed up some blu/black Akua Intaglio ink, rolled it onto the block and to the press with paper and rubber blanket.  Moku Hanga has been totally abandoned at this point.  My patience is caput.

Toddler Flight

It worked moderately well, but this was about as far as I could go with what I had.  Barely visible in this shot is a swirl of interference pigment, added via stencil,  which shimmers when the light hits it properly.  At this point I did throw all the towels in - (the washer) and rushed this lot to the USPS.  And, I want to tell you that I really don't know what they're worried about money-wise.  The fee was outrageous and should keep the USPS solvent for several years.  And, now I need to go write another check to Monica because what I included was pathetic.

One more thing - I want to apologize to all the #55 folk who have been eagerly awaiting this portfolio. This is the first time I've ever been late.  I promise that reformation is on my resolution list.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lisa and Her Inner Child

Well, before I get carried away with the current woodcarving project, there was one more thing that had to be done before February 1.  That was a portrait.  There were hundreds if not millions of ways I could have gone with this assignment, and any of them probably would have been easier than the one I chose.  The paints, brushes, easel and a spanking clean canvas were sitting right there next to my drawing table and they shouted louder than anyone else.  My guess is that they were feeling neglected and wanting attention.  It worked.  Before I knew what had hit me I was smearing paint around on a small 20" x 16" surface.  Some bubble wrap was handy so it was smeared and pressed onto the other smeared pigments. A small piece of netting - the kind produce sometimes comes in - found its way to the canvas and paint was brushed and smushed over it leaving a delicious texture.  I just painted, smushed, smeared, crushed, smashed, slapped and slumped almost everything I could find onto that surface.  Basically, I produced a monotype without the transfer from matrix to intended surface.  Again, those printmaking skills were saving my derriere.

Then it just had to dry for a day which I spent cutting word stencils from heavy paper.  I had asked Lisa for some words she would use to describe herself and some she thought her friends and family might use to label her, too.  She sent a list to choose from.  I started with curious, then caring and creative, honest, and lastly: kind.  The idea was to use different fonts and sizes for each, but I didn't have a huge surface, so fortunately there was a limit built in.

When the first layers were dry enough I stenciled the words in a more or less random manner.  The idea I had in the back of my mind was to create this richly textured surface with the words woven in and a simple line drawing of Lisa over the top of everything.  So far, the work was going according to plan.

And, then it came time to add that line drawing idea.  It looked like it didn't even belong in the same room, let alone on the same surface.  I had made the background too dominant.  Rats.  Two choices: glace and tone down the background or just fill in the line with a grisaille rendering.  I settled for the grisaille because, here again, a deadline was nipping at my backside.  (Grisaille is a monochrome under painting used mainly to establish darks and lights and shadows for modeling.  When this method is used the artist generally goes on to then put in all the flesh tones, eye color, etc.  But, I stopped with grisaille.) 

This exhibition was originally to be a portrait exchange.  Each of us would choose another artist, from our group, or not, and we would each produce a portrait of the other person.  About half of us did the exchange thing,  some did self portraits.  There are some wonderful portraits in this show!  Anyway, it was a delight to meet Lisa, look at her work, and I had much fun attempting her portrait.  In Lisa's work she uses a lot of animals and especially a rabbit, very much like this blue one, that she had labeled her "inner child".  Every portrait should include one's inner child, don't you think?

Lisa and Her Inner Child

The opening of the exhibition was Feb. 1 - this had to be done, dry and delivered the middle of the week prior.  Another deadline met!  The exhibition is at Northbank Gallery, 1005 Main St., Vancouver, WA and will be up through Feb. 23.  The year was off to a very good start.  Except.

Except that last Oct. First it seemed very reasonable to sign up for a print exchange requiring 31 prints on Feb. 1.  I must have been in some alternate universe for this to seem like a good idea, but it did and I did and now the prints were due and all I had was a drawing on a block of wood.  Oh dear.  The woodblock print from hell will be the next installment.

The Last of the Sketchbook

When we left off I was still amidst the Sketchbook - stuck on that high spot in the road, not knowing whether I should just send it off and get to the next project or put a few more (numerous) hours into the works.  If it could have been sent off anonymously I might have done it.  But, it has my name on it.  So,  I couldn't.  More work went into it right up until the moment it had to be winging its way to the East coast.  The cover took on a number of changes:

As did all of the pages.  Additions of a variety of decorative papers, some gouache, some acrylic, some of this and some of that.  Here are a few more examples:

Those of us with printmaking skills are the luckiest people in the world.  How would I ever had made it through the sketchbook project without monotype and etching?  It was so great to be able to put both to use.  A little woodblock would have made it into this, too, had there been time and had someone  handled what time she did have a bit better. 

The next project on the docket is Exchange 55 for the Barenforum.  Starting a new project is always a shot in the arm, and this was no exception - it started off swimmingly, or maybe cravingly.  I happily carved for days, but more about that in the next installment.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sketchbook Project

Talk about being behind the eight ball, I am not only behind, I've been flattened.  Suddenly a bunch of February deadlines are taunting and cajoling and acting like great big bullies.  But the first of the Big Bullies is the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.  When I signed up for this last Fall and it said due next January for some unexplainable reason that meant January 2014 to me.  Imagine my shock when it suddenly dawned about Dec. 18 that these people meant January 2013.

As soon as we returned home from Holiday travel to visit daughter and family I leapt into action in the studio barely taking time to turn up the heat and turn on the lights.  I ripped the sketchbook apart (it was stapled in two places, so not a difficult job) and proceeded to ink an 18" x 24" plexi plate, add some textures and throw down pages 4 at a whack and run them through the press - turn them over and run them back through, add more ink, 4 more pages, etc. until I had all the pages hanging on a drying line.  I used AKUA monotype inks and fortunately they were dry in two or three days. As soon as they were dry they progressed to the sewing machine and were put back together almost as they had arrived. (Next time I will number them  - it would be much easier!) Next came images with technical pens, gouache, color pencils, basically anything able to make a mark was employed.

Somewhere. at some time, in my Goodwill, and the like, visits I had picked up a rather well beaten copy of Great Expectations.  Pages and parts of pages were missing, so it was ripe for becoming art material.  The category of my Sketchbook Project is "mystery".  These categories are only meant to be jumping off points and are widely interpreted.  The books will eventually all be digitized and when that happens I will blog a link, but in the meantime, here are some pages to lure you in...


First we have the cover.  Not terribly eye catching, but the title is there: Expectations, Great  and an
implied "maybe".    
A little more interest and a hint of what's to come - could it be a rabbit in a hat?  Wouldn't you think a so-called creative person could come with something original? sigh  It turned out that the creative part came from finding somewhat appropriate text to aid my visual story...

A couple of sample pages

and a couple more...

  • Stay tuned to the link for the whole book - or better yet! Watch for the exhibition to come to your locality where you can check it out - literally.  The exhibitions are interactive and treated as a library.  You  can "check out" 3 to 5 books and sit at a table and take your time looking through them.  The last time they came to Portland they were in the Ace Hotel across the street from Powell's Bookstore. 

  • So, I am fairly reeling at the fact that I have actually finished this early and it will arrive on time.  But, I can't reel too long because next up is a portrait for a show opening Feb. 1.  Today a small canvas and some oil paints actually came out and were smeared around a bit.  Onward and Upward!