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.

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