Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Some days you just have to stop and regroup. My work space has become a sea of floaty little bits of paper, wine glasses, and general crud. I wanted to jump in the van, drive to Atlanta and buy another gallon of goo so I could keep up the momentum. But I decided to take my own advice, save some mileage on the van, and some room on the credit card, and make do.
So I am tidying, filing, and cleaning. I try to keep all the lino block prints I make somewhat organised. Although you probably wouldn't expect to find a filing cabinet in a studio, I have one. Stuffed full with photos and text, and wads of prints somewhat organised by color, it is an unexpected, but handy tool.
Now it is time to get back out there and make more. I am loving working on this body of work, but a larger dress piece now uses dozens upon dozens of prints. Pulled one at a time, allowed to dry, trimmed and sorted. The pile above, shows a bare minimum needed to have plenty of possibilities available when putting together a piece. So rather than hopping in the van I am going to start inking and printing, and hanging prints to dry. Just getting ready for the next big push.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I was puttering away in the studio last night, thinking. I often work late at night, until midnight or later. I find there are fewer distractions, no phone calls, it's too dark to see what needs weeding. And one thing struck me, what I would have told myself as a 20 year old who wanted to be an artist. Aside from the obvious, "just paint, you need to paint at least 100 bad paintings before they start getting good" was the other thought...make do.
Early in my "career" I worked in an art supply store. It was the perfect place for me to be. It opened doors to other artists, classes, supplies, information on framing. A thousand good things came from that job. But one thing that it also did was surround me with bright shiny arty things. Bundles of pencil crayons in pretty boxes, beautiful hand rolled pastels from France, x-acto knives in stylish containers. I had an employee discount and I used it. But now, 25 years later, I have learned to make do.
If I were starting again, I would still buy a few good things, that expensive aluminum ruler they made me buy in college? Still have it. Paint? Even to the chagrin to some artist friends I still buy top of the line paints, papers, and canvas. But the other stuff? Meh.
Now I buy packs of cheap brushes that cost about the same as one gleaming russet colored beauty. I have dropped the x-acto knife for a hardware store knife, and when I've lost that, a single edged razor blade works perfectly well, and you can buy them by the hundreds. Rather than buying expensive pre-printed papers to collage with, I make my own with tissue from old dress patterns, for free. The pencil you found in the back of the drawer works about as well as the sparkly new one at the art supply store. A palette? A chunk of tempered glass from a yard sale and old yogurt cups.
Make do, make it part of the process. It's a sure fire way to avoid the "sameness" so common in the art world. Let the creative part start from the beginning.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
There is something about this time of year that pushes me to change. To try again, reinvent, give it another go. It is probably a simple question of timing, and schedule. Generally from the first of Feburary through mid November, shows come and go at a pretty even clip. A show every other weekend, sometimes every weekend, doesn't leave much time in between to just think. But winter time does, and this winter is no different.
Linoleum block prints are something that I learned how to do sometime in the 9th or 10th grade, I would have been around 15. I have come back around to them more times than I can count. An image is carved into a sheet of what's called battleship linoleum. It is grey, sort of a hard rubbery surface about the thickness of cardboard. A reductive printmaking method, everything carved away with a razor sharp gouge stays white and clean, and what is left behind picks up the ink and transfers to paper. The image needs to be carved in a mirror image of what you want.
For a few years, this was my main squeeze, printing small multiple color editions. Following the rules, (and there are many) of a good print. Throwing away all the mistakes, the missteps in color, the misses in proper registration, and the "doinks." Doink is a word I invented for the the little blemishes, the bits of dust, the parts that didn't take ink evenly. This is the perfect medium for a perfectionist to revel in, to find fault in, to discard mistakes.
But this past year, I have found a way to enjoy the carving, enjoy the printing, and find a lot of joy in the imperfections. The carving is still tight, and slow, but I love that part, and the printing is a joy. Rather than expensive cotton rag paper from France, I print on wadded up wrinkled dress patterns. I change colors mid stream, I look for lap marks and wrinkles, and doinks. This is what I get...
And they look rather pretty drying in the window...
I have been using them to create repeating patterns in my dress pieces for the past year or so. But this winter I have started working without the dress. Just enjoying the combination of paint and print. Collaging, and painting over with layers of transparent washes, and opaque paint. This is the most recent piece to come off the easel...
Now it is time to pull the pieces together, to work on a dress, to find the story. All I can say for sure at this point is there is a piece in the studio incorporating all these things. It is still in the beginning, and as with all of my pieces, I'm sot exactly sure what it will be when it is finished, I'm not even sure I will be able to make it work. But I am trying, I am giving it another go...
And you'll all be the first to know if I pull it off. Until then, if you are enjoying the process, take a look at my newest blog, www.elleements.blogspot.com I am posting a new little piece every day. Y'know just to kill a little time waiting for the next big piece.