Monday, June 19, 2017

at the Albany Institute

Kind friends, Tom and Taylor McGill came with me -
 Tom took this picture of me being my awkward,
 but art-happy self. 
It was a very exciting week!  I traveled to the Albany Institute of History & Art to attend the opening of the 2017 exhibition of Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region. 

I was very excited to meet juror Jack Shear, museum staff, and fellow artists, and see the exhibition. The work was awesome - I especially enjoyed the mural by Richard Barlow, multi-print polyptych by Tatana Kellner and forest scenes in charcoal on mylar  by George Dirolf.

Three of my collages were included in the show (remember when I was packing them a few weeks ago? ) It's very rewarding to see them up on the wall and nicely lit, away from the studio (fly from the nest my little art-fledglings :) ).

Tom and Taylor checking out the collages
I also have exciting news - Raptor and Automata was selected by the Albany Institute for purchase!(!!) This makes me very (very) happy, knowing it's found a wonderful art-home ( - it's one of my favorites - the gold in the raptor's eyes is especially nice, and it's one of my favorite set of blocks (a digital version of that particular raptor hangs over my mantel)).

I also was surprised and honored to be the recipient of the Stuyvesant Plaza, Inc. Award :D - this was very fortuitous timing, as I am running out of ink, paper, and (soft) blocks (haha). I also foresee a drying rack in my future (steeples fingers).

As (incredibly!) exciting as the exhibition opening was, work continues - I marbled paper and printed the medium rocks and new flowers.

Trying out the new flowers here over the old ones - hmmmmmmm

I also used some of the photos I took last week at the Cloisters to make a template for a new block.  
This is a good example of the digital work that goes into making a template before I start carving. I started with a photo I took of part of the border of this early 16th century tapestry.  I then worked with it (and worked with it) to get it into a simplified black and white image in the scale and proportions I want.  I printed it (with a computer) onto transfer paper, then print it (manually) onto a toned block (MDF in this case). Then I add and subtract and refine with pen and/or marker directly on the block.  Then I start carving - trying to combine the design elements in the template with the feeling/ memory of the thing (in this case a branch of a rose bush). In this one, I'm moving from the bottom to the top, working from large tools to small. I run progressively darker markers over sections in progress to try to get a sense for what marks are showing up.  For me, this is a sort of a chance to swing the other way after doing the turret (which contains lots of tiny straight marks).  I used a medieval tapestry border as the source because the block is intended to make up part of the border of the pseudo-tapestry.  

I had excellent feline assistance on this one...

...and three days later...

In puppy news - Honey has discovered my (and, critically, the kitties) bed.  She used to be afraid of the stairs and so, until now, never went into my bedroom, a scenario the felines were quite content with, but she seems to have conquered her fear and overleapt piles of laundry, and snuggled right in to the pillows. My Princess' face said "fix this, human, fix this now," while Honey looks like she's hoping if she stays still, I won't see her (luckily, when I put her leash on and said "walk?!" - she trotted to the door - good Pup!)

In non-art news, I've been defining my garden beds with blocks
and brick and put in cedar around the borders - thumbs up. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

turret proof

We have a turrets :) !(!!!!!) 

This one has been a bear to carve, but it did turn out as beautiful and intricate as I imagined.

I have a few mis-prints, but, for the most part, the printing went well.

I printed it on grey paper (I couldn't bring myself to print it even the archive copy on white.) and I plan to cut them out and use them on the sides of the pseudo-tapestry as part of an internal architectural frame.

Speaking of the pseudo-tapestry (sigh), I continue doing flower research - I don't think the flowers are right yet, but I'm not sure whether its the shapes, the colors, or both, (or something else).  I've marbled some new colors of paper and started carving some new flower shapes to try out. (Luckily, I have a few copies of the foliage and they aren't sew to the ground yet).

Also...I decided it really "needs" some ants, and recent pieces have taught me that it's structurally better to print the ants directly onto the ground paper instead of cutting them out and applying them individually...but (doh!) all the ants I have are on blocks too hard to hand press (like a stamp) onto the ground and very soft block, that work well for hand pressing, are less inclined to hold fine detail and sharp edges.  So, it was a challenge, but I think I found a happy medium and it seems to work.  

Speaking of the ground for the ants...I've decided I do want marbled paper in the ground layer, (in addition to the large woodblock printed pieces I already have), because I think the space needs to be deeper and think the marbled paper would combine well with the pieces I have.  My initial plan had been to use a single piece of mesh backing...but as the ground grows, I no longer thing it's all going to fit.  I think I may need to make the bottom and top of the composition separately, side by side, to be combined for display in a space taller than the studio (hmmmmmm.) This stretched vertical format would be appropriate, since it's Gothic-inspired. (hmmmmmmmm.)

On that note, I felt I needed to do more research for the top half, and in particular, now that I have the turrets - I'm thinking about making an arch between them. (by making the turrets and arch separately, I can re-use the turrets on the sides and change-out the arches to make different widths. O:) )

I went to the Cloisters museum and photographed aches between turrets, particularly focusing on rectangular forms. I found this type of shape on many different scales and in many different materials (paper, stone, masonry, glass, ivory, tapestry, plaster, metal). There were plenty of examples...but it's not only figuring out the content, but also how the parts go together.  If I make a repeating pattern, like in the manuscript, it's easy to vary the length by simply adding more segments.  This could be true of arches too, with each arch being a "unit" and repeating them in a horizontal line, but where to put the dividing lines to vary the length would be trickier - and only certain numbers of arches look good, (1, 2, 3, 5 - basically, a Fibonacci series)...but that might still be ok, because I can add mouldings on either side...(puts head in hands). Basically, I did a lot of research and am still not sure. 

I also did more flower research - look at these un-color corrected beauties - hard to believe these colors exist in nature that way.

I also photographed industrial landscapes, including this weird "flock" of helicopters

I attended Open Portfolio Day at Zea Mays Printmaking, where I got to check out every print in the flat files in person and talk to and catch up with other printmakers. It's amazing to me to see  all the things that other artists are doing and ways they're using various media and techniques.  Also, I won a raffle prize of a gorgeous print(!)

In non-art news, I tried a new cookie recipe in honor of my Dad's birthday (while my faithful canine assistant looked on - she didn't get any samples because of the chocolate, but received bacon treats as consolation) I think it's a keeper. Then, I got to be there with him to celebrate the big day :).

And lastly, my roses are finally blooming and I got one of the super dark ones (...though I don't know that I would call it authentically "black" - hmmmmm.) Because I can't help myself - look how Honey's little fluffs behind her ears are growing in :) .  Also, she saw her first turtle ("Human - did you see! This rock moves!! stopped [sniff, sniff, sniff].") It was a smart turtle and pulled its head and legs into it's shell until I convinced (bribed) Honey that we needed to keep exploring the rest of the park, but it made for a very exciting walk.

Monday, June 5, 2017

more flowers, chipmunks, and Gothic turrets

 A busy week in Artlandia!

I hadn't realized it, but I "needed" another chipmunk. While a lovely new creature block is generally a positive thing, it wasn't exactly on my radar to be doing this this week. I was planning to continue work on the turret (which I did)...however, the turret has been going soooooo slowly that I started to wonder if maybe I'd just become an awful carver or wasn't working as hard on it as I thought. So I decided to take a break and quickly make something fun (chipmunk!).

Jr. assisting with scale
Then I went back to the turret, and I really am almost finished (the initial round) of carving.  I'm so close that I was tempted to work on it all morning and try to finish it for this post, but after so many hours, I don't want to rush the last bit (and also, since it's been slower than estimated all along, if I thought it might be done today, that probably means more like Wednesday :p ).

I was lucky to have lots of feline assistance with this in a pose I think of as "double-decker kitties" where my Princess sits in her bed and Jr. sprawls on the desk right next to my carving spot - it's like being on stage with an attentive audience both at orchestra level and in the mezzanine. 
Look at that face!  This was her right before the test - not nervous at all.
Speaking of the creature-family...big news!  Honey passed her therapy dog test!(!!) I am so, so, soooo proud.  She did great (I think I was the nervous one). 

 a selfie of us to commemorate, haha

In para-art news, we did more flower research.  

look at that Giant! mushroom
- it's broader than a tree! Now
where is the Cheshire Cat?