slightly wonky

Losing my grip on reality…

Well, this just about does it.  Apparently, we are getting MORE snow.  I’ve heard between 4 and…21 inches??? What kind of estimate is THAT?  Anyway, all of this snow has put me over the deep end.  I’m bracing myself for two days of winter ugliness.  My husband has possibly embraced this whole snow thing more than I have…this is the IGLOO in our front yard that he built for my son:

Yes, you know it’s bad when you have an igloo on your front lawn.  Hey, at least I’m not LIVING in an igloo.  Sometimes, I am so cold in the house that it feels like an igloo.  I’ve typed the word, “igloo” so many times now, that it’s starting to look weird.  Hence, I am losing my grip on reality with all of this ice-hut-building/snowball-eating/northeast-cursing/blood vessel-bursting/stir-crazy/cabin-fever weather.

I’m trying to fight S.A.D. by using obnoxious colors.  I’m not sure that it’s working for me.

Do any of you remember the toy, “Rainbow Brite“?  I feel like I’m channeling her…

These are my neurons when I heard that we were getting more snow…

Now, I’m completely regressing…

I did this ages ago, and never wanted to post it.  Well…I think that this is the time to post such randomness…

If this week is a series of snow days…you may not hear from me in awhile.  I’ll be holding a plastic Elmo figurine and mumbling to myself in the corner of the room while my son asks me to “make Elmo talking…”


Slow and snowy week…
January 28, 2011, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week I had TWO printmaking classes!  Yes, I know.  I am so lucky.   I am also so grateful!

In one class, we experimented with trace monotypes.  This is where you ink up a plate, gently lay a paper on top of the plate, then rub/draw/scribble on the paper, thus picking up the ink from the plate underneath.  This can have cool results…some of my previous posts have some of these monotypes.  However, a lot of it has to do with getting the ink consistency perfect on the plate.  My attempts during my class on Thursday night did not yield the results that I’d hoped for…sigh.  Back to the drawing board, or printing plate, or whatever…

In my second class, we are doing solarplate etching.  This is using a copper plate coated with a light sensitive emulsion.  You create  an image on acetate, then put the acetate on the plate, expose the plate to UV light, and then the image is “burned” onto the plate.  When you print this plate (intaglio), you smush ink into the recesses of the plate, and wipe of the excess.  Then, the ink in the recesses gets printed.  Neat!  We only managed to make some test plates today.  No printing until next week.

 So, in spite of the fact that I did have two classes this week, I haven’t a lot to show for myself.  Did I mention that we also had a snow day?  Below, you’ll see how our outdoor table looks, and the lego creation that my son made on our snow day…

I’m in one of those phases when I have an expansive awareness of how much I don’t know, and how little experience I have in printmaking.  I hope that there is a place for me in this art world…it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with other people’s talents.  I know…you’ve got to start SOMEWHERE…I’m trying not to feel that I should just stick to architecture, or finger paints, or lego…

Can you BELIEVE this snow???  Doesn’t this look ridiculous???

The lego creation in process…very 2D…

This is what my solarplates look like…you can barely see that there are marks on them…

And some other sketchy stuff that I kept myself busy with…

Sometimes, I wonder if I should just stick to drawing!  Or maybe architecture…this is what I used to do…

Hmmm.  I remember that world…no room for errors…lots of information/people/details to manage…nice people…lots of stress, though…LOTS of it.  Things are still stressful in my new situation, but they aren’t unhealthy.  Plus, I get to see my family!  🙂

Slow days when it’s too cold to type…
January 25, 2011, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I was about to write, “it’s amazing how much frozen water can disrupt everything”, but then I thought of the Titanic.  Hmm.  Makes our perpetual cocoon of snow seem less formidable.

It’s hard to keep a schedule now.  Snow days abound.  Our thermometer read -6 degrees one morning this week.  15 degrees is starting to feel pretty good, and 32 is positively balmy.

I hope that in spite of the snow, I can make it to my two classes this week.  I can see why taking classes in the winter can be a bit of a challenge.  But, the light outside can be so great!  When the sun is setting…all of those mounds of snow glow with a pinkish light, while the shadows remain a purplish-blue.  Throw in some black, jagged branches, and you have quite a scene!  I’ll try to remember to take a picture.

I’m continuing with my printmaking.  I worked with the new brayer technique that I was shown in my last class.  The teacher actually paints/draws like this.  In fact, during class she “drew” a remarkable hummingbird with her brayer.  (A brayer is a hard, rubber roller used to apply ink).  Pretty amazing.  I like working with lots of layers of ink.

I would LOVE to own a press someday.  I know…dream on.  They are $$$$.  The images are just so much more saturated and crisp when you use a press, instead of hand burnishing/rubbing the back of the paper.  If you know of someone who is somehow TIRED of their exquisite press, and would like to see it go to a good home…let me know.

Here’s my recent work…stay warm!


It feels like such a relief for me to be taking a break from straight lines, clean drawings, neat everything…In architecture, drawings are legal documents, or instructions.  No extraneous or unclear information should be provided.  CLARITY.  Well, obviously…these kinds of drawings/prints have an entirely different purpose.  How refreshing!

What is it?
January 21, 2011, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

Today is a snow day here.  Schools closed…cars buried…cabin fever…

This is the first moment that I’ve had to think…my three-year old son is not one for just lazing around.  He’s a man of action, and he expects a partner in crime at all times, namely, me.  I’ve been Big Bird, Elmo, someone named Harry, Richard Rabbit from Peppa Pig, and countless other characters during our playing today.  In other words, I’m fried.

My snow day today also meant that my printmaking class today was cancelled.  Oh well!  But I DID have my other printmaking class last night.  It’s at a fairly new arts center called Maud Morgan Arts in Cambridge.  I’m taking a class called Print Sampler…with FOUR different, highly respected printmakers.  Each teacher will teach two, non-consecutive classes.  Last night, we have a fabulous teacher named Jan.  Her last name escapes me right now.  [edit 1/26: Jan Arabas]  Truly, in one class I already feel that I learned SO much.  Who knew what kind of fun stuff you could do with a brayer?  I do wish that she had brought some images of her work, just for inspiration.  The group seems varied and nice, so I think that it will be great…assuming that I can attend all of the classes.

Last night, I also had a drink with my dear friend KP.  She’s the one who finally pushed me to get this blog going, and who is a constant font of thoughtful and kind guidance.  Anyway, she pressed me to have my posts share more information…not just the images.  One question she asked was, “why printmaking?”  Good question…I don’t have an eloquent answer.  So, what is printmaking?  In essence, it is transferring ink from a matrix (copper plate, wood block, etc.), to another surface (typically paper).  This impression from the matrix is a print, and it is this process that sets it apart from painting, drawing, etc. etc.  So, why printmaking?  There is something amazing/unexpected/mysterious that happens when you make a print.  Until you actually press the paper to the matrix…you don’t actually KNOW how the print will look.  Obviously, skilled printmakers probably have a highly refined sense, and know exactly what they will get.  But even then, I still think that there is something (and I hate to use this word) “magical” about peeling back the paper for the first time to look at a print.  You control so much of the process, but there is a final toss of the dice that adds a fascinating twist.  This twist can be VERY frustrating.  NUMEROUS times I have imagined how I believe the print will turn out, only to be surprised by the actual result.  Again, with years of experience this surprise lessens/disappears, but undoubtedly the excitement of pulling the print remains.

Here are pictures of the snow, the toys we played with endlessly today, and the print from last night…each a moment in my past 24 hours…stay warm!

More primordial prints…
January 20, 2011, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

I’m still on this microcosm theme.  Tiny things…organisms…swirling around together…there’s something about imagining that miniscule world that is fascinating.  We all rush around in cars, in subways…talking, laughing, frowning…and the whole time there are little worlds like this bumping around…inside of us?  (Hopefully not on the grab bar on the subway…gross!)  I remember peering into microscopes in high school, searching for that paramecium or ameoba.  The ameobas were slow, but the parameciums could really move!  Sometimes, we’d have to stain the solution that they were in, so that they were more easily seen.  I guess these are the types of images I have in my head…peering and searching, appearing and disappearing…

So, this evening is one of my first printmaking classes!  I am very excited.  I am somewhat concerned, though, as there is no materials list.  I’ve never had an art class with no materials list, so I’m hoping that all the materials will be supplied.  If not, I’ll be bummed..either because I don’t have what is needed, or because we are just going to TALK the entire first class, which is NOT ideal.  I know.  Some talking is good.

I had lunch today with an ex-colleague.  She’s wonderful, and it was great to catch up.  It was definitely STRANGE to walk into my old office.  Everyone is SO nice there, so it isn’t because I didn’t like being there.  It’s just so odd to walk in as a spectator, not a participant.  I remember the intensity of my existence there.

Wish me luck on my class tonight.  I found a lovely poem about being a beginner:

If the Angel

deigns to come

it will be because

you have convinced

her, not by tears but

by your humble resolve to be always

beginning: to be a



Fat flakes…
January 18, 2011, 1:19 pm
Filed under: Drawing, printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

No, I’m not talking ABOUT anyone…

It’s been snowing steadily all morning with the fattest flakes I have ever seen.  It’s like tissue paper confetti.  I tried to take a photo of the flakes, but they don’t seem to show up at all in the pictures. 


I’m still working in drawings, mostly.  I JUST ordered supplies for pronto printing, so I’m going to use these drawings as a basis for that printing.  I am just exploring lines and patterns, really.  I make a line, then just see where it goes.  It’s kind of freeing to just start a drawing, with no plan about where it’s going.  Each mark just reacts to the mark beforehand…

I did manage to do one print.  Here it is…

All of these seem to have that “primordeal” look to them.  I just find that these are the types of marks that I like to make!  A micro world…what do you think?

Pronto print tutorial
January 15, 2011, 10:10 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

This week, I went to the studio of printmaker Nancy Diessner.  She was kind enough to agree to give me a tutorial on pronto printing [a.k.a. polyester plate lithography].  It sounds exotic, but it is much less intimidating than true lithography.  I’ll try to summarize it as best as I understand…marks can be made on  thin polyester sheets either by hand (with a sharpie, for example), or by a laser printer/copier.  So, it has the ability to print hand drawn images, or photographic images.  Then, the sheet (plate) is saturated with a mixture of water and gum arabic.  The oil based ink is then rolled on the plate, as is typically done…but the water magically repels the ink from the unmarked areas, and the marked areas accept the ink.  So interesting!  These can either be printed by hand or on a press.  Luckily, Nancy has a beautiful press, so that we could print some of them by press.  The ones printed by hand have a different feel, as they are lighter and irregular.

So, below are the prints that we made!  They are a bit simple and crude…but there are amazing things that can be done with this type of printmaking…so don’t let these early experiments put you off…

This was printed on the press:

See the lovely emboss?

This was printed by hand:

See how it is lighter, and there is no emboss mark?

This was also hand printed…you can see where I rubbed with a bone folder:

This is more “photographic”, but is clearly different than a photo.  Please don’t ask me why my child refuses to smile for photographs:

The last one was done on the press:

up close:

See?  Wasn’t all that neat?  These are so rudimentary, so don’t let that put you off the process.  I hope to get the materials so that I can do this at home (without a press, of course!).  My printmaking classes start THIS WEEK, so I am SUPER excited for what’s to come!

Besides the pronto plates, here is a hodge podge of other stuff from the week…a linoleum print:


Besides printmaking, my son and I created a contemporary apartment tower for his chutes and ladders people…note the lovely cantilevers and expansive views!  If Fallingwater were tall and made of cardboard…:

And for those of you not in the Northeast…this is what the first blizzard of 2011 looked like:

These photos were taken at 9am…and the “snow emergency” was through 7pm…EGADS!  Eventually, the snow in the seat of the chair was taller than the armrests.  Sigh…is it spring yet?  My ever optimistic friend, KP, was waxing poetic about the lovely blanket of powdery goodness…I was peering out feeling trapped!  Perhaps if it was good snowball snow, that would have made up for it.  🙂

Black & White & Manwich

Hey all…not much free time lately…on account of there being SIXTEEN INCHES OF SNOW outside.  Seriously.  Our two lane street, is now a 1.5 lane street.  Sidewalks?  We don’t need no stinkin’ sidewalks!  Can you tell that I’m a bit crotchety? 

So, I’ve not had the free time that I dream of lately.  As a result, my work has been minimal…mostly black & white.  I did attempt a collage at the end…you’ll see my Manwich reference.  I am sort of scared of collage.  I think that I already told the story of taking a collage class in grad school, and the teacher not liking any of my stuff.  This kind of stuck with me.  I didn’t disagree with him, really. 

I also have to say, going to the Leonard Drew exibit was so amazing, yet so depressing.  I mean…seriously, when I see stuff like that…I just wonder WHY I bother at all.  No joke.  I’ve been feeling rather uninspired and droopy lately, on account that I am not a brilliant artist.  Go figure.  I know…I have to pick myself up and just keep going. 

I’m going to share with you my favorite quote of all time.  It typically helps me pick myself off the floor when I often find myself there.  In all honesty, I have basically built my life around it:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination are alone omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

– Calvin Coolidge

And so I press on…

Leonardo Drew at the DeCordova
January 9, 2011, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So, this was the last day that the work of Leonardo Drew is at the DeCordova.  I am SO lucky that I went.   I seriously loved it.  He’s brilliant.

His works are primarily sculpture…and his work is often a gridlike arrangement of decayed fragments.  Think: rust, dirt, remnants, remains…gathered with beautiful sensitivity to texture, form, and pattern.  I know…how can these things be “beautiful”?  Trust me, they were.  Jawdropping.

I believe that after a trip to Japan, he began to think about works of paper…but he initially struggled with how to convey his worldview with this pristine, flat medium.   His idea became creating intricate paper castings of the debris that was once a part of his work…old shoes, a broken toy truck, a telephone.  These were like light, fragile cocoons.  I loved the transformation of these previously gritty, broken, discarded items to something so…delicate and ephemeral.  Both the heavy/dark/decaying pieces and the pale/delicate/ephemeral pieces still had a similar sensibility, which was kind of amazing to me.  I’m not sure how to describe it, but it was almost as if he captures a beauty that exists within death.  I know.  That makes no sense.  But the individual objects all had a previous life…someone wore that shoe, some child played with that toy, and someone else used that phone.  Now, this is their second life…where their uniqueness merges into the overall assemblage/texture/form. 

I wish that I could post images of his work, but I think that would be wrong in the world of intellectual property/blogging.  Am I right?  Please follow this link to get to his webpage and see what I’m rambling about.  [I also just found someone’s blog post on this exhibit]

I’m so bummed that I cannot demand that my friends and relatives go see this show TOMORROW.  It’s gone.  Moving on.  I’m going to start saving up now to buy one of the teeny weeny pieces of his work.   I settled for buying the book, in the meantime.

Art A.D.D.

So, I managed to get a bunch of stuff done before the weekend.  I probably won’t get much time to work on stuff until next Tues.  Yes, this stuff is “all over the map”.  Think of it as a pu-pu platter of attempts. 

I keep thinking that I need to make a more coherent set of things.  Then, I get distracted and want to try something new.  Thus, the randomness of it all.

I’m not going to post every day.  While I’m still working on my 365 projects, I’m not going to barrage you with posts.  It’s too exhausting for everyone…well, mostly me.

So, if any of you have some thoughts on this stuff, I’d love to hear it.  Even if you tell me NOT to EVER do that again…at least I’ll have some feedback.  Right now, I am kind of working in a bubble.  I am trying to investigate ways to possibly get some feedback from people.  So, until I figure that out, this is my forum for comments!

I’ll stop rambling now, as my hands are too cold to type, and just show you my stuff.  I kind of like this one:

a detail of the above print:

another similar one…I like the colors, but the design is so-so:


this one was not good, and i couldn’t save it:

and a detail:

at last…something recognizable! no, it’s not me…:


And now for something completely different…a pencil drawing:


I liked this drawing, so I made a print of it:


And I made another little book!  This one is about winter:


even CLOSER:

Whew!  Okay, that’s it for this week.  Seriously.  Speaking of winter, my hands are so cold that I can barely type.  We’re supposed to get snow this weekend too…brrrrr!  Have a good weekend!

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