slightly wonky

Painterly collage
May 29, 2011, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Collage | Tags: , , , , ,

So, this weekend…I took an afternoon collage class with Alexandra Sheldon.  She is a local artist, who began as a painter…but now also does collage.  Her work is so beautiful, and she has an amazing, intuitive sense about composition.  She is also extremely enthusiastic, which creates a very fun atmosphere.  This class was focused on edges in collage.  We looked at hard/soft edges, their relation to one another and to the collage’s perimeter, and used all sorts of interesting techniques to create our collage material.  I much prefer to use “made” material for a collage, rather than found material.  I always struggle with found material…as it may have text that I don’t want, or simply be too strong of a singular image.

Here’s my first one…it took a little time to get “warmed up”:

I like the colors.  Here is the next one…Alexandra suggested that I add the orange curve on the left…I’m glad that she did!

I think that cutting out the orange curve (hard edged), was not something that I would have thought of, but I like it.  Here is the next one:

I really like the colors on that one.  This is the next one:

That was one of my “exercises in restraint”.  I was testing out different pieces, and another classmate said that the orange piece on the right was good. I agree!  The last one:


My classmates liked the turquoise blue next to the yellow.  I liked this one as well.  I do think that the last one shows improvement over the first one.  I guess this is typical…it takes a little time of working to just get “in the zone”.  Alexandra suggested this might happen as the left side of the brain eventually stops interfering, when it isn’t being asked to participate.  Interesting!  I’d often like to tell the left side of my brain to “chill out” when it’s whining about things not being EXACTLY right, whatever that means.

I went to the Danforth Museum this week.  I love that place.  They had an exhibit of works by a local artist, Adria Arch.  I really liked her painting…they almost looked screen printed to me.  She works with “doodles”, or abstract symbols.  I found that really interesting.  Another artist also had work there: Elizabeth Keithline.  I LOVED her work.  She made figures out of wire which were amazing.  It was really almost like looking at a computer generated wireframe of a human form, but it was standing in the room with you.  I liked the fact that the forms were clearly handmade, and not overly precise, as a computer would do.  Really extraordinary.  Go see this show immediately, as it is going down on June 5.  So worth it.

Happy Memorial Day!



Spontaneously summer
May 27, 2011, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking

Yes, welcome to New England!  As my husband just commented…we had weeks of cold, wet, 45 degree weather…yesterday was a lovely, sunny 70 degree day…and today it’s full sun and 90 degrees in the shade.  It feels scorching, as we’ve been living in terrarium conditions for so long.  I have to unexcavate my summer clothes from the attic…when the attic cools down to about 100 degrees sometime tonight.

I had a fun class last night.  My teacher/classmates were pushing the “restraint” theme in my work.  Here is the print that they love…and wouldn’t let me touch further:

See how subdued?  Quite a bit different than the clarty collages I posted recently.  He’s one that sort of struck a middle ground:

It’s still subtle, but has some carborundum craziness to it.  Christiane (teacher) showed me a great technique for blending the edges of colors on the plate, which helped tremendously.

Today, I printed a new carborundum/drypoint:

I am continuing to work on my drypoints, as was suggested by the reviewer from the DeCordova.  This one was a result of  hearing details about the capture of Mladic and the Serbian genocide.  I was horrified to hear not only how many adults were murdered, but how many children too.  It’s hard to even talk about such an atrocity, but I felt such pain thinking about all of the children who were caught up in the war.  This print was my thinking of the burdens that children are forced to bear, in spite of their innocence.

I know.  Dark stuff for a sunny Friday.  Here are some shots from our garden to lighten the mood.  I am seriously shocked that the bulbs that were planted last fall have actually grown.  I understand that this is what is SUPPOSED to happen, but I’m no gardener…and have little faith in it.

Isn’t that great?  Here’s another:

Have a lovely, Memorial Day weekend everyone!  We’re planning on eating lots of hot dogs.  Okay, let’s be honest here…I’M planning on eating lots of hot dogs.

What to do…
May 24, 2011, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Collage, Drawing, painting | Tags: , , , , , ,

Today, I went to the Davis Museum to see the exhibit of El Anatsui.  He’s an artist born in Ghana, who makes these amazing metal tapestries from discarded liquor bottle tops.  Totally crazy.  They’re a multicolored chainmail of trash…and they’re stunning.  He also does ridiculously amazing sculpture and painting.  Go see it now.  Seriously.  Why are you still reading this?

I keep thinking about this portfolio review.  It’s really made me stop and ponder…I’m not sure that I’ve come to any brilliant conclusions.  I just keep mulling it all over in my head again and again.  Tumultuous.

As a result, everything that I’ve been doing is tumultuous.  I started by just making marks in a “zen” sort of way…ended up with this weird garden:

Hmmm…a physical manifestation of the chaos of thoughts that I’m having…

I also made material for my collage class.  Here is what the pile looked like earlier:

It’s a mix of relief prints…gelatin prints…and other randomness.  I don’t think that I’m a big fan of gelatin printing.  I like the immediacy of it, but I am never in awe of what is produced.  I’m sure that I need to work on it some more…

I decided that I should attempt a couple of collages with this new material.  I threw caution to the wind, and came up with these two:


I liked using these materials for collage.  I almost felt that I didn’t have to do too much to them, as they had so much character of their own.  Naturally…I did too much to them anyway.  Perhaps I’ve given up on restraint.  Restraint can be so boring.  Yes?  No?  Any comments?  I don’t even drink anything with caffeine, so you can’t suggest that I cut back a little.

One of the challenges that I’m having in general, is that I like to do so many different things.  I like printmaking…painting…drawing, etc.  I think that I should try to focus on one, but each time that I do…I wonder if I’m narrowing down unnecessarily.  I know that Picasso could make art with a potato and a dry stick, but the REST of us might do well with a bit of focus.  True?

So, the theme for today is: wishing for focus, whilst seriously out of focus.

Is it any coincidence that I’m going to the eyedoctor tomorrow?  I hope that those eye charts don’t start looking like my collages…

Portfolio review
May 22, 2011, 5:52 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been SUCH a crazy week.  I spent the whole week preparing for a portfolio review, which was held today.  SO INTERESTING.  I met with four reviewers: Philip Prodger of the Peabody Essex, Dina Deitsch of the DeCordova, Katherine French of the Danforth, and Jane Young of the Chase Young Gallery.  It was fascinating to hear each of their reactions to what I presented, and their suggestions of how I might proceed.  By the end of the morning, my head was spinning with all of their comments and thoughts.  So much to think about…

 P.P. suggested that I consider learning aquatint and soft ground etching.  I think that he liked what I’ve been doing with the carborundum in my prints, and thought that aquatint/soft ground etching would benefit me.   Both of those types of printmaking require acid, so I’ve not been able to try them.  I think that he felt that my work was interesting and had potential.  He seemed to like the complex layering and gestural mark making.

D.D. really liked my drypoints, and wanted me to push this further.  I showed her that small drypoint of my son, which is the print recently accepted at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking.  I found her positive response to the drypoints really interesting, as I think of the drypoints as much more “conventional”.  She felt that I could take advantage of my ability to draw and drypoint’s “traditional” aesthetic, and do something different with it.

K.F. was very positive, and said that I need to find the “right teacher”.  She suggested that I consider a master’s program (gulp!).  She said that my work was visually sophisticated (!), and on the edge of being really exciting.  She also encouraged me to continue with the more energetic mark making that appears in my work.  That comment seemed to be a running theme from the reviewers.

J.Y. helped me to understand more what a gallery owner is looking for.  They are looking for a “clear voice” in the work.  She liked the tension between the “uncontrolled” abstract marks in the prints, and my clean drawing that gets overlaid.  I also learned how works on paper can be more challenging for a gallery to deal with.

I have so much to think about now.

Here are some of the new prints from this week:

This is a continuation of  the “long” series of prints on Japanese paper.  This paper had some existing marks on it, from previously toying around with some printing.  The large, textured piece of paper is chine colle, which took the ink in interesting ways.  I like the abstract vertical form.


This series on chairs got some interesting comments.  I think that people responded well to the layering and textures.  The icon of “chair” brought much debate/discussion.  Several of the reviewers talked about “narrative”, which comes when one uses a recognizable form like this. 




This series was an exercise in restraint.  Perhaps I have pulled back on the reins too far…but I wanted to try to work more “simply”.  These prints are very much about “chance” and do not have any drawing marks on them.  These prints got mixed reviews.

All in all, I learned so much.  I know how important good teachers are.  My teachers at UPenn for architecture were amazing.  I absorbed an incredible amount in three years.  I’d love to be able to do a fine art master’s degree.  Maybe it isn’t as out of reach as I think!  I can eat ramen noodles for a year…it will just be a year of being bloated and thirsty with an MSG headache, no prob.  🙂

Collage + stencils…
May 18, 2011, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Collage | Tags: , , ,

This week, I’m working on incorporating stencils into my collages.  In spite of the fact that I do this ALL THE TIME in printmaking, I haven’t really done much with it in collage.  My initial moves are pretty minimal:

What I really like about collage is that it seems like a purely compositional exercise.  I know…all forms of art are concerned with composition.  But in collage, one can simply arrange found scraps of paper…it’s the arrangement that is the creation.  Sure, some people make their own collage material…and one can certainly draw, paint, stencil, etc. on a collage.  But at its most basic…collage (2d) is a composition of found papers.  I find it really challenging.

I have a book of collages by Richard Meier (famous architect). They’re amazing.  SO simple…yet so beautiful and provocative.  He does mark his collages, so he isn’t a collage “purist”, so to speak.  In grad school, we could only work with found papers, the collage had to be rectangular, and no additional marks were to be made.  I know…these are more reasons why I didn’t enjoy that class.


GREAT NEWS!!!!  The print titled, “Iain” was accepted at the 8th Biennial International Miniature Print Exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Prinmaking in Norwalk, CT!!!!  The show will be up from June 2 through September 4.  Go see it!

That bit of news definitely makes my month.

The OTHER bit of good news is…I have a website up and running!  Check it out  here!  What do you think?  I have some comments from friends about it…I’m looking into making some edits.  As is the case with this blog, it’s a work in progress.  I’m really happy to have a tiny bit of internet real estate out there.

I also completed another long print.  Here it is:

Once again…there is a lot more going on in the dark areas than this picture shows.  The camera (or my use of the camera) doesn’t seem to capture the layers in those areas.  Here is a detail, but that doesn’t quite show the background layer well either:

This was inspired by Hokusai’s, The Wave.  It’s such an amazing print.  I bask in it’s brilliance.

My collage class was interesting.  Last week, we were supposed to make a double sided collage.  I had a hard time doing that…so I mainly focused on one side, and just left the other side to chance.  Here is the side that I worked on:

Interesting, right?  Okay, here’s the back:

Hmm…a bit random.  Our teacher was showing us, however, that you can use a viewfinder (cardboard with rectangular hole cut out) to isolate areas that ARE interesting.  I might look at that.

Our assignment in class was to take copies of these collages, and create a new collage that also incorporates a photo.  Here’s mine:

I was really struggling with it for a while.  Then, I decided to get messy and sketch all over it.   I think that it got much better!  Here’s a detail:

I like it! 

I’m going to my 20th high school reunion this weekend.  I know.  Egads.  Where does the time go?  I think that it will be fun, but a bit overwhelming.  It was such an intense time.

I am also a bit self conscious of the purple ink at the edges of my fingernails…hopefully no one will be horrified.  I should just carry around a bar of Lava soap with me at all times.  And a nailbrush.

I hope that the sunshine that’s outside right now is here to stay!  WOO HOO!

New flowers
May 10, 2011, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Believe it or not, some of the bulbs that I plated last fall have actually come up!  Seriously.  I have so little faith in gardening, that I thought that planting bulbs was a sheer waste of time for me.  Not so!  See!:

Don’t they look great?  Granted, there are only three of them…and I actually planted eight bulbs.  The other FIVE tulips were mysteriously decapitated.  I’ve been told that this is squirrels.  I have hard time believing that.  I think that it must be the little person who lives in my house and calls me, “Mommy”.  Hmmm…

Don’t they look great????  Trust me, I’m shocked.  Here are a few other things growing, that I did not plant:

And also:

Of course, I’m just showing you the highlights.  I’ve edited out the crabgrass.

I did another print:

I’m still on this long theme, with a lot of black.  I think that the photo makes this one look uniformly black, but in reality, there is more going on.  The black in the upper right area isn’t really black at all, but a dark green…somewhat translucent.  This doesn’t seem to be coming through in the photo.  Here is a detail:

I think that you can kind of see the layers in the black area.  I like this one.  I like the shadowy things barely visible in the dark areas…with just a few pops of color and lightness.

I’ve ordered a special brush to do the Moku Hanga printing (as shown in the last post).  As soon as I get it…I’m using it!  In the meantime, I’ll have to get some wood blocks carved.  I’ll keep you posted…

Moku Hanga
May 8, 2011, 7:39 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , ,

Well…I took a class in Moku Hanga this weekend.  What’s that?  WELLLLLL…it’s the Japanese style of woodblock printing.  This is an old craft where people spend decades becoming experts in either print design, cutting of the blocks, or printing the blocks.  So far, I’ve spent two days.  I’ve got a lot to learn.

Regardless of this daunting history, I plunged in and made a few, simple prints:

I wanted to keep the design simple, and to work on color transparency to describe form.  I also created a second print:

This was too simple, for my liking…so I worked on the first one with a few more variations:

That is hopefully the Japanese character for “box”.  I decided that this was perhaps too much, so I scaled back:

I liked this one.  Notice how wrinkled the paper is.  We’re working with super fine paper which is damp.  I need to rewet the paper, and dry it flat this time.  I liked this print, so I did another color variation:


I enjoyed this, and want to try more interesting designs.  It’s definitely not a type of printing where you can just wing it.  There are so many complicated variables…how wet is the paper?  How much pigment to use?  How much rice paste?  etc. etc. etc.   I’m like Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid…all impatient to be brilliant immediately.  This was fun, though!  Now, I’m itchy to carve more…(don’t talk to me about my allergies…I’m itchy because of that as well…)

Happy Mother’s Day!!!!

Paint it black…CCAE print show
May 6, 2011, 3:00 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

So, yesterday was an interesting class with Christiane.  I showed her my two, long prints.  She helped me to improve them by giving them some focus.  She felt (and I agree), that they were too busy.  So, I reworked one of them…and painted it black!

Is it even recognizable as one of the prints from my previous post?  I am much happier with it, even though I had to obliterate most of the print.  But, we saved the good part, and got rid of the rest. 

Then, this morning…I did another one.  I think that this also has some potential:

It was hard to photograph these, as it’s a bit breezy…and they kept floating away.  I’m relatively happy with this one too.  The yellow bothers me a little… 

Here’s a detail:

This idea of obscuring part of the print is so interesting to me.  Not something that I had really thought of before.  It’s kind of like an eraser for printmaking…a good solution for my rather busy prints.  I’m going to keep this technique in my back pocket…

  Here they are together (inside…because of the wind…)

I had originally thought of them as horizontal, but now I like the vertical orientation.  Comments?  Love the black?  Hate the black?

There is a print show featuring Selma Bromberg at the Cambridge Center for Adult Ed, where she teaches.   This is my printmaking teacher.  In addition to showcasing her lovely work, there is also a part of the show that is student work.  Please come see it!

The reception and raffle for one of her prints is tonight.  Unfortunately…I can’t make it.  BUT…I have a print up at this show!  You can see all of the prints on this website.  I know…the only qualification I needed was to be/have been a student of hers.  But still!  I now have two print shows on my wafer thin resume!  This is the print that is up:

This is not a recent print, but one done at CCAE earlier this year.  I like it!  I like the layers, textures and colors…

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday…Happy Birthday, John!  I hope that you’ve been wanting prints for your birthday…’cause I’ve got lots!  (JUST kidding) 😛

Long prints…short legs…
May 5, 2011, 2:13 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve got some new prints.  I’m working LONG on Japanese paper.  I also did full bleed prints, which I like because you can be more loose about where the paper sits on the plate. 

Yes, it’s another grey day outside, with not much light.  Also, it was starting to rain as I took that photo, so I didn’t try to do a better job getting all of the sides to appear parallel.  (details…details…)  This one was somewhat successful.  I wonder, though, if in the end…it’s just too much.  Thoughts?  Detail:

Yes, perhaps a bit much.

The next print was going along pretty well…but then I printed some orange marks (the big loops in the middle), which I didn’t like the look of afterward.  I was trying to decide if this one is “done”.  I probably should consider it done, lest it gets “too much”, like the previous print.  My mother would say, “clarty”.


On the subject of moms…not only is it Mother’s Day on Sunday…but it’s also my mom’s birthday today.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  She recently gave me a couple of photos of me when I was little.  Does Photoshop have a “cute” filter?  I thought not.  Oh well.  Look at the drool!  Ech!

See that dazed expression?  I still do that.  Often.  At least the drooling has stopped.  Look at the double chin!  That’s gone too, thankfully.

Now, check out these gams!

Yes…my legs haven’t improved much either.  Sheesh.  At least I’ve given up on all white outfits…and frills.  No frills.

Happy Mom’s day to all!  My son naturally asked when it was “children’s day”.  I told him that it was his birthday.   I’m sure that he felt gypped.  Not to worry…he’s always scheming ways to get Grandma to buy him something.  She’s like putty in his tiny hand…

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