slightly wonky

Random assortment of stuff
June 29, 2011, 9:51 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , ,

Last night, I had another woodblock class.  It was good…but I had not done much prep work.  I only had one small block that was new, so I just focused on printing more.  I tried printing the mutant plant again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to pick the colors, as she had these ones out.  The yellow had some white in it, which kind of makes it a bit flat.  (right now, my preschooler is yelling/singing…so I may go postal in the middle of this post)

So, here are the woodblock prints from last night:

I am happier with the printing of the purplish building.  The ink was drier, and didn’t fill in all of the small detail lines.  At first, I was not sure, but now I do like it.  Here’s a bit of a weird mess:

I started by just printing the “ghosts” from the first print.  Then, I decided that it all looked too washed out, so I started doing more layering.  I like the new block (the yellow shape).  I need to clean up the block more, so that other areas which aren’t supposed to print actually don’t print.  Last:

This time, I just used the crazy plant block with the new, small block.  Hmm…

Here are some continuations of other prints that I posted previously.  They weren’t finished when I first showed them.  I think that they’re getting better, as the layering and contrast is better.  All of these pictures are a bit dark, as the sun keeps hiding behind a cloud…

That one is probably mostly done.  This next one may need some more:

It’s a bit Paul Klee…but I just wanted something non-orthagonal to go crazy across the whole thing.  Next:

My printmaking teacher said that I should add more to that one.  I’ll have to work on it another time.  She felt that the yellow field feels a bit flat.  Detail:

Last one:

I like that one.  I may add some more, though.  Any comments?  Thumbs up?  Thumbs down?

I hope that I somehow get time to work on another large woodblock.  I want to have more blocks to layer.  It takes quite a bit of time to carve them, so I’m not sure how far I’ll get.  We don’t have class this next week, so I won’t be there until the following week.  I love the way woodblock prints look.  I hope to get better at it! I’m still going to keep on doing collage as well, as I had such a great time doing it.

Have a happy 4th everyone!  I plan to pig out on hot dogs…


Dreamy arty weekend…
June 26, 2011, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Collage | Tags: , , ,

So, I had an AMAZING weekend collage workshop with Alexandra Sheldon, an artist in Cambridge.  I had such a blast.  Thanks to the kindness of my DH, I was able to go.  (thankyouthankyouthankyou).  Alexandra focuses on the creation of collage material, as well as the actual making of collages.  I’m not sure what I enjoyed the most:  mixing up a color palette of bright paints…learning all sorts of crazy ways to make cool collage material…furiously working on collages…or generally yakking away about life in general.  It was such a ridiculous treat for me.  The other women in the class were fabulous.  I learned so much from everyone…each person’s work was so fantastic…and different.  We all had such a good time that we’re trying to get together again as a group!  I hope that I can go.

So, I have quite a few collages from the weekend.  Some of them happened somewhat quickly…some of them took a long time.  I couldn’t tell you how long, as I was sort of in a collage trance as I was working on them.  Here’s the first one:

 Kind of cute, right?  It always takes me ages to get “warmed up”.  If I compare this to the last collages that I made in the one other course that I took with Alexandra, I think that I already made some progress.  You can check an older post to see the previous ones.  Then, I started to work on bigger collages…it’s hard to tell here, as I shrink them down to fit the page…

That one was a real struggle for me at a certain point.  I was trying to push myself to use found materials as well, but it was making me so stuck.  Alexandra suggested that I go back to my own papers.  This helped me get though being stuck, I added the enormous orange rectangle on the collage, and felt MUCH happier with it.  After that, I pretty much didn’t get myself bogged down with trying to use found materials.  Some people in the class were very good at using found stuff…but I had a harder time with it.  I think that I did this one next:

I really like this one.  I love the colors that I made, and the crazy textures that we experiemented with were really fun.  Next:

Again, I love the color combo.  I find these so much fun to make.  I can totally get into that art-trance, and I’m happy as a clam.

That one might be my favorite.  It took quite a long time, relatively speaking.  I just like it.

We also tried to do several fast collages…just to work as intuitively as possible.  I find this really hard, as it does take me time to get warmed up.  I’m not as crazy about these ones:


These are back to the small size, as I didn’t know if I could do a big one in 15 minutes.  They were so-so.  After these two, I went back to the larger size.   Here is my attempt to keep things simple:

Well, I was trying to keep it simple, but I have a tendency not to do that well.  I did manage to stop myself before things got too clarty.  Then, I switched to a horizontal format:

I liked this, and I felt that it was taking me in a new direction.  I kept going with this direction and got this:

I was happy with these, as I felt that I had shifted into something different than before.  I’m not sure if that’s evident to you, but for me there was a change.  Then, I started getting very layered with textures and image transfers:

Image transfers are taking a printed image and using matte medium to get the picture to transfer onto another surface.  This was initially hard for me, again because I struggle with found imagery.  But, once I started layering the transfers, then I was much happier.  This was the last complete one that I did.  This next one I didn’t finish, but I’m including anyway…

It’s blah and not done, but I’d thought that I’d post everything from the weekend.

Comments?  I have the distinct feeling that the general population is not keen on collages.  I asked my DH what he thought of them, and if he wasn’t keen on them either…he admitted that he did think that they were “random”.  Sigh.  I appreciate the honesty.  Here’s my dilemma:  I like doing these, but I wonder if I’m the only one who likes them?  I know that my friend, KP, is not too keen on collages either (right???).  I asked my DH if he would like these more if they were paintings instead.  He wasn’t sure.  I have a feeling that he would!  Again, I have this sense that people can’t see beyond the fact that collages are made of pieces of paper.  Yes, I do recognize that it could really just be MY collages that are the issue.  Hmmm.

So, does anyone out there have any thoughts on collage in general?  Is it really a medium that either resonates with people, or leaves them cold?  Thoughts?

Back to intaglio
June 23, 2011, 8:36 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

I have a few new, drypoint prints to show.  These are a bit different that the woodcuts that I just posted.  I got some positive feedback on the woodcuts…so, what do you think about these prints?  Comments?  Do you like the woodcuts better, or are these interesting in their own way?  Feedback, please!

I’m going to post them in the order that I made them.  I really liked how this one above turned out.  The odd, prickly image is a magazine clipping of a strange sea creature.  I loved how it looked, so I thought that it would look cool incorporated into a print.  This odd sea creature is making me think of my odd plant woodcut.  Maybe there is actually a theme here.  Next print:

I also like this one.  I like the punchy, graphic quality with the scratchy marks.  I may do more like this one.  Next:

You can see the red plate printed again here on another magazine scrap.  I thought that the vertical arrangement in the photo of the people worked well with the long plate.  I think that this one initially looks abstract, until you notice that there are figures in the print.  Next:

I was on the fence about this print above.  I wondered if it was too “even”, without any focus.  Someone in my print class thought that it was nice, but does anyone else have a comment?  As this is not a big print, perhaps it doesn’t need much more.  The print size is only 3″ wide x 7.5″ tall…thoughts?

It’s so hard to decide what kind of printmaking to do.  I loved the woodcuts, but I also like doing these intaglio prints.  I feel that I should have a certain aesthetic that I build on, but you can see that my aesthetic thus far is rather varied.  I suppose only time will tell, right?

Any artist out there have a suggestion on how you narrowed down your focus to get a unified body of work? 

Any non-artist have thoughts on this as well?


Mutant plant woodblock!
June 22, 2011, 9:12 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

Last night’s woodcut print class was great.  I brought two large woodcuts, and a smaller one.  Annie, the teacher, did a great job by suggesting that I combine the two woodcuts to make a single print.  So, here is the first print, which was from the woodblock shown in the last post:

I liked this one, even though it’s kind of crazy.  The orange splotches are shellac, which wasn’t quite dry yet.  Those won’t appear again.  This was my second block, which I thought ended up rather dull:

I wanted to do something very different than the first.  I did something vaguely architectural, just to get it out of my system.  It seems a bit lifeless to me.  Then, I threw together this tiny one:

I abandoned this one, as I didn’t really have a plan for it.  I paired the first two blocks together, which I think looks kind of interesting:

I might stick with this size of block, and do other combinations like this.  All of these prints are on newsprint, unfortunately.  Maybe next week, I’ll switch to real paper.  Newsprint will crumble in a few years.

So, here is the first of the hybrid, mutant plant prints:

Hilarious, right?  I love it.  I was totally apathetic about the architectural block at first, but now I think it’s so funny to have this crazy plant thing in the mix.  So, this was the improved version:

I love this!  So funny.  I love the craziness invading the staid architectural space.  I think that I may do more of these combinations.  What do you think?  I really like this type of printmaking.  The colors are beautiful…I love the messy, handmade quality of the marks…and the layering is so interesting.  I need to build up an inventory of blocks, so that I can do some more layering.  So many possibilities!

Here’s a scrap of my newsprint, which I thought looked neat as well:

I’m itchy to carve/print more of these.  Luckily, my poison ivy has gone, so THAT itchy has gone away…

Collage ended…collage prints begin
June 20, 2011, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Collage, printmaking | Tags: , , , ,

I’m very sad that my collage class has just ended.  It was so fun, and I think that I most enjoyed seeing everyone else’s work.  It’s always amazing that we get the same assignment, but we have such a variety of responses.  I was not finished with the collage that I showed in a previous post…it was an interpretation of a still life that the entire class created and composed.  So, I worked on the collage a bit, and balanced it out.  Here it is:

I’m much happier with it…it felt really “off kilter” before.  So, during our last class, we needed to create an interpretation of this collage…so here it is!

I’m not sure if this one is completed yet…but I liked it.  I’m still wondering about collage as an artistic medium.  I have this sense that it isn’t considered a “serious” medium, like oil painting, etc.  It sort of is a diversion that some great artists (and architects) have dabbled in.  I think that if I made an oil painting…someone would consider that serious art.  But, if I make a collage, then that’s just having fun.  Is this how the art world thinks?  Comments, anyone???

I still haven’t heard much from anyone out there on collage artists that you’d recommend.  I think that I got one response!  I’m familiar with Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, Juan Gris and Georges Braque.  Anyone else that I should look at????

I began to experiment with a sort of scratchy, collage type of printing.  I’m not thrilled with them yet, but I think that they form a good basis for something more.  Here is the first one:

Please ignore how “un-square” the print is…I still need to flatten these.  I like the strength of the values in this one, but overal it’s a bit flat and needs more layering.  Here was the ghost composition from this:

This has a more unified feel, but it is a bit pale for me.  I changed the colors slightly here:

It’s too static, and needs something else breaking it up a bit.  I’m still pondering what my next step is.  Here is the ghost of this one:

I’m very neutral about these prints.  I need to do more, but I’m trying to plan what that would be.  I like some of the details, so perhaps I need to cut up all of the prints!




I’m also working on a chaotic woodblock.  I’ll hopefully print this on Tuesday night.  When I had to start cutting the block, I sort of drew a blank…as I hadn’t really any plan.  The teacher told me to “just start making marks”, so I did.  This is what resulted:

I know…total hodge podge.  Still, I’m excited to see what it looks like.  There are lots of fine lines that I also inscribed into the wood, which you can’t see here.  So, we’ll see how the actual print turns out.  I love cutting the wood…there is something very “zen” about it.  Just don’t cut your finger.  I think that it’s considered very “un-zen” to curse and bleed.

A new class…
June 15, 2011, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Collage, printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I started a new class this week!  This is good, as my collage class is ending tomorrow.  My new class is woodblock printing with Annie Silverman, and I am so excited!  She’s super talented, funny, and nice.  It was great to see all of her work, and she got me started on a woodblock, which I can hopefully print next week!  This is very different woodblock printing than the traditional Japanese technique of moku hanga.  I took a weekend course this summer on that type of printing.  This class is more free-form/free-wheelin’ woodcuts.  Moku hanga, in my opinion, is sort of the opposite of free-wheelin’…it’s very precise…very methodical…very controlled…etc.  So, I’m excited to try a new way.

I have another new print in this “dark” drypoint series.  I tried to do something more with the background, but it came out a bit too subtle.  Here’s the print:

So, the black area in this image is uniform…but there is actually some texture there that you can see better in this print:

See the texture?  So, I tried to get a subtle figure in the background…but it was too subtle, in my opinion:

Hmmm…I want to pursue this idea, so I’m going to have to do it differently.

I also did a little collage this week for a friend:

I like how this turned out.  I really like collage.  I’m not sure that my collages are worth pursuing more seriously, or if this is just an artistic diversion that I’ll continue to simply play with.  I don’t mean that collage isn’t serious…just that I’m not sure that I want to try to do any more than I’m doing at the moment.  Any thoughts?  I asked once before if anyone out there has a favorite collage artist…so I’ll ask again to see if I get any more responses:

Do you have a favorite collage artist?  Who is it, and why?

It was a GORGEOUS day today…70 degrees and sunny…no humidity.  We get just a few days in the year like this.  I can’t imagine living in a place where it’s this lovely all year.  BTW my poison ivy has subsided quite a bit, so it was just about 1 1/2 weeks of torture.  I thought that it was a good sign that I woke up this morning, without having gotten up in the middle of the night to slather on more itch cream.

Maybe I’ll do a series about loathsome poison ivy?

Got goals?
June 10, 2011, 9:29 am
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

There are lots of goals that one can have in life.  One of mine is to pursue art.  Lucky me…I’m getting to do that a bit!  But, then what?  Art is a field where there is no clear path.  In some ways, being an architect is simpler…as once you get hired, someone is coming to you with their problems to solve: “We’re designing new student housing for this college”…or…”Find out what the zoning restrictions are for this site”…or…”Draw up some wall sections for this facade”…etc.  Even when you own your own firm, and you’re “the decider” (silly word), the client comes to you with their problem to solve.  In art, you’re coming up with the problems, and the answers.

Back to goals: there are so many different goals that one can have as an artist.  Someone might dream of getting their work shown at the Whitney.  Someone else might dream of just making a living off of one’s art.  Another person might just want to feel happy with the work itself, regardless of any outside recognition.  These are all reasonable, of course, but they require different strategies for working.  In the first one…the cutting edge fine art world is your “client”.  Are you innovative enough to be at the Whitney?  In the second example, the art buying population is your client.  Is your art buying population people who love landscapes…so, you’ll do landscapes?  Or, is it people who love photographs of people?  old buildings?  puppies?  In the third example,  you are the client.  Are you happy with your work?  Do you feel satisfied/stimulated/excited by the work?

Ideally, I suppose, one would be able to satisfy all three of these goals at once:  to be recognized by the fine art world as worthy…to be able to live off of that worthy art…and to feel a sense of satisfaction with the work.  Not an easy thing to do!  I have yet to decide where I’m putting my energies.  For the moment, I seem to be focusing primarily on goal three:  just being satisfied with the work.

If you are an artist, what have your experiences been in regards to these types of goals?  What are your goals?

Food for thought that I have been gnawing on for some time now…

Here’s is what I printed last night in class:

On the day that I was making sketchy scribble doodles, I also made a drypoint plate.  This is the print from the plate.  I like it.  I like the feel of it and the look of the lines.  I may do more of these.  I also added some chine colle to another printing of it:

Sort of interesting…the paper looks very dark in this photo.  It’s actually a sort of dark, orangeish, sand color.  I’m not sure about these pieces, as they are a bit of a distraction.  I may try this again with a more neutral/lighter color of paper…but I didn’t have any at the time to try out.  Here’s a close up:

I also made another print of a child, similar to the previous one.  This one was printed with different ink and different paper, however.  I think that I might prefer the other ink that I was using.  Here it is:

This is based on an image of my friend’s daughter.  I’ve also got a closeup, so you can see that the black area actually has some texture:

I think that on my next print in this series, I’m going to do more with that texture…play with it a bit more.  Any comments?

It is very cool and mild today…we had lots of rain and thunderstorms yesterday.  I love this kind of post-storm weather.  I also like pre-storm weather as well.

OH…for those of you in the Boston area…you MUST go to Berryline for frozen yogurt.  There is one near Harvard Square on Mass Ave.  SO AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS.  I despise TCBY, which tastes like frozen plastic.  Berryline, however, is so delicious.  The yogurt actually has that tangy, yogurt taste…and it’s FABULOUS.  You know it’s good when instead of getting M&Ms on my yogurt, I decided that fresh mango was better.   It was.  Go now and get some.  I’m suffering from some serious Berryline withdrawl, I think…

sketchy and scratchy
June 9, 2011, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Collage, Drawing, printmaking | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week, I had some paralysis in deciding what to focus on.  Therefore, I was a bit unfocused.  I managed to mount one of my prints onto canvas.  This is something that my printmaking teacher showed us.  This was my first attempt to do it myself:

Can you see the shadow on the bottom and right edge?  This is the print mounted onto canvas.  See, here is the edge:

Much clearer, right?  You will also note the difference in the colors of the print between the top and bottom picture.  The bottom picture is closer to the true colors.  I have to work on my camera skills, so that it doesn’t do odd things to the color of my prints, as in the uppermost picture.

Back onto mounting prints onto canvas: this is kind of an interesting way to turn a print into a painting of sorts.  I’ve been told that it really only works with prints that are completely covered with ink…no areas of bare paper.  The bare paper gets dirty too easily without a frame/glass.  Interesting, right?  It is a very laborious process, so I don’t think that I’m going to do too many of these.  I wanted a 10″ x 12″ canvas, which of course, is an atypical size.  So, I had to make and prime my own.  Very tedious.  But…I think that I like the result.  I’m going to do one more of a related print, so that I’ll have a diptych.

As I mentioned, I was in indecisive/pensive/sketchy mode this week.  Here are some of my sketchy ramblings:

and this one:

and this:

Don’t ask me what I was thinking about.  These are just doodles.  Why am I showing doodles?  Because I was waffling on what to do, so I just grabbed a pen and scribbled.  Coincidentally, my collage class also began with scribbles.  Everyone had to bring in small boxes that they had “collaged” into.  Then, we composed everyone’s boxes into different arrangements.  THEN, we were asked to sketch different views and parts of the arrangement, as a basis for a 2D collage.  So, here is my initial scribble sketch:

Yes, the objects are fairly unrecognizable…you may see a ribbon bow, an empty plastic tofu tub, crayons stuffed into a cigarette box…etc.  So, based on this sketch, I was supposed to create a collage.  This is what I did in class:

I was only really looking at the right hand area of the sketch.  I think that this is interesting.  I’m not sure if I’ll keep going with it, or just let it be.  It’s always hard to find a stopping point, right?  It seems a bit “even” to me…and I’m not so sure about the big slant on the right hand edge.  Comments?

So, to address the “scratchy” in the post title:  I managed to get poison ivy on my arm/hands.  This is a very mild case of it, as I’ve had horrible poison ivy in the past.  It is NOT fun, though.  I noticed my son playing with a bush that he was standing near…and I realized that it was poison ivy.  Needless to say, I panicked…took him home, scrubbed him down, and now I’ve got it on me.  Luckily. he doesn’t have any!  So, I either did a fabulous job scrubbing him, or he’s not allergic, or it’s his first exposure…so he won’t be so lucky next time.  Why is there such a thing as poison ivy?  Why? Whyyyy?

Why art cannot be taught by Elkins

I just finished reading, Why Art Cannot Be Taught, by James Elkins.  SO fascinating.  It’s the most “academic” book that I’ve read in a while, so I think that reading it again would be beneficial.  Not to be a spoiler, but his primary conclusions are:

1.  The idea of teaching art is irreparably irrational.  We do not teach because we do not know when or how we teach.

2.  The project of teaching art is confused because we behave as if we were doing something more than teaching technique.

3.  It does not make sense to propose programmatic changes in the ways art is taught.

He begins with the history of art instruction, from ancient art schools onward.  He then discusses how different studio art study is from studying other liberal arts subjects, such as English/literature.  He also  describes the type of art that cannot be attemped in schools, such as “Art that takes time”, or “Art that isn’t serious”.   In addition, he takes on an analysis of the almighty critique, or crit.  It was so fascinating to read his methodical study of this odd teaching  method…it really struck home as I recalled the years of crits that we had in architecture school.  I got the impression that art crits are somewhat more kind than architecture crits, but perhaps that’s not really the case.  Because art is often about personal feeling, I think that perhaps reviewers may tread more gently…whereas in architecture, they really don’t want to hear anyone’s personal feelings about anything.  Even when a critic provides some judgment…it is presented as “fact” not anyone’s “feeling” about something.

I know.  How can someone take apart the entire art education system that we have, and then not propose a solution?  This is how I felt when I began the book.  Now, I see how messy and unclear the whole business is…part of what separates art from more concrete things, like many areas of math, is that there is not one right answer.  Some solutions are just agreed on as being more “right” than others…but anything more definite than that tends to get murky.  How can there be a clear answer to something that is so unclear?

I highly recommend this book.  If anyone out there has read it, please comment and let me know your thoughts on it.  It is very dense with rational analysis of something that the author concludes is inherently irrational.  FASCINATING!

I have not much to show for myself…many things “in progress”.

So, does anyone out there have any thoughts either on the book, Why Art Cannot Be Taught, or on art education in general?  Enquiring minds want to know…


Fine arts degree?
June 3, 2011, 4:29 pm
Filed under: printmaking

As you may or may not recall from an earlier post, one of the people who recently reviewed my portfolio suggested that I think about getting an MFA.  Well…until we win the lottery, that’s not likely to happen.  But I have been thinking about it a lot.  I have an MArch degree, and I cannot ramble on enough about how much I learned in those three years of grad. school.  Understandably, I had a ridiculous amount to learn once I graduated as well…but the program itself taught me a tremendous amount.  So…an MFA…I have no doubt that it would be an amazing experience.  I wonder, however, what people who DO have an MFA feel was some of the most beneficial things that they learned by obtaining that degree.  So, I’m asking those of you who have an MFA:

What was the most significant thing that you learned at school for your MFA?

Was it the technical training?  Was it finding your “perfect” or preferred medium?  Was it learning how to translate an idea into physical form?  What was it?

For me, in the MArch program, I learned how rich design can be.  So many apparent and invisible intentions shape a building.  I was taught to consider everything…from the most basic geometry of the site, to the subtle modus operandi of the “client”, to the intentional way that material, form and light interact.  I found it fascinating.

I understand that every student, teacher, and art program is different…but I’m still interested to hear if anyone can give me their thoughts on this.

Yesterday, at my printmaking class, it was sort of funny that we were all feeling a bit apathetic.  I think that perhaps it was the crazy weather, and the recent tornado destruction nearby, that set everyone off a bit.  Luckily, our teacher rallied us to GET WORKING.  I don’t have any of those prints to show, as they’re still in process a bit…but I did do a couple of prints today.  Here is the first one:

I’m still pursuing drypoints, as this was recommended to me by one of my recent reviewers.   I’m happy with it.  I’m going to continue this series.

I also completed a woodcut print.  I have had little success with these types of prints, but I am happy with this one:

This is Petra, a city carved out of rock in Jordan.  Remember Raiders of the Lost Ark?  That was before CG was any good, so they filmed a real place.  I’ve never been, but we had an exchange student stay with us for a year when I was in high school.  She was from Jordan, so I learned about her country and culture a bit.  I think that it’s not likely that I’ll ever get to visit, but it looks so amazing.

Tomorrow…we’re taking my son to a local fair.  The last time that we went…he wanted to go on the roller coaster (a tiny one).  Naturally, as soon as we were all locked in, he said that he didn’t want to be on the roller coaster any more.  But it was too late to get off…I think he liked all of it, except when we would both slide over to one side of the car while making a sharp turn.  I think that startled him.  Maybe this year, he won’t mind!

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