slightly wonky

At a standstill
August 30, 2011, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Drawing, Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , , ,

My son is out of school this week.  This means a lot of legos, playdoh, diggers and general craziness for me.  Having an only child means that you are ON…a lot.  I suppose if you have more than one, you’re still on…but I somehow imagine that the kids can play together.  That is, until someone starts crying.  This was the typical pattern for me and my brother.  My mother assures me that we did play nicely most of the time, but I don’t remember it that way.

Anyway, as I’ve been doing lots of lego stuff, I just started to play around with them as fun, abstract things.  So now, my son and I sometimes just make lego collages.  Like this one:

That’s a tiny one, but it was fun to do!  I’m sure that I am not the only person to have realized that it’s fun to make random stuff from lego…no need to try to create the millenium falcon.  There are so many crazy shapes now too…I don’t think that we had that “back in the day”, aka prehistoric legos… like this one:

Do you remember those????? If not, don’t tell me.  I already feel ancient.  What about this one?:

Remember how ridiculous and complicated the people were?  WHYYYY?  The lego people that they have now seem good.  Also, having those humongous people require  so much more lego to create anything remotely at the right scale for the person.  Remember these axle blocks?:

The wheels make me think of a Model T Ford, or something.  Okay, that was before my time…believe it or not.  Another:

Do they still make those?  I have no idea.  We don’t seem to have one of the evergreen ones.  Lastly:

A cup!  A filthy one, at that.  Sorry, but I couldn’t be bothered to remove the crud.  I think that on Antiques Roadshow, you aren’t supposed to remove the crud…it increases the value of the artifact.

So, my ever frustrating font of artistic expression is dry this week.  I’m having to use Legos as my medium of choice.  Perhaps this is for the best…I’m sort of “cleansing the palate”, perhaps.  Truth be told, I’m just sort of frustrated with where I am.  It’s always a struggle to come to terms with…grapple with…and hopefully EMBRACE one’s limitations.  I think that I’m still at “come to terms with”.

Yes, I’m definitely not “embracing” my limitations here…I’m sort of peering at them from between my fingers as I cover my face in horror.



A little or a lot?
August 25, 2011, 8:54 am
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., painting

I’m excited to be meeting with two friends this morning.  Both are artists.  One is a very successful, established artist.  The other is someone who is also talented and accomplished.  I met them both in my art classes.  We’re meeting this morning to discuss what we’re working on.  I’m so excited to see what they are doing, and to get some thoughts and feedback on what I’ve been up to.

This week, I was experimenting with lots of different things, as per usual.  I made this sketch, which I had intended to be the start of something, but ended up feeling complete as is:

How minimal, right?  I like the look and feel of the marks, though.  In complete contrast, I was also playing with acrylic paints this week.  I did a small mixed media painting:

Could these two images be any different?  I really enjoyed doing both of them.  So, which do I prefer?  The first one (a little) or the second one (a lot)?  I don’t know.  I have to keep pondering this more.

As you may be aware, MOMA in NY is having a de Kooning retrospective, opening in September.  I’d love to go.  I love his work.  I generally like his genre of abstract expressionism.  I prefer his work and that of Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell over Jackson Pollock.  I like to see the brushstrokes, and Pollock (as we all know) didn’t use brushstrokes.

I also really love Cy Twombly.  I guess he’s not considered to be “abstract expressionist”, but someone who reacted to that kind of art.  I love that his paintings are a mix of painting and drawing.  I also love that you can see his gestures so clearly in his work.  I know that lots of people don’t like this kind of art.  I understand that.  Twombly’s work will just be scribbles to some people.  I LIKE scribbles, though.  This is a quote from Kirk Varnedoe (art historian) about Twombly:

One could say that any child could make a drawing like Twombly only in the sense that any fool with a hammer could fragment sculptures as Rodin did, or any house painter could spatter paint as well as Pollock.  In none of these cases would it be true.  In each case the art lies not so much in the finesse of the individual mark, but in the orchestration of a previously “uncodified” set of personal rules about where to act and where not, how far to go and when to stop, in such a way as the cumulative courtship of seeming chaos defines and original, hybrid kind of order, which in turn illuminates a complex sense of human experience not voiced or left marginal in previous art.

Why do I bring this all up?  I guess that it takes strength to step away from what lots of people like (paintings that look like something), and do move in a direction that is harder to grasp.  As I keep working, I’m trying to figure this out for myself.  I know that most people would say, “paint what you love”!  It takes a certain amount of gumption to do that when people see your work and say, “what’s THAT?”  Not that there is anything wrong or lesser about a painting of a vase of flowers, etc.  It’s just that representation art like that is more accessible.  It’s easier to judge on a very basic criterion: “does it look real?”.  If yes, then it’s good art.  If not, then the artist is unskilled.

None of this is meant as a kind of judgmental criticism of the general populace.  I think that it’s generally a human need to feel that one’s work is appreciated.  It’s hard to venture down a path where you may receive nothing but disdain…

Also, with practice…one can become more facile at representation.  If I practiced more, I know that my recent portrait of my son could get much better.  But becoming more facile at abstraction is harder, in some ways.  There is a world of difference between my little painting above and the work of de Kooning.  I know that.  But how does one traverse that distance?  THAT is the question…

Going somewhere?

I spent the morning doing some gelatin printing.  I’m not sure that I’m a huge fan of this type of printing.  I was also testing out different inks and paints to see which worked best.  I think that the Akua inks worked well, as they don’t dry until they are on paper.  The acrylic paint and the speedball ink were both just so-so.  The only problem with the Akua ink is that it does take an eternity to dry.  I’ll probably still be wiping blue off of my hands every time I pick up one of these prints.  Here’s one of the first ones:

Eh…feh…blech…some interesting aspects to it.  I like how the silver ink turned out in the lower left corner.  Next:

Also kind of interesting.  These are printed on some very thin mystery Asian paper that I have.  The art store in Cambridge had rolls of random paper for sale…10 sheets for $5.  What a bargain!  So, this is why I don’t know what the paper is.  Next:

I experimented with a stencil a little.  That’s where the leaf shape comes from.  Next:

I liked the random stamped lines in the lower left area.  Next:

I like the greenish yellowish color with the greenish blue color.  Any comments?  Does anyone out there also do gelatin printing?  What inks do you like to use?  Do you have any pointers for me?

Last night, I kept myself up doing a gouache painting.  Okay…It was VERY frustrating.  I have seriously debated showing this at all, as it looks bizarre…but here it goes:

See how small I made the picture?  Maybe it’s still too big.  Anyway, I know that this looks really weird.  He looks like he has a skin condition.  DRAMATIC SIGH.  I painted this based on a photo.  Hmm…while I like the challenge of painting or drawing people…it also is rather daunting.   I’m going to need A LOT more practice before I start doing this on the streets of New York…

I am the monitor for the print studio in Cambridge on Friday.  As a result, I’ve needed to come up with what I’m going to do during that time.  So, I have tried a little experiment.  I painted gouache onto two 8″ x 10″ sheets of plexi.  I’m going to see if they print onto damp paper.  Here’s the first plate:

Kind of fun.  The bubblegum pink is a bit much, but I’ll see how it prints.  Here is the other one:

These are really an experiment.  I hope that they print.  If they don’t, I’m going to be disappointed.

So, where am I going with all of this?  Who knows.  I’m going in every direction at the same time.  Let’s hope that some of this eventually leads somewhere!

Back from the Cape…
August 20, 2011, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Collage, Drawing, travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

We just came back from a week at the Cape.  I love Cape Cod.  As long as the sun isn’t beating down on my head, I’m happy as a clam to sit and watch the waves.  Here’s my view from the beach:

Dreamy, right?  Okay…it isn’t the Bahamas…but it’s great anyway.  Do they have fried clams and soft serve ice cream in the Bahamas?  Probably.  I ate a grotesque quanitity of both.

I didn’t do too much, other than chase after my son…slather him with sunscreen…and try to control the amount of sand in his clothes, my car, and our rental house.  Here’s a slightly wonky sketch of the house:

Kind of an interesting, contemporary cape-ish house.  We spent a significant amount of time in there on Monday, when it rained like a monsoon.  But, we did manage quite a few trips to the beach.  Here’s a view of an ocean view beach…well, mostly a view of the lifeguard stand…with no lifeguard in it:

I didn’t add too much shading, as I thought that I would watercolor these sketches.  That never happened.  Another sketch of a beach day:

There were actually some people sitting in the chairs in the foreground.  I edited them out.  Unlucky for me…they decided to move their chairs back from the water a few feet while I was still drawing them.  Hmm…this “en plein air” stuff is a challenge.

I did another collage before I left on my trip:

I also drew on it a little.  I know…I’m still doing collage in spite of the fact that it leaves everyone scratching their heads.  It really is fun.  Seriously…try it.  Grab some random paper and a gluestick and go crazy.  I’m still not taking any classes at the moment.  It’s nice to have a break.  It also allows me to try all sorts of random stuff.  I’m hopefully meeting with a couple of friends this week to discuss what we’re all working on.  Should be fun!


Quick collage – an exercise in excess
August 12, 2011, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Collage

Another minor milestone…we have the dehumidifier running away happily in the basement.  Ahh…the sweet sound of dehumidification…

So, my woodblock printmaking teacher has kindly agreed to let me use her studio on occasion.  How nice!!!  I’m excited at the prospect of working away at my own pace, and printing every once in a while, when I’m ready.  Carving takes so long…it’s hard to rush through a block every week.

I did a quick collage.  Umm…I have to work on my “editing”.  I have yet to learn, “less is more”.  Just be thankful that there’s no glitter on this thing:

Yes, I have even taken some of my son’s artwork and melded it into this.  My next endeavour may have to be a move towards minimalism.  I clearly have A LOT of work to do in that area.  This is a frequent challenge for me.

I know.  Minimalism is so hard.  Why can’t I just pile up a bunch of cinderblocks like Carl Andre, and just call it a day?  I know…I know…it’s all been done before..


Basement is done!!!
August 11, 2011, 3:06 pm
Filed under: painting, Sewing | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yes.  I can’t believe it either.  After a year from the date that we first pulled the building permit, we finally got it signed off today.  The basement is DONE!  I am so excited to move ALL of my art-stuff down there.  FINALLY!!!!!  No more stacking tupperware containers of inks, papers, tools, etc. in the dining room!!!  Ahhh…I won’t know what to do with all of that space!  I have a sinking feeling, though, that I will quickly fill it up.  Hmm.  But why dwell on that now?  I may have to have a celebratory iced latte today.

I also FINALLY finished a house project that I have been planning on doing for practically a year as well.  I finally made a little curtain for our front door.  Yes, I know…not a big deal.  What is a curtain, anyway?  Just a rectangle of fabric, right?  Well, yes it is…and I finally did it.  Here it is:

I think that it looks great.  I love this fabric.  It’s kind of pricey…well, not Marimekko pricey, but a little expensive.  It’s actually from Japan.  I have some other fabric from this line as armrest covers on our hideous couches.  Nice!

Not much going on art-wise.  I took a stab at acrylic painting.  Not so good.  Luckily, I am taking a painting class this fall…so I should get some pointers!  I know.  Why have I spent the past year developing my printmaking knowledge, only to switch gears and start painting?  Because it’s ALL so fun!  So, I’m back to square one…learning how to paint.  I did take painting in high school…and I have had a watercolor class and an oil painting class since then.  Needless to say, I am at the bottom of the learning curve.  I hope that there is no where to go other than up.  Here they are on the wall:

I know.  Stop laughing.   Overall, they make me cringe…but there are ASPECTS of them that I like.  Here is a part that I like of the first one:

That’s kind of appealing.  I know…nothing earth-shattering.  Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Here is a closeup of the other one:

I’m happy with how the guy turned out.  The woman bothers me and has some issues.  This painting is based on an old photograph, so I can’t take any credit for the overall look to it…only the crude execution.  So, I am facing this challenge head on…I hope that by the end of the year, my acrylic painting skills will have developed.  If not…well…I don’t know what, if not.   Drown my sorrows in lattes…

[I may have to work on that woman some more…she’s really bothering me…]

CCP show in Norwalk, CT

So, I finally visited the “8th Biennial International Minature Print Exhibition” at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT.  Why did I go?  BECAUSE…I actually have a print there!  Yes!  My first juried exhibition…so I had to go and see it.  I do not plan on doing that drive regularly, as it was around 3 hours each way.  ANYWAY, here is what my print looked like on the wall:

Not bad, right?  Notice the little red dot?  THAT MEANS THAT SOMEONE BOUGHT ONE!  I’m not kidding.  My first sale!  I’m very excited.  Here is my print on the wall with other prints:

I think that mine is the 10th one from the left.  Prints that were not “wall worthy” went in these binders in the foreground. So, there were so many amazing prints to look at!  Here is another view of one of the rooms of the show:

Not bad, right?  I have not entered another competition…so perhaps I should get on that and see what’s available.

My classes are over, so I have no more access to a press for printing.  This was one of my last prints:

Hmmm.  What do you think???? I was sort of blaise about it…but my printmaking teacher seemed to really like it.  Comments?

I’ve also done some random watercolors (actually gouache)…but I think that it just isn’t my thing:


Hmm.  Just hmm.

I’m trying to decide on classes for the fall.  This is always tough, as everything sounds great…but there is only so much time and money.  BTW…I ALMOST have a workspace.  The basement renovation is nearing completion!  I can’t wait…

Pronto plates…revisited
August 3, 2011, 4:59 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

So, I just finished up a one-day visit with Annie Silverman, a printmaker in Somerville.  She is holding a four-day intensive, but I could only attend for one!  Anyway, she sometimes uses pronto plates in her printmaking.  I had a tutorial last year in using pronto plates for printing, but I still felt that it was somehow more difficult than it was supposed to be.  So, I was really excited to take Annie’s class, and to get another try at learning this type of printing.

Pronto plates, or “polyester plate lithography”, is a sort of poor man’s lithography.  Real lithography uses a massive stone…marks are made on the stone, the stone is wet, ink is rolled on the stone, then paper is laid on top and the whole thing is run through a litho press.  Pronto plates are thin, plastic-like sheets of paper that you can mark on in the same way as you’d mark a litho stone, but you can easily run these thin plates through a typical etching press.  I have also printed them by hand at home, but this is obviously less successful than with a press.

ANYWAY, this type of printing can be fun and “collage-like”.  You can keep layering on the images.  Here are some of my things from this tutorial:

You’ll see a repeat of the imagery throughout these prints:

This next one needs more:






My teacher liked the last one.  I tried to be a bit restrained, and I think that it turned out well.  Some of the marks were made from an ink drawing that I scanned…some were from floor wax…some were from a pen drawing…and some were from a ballpoint pen.  Interesting, right?

This is actually the second time that I am writing this post, as wordpress decided to throw out 75% of the post the first time that I wrote it.   Grrr.  Technology…grrr.

So, what do you think of these prints?  Thumbs up?  Down?  More sheep needed????

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