slightly wonky

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?

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?

Ursula von Rydingsvard at the DeCordova
June 2, 2011, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Collage | Tags: , , , ,

I went to see the work of Ursula von Rydingsvard at the DeCordova this week.  She works mostly with massive hunks of red cedar, which she roughly saws to create soft, organic forms.  The sculptures reference domestic items: bowls, spoons, plates.  They are massive.  She also marks the sculptures with graphite…you can see her sketchy pencil marks, notes, labels, arrows, etc….but she also uses the graphite to create marks that emphasize, or directly relate to, the forms.  I liked seeing the marks of her “process”.

Some of the things that struck me were:  the smell of the red cedar before you even enter the gallery…it’s a very strong smell.  I can’t imagine what her studio/workshop must be like.  Breathing in that air, thick with the smell of cedar, must be almost…noxious?  Not for the faint of heart.  Also, there were no obvious “fasteners”, or anything holding the forms together.  I did notice one end of a threaded rod with a nut on the underside of a large bowl scuplture.  But besides that…these enormous forms, while clearly composed of numerous individual pieces of wood,  somehow formed a single piece.  This seems effective, as you really focus on the wood, and there is an odd scale to all of them…a scale not related to a person.  Seeing nails or screws would have eroded that scaleless quality.

These are really impressive works to see.  But for some reason…they did not resonate with me as strongly as Leonardo Drew’s earlier show in the same space.  I think that Drew’s work had small, very personal items buried in his large, tumultuous sculptures.  von Rydingsvard’s work did not have that intimacy.  Her works are imposing, bold, and beautifully made.

She also has some works of handmade paper with thread and pigment, which were amazing.  Go see it!

My collage class this week was a bit of a challenge for me.  We had to make three collages: the first was a collage with only found material, using squares/rectangles only…the second was an interpretation of the first, but with only handmade material, and the third was a combination of the two.  As per usual, I had a really difficult time working with the found material.  I really struggled with this!  Here it is:

Hmmm.  No matter what “found” material I am working with, I always feel that I don’t have good things to work with.  I would be really interested to have myself and someone else work with the exact same magazine, and see how they work with these materials that I feel are “impossible”.

Here is the second one…which was an “interpretation” of this first one, but with only handmade material:

I guess I like that better…a bit more chaotic.  The thing is…I wouldn’t made that collage from scratch.  What I mean is:  if I could have just made an independent collage, it would have been easier, and probably turned out better.  Instead, I was trying to interpret the first one, which I found to be difficult…especially when I was lukewarm about the first one!

Here is the last one:

Hmm.  I’m just much happier when I don’t have to work with photos or magazines.  Comments?  Suggestions? 

So, who is your favorite collage artist?  (besides me, of course…KIDDING!)

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!


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…

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!

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