slightly wonky

Portrait printmaking & chaos in painting
November 19, 2011, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., painting, printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

So, this week’s portrait class was fun…we did drypoint prints of the model.  A drypoint print is made by taking a plate (copper, plexi, etc.), and using a sharp steel tool to “draw”, or gouge, the lines into the plate.  Then, the plate is wiped with ink so that the ink stays in the gouges…and then we print it!  We were using plexiglass.  The most difficult part of this is that you can’t really see your drawing very well.  You have to keep tilting the plexi under the light to see where the lines are, as they are so faint and hard to see.  Again, we have the model who looks like Alanis Morrisette:

She was reading her book.  I was pretty happy with how this turned out.  Here is the second one:

I’m not happy with that one.  Sigh!  We only have one more class, after Thanksgiving.  I may take another stab at doing a drypoint (just a little printmaking humor…).

I’ve done more work on my vise drawing series.  I haven’t photographed the drawings, so I’ll have to show you them later.  As one of my infinite diversions, I was playing around with a few small, gouache paintings.  Here is the first one:

I like doing these messy, crazy things.  It started out somewhat realistic, with the blue sky…but then it took a turn for the weird at some point.  The next one:

Garish, right?  I like garish.  Last one:


I don’t know where I’m going with these.  I just like doing them. 

Any comments?  Helpful suggestions? 

Does it matter that no one may like these, as long as I like to do them?  

Does it matter that I clearly am not interested in “editing”?   

Does it matter that I often like to use practically every color that is out there?

Metallics…I don’t have any metallic paint yet…



Upcoming show and a featured local artist…
November 16, 2011, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Drawing, painting, printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, a bit of good news!!!  I submitted three pieces of work to the upcoming show at the Arlington Center for the Arts…and all three were accepted!  I was pretty excited, as I had no idea what to expect.  The work is all abstract, but varied: one woodblock print, one monotype, and one acrylic painting.  Exciting!  The show, titled “Regeneration”, runs from November 21 through January 27.  The opening is December 2 at 7:30 pm…I hope that I can go!  Here’s what was selected:



So exciting!

On another front, I wanted to highlight the work of a local artist, Regina Valluzzi.  She is uber smart, and combines her scientific background with her artistic vision to create amazing works.  This is one of her paintings, titled, “Vacuum Energy”:

“Vacuum Energy” by Regina Valluzzi

Amazing, right?  I wish that I could begin to understand the influences in her work, but as I am lacking a doctorate in physics, I can only talk about how I really love what she does…Please check out both her website and her blog.   Here is another of her paintings, titled, “Emergent Order”:

“Emergent Order” by Regina Valluzzi

I’m such a fan of the colors, layering and complexity…She has two works that are going to be in an exhibit in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center from January 4 – 7.  In addition, two of her drawings will also be in the aforementioned upcoming show at the Arlington Center for the Arts!  Congrats, Regina!

 I’ve been working on a WIDE variety of stuff, as per usual.  In my portrait class, we worked with that same model that you’ve seen me draw in past blog posts.  This time, however, instead of drawing….we did linoleum prints!  Here’s mine:

Kind of interesting…in a Durer-esque sort of way.  I wasn’t really finished with it, but I printed it anyway, as we were running out of time.  Lots of stuff that I’d do different next time, but my first linoleum print from a model.  The model looks like a brunette Gwen Stefani to me.

I also did a couple more woodblock prints.  These are just using the blocks that I already carved before:

I actually did several, but that one is just an example of the colors that I was using.  I also made ghost prints as well:

I’m not totally sure about the colors.  It was good to play around with these blocks again, though!

I’ve been continuing to work on my vise study/series.  I’m enjoying these drawings, as they are rather quick and messy (charcoal!).  I am forcing myself just to do them, without over-analyzing the whole thing.  I love using charcoal…it’s soooo tactile.  I mean, you can draw a thin line…a fat line…a really WIDE line with the side of the stick…you can smudge it…lift it…amazing!  I’m going to end up with black lung by the time this is over.  I need a drawing-vac to suck up all of the charcoal dust.  Again, does wonders for the laundry area where the vise is situated…But, I digress…here is one from last week:

I started to play with the anthropomorphic qualities of the vise…one from this week:

and one from today:

I really like that one.  I’m not sure if I’m finished with it.  I think that I should just leave it, so that I don’t “over-work” it.  That’s what my painting teacher is always threatening us about.  I am a virtuoso at over-working…both in my art and my life…but I’m trying to fix that in both too!

Speaking of painting, my recent painting from that class turned out…hmmm.  Here it is:

Hmm…I was trying to do a self-portrait…but from memory.  No photo or mirror.  Once I got home, and looked in the mirror…I saw TONS of stuff that was off.  It will be obvious to those who know me that this is only marginally a likeness.  I think that I might try it again.  Detail:

I really don’t think that my painting teacher liked it.  I think that he was concerned that I looked so depressed!  He asked us to do a painting inspired by writing/literature.  I was working from Shakespeare’s sonnet #159, which I had to memorize in high school.  DID I MENTION THAT I CAN STILL RECITE IT????  Scary!  Anyway, thinking of all of that generated this painting.  Once again…I got sucked into “realism”.  I just love painting faces, though, so I like to do it.  Next time, however, I’m going to really try to stay with abstraction, as I prefer that kind of art generally.  Well…just as my high school field hockey coach would yell with her Dutch accent…”PUUUUSH YOURSELF!”  Thanks, Anneke!!!

A good week…except for the general snow disaster

Okay.  Remember how I was complaining about the “dusting” of snow the other week?  WELL.  As those of you in the Northeast well know, now we had something to really cry about.   Yes, snow…lots of it…before Halloween.  I am lucky to be writing this email at all, as there are many people who are STILL without power.  Can you imagine?  Not good.  Think, “The Shining” but with more, yet likely smaller, houses.  Really not good.  The scene of our backyard:

Looks worse than that last photo I posted, right?  Now, I grew up in upstate New York for my elementary school years.  Their snow makes our snow look plain silly.  BUT…I do not recall EVER having snow in upstate New York before Halloween.  It’s just not right.

I’ll stop whining now. 

My son’s halloween costume, which he refused to wear trick or treating but was happy to wear at home in order to help dad with the mail:

No, I did not make that costume.  I gave up for two reasons: 1. a crocodile was too complicated to make, and 2. I had a strong suspicion that he would not wear the costume in the first place.  Don’t even get me started about the costume that I slaved over last year that he also did not wear.  My child finds halloween too stressful.  Hmm.

Art-wise…I think that this was a pretty successful week.  I had a GREAT printmaking workshop with Catherine Kernan over the weekend.  SOOOO GREAT.  She does all sorts of crazy things with woodblock prints.  I found her to be such a good teacher and very inspiring.  Here are my prints from the weekend:

I like it!   Next:

It’s odd how different the background paper looks, even though it was the same for all of the prints ( I mean the white area at the perimeter).

I saved that one above from being a muddy mess.  Nice!

Catherine really liked that one above.  It looks better in real life.  Last print:

You can tell if you have a good teacher when the quality of your work really improves.  I felt that this was true at this workshop.  It was a lot of fun!  All of those prints are made from just two blocks.

I also had some success with painting.  Here it is:

My teacher really liked it.  He had some helpful comments along the way.  It also didn’t feel hard to do.  I’m wondering if the fact that I was actually in a bit of pain at the time of doing it (think: big headache), somehow helped.  Because of that, I wasn’t totally focused.  My thoughts kept getting interrupted by my discomfort.  This sort of quieted down any inner discussion about judging the work as it progressed, as my mind was preoccupied.  Not that I’d like to be in pain when I paint, but I am wondering somehow if it actually was a help!  Sound crazy?  Perhaps so. 

I like the painting anyway.  Comments?  Everyone have a good halloween?  I think that I’ve consumed enough candy to last me until 2013 at least…not that I’m letting that stop me from munching on more “fun size” calorie bombs.

Lots of figures and faces…and a new addition to the studio!

Today, my car said it was 32 degrees.  That’s cold.  I know…talk to me in February…that will seem balmy.  Still, I feel like I was wearing sandals just yesterday.  Not only is it cold…but it SNOWED last night.  Here’s what is left on our yard:

Look at that sad little water table in the background!  It can be a skating rink for squirrels.

This week, I definitely made some odd stuff.  I decided to dabble again with figurative work.  I started by “copying” a face from a Klimt painting:

Klimt’s painting is, of course, stunning.  I was just trying to study his way of rendering the face.  Then, I did this one:

A little blurry…think of it as a “fuzzy filter” to improve the appearance.  Hmm!  Then the next one:

Strangely enough, that one looks a little like me.  Not on a good day, of course.  I showed these to my painting teacher.  He said that they were “postmodern”.  Hmm.  I guess that means anything that isn’t “modern” pretty much.  He likes modern painters, like Pollock and De Kooning.  So…I think that he prefers much more loose and “painterly” paintings.  That means more apparent brushstrokes, etc.  As a result, I tried in his class to invent a figure painting that was more painterly:

I know.  The red is a bit much.  I think that I’ll try again,  but with a more neutral color for the figure.  It’s hard for me to paint a figure without one in front of me to look at!  I know…practice, practice, practice.  Detail:

He had some positive things to say…but this might have been to encourage me.  He did not like the red, though.  Hmm!

In my other painting class, we worked on an long 18″ x 48″ painting.  We were told to pick three colors inspired by “regeneration”.  Then, we had to mix the colors, and choose one for the background.  The shapes were made with stencils that we cut out of paper which were insipred by shapes from green/red peppers.  Interesting!  The teacher, Adria Arch, is wonderful.  I highly recommend taking one of her classes.  The outcome:

It was fun to do.  I’d flatter myself to think that it looked a bit Marimekko.

In my portrait class, we used colored pencils.  I asked why colored pencils never seem to be in “high art”, only commercial art.  Who knows???  Somehow, it’s just not seen as a fine art medium.  Does anyone out there know of an artist who uses colored pencils?  What do you think of his/her work?  Here is my profile portrait:

I was really happy with how this turned out.  This isn’t a great photo, but I think that I got a good resemblance and the coloring was decent.  Maybe I should do portraiture?  Only because I enjoy it so much…

Okay…the BIG surprise of this week is….

I have a small etching press!!!!!!!


Yes, it’s small.  But it has a press bed of around 13″ w x 20″ l.  This will take some typical sized plates and paper:  8×10 plate…9×12 plate.  Ideally, I would have a bigger press.  BUT…a bigger press is big $$$$.  This little press was being sold by a lovely gentleman in Newburyport.  It was his wife’s.  I hope that he felt that it was going to a good home.  I’m worried that the shoddy desk will collapse under it’s weight.   I hope not.  I haven’t printed with it yet…CAN’T WAIT!!!!

October 18, 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: Drawing, painting, printmaking

Arlington Open Studios was this weekend.  WHEW!  I am TIRED!  It was a great experience, albeit exhausting.  I really enjoyed talking to the people who stopped by to see my work.  It felt good when someone wanted to look through every print that I had.  It felt even better when someone wanted to buy a print!  I mostly sold greeting cards that were hand printed.  This makes perfect sense, as they are much more affordable than an actual print.  I did sell a few prints…but mostly to my friends.  🙂  (thank you!)  Thanks also to all of you who stopped by to say “hi”!  I really appreciated it!  This was the first time that I have had a good chunk of my work all together.  Granted, this was only my printmaking work.  I wonder how it would have gone if I had incorporated my drawings? Hmm…

So, I have a relief print of the local theater in Arlington.  You can see it on the table in the picture below.  It was a very popular print for people to stop and look at, as it’s a local icon.  No one purchased it, though, as it is hand printed and an edition of only 3. Thus, the price for each is over $100.  I’m thinking that perhaps I should make computer prints of this image, as I’m sure that a more inexpensive option would have sold.  Maybe even T-shirts and mugs?  Hmmm.  I was trying to keep this fairly “art” focused, not “commodity” focused.  I mean that I was selling originals, not reproductions.  Any comments out there on this idea????  I noticed that an artist who has watercolors was selling reproductions of his originals.  They were still over $100 each, so I wonder how well they sold.    Hmmm…thoughts?

Here are some images of my set-up:


last one:

I’m pretty happy about the set-up.  I was trying to be really frugal, and not spend more than I needed to.  Most of the cost was spent on packaging the prints.  Unlike paintings, you can’t just hang bare prints up.  They are too delicate and likely to get creased or marked.  So, that was an expense packaging them.   Other than that…the baskets I already owned…the table was borrowed…the boards in the back were rotting in our garage, and I “repurposed” them as part of my display, etc.  Not bad, right?  Next time, I’m going to make my display taller.  When we had a meeting before the open studios, the artists behind me were concerned that my display would block people’s views to them past me.  WELL…look at the enormous set up behind me!  Next year, I know not to worry about that kind of thing, as no one else seemed to let that hinder them.

Beyond the open studios, my classes have been going well.  I really enjoyed my portrait class last week, as we were working in a “subtractive” way of drawing.  This means that the paper was made darker by a coating of powdered graphite.  Then, in order to get highlights…I erased the graphite and exposed the white paper.  Here is the drawing:

I was happy with this.  A close up:

It’s a nice way of working, as the midtones are already there for you.  I might have to pick up some of that powdered graphite.

My painting classes are a bit of a mixed bag.  In one of the classes, we had a model to paint from.  This is what I did:

Please excuse her face.  I need to rework that IMMEDIATELY.  Anyway, my teacher liked this, but I wasn’t so sure.  I liked the charcoal drawings that were in the background.  I painted over them and incorporated them into the painting.  I’d like to be a bit more abstract with what I do.  It’s hard for me not to try to draw the model, as I did in the portraits above.

My other painting class was fun and messy:

That was really fun to make.  Not so rigid, right?

My prints from my printmaking class were not stellar:

The color palette was not good.  Any time that I see yellow and red together, I can only think of McDonalds.  Grrr.  I have a new block, which is the fine, squiggly lines.  I’m not sure if I’m crazy about it.  I need to play with it a bit more to see.  It might be too “even” for my taste.

So, has anyone out there participated in an open studio?  How did it go for you, and what did you learn from it?  I learned that having lots of lower priced items will help sales.  I also learned that some people are receptive when you say “hello!”, and others want to be left alone to look.  It’s a challenge trying to gauge which approach to use with a person.  My favorite was when someone grabbed some candy as they walked by my table and were looking at the display across from me.  Seriously!  I think that if you are going to help yourself to the candy that someone is offering, you at least owe the person a smile and some eye contact.  Right?  A FASCINATING weekend of studying human nature…Thanks to everyone who stopped by and did chat with me!

Preparing for open studios!
October 9, 2011, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Collage, Drawing, printmaking, Uncategorized

I feel like I haven’t posted in AGES.  I’ve been working on getting my prints ready for open studios this next weekend.  It’s amazing how much work goes into participating in one of those things.  You think that you just need a table and the art, but it takes more than that.  I think that the next post I do will be AFTER the event.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  If you’re local to MA, here’s a link to the event. I’m still packaging prints, figuring out pricing, deciding how to display, etc. etc.

My portrait class actually met last week!  I was thrilled.  It was going to be cancelled for low enrollment.  Then, when I was at the first class, someone actually left after an hour because they thought that the class was going to be too complicated.  NOOOO!!!!  So, there’s only TWO of us taking the class, now!  I hope that they don’t cancel it.  I love drawing people.  Time just slips away when I’m doing it.  Here’s one of my drawings from that night…done in 45 min/1 hr.:

I’m generally happy with it.  I was using a 6B pencil on charcoal paper.  I actually recognized the model.  She must do this for lots of art classes!

I’ve also done some prints from my woodblock class.  I was working on a piece of really difficult plywood for this block.  It was impossible to cut…the wood splintered so easily…and it made the process a general pain.  No more.  My teacher said that wood like that is generally why people don’t like making woodblocks for printing.  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m only going to use the shina plywood from now on.  Here are the prints from that night:

I liked this one below the best:

It’s really interesting paper…filled with all sorts of bark and other fragments in it.  I loved it.

And another:

Okay, I held one of the prints up to the sun, so that you can see how transparent the paper is:

I also dropped into a drawing/printmaking class taught by Deb Putnoi in Brighton, Ma.  It was very fun!  Lots of messy drawing and printmaking combined.  Here are the assortment of prints from that class:

You’ll have to excuse the shadows, as the prints are all really curled for some reason…

I liked that one above.  Next:


That one above has a good bit of collage in it too…next:



I really liked the limited palette.  It was fun to be more “messy” and casual with the printmaking.  Printmaking can be SO fussy.  It just depends on how you want your prints to be.  Traditionally, they should be pristine…no thumbprints allowed and with perfect plate registration.  So, it’s fun to throw all of that out the window and just be more casual.

Okay…wish me luck with open studios!   I may have a bowl of some kind of candy on the table to entice visitors.  I suppose something that melts and becomes sticky or chocolatey would be bad.  No rice krispy treats or candy bars.  Come by and say “hi!”.

Some minor successes!

So, this past Friday evening was the opening to the portrait show that I have a drawing in!  It’s really VERY low key…but I was excited nonetheless.  The show is titled, “See You, See Me: The Art of the Portrait”, and it’s at the Belmont Gallery of Art until November 13, 2011.  Here is what some of the works looked like in the first room:

See the two women standing in front of a large painting?  The woman on the right is the artist of that painting, and it was so amazing.  It appears to be a portrait of her daughter looking at picture books in a sunny, but dark, room.  It’s an oil painting, and she’s clearly a talented painter.  Her name is Noriko Fox, and here is her website.

This is the room where my drawing was…you can see it on the back wall…just to the left of the guy in black:


Here it is!

Here is the funniest thing…So, I had to put a title on this drawing.  I did not know the name of the model, nor did I know any possible way to find out his name.  So, I made up a name…”Michael”.  He just looked like a Michael to me.  I just didn’t want to call him “Man”, or “Portrait”.  WELL…would you believe that there was someone else who had also done a portrait of him?  I am not kidding!  Of course, she had his correct name, which is “Dan”.  My friend, Janet, came to see the show and recognized him and confirmed that his name is really Dan.  Sigh.  If only I knew that!  At least we both did a good job creating a likeness of him, as pretty much everyone recognized that it was the same person!

Some other good news this week is that I sold three prints from the show at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT!  I was really happy.  Only one of my prints was selected for the official show, but the other two prints were in binders with all of the other prints that didn’t make the cut.  However, someone bought not only the one officially in the show, but the other two as well!    Not the same person, I’m sure.

My last bit of good news is that my basement workspace is finally furnished, and I’ve moved in!  I will show you a photo at some point, but it’s a bit messy right now.  I’m preparing for the Arlington Open Studios, so I haven’t had much time to really organize it.  I’ve been trying to make progress on packaging all of the prints that I plan to bring to the open studios.  Mark it on your calendar!  October 15 & 16 from 12-5pm at the Arlington Center for the Arts.  I’ll be in the big auditorium space.

Here is part of a woodblock that I have been working on.  This was printed by hand, but I’m hoping to print it with a press on Monday.  I’ll update you on how it turned out!

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