slightly wonky

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…


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?

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.  🙂


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!

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…

Portfolio and gluestick panic
May 4, 2011, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Collage, Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

So, I did a bit of a crazy thing.  I signed up to have my “portfolio” reviewed by professionals in the local art world…gallery owners, curators, etc.  The Cambridge Art Association has organized this.  Each artist gets three, 20 minute conversations with three different reviewers.  This seemed like a great idea when I signed up.  Now, I’m panicking.

I realized, after signing up, that this is a very formal interview.  Think of it as a job interview for artists.  I thought that I could casually bring a pile of my work, and just talk about what seems to have potential.  This is NOT what is supposed to happen.  I am supposed to have a clear, coherent portfolio of around 8 works/images to discuss.  I am presenting myself and my work, as if I was trying to get them to offer to show my work.  This is…serious.

As a result, I am in a bit of a panic.  What am I going to show them?  Which one of these varied things is going to be my “thing”…my “artistic vision”?  My vision feels blurry right now.  I now believe that I must create something BRILLIANT in the next couple of weeks.  When I puts this kind of pressure on myself…a kind of paralysis ensues.  I’m freaking out.  I also realize that I CANNOT mention this blog, lest they read about my panic.  That wouldn’t be very professional, I think.

So, I somehow have to get my act together very quickly.  I do wish that I could miraculously come up with some brilliant things in the next week or so.  I have a feeling that’s not reasonable.

Sigh.  Now, onto other matters of panic…

I’m taking a collage class.  This also stresses me out.  In graduate school, I took a collage class.  It was traumatizing.  I think that I have mentioned it before in a previous post.  Anyway, I am hoping that this class is more relaxed, and doesn’t make me break out in a cold sweat every time I see a glue stick.

Here are the random things that I did in the last class:

We were supposed to do a collage about ourselves…in 20 minutes.  That’s what I came up with.  Hmmm…I won’t explain.

This is the next collage, where we had to use one entire page of a magazine to make the collage:

I kind of liked that one.  This next one was supposed to be an “all text” collage.  I was in a rush, as I ran out of time because I was chit-chatting with my classmates. 

Kind of silly.  This was sort of refreshing, though, as our collages in grad school ALWAYS had to be rectangles with clean edges.  Yawn.

Here is the other color scheme of that lino print from before.  I’m disappointed with it. 

Okay, pay attention:

Has anyone out there done an “artist interview”?  Any words of wisdom?  I know.  Don’t panic.  Seriously…besides “not panicking”, anything else to think about?  How do you decide what to present, when your work is so varied?  Don’t say, “avoid participating in interviews”, or “get your act together”.  That’s obvious, and not helpful. 

Maybe I should wear a disguise and use a fake name…KIDDING (I think).

Local color…good and not so good…
April 29, 2011, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts..., printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

Look at what’s popping up in our garden!

I wish that I could take any kind of credit for those.  The previous owner planted them.  BUT…I have so lovingly ignored them…and LOOK how nice they are!  Well, I also recently bought a watering can, which my son loves to use.  He may need to take all the credit. 

And this one!

Snazzy!  One more:

Maybe I was channeling these colors when I was printing last night.  Okay.  I must admit.  I was not thrilled with these prints…take a look:

And this one:

I know.  Not good…SIGH.  I’m not sure whether to abandon them…or try to fix them…somehow.  There is no such thing as an “eraser” in printmaking.  *DRAMATIC SIGH*  I was a bit down after that frustrating evening of printmaking “yuck”.  

BUT…today’s printing was much better!  I wonder if it’s because I went back to something that I know better: drypoint. 

That was the first one…kind of interesting.  So, I tried it on silver paper:

Not great…the ink doesn’t stick to the shiny paper.  Then, I added a monoprint element:

This, I liked much better…so I kept at it:

Also interesting!  Then in blue:

I like this one also!  And then, just simple drypoint layers:

It was interesting how different wiping techniques resulted in such different line quality between the blue and the red.  Hmmm…oh, and I almost forgot:

Moody!  I also like it a bit.  These prints are a bit small…3.5″W x 8″H.  I think this makes them more appealing as well.  So, luckily, these prints improved my outlook on life, in comparison to the ones from last night.  A bad day at the print studio makes me blue.  A good day at the print studio makes me hopeful.

I JUST looked at pictures of the royal wedding.  So amazing!  I was about to write, “good lookin’ couple”, but then I stopped myself.   WHY, you ask????

I’ve been reading a book on fostering self-esteem in children.  Well…appearance is the number one thing that can seriously affect not only the child’s feeling of self worth, but also how society treats the child.  It is an awful truth that attractive children/adults get: special treatment, more sympathy, more affection, more “breaks” in life, more praise, etc. etc. etc.  This is really heartbreaking.  So, I’m trying to make a point of noticing my judgmental thoughts on appearance and curb them.  This primarily affects my view of myself (we’re our worst critic), but I am paying attention to it on all counts.  We should focus on kindness, generosity, and character…rather than height, eye color, and dress size.  The world would be a better place…

Spring feevah
April 22, 2011, 3:25 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I felt that I needed to channel my “inner Bostonian”.  Today is an amazing spring day here.  Yes, it started out below 40 degrees this morning, but it’s gotten MUCH warmer.  Everyone is mooning around in the sunshine.

Our “garden” is actually doing something too.  Notice that “garden” is in quotes.  Our dirt patch with scraggly flowers, bordered by stones, could be considered a “garden” if flowers were considered optional.  Here are a few of the scragglers that we have:

What is this?  A hyacinth?:

What about this?  What is it?

I know.  That last one was probably just a weed. Oh well.  But, check out our forsythia!

This is the only time of the year that this stuff looks good…otherwise it’s a brown, scraggly mess.  I do love it though…we have it bordering three sides of our lawn.

and super close:

I really love that plant.  AND, I know what it’s called!  A minor miracle.

Studio was okay today.  I have gotten myself a pair of clogs, as I’m standing all the time and my feet are killing me.  No more silly shoes.  At my last class, my right big toe fell asleep.  That feels terrible, trust me.  So, now I’ve got PRACTICAL shoes.  I happily stood for 4+ hours today with no problem.  Here’s a look:

Snazzy, huh?  They’re actually a bit sparkly, which I like.  Very comfy.  I know…the next step is a velour lesiure suit, or a snuggie.

So, here are the prints from today.  I’m on the fence about them.

And its fraternal twin:

I’m trying to decide now if they are “done”.  Hmm…maybe I’ll wait to talk to one of my printmaking teachers to get some feedback.  Luckily today, the studio wasn’t too crowded, so I could work fairly well and in a calm/sane manner.  I struggle when it’s really crowded and busy.  It’s hard to think, and you can only really do simple things with the press, as everyone is waiting in line to use it.  So, my stuff today would have been a real pain if the studio was crowded.

Have a good weekend!  Hoppy Eastah!  I’m off to get some peeps!

%d bloggers like this: