slightly wonky

End of semester!

It’s the end of winter semester!  Boo hoo!  Last night, I had my final class with a wonderful group of women.  We all have different backgrounds (artist, art journalist, photographer, etc.), but we were all there as beginner printmakers.  I will miss them…the running commentary…the oohs when a print was first peeled off of the press…the jokes about our shoddy skills.  For you local people, Somerville Open Studios is coming up in a month, and one of my classmates will have her work on display then…I hope that I can go and see it!  I wonder if she’ll include any of the prints that she made…I’ll give more details when it gets closer to the date.

Here are the prints from last night.  I was working again with viscosity monotypes, as shown in the first two prints.  But I also incorporated a carborundum plate into the mix, as shown in the third and fourth prints:

That was just one pass through the press…I liked how it turned out.

This one went through the press a few times:

The carborundum element in this next print are the lavender brushmarks.  So, I printed that lavender carborundum plate on top of a monotype (thus creating a monoprint):

In this print, the dark purple areas are from a separate carborundum plate:

You’ll see this plate again in some of the following plates. 

My teacher last night looked over my bevvy of prints, and tried to give me a little critique on a direction that I might pursue (as I am fairly all over the map, as you may have noticed).  She noted that I typically either use a very linear/drawn/crisp language or a swirly/organic language.  Why not combine them?  Well…okay!  I think that this may sound obvious, but if you see others’ work in the class, then you’d see how different all of our work was.  I also felt that this was kind of a true assessment of me as a person…my left brain and right brain are fairly evenly balanced.  I’m not saying that either half is brilliant, not so…but I think the balanced relationship between the two has been true for me.  As an example, I got nearly identical scores in the SATs/GREs between my math and verbal  (umm…not a perfect 800 on both, sheesh).  So…instead of trying to be either one or the other, I’ll try to combine them.  This is kind of hard, as I don’t really shift well between the two.  But, I guess that’s part of the challenge.

Here are my prints from today.  Again, I started with a monoprint:

Then, I started to layer in the carborundum plate:

and again:

And then, my printmaking teacher wanted to see the carborundum plate by itself.  I think that she didn’t like all of my colorful craziness.  So, here is the plate the first time…I didn’t do a good job wiping it:

Here is the second time that I inked and printed it:

See the difference?  Then, here is the ghost of this print:

She really liked these.  Hmmm!  Shows how little I know!  I thought that perhaps they were too simple.  Next time, she wants me to layer in a very thin transparent layer…nothing too crazy, as I was doing above.  She said that the previous ones were “just experiments”, and “now you need to focus.”  Hmmm!  I take it that she is not keen on the crazier ones.  Well, good to know…less is more, perhaps!  Any comments/suggestions????  Random thoughts?  Artists that I should take a look at? 🙂


Pronto print tutorial
January 15, 2011, 10:10 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

This week, I went to the studio of printmaker Nancy Diessner.  She was kind enough to agree to give me a tutorial on pronto printing [a.k.a. polyester plate lithography].  It sounds exotic, but it is much less intimidating than true lithography.  I’ll try to summarize it as best as I understand…marks can be made on  thin polyester sheets either by hand (with a sharpie, for example), or by a laser printer/copier.  So, it has the ability to print hand drawn images, or photographic images.  Then, the sheet (plate) is saturated with a mixture of water and gum arabic.  The oil based ink is then rolled on the plate, as is typically done…but the water magically repels the ink from the unmarked areas, and the marked areas accept the ink.  So interesting!  These can either be printed by hand or on a press.  Luckily, Nancy has a beautiful press, so that we could print some of them by press.  The ones printed by hand have a different feel, as they are lighter and irregular.

So, below are the prints that we made!  They are a bit simple and crude…but there are amazing things that can be done with this type of printmaking…so don’t let these early experiments put you off…

This was printed on the press:

See the lovely emboss?

This was printed by hand:

See how it is lighter, and there is no emboss mark?

This was also hand printed…you can see where I rubbed with a bone folder:

This is more “photographic”, but is clearly different than a photo.  Please don’t ask me why my child refuses to smile for photographs:

The last one was done on the press:

up close:

See?  Wasn’t all that neat?  These are so rudimentary, so don’t let that put you off the process.  I hope to get the materials so that I can do this at home (without a press, of course!).  My printmaking classes start THIS WEEK, so I am SUPER excited for what’s to come!

Besides the pronto plates, here is a hodge podge of other stuff from the week…a linoleum print:


Besides printmaking, my son and I created a contemporary apartment tower for his chutes and ladders people…note the lovely cantilevers and expansive views!  If Fallingwater were tall and made of cardboard…:

And for those of you not in the Northeast…this is what the first blizzard of 2011 looked like:

These photos were taken at 9am…and the “snow emergency” was through 7pm…EGADS!  Eventually, the snow in the seat of the chair was taller than the armrests.  Sigh…is it spring yet?  My ever optimistic friend, KP, was waxing poetic about the lovely blanket of powdery goodness…I was peering out feeling trapped!  Perhaps if it was good snowball snow, that would have made up for it.  🙂

Less than successful…
December 15, 2010, 2:03 pm
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

Okay.  So, I tried a new ink & technique for printing today.  I was hoping that it was going to be fabulous.  Unfortunately, it turned out horribly.  Big fail…waaah!  I like the layered colors, but for the life of me, I could not get the middle part to print as dark as the edges.  I have NO idea what I was doing wrong.  I would love to blame the press, or the ink, but it was surely my fault.  sigh.  It’s always frustrating to spend time on something that does not turn out well.  I tried to revive it along the way, but no luck.  I may email my printmaking teacher to ask her for suggestions. [update: I think that I needed to add “retarder” to my ink.  This modifier slows down the rate of drying.  So, my ink was drying out before I had a chance to print it.  I’ve used that modifier for other inks, but I somehow thought that this ink didn’t need it.  I was wrong.  SIGH.  The inspiration (if that’s what I should call it) for the print came from seeing my recently planted bulbs dug up out of the garden by some critter.  The sad bulbs were lying on the soil, pale and bare.  I wanted to replant them, but I thought that this would just be futile.  So, no springtime flowers for me! DRAMATIC SIGH]

I also have a lino print (one of four copies) in process.  I used some oil based ink, which was so much better for printing than the water based.  Unfortunately, I have been waiting AGES for it to dry.  I could probably keep printing, even though it is still tacky, but I’m worried that I’ll mess it up somehow.

I haven’t gotten much done lately.  Holiday stuff…trying to purge excess stuff (primarily toys and clothes)…etc.  The basement renovation is progressing.  I’m looking forward to having some space to work and leave things in process.

Comments welcome!  Or if any of you are into printmaking, please feel free to give me some pointers.

I’m going to go and eat a cookie now…

Whatever I am…
November 23, 2010, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , ,

Today, someone at my old office sent me photos of a project that I worked on.  It was an addition/renovation to a dining hall.  It looks really good!  The building was pretty much designed before they brought me on, but I had the task of coordinating and detailing the exterior.  Needless to say, it was stressful, but I was working with a great team of people.  If I remember correctly, there were just three of us doing the drawings!  Anyway…why do I bring this up?  Well, I can’t help but feel an odd pang when I see the building.  I am thinking, “I used to do that”…”I was good at that”…”What am I doing now?”…”Why am I throwing away all that I know, to start again?”

Whatever it is that I’m doing now, I’m a beginner.  This is tough to be a beginner, so late in life.  I used to know what I was doing.  Yes, I had way too much to do, but I knew what had to be done and I was good at doing it.  Now…I’m a beginner…muddling my way along…trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing.

Every time I meet up with a friend, they ask me how “things” are going.  Good question.  No good answer available.  I’m trying lots of things: printmaking, painting, screen printing, sewing, felting, etc. etc. etc.  But what exactly do I have to show for myself?  A very odd arrangement of things in progress… Some things I am happy with, many things I am chalking up to experience.

I have been advised to think of myself as an “artist”.  This feels a little premature, and quite a bit of a stretch.  So, I don’t know what I am.  I know that people spend a lifetime trying to figure out who/what they are.  I’m finally stopping to ask myself that question.  It took me long enough!  I feel grateful that I am able to ask.  I wish that I had a profound answer.  I don’t so far.  I just have a collection of odd things.  In any event, I am happy to have this collection of odd things.  It may not make sense to anyone else, but these odd things are dear to me…more so than the lovely, praiseworthy building.  While the building represents my former life as a “take no prisoners/stress-case” architect, the odd things represent my current self…wondering, struggling, searching and hoping.

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