slightly wonky

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!!!


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!

Woodblock finale and a bunch of other thoughts

Before I start rambling on about woodblock printing…I bought my son some big containers of tempera paint, and a long roll of paper this past week.  This is one of those purchases that is mostly for my son, but partly for me too.  I love the idea of splotching big blobs of paint on a huge paper.  Here is part of our creation:

I think that he had a good time with it.  He seems to like to just mix colors together to make “outer space”.  He’s not so concerned about making marks.  He also found large stones and a brick, which he brought over to paint.  So, even when you think you can imagine how a play activity is going to go…kids always surprise you.  It just might be that my son is not as into making art as I am.  Or maybe he is…but in less obvious ways.  Either way, it was messy and fun.

So, last night I had my last woodblock printing class!  It was such a fun class.  I love the bold, graphic quality of woodblocks.  Yes, some people can do subtle things with woodblock…but not me!  Here is my last block in process:

I realized, while carving this block, that I’m not such a fan of carving.  My teacher mentioned that she often listens to books on tape while she carves.  Good idea!!!  That might help.  Also, I think that the pressure of having to design and carve a block on a schedule makes it a little stressful and less fun for me.  I mean, I like to have a new block for each class.  But if I wasn’t constrained by my weekly class, perhaps carving would be more meditative, and less like a chore.  I’m wondering if I’m not destined to be a relief printer, because I don’t LOVE to carve.  Hmmm.  BUT…I do like how woodblock prints turn out…so this is a bit of a conundrum for me.

Here are the prints from yesterday:

I was somewhat happy with this print.  It may need something dark in it.  I’m not sure.  Once again, I decided to just leave it and think about it more before doing anything else.  Here is a detail:

I love those colors together, and I’m happy with my new block.  The new block is the red part of the image.  Here is the second print:

A bit simple, but nice.  The orange looks more yellowish in reality.  Detail:

It’s always an exercise in restraint for me to not add MORE.  Here is just a print of the block that I made last week:

This took A LOT of restraint for me not to add more “stuff”.  Sorry about the odd lighting in the photos.  It’s the morning, and I don’t have great light to take pictures with.  Here is the detail:

Brace yourself…there’s more!

I couldn’t leave that one alone, obviously…

I like this next one a lot:

It’s hard to tell, but the dark ink is a sort of plum color.  Very cool.  Detail:

The last one:


What do you think?  I’m happy with how this latest block came out.  It seems that no matter how many blocks one has…you need more!  That puts me back in the condundrum of carving…

So, I had a free hour yesterday, so I did a little gouache still life.  Now, bear with me…I don’t paint often.  BUT, I really enjoyed it.  So here is my bigger dilemma:  I love the way woodblock prints look…but I am not keen on carving.  I am not fond of my painting (see below)…but I enjoyed doing it!  So odd.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I think that typially, people like to do what they are good at.  But in this case, I enjoyed doing what I wasn’t good at.  Very strange.  Here is the still life:

Yes, I know.  It needs help.  I am happy with how the silver rattle turned out…the other parts are so-so.  I think that if I had a nicer brush (one that didn’t have a fat, multipointed/ragged end), then I might have been able to do a bit more.  I know…excuses, excuses!

Woodblock printing = process:not fun / product:interesting

Gouache painting = process:fun / product:not interesting

What a dilemma! Does anyone out there have thoughts on this???

I’ve been reminded by a friend that I never followed up with comments on the Chihuly show at the MFA.  WELL…his work is pretty over the top and remarkable.  He’s definitely not of the “less is more” school of thought.  The pieces were really stunning.  I didn’t really like when they are all put together in a big, jumbled mass…like in his piece, Mille fiori.  It gets too chaotic for me, and the beauty in each piece gets lost to me.  It’s like a symphony where every musician is playing a difference piece.  Cacophony.  The individual pieces, however, are stunning.  The chandeliers that everyone knows well are really stunning.  He tends to use a single color for these, so while they are a bit chaotic looking, they have a unity that does not turn into cacophony, in my opinion.  My favorite part of the exhibit was the room with beautiful woven baskets, bright handmade blankets, and an enormous slab of wood.  The pieces in this room were subtle, delicate, and amazing.   I preferred these pieces over all of the others.  He had large, hollow glass blobs, almost like bubbles bursting, on that huge slab of wood.  They looked gorgeous.  So, I did like the Chihuly exhibit, and I think that his work is extraordinary.  I do feel that it can be a chaotic mess at times, and I prefer when it’s more subtle or unified in presentation.  Has anyone else seen it?  Thoughts?

Teal woodblock prints
July 20, 2011, 10:00 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , ,

Last night’s woodblock class was pretty good.  I had a new block to incorporate into the mix, luckily.  I also spent the whole time printing, which is what I like to do.  I ALSO got to choose the colors, which is good.  Sometimes, I just use the colors that have been put out.  Last night, however, I selected the colors, which made a big difference for me.  I prefer when the colors are more transparent.  It seems that many of the colors that we use (which are previously mixed colors) have some white in them, which makes them a bit opaque.  This isn’t the effect that I want.  Perhaps next week, I’ll ask to mix in some transparent medium.

Here is the first one that I did:

I have no idea why the picture has such an orange cast to it.  Anyway…this print started with the yellow layer, then I printed the dark brown block, and last I printed the teal block.  I was moderately happy with it. I felt that the white was too constrained, though, so I tried again:

I’m happier with the white in this print.  Here is a detail of it:

As I only have two carved blocks in this series and of this size, I sort of ran out of ideas of what to do (besides mixing more colors).  I tried to experiement a little, but I wasn’t happy with the outcome:

Ech.  Needs work.  In mulling over ideas with my super helpful teacher, I felt that adding some “chine colle” or collage would help.  So, I took another piece of paper, and just started randomly printing on it.   I plan to rip up this paper and layer it onto the print above, in an attempt to help it along.  Here is the sacrificial page:

Kind of interesting, in an off-kilter sort of way.  I ran out of time, and couldn’t do more layering.  I also ran out of the bright ochre color.  Too bad!  I’ll see if I can mix up more next week.  I do like these colors together, though.  I also hope that I can carve another block.

It’s going to be another sweltering day.  I can already feel my brain dulling with the pending heat.

Can anyone out there recommend some interesting woodblock artists to look at? 

Anyone out there also doing printmaking?  (Do you have a website that I can look at?) 

If any of you out there have either an ipad or an iphone…there is an app that I would LOVE to have.   It’s “Wreck this App” by Keri Smith.  She is that super cool, highly unconventional author.  It’s basically an app for making crazy, messy art.  So fun!!!!  If anyone out there gets it, let me know how it is.  I want it…but alas…no iphone!  Here is the link to her blog which has a video on it.  What do you think????  So fun, right?????  I want it!

New woodblock prints
July 13, 2011, 9:40 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , , , ,

Last night, I had my woodblock printing class.  I managed to get my act together and finish a block for printing.  I was initially sort of lukewarm about the block, as it seemed sort of flat and 2D to me.  But, after printing it, I think that it is interesting.  The first printing was with some chine colle, or additional handmade papers collaged into it.  My teacher provided the colored papers.  Here is that print:

It’s a bit of an overcast day, so it’s hard to get the colors right.  This image seems a little dark to me, even after I lightened it a bit!  The red paper is a scrap of beautiful handmade paper that my teacher had.  The small green piece is a scrap of paper that had been used in previous prints.  I’m really happy with this.

Then, I started layering this block with a small block.  I printed this small block at the last class.  It needed a lot of “cleaning up”, which means that there were parts of the block that were printing that I did not want to print.  So, I had to carve more to get rid of those stray marks.  Here it is:

I may try to print this one again, as I think that it would be better without the black, and with more white in it.  Here is a detail:

This last print begain with a ghost print of the large, blue block.  Then, I layered on some red with ripped paper stencils:

I think that my teacher liked this one.  I tend to overwork things, so I decided to just leave this one alone and not do anything further.  Here is a detail:

I like woodblock printing.  I think that having a class once a week is good, but it does add stress to the process.  I mean, you have to have something finished each week, or else you will waste your time at class carving.  I try to use class time to print, as that is a rare opportunity to use the press.  I can carve at home, but I can’t print with a press at home.  I think that the carving would be more meditative for me, if I wasn’t rushing to finish a block for class!  So, I can imagine that having one’s own press would help, even when carving.

Someone recently sent me this fabulous link to watch someone baking croissants.  Please watch, as it’s fascinating! It’s kind of scary how much butter in involved.  Anyway, I thought that if I ever get a press…and if I ever decide to stop printmaking, I could use my press for flattening out dough for pastries…who needs a rolling pin when you have a piece of precision equipment, right?

Hmmm…a pain du chocolat would be perfect right now.

Trip to Seattle!
July 11, 2011, 8:07 pm
Filed under: printmaking, travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

I just got back from a great trip to Seattle!  It’s such a fun city.  My brother, his wife and their two kids live out there.  We had a great time visiting with them.  We spent the 4th of July at the beach on Bainbridge Island.  I’m used to the weather being so hot that you HAVE to go swimming to survive.  Not so in Seattle…the weather was clear and warm, and the water was icy.  As a result, vegging out on the beach while the kids created general chaos was just fine for me.  Here’s the view we had at the beach:

Yes, that’s Mount Rainier.  I’m not used to being at the beach and seeing mountains in the distance.  Heck, I’m not used to seeing mountains at all.  Did I also mention that they don’t have mosquitoes?  I kid you not.

I have the usual array of tourist photos to show:



That’s a chocolate brioche from Fuji Bakery.  You must go if you’re in Seattle.  So divine.  I was directed to go there from the owner of Cullom Gallery.  I have wanted to see this gallery for ages, as it focuses on woodblock printmaking, especially Moku Hanga.  Moku Hanga is traditional Japanese woodblock printing.  Please go visit this gallery if you can.  The owner was so kind.  She took out all sorts of beautiful prints for me to look at.  I was thrilled!  In May, I took a Moku Hanga course with Annie Bissett.  Annie’s work is at Cullom Gallery, so it was great to see her work again.  If you can’t make it out to visit the gallery, definitely check out the website.

I have my own woodblock printing class tomorrow evening, which I have not prepared for.  I had dreams of working on carving one of my blocks in the evenings in Seattle, but no way.  I was completely beat by the end of the day.

Before I left on my trip, I did this collagraph print:

I’m really happy with how it turned out.  I plan on doing more like this.  Comments?

While it was a great trip, I’m happy to be home!

Random assortment of stuff
June 29, 2011, 9:51 am
Filed under: printmaking | Tags: , , , ,

Last night, I had another woodblock class.  It was good…but I had not done much prep work.  I only had one small block that was new, so I just focused on printing more.  I tried printing the mutant plant again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t really get to pick the colors, as she had these ones out.  The yellow had some white in it, which kind of makes it a bit flat.  (right now, my preschooler is yelling/singing…so I may go postal in the middle of this post)

So, here are the woodblock prints from last night:

I am happier with the printing of the purplish building.  The ink was drier, and didn’t fill in all of the small detail lines.  At first, I was not sure, but now I do like it.  Here’s a bit of a weird mess:

I started by just printing the “ghosts” from the first print.  Then, I decided that it all looked too washed out, so I started doing more layering.  I like the new block (the yellow shape).  I need to clean up the block more, so that other areas which aren’t supposed to print actually don’t print.  Last:

This time, I just used the crazy plant block with the new, small block.  Hmm…

Here are some continuations of other prints that I posted previously.  They weren’t finished when I first showed them.  I think that they’re getting better, as the layering and contrast is better.  All of these pictures are a bit dark, as the sun keeps hiding behind a cloud…

That one is probably mostly done.  This next one may need some more:

It’s a bit Paul Klee…but I just wanted something non-orthagonal to go crazy across the whole thing.  Next:

My printmaking teacher said that I should add more to that one.  I’ll have to work on it another time.  She felt that the yellow field feels a bit flat.  Detail:

Last one:

I like that one.  I may add some more, though.  Any comments?  Thumbs up?  Thumbs down?

I hope that I somehow get time to work on another large woodblock.  I want to have more blocks to layer.  It takes quite a bit of time to carve them, so I’m not sure how far I’ll get.  We don’t have class this next week, so I won’t be there until the following week.  I love the way woodblock prints look.  I hope to get better at it! I’m still going to keep on doing collage as well, as I had such a great time doing it.

Have a happy 4th everyone!  I plan to pig out on hot dogs…

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?

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!!!!

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