Saturday, November 29, 2014

"Water Shake" by Leslie Evans

Image posted with the permission of the artist. More prints by Leslie Evans can be viewed and purchased at Sea Dog Press

A moment comes, when burdened by so much precipitation, action is taken. Muscles engage and send the body into so much convulsion that the weight of wetness is driven out in all directions. In the center of the sailing mists emerges the silhouette of a being reborn.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Late Autumn" by Gordon Mortensen

Yesterday we had our first snow of the season, so it's a white Thanksgiving. Even though winter is my favorite season, I always get a melancholy feeling this time of year because the autumn foliage is so beautiful, but now the leaves are turning the color of mud, then falling to the ground, getting mashed up, and literally turning into mud.

Before winter is officially upon us here in Pennsylvania, here's one of Gordon Mortensen's woodcut reductions. Mortensen's prints are jaw-droppingly amazing in terms of the technical challenges; he often does dozens of layers of color and spends months making a single edition. For me, the result of his painstaking process is that his images of nature seem utterly frozen. Otherwise fleeting moments, here preserved for all time.

If you want to learn more about Mortensen and find his limited edition prints for sale, here's a link to his profile at Davidson Galleries.

I am both drawn to and a little frightened of this place. Are there monsters lurking in the hazy, purple distance? Are there creepy crawlies teeming beneath the smattering of golden leaves? Do equally breathtaking wonders lies beyond the forest's edge, or perhaps there is nothing more than a brightly lit oblivion. What sounds would my steps make if I dare walk across? A crunch? A squoosh? Or eerie silence, as if I were a phantom in a world no longer my own? Like a cake in the bakery's display window, I desire a taste, but am loath to disturb its aesthetic perfection.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Collographs in Acrylic Paint on Canvas

I did these three studies (each is approximately 12" x 18", acrylic on unmounted canvas) as examples for a project students from Solis Cohen Elementary school are doing with me as a Visiting Artist-In-Residence.

They have already seen examples of my work and done collograph and white line woodcut printmaking in class, and now they are working on their big project, which will be a 21' x 9' wall hanging of a world atlas. The wall hanging is broken up into four equal panels. They are finishing up using the grid transfer method to draw a basic outline of the continents onto the four panels.

Next will be painting in the backgrounds with acrylic paint, making collograph stamps with imagery inspired by patterns found in artwork around the world.

For these three studies, I drew a grid (each square being 3" x 3") and drew the same shape (an ammonite, just because I like ammonites.) Then I painted in the background and foreground areas (the left and middle one I painted in solid colors, the third uses a two-tone checkerboard pattern.) I made four 3" x 3" collograph stamps using chipboard, yarn, and craft foam, and then printed them onto the canvas by painting on the acrylic paint with a brush and pressing the stamp onto the canvas firmly with my hands. To prevent the background and foreground prints from overlapping, I masked off areas by laying down paper before pressing down the stamp.

I also did black outlines for two and no outline for one just to see how it looked. The students' wall hanging should be finished before winter break, and I'll post an image of the final work to this blog at that time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Autumn Storm" by Ogata Gekkō

I first wrote about Ogata Gekkō in January of this year. If you are interested, check out that post where I wrote a bit about the artist's work and included links to relevant websites.

Descend, she must, even if it is against the wind. Dried up ginko leaves, carried up by the wind, make their assault, to no avail. This warm, orange glow is a deception; her bare feet press up against planks of wood that feel much cooler than they did yesterday. The fire is dying, the colors bleaching away. There is no time to lose. Ignore the fairy-ghosts that float through the air. It is time to prepare.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

White Line Woodcut Class at Allens Lane

Today I finished teaching a White Line Woodcuts workshop at the Allens Lane Art Center through the Mount Airy Learning Tree. It is the second time I've taught the workshop, although it might be the last, at least for a while. I do enjoy teaching the classes, but I have too much on my plate these days to continue for the time being.

This workshop was a nice way to go out. The people who took it were so ambitious; they each made more work than any other student who has taken this workshop with me previously, and one even brought in watercolor crayons for us all to experiment with. (The crayons added an interesting texture and allowed us to work more quickly.) This small group of people made some lovely pieces and were a joy to spend time with six hours over two Saturdays.

The last image displayed in this post is my own work, and the rest were done by four adult students enrolled in the workshop. The print of the person walking in the rain is a miniaturized copy from a white line woodcut by Mabel Hewitt. I include documentation of some of the painted blocks, as they are often stunning works of art in their own right.

If you want to learn more about the white line woodblock printmaking process, I recommend Jeanne Norman Chase's illustrated article found here and Viza Arlington's take on it found here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Midsummer" by Hung Liu

Last week I went to the Hung Liu exhibit at the La Salle University Art Museum (press announcement here). It was amazing to see the print Winter Blossom (that I wrote about last year) in person. The only other woodcut in the show was this portrait, which explains why I'm writing about a piece titled Midsummer in chilly November. (It also helps that the color scheme in this image reminds me more of autumn than summer, the pink blossoms notwithstanding). 

Her eyes smile, and she seems to know something, possess some leverage. Her face glows and peers through a veil of rain and whispers. Everything else fades like a ghost or dissolves like sugar, but her face remains solid, colorful, lively. A breathing statue. An immortal angel blowing us a kiss. 

Hung Liu says of her portraits such as this: 

"I am looking for the mythic pose beneath the historical figure -- and the painting beneath the photograph." 

If you want to see the show (and if you can, you should!) it's up until December 5th. 

Also, there is a bit more information about Liu's unique printmaking process for making a woodcut at Magnolia Editions, here