Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Andrew Stone's "Boteh" (Part 3 of 3)

This print is Boteh (paisley) by Andrew Stone, one of the prints from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: this portrait, two landscapes, and two that effectively employ the use of the grain.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time I have been captivated enough by a woodcut of the back of a woman's head to write about it on my blog. The first time was five years ago when I wrote about Hibiscus by Viza Arlington. The second was last year when I wrote about Tracy by Alex Katz.

The anonymity of the figure is an opportunity for projection. More of a chance for viewers to relate. The loose strands of hair around her neck and the casual way her shirt's collar slopes lower on one side makes the encounter all the more personal and intimate. It is as if we are together with her, and yet lonesome in our gazing at her.

Andrew Stone wrote a few posts about this print including many photographs of the work in progress on his blog which can be found here.

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Using the Grain (Part 2 of 3)

These are two woodcuts from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: these two that effectively employ the use of the grain, as well as two landscapes and one portrait.

There are few similarities between this untitled, abstract print by Aaron Gillette and By the Cook Stove, a representational woodcut featuring a dog by Gillyin Gatto. I suppose I only felt a need to feature the two of them together because for this exchange, I created a woodcut titled Sunflower that was essentially all about using the grain as an expressive, descriptive, and formal element of the image.

I love the way the vertical grain in Gillette's print works with the frayed edge across the top of the red shape to emphasize its swift plummet downward. I feel caught in a moment just before impact, wondering at the diminished, loose stack of bars in its path.

The woodgrain in Gatto's woodcut of course literally describes a wood floor, but the rugged texture also compliments the carved textures of the dog's fur and pattern of his bed, and adds weight and more structure to the entire composition. This is a particular interior space and we viewers are honed-in to a specific, small piece of the larger scene.

Highlights from [Baren] Exchange #65: Landscapes (Part 1 of 3)

These are two landscapes from the [Baren] Forum's print exchange #65. The theme and style were open and the paper size was 10" x 15". There were 18 participants and while the entire collection is amazing, I decided to highlight 5 prints: these two landscapes, one portrait, and two that effectively employ the use of the grain.

The first print is Red Hill by Lindsay Schwartz. The desert is dry but pleasant. Quiet and subdued with its flat plane of blue sky and carefully painted swathes of creamy green and yellow over muddy rust. The image is a contemplative window to a place to wander and ponder in peace.

Although they are both reddish landscapes whose compositions draw the viewer in toward a focal point in the upper-half corner, Red Hill is quite a contrast to just you and me by Maria Arango Diener.

In this second landscape, a tiny woman wades out into an otherworldly sea. The fiery embrace of the sun's reflection wriggles toward her like tentacles. Thick tresses of the woman's hair trail behind her, melting into the shoreline that is bathed in slanted rays. Here, nothing is still, nothing is quiet. More than merely the sounds of sloshing water, the light that ripples out from the sun buzzes, and the rolling hills rumble. The sun is like a great head, more godly than gaseous, more soul than star.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Bookplate for Al Gury

Oil-based black ink on 90 lb. Natural Stonehenge paper, 4" x 4", edition of 25 plus 2 artist's proofs.

Al Gury is a painter, author, and professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He's also a cat lover and recently commissioned this bookplate for his literary collection. It's in the style of the prints from my Cats A-Z series/book.

I enjoyed making this a lot, especially drawing the lounging cat. He looks pretty relaxed. The Cats A-Z series is printed on bright white paper, but this is printed on a more cream-colored Natural paper (Al Gury's suggestion), which I think better suits the mood of the piece.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Tuesday and Sunday Classes for Kids at Six Senses Clay Studio

Starting this Sunday, September 20 I'm teaching classes for children at the Six Senses Clay Studio in the Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

On Sundays from 3-4:30 I'll be teaching a clay class for children of all ages. The emphasis will be learning basic hand-building techniques through a series of fun and creative projects.

Six Senses also runs an after school art program from 3:30-5:30 that teaches not only clay, but a variety of media from basket weaving to painting. Now throw printmaking into the mix because I'm teaching the Tuesday class this fall!

Click here for info on pricing and signing up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goodbye to Sunny Point

My residency at the Arts Center of Yates County Sunny Point has ended. Now I'm back in Philadelphia with a whole stack of screenprints, linocuts, woodcuts, blocks, and a completed dummy book draft of The Nautilus and the Ammonite - hooray!

A big, heartfelt thank-you goes out to everyone at the Arts Center who made this opportunity possible. These ten days of peace and solitude were exactly what I needed to get a jump on this project.

As part of the thank-you, I left behind three works of art: a linocut/watercolor study of the "Nautilus" and "Ammonite" characters as I plan to depict them in the book titled "Twin Sisters of the Sea" and the "Plesiosaur" and "Plesiosaur Fossil" woodcuts printed in Prussian blue ink on paper where I did a watercolor and salt wash.

The photograph of me carving and group photo of me with the Board of Directors (see below) were taken by photographer Howard LeVant.

For fellow artists (including performing artists as well as writers) interested in applying for artist residencies, the wonderful resource I use to find appropriate opportunities is the Alliance of Artist Communities.


In addition to Plesiosaurs and Tyrannosaurs Rex from my last post, I have made this Stegosaurus. This is just a proof. As far as placement goes, he's likely to be lurking somewhere in the background of The Nautilus and the Ammonite picturebook.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Plesiosaurs and Tyrannosaurus Rex

More work that I've been doing at the Sunny Point Artist Residency. These are first proofs of woodcuts that are intended to be part of the backgrounds in my book project The Nautilus and the Ammonite. The book is mostly set during the Cretaceous period, hence the dinosaurs in the background. 

Okay, technically plesiosaurs are marine reptiles but not dinosaurs, but lived during the same epoch and went extinct in the same event. Plus they are equally amazing-looking ancient fossils that have deeply captured peoples' imaginations ever since their discovery. 

I selected wood boards with dense grain and really took the wire brush to it in order to bring out the organic textures, emphasize flatness, and give the creatures a more ghostly appearance. I'm especially loving the knot in the live plesiosaur. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ammonite and Nautilus Shells

Here's some work I've been doing at the Sunny Point Artist Residency. These are reduction linocuts of the Ammonite and Nautilus shells for my new book. Throughout the book the two characters remain the same size and orientation, although their colors change to emphasize changes in mood. The soft parts of their bodies will be included in the final illustrations, but I'm doing those as watercolor paintings. I did the shells as linocuts to give them a more smooth, graphic look to contrast with the more expressively painted soft parts of their bodies, and also in contrast to the rugged woodcuts of other prehistoric plants and animals that will appear in the backgrounds.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm At Sunny Point!

I am currently fulfilling a ten day artist residency at the Arts Center of Yates County Sunny Point. Sunny Point is a beautiful bit of land on Keuka Lake which includes a little white cottage, a large red barn studio, and a garage that is currently being converted into a ceramic studio. It was donated to the Art Center by the late Dr. Annie Smith (author of Bearing Up Cancer, among many other accomplishments) as a place for creativity and healing. Any artists interested in applying for residencies at Sunny Point click here.

So as you, dear readers, might imagine, I'm in a state of bliss. In the past I've enjoyed a number of writing and visual art retreats/residencies, and from 2004-2006 I spent two years immersed in a graduate studio. But this is the first time in seven years that I've had the opportunity to focus completely on my art-making in total peace and solitude for any concentrated period of time. Basically the first time since I had my lovely daughters (who I do miss terribly; they are coming to visit soon!) So I feel as if I am deeply savoring this residency more than any previously.

Even though I've been working in the studio like mad, I don't have anything quite finished enough to share yet. Probably tomorrow. I can say that I'm finally getting some real headway on my new book, The Nautilus and the Ammonite. Screen printing, linocuts, woodcuts, and watercolor painting are all involved, and things are going swimmingly.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pre-Order Owl and Cat In Love Today

I have just launched the presale campaign for my second book to be published by Words On Woodcuts Press. Here's the link to the campaign.

My regular readers know the project Owl and Cat In Love well, but for new readers, check out all the postings about the artwork as it was being created here.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported this campaign in any way over the years, even simply through your encouraging words and thoughtful critiques of the work. You all helped keep me going pursuing these artistic dreams. After seeing how beautifully Cats A-Z turned out, I can't wait to see Owl and Cat In Love in print.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Owl and Cat In Love: End Pages

I just finished the end pages for Owl and Cat In Love. I decided on a tessellation pattern of their faces in order to emphasize the similarities in their facial appearance, despite being a bird and feline species. Love at first penetrating gaze into each others' eyes.

I am pretty happy with this.