Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Thumbs Up"

So... the past six months have been the least productive (in terms of studio work) I've had in six years. I have many excuses: At the start I had just bought and sold a house, I have some health issues to deal with, my teaching work, two young kids whose other parent has been finishing graduate school while working full time. Those all sound convincing. The problem is, the previous two years I had all those excuses and yet I was extremely productive in the studio. I am not sure what has really changed these last six months, but I keep hoping it passes soon.

Also, even though I wasn't working in the studio, I framed and delivered work for three exhibitions, which is nothing to sneeze at. My teaching work this year has been inspiring, and many of my students have blown me away with their work. Still, I feel frustrated by my lack of motivation to make my own work, and I often get down on myself for it.

I made this little 4" x 6" cut of a "thumbs up" linocut as an example for students in one of my classes. I admit, it cheers me up. I'm going to hang it up in my studio as a reminder to not beat myself up over lack of productivity or other setbacks and failures. Life is a journey with many twists and turns.

Monday, May 30, 2016

"The Bark Bag" by Margaret Preston

I wish I knew how to say all the drawings in my head. The white lines and dark shadows and the creaks that they speak. I'm lost in a forest of carved hills and blooms, and red rock barrels that are cracking and leak.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"The Bamboo Blind" by Ethel Spowers

This is the most comfortable green cushion. I've sat here a while, so it's warm and less springy than it used to be. I'm distracted by, interested in these two large and lively silhouettes. The ball flies between them like a sparrow. Out there is a big world full of bright light, loud sounds, and huge movements. My green cushion is so comfy. My toy boat, so docile and quaint. I like to pick it up and peer inside its tiny windows.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

An Image from Frances, Edna, and May Gearhart's "Let's Play"

Frances Gearhart, in collaboration with her sisters Edna and May, created a small series of color wood block prints of children titled Let's Play, and this is my favorite print from that series. It was not published her Gearhart's lifetime, but is currently available as a published children's book through the Book Club of California.

Grab knots and hold tight 
Our bodies moving like wind 
Lean in and lift off 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Linocuts by 4th and 5th Graders

These are linocuts by students in my 2D Mixed Media after school class at the University City Arts League. Most of these kids have had a lot of art before and live in families that strongly support the arts, so relief printmaking was nothing new. I just showed them how to properly use the carving tools, print a proof with black ink on white paper and how to do a color gradation, and they went from there.

I just love showing off the work of these creative kids.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"The Swing" by Thea Proctor

Lately I've taught various lessons to children about spirals in nature (with results such as these stunning and dynamic relief prints by 6th graders.) For me as an artist this is in connection with  my recent work exploring ammonite fossils.

My daughter's dance teacher Loren Groenendaal is also interested in spirals in her work with expressive movement and she kindly lent me the book The Curves of Life by Theodore Andrea Cook. I am almost finished reading it now. It is an informative and intriguing read, first published in 1914 and now a classic reference on the subject of spirals in nature and art.

I'm on a bit of a kick looking at woodcuts by Australian printmakers, having posted yesterday works by Ethleen Palmer and Violet Teague and Geraldine Reed. Today I found myself looking at works by Thea Proctor and was completely struck by this image. There is something both playful and unnerving about it. The girl on the swing smiles contentedly, but the boy in blue behind her has a more perturbed look on his face. I assume from her pose that the woman in a red polka dot dress is pushing the girl on the swing, but it is an awkward stance with her face turned down toward the ground and her arms still bent as if she has yet to have fully pushed off. While there is some serenity to be found in the purple hues of the seated woman's dress and green background foliage, shapes of bright, primary colors outlined in black announce themselves like in one of the abstract composition of Piet Modrian. I find the overall message of the piece to be that a certain kind of joyous exhilaration is only found in somewhat perilous endeavors.

Then I see the spiral. It starts in the lower left-hand corner, climbs up the curved trunk of the tree, is sprung right by the leaves, caught and pulled down by the billowing clouds and three birds in flight in the upper righthand corner. It lands in the hat of the seated woman and dribbles from her crown to that of the babe in her lap and then to the child's red parasol. The curve of the seated woman's black shoes shoot it up to the similar black shoes of the polka-dot dressed woman, and the arch of her and the boy in blue's bodies launch it - wheee! - into the spinning, yellow folds of the girl on the swing's dress.

What is a spiral if not a beautiful consequence of movement and imperfection?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Four Rabbits in the Grass by Violet Teague and Geraldine Reed

This is a double page spread from the book Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first hand-made and published by the Australian artists Teague and Reed in 1905.

Ears and plants stand at attention. The arches of the rabbits' backs glow, lit by the setting sun. Their time for quiet feasting draws to a close. All slips into the shadow that creeps across the land.

"Peewees" by Ethleen Palmer

Two form a graceful arrangement. Their wings appear like the petals of a blooming flower inviting a third to finish the pretty illusion. But the other flies off, fast and askew. From this angle collision feels imminent, but not so. The sky has more depth than can be perceived from lowly ground dwellers, gazing up at celestial beings.

Interested readers can find more about the artist Ethleen Palmer here and more about peewees here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Pair of Lovers by Angelo Adversa

Of everything I have seen,
It's you I want to go on seeing:
Of everything I've touched, 

It's your flesh I want to go on touching.

-Pablo Neruda

Monday, May 16, 2016

One of Hans Neumann's Dogs

No day ever feels finished. For the love of tangerines, I take pause. Were it not for your dark, piercing eye and black nose, I'd have looked right through you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"Book Worm" by Frank Morley Fletcher

The words on the page draw her gaze down as a parent might gently pull the hand of a child to lead her across the road. They fill her mind's eye with so many colors, lights, and sounds. Her body melts, spilling in all directions, taking the shape of the vessel in which she sits, her thoughts overflowing.

6/16/16/ NOTE: It has been called to my attention that this print has been known by at least two other titles: Minx and Girl reading.