Saturday, February 27, 2010

The exciting bits (not)

Most of this past week I've been obliged to give my attention to contract assignments and exhibition preparations. Not the most glamorous way to spend time, but there you have it. Next week, even LESS glamorously, it's time to settle down and work on (choke) taxes. I'd like to blame my late start on my clients, some of whom have still neglected to send me their paperwork, but that's only the income portion of the headache. The outgo portion I've known about all along, just haven't wanted to face it. (sigh) My one consolation is that I've put what I hope will be a better system in place for 2010. We'll see.

As a reward for being semi-responsible I took some time last night to glue up a couple more tiny blocks and trim some paper. (Also not glamorous, come to think of it.) I would like to get two more tiny pieces done in the next couple of weeks while I'm trying to decide on the next course of action for larger pieces. Yes, yes... I know I've been saying I'm on the verge of working larger for what? A month? Imagine me pacing the edge of a cliff, waiting to jump in to the void......

Part of the problem is that I suddenly have too many ideas in one respect, and too few in another. There's a Big Deal exhibition deadline approaching for which I'd like to submit a piece to jury, but the show has a theme and I have no inspiration for the theme. It's a good guess that this is why I haven't tried to submit since the last time I was in the show, more than 10 (!) years ago. There are a lot of reasons why I'd like to get back in to this particular loop, but OOPH. It's just elusive.

In the meantime, I've got a backlog of ideas for the "underfoot" linocut series. I mean, come ON... when I'm finding insane stuff like THIS when I go for a walk.....

What's not to love about trying to carve dried grass in snow, I ask you? Think of the hair pulling! The nail biting! The cursing and swearing and questioning of my sanity! Geez. I can't wait.

Come on, admit it. Given a choice between carving little bits of grass and filling out a spreadsheet, which would YOU rather do?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ISO your exhibition experiences

Hey, printmakers! Do any of you have any experience with either the Lessedra or MiniPrint de CadaquƩs exhibitions? I've had invitations to submit work to both projects, but the entry fees are steep and I'm curious to know if anyone has feedback about them. Thanks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

More exhibition news....

Guess what came in the mail today! An acceptance notice for the 30th National Print Exhibition at Artlink Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Wahoo!

My reduction linocut "Leaf Litter" will be making its way east for the show, which runs April 16-May 26. I don't expect that I'll be able to be there for the opening, but if you're in the area stop on by! Take notes, take photos, gather the chisme and then send me a note! I want to know everything....

Oh, and PS: You've got one more week to check out my show at the Salida Regional Library. It all comes down on March 1. Exhibition dates are always on the new "exhibition" page, link in the upper right sidebar.


Despite somewhat uncooperative weather, the Darling Man and I managed to sneak away for our scheduled post-Valentine's Day extravaganza. Snow, snow, snow and cold and gray were everywhere in the state, dangit, but that didn't stop us from making our way to the world premiere of "Eventide" at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA).

Salida author Kent Haruf's sensitive novel of intertwined lives in rural Colorado was adapted for the stage by Eric Schmiedl. (Schmiedl was also behind the stage play of "Plainsong," another Haruf book, in 2008.) Saturday night's performance was a benefit for Salida's hospice, Sunset Home, where Kent's wife Cathy serves as Executive Director. Weather-be-damned... when we arrived to claim our tickets the woman behind the counter told us in a rather awestruck tone that "our party" would be taking up a sigificant portion of the house.

That's our Salida!

Live theatre at the DCPA is a treat for us at any time, but attending "Eventide" with 300 other Salidans who ALSO made the trip? The pleasure bordered on surreal. Getting to sit (seredipitously) next to good friends who remembered to bring tissues? Even better.

An after-performance party in the lobby of the Stage Theatre was sort of like "Where's Waldo," the Salida version. Or maybe Romper Room gone bad. "I see Kent, and Marilyn, and Howard, and John, and Ann, and Alan, and Jeanne and....

....... Sherrie and David."

Couldn't have asked for a better post-Valentine's Day. A fine meal, delightful company, community celebration.... and when you get right down to it, even the weather was perfect. Snow + cold = snuggle. Of course.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That's better....

Let's try to do everything right side up this time, eh?

The trick to making square format reduction linocuts is that one must really pay attention to which end is up! Despite marking a handy "X" at the top of my block, yesterday's post was a prime example of what happens when one gets distracted by one's own cleverness.

As Susan and Stuart pointed out in comments, the "twisted" image was not without its merits... but since I had done the same thing in each of 2 previous color pulls I had more or less lost my sense of humor about it. The "simple" compositions can be the most difficult... this edition is really the most variable one I've done in a long time. I tweaked the color part way through practically every color pass (and there are seven here), so I have some with dark center stones and some with light... some with more or less bluey-blues. Some more transparent, some less so. It's definitely a set of experiments, some of which might be pointing the way to some new ideas. (Including the twisted image thing....)

I've been keeping my digital head down the last few days and expect to continue to do so. This morning I switched back to watercolor for a bit to work on a contract project and laughed to realize my brain has become quite accustomed to thinking of color in a "print way" and not a "paint way." It's been a little like getting back on roller skates or a neglected bicycle... or going back to my manual transmission car after driving someone else's automatic for a while: a tad jerky.

I might have another one or two of these dinky things left in me... feeling a need for something predominantly green and something predominantly yellow... and then.... drum roll.... It's time for something bigger. File down those fingernails and stock up on tissues... it could be a nail-biting, stomach-flopping, tissue-soaking ride. Or not!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day to Hu

This tiny reduction linocut was completed a few days ago... it took two more passes after my pontification about lack of planning, and of course it looks entirely different from what I imagined. But I learned a few things in my experimenting, so overall a successful experience.

The DM is upstairs practicing sappy love songs to play at a gig this evening at Sugah's in Gunnison.

I have decided not to go along, despite the fact it's Valentine's Day and Sugah's has amazing food. (And tonight some darn good music.) The road over the pass has had quite a bit of snow the last few days, and as much as I don't like the idea of David making the drive alone, having Nervous Nellie along for the ride would certainly NOT help the situation. But work is work, so off he goes, and since we've made grand plans for next weekend together the gods of romance will still be appeased. (And okay, he already brought me roses. What a guy!)

Today is also the first day of the Chinese New Year. The Year of Hu. The Year of the Tiger.

"My" year. I'm a tiger.

Forecasts call for a tumultuous year (ya think?)... but thankfully a Tiger-and-Dragon household seems to be well-suited to weather the storm. Still, I've been feeling a lot of uncertainty and restlessness and no small amount of worry lately... a feeling shared by many, many of us. The long winter isn't helping.... this is one cat who is pacing a hole in the carpet.

Media isn't helping, either. We (thankfully) get no television reception save for PBS at our house, but still I feel inundated and overwhelmed by radio and internet headlines and the constant "chatter" from social media. It's time for a break. I expect to go "underground," or at least media-free, for a goodly portion of the week ahead. I'm going to design some sketching workshops for the farm, and experiment with prints. Draw. I even hope to spend a certain amount of time doing nothing. Just puttering. I'll have to turn on the computer for a few contract obligations, but plan to keep that to specified and limited hours.

Can I do it? I sure hope so. This is one Hu who needs a little cat-in-a-sunbeam time. Next to the roses. Sustained by chocolate. And sappy love songs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Moving "right" along

I've been lurking in the background of a few printmaking forums lately, and finding myself amused by discussions about reduction printing. They remind me of conversations about watercolor painting, which is to say that they are full of "shoulds" and "musts" and declarations about the innate difficulty of the process.

Certainly at this point I do not consider myself an expert, but I have enough experience with the process to feel reasonably comfortable and, as I mentioned in a previous post, ready to try to a little more experimenting. I shake my head at the folks who insist ink layers must be added in a certain order, who proclaim a limit to the number of workable layers or, better yet, who are adamant that thorough planning is imperative.

Giggle along with me: Planning? PLANNING? Who has time for PLANNING? If I spend 15 minutes outlining a basic idea of colors for an image and the order in which I might print them, I consider that pretty darn thorough. Which probably explains why most of my images end up with at least 2 more colors than I imagine and why my image development is all over the map sometimes. But since nothing ever turns out the way I imagine it in the first place, it seems either overly optimistic or futile to think too hard about the whole thing.

Granted, that's just me. I have to learn by doing, not by thinking about doing. A lot of people do like to plan, and they do so quite well and with fabulous results. But making set-in-stone proclamations about THE "right" way to do something... well.... For someone like me it's just an invitation to be contrary. ;-)

Two blended layers of ink and then a dark orange. "Oooh... pretty..." I think.

Which is, of course, why I next put a layer of very pale brown back over all that nice orange. "Hmmm.... interesting. Kind of a nice feel. Now what?"

A little bit darker tan, saving only small dried grass tips worth of that lighter color....

And next? Just one more layer, I think. Maybe. Probably. Could be. That's the plan. Right?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Printmaking experiments

I'm still thinking about a linocut project on a larger scale, but not quite ready to jump in. I am, however, experimenting a bit as I continue work on these small prints. I'd like to expand my textural repertoire, so I'm playing with overprinting and repeating and blended color passes. The new print in progress below, for example, is just two passes for multiple colors.

I also did my first experiments with gyotaku today. (Japanese-style "fish rubbing") It wasn't a huge success, I think mostly because we had very small trout to work with, and not larger fish with well-defined scales and fins. My cohort Roberta and I need to figure it out soon... we're planning to make fish prints with a group at the Colorado Art Ranch "Wade in the Water" Artposium in May! Any experienced fish printers out there have insider secrets to share?

Upcoming Exhibitions

For those of you who are keeping track, I've finished 5 new linocut editions (all of at least 5 colors) since the first of the year! Wahoo! I'm a little afraid to slow down... Must. Keep. Moving.... or I might come to a full stop.

But, as always, a few other things are coming in to the mix-- an interp sign project for one, and exhibition prep for another. There are two really exciting exhibitions coming up, check this out:

"33 Ideas" at the Denver International Airport
Denver, Colorado
March 13 - June 13, 2010

The artists, writers, thinkers, and musicians who have been part of the Colorado Art Ranch experience investigate land and social issues in an exhibit titled 33 IDEAS. An artistic and literary exploration of contemporary topics, this exhibit is intended to create dialogue about a variety of issues and inspire new ways of thinking. My display case will be all about field sketching! Watch for "Witness/Testify: Illustrated Journals as Record and Testament" as you head over the Skyway to Concourse A.

and THEN!...

"Drawing on Nature" at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
Albuquerque, New Mexico
June 11 - September 12, 2010

Another group exhibition, this time featuring the nature journals of the women of Journal-keepers. This informal group of artists, naturalists, and writers from across the United States has been gathering annually for more than a decade. Each year we meet in Someplace Wonderful (remember my Zion National Park trip in October?) and spend a few days reveling in our surroundings and the companionship of our mutual journal-filling compulsion. "Drawing on Nature" will exhibit 60 (or more?) of our personal journals. The opening is tentatively scheduled for June 12, when many of us will be in Albuquerque for our annual gathering. Great fun!

I've got a few entries out for other juried shows this year, and of course I'll post the information for those as soon as I know my fate... errr.... results. Thanks to a great heads-up by Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark, I'm taking advantage of Blogger's new "pages" feature. So far I've added permanent "Workshop" and "Exhibition" pages to Brush and Baren, so you'll always be able to find the latest information. Nifty, eh?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A lino for the road

Hmmm.. I was supposed to be on the road already this morning, headed to Colorado Springs for some meetings and errands and (hopefully) a little sketching escape, but we've had just enough snow to make me hesitate to head down in to the canyon just yet. The sun has come out here and we're melting fast, but my destination is still cloudy and the road report says "icy spots" all the way, so I'm twiddling my thumbs for a few more hours, hoping for improvement. Yeah, I am a driving wimp in the winter.

In the meantime, here's another little linocut that I was working on over the weekend, around and in between Denny's heron and another project. It's the same size as the mussels of the previous week, 3" x 3". One or two more of these itty bitty things are in order (I always feel compelled to do a little set), and then my attention will turn again.

I've been feeling quite non-verbal for a few weeks, so pardon the lackluster quality of conversation lately. The nice thing is that the constant chatter in my head has been flat, too.... ahhhh! Quiet.

Listen! Is that a house finch SINGING?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Linocut Grace

Sleep stayed with me all the way until 5:30 this morning, which is some kind of record. The DM slept, too (and is, in fact, STILL asleep), which is even more surprising. Perhaps it was the fistful of analgesic cocktail taken for a nasty headache... maybe it was just exhaustion catching up. Whatever it was, solid sleep was welcome.

Morning here is gray and hazy, chance of snow in the forecast. Wan sun peeks over the rooftop next door... is it just me, or is the whole neighborhood kind of groggy?

Last night's headache kept me from staying for the presentation at which my friend Denny received the "secret" linocut I referred to last week. She retired in January from the board of the local Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), and to my delight I was asked to create something for her.

One of Denny's many GARNA projects was the enthusiastic launch of a local birding group, so we quickly agreed that "something birdy" was in order. Friend and fellow board member Ann suggested heron... and I was off to the races. Literally. Yes, this was the "8 colors in 10 days" project! The printmaking gods smiled upon me, though... a small edition of 8 images went off without any real hiccups, and there was even time to get it (mostly) dry before last night!

Artists and musicians alike can struggle with giving titles to pieces, and for this one I wanted both a "public" title and a "personal" title... something that would represent the image AND the person for whom it was ultimately intended. Guardian Grace it is, then. Denny will get it, even if she cringes a little. (Inside joke.)

Hm. I hope she likes it.

Linocut in Progress: Let's wrap this up!

 Okay...  Remember that cartoon in which a couple of scientists stand at a chalk board filled with complex equations, at the bottom of which...