Tuesday, November 30, 2010

100 Thumbnails update: November

It's 7:44 pm on the last day of November and I have just squeaked out the last of my 100 thumbnail quota for the month. Whew!

Things got trickier this month... Cold, windy weather made me disinclined to hang around outside. The DM has been on injured reserve for almost two weeks... also feeding my disinclination to go outside. And I had a contract project in the myriad-small-details-at-the-end stage... so even when I did want to go outside, I felt I couldn't go far.

All of this meant that getting through the 100 Thumbnails project got a little more challenging. That's okay. That's the point. So this month, in addition to compositions made in the field (or from the car on the side of the road), I drew from the collections of "stuff" that I bring home from walks. And I drew at the zoo. And I drew from photos. And I drew from the movies.


It's kind of fun. 

I'm assuming that most DVD and VHS (for all us old-skool types) players have the same features mine do: When you hit the pause button you get 2 or 3 minutes of freeze frame before either the screen goes dark or the little bouncing ball comes on or something. Perfect for quick sketch-making.

The other night I popped "Winged Migration" in the player and spent an hour or so watching for interesting screen compositions and/or bird postures, hitting the "pause" button, and drawing as fast as I could. All from the comfort of my cozy sofa, with cup of tea close at hand. It's not exactly drawing from life, but I find it an interesting exercise to analyze videography and screen composition. And besides, how often do I get to draw gannets and red-breasted geese from the middle of the Rocky Mountains, anyway?

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Longing" linocut final

"Longing," 10-color reduction linocut, 12" x 16"
 Okie dokie. As promised, a nicer shot of the new linocut. (Click to embiggen.)

I think the title is "Longing," based on both my own sense of the image and some comments made by Brush and Baren readers. There are multiple interpretations, even for me– lengthening shadows, branches reaching out of the snow towards the light, the pink twigs ready for spring. A certain wistfulness.

Ideas for the next one are stumbling around in my head. Something birdy, methinks. I'm overdue for a critter image.

I took a long post-Thanksgiving-gluttony walk this morning, but I don't think it was enough. Time to grab that sketchbook and catch up with some thumbnails from some sunny spot along the river.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holidays are for.... updating websites?

Oh, brother. Yes, this is how I am spending the start of my Thanksgiving weekend... thankful that I have electricity and a computer and the skills and time (although perhaps not the joy in doing) to work on some long-overdue updates.

Really, though, there are some exciting things to report:

• Come on out next weekend and join me and oil painter Joshua Been at a benefit exhibition for the Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas. December 4, 6:00-9:00 pm, at Virtuosity Gallery in Salida. 30% of all sales support LTUA projects.

• Holy buckets! The Romania show is a go! Last summer I was invited to submit work for an international exhibition of work on the theme of birch forests. I hadn't heard anything more until today, when I learned there's a blog, Birchscapes, with lots of work posted! The organizer is in Romania as I type, getting the show ready for its January 14 and 15 opening at the Art Museum of Timisoara. Who knew? Too bad I won't be able to get there for the opening, eh?

• In workshop news....  In January I'll be teaching a couple of workshops at the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory's Old Stone House facility in Brighton. Beginning field sketching and a simple stab-bound book construction are on the menu. Details to come, but mark January 29 and 30th for getting your year off to a good start.

• And EDUCATORS.... the big news is that I'll be teaching at Audubon's "Sharing Nature: An Educator's Week" at Hog Island, Maine in July. It's going to be a fabulous time with a variety of workshops and field trips. (Including a trip to see Atlantic puffins!)
I've got a ton of other workshop things in the works: Monte Vista Crane Festival, Rocky Mountain Land Library, Rocky Mountain National Park, Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.... whew! I'm trying to keep the Workshops page of this blog more or less up-to-date, so check back often to see what's new.

Unfortunately I don't seem to have a single turkey drawing to share with you on the eve of our Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. I did find this old sketch from Stone Bridge, just up the river from town... a suitably autumnal image.

Yes, I am thankful for the time and capacity to communicate updates... but I am even more thankful for the far-flung community this technology has brought me. (Yes, I mean you.) So tomorrow, when the DM and I are raising glasses and forks in celebratory feast, you all will be at the top of the list of things that make us go "ching ching." Cheers, everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow shadows linocut.... el fin!

Once again I found myself doing a little pacing along the cliff edge before committing to the final step of this image. There wasn't a lot of carving to do, but there was so much material out of the block already and so many little tiny lines that it was hard to keep track of where I was and what needed to be done. I'd carve a bit, and then get up and wander around the house, then carve some more, then eat a cookie, then carve some more.

But there comes a time when one just has to call "uncle" and start mixing ink. (Especially when one runs out of cookies.)

The nice thing about an image like this one, where the last five or six colors are related, is that I build each ink color from the remains of the previous. It looks black in the photos, but this final color is really a rich blue-gray-brown built from saved ink scraps. I thought it might be fun to see what the last color looked like all by itself... so here it is (on a warmer toned paper, sorry, it's what I had handy), followed by a reminder of what the first carving looked like. (Remember that I'm working in reduction, so it's all from the same block.)

The path from Step 1 to Step 10 is a little brain bending even to me, and I was here for the whole process.

So late this afternoon this is what the studio floor looked like. (They're all hanging on the rack to dry now, but I just wanted to see them flat and together as I worked.)

Really darn satisfying.

And here's the final piece... although as usual it's just a quick snap and not a careful piece of photography. Expect a better image once the ink dries. Reduction linocut, 12" x 16", 10 colors.

I think I finished just in time. Maaayyyybbbeeee we'll actually get some snow tomorrow. I haven't got a title for this one yet... need to think about it. Something cold and crisp and blue, no doubt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Of giraffes and steamrollers

My friend Jean Gumpper teaches printmaking at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She also taught me a thing or two this past August at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and whoo-EEE. That woman is amazing.

She also might be slightly out of her mind. Which sort of goes without saying if one is a printmaker, but there are extremes even in this particular subculture.

I knew I was headed to The Springs this week, so a few days ago I sent Jean a note to see if she was available for a cuppa and found out that today was going to be Steamroller Printing Day. Her students had been laboring over huge woodcuts and this was the day they'd go under the rollers.

So of COURSE I was there to watch some of the fun. I shot a bunch of video, but am not inclined to figure out how to use the editing software at this exact moment, so you'll have to settle for stills clipped from the file. You've all heard me muttering about wanting to work BIGGER, and today did nothing to stifle that desire. All the way home I was wondering if there's a place here in Salida that I could rent one of these little babies myself. And where I might find a suitable expanse of pavement. And bigger carving tools.

Oh? And the giraffes? While I was in town I took an hour to stop in at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and make a few sketches. Bullfrogs, orangutans, and a giraffe in a position I'd never seen before. I kept wondering if s/he was going to be able to get up again.

Going back to work on my lino tomorrow is going to seem pretty darn tame after today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh, so close!

One more color to go.... but it will be a couple of days. Just WAIT until you hear what I'm doing on Friday.

Yes, that's what I said. Wait.

Mean, aren't I?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bit by bit, color by color

The pink ink was, I admit, kind of fun, so I felt a little sorry to see most of it go when I pulled the next color... a plain ol' brown.

But then I pulled the next, darker, brown and... okay. Now it's feeling like something good. Two more colors to go. And in real life the pink twigs look just dandy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In the pink (ink). Twice.

Well. I'm relatively certain that we can count the number of times I've used pink in my palette on one hand. And that includes the two color passes I did this weekend. Not a pink person. Except when I've had too much sun.

But when deep blankets of snow encourage slumbering plants to dream of new growth, it's possible to find some rich blush among gray twigs, and it just seemed like a little warmth was needed in this shiver-my-bones blue-toned linocut. Out came the red and white inks.

The first pink was roughly the same value as the light gray I printed on Friday, so it's difficult to see the difference here in this shot. But it's there. Trust me.

Of course I couldn't stay satisfied with this pink. I decided it was too.... tentative... and mixed something a bit brighter for some selected twigs.

Much better.

So... I'll have a rather short carving session today to accommodate the small amounts of these colors that will remain, but ink drying has slowed down so I won't print until at least tomorrow. In the meantime, I've pulled out a couple of boards and would like to tackle some small woodcuts. Yesterday I did a lot of staring at a board, but no image miraculously appeared on it. What's up with that?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Printing. Printing. Printing.

As predicted, color 3 wasn't very exciting... just a few spots of a darker lavender-blue that are mostly covered up by color 4... but I wanted them anyway.

Here's the crazy-best part. After all that previous carving these two steps went really quickly. I had both color passes done and was cleaned up by noon today. Groovy. Four more colors to go, I think.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carving. Carving. Carving.




By golly, that's a lot of material to take out. But it's finally ready for the next color.

The next color is just small bits, however, so I probably won't show progress until there's something interesting going on again. Keep your fingers crossed. In my mind it's a dramatic piece...

Monday, November 8, 2010

A little linocut progress

My Queendom for a really big ink roller. Something thirteen inches wide or better would be great for  a 12-inch high linocut like the one I'm working on now. Had I such a beast in my printmaking arsenal, today's second color could have been applied simultaneously with the first in a blended roll. But alas... my largest brayer is just 8" wide. (sigh)

 No matter. I can fake a blended roll. You all saw the first color.... a solid light blue. To give the effect of a gradation, I mixed today's color by adding some purple to the blue and a LOT of transparent base. I then rolled this transparent color in a gradation of color-to-nothingness along the width of my 8" brayer.

I'm not sure if you can tell from this image, but the fade-to-nothing roll-up was run only along the top edge of the block. The ink is quite transparent... in this shot the block is ready to print. (Once it gets aligned correctly in the corner of the registration jig, that is.)

Ta daa! One dark-to-light, 12-inch-wide gradation faked.

Now I get to obsess about whether this qualified as "the easy part" of this particular image. What the heck color am I going to print next?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oh, okay. Some thumbnails. Just because.

Our freakish warm weather continues... crazy to think that it's the end of the first week in November and we're still running around in shirtsleeves! Makes it very difficult to stay in and get other things done... plenty of time for that.... later.

Last week's crazy schedule put me behind on my thumbnail sketches for the month, but today I caught back up. The wind made an appearance mid-day and I had to do a few of these from inside the car. (Not a bad deal, really... warm, no pages flapping in the wind, a non-tipping place to set my tea, and NPR for company.)

This afternoon I made granola and the DM made ginger-squash soup AND chicken soup. And then it was dark at 5:30pm. Rats. It really IS November.

I'm still scratching my head about the next color on the lino. I know what it IS... I just don't know how much of it I want. Next day or two. Promise.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Is that ink I smell?

I'd almost forgotten, it's been so long! But here we are, first color printed on the new 12" x 16" linocut.

This turned out to be the most labor-intensive first carving that I've done in quite a while. All those crazy-thin lines intersecting! I had to take the work in small batches and do a lot of getting up and staring out the window. But once I pulled the first sheet I realized how satisfying it is to have an image suggest itself right from first color pass. Already it seems like the effort was worth it.

In addition to the long carving, it took me a surprisingly long time to "psych up" for the printing today. As I wrestle with new ways of working I also wrestle with variable success rates, and I've been feeling a little gun shy. And I knew this particular printing would take a long time... it's a big expanse to rub by hand.

In the end I think it took almost 2 hours to pull 16 sheets. I'm starting with 12 on Hosho because I still love the bright white quality, but I also did 4 on a new-to-me paper, Awagami Kozo. So far I'm pleased with the way the color went down.

In other news, the 100 Thumbnails Project continues! I decided not to bore you with too-frequent updates, so there's a new "scorecard" in the sidebar.

As I work on these small, quick sketches I am challenged to come up with new approaches... I get in a comfort zone for a while and then realize I'm just drawing the same things over and over.. or tackling different subjects in the same way. I've started to keep a list of "thumbnail challenges" and hmmm..... I have a few ideas about how they might be shared in the future.... keep your pencils sharp!

But for now, let's just enjoy the perfume of fresh ink (on a November day when it's actually warm enough to have the studio windows open!) and contemplate what might come next on the lino. I'm feeling a little bit purple-y... how 'bout you?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oldies ARE goodies

It's that time of year again– the end of another turn around the sun approaches and for me that means a reorganizing frenzy. Forget spring cleaning. Around here it's the winter purge that gets me all fired up. I like to start a new year fresh and organized, and 2011 is now less than two months away!

As I whined about mentioned before, summer busy-ness has held over a few weeks longer than expected so the purge is slow to start. Our local library's twice-a-year booksale was this past weekend and I didn't even manage to cull a box of books to take over there before I came home with another stack.


Last night I decided that if I didn't do SOMETHING I'd get even crankier than I already am. (NOT a pretty concept, just ask the DM.) So... I opened the drawer storing my old, old linos and decided it was way past time to close out those editions. Anything 6x6 or smaller that was at least eight years old went into a special pile, and seven of those images went up in my Etsy store, Rio Salida Art, at $12 each.

Yeah. Twelve bucks.

In many cases I have just one or two pieces left in these old editions. A couple of the images, though, are things I carved, editioned, and then promptly put in the drawer, where they have languished for years. My Etsy store has been languishing (read: ignored) of late, also... so consider this a Brush and Baren readers' special. In another week or so I'll let folks know through my newsletter, but for now it's all you.

I expect I'll be adding a few more images as I consider where I've been and where I'm headed. It's always a funny sort of thing, trying to decide what to do with work created years ago. These pieces represent a different time in both my personal and professional life... steps along the path to the work I am producing now. While I don't consider these pieces any less valuable to me or to my process I do think it's time to make room for the as-yet-undiscovered work to come. So... consider these an early holiday gift for my loyal Brush and Baren readers, and help me make way for new work!

And speaking of new work.....

(And it's 12 x16 inches, to boot.)

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...