Monday, April 27, 2015

Exhibition News: Society of Animal Artists 55th Art & the Animal

It's with great pleasure that I announce "No Fences for Small Things" has been selected for inclusion in the Society of Animal Artists' 55th annual exhibition, Art & the Animal.

The exhibition will open August 28, 2015 at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York.

I'm all about exhibitions here this week, since I'm busily framing work for Friday's opening of Environments: Pressed and for the Colorado Governor's Invitational show and sale, which opens at the end of May. I'm also preparing work for several summer exhibitions, since I won't be here to take care of those tasks as they arise. Poor Presston looks like a framing table instead of a press, but he's taking it all with stoic good grace.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Environments: Pressed," an exhibition to benefit the Rocky Mountain Land Library

I am delighted to announce a solo exhibition of my linocuts at the Denver Architecture Collaborative.

Environments: Pressed

Opening reception: First Friday, May 1, 5:00-9:00pm
863 Santa Fe Drive
In the heart of the Santa Fe Arts District

A portion of the proceeds will support the Rocky Mountain Land Library, an organization near and dear to my heart. The RMLL is the brain child of Jeff Lee and Ann Martin, who envision a residential research and retreat center on the Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park, Colorado.

I've mentioned the RMLL before, but this time I have two spectacular links to which I can send you to learn more.

The first is this great article which appeared just last week in the New York Times: Envisioning a Colorado Haven for Readers, Nestled Amid Mountains of Books.

The second is the Rocky Mountain Land Library's own website.

I'll be leading a field sketching/illustrated journal workshop at the Buffalo Peaks site in September, but in the meantime please join us on May 1 if you're in the Denver area.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's it All About Wednesday: Willow Tapestry

After three months of head-down focus on deadlines for exhibitions and illustration projects I had hoped for a little break, but now that my entire summer has to be sorted out before the end of May, well... Instead of a coming to a full stop I've just skidded around a corner and headed off in another direction.

Which might be why I find myself thinking wistfully about "simpler times." (I'm old enough to know that what I think of as simpler times were often just clueless times, but, hey! I'd take clueless for a while if I had to. But I digress.)

Simpler times, simpler linos. That's where I was going with this thought.

Willow Tapestry, linocut, 12" x 12"
There's an active group on Facebook called "Linocut Friends," with many of its more than 2,500 members posting new work on a daily basis. It's fun to see the wide variety of subject matter and technique tackled by artists throughout the world, and the group has been very welcoming to newbies and pros alike.

I posted my complex reduction linocut Treasured Path to the group a few weeks ago and received some interesting push back from printmakers who felt that the point of lino was simplicity of color and design. A lively discussion ensued, surprisingly respectful and fun, given the usual tenor of internet "conversations" these days.

Since Presston the Press came in to my studio I've been having fun pushing both the medium and myself to see what is possible, but I have my more "spare" moments, too.

Willow Tapestry is an older piece... executed long before Presston was even a twinkle in my eye (although not before he was manufactured in 1999). I was already living in Salida, and making a regular habit of walking along the Arkansas River at the edge of town. I remember the moment the I saw the potential of these branches as a block print. It was one of those "aha!" experiences in which I realized how much I love the spaces in between objects. Relief prints are all about negative space, since one has to carve away areas that will not print.

From time to time I still go back to the basics and carve a single color lino. I guess it's like brushing my teeth after a rich, heavy meal. The meal was satisfying and engaging, but a little clearing of the palate (or palette, as the case may be) can certainly be refreshing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Surprise! How I'll spend my summer...

This morning I had correspondence with a friend in which we both celebrated and cursed the unexpected. Neither of us likes a life that is too predictable, but some kinds of change are more fun than others.

Thankfully I have just been granted some unexpected change of the positive variety, although it will be a bit of a scramble to get ready for it.

Some readers will know that I spend a week each July on the instructional staff at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine. It's environmental summer camp for grownups, and I cherish the time with colleagues and campers and friends.

This year I intended to stay on after "my" camp session as part of the island's fledgling Artist-in-Residence program. I was happily anticipating a little extra island time, but a phone call this past weekend has turned a few weeks into three months! One of the full time staff has unexpected change of her own (unfortunately not the fun kind) and a substitute is needed by the end of May.

Yes, end of May. Not July.

I was already losing sleep over the pelican linocut, and having to make a big decision in a short amount of time didn't help. My heart said "yes," but reality needed to be confronted. Some other commitments would need to be cancelled or rescheduled, and the logistics of showing and selling art from over 2,000 miles away would need to be dealt with. Not to mention that I already had plans to be on a whole other continent for two weeks in early July.

Of course I said "yes." Have I not declared an aversion to predictability?

So, it'll be a challenge to wrap my head around everything that needs to happen here, there, and the other place (on the opposite side of the Atlantic), but it certainly won't be boring. I'd really like to get another small print finished before I go, too... we'll see how that works out. But hey, I'm bound for an island in the Gulf of Maine for the summer. What's not to love about that?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Linocut in Progress: A pelican looking for a title (and maybe for love)

With one more deadline looming I decided to just push on through and finish the pelican linocut this weekend. At about midnight:thirty this morning I wrapped it up. My hands and feet and neck are tired from marathon printing sessions, but I'm satisfied. And today I am finally catching up with mundane things like laundry and grocery shopping, which were sadly neglected while I marched to the sound of deadline drums.

Of course now it needs a title. I'm leaning towards Cruisin', but I'm open to other suggestions. Cruisin' is a double reference to this bird's slow-but-steady movement across the water and to the activity of spring. This pelican is sporting the beak bumps that develop during the breeding season, so clearly our bird is cruisin' for a mate.

Here's how the last steps unfolded:

Step 8

(Oops, I don't even remember what happened in this step. Please stand by while I go look at the previous post and figure out what's different now.)

Ah. Okay. Focus has turned to the water. The existing grays were pretty cool, reflecting sky, but now the reflections are taking on the tone of bare trees and need warming up. A little brown was added and printed transparently.

Step 9

More water reflections, also warmer in tone. Feeling pretty good, but it stills needs some deeper darks.

Step 10

And here they are. It's so, so close now... (and at this point it was about 10:30pm). All that remains are the darkest bits of the bird's primary feathers and their reflection in the water. Spot inking shouldn't take THAT long, should it?

I cut an inking mask from clear mylar and used it to limit ink to a small area. It took me a surprisingly long time to find just the right tone. It needed to be darker than anything else in the image, but not SO dark that was a harsh contrast.

I didn't take a photo of it, but I also cut a hole just like this one in newsprint sheets the size of the full block. A newsprint sheet was placed across the block each time it was run through the press to prevent the un-inked areas from damaging prints.

And finally, the finished piece. I'm feeling pretty darn good about this one. :-) It's a completely different color palette for me and an exercise in pushing the complexity of water as far as I can.

"Cruisin'" (maybe), reduction linocut, 18 x 18"

I'm definitely ready for a couple days break from printmaking madness, and I've got some exciting news coming up about how I'm going to be spending my summer, but first? I need a nap.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Linocut in Progress: A beak and some shadow

Yesterday was full of lovely affirmations of my work, but the glow doesn't last very long when there's work to be done. Back to the carving table and press I go!

An ochre-y (yes, that's absolutely a color, 'cause I said so) yellow needed to be applied to the bird's beak, so I employed one more pass with the inking mask .

Pelican linocut, Step... um...six, I think.

Sorry again about the poor photo quality. The good news is that the season is changing, the bad news is that it means my semi-consistent light source is also changing. I need to find a new place to pin up work in progress.

It's nice to be able to print several small areas of color in a relatively short amount of time, but it's not very satisfying in the overall progression of the image. I have done a lot of carving! I want to see some results! Thankfully I received some with the next pass.

Pelican linocut, Step 7
Now we're getting somewhere. Suggestion of details in the beak, some more dimension in the bird's body, and some tonal variety in the water.

Now it's back to the carving table again, and I think I'll be there for a while. The water reflections are downright ridiculous and I'm finding it challenging to find the right balance of detail. Too much and I'm afraid it will get visually confusing, too little and it might seem too flat.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My April 1 was GREAT, no foolin'!

It's that time of year: Exhibition jury deadlines start to overlap with results notifications and chaos ensues. Two big deadlines loom in the next 10 days (hence the need to get the pelican finished ASAP) and the swirling monkey mind of my brain has been keeping me up at night.

But yesterday a couple of lovely things happened that helped me sleep a little better.

The first was notification that Shower with a Friend continues to garner accolades and has been selected for the international exhibition "Art of the Animal Kingdom" at The Bennington Center for the Arts in Vermont. The show opens June 5 and continues through August 2. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the opening, but I'm honored to be included.

The second was learning that the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center will purchase four of my linocuts for their permanent collection. HRRMC has developed an outstanding collection of work in a wide variety of media and I applaud their commitment to local and regional artists, as well as their vision of art as an aid to healing.

There were other joys in the day, too. A great yoga class, coffee with a friend who's been away for several months, and even a couple other art purchases!

If this is the universe's idea of April Fools Day, I say "Let's hear it for fools!"

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...