4/13/14

Watercolor: Yellow Sheets (and a STUDIO SALE!)

Yellow Sheets 6 x 9 Watercolor on paper Sold
Thanks for all your nice emails and replies on the Marthe Armitage linocut wallpaper video I shared in my last post. I'm glad so many of you loved it as much as I did. Kindred spirits. :)

What sort of gems (art videos, blogs, etc.) have you stumbled upon lately?

If you're not subscribed to my mailing list, you might have missed my newsletter announcing a Spring sale in my Etsy shop.  Use coupon code HAPPYSPRING during checkout for 25% off, till Friday, April 18th.


4/11/14

Collagraph: Mama's Day (and the wonder of linocut wallpaper by designer Marthe Armitage)

Mama's Day 4.5 x 3.25 Collagraph with watercolor
Process pics start at the bottom of this post.
This was a scrap paper doodle spontaneously assembled into a collagraph. I am surrounded by young women with babies, embarking on their first chapters of motherhood. It's fascinating & nostalgic & heart-warming to watch these little families grow and transform with the addition of little beings.  We make art from the stuff around us, and it documents our lives in a beautiful way.

Adding some watercolor to the prints
Edition of 5, drying in the studio
After a trip under the press, pulling the collagraph

After wiping the plate, intaglio style, it's ready to print
Inking the plate with two leftover colors from a previous print
Sketched on matboard and carved with an exacto knife
Like so much art, it started with a doodle...

If you get this post via email, you won't be able to see the 7 minute video (below) of Marthe Armitage working in her studio, making wallpaper from large sheets of delicately carved linoleum. Click here to watch it directly on Youtube. I am swooning, and so inspired by her designs.

Watch Marthe Armitage in her studio


Art Quote

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. ...this book...is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.
Drink and be filled up.
Stephen King ~ On Writing; A Memoir of the Craft

3/31/14

Drypoint: Coffee & Roses #printmaking #intaglio

Coffee and Roses 5.5x4.25 Drypoint on Gray Rives paper with watercolor

This art is available in my Etsy Shop.
This little drypoint engraving was an experiment with materials. In recent years, I've done drypoints on clear plexiglass plates, but I have difficulty seeing my line work as I'm drawing with the scribe/needle. I bought a sheet of opaque black plexiglass to see if my mark-making would be more evident on the darker acrylic. You can see a video of the preparation of the plate, and the experiment here on my youtube channel.


Adding watercolor to the drypoint

Pulling a print on my Takach etching press

Using a cork-handled scribe on the black plexiglass to create a drypoint




Art Quote 
Oh, what a pity you are not here; what pleasure it would have given you to see Velazquez, who alone is worth the whole journey. The painters of every school who surround him in the Madrid Museum, and who are very well represented, all seem second rate in comparison to him. He is the painter to beat all painters. He didn't astonish me, he enchanted me. The full-length portrait in the Louvre is not by him, only the authenticity of the Infanta cannot be doubted. There is an enormous picture here, filled with small figures like those in The Cavaliers in the Louvre, but the figures of the women and men in this one are perhaps better, and all of them are perfectly free of retouching. The background - the landscape - is by a pupil of Velazquez. 
The most astonishing work in this splendid collection, and perhaps the most astonishing piece of painting that has ever been done, is the one entitled in the catalogue Portrait of a Celebrated Actor in the Time of Philip IV. The background fades into nothing; the old boy all in black, so olive, seems to be surrounded by air. And, ah, The Spinners; and the beautiful portrait of Alonzo Cano; and Las Meninas - another extraordinary picture! The philosophers - what astonishing works! And all the dwarfs too! - one in particular, seated full face with his hands on his hips; a painting for the real connoisseur. And his magnificent portraits! - one would have to include the lot; they are all masterpieces. 
~Edouard Manet - in a letter to Fantin-Latour - while in Madrid in 1865, where he went to change his "ideas" after getting attacked by the critics when he exhibited Olympia at the Salon earlier that year. 

3/21/14

Reduction Linocut: Rabbit Meadow (4 color) #printmaking #reliefprint

Rabbit Meadow  4x4 Reduction Linocut (4 color)
Rabbit Meadow is available in my Etsy shop.
Process photos begin at the bottom of this post.
About 4 months ago, I started a youtube channel to share video-snippets of art process in my studio. I've enjoyed sharing photos of experiments in printmaking, painting and mixed media drawing on this blog for the past 9 years, and I'll continue to do this, but it's even more fun to share the moving images! Step by step progress is much more detailed, as are the methods, art supplies and the progression.

Moving images are suited for sharing to a visual audience, and to a group who likely wants to try the same process, but may not be sure how to embark on a new creative adventure.  Thanks to everyone who has already stopped by to watch the first six videos, and subscribe to the channel. The video of this four-color reduction linocut - Rabbit Meadow - printed without a press can be seen here.

Printing the last color - a semi transparent blue-black 
Printing the third color - very transparent neutral gray
Just one color on the left (and a faint ink stain from the drawing
 on the block) and on the right - after printing the second color -
a very transparent yellow ochre (Akua)
Wire closet shelf & clothes pins drying rack; the 1st color



First color of Rabbit Meadow linocut (in a cardboard registration jig)

Click here to see the video of this reduction linocut in process (Two Days reduced to 5 minutes)
Art Quote:
The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.
Stephen King - Different Seasons

3/11/14

#Drypoint : Book Escape ( #intaglio #printmaking ) & reaction to seeing Anders Zorn paintings & etchings in person

Book Escape 8x10 drypoint engraving with watercolor (process shots & video are below)
The black & white (unpainted) version of this drypoint is available in my Etsy Shop.
A few weeks ago, I saw the Anders Zorn (1860-1920) exhibit in San Francisco. Zorn is one of my favorite artists, and I've harvested books and vintage magazine articles about him for a decade, but I'd never seen his work in person. The exhibit was overwhelmingly good, and my artist friends and I were reprimanded more than once to keep our ogling faces the required 16 inches away from the work.

Mona & Karin 17 7/8 x 11 13/16 Watercolor by Anders Zorn
of his mother and half sister done in 1885
I knew I might never see so many of Zorn's works in one place in my lifetime (unless I traveled to Sweden where many of the pieces reside), and I was intrigued that the show included etchings and drypoint prints. I've poured over photos of his printmaking in books and magazines for years, and I wondered how much of his process would be visible in the originals. When I finally stood before a wall of them, I almost cried. (I know, that seems weird, but the beauty was heart-swellingly amazing.) They were astonishing in mastery & skills, both technical and observational. 

The Waltz  13 1/4 x 8 15/16 Etching by Anders Zorn
In addition to large oils, and full sheet watercolors, the exhibit included a display of his printmaking preparations. His reference photography (if he was working with the nude figure, he always hired models) was displayed next to his pencil sketches from the photos (which were profuse with mastery of likeness & atmosphere) and his finished copper plates. They were bigger than I imagined - most of the plates were approximately 12 x 9 inches. Visible in the preparatory sketches were deeply incised lines, almost scored through the paper, where he laid the finished pencil drawing on his copper plates to transfer simple outlines of the figures with a sharp tool, before going back into the plate with a scribe, and engraving details and shadow. The gift of seeing his plates next to the resulting prints was a lesson in the furtive art of plate-wiping.  His drypoints were especially telling, with variations of heavy & slight ink removal, and plate tone dabbed off here and there for bright areas in the composition. 

His self portraits relay that Zorn was a big man, with large hands, and his copper plates are scribed & bitten with the marks of strong, confidently practiced fingers. He was a masterful printmaker, oil painter, watercolorist, portrait artist and sculptor. His output is awe-inspiring. (You can watch an 8 minute video that features his studio & palette here.)  

I returned home with an ardent desire to get to work. The first piece on my list was an unfinished drypoint on plexiglass - shown in this post. Working on it was an opportunity to ponder and reflect on Anders Zorn, the man who came from humble beginnings, and became an accomplished artist. I was surprised to learn that he suffered from anxiety and deep depression. He never had children, but he painted and sketched portraits of his wife Emma that bear witness to his love for her. He must have been meticulous in his conviction to work at his art every day, and I'm so moved & grateful to have seen the passion in his paintings & printmaking, up close, face to face.

Which museum exhibits have you attended that left you moved and inspired to work harder?


Pulling the drypoint after a spin through the press

The finished drypoint plate, on a stack of paper torn to size, ready for inking & printing
Using a scribe to engrave crosshatching in the surface of the plexiglass - which
will hold a lot of ink and create some nice darks.
A small edition of 10 prints, drying in the studio
You can see a 3.5 minute video of this print being made on my youtube channel here.
On the topic of videos, my lovely stepdaughter  is celebrating her 100th youtube video with a  of  pouches & . All you have to do to qualify is leave a comment on her video: 

Art Quote
Zorn had to overcome a certain amount of xenophobia to break into the French art word. "The press reported stories such as a bas les estrangers,' " he wrote in his autobiographical notes. "In one of those long, anonymous articles there was no doubt that I was being targeted. Under these conditions, we foreigners stuck close together.  My countrymen and other Scandinavians, along with Americans, were the closest the most sympathetic. " As for the Societe des Peintres-Graveurs Francais, foreign artists such as Haden, Alphonse Legros, Joseph Pennell, and James McNeil Whistler  were strictly excluded from membership but were allowed to show their work by special invitation. Camille Pissarro, a Danish citizen by virtue of his birth in St. Thomas, then a possession of Denmark, was so incensed at being branded an "alien" that he vowed to reject any invitation to show with the group. He joined forces with Mary Cassatt, another castoff who had also shown with the Peinters-Graveurs before its official incorporation, in a two person exhibit mounted in adjoining rooms at Durand-Ruel  to coincide with the 1891 show of the "patriots", as he sarcastically referred to the societaires.
Anders Zorn - Sweden's Master Painter -from an essay on his printmaking by  James A. Ganz