Friday, May 27, 2011

The Process Post

hey! hi!

The term is just humming along and all that stuff, it's good. Busy, challenging, etc etc. Have been working on a final project for relief printmaking, the independent study class. Yesterday I did a second print run.....and the registrations were off. By, like, a mile. On many of the prints. The press is all effed up and aargh. Felt really discouraged at the end of the day....I take that back. Not Really Discouraged. Just discouraged, with a diminutive d.

This morning I woke up thinking, I could do another very small print run, start from ground zero, and try another press. So I cut down some paper, called AppleCare (my computer has been freezing up; I am in the midst of troubleshooting right now pray for it pray for it, I don't have another car to sell for a new computer..), set some gears in motion, and then spent the day up on campus with a cadre of other printmaking students all trying to figure out their own processes.....

I figured some stuff out. And, I think the printing turned out really great! I still have a run of six to do that are half-finished but I was able to salvage a few good prints. Here's a quick breakdown:

The first block. I had originally planned out four blocks, but I accidentally cut out part of the red tshirt.......nix that block.

Fortunately I had three other good ones so I decided to print two colors on one pass, and it worked out pretty well - even though the orange marigold and the red shirt lie right next to one another. (Original edition of 12 was run, and I started another 6 today which are in this first stage here)

Yesterday I ran the second block through, blue. I wanted a bluish green, it looks more blue here -- to balance the warm colors, and the green would complement the red; the blue would complement the orange.

Third/final/key block. POW!!!!

Here's a proof I pulled; usually I need to ink up the block two or three times and run a print before the block is conditioned and the ink lies on properly, spreads evenly, and I get a feel for how much to put down for good coverage (but not too much, or it's gooey and the pressure of the press makes the edges fuzzy). I like this one too, actually!

I used the same press as I did yesterday because the one I wanted to use today was in use. The other other press I tried but it bounced all over and made my registration even worse. So I stuck with the Pelican (printing press name), and figured out its quirks (which seems to change as fast as the weather around here).

A satisfying day.

Prints are on Stonehenge, 16 x 20" and I am figuring out a price for them.

Here's the backstory: my friend Alex who lives in Leeds is the model for this one. I can't remember how many prints of him I've posted...but I've done a few of him. We both love Nirvana. Nirvana's song Marigold is also one of our favorites. I decided to see what, if any, symbolism surrounds marigolds. I found that they signify creativity and passion - cool! Alex is an artist! Also, some cultures believe that dabbing marigold water on your eyelids induces psychic visions; if you place the petals under your pillow you will have prophetic dreams. Awesome!

By the way, I didn't know that the End of the World had been predicted by, who, a Mr. Camper or someone? On May 21st? Which also happens to be Alex's birthday. RIGHTEOUS!!!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Undressed, dressing-down

The thing is, we are (by nature? nurture? both?) fixated on the pleasure principle. Standing in the light. Why is it so bad to be blind, fumbling, neurotic, unsure, desultory? (why would we want to dwell in lacklustery?)

Every time my focus locks on the next 'it' (the fun 'it', the soothing/acceptable/flashy 'it'), of recapturing the moment when I am groovy gravy, then everything else pales by comparison.

What I am saying is that I would like to be okay with boredom. Or average, pedestrian.

No okay that's not quite it. I am reading two books. One is on Vipassana. One of the principle aspects of the practice is learning how to step aside and just observe. Right. And to notice how we reject or ignore experiences that are displeasurable or average -- when in fact there is wealth residing in said means.

After a few weeks of intense study in panting (intense for me), I found myself once again becoming oriented towards not just improving and developing, but making The Next Greatest Thing. And guess what? My desire to paint has left the building. Part of it is frustration with my skill level, part of it is this weird belief that I'll never 'get it' so why bother. Part of it is......maybe I am in an ADD phase.

I read a quote somewhere, or a passage in that Vipassana book maybe? Or maybe it was on the tea bag tag, that boredom is fine, it's a sign that your mind is settling. In a time like now when I feel all jumpy, erratic and unfocused....maybe I should invite that boredom to tea (as Rumi suggests).

All I want to do is sit here and draw sketches of Tom Yorke dancing.

Radiohead - Lotus Flower

(embedding the video has been disabled at Radiohead's request but I recommend lifting your index finger, clicking on the link and watching the five minute video)

The other book I'm reading is The Undressed Art: Why we draw (by Peter Steinhart). It's on recommend from a fellow artist friend Jay Arrera. This neat little tome is like sitting down with a friend. I'm passing on the recommendation. From the book:

"I have been going to drawing groups for fifteen years. In these groups, I have made long-standing acquaintances and friendship, and it is clear to me that for many of us, drawing is a kind of compulsion. Every week, we drop family and work and go draw together. Most of the drawings end up in a trash bin. Few of us will ever draw the way Eleanor Dickinson draws. There is a dogged quality to what we are doing. We come back week after week, happy to see one another, grateful, I think, for our shared complicity in a doubtful activity. It is doubtful because its most noticeable attributes are nudity, desire, effort and failure. It's all funneled through a kind of meditative state that is internal and private, for the most part incommunicable except int he drawings themselves. It is by turns erotic and puritanical, social and narcissistic, uplifting and depressing."

He then asks, "What keeps us coming back?"

So, dear readers, what keeps you coming back, to whatever your art is, especially if you experience it at least in part as above?

I'm going to draw Tom Yorke.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

neverending grey

I seriously need to figure out what to do next winter. So far I have figured out two things I can do that sound sane and successful:

1. Move to a sunnier clime.

2. Stop pining for sunshine and warmth to last for more than eight weeks out of the year, buckle down, buck up, buy a happy light, and stay put.

I just thought of a third option:

3. Quit school for a term and go south with my friend Yona, who has been to San Miguel de Allende. I have seen pictures, we have Skyped while she is there, and she wants to go back (especially during the Oregon winter).

I tell you what. I am so sad with this weather I could cry you a river. I am aching for more than one and one-half days of sunshine per month (barring those eight golden weeks during july and august). I should stop looking at the weather forecast, because my heart positively soars when the forecast is for one measley sunshiney day above 60 degrees, and then it plummets el rapido when that one flaming day is bracketed by grey and chilly.

I want to put my bare feet on the floor, the pavement, the green and brown earth and I want my toes to be warmed. Something way down inside woman eases up in me when the sun is shining and the temperatures rise above 65. When the bite isn't in the air. When I'm not growing mold.

Yesterday it was warm and sunny. Glorious. Absolutely glory us.

Today it is grey and chilly. But, I had a great print run in the studio. I'll post the results at a future date, it needs to remain a wee secret for a bit longer.

I am in a big ol' painting slump. I find myself wanting to keep everything in mind that Mr. Teacher has told me in our bi-weekly critiques; I find myself wanting to ditch it all and just freaking PAINT SOMETHING. So I tried this evening, and what do you know, it was battery has run down or something.

Cheery little post, aye?

Oh, here, some sketchies. I'm actually enjoying the sketching without any pressure to 'make something good'. See where I go all the time? Do you go there? You do? Oh good well let's order a drink together.

So I'll while on a while longer......when I'm sketching these there is the usual run-of-the-mill hamster wheeling (monkey chatter, etc). But not so much lately. Not so much when I just listen to myself, my better half, and just kick back and sketch and observe rather than criticize (makes sense). I have to keep trusting myself to just explore and know I'll find stuff instead of 'you're wasting your time' nonsense.

Kinda wish I was more eloquent tonight, or maybe just wishing I could put something down I am sure to make good positive sense of later when I need a reminder about.....something.....what was that? 

Look I only drank two beers. And that was last night. I swear to god, I cannot hold my alcohol any more, it affects me for years after!

Monday, May 02, 2011

you better believe it

Ah! Twilight deepens! Finally, the time is ripe -or very nearly so by the time I brush my teeth or some other necessary maintenance- to return to The Walking Dead. It is so creeeeeeepy. Last night I deliberately watched it before going to bed to induce zombie dreams....and so I could have an opportunity to seriously squash some zombie heads. I had some dreams alrighty, involving a fake cowhide patchwork purse (from  high school???) and a few zombies. But I kicked no undead ass.**  I'll give it another go tonight, maybe glut myself on TWO full episodes!

** a couple of weeks ago some poor soul did not listen when I said shove off and so I deboned him with a cleaver still there, readership?

for an additional creative catalyst during your somnambulant dreams, I highly recommend the BBC series Life On Mars immediately before sleeping
Hello blogfolks. Thank you for sending me the wetsuit, fins and snorkel. I am not quite waterlogged but damn near close. Spring is long, wet, and mostly chilly.

It's also been a productive time yessiree. I painted up a storm.

Now, what happens for you, as a visual artist, when you hit a point where your own personal Mandelbrot becomes less interesting as it becomes more recursive? What do you do, or not do?

See I'm trying to keep in mind all these great devices I'm learning

- varying the stroke
- asymmetry
- composition (goes without saying, but......just sayin')
- draw outside the lines
- negative space needs to be interesting too (maybe not the same visual weight though)

And I listen to my instructor and remember that he has his own aesthetics, even as he's giving me some really great pointers. Interestingly enough, he does not find my paintings narrative; the story is one of the first things people tell me they like about my art. So I'm wondering what that is all about and am I losing some of my edge because I am trying to learn all these 'rules'?

Actually I am feeling supremely frustrated with painting, as in.......I am done. For awhile at least. Am I giving up too easily? I keep making the same marks, it's uninteresting, and it's really weird how I don't seem to be making any inroads to doing something different. True I am painting on paper (due to the amount of painting I'm doing: my postage-stamp sized studio apartment cannot hold an inventory of more than five canvases.....and my wallet cannot support many canvases either although I should investigate those canvases on rolls....).

So where was I?.......oh right, painting on paper. That can make a difference. Still don't understand why I can't seem to work the paint like I want to. UGH! It's just...........UGH!

Okay so this one was fun at times, I loaded the brush up. Was trying out painting light on light. Strong points (according to Tutor): there is both light and dark in the figure and the environment. Um.......okay that's all I can remember him saying that was strong. But, it was a pick for the ridiculous little competition for a catalog entry (I was not chosen to be one of six to represent Lane Community College).

This one looks nicer since I hit it with the iPhoto higher contrast controls. I am veering off into monochrome land, vagueness, muddy waters. Teacher says to include some personality in the figures. Fine, leave some features unrealized, but definitely render some features/elements in detail instead of furring everything.

Don't clump things (hands, etc). What's with the monochromatic? As a viewer I will want to see some story. Good advice, all. And, you see what I mean with the recursiveness......avoid redundancy! I feel redundant.

So, then:

A little Tom Yorke action, I'm sure you've seen him dancing? No? You might appreciate it. Radiohead's latest album is terrific. The sketching came at a moment when my observation/coordination was all in tune one with another so that was fun.

Mr. Teacher also said something about one of my favorite artists, who he (instructor) had initially been blown away by. Upon second look he had lost interest. Look, I have to fucking pump this guy for information sometimes and I just get so sick of the ego. It's fine to not like something but I am so fed up with the dismissiveness in the 'fine art' department. Anyway, excuse me.......I asked why, exactly, he wasn't all fired up anymore and he said something about illustration vs. art. Oh boy here we go again.

I love illustration.

I fucking love it.

I am going back to my roots.