Do you ever create something and then turn around and see that someone else has already done it and done it better. That's what happened with this Christmas card. I'd just finished printing my cards when what to I see on Pinterest but a print by an artist I'd never heard of before; Sadao Watanabe.
His work is amazing! I love this sixties stylizing aesthetic. It reminds me a little of Osborn and Woods or Sister Corita Kent. Every time I find an artist with this style I go nuts! I'm inspired to do better, but I'm not redoing my Christmas cards. These will do for this year.
I also have a new studio companion. I think she will fit in just fine : )
The Traveller is my latest reduction print. I feel like things are finally coming together; I'm much more familiar with the ways of my bottle jack press, my Caligo Safe Wash ink is behaving itself and I have been able to tear myself away from renovating. The thing about doing renovations yourself is that you are always seeing other little projects that need doing. I have to ignore those projects because I'm not going to look back on my life and say, "I'm so glad I spent all that time fixing my soffits."
The Loon is a much more worthy preoccupation. The Loon is a diver and water is a symbol of dreams and multiple states of consciousness. No one who hears a loon cry on a misty lake can but be affected by this spirit of the north and feel that there is more to life than what we see on the surface.
I called this print "The Traveller" because of the little loon chick who rides on her mother's back. We are all travellers in a way. I kept thinking of this print as "Loon in the Lune". Hahaha. But it's not a "Lune", it's the morning sun. Which is good because "Loon in the Lune" is a very silly name!
This print will soon be available in my Etsy store, The Georgina Art Centre and hopefully the proof at Open Studio's Artist Proof sale.
It's been quite a long time since I did a blog post. After my appendicitis attack and the passing of a dear family member ( my mother-in-law) I felt weary and not in the mood for social media. Has anyone else ever had social media fatigue? It's really not a good thing if you have an online store! Even though I haven't been online, I've still been making prints. I was about to post these two new linocuts last week when all of a sudden a pipe burst in my kitchen. Yikes! There was a lot of water pouring out and it began to rain in my studio which is below the kitchen. What I thought was a water shut off wasn't. After many panicked attempts I managed to stop the water by turning on all the taps, lowering the water pressure and reattaching the pipe. Apparently, the previous owners of this house didn't think a water shut off was important and put it behind drywall!!! Luckily my prints were not damaged and neither was my press. The same can't be said about the floors. I think there will be a lot of construction going on here this summer.
Amid all this commotion I have two new prints : )
"Dreaming of a Log Home" is a four colour print and I was very excited by the technique of thinning the ink with extender. The coloured layers are much more transparent. I love the affect!
"Moose in the Moonlight" is a straightforward black and white print. It's an image that's been floating around in my mind for ages so it's nice to get it out on paper.
Both of these prints are done on Reeves BFK white paper and they are both now listed in my Etsy shop. My studio is destined to be a construction zone for the next little while, but that won't stop me from doing some sort of art. We'll see what the future holds!
Finally! My first reduction print with my new Caligo Safe Wash inks and using my bottle jack press. This was a long time coming because each colour took a week OR MORE to dry. Getting appendicitis didn't help getting it done either. I now move at the pace of a speedy ninety-year old. They are all done on soft BFK printmaking paper. I only printed 8 and one is deposited into a waiting Ikea frame. Most of my prints are carefully sized to fit easily available frames. I was very pleased with the Caligo Inks. I just have to learn to be patient. I'm hoping to get it into my Etsy store in a day or so.
I did manage to complete another small print, Interior Spaces while waiting for this one to dry.
This little girl has been walking around in my head for a long time. I was glad to get her and her house onto paper. This print is hand pulled on Japanese Okawara paper and some on Kozuke. I love the soft Japanese paper. I'm always drawing things in little boxes. I think it has to do with sorting and filing things in our memories. Separate memories are like little time boxes, stored away. There is something very stable and re-assuring about a box.
Now it's time to go lie down. Post appendicitis I have found that even sitting can be tiring!
I had great hopes for getting much printmaking done last week. I had the idea for a new multi-coloured reduction linocut all sketched out. Before Christmas I had been having some problems with my printing ink, but I thought I had figured a workaround. These water soluble Daniel Smith inks worked wonderfully last summer and fall. You can clean them up with soap and they are waterproof when dry so I can add watercolour. I loved them! However, when I started printing my Christmas cards they started going all blotchy. I couldn't figure it out.
You can see from the photo below. The first test print is on the left and as I kept printing I started getting the horrible blotchy look on the right. I ended up using my old Speedball ink to make the cards. After much research I couldn't find anyone who had experienced this problem before. Why did these inks work beautifully in the summer but not in the winter? The only complaint I'd ever read about them was that they dried too slowly. Hmmmm, That wasn't a problem for me. In fact, I found they dried overnight.....
That's when it dawned on me. My hair is now straight not wavy... I need hand cream or my hands look like I've aged 30 years... Of course! The air in my house is dryer than the Sahara Desert! I thought I could just mist the ink with a spray bottle between printings. So I started my new print but unfortunately the ink started to dry on the plate before I got 2 test prints done! In frustration I threw the Daniel Smith ink into a plastic bag and they will have to wait until spring. I've ordered some Caligo Safe Wash inks and I hope they get here soon because I'm itching to get on with this print! I've used the black Caligo before, in winter, and never had this problem. I used the Caligo to print a few more of my "Inside Out" linos on larger sheets of lovely BFK paper. After much experimenting with this lino, I think I like it plain the best, without any background. I'll get these photographed and into my Etsy shop soon!
I'm looking forward to a new year of carving and inking. My first print this year is a little valentine print which comes in black, pink and blue ink. The pink and blue ones I made into cards. I added a little Inktense pencil to highlight the girl. I don't usually do cards for the on-line market because they are a lot of work for little money. I'm selling these in my Etsy at two for $12US so it's a bargain : D
As always, I learn a lot from doing. Next time I make cards I'm going to save myself so much time by printing directly on printmaking paper so I don't have to do so much cutting and taping! The print in these is attached with acid free double sided raised photo tabs. (Try saying that 3 times fast!)
I also learned that the terrible trouble I was having printing my Christmas cards was due to the very dry air cause by our furnace. A little spritz of water between printings works wonders.
I think this little girl comes from my flying and floating dreams. I don't get many of them. I wish I could control what I dream about. I'd be able to practise my flying if I could!
I really should be working on my Christmas cards, but I just finished a new collagraph print. There's nothing quite so exciting as finishing a print when it starts as an idea and some bits of cardboard. This is big for me, a little over 10 by 10 inches and hand tinted with watercolour. Collagraphs are made by taking bits of cardboard or other materials and varnishing them, then applying ink and printing. It's a fairly simple process that can achieve an amazing variety of results. I have 3 others to paint. None of them will end up looking quite like this one.
But I really should get back to those cards.
Cardboard printing plate The finished print!
Bear in There
by Shel Silverstein
There's a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire--
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there--
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.
This print was originally design for the Georgina Art Centre Juried show which challenged artists to create a piece inspired by poetry. Loving all things silly, I choose "Bear in There" by Shel Silverstein. However, while carving this print, I couldn't help but think about polar bears today and the shrinking of the sea ice. Suddenly the silly poem took on another more serious dimension. The bears are hungry and trapped like my bear in the fridge. It's interesting how art often says more than the artist intended.
I've finally finished my house linoprint and called it Inside Out. I've been thinking about how we collect and store things safely in our homes, like squirrels with our nuts. However, it's all very ephemeral. Even if no
horrible natural disaster befalls us, our houses will someday crumble and our things will disperse. It's odd because our homes seem so solid.
I used my new mangle (clothes wringer) to print most of these. It works surprisingly well!
If you didn't see my mangle on facebook, here it is! I found this curious contraption from the turn of the last century at a garage sale. It's such a great linocut press. I want to get a bigger one now.
I'm off to put some of these prints in my Etsy store now. Hope you like them : )
I'm starting a new lino print involving the idea of home and what it means to us. I recently saw pictures of the abandoned automotive factories and houses in Detroit and was amazed. We build these structures and boxes to keep us safe... to help us survive, but they are so temporary. I sometimes think of all the little things we keep in our houses that we don't even think about. Someday all our carefully organized items will blow away or maybe they'll end up in a museum, but the structures we create won't last. I once heard a lecture from a scientist who had a stroke which temporarily wiped out the left side of her brain. Although she couldn't speak, she felt as if all barriers were gone and she was one with everything. Everything was just flowing molecules. The impermanence and artificiality of the walls we put up fascinates me. Are they cages or defenses? Are they personal or public?
I don't really know where this is going, but I haven't blogged in a while and it's good to write down my thoughts.
Maybe by the time I finish carving this I'll have a grand idea... but probably just more questions.
© Laurel Martin 2010