Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steamroller Print - Block Carving Pt. 3 something new this way comes

Every once in a while you get a gift. You make a breakthrough and you know it's going to change how you work. My brother gave me a dremel knock-off tool probably 10 years ago. I just never had the need for it but I always wanted it. He used it often as he worked in wood, but I was happy with my hand tools and the marks I got from them. In printmaking class I saw my teacher use the dremel making intaglio plates with the dremel on sheets of acrylic. I tried it. It didn't catch me. But I woke up with a nagging feeling that I should get it out and try it. It turns out it was exactly what I needed to give this block that little push over the edge that is so exciting.

I had to move my work into the studio due to a week-long forecast of rain. I got myself set up for the duration.

Having never used the dremel tool before I just picked it up and tried it. Risky but whatever. It worked. I knew I could just carve it away somehow if it went wrong.

So the first thing I got were these delicious circles! Wow! I hope they are deep enough to print but we'll cross that bridge later. I used the dremel to texturize the shoulders of the road as well.

And then I knew it would make or break the only text in this image. It is a key part of the piece and if I carve it wrong, by hand or with the dremel, I am really in for a hard time to get this print looking right. So, very slowly and very very carefully bit by bit I carved away the wood to reveal the sign at the side of the road. Text must be carved as its mirror-image so it will print properly.

The sign is complete and intact. 

I added some lines to the trees behind and around the sign and left it for the day. Next will be bringing out some details in the farmland, adding some shading to the housing development and then the rest of the block, over half of it, is the sky. A lot of work ahead.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Woodcut Progress for Steamroller Event: Pt. 2 - 5 hrs later.

Here's what I started with before I carved anything.
I began by tackling the hydro pole in the center of the block. It's an easy shape and I can get used to the wood and how it feels. The wood is soft and my tools are working great.

I cleaned out the areas of the center as far as I am willing to go for now.  
I decided to move onto the right hand side next. First beginning with the housing outlines.

Carefully adding in the details. I often do all the upstrokes and cross strokes at the same time as I have to turn the board to accommodate the tool/my hand.
I worked on the lawn,
and the roadside grasses.
This is where I was after two days of work.

14 days to Printing with a Steamroller at Quest Art in Midland: Pt.1 Image transfer

I'm involved in a printmaking event using a steamroller as my press. This is happening August 23rd, 2014 from 10am to 3pm at Quest Art. Quest Art is in Midland, Ontario. This is their link to the event CLICK HERE My general topic for prints these days is Suburbia. I live in the deep suburbs north of Toronto now and I am really interested in the goings-on here, though what's happening seems so invisible and so bland that it has now grown into a personal challenge to capture.

The first step is to find/create an image worthy of the work involved in creating a woodblock carving. I need something that speaks to me personally. Once chosen I re-sized and re-printed it, using the Paint program that came with Windows* which enabled me to print it onto several sheets of paper so it would cover my woodblock which is 18" x 40".

I taped the pages together like a giant puzzle and then flipped them over to coat the back with black conte crayon so I could transfer the basic outline to the block.

I placed the image with the conte on it conte side down onto my block then I followed the basic outlines with a pencil, pressing down so the conte would mark the block beneath it. Even at this first stage I am editing the image, already it is beginning to change from the source material as I leave this and that out or adjust the placement or size of something to make a better print.

Once this was done I went over the transfer lines with a green marker to solidify the image for myself and to see just what I have set myself up to do. 
And the answer to that is, as usual, something complicated.

*you can scale your images larger using Windows paint by clicking FILE >print, then PAGE SET-UP, then SCALING>fit to: and choose how many pages you think you need. This turned out to be, for me, the easiest way to do this at home.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Facebook's Effect on Me and my Blog

Hello.  If you're my facebook friend, you may have an idea of what I've been up to since I last posted here. If you're not, or you don't really visit facebook much, you may feel I've been terribly absent.

This is the most recent thing I put on my Facebook page--  "Missiles Installed on Apartment Buildings to Protect FIFA’s World Cup, 200,000 Troops Deployed"  I added no comment, just the url (below)

I know I feel terribly absent here.

something else I posted to Facebook...url below

I am very torn by Facebook. Certainly not something new or unique to me.

Personally I find the worst part of doing FB is it steals my thunder. It is much much much easier and faster to take a picture and put it on FB with maybe a sentence.

FB caption?      "My studio"

Sometimes just a word or two. Or nothing. Well, in this case, an OMG!!!! is *almost* nothing....

There! Done. Need to show you that taken care of. *tick!* off to the next thing lalalala 

I do the dreaded forwarding of stuff and re-posting there as well. I'm not proud of that. When it happens to me in email, unless it's something that is sent to me because the person knows I am really on a tangent with that thing, well I usually think it's just lazy to do that. Basically you want me to know something, but here, figure it out from this other thing without me having to actually write something just to you. I want to hear from You. Directly. Not second hand. Not via some conduit of someone else's blogpost or video or Youtube thingy.  Unless it's your blogpost, video or Youtube thingy.

But isn't this what the internet is all about? Aren't we supposed to share and share and share? We share everything but ourselves sometimes. Irritating. I suppose that when pressed for time it is better to hear something than nothing for months on end. But if that's the case then the second hand contact only makes me wonder what else is up with you.

Re-reading this post I think, wow, I'm cranky. And yeah, I'm cranky. I feel frustrated and unsatisfied in general these days. It's ok, been here before, felt this before, something's brewing. Or not. We'll see. I am going to re-commit to posting here on a more regular basis though. It helps me clear my head and think about things for a minute before I am off again.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Collagraph Experiments day#2

Our first full studio day we worked on creating collagraph plates using a variety of materials and combinations of material. I carefully recorded each plate and the combination of materials, leaving space in my sketchbook for the actual results. These are steps I rarely rarely take. I can tell you it was really tough not to just dive in and print, but when I do that I am so lost in the ink and the results that half the time I have no clue what I did to get there. I'm not interested in that these days so I have to fight my instincts and be systematic.

some of my matteboard plates using thin cardboard, sketchbook paper and phonebook paper in a variety of combinations

my notes
Shirley's plates
our to-do list - it just kept growing
I brought a few plates with me but they needed to be coated with matte medium to protect the plate from the ink cleanup and also to facilitate the ink moving across the surface. What I thought would be an hour stretched into many hours and as we progressed we got more ambitious and decided we'd experiment with silkscreens as well. I also brought with me some plastic No Smoking signs that I bought on a whim at my local Staples for 1/2 off the sale price=49cents each. I wanted to see if they would print as drypoints, again searching/trying new materials to see if they would work. I have my small baby press in my studio and I can do up to 9x12's on it, big enough for handmade books and decent prints and it's capable of intaglio work so all these experiments would be taken directly into my studio, and soon.

I had to meet my sister-in-law to give her her birthday gift, painted the night before in Shirley's studio, so we were wrapping up early. I was ready for a break but anxious to print, though these new arrivals at my sister-in-law's place were a welcome distraction!

Alice, Hansel and Tinkerbell helping with the dishes

they like to lick the butter off the butter knives

Collagraph Printing Experiments day#1

I made my way to Ottawa during the coldest week of the year it seems.
VIA station Ottawa arrival
The windchill during my week away was on average -34C. It was so cold that when you exhaled your hair frosted up. It's been a while since I've seen that, but like riding a bike, it felt familiar once I adjusted to my environment.

I'm a member of the Ottawa Printmakers' Connective. I love the collective's studio there and I get to see my friends and meet with them so it's something I've hung onto in spite of moving 4+hrs away.
The first evening I was there I visited an artist friend, Shirley Yik, in her studio in the building next door. She and I print together but she agreed to show me how to use oils and my goal was to re-make a painting in a ridiculous size for my sister-in-law's birthday which happened to be that day.

Just Walk Away  oil, 4"x4" gallery canvas
After we cleaned up and discussed our printmaking plans it was almost 11pm and we went home. Collagraph experiments would start the next day.

January's Gone

January 2014 has already come and gone. Good riddance to 2013 I say.

borrowed Chris' T-Max Socks for my Ottawa trip

This years' relentless winter made me mute after my return from Key West. I think only this past week have I felt like communicating. When I was a full time crafter and did tons of craft shows, we would look forward to The Days of Sloth--those wonderful guilt-free days of January when there are no shows on the horizon and you have worked your butt off all xmas season. I still felt slothful n January. even so I scheduled a week away in the printmaking room in Ottawa.
I really needed the Heat Socks during my trip
I wanted to get a jumpstart on my printing activities for 2014/2015. I'm interested and moved to do some long term elaborate work but every time I approached the idea I drew a blank about the method I wanted to use. So I decided I needed to lay some groundwork and do some systematic experimentation and then I can put my mind at ease that that's the method I am going to use. This is the sort of basic work I rarely do, but I really don't want to waste time these next few years.  I really need to make work.