The tenuous balance between variety and unity continues to challenge me. In my monoprint collages, I begin with a monoprinted matrix — the beginnings of unity. But as I add different elements — vintage maps, monoprints, monoprinted maps — too much variety can be, well, too much.Continue reading “Searching for Unity”
I continue to take my art on the road. Eight of my reduction linocuts are part of an exhibition at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. Titled Art Reflects Science, the exhibition also includes work by Vera Scekic and Hunter Cole. Scekic exploits poured acrylic layers, often scraping, sanding and splicing to create imagery that feels like primordial cells. Geneticist and artist Cole uses bioluminescent bacteria in solution as paint, photographing her work as the bacteria grows stronger and then weaker.
You can read an article about the exhibit here.
I usually work by myself in my home studio. Collaboration is difficult as my cats simply are not that motivated. During my recent workshop at Penland School of Craft I had several opportunities to collaborate with other artists. I found it to be both delightful and challenging.
The workshop was led by April Flanders, a professor at Appalachian State University, who creates large-scale installations using paper and printmaking. We also had a vastly qualified studio assistant in Lauren Kussro, who is a professor of art at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Both artists encouraged us to find ways to collaborate, seeing how the imagery of one person could compliment that of others.
Lauren and I embarked on a collaboration — each starting with one piece of paper. As we printed layers, we exchanged the papers back and forth. Collaboration One was created with monoprinting, stencils, screen printing and colored pencils. This one came home to live in my studio. I need to work on a better title.
Collaboration Two was created using monoprinting, poster board stencils, screen printing, frosted mylar (printed with both litho ink and screen printing) and paper cutting. Deciding to cut this work was very nerve-wracking, but I was pleased with the results. This one lives with Lauren in Houston. She said she was going to add some pencil work to it, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.
April and Lauren also facilitated a broader collaboration with our entire studio. 11 x 11inch papers were posted on the gray fabric-covered display boards, inviting us to print something, or cut, or sew… The possibilities were infinite. The final prints were offered in the silent and live auctions at the end of the session, with the proceeds benefitting the Penland scholarship programs.
I’m not sure when I will have the opportunity to collaborate again, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. Stay tuned!
Here are some snapshots of some of the new things I learned during my workshop at Penland School of Craft this summer. The class was filled with ideas of how you could push printmaking beyond the traditional. Rather than creating one finished idea, I spend much of my time trying things that were novel to me, and following ideas down rabbit holes…
I spent a good portion of time learning about screen printing. My last experience with screen printing was during my studies at IU, where we were limited to using drawing fluid and screen filler (think liquid clay here) to create imagery. Now I had access to an exposure unit, so I could create patterns using an opaquing pen, rubylith film or just plain thick paper stencils.
I also printed on everything except my studio mates. I am fascinated with translucent materials, so I worked on frosted mylar, as well as thin mulberry. I’m still working out the kinks of printing litho ink on the mylar, but screen printing works like a champ.
Now the question is how do I use this new-found knowledge? For now, my creations reside in a comfy box in my studio, quietly waiting for the next idea to germinate…
It has finally stopped raining in the Ohio River Valley. Until a week ago, constant rain and heavy storms caused flooding in places that are nowhere near a river. Lake Monroe, built in the 1960s by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, is doing its job. It is 13 feet about normal levels. Water is relentless.
My latest collage, Riparian Perseverance, had me pondering the differing effects of water on disparate places. East coast cities like Annapolis and Boston are experiencing flooding even on sunny days. Glaciers and snow fields are melting more rapidly up north. Everything around me is green, green, green as plants celebrate the abundance of moisture.
The meandering river in this monoprint collage is inspired by the many rivers around me that carve and re-carve their path. The Wabash River to the west of me actually changed its course so significantly that it greatly affected residents in both Illinois and Indiana. Few things have this kind of power to effect change on our landscape so dramatically.
Kind of like some life circumstances…
The pictures you take on vacation say a great deal about you. What are you interested in? What do you want to remember? My phone isn’t filled with the traditional sites, but rather with patterns and shapes I want to remember. A recent long weekend trip to Chicago yielded no “Bean” pictures; instead I focused my lens on patterns…
The Lurie Garden — part of Millenium Park — were ALIVE in late June. Plants of all sorts tried to fulfill their biological imperative by attracting insects of all types. Some species of blackbird was very offended by volunteers working nearby.
Buildings are just big mirrors
I did take a few photos of the many skyscrapers in Chicago. But here too, I’m not looking at a skyline, but rather how the buildings reflect the sky.
Images of the strange and obscure
I always have a few pictures that are purely for me to remember something unusual. The above leaf is from a plant in the Lincoln Park Conservatory. I have spent a great deal of time looking at leaf cells and the mathematical explanations for their formations. This is one I have never seem before. It looks less like a leaf, and more like a weaving pattern or WWII code. Sadly I forgot to take an image of its identification tag, so I may never know.
My vacation images tell me that besides being fascinated with all things pattern, I also want to see the commonalities that exist within nature. (It also says that I take abysmal selfies and don’t like to be in crowded places.)
What do YOU take pictures of?
One of the delights of this year’s Open Studios for me was being able to show people just how my monoprint collages go together. I would love to have a stop action video that shows the entire creation process, but the reality is that I am usually in the zone, and forget to start cameras, take images, etc.
I began a monoprint collage just before people arrived at my studio… Here is the work when finished. Follow along below to see some process photos and see if all makes sense to you.
The final work is an exploration of blues, punctuated by several warmer colors. I was delighted with the glow of the orange and chartreuse polygons.
A quick demo is needed
I was running late and quickly chose a map and two monoprints to use in my process explanation. I could show people the tracing paper I use to cut out the pieces, and how a few look when glued to the monoprint matrix paper.
After the Open Studios, I challenged myself to complete this monoprint collage. I expanded my palette to include a great street map of Boston, European driving maps and several atmospheric blue monoprints. I stepped back and felt like the work did not feel finished. There seemed to be an imbalance…
Cyanotypes to the rescue (again)
I had some practice cyanotypes, made from images that I took. When used on this work, the cyanotypes (which are usually thought of as greenish blue, look almost purply. I collaged them into the polygons that I had kept blank, and the work came together.
Scroll back up and see if you can find the cyanotypes.
Opening my studio is one of the best parts of making art. As a member of the Bloomington Open Studios Tour collaborative, I open my studio to guests once a year. In case you missed it, here are some highlights. A very special THANK YOU to painter Dawn Adams, who took these images.
My studio is in my home, a vintage 1976 four-level home. We transform our living room to a gallery space. This year I was joined by printmaker and book artist Mary Uthuppuru. The inclusion of 3D work and her infectious enthusiasm was a valuable addition to the weekend.
New artist in the studio
Mary Uthuppuru brought her artist books and commonplace journals for the weekend. Mary began as a conservator at the IU Lilly Library, and became a full-time book artist and instructor in 2010.
In the studio downstairs, Mary and I displayed blocks in process. Here I have a block carved into linoleum (mounted on MDF.) Mary is creating a two-block image using MDF as the block itself.
Seeing how the monoprint collage is made
I was able to show visitors the components that go into my monoprint collages. I had both blank polycarbonate plates and one with a 1/16in chart tape matrix. People could see the tracing paper guides that I use for the irregular pieces, and touch the maps and monoprints that make up the material of the collages. Seeing things in process helped many people understand how I do what I do.
Collaborative collage takes over the studio
On the glass ink table, visitors had the opportunity to participate in a group collage. Monoprints, maps and handmade papers were available, along with tracing paper, scissors and glue sticks. A matrix was created with a square of Rives BFK and a Sharpie. People were encourages to collage some pieces onto the Rives. Mary is turning this collage into a creation that will be “auctioned” off on social media.
Whew! Another studio tours is complete. I talk more in this weekend than I do in a month at home in my studio. Sharing my work and talking with new visitors and familiar friends is such a gift to someone who creates mostly in isolation.
Time to put things away and get on to the new project!