Category Archives: Inspiration

What does your art say?

What does your art say?

This is a question that comes to me regularly. Often it is helpful in deciding which imagery to pursue because it forces me to ask if it is visually or emotionally compelling. Recently the question has been asking something else…

When the question is critical and challenging

What difference do your brightly colored nature-pattern images make to the world? Why didn’t you work harder on your silk screen skills, or learn letter press? Then you could make art that really SAID something. This line of thinking is disquieting, and has been with me as I have carved and printed a long, narrow linocut inspired by waves and fields. Here’s the progression of the work…

layer 1layer 2layer 3layer 4

(more…)

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Why clouds anyway?

Saturated Reverie, the last cloud linocut for 2016, reexamines those puffy, cartoon “Simpson’s clouds” of a previous decade. These clouds represent the fluffy cotton balls we used in preschool to portray fair weather formations. In my clouds, only some of the formation is actually white or very light blue. The rest belies what is inside…

The real cumulus

These cumulus clouds are usually signs of fair weather. Their towering, flat-bottomed presence reminds me of ships, sailing in the teal blue of sunny skies. They are filled with ice crystals, water droplets, or both, and are low-lying, occurring at about 2,000 meters (3,300 feet.) The (more…)

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With gratitude

It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and a perfect opportunity for me to say thanks…

gratitude

Thanks to…

• the people who collect my work
• readers of my blog, whether you comment or not!
• admirers whose compliments can be the best encouragement
• other artists who inspire and challenge me
• business professionals who instruct me
• other printmakers who so readily share information
• art supply businesses who send me my materials ASAP
• galleries and museums who work to feature local and regional artists
• my family and friends who love and support me, even on the tough days

Who are you thankful for? Go tell them now..

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Sometimes art gets political

This has been a hard week to make art. Printmaking isn’t a media where you can get physical with your materials, like ceramics or painting. Sometimes I wish it was. As I completed all of the mundane tasks that the studio required, I tried to identify the particular things that were nagging at me and causing stress. Honestly, I feel that the in-coming administration is going to be catastrophic for the environment. Our environment is the entire reason for my art…

snail

I don’t want to just make pretty art

I despise the word pretty. As a woman, it feels dismissive and demeaning. Things that are pretty are not important. Just because I do not sling black paint on canvases or incorporate headless torsos into my work doesn’t mean that I create artwork to be purely decorative. The images I select to carefully carve and laboriously print are my interpretations of our most precious gift, the natural world. Trees, mountains, streams, flowers, creatures — all of these things spring up not from our human efforts, but because of this amazing ecosystem into which we were fortunate to be born. (more…)

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Some linocuts have stories

Inspiration is a quixotic thing. Sometimes an image’s meaning is obvious, but for me, the stories behind my linocuts make their presence known in the slow, methodical process of creating. Such was the case with the linoleum block I created for my recent experiments with silk. My musings inspired the following essay, a version of which will be published in a compendium about justice sponsored by First United Church, Bloomington, Indiana. It is the brainchild of my dear friend, writer and artist Donovan Walling.

my-favorite-cope-hollow

My personal favorite in the Cope Hollow series.

I am fortunate to live and make my art in a naturally beautiful place. Hikes in the hills and hollows around Bloomington, Indiana often inspire my art. I recently completed a series where I needed a striking image of topographical lines. An area on a map of the Charles Deam Wilderness caught my eye. Poetically called Cope Hollow, it had fingered bottom lands with steep hill contours radiating out like ripples from a raindrop.

When I title my pieces, I strive for playful ambiguity. I want people to see their own experiences in the work. In this case, the actual place demanded acknowledgement. Ridges and hollows in this part of the world are named for early residents. Certain names are still quite common in the county, but no listings for Cope appear in the phone book.

Two unpublished articles from the public library provided the best information about the Deam Wilderness, which was officially designated as a wilderness area in 1982. This area was the last part of Monroe County to be settled beginning in 1823. Native Americans may have hunted here at a much earlier time, but they did not stay.

cope-hollow-topo-map

Almost all of the Deam Wilderness is part of the Norman Uplands, a formation of mostly siltstone that was sculpted by glacial run-off into drainages and steeply-sloped ridges. The desirable bottom lands were the first to be settled, but were subject to unpredictable spring flooding. The ridges were settled last, some so narrow they only had room for a house and a frog pond for water. Top soil here is extremely thin and the slopes were too steep to be settled. Making a living meant trying to raise enough crops and livestock to feed your family, and most families relied on logging for cash income.

Who would choose to live in such a place? Certainly those who had enough means would have kept right on going, reaching lands farther west that were much more suitable for a profitable economic life. Those who remained spent day after back breaking day felling trees and digging stumps, trying to coax crops and fodder from thin steep soils with inconsistent water. When the Forest Service began buying land for a national forest in 1935, it is no wonder many people jumped at the chance to sell out.

In my daily life, I am surrounded by people who are socioeconomically similar to me. Many are artists and friends. Some collect my work. A few generations ago, areas just around my home were the homesteads of people who clawed a subsistence living from an ungenerous land. Some lasted so that their names are still mentioned in the local paper. Others like the Cope family, have vanished.

Many around the world still experience this harsh life today. A search for statistics paints a sobering picture of poverty. How did I become so fortunate? It is hard to know how to help when the global problem is so vast. Perhaps it is best to start small, in my own backyard.

Cope Hollow is a good reminder.

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Digital Handmade opened my eyes

I am in the throws of building enormous frames for my latest large linocuts Breath of Hermes and Summertide Brings the Derecho. I’m also planning for two new linocuts and they are in the messy stages as I try to push my linocuts to incorporate new techniques.

Digital Handmade sparks my creativity

My planning has been enriched by the discovery of Digital Handmade: Craftsmanship and the New Industrial Revolution by Lucy Johnston (2015). This beautifully photographed book highlights artists and designers who are using digital processes to push traditional media in new and challenging ways.

digital handmade

Johnston, Lucy. (2015) Digital Handmade:Craftsmanship in the New Industrial Revolution. New York: Thames & Hudson.

I was drawn to this title on my library’s new book shelf because of the ongoing dialogue in my head regarding use of new technologies versus the traditional printmaking value of the hand. As printmaker, I chafe at the use of the term gicleé prints to describe a photographic copy. But I fear this prejudice holds me back from creating new, more challenging work as I triumphantly tell people that everything I create is “by hand.” I had an aha! moment when I read the following quote from product designer Tord Boontji who fabricates intricate garlands cut from paper-thin sheets of silver, copper and brass: (more…)

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The clouds and I …. on the move

I am suddenly longing to get back to carving and printing — as I have been consumed with gathering new imagery, and getting the work I have completed ready for new homes.

We recently escaped to Sleeping Bear Dunes in northern Michigan as a celebration of my husband’s milestone birthday. An unseasonable cold front had settled over the Midwest, so we were greeted with light snow, temperatures in the 40s and a furious wind. This gave us very atmospheric conditions to hike the dunes and the springtime woods, and provided me with lots of moving cloud pictures for inspiration. Here are some favorites…

cloud 2

cloud 1

The wind was blowing so hard — sometimes taking sand with it — that all I could do was point my Iphone in the direction of the clouds and push the volume buttons. We did take a moment to snap a quick self-portrait. Note the fleece headband — in May!

cold weather selfie

Back from our weekend, I have been madly framing and preparing to take my work to the Broad Ripple Art Fair at the Indianapolis Art Center. One of the greatest challenges — undertaken by my dear husband — was to create a way to transport all of my work and equipment in our RAV4. Here is his solution, complete with clips that hold the metal display panels together that he 3-D printed himself. Quite a mensch!

rav 4

And yes, if you thought the RAV4 was riding a bit low despite being on an angled driveway, you would be correct. Always an adventure…

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My Iphone is the best creativity tool

Travels, art delivery, holidays and my upcoming trip to Portland, Oregon have kept me from my next cloud linocut. But given that this is late March in the midwest, perhaps that is fortunate. I always have my phone with me, not so much to be connected with the outside world, but for the camera. Here are some of my most recent cloud captures — potential subjects for new work:Cloud twist

You never know when you will see really special formations. This one looks like part of a Kelvin-Hemlholtz formation. 

Cloud menacing

This menacing beauty emerged after I drove through a complete white-out of rain. My husband took the image as I tried to regain my composure. I felt sure we were going to be engulfed.

Clouds and reflections

In a landscape with very little elevation, clouds provide another dimension. I can’t really see the clouds reflected in the flooded fields from this angle, but that is what imagination is for.

Clouds along the road

When the sun and clouds compete for attention, you can get some spectacular effects.

Clouds predict hail

This cloud followed us around on our Easter night walk in our neighborhood, and brought super-ball sized hail.

I hope my flight to Portland comes complete with some spectacular clouds as well, but perhaps since I want a smooth flight with no delays, that might be asking too much.

If you want to see images from the 2016 Southern Graphics Council International conference in Portland, Oregon you can follow me on Instagram at elizabethbusey. Or search for #sgci2016 for images from lots of printmakers.

 

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Celebrating memorable imagery

This image has been on my Iphone home screen ever since my first model. I captured these clouds with an Iphone 3 from the passenger seat of our 2000 Sienna minivan, as we hurtled west on I-94 through North Dakota. For all of the jokes made about North Dakota being uninteresting, I find the state a beautiful place to travel through by car. In the summer, the skies really are this intense blue, with horizons that stretch for miles and fields of bright yellow rapeseed punctuating the land.

Highway Caprice

Elizabeth Busey. Highway Caprice. Reduction linocut on Rives BFK, 22 x 16in image size, $350 unframed.

I try not to simply duplicate my photography when I create a linocut, but the cloud patterns I love move so quickly that a photographic record is a necessity. I get to take liberties with all the other aspects of the creation. Here I created a purple underskirt for the clouds, and a haze above the rolling hills. In my photograph, we had a highway rapidly disappearing in the distance, which I replaced with fields of slowly emerging rapeseed.

Rapeseed is the seed used in Canola oil (a combination of Canada and oil), and its flowers are a shocking greenish yellow. Your mind and eyes have a difficult time resolving what you are actually seeing when you come over a ridge and see this colorful splendor.

I did put the suggestion of a trail in my imaginary fields in honor of the many immigrants who probably trod through this landscape over a century ago. How splendid and hopeful this sweep of clouds must have been for travelers who were constantly wondering if they should change course.

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Starting the New Year with hope, perspective and joy

New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. No rushing about, no presents or expectations that probably won’t be met. Rather we have clean counters, a fresh page on the wall calendar, and time spent making homemade long-life noodles topped with smoked salmon and pesto cream sauce.

To begin the New Year, I send you some images with my best wishes for you in 2016.

HOPE Planetree of St Stephan

© Elizabeth Busey. Planetree of St. Stephan. Reduction linocut. 28 x 28in, edition of 13, $550 unframed.

HOPE — Marc Chagall must have had hope as he created his ethereal blue windows for the Church of St. Stephen in Mainz, Germany. These blues inspired this linocut. May you find hope this year, and remember, hope is an action.

PERSPECTIVE Tranquil Terraces Dawning

© Elizabeth Busey. Tranquil Terraces Dawning. Reduction linocut, 10 x 33in image size, edition of 19, $275 unframed.

PERSPECTIVE — May you evaluate all the opportunities that are provided to you and choose wisely. Spend your time on the things that are most important and will make the most difference to you, the ones you love, and the world.

UNEXPECTED JOY Captured

©Elizabeth Busey. Captured. Reduction linocut, 23 x 18in image size, edition of 15, $200 unframed.

UNEXPECTED JOY — May you find delightful surprises to punctuate the turbulence that all life brings. Why not share these joys with others?

Thanks for reading my blog. More linocuts to come in 2016, plus new explorations of other media.  Peace, Elizabeth

 

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