Joy and Despair

This painting began as one related to my father as a teenager.  That image is now hidden under a layer of red and yellow paint.  I was unhappy with the quality of that image because I found myself working in a tight fashion.  In an attempt to free myself, I painted lines and shapes with gestures that felt more energized.

This is what followed.  It surprised me with its joyful air because I began the work on a day of despairing over the latest scientific warnings about climate change.  Painting the image raised my spirits even as I thought: This beautiful world that we desecrate.  At different points in the process, I was reminded of a Persian carpet and the ocean.  My enduring love of seashells has entered the painting.

I used acryl gouache paint and, again, added some directly printed impressions of stamps that I made years ago.

60 – 40

I’ll return to showing photos from my trip to Italy, but first wanted to post this block print I made this week. I carved the print from a rubbery material that’s easy to carve yet that gives smooth crisp edges. This helps me counter repetitive strain from years of printmaking. I didn’t plan the image ahead of time because I enjoy the energy I get from working more spontaneously.  Since returning from Italy, I’ve done a few line drawings of my impressions of Venice and needed to do more work.

As I carved this print, and saw it was an animal, I thought of the terrible recent news from the World Wildlife Fund that the population of wild animals has decreased by 60% since 1970!! I can see the animal in this print being either a ghost of the 60% or one of the 40% whose life may also be imperilled.

Here’s the block and print laid out on wild Mexican oilcloth that covers my work table:

And here’s the print on its own:

The Print That Got In

I’ve just gotten back from a wonderful trip to Italy–somewhere I’ve never been. I didn’t draw while there but saw some fabulous artwork and architecture and took many photos that I’ll be showing here.

On returning home I saw that a catalogue had been produced for BIMPE X, the miniature print exhibit I’d entered in the spring. All I knew was that at least one of my submissions had been accepted, so I scrolled through the online version of the catalogue until I found my entry. And, as often happens in life, I was in for a surprise. It turns out that the chosen print was the simplest and most straightforward of the three I had entered and the one I least expected to get in. Here’s to the merits of simplicity.

To see the great full catalogue, go to:

http://www.bimpe.com/bimpe-x-catalogue/

Raw

This is the work I showed a detail of in my last post. It has gone through extreme changes and finally developed into this image that I am now going to stop working on and let be.  In some ways it’s an awkward piece and I felt it was trying to tell me something, so I wrote about it. Here’s the print/painting/collage:

And here’s the writing, be it prose or poetry:

Now the fragments of my sharp childhood become pieces of old paper, old carved imprints cut and torn and glued to something stable so I don’t whirl apart. I glue and paint and ask the pieces what they are, how can paint and print relate, how can the parts talk to each other–easily or not, like I do when awake in the dark unable to move. Here paint moves, the print says something in a language I can’t quite place which is good because it’s like a dream, beyond my intentions. And in order to hold this uneasy work together, I frame it in a strange landscape, so it doesn’t fly away yet but shows its strange self perhaps howling at the sky. Something or someone sees. That’s what matters–some consciousness even in sinister times and the beauty, the possible beauty of colour and an awkward curved or straight line. 

Old and new, what’s become of the fragments falling through air–old voices and hands, dried petals and leaves, paper flowers, old garlands and sea shells falling lightly to earth forming sand out of lives once lived, the sand on which I walked as a child collecting spiral shapes kind enough to place my dreams in, the sand that I and this work are becoming even as summer passes into fall.

Slow Going Plus Writing

I’ve been working on another piece that combines part of an old linocut with gouache paint. It’s been a tough one in terms of design. I’ll post it here once I finish it. Yesterday I said aloud while working: “I should just throw this against the wall.” After that I made some progress! Here’s a detail of the work:

Meanwhile I’ve also started writing again. Years ago I wrote often, but had mostly stopped except for keeping a journal of daily events and dreams. Now I’ve returned to writing as a way to slow the loss of nouns as I age. I find that writing longhand helps me.

This week I recalled an excellent book I used to refer to when I facilitated expressive arts groups. It’s called PoemCrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. It’s a very lively book, beautifully written, that offers many, many ideas about writing poems without getting hung up on trying to define what poems are or are not.

I got out the book and am using it to give me jumping off places. Here’s something I wrote the other night that began with the author’s talking about names.

I will write myself into a new name, the other side of Lily, a blue shadow under pines in a night forest where the luna moth flies and I sleep, a bear of a dog by my side. I am covered with needles not of my grandfather’s, but of trees who wish me no harm as I wish them none. It is here I die each night, ready for my last, happy to awaken to the sun and the tiny birds stirring the air with song. Here I am no outcast. I am on the other side of war.

Fish

This is another one of the recent pieces I’ve done, again combining part of an old linocut with stamps and gouache paint. This is the first work in which I included stamps that I printed right on the board.

It took me a long time to see what might be emerging in the work. I saw the central fish first, but much of the piece was unformed for quite a while.  When the green and pink fish finally emerged, they reminded me of childhood paintings.

As I work, I’ve started paying attention to light, dark and medium hues. I learned to focus on this in textile courses I took when I was doing fibre art work. I find that photographing the work on my phone and doing a quick edit to a black, white and grey image helps me see what’s going on and not only be caught up with the colours I’m using.

Here’s the full work plus a close up:

P.S. My apologies to the birds who don’t want to be ignored!

Paint and Stamps

I had a great time at the reception for the Printmaking Show at Gerrard Art Space where I met some of the other artists and saw some excellent prints. After that and before going to Montreal for a sweltering!!! but great week, I finished a piece I’ve been working on that’s a continuation of the old and new theme.

In this one, I painted loosely with acryl gouache in bright colours–another experiment with the new colours and paint I’m learning to use. I had  intended to glue parts of an old print to the board, but that didn’t feel quite right for this one. Instead I took several old stamps I’d made years ago, slathered them with the paint and printed them randomly on the gesso board itself.  I liked the unknown aspect of this–I realized that parts of the stamps would not show up or would blur and was interested in seeing what textures they’d create. I first used this process in another piece I’m still working on and want to do more of this in the future.

This painting/print is unlike anything I’ve done. It reminded me of a fantasy forest and looks to me like a design for wallpaper or fabric. Here’s the whole piece and a close up to show some of the stamped images.