The Joy of a New Cork Board

Part of my afternoon was spent tacking some of my favourite artworks and other items to a brand new cork board in my work room–a collage of admiration. I now have inspiration from Naoko Matsubara, Munakata Shiko, Sandro Botticelli, Sarah Mangle, Bread and Puppet, Gary Larson, Antoni Gaudi, Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Kevork Mourad, three friends, one donkey, one chipmunk, two released reunited political prisoners plus Running the Goat Press…

Canvases in Pieces

I’ve made some carved adjustments to the Wake Up print but haven’t yet printed the results. What I have been doing is dismantling and cutting up old paintings that I’ve felt are not my best. I’m working, slowly, to whittle down my stuff–whether works I’ve made or things I’ve bought. As part of that I’ve decided to be bold and take apart some canvases. This has felt daring at times because I feel that I’m breaking a taboo. I now have a pile of large and small pieces of old paintings. What I’ll do with them is still percolating within me.

One important thing I learned the other day was: Do not cut up your work until you’ve photographed it whole, that is, unless you don’t want a record of it. I reassembled the jigsaw puzzle of the most recent canvas I’d cut up after realizing I had never taken photos of it. This, despite having taken multiple photos of most of the other work I’ve done.

One of the most detailed processes was dismantling an old self portrait on a canvas board–peeling the canvas off, sponging the back to remove bits of the paper board still stuck to it and then recycling the board. Once I’d done that and cut the image into pieces, I played around with the strips and wove some of them together.

I’ll let you know where all this playing around leads as I find that out myself.

Wake Up Print

I’ve been working on the block print, Wake Up, that I mentioned in my last post. I wanted to add colour to the image using 2 separate blocks. I decided where I wanted red to appear, but first I needed to make a registration board to align the colours.

I’ve been doing many small prints–4″ x 6″–on a soft eraser-like material that’s 1/4″ thick. So, I designed a board that can help me with those blocks, this print being one of them. Today I took 2 rough proofs to see how things are going. I’ll make a few adjustments to some details, print the image in rough again and, once I like the finished print, I’ll move on to some handmade Japanese paper. Here’s the latest proof.

The Global Climate Strike

Global warming is on my mind every day. It is with me in the art work I do. I tend to do most of my work without a lot of detailed planning because that keeps the process more alive for me. So it’s not that I decide: ok, today I’ll make an image related to climate change. It just shows up repeatedly in the small sketches and doodles I make that turn into the basis of my prints.

The Global Climate Strike is happening this week. Here’s a recent relief print I’ve made on my feelings about human caused climate change and the destruction of nature and here’s a link to the worldwide strike.

Box Mask Print

I’ve spent a few weeks seeing if I could come up with a plan to turn two paragraphs of my writing into a linocut–the actual words, that is. At first the plans had little grace, then the reality of carving so many letters felt stifling. A few words here and there is something I enjoy, but this idea would have been more painful than creative.

Once I realized that I was going to change course, I looked up from a block I had decided to carve and saw the mask I made years ago out of a box. There it was, leaning against the wall at the edge of my work table where it’s been faithfully sitting. I did a quick sketch of it and made a subtraction colour print which I’ve been wanting to do for many months. I started with the blue, then cut away parts of the same block, overprinted the piece with a deep red and finally with the wisps of yellow. For the final layer, I cut away the entire surface of the block, following the shapes that were there so that the peaks that remained were all that printed in yellow. Also, I printed over wet ink as an experiment.

It’s been a good process, once again showing me the importance of registering each layer carefully. I’m going to make myself a registration board to line up the colours for future prints as opposed to the makeshift system I set up for this print.

Here’s the mask and the linocut:

Botanical Garden

I began carving this print last month on gomuban, a Japanese carving material that’s like a synthetic rubber, similar to linoleum but smoother and a little easier to carve. It began as lines and shapes of movement and developed into an expression of love of plants and flowers. I had recently been to Le Jardin Botanique in Montreal and I’ve been walking around Toronto, admiring flowers and trees this spring and summer. Some of those experiences plus my love of the house plants I live with came out in this print. It went through some changes with my adding lines to the first proof I made. Yesterday I printed another proof and am happy with it. There’s a lot going on in it and I didn’t know if the print would look chaotic. But, to me, it seems energetic as opposed to chaotic. Soon I’ll print it on Japanese paper.

Brian Jungen, The Moon & Printmaking Show

I had an enjoyable time at the Printmaking Show Reception a few weeks ago. And a week later, I learned that, happily, my print, Smarten Up, had sold. Since then, I’ve been working on two more prints that I’ll post when they’re further developed.

In the meantime, here’s some photos of two shows I went to last weekend in Toronto. The first is Brian Jungen Friendship Centre at The Art Gallery of Ontario. Jungen turns consumer objects–baseball gloves, Nike sneakers, golf bags, plastic lawn chairs–into indigenous masks, headdresses, totem poles, a whale skeleton and more. This was a fabulous exhibit. In the main room–a basketball court–filled with masks, headdresses and totem poles, I had a very positive feeling of awe and peace together that I can’t put into words. And the whale skeleton of lawn chairs seemed to me an act of genius.

jungen mask

jungen whale 2

jungen whale

The next show was The Moon at the Aga Khan Museum. It was both a tribute to the moon landing in 1969 and to the moon in Islamic art and thought over the centuries. One of the  objects in the exhibit was a very impressive moon sculpture, five metres in diameter, by Luke Jerram of the U.K.  A very meaningful part of the exhibit for me, in this time of extreme divisions in the world, was a quote on a wall by Rumi: We see the same moon, you and I.