Last week, while I was home with a cold, I began experimenting with an old water soluble crayon set I have. I find painting/drawing on an easel a lot easier physically than printmaking with the pain of repetitive strain I’ve acquired from lino and woodcutting. So, I’ll return to the latest print after a break.
For the drawing below, all I started with was a desire to draw a human profile. The rest developed from there. I mostly used the crayons dry and combined some pigment markers with them. The drawing has a controlled feeling to me because of the outlines throughout. I was interested in experimenting with layers of colour and texture. At times when I was unhappy with the results and redid them, I managed not to destroy the image in an attack of self-criticism. I find making artwork is a dance between creation and destruction. There’s a line between honestly facing mistakes and shredding myself for making them. Now that the piece is finished, I think I’ll try making further works using this drawing as a starting point. I want to practice a looser look, perhaps bringing out the watercolour properties of the crayons. As for the content, for me it reflects some of the different voices or faces within a person, coupled with strange sci-fi or unconscious looking elements.
The next experiment I did pretty quickly, as a reaction to the first one. I cut up part of an earlier crayon watercolour and adhered it to a sheet that I loosely marked in black. I like the feel of this one. There’s the contrast between black, white and colour. And there’s the contrast of the controlled edges of the cut outs with the loose scribbles of both the black crayon and the colours within the shapes themselves. Perhaps this collage technique is one I can develop. It could stand alone or be part of larger works.
You can also see my work at artsofmay.etsy.com
As I’m going through my old journals, I find forgotten elements–particularly the content of dreams. A few weeks ago, I came upon a curious and appealing dream fragment from June of 1993. At that time, I awoke with words telling me that centuries would pass before we discovered that the “L” in “Lion” was understood as its birdnote. I loved this strange sentence and decided to make a linocut from the words.
The lino that I’ve used is the same soft cut material that I used for the Sisters of Mercy print. It is very much easier to cut than the tough grey or brown burlap backed battleship linoleum that I used as a young woman. I’ve taken the first proof (rough copy) of the print and will work on it further. I plan on leaving the final print quite similar to this first proof–it just needs a bit of further carving and experimentation with the colours.
Here’s the inked green lino and the hand printed proof.
You can see more of my artwork in my etsy shop at artsofmay.etsy.com
I have kept journals–diaries–on and off for the past 40 or more years. In the 1990s and early 00s, I hand wrote a huge amount in dozens and dozens of lined notebooks–mostly recording my dreams and feelings but also world events and my activities. I’ve been working on a big project, going through my journals from those years and massively editing them. By that I mean, I’ve been tearing out and shredding large portions of them while noting what I was going through at the time. Now, this may seem ghastly to some people, but it is extremely liberating to me. I am creating more room for myself at my current age, while remembering, but not holding onto, what my younger self experienced.
In the course of editing a journal this week, I saw an entry I wanted to record here. I wrote it in April of 1991 after attending an excellent painting workshop with the artist and teacher Sam Feinstein. I have always remembered the powerful nature of that workshop, but had forgotten his teachings about the nature of making art. This was my understanding of what he told us, as I wrote it in 1991:
About art making–you needn’t even believe in your creativity–do it as a way of expressing the life form that is particular to you, that is of nature and larger than you, that goes through you. As a way of being authentic. Dreams and art are of the unconscious life force, bigger than us. Dreams are fleeting, art remains. Once a piece of art work is done, it is its own thing. It never was yours anyway. As its own thing, it is judged on its merits, apart from you.
Art is the spirit made visible through human beings reaching out from themselves, beyond themselves. Art is beyond our own feelings as we create.
Words to make art by!
The gouache painting above is one I made in the 1990s. I did it like a form of free association, attempting to allow whatever came to consciousness to find its way onto the page without censoring it.
I’ve been experimenting with drawing more cartoons. That process led me to a small drawing continuing with the theme of dreams that I began in my first cartoon. After having done a number of works that felt too controlled, I made a loose unplanned sketch that felt freer to me. Afterwards, I added colour to the line drawing with pigment markers and some water soluble crayons. I think I’ll work on this theme further. I hear my unfinished linocut on Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy calling me. Why have you left me and when will you return? I haven’t answered yet, but, meanwhile, here’s the 2 recent drawings.
To see works in my etsy shop, go to: artsofmay.etsy.com.
I’ve recently had various bouts of illness. During this time, I have slowly completed print ready files of the Mirrors of the Heart card deck and have sent them off to the printer. When they are completed, I’ll show you their new look.
Also, while resting, I’ve been reworking some more of my earlier art work. Here are 3 hanging ornamental pieces I’ve made combining segments of a woodcut I made in the 1970s and extra hand coloured cards from the card deck. I’ve also added decorative starched transparent papers that I wish I could trace to a distributor again. They’re the shapes growing out of the rectangles. If the papers look familiar to anyone, please let me know.
I’ll be putting some of these pieces in my etsy shop soon.
I was ill over the past while and only got to printing a first proof of the Sisters of Mercy block print this past weekend. If you’re not familiar with printmaking, a proof is a print of a block that may not be fully complete. You can print the block at different stages to see how it’s coming along and whether the print needs more work. In this case, I’m happy with many aspects of the print and can see where I want to further carve the soft cut lino block. I’ll show you the process as I go along.
The two photos show the green and violet inked block to the right of the printed image. I’ve always been fascinated with the symmetries you can get in printed images by repeating them in different orientations. Here, I played with the block itself and the proof. Because they are mirror images, when I put them right up against each other I saw some neat (as in neat-o) patterns that show up in the last photo.
You can see more of my artwork in my etsy shop: artsofmay.etsy.com
This week, after years of selling the original printings of the card deck I made in 1994, it sold out in my etsy shop. Mirrors of the Heart has been the most popular item I’ve ever made. And, as an artist who has sold a modest amount of work in my life, it’s been an amazing experience to send work across the continent and overseas. I’m now looking into getting the cards reprinted and will let you know how that goes.
Now all I’m left with are extra cards that do not make up complete decks. These are ones I set aside when I found printing glitches in other cards. I’ve been hand colouring some of these with non-toxic permanent markers. Here are some I’ve grouped in sets of 4 for my shop.