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…
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.
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!
I’ve been looking for a new direction in my work over the past few months and have posted some of my ideas on the blog. Yet none of them have stayed with me as a path to follow–not the ideas for a dystopian card deck, nor the series on the heart. One thing I have been thinking of for years is to bring together the art works I’ve done during my life and create something new with them. I’ve done a little of that by making origami booklets out of some old prints. But recently I may have hit on something that holds promise for further work.
A few weeks ago, I began an acryl gouache painting from a line drawing I had made. The painting went through several stages but never felt skillful enough to me. Finally I decided to paint over most of the image in red and to paste parts of an old woodcut over the painting. Afterwards, I added more paint, mostly to the pieces of the woodcut. Below are some of the stages the work went through. I enjoyed the process and am now working on another piece. I am trying to draw together parts of my life with this process–the young artist and the elder.
This week, I happily received the copy of Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ book, Hansel and Gretel. In it, he has brilliantly reimagined the fairy tale. I ordered it last week from the U.K. and it arrived faster than some packages from other parts of Canada!
Clive Hicks-Jenkins is one of my favourite artists. He shows a wide array of his artwork on his blog and talks about the process that went into making the pieces. His artwork in this book is tremendously engaging with both terrifying and beautiful renditions of the characters and the settings. I’ve been pouring over the book and love the layers of paint, drawing and collage.
On the artist’s blog are many posts about the complex process he went through in making the book. The link above is to just one of those posts and also talks about the Hansel and Gretel toy theatre kit he designed. Below are the front and back covers of the book.
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.
This week I received beautiful mail art from Nancy Bell Scott in response to some work I sent her. A lovely surprise. The envelope is from old sheet music and the work inside is one of her wonderful collages.
Thank you, Nancy!
P.S.: If anyone wants to send me mail art, my address has changed! You can contact me for an update.