May 27, 2008

Loads and loads of code.

With a couple of MDF blocks still waiting to be carved, and ideas for my next block flitting through my thoughts, I haven't done any printmaking in two weeks.

That's because, a month or so ago, I decided to re-vamp my website on account of I didn't like the way the galleries were looking, plus the site had no way for anyone to get in touch with me if they wanted to. So I set about adding a comment form. Easy enough, except that the form wouldn't load properly and didn't work. Why? Because my original site was done up in the FrontPage program that came installed on my computer when I bought it and our internet provider doesn't support FrontPage anymore.

FrontPage is dead and has been for two years, or so said the techie at my internet provider's help line. He suggested I consider learning HTML and designing a site from scratch.

That's when I turned to the software designer at work for advice and she, optimist that she is, suggested I learn HTML and design a site from scratch. A good cup of coffee and a weekend is all it should take she said. Well, the good cup of coffee is no problem. But the weekend is harder to come by. I figured that, with as little time as I actually have on weekends, I would need four of them to her one. And so I set out.

I bought a basic HTML book, downloaded and read several articles from Webmonkey, studied the source codes for numerous sites I admire, and got R to make coffee, not necessarily in that order. What was I thinking! It's not like there's only two steps to the process: 1) learn HTML and 2) build the site. Or maybe yeah, but step two is pretty darn complex.

So, weeks later, definitely wiser but with my site nowhere near completion, I'm dreaming number signs, asterisks, and all those weird little brackets that were meaningless until now. I'm working with Dreamweaver now (I got an older version from a friend) and I'm neck deep in CSS rules. I feel like I'm in an animated film where each new step magically creates twenty new ones in front of me into infinity. I suppose the upside is that I'm exercising my brain and warding off Alzheimer's except that I'm still a bit too young to worry about that.

I'm planning on submitting a couple of pieces to the Malaspina printmaker's show on Granville Island next month, so I'll have to come down from my ladders of code and deal with printmaking at least a bit, but when, oh when, will I be able to sit down, chisel in hand again?

May 19, 2008

God Save the Queen

I heard on CBC radio this morning that Canada is the only country to still observe Queen Victoria's birthday. It is a bit odd if you really think about it; why this queen and not any others? And why still, when she's been dead for decades? Odd or not though, I don't think too many Canadians are complaining: a long weekend is welcome no matter what the reason behind it.

And so here it is, Victoria Day. I believe that there are many people out there, the lucky ones, for whom long weekends generally translate into two Sundays. I'm not one of them. For me, this long weekend pretty much meant two Saturdays: two days of chores instead of one, driven by the glorious weather and the work needing to be done in the garden. We put in a yard of oh-so-fragrant (not) composted bark mulch, we weeded, and we planted. No printmaking this weekend at all; it was a different canvas I turned to.

This is this year's collection of plants destined for the container garden:


And the finished thing:


The lavender is just starting to come back from last year:


Today, thankfully, rain. No pressure to get out there and do so more work, so the rest of the afternoon will go to designing my new website.

May 11, 2008

On a roll...Firebird finish line

So there I was, happily printing The Dance when I began thinking about what a shame it was that my water-soluble ink hasn't arrived yet, and how now I'd have to wait one more week in suspense before I found out if the key block for the Firebird would make or break the print, and how nicely the black ink I was using today was working. And on that train of thought it seemed like such a waste to not keep going. That's when I remembered that, at least when it comes to house-painting, oil-based can go over water-based. If that rule applies to house paint, then why not to printing inks?

I decided to experiment. Even though I've used only water-soluble inks for the Firebird and the ink I was printing with today was oil-based, I figured it would still be ok to combine them, as long as I don't add any more layers after this one. Sure enough, it worked:


The only issue was arranging enough drying space for both sets of prints. Otherwise the ink just like went on just as if it was meant to be.

So, very quietly, another print is done.

Mother's Day Offerings

My mother's day present today was an afternoon to myself while R and N took their bikes to the oceanside, followed by R cooking his signature Salmon Bisque for dinner for us and for my parents. A quiet afternoon and no dinner prep to worry about gave me lots of time for printing.

As I suspected, the new black ink from Daniel Smith hasn't arrived yet so I decided to use the black oil based ink they sent me to print the dancing girl print: The Dance.

8" x 4"

I printed on three different papers, none of which I'd ever tried before: BFK Rives light and medium weights and Masa. The version above is on the Masa; the grain of the paper comes through slightly in the scan. I'm planning on finishing the print with water colour once it dries so I suspect the differences between the papers will become more apparent then.

May 04, 2008

Firebird; Countdown

The last two colours for this print went on today: I added in a layer of deep violet to the landscape and a dark charcoal to the bird's wings.


Next time it'll be the key block though at this point I'm not sure if I'll be able to print it next week. Huge disappointment, I opened the box of replacement black ink Daniel Smith had sent, and discovered that it's oil-based relief ink and not water soluble. Ironically, the girl I talked to on the phone even double-checked to make sure they'd send the right one since I've ordered both oil-based and water-soluble inks from them, but in the end the wrong one arrived.
I don't have the balls to call them yet again for another replacement since this one was already sent free of charge, so I'm paying for the proper one this time. But I doubt it'll get here in time for next weekend. Nevermind, gotta roll with it: it's not what happens to us in life that matters as much as how we react to it. Maybe I'll use the opportunity to print the dancing girls block in oil-based black ink.

On another note entirely, I'm smitten with the work of yet another relief artist: Angie Lewin.


It was actually R who came across her work. Anyway, there's something about the style of Angie L's work that totally speaks to me. It's so simple yet so very alive.