August 30, 2009

Tiger, Tiger (or Tyger, Tyger?)

Having taken the last couple of weeks to read and think, I'm slowly starting to move into action again. I've got a number of ideas for the next print and, while I haven't settled on any yet, I haven't been idle. I'm still working my way through Eric Maisel's Coaching the Artist Within (as per my last post), diligently doing the many exercises, and giving myself time to let the ideas sink in.

Along with that, I took time to upload my latest prints to my website and to give some serious thought, again, to reorganizing the image galleries. That idea is forever simmering away on the back burner but this time I actually wrote down layout ideas, did some sketches, and experimented with different gallery styles.

Next, I've decided to take part in the PROOF Studio Gallery's Year of the Tiger exhibition/exchange for next year. More information, posted by Amie Roman, is here on the WetCanvas forum. I've been on the fence about print exchanges so many times that the time has come to get down and get going. This one seems like a good place to start.

The obvious problem of course, is that what I know about tigers is next to nothing, based as it is on scraps of books I read as I kid, the odd nature documentary, and William Blake's poem. Clearly, that's really not enough. So, no surprise, I went through some initial angst before I headed to the library for books. Those, and the internet, turned into fodder for several pages of sketches none of which turned out all that great:

That led to even more angst before I decided that maybe the sketches are OK because my print isn't going to be based on any of them anyway. In fact, my purpose for doing them was:

a) to force me to zone in on the research images enough to give me some idea of what it is that makes a tiger a Tyger

b) to put that idea as a seed in the subconscious somewhere where it might sprout into something usable

Now, having gone through that process, I've come up with a rough draft of the print I'm very pleased with. And, though it's still early, I'm feeling pretty excited about the whole thing. I've still got time; the submission date isn't until January, so I can afford to let the idea ferment for a bit while I decide on my next other print. But, at this point, things are looking pretty hopeful.

August 16, 2009

Taking Pause

A work of art is like a visual form of prayer. The depth of the artist's attention,
the prayer, is what we respond to...Our response comes from the power of the prayer that contributed to the making of the piece. The artwork lives.

Ian Roberts

I'm taking a break from printing for this week and maybe the next. First, because I haven't settled on what I my next print will be and, second, because I'm taking time to ponder. I've been doing some thinking of late, examining the work I do, how I approach it, and the direction I'm going with it as I wrestle with the doubts my "inner critic" regularly throws at me.

From when I began this whole printmaking journey I've struggled with taking what I do seriously. Maybe because I still keep wanting to think of myself as a novice. Or maybe because my day job is so far removed from anything creative and I'm surrounded, for the most part, by very left-brain, linear-thinking people, I've had a tendency to belittle what I do. Because there's a perception, in my work world, that artists are flaky. And flaky is not a good thing. Not the accepted thing.

So, while my prints are hung up all around my workstation and people sometimes stop to comment and sometimes buy, I always seem to dismiss the work as "my little hobby". But this is wrong. Because it's not a little hobby really is it? Not since I devote as much free time as possible to thinking about it, pursuing it, and learning as much as I can about it. Yet if I don't view what I do seriously, then how will it ever be taken as such?

In an effort to get away from this restrictive and destructive way of thinking, one of the things we did on our recent vacation is to visit Banyen Books, always both a treat and a daunting experience, and I picked up a couple of books.

The first, Creative Authenticity by Ian Roberts. The author is a painter but that doesn't matter. The principles he talks about are universal and the book is amazing. It resonates with me on so many different levels I don't want to stop reading and I know I'm going to go right back to the beginning when I'm done and start over. It's quite honestly the most inspirational thing I've read in years. It's addressed so many of the questions I barely even acknowledged until I read the answer. And it's forced me re-evaluate the things that are, or should be important if I want to recognize myself as an artist and not just someone with a "little hobby".

The second book, completely different, is Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel. It's also a good read although definitely more "Californian": wittier, edgier, yet, ironically (?), it doesn't seem as soulful. But I'm only two chapters into it so it's too soon to tell and it, too, has me thinking.

August 09, 2009

Finishing Up the Blue Water Pump Print

An end to our second and final week of summer holidays for this year. What a marvelous week I've had. Even with R and I taking day trips every second day, and taking time to enjoy our time off together, and even entertaining one night, I've been able to get in lots of creative time. Now, a mere three weeks after I began work on this latest print, I'm done. Three weeks to do something that, normally, would take over two months of printing only on Sundays. A wonderful treat!

Here are the last three stages.

The seventh colour began to bring things together a bit:

For the next one, the blue for the water pump, I didn't bother masking off the block at all. I knew that any ink in places where it shouldn't be (like on the bushes) would be covered by the last colour.

Finally, the last, contrasting colour:

Blue Water Pump
Image Size: 7" x 9"

Seeing the print finished I think I should have worked in some more detail. It's a bit too impressionistic. But I wanted to try doing a very loose image to see how I like it and I had a great time working on it. It'll be a sad thing to have to return to my slow pace again as I go back to the day job.
Plus, I'm not at all decided what to do next. I have some ideas but nothing concrete. Maybe that's because when it takes me two months to finish a print, I have much more time for the idea for the following one to gestate.

August 03, 2009

Oh, the Luxury of Time

How wonderful to have a couple of weeks off and not be gone away from home this time. I've been able to work on my latest woodcut and to print pretty much every second day. On Saturday, on an impulse, I even printed at 9:30 in the evening, before we began watching our usual Saturday night movie. How industrious and intrepid of me in spite of a string of days of hellish heat.

For most of last week (until Friday anyway) Vancouver was oppressed by record-breaking temperatures: nighttime lows higher than our normal daytime highs. For four days the afternoon sun beat down full force on our little house and turned our living space into a pizza oven. Of course we don't have air conditioning. This is the coast; we're not supposed to need it. We do have ceiling fans for those warmer days but when it's over 38 C (100 F) in the house, those fans do nothing but push hot air around. And, by day two of the heat wave, there wasn't an air conditioning unit or portable fan to be had anywhere in the city. Last winter, thanks to the ridiculous amounts of snow, it was snow shovels you couldn't find anywhere; last week it was portable cooling devices.

So we did what we could to stay cool sans air conditioning. It was literally too hot to move around much, too hot to go to the beach and bake in the sun. Plus, we couldn't leave the dog shut up in the house all day anyway. Instead, R hung up tarps at the back of the house, as artfully as possible, to create a barrier and keep the sun from beating directly onto the outside walls. We set up a spray-mister where we cooled ourselves and the dog several times a day. We drank gallons of water and club soda.

And, in the mornings while the kitchen was still in shade and relatively cool, I printed. The one good thing about all the heat was that the ink's only taking a day to dry.

This is the third colour of my Water Pump:

It's very light but, in this case, it's intentional. Below is the next colour (four) :

In this image, the light green is now very difficult to discern but it is actually more visible in reality.
Finally here is the colour I printed yesterday:

I didn't roll it out onto the whole block because it's only needed in very small areas.

Three colours done in one week! I could for sure get along with less heat but Boy, could I ever get used to this type of life.