May 31, 2011

Surprises Good and Bad

Well I thought I'd be finished with the Rooster print this week.  So sure was I, in fact, that I was already planning where to turn next.  I have a new sketch I'm working on, and I need to draw the next image in the nursery rhyme series because all I have is thumbnails now, and I really need to update my website. But, to my surprise and slight dismay, as soon as I printed this last colour, I knew it wasn't going to end here.  

Was it Humphrey Bogart who said: It ain't over til it's over kid?  

For this last layer of the print, I abandoned the Daniel Smith inks I'd used up to now and, wanting a more translucent effect, used Georgian oil paint and printmaking medium. Also, since I needed to make the comb and tail stand out distinctly, I again went backwards and lighter.  For the most part I really like the way it turned out.  I'm not sure if it translates in the scan but, in real life, the appearance is sort of verdigris-like and I like that a lot. What I don't like is that the new layer, in being the same value as the petals, makes them look a bit lost. So now I need to, somehow, add in some shadows around the blooms without affecting the comb and tail. 

Until I deal with that issue, no work on the next nursery rhyme drawing and not much time for the sketch for my next print.  So it goes. 

Surprise number two actually came this last Friday, so earlier than the one with the rooster print, and was, though perhaps more positive, no less time-involving.  A few weeks ago I submitted three of my prints to the Open Print show at the Federation Gallery on Granville Island and found out on Friday all three were accepted.  I'm feeling pretty darn good about that of course. Absolutely I am.  But, because the gallery hours don't fit with my work schedule and I only have next weekend to deliver the framed prints, a sizable chunk of time this past weekend went to getting frames, and cutting mats, and framing, framing, framing. 

And yet, despite all this flurry of activity, the final surprise was that even with all that going on, Roland and I managed to get out to White Rock this weekend and breathe in some sea air and sunshine. 

Not a bad weekend then, really, though of course with my prints in a show, there's even more pressure to get that website update happening....

May 23, 2011

Three Little Caterpillars

A bit of celebration on order.  The caterpillars are now done:

Three little caterpillars
spinning cocoons,
will turn into butterflies
on a night in June.

And it's the Victoria Day holiday Monday.  The day when I always wonder why, after all these years, we're still celebrating the birthday of a distant and dead queen.  Not that I'm complaining.  Not at all.  The Victoria Day long weekend is probably my favourite long weekend because spring is, usually, in full bloom and the summer is still a long bright stretch ahead. 

The Victoria Day weekend is the unofficial the start of bare feet and sandals and summer dress season.  There was actually a hint of it last week already and we finally had a few consecutive days of sun and normal May weather. I skipped the gym and power-walked around the Coal Harbour stretch of the seawall three days in a row at lunch, falling in love with the city all over again:

Photo:  Images West Marketing
Vancouver, BC, Canada

There's definitely something to be said for working downtown in the summer. 

Anyway.  Along with finishing up the caterpillar print, I've now added two other colours to The Sentinel 2.  First, this dark green:

And then, going backwards, I rolled on a warm gray and over top of it, a black: 

That leaves one last colour for next week and the rest of today to get out into the garden and do some planting now long overdue. We've had such terrible weather everything's late is late this year and seedlings I'd normally have in the ground for weeks already are only going out today.  It's almost like being in Ontario again...

May 09, 2011

Printing in the Minor Key?

Alongside of printmaking I love music.  I always have.  In our home, music comes on first thing in the morning and stays on until we go to bed.  At work, I plug my iPod into the radio and work along with music.  When I work on my prints there's always music to keep me company.  Neither Roland nor I are TV people and we hate commercial TV, but we'd be lost without music. 

These days, we mostly listen to classical because classical music provides a lovely and vivid curtain of sound without, most of the time, being too distracting. We both love pop music too, anything from heavy metal to electronica, but pop music tends to pull me in too much and away from what I'm doing and spells death to concentration. It's great if I'm cleaning house, working out in the garden, or walking the dog, but not so good when I need to really focus on something. 

One thing we both have noticed though, over the years, is that we tend to be drawn to music that's written in the minor key.  Regardless of genre, classical, rock, jazz, etc. the pieces of music we seem to attune to more than others, are all minor key compositions. I guess we subconsciously prefer the somber, darker and sometime more melancholy emotions invoked.  Is this somehow tied to neither one of us being really outgoing "people" people?  Hmmmm....

Anyway, why this whole ramble about music to begin with?  Well, it really struck me, as I printed the last colour of the Rooster print yesterday, that it's actually possible to apply the minor/major key distinction in music to artwork also. There surely are works of art that tend to resonate in a minor key sort of way (darker muted colours and themes, a sense of mystery or impending drama, etc.), while others, the major key ones, radiate a positive vibe. Oddly enough, despite my affinity for minor key music, most of my prints fall into the second category. Or do they?  

The caterpillar print seems to:

But the Rooster is for sure, at least at this point, a departure from the sunlit garden scene I'm basing this print on:

And yet I like it. There are still two or three colours left for this one and the look will change but just on the basis of how it looks now, I want to explore this type of scheme further.  Print in D minor coming up?

May 02, 2011

Voluntary Senility

Yesterday we had one of those glorious sunny spring days we Vancouverites put up with all our crappy weather for.  It's true, one day of sun and we turn senile.  We forget we've just had three long months of rain and sub-par temperatures and, if we can, we rush out in droves: to go walk the seawall or go biking or start rooting around in the garden or just go out. Anywhere but just out into the air and sun. On a day like yesterday, we take deep breaths of air that holds the promise of all kinds of wonderful things and we tell ourselves what a great city Vancouver is and that it really may just be close to being the "best place on earth".  

And then, hello slap of reality, a day like today comes along.  Cold and clammy and rainy from morning to night and we're right back to muttering curses at the rain and the cold and grumbling about the "wet west coast" and bitching at our spouses and/or significant others etc. etc.  At least until the next sunny day shows up.

I'm kind of at that "sunny day spot" with my prints this week.  Last week I was asking myself what the hell I'm even bothering with this whole printmaking business for anyway when, six years into it, I can't even get my colours right; this week the sunshine is turned on and I'm Mrs. Optimistic.  Maybe it's voluntary senility at work here too but what ever it is, I'm feeling much better about the last layers I printed yesterday.  The pink in the rooster print may seem a little weird from a distance but it's all good.  And...I'm even liking the dark green and mustard yellow in the caterpillar print.

Of course, I recognize my current contented state is subject to, like the weather, change overnight.  Because there's always that element of unpredictability inherent in the reduction print process and always the potential for taking a step that can, possibly, wreck the results of days' worth of work.  But never mind that now.  Though tomorrow may rain, for now I'll follow the sun.