July 25, 2011

Pass the Wrench?

Moving steadily along, I’ve added the next colour to my latest, so far un-named, print. 


Yes, the islands have been transformed into dark uninteresting blobs but that, I hope and am fairly sure, is not their final state.  I sat on the teeter-totter about what to print first: the lighter tone for the islands, which would also add a lighter tone into the tree branches, or the darker tone for the branches.  It’s always a bit of a quandary, this reduction cut business. I went with the second option but it means I’ll have to back-track now and I’m banking on the obscuring power of white. Of course, it was only after I printed the new colour into the full edition that I realized I could have/should have masked the branches and done the islands. Hindsight.
I was lucky to get time to print at all because we have now officially embarked on this year’s summer project. We’re celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this year and, in honour of this, we’re planning a short road trip reminiscent of those we took just after we were married.  Then, it was in a converted banana-coloured postal van we bought at auction for $800.  This time we’re travelling in something a little more compact.  We imported a Mitsubishi Delica from Japan in December (right-hand drive and all), 

and are in the process of turning the back of the cab into a place we can sleep. Having done the hotel and restaurant type of holiday last summer, we’re ready for something more our style.  We both prefer to camp and, given a choice, would pick a campsite among the trees over a bed in a hotel room any day.

Although I did the bulk of the work in camperizing the postal van all those years ago, this time Roland will do the hard work and I’m providing the inspiration and “wifely guidance”.   As a result, we spent a good chunk of the weekend driving around looking for fold-up mattresses and then another chunk hanging out in the van looking for and discussing different possibilities.  Next weekend, the work begins and I'm already busy figuring out where and when printing time will be...

July 19, 2011

Learning From Others

I guess I've been doing a bit too much “poor me” whining, mainly on the usual theme of lack of creative time etc. etc., because the last couple of days sent a couple of gifts (as if to say: “enough self-pity already; life isn’t as bad as all that”) that have led me to see my work a little differently.  
The first came through one of the two books I’m reading: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell – a collection of articles he wrote for the New Yorker over a number of years.  He’s a great writer so all the articles have, so far, been interesting and entertaining.  But there were also a few with the kind of information that’s fascinating yet, in the case of a brain like mine, immediately forgotten.  I imagine I’d love to be one of those people who can quote facts and figures as if they’re reading an encyclopaedia visible only to themselves, but no matter how I strive to etch specific logistic details into memory, they rarely stay there long enough for me to re-quote them. 
Yesterday though, I started on an article I’d do well to remember (and I hope I will):  Late Bloomers...Why Do We Equate Genius With Precocity? In an examination, and repudiation, of the idea that:
"doing something truly creative…requires freshness and exuberance  and energy of youth     
the article, among other things, draws a comparison between the work and creative approaches of Picasso, as the youthful prodigy, and Cezanne, as the late bloomer, and describes how very different the working methods of both men were.  It’s actually hugely inspiring to me…reading about Cezanne’s lifelong struggle for perfection and about how many canvases he destroyed because they never captured what he intended them to.  And I was amazed to read he never had his first solo art show until he was 56!  In Cezanne’s day 56 must have seemed nearly done with! 
Hard as I try not to, I do at times fall into the downward spiral of negative thinking and regret my years of creative inertia.  Which of course leads to the whole “time is slipping through my fingers” panic.  So it’s good to be reminded, as often as possible in my case perhaps, that every artist is different, that the important thing is just to do the work and to hell with trying to draw comparisons between myself and someone else in vastly different circumstances.  Sometimes,  slow and steady does win the race, even if the race is only with my own shadows.  Besides, 56 still seems like a long enough time away. 
The second gift came in the form of the lovely write-up my Dreams print got in a blog post by printmaker Martha Knox, on her blog: Words on Woodcuts.  It’s immensely gratifying that someone else, a peer, likes something I’ve created enough to actually take the time to write good things about it.  And it’s wonderful to learn how others interpret my work and what they see in it. 
It’s been an uplifting couple of days and, on that positive note, finally, here is this week’s installment of the latest print:

So far so good... 

July 12, 2011

A Fragment of the Dream

Wanted: A generous philanthropist willing to provide funding and support for the artistic development of an aspiring Canadian printmaker, enabling her to stay at home and follow her muse. Fulltime instead of only here and there on weekends.  
If I put an add on Craigslist would I get any takers?
I’m in my Man of La Mancha (”dreaming the impossible dream”) mode again, something that seems to happen whenever I get a rare day off at home to spend on print pursuits.  I should really have more such days, that’s the whole idea behind my working extended hours in exchange for a full day off every few weeks.  But it hardly ever turns out quite like that.   
First, when my days off fell on alternate Fridays, most of my plans for creative time got scuttled because Roland has all his Fridays off.  So instead of drawing, or carving, or printing etc. (because traffic is SO much better on Fridays…NOT!) we went grocery shopping, or took the dog for a haircut, or the car for an oil change, or in quest of any other random mundane whatever that came up.  Not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with Roland.  Really, I absolutely do.  Despite my strong dislike for shopping we have as much fun as anyone can have buying eggs, or canine hair grooming services, or "shnermutzles" at Home Depot.  But I want more creative time dammit!
So when my alternating days off got switched to every third Monday, I sort of regretted the lost opportunities for marital bonding but looked forward to more time to devote to the artwork.  And then my mother got diagnosed with dementia and my father decided to improve his already faltering mental faculties via random bouts of “too much red wine consumption”.  Hence, most of my free Mondays now fall to my parents’ medical/dental appointments.  I'll confess, I’m beginning to have some doubts about all those “abundant/nourishing universe” and “all you need to do is image your dream and it will happen” theories.  Or am I, subconsciously somehow, imaging the wrong things? 
Anyway, yesterday, for the first time in what seems like a very long time, I got a free day.  A full day.  From get-up time to dinner time.  No medical appointments.  No shopping.  My time my own.  Ok, I had to wash the floor and the dog’s box and bedding after he threw up on them sometime during the night but otherwise no responsibilities.  I didn’t even turn on the computer.  I carved and printed and so managed to reach my goal of getting two colours down on this current print this weekend instead of just one.  Here are the three stages so far:

1)  A pale grey background
 2) A darker grey
 3) A pale grey-green

Granted, it was still a bit of a hurdle because on Sunday morning, as I was rousing into the day with fluffy thoughts of how I’d print and then loll around the garden, Roland said: let’s take the day and go for a long drive to Hell’s Gate (two and half hours away) and do some hiking.  And I, good wife that I am, said: ok.  At least if wasn’t the hardware store he wanted to take me to.  In the end we didn’t end up going all that way, we were too late starting, but headed to Harrison Lake instead.  
We stopped at Bridal Falls where neither of us had ever been and took some pictures that, because of the angle, didn’t turn out too well.  Actually the falls were somewhat impressive but I was maybe more awed by what seems to be   erosion and the resulting tangled mass of exposed roots.  It's like a scene in some fantasy world isn't it?

I'm thinking, as usual, there must a print in there somewhere but I'll have to find that patron first, to free up some more days like yesterday. 

July 04, 2011

Still on the Merry-Go-Round

What a catalogue of distractions the past few weeks has been!  So many things, not all of them unpleasant but still seemingly intended to keep me away from hands-on printmaking.  First, there were our three Sunday trips to Granville Island: one to deliver my prints to the Open Print show, a second to actually see the show, a third to pick up the prints and take them home.  And, since we can’t EVER take a trip to Granville Island without spending at least one hour or so wandering around and then having coffee and rustic peach & rosemary tarts (alone worth the trip to Terra Breads) and watching the water and the seagulls (hoping they don’t crap on my head), a chunk of time is always involved. 
Then there’s the garden.  With all the rain we’ve been getting the weeds are growing like…well…weeds.  So, I either take whatever chance I have to get out there and subdue them or I feel guilty.  Being that guilt is antithetical to the creative process, I’ve been spending less time on my art and more time crawling around in the dirt. 
Finally, a HUGE slot of time went to getting a new computer up and running: getting used to MS Office 2010, transferring all my files and programs, and ironing out all the inherent and resulting wrinkles. 
And yet I am, albeit a bit sporadically, working on a new print.  “Slowly slowly catch a monkey” is what a friend from South Africa used to say and though I’m not wholly sure what it means, it seems to fit. 
My new print, in a departure from the kid’s book series (although I did do some sketches for print four in the set) is inspired by a photo I took on a local hike a couple of years ago.  The misty moodiness of the image pretty much guaranteed the picture a place on the “future prints” list from the start. 


I did a lot of sketches for this one, more than I normally do, playing around with keeping both of the trees in the forefront in, and not liking any of the results.  In the end, I took out one of the trees, changed the background a bit, and ended up with a version I’m very happy with. 
I printed the first colour yesterday but there is really nothing to see yet.  Here’s a sampling of just a few of the preliminary sketches and a colour breakdown that's very close to how I'm envisioning the print for now:

I hope to print colour two next weekend and should have something to show of the actual print by then. 
I also had a great piece of news this weekend.  With the Open Print show at the Federation Gallery now finished, we headed to Granville Island to pick up my prints.  I was thrilled to find out one of my three submissions, Hummingbird Vine, had sold.  I had an inspiring conversation with the gallery director while we were there; apparently it’s been one of their best shows as per print submissions and work selection yet one of their worst for sales.  I’m not really surprised, given our still-floundering economy and, although the director said all three of my prints would have sold easily in other years, I have no cause to complain about selling just the one.  There’s always next year right? 
One nice thing about the gallery is their online record of shows; you can actually see images of the pieces exhibited in each show even after it’s finished.  For those interested, the link to this year’s Open Print show is here.  Regrettably, I’m such a nob when it comes to self-promotion and marketing etc. I didn’t find out about the online segment of the show until it was almost done.  I could have been sending it out to all kinds of people...Again, there's always next year.