Saturday, June 30, 2007

One Last Printmaking Collage

This is the last of the collages from the Funhouse. The only one I hadn't posted yet. Before you get too impressed, the mulberry and French marble papers were bought at Binders. I will take credit for finding the other items in a less conventional way: the vintage cookbook page, the meter-wheel-doo-lolly, the bit of match book, and the image of the mice all came from Bobby's at Lakewood. (Does it drive you crazy when I link back like this? I like it on the blogs I read, just wondering if you do.) Anyway, back to the mice - the image is totally copyright-free I'm sure, from a card that might have been a cigarette pack card....dunno. It's about the size of a playing card. Probably the Yu-Gi-Oh! of the early century nicotine crowd.

I made a paper plate litho of the mice from a photocopy, enlarging the image about 300%. I etched the contents of the egg -- they were cut from another drypoint. The meter wheel is watercolored. I gave one to Debbi too, here's what she did with hers -- it ended up in one of her wonderful handmade books. I love how the same element can be so different in someone else's hands.

Speaking of someone else, I recently met up with a gal who goes by the name o' Calamity Kim -- someone all y'all should know. Mosey on over to her blog and check out her gypsy apron. That girl's gonna make me break out the ole Viking and reacquaint myself with the bobbin winder, dadburn it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hello, Dolly

Remember waaaaay back in January, when I was only 2 days into this daily art insanity? If you can think back that far, you may recall that I submitted a piece to Lark Books for 500 Handmade Dolls jurored by Akira Blount. I got a letter in the mail today and we're in! (We being me and my doll, 13:13.)

Very exciting. I met Akira at Arrowmont, where she was teaching a really cool class: Anthropomorphic Workshop. I couldn't take it because I couldn't spell it, but I frequented the studio afterhours to spy on the works in progress and there were some truly amazing anthropomorphised things being made in there. (Anthropomophic: from the Greek: anthropo meaning man/human and morphos meaning change. - Sorry but after all the years I suffered through Greek School -- I can't help it.)

Apparently, there were over 1900 entries and we made the cut! No doubt, in large part due to the wonderful work by Walter Kirk at Windward Photography. Thanks to Akira and Lark, and to my friend, Laurie Mika, whose doll in Beyond Paper Dolls inspired me to try my hand at the human form. I can't wait to see the rest of the entries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prints Charming (title credit: Vintage Cate)

The week I got home from Arrowmont, there was a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby on opened back frames. I took that as a divine signal that I should frame up some of my work from my week in the Printmaking Funhouse. Thanks to Liz at HL for all her diligence on these. Sorry my photography doesn't do them justice. Very tricky with the glass flashing back at me.

These chickens (dry point etching) now live at Grandam Carol's cabin aka Fort Winona. The accent papers were printed with woodblocks and then watercolored. Vintage matchbook from this stash.
Liz floated the irregular shaped piece of paper on the matte. You can't see it too well here, but the corners of the Japanese paper are slightly curled up, giving it room to breathe beneath the glass and adding subtle dimension.

I had never framed any of my daily tiles until now. These six journal my days at Arrowmont. They really make a statement with that wide matte.

You saw this watercolored dry point before. Now that I see it in the frame I think it's my favorite piece. That sliver of red matte really pulls out the paper plate litho print in the background.

This final print is modeling the Borcherding style of collage where the central image is "pushed" down into the background, integrating it more fully. I did this in two ways: by carrying the harlequin pattern onto the dry point at the bottom with Caran D'Ache and by cutting out the points of the chartreuse diamonds at the top with an exacto knife, physically laying them over the top to break the visual border.

It was like an extreme makeover: once my prints were framed they looked just like real art.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Collage and Pancakes

This tile was the one I made my last day at Arrowmont. It's fitting because that experience completely altered the way I look at my process and what I make. I took that new perspective to Saluda last weekend and was further rewarded with Katie Kendrick's wonderfully generous instruction.

In addition to intuitive painting and collage, Katie openly shared her techniques for achieving beautifully rich and textured backgrounds with us. It was so enjoyable to watch her and listen to her repeat her internal dialog aloud as she worked on a piece - almost as much fun as trying it myself.

Katie recommended that we work on up to three pieces at once (my kind of girl) so that as one is drying, you can move to another and work on it. At one point, I was pointing my heat gun at one piece and painting another with my free hand. Sometimes there's some nice cross-pollination that occurs naturally -- translation: if I didn't clean my brush or dipped it in a color I was using on another piece there would be a happy accident.

The wonderful texture of these backgrounds is lost a bit, but you get the idea. Painting the backgrounds was so much fun, I hated to move on. Michelle felt the same way.

Jane has this great stuff, it's design scrap from a sequin manufacturer. Basically it's the substrate that sequins are punched out of -- it's like holey paper on steroids. I used it to dig into the layers of the above background and paint through it like a stencil. You can really see the result in the lower left hand corner.
Katie is no purest. And I mean that in the best possible way. She gets her hands dirty, she absently wipes gesso onto her cheek, she mixes paint into her gel medium jar (I can hear some of you gasping at the mere idea - hey, you got peanut butter in my chocolate!) Her mantra: "That's ok." If the paper sticks to the paint, that's ok, if it rips some of the background off, that's ok. I love that about her. Everything is a playful experiment that starts with the question: What if? It's a great attitude for me to adopt. I tend to be too fussy and matchy-matchy, I try to control everything. So I went back to my table with the resolve to let go, dang it.
I collaged and painted and came up with an owl and a house that had elements I liked, but overall I was unhappy with it. I cut it apart and glued things down more haphazardly which improved it, but didn't fix it completely.

I loved the background -- I didn't have any problem just going with it when I was painting those, but my composition still felt too planned and contrived - very un-Katie. The owl-thingie was ok, I liked his funky little feet, but he didn't seem to go with the house. Or as Debbi would say: "....the house and owl haven't met yet....." I wanted to do things differently than I usually would and the best way for me to do that was to emulate Katie's free-flowing process.

When I came home, I tried my (left) hand at some more phonebook faces. This is a really important exercise for me. With each phone book page I painted, I was a little bit closer to cracking the safe. I pasted two of the better ones of my 30 or so tries together and got this:

I scanned it. Printed it out in a variety of sizes, painted one of them and went back to my original collage. This is when the house unexpectedly became a headdress. It's mounted on a 6 x 12 canvas.

Marny, one of my fellow classmates in the collage class, made a very astute observation: many of the faces Katie paints have these concentric circles around them, making them look kind of swaddled. Katie wraps her own head in her signature scarf, creating a very similar effect - a connection that Katie herself hadn't made. I love the idea that each of her intuitive paintings are like little un-self-concious, subconcious self-portraits.

The moral of the story: Sometimes collages are like pancakes, you might have to throw the first one out. And that's ok.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Virtual Shopping at Random Arts

I finally put down my shopping basket and picked up my camera long enough to get some pictures of Jane Powell's precious little shop, Random Arts --- the creative epicenter of Saluda and the surrounding Carolina mountains. Case in point: the radiant Katie Kendrick just conducted a fabulous three-day workshop there. Look here for other upcoming workshops with Jane as your host, hmmmm, September 22nd looks interesting.....

Part gallery, part studio, and part fabulous retail store, Jane's place is chock full of unusual items. I have often found that perfect something to complete a piece in one of the little bins at Random Arts.

Would you like to browse the shelves, stacks and various nooks and crannies with me? Ok , let's!

Hey, who's on the cover of that issue of CPS?

Now don't hate me for teasing you with all this wonderful stuff, because you can quench your thrist for spectacular goodies by visiting Jane's eBay store. She has assembled custom packets of funkiness especially for YOU. These packages of "assorted goods" are great samplers of the kitchy and unusual items Jane offers. (Come to think of it, kitchy and unusual are good descriptions for Jane, too.)

So next time you're in Saluda, NC, make sure to stop by and tell Jane I sencha. Who knows what wonderful discoveries await you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And the winner of the 100th poste contest is......

Kirsten from Oslo Norway!

Kirsten, Please email me your address so I can send you your goodies.
Thanks to everyone who commented, we'll do this again soon.
(Note: 100 demerits go to Aunt Cooky for violating the official rules.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

50th Anniversary Gift

Though I hope to be some day, I can hardly imagine being married for 50 years. GG and Leon White are experts on the matter. They renewed their vows and celebrated their half-century of commitment to each other recently. Their daughter, Amy, asked me to put together something for them on behalf of their three children. By the time I finished this project, I felt like I knew the whole White family.

I had the pleasure of meeting GG a couple of months ago at a party in Chicago. Subsequently, we had a couple of conversations on the phone. She knew that Amy and I were colluding on a surprise for her and Leon, and GG had to gather the precious bits of flotsam that represented their life together without knowing what would become of them. She is lovely; a true Southern gentlewoman and a ballerina. Originally from New Orleans (hence the fleur-de-lis theme you will see throughout the piece) Leon and GG have had a wonderful life together spanning five decades and most of the country. I had to somehow do their history justice in an 18 x 22 space.

The elements I was given to work with were so special: GGs sequined wedding bag, Leon's military pins, lovely cards and letters. I felt honored to be entrusted with such meaningful items from their rich life together. Seen here, GG's wedding photo (gel medium transfer on patterned paper) is nestled in her bridal crown on a whisp of tulle while I percolate on how to bring all these beautiful artifacts together.

I painted and embellished the outside of the shadow box using a variety of media. I made the tiles by hand out of paper clay, painted them a metallic green and embossed them with metallic powders to give the appearance of oxidized and aged metal. The glass bubbles had a vein of copper running through them. A length of copper tape ran around the sides of the lid. I opted to go with copper and green as my two main colors instead of trying to pull off the "golden" anniversary theme. Gold is so difficult to do without looking cheesy. There was one other reason for the color palette which I'll get to in a minute.

Covered with a warm-gold checked fabric, the inside of the box houses photos and souvenirs of a life spent together.

Leon is a successful electrical engineer and business man whose climb up the corporate ladder moved the White family all over the country: Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts. I had many of his business cards representing his accomplishment and moves. Seen above, a floppy disk with a plan that Leon created and instituted, notes on GG's labor pains when she was delivering their second child, Lee, and a photo of Lee as a boy with one of the two beloved family dogs on a tag and Lee as a man pictured with his own family. The three White kids are featured in a charm bracelet of sorts, silhouetted and cut out of a group photo, as well as pictures of Amy and Neal in the square frames with the same dog.

Neal, the baby, is seen above with his wife and their babies, also Auntie Amy and the kids. Mardi Gras beads encircle Leon and GG.

The second of the two family dogs, Duffy, was also included. I was given a great photo of him looking out the window, on the back of which GG had written, "Is anyone ever coming home?" After scanning the photo, I printed it on a transparency and laid over cloud patterned paper. Duffy ultimately found a place in a doll house window. The moving truck with Leon at the wheel was rubber stamped and cut out to carry the Whites from state to state.

Reason number two I used copper: GG's "going away" gloves. These were the gloves she wore when they left on their honeymoon. A gorgeous peachy-orange color that you can't fight, you gotta work with it.

A favorite little corner of the box is seen above, the tiny telegram is a scan of Leon's military orders printed onto shrink plastic. You can actually read the orders. (Available from Random Arts.) Leon, looking dapper in his uniform, is in a frame just below the shrunken telegram.

A cross-section of the box: this is what the landscape inside looks like, you can see Leon's business cards and logos from favorite vacation spots, as well as Leon's alma mater, lining the interior walls.

I wish I'd had time to have the box properly photographed before it was whisked off to New Orleans for the big party. This shot has some burns from the flash I couldn't fix in photoshop, but you get the idea. I hope you can see "GG & Pops" and "50" hidden in the glass bubbles adorning the frame. The glass on the front is outlined with glass micro beads and a diminutive, shrinky-dink Leon and GG stand next to their mailbox in Lake Forest in the lower left corner. The crown topped the box.

Happy 50th Anniversary, GG and Leon.

My thanks to Amy for entrusting me to visually document her parents' beautiful history.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Centennial Poste

In honor of this one-hundredth blog entry, I am giving away some blog candy to a randomly chosen commentator to this post. (Notice I didn't say "lucky" commentator - I guess that depends on what you think of the stuff I make.)

It will be something along these lines.

Some ground rules:

1. You cannot be a family member (or know anyone I ever dated - that should narrow it down.)

2. You have to leave a comment; a comment constitutes of one or more words (no cussin'). I would really like to know how you found my blog, so if you would like to leave that in your comment, great! This way I'll know if all my primetime advertising is paying off.

3. Contest ends when I post again - could be tomorrow, could be Tuesday - oooh the intrigue!

I will pick the winner randomly and post your screen name so you can email me your address privately. (Don't worry, I promise not to drop by unannounced.)

This will be fun. For me anyway. And you do realize that it's all about me, right?

Thanks for visiting my little corner of the blog-o-sphere.

Ready, set, GO!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Printmaking Bootcamp

Part of what was so crazy about "Printingmaking Funhouse" was that at Sunday night "orientation" we just started printing these big sheets of Japanese paper and other stuff without knowing how it would come together or without knowing quite what we were doing. It was kind of like getting off the bus at boot camp all new and disoriented and the drill instructor saying, "Drop and give me 50" and then shaving your head completely bald.

(woodblocks furnished by K. Borcherding)

Kate would say "Pick out two small-patterned 6 x 6 wood blocks and one large-pattern....use low contrast color combinations and fill up a whole 22 x 30 sheet," and we would. Never really knowing how all of it was going to come together in the end. It was like one big huge trust-fall exercise.

The next day she'd say, "Pick out some of the photocopies you brought along and make paper plate lithographic prints with them." I got this:

Then we etched some pieces of plexi glass the way she showed us and printed and watercolored some of them.

My area of the studio wall looked like this by the end of day Wednesday. I still had no earthly idea how I would pull it all together into one cohesive piece.

But it did come together. More than once. Here are a couple of samples of the end results.

Watercolored dry point etching mounted on litho print (4 x 5)

Watercolored dry point etching, litho printed image in cut out mounted on woodblock printed paper (4 x 4)

Dry point etching printed on vintage apple cider label mounted on wood block printed papers (6 x 6)

Dry point etching printed on cookbook page, litho of bird painting, mounted on wood block printed papers (6 x 6)

Dry point etching printed on vintage postcard, litho printed hat mounted on wood block printed papers embellished with holey paper (6 x 6)

And to think I took this class because I thought there would be one of those fun house mirrors in the studio that would make me look impossibly tall and thin......this was way better.