Posts Tagged 'art'

Pausing

IMG_superwoman

Superwoman, by Kiki Kogelnik, 1973

It’s the eve of another election in the USA, and so my house is collectively pausing (to check the candidates or our polling place), and also hoping. The world is complicated, and our small corner is no less complicated than a larger portion of the country. I’m personally uncertain about the justices on the ballot, and there are a couple of poorly worlded addenda to City ordinances that have me reaching for the dictionary.

So, if you have the ability (legal or physical) to vote in this cycle, please make your opinion heard.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my head out of the news coverage until Wednesday, and practicing my chorus music. Nothing like the sounds of carols and festivities to get the cobwebs of politics out from between my ears. I’ve also been spending a good bit of time enjoying art supplies, as a cathartic release from dealing with the canvassers calling the house.  And after a conference, I had the pleasure of visiting the National Museum of Women in the Arts in DC. I’ll probably have a little report on what the museum is really like. Incredibly powerful to see art from a woman’s perspective.

 

Journal ponderings

Years ago, I kept journals, mostly working thru the processes of: getting through school, adjusting to a messy adulthood (my 20s were intense), and moving sideways into a career. Now, I have a mix of (1) sketch notebooks, (2) basic notebooks (for writing notes during meetings), and (3) notebooks where I jot down notes for short stories. I’m starting to think again about combining category 1 and 3.

My notebooks are motly for my eyes. They are not as amazing and beautiful as these notebooks by artist José Naranja. Check out these links:

…..and get inspired.

Musical Interludes

piano-bench

“Piano Bench”, by Cory Holt. Benches by the Bay, Sturgeon Bay

I’m in between concert performances with the chorus, although there will be runouts to sing some of the same pieces. There were 2 lovely formal concerts, but I think we left every emotion and bit of energy onstage.

We managed to not weep along with the audience during Ryan Murphy’s “A Lullaby” (link to video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it is here). I managed not to tear up while singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (thinking about a family member who loved Kate Smith). We didn’t clash while singing the a capella “My Spirit Sang All Day” by Gerald Finzi (in practice it felt like we sometimes verbally collided or tripped over triplets).

Now, I need brain bleach to get the songs out of my head. Between listening to Big Band music, Ola Gjeilo’s beautiful work, and a Fountains of Wayne album (link is to an NPR tiny desk concert), I’m slowly getting out of performance mode and back to normal. I’ll take the tuxes to the cleaners and relax into a sort of post-performance melancholy. While we’re talking about music to kick away the blues, check out Jenny and the Mexicats in this NPR tiny desk concert.

Anyone else in a community chorus? Any ideas how to deal with the let-down blah feeling afterwards?

 

The Power of Art Supplies

scouringrush

Sometimes, during rainy days, I practice using print materials.

Never underestimate the power of art supplies to allow kids to dream, teens to learn, and adults to grow. In college, I started out as an art major then switched degrees (keeping the art minor). I’ve carried what I learned from the classes (skills and a sense of space) along to every workday. I am not a professional artist.

But I still take tiny art vacations that allow me to reset my creative soul / sense of self / internal rhythm.

I’ve suggested taking art vacations to people who felt stressed, and one of the people I spoke with at a conference said, “That sounds interesting, how do you do that?” I had to stop and explain a little, but it occurs to me that busy professionals might want to take a mental vacation from their work cell phones. So let’s all unplug and focus on the page.

Gather your supplies prior to your next work trip, day trip or vacation. Like fishers collecting their gear or a photographer getting her kit together…

  • Pencils (2B are fine, as are colored pencils — but make sure you have eraser and a sharpener)
  • Pens (some people use ballpoints; you can also use markers or a Sharpie)
  • If you have watercolors, a brush, and watercolor paper, bring them along (along with a plastic cup for water)
  • Grab a leftover pad of sketch paper, plain paper, or recycling paper
  • Bring a list of parks and museums near your hotel
  • A bag to carry your supplies

Here’s the beauty of an art vacation: you don’t need to be a serious artist. It’s a vacation, where you use a different part of your brain.

If it’s raining, go to a museum and find something that inspires you that’s close to a bench. Draw what you’re looking at, or jot down images of how a painting makes you feel. Museums often have policies about the use of pen or marker, but you can always play around with your pencils and fill in with ink later.

bee-sketch

Quick sketches don’t have to be perfect; you can also snap a photo to sketch later.

If the weather is good, grab your hat and something to sit on, and sketch whatever interests you. If you want to experiment with watercolors, try wetting the paper with a brush and flowing the colors behind your pencil sketch. If your pen has waterproof ink, experiment with drawing in the sketch in the foreground, once the background is dry.

When I go on my vacations, my kit is normally packed from weekend day trips. My sketchbooks are a jumble of watercolor samples (mixing paint), ink drawings of the neighbors’ houses, colored pencil doodles of flowers at a historical museum, smudgy pencil sketches from a tavern in Europe. I challenge myself to at least a half to full hour of sketching during a trip, so I have a break from driving or talking with family. Experiment with what works for you.

Mostly: Have fun. Borrow your kids’ art supplies, and experiment. No one’s grading you, and you just may rekindle some of the joy from school art day.

Bit by the Printer’s Devil part II

 

linocut-reflect

“Reflection” – final project: combined polymer plate and linocut print, hand printed with gradient.

In 2016, I took a course in printmaking, and I got to experiment with linocut, letterpress (with a polymer plate), risoprint, and a mix of two techniques for the final process. Of the 3 techniques, I found linocut to be the most satisfying, with polymer plate in 2nd place.

 

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. If you want to personally carve the blocks, be able to hand press (using a barren or the back of a spoon), or be able to adjust colors with your brayer, so there is a gradient on the print, linocut might be for you.

    lino-jacobsladder

    Linocut print, hand printed with back of a spoon.

  2. If you want to draw something, then process it in the computer minimally for a print that shows your drawing line (sending away the file to get a polymer plate [a bit like a gummy raised sticker that gets affixed to a metal plate for use in letterpress] back), then a polymer plate might be for you. Negative: I wanted to be more hands on with creating the polymer plate so i could adjust it as I went along, but that wasn’t possible with facilities available.
  3. Letterpress is exciting, and involves putting the plate into an older press [may or may not have any real safety features], there is an inking plate up top that the rollers go over. You’re able to layer different colors but not fine tune gradients. If you want speed, this will allow you to be quick, if you’re coordinated, and able to get the paper in and out of the pins in time. [Note: I am NOT coordinated, and that story leads to blood, and we’re just not going there again.] Polymer plate isn’t limited to just letterpress. You can use a setting up press to print these, and get gradients, which was very satisfying, FYI, and very close in technique to classical printmaking (and I’m fast at that).
  4. Risoprint: great results, very satisfying for the people receiving the prints (I made a little book). Negative: I had to use computer programs to lay things out, then send the files away to have them printed at a special facility. My local printmaking teachers are in process of getting a press fixed so they can do these in house, but it is still less hands-on than I wanted. Positive: lots of color theory, adjusting the weights of grey tones in two layers that would be printed in different colors (phthalo blue on one, yellow on the other).
    risoprint-unfolded

    Risoprint: unfolded book waiting to be put together.

    polymer-plate

    Polymer plate, printed in a letterpress.

Postcards

I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?

 

 

Taking a time out for Christmas

I’m going to take a brief blogging break, while I focus on Christmas, family, and enjoying the fire in the fireplace.

xmas2014

Peace, and happiest of days to you.

(Picture is taken from a Nativity Scene by an unknown Italian artist, circa: 1650 to 1675. In this scene, God overlooks the scene off on the right, a bit like Zeus, actually. He got cropped out by my camera. Picture is in the Baltimore Museum of Art).


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