Friday, September 5, 2014

Sabbatical Stories

Love and Time
15" x 15"
Completed Summer 2014
pastel over monoprint

There was so much unexpected about having a sabbatical.  First, having it in the first place.  Then, "what're ya gonna do?"  Then, suddenly it starts.  Then, suddenly it's over.  This is the story of what happened on mine, through pictures of the artwork completed over these 3 months.

The original plan to use the time in my print studio evaporated when I learned that the magnificent Whelan printing press generously on loan in my basement for over 5 years was moving with its owner to New Mexico, ten days after my sabbatical was to begin.

Determined to print as much as I could in the first ten days of the sabbatical, I hadn't figured how tired I'd be from getting ready to leave the gallery for 3 months, and hadn't a clue as to what I'd print.

So, I just printed.  I spent the first day gathering the materials, without an idea in my head. Second day, I started to draw and smush the oily colors around with my latex gloved fingers, not even looking out the window, just remembering scenes, color relationships and effects that had languished in my memory.

Here are a few pictures from the studio, which I particularly appreciate because they were snapped shortly after I got up one morning - no make up, no comb or brush, definitely sloppy clothes, but you can tell how happy I was to be there.

Some 30 monoprints later, I waved goodbye to the press, and within minutes opened an email that released a floodgate of priorities from other sources, ultimately keeping me out of my pastel studio  - where I finish the monoprints - for another month.  So already, . . . the best laid plans got off to a very slow start!

First Day of School

Crowning Glory
monoprint over pastel

That feeling when everything is new, when possibilities abound, when time is on your side, like on the first day of school - that was the feeling when I finally got into my studio.

Stealing a moment from other projects, and stepping into a room filled with blinding light, without an idea in my head yet again, I simply began.  Choosing an unquestionably unfinished monoprint from the pile, I pinned it on the wall, and started drawing into it.  

Whomever was my inspiration that day, I cannot remember, except that I was to look at a great deal of Richard Diebenkorn, Zoem Walter, and Rita and of course, always Helen Frankenthaler, not that any of them would have had anything to do with this image.  The Scottish artist Joan Eardley (1921 - 1963) was a new discovery who provided many "ah-ha" moments.  Perhaps it was a brief visit with the works of J.M.W. Turner that began the first day and what was to come.  That would make sense.

Otherwise, where this came from, I do not know. I just drew into the monoprint, taking my clues and cues from what was happening in front of my very eyes - nothing else.  

After Crowing Glory was finished, it was a few weeks before I got back into the studio to work again, but I visited it often, sneaking in before I went to bed at night, gazing at this single piece, so I could dream about "what next?"

Standing Alone

Of all the works from the Sabbatical monoprint-making charrette, this is the only one that is finished and signed and stands alone as a monoprint.  It was printed twice, as you can see from the positioning of the first run below.  After the second impression was printed, it was not worked into further.  

Positioning the paper with the image of the first run on it.  

This is the plexiglass plate, with the oil stick image on it, and you can see a corner of the page already printed with its first run.  

Positioning the plate on top of the previous image.  



15" x 15"
pastel over monoprint

On Top of the World*
15" x 15"
pastel over monoprint

Wake Me Up Sky
15" x 15"
pastel over monoprint

Day Dreaming
15" x 15"
pastel over monoprint 

It's ironic to realize that while the sky has dominated my work for the last 20 years, the color blue, in all its manifestations, has never dominated my palette (or my wardrobe, a personal note, but one that makes sense to me.)  Though I have drawn many skies, when I look up, I am drawn naturally toward  dramatic times of day when blue is at a minimum.  

At least, not until this summer, was I drawn toward working with the peace in the blue skies that abounded.  You could catch me day dreaming a lot, and this is the evidence.  


Seeing double?  
One was drawn into the original monoprint, and the other was its ghost.  
Can you guess which was which?

Carnival: Moments of Truth

It's carnival season in Vermont, and county fairs abound, providing such a riot of color, sound and opportunity to have a good time.  Sometimes as you go from booth to booth, nothing seems to go together, though you wouldn't pass on any of it. . . . .which brings up these pieces about which I am perplexed.  Here is your opportunity to be an art critic and tell me whether or not these pieces should be included in the series. or not?

Do you see what's "wrong" with this image?  Well, two things as printmaking goes.  The plate was too heavily inked and when printed, it skidded beyond where it had been placed.  You can see the line made by the double impression about 3inches from the top.  

I tried obliterating the line with pastel, but that made it worse, and as much as I loved the shape of the image, and the depth added by that top 3 inches, I reduced the image to this:

Does it work for you?  I'm still not sure, and hence, no title has been given yet.

The other "mistakes" which are incorporated into the image are the stippled marks over the brown shape of the hill.  That too was the result of the plate skidding across the image.  

Raspberry Sky
15 x 15"
pastel over monoprint

Raspberry Sky is one of the few pieces that lost some of its intensity when drawn over.  Though there is definitely a glow coming from the page, I feel its spontaneity was reduced.  It has a name because it is actually very much like a raspberry, sweet and tart at the same time, so I don't want to pass up on its innate irony, but I do wish I had preserved the mountains as they were.    See print (before pastel) in lower right corner.  

Probably the most worked (over-worked?) piece of the lot, this was one of my very favorite pieces in its monoprint stage, but was lacking "something."  (See above, top row, middle image.)  Was that "something" ever found?  Not sure, but dare I admit to rotating this image twice in its development.  This was also one of the most difficult to photograph, and the picture diminishes its intensity.  To keep or not?

Monday, September 1, 2014

When you're hot, you're hot.

Truly, it was a mellow summer, with the unbearable days of heat limited to a few.  It must be recorded, though, that there were a few hours of many afternoons that to be drawing in pastel in a sun filled room was not the coolest experience.  I even turned on a fan one day, and one never turns on a fan when working in pastel.

Does the use of the color red in these pictures express the heat?  Perhaps I say yes because I do not know where else it came from.  I love it though.  I love the strawberry, watermelon, hot pink sunsets and the drinks to match them, and the swirling El Cholo skirts and the frequent flashes of fireworks in the night sky, and all those summertime experiences that can be expressed in the color red.  What else explains the following?

 4th of July
15 x 15"
Pastel over monoprint

Pushing the Color
15 x 15"
Pastel over monoprint

Watermelon Sky
15" x 15"
Pastel over monoprint

Summer Keys
15 x 15"
Pastel over monoprint


Strawberries in the Sky
15" x 15"
Pastel over monoprint

The Horizontals

The long, narrow format of landscape intrigues me, whether vertical or horizontal, especially because it's so difficult not to get lost in the middle!  For the composition to work, its core must stretch to both ends, like the trunk of a tree or a steel beam.  It's always a challenge to "pull off."

It probably doesn't matter that originally, I was planning on working in a long, narrow format all summer, but ultimately was limited to a few pieces begun last Christmas at Vermont Studio Center, and some drawings en plein air, pastels on white paper only, no monoprint.

No matter, here's what resulted.

Fog at My Feet