Friday, February 25, 2011

More Hearts, More Words ...

I thought I'd post another of the hearts I monoprinted at the Richmond Art Gallery a few weeks ago. This one was based on the same basic drawing as the previous one, but I wanted it to look very different ... well, as different as one could expect being exactly the same size and shape and colour palette. The amount of watercolour paint I used for this one was so dense that I was actually able to make three increasingly faint prints from a single base painting.

I always had in mind that I would add text, although I wasn't quite sure what text and how I would add it. In the end I chose the very simple method of writing a poem in white ink over the whole piece. Yes, I know that some of the text disappears and is therefore unreadable, but I like it all the same. I created the monoprinted hearts for a project initiated by Melissa McCobb Hubbell, and she set not only the size and the theme but also the colour scheme ~ reds, pinks, browns, white, ivory, etc. This heart (okay, its twin) has been trimmed to 6"x6" and is one its way to Melissa, but abiding by my always make two rule, this one remains untrimmed and I've kept for myself. I might even frame it. I think.

The poem was written for the project. One of the things I *can* do (apparently) is produce a little verse on a particular topic fairly quickly. A few quiet moments concentrating deeply on something usually gives me a satisfactory result. My mother-in-law claims that I can do this because I am Welsh, and the Welsh are (according to her) able to knock out an ode without any undue effort. For many years now I've been trying to tell her that I'm no more Welsh than the next person, but she insists I am, based on my last name (19th most common last name in Wales). By this logic, my partner (her son) would be Canadian based solely on the fact that his last name is the 10th most common in Canada, although he's actually English (as were his parents, etc etc ad infinitum).

Monday, February 14, 2011

What I'm up to ...

Yeah, I know, two posts in one day, what am I thinking?

I was updating the long column of stuff to the left of my posts, and suddenly realized that probably not many people read that far down, so I thought I'd post it here as well ...

READING: Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich
by Stephen Leacock. Written in 1914, a very funny satire of the upper crust of the American nouveau riche at the turn of the previous century in an unnamed but very New York-ish metropolis. At one time considered to be a better read than his classic Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and I can see why. But then I grew up in small towns, so I already knew their foibles. The foibles of the rich are infinitely more exotic.

WATCHING: Documentaries on TV. Have also recently re-watched Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, The Time Traveler's Wife and Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, all while working in the studio, so not *really* watching, more like listening while I work.

LISTENING TO: NPR online archives, especially Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! I think they should do a show featuring the answering machine messages that Carl Kassell makes for the people who win their phone quizzes. Also digging the latest Radio Lab releases.

DOING: Mini-zines, Collaboratives & Tidying Up: I'm still making mini-zines once a month for a swapbot series. I recently launched a fabric collaborative book on the theme of Winter Trees (not due till May). I'm 2/3 of the way through 3 heart-themed exchanges hosted by other people. Prepping for Artfest (what oh what to make for trades!?), and I'm trying the take advantage of the slowdown at work to make some sense of the piles of stuff I call my studio.

ENJOYING: Links my brother sends me: What can I say? He knows my quirky tastes and sends me fun stuff to look at, here are a few that I've really enjoyed lately ...

- Animation of the human body as a machine
- Carl Sagan versus Astronomy
- How birds might use quantum entanglement to sense Earth's magnetic fields - okay, I see you out there doubting that this might be something I was already interested in, but I was just listening the other day to TWO documentaries about this ... one on how carrier pigeons find their way, even when they're blindfolded and driven hundreds of miles from "home", and another on magnetic pole reversal (did you know that the magnetic north pole wanders all over the north?) and how a reversal of the magnetic poles might affect bird migration.

And (since I was posting anyway) the pic is another of the hearts I monoprinted yesterday. This one will probably get stitching and mica buttons added to it.

Okay that's probably enough for today .... now it's back to tidying for me!

The Heart of the Matter

I don't usually work with hearts as a rule, but in the last month I've done three projects using hearts as a theme. What can I say? When you get an invite to a project that looks intriguing, you give in and go with it.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at a new adult art program at the Richmond Art Gallery called "Let's Make Stuff!". The idea is to bring something you're already working on and play in a creative environment with other artists.

Kathy invited us to try using their monoprint press, and since I'd come with no fixed idea on how to proceed except to make something heart-shaped, it seemed a good time to experiment.

I drew a basic heart shape, then overlaid it with a stiff acetate plate painted with gum arabic. Using watercolours I outlined the heart in black, and then loosely painted in the heart in red, and filled the background with a nice woody brown. After everything is completely dry, the acetate plate is put paint-side up onto the bed of the press and covered with a high-rag content print paper that has been soaking in water for about an hour (I squeegeed the paper between two sheets of blotter paper to remove the excess water first).

Sheets of heavy felt are laid over the paper/plate sandwich and then the whole press bed is crank-fed through the rollers. Then the print is gently pulled off the acetate plate, and you get what you hope is a decent print. Kathy told us this kind of printmaking has so many variables (roller pressure, moisture levels, paper quality, how you apply your initial paint to the plate, etc. etc.) that it takes years to predict accurately what's going to come out the other end.

Yesterday all of us seemed pretty pleased with what we got - and we all did wildly different things. Including pulling second and third (increasingly faint) prints off our painted plates (the term monoprint does rather imply ONE print per plate). Some people even ran the same paper through with the plate rotated to get a ghosted image interacting with the initial strong image. Ah, the joy of being a newbie! Wish I'd had the presence of mind to take pictures while we were doing this - it would have been infinitely more informative.

This heart will be the base of what I'm making for one of the projects. I intend to add something to it - probably handwritten text. I might even add some small collage elements if I can find the right touches. And, following my usual "always make two" rule, I have two to play with, so I've got at least a 50/50 chance of getting something I'll be happy to send off, and a 100% chance of having something to help me remember the process for our next Let's Make Stuff! session at the RAG.

PS - Yes, I'll post the other two heart projects (both using anatomical hearts) when the intended recipients have received them. Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!