Archive for the ‘show’ Category
albero d’Italia, uno. (Italian tree, one.)
Intaglio drypoint with blind embossing
albero d’Italia, due. (Italian tree, two.)
Intaglio drypoint with blind embossing.
These two prints inspired the Tree Dreaming Deep suite. They are both Intaglio drypoint prints, drawn on a 7 x 5” copper plate. I created these at my first artist’s residency in Florence, Italy. The scratches in the background of the plate come from the stone paving in Florence. Everywhere I walked I carried copper plates with me. I set them face down on the stone paving outside my apartment, outside the studio, on the street, and scuffed the surface of the plate, collecting molecules from Italy, adding them into the plate and the prints pulled from the plate.
The yellow print comes from a quick sketch on an art history walking tour while I was in Florence. The guide, Dott.ssa C, was a friend of the Cardinal, and we had special permission to gain access to the Cione and Orcagna frescoes upstairs in the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Maria Novella. Nardo di Cione and Andrea Orcagna created frescoes from Dante’s Divine Comedy, showing Purgatorio and Inferno, created in 1357. The fresco on the right wall is divided into circles as described in Dante’s poem. The golden yellow tree comes from the background in this fresco.
Later I was in Verona with my poet friend CA, for a presentation of our collaborative broadside suite, Italia. The terra cotta red tree comes from a drawing in my sketchbook made while I was in sitting in a caffè, in the main piazza in Verona. The tree was trained to grow in a large square terra cotta pot, residing next to a door. I wondered what would happen if the spiraling tree trunk caused the tree to spring into the air, suddenly rootless.
September 1, 2011
The exhibit opens later today. Soon I’ll upload the new print suites to the portfolios section of my web site. I’m very tired, good tired. Tired in that way that says one has stretched oneself and grown. Tired from sustained creative effort in the studio. I’m tired and happy. An artist must create, must work with her hands.
All the images begin in my illustrated journals or sketchbooks. As I’ve gotten older, and gained confidence in my work, I find that the writing feeds the image making. And the image making feeds the writing. When I run out of words for the writing, I turn to making images. When the prints or drawings or watercolor paintings no longer say what I hope for them to say, I turn to writing. It’s nearly seamless, this creative process.
It has taken me a long time to get to this place, confident in my work, skilled in the processes I use, following The Muse wherever she leads. There are happy accidents in all creative work–that moment when everything comes together and something magical happens. One idea gives me another idea, that one piled on top of the first idea jumpstarts still another idea. They snowball, gaining momentum as I work. It’s a very happy place for an artist to be in. In the moment. In the groove. In the flow.
While I’m focused on my studio work again, and happily productive, the rest of my life recedes into the background. The domestic chores take a back seat. I have no creative energy left over to even think about cooking dinner. I continue to work at my university [for money], yet work is something I do to live. The people I encounter at the university are the most important thing. In my job helping, encouraging, and mentoring faculty and students is fulfilling. It’s real. It matters. These are people’s lives. Teaching and mentoring are very important. Teachers help students put feet under their dreams. Paper pushing is my least favorite part of my job. After awhile it does not feel as though I am doing anything real.
It’s not as real as planting trees, and getting dirt under my fingernails. Making art is real, just like gardening. Making art is grounded, sensual. I get ink on my hands, smell the new ink, fresh in the just opened can, smell the lavender baby oil I use for clean up, touch beautiful cotton rag papers imported from Hahnemuhle, Rives, or Somerset papermaking companies in Germany, France, or England. The Japanese and Thai papers I use for chine collé are silky smooth and translucent. Some have bamboo flecks. Some have bark chips and strong silky gampi threads. They have names like Dragon Cloud Paper. The etching plates leave a deep embossing in the paper. The incised lines from the etching plate become dimensional, raised lines embossed into the paper in the final print. Art making is a sensory experience and I revel in the smells, textures, colors.
When the image is finally resolved, I hope it is universal in appeal.
It feels good to be back in the studio, working hard.
August 12, 2011
When I began this blog I had good intentions–like all journal-keepers–of writing every day or at least several times a week. Then Life Stuff happened. Work happened. Doctor visits. Grocery shopping. Attending a friend’s birthday party. After a woman reaches fifty, no one mentions what year we are celebrating. Fifty-five? Fifty-six? Fifty-seven? Caring for my Boston terrier, Magnolia. Caring for the two feline companions. Laundry. Watering the garden. Weeding. Needing and meeting a new lawyer in Montgomery. He was kind, and gracious, and no-nonsense, and very good at what he does.
What are we so busy doing?
I am in the middle of final preparations for a solo exhibit that opens on September 1st. Continuing the Illustrated Journal Series–there are several. Giornale à Corciano, Giornale à Firenze, Giornale à Perugia, Giornale à Venezia, Giornale Umbria. The Lost Bay Journal, from my first trip to Voyageurs National Park. And the new one, the Oxford Journal, from my second trip to the University of Oxford. Even a few pages from a trip to Chicago. For the last round of solo exhibits I did in 2008, I had eleven pieces finished. For this next solo exhibit, I hope to have thirty. The presentation has changed, as the work continues to evolve. The etchings come from my illustrated journals–my sketchbooks. For each two page spread there is the addition of hand watercolor painting and Italic calligraphy, so each piece is one of a kind.
It’s not really a current solo exhibit without something still wet and drying in the show. I don’t know a painter who doesn’t have something still wet hanging in a show. As a printmaker I have to be careful to get the paper thoroughly dry, and the ink layers surface dry. Like an oil painting, most prints are not completely dry for a few months, or even a year.
The Tree Dreaming Deep suite is continuing, evolving as I work. So far I have four new trees finished in a mixed media limited edition print series. There is a wet sand colored one with fine reddish bark chips in the chine collé, a red one with chiri bark chip chine collé, a Wedgwood blue one with Thai paper chine collé, a green one with unryu silver and gold leaf chine collé. The next one will be sunny yellow. I’ll use greenish bamboo fiber paper for the chine collé. I hope to complete the sixth in the series, possibly with violet ink. I intend to edition each tree in the series, and have been writing poetry to accompany these images.
While working in the studio, I suddenly saw a one-of-a-kind book from these plates, complete, coffee table sized, fully realized in my mind’s eye. When I’m in the studio, working, my mind free wheels and many new ideas arrive. Some are fully realized in my head, others are mere inklings. As I work, I make notes and write poetry in my sketchbook, or on a handy scripit of paper, before I lose the ideas. Another possibility: the cancelled plates can become another form of art, one-of-a-kind. Visitors in my studio while I was printing the edition for Flying with Chagall, gave me that idea. The plates are really beautiful–different from the prints, art objects that have their own life.
Some random thoughts on the Tree Dreaming Deep series:
Do trees envy birds?
What do they name a tree
that flies from bird to bird?
degli artisti pratica. quotidiano.
Maurizio and Camille. Pen and ink.
Maurizio e Camille. penna ed inchiostro.
July 19, 2011
Last weekend I poured over my old sketchbooks, looking for a section of cat studies. I read the writing, and discovered grammatical errors, and a problem with tenses. The writing contained in my illustrated journals and sketchbooks is an invitation to remember. When I begin re-writing passages, I remember still more of the events and moments that led me to draw, to study these subjects through my drawing and writing.
I know these as Sig.ra Clara’s Cats. For some time I have entertained the idea of using these as inspiration for a small limited edition letterpress book.
These drawings and studies are visual observations. I often return to my sketchbooks and journals to search for ideas that turn into other art works. In my work it is probably obvious that I look to nature for source material. An Italian told me that he liked my sketchbooks and drawings because I capture everyday life – the extraordinary in the prosaic. As an artist I am constantly stimulated by the visual world around me, and learn of still more possibilities for expression by observing, and creating drawings of what I see.
Fluffy black and white cats. Pen and ink.
gatti in bianco e nero lanuginosi. penna ed inchiostro.
ultimo fine settimana ho versato sopra i miei vecchi giornale, cercanti una sezione degli studi del gatto. ho letto la scrittura ed ho scoperto gli errori grammaticali e un problema con i tempi. la scrittura contenuta nelle miei pubblicazioni e gioronale illustrati è un invito a ricordarsi. quando comincio i passaggi di ribattitura, mi ricordo che ancora più degli eventi e dei momenti quello lo hanno condotto a disegnare, studiare questi oggetti con la mie illustrazione e scrittura.
conosco questi come gatti di Sig.ra Clara. per un po di tempo ho intrattenuto l’idea di usando questi come ispirazione per un piccolo libro dello scritto tipografico dell’edizione limitata.
questi illustrazioni e studi sono osservazioni visive. rinvio spesso ai miei giornale e pubblicazioni per cercare le idee che si trasformano in altre opere d’arte. nel mio lavoro è probabilmente evidente che osservo alla natura per la materia grezza. un italiano mi ha detto una volta che ha gradetto i miei giornale ed illustrazioni perché blocco la vita di tutti i giorni – lo straordinario nel prosaico. mentre un artista io sono stimolato costantemente dal mondo visivo intorno me ed impara di tranquillo più possibilità per l’espressione osservando e generando le illustrazioni che cosa vedo.
Page from my journal. Pen and ink with calligraphy.
pagina dal mio giornale. penna ed inchiostro con la calligrafia.
i gatti saltano sulla tabella all’aperto sul mio terrazza. colpiscono le pose come i pacchi compatti di pelliccia, come le statue tozze huddled nelle posizioni messe del Buddha. torcono le loro teste intorno per esaminarli sopra le loro spalle, avvolgenti le code lanuginose lunghe intorno se stesso per riguardare i loro piedi freddi.
- 07-19-11 -
Canale Grande, Venezia. Mixed media.
July 7, 2011
Some of the postcards have minimal drawing. For this I used many different papers in the collage: a heliogravure (etching in the sun using Solarplate™), linocut, hand letterpress printed paper from Florence, Italy, maps from Venice, a teeny bit of paper from a tea bag (for color and balance). Hand-pulled prints that do not work especially well are saved for collage or use in another print as chine collé. There is text from the out-of-date guidebook, and translucent tracing vellum. Gesso provides a background and texture. Even though I intend to draw or paint on top of these, this postcard seemed to arrive at a satisfactory finished state without the added embellishment.
This weekend past I was blue. The week prior my daughter and grandson and their Boston terrier came to visit. They arrived and made themselves at home, spreading their belongings over half the house, making messes and noise. I loved every minute of it. We went places. We cooked and ate all our meals together. We watched movies and played cards. When they left the house was too quiet.
We both have to go back to work this week. It’s hard to be a responsible adult… yet the alternative is not worth considering. We just get on with things. Keep calm and carry on. M. is an excellent Mamma – she works very hard to provide for her household, to keep decent health insurance. My heart aches, knowing how hard she works, knowing that she is also raising her child alone, just as I had to do. This is what life is about, and we make the best of it.
After spending so much time in Italy, I finally feel as though I understand what family is about. Sig.ra C. was amazed that my daughter and I live so far apart. She said, “It’s different in the USA, no?” Many times I have thought of how our cultures are different and of what it would mean to live together in a larger house or duplex, to have two incomes, to help M. raise my grandson. This is what many Italians do. They often live in homes next door in the same campo or in the same the apartment building, owned collectively by the family. They share the joys and trials of life and raising children. It is difficult to do it alone.
M. and I moved because of our jobs – to have good jobs with benefits and health insurance. Our work, and the necessity of supporting our children and ourselves took us both far from our family. We are making our way in the world – alone.
My heart is blue and my house has an emptiness that is hard to fill. Last weekend I tried to go about my normal routines, yet just could not quite get it together.
This postcard with The Holy Mother and Child reminds me of the important bond between a mother and child. I miss my daughter and grandson terribly.
- 07-11-11 -
Lighthouse – Cagliari, Italy. Mixed media: gesso, collage, graphite, pen and ink, watercolor.
July 3, 2011
This is the view of the sea from my room (120) at the Hotel Calamosca. The water is changeable – the light glows with an intensity that I have not experienced before. Tonight we go to hear Bob Dylan in an outdoor concert by the sea.
I created this little mixed media card while sitting on the balcony outside my room at the Hotel Calamosca sul mare on the island of Sardegna. Interesting to see how I focused on this image, even though I was quite far away. It’s as though I used a zoom lens, a combination of my imagination, eyes, and hand to draw and paint this image. Fragments from the old guidebook can be made out through the painting. I like to use text as texture and pattern in my work. It can be read in part, though the drawing and painting cover it. Whenever there is text or writing, the viewer will always try to read it. Palimpsest is often part of my work – the idea of a history, of layers of meaning, writing that has been effaced to make room for later writing, while traces of the original writing remain.
It is another beautiful, sunny day. Heat haze lies on the rocky mountains across the sea – the water is the most brilliant turquoise and indigo blue. Three nests of swallows line CA’s balcony. Her room is next door to mine. The fluttering flight of the parents and the excited chirping of the babies blends in with the soft sibilent sound of the sea, merges with the background of distant fishing boat motors humming. The lighthouse is a squat sandstone color – dun – low – hugging the rocky coast fortress-like – overlooking the sea. Watchful. I am like this lighthouse – watchful, waiting. Is there symbolism in my work? I am always looking for the meaning behind things. What can be read between the lines? There is a subtext that runs underneath every conversation.
CA, a poet, sees symbolism everywhere, too. There are hidden meanings in events, in nature. Her poetry is filled with double entendre, with a subtext. I love work that has many layers of meaning.
- 07-03-11 -
le volpie e l’uva caffè, Firenze.
Memory is a funny thing. This morning while working on my book I found this little sketch from my favorite caffè in Florence (Italy). Like most of my work it is a pen and ink drawing, with watercolor. I travel with a little watercolor kit with Winsor and Newton, Sennelier, and Daniel Smith watercolors. It is the size of a deck of cards, easy to carry. I also carry an Arches watercolor block, postcard-sized. I was sitting outdoors at le volpie e l’uva caffè, probably with a glass of wine.
From the viewpoint of the sketch, I remember the young woman sitting alone at the table in front of mine. The action of a busy late afternoon swirls around me as I sit in stillness, drawing. At times I wonder if drawing in public is a security blanket. I’ve heard photographers say that – they are distanced from people, from the action, not a part of it, while they are behind the camera, observing. When I am alone, feeling a bit shy, I can lose myself in drawing. I can meet people when I am sketching. They stop by my table, smile, ask to see my work. And immediately they know I am an artist.
Anyone can call himself or herself an artist – many do. I often think about this. People tell me the most amazing things when they stop to admire my work.
“I used to draw too.”
“I’m an artist too. I used to paint all the time.”
I wonder, and sometimes say aloud, “What do you do now?”
They look at me, puzzled.
“Do you still draw or paint?” I ask.
They look sad for a moment and say, “No, I’m too busy to do that now.”
And I think to myself, making time to make art is a choice. Probably many have some talent, though they don’t use it. The old saw about “using it or losing it” is true.
Another common exchange goes like this.
“Oh, honey, look. The lady is painting.”
A big woman nudges her husband. He looks embarrassed. “Can we see what you’re doing?”
I smile, say yes, stop what I am doing, and show them the work in progress.
“Wow. Are you an artist?” The husband looks pained and uncomfortable.
Every time someone asks me that, when I am standing or sitting outdoors, drawing and painting, I am stunned. Momentarily at a loss for words, I can’t think of a thing to say. Depending on the day and my mood, I might just smile and nod and say yes. Other days it strikes me oddly – what does it look like I am doing? Maybe they aren’t sure what art is? They treat me as though I am an exotic specimen in a zoo.
Maybe I am. Everyone knows that artists are weird.
Children are great. They ask to see my work, and when I show it to them, they say, “Wow. You’re an artist!” There is not a moment’s hesitation.
Occasionally a mother will ask politely if her child can see what I am doing. They explain, “My daughter [son] draws a lot. I think they have artistic talent. Can you show them your work and talk to them a minute?” I always do.
In Italy when I tell people I am an artist, they are polite. Then when they see my sketchbook – it’s always with me – their attitude changes. They know that I am an artist. Watercolor postcards spill out from between the pages. My journal is written in the Italic hand. When I was ten years old I learned calligraphy from my artist aunt. They ask about my work, admire my sketches and my handwriting. They laugh at the people in them, recognize places. They say, “Italy is a good place for an artist.” It’s not a question. And I always agree.
It’s the same when I go to art-related conferences. People are polite, so many people are artists, and they do not warm up to me until they actually see my work. Then I see a change. There is a before and after when meeting a new artist.
This little postcard takes me back to my first trip to Italy, living in an apartment in Florence for a month while I was an artist in residence at Santa Reparata. My friend and roommate, CA, brought me here the first time. She introduced me to G. And I came back many times on my visits to Florence. It’s my favorite caffè – and the best wine bar in Florence. I can remember the heat of the summer day, passing off in the late afternoon. The shops open at four, after the mid day pausa, and many Italians stop into their favorite caffè for an ombrette, a little pick-me-up. I try local wines, have a plate of Italian cheeses with a chunk of freshly baked bread, order a bottle of acqua frissante. On a steamy summer day that is enough for dinner. G. tells me the name of the different cheeses. He admires my work. He introduces me to locals as “The Famous American Artist”.
- 06-16-11 -