Saturday, October 12, 2019

IF: History

   This week's Illustration Friday topic is History, and it took me a while to decide that this image fit the description. Weaving has a long history as a metaphor for the fabric of life and culture. And often, the stories of history are told with patterns of thread that miraculously combine to illustrate them. This weaving has a history too, because it once had little figures within it. But they took the spotlight off the weaving itself, so I painted them out. On the way to repairing the surface, I liked this in-between stage in which the figures are gone, but evidence of their presence remains. Kind of like how many people remain with me long after they are gone from my daily life. The title of this one is Tapestry.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Three Level Stones :D

This makes me very happy.

   After the last time I grained, with no success, I was convinced I was missing a piece of the graining puzzle. It turns out I was, but it was only a matter of seeing the problem from the other side. I think I have the gist of it now.
   I'm so lucky because my excellent teacher Rebekah from my class at Zygote last summer is willing to help me long distance. And I'm talking really long distance, because she is currently in the middle of a two month long artist's residency in Taiwan. So bless her heart twice.
    I wrote to her with my questions about graining and she sent back three whole sets of drawings that detail graining patterns and which one to use under certain circumstances. That was my ticket.
     Today, we started fresh with two different stones. I now have a student working with me who is a true problem solver. That is another piece of luck, a couple times over, because he can think and he is tall and strong, two things that I am not. Litho takes quite a bit of muscle, and it sure was nice to have someone to take turns with. And to help carry heavy tubs of water.
     Admittedly, the stones were pretty level to begin with. By the time the previous images were grained out of the stones (one of them was very dark, so it took a while. I'll have to remember to keep better track of the cycles so we know what to expect), the smaller stone was level, but the big one on the bottom was low on the edges. I was kind of discouraged, because it wasn't like that when we started. We had made the stone worse! My student had to go and I sat down with a thump to think about it.
   Then came the aha moment. Instead of thinking that the edges were low, I should be thinking that the center was high.
   If you use two stones that have the same problem as graining partners, like two convex stones or two concave ones, used together they will even each other out. One of the stones I grained last time was convex, so I hauled it out and used it to grain Fred, the bigger stone on the left in the photo. I did three cycles of 100 grit, dried it off, and yay. A level stone.
     We'll polish them next week, and then we can start drawing. Two of the stones will be used for etching charts, one for crayon and one for tusche. My student gets to draw on Fred.
    It's slow progress, but we're getting there. I just need to remember to look at things from the other side.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Look what I got :)

     Well, I'm being held captive by a mountain of grading, but I'm being kept alive by sneaking to my easel or marimba for a few minutes during breaks. Two classes to go and then I can get some work done.
     In the meantime, look at this! Our excellent student assistant 3D printed this for me after I mentioned that if I ever get a stone grained to level, I would probably draw the knot as a first litho in the shop. I've been turning this over and over in my hands to try to get it to match up with the first one, but now that I see it here, I think it is a mirror image of the simpler version. I love the complexity of it; I could get lost in all of those negative shapes. Plus, the cast shadows are amazing. I think I'll grain that stone with the ultra fine #5 grit (which makes no sense, because all the other grits are numbered in the 2 and 3 digit range, but whatever). It's fun when you can imagine how something will look before you even start it.
    I've also recently realized a mistake I made in drawing the first one, which is that I based it on a cube and it isn't one. I haven't actually measured the proportions yet, but my guess it is more like half a cube. What do you call that?

Friday, September 27, 2019

The tree is out and the pots are staying

    It's been a long week of school and administrative work. I still have another pile of it waiting for me. But, I snuck down to my studio to see about the tornado painting. 
     Last week I drew the tree in along with a couple other elements and left it alone. I've been having misgivings about the tree idea ever since. Plus, I like the pots. I like the scale difference between them and the tornado. 
     I guess I needed to live with the possibility for a while before I knew it wasn't right. Like so many other things.
     Anyway, I have an idea for a new element, so we'll see how it goes.
     In the meantime, I'm working on this little one, too. It comes from a dream, and it was so simple the image stuck with me. It's hard to see, but there is a cord with a knot at the top drawn in. We'll see how this one goes, too.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

IF: Dream

  Dreams have always been a source of inspiration and pleasure for me. I've kept dream journals for much of my life, and many of my images are directly derived from them, When my son was just beginning to talk, I would ask him about his dreams when we woke up every morning. For a long time, he didn't have an answer. But one day, he offered up that he had dreamed about his toy trains, which were a big hit in our house at the time. I'm glad for this opportunity to relive this lovely memory with my contribution to Illustration Friday's topic of the week, Dream. The title of this one is Dreamer in Training.
     I am also glad for the chance to show it again, because I recently corrected a minor mistake in perspective in this piece. It was a small error, but it has always bothered me. So here it is in its new and improved form.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

You win some, you lose some

   The good news is, the portable graining station works just fine. I found a tray with a lower profile lurking in a cupboard, which suits me better because I don't have to lift the stones so high to get them out of the tray. 
     The bad news is, after about 2 hours of graining, I still don't have a level stone. And the worst part is, I think I might have a wedge shaped stone on my hands. 
    These two are my fifth and sixth experience with graining. It is has never been an easy task. I'm hoping that practice makes perfect.
    I'm considering using a much smaller stone to grain these next time, instead of using them together. Maybe then I can focus on the areas that are high and stop reducing the low areas. 
    I'm also thinking about offering extra credit to certain students (ones with muscle, stamina and a knack for detail work) in exchange for graining labor. Would that be fair?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

What I am thinking

Maybe I'll do this.
Yup, the pots will have to go.
Maybe we'll see if some crows would work instead.