Sunday, May 29, 2011

New idea, technical questions

I have a new idea. I'm in the process of designing something for my MFA thesis show that will hopefully knock my committee's socks off. I think I know what I want to do, but I'm stuck on how.

Here's how it came about: I've been reading some contemporary versions of old fairy tales, one of which was Bluebeard, but this time, the wife avoids being killed by her husband simply by not succumbing to the curiosity of what is behind the final door. I also just read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, which has as a main element the secret language of Chinese women call nu shu. I started thinking about how throughout history, maybe keeping secrets was (is?) a survival tactic of many women, either in keeping them or respecting them.

I want to make a large triptych that opens like an altar piece, except one side will be locked, with the key available so that the viewer can open it if they want to. All of the surfaces will have printed images as well as painted elements. The problem to solve is how to build the thing. Normally, I'd just charge in and give it a go, but since this is for my thesis show, the craft has to be wonderful and I can't take three tries to get it that way. It needs to be light and strong, as well as beautifully made. Anyone know a good carpenter?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laughing Woman

For Sunday Sketches:
I've been having great fun thinking about captions for this little drypoint:

How about: "She cackled like a hag, thinking about how she would trick him. It would be for his own good."

Friday, May 20, 2011


I had a wonderful, awful day this week, 23+ hours long and filled with art, new friends and a healthy dose of odd luck. I went to see my new friends in Chicago who I met at Ox-Bow last summer. Maureen and I were in the same litho class taught by Mark P. at the AIC. Mark is a curator of prints and drawings there, but he is also an accomplished printmaker and teacher. Like me, Maureen has been an artist all her life and unlike me, has an amazing background in art history. She attended the AIC for her undergrad degree, and through her I got a peek into the art history associated with the school. It all made me want to go to Ox-Bow again this summer. We'll see.
One of the wonderful developments of the day was viewing a large work that was made up of several small woodcuts, assembled to make the image. Just like my quilts, except they were just laid out together on a big sheet of paper and framed. I'm thinking about not continuing the quilts and maybe collaging the prints end to end like this. I'm feeling the need to speed up the process.
Another cool thing was that Mark graciously pulled out some June Wayne prints for us to see, since I had just missed her show at the Institute. I couldn't have asked for a nicer day.
The bad luck came on the way home. My train broke down and we were stuck on the tracks for 4 hours. I'm no stranger to travel and I know that things like this happen and it is best to just buck up and get through it. But. On this particular train there were people who did not know this. One man also didn't know that it is very rude to have many loud conversations on his cellphone when others cannot escape hearing the conversation. I now know way too much about this stranger, and unfortunately, it isn't a nice picture.
Still, I loved the day, and discovered an excellent new novel to boot. But this post is too long already, so maybe I'll tell about it later!

Friday, May 13, 2011

First watercolors

Here's my confession: I've painted and drawn and printed and sculpted, but I've never been able to do watercolor. It has been a bit of an issue lately, because my students really want to do it, but I've been dragging my feet for lack of knowledge. Recently, I found a book called Watercolor Painting for Dummies by Colette Pitcher, and look! Here are my first two projects from it. Ms. Pitcher gives clear and useful exercises to understand how to handle this medium, and does it with a sense of humor and good fun. And, surprise! The color theory is really the same as in other mediums. I don't know why that surprises me; it makes perfect sense. These two aren't great by any stretch, but they give me hope that I can figure this thing out.

The little landscape is actually just a little sketch I've been thinking about. This is (sort of) a picture of my wedding day. Just my luck, it was a typical Michigan winter ice storm that day, and I remember seeing all the old aunts creeping gingerly down the icy driveway, trying to keep their balance, arms full of packages. Today's challenge for IF is safari, which is a long journey over land (Truly. I looked it up.). It was a journey down the driveway for them, and a long journey since then for me as well. So, please think of this little sketch as a Michigan "safari". I'm just not sure what I was hunting for, even now.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I made this drawing at the same time I made Guitar Kami and Journeyman. They are kind of a triptych, of the stages of development in learning an instrument and becoming an artist. We have a program at Ferris called Music Industry Management, a very popular program in which students learn the ins and outs of the music industry. Many of them are guitar players on the side, and they always look so cute and sort of vulnerable in their playing, underneath all the energy they put out. So, I'm entering this for today's IF challenge, beginner.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Trojan horse on hold

For those of you who are interested in the status of the Trojan horse that was so cleverly left in the KCAD building a few weeks ago by the Calvin College art students, I finally have a tiny bit of information. According to a Kendall professor, the horse has been moved to a safe location and is waiting for the Kendall students to craft a response. I've heard a couple of good suggestions, but I won't spill them here. I really hope the Kendall students don't let this pass. Maybe I'll sneak down and do the deed myself!