Monday, July 29, 2019

The Cricket Sang

     I just realized that I had assumed a causation between the cricket singing and the sun setting in Dickinson's poem. It just goes to show you that I grew up on cartoons and fanciful interpretations!
     Anyway, here is my final litho from the Green Lithography Workshop at the Zygote Press in Cleveland, Ohio.
     Even though I had to speed through drawing this, and I see lots of things I wouldn't let my students get away with, as far as ease of printing, this is my best litho yet. And, bonus! This time, I actually started to understand the science of this process. Rebekah, an artist in residence at Zygote, was an excellent teacher. There is a definite parallel between traditional litho and the green techniques that were the focus of this workshop, so besides the cutting edge green methods, Rebekah kept dropping these little pearls of wisdom about how to solve little problems that have vexed me for years. She is an old artist in a young person's body. 
     Now, I can't wait to get back to my classroom and start graining and exploring the press. It's going to cost a little bit to get this shop up and running, but in the end, we'll have helped keep litho alive for a new generation of students, and they won't lose their teeth in the process! ;) I'm going to have to try and wring some funds from my department, somehow. There must be a grant with my name on it somewhere.

The cricket sang,
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
Their seam the day upon.

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
To stay as if, or go.

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,--
A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,--
And so the night became. 

Emily Dickinson

Silver Lining

    Well, the press did not get fixed in time, but lucky for our class, our teacher arranged for us to print at the Cleveland Institute of Art's state of the art litho shop. Not only did it have two Takach presses, but it was air-conditioned, which was a particular blessing on a steamy printing day like last Friday. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Schizzle happens

  Well. We were on the press, washed out, rolled up and ready to print, and on the first crank, nothing moved. The press was inexplicably frozen and wouldn't turn the gears. The woman in the photo is our excellent teacher Rebekah the Unflappable, who proceeded to take apart the press to see what could be the trouble. She cheerfully proclaimed that this was a good opportunity to see what to do in case the press breaks.
    But, even though printmaking is problem solving, it is going to take more than a bunch of artists to solve this problem. Fortunately, the Cleveland Institute of Art has volunteered to let us use their presses tomorrow so we can finish our work. 
     During the downtime, I got to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. One of the exhibits, by Lee Mingwei, included a bank of cut flowers which visitors were supposed to take with them and give to a stranger. I wish I had taken a picture of the bank instead of this, but there it is. When I approached a stranger outside the building, he clearly thought I was going to ask for money, but when I told him I got the flower from the museum and was directed to gift it to someone I didn't know, his face broke into a big smile. Totally worth the trip.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Cricket after first etch

   This was drawn on the stone with litho crayons and a little bit of tusche in the water area. So far so good! The image will be flipped when it is printed. Tomorrow is printing day :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

IF: Mysterious

    This week's topic for Illustration Friday is Mysterious. This is a little portrait I painted quite a bit ago, but I think she fits the topic. Perhaps she is as mystified by herself as she appears to others.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Litho Workshop

   This week, I'm attending a lithography workshop that promises to teach us how to make the litho process less toxic. Which is a very good thing since the traditional methods include things like asphaltum which contains asbestos! That's only one of the nasty things included in the process. The teacher made a joke about how if we learn these methods, maybe we won't lose our teeth. That made everybody laugh, but she explained that printmakers often lost them because they used to taste the nitric acid to see if it was strong enough to etch the stone. Yikes!
    So, I'm grateful to be here and for what I will learn. This is a picture of another student graining her stone, and mine along with it:

   The stones have to be absolutely level so that they don't crack under the pressure of the press during printing. That would be a real loss, since the stones are no longer being mined. If you have any litho stones, hang on to them, because they are precious.
    This shop was gifted many stones that had been used as paving stones in someone's yard. (Sheesh.) So, they are in rough shape and we spent the whole day getting them ready for drawing. 
    To grain a stone, one stone is rotated on top of another with a layer of iron grit in between. Since both stone are grained during this process, we took turns at the job. I think we probably did 10 rounds each, rinsing and reapplying grit between each round. And we aren't quite done! Tomorrow we will follow up with two rounds each of two finer grits. 
      This is the image I think I am going to use on my stone. I'm learning a marimba piece right now called A Cricket Sang and Set the Sun, a really beautiful and challenging (for me, at least) solo by Blake Tyson. The title came from an Emily Dickinson poem, about the crickets telling everyone it was time to stop working and start the evening. Ever since I read it, I've been mulling over doing an image about it.
     So, this cricket is supposed to be singing, except I don't really think it looks like it, yet. It's mouth is open, but it is hard to tell in this photo. Maybe it needs an instrument. Or a backup band :)  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Fussy Stage

    She's so tiny! I'm at the fussing over tiny bits of paint and value stage. Tomorrow, I'll fix the oars and try to give the boat more of a shine. 

Much Better!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Better Fix

This is the drawing I ended up using for this fix. Below is the painting with the shape I need to change drawn in. Such a lot of steps for a tiny alteration.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Oh boy! More Math!


   This is a copy of painting from a few years ago that now belongs to my friend, Olive. I painted it before I wised up about using geometry to divide planes and define forms in perspective more precisely. Every time I go over to her house, a mistake in the arch bothers me. So, I borrowed it back and I'm going to fix it. On the right is the drawing of the alteration that needs to be made. The brown on the upper right is chalk that will help me transfer the corrected arch to the painting. Now all I need to do is match the colors. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

   I'd forgotten how much fun it was to paint clouds.The poor mermaid has been going without a head or much of a tail while I try to figure these out. Lucky for me, the clouds at my house have been big and grand lately. Every time I go outside I get treated to a cloud lesson.
    When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time looking at clouds and making pictures out of them. I've had to resist making pictures too obvious in these. For the longest time, I kept seeing a puppy in the lower  left cloud structure. It was a bit of a struggle to change it so I couldn't see it anymore. I want them to look like they could be a thousand things, not just one.
     I think I need to lighten up the shadows on the landscape.