Yeah, hooray. . . it's been so long. I could not access anything on google, including my blog. But now, I'M BACK. I can't wait to share what I've been doing with everyone. See you as soon as I get my camera in action.
Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that we here in tornado alley have had quite a week of crazy weather. Joplin, Missouri is just a couple of hours south of here. Reading, Kansas is only about 10-15 miles south of where I grew up. Both were heavily damaged . . . Reading is so small that I believe almost every building in the town was either damaged or destroyed.
You would think that those occurrences would have given me a new appreciation for the power of nature and perhaps installed a bit more fear into me . . . and, really, it did. Around here, in my opinion, it's a matter of "crying wolf" though. The sirens go off frequently when nothing is going on. You become blase' about the possibility of total destruction. Imagine that.
So one day last week, someone came rushing in with the report that there was a possibility that several small tornadoes had been spotted (as opposed to one big ol' tornado) nearby. Sure enough, the sirens went off, although if we weren't listening for them, we may not have heard them in the building. Mass exodus to sub-basement containing the building's boiler room.
Very cool place with lots of old machinery, but I could not stay in one place. I wanted to see outside but of course there were no windows. . . just lots of stuff to fall on top of us if the building were to collapse. There's a definite advantage to working on the second floor. . . walking down to the boiler room doesn't take too long. But once we were down there, they would not let us go for a long time. Something close to an hour, maybe even longer.
My ADHD or maybe my claustrophia kicked in. It got hot down there. Clumps of people were clustered around laptops and Ipads. At one point, someone said a tornado was directly over the building. A security guard told me later that the clouds seem to part over the top of the building and the storm went around us. I was so glad to get out of that basement that I didn't even mind going back to work. I went back later to get these shots of the cleanest boiler room imaginable.
For some reason, Blogger is not allowing me to upload and post pictures today. Below are a couple of e-mails I received this week about my grandson's artistic endeavors. Kate is Joey's teacher at his school; Stephanie and Andy are his parents:
Dear Stephanie and Andy,
Last week I admired a piece of Joey’s; his grill, and asked if he would let me keep it. Joey agreed that I could take the grill home, but that I should also bring it back to school. I have enjoyed the grill all weekend, and have returned with it to school today.
The grill is pinned to the wall above the painting easel.
I respect Joey, and I like his work a lot. I wonder if I could ask Joey if I could buy this piece from him? I would be proud to make such a transaction if you and Joey approve.
E-mail from Stephanie (an attorney, as if one couldn't tell from the text)
As you may know, Joey made a picture of a grill (attached). His teacher asked him last week if she could take it home with her. Joey grudgingly acquiesced, but asked that she return the picture on Monday. The teacher held up her end of this gentleman's agreement, but asked Joey Monday whether she could buy the picture from him. As he is a minor, the well-advised teacher understood the need to consult us in creating a binding contract with him. We gave permission, and the parties entered into grill-picture negotiations yesterday. The net result was that the parties had a meeting of the minds involving the following terms: Kate purchased the picture for the due and valuable consideration of a) three pieces of scrap paper; b) extra fruit at lunch; and c) five crisp new dollar bills. I believe that said dollar bills are earmarked to be used at the "concussion stand" at Betsy's next softball game. (As an aside, a week or so ago, Joey tried to purchase both Skittles and a Sprite at the concussion stand with a dollar, and learned a hard lesson from the oh-so-pleasant woman running the stand: you cannot buy Skittles and a Sprite for only $1.00. Apparently, Joe, like ScarlettO'Hara, plans never to go hungry again to the concussion stand. The upshot here: Always understand the motivation of the person with whom you are negotiating.) At the close of negotiations, Joey remarked, "I'm a businessman, Mom. Let's do some business!" Indeed.
I wish I could upload Joe's art. Subsequent to these transactions, Joe has apparently decided that art is a good way to make some money, as he has painted another three pictures for his "store" -- a couple of peppers and an orange.
Perhaps I can learn a few things from my grandson. . .
and tried various other experiments with the leftovers in the studio/basement? The photo above shows one of my deconstructed screen printing experiments, done on tissue paper and dipped in encaustic medium.
This photo shows a jumbled-up clump of tissue paper that got stuck together by accident and wouldn't come apart without tearing, so the whole mess got dipped in the wax.
This is the left side of a sheet of tissue paper that for weeks received the paint left over from my brushes, rollers and brayers,
and this is the right side of the same tissue paper, dipped in wax.
And just for something a bit different, this is what I see when I sit outside on my front steps. The view has improved dramatically since Spring arrived. If I could actually paint things, I would start with the wild rose bush that has just started flowering. There used to be a house in this empty four acre lot; I have seen deer and a coyote. The neighbors tell me there are raccoons, possums, and a bobcat. I doubt the bobcat, but they swear. I do have a huge cat that hangs around my house, but she's pretty tame, so I don't think she's the bobcat.
Yep, I'm pretty pleased with myself. First of all, my camera is working again and I'm actually posting something on this blog. I have been enjoying all these other wonderful blogs and photos and paintings that everyone else has created, and contributing absolutely nothing. But here are some offerings. . .
These are all approximately 5"x7" monoprints from bigger paintings that I have been doing, on some linen-like paper no longer in use from the office. These monoprints tend to accumulate in various stages of completion, while I just keep layering stuff, until one or two finally look like they might be done. Everything about these is spontaneous, completely accidental. Doesn't say too much about my talent, does it?
These three combine all kinds of techniques I've been trying out recently. There is, of course, a bunch of acrylic paint. But there is also some of the deconstructed screen printing here, as well as using some of the thickened dye past without the screens. And lastly, just because I could, I dipped these in some encaustic medium. The backgrounds where there is no paint or dye are beautifully translucent, but I can't figure out how to display them so that's noticeable. Right now I just have black mats around them, which is okay, but they need to have light shining through them.
Two other accomplishments: (1) I got my Ipod working again, and all the songs on the Ipod downloaded back into the computer. I was afraid that when my playlist disappeared from the computer, all the songs I had dowloaded were lost. But no, it's so easy to get them back that I'm embarrassed that I hesitate as long as I did. (2) I went back to the old house and dug up a bunch of perennials and brought them back to this house. So yesterday I got them all planted. Mostly hostas and daylilies, which should be fine. And I planted the little blue pot above, too. Today I am starting another canvas, and I'm going to plant another two big pots, and then I'm done until I amass enough money to buy more. . .
Literally I have been having dreams, snippets of insight, flashes of inspiration, about a project that I've been thinking about. The things I want to include are absolutely MIXED media, everything from oatmeal (the color and the texture) to rusted paper to drywall compound, to canvas, scrim, burlap, threads, twine, newspaper, paper clay, papier mache. . . I have a notebook with four pages devoted to lists of things I want to include in this. . . project. . . thing. . . assemblage. Layers, digging through, tactile. . . all tones of natural, from white to ecru to beige to gray to black to rust, but all totally natural, in that it comes from a natural process, even if you have to fake it. painted corrugated cardboard, weathered cardboard, dangling things, rolled paper, rolls of used adding machine tape, dipped in wax, burned with an incense stick (by the way, I have rediscovered incense. . . it's way cool to smell if you don't use it in a tiny enclosed area) to created rows of little holes. . . and of course I have been collecting pictures, going through all my old photos, taking new ones, looking at everything with a new eye. . . an artist's eye. I can't wait to get started. But first, I must go get my hair fixed. Honestly, first time in a looooong time. I will be newly blonde when I start my project. Oh, that's a good color. . . blonde.
Not long ago I listened to an interview of a famous photographer who was, on occasion, terrified when she went into her darkroom/studio. She was afraid it would be the last time she would create anything.
(Another trash heap, this one created by me)
I, too, am terrified. I'm terrified that I have already created the last thing I'll ever create that worth anything,
(All these collages are old, hidden away on my computer)
and I didn't realize it at the time.
(Because I haven't created anything for a while)
I am not necessarily thinking about anything sellable, just something that will satisfy me. The talent I see on the internet is staggering. Overwhelming. Creativity gone wild. Besides, Target and Home Goods sell perfectly agreeable art at prices that even I could afford (well, maybe not that cheap) so why would anyone buy my art.
(So I'm whining about it now)
And the fact remains, I haven't created anything good enough in months. I am reluctant to go down to the studio: it's too cold down there, it's too dark, it's a mess and I can't find anything I need because it's all packed up and I don't want to unpack because what if I have to move again and then I would have to pack it all up again. Oh, I have every excuse. . . yet I know the real reason. I'm afraid I won't be able to do it any more.
I've been through something like this before, many times even. I know something will happen that will see me through but I also know I need to keep working, making crap until I don't make crap any more. And I can't do that unless I go downstairs. Maybe that rodent of Betsy's and Joe's, whether human or animal, has something to do with my ennui. Perhaps it's time to banish that rodent. (Latest clue in rodent identification and entrapment: a chicken bone on the living room rug.)
Since Monday was a holiday for both Betsy and me, we spent the day together. Betsy and Joe are convinced that my new house is either haunted or has been invaded by a mysterious "rodent, either human or animal" (per Betsy; and yes, I have known human rodents) and since the idea of a haunted house gives them nightmares, they have decided to detect and rid me of my rodent.
So when Betsy came to my house on Monday, she had an old-fashioned makeup case stuffed with things she would need to detect the rodent: a digital camera (kiddy-style); notebooks, pens, penlight; etc. She took pictures of anything that looked suspicious: tracks, the doggie door in the basement, the mysterious hose that turned itself on and spewed water all over the back yard, the puddle of water on the basement floor (because, "you know, Nana, not all urine is yellow." I don't want to know how she knows that.)
When she could reach no logical conclusion as to what was creeping around my house, she decided she wanted to "screen paint" and screen paint she did. Then she really got into using different things around the basement to make textures. When she wasn't painting, eating at Burger King, or picking out 20 books for me to buy her so she could give them to her teacher (which didn't happen), she was writing a book for Joey on the computer. What a kid.
When we got back to Betsy's house, Joe was very excited. In his art class that day, he had made me a rodent trap. Actually, he really did a very good job for the 3-year-old. You could tell he had put some thought into it. It was a paper trap with three sides, like an A-frame house, with the back fixed in place and a flap on the front for the rodent to enter. It was taped up securely. He was so proud and I was very impressed. He has a career in architecture or pest control in his future.
Remember always to play like little kids at the serious business of making art.
Not just voluntarily, either, but eagerly. The temperature reached the 70s this week, and off I went on my lunch (1/2)hour with my camera. Not surprisingly, within a few blocks of where I work, I stumbled upon a building that had either fallen down or was in the process of being torn down. These pictures are from that place. I know, the one above is a bit weird, but that's probably why it appeals to me. I like the upper gray-white background with the orange bits.
My usual method of taking picture during lunch is definitely point, shoot, and get the hell out of there, which kind of limits what I'm left to deal with when it comes to editing the pictures. Many times I've wished I would have taken more time to actually study up close what I'm shooting. Like above, I don't know that the stones are necessary to the picture, but I kind of like the red stuff, which I truly hope is paint.
And here, I don't really like my crop, now that I see it here. Possibly this should be two separate pieces.
Love the natural crackled surface and the colors on this one. I think you can click on all of these and get bigger photos.
Okay, this one was taken in the parking lot across which I walk every day. And it was very very cold that day. And this is a puddle of ice. With a piece of chewing gum in it. I did not take this on the wonderfully spring-like day last week. I actually stopped on my way in to work and just pulled out the camera and shot this when the temps were probably below zero. And this one definitely needs cropping and editing. But don't you love the gum?
Long weekend for me; a benefit of working at a bank. Hope with me that I can get that painting done. It's calling my name. . . .
I generally despise these made-up commercialized semi-holidays that do nothing but make people spend a lot of money on a lot of nonsense. A bit of advice to the lovelorn: make everyday Valentine's day. Having said that, I will climb down from my soapbox, and on the way down, I will have an attitude adjustment.
This is a photo I posted on this blog a couple of years ago. I had been working on some monoprints and Betsy and Joe had left these red plastic cupcake molds around the house. The two just seemed to fit together. . .
I had the best week. . . started some art but didn't finish anything and have nothing yet to show for my farting around, as Leslie Avon Millerwould put it. I took some photocopies of some of my unfinished stuff and hung them up around my cubicle at work. Now I can look at these and try to figure out how to improve or complete them as I work on taxes or CD interest or talk on the phone. Sometimes the best ideas sneak up when I'm thinking peripherally.
Hugs and kisses x o x o x oblah blah blah . . . oops, bad attitude.
Have you all read or heard of Malcolm Gladwell's theory that being an expert at something takes a lot of work. . . his estimate is 10,000 hours. Well, this week's work did nothing but add to that total.
I have tried on this blog to post everything I create, whether I believe it to be good, bad, indifferent. I learn something from everything I make, and sometimes I learn that it's just not good enough. I figure anyone reading this blog could also learn from my mistakes or misbegotten efforts.
Which exactly is how I feel about these small pieces. I also learned that there is not one good place in this house to take good photographs, although it would help to have good subject matter.
I wouldn't say I was completely cured of my recent obsession with deconstructed screen printing. It's a ton of fun. And I learned from that process, too, which was the whole point. I certainly was never going to give up painting for screen printing. I wanted to figure out how to apply some of the screen printing technique to what I do. I also had a chance to unpack and re-evaluate and appreciate again some of the things I use to make texture and pattern.
We had snow this week. . . a lot. I spent a bunch of time shoveling, missed a day of work, froze my ass off down in the basement, but I am getting back in the swing of this art making business. Have a great week, everyone. Make more art.
for screen printing. . . deconstructed screen printing, anyway. The photos are terrible, I know. . . but I haven't used the camera for so long and I'm sure the settings need to be adjusted. Bear with me here. . . The picture above shows probably the first pull I did ever. . . didn't turn out too badly, did it?
I'm pretty sure this is the same screen as the first picture, but I added some red, hoping to get a good rich brown, but I quite like this result, too.
And here is totally different screen, larger than the first one.
And I think this is yet another screen, but it could be the same as #3. This one is interesting to me because the thickened dye I used wasn't all that thick and it dripped down, leaving those charming little circles to print off.
I am learning a lot. I printed all these on tissue paper, although I have printed on other papers I have around the studio, too. I chose these photos based only on whether the pictures were blurred or clear. The print paste and the thickened dye were what I had on hand. . . I have not yet been able to find back the powdered dye I need to make a new supply, and this supply was old and probably not as effective as a new batch would be.
I learned that putting the thickened dye on the back of the screen and laying objects in it will result in a screen that will last longer than if you put the screen on top of the objects and pull through it. I'm learning that the thickness of the dyes and the print paste make a difference in the finish product. I also learned that you can monoprint with this technique, and I have even screen printed over the top of some small pieces of stretched canvas that were waiting to be painted. Now I know, too, to always wear those damned gloves or you will have colored fingertips.
Don't know what I'm going to do with this tissue paper. Probably use it for collages. I did take some photocopies of one piece on the new color printer at work (but for heaven's sake, don't tell anyone I did that) and the results were astonishingly good. Oh, it's so good to be back experimenting, and saying, "what if I. . . " again.
Nope, sorry, these aren't the results. My camera's batteries are dead, and since I have $3 to last me until next payday, I had to rethink my priorities and batteries didn't make the cut.
(I wonder why I picked this picture to show. . . blah.)
It is so much fun. . . deconstruction of anything is always fun. I used some old printing ink and print paste that I had mixed up a long time ago, and it really wasn't that good, but I got the idea of what to do. So I just finished playing the mad scientist in the kitchen with the blender (that will not be making any magaritas anytime soon because I had to use the good one because the one for the studio shot craps) and made up good clean batches.
You know how when you move, you pitch stuff that you think you will never need again and swear that you will never accumulate that much junk again in your life? That's what I did with all my extraneous plastic covered bowls, you know the kind, from butter or yogurt or deli meat. I had nothing to but my dyes into when they were blended. My kids' plastic drinking cups now will never touch human lips again.
And of course all my dyes are packed away somewhere and I can't find them. So I had to mprovise, since new dyes didn't make the budget either. I used some of the old thickened dye and combined it with the new print paste and made colors that way. I also used some of the used print paste, and it made a beautiful shade of copper. I hope art doesn't suffer from frugality. As if frugality is the only thing that would make my art suffer. Talent helps.
Next week, I believe the budget will allow for batteries, so I will show you all what I've come up with. I'm trying to figure a way to utilize this technique in my paintings. A good thing about moving is that I have rediscovered a huge amount of good stuff to make impression on the screens, as well as using them to create texture in my paintings. I'm off to have a wonderful art-filled weekend while it snows some more, again.