Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Show my Work?

Putting together a show of my work, even a small show at the local tea shop, is a LOT of hard work. Sometimes I've put up my work, and no one shows up for the opening! Last year I did sell a painting and got a commission for another, but sometimes I've sold nothing the entire show! So why do I do it?

Well, lets see.
*Making a commitment to the shop owner to show my work at a certain date, motivates me to continue to develop  my skills and imagery, to expand my thinking about the work.
 *It forces me to focus my mind and to be disciplined.
*It gives me a chance to celebrate my work with my friends, and to show them what I've been doing.
*It establishes my reputation as an artist in the community.
*It builds my inventory of work I can then photograph for cards or to sell as prints.
*It introduces my work to new people.

And I just MAY sell enough to buy materials for the next show!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Printing with Kids

Amelia and her mom really got the idea! We worked on blocking out the parts of the image where children didn't want the background color to print, and to print in more than one color. We are working on thin sheets of styrofoam, with the lines incised with a ball point pen. Amelia blocked out the grass, the clouds,  and the sun with paper cut to those shapes, then rolled yellow on the sun shaped paper and green on the grass shaped paper. She then pressed the paper shapes onto the print where she wanted those colors.

Laura didn't finish hers yet; she made her sun yellow. Next time she plans to make her horse green.

Ethan used tire tracks from a toy truck to make the boarder around his name. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Print Making in the Kitchen; Printing Without Toxic Chemicals

I don't like to work with toxic chemicals. I even avoid oil paints, or clean up with salad oil instead of mineral spirits if I must use them in printing.
 Here are two easy ways to make mono-prints, using only nontoxic materials you may already have on hand.

left: line drawing       right: watercolor on mylar   
 1. Watercolor plates
This can be done in your kitchen!

materials needed:
*90-140 lb watercolor paper or Reeves BFK
*layout paper or tracing paper
*watercolor paints in the tube
*frosted mylar
*(gum arabic)
*paper towels

The first time I use a sheet of mylar, I don't need to coat it with anything. If I use the watercolors right out of the tube, they adhere just fine. For subsequent uses of the same piece of mylar, I coat it with gum arabic.

a. Soak paper in water for about 20 minutes
b. Draw image on layout paper
finished print from maylar plate
c. Turn layout paper over to reverse the image. Place mylar over it and paint on the mylar.
Allow paint to dry. this is your printing plate.
 d. Place wet paper on dry newspaper and wipe away excess moisture with a paper towel.
e. Place printing plate upside down on paper.
you can either send it through a hand cranked printing press, or you can rub the plate with a wooden spoon so that the paint transfers to the paper. Voila! You now have a print.
f. Place your print between 2-3 layers of newsprint and put a heavy book or something on it to weight it down. 
g. To keep your print flat and drying evenly, change the newsprint every two days or so for about a week.

Turn over the layout paper with your design on it
2. Intaglio
A little more complex. Maybe on the dining room table when the littlest ones are abed? Or in the studio of you are lucky enough to have a small press.

materials needed:
*watercolor paper or Reeves BFK
*layout paper
*transfer paper
*speedball ink or Dan Smith's water based etching ink
*polyurethane paint
*cheesescloth or tule

Paint with Polyurethane
a. Start watercolor paper soaking.  Draw your image on layout paper.

b. Turn the layout paper over so that the image is reversed and place on top of matboard with transfer paper between

c. Trace over image so that it transfers to the mat board. Trace over lines with a ball point pen to deepen them.

d.  Paint mat board with two or three coats of polyurethane, for waterproofing. Let dry between coats. This is your printing plate.

e. Go over your lines on the matboard with a ball point pen to deepen them more, enough to grab the ink.
Trace design with ball point pen to deepen lines

f. Spread ink over plate. I use squares of mat board for pallet knives to spread the ink.

g. Use  cheese cloth to scrape away as much ink as you can without scraping it out of the  grooves your pen made. The Dan Smith ink stays in the grooves better than the Speedball ink does.

h. I use q tips to wipe the ink away from where I  want the white paper to show through.

i. Print using a hand printing press.Voila! You have a print! Dry as with the watercolor print.

ink the plate
This technique requires more pressure to transfer the ink to the paper, so I have always used a press to print it. It may be possible to transfer by hand with your wooden spoon, especially if you are using Speedball ink.

print from intaglio plate
print from intaglio plate wiped mostly clean except for lines, with watercolor plate

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week in the Studio

new paintings on silk--in progress-- for show
 at the Vashon Tea Shop
opening February 4th
Here's some more stuff I'm working on, which is why the tutorial I promised is taking so long. I do expect to have the tutorial ready for you by Monday!

Making prints with the print making class
 I'm teaching through Family Link
photo by Dusti Kimmel

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What use is art?

Oh my goodness, I have so much I want to share with you and so little time to write! Here are just three of them:

1. I started the Moneyflow with Mark Silver. One of the first lessons is on the Who, Who What; that is, who your business is serving (this question has ALWAYS thrown me)  and what is the problem you are solving for them.  I confided to Mark that although I KNOW art is important, the why and how of it's importance eludes me. He sent me this link for Sarah Marie Lacey. I love her answers!

One of the things Sarah has done with her art is to help someone else to achieve her dream. Through sales of her art, she raised tuition for her friend Hanna to dance again!

wiping the plate in preparation for printing

2.I'm working on the intaglio tutorial. Here is a photo I plan to include:

3.And I'm exploring using natural dyes with silk.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Girl Genius and the Steam Punk Asthetic

Steam Punk Guitar
 Kaja and Carol introduced me to Steampunk, an asthtetic inspired by the world of Jules Verne . He was the first science fiction writer, with  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth  written in the late 1800's.

As I listened to Kaja and Carol talk about this asthetic, I wondered what a Steampunk scarf would look like? What would the imagery be? What colors?

"Tilobites" said Carol, "and fossels. Ferns. They were interested in natural science" (in the Victorian age).

"Gears and machine parts decorated with delicate swirls" Kaja told me. "There was a fascination with machines, which were still handcrafted. Every part was a piece of art."

"Natural dyes"
"Browns, earth tones"

My first models for Steampunk art
--lego pieces!

Now I am challenging myself to design  scarves for Kaja Foglio and Carol Monahan that would express the asthetic of Genius Girl and the magical/scientific world of the Gaslight Fantasies. 

This is not it. These are the only gears I could find in the house--lego pieces! But I can use them. You will see.

I have not forgotten my promise to do a tutorial on intaglio printing. I'm working on it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's never too late for Christmas: River's Book

I had my doubts about taking a 2 1/2 year old to see the exhibit of Picasso's work at the Seattle Art Museum. My grand daughter can be such a squirrely girly, and what could such a young child get from it?

River came anyway, with my son and I. Sure enough, she squirmed and fussed through most of the exhibit--and yet, it was the pieces that caught her attention and her reaction to those she liked that made the experience rich and meaningful for me.

The one painting of Picasso's that caught her attention, was La Celestine (the Woman with a Cateract). River was fascinated by it and kept asking to go back and see it again. The other piece she liked was the video of Picasso scultping a duck from clay.

I think the disjointed figures and dull colors of most of the paintings contributed to her fussiness. Once out of the Picasso area, when her attention was on other art, she calmed. She loved the African Exhibit, especially the slides of people's faces, mostly Children with rich brown skin.

Adventures like these inspired me to make book for River as a Christmas gift. In fact, I thought it would make a good gift for the rest of her grandmothers and grandfathers as well as for her uncles and aunt.

It didn't get done in time for Christmas. Here it is mid-January and I just finally got the paper to print it on yesterday. Well, it's never too late for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Angel Print

 I sent this little water color angel to some folks I know who are having a really rough time right now.  The caption was, "May you be cared for as though held in the arms of an angel."

 I loved her so much, I made some mono-prints of her.

One of my favorite printing techniques uses watercolor paint and mylar. I use frosted mylar, and just paint the image in reverse. Most Windsor Newton watercolor paints work just fine, but a few colors are based on dyes rather than on pigment, and don't transfer to the paper well.

I will be teaching this technique in my print class, so I needed to try out all my colors.

They all worked!

Using my baby press, I printed the images on 90# watercolor paper that had been soaked in water for about 20 minutes.

The next step is to print the lines over the images with an intaglio plate made with a ball point pen on mat board.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Goliath gives up; the little guys win!

Saturday night I went to an Island wide celebration. There were cookies and croissants, cakes and wine, all free. There was music and dancing with the local Portage Philharmonic. The huge auditorium was packed with people of all ages. I saw friends I hadn't seen in years. And of course there was lots of speechifying.
Point Robinson, just a few miles from the proposed mine

The occasion? The mega multinational mining company, Glacier, was finally defeated--by citizen activists. Real people. Here is the story.

In 1997, Glacier announced in a meeting that it would begin mining the sand and gravel of Maury Island in 90 days. This would involve taking a HUGE chunk out of tiny the tiny island,  stirring up soil saturated with toxic arsenic from previous copper refining, poisoning the drinking water for residents, and destroying salmon spawning and Orca whale feeding grounds.

Sharon Nelson, who lives on Maury Island, was at that meeting.  Preserve Our Island was born when her husband turned to her that night and said, "so...what are you going to do about this?"

During the 13 years it took to finally defeat Glacier (which changed it's name more than once to avoid responsibility for the damages it caused). Saving Maury island grew from the concern of neighbors of the proposed mine to the passionate concern of people all over Puget Sound, Washington State, and even the nation. It involved lawyers, real estate people, scientists, judges, congress people and senators both state wide and nation wide.

It involved both legal action and civil disobedience. When it looked as though Glacier had won, people chained themselves to the gates to prevent the equipment from going in and out. A impromptu "mosquito fleet" of small boats  (kayaks, sailboats, runabouts, rowboats, ski boats, motor boats) showed up to prevent water access to the mine.

When the glacier received permits, the people sued the agencies that granted the permits without demanding adequate environmental impact statements. Scientist for the people proved that, in spite of Glacier's statements to the contrary, the proposed mine would heavily impact both people and endangered species.

No matter what victories Glacier won, the people would not give up. Even when it looked like there was no hope, the people kept on working to stop Glacier from destroying the land and near shore environment.

At last, Glacier saw that the people would not give up, and agreed to sell the land to the county for a park...AND...the People raised the money to buy the land and shore, which will be a nature preserve for ever. A place for Salmon to breed and for Orca whales to feed.

Thank you to Preserve Our Islands! And to all the people involved in the battle.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Alarm! Alarm! Alarm! Overwhelm! Overwhelm! 
This is not a Drill!
So many things are clamoring to get done, So many commitments! How will they get done?

Focus: what is most important?
*4-6 new paintings on silk to design and complete by Feb 1st
*Print class to plan for and to test materials by Jan 14th (8 sessions. I'm teaching)
*Small book to print and distribute (to family--late Christmas gift)
*The Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum--can't miss that!--before Jan 17th
*Postcard to design and order for my next show, by...yesterday?
*Starting a program on Business Think in two weeks, and another in three.
--and then I went and scheduled stuff during my studio hours! Important stuff, but...but...when do I get to actually work on the projects I've committed to?

Take a breath.


Put my work in the hands of the Divine.

Connect with my mission, to experience the Joy more deeply and to share it through my art and teaching.

Trust. Trust that the important work will get done, and it may or may not be the work I think is important.

Give thanks. Thanks for my life. My family. My home. Thanks for that Joy and Compassion that finds expression through my work. Many, Many Thanks.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Beginning to the New Year, 2011

The new year has begun and new visions are being born! New paths to follow, new adventures in the offing!

May this be  your most joyful year yet!