Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What we learn from copying

 We had two snow days in a row which meant that I got all kinds of things done at home.  One was to make our holiday card.

When our children were little I would photograph them and then make a collage with their pictures.  In later years I might make a series of original prints, and one year I made an abstract painting of poinsettias and cut it into card size pieces.  Last year I had the genius realization that I could take a photograph of one of my paintings and get it turned into a card the same way anyone turns their family pictures into a card.  I don't know why it took me so long to think of this.  I used a painting of a leafless oak tree; it was very Bleak Mid-Winter

None of my paintings from the past year seemed appropriate, so I decided to start fresh.  I was inspired by this woodblock print of travelers in the snow.  I had forgotten how fun it can be to try and copy a work of art; there are so many details you only see when examining a picture up close.  I punched up the colors because I suspect this print is pretty badly faded.  Keeping it simple, I did my version in watercolor.

It was a nice way to spend a snowy afternoon.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Yankee thrift

I always say that it is my Yankee nature that I won't throw anything away.  I will repaint and reprint over things until they look good or are beyond saving.  But then if I go to far, there is always the option of tearing and cutting apart, because, even if the whole is not good, some part of it is.  And that is why god (or Picasso and Braque) invented collage.

I had been wanting to make some collages with my dyed scraps of paper (see previous post); and I had a show coming up and wanted to have some unframed and inexpensive items to fill out my display.  These are some of my favorite collages that I made with my scraps.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Easter Egg Dye

We take Easter egg dying pretty seriously in our house.  We don't just dunk eggs in a color made from a tablet and call it a day; we dunk them in different colors at different levels trying to build up new hues and designs.  We also spend a lot of time adding and removing masking tape, or better yet, stick on letters, as a resist effect.  One year we got a pysanky kit (Ukrainian egg techniques) and dabbled in that, although you can spend hours on one egg, which is not as much fun.  This year we learned about a way to swaddle the egg in a piece of patterned silk to transfer the color, which looks really cool, but we were afraid to eat those eggs.  Here is a picture of this years eggs.
At the end of the egg dying, I couldn't bear to just wash the leftover dyes down the drain.  We had mixed up most of the pysanky dyes, and that's pretty high quality stuff.  I started dipping some scrap paper into the dye and that looked pretty good.  Then I remembered my giant stash of unsatisfactory prints that I can't bear to throw away.  I always feel that I can repaint, overdraw,  or reprint on top of anything.  After all, plain paper is so boring.  So I started dipping and drizzling dyes onto the print scraps.  I also floated some of the dyes on top of oil and marbled some of the papers.  I had the remains of some old book pages left over from the sketchbook project, that I added into the mix too.  This is what the table looked like at the end of the session:

It took days for the oiled ones to dry, but they took on a translucent quality, that is pretty cool.   Now I have a big colorful stash of paper to add into future work.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Four Hour Vacation

One of the great things about living in Washington, DC is that on a Saturday you can say to your spouse, "Let's go downtown and look at some art", and you can, and it is free.  I wanted to check out the one million bones installation on the mall because I had worked with my students creating clay and paper mache bones for the display.  One Million Bones is an art installation created to raise awareness about human genocide.  My husband thought that this was a little grisly, but he is a good sport, so he came along.  This is what it looked like:
  Afterwards, he wanted to visit the Hirshhorn sculpture garden, which is a lovely and cool place to visit; it was getting rather hot.  That led to a visit inside the museum, where we saw an exhibit of mixed media art (my favorite kind of media!) from the collection.  It included Braque collages and Joseph Cornell boxes as well as more contemporary artists like Mark Bradford and unexpected works like print and paper collages by Louise Nevelson and stained glass assemblages by Josef Albers.  Then we puttered around the gift shop and bought interesting things that we didn't need.
On our way back to the metro we studied the plants in garden walkway next to the Arts and Industries building.   My husband looked at me and said, this was fun, we got to be tourists for a few hours, it was like a little vacation.  True, except we didn't have to figure out the public transportation, and neither of us wore fanny packs.