Tough Day in the Studio

Nothing went quite as I planned.  The things I thought would look great fell flat.  Luckily there were a few surprises.





I don’t know.  The stencils aren’t behaving as I’d like, and I can’t seem to get any detail onto them.  Or I can, but it doesn’t print.  And I know, there’s no contrast in these images.  Maybe I should try to carve a stamp of some sort for them, or try carving into linoleum.  There are a million printmaking techniques but not so many that you can do at home without a press.


Processing/ Planning

This was a fun day last week, I had an hour and did some gelatin printing.  What I’m trying to figure out here is a direction.  I really enjoyed working with the printmaking techniques I learned in Provincetown in August with Louise Hamlin.  If I want to mine that vein then I need to rent some time in a printmaking studio and see where that leads.  Then I remembered gelatin printing and thought I’d play with that a bit just to see if I could avoid that trip.

This is from a cardboard plate.  The technique is called “Gravure sur cartonne” (engraving on cardboard).  It’s my reproduction of an Islamic tile pattern that I have loved for some time and used in other ways before:

Adding stencils to the mix yields results like this:

The models here are Ursula Wenzel (camel pose) and Peg Mulqueen (laguvajrasana).

Here is another, a bit more successful I think:

This is my friend John and Christine from Gainesville, Florida.

But there’s another vein as well, the carborundum part with prints like this:

This is John again, on a carborundum plate, dropping back into Kapotasana.  Later I tried to fix a few things and completely goofed up the plate.  Here is one of Ursula Wenzel from Munich.  You can see how I’m combining the carborundum plate of Ursula with the “gravure sur cartonne” plate of the Islamic pattern.  I like how the pattern looks like a sort of veil:

This is Ursula without the pattern:


This is Christine again, larger this time, from a “gravure sur cartonne” plate I made.  This was the last day in Provincetown and I was frantic, so many ideas and so little time, so I rushed the carving of the plate and am not satisfied with it.  I could do it over though, I have some more of these plates already prepped and ready to carve, and I could order more of the board:



This one below is Peg with the tile pattern.  Again, abstracting the figure just the right amount is quite tricky.  I can’t quite figure out whether to work realistically or graphically or some hybrid of the two.

So I think that I’m on to something here, a path with potential.  There’s a lot to work with.  Today the goal is to spend 3 hours in the studio.  This morning.  Before I do the million other things that need doing.  This needs doing.  This is important.  If I’m going to rent time at the print studio in Maynard, then what can I do today is begin getting ready.  Prepare more stencils, order ink and supplies.  Schedule the day at the print shop to get oriented.

One thing I would like to try is this.  What happens if I paint the Islamic pattern?  Just the pattern?  In a way it’s a question, do I really need the figure?  I think I already know the answer, but the pattern is interesting in and of itself.  So one project for today could be to figure out how to transfer it onto some watercolor paper and just see.  Maybe an acrylic support would be better.  I could try a small one.  Or, I think I have more than one print of the pattern by itself, I could paint right on that.

Thank you to all my lovely and brave models.  John, Christine, Ursula and Peg.  You are marvelous and generous!


Between the Waters

I turned 44 in a place between waters.  I turned 44 this week in a transitory community of artists and writers, utterly at home with people I just met.

With a room of my own and the daily responsibilities shelved for an interlude, the studio calls.  I thought that I would go for long bike rides.  I thought I would spend more time at the ocean, a little time shopping.  Passing fancies.  I wake up, do my yoga practice, have a thoughtful breakfast with coffee and walk the short distance to the studio.  Once there, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.  The need to eat lunch is a bit of an inconvenience, but I know from long experience that decision making deterioriates without regular meals. So I eat, but it’s simple and brief and back to work.  Making plates, pulling prints, learning this new to me art that feels familiar and right.  It fits in organically with painting and collage.  I love the rich play between media, how one informs the other.

Maturity brings a new perspective, a more relaxed approach.  Having a daughter who is similar in temperament to myself has taught me well.  She gets attached to concepts very quickly, and changes course only with difficulty.  It’s as if in order to chart our course, we latch onto the first star we see, changing tack only with reluctance.

In the studio, I see this tendency to rapidly become attached to an idea.   How unwieldy to change course when reality offers an alternative viewpoint, when other options present themselves.  I notice my own tendency to obsess, and in that awareness, I… relax, just a little.  It’s okay if I don’t accomplish everything I set out to do.

On Friday, it is hard to leave.  I and two other women make prints up until the last minute, when we can no longer avoid the need to clean the studio and be out by 5PM.  One of my partners mentions that she wanted to walk down Commercial Street, or go to the beach.  We laugh, we three.  If you could leave, I said, you would have left already.  And so it is, until we have to, and no one, not one of the three of eight who are left, wants to say goodbye.