Monday, December 30, 2019

New Year's Evolutions

Like many of you, my year has been filled with successes and also some setbacks.

One of the upsides to my setbacks is that I have a lot more time on my hands and my life is more in balance. A balanced life is supposedly a good thing. But in the U.S., being “too busy” is a point of pride, a dysfunctional way in which we feel we are important, that we are “getting somewhere”, that we are “making progress”, that we are relevant. For many of us, being overworked and under rested is a status symbol. It gives us the illusion of success.

I'm not a person who makes New Year's resolutions, but each year at this time I do take stock of the year that was, and set intentions for the year to come. So as the old year turns and the new year dawns, I am asking myself what “success” means to me and what does it look like?

Since I do not need to make a living from my art, I have the latitude to define success anyway I like. But this fortunate circumstance creates its own pitfall.

My friend Kelly Williams often asks; “what is your fear?” Mine is to be considered a dilettante.

Merriam Webster:
1 : a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler

My great fear is that I will not be taken seriously as an artist. This translates into a vague array of circumstances that I desire; a certain number of galleries, a certain number of shows, a certain number of sales. Ambitions that are vague and unconsidered have a funny way of driving me in ways that are often unsustainable and inappropriate to my more healthy desires and actual circumstances. So I am taking some time to evaluate my desires and create appropriate goals.

Will I actively search for more representation, or is that appropriate to my artistic output? Will I develop a technique that is quicker and less laborious, or is my slow pace of artmaking something I can indulge in, and simply adjust my expectations to be in line with it? Shall I go back into the intaglio printmaking I dipped my toe into last spring? What if I were to branch out further into woodblock printing? How would more printmaking affect my connection to my audience? Would it make my art more accessible?

These are some of the possibilities I have rambling around in my head. I am so grateful that I have the blessing and the luxury of being able to fulfill my life dream of being an artist. I look forward to sharing with you the paths I take, where it leads me and the art that results from it all.

I wish you a felicitous New Year!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Adventures in Intaglio!

I took intaglio and woodcut back in college almost 30 years ago. Since that time I have contemplated restarting my interest in printmaking, and now I have finally pulled the trigger.
I enrolled in a printmaking course at Portland Community College. Signing up for a class two days a week for 11 weeks is no small commitment! But it turns out it was barely enough time to scratch the surface (no pun intended!) of the possibilities and complexities of this medium.
Intaglio is a process where lines are etched or scratched onto a metal plate. Ink is applied to the plate, then wiped, leaving ink captured within the lines. Then damp paper is placed on the plate, and is rolled through a printing press. The ink transfers onto the paper, creating an image. 
In total, I did three different plates over the course of the semester.The first one I did is called "The Bitter Sea" (5"x7")
Here is a picture of the inked up copper plate before the first printing:
Here is an image of the print after rolling it through the press.
Notice the image gets reversed when transferred to the paper!
This initial state of the print was done entirely with drypoint (which is simply scratching the image onto the plate with a metal object).
Here I added aquatint, which creates fields of varying shades of grey.

The second plate I developed might be called my magnum opus of the semester. It is named "Vacancy" (8"x10")
Utimately I did a total of 11 states before deciding it was finished!
I decided to utilize some of the earlier states by tinting them with watercolor. I’m fascinated by how the mood can very so greatly with different color schemes.
The final piece I did was a tiny 4”x6” image, based on a jazz record album from the 50’s, called “Struttin’”.
 Although I would LOVE to keep going with the printmaking, it is necessary for me to put it aside for the time being and concentrate on some collage painting projects coming up this year. Keep you eyes open for more news of those projects, and when they are completed, I will surely dive back into printmaking! 
Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

My NYC Art Infusion (plus-my first internet rant!)

I turned 50 years old this year. It’s enough to make a girl think about her past, and how it affects her present. 

I was fortunate enough to go to college in New York, and graduated from Queens College in 1991. I came back home to Portland and never moved away.
If I am any good at art at all, I’d say it’s because a.) my instructors at Queens College were exceptional and b.) I spent many countless hours in some of the greatest museums in the world, wandering aimlessly and drawing.
So I went on a sentimental journey through my past. My goals were to visit a few college friends and to recapture that experience of the slow, intuitive progress through a museum.

No matter how much you enjoy the company of a companion in a museum, it changes your experience. Like Madeline said in Vertigo, “Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere.”

Unless, of course, you go with another artist.
My BBF Bridget Benton Carwyn met me in NYC and together we infused ourselves with art. The key to our successful saturation is that much of the time we split up, sometimes even going to different museums, and meeting up to share a meal and debrief.
We saw some amazing exhibits, such as The Brooklyn Museum's Frida Kahlo show, and The Guggenhiem's Hilda af Klint show.
I visited paintings I used to gaze at during my formative student years. I reexamined art I had dismissed before. I sketched, and filed away material for potential future work into the recesses of my unconscious. 

Now for the rant.
Tourism has changed in the past quarter century. Namely, there is a lot more of it. The number of folks milling about in art museums seems to have grown steadily. But the onset of the smart phone has changed everything.
To me, an art museum is a place where one goes to look at art. But to many, it is a tourist destination. They are there to say “I was there”, but don’t seem to be paying much attention to what they are actually seeing. Crowds of people take selfies in front of famous paintings makes it so that no one really gets to see the painting in question. To add insult to injury, often I saw one person posing in front of a painting pretending to look at the art, while a companion shoots a pic to upload it onto social media.
 I understand that, as an artist, I am in the minority, even in an art museum. I know I am probably coming off as a snob. It’s just tough having a wonderful experience get mauled to death. When you go to museums, try to talk quietly. Don’t talk loudly on your phone. Be aware of the people around you who are also trying to see the art. Stand slightly off to the side when looking at a painting, don’t block other peoples’ view. If you bring your kids, engage them with the art by talking to them about it and asking them questions about what they see, and teach them about museum etiquette.
For an interesting article about how social media has changed viewing art, click here for the New York Times Article “What the MonaLisa Tells Us About Art in the Instagram Era”