One more sleep at home in Boston. On Wednesday morning I leave for Maine and will get to spend five days at Haystack. But my art life has been full since before Haystack. Just this past weekend I got to take a Japanese Printmaking workshop at the local Elliot school and it was great fun, intense work going from sketch to block to print all in a too short weekend. But I learned so much and I do want to do more with it now that I understand the basics of the technique. Carving the block was basically the same as I now it, but printing was completely different. Very painterly and flexible which was great fun. But with the ticking clock of the water based inks quickly drying out stressing me out. I came home exhausted both physically and mentally both nights. I have six original prints to show for the weekend and an itch to make more. The woodblock printing that I am much more familiar with is western style printing on various papers with oil based ink and a printing press. No painterly fun like the Japanese moku hanga, but also once I lay out the oil based ink to work with it is good all day long with little risk of it drying out. I would love to print these blocks with my oily methods to compare, but then I wouldn't be able to go back to the waterbased inks.
The JP Open Studios are this weekend September 20th and 21st all around the JP neighborhood that I and work in. You can find me with my work inside at the UU church by the JP monument in Central JP and some of my work will still be hanging at Hatched until the end of the month. I will be be sketching and painting, will have my woodblock prints along with a couple of carved blocks for demos throughout the weekend. I have been looking forward to this weekend for months now. There will be some fresh prints, including new collagraphs, but this is the year that I decided to teach myself watercolor and became smitten with the medium.
I like to draw on paper. And I like paper a lot. As a printmaker paper is probable my favorite material. Ink and color is important but those are purely practical and utilitarian. Paper is soft and lovely and different subtle shades. Printing to the edge of the paper in a bleed print or leaving a border. Western versus Asian styles versus handmade papers. It is the base that the inks mix with and I love working with paper over canvas or other materials. With this love of all things paper and traditional I have mostly avoided digital artwork. But that is starting to change. Baby steps really but I might have room for it after all.
Working with my kid has been a wonderful experience so far. Often I feel that my drawing gets too tight and controlled and I am just not a strong enough draftsman to work that rigidly. My strengths lie more in color than in line. Yet it is hard for me to loosen up and I struggle and get stuck. Collaborating with my six year old and sometimes even just letting go and handing her the woodblock and a pencil has been exactly what I needed to let go and loosen up. She is thrilled to see her lines translated to print form on beautiful paper with beautiful colors and I have noticed her drawing getting stronger and her artistic passion increasing. And my style still shines through all of it. Turns out we make a pretty great team.
On the last Saturday of every month the ICA has cool programs and is free for families. The ICA Boston is always free for kids but on those days the kids get the adults in for free as well. Pretty cool. We went in the spring and had a great time but haven't been able to make it back until this month. I went with my eldest daughter and had a great time. She loved the Nick Cave exhibit, especially a statue with the Easter bunny holding a very glittery egg. But what she loved best is what I love best. Sprawling out with an amazing view of the waterfront and drawing. She worked very hard on her drawing and put it above her bed when she got home and kissed it goodnight. I think we will be back for more of these art playdates.
Paper is my big hoarder collection. I have piles of it that I either made or collected over the years. Thankfully it doesn't take up too much space, but keeping it orderly is another issue. Among the art that I have made on paper and the scraps of art I have various art papers. The most special to me are the washi papers. I mostly use them in my sketchbooks these days where a little washi highlight can go a long way. So beautiful.
Time to fill up my sketchbook. It has been 75% complete for months now and neglected. Not sure why I stopped the habit of drawing everyday but now is a great time to start again and finish it by drawing every morning this vacation week when there is nowhere to be for hours. Nothing is more important to an artistic life than keeping an active sketchbook. And drawing in the sunlight with a cup of coffee and some refrigerator oatmeal is a pretty awesome way to start the day. Healthy, easy and productive. Awesome!
By the time spring gets here I need to be ready to start using my lovely new paper supply. When I purchased it a few weeks ago I thought I might be using it sooner but then I got sidetracked by other tasks and the carving I started this winter is coming along slower than I expected. But this winter is going slow so I have plenty of time. Plenty.
I am starting to suspect that happiness is tied to the ability to adapt and roll with the punches of life. Sadly, that is not my natural way of being. My nature is to freak out when something doesn't go as planned. Then get mentally stuck in the problem and the perceived loss. But I am learning bit by bit how to roll with the changeability of life more these days.
The other week I got an extended lesson on being adaptable after dropping the kids off at school when I learned that I had dropped my keys. It was one of the coldest days of the year. Thankfully I found out because the person that had picked them up had called one of the businesses that I have a keychain card for and identified me. Bad news was I had to get myself to the Longwood area to pick up my keys from her. It was a freezing walk carrying my child's mini kick scooter and at times I thought my body parts were going to start falling off. Despite the cold I decided to make the best of being in that area and go a little farther to the Museum of Fine Arts and buy some printmaking paper at the school supply store. They have the best paper selection in the area. By the time I got home it was time to pick up the little one. Oh well. I needed paper and there is never really a convenient time to get it. The next day when I unrolled my paper I learned that I had been given the wrong paper and had to go back and exchange it. Oh well again. I did that last weekend. It was no longer freezing but mild and rather sunny. I walked around Fenway and got lunch at my favorite Thai Restaurant. And they gave me an extra sheet of paper for my trouble. Not so bad at all. The journey took longer than planned but the ending was a lot sweeter.