pattern and print

Frenchie Hat

Essentialism in illustration is pretty powerful. I was working on some slow and detailed watercolor illustrations of hats when my five year old wandered over and pointed to the beret and said Paris! She then called out the witches hat, the winter hat and the police hat. I abandoned that watercolor painting (for now) and went in this direction instead.

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Art Play Dates at the ICA Boston Waterfront

Drawing against the waterfront, inspiring modern art, great projects for families and even shows. Nothing not to love about the free ICA Play Dates the last Saturday of every month. A highlight of my month. I go with my eldest and we have a great time. We wander around the museum and draw by the giant window that faces the water, take in a show and check out the kid focused art activities that they have going on downstairs. When the weather gets better maybe when we are done we can walk somewhere fun for lunch or an early dinner. Just the two of us.

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Old school drawing in the digital age.

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. 

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Coping with Failure

These collagraph plates are the start of a failure. I worked hard cutting out these shapes last week but what I didn't take into account was the lines from the corrugated cardboard printing in a very distracting pattern. Nothing to be done but reuse the prints for some other purpose, trash the plates and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience. It is upsetting and very frustrating. I get discouraged and a little depressed about it. Being a beginner and learning is hard but so important. The well tread safe route rarely (never) leads to breakthroughs. In honor of my artistic growth and change I am currently offering all my older prints at a discount on Etsy. Get them while they are still around. Keep doing the work through the problem and come out on the other side better off for the struggle. Can't say that about every painful experience in life.

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Time to Carve (again)

Not much of a break from carving when I am in the zone. Winter skin has forced me to step back and take a break from printing because all the extra hand washing and ink is hard on my already dry winter skin. Giving myself some time to heal. But as long as I don't cut myself carving does no such damage to my skin. I still have plenty of time to sketch every day when I am out of the house. But carving is something that I can only do at home and I need to use that time whenever I feel the push. I am feeling it. This is not a collaborative piece but my own simple design based from my sketchbook. 

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Let it Go (rediscovering my artistic soul)

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.

First OhAlex Print

Collaboration

Inspired by the magical creativity of my six year old daughter. Having just finished carving the large block that I have been working on since November and not feeling quite ready to start printing with it I needed something creative to do with my time. So I started a collaboration with my six year old daughter. I took drawings of her's and turned them into small woodblocks to print with her after school or on the weekend. Ideally when her little sister is not around or occupied with something else. So far we have a mermaid and a butterfly. The butterfly has eyes in her antenna as well as long eyelashes. Awesome! I have a bunch of these small blocks of plywood to carve so I can keep this up for awhile. Stay tuned for more carvings and the prints. 

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Week Two Impressions

As we finish up our second week having the girls in neighboring schools I am able to step back and get an impression of how it's going. It is going fabulous, better than I ever anticipated. Montessori school is a perfect fit for my youngest child and we love her class and she skips in most days. I am getting more time with big sister and feeling more of a connection with her and with her school by taking care of her drop offs in the morning and Jon is getting to the T faster. It's so bitter cold that we have been driving to school which I don't love. But I do love that the preschool has an actual parking lot and that I am usually home and ready to work by around nine. Pickup isn't until one for the little one. That is a lot of hours to get stuff done. And I am getting stuff done. I can't help it. Even when I waste time I am just not capable of wasting that many hours four days a week. Things are happening. I am gearing up for an exciting spring. 

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Right vs Left(y)

I'm a left handed artist. In printmaking it means that I need to throw out* the right handed knives that come with most sets and get a special left-handed or duel-bladed knife for myself. A typical right handed style blade is on the left and on the right is a duel sided pointed blade that works when held in both the left and the right hand. Very useful little tool that had to be special ordered. 

There are lots of little challenges to being a left handed artist. The biggest one for me was avoiding smearing drawings with the side of my hand. Maybe that is one reason why I got into printmaking because there is no risk of smearing my work. Just a few special tools and tweaks and I am all set.

* Really I save them for students whenever I teach instead of throwing them out. But I can't use them effectively.  

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Carving Again. Why wait?

It's been a few months since I worked on art for myself. How did that happen? Why the delay? No more of that thank you. This is a busy week for me but I have this morning free so I carve. Resistance won November and December, but it will not be taking my January. Not anymore. Springlike weather has me wanting to print and to print I need to finish carving this block and it isn't going to carve itself sitting on a shelf.

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Stay Flexible

When my typical method for transferring an image kept failing I ended up using an iron on transfer method to get a few photocopied images on my block. Not my preferred method and certainly not the cheapest or most low tech but it works. Rather than run around town trying different photocopiers until I maybe found one that worked I just bought a 5 pack of iron on transfer paper and was done with it. Now my drawing is all touched up and the whole block is sealed and ready to carve. I only fell one day behind my plan. Easy enough to catch up. Woo hoo!

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