Saturday, January 29, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Spent the day playing around with my dress form print and experimenting with options for the background. After much trial & error and proofing I decided that less was more and there was no need to over work the background. Since the print is only 7" X 5" and a bleed image, I decided to keep things simple. Funny how sometimes your first option turns out to be the best but you still feel compelled to mess around with the image anyway. As usual, my desk is covered with about 6 different ideas and sketches for upcoming exchanges and exhibitions; along with today's proofs.

It was a productive day. I've settled on the image, fine-tuned my plates, paper is torn and my inks are mixed; ready to edition. I'm using two ImagOn plates. I'll ink the background first in a cool gray and then roll a transparent yellow ocher over the candle area. The second plate with the dress form and the hash marks will be printed over the background in black. I'm hoping that if I get an early start I can complete the edition in one day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snowed in but studio is warm

Yet another snow storm here in Connecticut but I made good progress on a print for an upcoming show entitled Micro/Macro. The Micro part requires exhibitors to create an edition of 25 bleed prints measuring 5" X 7" and sometimes it's difficult to come up with an interesting image for such a small format. I've been working on various sketches and plates and finally settled on an image. Yesterday was spent proofing, experimenting with color options and tweaking the image. A few more adjustments and I should be ready to edition.

Many times an artist is asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" Of course, inspiration can come from anywhere but I thought I'd share my catalyst for this new print and introduce you to my muse.
Years ago, I found this great old dress form by the side of the road and being the "junk" collector that I am, I just had to stop and throw it in the car. Even though it stands in the studio and holds my aprons and work shirts it was always my intention to use it as a subject for a series of prints. I can relate to "her", as she stands there by the window, still proud but a little frayed around the edges and showing her age. That's when it struck me; use her as a metaphor for myself and this whole inevitable aging process.

On the technical side, I am doing a photopolymer intaglio using ImagOn film. I worked up the background as a drawing and scanned it into my computer. A photograph of my muse was altered in Photo Shop and superimposed over the background. ImagOn was adhered to two plexiglass plates and then exposed to the transparencies. My plan it to print the background plate first, then the dress form image over it. Because I'm using Akua inks, I can print without dampening the paper which will make the registration easier. We'll see how it goes as I prepare for editioning.

This is what I have so far and will make a few changes before I'm ready to call it finished. The birthday candles in the background, the hash marks and of course the condition of the dress form record the passage of time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As a young artist, I was extremely fortunate to attend Norwich Free Academy; an independent high school with a nationally recognized art department. The Norwich Art School offered an array of outstanding art classes that were taught by dedicated, practicing artists. For a young artist to have the opportunity to enjoy classes in clay, jewelry & metalsmithing, painting, screen printing, calligraphy, art history and observational drawing, was a dream come true. In addition to the art school, NFA was also home to Slater Museum; which housed an outstanding plaster cast collection of classical sculpture and numerous two-dimensional works of art.

Having known since second grade that I wanted to be an art teacher, my ultimate goal was to return one day to NFA and teach in the Art School. In 1977 my dream came true; I was asked to join the NFA faculty! It was a full circle moment. I had the the opportunity to give back to the school that had played such a huge roll in my artistic development. I shared my passion for art with hundreds of great students, taught a variety of art classes and was instrumental in establishing a class focused on printmaking. Then just when I thought the experience couldn't get any better, I was appointed Norwich Art School Director and served in that position until my retirement.

Recently, the museum director contacted me about purchasing some of my work for Slater's collection. Her goal is to have work in the permanent collection that represents all of the Norwich Art School's director's. Needless to say, it's an exciting opportunity and very humbling to be a member of such a small but influential group.

So, as I was looking forward to what 2011 would offer, at the same time I was looking back (way back) to an important relationship that dramatically shaped my life. Old memories surfaced as I was being interviewed for the museum's archives and it was exciting to select pieces for the collection. As I look ahead to the new year, I also feel like I really do have a little place in history.

First Print Exchange of 2011

I stumbled upon an interesting print exchange a couple of weeks ago and decided to make it my first of 2011. The idea was to use leftover paper scraps (no larger than 5” X 7”) to create an edition of 14 prints. Of course, it would be easy to just bypass the leftovers and start with a fresh sheet of paper but I decided to embrace the concept and approach it as a great opportunity to use up some studio leftovers. I ended up using scraps of Arches, a 3” X 4” scrap of Solarplate, some leftover Akua ink I had mixed for another project and finally some leftover cotton cord.

I photographed of one of my body prints and manipulated it in PhotoShop to create a mirror image. It was printed out on acetate and exposed to a scrap of Solarplate. After processing the plate in warm water and re-exposing it to ultraviolet light I was ready to print. “Gap”

When the prints were dry I cut out the negative space between the figures to leave a gap. I hit the center fabric image with a watercolor wash, punched a few holes, added a couple of metal eyelets and finished with a bit of thread for lacing. This piece is a continuation of my “Venus Envy” series. I liked the idea of trying to make something fit but sometimes, no matter how you go about pulling it together, you often end up with a gap.

I have come to look at print exchanges as an opportunity to try out ideas in a small format; kind of like miniature “print / sketches”. They often lead to larger pieces or similar techniques used in future prints.

The due date for this particular exchange is March 15, 2011 so if you have some leftovers, you might want to put them to good use.

New Website

As 2010 came to an end, as is customary with many, I looked over what I had accomplished. It turned out to be a busy year and there were times when getting to the studio was hindered by other obligations. But that being said, I still managed to create some new work and participate in a number of shows.

One of the things that I did want to accomplish, was to put together a more "professional" looking personal website; a place that focused just on my studio practice. I wasn't ready to invest in the services of a professional web designer just yet plus I wanted to be able to add material to the site without having to go through someone else. A couple of friends suggested that I check out so I figured I'd give it a try.

Now mind you, I'm a self taught computer user so technical things often elude me. Even though it took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to navigate the site and make it do what I had envisioned, in a couple of days I managed to put together something that works fairly well.

I chose a template that allowed me to have a static homepage; something that I felt was important for a professional appearance. Navigational tabs make it easy to move around the site. I was able to include all the components that a professional website would have; artist info, exhibition info and the ability to group my prints into categories. Listed as "In The Works", focuses on my current printmaking endeavors. It's nice to have everything in one place so that I can direct people, who are interested in my work, to

I'm not sure if I will keep two blogs going but we'll see. The bottom line is, if you want to set up a quasi professional site, it is possible to do it yourself. Hey if I could figure it out, anyone can.

Happy New Year to all and my your inspirational Muse be kind to you in 2011.