Monday, April 28, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Failure is an Option

It seems like, in general, most people (including myself) share our success stories on our blogs and in our social media realms.  This is fine and nice to let others share in our joy or to be an inspiration for somebody else.

But how often do we share our failures?  Why would we want to do that?  Failure in our society isn't seen as a positive thing.  But aren't we suppose to learn from our failures?  Then, how can we learn if we never fail?  What if someone else could learn something from our failures?

"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison 

You have probably heard this quote before.  Edison must have learned a lot from so many attempts which eventually led to something that did work.

I am going to share one of my recent art failures with you today.  As most of you probably know, I have been getting into printmaking for the past several years (thanks to the local printmaking studio, Wingtip Press).  Wingtip hosts a print exchange every year (this is the fifth year) and I have participated every year.

This year I wanted to attempt a reduction linocut.  I have just done a few of these in the past.  You can see the one I did last year here. This time I wanted to do a four color reduction.  Starting with the lightest color, I printed yellow.

As you can see, there wasn't much I needed to carve out of the block.

Printmakers also call the reduction linocut the "suicide" print.  This is because you continue to carve out sections on the same block for each color.  If you mess up, you cannot go back and print more.

I started with about 26 prints hoping to get 14 that would turn out o.k.  Here are all the yellows printed.  So far, so good.

Then I carved some more and printed the second color, orange.  Already I had missed the registration of some of the second color as you can see by the middle one on the bottom row.

More carving and the third color was green.  

On one of these, I actually printed the plate in the wrong direction.  I guess I wasn't paying attention. The registration is also off on many.  At this point, I pretty much knew I wasn't going to get enough good prints, but continued on.

Finally, the last color was black.

They don't look too bad from afar.  But take a closer look.

Above you can see that the registration of the colors is off from the edges and the stems in the middle.  The extra lines on some of the leaves are what printmakers call "chatter" from the block. Often I don't mind the chatter, but I don't like it for this piece.

Out of 26 prints, I got zero that were acceptable to me.  A complete failure!  I was so bummed because the Leftovers deadline was looming and I now had nothing for it.  (I did manage to do another print for the deadline and will share that in another post.)

What I learned from making this print:

1)  Reduction linocuts are hard!  I already knew that but they get even harder with more colors.

2)  I need to figure out a better way to do the registration.

3)  Thin lines don't work very well with this technique.

4)  This design probably should have been in a different process altogether.  I'm thinking maybe as silkscreen print (or hey, how about fabric!).

5)  I think I liked this design better with just the three colors (yellow, orange, green) but couldn't just stop at that point as the design wouldn't have been complete.

6)  Practice, practice, practice will probably never make it perfect, but it will make it a lot better!

7)  I need to figure out a way to repurpose failed prints into new art (collage?) so I don't waste the paper.

And here is an artist that really knows how to do it - Stuart Brocklehurst.  He shows the progression of steps of the pieces he is working on, on his blog.  He prints his by hand (without a press).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekly Project

Some more weekly squares completed.

 Weekly Square #14

Weekly Square #15

And here is what I have so far, all together in order.  I'm thinking that in the end, these will be put together into several different pieces instead of one big one (if at all).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Earth Day Inspiration

This week I sent out my monthly newsletter.  In it, I shared that nature is a big inspiration for my artwork and that taking care of the environment is very important to me.  I also announced, and would like to share it here, that in celebration of Earth Day this month, I will donate 100% of the sales amount of any artwork I sell during the entire month of April (shipping and tax for Idahoans not included in price or donation amount) to The Nature Conservancy.

I'm putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak.  You can view artworks I have available on my website in the Artworks section, as well as the Artist-in-Residence Gallery.  This applies to any artwork purchased.  Just contact me if you would like to have a nice piece of artwork for yourself (or for someone else) and help the environment as well.

If you would like to receive my newsletter, you can sign up for it in the side bar to the left.  I often have announcements, special sales, or share new work that doesn't always get put here on the blog.

Our flowering cherry tree in bloom.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Roomful of Metal

Last week I found myself in a roomful of metal.  What was I doing there?  I was at the Enso Artspace to view Metal, an exhibition with works by Michael Cordell, Sue Latta, Susan Madacsi & Dennis Proksa.

Enso Gallery

I have been to many exhibitions over the years and have seen metal artworks before.  But as I was in gallery, I was thinking that I haven't really seen many metal works massed together in one space unless it was outside in a sculpture garden.  So just the idea of a gallery exhibition with only metal artworks seems unique in itself.

It seemed like there was a little bit of a circular and linear theme throughout the gallery although I don't think that was necessarily planned, just the nature of the artists' work.

Wall pieces by Susan Madacsi. Sculpture by Dennis Proksa.

As you enter the Enso space, Sue Latta's A Lifetime of Them greets you on the left.  It is a work with steel, resin and screen printed rice paper.  There is an interesting juxtaposition with the resin coated rice paper that seems very light and ethereal and the heavier metal structure that holds them and, perhaps, the meaning of the piece.

A Lifetime of Them by Sue Latta.

Before looking at the list of materials used, I thought the prints on the rice paper were actually made from rust.  Maybe the artist intended it to look that way to tie it together with the metal structure.

I was already familiar with all the artists except for Susan Madacsi, whose work I was really taken with.  She, like Dennis Proksa, is an "Artist Blacksmith".  Many of her works in the exhibition make use of colored circular forms grouped together.

Sapphire Square, Ruby Square, Emerald Square and Green Monster Wabi Sabi Vessel by Susan Madacsi

Here is a close-up of some of those shapes.  I am guessing that she hammered the edges with different tools to get the variation in pattern.  Although these are metal pieces, the added color brings a lightness and depth to the work.

Detail of Small Confectioner's Vessel by Susan Madacsi.

If you live in town, you only have one chance left to see these magnificent metal masterpieces.  Enso is open on Thursdays only from 3-8 p.m. and this Thursday is also the last day for the exhibition.

Altered View by Dennis Proksa

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Break - Misc.

There is always so much inspiration to be found everywhere, especially on trips.  Here are a few miscellaneous pictures from our spring break trip.

 A sign in Flagstaff.

 Santa Cruz boardwalk.

 Beach at Santa Cruz.

Beach at Santa Cruz. 

 Sign on Santa Cruz wharf.

Saki factory in Folsom.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Break - Wildlife

We didn't encounter much wildlife on our spring break trip.  But here are a few pictures.

 A deer on the UC-Santa Cruz campus.

 Sea lions at the Santa Cruz wharf.

Guard dog in Folsom.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Break - On the Road

We didn't get to do much sight seeing on our spring break trip other than viewing campuses and one day at the Grand Canyon.  But the scenery we drove through was nice.  We didn't stop to take pictures along the way as some of the drives were very long.  So, I took pictures through the window as we were zooming along.  Does anyone else take pictures through the car windows?  Or is it just me?
Here are a few.

 Heading south toward Flagstaff.

 Leaving Arizona and heading toward California.

 Getting closer to the California coast.

The dreaded drive over Donner Pass.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weekly Squares

Time to get caught up on the Weekly Square project.  Here's #12 and #13.

 Weekly Square #12
Weekly Square #13