Monday, December 17, 2007

'Rare Capitol Blizzard'

WHEW!!! I finally finished the printing for the Print Exchange Project that I volunteered for. It was hard work! I did over thirty prints, 'cause ya never know! The most difficult part was deciding on an image that I wouldn't be embarrassed to share. This was not my first try; not by a long shot! Once I started to receive some of the other participants' prints I realized that the bar was very high indeed.

Below are the three different plates that I used for this print.
Plate #1, on the left, is the sky. It's two pieces of soft wood from a dis-assembled Clementine box from Spain, which I abraded with a wire brush to bring out the grain. I glued the thin planks onto the back of an old block, so as to raise it to, more or less, the same height as the key block. Then I drilled some holes in it, for the blizzard snow flakes. I printed this in a very light gray, which was a mixture: of one dot of DSmith Lamp Black, a lot of Titanium White, and some Transparent Medium.

Plate #2, in the middle, are the shadows on the dome. This plate is made from Scratch-Foam, also mounted on an old block. I had to mask this one carefully for every pull. Yuck. This was printed in a darker gray, which was: two dots of Lamp Black, a lot of the Titanium White, and some Transparent Medium.

Plate #3 is the Key Block! It's the building detail. This is done on a mounted lino plate from McClain's. I printed this with two parts DSmith Lamp Black mixed with one part Transparent Medium.

I used DSmith Water Soluble Relief Ink for the whole project. I printed on Magnani Pescia Paper, plain bright white. I used the 'Andrew System' of registration and was delighted with it, pending a few small tweaks. I hand burnished using a soft Speedball baren, after masking strategic areas of each plate.

All in all, I am happy with the outcome. And not ashamed to send a copy to each of the other participants. Now I just have to wait until they all dry. I might be waiting until Valentine's Day!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Etch a Bungalow



This monoprint is the one of the results of my Jumpstart in Printmaking workshop last weekend, with Penny Barringer. Relief printing is my favorite of the many techniques. But after that I enjoyed the intaglio(1) techniques etching and aquatint. I was happy with this etched bungalow. The idea of combining intaglio with monotype techniques has interesting possibilities. And easily applied to relief plates as well.

Alas, the downside is that you need a press to do intaglio work, since the process requires that the damp paper be forced down into the incised lines (or etched areas) in order to pick up the ink. Hand rubbing lacks sufficient power.

The most mysterious technique that Penny showed us was lithography. The process is remarkably complex and the result isn't all that 'printy'. For me there is not enough of a payoff for all the trouble involved. Oh well. I'm a naive printmaker for sure.

Next stop: A lino workshop with Penny in March.

More on printing techniques: MOMA!

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
(1) Intaglio, n. (From the Italian intagliare to cut in, engrave.) The process or art of carving or engraving in a hard material; incised carving as opposed to carving in relief; the condition or fact of being incised. Chiefly in phrase in intaglio, as opposed to in rilievo or in relief.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mola Reduction Lino Print


Here is my attempt at a multi-color reduction linoleum block print, about 8" x 10" which I am calling 'Mola Reduction'. It is a run of sixteen, each one slightly different. So I guess technically it's a "monoprint".

I used elbow grease and a baren (and sometimes also a wooden spoon) to print them. It was a heck of a lot of work but I learned quite a bit about the technical side of the operation. Particularly about inks! (I printed the last color about forty eight hours ago and it's still tacky.) Those pesky inks! It was impossible for me to mix the exact colors that I wanted. More practice!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bottles on Blue

Here is one of my monoprints from this weekend's class with Penny Barringer at Discover Graphics Atelier at the Art League. Cool stuff!!! This one is done using the viscosity method of creating monotypes. I liked the process and I enjoyed the results. We also tried watercolor transfer, chine colle (my least favorite -- I just don't "get" collage, I guess), the reduction method, and the "ala poupee" method of applying the inks. Ala poupee is basically fingerpainting on the plate, a thing that is great fun. (My fingernails will never be clean again!)

But the viscosity method was my favorite. I'm not sure why. I think it was the way the differently inked areas looked when printed. Very lush and luxuriant next to very flat and pure. I am going to experiment to see if I can create viscosity-like results with the water-based inks. According to the information on the Akua website, it is possible. We'll see.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Black Trousers


This is a very quick study of Mr. Black Trousers on Metro. I am experimenting with Noodler's Red/Black ink and comparing it to my favorite Noodler's Nightshade. Here the pants+shoes are enhanced with the good old reliable black washy Pilot Razor Point.

This weekend I am going to be taking a Monoprinting Workshop at the Art League. To see if I like it. More later!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Haupt Garden just before sunset


I was killing some time in the Enid A. Haupt Garden waiting for a Resident Associates lecture on the 'Cities of Ancient America'. The slide lecture was given by George Scheper, a professor at JHU. It further whetted my appetite to visit the Mayan areas of Guatemala and Belize. Mostly Guatemala. Someday!!

This sketch shows a few of the towers on the Smithsonian Castle. Well, sort of. I left out a lot of fancy brickwork detail.

(Here is a hand colored "stereoview" photo of the Castle back in the day. There's more here. Neat building! Jumbled, overdone, fussy, and Victorian, it's described as "faux Norman style" in its architecture. I love looking at it! It's so unlike most of the faux Classical and the genuine modern stuff around it. It's like a frilly old lady in a bustle.)

The Enid A. Haupt Garden is fairly gaudy, an apt accompaniment to the building right now. There are some big garish tropical plants enjoying these last few days outside in the sun, lined up in the terrace area around the Castle's garden entrance. They look all wrong. They'll be gone soon!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Experiments with Block Prints and Monotypes

After our one-day workshop with Melissa Hackmann at the Art League on making sketchbooks, I have been playing around with block printing and monotypes. Making messes mostly but finding pithy stuff to turn into cheesy and trite stamps. My inspiration for pithyness is the hallowed Jenny Holzer, who was in town recently incorporating Roosevelt Island and the Potomac River in her latest piece, entitled 'For the Capitol'. She is so cool.


Maybe more monotypes are coming.

This an excellent and inspirational book:
Monotype: Mediums and Methods for Painterly Printmaking, by Julia Ayers (1991)

Corner of Eye & 20th Street Pocket Park

Is it true that all the curbstones in the District of Columbia are required to be granite? Maybe this is an urban legend, but I like it. It lends dignity and majesty. Bravo, DC!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ciggy Break on the Sidewalk: 18th and K


A few kind words and a smile go a long way, in this interminable month of August, to make downtown a tad more livable. It's just hard to remember to do it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Hotter than a black leather seat on a hot summer day"



Yesterday was a record breaker: 102 degrees! Broke a record set in 1930. The weather was absurd. I can't imagine donning motorcycle duds on a day like that. Nightmare. Today it was a chilly 88. Yep! Every day brings us closer to hockey season! Stay patient.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Beware the Killer Canoe!

More sketches from in and around the Indian Museum. (Above is a view of the front entrance from the one spot of shade in the entrance courtyard at 10am.) Later on I was inside the museum getting ready to sketch the prow of a woven reed canoe (more properly a Bolivian Aymara totora reed boat) that is in the form of a puma head when I was warned by a museum employee against touching the head. It is believed that if you touch the canoe cat's head you will drown in Lake Titicaca. She and I decided that sketching was too much like touching -- so I drew the detail of a Hawaiian outrigger canoe instead, at the point where the outrigger is lashed to the hull with twine.
Points to ponder include:
-- If that Lake Titicaca canoe prophesy was invariably true, then no one could make a second canoe.
-- If Hawaiian canoe makers really used kitchen twine for lashing on the outriggers, there would be a lot if orphan canoe pieces floating around the Pacific.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mingle on the Mall

We were supposed to spend all of our time at the Botanical Garden but I enjoyed the Indian Museum more yesterday. I had fun making some detailed watercolor sketches (on this blue-tinted pastel paper) of the 19th century beaded buckskin dresses in the current exhibition Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses. (Mark your calendars for the National Powwow August 10 to 12, sponsored by the Museum, but held in the Arena. I remember one held out on the Mall itself a few years back and it was quite impressive.)
I whiled away practically the whole of a nice not-too-hot day lollygagging around the Mall with the rest of America. On the way home I stopped to buy the new Harry Potter book and started reading it over an early dinner. I stalled at about the quarter post but I 'spose it's my obligation to finish it, right?

(The view above is looking at the Capitol dome from the west end of the Bartholdi Garden. In the foreground of my view was a hideous yellow and red Dale Chihuly confection sitting like a spiky dead octopus in an old green wooden dory in a little pond. It was awful! Frightful! Embarrassing!I hope MY tax money didn't go to pay him for THAT! Anyway, I am experimenting with ink wash in my waterbrushes. I don' think I have the gradations down pat yet.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sketching in Watercolor

Sketching directly with watercolors is difficult for me. It will take considerable practice to get anything beyond globby and confused puddles of color. (The one above was a happy accident!) It also takes quite a bit of self-control to NOT get out the pen as soon as the puddles dry and add in line and detail. Must try to let these stand on their own! (Here are some more attempts.)

Tomorrow our sketch group meets at the US Botanic Garden and Bartholdi Park. Tomorrow is Family Day so we ought to get some excellent people-drawing practice.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Step back, to allow the doors to close . . . "


Late morning is an excellent time to catch a nap on Metro, as this gent is doing. Unless the scads of July tourists jostle and bump too much. Poor old Metro! Alas, the powers-that-be are talking very seriously about what some consider a desecration: Ambiance Of Metro Might Take Sharp Turn, by Lena H. Sun in the Post on July 2. I am going to have to start writing letters of protest. There is nothing like bright lighting to kill any elegance that Metro might possess. Yes, I do think it's elegant!
(This sketch is done with a Lamy Joy calligraphy pen and my new brown ink from Private Reserve, called 'Chocolat', which washes into that sharp reddish sepia color, which I'm not sure I like all that much. But will keep playing around with.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Putto in the Pebble Garden

My first visit to Dumbarton Oaks Gardens on Sunday afternoon was memorable: it was one of the hottest and most disagreeably sticky days of the year. (So far, that is. The summer is young.) The upside was that I was nearly all alone. I enjoyed the smells of boxwood and gardenia and imagining that it was my house and what kinds of parties I might throw in each of the garden "rooms". The Pebble Garden was originally a sunken tennis court. This putto was one of three adorning the pool there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old Town Sketching Workshop

Last weekend's sketching workshop with Avis Fleming (sponsored by the Art League) was fun. (Above is a detail of an old magnolia in the garden at Carlyle House in Old Town Alexandria.) The most interesting new technique that I learned was to sketch very freely with watercolor first, and then come back with pen to scratch in detail and pick out areas of interest. This is the antithesis of the 'coloring book' method of watercolor sketchbooking and a **very** interesting approach.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Road Trip 2007 / The Colorado Plateau


This year's Road Trip is bound for familiar ground: the Colorado Plateau. The southern parts of Utah and Colorado and the northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico.


E. Burton Holmes, on the Grand Canyon / June, 1898 /"I believe that when we behold the scene for the first time, a series of new brain-cells is generated, and until they have become sufficiently developed, the canyon withholds its message. In the average mind there is no place for an impression so unlike any before received. At first sight the mentality is dazzled. No painting, photograph, or sketch can do more than suggest to those who have not seen. Photographers by scores have risked their lives to reach that one elusive point of view where the grand lines of majesty would meet one another at the focal plane, but all have failed." From E. Burton Holmes, The Burton Holmes Lectures: The Grand Cañon of Arizona, Volume 6.