Sunday, March 30, 2008

18th World Wide SketchCrawl

The 18th World Wide SketchCrawl was yesterday, Saturday, March 29th 2008. I had put out a note a month ago in that forum, that I was going to meet whomever wanted to join me at 11am in the Mitsitam Café inside the National Museum of the American Indian. About 125 folks looked at the note but no one replied that they were planning on coming.

So tomorrow morning, given all the action downtown, I was not rushing. There was the Smithsonian Kite Festival, Opening Day of the Cherry Blossom Festival (with the blossoms at their peak this weekend), the National Marathon, and the Circus at the arena. Whew! Needless to say public transportation was at a strain point. It took me an hour and a half to get to the Museum and (as I suspected) no one joined me for sketching. So I just relaxed and enjoyed myself.

First with an excellent breast of duck and root veggies lunch at the
Mitsitam Café. That place is great. Luckily I did arrive at about 11:30am, and so had no trouble getting in and getting my lunch. I sketched a few fellow diners. Then saw the tear-jerker of a movie in the Lelawi Theater, sketched some items in the exhibits, and then went out and sketched the kite-flyers on the Mall. It was a lovely day and everyone everywhere was having an equally great day, judging by all the smiles, the laughter. Good day! More of my sketches are here. Not a great body of work, but I had a fine time!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Who's old? Not me!

A thoughtful but hunched-over fellow Metro commuter. Along with some detail from a handy crape myrtle.

I enjoyed my visit to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore the other day, to see their Maps: Finding Our Place in the World exhibition. Maps of all kinds are a treat for me, both to see and study and to make. You can both learn (know) and claim a space, if you map it. My favorite "map" from the Walters' shows was from the Mapping the Cosmos section. It was the photograph of the 'Hubble Ultra Deep Field'. It was about 4'x'4' and I stood very close to it. The distance and the time that you can see into are beyond imagination. But it is very comforting to look at that image and to be absolutely sure that we are not alone.

The Walters itself is a museum to be proud of. The coolest room by far is their Chamber of Wonders, which is so chock full of cool stuff, all jumbled up, you could spend the whole day there. Just my cup of tea. They also have what I believe is the most extensive local collection of art of the ancient Americas (since Dumbarton Oaks' Pre-Columbian Wing is still closed for renovation), which was also a treat to see and study.

Friday, March 14, 2008

One Wary, One Bored

I got these two ladies in Metro the other day. The lady on the left was up against the window and wary, eyes darting, even though there wasn't much of a crowd at all. (She is done with my new Le Pen pen in the color "brown", washed with the Pentel Waterbrush. The "brown" Le Pen washes into a nifty burgundy-brown. Very nice!)

The lady on the right was in the middle of the seat behind. Fat, bored, and disdainful. (She is done with Private Reserve 'Velvet Black' ink, in the Lamy Vista fountain pen, also washed with the Pentel waterbrush.)

I have been reading quite a bit about the solarplate printing. It has allure because you can use photos and images from Photoshop. It's worrisome because it sounds very complicated. Must read more and maybe find someone locally who is adept. Watch them!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Relief Printing: My Book List

Here are the how-to books on the topic of relief printing that I found most useful.
  • Relief Printing, by Anne Westley (2005). Part of the British set entitled Printmaking Handbook Series, "aimed at the student or the practised [sic] printmaker who is experimenting in a new area".
  • Relief Printmaking: A Manual of Techniques, by Colin Walkin (1997). Another British publication. Many illustrations, but none in color, which is shame.
  • The Complete Manual of Relief Printmaking, by Katie Clemson and Rosemary Simmons (1988). This is an excellent book and I recommend it highly. It's my favorite of these three.

Other useful books
  • Printmaking for Beginners, by Jane Stobart (2005) has a chapter on relief printing.
  • Handmade Prints: An Introduction to Creative Printmaking Without A Press, by A. Desmet and J. Anderson (2000) has a number of chapters on various kinds of relief printmaking techniques.
  • The Complete Printmaker: Techniques/Traditions/Innovations, by J. Ross et al. (1990) has a whole 50+ page section on relief printmaking.
  • The Woodcut Artist's Handbook: Techniques and Tools for Relief Printmaking, by G. A. Walker (2005) is also very good.
  • Hand of a Craftsman: The Woodcut Technique of Gustave Baumann, by David Acton (1996) is an exquisite book.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Carborundum Experimentation

I tried a few carborundum plates here this weekend. Notes:
  • Plate material: The 2mm thick clear plastic sheet worked well. Scrubbing with kitchen cleanser gave it good tooth, so the glue had a good surface with which to bond. I also wiped it with rubbing alcohol before I put down the glue lines. And since these plates were transparent, I traced drawings from my sketchbooks! (The lady below was on a plastic plate. Overall dimensions of the print are 7-1/2" x 11". She is one of the faces in this composite.)

    Regular drafting mylar worked well too, except the large carborundum areas cracked and started to peel up after a few pulls, and had to be re-glued. I believe that the mylar can be a bit too flexible for this process. But with care it can work just fine too. (The peaked hat gent above was on the mylar plate. Overall dimensions of this print are about 5" x 7".)
  • Glue: I used Titebond "Original Wood Glue" full strength, laid down with a bamboo pen. It worked very well.

    I made one plate with glue diluted with a bit of water, in an attempt to get finer lines, but this mix didn't stick to the plate at all. Lesson: Don't dilute!
  • Carborundum: I used the #180 size grit. I let the glue/carborundum areas dry overnight.
  • Sealing: The next day I used the spray can version of Polycrylic Protective Finish Clear Satin, by Minwax to seal the carborundum on the plate. And I believe that I put too much on. The carborundum lost some "tooth". The carborundum areas didn't feel at all vulnerable -- stuff was not coming off -- before that seal coat and I think just a very thin coat of this would serve fine.
  • Ink: I tried DSmith Water Soluble Relief Ink, Faust Aqualine Ink, and Akua Intaglio Ink and I like the last the best.

  • Paper: The paper was Rives BFK Heavyweight Paper in the color 'Tan', which I don't particularly like, but what the heck. These were experiments! I think that regular weight paper would have taken the embossing better and I will try that next time.

  • Press: I used the little Blick Econo Etch Model II, cranked down pretty tightly.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Zig Zag Often

This past weekend was yet another printmaking workshop, this time Linoleum Cuts, back at the Art League at the Torpedo Factory with Penny Barringer. It was a good group and I enjoyed watching my colleagues' work develop. I played around with various textures. The lino that was sold by the Art League Supply Store at the Torpedo Factory was very rubbery and took scratched and gouged lines well, almost like a drypoint line with the burrs. We used various pointy tools to scar 'em up. I enjoyed that. I also tried cutting that soft rubbery lino up and printing the pieces as islands, among various other textures. Nothing that I did especially moved me during the course of the weekend, but it was all fun.

The background for the above piece was printed on the etching press with a piece of crumpled tin foil, inked with black and yellow, centered in a mylar sheet with the rectangle cut out of it. Then I printed the Zig zag often lino block on top. I enjoy working with words and am going to try 'Zig zag often' again. Maybe with a more evocative and ziggidy ground. Although the foil crumples work well too.

The Masa Dosa paper that I got from McClain's continues to be my favorite paper. It almost glows with 'whiteness'. It is lovely blank! I am going to order more.