One: Opportunities

opportunities, greeting cards, Merry Christmas
Christmas Card 2019

Just when I think it will be a quiet year, opportunities abound. My work will be showing at various locations throughout the first three months of the New Year. All is conceived if not complete. I still have the ten paintings to do before March 1st. Two are well on their way.

Opportunities teach

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 1 making progress

Recently, other opportunities have given me insight into my process and what makes me happy or unhappy. Every artist is unique. Flow happens more easily when we discover our personally preferred method. Testing out various systems sheds light on the mystery within. Being a reformed night owl, I find myself working later and later on the computer these days. This does not bode well for early morning rising. I have yet to find an efficient way to deal with paperwork.

Limiting opportunities

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 2 also making progress

In my studio, however, the muse is amused. While not allowing myself to panic with regard to impossible deadlines, I have chosen a very inspiring and pleasant path of creativity. From the many opportunities, my choice is restricted to about three or four different centers of interest. Among my pressing obligations, I find taking a break instead of pursuing one subject relentlessly helps me focus longer and with more clarity. At the moment I divide my attention between the ten paintings for March, the Christmas cards for Christmas, and the “Urban” painting for Tuesday.

Abundant choice

DDK, throwing paint, abstract landscape
Throwing paint for Urban

Once the cards are complete (out of my studio yet not necessarily sent) I will add another project. Perhaps some more 8x8in daily paintings or the design for next year’s Christmas card, or some all occasion cards.  All linocuts for the cards. Perhaps it is the shift within the opportunities that renews my spirit. Linocuts require quite a different thought process than neomosaic. Throwing paint and contrasting geometric with organic phenomenon pulls me in a different direction as well. I get excited just thinking about it.

Coming events

Do check out my events page so you might choose from the various opportunities to take a look at my work. With all the local venues, one may be more convenient than another. Don’t forget the shows finishing soon in December as well.

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Different Strokes: Printing

printing, linocut, greeting cards, illustration

Printing in one form or another consumes more and more of my time lately. Of course, it is a choice, one I make with ease. This year I began a series of smaller images, “Sunshine”, a linocut for greeting cards. Linocuts are a fun way to make something special for special occasions.

printing, linocuts, illustration
Miracle watching and other pastimes

Printing a larger series

Another series is taking shape as well. Personal memoires describing the many miracles in my life, take the form of five chapters, each of which begins with an eight and a half by eleven-inch print delineating a particular moment or event. The cover page makes six images in all for “New Life: miracle watching and other pastimes”.

printing, linocuts, illustration, blog
The Black Knight

Shortcomings

As much as I would like to applaud my expertise, the exercise has highlighted several shortcomings in procedure. Rather than perfection, my unconcern for various materials left me with several disasters. Part of the challenge when working with me is inspiration comes along as the process develops. So after having completed the first impression on one image I decide a second colour would be appropriate. The problem is I did not prepare the way.

printing, illustration, linocuts
The Dragon

Preparation is essential

Printing is all about preparation. Consequently, as I applied the second coat of colour, I could not align the paper with the linocut as accurately as if I had laid down the necessary guidelines with masking tape. The masking tape positions the linocut in exactly the same place each time. A second set also lines up the paper so each print is exactly the same as the first. That is if one has succeeded with the amount of ink on the surface as well. I often have patches where an insufficient quantity announces my error.

printing, linocuts, illustration
The most perfect

Perfection is overrated

That being said, I rather like the randomness of the images produced. No two are alike exactly. On occasion, however, my penchant for chaos wastes materials. Such was the case while using unfamiliar paper.

printing, linocuts, illustration
Too wet printing paper

printing, linocut, illustration
Stonehenge-clean and tidy

Carelessness is costly

Usually I print on Stonehenge. Having practiced for some time with this paper I find the results crisp, clean and predictable. Some time ago I purchased some unnamed paper designed for print making so I cut up the sheets to the size I required and soaked them as I usually do. Placing them in towels to keep them moist, I quickly printed off several images. Much to my horror the ink bled into the paper creating very fuzzy images, the result of having the paper too moist. Disgusted I quickly cut up some more Stonehenge and put the remaining print making paper aside to dry.

printing, linocuts, illustration
Stonehenge-expected results

printing, linocuts, illustration
Printing paper-superior results

Live and learn

While working on the next image I came up short on the prepared paper largely due to patchy results caused by lack of ink on the linocut. I picked up the print making paper and found it to have just the correct wetness and printed off two more lovely examples, even better than the Stonehenge. I shall experiment with different methods of wetting the paper to find the best way to use this paper. Maybe a short dip, or just a spray, is sufficient. Live and learn.

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Different Strokes: Illustration

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media

Illustration has filled the minutes or hours, as the case may be, while I wait for paint to dry. My inspiration came from an article in The Painters’ Keys concerning the original illustrations for Ursula Kroeber’s Earthsea series. Ruth Robbins did a wonderful collection of wood cuts for first edition. Since I am creating my own first edition, I thought lino cuts would be appropriate.

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media
The Year of the Boat

Miracles

As for my book, I have no intention of publishing other than a few copies for my children and grandchildren. Each copy will have monoprints for the cover and for every chapter. I have completed the design for the five chapters. The book cover awaits the whisperings of my muse. The content concerns the miracles, the major miracles, I have experienced during my life time.

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media
The gifts

Haste makes waste

Most of the time I am busy moving between one painting and another so there is little time in the waiting department. It comes in clumps, the waiting. Recently I finished four paintings, two of which will be shipped to Vancouver this week. While I completed the edges and the last details, I prepared four other canvas with the first few coats. The waiting time grew as I completed each task. Unfortunately, in my haste to begin the new, l made a boo-boo.

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media
A Light in the Darkness

A big house brush

My process has four major messy stages before I turn my attention to developing the negative spaces into what resembles a landscape. About to delve into the mystery of creativity, I realized I had omitted the third step. Oops. Laughing I considered the options. I could continue, leaving out the metallic undercurrent. It would become a problem later. Sighing, I picked up my big house brush and dipped into my gesso mixture. Back to stage two.

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media
The Black Knight

Illustration fills waiting time

Stealing some extra minutes in my studio during the evening I managed to prepare overnight all four panels for the fourth, throwing paint part. Throwing paint leaves puddles of pigment. Surrounded by dripping drops I turned my attention to cutting lino. I am thankful I do not have the time to finish this task all at once. The tendons in my right arm warn me of impending seizure if I carry on too long.

dragon, illustration, linocut, semi-abstract, mixed media
Using tracing paper

A legacy for grandchildren

So, the task of preparing each illustration is coming to a close. The first prints will show me if I will need to adjust my cuts. I am quite certain they will not be as precise as Robbin’s, the knife has slipped once or twice. I have learned not to continue when I am tired. Another illustration, this time using a felt pen, is near at hand. My grandchildren enjoy their Christmas colouring books all about family legends. Life is good.

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