Friday, February 22, 2013

Triptych update

Thanks to everyone who left suggestions and feedback on what to do with these pieces:

I made some color copies of them so I could play around - tried Jill's suggestion of cutting them and patchworking them into a single piece, tried Jen's suggestion of adding a word that spans all three pieces, tried covering them with different washes, and laying them on different backgrounds.
I wasn't getting any closer to making a decision.

It was Terri's comment about found objects and "something on long stalks" that made me grab these dried fronds that sit in a vase in my studio.  Suddenly I felt inspired.
Here's where it stands right now:

At the moment it's just taped down to a piece of shiny black poster board (hence the reflection on the left side), but I really like the overall effect. 

I took the plunge and glued the fronds to the collage.
No more waffling.  
Commitment is good.
It is currently taped to the dining room wall, and this is probably where it will stay for a long time.  One wouldn't want to rush the choosing of a more suitable mat and frame. 
We'll call it judicious waiting rather than procrastination.

Anyway, your comments were so very helpful.
Sometimes I'm great about responding to comments, but this was not one of those times.
I do not wish to appear ungrateful.
Your presence here means an awful lot to me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bring on the bling

create the worst, gaudiest, tackiest art journal page in the universe.

Here's mine:
Time to sparkle!

This was so much fun!!!!

I stumbled upon two pages in an old sketchbook that I had used to test some cheap shimmery paint.
As we used to say in high school, it was FUGLY.
What better place to start?
I wish you could see this in person, this puppy shines.

I plowed through my stash for things I own but don't really use because they no longer reflect my style.
We've got glitter glue, regular glitter, shiny embossed butterflies, silvery metal wings, silver star confetti, blue sparkly fun foam, smiley face ribbon, silver star garland, scrapbooking embellishments, bronze lumiere paint, glimmer mist.

 I am laughing myself silly in the studio.
Just when I think I'm done I come with another idea of what to add.
I crack myself up over and over again.

It was completely liberating to set out with the intention of making something ugly.  No worrying about the blank page, no critic in the head telling me it sucks.
Pure silliness.
I'm still giggling.  I'm downright giddy.

You need to try this.
Link up your entry to Daisy Yellow by Saturday the 23rd.
and get ready to have a blast.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gelatin printing vs. the Gelli plate

I love gelatin printing.
The first time I did it was back in April 2011.  I made my own plate with unflavored gelatin and printed papers for days on end.

I had another epic session last fall, covering every surface in my studio with beautiful papers.

But it's kind of a pain to make gelatin.
It's not that it's hard, it's that it takes planning and I'm not much of a planner.

So I sucked it up, dropped the cash and bought a Gelli plate.
I quickly found that even though it's pretty great, I don't like it as much as an actual gelatin plate.
The biggest disadvantages are that it's too firm, and the paint dries too quickly.

With real gelatin, the plate is somewhat moist so the paint stays wet a little longer, giving you more time to work, and more prints per single paint application.  I also didn't realize how important the wiggly-ness of the gelatin is to me.  It has more give, so the objects I lay on the plate get sort of embedded in the paint, which makes for a much more detailed print.

Check this out.  This is a piece of cheesecloth laid on top of black paint, on top of the gelatin.  I first rubbed paper on top to remove most of the black paint from around the cheesecloth, then I pulled off the cheesecloth and took another print:
This just blows me away.  It's almost like a photograph.
I did some side by side testing with the gelatin and the Gelli plate and I couldn't get this level of detail on the Gelli plate.

The gelatin gives crisp detailed images of delicate objects like plants, flowers, feathers, etc.
Of course it being winter right now, I didn't have much plant life to choose from, but here's a print of some pine needles.

Now, I'm not knocking the Gelli plate.
It's pretty awesome to be able to pull it off the shelf any time the print-making mood strikes.
And I certainly got some wonderful papers from it.
(stacks, and stacks, and stacks....)

I'm not sorry I bought it, and I know I will continue to use it for background and collage papers, but I will continue to use real gelatin when I want the print to be the focal image.

Here's my summary of both types of plates:

--> -->
gelatin advantages:

·      cold/moist – paint doesn’t dry as fast, can get more prints

·      more flexible/wiggly

·      gives more detailed ghost prints

·      paint rolls more smoothly

·      easier to wipe clean

·      inexpensive – my grocery store sells boxes of unflavored gelatin for $1.79.  I used three boxes to make my 8x 10 plate and it was weeks of fun for under six bucks

·      since you are pouring a liquid into a container of your choice, you can make virtually any size or shape plate

gelatin disadvantages:

·      planning ahead – you need to buy the gelatin, mix it with the boiling water, and let it sit for several hours to get firm

·      It has to be refrigerated after use, so it hogs a fair amount of refrigerator space

·      after a while it starts to break down/crack/pit, but I probably made over 100 papers off a single block before it really became a problem

Gelli plate advantages:

·      it’s always ready, there’s no prep time, I can print on a whim, I don’t feel compelled to print a million sheets in one sitting since I know it will always be there when I need it

·      the residual paint that doesn’t lift off can make very interesting layers on subsequent prints. 

Gelli plate disadvantages:

·      it’s too firm

·      paint dries too fast

·      it has a weird smell (am I the only one who thinks this?)

·      the cost of plate (the bigger the plate the more expensive)

limited size (they come in a few different sizes, but you can’t customize the size to your project
My recommendation?
If you've been dying to try this technique but find the Gelli plate too expensive, go make your own gelatin.  If you absolutely love it and become addicted the way so many of us have, you might want to start saving your pennies for Gelli plate. 

Want more info on how to make and use gelatin plates?  Linda Germain has a wonderful website called printmaking without a press, and she's got a lot of excellent information as well as her wonderful art.  Her video on making a gelatin plate is here.  (or the written instructions here)
I leave you with collage number 44/365, made entirely from pieces of various gelatin/gelli prints:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mandy's collage sheet

As promised, here are the four collages I made from Mandy's collage sheet.
Some of the bits were enlarged before printing, but I exclusively used the images from her sheet, and other than the two black backgrounds, I didn't use any paint.


Once again, I really enjoyed working with limited resources.
It helps me think more creatively when there are not endless possibilities.
I confess when I first saw the sheet I thought "what the heck am I going to make with that?"
 I cut out all the separate pictures and kept pushing them around in different ways and I kept coming up empty.  It was only when I started messing with the sizes and cutting apart the images that inspiration struck.
It was a great exercise and I can't wait to do more.

I've already got two more artists lined up for future collage sheet challenges.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Limited resources

I'm having no trouble keeping up with the 365 collage challenge, but I'm behind on posting pictures of them.
Funny how the blog posts I write in my head don't ever get published.
This week I got a big fat envelope of paper and ephemera from Switzerland.
Every bit of paper on these three collages came out of that.
I really enjoy the challenge of creating collage from a limited set of supplies.

And here are a few more I did with the papers I got from La Wendula's junk journal paper swap:

And speaking of limited resources, there's another collage-sheet challenge going on at Mail Me Some Art.  Mandy supplied this great collage sheet for us to use for postcards.


Tomorrow I'll show you what I've done with it.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter white

The assignment for this week's collage class was white.
To challenge us to focus on composition, Catherine asked us to work within this single color family.
Here's my finished piece:
(11x14 canvas board)
Wallpaper sample, magazine pages, book images, tape transfer, handmade paper, mesh bag, cookie package, cheesecloth, fibers, bubble print on vellum, acrylic wash, matte medium, oil pastel, acrylic ink splashes.

The choice of color couldn't have been better, since 48 hours later we were struck with a blizzard that dumped more than two feet of snow on the region. Since I still had all my white materials in a bag, I spent some of last night's stormy hours being inspired by the whiteness.

There's been a lot of talk in the news comparing this storm to the locally infamous "blizzard of '78."  
When I stumbled upon an image of a late 70s Cadillac it seemed only appropriate to bury it in a snowbank.

I was 11 years old during that storm, and remember the joy of a whole week off from school, and towering snow drifts full of the tunnels we dug.  Somehow this storm wasn't as much fun for me.

Nonetheless, as the storm raged on I was still in the mood for white. I started tearing strips from the magazine pages I had collected for class.  Funny how I considered these pages to be whitish when I ripped them from Architectural Digest, and how totally UN-white they looked when I laid them down next to each other.  The sky was so gray I ended up washing over it with gesso, though that only served to emphasize the non-whiteness of the other papers. 
 I didn't set out to create something so beachy, but the green/blue horizon and the sand-colored foreground must be my subconscious' way of escaping the blizzard.

We are finally done digging out.
My toes have thawed, and I'm back in the studio, eager for color.  Any color.
I've had enough of this for a while.
I hope my fellow New Englanders are safe and sound!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I have this pile of about 50 pieces of unanswered mail.
It lurks in the corner of the studio, whispering insults about my character.

In spite of this, (or perhaps because of this) I am perversely drawn to work on anything BUT my mail.  

The only good part about not responding to mail is that my incoming has slowed to a trickle, and the pile isn't growing.  The word stagnant comes to mind.

But this morning, I sat down and wrote. 
The deadline for the international postcard swap got me going, and the momentum continued.
In addition to the postcards for the swap, I wrote seven cards to mail art friends, proclaiming that I am finally coming out of my mail slump.  I'm not sure I believed it as I wrote it, but it seemed like putting it in writing would help.

I drove to the post office, dropped them in the box outside, and then went in to check my PO Box.
It was packed.
I assumed it would all be MMSA items, and International PC Swap partners.

There was some of that.
But there were also SEVEN pieces of totally unexpected (one might say undeserved) personal mail.

Did you catch that?  In the span of 60 seconds I dropped seven pieces of personal mail in one box, and pulled seven pieces of personal mail out of another.

I am truly humbled.

Thoughts become things.

The slump is over.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What next?

I'm taking a five week collage class with a local artist/friend.
I'm really enjoying it, and each week I come home with a work in progress.
The problem lies in the word "progress."
I struggle with where to go next to make it a finished piece.

This week we worked on a triptych using papers we made in class.
Here's where mine stands right now.

So what next?
A light wash of color to tie it all together?
Pushing back the elements with a wash of white/titan buff?
Focal point?  Some kind of images?
Some interesting found objects?
All of the above?
I'm paralyzed.

Tell me, dear readers, what would you do next?