Thursday, July 22, 2010

Printmaking II

"Vintage Roses" on a zinc plate using a combination of line etching and dry point to add richer blacks to the back ground.

"Kindly Light" is a spider day lily and leaves, made by dry point scratched on a Plexiglas plate.

" Wooden Chair" my first "line etching" intaglio print. It was completed with only one dip in the acid which I blogged about back in May here.
Sorry it took so long to share a scanned image.

"Nasturtiums" a first proof print of dry point on copper plate.
Recently, I had a second class with Jake Muirhead at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center he taught another Intaglio technique called dry point in which we scratched drawings on copper and Plexiglas plates. We used a sharp needle in a wooden holder to make lines with a burr that would catch some ink. Then we proof printed our plates the same way as the line etchings. After you see your first proof print one gets to decide if the image is complete or if you want to add more lines. I usually want to add more and watching Jake work on his own plates is inspiring because he works over his plates a lot and gets some beautiful passages of ink in his prints. It is very hard to describe without a print in hand to show you but the beauty in Intaglio prints is all about the various lines and tones that the inks leave on the page transfered from the plate. Jake's prints online show some of that rich deep print quality but you really need to see one in person up close to enjoy all that velvety ink texture. Intaglio print making is a drawing you make on a plate and each change you make to the plate is only clear after you run a proof print to see what your marks have done. It can be a lot of fun, if you like this process and it can be a lot of torture, if you are uncertain what you want in your print at the end. I enjoy the process and sometimes the torture; in some ways it is the experience of drawing amplified and in very slow motion.
Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center recently rented gallery space to Washington Printmakers Gallery a collective of printmakers who always have etchings and dry points on display upstairs above the studios. I visit there regularly to get inspired by many local artists. It is an intimate gallery that is very friendly and full of all kinds of prints. Your comments are always welcome to encourage my endeavors, to tell us about prints you have seen or just to say hello.

Monday, July 12, 2010

sketching the garden

nasturtium were a new challenge in the morning of June 20th

June 30th found me tackling the big stand of hot pink day lilies

July 4th was the hardy white sweet peas

one single Casa Blanca Lily from July 8th

I have been writing morning pages, a la The Artists Way, since 1994 when my friend performance artist John Kelly turned me on to writer Julia Cameron's great self help book for folks who are creative an find they are suffering from a creative block. Then about ten years later came a round of inspirations from Illustrator and writer Danny Gregory with his book Everyday Matters and subsequently I sketched every day in a small pocket book freely. Eventually I lost the practice of sketching daily. I do have a big stack of my own hand bound pocket sized sketch books full of little 4x5 inch pen and ink drawings.
Sometime earlier in June I picked up Danny's recent book An Illustrated Life with dozens of artist's sketches and descriptions of how much they depend on daily drawing to find their way in the world and I was reminded how important drawing is to me. I need to be drawing more than just a weekly figure at my figure drawing group. I need to really make drawing a daily event in my life. I decided that I would like to try sketching in the garden daily after completing my morning's writing. Flowers are very seductive for their beautiful lines and geometry both as subject for photography and drawing allowing you to get to know them so intimately thorough careful observation. So far sketching is paying me back for the effort. I wanted to share some of the results. I just loaded 30 new sketches on in the "sketch set" follow the link and have a peek at some more of the results.
I sketch lines with an old fashioned fountain pen and rarely add some watercolor or wash. I am happy my latest routine of daily sketches in the garden. The usual rule is that a habit will stick if you keep it up for 90 days. What this week also showed me was that the habit is still developing. We had our first day of rainy weather since I started and I had to stay inside. It was a shock, I didn't know quite what to draw and flashed back to winters stuck inside writing and trying to find interesting things to sketch inside. I considered that I need to be preparing ways to adapt and be nimble about my subject matter for sketching if this habit is going stick beyond the garden months.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


first blossom caught me by surprise, I was not expecting such a dramatic flower
the colors and the shape won me over instantly

close up of the odd petals in the second blossom
the second firestorm had an extra pair of distorted petals, more red throughout
third and last firestorm at the edge of day light and shadow
firestorm in the sun
firestorm in the shade

This is the last of about 3 or 4 blossoms on one of the new daylily I bought in the spring at the National Arboretum's annual plant sale. Named "Firestorm" it is a dramatic shape and the colors are exciting. Not orange but in some ways the precursor with yellow and orange-red mixing on the petals. I particularly like the way the two types of petals have distinctive shapes and color to distinguish them. The narrow yellow recurved petals form long S-curves contrasting the twisting wide petals which have a center yellow rib surrounded by the red glow and yellow edges at the outer half of the curling petals. The stamen and anther are golden ending in reddish tips. All in all, a handsome daylily but sadly the last blossom on my new plant this year. The good news is that in the pot there are two clusters of leaves meaning next year this daylily might have two stems of buds that open twice as many flowers in July.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

casa blanca lily

One of my favorite flowers of summer, the Casa Blanca lily always reminds me of my mom because they usually bloom near her birthday. I first learned about them in NYC working for a flower shop called Madderlake, when they were the most elegant and expensive rare cut flowers. After I moved back to Virginia the name stuck with me... and we bought some bulbs for the garden. They lasted for years out there in Manassas and were added to my Washington garden not long ago as a reliable repeater. Only one or two inside will fill a room with sweet perfume more than a few will knock you out but they are magnificent in the garden.