Sunday, August 20, 2017

Awake and in my dreams, making clay monoprints

Hamsa was my last print of the day at Mitch Lyons Open Studio yesterday.  I am grateful I live only an hour and a half away from the guy who discovered, explored, and elaborated clay monoprinting.  It was like a sangha of clay monoprinters, just six of us hanging out with Mitch from 12 - 5 p.m.  

As Rabbi Leib once said, "I did not go to the master (maggid) in order to hear Torah from him, but to see how he unlaces his felt shoes and laces them up again."  Mitch makes a point of saying he doesn't teach at Open Studio.  He just does his own work and laces and unlaces his felt shoes...

Ice Skater was my first print of the day:

It's 'ghost', or the second print from the same 'inking', (though in this case using clay slip to which pigment has been added,) is called T.V.:

The  following prints were done at home in the last weeks, and the sun wasn't quite right to photograph them until today:



These two are an example of how much fun it is to work with two slabs at the same time, as well as hand finishing with water color.

Here is a 'ghost' from one of them, called Oracion:

I've had the South American talisman for many years.  Living in San Diego close to the border for so long the influence was pervasive.  Who knew it would end up on a clay monoprint?  

The one below is also a mixed-media clay monoprint called Bridge Over Troubled Water.  A clay modeling tool has been added, as the 'bridge' from troubled waters to a place of calm.  The shape works well with the design, and at the same time is conceptually a statement about the healing power of creativity and the arts.

"When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd," the line from the Shaker song 'Tis the Gift to be Simple, is the inspiration for titling the print above Simplicity.

The print below is called Unexpected Doorway:

Clay monoprinting continues to be an unexpected doorway for me on many levels.  I will continue to enter its portal and explore what's on the other side as long as I am physically able.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Queer Glass Exhibit!

We went to the National Liberty Museum to see the nation's first glass exhibit by members of the LGBTQ+ community, which was a unique experience.  The complete serendipity was visiting the National Liberty Museum itself!  It is a gem of a museum, and a wonderful place to bring children and grandchildren.  

The NLM has had a specialty in glass for a long time, totally apart from the Transparency exhibit.  

"Flame of Liberty", by Dale Chihuly dominates a ground floor room, and reaches into the floor above.

A smaller work hangs from the second story and reaches below.  I overheard one little girl say to another "it's a baby and a mommy reaching for each other."  I'm inclined to agree with her.

Here are some of my favorites from Transparency:

This is by Sarah Gilbert, called Mi Corazon (fused and engraved glass):

 She says, "These two hands are my wife's hand and mine.  There is a metronome in the middle signifying the two beats we live by.  We are opposite but complementary in so many ways - the two  beats working together to create the rhythm of our lives." 

The Golden Egg...An American Dream 

"Created from the purest fiber optic crystal, it is one of 100 glass sculptures on exhibit throughout the National Liberty Museum...a reminder that liberty, like glass, is both strong and fragile."

 This one is extremely powerful:  

 I fell in love with the National Liberty Museum today.

Full disclosure:  I was the founder and coordinator of the Queer Artists Project of the Lesbian and Gay Historical Society of San Diego, (now called Lambda Archives of San Diego,) from the time it started in 1996 until we moved away from San Diego in 2010.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Francisco Goya: an artist for the 21st Century

Living from 1746 until 1828, Goya had one foot in the 18th century, one foot in the 19th century, and one foot in the 21st century.  

The etching and aquatint above is called Bury Them and Keep Quiet.  By this time he wasn't giving any indication which side the bodies belonged to.  It didn't matter.  It was wonderful to see Witness: Reality and Imagination in the Prints of Francisco Goya at the Philadelphia Museum of Art today, as part of the group organized by Bill Brookover of Fleisher Art Memorial.  Bill is a printmaker and photographer, who teaches printmaking at Fleisher.  The curator of prints spoke to us, along with Bill's invaluable input.  

It was very special for me to see the actual prints from Goya's The Disasters of War series. I have had a small paperback book of the series, with good plates, since I was in high school. 

This one is called They've Already Got a Seat, (1797-98).  (Ya tienen asiento).  The label says "In the title, the word asiento can be translated as both seat and judgment, suggesting that the women are thinking with their bottoms."  I just like the surrealism of the upside down chairs.  (Sorry, I couldn't avoid my shadow on the glass.)

Ravages of War (Estragos de la Guerra, 1810-14), captures the precise moment of an explosion within a building.  It's amazing how something so horrible is portrayed with such beautiful composition - a cruciform shape. 

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueno de la razon produce monstruos 1797-98) is one of Goya's most iconic etching and aquatints.  The label tells us that "His contemporaries would have recognized the watchful lynx and ominous bats and owls that swarm around the sleeping artist as symbols of ignorance and evil."  ..."this print epitomizes the prevailing message of the series, a warning of what happens in the world when reason is absent."  Surely a message for our time.

This photo was taken by Linda Dubin Garfield: Bill Brookover, me, Sandi Lovitz, and Edna Santiago, at the Goya prints exhibit.  I definitely plan to join in on any expeditions to print collections Bill has planned for the Fall. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

"Conversation": a ceramic mixed-media assemblage

They look like real seed pods.  They are ceramic!  I made then from real seed pods.  First the pods are dipped in paper clay slip.  The natural material itself burns out in the kiln, leaving a hollow paper clay cast, which is then coated with oxides and stains, and finally encaustic. It is called "Conversation".  The washboard was the perfect place for the pods to be in conversation with each other.  They are a particularly female shape, and the washboard is a particularly female artifact.  

A previous piece, "Untitled", uses paper clay, oxides, stains, and underglazes, encaustic, found objects (typewriter keys, marbles, glass, cymbals), and wooden box.

This was a first experiment with the technique, which was very exciting. 

I'm not done exploring this process yet!  I have a bunch of ceramic pine cones, and more material to dip as soon as Fall semester starts.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gratitude: A new story plate

This is my recently finished story plate, titled Gratitude.  The silkscreened image is from a photograph I took when the Philadelphia Museum of Art re-opened its Eastern wing.  

The silkscreened image is actually baked into the clay.  It is not collaged on top of it.  This is in contrast to my earlier story plate, Ambivalence:

In Ambivalence, the vintage photograph and gold lapel pin are collaged on to the plate, with a final layer of encaustic.  

The mylar image of my photograph that was used to make the silk screen is here collaged to a clay monoprint:

I also silkscreened the image of the person meditating on to a clay monoprint:


I like the circle around the person's head, as well as the vine growing in the lace beneath. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Clay Monoprints: Dreams, Visions, and Alternate Realities

Harmonic Convergence is the title of this clay monoprint.  I can tell I made it while at Mitch Lyons Open Studio last June, because it makes use of his wonderful round piece of lace.  (Mitch is the founder/inventor/master of clay monoprinting.)  I must remember to use it again when I am there in August. 

The one above is called Other Solar Systems.  I haven't put the wooden strips on the backs of this batch yet, like this:

That is how they will hang in my upcoming solo exhibit at Pendle Hill, the Quaker Study and Retreat Center, (October 5, 2017 through February 1, 2018.)  Jesse White, the Director of the Pendle Hill Arts and Spirituality Program, who invited me to do this exhibit, advised me on a kind of glue for the wood strips that won't bleed through the substrate.  It's called Magna Tac-809, and I had not heard of it before.  Jesse is a book artist so knew about it, and it solved the logistical problem of hanging.  To hang like this, unframed, reminds me of Chinese scrolls or Tibetan Tankas.

This one is titled Jacob and the Angels.  I photographed this batch on my dining room floor.  I have taken several workshops over the years on "how to photograph your art,"  and recently have simplified.  I discovered that if I wait for a good sunny day at an optimal time and pull up the dining room blinds, that the room is flooded with natural light that is far better than the artificial flood light set up I used to do in my studio.  My iPhone camera is excellent.  I make a tripod by resting my elbows on my knees so it is stable. 

 Here's a further sampling of this batch:

 Kiss is one of several smaller ones.  It's fun to work with different sizes. 

Mitch charges  .09 cents per square inch.  It makes sense to charge by the square inch, and gives a freedom to have a variety of sizes without worrying about how to price them.  I will be charging .06 cents a square inch. 

Down the Shore:

Floating World:
This one is dedicated to the many happy hours I have spent watching leaves and blossoms fall into a stream and float along with the current.

 Guardian Angel:

Sea, Land, & Sky:

I'll post more later.  Tomorrow is the start of making a new batch!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Newsprint Trash Reclaimed

This newsprint could have been thrown in the trash.  In the process of clay monoprinting the clay slab is blotted with newsprint every time a new layer gets inlayed into the design.  I spent Saturday June 17th with Mitch Lyons, the originator of clay monoprinting, at his Open Studio in New London, PA.  

The images transferred to the newsprint were too interesting to me to just throw out.  I decided to save a selection, glue them into a notebook and coat them with gloss varnish to keep them from fading, hoping they will serve as a journal of the prints made that day, a reminder of some of the imagery.

This fragment includes beautiful Chinese decals.  Today, our handyman finally installed the air conditioner in my studio, so I am ready to roll (pun intended), and zero in on clay monoprinting for the summer.  In addition to moving forward with a new prints, I will hand finish prints already made before photographing and posting them. I  got a second slab from Mitch at Open Studio, so I will be able to work on two slabs at once.  I will spend another day at Open Studio with Mitch in August, and a three-day workshop with him over Labor Day weekend at Peters Valley School of Craft, but mostly I will have fun with it in my own studio. 

It's not only that I am preparing for a solo show of clay monoprints for the Tree Rooms Gallery at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat and conference center, that will run from October 5, 2017 through February 1, 2018.  It's that I love making clay monoprints!  It combines my love of monoprinting and image transfer with the tactility of clay, and offers possibilities for depth and layering that is unique to the clay process. It's wonderful to be able to make prints without a press. I suspect this process will be an important part of my art practice for years to come...