Thursday, December 18, 2014

Inspiration

I mentioned in my last post that I've been working on adding texture and including some drawing, collage, stamps, or something-or-other to my prints. It's been a process and I think I'm headed somewhere interesting!

There are several picture books that I've loved in the last year or so because the fantastic artwork has elements of what I'm trying to create myself. These artists have really been inspiring me, so I'd like to share them!


The Iridescence of Birds written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Hadley Hooper. First of all, it's a book about Henri Matisse- how cool is that? And the artwork is beautiful. If you are interested in Hadley's work, you should check out this interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. 




Hadley makes a lot of relief prints and textures, scans them and assembles everything in photoshop. The linework is grease pencil on butcher paper. That's what she uses for early drawings anyway, and that's what the lines look like in the final art.

I'd rather create the artwork by hand instead of assembling everything in photoshop, but I LOVE the way the prints look with some black accent lines. I think the illustrations have a looseness and detail with the lines added that is pretty hard to achieve with relief prints alone. And her ink textures and decorative relief patterns are nice too. 

These two photos above from the book are Henri's mother painting on plates and young Henri mixing up paint colors.


Here is Bluebird, written and illustrated by Lindsey Yankey,  This is a sweet story about a bluebird hunting for her friend, the wind. Lindsey uses drawing, painting, relief prints, and collage to illustrate this book. She also does a quirky thing that I love and draws a scene right around the edges of the page so that the orientation of the picture changes. 



In Bluebird, Lindsey combines bold relief prints with delicate drawings like the spread with the willow tree above.

I like the way she's used white paint on top of cream paper in many places. And do you see how the bluebird's head is somewhat transparent? I've been experimenting with leaving parts of the art transparent, so I noticed that right away.

There is also a delicate floral pattern on the top left of the bottom photo. Lindsey uses a lot of collage and decorative patterns throughout. All of those are different elements that I love.


I have already done a blog post about Mark Hearld including images from Outside Your Window, written by Nicola Davies. But I love Mark's work and this book in particular, so I had to share it again. Outside Your Window is a big book full of poems and short stories about nature that is divided into seasons. The artwork is a combination of collage, drawing, painting and a little relief printing.


Several different places in the book, Mark uses carved stamps to illustrate flocks of birds, fish, and wheat in a field. The stamps are always combined with collage and paint in a very successful way.


I really like the texture of this winter spread. I'm not certain, but it looks to me like he rolled some thin white ink over the top of printed or collaged trees. It makes the scene look very snowy, doesn't it? It's a beautiful foggy texture. Even though he mostly worked in collage for this book, I can still see the linocut influence. With so many different mediums going on, this book is incredibly rich and interesting.


And I saved my favorite for last. Sleep Like a Tiger written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski may be my all-time favorite book. The artwork is beyond beautiful. I'm a huge fan of Pamela Zagarenski! This book is in her usual rich style with lots of texture, paint, collage, patterns, and some stamps. You can see more of the artwork from this book at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. 


The little patterns in the girl's quilt are stamps. Pamela uses them throughout the book on the girl's quilt as it transforms visually into a nest, a cozy barn, a snuggly bear, and around the sleeping girl and tiger. The way she does this is very subtle but it nicely ties the story together.


This is the back endpaper. The moon has a layered collage of the poem The Tyger by William Blake. I love the way that it looks and that it is relevant to the story and not just a random snip of newspaper. I also like the very dark houses in the background- perfect for a night scene.

Pamela's quirky use of objects and animals is really wonderful to me. What is that little teapot doing on the train above for example?

The details and well as the overall layouts in this book are masterful in my opinion. Go and get one if you haven't already!


I'm lucky that my daughter also likes Sleep Like a Tiger! Here she is showing me where the stars are.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Withershins


Here is the latest page I did for the collaborative book I'm making with Clara Boza. The word she gave me was Withershins. What a  great word! I had to look it up:

withershins (ˈwɪðəˌʃɪnz; Scottish ˈwɪðər-or widdershins adv
1. (Astronomy) in the direction contrary to the apparent course of the sun; anticlockwise
2. in a direction contrary to the usual; in the wrong direction. 



Here is my sketchbook page with the stamps I carved. It shows the development of the layout and colors. 

There are some things that I like about the way this page turned out, especially considering the experimental path I seem to be on lately. I think you can tell if you scroll back through this blog that I've been working on developing some textures and spontaneity with stamps and drawing in addition to linocuts. I have some favorite artists that I'm drawing inspiration from and I'll share some of their artwork in a blog post soon!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Merry Christmas


I decided to try and squeeze in the time for a new Christmas card. Here are two foxes cuddling in a  holly wreath. This was a fun little print to do and hopefully you will see a lot more card images in 2015!

Here are a few process photos-


The carved linoleum block.


Printing the image.


Here is the black and white image before I painted it. On this print I added some snowflake stamps with white and silver and then painted over them quite a bit for the final picture. I didn't originally think I would like the added snowflakes, I thought it looked too busy. So first I painted one that was plain, but the colors I chose didn't look good on that first round. So for my second painting attempt, I used this one with extra snow. It does look busier, but I like it. It has more texture. 

I'm having cards printed by my great local printer, Element Print. The will be for sale at Lyon Drug as soon as I can get them in the store. Merry Christmas!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mama Sings


Here is my most recent version of a spread from Rosie Sings. I actually made some artwork that isn't a linocut! This is from the end of the book when baby Rosie and her dog are all worn out from singing through the day. There are also two short lines of text that go in the upper right.

I took a few photos as I went along- this is a new process that I'm figuring out, so taking photos helps me remember what I did for next time.


I first made a collage of music sheets and scanned it. Then I scanned the line drawing and laid it over the top of the collage. I lightened the music behind the figures and the handwriting. Then I printed it out on Rives BFK paper.


Next I did some stamps. They are pretty subtle in the finished painting, but I still like what they added to the piece.


Here is the first layer of background painting.


And here it is finished again!

Since today is Thanksgiving, I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful day! I am thankful for my family, friends, and that I get to make artwork most days. I am especially excited today, because my little girl has been very slow to learn to walk and today we took our first family walk together! She still has to hold our hands, but she actually walked two blocks. That makes it a very special day for us. :)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reading, Writing and Drawing in the Library


The print that I gave to the library during World Art Drop Day has been framed and hung! It's in one of my favorite spots- right above the new children's picture books. Our Bud Werner Memorial Library is so beautiful and such a fun place, I'm really happy to be a part of it!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rosie Sings


I haven't posted much lately because I've been mostly working on my Rosie sings dummy. And it's really boring to read about in a blog post! I'm pretty slow at this stage. I like to take a lot of time with the drawings because it's not something I'm confident about. And from experience I can tell you that it's better to do final art based on good drawings than on bad ones!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bird Song Finished



Here's a close-up of the words on my Bird Song print. I usually outline each letter the way you see here. Then I go back and carve away all of the extra linoleum. And yes, all words have to be carved backwards! When printed they will be facing forward on the paper.


I made the music collage and painted it green a while ago. Then to make this edition I scanned the collage and printed a series of them digitally on Rives BFK, my favorite printmaking paper. I tried printing the linocut on top of the original collage, but the paper was too thick and stiff. Paper for printmaking has to have a little flexibility. So the digitally printed backgrounds were a compromise that worked well for this edition.

Then I printed the block with black Gambling relief ink. To make the words Bird Song on the bottom, I used the letter stamps in the photo above. It was challenging to place the stamps well and not smudge them.


After some watercolor, here's how it turned out. I'm pretty happy with it!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Artist's Life

Many folks think of artists working alone in their drafty studios all hours of the day or night. It's a romantic life. And while it may be hard to make ends meet, the sacrifice is worth it for the art.


Here is one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo painting a portrait of her father. Frida lived an amazing life that can't be distilled down to one image, but this photo is an example of the stereotype of an artist at work. Her space is peaceful. She is concentrating on creating a meaningful image and she is paying loving attention to the details.


Here is a more modern photo of another of my favorite artists, Sophie Blackall. She is painting a long image of characters riding the subway that was featured in the New York subway cars a couple of years ago. I love this painting, and I love how focused she is. The light coming in through the window, her sweet outfit and hair tied in a bun, and the tiny bit of watercolor mess make this a classic studio shot. Don't you wish you could step right into this photo and sit down to paint a picture?

All of us artists wish we could lead the perfect life full of peaceful time creating, lots of paying customers, and just the right amount of recognition to keep it all rolling. Of course the evenings could be dedicated to family or social life. And if you added a little bit of reality to this fantasy, there might also be some time handling email and business, and maybe some rushing to meet an important deadline.



Ha! Here's me at work! Very few artists are able to support themselves doing only artwork. Most of us piece together all sorts of different jobs- art related or not. And our lives are just as hectic as anyone else's. We juggle family, chores, errands, work, business, and just try to squeeze in some time for our personal art projects. People have always commented about how much artwork I produce, implying that it's a lot. I feel like I barely ever get anything done! But really it's probably somewhere in between those two extremes.

This morning my husband walked by the table, laughed, and said, "give me your phone I have to take your picture." I said, "No, my hair!" And sort of straightened my hair (hard to believe, eh?) then handed over my phone for this photo. When he handed it back he said "the artist's life." I do have a sense of humor so I could immediately see how funny this was. But it led me to thinking about how we artists lead our lives.

It's easy to get sucked into wishing for the idealized artist's life with a perfect studio and time to create. But don't waste you time wishing! And don't let anyone else dictate how you should work as an artist. You can create anywhere that works for you. You can spend hours at a time getting absorbed by a project, or only work in tiny bursts when you have a few minutes to spare. We create because it is what satisfies our soul. We create our lives with our families, our pets, and our friends. We create our artwork to share with the world, or just to bring us peace. Our lives are complicated, beautiful, and full of art. Now go and create- wherever you are and whenever you can!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!


My little girl has been rebelling against drawing in our sketchbook for the last few weeks. But I recently got her to scribble a bit and this odd drawing of hers turned into two witches! I need to remember to photograph her drawing before I add to it because I think a before and after shot would be neat to see.


Here's another- I really like how sometimes lines that she's drawn won't fit into the main image I'm visualizing. So a whole new element gets added making the picture much more interesting. I could see the roof of a house in the lines she'd drawn, so I made the house. But I couldn't figure out what to do with the vertical line that she'd drawn in the top right corner. I kept seeing a balloon's string. But why is one balloon floating off the page? Well it turns out there are lots of balloons floating into the sky because when they mature, the balloon tree releases them like seeds to float away and grow new balloon trees. Obviously.


And here are my little cuties all ready for Halloween. Have a great spooky weekend everyone!


Monday, October 27, 2014

New Bird Song Print


I finally got around to starting a new print. This is a mama bird with three babies in a nest. Mama is singing, Let me sing you a song about your world so new. It will be a companion to Whale Song that I made last summer. And I plan to do one more after this. It's fun to work on a linocut again after drawing for my dummy over and over again!