Sunday, November 29, 2009

Doll Print

I spent a lot of time just cutting out the background on this. I learned a lot about process with this image. The big lesson was that it's not necessary to abandon a print because it doesn't look good on the first proof. I was surprised at how much I could change things as I went many corrections I was able to make even though there is no way to "erase" anything. I see two more small changes I want to make before I call it done, but I am generally pretty happy with the results.

The more of these I do, the more ideas I come up with for more, though I must say that I am basically reworking old themes. The new medium just allows me to turn over the same old rocks........
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

On With the Woodcuts

I'm doing a linoleum print of the dolls I'm painting, but got sick of the tedium of it. I decided to do a quick woodcut for relief. Already I had forgotten how much easier it is to cut the soft wood and how much bolder the image seems. This took about a half hour. It's not a new's from a self-portrait monoprint I did when I was in school. It looks nothing like me, or even the way I looked then, but I wasn't going for a likeness and I really like the print.

Typically, I have begun to use the backs of old proofs to try out the new ones. My meager supply of suitable paper for both proofs and prints is disappearing alarmingly. Not knowing how long my interest will last, I'm not anxious to put money into supplies. Time will tell.

Winter seems to be on the horizon. It's cold and damp and dreary. The day is seeming long, since I got up an hour earlier than normal (misread the clock). After the activity of the last several days, I'm feeling lethargic. I have a movie from Netflix that has been threatening to get lost in the coffee table clutter for several weeks. Perhaps I'll break tradition and turn on the TV during the daylight hours, settle down with the dogs, and spend the rest of the afternoon in a semi-vegetative state on the couch. It's the perfect day for a movie.
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Friday, November 27, 2009


What a beautiful warm day it was as I walked to David and Thom's carrying my soup, biscuits, and cheesecake. I was taking a big chance with a kettle of soup and an uncovered cheesecake in old IGA bags, but I felt that taking the car would be rediculous in view of the fact that I had only two blocks to go. When I arrived at the door, the second potential disaster faced me in the form of Dylan the exhuberant. To the usual ineffectual pleas of "No Dylan, Down Dylan," I carried my bounty to the kitchen without incident. The familiar smell of Thanksgiving filled the house, the same smell of all the 60-odd Thanksgivings I have experienced. It's nice that some things keep coming back to remind us that time isn't a straight line but a cycle.

I will say that this meal was one of the best I can remember. The table was formally and graciously set with china, silver, a beautiful centerpiece and candles. The turkey was brown and beautiful, but still moist. The gravy was smooth as silk . The potatoes were perfectly whipped, the carrots just tender and seasoned to perfection. The stuffing, cooked inside the bird, was traditional enough to be authentic but even more delicious. The cranberry sauce David made was perfectly spiced and full of pecans for just the right touch of crunch. I might add that my apple soup was aromatic with just the right amount of curry, and my biscuits were light. The cheesecake had been a lot of trouble to make because my electric mixer wouldn't work, but it was worth it. Meg, our guest(since I can't consider myself a guest in that so familiar household), brought a bottle of good red wine, which we drank while Thom finished the preparations. We had champagne with the meal, and good coffee with desert.

It really is wonderful to take the time and effort to follow a tradition, knowing that even though you can't see them most of the other people in the country are doing the same thing. It brings a sense of unity with our countrymen, even if it did hail the destruction of Native American culture. We could be more appropriately beating ourselves in penance for our transgressions. I suppose a lot of traditions are steeped in some evil origins, but what can we do? We are the human animal.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Cheesecake

I was in charge of dessert this year, along with rolls and apple soup. I've heard that the measure of a cheesecake is whether it cracks or not. This one looks like it didn't even try to stay smooth. It's a pumpkin cheesecake, though it seems that the fresh chicken eggs (6 of them) worked poorly with the pumpkin to create a rather disgusting green color. Well, I hope it will taste good, since it will surely lose the prettiness prize.
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Got it after all

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good Nap

It's been a long time since I posted any pictures of the dogs. I would have liked to get a picture of all three of them in their beds, but Lytton is the only one who doesn't wake up when I come near with a camera. They each have a bed like this, and they all have loved them from the moment I brought them home from the Dollar Store last year. The things wash beautifully and are just the perfect fit for a curled-up Lhasa Apso. When I'm in the dining room, away from any upholstered furniture, they are happy to use them. Of course there is no need for dog beds in any other room.....there are lots of couches, chairs, and people beds elsewhere.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stage 2 with New Camera

I worked on this painting and then photographed it with my new Canon camera. I still like the painting, and I'm also happy with the camera, which I ordered from BestBuy. The other one has not been working properly for quite awhile and I've had to edit the pictures extensively to get any image at all. I took this picture without a flash in the normal incandescent lighting of my studio. It's pretty true to life.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Painting Dolls

I gave up my frenetic activity with the woodcuts for a day so that I could paint with Diana at her house. There is no way for me to take all the paraphenalia I need for printing to a different location. I had tried a woodcut of these dolls without total success, so decided to paint them instead. This isn't done, but I am quite enthralled with it the way it is and wanted to preserve it in case I spoil it as I go on and on. It looks like an explosion, or an apparition, or a bunch?, covey?, herd?, flock?, litter?, of angels. The photo is darker than the painting and the flash reflected off the top of the canvas, but it still is pretty much the way it actually is.

I have done a a few paintings of dolls and enjoy doing them provided there is something slightly sinister about them. All the dolls I have belonged to my mother. I can't help but associate them with her, and I know the tone of the painting is influenced by that.

Happily, I sold some paintings at the new gallery Lisa has opened. If I can go directly to the fuel company with the proceeds, I will stave off freezing for quite awhile.
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Monday, November 09, 2009

More Woodcuts

Before I had my first cup of coffee this morning I was in the studio trying out the idea of making the sky darker in yesterday's picture. The first effort failed because of my haste and blaze approach. After Toni and I had played our recorders for a couple of hours, I set about trying again. This time I remembered I wanted a gray sky, not a blue one, and that I had to use stronger paper to withstand the hard rubbing against the block. I spent more time looking for some paper than I did doing the print, but I was happy with the effect. I cut out the shape of the sky and painted it gray, then inked up the plate, put the sky on the block, smeared it with glue, then put the white paper on top of that. Rubbing was hard because the paper was so stiff, but eventually the wooden door nob I use to transfer the print did the job.

The second one is an image I did years ago as a monoprint, called "Don't Cry." I've always liked it, and it was the first thing I tried to do when I took chisel to wood this time. I messed it up and went to easier subject matter. After my marathon re-indoctrination, though, I felt competent to try it again. I like this one, but I need to work more on the bottom of the image.

The studio looks like a cyclone hit it, but I have accomplished my goal. How much longer will this continue to amuse me?
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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Call Me Kathe Kollwitz

I persisted with my woodcut from yesterday and actually ended up liking it. Encouraged, I went on to try another one. This is the Unitarian Meeting House, backwards. I feel that I am experimenting and don't want to go to the trouble of reversing my images when I cut them. I still have a little more to go with this one. My attempt to put in the telephone pole and wires failed and now it looks like a crucifixion is about to take place on a white cross. Since I cut so much around the house, I think a little chine colle is in order to give the sky a gray color against the white building. Also I need to turn the Fisher-Price figure on the left into the church steeple it was meant to be.

It's fun to be doing something different, even if I do have sore fingers from pushing on my dull tools. I decided to mix up some black paint in order to give these that gloom and doom look that woodcuts all have. I shouldn't have hesitated to make the effort since it is so easy to mix blue and orange together. Most things aren't as much trouble as you thought they would be............unless you thought they were going to be easy.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009


I've been having a little trouble finding things to do in my art life so I resorted to my trick of changing mediums. I think about printmaking often and wish I had a press available to me. When I was in school I loved all of my printmaking classes except lithography, which was too volatile. You could lose something you had spent a week doing in a flash because of some chemical process you didn't control correctly. Intaglio was interesting in that it was so labor intensive. I learned how to slow down and work in stages, building up the image over time and using a lot of different techniques to make textures. There was a lot of satisfaction in that, coupled with the anxiety of wondering if each run through the press or acid bath would ruin the image irrevocably. Now it is not so toxic as it used to be, and I probably wouldn't know how to do it.

Monoprint and block printing were, and are, my favorites. I had a wonderful teacher from Chicago for both of those. I can do relief printing without a press, and actually monoprint is possible, too. I have collected several pieces of wood from the construction next door that are quite suitable, though very hard. I have no ink, so used watersoluble oil paint instead. My tools are very dull and I don't know how to sharpen was always a problem for me. Anyway, armed with my enthusiasm for doing something different, I tackled these two pieces which are both about 5x7. I love the portrait, but as soon as I thought I had the process under control my thoughts turned immediately to making a salable image. Hence, the scene of Stonington's warf from a painting I did on sight probably thirty years ago. As is always the case, I lost my enthusiasm as soon as money came into my mind and the image is less than wonderful. I need to work on it more if I can muster the enthusiasm, make things clearer.

I am the original prude when it comes to prostituting my snotty.
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Last Hurrah

For the last two months the garden has looked sorrier and sorrier. Then today as I brought the dogs back from their walk I happened to glance at the dead sticks and leaves that were once my garden. Amidst the mess, the cosmos I planted from seed in the spring had made their way to the surface and were doing their pretty thing by the bay window. I watched for them earlier, but thought they had died without sprouting. It's always nice to see a miracle, and especially one that happened unconcerned with your notice of it.

There's been another miracle in the garden that has kept my attention most of the summer and fall. Somehow a Petunia plant ended up in pain vue just where the garden meets the sidewalk. I have no idea how it got there, since Petunias are annuals and I haven't so much as touched one in years. As time went on, it remained the same height as when I first noticed it, only about seven or eight inches tall. There were white always flowers on it, between three and five healthy blooms so consistent that I could have believed they were the same blossoms. I never noticed one wilt or fall off the plant. It is still there now, still blooming.

I won't be surprised if snow buries it one of these cold November nights while its flowers are still fresh.
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