Monday, July 23, 2012

Waxing Non-Objectively

"To Be Revealed"
9" X 12"

As I brought the photograph of this image up onto the computer screen, Clint said, “Uh oh”. 

You see, for me non-objective or abstract* pieces are an expression of extreme emotion. Often, they express negative emotions: anger, fear, betrayal, loss. There were a few years there where I was doing a lot of abstract pieces—and I mean a lot. I've told Clint about those years, so this put up a red flag for him.

“Not to worry, my love,” I told him, ”You know I’ve been working with Morgan (my student) on abstract and non-objective expression and I wanted to show her an example of her next assignment.”

I had to come clean, “…well, and all the other stuff that’s been going on lately.” Yes, there’s been a bit of stress in our lives, but nothing that we can’t deal with.

What is so interesting about this piece is that when I showed it to Morgan and then Clint, they found completely different imagery within the print. Now, I did not intentionally incorporate any recognizable image. I was strictly working with shape and texture and value. That’s the wonderful thing about an abstract drawing or painting. Everyone finds something different. Sometimes there is nothing to find—yet so many people look for “something”. Often, there is nothing there other than an expression of color, texture, mood, or it’s simply an arrangement beautiful shapes.

When I finished this monotype, a title came to mind; yet my intent was very different than their interpretation. 

So…what do you see? Tell me and I’ll tell you the title and the feeling behind it.

*FYI: Abstract means the piece is derived from reality. There is something recognizable there. Non-objective—meaning there are no objects that are recognizable.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adding and Subtracting

"Still Partners"
10" X 12"

Fear not. We shall not trudge down the math path any further than my telling you the dimensions of these pieces. Instead, the title refers to the monoprint process I've been playing around with lately—adding and subtracting ink.

I've had this tube of sepia ink and some luscious creamy paper I've been aching to try out, so it was time to return to the plate, so to speak, and experiment once again with printmaking. I love making monoprints—not only the immediate result, but also the unpredictable nature of the process. Remember, each print is unique, there is only one (thus the name). (See more here, and here.)

I started with a piece of Plexiglas that I inked using a brayer (like a mini paint roller). I roughed out my drawing and began scraping away the ink with the chiseled end of a brush. The process was mind-numbingly slow. And, because I'd added oil to make the ink a bit more fluid, I found I was taking one step forward and two back as the ink kept seeping back into the places where I'd scraped it away.

I used a cloth to remove some of the ink, but this left large bare patches with little transition between light and dark. Finally, I loosely outlined the subject and used a bristle brush to remove the ink. Eureka! I loved the texture left behind by the brush. Even in the barest places, it left a soft haze of color. The result was much softer than the scrape-away method I've used in the past. The experimentation will continue as I work to establish a wider range of values using this technique.

"Still Partners II"
10" X 12"

After I made the first print, I thought I'd try a different approach. I had the ghost of the image left on the plate, so I applied ink with a brush to re-establish the forms. You can see the ink didn't come out evenly; there are blobs here and there where it was applied too thickly. However, I was able to quickly make another print. I think I like the first one better. How about you?

These images came from a photo taken on our trip to Domeland last fall. It seemed odd that these two trees grew so close and so tall side-by-side and there is nothing else around them. Like an old married couple standing there, they look out over the meadow, the sun warming their backs in the mornings, the sunsets saying goodnight.