You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘art journal’ category.

As I was tracing, my brilliant daughter asked me why I didn’t just print out the photo.

!?

Because then I could just sandwich carbon paper between the printed version and the linoleum in order to transfer it. No need to trace it and turn it over, as I’d planned.

?!

As long as I didn’t mind the image being reversed, my brilliant wife added.

!!

The printout is fine, and I don’t mind the image being reversed. I am set to show up tomorrow and transfer it to the lino. The tracing was fun and not difficult, but yeesh. It’s a good thing I have people around to point out the obvious.

The linocut class we signed up for as a family months ago is now one day away, and we’re all finishing up our drawings. Remember how my plan was a triptych showing three stages of seedpod decay? Well, I decided against seedpods for a few reasons. I couldn’t find the fresh seedpods; I didn’t document the decay as it happened; and frankly, I don’t find them much more visually interesting now than I did when they were closer to fresh. So I decided to print leaves: one freshly fallen, one more desiccated, and then one worn down to almost a skeleton.

20200221_233545 (2)
bw rotated

I collected and drew the leaves earlier this week, but when I did sketches of
the skeletal leaf, I realized that a print of it alone would take me the five hours of the workshop–at least. And it conveys the point without the earlier stages. So I am now working on tracing the version on the left from my computer screen onto tracing paper. (I’m holding the stem with a fishbone tweezer to keep my hand out of the shot.) I’m probably going to render it in black and white, no grayscale, so the print will look more like the version on the right.

Whether I can transfer the tracing to carbon paper and then onto the linoleum, carve it, and print it satisfactorily, all in five hours, is doubtful, but I’ll give it a go. I really want to work on the delicacy of my carving, and this fits the bill.

Drawn with SketchbookX app

I love these cones, which often look like small, brittle roses. Yesterday I finally looked up what kind of tree they come from and learned that they are deodar cedars, native to the Mediterranean but frequently planted here in the San Francisco Bay area. The reason we find them shaped like this is that the cones shed from top to bottom. Someone named Don Latarski even made a time-lapse video of their decay.

The rose shape is what they look like midway through the process from tight cone to full dispersal.

I’ve had this one on a bookshelf in our living room for a few years, and made this drawing of it tonight with my cellphone app.

I followed my plan of drawing the same subject in a markedly different style tonight, difficult though that is, and it helped shake the doldrums I had last night. I’m going to try something even more uncharacteristic tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what happens if I keep mixing it up.

Day 96 of #100days of making art

That’s all. I just hate my own style, or maybe it’s not that that I hate, but the particular ways I get stuck. My too-familiar ruts. Ugh.

I’m spilling this out here because my blog is in part my art journal, and it’s important to share the gamut of moods.

Tomorrow I’ll try to get out of the rut by drawing the same subject (a couple of leaves) in a totally different way. Tonight I’m just closing the sketchbook on this unsatisfying drawing and going to bed.

Day 95 of #100days of making art

Day 92, and the second in a row of having lots of time for art, thanks to a Sunday off. I painted the lower right hand “room,” glued the walls in place, and did most of the vase.

I still don’t know the main element of the third room, nor lots of details of the others. I did stitch a length of videotape into something resembling cursive writing, which will be the main element of one room, I think. Am I the only person who feels a mixture of sadness and curiosity when they see a length of video (or audiotape, when those were around) all pulled out of its cassette and tangled and dirty on the street? It makes me wonder what was on it–what still is on it, but is now inaccessible. Anyway, this one will be part of a sculpture.

#100days of making art

I started on an assemblage with some techniques and themes that are similar to the last one’s. It’s going to have three or four chambers, so a lot of what I did today was cut the inner walls to size and sand them. I also worked out the string pattern for the lower-right chamber (you can see the plan on the paper in the foreground) and drilled most of the holes in the walls for threading it through. I’m still not sure how I’m going to do that, but I’ll play around with it tomorrow.

I also had a great time drilling successively larger holes in the door (lid) to make a peephole. The cigar box wood splinters so easily that I thought for sure I’d have a disaster if I tried a large bit first, so I worked my way up to a 1/2-inch bit.

I’m trying to stay in that indeterminate head space where I’m lightly holding a theme and some images, without knowing how they all relate to the theme or even being entirely sure that they do. I know I am looking at the difficulties of understanding each other across gulfs of culture, experience, language, etc., and the extraordinary fact that we ever reach any understanding at all.

The virtual vase that emerges from the strung thread expresses this in one, hopeful way. The unspooled, unidentified videotape is more expressive of the frustration involved. If I look too analytically at these or other images that are coming to mind, I’m afraid their meanings will shrink away from me like a snail retreating into its shell. So I’m letting them float in my peripheral vision, hoping that while I paint and drill and sand, they’ll take more definite shape of their own accord.

Day 91, #100days of making art

My wife got into the car on Sunday and passed me a handful of seed pods she had picked up on the sidewalk: different than the kind I drew in Sacramento over Thanksgiving, smaller and darker, though again I don’t know the species. “Here,” she said. “I know you like this kind of thing.” It’s so good to be known.

I put them in the well of the driver’s side door, and there they have been getting drier and rattling around. They’ve also given me an idea for the linocut workshop we’ll be taking from Katie Gilmartin at SOMArts in February. I want to have drawings ready when I go in, or I won’t get far on the print. I’m going to make a series (triptych, maybe) of these pods in various states, from fresh to freshly fallen to dried up. It’ll be a further exploration of something that’s interested me for a long time: the ambiguous nature of decay. “Decay” sounds like a judgment, as does “progress,” though one could use either word for what is happening. “Change” is a more neutral descriptor. That’s what fascinates me. Since they are growing more wrinkled and fragile, we would probably say that they are decaying, yet their beauty is not diminished. It is only different, and to some eyes, increased.

I don’t know how much they have really changed over the last five days. They might only rattle more now because they were damp when Joy picked them up, and now they’re dry. I have the impression that they’re more wizened and bent, but I can’t be certain because I didn’t look very closely at them on Sunday. I’ll know better when I go get some more and draw them at intervals.

For tonight, I just drew them as they are now, twice, quickly, in ink pen, as a first stage of getting to know them.

#100days

Eh, I said in my last entry that I’d post a photo of my next piece about ancient and current empires when it was finished, but why wait? Here it is in progress. Source text: The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World.

#100days

I’ve now been making art every day for over a month. I fell into my current series of projects by accident, as is so often the way, and am now happily spelunking in the caves of altered books, maps, U.S. politics, and white supremacy.

It started when I wanted to find a book to (photocopy and) alter. I poked around on our nonfiction shelves and came upon The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History, which I hadn’t even known we had. One of the benefits of living with a partner is that they spent decades accumulating books too, and even after 15 years together, I’m still discovering some. It is full of maps, and I love maps, so I pulled it out, found a couple of intriguing words on one of the text pages, and got to work.

The first word I noticed was “administration,” and another was “Nineveh,” which reminded me of a phrase about our future fate being like that of “Nineveh and Tyre” in some poem or other. Yeats, maybe.

The poem kept echoing in my head, until I had to look it up (ah, bless the internet) and re-discover it: not Yeats, but Rudyard Kipling, who had such a strange talent for reminding empire of its limitations even while proclaiming its glories.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! (“Recessional”)

Reading about these ancient cultures, and seeing all the maps showing the dominance of peoples whose names I’d never even heard of, like the Scythians, is like coming across the colossus of Ozymandias (Rameses II) in the desert–another poem that’s rattling around in my head. Some of these nations lasted for millennia. Ours hasn’t made it to its 250th birthday yet, and I’m wondering what shape it will be in when it gets there. So the words I’m highlighting as I draw my maps are about the collapse of our democracy from hostile forces, foreign and domestic.

I’ve also always been moved by the story of Nineveh in the book of Jonah. If an ancient city, one of the great ones of its time, could summon that kind of repentance and return to its ideals, can’t we?

Another theme that emerges without the author’s having intended it is the narrowness of his assumption that the “ancient world” consists of the Mediterranean, with forays as far as England to the north, western India to the east, and Ethiopia to the south: basically, the trading partners of the empires of the Mediterranean. The book was published in 1967. I showed it to my daughter as an example of the kinds of things I was taught in school, where our books were published around that time. It was a quiet, background kind of white supremacy, a constant hum informing us that nothing worth knowing about happened in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, the Americas, or most of Asia until Europeans got there.

I saw with some excitement that there is a New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History: Revised Edition, published in 2002, but alas, it still only covers the same region. A grand opportunity wasted to, if not expand the book, then at least make the title accurate.

I’ll post a picture when I’m done with my new piece.

#100days

Enter your e-mail address to receive e-mail notifications of new posts on Sermons in Stones

Follow me on Twitter

Links I like

%d bloggers like this: