Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Barn Owl"

I've decided to publish an Owl Calendar for 2018. This is partially inspired by the gorgeous Molly Hashimoto bird calendar that has been hanging in my kitchen all year. Earlier this year I created two owl linocuts - Eastern Screech Owl and Black Banded Owl - and I have decided that they were a good start for a calendar. The finished product will feature the hand-colored versions.

Today I printed the first proof of the third print for the calendar - a barn owl. I'm excited to see how it will look with color later this week.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Madre" by Virginia Maluk Manzano

Today I received prints from Baren Forum Exchange #73. There were several stunning woodcuts, but this portrait particularly struck me. The overall impression seemed both naturalistic and complex in its structure, but the more I examine the details, the more I appreciate both an economy of line and a strangeness of how the planes of the face are put together. There is something exquisitely otherworldly about the twist above the nose and the way the cheeks and mouth are described. This not merely the illustration of an aging face. It is something more cryptic.

More of Virginia Maluk Manzano's artwork can be found at her website here.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Barred Owl on Handmade Paper

This year I learned to make paper. I learned about and made paper along with campers at the Community Arts Center with Summer Spree Fellow Carol Gannon. I took workshops with Cozy Bendesky at Historic Rittenhouse Town, using seeds, leaves, and flower pedals, and plants, and then did the open vats workshop.

So now I have all this random handmade paper, some of which I have plans to print on, but lots of which I have no plans for yet. And I've been really lazy about doing my Sketchbook Sundays, so the obvious solution is to start drawing on some of this lovely paper. Here's my first attempt: a barred owl in flight.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"Sunset Glow at Sakurajima" by Hagiwara Hideo

We claw our way up and tumble back down, and now drift by, slowly, silently, in the waning light of day, witnessing the exquisite aftermath of erosion.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Moth" by Paul Shaub

Butterflies get all the glory,
But the moth flittering under the moonlight

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pilgrimage to Dog Mountain

Last week I finally made it to Dog Mountain, the home of artist Stephen Huneck's gallery and Dog Chapel in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont. I have been a great fan of Huneck's colorful woodcuts for years. I first wrote about his work in 2011 on the one-year anniversary of Huneck's passing.

This year was the perfect time for my family to take this trip. For one, we said goodbye to our beloved, 19-year-old cat Aubrey a few months ago, and were able to pay tribute to him at the Dog Chapel. For another thing, we just adopted our first dog - a friendy, spunky Australian Shepherd named Choban.

These are some of the photographs I took while visiting Dog Mountain. I highly recommend the trip for any lovers of dogs, cats, woodcuts, and wood carvings. More information about the place can be found at the website.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dinosaur Monotype

Well, the school year has certainly hit the ground running. My mind is packed full of curriculum I've been designing and trying to learn the names of all my new students.

This is a monotype of a dinosaur I made this week. I don't have much to say about it other than I like it and it was fun to make.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Margaret Preston and Cultural Appropriation

I've always aesthetically enjoyed carvings and paintings of Australian Aborigine culture. Recently I became curious about whether any contemporary indigenous Australian artists had translated their traditional styles into works including woodcut printmaking. But all my searches are overwhelmed with the fine art prints of Margaret Preston.

Preston was a highly prolific and acclaimed modernist painter and printmaker. Last year I blogged about her The Bark Bag. Much of Preston's work directly references Aboriginal styles and motifs by integrating them into her compositions. Many works, such as the one featured here, are essentially reproductions of indigenous works. Seeing all this, I began to assume that Preston must be at least partially of Aboriginal ancestry. But she was not.

Preston was drawn to the Aboriginal work for many of the same reasons I am - based on aesthetic arrangements that struck her as fresh, striking, and beautiful. When interpreted through the philosophical lens of Modernism and imitated by her, Preston thought such styles and motifs to have universally appealing qualities that would transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries between people of European and indigenous ancestry, and thus be employed to establish a distinct and unified national art for Australia.

But what these imitations and Modernist interpretations also do is negate the meaning and purpose the original, indigenous works had for the people who created them. When I view works by indigenous peoples' (or historical works of art, for that matter) they are accompanied by information that sets them in context, presumably because that context is of utmost significance to fully understanding the works. The art and the anthropology cannot be separated without losing something essential to the work. I first viewed artwork by contemporary Australian Aborigine artists at the U Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and included were written, photo, and video explanations that attempted to give outsiders such as myself some broader understanding of what the works meant. Sure, I still enjoy the works on a purely aesthetic level, and I also cannot help but interpret them in my own way based largely on how my mind and eye have been trained to see them. But I don't pretend that my artistic sensibility - that is influenced by my own subjective cultural experiences - is somehow more universal and of greater significance than that of the artists foreign to me.

We cannot help but be influenced by what we see all around us. Picasso's art was profoundly effected by his exposure to traditional African sculptures and masks. Matisse's art was heavily influenced by his exposure to Japanese wood block prints. Japanese art has been influenced by waves of exposure to foreign cultures (primarily Chinese) transformed and made their own by Japanese artists. I don't know if there is a hard line between cultural misappropriation and the sort of cultural diffusion that is inevitable and oftentimes transformative.

Sadly, I don't find many of Margaret Preston's works which obviously feature Aboriginal styles and motifs transformative. The references are too blatant. Maybe I'm missing something, but many strike me as little more than the observational studies of an outsider. Like when an art student sits in a museum making a copy of a masterwork.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sketchbook Sunday: Papermaking Workshop II

This weekend I returned to Historic Rittenhouse Town for more papermaking workshops with artist and educator Cozy Bendesky. (Last month I took papermaking with seeds, leaves, and flower pedals) Saturday was papermaking with plants, and today was open vats papermaking, which is basically open studio. Over the weekend I made 63 sheets of paper out of cotton, thistle, cattails, day lilies, and recycled bluejeans. This includes 20 sheets to use in an upcoming print exchange, some paper for my daughters, and the 6 sheets pictured here that I'm going to print on as soon as I figure out what to print. 

In addition to having great fun, this is building up to something. Just wait 'til the spring of 2018. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Naked In New Hope 2017

September 9 through October 28 six of my white line woodcuts of nudes (including three from the Naked Selfies series) will be exhibited at Sidetracks Gallery in the group exhibition Naked in New Hope. This will be the 11th year of an annual special exhibition, and my 4th year as a participating artist. The opening reception is September 9 from 6-9PM, always well-attended, and lots of diverse work from mostly local artists will be featured. I encourage anyone who can to attend!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

4th Graders Turned Their White Line Prints Into Mixed Media Sculptures

This week was my last week teaching Summer Spree at the Community Arts Center. It was only a week-long session and I wanted the kids to do both some 2D and 3D art, so we took the white line prints they made earlier in the week, painted the back with watercolors (using salt and alcohol to add texture), cut them out, and attached bodies made of craft stems and beads. The kids also made magazine paper mache stands for their butterflies to perch on.

As always, this camp is a blast to teach. As I said to my co-workers at the end of the last day, I'm already looking forward to next year.


This last photo is of the butterflies made by myself and my assistant.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

White Line Prints by 4th Graders

This week in Summer Spree camp I had my 4th graders make a version of white line relief prints of butterfly wings (this summer's theme is "Metamorphosis") by drawing into foam boards (we used Scratch Art Scratch Foam sheets, but one could also use styrofoam sheets/plates if on a tight budget) and then printing the shapes of color in between the lines with markers. For a registration board we simply taped the sheets and paper to clipboards (as can be seen in the second photograph here.) Stay tuned - later this week we're going to turn these into parts of scuptures!