Archives for posts with tag: Inner

I’m looking at Rebekah West’s 100 Everyday Solutions to Creativity Obstacles blog today. She is deeply inspiring and works in the realm of truth.

I’m looking within for clarity on where I am going with my art, but I’m continuing to mess around in my studio and feeling more playful again. I know I get a little winter nesting syndrome, and I don’t feel super inspired. But it’s passing, despite the sub-zero (literally) temperatures right now – I’ve recently smelled spring, and I know it’s on its way. Something shifts in me, and I get back to digging.

What I notice is also that despite going through this slow period, it’s not the same as starting over, which only really happened once, within the last couple of years, as I started creating art again after so many years off. These yearly nesting periods will just be part of the process, and I still have the knowledge that I’ve learned last year and while I was struggling over the winter. It’s all learning, and just like my professional career, it’s experience under my belt.

What experience do you have under your belt? How do you know it’s still there when you haven’t used it in a while?

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I haven’t taken a figure drawing class since college (and even then I’m guessing it was a workshop, not a full semester), so to say it’s been a while is an understatement. So when a friend let me know about a drop-in figure drawing class, I was both excited and nervous.

The daunting challenge of drawing people – or worse, drawing faces! What is it about this that is so intimidating? The face is the connection with the inner soul of another, and so capturing that seems to be of the utmost importance. And it stands to reason that the face also seems to be the most intricate (intimate?) part of the body – lots to capture in that drawing, explicitly and implicitly. Good thing I didn’t think about any of this before I started going to the class.

Also, I brought some tools with me that I learned from a past art professor, Robert Spellman. The most important instruction is to not worry about the outcome, but instead enjoy and experience the process. The second is a cool tip that I like because it helps me get started by going through a “back door” of sorts: keep your eye on the thing you are drawing at all times, don’t look at the paper, and practice really drawing what you see, instead of what you think you see. Harder than it sounds. Sometimes this means that the drawing doesn’t look “realistic”, but they tend to look “real”.

I use Prismacolor markers – I have a gray-scale set and a color set, and I draw on 60lb paper. In a three hour session, the model takes breaks about every 20 minutes (the position is marked with tape), and I flip through my sketchpad doing about 5 to 14 sketches in the whole session.

I also enjoyed drawing hands, so I’ll upload some of those images in an upcoming post.

My most recent “inner” post was about a new large-format carving I did on MDF. Here’s what happened next:

Carving into MDF isn’t that hard – it cuts smoothly and cleanly. Before printing with it, I suspected I should treat it with something, because it’s porous, like wood (really more like cardboard). I learned from Theresa Haberkorn that the typical treatment for woodcut blocks is Polycrylic protective finish.¬†Since my studio isn’t ventilated, I took the board outside and applied two thin coats with a paintbrush, letting the first one dry for several hours. The board turns shiny, as I expected, as if I had coated a piece of furniture with a finish.

Then I jumped right in with my first print! First, I mixed up and rolled out a bright yellow from Speedball ink:

Then I rolled it onto the MDF block, just around and inside of the hand – I’m thinking that I’ll cut out this large hand, so I don’t need to ink the whole board:

I used a hand-held baron to print the hand onto two pieces of newsprint (taped together – I don’t have paper this size!):

And the final product, which reveals a lot to me – first, it’s inconsistently printed, so I need to pay more attention to that next time – I suspect this is partly because Speedball printmaking ink isn’t the greatest and I should be using something that dries slower. I also noticed some areas that I wanted to carve out a little more, so I did that (and then reapplied Polycrylic).

What a learning process! Sometimes I think my work would move along a little faster if I was in an MFA program, learning from the instructors how to avoid mistakes before I hit them, but I’m also having fun experimenting in the unknown…

One day this summer, I found myself up in my studio, looking at all of my random hand prints, and I just picked up the scissors and started cutting. I cut them all out (as seen in an earlier post) and had them spread out on the work bench. What do they have in common? What are they holding? What is holding them? Hands holding hands – the support of one life by another, the gentle squeeze that is encouragement, love, small fears, a greeting, an indication…

Next step – draw and carve a large cupping hand – one that contains, holds, supports, and lets go.

I used a large piece (2 x 4) of masonite as my sketching surface, drew a hand (using my own as a model) and then went over it with permanent marker, so that it would show clearly through tracing paper.

I put two large pieces of tracing paper of the drawing, traced it with pencil, and then flipped it over onto the same sized piece of MDF.

To transfer the trace onto the MDF, I rubbed pencil on the opposite side of the trace. The pencil marks on the side faced down will transfer to the MDF. The dark areas in the above picture are where I already rubbed along the trace, the faint marks are the pencil from the other side showing through.

Then I carved out the MDF along the transferred pencil drawing.

Next post – treating and printing from the MDF plate.

I started doing printmaking about 2 years ago, after taking a class with Jonathan Nicklow called Printmaking on Fabric. I was engaged immediately, loving the combination of hands-on carving, drawing, ink, and mixed media!

My first prints were simple, such as these hands:

So I printed a TON of these hands, and then I didn’t know what to do with them. Next step – integrate them into a larger mixed media project. More to come….