A long time ago I was fortunate enough to see a special exhibit on Andrew Wyeth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it was AH-MAY-ZING.
They had just about every scrap of painting and drawing the guy ever did, all collated into one, huge, fantastic show. The opening picture, smack in the middle of the wall when you walked in, was “Soaring.” I could almost feel the wind whipping at the feathers of the birds depicted in the surreal landscape, as I felt somewhat sorry for the hundreds (thousands?) of gallery-goers in various museums around the US, sadly staring up at blank frame-shaped patches of wall once holding these beautiful works, now displaying a “temporarily on loan” sign in their place.
Ah, well. C’est la vie. Meanwhile, I feasted my eyes.
Tonight’s monotype print was inspired by one of my favorite Wyeth pieces, a painting entitled, “Trodden Weed.” (Feet modeled after yours truly.)
One of the things I love about Wyeth’s work is how his paintings cannot help but make you feel.
So, I leave you with this question tonight: How does this monotype make you feel?
You know how at some fine dining establishments they often have those dishes that are supposedly served “two ways?”
Well, here is my friend, Lora, who now appears on tonight’s blog in two ways!
The below image is a pencil sketch I made in order to create a trace monotype print (like the image from the last post), only this time I used standard Kozo paper (a good idea–the Strathmore was really too thick for it, and I knew that at the time, but I figured what the heck, why not give it a try?) and burnt sienna Akua ink to give the finished product a warmer tone.
I drew the sketch during lunch–dodging M’s spaghetti-flinging and meeting his rowdy, medieval tavern-esque demands for more milk–in the hopes that it would save me time on the printmaking end, which it did. Huzzah! This also means an earlier bedtime for me, DOUBLE-HUZZAH!
M. has been waking up at those hours where no matter WHAT you do, you just can’t fall back asleep. (I’m looking at you, 3 and 4 am…) So, in light of this situation, all I’ve got tonight is just a simple, tiny bather, using a not-so-simple method.
There is a second kind of monotype printing process besides the dark field monotype (still my favorite) and I wanted to give it a quick go because why not?
In this type of monoprint, a thin layer of dark ink is rolled onto glass–much like what you do for a dark field–but this time, you delicately lay a sheet of paper down on top of it, practically letting it float on top of the ink. On top of this you can add a sketch, carefully tape it to the paper on top of the ink, and trace the sketch with a drawing implement (preferably a sharpened pencil or pen) bearing down upon the sketch so the paper underneath picks up the ink on the bottom. Peel away, and hopefully, the drawing comes out without too many smudges (or worse yet, just a big black blob).
These types of monoprint are really a pain. But I will say that they do give a very interesting-looking line effect that cannot be replicated by any drawing tool.
Sometimes I even say to myself, “Seriously? Another black-and-white drawing?”
“Yes. Got a problem?”
There is something I really love about black-and-white. No matter how many color pieces I do, black-and-white is like that one boyfriend who you just keep going back to, not because he’s a sleazy hunk and a cheap date, but rather because he’s a romantic. He’s the boy next door who maybe everyone else failed to notice but you–and every time you come back, golly he just gets cuter.
In fact, a former professor was once singing the praises about the virtues of black-and-white art-making, saying that, “It’s really all you need. All of the visual information you ever need is there.”
I remembered this phrase, interestingly, on the heels of browsing one of my favorite textbooks by Martin Salisbury, where he states (and I paraphrase): “The important thing (about drawing) is whether or not the approach serves the drawing’s purpose.”
So. Let a drawing serve it’s purpose. i.e.: Show only what needs to be shown. Get rid of the weeds. Don’t overly complicate a piece if it shouldn’t be complicated, WHICH INCLUDES not adding color if it isn’t necessary.
Today I was out on an excursion (read: errands) and as I was completing my transaction I watched the outdoors become an increasingly menacing shade of gray. Luckily I managed to load up everything and stuff my son into his car seat just as the first humongous drops were starting to pelt at the windshield.
And then: le déluge.
Frantic shoppers were dashing out of the store in that awkward jog that happens when you realize that splashing around too much will ruin your shoes, yet if you don’t book it pronto you’ll arrive at your car as a drowned rat.
The scene was just screaming to be turned into a dark field print, since these prints lend themselves so beautifully to rough-sketch, textured atmospheres. The final result is from my imagination, but inspired by what I saw from the car in the parking lot.
I lied a little about the promise of a Film Noir series. Sorry about that. Although I DOstill want to do a series a-la-noir, since it is July 4th weekend I was drawn to printing something more outdoorsy.
For some reason, summer embodies the outdoors. I say “for some reason” because I am not personally a fan of summer (no offense, summer) as it is mostly comprised of mugginess, swarms of mosquitoes, weeds, and crazy-high temps here down South where humidity–and its squatter cousin, haze–reigns king.
I do love to listen to the cicadas at night, for two reasons. First, it’s atmospheric. Second, they are a reminder to me that fall–my favorite season, and with it, the reprieve of cooler temps–is on the other side. As summer fades, the cicada song changes a bit from that summery buzz-rattle noise to the quieter, more rhythmic hissing type noise that is music to my burning-hot ears.
Oh, dark field monotype*, you are sexy and a bit elusive, which makes you even sexier.
Squirrelly as it can be to work with, I think I might fall in-love with you yet.
It may be just the medicine this gal needs: a drawing technique that is different, somewhat finicky, not very forgiving, and does not lend itself well to detail.
I think all art-makers can easily find themselves wound up details, and–as the saying goes–the devil is in them. I know I am guilty of being too detail-oriented, I try to break myself of it, I’ve tried to break students of it, and I can tell you it’s probably the toughest thing to learn about art: that less is more and often times less is much better.
This time around I kept it smaller and simpler, taking a cue (yet again!) from the impressionists and going with the classic “Bather-inspired” theme. I’m thinking I may make it a series, at this point. At least, it will keep me from having to come up with a new concept each time.
Tonight I got the Akua ink out and tried something completely new to me–monoprinting! (I have the ink because I usually use it for wood block printing.)
“How hard can it be?” I said to myself.
Answer: very hard.
Now, maybe it’s because it’s so late at night (for me, anyway) or that I am on a time crunch to get some kind of small sketch done–regardless of what it is or how it turns out–in a timely manner about every other day, but I’ve always found subtractive art processes to very difficult. I am very much an additive art gal, and thinking backwards ESPECIALLY after a long day kind of hurts my brain. So please cut this gal some slack.
For those unfamiliar with the monoprinting technique, What you basically have is a plate of clear glass or plastic over white paper that you coat with dark ink and then ERASE in varying degrees with a Q tip and/or rag to bring out your white tones. Blacks can always be made blacker, but whites really can’t be made whiter after pulling a print. The “mono” in monoprint means “one,” which means you get only one print, as opposed to a linoleum or wood block, which can yield as many prints as you can stand to do.
I wonder what the gal in my picture is thinking. Any ideas?