the sketchbook project- DONE!

My new years’ gift to myself: do the one studio thing I had the greatest need and drive for, starting to draw on a more regular basis. Along came The Sketchbook Project (see my October 18 post on drawing) with just enough deadline and incentive to make me finally commit. The result is not brilliant, but it’s done, and it’s opened my inner eye.

Here’s what I wrote about my experience:
Most artists I know wish they would draw more. I started drawing in college and for two years, it was all I wanted to do. Then I took up printmaking (markmaking!) and eventually, textiles.

In my textile work, I do a lot of printing and monoprinting- I love color and music and spontaneous expression. Drawing is the act of listening to the world around you, of being an observer as opposed to a participant. Damn it, it requires a lot of patience and concentration. It is meditative.

So, now that I have time to be more of an observer, it is time to draw again, to relearn, to connect hand, eye and head. I also wanted to learn to use sumi ink wash techniques; the world is not all black and white- there’s lots of grey. The sketchbook project gave me the kick in the pants to get this rolling. Being intimidated by the first page, I decided to start in the middle. I also did my drawing in 3 separate sketchbooks each session, to loosen me up and let me try varying papers and approaches. Sometimes I included those other drawings in the Official Sketchbook.

the last of the garden tomatoes
ah, the self-portrait. An excellent way to learn to draw. At my age, it’s like an exercise in geography, with mountains, valleys, rivers, desert, certainly more interesting topography, an exercise in humility rather than vanity. Oh, and those GLASSES! And no, not sad, just concentrating.
those birds, so hard to draw, one second and then they move again…I actually had much better examples in the sketchbook.
what’s this, you ask? a 15-year old strip of newspaper used to mask wet areas when I do screenprinting. Scanned a few. All about drawing. 

Sketchbook cover, inside and out, printed with my screenprint of artist hands and “tabbed” with a monoprinted fabric scrap, covered with matte medium.

Fun with mirrors…

Bird talk…

Friday during a conference call, heard a fuss on the back porch, –looked out and saw a hawk clawing the screen to get out. Tried to shoo her to the door- she got sidetracked behind a table area. Me, afraid of big talons and unknown “Hawkish” behavior. Downy feathers swirling. Called my buddy Will, the Bird Man. Came over and carefully approached the bird, clucking, a Coopers’ Hawk, caught her. Held her for a bit, then thrust her to freedom. She flew to a branch on the dogwood, looked back a bit, then flew on to the high trees. Quite an experience. Meanwhile the conference call continued on speaker phone, unaware…

Potatoes + linocut tools = potato printing fun!

Reading several vintage books on printing from the 1960s and earlier, I kept thinking about exploring the versatile potato when teaching some simple printing classes. As a youngster, I never got to make potato prints, because carving the designs involved sharp tools.

For my current explorations, I discovered linocut tools, which any adult or almost-adult with good hand-eye coordination will find easy to use. The surface of the potato is easy to carve and happily accepts fabric paints applied with a brayer or brush. (I use ProFab fabric paints from ProChemical & Dye. These paints can be applied over fabric with existing patterns, or with your own custom-dyed and -printed fabrics.)

I found the whole process to be delightful. Note: my designs are fairly crude. I’m sure that a skillful, patient approach could result in finer lines. Sides of the potatoes can be cut to designated shapes. Don’t forget: this is a one-shot deal, one potato, one printing session. Then watch them shrivel into interesting sculptural objects, finally disposed of in a compost pile.

These images are from printed napkins or hankies from students in various teaching situations. Red star above was made using cross-sliced apple. Images below show the negative-space effect of filling a field with printed images, and with two printings from one inked potato.