21 days in my art world – Week 3 – Days 15 to 21
And now we’re in week 3, the final week of Tara Leaver’s #21daysinmyartworld challenge. 👏 👏 👏 Here I share Days 15-21 #inmyartworld. As with previous weeks, I added each day’s #21daysinmyartworld challenge below. You can look back on week 2 or week 1 here.
The Challenge: How do you name yours? Today you could share a painting whose name came about in an interesting/unusual way, or perhaps one you just love.
My Response: Another tricky Challenge topic! I have mixed feelings about naming my art work. Sometimes it’s easy, other times a piece can sit with me for weeks before it is given a title. On a personal level, I’m generally not a fan of prescriptive names. And in reality, often I would prefer not title an art work so that the viewer or reader can enjoy their own interpretation of the work, without my influence. Or am I being lazy??
When I do name my prints, I look for a title that implies or relate to my experience with the moment that I’m sharing in the work, reflecting on the emotion and feeling that I remember in relation to the image. When I am stuck for a name I reference poetry and song lyrics. Sometimes I look at the colours used within the image. I’ll sometimes employ some lateral thinking around the obvious. Sometimes I find it easy. Other times I find it a real challenge.
Where possible (and appropriate) I aim to keep the titles of my work to 1-3 words. That adds another challenge to the naming process, but I like the simplicity of a short title against the work (especially one-word titles, but that isn’t always possible).
Names and titles are funny things … sometimes they can be hard to come by, but once named, its hard to know the print any other way.
I’m sharing 3 of my prints whose names I really like, with some information about their names – ‘Guzzling’, ‘Ruffled Feathers’ and ‘Safe Harbour’.
‘Guzzling‘ … a blue-faced honey eater guzzles on the nectar of a banksia flower on a warm summer morning. The name for this image came from my friend Jacky Lowry, a fellow printmaker and lover of nature. We watched the bird fed for some time, flitting from one banksia flower to the other. His morning feast. It was hot. And it was a treat to see the bird guzzling on its nectar in abundance.
‘Ruffled Feathers‘ a cheeky feathered fellow holding firm against the wind while hanging with his crackle of cockatoo friends in the park.
‘Safe Harbour‘. This print was referenced from another printmaker friend’s photo taken by Fiona Dempster while on holiday in the UK. The light and floating buoys caught my attention, speaking to me of the end of a day at sea, sunset reflections on the harbour, out of the swell and home safe from time at sea.
The Challenge: How small was the smallest painting you ever made? Today’s the day to share it with us, perhaps along with its size and how you feel about working at that scale. You could show it in situ or beside something small for scale, or hold it in your hand, or just share a photo of the painting itself with a description and its dimensions.
My Response: Hmmm. Size. Lino gets a bit tricky to handle when it gets too small. The smallest piece I have carved and printed would be my bugs. 3x bugs carved then printed chine-collé on small paper sizes. The lino blocks are approx 10cm x 6cm each. This is them:
I used to like working small – I felt comfortable there. But once I started to make bigger prints I found it easier to handle the lino, and I was able to add and manage more detail – and layers!
I am a member of Maleny Printmakers and we hold an annual ‘Collectables’ exhibition. The size of the paper for all prints is the theme for this exhibition – we work to a size that fits into empty CD cases – 11.5cm x 13.5cm. Its a fun show to be involved in, and a fun chance to experiment with new ideas and media at that size. My prints have sat within and extended out of those paper measurements.
‘The River Runs II’ Multi-block reduction linocut print. This was fun and the beginning of thinking through an idea for a bigger reduction linocut print.
‘Mizu’ I played with the idea of creating an ‘encaustic wax’ collagraph – and loved it! The small size gave me enough space to work with, but not too big that I felt overwhelmed. I love being able to manipulate the wax on the board as it was setting. And even more fun inking the plate.
‘Mepuru‘ I wanted to experiment with different grounds on aluminium plates, using copper sulphate to etch the plates. For this one I was playing with soft ground, running a dry maple leaf on the ground through my press then etching and printing. Again, a great size to play with without the overwhelm.
The Challenge: today we’re going the other way – LARGE! You could share it in situ to show scale, or just share a photo of the painting itself and tell us about it, with dimensions if you know them. What’s the biggest size of canvas/paper/wall you’ve ever worked on? What was it like? Which do you prefer, large or small? Do you dream of painting murals? Tell us about your experiences making this big one!
My Response: I really really want to work large! And by ‘large’ I mean 1-2m in any one dimensional direction. And by ‘work’ I mean reduction linocut print. I’m just not quite resolved about how to go about that yet. There is paper size, lino block size and printing space to consider. The registration would be fabulous challenge to tackle.
The largest prints I have created to date are my landscapes measuring approx 20cm x 60cm – ‘You are here‘ and ‘Grazing‘. Last year I printed 2x new cockatoos – ‘Come on … come with me‘ and ‘Wait for me‘.
The Challenge: I’ve had a ‘flat’ day today. And Ive been feeling frustrated about my lack of new work. I have shared quite a bit the ‘large’ pieces that form part of today’s formal challenge topic. So I sat with my frustration and and below is my response to that …
My Response: NOT part of the formal challenge … LIFE HAPPENS … life happens when I’m not taking my time out in my studio. And the balance has been out for some time now. Some times ‘life happens’ is fun and crazy and an adventure. Other times it’s a crazy roller coaster with no rest between the ups and downs. I’ve been struggling to create new work for a while with my head full of ‘life happens’. My head is full of ideas and projects, but ‘life happens’ can put up a solid brick wall of paralysis and it feels almost impossible to move past it. So … life is still happening, it does and it always will, this morning I gently forced myself to start some cyanotype experiments. It’s raining. The grass is green again. Yay. It’s humid. It’s hot. These little blue treasures will sit, humidly bathing in the wet summers day. Then I’m going in for a few stolen moments from ‘life happens’ and create something just for me 💙
The Challenge: Publicly celebrate something you created or that otherwise came about through your art. Whether it’s a single painting, a series, an exhibition, a greeting card, a technique mastered, a sale, finally finishing one, winning a competition, the simple fact of saying yes to your art when it called, whatever – share it with us and tell us why you’re celebrating this particular thing. What I love about this is that it’s also, by extension, a celebration of YOU.
My Response: Not long ago I wrote about my 10 years to becoming an overnight success. It was my celebration of my own efforts over the previous 10 years to get me to where I am today in my arts practice. For all its ‘muck and glory’ I am proud of myself for where I have got to. But what I want to Celebrate today is my first solo exhibition, Grounded last year.
It had been a long-held dream to a) create a cohesive body of work, and b) create or find a space to share it. A dream that my own anxieties and self-doubt didn’t think I was able to achieve. But … the Caloundra Regional Art Gallery, with Maroochydore Artspace, afforded me just that opportunity. I created 29 hand-printed pieces of artwork. Most of the work were gelatin plate monotype prints, with 4 reductio linocut prints. There was an opening event (where I even stood at a podium and spoke!). I felt honoured beyond words to see people I knew at the opening, honoured and humbled that they took the time to come to the event and support me and my work. My dad later exclaimed “I didn’t know you had that in you” when we were talking about me speaking at the event. I know he meant that as a proud father. I sold quite a few pieces. I was thrilled that people like my work enough to buy it and display in their homes, and it was great to help cover costs. The show helped my grow as an artist – both in confidence and attitude. I am so very grateful and thankful to the Caloundra Regional Gallery for the opportunity. And I am thinking about the what, where and how for my next solo show. Watch this space!
The Challenge: Today, show us something you made a while ago. Depending on how long you’ve been making art, that could be twenty years or last week. There’s no time limit on archives, but I dare you to go back as far as you can!
My Response: I can still remember my first ever reduction linocut print – it was a kangaroo, and 3, maybe 4 colours. I WISH I still had reference to that image. That was maybe 33 years ago now. I have an image of it in my head of what it looked like but not hard copy proof or reference. However … I finally took myself back to reduction linocut print around 2011.
The first reduction linocut print I printed was to copy of a Japanese postcard. The second print was this one, printed in 2012 … ‘Stuck in Sydney’.
I referenced a photo I took of the ping-pong clowns at Luna Park in Sydney. At that time, I was in Sydney in transit waiting for my transfer to new employment in Bangkok to be finalised. For over 6 +/- weeks I was quite literally ‘stuck in Sydney’. All my worldly possessions had been professionally packed and placed in storage. A tea-chest box of possessions was waiting (somewhere) to be sent to Thailand. And I was living in a comfortable hotel in North Sydney. There were 3 of us. Waiting. 6 weeks. Waiting. For a motivated person hankering to get into their new job and challenge, that was a very long time. So what does one do? I had never really been a tourist in my own backyard, so this was the perfect opportunity! I had been living in Brisbane. But I was born in Sydney, and spent much of my life up to this point there. For 6-ish weeks I touristed. Taronga Zoo. The Rocks. Galleries. The Manly ferry. The Opera House (if you get the chance, do a tour of the Opera House. I was seriously fascinating!). And of course … Luna Park. I had fond childhood memories of Luna Park. I took A LOT of photos of the roller coaster and ferris wheel and of course the clowns. This linocut print is my rendition of my Luna Park clowns.
FYI … I didn’t make it to Thailand. I resigned from the opportunity and returned to Brisbane. I think the team did eventually make it over to Thailand, but I’m not sure how long the venture ran. I hopped on to a train back to Brisbane. And I have no regrets. Oh, and I have my ping-pong ball clowns 🙂
The Challenge: What do you love doing so much you do it over and over? Have you learned or discovered a technique that contributes to the unique expression of your work? Do you have a specific way of finishing a painting, or starting one?
My Response: This one is a kind of no-brainer for me … reduction linocut !! But gelatin plate monoprinting does run a very close second.
Why I love it – I love the carving, the thinking, the process, the output, the flexibility and the deceptive simplicity of the reduction process. I love that something so often dismissed as “oh, I did that in high school” can create beautiful artworks, surprising people when you explain to them that it is a linocut print. I share a lot about my process, so with this post I’m going to share some of my favourite reduction linocut artists, whose work inspires me to improve and refine my own printmaking skills.
William Hays – Originally a painter, William is a printmaker from Vermont, USA. Is was his ‘Autumn Girls‘ reduction linocut (pictured below) print that gave me that tingle in my tummy and prompt back into printmaking. I saw this image online and added it to my ‘sketchbook of inspiration’. Fast-forward to early-2018 and I was lucky enough to see William post into the Linocut Friends Facebook group that he had found one last print from the edition – he was offering it for sale, and it was MINE! I have a 2nd William Hays print in my collection, ‘Blue Dusk‘. I love to share these examples of fabulous reduction linoprinting with students in workshops. I think William’s work is breathtakingly beautiful. Delicate, colourful and emotive – all with lino!
Sherrie York – Sherrie is another USA linocut printmaker. I was introduced to her work around 2011-ish. And it was love at first sight. The colour. The subject matter. Sherrie shares a lot about her process online in her Brush and Baren blog. I bought an artist book of sketches from Sherrie a number of years ago, but am yet to buy one of her prints to add to my collection. It is on my list though!
Joshua Miles – a linocut printmaker living and working in South Africa. Joshua’s creates depth and detail in minimal layers, working with up to 20 +/- colours per layer. In 2018 I bought ‘Table Mountain Pincushions‘, pictured below. I love it! It was printed in 4 layers. Joshua shared his process for this print online, and I love sharing it with students in my reduction linocut workshops.
Viva la reduction linocut printing !!
The Challenge: Tell us about a big dream you have for your art. Maybe it feels a bit scary to ‘say it out loud’, but how else will the universe hear you? 😉 And don’t feel it has to be fame or fortune. A big dream for one might be way too much for another. There’s power in stating what you want, so go for it! Let us cheer you on as you head towards your big dream!
My Response: I guess there is one main objective in my Big Dream, but it is multi-faceted in that there are a series of desires that feed in to it. My big dream is that I can keep creating art – art that I love to create and feeds my soul, art that others connect to in their own way and love enough to buy … so then I can keep creating the art that I love for others to love.
I do believe that art is as much for the viewer/reader as it is for the buyer. Not everyone can afford to buy art, and that’s ok! I love art galleries for that reason – nothing beats seeing art with your own eyes, with no screen in between. It’s great to be able to buy the art, but people also need to be able to see and enjoy it, for the simple pleasure of it being art. It’s sad to see so many private galleries closing in favour of online. But I love that the interweb has created an environment for us all to share, inspire, buy and enjoy each others creative passions. It’s all so complicated at times!
But … art materials cost money, as does food and rent! If the trade of cash-for-art isn’t possible, then lets all share the love and respect for each others work with encouragement and sharing. There is value in that, and you never know where an encouraging comment or introduction can lead.
Let the big dream be alive xx
Thank you for reading and sharing my #21daysinmyartworld journey! And thank you Tara Leaver for creating the challenge. I’ve past challenges through my screen, and this was the first year I participated. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to reflect, think, ponder, wonder, dream, plan and experience gratitude for where I am in my life, where I have got myself to, and where I hope to go.
Thank you 🙏