I’ve been sitting on this post for a while now because I’ve been assembling all its pieces. I’ve finished my small series of monoprint drawings, the Pecks series, last week. After that I decided to focus on Vermont and making sure that all my materials arrived in Vermont when I did. I finished the Pecks series expecting it to be a sort of entree into doing printmaking again after a long long absence. I discovered that working with handmade paper presents certain challenges that made the series somewhat unsatisfying ultimately. The images themselves I’ve decided I do like. I think the root of my issue with the Pecks series lay in the fact that I did the works with acrylic paint, not even water-based ink – which itself would have been an admission of defeat in a former incarnation of myself. Here are the last two Pecks pieces. Pecks 3 and 4, and a look at all 4 pieces on my studio wall:
What made me originally fall in love with printmaking particularly woodblock, was working with oil based inks. That shine, that luscious presence, so yummy that you’d wanna eat it. Its the look of the glossy ink as it sat up on nice Archers or Rives BFK paper that made printmaking a minor passion of mine, minor only because I was a poor and impatient printmaker back then (my skills at it in grad school were rudimentary at best). I’ve discovered in my travels that working with oils based inks in printmaking is a dying art. Being such a shoddy practitioner even today, I feel somewhat guilty in extolling the virtues of woodblock printing. But I will say this about it, when I discovered the way I print back in the summer of 2007, in the year that my mother died…, in the year that I achieved what I felt at the time was my greatest professional success – working at Princeton University – printing felt like something that was mine. It felt like a reflection of my personal agency as an artist. That summer I did these two print based on subway wall movie poster peeling I discovered at the 155th, 163rd and 200th street street subway stops on the C and A trains respectively in New York. Here are those images:
The prints that I’d like to do in Vermont will be similar to these pieces. They will be multicolor prints using three colors rather than 4, and they will be slightly smaller. Here’s the images of subway wall peelings I’m using for my new prints in Vermont
I spent the last week mostly shipping and shopping at Blicks. I won a gift card from the group VisualAIDS to buy materials for the residency last January and have patiently sat on the $400 until this week. I’m trying to be strategic with the card since I’m not sure what I will do ultimately when I get their next weekend.
I confess I’m somewhat nervous and scared about what I will encounter their in Vermont. I’d like to be somewhat open and allow the place to influence me; however I have to be true to my self as well and so I’ve prepared not just a printmaking project but also a large 6 x 4 foot sharpie pen drawing, three large mixed media paintings and possible 6 smaller encaustic works made from the plates of the woodblock prints. Its a very ambitious program. Its very important for me to be seen as being prepared for this residency, for being taken seriously as a fellow artist and a peer.
I’m also am in dire need of new connections and inspiration from a larger arts community to carry on. I have a nice core of support here in Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania is not New York. Folks here at least in Eastern PA around the Lehigh Valley are meat and potatoes folks who are practical. They don’t buy art. They regard artist as dilettantes at best for choosing to practice in the valley and not go to a bigger place like New York of Philadelphia. They’d rather watch TV or go to dinners or movies and spend lavishly on these distractions then go to a gallery. And so from time to time, seeing the way this place is, I feel the need to get away to be around inspiring artists who are hopeful regarding the importance of the arts. And who are more than anything practical in the sense that they strive to find ways to keep an artistic life alive and vibrant. These are the people I hope to find next week. Wish me luck that I find one or two people like this in the Green Mountain State and that I get some of my work done. Here are some pics of my preparations.
Okay I think I’ll try to squeeze in one more post about the painting series I’d like to start in Vermont next week and then I think I’m done until I settle into my residency. Until next time …