Saturday, November 24, 2007

Group Exhibitions "Firsts"

I cordially invite you to attend any one of three group shows that I am in for the first time.

The first, hosted by the Printmakers Only Group, will be at the Chemainus Festival Inn (Chemainus is between Victoria & Nanaimo on Vancouver Island), on Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, from 10 am to 5 pm each day. There will be a number of framed and unframed prints available, and we'll have one gallery that showcases our theme for this year. There will be members demonstrating their techniques during the show.

The second, held at the Federation of Canadian Artists gallery, on Granville Island, is the Spilsbury Medal Show (this link will also update to display the Spilsbury once the current exhibit, which I'm also in, changes), which is open only to signature status members of the Federation. As I became an Associate member as of this spring, this is the first time I have qualified to enter, and I am very honoured to have been juried to participate, because there are not many AFCA members represented at this particular show. The opening is on Thursday, December 6, from 4-6 pm. The show runs until December 23.

The third, held at the Malaspina Printmakers Society gallery, also on Granville Island, opens on Thursday, December 6, from 7-9 pm. The show probably runs until December 23. As I just became a member of Malaspina this year, this is my first member show that I've been able to participate in.


I have butterflies on the brain. I'm working on a piece that has a butterfly larva (caterpillar) and a butterfly (not yet done, but will post soon!), and I had a birthday present to figure out for a six year old. I was told to not get anything too much, a book at most, as this little girl has a lot of "stuff". So I did want to do something unique. I think it's a bit "high concept" as Dave says, but I had fun doing it, and I think Chloe's mum was pleased. It looks better in rainbow stamp mode, but this was just my proof:


Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

I could certainly get into doing people's names with images for logos or whatever - it's fun!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Today was definitely a day for experimentation. I used a completely different kind of paper - I don't know the name of it because I bought it years ago from Paper-Ya, but it looks kind of like someone put bark mulch through a grinder & turned it into paper. I also used a different kind of registration system (thanks to Andrew Gott!):

Dave epoxied a three-hole-punch made for binders onto a nice heavy piece of Plexiglas for me. I set up the cardboard right-angle to nestle the block up against to have consistent block registration. The paper registration comes from punching the paper into the hole-punch. Theoretically, anyway. Unfortunately, it didn't work so well with this super-thin paper - by the end of the 5 colour run, I had more ellipses than circles for holes.. The registration kept slipping. But I did end up with better overall results in the registration department than if I had used my more traditional registration setup.

Finally, I was more "organic" in the development of the piece. Normally, I use photographs and work very strictly from them. This time, I just did a quick sketch from a reference photo, and then went to work on the block. So most of the image was developed on the block itself, rather than in a drawing before hand. As a result, I have quite a few trial proofs, whereas usually I'll only get one or two.

I suppose also, this is a bit of a change from me in subject matter. I usually just do stuff, or objects, or animals, whatever, just because they interest me. I had an idea when I started to look at the reference photo (which other than having a coyote in it, doesn't look like this at all), and the expression on the coyote's face really struck me. So the theme of this piece is a bit of "ambiguity". The title is "Guilty" - and although it's not really clear from the end result, the coyote is trotting through a garbage dump. So why "Guilty"? That's up to you to decide!

The dimensions of the piece are approximately 3.75"x3.75", and of course, done in Speedball water soluble ink (no, I haven't got any other inks yet!!). Oh, yeah, and another experiment (although not accomplished yet) will be to somehow mount these flimsy pieces of paper onto something more substantial (e.g. the Rising Stonehenge paper that I've used before). Given that Speedball stays "active" as it were (i.e. when it dries, it is NOT waterproof), using traditional paste will be somewhat of a challenge. I'll give it a go on the crappy alignment ones first to see how that works.

So, here's the process:

First state - layer of slightly warmed very light grey as a foundation layer, but still some paper showing through (very hard to see in this photo).

Guilty - First State
Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

Second state - layer of yellow, with some of first layer showing through.

Guilty - Second State
Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

Third state - layer of darker grey.

Guilty - Third State
Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

Fourth state - layer of dark rust.

Guilty - Fourth State
Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

Final state - actually two colours; background has a dark olive/army green, foreground has very dark chocolate brown. Tricky brayering is how that happened!

Guilty - Final State
Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

It's hard to tell from the photo, but there is actually a different colour in the background, and it makes a lot of difference compositionally. In this photo the final colour on the coyote and the background final colour look the same, which results in less distinction between the coyote and the background. In real life, there is a difference, and therefore the coyote stands out better. I suspect it's from twiddling with the exposure with software that did it, as I took the photo under incandescent bulbs, no flash, at night. I'll try scanning when it's dry to see if it makes any difference.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Me on the Web!

Originally uploaded by Amie Roman

I just created a "lens" on Squidoo - a lens is basically a page with information about something. Surprise, surprise, mine is about printmaking. I invite anyone who is interested in printmaking to check it out - Printmaking - all about techniques, tools & artists. If you have a link you'd like to add, there are lots of sections where you can add stuff:

* Techniques
* How to links
* Printmakers on the web (either a website or blog)
* Printmakers on Flickr
* Printmaking supplies
* Printmaking competitions (or competitions that are open to original art prints)
* Print studios, workshops, ateliers, groups
* Online printmaking communities
* Magazines, publications
* Online sales opportunities
* Books on printmaking through Amazon

Please have a look and add as much content (you do have to be a Squidoo member*) as you can find on the web to do with printmaking! I'd like it to end up being a one stop shop for printmaking artists, and people interested in becoming printmakers, or learning a little about printmaking techniques.

*Basically, all you need to do is give them your email & create a user name; the terms of service are applicable, but pretty much only affect you if you create a lens. You can sign up just to contribute to other people's lenses. If you're not comfortable about signing up to Squidoo, post a comment here about any links you find that you'd like added to the lens.

I also now have a Flickr account, so you can see photos of my under my Flickr username Burnishings.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas Card Season

I'm now working on a very simple image for this year's Christmas card. I'm not going to post the image until Christmas, so those people who are receiving one won't get a sneak preview.

I just found a fantastic relief printmaker Laura Beach online. She does a brilliant explanation of the reduction cut relief printmaking process. Her work is exquisite, and her printmaking skills are incredible. Check out her site!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just for fun

Last year I entered the Port Moody Arts Centre's "6x6"; a fund raising event for the Centre. I had a lot of fun whipping up an acrylic version of my ladybeetle from my bestiary (of course, I forgot to take a photo of that acrylic painting, sigh!), that I figured I'd do it again this year. And, not surprisingly, it's a retake on a print - once again, Booger is the main attraction!

So this is a 6"x6" acrylic on canvas:

Does This Make Me Look Cat?

Naturally, the title is one of Dave's clever ideas. I come up with such boring titles, it's nice to have him provide me with fun ones now and then.

So if you happen to be in Port Moody, the 6x6 exhibition runs from November 29 to December 22. The bidding for the silent auction is open until December 17.

Next stage

So I spent all night last night fiddling with my Adana No. 2 4x6 (while the link is to a five-three, the image is very similar to my press) and my new sample inks from Faust Inks. Here is one of the better results (Faust AquaLine ink printed on Rising Stonehenge white, 245 gsm) from my last reduction plate:

Copy Cat II

The Faust "Relief Ink" was very stiff - almost like an etching ink. I didn't have much success with it, as I couldn't seem to get enough layers going. I suspect it might work well for my wood engraving, whenever I manage to get back to that again. And dampened paper really didn't work with water-soluble ink (although the paper was no longer wet, it still had moisture in the fibres). The Faust "AquaLine" ink has a beautiful buttery consistency, but it's kind of smelly (which doesn't do me any good). I seemed to require a lot of layers to get the ink depth required, and that strikes me as odd. Finally, I tried the Graphic Chemical ink again, and am just not happy with it. Sigh. I've had suggestions to try Akua Intalgio, so I'll maybe order some to try it, or see if anyone nearby has some that I can steal a small sample of.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


While visiting my Aunt Jean this October, I took a few photos of her black and white cat, Booger. He's very photogenic, and I really wanted to do a print including him somehow. I was perusing my resource bookshelf for inspiration when my eye fell upon Persian Designs and Motifs for Artists and Craftsmen by Ali Dowlatshahi (1979, Dover Publications Inc., London). Within the pages of this book are some spectacular designs from various sources of Iranian artwork, from pottery to weaving to tile work. I spotted a page of geometric carved stucco designs from the 13th and 14th centuries, and thought that one of those would be perfect. Also a source of inspiration is an upcoming theme show "Red & Gold" at the Federation, which had to be submitted this past Thursday. Deadlines are always a great driving force for creativity!

I wanted to utilize one of these patterns from the book, but I didn't want it to be perfect. My first layer is a golden yellow, applied in a rainbow roll so that there was a value gradient from left to right. I also had the pattern break down at the fainter end, so that it looked like the tile was crumbling away from centuries of use.

First state

The next layer was also done in a gradient using the rainbow roll technique, but unfortunately, it's really subtle. You can't even notice it when I just printed the red alone on a white sheet of paper.

Second state

Red alone

The next layer was just the cat in blue (straight out of the tube). Now, this was a bit of a trick, because I wanted to save the final carving in order to produce a black & white image. If I did the true reduction where I remove everything that I wouldn't want to print in blue, I would have had to carve away all the background tile in red that you see above, but then I wouldn't have a plate to do the black & white image that I wanted. So I inked just the cat as best I could, and carefully wiped away the excess wherever I didn't want it with a lightly dampened cloth. This was rather time consuming and exacting, so I did this layer and the next (same problem with the reduction) in batches.

Third state

Finally, I didn't want the cat to be a solid object sitting on the tiles, so I repeated the pattern in the cat's body, but reversed (i.e. the dark value was now reversed with the light in the pattern). I also didn't want to obscure the face of the cat, so I tried to show a breakdown of the pattern similar to that of the tiles on the left-hand side of the image.

Final state - "Copy Cat"

This piece is done on Rising Stonehenge 245 gsm paper (white in colour) using water based Speedball inks, and carving an actual linoleum block for the first time in a really long time. I'm very happy with the composition; I especially like the echoing of the triangles just in the overall shapes of the cat itself, not just the repetition of patterns. I'm also happy overall with the way the colours worked, as that's not always easy with a reduction.

Because I'm so lazy, I haven't yet tried to set up Andrew Gott's ridiculously easy and apparently fail safe registration method, and as a result, I only have a tiny little edition size that I'm happy with (3 out of a total of 9 pulled, sigh!). This should teach me, but I still haven't done anything about it yet!! Maybe before the next reduction print :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Opening Night, Mark II

Thursday, November 8 marked the opening for the Place des Arts Positively Petite exhibition, which coincided with the solo exhibition opening, Solitude, paintings by my friend, Alice Rabinowitz. As my relief printmaking class at Port Moody Arts Centre got canceled (only one person signed up, sigh), I was able to make the opening.

Alice's show is a collection of paintings and haiku, from florals to life models to en plein air, including watercolours, monotypes and mixed media work. The work was beautifully hung in a spacious room at Place des Arts, and there were many people in attendance admiring Alice's work, including a number of friends that drove all the way out from the west side of Vancouver, White Rock and North Vancouver on a weekday evening!

Alice Rabinowitz with her monotype "Sun Shower" at "Solitude"

At the Positively Petite opening, I met a fellow Wet Canvas! addict, Madelaine Fedorowich. She hangs out usually in the acrylics, oils and miniature forums, so I don't cross paths online with her too often. Anyway, it was very exciting to put a face to a web presence, and to her art - it was nice to meet her there. This was Madelaine's first exhibition, with a delightful selection of tiny, cheerful little birds (and other subjects), so congratulations Madelaine!

Work of Madelaine Fedorowich at "Positively Petite"

Madelaine and myself in front of my works at "Positively Petite"

Also in attendance was another fellow Federation (and Wet Canvas!) artist, James Koll, who had absolutely exquisite watercolours, two of which (both of sunflowers) sold and left the building that night. Great work James!

I actually ran into quite a few people that I knew and didn't expect to see, so it was really a fun evening. If you are in Coquitlam, Alice's Solitude exhibition is on until December 8, and the Positively Petite exhibition until December 21.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A BC Bestiary

Last night was the opening for my first solo exhibition, "A BC Bestiary" at the Blackberry Gallery in the Port Moody Arts Centre. There were a total of four shows opening that evening, and thank goodness, because the turnout for Kwi Am Choi's retrospective was significant. If they had relied solely on my contribution of followers, the attendance would have been pretty slender.

That said, it was a fantastic evening. I'm thrilled with the final product: the show hangs very well, the work has a unified theme & feel, and it just looks great.

Here is proof that I was at the show, but unfortunately, it's not the world's best photo, and it's the only one I got!!

It quickly became crowded in there once guests started to arrive, and I was so busy talking about my work & methodology, that I didn't have the presence of mind to take any further photos of people actually looking at anything!! Ah, well, maybe next time!

I received many extremely positive comments, and quite a few people told me that I should publish the project as a book. That was certainly my intention early on, but I got so sick of the whole thing by the end of the year of working on it, that I didn't want to think about it at all any more. I am now more positively inclined towards the collection, so I might yet look into how to get it published in the near-ish future. I also spoke with a number of people who were interested in learning relief printmaking, and were intrigued that my method does not require a press. Perhaps some new students? We shall see!

Anyway, for those who might be interested, here's the "artist statement" from the show:

I am from a family of biologists and artists, so I honestly come by my fascination with nature, and my desire to transform that feeling onto paper. Strongly influenced by my grandmother's art and my parent's knowledge and love of our natural world, I could hardly escape. I studied the world through the eyes of the scientific method and now my work is directed by the methodology of printmaking. I love the challenge of interpreting an image or an idea into a print, building the process in my mind, working within the constraints of the media, exploring ways to expand beyond them, and realizing the final outcome on paper. Printmaking requires development of precise technical skill and craftsmanship, yet provides an expressive medium for creative dialogue.

Interpretations of the alphabet have always intrigued me. When I was very young, my father returned from one of his trips to the Arctic with an Inuit alphabet poster. That was my first introduction to different way of looking at the alphabet – an alphabet which was in a different language, representing creatures and items that were not common in my daily life. Another source of early inspiration was A Collection of Thoughts and Pictures Based on the Alphabet by Mike Yazzolino, a very esoteric approach to this most basic listing of the building blocks of our language. One of my favourites, and perhaps one of the most exquisitely illustrated and presented children's alphabets, is Wallace Edward's Alphabeasts - required bookshelf content for all.

An alphabet of BC's familiar and not-so-familiar denizens seems a perfect way to combine my knowledge in science, my interest in nature and my skills as an artist. By working in miniature, I aim to encourage the viewer to take a step forward and investigate further, rather than standing aloof and uninvolved. The bestiary ranges from the common to the bizarre, but each member has a job in the mosaic of our landscape. The visual alphabet of the printed image provides a glimpse into our natural heritage.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

In Memorium

"Xmas Goose" multi-block relief print

Poor Goosey is no longer with us. After a valiant battle with a mink a few nights ago, while Goosey didn't appear to be physically damaged, we think that he was just stressed too far with the chase. Goosey, a great guard goose famed across Cobble Hill for his presence, will be missed dearly by all of us, as well as his field buddy, Lady the horse, who'll probably miss him the most of all.

Here is a small tribute in art of the various expressions of Goosey that I've done so far over the years. I'm planning on doing another one this year, probably for my Christmas cards, as a reminder of our favourite goose.

"Gramma's Goose" mixed watermedia monotype

"Goosey" watercolour

"Marilyn" (Goosey after Warhol) watercolour monotype
Added November 4, 2007 - Mom also has a recent painting of Goosey & Lady from a photo of them in the snow last year that she wishes to add to our memorial. This is a watercolour painting called Friends.