Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week Two - Recovering a Sense of Identity

This week was a bit of a write off for this project (but not entirely). We travelled over to the Mainland, and while looking after Kate is a full time job at the best of times, it just about triples when we have to travel. I was able to make time for the morning pages at some point during the day (sometimes not until just before bed late at night), but missed a couple of days altogether. I don't know how the pages are "working", but it is good for me to follow a routine, although I'm not sure it'll be a routine I'll want to continue. But we'll see after twelve weeks of doing them! Another artist acquaintance admitted that she also had a bit of difficulty working the three written pages, so she turned her morning pages into three drawing pages, which I thought was a great idea. But I do understand the value of spewing out your thoughts in longhand. Maybe a combination ... we'll see.

I found that the first week I had ideas pouring out of me, but this week not so much. I am surprised to find that I'm not really writing anything about historical influences (positive and negative) in the morning pages yet, but I suppose that might change, although I have been examining that with some of the exercises. I thought I'd be venting a lot more, but I don't find that I need to most days. That doesn't mean that I don't vent at all though!

I had picked a couple of things from a list of twenty that I enjoy doing, and I didn't really get around to doing either during the official week. Was this self-sabotage to pick two things that wouldn't travel well? Possibly. I did get to one of them (crocheting) finally when we got home yesterday, and I'd like to try the second (playing the mandolin) today, although I'm not sure if my injured thumb will put up with it for long, but I'll certainly try.

I managed to make it to my artist's date this week! I actually made two for myself: I got a manicure and I took time to go yarn shopping so that I could make a blanket for Kate's bed when it gets transformed into a double (she's got plenty of crib-sized quilts and blankies from friends and family).

So I'd mentioned last week about skepticism towards recognizing opportunities appearing just because you're opening yourself up to them. Well, let me tell you my story of opportunity and I'll let you decide for yourself. As I'd mentioned, Luanne Rice, an author in New York, contacted me about using one of my images to illustrate a blog post of hers. We began quite the email dialogue, and then exchanged examples of each others' work - she sent me two books, and I sent her two prints. She was thrilled with my prints and took them to a framer in Chelsea, who commented positively about my work. She also discussed my work with a friend of hers who had designed her snowy owl logo. As a result, he contacted me and purchased a couple of prints. Then last week, Luanne contacted me again and purchased three of my prints (one of which was framed)!

Thank you to those who've participated with me in this process. It's wonderful to be able to share my efforts with you, and to have your feedback and support.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Artist's Way - Week One - Recovering a Sense of Safety

I've just started working through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and thought I'd use my blog to post about my weekly check in. For those of you not familiar, it's basically a twelve-week workshop to nurture your inner artist-child, and to enable your creative energies. I've been whining about not being creative, being disappointed in my work, feeling far to literal in my art, blah blah blah, so my mum pulled out her copy of the book and suggested that I might like to try the workshop.

I have managed to do the morning pages and affirmations every day of the first week, although they've not happened at the time of day recommended; when I first wake up, it's because Kate wants her food, so I've got a lot to do before I can get to the exercises, and I am not waking up before I absolutely have to. Forget it; sleep is a highly precious and rare commodity in this household, I'm not going to sacrifice it for anything other than Kate right now.

I have found working through the exercises challenging. They are meant to dredge up stuff, and they certainly do. While I resent spending the time doing these exercises, I recognize that when I'm doing them, I'm doing something, rather than doing nothing, towards supporting my artistic creativity.

This week was about visiting and exploring historic influences which thwarted or encouraged our inner creative child. I found the exercise where I wrote out the creative affirmations really tough at the beginning; my inner critic was just screaming at me the whole time. As the week progressed, these became a lot easier, and my critic less noisy. As I examined each critical reply, I recognized that they're generalized, unspecific and not actually at all accurate, yet it's amazing what a strong impact they have on stopping me from creating.

From this week, I have recognized that I am allowed to have fun, and that all my efforts at creativity are valuable and to be rewarded with a positive attitude. Even if I only spend five minutes on something creative, it's a very valuable five minutes. And just because I'm not in the studio carving or printing, doesn't mean that I'm not being creative. I'm a very creative person on many levels. For example, I'm working on a computer project that I'm very excited about. While it's not printmaking directly, it's very creative and I'm loving every minute. I really enjoy learning, and it's great working through a program to figure things out.

The second week's chapter (which I've already started) examines skepticism. As in "yeah, sure, there's some 'magical' thing out there that will make stuff happen if I believe in all this clap-trap". Well, guess what? It works! More next week...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homage to a New Fan

Luanne Rice, an author based in New York, discovered my work the other day while searching the internet for an image to illustrate her post which she wished to title "Bare Branches". Rather serendipitously, she discovered my block print "Bare Branches" and asked to use it in her blog. Please check out today's post on Ms Rice's page. Thanks, Luanne! Glad to share my work with an appreciative audience.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maternity Leave

Yes, I have been silent a long time. Two days after my last post, I gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. So Dave's father's day was merely a couple of days delayed!

So I spent the better part of nine months not printing because the ink smell just turned me right off, and now I've been off any art whatsoever because I've been looking after our new edition (get it? yeah, lame!).

To keep you at least slightly entertained, please enjoy this "How Ink Is Made", produced by a Canadian company which creates ink for commercial printing applications. It's a wonderful presentation.

Keep well, all, and I'll get back to it as soon as I can!! I have so many ideas that I'd like to work on, I just need some time and energy... might be a while :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Well, we're still waiting for Dave's father's day to be official, but pretty soon it'll be applicable... In the meantime, I did up this silly little digital illustration based on a conversation Dave & I had about carpet pythons - Dave naturally came up with a great play on words (he's very good at that), and this is the result.

As you can see from the long delay in posting, I've not been very creative artistically lately, and that hiatus shall continue for a considerable amount of time, I'm afraid, as I get thrown into the deep end of being a mom. However, I am super keen to get started on the print mosaic project when I'm able to sit and carve again (both physically feel like it and have the time and energy... that will definitely not be any time soon, though!). Hopefully, I'll feel like doing some more sketches in the interim, because I do still have lots of ideas. Anyway, we'll take it as it comes; my creativity will be directed at something a little different for a while, instead :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

And again... Top 50 Bloglist

OK, I don't know what the heck is going on here, but burnishings is on another "top 50" blog list: "50 Incredibly Inspiring Printmaking Blogs". And this list is more a collection of printmakers and printmaking resources rather than print design-related sites. Along with burnishings are a number of other great blogs that I follow:

Debra James Percival's A Printmakers Blog About Art & Printmaking
Marissa Lee Swinghammer's M Lee Fine Art
Ellen Shipley's pressing-issues
Maria Arango's 1000 Woodcuts
Michelle Turbide's Vermont Printmaker
Diane Cutter's The Itinerant Artist
Annie Bissett's Woodblock Dreams
Viza Arlington's VIZArt
Belinda del Pesco's Fine Art Blog
Justin Miller's Bound Staff Press

and, wonderfully, Printsy's Blog, too!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Burnishings Featured on a "Top 50" Bloglist

Wow! I was just advised that Burnishings has been featured on in their Tips & Tools section of their website under their "50 Must-See Print Design Blogs". My goodness, I'm blushing.

Thanks for the nod!

Printmaking How To - Monotype

This month, Horsley Printmakers' Carol Nunan of Carol's Original Prints has requested that printmakers post a "how to" on their blog about monotypes in May. So I thought I'd take her up on her suggestion (a little early, whatever!). If you're a printmaker and want to do the same, make sure to link back to Carol's blog and send her a comment on her post so that she knows to add your link to her list.

Here's a clip from my website talking about monotypes:

These terms [monotype and monoprint] are often used interchangably; however, I like to think of them as completely different techniques. Both printmaking techniques result in a "one-off" image; you can never repeat that image. Some people have difficulty understanding how this can be a print if only one is produced, but it is the method of production that makes it a print. Probably the best description of the differentiation between these two techniques can be found in Monotype - Mediums and Methods for Painterly Printmaking by Julia Ayres:

"...the term monotype is used for work developed on top of an unaltered plate, utilizing its flat surface, while monoprint refers to monotype work that also includes elements of another printmaking process such as etching, woodcut, lithography, silk screen, and so on."
(Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1991, page 8)
I use either watercolour or acrylic paints to produce monotypes. I paint onto frosted Mylar, and while the paint is still wet, I make the transfer by laying a registered sheet of paper over the Mylar and pressing gently by hand on the back of that paper. I repeat the process until I've completed the image. There is another method whereby you prepare the surface of the plate so that you can paint the image in its entirety, leave the paint to dry, then use a moistened sheet of paper to lift the image. I find this method more restrictive, but many artists prefer it because there is an added level of control to how the printed image will turn out.

Embrace, acrylic monotype

OK, so that's a basic outline of how I do it. The above print Embrace was created by painting acrylic onto frosted Mylar and transferring to the registered paper while the acrylic was still wet (i.e. really fast!).

I have my original sketch taped down to a surface, then I tape the Mylar (frosted-side up to paint on) on top of the sketch. I hinge the paper I'd like to print on usually along the longest side. This print was printed on a really heavy hot-pressed watercolour paper (I think Fabriano), and I quite like that surface & weight for doing the acrylic monotypes. I started with the lightest colours first (e.g. light yellow, light green), and work quickly, painting the acrylic on the Mylar then transfer the paint to the paper by flipping the hinged paper down on top of the Mylar and burnishing the back of the paper with my hand. I keep doing that repeatedly until I've got the final image I'd like. This sometimes requires that I let some layers dry a little first, but with acrylics, that doesn't take long at all.

Here are some other images that I've done that way:

Promise of Spring, acrylic monotype

Coming Storm, acrylic monotype

Bamfield Dory, acrylic monotype

As you can see, the results of monotypes can be extremely painterly. I remember my mother, upon being introduced to monotypes, thinking to herself "If I'm going to paint it, why on earth would I go to the trouble of the double work of painting then printing?!?" Then she tried it and discovered the textures that you can achieve only through the transference of paint from the plate to the paper support. You can't get those textures any other way: the surface tension breaking between the plate & paper makes for some wonderful textures that wouldn't occur right off your paint brush.

I do the same process with watercolours; however, I find the acrylics are easier to build bolder, brighter colours with. Here's a monoprint that started with a watercolour monotype to get the colours, then a block print on top for the black part:

Fraser Foreshore Morning, monoprint

This "working wet" technique, of course, is not the only way to make monotypes; it's just the way that I have discovered that I prefer. Here are a (very!) few other printmakers who use monotypes to create their work:

Bruce Waldman
Lori Dean-Dyment
Heather Aston

Thanks Carol, what a great idea. I look forward to seeing what other printmakers send you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Print Mosaic Project - Work in Progress #6

I've been out of town over the weekend; while I've not been idle sketch-wise, I've not had time to post up to the blog. So here are some further additions for the print mosaic project.

One more for the Algae collection:

Algae pattern #4

and some variations on the Tubeworms (although these look a lot more like shells):

Tubeworms pattern #2

Tubeworms pattern #3

Tubeworms pattern #5

This one being especially in the spirit of the Zentangle process:

Tubeworms pattern #4

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Print Mosaic Project - Work in Progress #5

So another thing that I'm really enjoying about this process is that I was feeling kind of stifled in my typical style: I was literally interpreting an image into a print. While there's nothing wrong with that, and I really do enjoy puzzling out how to get from start to finish of a reduction cut, I was craving a more abstract approach, but couldn't quite figure out how to get there.

I often manage to combine the best of both worlds: realism with abstraction. But I wanted to somehow introduce simplification into that abstraction.

This project is enabling me to be a little more creative: I'm starting with a very literal interpretation and breaking it down into a simplified pattern, and even getting to play with that original pattern to achieve various results in differing values. From there, it'll be broken down even further as it gets deconstructed and reconfigured in the collage process.

That, and I'm just having a heck of a lot of fun!

Here's today's contribution to the print mosaic project (6"x6" ink on paper sketch):

Tubeworm pattern #1

There'll be quite a few riffs on this one, I can already see it... stay tuned!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Print Mosaic Project - Work in Progress #4

One of the things that I'm finding really entertaining about this project so far is that the images that I've used as a start for the patterns I've created can be looked at in a lot of different ways. There are so many natural sources that those patterns could have come from. The "Aggregate Anemone" sketches could be based on stoma (under the leaves of plants), cactus, limpets, etc. The "Tortoise Shell" sketches also remind me of the Bungle Bungles, a huge geologic formation in Western Australia. These "Algae" sketches could be based on algae, lichen, coral, all sorts of wonderful natural patterns. So you decide what you see in the end result!

These are 6"x6" ink on paper sketches for the print mosaic project:

Algae pattern #1

Algae pattern #2

Algae pattern #3

Print Mosaic Project - Work in Progress #3

More sketches (6"x6" ink on paper) for the print mosaic project:

Tortoise Shell pattern #3

Aggregate Anemone pattern #1
Aggregate Anemone pattern #2

Aggregate Anemone pattern #3

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The (Potential) Pitfalls of Fame

Thanks to another Printsy member, I was pointed to an image that was featured on a recent Etsy Finds post, which looked remarkably like my Hibou here:

Somewhat surprised, I contacted the seller and expressed my concern that the seller's image was significantly similar to mine, could be construed as copyright infringement, and requested that they remove their work from their shop (and any other online location). The seller responded very quickly and very positively, and has not only agreed to remove the work from their Etsy site but have done so very promptly, and has apologized for any problems that it might have caused.

The only negative aspect to this exchange is that their opinion is that their work was influenced by Jacques Hnizdovsky, and that the image was more similar to his work than mine.

I can understand being influenced. It's entirely possible that the connection between my work and Hnizdovsky's could have been made here (and boy am I ever flattered to be even mentioned on the same page as him!), since when you find either of our owl images on Google Images, chances are pretty high that you'll find them via that blog post.

Obviously, though, I'm not the only one who thought that the seller's image and mine were remarkably similar, otherwise no-0ne would have thought to tell me, and it would never have cropped up as a potential issue.

So, I post this because of a few points that I'd like to make:

1. Artists, please be very, very careful where you garner your source material from. There are some excellent, fully open use reference photos available in various places, but make sure that the image you're using as your starting point has had all rights removed and that you're free to use it as you please, especially in a commercial aspect.

2. Being on the internet with your work has a lot of great advantages: look at all the people who see it that would otherwise be ignorant, since the only place it might otherwise live is in your portfolio in your basement (like my work!). And apparently, I've got enough connections out there now that people actually recognize my work as mine (who'd have thought!), so that's quite an advantage to having it "out there". Related to people being able to find your work easily is being able to buy it - if they can't even see it, how are they going to know that they want your work hanging on their wall?

3. Being on the internet with your work has a lot of potential disadvantages: someone else either using your work directly and claiming it as their own, or making copies and selling the copies without your permission, or creating a work based very much on your work, are all examples of that.

4. As artists, we have a right to our original work, and no one else does, without our express permission. But we don't have a right to be jerks about it. It's always worth taking as polite and careful approach as possible. If I'd flown off the handle right away, I think that artist could very well have not responded so positively. While I don't want this to go any further, I do like sharing my artistic experiences with my interweb friends, especially those that might help others in their own art or life.

5. Some artists feel that watermarking their work is sufficient protection. I choose not to do so: the software used to create a watermark is just as easily confounded by other software by those who are determined to make use of your work. You decide for yourself.

So as always, thank you to the many readers of my blog, and visitors to my various sites, who support my efforts towards my art, and who share your experiences with me. I think the advantages of the internet that I've garnered have so far outweighed any disadvantages. I deeply value the connections I've made with other artists & printmakers all over the world, through my work and my sites, so thank you all for the opportunity to get to know you all a little bit better!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Print Mosaic Project - Work in Progress #2

A couple more sketches (6"x6", ink on paper) for the print mosaic project:

Tortoise Shell pattern #1

Pussy Willow pattern

Tortoise Shell pattern #2

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Personal Works & Inspirations

Thanks to Personal Works & Inspirations, a blog about stuff found and enjoyed by the author, eunjoopaek (another printmaker! woo-hoo, printmakers unite!), who featured me! Gosh, shucks. I'm blushing.

So go check out their blog in return - there's some great stuff on there (I mean, other than me, of course).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Work in Progress - First Sketches

Here are the first couple of sketches for the blocks that I'll use for my print mosaic project.

Bamboo pattern

Walnut Branches pattern

These are both ink on paper, 6"x6".

Zentangle #2

Here's the next one - this time using sepia ink.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Artistic Community

I have been pretty isolated artistically for the last few months, save for whom I connect with over the internet (and a huge thank you to all my artistic friends and community members online - you're all so inspiring!). This week, I connected in real life with two fantastic artists.

Jill Elhert, whom we met through the Bamfield retreat last year (see Day 1, Day 2, and Days 3 & 4, plus our exhibition). Jill's work is very expressive and beautiful, very abstracted. She's currently working on some personal discovery projects, as well as looking forward to an intensive workshop this May with Steven Amoine. We had a lovely visit (with tea and fab home-made chocolate chip cookies, yum!!) and studio tour, thanks Jill.

Nikkie Wilson, a printmaker in Victoria, contacted me via email (through discovering my work on the Federation of Canadian Artist's website, as she's a recent member to the Victoria chapter thereof). She's very keen to connect with printmakers, especially locally. We happened to be down at her neck of the woods today, so she graciously invited us for a studio visit. It was very inspiring to see her colourful, vivacious work, lately woodcuts, utilizing great tool marks in her printmaking. It was wonderful to meet with such an enthusiastic printmaker, I look forward to continuing our creative dialogue in future, thanks Nikkie.

So, my isolation broken for the meantime, I'm feeling somewhat energized again, and reminded that I am part of a greater whole, which is always a good thing to be reminded of.

Featured on Tumblr

Not sure to whom I can direct my thanks, but my little wood engraving, Hibou, has been featured with a number of famous and wonderful wood engravings at Blessed Relief: A Collection of Wood Engravings. I am flattered at the company my little print is keeping.

Getting Invigorated

I have been introduced, thanks to Jill Elhert of StoneyGround Studio, to the process of Zentangle. If you've not heard of it, it's a great doodling technique; quite meditative and a really good way to engage the right-hemisphere, and to just get some marks made on paper, without feeling committed to the final result (and hence without getting stuck on the starting point).

I've been in quite a creative slump for months. Mostly I've been stuck because while I enjoy doing realistic work, I wanted to somehow incorporate more abstraction to my realism.

Thanks to the Zentangle, I think I've figured out a way to do so.

It's been percolating in my mind actually for at least a year: I somehow wanted to print and collage and get something out as a result.

The plan (and please bear with me, because it's going to take an awful lot of work to get to the point where I have a finished product):

1. Create multiple, uniform sized blocks that are each carved with a unique pattern (based in nature to start, but also I'd like to use man-made and geometric patterns).
2. Print off those blocks, either a full sheet of one block prints repeated, or combining blocks to fill up a full sheet.
3. Cut the prints into shapes and collage in a somewhat random, spontaneous manner, onto a canvas support.

Now, I can either leave it at that, just as interesting monochromatic print collages, presented either individually or in an array or mosaic, like tiles. Or, I can continue:

4. Add acrylic washes and brush work, maybe some texture work, still keeping it abstract, using colour themes for example, or playing somewhat with colour theory.

5. Or when I'm composing the collage, be deliberate and follow a specific composition (realistic or not), using the darker prints for the darker values, and lighter prints for lighter values, etc. Then add colour to build a painting on top of the collage, using the values created by the print collage to dictate the values of the final piece.

As you can see, there's a lot of opportunity for play and spontaneity. I'm hoping this will help give me something to work on, yet not get frustrated that I'm not "finishing" anything very fast.

I find patterns, either in nature or man-made, extremely compelling. I love the rhythm produced by repetition, and I love trying to make shapes more graphic in my work. I am quite looking forward to working on this project. Stay tuned; I'll continue to post my Zentangles as I work on them, just so you can see some of the process of thoughts and creativity behind the project, since it's going to take quite a lot to get a finished piece!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Some Sketches

Wow, have I ever been slack! Nope, practically no time spent in the studio for months. I do have a reason... more on that in a few months :) But I'm also shockingly lazy.

I did get a couple of semi-blind contour / colour sketches done a few weeks ago that I posted on Flickr but forgot to share here.

"Jars - Apple Slices"
(c) 2010 Amie Roman
Pen & ink with watercolour & pencil crayon

"Jars - Carrots"
(c) 2010 Amie Roman
Pen & ink with brush-tip felt pens

The brush-tip felt pens were really fun to use; I'd never really used them other than just "colouring book" sort of colour blocking. This sketch was done treating them more like watercolours - blending the colours while still wet. It was a lot of fun. I will have to do more like that (one of these days!).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 Year In Review

I thought I'd do another pat on the back year in review this January, rather than a "to do" list of resolutions. So to start with here's what I sold in 2009 - thanks to my lovely purchasers for their support!

I have my art available for sale at two new (to me!) locations: The Upstart Crow in Delta, BC, and Studio Todorovic in Calgary, Alberta.

Here are all the prints that I completed in 2009:

1. Oyama, 2. Sitting, 3. Lounging,
4. Goofy, 5. Flow VII, 6. Flow VI,
7. Flow V, 8. Flow IV, 9. Flow III,
10. Flow II, 11. Flow I, 12. Exposed,
13. Soueee!, 14. Vantage Point, 15. "Queen Of..."

I also did a lot of field sketches and Murri sketches, as well as purchased and started to learn how to use my new graphics tablet & GIMP program.

I taught a wonderful printmaking workshop in Williams Lake:

I attended a windy and cold "summer" outdoor art show and got to demo printmaking while I was there:

I was also invited to participate in a wonderful artists' retreat in Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island, check out what fun we had (day 1, day 2 and days 3 & 4) and some of the art I created.

I carved and printed the largest relief print I've yet done, donated one of the edition to a great cause, and was accepted into the Federation of Canadian Artists' 2009 Spilsbury Medal Show with another one of the edition.

I had many pieces accepted into various local exhibitions:

I participated in a couple of print exchanges:


I added heaps of links to my various Squidoo lenses on Printmaking, and spent a lot of time adding many fabulous interviews and "Who's Printsy" posts to our Printsy blog. If you're a printmaker on Etsy, check it out!

So, all in all, despite the fact that I didn't feel very productive this year, I actually accomplished more than I realized. And now on to more art in 2010 - wishing everyone a healthy, happy, creative & productive upcoming year; thanks for sharing my journey!