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!