Phew! Or as the Usa-nians say, 'Whew'! It's been a busy week, what with teaching two classes, getting a residency application together, going to the editorial job for a Chicago-based magazine that I do two days a week, keeping updated on TwitFace, etc. So here are some more pictures of the 100-page accordion book that I also spent a few hours taking shots of on Tuesday:
The box is an almost-the-correct-size thing that I made last year, out of bookboards and blue + brown bookcloth.
I posted a picture of the book with cat Pablo the other day. I thought it was only fair to post one with the other cat, Mr. Enrique the bruiser, as well:
This week I have been reading a biography of the British composer Benjamin Britten, whose music finally clicked for me a few years ago after I saw the Met Opera's production of "Peter Grimes".
For British people of a certain age, it's difficult to think of Britten without interference from Dudley Moore's wicked parody, where he plays a Britten-style arrangement of 'Little Miss Moffet' and sings it like Peter Pears. Pears was Britten's lover for many decades, and a singer who performed in the premieres of many of Britten's works. Carpenter's biography is very good on the dynamics of their relationship, its ups and downs, and ins and outs, as it were. The portrait he paints of Britten is of a musical genius who could be pretty ruthless, collaborating with librettists, organisers of the Aldeburgh festival, and other musicians for years, and then suddenly dropping them or firing them with no second thoughts. But it's clear that Carpenter like…
... with the pages all joined together and laid out on a floor:
Pablo was as helpful as ever in this process:
I was actually taking photos for an application that I am submitting this week for an artist's residency. I tried to tell Pablo that the judges might not want to see a cat in every shot, but he wouldn't listen.
Details of the images on the individual pages are here.
Niall Ferguson, writing in Newsweek, has this to say about the global supply of copper:
"[T]he key to the copper story is soaring Asian demand. Asians want modern houses with Western-style wiring and plumbing. They want cars. They want electronic gadgetry. So they want copper. In 2005 China accounted for 22 percent of global copper consumption. In 2009 the figure was 39 percent. Try as they may, the copper miners can’t keep pace. And the supply of copper in the world isn’t limitless. Indeed, if the rest of the world were to consume at just half the American per capita rate (1,386 pounds a year), we’d exhaust all known copper reserves within just 38 years."
What does this have to do with art? In printmaking, experienced practitioners know that a copper plate is the most luxurious metal for working with. It's a soft metal, so it's easier to work with than steel or zinc, yet it's much tougher than aluminium, which is cheap in most senses of the word. Plus, you can ge…
I spent hours in the studio collating pages of an accordion book, and taking photos of other books for a residency application that I'm submitting soon (click on any of the images to display a much larger version):
I also added some images to a book that I made last year: Sometimes a thing isn't finished: you just stop working on it. Which is clearly not yet the case with the above book.
It's a busy Saturday, when I'm going to see the Met Opera live in a local 'moovy theeder', so I'm posting a clip of my new Facebook friend, Matthew Collings. He's cornered the market in the UK in the last 15 years in tongue-in-cheek but ultimately very serious considerations of art. This is from the opening of a TV series called 'This Is Modern Art', which is amusing, as he always is, but asks lots of pertinent questions.
Normally I don't go negative in these, but this one on the minutely talented British former 'infanta terible' starts on the dark side, before I manage to say something positive about one of her prints.
Starting today, a new feature in which I write about an arts-related book that I am reading. First, "Oskar Kokoschka: A Life", by Frank Whitford (Atheneum, 1986). This biography of the Austrian Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka is a good introduction to the artist and his life. It’s a little unbalanced, devoting half of its pages to the first thirty years of his life, and then squeezing the succeeding decades into the remaining pages. But the author may have taken that decision because Kokoschka lived into his nineties, and all the interesting stuff happened to him by the time he was in his mid-thirties. And Kokoschka’s early adulthood was fascinating. I’ve known the outlines of his biography since I first got to know his work when I was a teenager, but this book told me lots of stuff I didn’t know. For example: his first training in art school was as a printmaker, and not a painter; when he exhibited his paintings for the first time in about 1908, his first plays were also…
This summer, you can join me for two printmaking classes at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts in northern Michigan, near the beautiful Leelenau peninsula. I've already blogged about the reduction linocut class. To whet your appetite further, here is a slideshow of images from the relief printmaking class I taught there in 2010. One of the great things about a printmaking studio is this: not only are the processes so absorbing, but there is always an atmosphere of communal art-making and fun that develops among the participants. There's still nearly two months to sign up, but class sizes are limited, so don't leave it too late.
I’m teaching a five day class in reduction linocut this summer, and I want to tell you what a wonderful technique it is.
Here are some prints made with the ‘reduction linocut’ method that I’ve found from a quick internet search:
Traditionally, coloured block prints were created from separate blocks. So in a landscape, for example, the background would be cut out of one block, the birds and clouds from another, the trees from another, and so on. Each would be inked separately, and then printed one after the other on the same sheet of paper.
I believe it was Picasso, some time in the late 1940s, who started making multi-coloured block prints from just one block of linoleum (left).
The process was as follows: Cut a few shapes from the block, ink it in a light colour (yellow, say), then print it. Now you have a yellow rectangle with some white shapes on it. Clean the block, cut away some more shapes, ink it in another colour (red, say), then print that on the yellow page. The red ink overp…
Trying not to throw out my recently-much-improved back, I spent the day in the studio printing 12 more pages of the 100-page accordion book for the Lucerne Project. I will post the other pages over the next week on the Lucerne Project blog.
This is the press that I use for the task:
It's a small but very excellent table-top printing press, with a 12" x 18" bed, and a wheel for hand-cranking the rollers. I also have a gigantic Dickerson combination press, but that's in storage at the moment. The table-top press accompanies me to Interlochen, where it's able to handle the demands of a busy printmaking class.
Oh, and by the way, you can sign up for summer printmaking classes with me at Interlochen here. And also here.
On Thursday afternoon in the second half of the Journal and Sketchbook class, I demonstrated some basic techniques for making artist's books:
Here are the students, absorbed in the process of making accordion fold books, star books, snake books, and some origami-based designs, and then starting the process of filling in their books with images and text.
One fiction writing student is now so addicted that he wants to apply for an MFA in Book Arts.
You, too, can spend a whole week with me making artist's books this summer at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts. Details here.
Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei was arrested by the Chinese authorities last week, when he was trying to leave the country, possibly to set up permanent base in Berlin. He's the most well-known out of scores of artists and dissidents who have been rounded up since the unrest in the Middle East commenced. It's a reminder that the regime that we in the West depend on to supply our consumer economy, and which the international art market somewhat disgustingly relies on to keep its own oily wheels turning, is still at heart a brutal dictatorship.
I am reposting the web-talk I did about Ai Wei Wei, above. Here is a link to an online petition you can join, calling for the release of Ai and the other detainees:
Ever heard of John Marin? I hadn't, until I started living in the USA. And not many people here would either know his work or bother with it once they saw it. Medi-web-talk-Tation number 65 is a small contribution to changing that.
There’s a student in my Journal & Sketchbook class who produces these ornate automatic drawings in a constant outpouring of mark-making. He always uses black pen, but after a conference last week in which I suggested that he use colour, he’s started doing drawings with coloured pencils. It’s clear he’s discovered new things, among them the realization that you can overlay shape on shape when you move to a different colour. The latest things that I saw in his sketchbook reminded me of de Kooning, or maybe early Jackson Pollock. The obvious point of comparison is the looping movement of the lines, all over the picture plane, and the way that the abstract swirls and scribbles at certain stages trigger recognition in the mind, making the hand add representational elements, such as eyes or faces. Pollock’s earlier work, just before he broke completely into the world of Action Painting, does this all the time—inserting symbols of the real world into the maelstrom, as if he was trying to …
On a brief visit to the studio, I added more layers of goo to some panels, and then collated the signatures of the 100 page accordion book that I'm working on. Shown above are the first 50 pages. I will have to separate it roughly in the middle and reattach them, because as you can see they're slightly out of line, when they should form an even column when closed.
This was the first moment, too, when I got a sense of how big a box I will need to make to house the book. I'm thinking of a clamshell box, about six inches by four inches, and about six inches deep.
Yesterday I published a blog post about Kirsty Hall and her 365 Jars project, a fascinating idea in which this UK artist is 'releasing into the wild' a glass jar containing a small piece of art every day for a year. I asked Kirsty for an interview on the project and her other art, and her answers provide more insight into a most unusual participatory public art project.
Philip: What made you want to start this project?
Kirsty: It’s really a cunningly disguised exercise regime. I wanted to walk every day and knew that the only way I’d do it was to incorporate it into an art piece.
There were other motivations too. Towards the end of last year I was working very hard on my consulting business and started to feel that my art was being pushed to one side. I wanted to replace art in the centre of my life and achieve a better balance. Of course now I don’t have enough time for the consulting business!