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Showing posts from August, 2011

Adventures in the Print Trade

I just discovered a great blog about the history and art of printmaking, written by someone who knows his subject, and writes very well and enthusiastically about it. His latest blog post is about a French printmaker called Marcel Roux.The link to the blog is below the picture:


"L'échouée", Marcel Roux
http://adventuresintheprinttrade.blogspot.com/

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In the Studio: Day 65

Today went much better. I said to myself: There is no reason why something you have done for eight years should not work. So I used the formulas that I remember from the very beginning when I learned this printmaking technique, and every print turned out fine:



The linear elements are xeroxes of blind contour drawings (much enlarged) which in turn derive from the photos stolen borrowed from the internet. To further disguise their origins, and also just to find interesting shapes, I cut into the xeroxes. Here are a few of those cut-outs waiting to be inked up and overprinted onto the book pages:


I am close to finishing the printing - at least for now. I suspect, though, that when the exhibition is over at the end of October, I will continue to add to them every now and then.

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In the Studio: Day 64

I'm creating the hundreds of prints for this 100-page accordion book using a technique called paper-litho transfer, also known as gum arabic/xerox transfer. I've described the process several times already. I've been using the technique since 2003, and I have created many hundreds of prints this way. So I was mystified, during my latest studio visit, to spend hours with not a single print coming out right. I kept altering the mixture of water-gum arabic to sponge over the xerox. I altered the ratio of setswell compound in the etching inks. I tried different kinds of xeroxes - some copied using the 'Text' setting, some the 'Text/Photo' setting - and still they came out too faint, or the ink just spread all over the xerox, instead of being rejected from the white areas.

I struggled gamely on, and finally got a few prints to work:



But only after one point where I was literally beating my temples with my fists in frustration.

Ach, so ist das leben! At least I …

Artist-Writer-Artist: Helen Ferguson Crawford

Helen Ferguson Crawford is another artist-writer I discovered on Google Plus. Her biographical information describes her as an artist, registered architect, and visiting professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. I was first drawn towards her paintings, with their strong sense of form and sensitive touch. When I went to her blog, I found that these qualities were clearly evident in her writing, too -- with the addition of a strong narrative element. In this interview, I asked Helen to describe what happens when she works with word and image in such close proximity to each other.
Philip: On your blog, there are various kinds of writing: extended memoir (The Lure of Empty Places), short memoir (Doubling), word lists (Hands That See), journal entries (River Eggs). Sometimes the images are visibly, directly related to the words (Vein), or there is a more oblique connection (The Lure of Empty Places). When and why did you start writing as a form of creative expression?
Helen:  Here is a s…

Meditation on Thomas Aquinas and The Beautiful

Number 81 in the series considers the application of neo-Platonist aesthetics to contemporary art. Seriously.

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From the Archives: "My Coal Curtain"

"My Coal Curtain" is an installation that I created in 2007 for the Art on Armitage gallery in Chicago. Artist and gallery owner Mary-Ellen Croteau invites artists to hang work, and create installations, even performances, in this shop-window-style space. This piece came from several childhood memories: my grandfather, who was a working miner; the vinyl strips that hung down over one doorway instead of a door. I drilled holes in dozens of pieces of coal and strung them together using monofilament. I suspended them a foot apart from the ceiling, then positioned the lights to create dramatic shadows, which become part of the piece.


This came back to me as I start to think back over the work I've done since then, particularly my attempts to get back into painting. I keep returning to this pattern of coal, which sometimes is abstract circles, but always has this memory of coal in it somewhere.

Sometimes the answer to what to do next is staring you in the face.

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"Contested Terrains" at Tate Modern

Video about a recent exhibition of works by African artists at London's Tate Modern (with thanks to the Tate Channel).

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A video by artist Grace Graupe Pillard

Floating - Ephemeral Passage from Grace Graupe Pillard on Vimeo.

I've been spending a lot of time on Google Plus, after getting one of the early invites from a friend. In the space of a few short weeks, I've gone from thinking of it as a needless addition to the world of social media, to thinking that I prefer it to Facebook. The main reason for that is the number of contacts with very talented artists that I've made through G+, as we hip early adopters call it. I've already posted several interviews with some of them, and more are to follow. Meanwhile, here is a moving video by someone else I encountered on G+. The artist is Grace Graupe Pillard. The video is a meditation on: the death of Pillard's grandparents and other family members in the Nazi death camps; her own sense of aging and physical vulnerability; change.

If you like the video, leave a comment on the Vimeo page.

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Artist-Writer-Artist: Tullio DeSantis

Any attempt to describe the life-work of Tullio DeSantis will inevitably come up short, faced with the variety of media in which he has worked (writing, painting, installation, performance, video) and the application of intelligence he has applied for many years in each medium. His work has a quality of absorption and attentiveness that comes from a deep immersion in Eastern philosophy, though he resists attempts to place divisions between schools and categories of thought, art, and experience. In the past he has collaborated with poet Allen Ginsberg and artist Keith Haring, and it was this specific intersection in his work - the meeting of writing and painting - that I was interested in discussing for this series. He kindly agreed to this small collaboration with an inquisitive stranger.
Philip: The following is a list of forms in which you have written extensively: journalism; poetry; personal philosophy; memoir (“Reading Lies Dreaming”). You are clearly an artist to whom words matte…

Strange Coincidences

Up to last year, I hadn't really thought about Bulgaria much at all -- ever, in my life, really. I knew something about its history, but only a few superficial things, and nothing about its culture or its people. Then, while pondering a Meditation on Art concerning Christo, I vaguely recalled that the great man had spent his formative years in Bulgaria. A little research led me to a blog post about Christo (link here).

Then the coincidences started to occur. Over the summer, it turned out that an artist I found on Facebook spends part of the year in Bulgaria (his native country), and the rest of the time in Chicago, where I now live. So I interviewed him about his own art and his relation to his natal country (link here).

Next coincidence: during his recent summer stay in eastern Europe, Konstantin ran into Christo's brother at a gallery. They posed for a photograph together in a gallery that Konstantin helps run in V. Tarnovo, an ancient town that was once the capital of Bul…

In the Studio: Day 63 (b)

Thinking ahead to the exhibition in October, I tried this way of arranging the accordion book. It would still require a 12-feet long table.

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In the Studio: Day 63

I'm being interviewed about The Lucerne Project for a magazine next Wednesday, and the photographer asked me to bring along the 100-page accordion book. On my last visit to the studio, I started making a clamshell case to house the book:


The 'flaps' are created by scoring halfway through the bookboard, then bending them upwards (or downwards, depending on how you're looking at them, like if you were in space or something). The upper box gets reinforced with a strip of paper, then I can test how they fit together:



A snug fit! Next stage: covering the boxes with a map of Lucerne. Final stage: cutting and covering the base, then gluing everything together.

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Meditation on Keith Haring

Number 80 in a series of 100 web-talks on individual artists or works of art.

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How it all started

The Journal and Sketchbook class that Patty and I teach began as a five-week summer class in Prague in 2005. I've just rediscovered photos I took during the 2007 session. One of the activities that Patty devised involved our class, with its back and forth between drawing in the sketchbook and writing in the journals, and the Kafka classes, taught because Prague is Kafka's city, and the city where he is buried. Patty asked the students to write a letter to Kafka and to do a drawing to accompany their writing.

For the penultimate class, we would take the tram across town to the Jewish cemetery where Kafka is buried. We men would pick up our yarmulkes from the gatehouse, and walk past the graves (including many bearing the last date of 1943 or 1944, when the Nazi extermination program reached its ghastly peak) until we reached Kafka's tomb.


There, we gathered the students in a circle and asked them to read their letters aloud to us, and to Kafka. It was a simple thing to do,…

Artist-Writer-Artist: Words + Art = Joy

For this latest post in the Artists-Writer-Artist series, I am pleased to present an interview with three artists who have been conducting an ‘Exquisite Corpse’ collaboration on Facebook and a blog. The project is called “Analogue Narratives,” and it relates to Mount Analogue, a classic Surrealist novel by Rene Daumal that was unfinished at the time of the author’s death. In 2010, a group of visual artists, illustrators, and film-makers decided to write their own version of how the novel might continue. Each person would write something in turn, picking up where the previous person left off, adding to the composition in sequence. Being visual artists, they also began adding drawings, paintings, and videos to some of their writing. I asked Mara Thompson, William Evertson, Lee Goldberg, and Susan Shulman about how their creative practice changed during the course of this collaboration.
Mount Analogue is a classic surrealist novel by Rene Daumal, unfinished at the time of the author’s dea…

And the Winner Is ...

To mark my 700th blog post on "Praeterita", I announced that I was giving away an artist's book that I made, which satirizes someone who was spamming a bunch of us on Google Plus. The winner of the book, selected at random from the list of people who answered the call to 'Follow' this blog, is:

Daniel Hill (link to his website here.)



This (ahem) beautiful book will be winging its way to NYC en seguida. Thanks to all who entered their names. I look forward to conversing with you either here or on G+.

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In the Studio: Day 62

A studio drying out from a recent flood; a sore back that made it difficult to do much printmaking; flies coming through the window that I opened to let in some much needed ventilation. These were some small challenges I overcame to continue printing images onto the 100 page accordion book for the Lucerne Project:



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"In Urbana, I ...": Day 1

On Friday night, I drove down from Chicago to Urbana, IL, with Patty, in order to get to the farmer's market early on Saturday morning. After talking to the public arts co-ordinator and the city officials who run the Market on the Square, we were allocated a a spot near the north-west entrance to this vibrant market. Here are a few shots of the market in progress:

We looked the part with black clothing and lanyards that I had made for us. I also had the idea on the way down of bringing a whiteboard, to which I stuck the words "IN URBANA, I..." in blue letters. This introduced an element of play, as people could write their ending to the project's phrase on the board, hold the board up in front of them while I took a photo, and the next person to take part could wipe the board clean and start again.

Although we weren't permitted to solicit volunteers, dozens of people came up to us voluntarily to write their phrase and pose for their photo. One chap in particular…

A ceramic adventure

For our ninth wedding anniversary in May, Patty bought us a joint gift of a 4-week course in hand building at Chicago's Lill Street Art Center (because pottery is one of the gifts that goes with the ninth). I finally got my hand built stoneware pot back from the kiln, and it looks like this:


Hardly the best thing you've ever seen, I'm sure, but I'm putting it up here because, well, it's my blog. And the glazes are really quite lovely. It has two contrasting glazes of antique white, one on the outside and the other on the interior. The 'coal circle' pattern is one of those Asian iron-based pigments, which fired to a nice green-brown colour.


The surface is very smooth, and glassy, but with the suggestion of a lot of texture. And the circles, which when painted on looked like dark red, almost black-red smudges, fired to this set of patterns with interesting variations in tone.


It's nine inches high, and about 3.5 inches in diameter. If I ever get the time…