Sunday, January 24, 2010

Solarplate intensive, relief, part II

First, some pretty flowers. This was from a clip art book:

(Technical details on the flower plate/print are all the same as for the plate below.)

Yesterday, it felt like spring here—it was warm and dry, and I was stuck inside learning how to do webforms using php. Today, I'm done with that, and it's cold and wet, just like how it's supposed to be in the middle of January.

So anyhow, again, this was made as a relief plate; paper was Rives Lightweight, printed dry. Plate on the print bed and paper on top. Printed through an etching press w/ very little pressure and no blanket, just a cardboard. Pretty much the same set up as the last entry, just the paper is different.

Now, this is the same plate as from the last entry, but printed on Rives Lightweight dry. The details from both entries are all showing the same areas, so you can open up two windows and look at both at the same time and compare.

Detail 1:

Detail 2:

Detail 3:

Looks like the text printed much better than the solids, and there's less of the movement on the edges that you can detect. That would make sense as well, since the paper is slightly thinner, and I'm pretty sure we did not change the pressure on the press, so there was less pressure that would move the paper in that direction. Also, the paper is dry, so the ink isn't going to spread as much.

OK, now I'm all caught up on the solarplate documentation!

Solarplate intensive, relief, part I

There are lots of pictures to show, so I'm breaking them up into two.

The plate was made as a relief plate; paper was BFK, dampened; printed through the etching press w/ little pressure, no blankets, just a cardboard. We tried both plate on the print bed and paper on top, and paper on the print bed and plate on top. This was printed with the plate on the print bed and paper on top.

So this plate was just lines of different thicknesses and text at different fonts and sizes:

Detail 1—look at how the 0.1 pt line wiggled around! The 0.5 pt line also has a bit of trouble:

Detail 2—8 pt line, a lot better. You can click on the images to see larger views:

Detail 3— good view of a solid area:

The edges are all definitely moving around some for everything—text, solids, and lines. I'm going to guess that's mostly due to how we're printing them—through the etching press with a cardboard on top. I can picture in my head how the way the roller moves across at a very slight pressure would create a subtle movement. And notice that the soft edges are mostly on one side of the solid lines in detail 2 & 3 above! So my guess is that if I were to mount this type high and print it letterpress, I wouldn't see those wiggly edges on the bottom of the thick lines and the square.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Solarplate intensive, etching

OK, I was not very good about documenting my solarplate intensive. So Barbara Mason and I met two more times, once to run more etching tests, and once to run some relief print tests. Here are some of the etching tests.

These are 7” long test strips. If you click on the image you will get larger images. The left was created with a sheet of mylar that had been painted with acrylic (black) mixed with matte medium for various degrees of transparency/opacity. The right is a b&w copy of a color gouache painting.

This next image was from a 5”x7” plate (exposed from a b&w copy of a color gouache painting) that was printed twice. Once with a reddish brown, and again with the plate rotated 180 deg in black (I think?).

Ignore the stripe down the middle...have I mentioned how much I hate my all-in-one-printer-scanner before? This was from a b&w copy of a pencil sketch. This is printed just once through the press—I wiped the plate as normal for an etching (with water based ink), and on top of that Barbara rolled an oil based ink on with a brayer. Since oil and water don't mix, she does not pick up the water based ink on the brayer and she can edition without having to clean up the brayer in between each print (tricky)!

Another sketch from my sketch book, only this plate got wet in the upper right corner before we exposed it. We went on to expose, wash, harden and print anyhow, just so I can see what happens. So that's what happens. A big blotch. The gray squarish areas are from my original—this was from my sketch book so those are the pages/corners you see. (The sketch is based on a Persian miniature.)

One last etching. Again, a b&w sketch from my sketch book. Made the same way as the sprouted potato above. Horizontal line from my scanner...have I mentioned...

Next up, the relief plates, tomorrow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cosmic Laundry

Cosmic Laundry, 2010, gouache on paper on board

What can be more familiar than having your laundry commingle? I can eat with a stranger at a communal table, I can sit next to a stranger on public transportation, but having my dirty clothes washed with another's dirty clothes implies some kind of a familiarity, intimacy, and friendship.

This is the 6th piece of my collaboration with Artist X. And although she has given me permission to use her name, I rather like the sound of Artist X. You can go to my website though, and see her name, right there in black & white.

I'm responding to her piece in which she had painted two faces. Two faces that can be interpreted either as merging into one, or that one is obscuring the other. The first thought that came to my mind was the Rumi poem—

I, you, she, we.
In the garden of mystic lovers
these are not true distinctions.

There are various translations of this poem, mostly in the first line—some versions go on quite extensively listing all pronouns.

I wanted to follow the composition of Artist X's piece, and here's how it started. You can see the two faces. This is a fairly faithful copy of her composition in terms of locations of features.

From there, I went on to a garden-like space in the clouds. But this failed to get across what I had in mind, which was something that implied the intimacy of “these are not true distinctions”, which then brought us to cosmic laundry.

Although there are details in the finished painting that aren't showing up in the image (there are lots of 'stitching' and 'patches' in the laundry on the line), I actually think this is kind of an ugly painting. But I'm fine with that.

What is rather scary though, is how similar this painting is to Trip, which is documented here. The same curvy line down the middle; the two panels of fabric attached at a single point; the way the space is divided up into clouds and landscape, although the two are reversed; the similar plant shape, although the plant shape in Trip was definitely meant as 'wheat'—both a symbol of the wheat-growing west and a symbol of prosperity and abundance—and the plant shape here was more dictated by following the shapes of lips.

The scary part was that I thought I was trying something different, but turns out, not.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Internet friend search intrigue?

Completely unrelated to art—

As always, at Christmas time, my mom gets to reminiscing and asks me about my friends from high school and college. And as always, this gets me started looking for people between Christmas and New Year.

I have a couple of friends (sisters) who have been very difficult to find, but this year, I seemed to have found the tracks of the younger sister on We'll call her 'Lily Doe.' And according to, she's now married to 'Joseph D. Smith.' (Not their real names, of course.)

Then I proceeded to find 'Lily Smith' on—the right college, a very reasonable location and probable career...terrific! I contacted her via linkedin. Then I never heard back.

So I figured, well, wrong person despite the good match, or she wasn't interested in renewing my acquaintance. That was that.

Today, I went to update the profile photo for my facebook fan page (yes, there is one...), and boom, I have a new fan, and it's one 'Joseph D. Smith,' middle initials and all!


I have written 'Joseph D. Smith,' hoping to maybe fill in some of the blanks. We'll see what I hear back.

Monday, January 04, 2010


Putting It Delicately

The 9th of the 7x7 panels. The turquoise chains going across might be a bit hard to see on a lighter display...

Finally got back to painting again, and have been trying something different—working on several images at the same time. I know lots of artists do it successfully, and it seems like it's a perfect way to work when you have this wait time between layers drying. But I've never been able to navigate that.

So this last few days, I've been working on 3 pieces at the same time, but really, ended up mostly working on this piece and just dabbling with the other 2 pieces while I wait for things to dry. I suppose that's ok.

So this is how this piece started, and I almost decided that I liked it just like that—very simple and minimal. But I'm glad I continued on.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Beautiful New Year's Eve

Dec 31, 2009, Hillsboro, Oregon, across the street from Diane's sister's farm. This was awfully close to sunset time.

And a little more context:

I love that little orange cone in the middle of a very blue picture.

The image that got away—as I turned onto Dick Road, the cemetery behind the church had a dusting of snow on the ground, mist in the air. And the whole scene was basked in the eerie evening light.

We couldn't see the blue moon, but that spectacular scene more than made up for it.