April in Paris and Lessons in Spanish is UP! It's my joint travel paintings show with Elizabeth Alley at Memphis Botanic Garden. The opening is tonight from 5:30-7:30 -- free and open to everyone. Bring your friends and have a glass of wine on us!
It was a long hanging day yesterday. I'm grateful to be working in a smaller format these days. Instead of hauling huge canvases (or, even worse, huge pastels under glass), I could carry my entire show into the building in one trip. Here it is:
The downside is the long layout process for that many pieces. I ran out of time at the end and didn't get a final count, but I think I hung almost 100 watercolors and prints.
I lay them down on the floor first, take a snapshot of the layout on my smart phone (a marvelous tip I got from Elizabeth last time we hung a show together), and stick them on the walls with poster tape. Marvelous stuff.
There were tons of nail holes in the walls, so my arrangements changed a bit as I moved to the wall, trying to hide as many of them as possible.
I worked so late it was pretty dark to get a decent photograph, and the lights weren't adjusted for my show yet (hopefully MBG can make that happen before the opening tonight), but here's how the first wall looks. Overall I'm pleased.
I've just started my sixth black and white print from Paris. This is the Rue Damrémont that the apartment I house sat was on. It's a bit up the hill from "my" place, near the grocery where I bought my Greek yoghurt. I sat on the sidewalk to do this, and a kind old lady stopped with her companion to see what I was doing and excitedly pointed to her window where she lived, right at the top of this building.
I love these buildings that extend right into the funky-shaped corners of streets coming together. And if they have domes as well, even better.
(And, yes, if you have sharp eyes and are wondering, some professional artists do still use the Paddington's Special Rulers from their childhoods. )
In other news I typeset the invitation for my Open Studio Sale on December 8th. I managed to sprain my ankle this week, so I'm waiting a few more days to print it, since the treadle operation is likely to be a little hard on it. But it's good to have the invite ready to go.
I needed a break after the last print, which was architectural and complex, so I decided on a garden one next.
I've always loved the geometry and mass of formal gardens and had been hoping to find more of them in France than I managed to. Most of the topiary I found was a disappointing knee high, but I did find a few gardens I wanted to paint.
Chateau de la Chatonniere was a few miles out of Azay le Rideau, where I spent several happy nights at the beginning of my trip. I didn't have a car, so one day I packed a lunch and my painting gear and just hiked out to see the chateau gardens. That was the day I discovered that while the French are scrupulous about crosswalks, they are less likely to give quarter to pedestrians on the side of a country road. But it was a lovely day, and I had fun painting in the gardens.
The carving on this one went much more quickly, which was a welcome break after the Opera print. I was able to pull a proof on just the second day of work and see what it was looking like.
I did a bit more refining, especially in the chateau itself, before pulling the second proof. It's almost finished now, and I'm trying to figure out which watercolor I want to work from next.
I'm working on my fourth Paris print, a view of L'Opera from the roof of the department store behind it. It's been an incredibly intricate scene to draw and carve both, but I'm getting close to finished. Below are the block in a half carved state and the first proof I pulled.
Here's the second proof. I've continued to fix minor details, but it's quite close here. I'll probably proof it again later tonight and see how it is.
In the meantime, I took a break and drew out a new print. It's not quite Paris -- I dipped down into the Loire valley and visited a few chateaux as well. This is Chateau de la Chatonniere and its gardens. I love the structure of formal gardens.
In other news, I got my calendar proof back from the printers, and the calendar itself ought to be ready next week. I'm excited about this one.
I'm putting together my 2014 calendar this week. I spent so much more time painting in Paris this year than I did in Memphis that I decided to focus on Paris this year. It's the work I'm most proud lately.
Because it's not Memphis, it won't be sold in as many locations this year, so put your order in with me now if you'd like one! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be included in my order to the printer.
Here are the images for the calendar:
I was working on a print today from Ile de la Cite (my third Paris print for the December show at Memphis Botanic Gardens), when I noticed on Facebook that Rene Miller is in Atlanta right now. Rene is one of the two musicians who befriended me in Paris, and they played on Ile de la Cite most Saturdays. I spent a number of very happy weekend hours sitting on various sidewalks and listening to him play the blues, accompanied by the excellent Stephen Harrison on bass.
Rene is in Atlanta for three weeks visiting his family, and happily I'm already heading down there during that time for a dance weekend. If I go a day early, I can catch him playing in a blues club down there. We talked on the phone today, and it was great to get a visit. I'm excited just to see him and catch up. I've missed both the guys, and I've been listening to Rene's cd in my truck for the last month, singing along and remembering Paris.
Here's a street video of Rene and Stephen doing my very favorite song of theirs -- an old time jazz tune called "Arkansas." They were kind enough to play it for me each week.
In other news today, it's the two month anniversary of Mr. Darcy coming into my life. That's my housemate Neil in the background. I'm really lucky to have them both around.
I've been out of town. Again. I'm finally home to really settle in and finish several prints in progress.
I spent a lot of the afternoon carving the one above, my second Paris print, so I could go ahead and proof it. It's hard to really tell what it looks like until I ink it, but once I ink it, I lose all my drawing lines. Printmaking is an exercise in patience.
I'm largely pleased (despite the extra fuzzy newsprint proof). I'll fix a few things and get a better look soon.
I also did a little more carving and another proof on my Notre Dame print. It's just about ready to print for real.
And I proofed the second Elmwood print, which I had gotten to the refining stage ages ago before all my travels. It will be good to have it fully finished.
I met Robert and Marie-Claude Diebolt one day while I was out sketching the Musee D'Orsay. They stopped to see my painting, and it turns out that Robert is an artist as well. It was lovely to have a talk about art and media and urban sketching, and Robert took a couple of photos of me working that seem very much to embody urban sketching. It's fun to get to see myself working through other people's eyes occasionally. And Marie-Claude and Robert made me feel very welcome there in France. It was a lovely interlude in my trip, and I appreciate Robert following up and sending me these photos.
I came home from Paris with a lot of detailed watercolors, and I'd like to do something a little looser, more saturated, and bigger with some of them. I saw an exhibition this week of oil monotypes, and it made me want to do monotypes again. I seem to do them in spurts every few years or so.
Monotypes are prints that don't have a carved plate, so you only get one (hence the "mono"). Many people work directly on plexiglass and then run that through the press, wipe it clean, and do another one. I've done ones where I roll out ink and then draw into and wipe away highlights from that solid dark. For this series, though, I'd like to do some where I paint (additive instead of subtractive, in the official lingo). That seems to require a different sort of ink, however. I did a few tests with my Daniel Smith water soluble relief ink, which I use for block prints.
It wasn't really transferring well, though. It was both too stiff to paint with, and it dried too quickly. I tried just a couple, but only half the image came through. I did have fun painting on top of what I got with more of the ink.
Today I did some research in both old class notes and (most helpfully) Julia Ayres book Monotype. It's a comprehensive and step by step book that I've used over the years.
I decided to try acrylic paint, since I could get it locally right now while I'm thinking about the project. My first attempt was too watery -- I don't think I blotted the paper sufficiently. I kind of like some of the effect, though, and I may play with painting on top of this one.
The second one came out better, though still pretty ambiguous in the figure. This is from a sketch of Rodin's Eve. Again I'm thinking it would be nice to do a little more definition on top of the monotype. Maybe pencil or charcoal. I'm going to have to do some more experiments.
My last one came out best. I'd still love a little more definition, but I really like the spontaneity and the color saturation. I'm going to get a couple of bigger sheets of plexiglass so I can have a real contrast between the size of the watercolors and the size of the prints for my December show.
I keep information on each print (paper size, edition number, etc.), but I don't often write up a report on a day's work. Today, however, I wanted to remember what I'd tried and what had worked, so I wrote out a page in my printmaking notebook to remind me. I'm really enjoying the brain fizz of trying something new. It's a great feeling.