Friday, May 29, 2009

Sketching at the Farm

I've been going to the local farm alot lately sketching new subjects and compositions for upcoming work. It's an exciting time there now since it seems all the animals have had children and these babes are running all over the place.

And I love to visit the donkeys who are always so expressive in their body language and are usually pretty active. The larger of the two donkeys walked over to a spot in front of me and plopped down on the ground there. He then put his head down and looked at me in a way that was reminiscent of the way my dog lies down and watches me to see what I'm going to do next. It's an endearing pose and I was inspired to capture it in this sketch.

Usually I use Micron pens and watercolor since that is the most portable but lately I've been using pen and ink for sketching. It's not as convenient to schlep the ink bottles and pen nibs/handles but I love the feel of the pen tip gliding on the paper with very little drag. The Micron pens don't move as smoothly on the paper.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Experimenting with Monoprinting

Sorry for the temporary lapse in posting here, folks. Tons of crazy and frantic stuff going on in Spider Ink land. I just finished designing and organizing the production of a new building sign for Brown Street Studios where I have my studio in Peekskill. I think it's going to look great once it's up, hanging under it's bracket, but alot of work went into getting the town permits as well as the color-corrected printout which is being used for our sign.

After being laid up with a bad back, I'm about to move to a bigger studio (my back is groaning at the thought) and get it ready for Peekskill Open Studios on June 6. I'm also going to teach a new etching class which I am looking forward to but has required alot of preparation and set-up since it's the first time in a long while that this class is being offered at the Garrison Art Center. Added to work and my other daily obligations, it's been pretty hectic and stressful. To pile on, my mom's in critical condition in the hospital. It's alot of physically and emotionally draining stuff, but the art helps keep me focused and navigates me back when I'm feeling lost and overwhelmed. So, in my quest to keep my restless and worried mind occupied, I started experimenting with monoprinting.

It's kind of fun and frustrating, spontaneous and deliberate, versatile and rigid. All the contradictory combinations that make experimenting with it seem like you'll get somewhere if you keep at it. I need to practice a bit but the print above is an initial attempt. It kind of forces me to be less detailed, more general in my rendering. I used the edge of the brayer to render the contour lines so I didn't have as much control as I would using a brush. But I like the line that the brayer makes. The energy of the rendering almost feels like it's moving since multiple lines run over each other and the mixture of positive and negative contour lines has potential in my mind.

I also printed a ghost (second, lighter) print of the lamb and decided to "paint" over it with oil sticks. The oil sticks were easier for me to make direct marks than the brayer edge and I was able to add more detail. The added control tightened up the drawing somewhat and I'm not sure that's really what I wanted to do. I always seem to gravitate in that direction, though. Additionally, the oil sticks are really too oily for this purpose and the oil seeped through the paper. What do you think? Any suggestions about working over a print to enhance it? This inquiring mind would love to know.

UPDATE: Here's the reference photo. He's got such personality, I find him irresistible. But as always, I worry for his future. It can't be good being an animal on a farm.