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Showing posts from June, 2012

Interlochen Printmaking: Day 4

Day 4 of the class shifted to reduction linocut -- making a multicoloured block print by printing everything from the same block, and cutting away the previous layer of colour before inking up for the next one. Once again, everyone in the class had a lot of fun, and within half a day were moving on to try some pretty complex things.


Interlochen Printmaking: Day 1

It was solarplate intaglio all day, in the bright sunshine of northern Michigan. We were indoors and outdoors all day long, starting with drying off the ink drawings on the acetate (click on any of the following images to display larger versions):


Then we exposed the solarplate for a few minutes with an aquatint screen over them, to create that first 'tooth' for the image to adhere to:

Next, exposing the acetate image over the aquatinted solarplates, for just over three minutes:

I posted online earlier a picture of Ava's plate drying afterwards in the sun. Here is Ashley's:

And then the prints (these photos show their second plates):


On the lower image, there is a grey circle created by a drop of water hitting the solarplate before it was exposed to the sun. It turned into one of those errors that gets incorporated into the final plate and ends up looking quite good. We printed two plates for each participant, and they all came out with a great, dark etch that produce…

Interlochen Printmaking: Prelude

This is where I will be teaching a printmaking class this week. It's the Mallory-Towsley center for the arts, purpose built for the Interlochen College of Creative Arts for their adult programs:


It's at the north end of the Interlochen campus, which means in order to get there from my cabin in the woods, I have to walk past all the cabins in which the musical students of the young people's summer camp are practising their instruments.

I'm teaching solar plate intaglio first, and the weather forecast looks good for the next two days. Pictures of the first prints to follow...

Six of the Best: Part 18

When I discovered the work of artist Shu-Ju Wang (from Portland, Oregon) on Google Plus, I thought: wow, I would really love to hear her talk about her art. So I asked her, and she said yes. Don't forget to go to her website when you've read this so you can see more of her beautiful prints and artist's books.




Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?

Shu-Ju Wang: I work mainly with gouache on paper. In the last couple of years, I've been mounting the paper on boards and finishing the pieces with acrylic so that they can hang without glass.

I find gouache to be an incredibly versatile medium -- it's reworkable and can be mixed to be more transparent or more opaque. It's also important to me that I don't use toxic cleaners or create plastic waste (unused, dried up acrylic paint). The historic aspect of the medium also plays into my work, as I'm very influenced by Medieval manuscripts, East Asian, Central Asian, Mughal and Islamic art, a…

Interlochen Writers' Retreat: Final Day

Here are some images from the final day of the Journal and Sketchbook workshop, starting with me posing with Judy, Ava, Jana, and Gail while they hold up one of their blind contour drawings:


The week ended with a craft lecture by Jaimy Gordon (author of Lord of Misrule), followed by a participants' reading during which each person read a page from the writing they had worked on during the retreat:




Quick impressions of the week: eagle over the shoreline above our heads on the evening of the retreat; furious winds blowing off the lake behind the cabin where we were staying; drinking too much wine in the evenings, staying up too late; talking about opera with Jaimy Gordon; seeing people who don't draw very often growing into the rhythms of the drawing process; hearing developments in people's writing in just four short days; catching Euro 2012 games at the local coffee shop in the woods; taking an early morning walk through the state park and coming very close to some deer; he…

Interlochen Writers' Retreat: Day 3

It was all about blind contour drawing on Day 3. Here are Judy, Gail, Ava, and Jana doing their drawings:



And here are some of their drawings:


I love this technique and the way that it infallibly produces such beautiful drawings from people who are tentative about their drawing at first. But there was something about the writing, too, that happened today: the students wrote such inward looking, meditative, and moving work that I actually found myself crying after they had finished.

Senility, probably. That's the explanation.

Interlochen Writers' Retreat: Day 2

In the Journal and Sketchbook class, we had the participants do automatic drawing for a while, followed by a discussion of scene and a free write:


Then in the evening it was the faculty reading. Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule, read first from that novel. Then I showed four of my stop-motion animations, with the sound turned down so I could recite the narratives live. Then Patty ended, but not by reading from The Temple of Air but by reading a piece of memoir called Return Trip, a harrowing and ultimately joyful tribute to this part of northern Michigan:



Interlochen Writers' Retreat: Day 1

Monday was day 1 of the Interlochen Writers' Retreat, a generative series of workshops, readings, and craft lectures in the beautiful Writing House on the campus of Interlochen. Patty and I have four interested and willing participants in our Journal and Sketchbook class, and we started with quick-fire drawing yesterday to limber up. Here's a collage of images from the day:


Book Tour: Petoskey and Interlochen

Saturday we were in Petoskey, way up in the north of Michigan, for a book signing at a fine bookshop called McLean and Eakin. Then on Sunday, it was back to Interlochen, where Patty introduced one of the winners of the chapbook competition held by the Michigan Writers group. Here is a collage of the two events:


Father's Day

It's Father Day here in America. That is also the provisional title of my next exhibition in August, at which I will be showing, among other things, my short films and animations related to the theme. In honour of the day here in the USA, here is one of them:

A Literary Weekend

I'm on the road with my wife at the moment, doing some events related to her book, The Temple of Air. Yesterday we were at a reading at Brilliant Books, in Traverse City, Michigan. Today we we are heading to the book fair in Petoskey, which also inaugurates the annual celebration of all things Hemingway. And tomorrow, we come back to the campus of Interlochen, where Patty is presenting the first prize to the winner of the Michigan Writers' chapbook competition, for which Patty was one of the judges this year.

"The Temple of Air" has just gone into its third printing, hot on the heels of its winning a pretty significant literary prize last week.

Here is a collage of photographs from Brilliant Books last night.


Six of the Best Part 17

Part 17 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12,Part 13,Part 14Part 15, Part 16). Today's artist is George Raica, a mighty fine painter who lives on the east coast of the USA (where he is also director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University).



Philip Hartigan: What medium/media do you chiefly use, and why?
George Raica: Currently I am using the iMac computer to do digital graphics because I don't have heat in my studio in the barn across the street during the winter months. I greatly enjoy doing the images I'm generating on the computer because the work is right at my fingertips and I can get immediate results. Plus it takes a smaller amount of space to do what I'm up to. But I consider myself a mixed-media painter and have worked with lacquer over vinyl. In a separate series I u…

Solar Plate Success

I've been reacquainting myself with solarplate etching recently, in preparation for teaching a 2-day workshop about the technique in a couple of weeks time. With some invaluable advice from my internet friend William Evertson, I got a great result yesterday on one of the plates.

A solarplate is a thin sheet of metal coated with a light sensitive photo-emulsion. When you place an image on a piece of acetate against the emulsion and place it in the sun, the dark parts of your image get exposed onto the plate. You then simply wash away the unexposed parts of the emulsion under warm tap water, leaving behind an etched image. What I realised in recent experiments is that I needed to make an aquatint on the plate first (basically, creating a 'tooth' on the plate that will ultimately hold more ink). So I made my own aquatint screen by printing out a dot matrix pattern on a piece of acetate, then exposing that against the plate first, followed by a piece of acetate with the image…

The Things I Notice

Posting has been light lately due to all kinds of other stuff, like travelling and writing for Hyperallergic. As an addendum to the piece that I wrote about The Roy Lichtenstein retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago, here's something I spotted that didn't fit into the article.

In examining his seminal pop art pictures from the sixties, I noticed that the way they were painted was not completely flat, machine like, and artificial. Not only could you see variation in the brushmarks, but the sides of some of the pictures retained drips:


See that blue drip at the top left of the painting? Now look at one of the shaped canvasses that Lichtenstein was making in the last decade of his life:


Almost exactly in the same spot. It could just be a coincidence, of course. Or it could be one of those apparently insignificant things that an artist remembers, and tries to formalise in his studio practice many years after the first accident happens. In the first case, Roy must have see…

Mining the Past

I'm spending a few days in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, while Patty runs a writing workshop at the arts center here. This was the center of a thriving lead and zinc mining industry in the nineteenth century, and yesterday I walked along a trail over the high bluff that overlooks the town to see the old mine workings:


The grates are placed over the mineshafts, which were only wide enough to lower and raise one man at a time, and one wheeled iron container at a time. But these are the original winches and bins:


As I've said many times on this blog, my work in the past few years has dealt with my own childhood, including the time that my mother, brother and I all lived in the house of my grandfather, who was a miner. So I always feel an affinity with this sort of thing, even though the course of my life has been conducted as far away from manual labour as one can possibly get. Even the abstract looking pictures I've been making recently derive from memories of coal and coal mou…