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Showing posts from August, 2012

Double Vision

I did a solarplate etching yesterday, and decided to run it through the press on the same piece of paper, first with blue ink and then with white. A slight shift in the registration created a pretty striking 3-d effect (in the squiggly shape on the right):


I added some shapes from a collagraph and lino to cover up the plate mark from the solarplate. It would be interesting to see if I could reproduce that first accident to make an edition of it.

A Collagraph/Monoprint

This one is from four collagraph plates with different textures on them, plus some monoprint:


It's the same size as the previous ones: 12" x 7". There are actually nine layers on this one, as I kept overprinting from the first three large collagraphs with slight variations in the tone of the ink each time. The one with the circles pattern was rolled with a brayer, the large dark shape was inked intaglio style (drag and wipe).

The small whitish circles are pieces of acetate, rolled with ink and then drawn into with sticks.

Yet More Prints

Using the "coal-circle" imagery as the underpinning of the prints, plus some abstract shapes that I apply for contrast. Media, in order of application: linocut; collagraph; monoprint; and sometimes solar plate intaglio:



Here is a picture of some of the plates and blocks:


Six of the Best, Part 20

Part 20 of an interview series in which I invite artists to respond to six questions about art, process, and creativity (previous interviews: 123456789101112,13,1415161718, 19). Today I talk to painter Tim McFarlane, from Philadelphia. Tim's paintings are an absorbing combination of symmetrical pattern overlaid with sensitive gestural mark-making, a procedure that is sometimes interestingly reversed, with a rough background giving way to a geometric shape. Looking at his paintings reminds me of the way that passages of music follow each other in a composition -- indicating that it's no accident that music and visual art use the same term.



Philip Hartigan: What medium do you chiefly use, and why?
Tim McFarlane: I use acrylic paints in my work, primarily. I began my art studies in high school using oils and really liked them. I still like oils, actually. However, during a five-year hiatus from college, I began experimenting with acrylic paints and di…

Some New Prints

Here are some new prints that I made this week. They are 12" x 7", and are a mixture of linocut, collagraph, and monoprint:



I made the central columnar shape on the top print by rolling ink on a piece of acetate, then scraping lines into it with q-tips and a Starbucks coffee stirrer. I then took a ghost print off that same piece of acetate onto the bottom print (a ghost print is when you use the remaining traces of ink on a surface to make a faint, 'ghostly' offset onto another piece of paper).

Here are some more collagraph plates I'm preparing, using coils of string, sewing thread, and a mixture of carborundum and etching resist:



Chicago Paintings: Coda

Here are some other more informal thoughts about the shows I saw in Chicago last weekend and reviewed for Hyperallergic.

I liked the meditative, repetitive quality of this ink drawing by Glen Butler at Zg Gallery:


It looks like something generated by 3-d modelling software, and may well be for all I know. I think it was drawn by hand, though. Not much room for error while moving the pen from point to point. Nice improvised feeling about it, despite its appearance of something scientific.

Here are more of the photos on Plexiglass by Glenn Wexler:


They were taken out of moving trains in cities in Asia. Not that you can tell that from the images -- that information came from the sheet provided by the gallery, Zolla Lieberman. The photos succeeded in looking like abstract brush marks. The high gloss of the panels gave them an alluring texture, like glass, or something precious.

I didn't respond so positively to the whimsicality of Amy Grey's etchings, derived from drawings of rea…

Back to Work

When I went back to my studio last week, for the first time in nearly a month, here's what I did: I went through my storage area and cleared out five large garbage bags of crap that I don't need and will never use/show. And I estimate that that is only about a third of the job done. Someone I went to art college with told me once about doing a similar thing in his studio in the 1980s, except he cut up a lot of old work and made new work out of it. I will get round to that with the old work that is in fact art, but what I was getting rid of looked like the contents of a crazy person's house -- bags of old rags (that I was going to use for clean-up but never did), dried up tubes of block printing ink, offcuts of bookmaking board too small to recycle.
I did unearth some long, scroll-like collagraphs and monoprints I did a few years ago, though:


They're supposed to be like piles of coal, innit? Dimensions: about 12 inches wide and nearly six feet tall.

Six of the Best, Part 19

Part 19 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 15Part 16, Part 17, Part 18)After a summer break, this series picks up again with Luis Roca, a graphic designer and photographer based in New Jersey. He's another in a long line of artists I have discovered on Google Plus. 



Philip Hartigan: What medium do you chiefly use, and why?
Luis Roca: Currently, my medium of choice is the camera but for far longer, it has been a computer. I've become more and more restless. I need to get out and away from detail work on all the screens in my studio. Taking my camera with me for a long walk helps improve my observational skills. Even if it's in my pocket or bag, I look more, I slow down and observe life with all its small quirks. People and culture are important to me which has made street photog…

Realism or Abstraction?

Or in my case, the constant, only-ever-provisionally answered question is: narrative or image? Suggestiveness or explication? Film or painting (or two-dimensions v. everything else)?


What a Performance

There’s a series of performances coming up soon in Wicker Park, Chicago. I will try to see some of them, partly in order to review them for Hyperallergic or Time-Out, and also because I want to challenge myself to find out more about the genre. As part of the opening night of my latest exhibition on Friday August 10th, I included a performance of sorts: people reading short narrative pieces about their father, ending with me pinning my father’s campaign medal to my chest before picking up my guitar and singing part of a John Lennon song. It was a pretty conventional performance setup, though: people arranged in chairs, listening to things read aloud or sung. I’m interested in finding out a couple of things: how much of performance art is based in that model of performer-spectator; and what exactly is the intellectual and aesthetic effect of the performance. My assumption is that performance art starts from a desire to disrupt the public space, and to confound the eventual spectator. B…

Linocuts are Good

I didn’t like the medium of linocut printing the first time I tried it, because I forgot the cardinal rule of working with sharp tools: always keep the non-cutting hand behind the cutting hand. Result? I impaled my left thumb with a V-shaped gouge, meaning that the first layer of colour on the block was a natural red.


Since then, and while proceeding with the appropriate caution, I’ve come to like linocut because it’s direct, relatively quick, fairly inexpensive, and you can make prints by hand without needing a heavy printing press. It’s also very expressive, particularly if like me you don’t mind things looking rough and ready, with lots of cut marks left on the block around the main blocks of shapes. Just a few weeks ago, the middle-aged people in a one-day workshop that I taught said that they had done some linocuts before, but not since high school. I think that is a common memory, that linocuts are something easy and forgettable that high school art teachers make you do. But you c…

Latest on "The Temple of Air"

There is lots of interesting news about my wife Patty's book. Her short story collection, "The Temple of Air," was published nearly a year ago, and since then it has been a finalist in one big literary award (The Society of Midland Authors' fiction award) and the winner of another (University of Illinois' Devil's Kitchen Readers' Award). It's about to go into it's third printing, and the latest edition has a blurb on the front by no less a personage than Audrey Niffenegger, author of "The Time Traveler's Wife":


Yesterday, Patty posted an interview on her blog with Caroline Leavitt, the author of  "Pictures of You," which was a huge NYT best-seller recently.

But then Ms. Leavitt also published an interview with Patty on her blog, too. That's quite a coup. It's also a really good, in-depth interview, and is worth taking the time to read and find out a lot about the background to the book, Patty's working routine,…

The Well of Creativity

I'm feeling kind of empty, creatively, at the moment, like drawing the bucket up from the wheel only to find that there’s no water in it. I know why: my latest show opened last Friday, after a few months of planning and a final few weeks of frantic organizing, leading to a rush of energy on the night. So now is the aftermath of the wave crashing on the shoreline -- another water metaphor. It’s that feeling of wondering what to do next, where to pick up the next time I return to my studio, which avenue should be walked, how to start answering the new questions.

It’s a commonplace idea, this image of the well of creativity, but it’s still useful. Creativity in this picture is like an underground stream: you can’t see it, you don’t know where it comes from. You only hope that you can still draw from it. In the past I might have been worried by this feeling of emptiness, but not any more. One of the things about getting older, doing this for a long time, is knowing that it usually com…

Journal and Sketchbook: A Surprise Find

I was clearing up piles of sketchbooks and papers over the weekend, when to my surprise I opened one of them and saw this bold drawing that I didn't recognize:


It's drawn in black sharpie marker. After a few seconds, I remembered: it was left behind in the classroom by a Film and Video student when I taught a 4-hour journal and sketchbook workshop at Columbia College in April. The student didn't sign any of the pictures, so I don't know his or her name. But even if he/she didn't think them worthy of taking away, I thought they were pretty good, and held onto the sketchbook in case I ever get the chance to reunite it with its maker.

There are eleven drawings in total. They start very spare, maybe because they were produced during the 10-second drawing phase. But they quickly become very strong, detailed, and Keith Haring-esque, and I think they read in a narrative sequence (click on any image to embiggen it):











Pictures from Shake Rag Alley Classes

After a busy week preparing for the opening of my show DIA DEL PADRE in Chicago (see previous posts for me), I finally have the time to blog about the classes that Patty and I taught at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts last weekend.

The slideshow of photos above starts with the linocut class, a one-day workshop in which I led three talented and enthusiastic people through the basics of transferring/drawing an image on the block, cutting, inking, and printing. By the end of the morning, everyone had made at least two prints, and by the end of the afternoon the drying table was covered with many more.

The next day, we taught another one-day workshop -- the Journal and Sketchbook class, with ten people. We did four combined drawing/writing activities: quick-fire drawing; writing a scene; "take a place", which is a Story Workshop activity; blind contour drawing; and blind writing, where we ask students to write and cover up each preceding line with a piece of paper that they…

Tonight: Opening of my show DIA DEL PADRE

Tonight is the opening night of my window installation and performance, DIA DEL PADRE.

Reception: 6pm, Friday August 10th, Performance: 7pm.
The venue: Art on Armitage, 4125 West Armitage, Chicago. 
WINDOW  INSTALLATION: Philip Hartigan is a multimedia artist working with personal narrative. Día del Padre (Father’s Day) brings together work related to the death of his father in 1967: four short stop-motion animations with narrative (previously shown in galleries and festivals in the USA & the UK); and a new photographic piece.The Spanish phrase for Father’s Day was chosen in homage to the neighborhood in which the gallery is located, and to reflect the international character of the collaborations (see below).
PERFORMANCE: At 7pm on Friday August 10th, 2012, there will be a live reading of short pieces by artists and writers relating a single memory of each person’s father. The microphone will be installed in the window gallery, with a live broadcast to the street. A film of the readi…

Dia del Padre: Window Installation

Here is the first full set of pictures of my new exhibition at Art on Armitage, 4125 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago. It's called Dia del Padre, and it consists of material that I've made relating to my father, who died on active duty in the British Army in 1967.

One thing I didn't anticipate is that putting the work in a window gallery, during an unusually strong heatwave, makes the pieces difficult to see because of the glaring side light -- particularly the video (I'm working on a solution to that). The exhibit is a work in progress, that I will add to during the course of the show, but so far this is what is displayed:


The 3 ft by 5 ft banner looks like this:


The photo is of my dad, taken when he was very young, some time in the late 1950s. The medal is his posthumous award for dying in the service of Her Majesty the Queen. The middle image is from the citation accompanying the medal. What I am always struck by is that the text is clearly something left over from well …