Saturday, September 24, 2011

Anticipating The Art of Reading Show

My friend Kathy Friedline and I are working with Phyllis Jeffery and the Mobile Public Library Staff to put together the second biannual Art of Reading Show. This is a wonderful opportunity for local artists to show work celebrating the love of books and reading, and also provides for artwork for the permanent collection of the library. The Friends of Mobile Public Library will be sponsoring up to $800 in purchase awards, with the purpose of providing artwork to hang in the branch libraries. The take-in and jurying/judging of the show will be October 1st, at the West Regional Branch Library in Mobile. So I hope all my artist friends have been working on their pieces and that we will see you then.

I thought I'd give a progressive report on the piece I prepared for the show. I tried something new for me. I've always been intrigued by the printmaking process, and decided recently to teach myself how to do monotypes. I just finished reading a wonderful book, Monotype Mediums and Methods for Painterly Printmaking, on painterly monotypes by printmaker Julia Ayres, which includes very straight-forward and easy to follow instructions for the monotype process - and it is not nearly as difficult as I had feared. My favorite book and movie has always been To Kill a Mockingbird, so that was my theme for my piece.

1. I rewatched the movie and picked a scene near the end for my inspiration: Scout is walking Boo back to his house after he rescued her brother Jem and revealed himself to her. I took some liberties in my depiction of Boo, but prepared a watercolor sketch of my scene. Because the printmaking process will reverse the image, I prepared this sketch oriented on the reverse of what I wanted the final print to show. Here is my completed sketch.

2. I then prepared my plate. I used a thin sheet of acrylic plexi-glass, cut to size, and then sanded to smooth and bevel the edges and provide a curve at the corners. I then coated the working side of the plate with a coat of gum arabic and allowed it to dry. Since I was planning to prepare a watercolor print, my guidance was that the gum arabic would allow the watercolor to cleanly be lifted off the acrylic surface and transfer to the paper.

3. I then placed my watercolor sketch underneath the prepared plate to use as a painting guide, and then applied watercolor on the surface of the plate (on top of the gum arabic) to complete my water color painting. Here is a photo of the completed painting on top of the plate. I used regular watercolor, but also applied some outlined areas using a Pigma archival ink pen. The areas I want to remain white were left unpainted.

4. In order to provide a clean edge for the print, I cut out a paper mat and placed over the painted plate, and taped to the plate so it would stay in place. I then soaked Arches cover paper (cut to same size as the plate) for approximately 20 minutes. I then removed the paper and let it drip most of the water, and blotted it with paper towels so it was damp wet but not dripping. Then placed the damp paper over the matted plate and also taped on the edge so it would stay in place. Then I used my rubbing tool to press the watercolor image from the plate to the paper. I found the perfect rubbing tool - an antique marble doorknob - which has a smooth curved rubbing surface and the knob stem provides a firm grasping handle for you to hold onto while rubbing the entire surface.

5. And here is the completed watercolor monotype print (Remember, it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird). I was quite impressed with the brilliance of the colors. I think that is because the gum arabic allows all of the pigment to be transfered from the plate to the paper. The printing process also adds an interesting textural effect to the pigmented areas. After the print dried, I scribed some favorite quotes from the book around the margins of the print, and then prepared my mat for framing. The finished print is 8 1/2 in. x 11 in.

I'm very satisfied with this painterly method of printmaking, and am looking forward to trying some more printmaking techniques. Using the watercolors makes it an essentially non-toxic process, and you can complete this without any expensive or complicated equipment.

The "Come Get the Skinny" Fundraiser

It's the beginning of the cultural arts season in Mobile (although I sometimes think the season never stops - there's always so much going on nowadays!) - which means it's time for the Mobile Arts Council fundraiser. This year they are doing a silent auction of artwork donated by local artists - called the "Come Get the Skinny". I have donated something a bit different from my normal work. I mentioned previously that I took a workshop/class from my friend Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough this summer on the use of acrylic gel mediums. Using some of the techniques I learned from this class, I prepared a gel transfer print of my recent watercolor of Grandaddy Goat, and adhered it to a canvas board to which I had applied several acrylic mediums to create multi-media work. This was kind of fun to play with. Here is my completed work: "Grandaddy Goat Takes His Nap No. 2". Come see it and lots of other wonderful donated work on Thursday, 6-9 PM, at the Mobile Arts Council. Additional details and representative artwork that you can bid on are on the Mobile Arts Council Facebook Site.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Last Flings of Summer?

I have some more catching up to do, and you will see that this has been a busy summer all the way through.
In August, the Watercolor & Graphic Arts Society of Mobile (WGAS) held our juried exhibition at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope. We had a wonderful juror, Paula Payne of Pensacola, FL, who is a signature member of both the Florida and Louisiana Watercolor Societies. She had her hands full, since we had 70+ entries and had to jury it down to around 45 pieces - and all were wonderful. We also had 7 prospective members showing their audition pieces in this show. It turned out to be a wonderful show, and we got some fantastic press coverage in the Mobile Press-Register. Here is a link to the article in the Sunday arts section:

I entered two of my figures in this show: a pencil drawing of a Figure with Braid in the graphics section; and a watercolor figure of a Figure in Repose in the Aqua Medium section.

On August 20 the WGAS participated in an Art Expo at the Mobile Museum of Art, sponsored by the Mobile Arts Council, in the morning - showing the local community what our organization was about and our current/recent shows; and we also presented a Hands-on Demo/Workshop at the museum in the afternoon in association with the Shared Expressions Show. We worked with approximately 20 participants demonstrating various watercolor techniques on 3 different types of watercolor paper. Our left-over supplies were then donated to the museum's art education department.

Also on August 25th I volunteered to help with VSA Art Partners at the Independent Living Center. My art partner was Javier, and we painted a frog on lily pads. They will have an Art Partners show and auction on October 20th at the Eastern Shore Art Center to raise funds for art supplies for this program. This is a very rewarding experience for those of you who have not yet volunteered to paint with these very special and very appreciative artists. Any much credit is due to my artist friend Carolyn Greene who coordinates this program. Javier was a delight to work with. Here is a photo of me with Javier at work.

In July and August, I attended a class presented at Space 301 by artist friend Mary Elizabeth Kimbrough on various techniques using acrylic mediums. Learned some interesting ways to create texture, and how to transfer images using acrylic gel medium. This was a different twist for me but was alot of fun. Using some of these techniques, I created a piece for donation to the Mobile Arts Council "Come Get the Skinny" art auction fundraiser - turned the piece in on Sept 15th and the auction party is on September 29th. All of you should come out for a good cause and to bid on some really neat art!

In early September, we started back up with our Figure Group, which has just moved from the downtown Space 301 facility to a bright and spacious classroom in the Spring Hill College art department. In a future post, I will include some of my recent watercolor attempts at the figure.

And last week, Satomi Kamei, Ainsley McNeely and I met downtown for some plein air painting. Here is my watercolor sketch of The Spot of Tea, which faces Cathedral Square.

Satomi and I later captured the Saenger Theatre.

The Cathedral Square Gallery artists are working on putting together a cookbook that will feature artists' recipes as well as recipes from some of the downtown restaurants, and will include original artwork of some of the downtown historic buildings and popular eating establishments. More on this later.

Tomorrow I have Figure Group in the morning and then my Paint Day with the Mama Lisas in the afternoon. And Sunday afternoon we have the WGAS Members Meeting, and this will be my first members meeting as President of the Society. It was a busy summer and we will discuss plans for our future shows in the upcoming year.

Having some fun learning to do monotypes, and working with my friends Kathy Friedline and Phyllis Jeffery to put together the second biannual The Art of Reading Show, which is coming up on October 1st. I've completed a monotype for this show. More later on all of this . . .