Viewing blog posts in Method and Making
Okay, do you know that terrible mountain picture I drew the big “X” through yesterday (see my previous post)?
Well, look what happens when it’s turned upside down – SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING! Could that be a reflection of the mountain top below, and is the mountain itself rising up into a cloud bank and out of sight?
Yep, I had to chase this, so I decided to try making the lower half look more like water. How? By saturating, wrinkling, distorting and ripping into it of course! I’m not subtle, but sometimes I get lucky. Things began to look interesting, especially once everything was dry again and I sanded the wrinkles to lighten them a bit.
Hey, click the picture below to get a really good look!
Oh and for the photo above, I also slipped a scrap of another picture behind this one. You can see it peeking through the gaping holes I ripped in my poor, poor paper at lower left.
Am I beginning to like this picture now? Maaaaaybe so.
Much to do still: that water needs a lot of tinkering yet. Shouldn’t there also be some hint of a shoreline back in there somewhere, and what about all of the white at the bottom? Yep, I doubt I’ll do a post tomorrow – gonna be wrestling with all of this!
Your Buddy Bill
I know, I said no post today, but here’s the picture I just about finished yesterday, and it’s pretty wonderful – I had to show you.
YOU MUST CLICK IT TO REALLY SEE HOW NICE MY TEXTURES ARE!
I wish I could have photographed the process that resulted in all of that wonderful texture, but things were moving too fast and out of control. I’m not even sure I can explain what happened – suffice it to say that I had two pictures going at once. When one went south, I slapped the other face down right on top of it and rubbed it’s back like crazy. I was hoping some portion of the picture underneath might transfer to the second one, but instead, when I tried to peel them apart, great sections of the bottom picture tore off and stuck to the other.
That should have been an OH SHIT moment, but not this time! It looked surprisingly good, or at least full of unexpected possibility. So, I just let them stay stuck, and kept painting and printing right over the mess! In the end, when everything was dry, I had a lot of re-peeling, gluing and repairing to do, but now I’m wondering if I may have stumbled upon something very, very promising – what if I intentionally deteriorate, rip and stick pictures together?
This new wrinkle, in addition to all of the ripping, scraping, pecking and sanding I already do as a matter of course, has me feeling very geologic, as if I’m making pictures in a way that is very similar to what weather, time and erosion does to to the actual mountain!
Just for fun, here is my picture again, but this time with the areas that stuck to it outlined in turquoise – the piece outlined in violet was collaged in later to add a little texture to that big, dark area.
And HERE is what the back of the sheet looks like! All of that patching is pretty typical of one of my pictures these days. My method is so hard on paper! Clearly, these pictures of mine must be mounted on a backing sheet – without which, they wouldn’t hold together over the long run! Oh, and that the green tape is just temporarily holding the two sheets this picture is done on together.
Good Monday morning!
In mid-February, I showed you the results of my experiment in using a printing press and India ink – which included the lovely 2-sheet mountain picture above. What I didn’t mention was that my press is too small to print both sheets at once, so each half of each image had to be done separately. Trying to print pairs that matched up was hellish! I ended up with a whole lot that didn’t.
Yesterday, I decided to start painting on top of pairs that were near misses and I gotta tell ya – it was A LOT more fun than the printing part! I’m not sure if any of these will make it all the way, but I’ll see what I can do.
Here are down-n-dirty snapshots of three with promise. Could the first one actually be finished already? Now that I see it here, I’m thinking it might be.
AND HERE’S A BONUS IMAGE – – – I showed you an earlier stage of this one too, but now it’s closing in on a really cool dark on dark night scene. I’m letting myself get excited!
CLICK ON THEM TO GET A CLOSER LOOK!
There are some really nice passages in the picture I showed you yesterday – so I had to share these close-ups with you too!
As for my method, there’s a bit of everything in what you’re seeing here: painting, scraping, pecking, scrubbing and sanding. Also, it turns out that failed flower paintings are an incredible goldmine of textures and scrape that can be cut or ripped up, beat up still more and collaged in. I had a lot of fun with this.
Here’s still another of the many variations of a mountain & lake view I’ve been messing with. Now the storm has become the whole reason for the picture – well that and the waves on the lake. The mountain back there is hardly visible, which I like.
Real life doesn’t always serve up scenes that are well organized and instantly understandable. Actually few are either to begin with, and when things get dramatic, it’s not so much the view but rather our sensation of being within it that is remembered. Think about every downpour you’ve ever been caught in – have you ever stopped in the middle of it to just admire the view?” See what I mean? It’s a different experience all together, when more than sight is involved!
Now, how do I paint a picture that takes you there? I’m workin’ on it.
THIS PICTURE IS YET AGAIN ONE WORTH CLICKING TO SEE LARGER!
Well now, take a look! I printed these on my old proof press, and did it using India ink – which is NOT what anyone in their right mind should use. Yet if I can figure this out, I’ll be able to paint, print – – – or mix it up! Wow, the textural possibilities are waaaaay too alluring.
I’m enchanted by the subtle tonal shifts – wasn’t expecting them to be quite this gorgeous or delicate. All I was hoping for was a wintery etherial look. I sure got it! And I have a variable edition of 15 in which every version is wonderfully unique!
Next week, I’ll have help shifting my press from my dungeon of a basement up into my studio. Just you wait until I have it where I can really mess around. Imagine what might happen!
YOU REALLY SHOULD CLICK THESE TO SEE THEIR QUIET WONDER!
I didn’t intend to post this weekend, but while taking quick documenting snapshots of several new paintings, I realized I’d like to show ’em to you.
Only the top picture is done – I think. Adding the snowstorm did the trick. The other three (below) are still in the thick of it. Bits and pieces temporarily taped in, problems to solve – the basic drill.
I’m so beating up this poor mountain I’ve been painting! Between all the sanding, scraping, soaking, wrinkling and ripping, it’s occurred to me that my method has turned geologic! That’s quite cool actually, although some of my sheets are now badly fragmented. I have some major repair and reinforcing ahead.
Am sure I’ll end up mounting these onto support sheets too – very possibly of the same brown color as the board that’s peeking through.
THERE ARE LOVELY THINGS HAPPENING IN THESE – CLICK ‘EM TO REALLY SEE!
This morning, I started the picture above by brutally scraping, sanding and crinkling my paper before ever making a mark! I even tore a ragged strip right off the bottom, then clipped another piece of paper in behind it. Why? I wondered what might happen along that overlapped edge once I flooded it with water and ink.
Now, you probably already know that I mess with wet ink like crazy. I push and scrape it around and especially like pressing it into my sheet. Wow – the effects I get are so satisfying, but I never could have imagined what happened this time! Here, watch this – the snapshot below is of just my top sheet, and now you can see the torn edge:
And this next photo is of the under sheet. The arrows show you where the torn edge of the top sheet was laying in the wet – but just look at what happened up above that edge!!!
Holy crap! Have you ever seen texture like this?
All of my pressing and pushing must have forced ink up between the sheets, where it dried. Unbelievable. Completely unexpected! CLICK THE PHOTO TO GET A GOOD, CLOSE LOOK!
I MUST figure out how to repeat, control and use this accident!
I’m also gonna pull the two sheets further apart, paste ’em together and just marvel at the incredible stroke of luck that gave me a picture with such an amazing lower portion!
Hey ya –
The photo above is of a picture I never intended, but now I’ll have to do it again for real. I should explain that, right?
It’s simple – quite a bit of the painting I do is also printed. I make my marks on one sheet, and while the ink is still really wet, I lay that sheet face down on another and rub. This transfers my marks from one sheet to the other rather imperfectly, which is half the point. I like the unpredictability of the result – – – most of the time!
So, that’s a transfer sheet in my first photo, which has been used multiple times and as you can see, plenty of ink stays put. The picture I was trying to make ended up a disaster, but this sheet began turning into a scene all on it’s own! The truth is that it photographed better than it really looks, which is far too blotchy and muddy. Yet here is the inspiration for a what could be a really good scene. I see a big old mountain top, maybe with a glacier wrapped around it. Yep, I’m probably gonna have to go for it.
I’ll keep you posted –
Your Buddy Bill
PS: here are some flower pictures that were made almost entirely via transfer painting and drawing. As you can see, the method results in very textural, irregular, sometimes blotchy, and always surprising marks!
The picture above is strange. What happens when there are so many textures that their cacophony almost tips into chaos? Could that much visual noise instead become a buzz that settles into a captivating view? The whole world is this ripe with texture – we just block most of it out. What happens if you can’t?
What happens when I make a picture defined by grays instead of darks? How far can I push the unpredictability of collaging? I know, my brain hurts, gears grinding, but so okay.
Below is a bonus photo, of another picture that might not be headed to the scrap pile after all. It wasn’t working (and still may not be), but right now I’m thinking it’s still breathing!
There won’t be a post tomorrow or Monday – I’ll be out of the studio.
Have the finest weekend –
Your Buddy Bill
This morning’s picture began as an attempt to figure out exactly how I sometimes manage to make surprisingly crisp textures on my mountainsides. I know what I just said sounds odd. I mean, I’m the guy doing all of this, so I should know what’s happening, right? The thing is, I don’t because I’m working out new method. I can set up its circumstances and make my moves, yet there are variables in there I haven’t caught on to; one attempt ends up a total mess and the very next works out spectacularly. What happened differently?
I don’t even know what to call what I’m doing – maybe flow printing or flow guidance? I certainly don’t understand it well enough to tell you about it yet. That’s one of the things I’ll work on this week. Meanwhile, here’s a wonderful little study of a Norwegian Mountain that has its head in the clouds and its feet in a fjord. Like I said, I don’t understand how some of this picture really happened, but it did and was such a gift. That gives me hope!
We have a little journey to take together – are ya ready?
About a week ago, I showed you this studio photo (below) of a strange painting. It was made of the surprisingly well matched left and right sheets that I salvaged from two previous failed pictures. My task was to make them into one picture, but how to do it?
The way forward involved all kinds of sneaky methods, but mostly depended on my creating and collaging in a jigsaw of newly painted/textured parts. I’m not sure when I decided the best camouflage for my mismatched middle was a glacier, but in this next photo (which I also showed you a few days ago) you can see the top half of it already glued in. Things were beginning to look good!
Don’t you think we ought to chat a little more about how this collaging deal works? Take a look at the following photo and then we’ll continue our discussion:
The trick is to cleverly paint and cut different pieces of paper so that in the end, you can’t see how they fit together, or where their seams are. In the photo above, I’ve begun trimming them into shape, but still have a ways to go. There are actually FOUR different pieces laying on top of this picture (and each other). In my next photo, I’ve outlined where their edges are:
Once I’m satisfied with how all my parts fit in – and fit together – the next step is to sand their backs so they become very thin. I didn’t take pictures as I did that this time, but in the next sequence of photos you can see the same process carried through for an earlier piece:
Not only is the whole back of the patch sanded, but its edges are take down until they’re tissue thin. Below is the same patch held up against the light. You can really see those feathery edges now!
The last step is to spread glue thoroughly and thinly. Then you have to move quickly to get the patch laid down flat and tight.
AND FINALLY, my painting is finished – it turned out better than I’d hoped! I should also mention that many of my two-sheet images will end up being bound into albums – which is why I’ve added the brown, deckled edges and center hinge digitally. It’s gonna be interesting to see how it all turns out for real, but that won’t happen for quite awhile yet.
Have the best weekend! I’ll post again on Monday – – – Your Buddy Bill
CLICK THIS IMAGE AND JUST LOOK – IT’S KIND OF A WOW!
These past few days have been tough going, but not without progress. Tomorrow or Thursday, I may at last be able to tell the whole tale, if I manage to finish what I’ve started.
This round began when I screwed up two pictures (each done on two sheets), then realized the left half of one weirdly matched up with the right half of the other (I showed you a photo of what that looked like a few days ago – scroll down three posts).
Since then, my time has been spent making those halves turn into a single picture, which has become fussy, detailed and surprising! On Saturday morning, the top of a glacier began to appear! Check back in to see what happened next!
CLICK IT TO GET A BETTER LOOK!
One of the nicest things about making pictures on two sheets (when I have a tendency to mess up so much) is that screw ups often happen on just one side. That means the other half of a picture is still okay. It’s no surprise that I have quite a stack of orphaned picture halves lying around.
What is really, really odd is that these leftovers often fit together surprisingly well! How can a left and right from different pictures do that? I guess it’s partly because I usually do a number of variations of the same scene. Thus sizes and shapes are pretty close. And then I’m also me, so I dependably make the marks I do. That means they kind of jive too, at least to the point where days like the one I’m about to have often happen.
Here’s a snapshot from my drawing table this morning – take a look (CLICK THE PHOTO TO REALLY SEE IT) and then we’ll finish our chat:
Do you see what I mean about how well some of these different halves fit? I mean, it’s kinda weird!
I’m going to try to marry these two halves together, which will mean using every trick I know. There will be some sanding, a lot of scraping and surface abuse, plus new ink, of course. And there certainly will be collaging too. This isn’t going to be easy.
Check out these detail views: in the first one you can see that a little collaging has already begun.
How easy it is to get lost in some of those topographic gray on gray textures. OH PLEASE CLICK THE PHOTOS! Wow, I hope I can pull this off – his could be a truly fine picture.
I bet you’re wondering what’s going on with this one!
I’ve been tempted to see what happens if I brutalize – and even tear into – a sheet before ever beginning to paint. This beat up, cracked old peak I’m portraying has just the right character to try something like that, so I did! That was yesterday, and then it took about 10 minutes of ink slinging before I realized I was in real trouble. Three terrible hours later, I was certain my picture was horrible. In a last ditch attempt to try anything, I ripped even further into the top of the peak, thinking I might at least slip a whole new mountain top in and paste it down. The photo above was what this mess looked like when I gave up in disgust last night.
This morning I got a big surprise! Once I simply put a sheet of blank paper behind my gapping rip, the top of my mountain suddenly looked perplexingly . . . better? How was that even possible?
Okay, so you know how I spent my day today! I sanded and carefully laid in that white sheet behind my damned hole, then ground up and frayed it’s edges even more before carefully pasting them all down. Finally, I tapped the flat side of a brush with the barest amount of diluted ink against the area, so the texture would pick up just a bit of it.
The snapshot below is of how things stand tonight – it doesn’t capture the true complexity of the dimension and texture I’ve got going, but if you CLICK THE PICTURE YOU’LL GET A BETTER LOOK!
These new ones give me five now under way. I might shoot for a dozen keepers, which would be enough for a whole album of paintings. Even if I don’t manage that, it’s an excellent plan to have a bunch of pictures going at once. That way, when I get too confused by one, I can switch to another picture before I ruin it. That’s so easy to do right now – I’m waaaaaay past my comfort zone with these!
CLICK ON THESE TO MAKE ‘EM BIGGER – IT’S WORTH IT!
Do you wanna see something goofy interesting? The painting above actually began as entirely different scene! Yep, it did, but then I got confused by the all of that chaotic texture. So the poor picture sat in a pile until this morning, when I decided to try putting a completely different scene right over top! Or am I kind of sneaking it in? I don’t even now if this is gonna work, but it’s worth a shot.
Here is what the picture looked like before I started messing with it again:
And below is yet another painting, this time from the same round as the one above originally came from. Now you can get some notion of what it was that I was trying to paint. I wonder if I’ll succeed in completely changing the view? Stay tuned!
Above is a quick studio photo of the same mountain/fjord view I showed you two days ago. It’s now done – or at least has gone as far as I can take it before I move on. I added a little grain and texture here and there, and most importantly, changed the whole character of the mountain top at upper right.
Little differences make big differences! Here, take a look:
In the before photo, you can see that the big, bold outline of the right-hand mountain just wasn’t working. It was a remnant of the earlier picture, which was more mark driven rather than painterly. When the whole idea of a picture changes, I sometimes must sacrifice things I wish I didn’t have to. I liked that big old mark, but it had to go. I’m content with the outcome.
There are A LOT more Norwegian mountains in my immediate future – keep checking in!
Hey ya –
Did you know that it’s pretty darned nice to have a big stack of reject pictures? I mean, just take a look at mine (and then keep reading):
Actually, there’s another stack that’s half as tall just out of the photo! I burn through A LOT of paper, and my ratio of winners to losers used to really bug me. Not now!
Let me show you something – below is what was supposed to be a picture of a stormy Norwegian fjord, before it turned muddy and I lost my way. That was last October. Today I began messing with it again. This is what I started with (please excuse my so-so studio photos):
You know, there were some pretty interesting things happening in there, but the picture lacked punch – or any focus.
So I decided to dig into my big stack of loser pictures, looking for new textures I could start laying in right over top. Did you know failed flower pictures are gold mine of landscape textures? Huh. Take a look at what happened once I began ripping, sanding, twisting and gluing bits and pieces down.
WOW, interesting, right? Suddenly this picture began to get some game back! So I kept going, even ripping holes into it so unexpected bits of marked up scrap paper could peek through from behind! Now, look at the next photo – – –
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this is getting close to being sort of wonderful. It needs fussing yet, which might happen tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll let it rest for a few days and see if I can start resurrecting another picture that has tipped over too far!
Please, PLEASE click the last photo to take a closer look! It’s worth it!
So often, I do a lot of similar versions of a picture as I try to nail just the moves I need. Not sure why this is my method, unless I’m a bit obsessive. Okay, I’m sure I am, but how could I not be? Isn’t that what keeps me going, and reaching? And doesn’t that fuel uncertainty too? I’m too often the worst judge of my own work! Am so glad I have loved ones that help me with that.
Oh and by the way, I like this picture – – – just as much as the one I showed you a few days ago (scroll down). They were done very close to each other, of course!
Apologies for my absence of a few days! ‘Tis the season before the season, which means I’ve begun my once yearly, massive workspace clean up and re-organization. It’s always a bigger task than I expect, and must be done before my sis gets here (soon so soon), because not only do the holidays arrive with her, but there is bound to be some big and wildly creative project packed in her suitcase! She NEEDS room, and plenty of it. No problem, if I just clean up my big mess.
Hey, check this out: Kay is a wonderful woodblock carver and printer. Below is last year’s block, with carving almost complete. It’s huge, like 18 x 24″ huge, and that’s just about the max for printing completely via hand rubbing – IN MULTIPLE COLORS, AND ALMOST ALL AT ONCE (Kay actually printed the sun from a different block first). By the end of the small edition, my sis and I were tag-teaming it as fatigue set in.
And here is an impression from about half way through the run. Every print was a bit different, as colors and inking were adjusted. By the very last one, the blackish-brown had been lightened to a deep, rich walnut color, our hare had a bit of a pinkish nose and those little flowers at the left had more red in ’em! I know, it sounds gaudy or maybe too cute, but man did it work. I will have to try and get a photo for you.