Viewing blog posts in Method and Making
I am burying myself in bug pictures and butterfly wings! Don’t know where these came from or why I have such a strange compulsion.
My most pleasant surprise is that a lot of the transfer printing and painting I’ve been doing is suddenly working incredibly well. How is this possible? The charm of my method is that when things do work, the results are as marvelous as they are unpredictable. Of course, the flip side is that with so little control, unredeemable messes are just as likely! Yet I’ve wanted incredible butterfly wings and time after time I’m getting them!
I AM AMAZED! They are COOL. And they look almost as if they emerged all on their own without any help from me. Which means now I’m in kind of a jam: how on earth do I put little bodies in the middle of all of these wings that have the same spontaneous, happenstantial feel? I have absolutely no idea – – – yet.
Exuberant, graphic bugs are happening too. They’re done with rapid intensity and it seems like they end up finally working only after I’ve given up on them and started making crazy, what-the-hell moves!
And finally, comes the oddest little beastie of all. I’m not even sure it’s an insect! That whole, squarish, head-ish area (on the left side) is made of scraps torn from other dead paintings and taped down. Actually to be precise, it’s mostly the backs of the scraps you’re seeing, where ink has bled or been driven through.
Oh what is going on? Up is down. Wrong is right. Or maybe it’s still just wrong. All I know is that I must keep my balance and keep going.
CLICK THIS PIC TO GET A GOOD LOOK!
You know there are stacks of half finished pictures up here in my lair. In fact, I have a hard time finding the ones I want to work on!
So, it just makes perfect sense that instead of dealing with what I’ve already started, I should begin still more – and decide to MAKE ‘EM REALLY BIG!
The 3-sheet dragonfly under way (at top) is a monster at 54 inches wide, while the one below (at left) is 2/3rds that. AND I’m starting to stack panels too. At right are three seemingly mismatched sheets from my Norwegian mountain pictures pile. Not sure why I’m looking at them this way, but something’s tickling my intuition. Wonder what it is and how it’ll sort out?
I have stacks and stacks of failed paintings in my workspace – which looks like this RIGHT NOW!
Yesterday, I decided to see if I could mine the detritus for scrap to try assembling new, unexpected pictures. Oh my. OH MY!
THIS next photo is of two halves from different pictures that fit almost perfectly together. I was surprised and pretty pleased until I turned them over to tape ’em together.
THE BACK IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE FRONT! Utter happenstance. So graphically strong and unexpected! In this next photo, I’ve laid a few more torn up scraps of other pictures in and I gotta say, I’m thrilled with the prospects. Do I have the beginnings of a two-sided picture going here?
Annnnd, it gets even better! LOOK WHAT HAPPENED when I just laid the pieces below on top of each other with no attempt to adjust how they fit! Holy poop, I LOVE THIS. Am going to have to give it some serious time and attention. The assemblage is currently over 4′ long – and it could grow further!
PLEASE click my last image to make it larger – you’ll see why I’m excited!
I won’t write you again for a few days – seems I have my hands full, don’t you think?
It’s good to be home, although I had a wonderful August, with every kind of fun I’d hoped for! Something surprising is that I began painting Montana thunderheads, storms and rain skirts. Oh holy moly, that was tougher than I expected!
How do I judge what I did? Will anything from that experience filter into upcoming work? I guess we’ll find out! My workspace is clean and reorganized, so I’m all set for my next BIG, BIG push.
Your Buddy Bill
PS: below are quick snapshots of some storm pictures. One thing I quickly learned is that clouds with nothing else adding context to their picture are kinda confusing. Thus, I spent a lot of time in and around Yellowstone National Park photographing ridge lines and hills that might look good below big, booming skies! Should I plug them into some of these views, or just dive in to new attempts? Am leaning towards the latter – – –
THESE ARE WORTH SEEING LARGER – CLICK THE PICTURES!
Hey ya –
Here are quick studio snapshots of pictures on the boards just now. All are perplexing me. I seem to be making mountain pictures as much through erosion now as by painting them. I’m ripping, grinding, twisting and sanding so vigorously in fact, that it has become standard to add a back up sheet underneath, and sometimes even a back up to the back up!
The picture above has three layers. I must flatten the whole deal before I continue assembly – or add more.
The next one may be my favorite of this batch. I’m in love with the BIG black marks running across – I think they’re a waterline/wave? I was actually thinking of Hokusai’s picture, The Great Wave off of Kanagawa, while I did it. As you can see, there is still sanding, edge blending and repair to do.
My third picture has a looooooong way to go yet, and I’m worried I won’t find my way to a finish. But I have to try particularly hard because there are wonderful things going on in there already. I’m in love with the upper right quarter. Oh what to do?
The scraps of paper laying on the lower left are me just playing with notion of adding more textural/gestural overlay. I could either paint or collage – or both. Still thinking.
I wonder if this might be a nocturne?
Finally, quite a few of my pictures lately have looked this raw to begin with. What you see here are scraps of other failed attempts that I’ve started trying to put roughly together, just to see if another mountain picture may be in there. Possibly!
Good things happening in the ol’ painting and paper destruction department! Just look at these two – they’ve taken me further down my creative road than I had expected, and it’s both thrilling and a bit scary! Feel like my thinking has to catch up a little, or maybe I really shouldn’t let it? Huh.
Once you see really good scans (these are just quick snapshots), you are going to be AMAZED!
CLICK THE FIRST TWO PICTURES TO SEE THEM MUCH LARGER!
There is sooooooo much going on everywhere in these. To keep working on both, I had to add backup sheets because I was so brutal in painting, ripping, scraping, tearing, soaking and twisting the top layer. Am I sculpting as much as painting now?
A dragonfly and a damsel fly that are as abstract as not – was trying for that, and like how these came out. Some very nice mark making in there!
Printing with India ink on an old iron press = printing with water = squishes out all over! Rust is bad!
I use paper folders to contain the mess, This is one of them. Pressure drove my ink clear through the sheets I was printing and into it – the result is a gorgeous bonus image!
I actually sent this picture through the press a second time to add more to it, so this is one of the first ones in which I intentionally started tweaking happenstance. That working partnership continues!
Here are closer views:
I actually can’t quite decide what’s going on back in there – is that the most ethereal mountain ever, or is it sky? Dunno. But I sure like how this one sets up questions!
CLICK ON THE PICTURE ABOVE – SO WORTH A CLOSER LOOK!
I probably won’t post again for a few days – so much to do, and I’m trying to get it done. Until next time, here are closeups of today’s Norway picture, to give you something to wander around in.
Lately, I’ve been using an antique printing press to create some textures and portions of my pictures, but I work with India ink. Squishy, watery ink + an old iron press = RUST = BAD!!!
To contain the mess, I put what I’m printing inside paper folders – LIKE THIS ONE! The pressure drove the ink clear through what I was printing and into it. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL, UNEXPECTED BONUS PRINT!!
I should also mention that I’m printing images twice as big as my press bed. I manage it by folding what I’m printing in half so I can do two sheets at once. Here, let me quickly diagram what we’re really seeing here:
THIS IS A FAILED PICTURE – – – BUT IT ISN’T!
Confused? Well, here’s a little background: I’m using a 100 year old printing press to create portions of my new mountain pictures, but printing with India ink is like trying to control squeezed water! It’s messy, and even in the best instance, barely predictable. But I’m gaining a VAST range of new pictorial and textural possibilities.
It’s no surprise that many pictures tank, and the one above is a perfect, miserable example. Nothing worked, not the pressure I used, the ink I applied or even happenstance. So, say goodbye, pitch it in the corner and start over, right? Yep that’s about how it was gonna go, that is until I turned the sheet over and . . . WOW!!!
I’m using such thin paper that my watery ink is being driven clear through my sheets! And it turns out the backs are sometimes MUCH more interesting than the fronts! The next snapshot is the reverse side of what I had thought was a horrible picture:
Pretty damned HOT! Obviously, I’ve done a lot more work on top of the ghost image I started with: further printing, plenty of brushwork and even a bit of digging and ripping along the bottom (that’s why you can see a patch in the top view). I can’t wait to flatten and scan this, so you can really see how rich and ethereal it is!
I’m going back in – lots and lots to try to get done this week, so posts may be sporadic – – –
Your Buddy Bill
Do I have at least 50 pictures finished or still in progress of this Norwegian mountain I’m stuck on? Bet so. Every flat surface in my workspace is piled high with them – or the debris of a gazillion failed attempts. I’m being BURIED!
The flip side is that I have a TON of bits and parts to mess with. Rip, tear, tape & temporarily collage – – – it’s actually become kinda fun. And mind bending. Some of my creative paradigms are being shuffled around too!
The snapshots above and below are of two of the assemblages I’m talking about. They require A LOT of imagination and forgiveness on your part, but try hard and you might see pretty daring graphic ideas lurking in there. Yes, I know the big crack in the middle of the mountain belos can’t be straight like that, and all the ponderous black must somehow settle in more. And the picture up top? Sheesh, I don’t even know what to say – – – I’m learning here!
An owl gone totally nuts. Is he even an owl anymore? Doesn’t matter – he’s still keeping his cool! Did him SIX years ago and just came across him again. It looks like I even used my electric toothbrush to make some of those marks!
A big ol’ bloom again, I know, but with story: while painting it, I became so disillusioned that I tossed it like a frisbee into the corner. Do you see all those dripping marks going upwards? Thats when they happened! I pitch a lot of losers onto the floor, but this is the only time it ever resulted in such wonderful and unexpected marks!
A few days later, while cleaning up a bit, I rediscovered this picture, and I changed my mind completely. I don’t know why I hated it so, but I was wrong – it’s a good one. There are some quite wonderful mark/texture combinations going on in there!
The funniest part is that I’ve tried making intentional “frisbee” marks but can’t get them to work right!
Here are close ups for you:
First off, click this image and take a good look, then I’ll tell you about it – – –
Oh, am I confused! There are some incredible things happening in there, but this is the back of one of my pictures!
Okay, maybe third of this image is the result of ink (in various dilutions) having been forced clear through from the front – remember I’m using a printing press quite a bit, so I can create lots of pressure. The rest of this picture is what I did trying to complete the incredibly ethereal (and unexpected) surprise I discovered when I first turned my paper over!
Clearly, there are some things I still must attend to (like the white spot on the shoreline under the big, black mark. That’s a hole that must be mended. Easy enough, but tweaking this picture the rest of the way will be agonizing. I’m not sure how to do it.
So, I’m running away tomorrow! I’m gonna go fishing, and I might do it Wednesday too. Yep, screw art, it’s time to play hooky.
When I paint, I don’t start with any underdrawing – and usually have no plan other than to make some kind of first mark and then go from there. Very improvisational. I LIKE working this way – it’s free and uncertain – ideas pop in without my expecting them to. If I get a good one, it can change from one picture to the next.
Wanna see what I mean? Let’s take a look by first revisiting two blooms I’ve already shown you. In this one, bold brushstrokes outline the petals around the edges of the bloom – it’s very straight forward:
In this next one, those big black marks are beginning to wander away from their first purpose! They still sort of establish the outside edges of the flower, but aren’t they also about what surrounds the flower – almost background? And notice how within the liquidy gray in the middle, you can begin to see the shapes of pointed petals.
And here is the picture we were heading towards – – – now, the petals that were just beginning to make their appearance in the last picture, have become their own bloom, while the big outside marks have drifted off into surrounding space! From even a short distance, all of these paintings would look very similar, but now you can see that they’re not so at all!
Here’s a closer look just for the heck of it!
Moves this close to the disaster hardly ever behave. There’s no such thing as a small mistake, but BIG ones happen way too often!
Once in awhile though, all of my marks go down right (or close enough) and I get a picture like this. Then it’s time to sneak back in and add a little fine texture and detail. I think of it as starting up a visual conversation – giving the big stuff something to talk to. Plus, it’s fun!
CLICK THE IMAGES TO LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES!
I managed some particularly ragged (yet really well directed) mark making in this picture. It’s powerfully graphic, with great character and contrasts in the textures!
Good Morning to my Sweetie down in Wallaby-land! Especially missing you this morning – – –
Very like yesterday’s bloom – and maybe even nicer? It’s not unusual that I do several variations of an image. I frequently work through an idea that way – it helps me see it in different aspects. Broader vision = growth and more creative power!
I know, yet again I said there would be no Norwegian mountain show-n-tell for the next few days, but I had to show you this!
Good things are happening here in my hermit’s attic workspace. I’m pretty jazzed! But I’m also surprised by an extreme jump in how much I’m scrapping, ripping and collaging. That’s exciting image making, yet it also means that when I’m “done” with a picture, I’m actually not. These are barely holding together with tape and clips – I have a whole lot of sanding, fitting, flattening, gluing and reinforcing ahead of me.