Viewing blog posts in Method and Making
Sometimes I worry that the scrap that builds up beside my ink slinging is more interesting than the pictures I paint. I hope not! Yet I keep an eye on things because happenstance sometimes throws me little gifts.
In this next photo, you see a scrap of paper on which I was merely testing ink consistency. It was only a few days later that I realized that by pure chance, it was almost a flower picture all on it’s own. So I did a bunch of paintings in response!
I particularly like the crumbly, deteriorating moves in the next two – layer after layer of ground in, scrubbed out, replenished and overpainted mark making. Such a paradox, trying to pair spontaneity with intentional overworking. Sheesh . . .
Here’s a quick picture done while I was chatting with a friend on the phone yesterday.While there is truly lovely, quiet veining and grainy detailing in the wing, I may like the close up “trimmed” version better (above).
I actually printed the wings! My printing “plate” was a sheet of paper on which I used a scratchboard tool to scrap the veins. Then I quickly spritzed water onto the sheet and rapidly painted right into the wet over my scraping. While the surface was still saturated, I laid a new, dry sheet on top, briefly rubbed the back of it and peeled it off – thus transferring an imperfect but REALLY interesting image of wings!
These two are from my Wednesday session – which was a pretty nutso round! The one above led to the one below – and get this: I’m just using India ink right from the bottle. But between all the washing, pressing and messing, I’m getting incredible tone, temperature and texture shifts! I’m not exactly sure how some of it even happened, but I wanna get back there today. Let’s see if I can!
THESE ARE REALLY WORTH SEEING BIG – CLICK ON ‘EM!
Just took my new studio set up for a BIG picture test drive today – IT WORKED!
Did this weirdo ant – but does it maybe have a little bit of a cow skull for a head? Hey, this is HUGE for ink – over 3′ x 5′! Oh man, the logistics and physical effort required have certainly scaled up too. Fun challenge though. I’m oddly thrilled with this picture.
HEY WAIT – I never told you about my major studio re-fit! Wow, okay, we need to chat – – –
The goal was to adapt my modest workspace so I can tackle large work, hopefully up to 8 FEET in length. To manage it, I had to identify space that was either overlooked or that could handle overlapping uses. Here’s my construction mess at the beginning of day 2:
Now, check out the photo below, of my new studio – – – isn’t my loooooooong worktable wonderful!
There’s ALWAYS plenty of unused air space in any room. That tower of shelves in the middle is on casters, so it can be easily moved around. It also has a small foot print for the great amount of paper and work it can store. The table that butts up against it is now totally free! And do you see my printing press? When in use, the bed actually rolls through and hangs over that same table. See what I mean by overlapping space?
In addition, I’ve added several new shelves, including two wide ones on which I can stack big work. There are three ways to back up in the room, so that I can look at and assess pictures underway, and the lighting is adjustable to any situation.
It’s a pretty cozy studio, but it’s also highly functional. I’m happy in it!
Particularly fine moves in this one!
It’s wonderful when a mark fresh off the brush has real character, and then I manage to add even more – like in the big, black, loopy petal at top. Did it with a beat up, split brush. Then, as the ink was drying, I pressed and ground into it to create gritty-gray patches.
Here’s a closer look:
I’m always getting better at creating the illusion of surface character. The mountain view above went a bit nuts on me – yep, it sure did. Geez, you might not even be able to tell what it is, but even so, I’m kinda thrilled by it. And all that seeming texture you see is actually painted or printed. You wouldn’t think it, but the picture’s surface is utterly smooth.
You can’t say that about the next picture though! The surface of that grainy, crumbly old mountain in the mist is horrifically beat up. I’m not certain the sheets would stay together if I hung ’em up! For the version I’m showing you, I’ve digitally mounted them on a brown, deckled edged sheet (did it in Photoshop). I’ll probably have to something like this for real to keep this picture together.
If you spend a little time looking close at my pictures, you’ll discover that their surfaces are often very complex – a world within the world I’m portraying. I like altering my paper. It’s as if my pictures end up being as much in their sheets as on them!
I’m pretty much always at work somewhere within a long line of paintings & drawings. This was the one I did right after the mountain view I showed you yesterday. You can tell it was the next step. That’s how it goes with me – one picture leads to another – and ever on. No wonder there are stacks of work all over the place up here, in various stages of completion or crisis!
I’m learning all the time. Now I know that textures/marks/movements that you can see through are beguiling. Being able to look into the stacked up layers makes a picture seem more real to me, as if I’ve got it right all the way through.
This has such presence! Why do certain pictures so claim their personality? Doesn’t seem to have much to do with me.
There’s brushwork and tricksy stuff happening in there, but also plenty of inked collage. And my method has turned very geologic = grinding, sanding, wrinkling twisting & torquing. At the end of it all, it took more time to get the picture stabilized!
Here are closer views:
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!