Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday already?

Time seems to be passing me by a little too quickly. Especially since I had every intention of posting on this blog more often!!! Sheesh!

The day before yesterday, I attempted to print larger size monotypes at home using the method I described in my previous post. It was completely unsuccessful. I just can't seem to get enough pressure to achieve the results I want - which is the deep, saturated color I love. I will have to experiment some more to see how I can improve my technique.

I have been running in the morning with Mr. Pono, rather than walking. That is probably one reason why I am not posting so much. When I walk, I am going at a slow enough pace to notice the small things I like to photograph - dried flower stalks, shadows of plants, etc. Interesting how something as simple as a run can change things so much! The running is good for my stress levels, and of course my waistline! So I am not ready to give it up entirely. Maybe I can alternate running and walking more often, so I can supply you with the desert photos we have come to love.

Little bits of green are beginning to show themselves. It is a marvel to me, that green things pop up in JANUARY, since Colorado would not be showing any green for months still!!! Even though the past couple of days have been quite cold and windy, it is still warm enough that these little green plants are growing. There is nothing as comforting as seeing green plants, for it is a sure sign that spring approaches. Not to mention a sign that we have gotten enough moisture for plants to grow, which is always a concern here!

Here is a new monotype, printed at home. This one I printed on an off-white paper, it measures 8 x 10 inches, and I titled it "Desert Symphony".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Monotype Printmaking at home

Several of you have asked about a step by step description of my process creating monotypes at home, using my rolling pin. So today, while I printed new monotypes, I tried to remember to take some photos of the process. Hopefully, this will clarify a few things for you. It's really not that hard, and I am sure anyone could do this at home, after a little bit of experimentation.

The first step is to paint your plate. I use plexiglass plates, that I got from Dick Blick. The one in this demo measures 8 x 10 inches. I use Charbonnel etching inks, which are oil based, and really gorgeous. I actually apply the ink with a brayer, mostly, except I forgot to take a photo of that part. I spend quite a bit of time, mixing colors and preparing my plate. I experiment a LOT! You can also apply ink to the whole plate and then use a cloth (or Q-tip or whatever) to remove ink. Once you get the plate looking the way you want it to look, you are ready to try printing it!

I have been printing in the kitchen, where there is more room. I use my cutting mat to print on, so I can make use of the grid. That way I can be sure the paper is centered over the plate. First, I wipe the edges of the plate clean (carefully). Then, I set the plate on my cutting mat. I use printmaking paper (BFK rives). I dampen the paper using a spray bottle filled with water. This is something I do over the sink, but I didn't take a photo of that. I squirt both sides pretty well, and then blot the excess water off using paper towels. Once I have dampened the paper, I carefully lay it over the inked plate. Then, I use my hands to press the paper down onto the plate, rubbing along the edges of the plate. I do this to prevent the paper from sliding when I apply pressure. I first use the baren and rub back and forth first horizontally and then vertically. While I rub with the baren, I hold onto the paper to keep it from sliding. I have found that if I put a piece of tissue paper over the top of my paper, it keeps the paper from being rubbed off, and also keeps the back of the print clean.

Next, I take the rolling pin. I place the rolling pin in the center of the paper and roll out. I roll the pin in the same way, horizontally and vertically. I am trying to get as much pressure as I can, and also trying for even pressure. I go over the paper with both the baren and the rolling pin several times. Once my arms get tired, I am ready to lift the paper and see the results! This is the fun part. What I have discovered is that the monotypes I pull by hand, using the above method, are much "grainier" than the ones I pull using a printing press. You can see for yourselves. As Robyn discovered, the jackrabbit I did two posts ago was printed using a press. The lizard from Friday was printed using the wooden spoon and pvc pipe.

So there you have it!!! That is how I have been creating monotypes at home without a press. I hope this gave you a clearer idea of my process now. There are many different kinds of printmaking, but what I like about monotypes is that each one is unique, an original one-of-a-kind. Most other types of printmaking will give you several prints of the same image. So far, monotypes are the only kind of printmaking I have done. I am hoping to try some of the other kinds. For now, I am loving these monotypes!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Friday

I keep telling myself to post on my blog more often, but as you can see, the thought is somehow not manifesting into actual postings. No one knows why. I am sure this recent silence will pass eventually, but for now, I am taking the advice of a dear friend, emmet, and making an effort to "be kind to myself". After all, there is only so much one can do in a day.

I have been busy!!! This past week, I decided to experiment with creating monotypes without a printmaking press. As some of you may remember from earlier posts, I do not have a press of my own, but have been fortunate to have the use of a press owned by a friend here in Joshua Tree. I am grateful for the generosity Shant has shown in regard to his press, but I also felt like I needed to have another option. My first try was to use a wooden spoon and a brayer to apply pressure to the paper and the inked plate. (for those of you who don't know, a brayer is a small roller that can be used to apply ink to a printmaking plate.) That gave OKAY results, but I found that the wooden spoon was rubbing off the wet paper, and it also left marks. Plus, I wasn't really getting enough pressure for the results I wanted. Then, I tried a small piece of plastic pvc pipe, and rolled it over the paper and plate. That actually was better, but after a day of creating prints this way, I woke up the next morning and found that my hands were really sore!!! Never mind my arms, which I was using to try to get as much pressure as I could. So on the second day, I decided to use a rolling pin!!! Yes, just a regular old kitchen rolling pin like what your mother used to roll out a pie crust. That gave me the best results.

After using a printmaking press for so long, I am a little spoiled. I do think the results are the best with a press, at least for what I have been wanting to do. However, I am excited that I have found another way to create monotypes. Here is one of the new monotypes I did with the wooden spoon and brayer method.

I also wanted to give kudos here on my blog to a friend of mine, Mavis Penney. She has just started a "painting a day" blog, with some lovely watercolor paintings of the Labrador coast. Stop on over and have a look! (just click on her name)

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Desert Mistletoe

I realize that I haven't been much of a blogger lately. Sorry! I guess I just haven't felt much like being on the computer. The good news is that I have been in the studio, so you will have images of new art coming very soon. Hopefully, I will also become more frequent with my blog posts.

Here is one new monotype, that I created just before the holidays hit full force. It isn't my favorite one, but I do like things about it, and I think the jackrabbit turned out pretty well. I drew the rabbit onto a piece of cardboard, then I cut it out. After I inked the plate, I inked the rabbit and placed him (her?) on top! I would like the jackrabbits better if they didn't eat every darn plant in my yard!!!

I leave you with another photograph of desert mistletoe, or phoradendron californicum. It is living off of a cat's claw acacia. I remember last spring, it was one of the first things to bloom, and the blossoms have the most beautiful fragrance. The bees love it! If you want to read just a bit more about it, click here. I tried to get a close up shot for you, but all of the close ups I took were blurry. Breathing too hard from running, I guess! I'll try again, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to watch our new president get inaugurated!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Drumroll, Please...

Other bloggers have had their pets help them pick the winner for their giveaways, and since Matthias is out of town, I decided Pono could help me. So I wrote down all the names on a piece of paper, cut the paper into little pieces, and spread them out on the kitchen floor. This is what happened:

I guess it isn't really that interesting for dogs. At least, it isn't nearly as interesting as that itchy part of a leg that needs chewing on. So I sweetened the deal a little for mister Pono, by putting a tiny bit of peanut butter in the corner on each and every piece of paper. It worked!!! Pono picked a winner, and the winner is....
NANCY of Nancy Medina Art!!!!! Congratulations, Nancy! Please email your address to me at so I can mail your lizard to you. Thank you everyone who left a comment. And stay tuned. I may do another because that was so much fun!!!

Sorry I didn't post another video of Pono actually choosing the winner. I was having trouble directing and filming at the same time. I guess this film making stuff is not for me!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Full Moon and other goodies

I was able to capture a quick shot of the full moon from Saturday night. I do love the moon. I believe I have talked about it before, but just in case you are reading my blog for the first time, I will say it again. The moon is way cool!

I am feeling quite happy, because I finally finished my applications to graduate school!!! Yay!! It took me forever, because you are required to write a "Statement of Purpose", about what qualifies you to pursue graduate studies, what you hope to accomplish, your career goals, and things like that. It was pure agony, writing that darn essay. I am fortunate to have a friend here (thanks Marjorie) and my husband, who both read and re-read what I had written. I couldn't have done it without you two!!! I will mail the applications for UC Irvine and UCLA tomorrow. (I already sent in UC Riverside.) What a relief!

Now I need to focus on new art for my upcoming exhibition in the True World Gallery in February. The opening is on February 21st, for those of you who live nearby and wish to attend. I have got quite a bit of art already, but I wouldn't mind having a few more fabulous new pieces for this gallery.

I finally broke down and gave Pono a much needed bath. It actually ended up being a shower (his first one!) because it was really too cold to bathe him outside. He doesn't like the bath part, but the towel rubbing at the end is bliss!

It's not too late to sign up for my giveaway. The drawing takes place on Wednesday, so hurry! I would write more, but since I have been doing nothing but writing for the past three days, I hope you will forgive me if I take a little break!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Giveaway!!!

In my last post I mentioned that I had just reached over 10,000 visitors to my blog. In honor of that benchmark, and of the new year, I am giving away one of my monotypes. It measures 7 x 5 inches, and I called it "Royal Reptile". It will be UNFRAMED. It will come mounted to foamcore so that it doesn't get bent in the shipping process. All you have to do to enter the drawing is leave a comment on this post. I will draw names next week on Wednesday, January 14th! Good luck, and thank you all for reading my blog!

Today was a beautiful sunny day, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I do love warm weather! The hike with Mr. Pono this morning was a splendid one. I took some photos, but haven't loaded them on the computer yet. You will see them soon. The one I am posting is from last week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

What a slacker I am over the holidays. Hopefully now that the holidays are over, I can get back into a much more regular blogging schedule.

I went to a wedding in Fresno this weekend. Fresno is north of Joshua Tree, in the San Joaquin Valley. One of my cousins on my mother's side of the family got married. My mom has a pretty big family, with 5 siblings. I had not seen many of these relatives in years. Maybe even DECADES!!! So it was really good to go and reacquaint myself with these people. It was a beautiful wedding. It had been such a long time since I was in Fresno. I had forgotten how beautiful it is there, with all the orchards and vineyards. It was cloudy and foggy and fairly cold. It was fun to see fog, which is not something we get much in the desert!!!

I am planning a giveaway this week. I just got over 10,000 hits on this blog over the holidays, so to celebrate that, plus the new year, I felt it was a good time. I know many of my blogging friends had giveaways for Christmas, but I could not get my act together for that. So stay tuned. Details will be posted this week!!!

Happy 2009, everyone!