27 September 2010

first layers

I've started on two canvases using acrylics.  This is how far I've gotten so far ~ basically just the first layer down on each one.  The first one, above, is already quite busy but I'd like to give it something more to communicate.  The second one, below, still has endless possibilities...

We'll see where they take me!

19 September 2010

roadworks ~ {steamroller printing}

Had a wonderful day volunteering at Roadworks, a street fair put on by the San Francisco Center for the Book.  D. and I helped as "Inky Hands", mixing ink and preparing the lino cuts for the street-and-steamroller press.  This was our first time helping out, but now we know how to steamroll print (though we'd need some steamroller driving lessons first)!  Here's what we learned in ten easy steps:

1}  Carve a piece of linoleum.   This one is 3' x 3', which is slightly less than the width of the steamroller.  If you make a 1' x 1' plate then you can fit three across.

 2} Dampen your paper in advance.  At the fair, we used Rives BFK Heavyweight and Crane Lettra.  Both sides had been moistened with a spray bottle and sponge a day before.  Then the paper was sealed in plastic until it was time to print.

3} Mix the ink to the desired color.  In this case, for each batch I was told to use:  3/4 Daniel Smith Classic Lithographic Black #100 + 1/8 Warm Red + 1/8 Miracle Gel Reducer.  It was very similar to mixing oil colors, but much stickier and done in far greater volume.

4} Spread the ink out evenly on a piece of mylar.  Here we have three brayers just for that purpose.  Lay it out nice and smooth so the brayers don't get blobby when you're charging up with ink.

5} Ink the linoleum using smooth strokes that lift up at the end.  Don't press too hard, or you'll make lines in the ink.  After smoothing it on in one direction, do it again at a 90 degree angle to your first coat.  When it looks velvety, it's done.  (All this technical info was courtesy of a kind fellow who came all the way from Phoenix for the fair.)

6} Layer the following on the street: 
  • a 4' x 4' piece of MDF
  • a giant piece of mylar (on which you can draw out where to place the linoleum)
  • the inked linoleum (face up, of course)
  • a piece of paper on top of each piece of linoleum
  • thin wool blankets
  • a thicker blanket
  • an even thicker blanket or shag carpet that covers everything

7} Roll firmly over your street press with your steamroller.

8}  Peel back the blankets and have someone with clean hands gently lift the paper off the print.  (It's ok to applaud and be excited when the prints are revealed.)  Inky handed people can then remove the linoleum from the press for re-inking as needed.

9} Set the prints out to dry.  Don't forget little weights if you're outdoors so the wind doesn't blow them away.

10} Decorate an old fence in your neighborhood with your fine work and sell to friends and passers by!

18 September 2010

new life

A few of my friends have recently had new babies, so today I used rice paper and watercolors to collage some cards to send to them.  I have a pretty good collection of painted rice paper and handmade paper scraps to work from, so I didn't have to make any new collage pieces.

 Valuable scraps

As you can see, some of the pieces are even paper towels that I was previously using as a place to dab my brush between colors.  I saved them since they have such a random congregation of colors and an interesting texture, so they often come in useful.

Today I completed three cards, but I had the white balance off when I took pictures of them, so can only show you one of them right now ~ the least awful photo... the colors are still not true.  I'll post the pictures anew once I have a chance to rephotograph them all.

Hope to do so tomorrow, but it might not be possible as I'm going to be at Roadworks most of the day helping ink the plates for the steamroller.  It promises to be an exciting day so I'd better be off to bed now.  G'night!

... Update: 

Maybe too much red above?  I could tone it down a bit.

This one looks better in person ~ it's been tricky for me to photograph these. 

12 September 2010

tennis time

Played tennis over lunch last week with Michelle (pictured above!).  We are planning to play more often so we can get some exercise and hopefully improve our game along the way.  

As we left the court to rush back to work, tennis balls kept dropping behind us because we had them in a flimsy, plastic grocery bag.  Every time I picked one up, more would drop out!  I'm sure it was quite comic, but since I don't want to go through that every time we play, I decided to get her a bag for the balls.  And why not make a little graphic to personalize it, too?

Now that the illustration is done, I have to figure out the best way to put it on a bag.  I hope she likes it!

08 September 2010

from the garden

Our peach tree's boughs are heavy with ripe fruit and now it's a race between us and the squirrels as to who gets to eat them.  Our next-door-neighbor's giant tomatoes also ripen this time each year, so it was time for our annual exchange of garden bounty.

Yesterday evening I painted some of the harvest while watching a movie with my husband.   My models were very ripe and smelled so good while I was painting them.  I inked the tomatoes but not the peaches.

Today I printed them small and put them on blank note cards.  Now I have something to mail back to Miwako.

04 September 2010

mailbox treasure

Something lovely in the mail for me from my friend Miwako, who lives on the west coast of Tuscany.

The blues remind me of the sea and the patterns remind me of the little town where we met.  I shall have to make her a little artwork to send with my letter in reply.