Dec 212017

The winter solstice reminds me of the beauty and striking simplicity of black and white. Not that there’s much snow here.  Our west coast winter is green and moist.

However!  In a few days I’m flying into the Okanagan Valley.  We’ll drop down above hills and valleys, farms and ranches, orchards, vineyards, and the vast frozen white lake.

It’s really wintertime there, and the approach to the Kelowna airport is fantastic:  a monochromatic dream rich in pattern and texture.

I’ve been using a monochromatic palette throughout my studio life.  It’s a contemporary idiom for many artists,  and I’m drawn to it as well.  It’s been an enduring part of my studio work, especially in printmaking.

The pieces that follow were done over the years using different materials and methods.  I work with value and texture, especially in painting.

Let’s take a walk through these monochromatic pieces.

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Dec 052017

Exploring Scale in Painting

Here’s a series of acrylic paintings on canvas where I work with scale and proportion.

I like playing around with big space in a small area.

These are abstracted landscape, rich in texture and colour.

Size:  Small – the largest is 10″ x 12″.

Proportion:   The compositions in these pieces have large open areas juxtaposed with areas of detail.

Surface:  Each have areas of texture and areas of flat colour.

Materials:  My favorite paint products are made by Golden.  They’re constantly updating their line.  There’s always new products to explore and their pigments are high quality and reliable.

Pumice and molding pastes create great texture.  I develop small mark making areas using one of my favorite materials, graphite.  I’ll sometimes gouge into the surface as it dries, or rub graphite into the drying paint.

These small pieces stand alone quite well.  And I can also use them as maquettes for much larger works.

It can be daunting to take on a large canvas.  It’s a big investment of materials and time.  So painting small, then taking it big, is a straight forward way to approach a larger work.

Nov 282017

Net Lace:  A Companion Edition

I often use the triptych form in my paintings and prints.  I follow this traditional form I first saw in the cathedrals and art museums in Europe. Powerful and exquisite devotional triptych paintings and sculptures.

The triptych format has beem used by artists since early Christian times in altar paintings and sculptures.  The form is also echoed in magnificent stained glass windows.  It’s the symbolic manifestation of the Holy Trinity.

Outside that context the triptych has long been used by many prominent contemporary artists.

One of my favorites is by the celebrated  British painter, Francis Bacon, titled Three Studies of Lucian Freud.  He painted the triptych, below, in 1969.  It sold at auction in 2012 for $142.4 million.

I’m most interested in the triptych form as a way of developing a theme.  It’s an opportunity to play around with form, structure, and perspective.

The trilogy is an intuitive way to work.  And I think many artist would agree with me, including writers.

Here’s my recent edition of mono print triptychs titled Net Lace.

Carborundum. etching, mono print, and chine colle.

Net Lace is in part maritime themed.

Shipyard cranes appear in some of the prints. I used fish net material for the mono print.

Metaphorical threads that connect craft based work, like lace making, with the pragmatic necessities of net mending, were on my mind.

These triptych prints are a small companion edition to the larger Net Lace edition project that I continue to develop.

Nov 242017

A Studio Tradition

Every autumn I collect leaves from the garden and on my daily rambles.  I make botanical prints from my collection, memorializing the fleeting beauty of our west coast autumn.

I print directly from the leaves.  It’s simple, direct, and different from my other printmaking.

It requires no press.  A brayer, water soluble ink and paper is all you need.  And leaves.

I have satisfying results with almost no effort.  Consequently, it’s a relaxing form of printmaking.

I give these prints as gifts to family and friends.

I’ve taught this form of printmaking in my studio and at community centres and schools over the years.  It’s a great introduction to the joys of printmaking that anyone can learn.

If you would like to receive one of these small prints through the mail, contact me.  We can arrange an exchange for one of your small works.

Nov 192017

Monoprints: The Early Years

I discovered mono printing in 2004 in a printmaking course at the Victoria College of Art with Alain Costaz.

It wasn’t my first stab at printmaking.  My introduction was in the early 70’s at Langara College Studio Arts programme.

This was the gateway technique to printmaking I’m doing today that includes serigraph, traditional etching, photo etch, carborundum, with chine colle thrown in for good measure.

Mono printing is a deceptively simple method of printing.  Its direct and painterly.  It holds opportunities for working in series, spontaneously and intuitively.  Each print is different.

I enjoy arranging compositions directly on the plate, then mark making.  It’s a process where one thing leads to another.  It’s quite addictive.

Certainly part of the appeal was working in black and white.  The strong graphic images are compelling, especially seen in series, where my visual language is developed and explored.

This is my first edition of mono prints I call Walk Though.

My instinct was to throw away these first works that came off the press.  I was encouraged to hold them to revisit later.

This was very good advice, as time and distance is helpful in objectively looking at my work.  And I think these pieces hold up pretty well over a decade.