New Year’s Day always feels like a giant tidal wave passing over me. I especially felt the effects of it this year because 2017 was so heavy, fast-paced, and just plain exhausting all the time. I think many of us can agree it was difficult to keep our head’s above water because there was so much being thrown at us constantly. The state of the world just seems to be this way now, and it’s learning to deal peacefully and effectively with our day to day stress and anxieties, and not letting them rule and ruin our lives. The end of a year is usually a time of reflection, and consideration of the future. I know I can only speak for myself here, but my reaction this year was to not dwell so much on my past, but to look forward to a new year full of exciting, unpredictable possibilities.
Before the year came to a close, I made a promise to myself to transition my way of thinking and my fears about moving forward with my work. Like most artists, I juggle multiple jobs to make ends meet, and my work must often take a backseat (as time allows.) The truth is - It’s all about priorities. I no longer wish to stress and overthink my projects and make the coming year happen for myself - NOT the other way around, where I walk around feeling like I’m letting the year happen to me, and reacting to it. Otherwise known as the creative pitfall of (getting in my own way.) The moment I truly committed to this new belief system and changed my way of thinking, I felt a lift which grows stronger with every new day. It’s been a powerful, healthy, and necessary shift (and one of the very reasons why I am now able to even write this blog.)
Having these optimistic feelings all poured into carving my last woodcut of 2017. This silly block I call “Full Speed Ahead” was the art for my final print exchange with my classmates, and a personal creative mantra for myself. A reminder of what I’m supposed to do when I start to feel overwhelmed… Put my helmet on, step on the gas, and GO!!! Ideally it means leaving my fears behind, and not overthinking the journey either. Easier said than done, but this print now stays on my inspiration board to remind me of the commitment. The art was completely inspired by my love of old children’s storybook illustrations, and made me chuckle the entire time I was carving it! Being a six color print, it was messy, but I had a blast (and I think my pals who received it enjoyed it too.)
Farewell 2017. Blessings and a happy creative new year ahead for us all to thrive in!
Earlier this Fall my fellow board members at Arts For Oakland Kids (AOK) asked me to design a limited edition print for our Winter Benevon community event which took place on December 3rd. A huge honor - but it was also an ambitious project to do while juggling my class work leading up to finals. I was up for the challenge to keep my mind focused on a positive and meaningful task after the fires. What we do at Arts For Oakland Kids is really exciting and continues to make a difference providing additional dollars to improve arts education in the hugely under-funded, and under-privileged Oakland school district. I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in Oakland, and for the last two years, I’ve served on the board of AOK. During this time it’s been rewarding and a great learning experience as a working artist in the East Bay to see first hand how raising grant money can benefit so many young creative lives who otherwise wouldn’t have access to art, theater or music classes because it’s just not in the school’s budget.
This task to produce a numbered edition by hand in a large quantity of 100 prints had its own set of challenges and learning curves. As a new woodblock student, I had to allow for unforeseen problems to occur. My first block didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to print, resulting in a second carved block, but everything worked out in the end. Toru and my classmates cheered me on through weeks of long hours spent in the print room juggling the project and my coursework, and then my Dad let me turn his billiard woodshop upside down Thanksgiving holiday weekend to print the 100 editions!
My vision for the print was to use primary colors to highlight unique symbolism within the Arts For Oakland Kids logo. Each 8” x 10” rainbow print is totally unique in color variation. The prints were released to our first 100 donors during our Winter Benevon event with any remaining prints up for grabs with any valued donation to AOKthrough our website. An average donation is around $35, but give any amount and you shall receive (while prints remain.) Your help to support this incredible non-profit organization will continue to fund more arts education grants to under-served children in the Oakland school districts in 2018. Your donation is 100% tax deductible.
Back in August, I had a chance to visit the “Summer of Love” show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco just before it closed. It was the 50th-anniversary celebration of the legendary summer of 1967 – A powerful time when artists and musicians converged on Haight & Ashbury creating a new colorful social movement within the city that reverberated throughout the rest of the world. I’ve grown up with stories about my Dad’s early hippie folk years in Golden Gate Park where he raised his little brothers, played the drums, attended shows, and was present for much of this time until he got called for active duty. Since he couldn’t be there with me to walk the show, you can bet I took a lot of pictures for him. My inner hippie was dumbstruck in front of all the rock poster memorabilia that was on display in one special room. It blew my mind. I had to drag myself out of there or become the wallpaper… Retro florals were everywhere, and the color vibrations were jumping off the walls. So when it came time to work on my first multi-block project, I was completely inspired to try my hand at carving some psychedelic flowers because they were still fresh in my mind. Icelandic poppies have always had a very personal meaning for me, and they are also a symbol of remembrance.
The project was to learn basic print registration. Carve block one, then offset block two - in the hopes that when I was done carving and printing both blocks, the pattern would register correctly creating a multi-color print. Carving a psychedelic pattern proved more difficult than I thought, but I liked the outcome depending on the colorway. The retro orange and chartreuse green was my favorite, but eventually, I ended up carving a third block by filling in the flowers with a more pop art appearance. This print was the most favored by my classmates. I tried hand printing this in three colorways - red, pink, and native orange. What’s awesome is that the blocks are versatile and I can keep trying new colorways with either print variation in small runs depending on my mood.