Act 2. Classes have begun and I have long days – Very long days ahead of me on campus. This semester I’ll be tackling more printmaking techniques (specifically monoprint) plus a few other new methods under Toru’s guidance.
Our theme this semester is “Crossing.” Our class is split between half monotype students and half etching students, but for our first intaglio assignment, we all started out together working on copper plates. Etching my first plate reminded me of working on a giant copper penny. I started thinking of those machines that make new tourist impressions on old coins. I just love those! I always wanted to draw the Golden Gate Bridge as though I was a tourist myself because I still do feel that way a lot. I’ve realized recently that it’s been 20 years since I took up residence in the Bay Area. Often I still feel like there’s so much I have yet to discover because there’s always more to see and do. With neighborhoods changing at such a rapid pace, many of my favorite haunts are now gone, but the bridge – She’s still there, as beautiful as ever.
I wanted my overall imagery to feel like an old postcard when printed. Working with the plate was challenging. Learning to burnish out scratches, and adding drypoint technique was hard on my hands. Yet printing an etched plate is flexible in the sense that once the plate is burned with the illustration, it allows the maker to ink the surface in many different ways. Essentially it’s playing with light and shadow and controlling your ink flow by wiping. I was able to try many variations which created a feeling of day to night and night into day. I could ink the waves choppy, or still, and even produce a rounded vignette appearance as though one were looking through a lens. Each and every print was slightly different from the next. It was the perfect introduction before beginning monotype to understand how manipulating the ink on a plate will produce such unique and varied results. This should be a very interesting semester.
California Masonic Memorial Temple Endomosaic Mural by Emile Norman
A perfect Winter day at the Legion of Honor…
A golden wall of Klimt <3
Portrait of a Lady
Portrait of Ria Munk III
Going guerrilla style
Experimental printmaking works by Jean Dubuffet
Veronica de Jesus Illustrations at BAM
Frankenthaler & Carrington <3 by Veronica de Jesus
Walker Evans at SFMOMA
Fisherman’s Shack by Walker Evans
Winter break meant I headed straight for the museums. It’s literally my favorite past time whenever I have any real downtime. Walking, thinking, journaling, sketching and keeping the creative flow going… It was just what I needed to do to catch my breath and recover from end of the year burn out before classes started up again. So many big shows, so little time. It’s been kind of amazing around here lately… The Klimt & Rodin show at the Legion of Honor took my breath away. The Walker Evans and Rauschenberg retrospectives at SFMOMA were stunning, and the brilliant Veronica De Jesus illustration tribute collection at the Berkeley Art Museum was super fun to see in person. I even had time to sneak into one of my all-time favorites - The Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa to see the Peanuts gang again. I also can’t shake the after-effects of seeing “Loving Vincent” at the movies… The world’s first fully painted feature film with so much to offer us about the possibility of what really happened to Vincent.
When life picks up, it’s such a bonus to have this special adventure time to reflect on when I’m feeling tired or short on inspiration. I find it more difficult to enjoy this kind of leisure once things get moving again - But one image, a journal entry, or a loose sketch can take me right back to that moment when I’m burning the midnight oil. Certainly one of the very best things about living in the Bay Area is having access to so many beautiful works of art. It’s hard sometimes not to take these masterpieces for granted. Shows go up and shows come down so fast. My advice - Treat yourself to a creative museum date whenever possible. Chances are you won’t regret it.
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.) Committing to this new belief system helps to change my way of thinking about my work. 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 I have to my work. The art was completely inspired by my love of old children’s storybook illustrations. 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. A huge honor - but also an ambitious project to do while juggling my classwork leading up to finals. I was up for the challenge to keep my mind off 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 fundraising 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. 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. These prints were released to our first 100 donors during our Winter Benevon event.
To learn more about what we do at Arts For Oakland Kids, and this incredible grassroots, non-profit AND how YOU too can make a difference – Check out our new PSA video where you can also see the process of how the print was made and get involved with us! With hope we will continue to fund more arts education grants to the Oakland school districts in 2018.
I had a chance to visit the “Summer of Love” show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco just before it closed in August. 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 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. 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! Retro florals were everywhere, and the color was vibrating 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. 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 the third block by filling in the flowers with a more pop art appearance. 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 and the season.