Sunday, November 16, 2014

After an extended period of planning and preparation (along with significant quantities of writing/busy work) I suddenly find myself with the time and resources to churn out a number of prints.

The first competed project was for the "Agritopia" portfolio which will be featured at the 2016 Southern Graphics Council Conference.  Addressing the topics surrounding contemporary farming practices and the global food chain, the portfolio involves a wide range of artists, many of whom have a connection to the midwest.  Having known about this project for a while, I started an image over the summer and worked out four layers on plates at the Tamarind Summer Workshop.  However, after battling with that piece for a long time, I finally gave it up and started over.  I'm much more satisfied with this piece, both aesthetically and conceptually.  A four-color lithograph on kitikata paper, the image will eventually be adhered to a larger sheet of white paper.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home improvement, Sciba-Price style!

It was love at first sight- as soon as we visited this house Sarah and I were confident it was the one for us.  A "four-square" style home, it is filled with beautiful original details, has three bedrooms, a spacious back yard, and located in a lovely historic neighborhood not too far from ISU and downtown Bloomington.  After closing we rapidly started the process of moving in and making some changes/improvements.  While everything was in pretty good shape, there were a lot of things to be done.  With only two weeks before I left for the Tamarind Institute summer workshop, we really had to prioritize what we could best afford to do with our time and money.  The room that most offended me was the kitchen, which was painted a rather drab beige color and sported this weird grapevine wallpaper trim.  Sarah was most bothered by the lavender bathroom outfitted with wooden wall fixtures.   


For the bathroom we went with our very first color sample- a light seafoam green.  We had a room-painting party, playing music and working together to repaint the entire room.  The color was a big improvement, and we replaced the moldy wooden towel racks and toilet paper holder with some nice metal ones.  The final aesthetic touch was Sarah’s touchup staining of the cabinets which transformed them amazingly.  Where the bathtub met the tiled walls had been very poorly sealed with a calk tape and I peeled that away, cleaned out the mold and grime that had accumulated behind it, and ran a nice bead of calk around the tub.  After replacing the old crummy shower head and some serious cleaning efforts from Sarah we were all set!  The work served not only to brighten the space, but also made the room feel like it was fresh, clean, and all our own.


First step in the kitchen was stripping off the wallpaper.  In the process of doing this I found there was an area of damage to the wall and some chunks of plaster were removed.  This section of wall was the original lath and plaster so I got the correct type of spackle and repaired all the damage.  


A challenge of picking a color came from the fact that the cabinets are creamy white and the counter is somewhat lavender in color.  We wanted to brighten the space but found that lighter colors were too similar to the floor and cabinets while a number of colors clashed with the counter.  Although first thinking of something in more of a peach color we auditioned a progressively deeper colors until finally settling on a warm red.  While Sarah worked on some deep cleaning of the upstairs, I went into a painting frenzy, completing the whole room in the evening.  Once we hung some clean curtains and decorated the space, our new kitchen was complete.  Eventually we would like to have glass fronted cabinets to show off our beautiful collection of dishes, but for the moment we are quite pleased.

The rest of the house is taking shape pretty well, I unpacked my stuff in a bit of a frenzy, leaving some rooms a bit less photogenic.  Sarah did a lovely job of arranging the dining room and sunroom, although the enamel-topped table has been replaced by a round wooden dinner table.

More pictures to come once I return and finish some cleaning/tidying.  While I'm away Sarah has been doing some serious work on the yard/garden areas and picked up a few more items to spruce up the place so that will be a fun improvement to see when I get home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Mis) Adventures in Lithography

With home ownership and a workshop looming in the very near future, I anticipate this will be the last print I pull in Bloomington before school recommences.  This image is part of an ongoing series and the first two pieces went quite smoothly.  However, just when I thought it was smooth sailing, I ran into this ugly fellow.  The key layer started off pretty well...

but I couldn't leave well enough alone and kept futzing around until I over-worked the drawing.  Plus I slightly under-etched it in the processing stage, so the end result was definitely darker than I had initially intended.  While not so bad in itself, it took on a significantly different mood than the others in the series.  I also waged an ongoing battle with the dark areas filling in and had to modify my ink a couple of times and re-etch the stone half way through the edition.

The image on the left is filled in while the right image shows the correctly printed piece.

Oh well, printing always has a way of keeping me humble.  I think as the series progresses that this image will still has a place but it will sit at the further end of the dark spectrum.  Tomorrow I'll print its border and savor the process of graining this particular image off the stone.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Adventures in Lithography

With the move into our new home rapidly approaching and much of July to be spent at the aluminum plate litho workshop at the Tamarind Institute, I am taking advantage of these precious early days of June to work on some of my own prints.  As my first foray into the world of blogging coincides with the preparations to print a new layer, I thought I would briefly illustrate the steps of making a lithograph.

I started work on a couple of images knowing that I wanted eventually to give them a decorative border.  This week I set out to complete this design.  It took a surprising amount of tweaking and revising before I finally settled on a satisfactory pattern.  After tracing the drawing onto a litho stone (smoothly grained limestone) I drew out the pattern with a greasy ink (autographic ink).

The piece of wood on the left is a homemade bridge to keep my greasy little hands from resting on the stone surface.  Since the stone holds grease at this point, finger/hand prints will soak in and eventually print.

Once the image was complete, I applied rosin and talc to protect the drawing and then smeared a mixture of gum arabic and nitric acid over the surface.  The gum and acid convert the limestone into a grease-resistant, water absorbent layer while concurrently reacting with the drawing to release grease into the stone, creating a water-rejecting grease-absorbing area.

Although the physical appearance of the stone doesn't really change dramatically, this is when the real magic takes place.  The gum/acid mix are stirred up, moved over the surface with a small sponge, and buffed smoothly across the surface with bundled cheesecloth.  At this point the surface is "closed" and is no longer receptive to grease.

After waiting for a bit, the drawing is stripped away using lithotine and a layer of asphaltum is smeared across the surface.  The gum is washed away and ink is rolled across the moistened surface, adhering to the greasy spots (the image) and leaving the non-image area clean.

No matter how many times I do this, the moment of seeing the image reappear on the stone is always a bit magical.  When the image is fully inked a second etch is applied, then it is off to print!

For the printing process these steps are repeated- the image is washed out with lithotine, asphaltum is smeared in, the gum layer washed away with water, and ink is rolled onto the surface.

Once the image is fully inked a piece of paper and a greased tympan are placed on top, the stone is cranked through the press and the image is transferred to the paper.

The border adds the final touch to the prints and I was really pleased with how it all turned out.  I'm saving this stone so I can utilize this border on each print in the series.

Hopeless Heroes (Cain)  7.5"x10"                               Hopeless Heroes (Jr) 7.5"x10"