Annual “Girls Go” Gathering

Every year I get together with my sisters and mom for a long weekend. We hang out, eat chocolate, make art, talk, drink wine talk some more, drink coffee and tea, play games, walk, hike, and cook. Oh, and we eat some other things too. Not just chocolate. ūüėČ

Our Girls Go gatherings have been a wonderful way for me — and I think for all of us — to become closer as adults. I live so far away from the rest of the family and I really appreciate our relaxed sister-bonding yearly retreats. There are 5 of us sisters and two sisters in law who are as much part of the family as any of us. And of course, our mom, Pat.

This year we spent almost 4 whole days on Vancouver Island, near where two sisters and mom live year round. We found a great vacation rental house right on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria and Sidney. Right on the ocean. Oh joy!

Mom is moving into a retirement community next month, and she has always loved having a handmade decoration on her front door. As our art project this time, we made some decorations for her new apartment door. We collaborated on four, one for each season. She likes birds so we went with a bird-ish theme. Mom loves them!

We also visited one of my favorite 1+1=1 Gallery artists, Sarah Magar, in her home and studio. Sarah lives with her husband in a sweet little house smack on the open west coast of Vancouver Island — in the teensy town of Sooke. Her ceramic studio is literally about 4 steps from the kitchen door and looks out on the broody moody glorious ocean. Check out a few peeks of Sarah’s home and studio below. When I have time I am planning to write an article about Sarah on our gallery website. She’ll be our next featured artist.

On the way back to Helena, we stayed overnight at a friend’s house, then spent a few hours visiting the Pratt printmaking studio in Seattle. That is like letting me into a candy store! The creativity, diversity, enthusiasm and delight from all of the printmakers working in the studio was thick! I’ll write another post just about the Pratt studio and those amazing artists. Watch for it.

Kids Creativity Sesh: printmaking

Monoprint by Ema Terry

Our kids creativity seshes for the last couple of weeks were about making monoprints with some different techniques and a small tabletop press.

The first week, we made monoprint plates with drypoint etching on plexi. After learning how to ink the plates and wipe them (leaving the ink only in the scratched lines) we added other ink colors and made painterly marks in the ink layer.

Monoprint by Ema
Monoprint by Ema

When the inked plates were ready, some of us added flat objects on top, like paper cutouts and pressed leaves or flowers to create collagraphs. The objects we put on top of the inked plates, left white areas on the monoprints (see the grasses on the print below.)

Monoprint "Blue Jay 2" by Maureen
Monoprint “Blue Jay 2” by Maureen

We used really good quality cotton rag paper soaked for a few minutes in water, then pressed dry. Then we ran our printing plates through the small press with the paper on top.

Monoprint by Adia
Monoprint by Adia

Here are some of the different drypoint monoprints we made. You can see that one etching plate is used to make many different designs. That’s why they are called mono prints.

 

Okay, so the next week we made two other kinds of printing plates.

No boring stuff in these kids creativity sessions!

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This time we didn’t scratch the designs into the plates. The first¬†type of plate we made was a collagraph printing plate. You make these by gluing different things to a heavy cardboard surface¬†to create textures. Then we coated the plates (objects and all) with a sealer and waited for them to be totally dry. The sealer keeps the ink from soaking into the cardboard and other objects we used to create out designs. Some kids used corrugated cardboard, stencils, grid fabric and paper cutouts to cover their cardboard almost totally with textures. Other kids left a lot of empty space on their cardboard plates and just made marks on them with ink and different tools such as their fingers, cotton swabs, brushes and rags.

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Monoprint by Lily
Monoprint by Silas
Monoprint by Silas

We tried using corn meal sprinkled onto area where we had painted glue. This worked pretty well to make a very different texture. In the blue monoprint (below) made by Jasmine, you can see the cornmeal in the sky. She wanted to show flower pollen blowing in the wind. In the black and white monoprint (above) by Silas, you can see very lightly sprinkled cornmeal made a cool texture near the top of his composition.

Monoprint by Jasmine
Monoprint by Jasmine

The other kind of plate we made the second week was plexiglass with hot wax applied to it by brushing and dripping. Then we carved designs into the wax with tools. The wax was easier to draw into than last week when we had to scratch with sharp tools into the hard plexiglass. We inked up the wax plates and ran them through the press with paper. Those came out kinda cool. Here are some examples of the waxed monoprints:

We hope you enjoyed seeing the results of our hard work and fun play in Maureen’s art classes. Most of these prints will be framed and on display in October when we have our 2nd Annual Young Voices art exhibit at 1+1=1 Gallery in Helena. Watch for news about that show! We’re all excited about it.

~ The Artful Kids of Kids Creativity Seshes

Threads of Continuity

IMG_1259Every time I begin working on a new series, I have mixed feelings. Being held by what I’ve already started mixed with being¬†impelled by what I want to do next.¬†Melancholy mixed with excitement. Curiosity mixed with¬†worry. Delight mixed with feeling vulnerable. ¬†Do you ever feel that way when you start something new?

I haven’t yet exhausted my last series (The Mother Tree work) but I’m ready to keep growing and moving forward. I think to myself “I’ll go back to the Mother Tree or the Salmon Forest or the Ecology of the Unconscious.” Will I? Probably not — right now I’m exploring a new(ish) medium for me. My current¬†mixed media¬†pieces have a new look — still mine, but I think better.¬†I love experimenting with materials, exploring different ways of putting marks on a surface, and new ways to express what wants to come out of me.

So, one of the questions I ask myself as I embark on a new series is, how does this have anything to do with the work I recently completed? Where is the thread of continuity between those other series and this one? ¬†I’ve been playing with printmaking for several¬†years (in the big picture, that’s not long at all) and have barely started incorporating¬†collagraphs, monoprints and relief printing into my mixed media paintings. Here are a couple of pieces that have some of my prints as part of the composition:

Right now, I’m playing with a small tabletop press (wishing it were alot larger.) I’m trying out techniques that are new to me, but fit my style and objectives perfectly. Chine colle¬ī is a way to use some of the¬†paper scraps —¬†prints, studies, watercolors, paintings and collage papers I’ve saved. I’m using the¬†old textbooks and readers that have become familiar in my artwork, incorporating childhood motifs along with fish, birds and the occasional nuclear bomb or tree. My personal¬†vocabulary of marks and shapes continues in my new pieces — spirals, circles, spheres, peculiar cross hatching, jabs, roots, geometric shapes and voluptuous strokes. And of course, I’m always passionate about Nature and that’s prominent in my new work: leaves, branches, grasses and other botanical images; water, waves, currents, raindrops; and animals both large and microscopic.

I’m curious to see where I go. That’s a great motivator. I’ll post more when I get something I like enough to say, “This is what I’m doing for the next show.” In the meantime, it’s just a direction.

Our First Snow Changes my Palette

snow on branches

snow on branches

I woke up this morning to a deep quiet outside my window. The window was open a few inches (I like sleeping with cold air on my face.) Most mornings, even as late as yesterday morning, I awake to the chatter of tiny songbirds in the lilacs just outside. This morning all was silent.

Abstract

I looked up at the sky. Gray-blue. Little humps of snow covered the lilacs. Soft. Bare of leaves. And oh — the branches! The black brush stroke branches against a¬†hundred shades of white snow! ¬†I knew my palette was going to change overnight. Just. Like. That. At least for one or two paintings. Black and white. Simple. Distilled to the essence of pattern. Calligraphic strokes against a pale plain sky.