I had been threatening to do a printmaking demo for Art & Faith and finally decided to follow-through. I’ve recently met 2 printmakers who specialize in reduction prints and they have been especially encouraging. Angie Coleman of Taos, NM has a wonderful gallery at 117A Kit Carson Street. She was busy pulling prints a few weeks back in late February when I stopped in but took a few minutes to answer some questions. More of Angie’s work at AngieColemanFineArts.com. Back in October, Terri and I visited Portsmouth NH on our recent visit to New England to take in the wonderful fall foliage. We happened upon the studio gallery of Don Gorvett’s Piscataqua Fine Arts Studio and Gallery. Don was out of town, but Alex deConstant showed us around. More at DonGorvettGallery.com.
This inspired me to take the plunge in reduction printmaking and so with after lots of questions and tutorials from Angie and Don, I got started.
The plan for this linocut print is 8 different colors and I demo’d color #3. The subject matter is a great little adobe church in Talpa, NM (near Taos) called San Juan de los Lagos . When I arrived, I was immediately met by a greeting party of 3 very serious and worried dogs. I put on my best serious face and tried to ignore them. One of them graciously agreed to set himself up on the side ledge of the church and is in all my pictures, so the plan is to include him in the final work.
I pulled 3 prints at the demo and finished the rest when I got home. The full run is currently at 24 prints.
Thanks to Wendee Van Order for taking the great pics.
Art & Faith met Saturday evening and as usual shared a wonderful meal and caught up on recent life events. We also discussed the meaning of Jesus’ scribbling in the sand and response to the woman caught in adultery and we prayed together.
Denise Hohulin gave a wonderful and unique photographic presentation on The Texture of Light. She passed around a number of photos that were so interesting. I had been looking forward for some time to see how she set these up. Denise only uses a few hand held lamps, or an open window to let in the sun for the light source. Then she uses a number of glass vases, champagne glasses, bowls and other objects to get these shots. She showed us how to manipulate the light source and the glass vessels to achieve some remarkable patterns and textured surfaces layered on textured surfaces. .
It was interesting to see how the smallest, most infinitesimal movement in the glass led to completely different and unexpected patterns. We played around and came up with some novel approaches to creating textured shadows on surfaces and walls. It was also fun to imagine an exhibition of light, darkness and shadows and what might be required to make it work. Most of all we gained a bit of insight into Denise’s creative mindset and catch up with her latest work.
Art & Faith was at the UTA Glassblowing Hotshop last Saturday evening. We received a very special invitation to watch Jon Reed and friends do what they do with hot glass. They stretched, formed, textured, blew, shaped, and reheated their glass countless times. The results were 3 gorgeous vessel created from initial blobs of molten glass.
Watching glass blowers is better than a movie. It’s a live performance with suspense, plot, drama, choreography, and great characterization. The final reveal can be shocking. We were privileged to watch 3 artists at different stages in their craft form and blow glass. When one artist was on point, the other two were busy helping behind the scenes with numerous tasks. I’ve watched videos of glassblowing before but did not appreciate the many activities that were happening “off-screen” which were vital to the success of the project. It is definitely a team sport.
Then we enjoyed some excellent pizza at Old School Pizza and Suds which is its own form of team sport.
I’ve enjoyed the piano work of Thelonious Monk, but didn’t know a lot about his life and relationships. Geoff Dyer’s But Beautiful is a book about some of my favorite jazz players, and there’s a great chapter on Thelonious and his wife Nellie. The insight into his work and their relationship from this chapter alone are worth the read.
After Thelonious was arrested for heroin possession, (he takes the rap for his friend Bud Powell) he was barred from working in New York City. But this was his city and he didn’t want to leave.
The un-years was what Nellie called them. They came to an end when he was offered a residency at the 5-Spot for as long as he wanted, as long as people wanted to see him. Nellie came most nights. When she wasn’t there he got restless, tense, pausing for an extra-long time between numbers. Sometimes, in the middle of a song, he called home to see how she was, grunting, making noises into the phone that she understood as a tender melody of affection. He’d leave the phone off the hook and go back to the piano so she could hear what he was playing for her, getting up again at the end of the song, putting another coin in.
– Still there Nellie?
– It’s beautiful, Thelonious.
– Yeuh, yeuh. Staring at the phone like he was holding something very ordinary in his hand.
This connection between Thelonious and Nellie, the artist and the one who enables the art, is powerful. Thelonious had to share his most intimate creative thoughts, first and foremost, with Nellie. Much of the chapter is about Thelonious absorbed in his music and playing it primarily for the pure action of playing it. To play was what he needed to do. But, clearly, he also needed to share with Nellie. So beautiful. This next passage is more about Nellie’s view of Thelonious.
There were times when Nellie looked at him and wanted to cry, not because she pitied him, but because she knew one day he would die and there was no one else like him in the world.
Wow! What a powerful vision: to know that the person you spend time with is such an amazing and unique creation. I suspect that each of us has the same opportunity to be amazed at someone close to us and see their extraordinary uniqueness. We know we are blessed because God has given us time with this person. They are like none other and the world will be a lesser place when they are gone.
Art & Faith met recently for black powder night. Okay, we didn’t actually use real black powder. That stuff is even more dangerous than what we used, which was synthetic black powder from the local sporting goods store. Even so, it’s incredibly difficult to find. Gun stores don’t carry it. I called 16 gun stores in the southern Dallas cities looking for any kind of synthetic black powder. Only one thought she might have some in a warehouse if I could wait a week. I couldn’t, since it was already Friday, and we had Art & Faith that Saturday evening.
So, we finally located the synthetic black powder – thanks to Veronica. She’s one of our artists and she loves to use black powder in her artwork. It’s always handy to be friends with women who know exactly where to get black powder!
It is very therapeutic to use fire. This technique uses fire to draw. It felt primal, and earthy, and good. Plus, there are some real meditative moments when you carefully shape and shift the powder on the board before lighting it up. There are lots of videos online of folks making amazing drawings with black powder. Watch them for inspiration. But, it is definitely a whole lot more fun to do it yourself. Whatever you do, don’t use the actual black powder if you happen to find any. My friend Jason, who has done a lot of black powder shooting, tells me that it is very, very dangerous. What we used was not so much. But, it’s still fire. And it’s still cool. Some day I’ll go back and finish the self-portrait. But, we had a great time and made some great memories.
As always, be safe. Don’t ever do this indoors. Always wear protective eye-wear and gloves!!!
The Confessor (self-portrait)
Oil on canvas,
30″ x 24″
This is my entry into this year’s Southwest Dallas Arts Festival which had the theme “Healed!”. In connection with spiritual and physical health and healing, I’ve been thinking about James 5, especially the two “one another’s” in verse 16. This seems to me to be encouraging confession among all of us “one another’s” as opposed to confession to a priestly class. This work was made thinking about that idea.
The Confessor and The Listener
Both Oil on canvas
Both 30″ x 24″
The painting on the left is a self-portrait, painted in late April. The painting on the right is my friend Paul and was finished around 20 years ago. I keep some of my older paintings in the stairwell in our home, so I see them every time I go up or down, which is many times a day. I have great memories of painting “Paul”, because my first art teacher and mentor was very enthusiastic about the unusual composition and how it turned out.
I think that Paul is listening to something that is very troubling. I imagine him to be on the receiving end of a confession, so he’s a perfect “Listener”, to my “Confessor”. That’s why I hung the 2 paintings in the festival exactly like this. It was also interesting since they were done so far apart. They are speaking to each other in a spiritual way (confession), but also across a couple of decades. The painting of me turned out pretty intense. I seem to be staring down my friend Paul, daring him to respond to my confession. But after I finished I reflected that confession itself, to our chosen “one another“, is a very intense and frightening idea. Perhaps the withering glare is somehow appropriate.
Artists need encouragement. One of the things I appreciate most about my artist friends in Art & Faith is how encouraging they are to each other and me personally. One of my favorite evenings is show-n-tell where we bring works that are in progress or possibly finished and get a group critique. I come away from these evenings incredibly encouraged and ready to take my next piece to the next level, or at least finish the piece I’m currently working on! It’s the thoughtful comments, and the creative insight that makes a huge difference in my working habits and my work.