September 1st already?!

Here it is, September 1st.  I had the very ambitious goal of completing two prints between August 4th and, well, today.  Sadly, I didn't meet my goal, but I got half way there; I managed to finish up the first one today.  Just a few hours ago as a matter of fact.  In spite of my planning, I took a couple of wrong turns while working on this print and needed some time to ponder and panic and gnash my teeth.  Eventually I found a way out of the mess I'd made and I think in the long run it all worked out for the best.  Here are a few photos of the progression, starting where my last post left off. The final version of the print will show up on my website soon.
After laying down the sky I added a skin tone and blocked out the dress shape.
A few more additions including that garish yellow. To tone down the yellow I added a strong neutral to the suitcases. This is when things started to get away from me.
Here is where the print sat for over a week while I pondered how to make some sense out of the bottom half of this image.  Everything seemed all too flat and not very interesting.
While this is not the final print, it is close.  I am happy with the addition of the cityscape and have added a few more details here and there.
Here are all the stencils I used, (most, more than once!) to complete this print.
I'm glad to have this one done.  I'm also glad that I walked away from it for a few days to let a some ideas bubble up.  It didn't turn out as I had envisioned it, but it did turn out better than I thought it would.
How did I spend my time while taking a break from the above print?  Why, doodling and sketching of course!  Lots of little drawings like this:

Next up, a woodblock print using the Japanese water-based technique moku hanga.  I'd like to have the blocks carved by this time next week.  Ready, set, go!


Ready, Set, Go!

Last weekend, while the rest of Seattle was enjoying the sunshine, the hydroplane races and performances by the Blue Angels I was leading a two day mokuhanga workshop.  It was a small but mighty group of eager students.  It was a happy coincidence that I had interacted with each of them at some point in the past which made for a fun and friendly learning atmosphere and I was so very impressed with how quickly they grasped the concepts and how accurately they cut their kentos, especially since this was their first go at mokuhanga.  Take a look...

Nancy mixing paint and nori on her block.

Mara proofing colors for her final print.

Janine printing her block.

 Nancy's final print.  Nancy is an art teacher and insisted on giving me an imperfect print
so others can learn from her mistake.  Sheesh.

Mara's final print.  Such intricate registration for her first go at mokuhanga!

Janine's final print.  I believe Janine is a natural.

After leading a workshop I was eager to get into my studio and start some work of my own. This week I made sketches and prepped blocks for two new prints, (one reduction, one mokuhanga) with a goal to complete them both by Labor Day.  Ready, set, go!

Yesterday I carved and today I ran the first color.


Saturday Sketch

I managed to plan out the first six and half months of this year quite thoroughly; practically down to the minute.  Now with all my traveling behind me, some specific studio goals met, and my home projects largely completed I am sort of slogging about.  Time to set some new goals and create a new to-do list!  First on that list, resume posting a Saturday sketch. 
 Swimmers ear

Without a lengthy to-d list I feel as though a part of me is missing


Summer in my studio

Since my last post I've traveled across the globe to China and have taken a second trip to Michigan.  I'll be making a third trip to my home state soon.  In between all my jet setting I've been working and in that work, looking for a path leading me to what's next.  My way forward is still murky, (I do tend to be somewhat of a 'plodder') but I'm pleased with the work that I've managed to pull off during this busy and ambiguous time.

My work table.  I manage to fill every inch available to me when I work.
Two blocks ready for Secret Messages
Hanging on to my stencils just in case I need them again.
On the drying rack.
A stencil for Uptown Girl 1
More stencils for Uptown Girl 1
Another edition on the drying rack.
Finally a mokuhanga print that won't end up in the rubbish bin.


Ladies about town

I recently returned from a visit to Michigan.  There I hung out with my mum while my dad was off on an annual golf outing.  Mom and I were ladies about town.  Some highlights of our gallivanting include, going out for lunch, (more than once!) perusing local antique shops, and visiting the art museum.  Each time I visit we spend an afternoon at the Flint Institute of Arts.  I know I've said this before, but it really is a very nice museum.  They offer up interesting exhibits and have a fine permanent collection with some sparkling highlights, (such as their WALLS of glass paperweights! Love!).  Prior to my visit there had been quite a bit of chatter on my Facebook feed about the gender gap in art galleries and museums, sparked, in part by this article.  So I decided to take do a little impromptu tally of the FIA.  I'm not a numbers gal, but I would guess that the ratio of men to women artists exhibited was 10 to 1, (maybe less).  How unfortunate.  There are a number of big names in their collection...Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Deborah well as other lesser known women artists, a few of whom to which I'd like to give a shout-out.

 Letta Crapo Smith 
The First Birthday, aka, Premiere Fete, 1904

Letta Crapo Smith was a Michigan native, granddaughter of the state's first governor, and with this painting she became the first Michigan woman to exhibit at the Paris Salon. With this work she was also awarded a Bronze Medal at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.  Go Letta!

 Elisabetta Siriani
Cleopatra, 1638
As a woman, Elisabetta Siriani was prohibited from attending the Royal Academy.  Instead she apprenticed under her father, Giovanni Andrea Siriani, assisted to the noted Baroque painter Guido Reni, and became a professional artist at the age of 17. She was one of a small number of women to attain status during the Baroque period and created over 200 paintings before her premature death at the age of 27.  Elisabetta, you rock.

Clara Deike
Westside Cleveland, 1943
Clara Dieke demonstrated the commitment and tenacity demonstrated by so many artists, women and men alike.  She earned a degree in education and then went on to attend The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  For over 40 years she successfully performed the day job/studio dance, teaching art in the Cleveland public schools and exhibiting her work annually. Hey Clara, you go girl!

One thing I noticed in my unscientific tally of the FIA, is that there was only one living woman artist exhibited in their collection; Deborah Butterfield.  Come on FIA, on so many levels, you can do better than that! 

Also while in Michigan I visited Pewabic Pottery.  Holy smokes, I can't believe I had never heard of this place until is a treasure!  Pewabic Pottery, the Midwest's only historic pottery, was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry and her business partner, Horace Caulkins.   Under Ms. Chase Perry's direction the pottery produced nationally renowned vessels, tiles, and architectural ornamentation for both private and public installations.  Work from Pewabic can be found throughout the United States.  The pottery is renowned for its iridescent (and mind blowing) glazes. 

Mary Chase Perry (later Mary Chase Perry Stratton) was a dynamic and ambitious woman.  Her story is worth reading.  And, if you, dear reader, ever find yourself in Detroit, I highly recommend a visit to this place.  More than just a National Historic Landmark, Pewabic Pottery is an active and growing institution, offering education, lectures, residency programs; producing heirloom quality tiles and vessels; and showcasing the work of established and emerging artists.  I said it before and I'll say it again, this place is a TREASURE!  It makes me want to throw some pots!   Yay for you and your enduring legacy, Mary Chase Perry! 

And holla! to all you female artists out there continuing to make awesome work in spite of the obvious inequalities and biases present in today's art world.    Each and everyone of you are beautiful and badass.


Moku Hanga follow up

Last weekend I taught my first ever moku hanga workshop.  There was a lot of information to pack into the weekend and at times I worried that the heads of my poor charges would surely explode.  I wish the workshop could have been three days instead of two, but, even so, I  think my students got a good handle on this technique. One of my students wrote a wonderful blog post about her experience and the process, (if I'm ever sick she could easily take over teaching the workshop for me!).  You can read her post here. It's got pictures and everything!  I've included a few pictures below too.



For many years now I have played with this idea/image, and finally, at long last, my thoughts and doodles have made it to paper.  Faith, Hope and Charity is accompli!  It will now be stashed away, out of sight, and I'll not look at it for a few weeks.  We need a little time apart.

In addition to finishing up the above print, I've been preparing to teach a moku hanga first time teaching this technique.  There is just SO much to pack in to a two day workshop and I fear my poor little 'guinea pigs' will be overwhelmed.  More later.


First Day of Spring

As I sat down at my work table this morning I couldn't help but think of my friend Laura, who passed from this life on the first day of spring, one year ago today.  Laura was one of the most spirited people I've ever known.  She introduced me to a whole new level of wackiness and many of our antics I still embrace today.  I've even passed a few of them along to my children!  She was in service to her family and was a devoted daughter, sister, partner and, most especially, mother. Our lives took us to very different corners of the country, but we remained true and loyal friends.  I love her and I miss her.  And not to get all woo woo or anything, there have been a couple of times in the past year that I've felt her presence acutely, (and I hope I do again!).  Laura, like me, was a mitten girl at heart but she became my yellow rose of Texas.
I miss you darlin'
see you later.


Public speaking has never been my favorite thing to do, but in the spirit of saying YES more, (and no less) I agreed to give a short talk and demo to three groups of high school students at the Art Career Day, hosted by the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington.  Most of last week I wrote and rewrote my talk and I practiced, practiced, practiced.  What I really wanted to do was go back in time and say NO, or come down with a nasty flu. But on Friday morning I loaded blocks and prints and my stack of note cards into my car and drove myself to Bellingham.  In spite of my jittery nervousness, I can happily report that everything went very well...not too many stoney stares, only one student walked out, (I choose to believe he wandered into the wrong presentation) and I even got a 'thank you' or two.

This week I've been preparing for the moku hanga workshop that I'll be leading at the end of the month. There is so much information I'll need to pack-in to the weekend so in a repeat of last week I am rewriting and reworking my syllabus and practicing, practicing practicing. 

Here's the state of my current print.   I thought I was just about ready to finish it up, but then two little polka dots caught my eye and I do love polka dots.  So now I'm wondering if a few more polka dots are needed?
 And with the vernal equinox just two days away, here is a sketch to welcome the return of longer days.


Last weekend I escaped from the lowlands and got a taste of what my east coast family is experiencing this winter.  With my fabulously fun book group I headed up to Holden Village, a former copper mining village now turned retreat center.  The weekend was riotously fun and radically snowy.  Over 20" of snow fell while we were there. (I'm pretty sure there was eleventy hundred inches of snow on the ground already.) All that snow made for some mighty good sledding,  and more than a few wistful gazes out the window, marveling at the beauty of a snowfall. I'm betting it wouldn't be quite so lovely if I was in residence at the village all winter long.  I was told that often times snow remains on the ground at Holden, well into June.  It was fun while it lasted and a bit strange to come home to buds on my trees and spring flowers popping up in my front yard.
I also came home with a bit of a head cold but still managed to put in some studio time this week. My latest print is sporting a few more colors. Put on your sunglasses, it's bright!  I'm using two blocks for this one and reducing them both.  Now that I have more color on the paper I can start adding details, (and toning it down a bit). 
And, since it's Saturday, here's a sketch...

That's all for now.


Lino-cut Workshop Follow-up

Last weekend I led a basic lino-cut workshop at the Schack Art Center, and once again I was inspired and impressed by what the participants accomplished in such a short time.  Here's the result of their hard work:

Michelle managed to cut three blocks and printed this three color lino-cut with spot-on registration.

Susan printed a one color print, in a variety of colors and on a variety of papers.  She plans to use this print as her 2014 Christmas card!?!

Lisa used two blocks and stencils for her print of Mt. Si.  This was Lisa's first lino-cut.

Peter used one block, three stencils and a bit of reduction to create to print this, his first-every lino-cut print.

Somewhere, hidden in one of my many piles of paper, is the print I made at my first lino-cut weekend's a one-color print of a donut.  At the end of the first day of this past weekend, I thought about seeking out the donut print to show my students, you know, to provide some comparison and give them some confidence.  At the end of the workshop I was very glad I didn't follow through on this idea, as I would have been mortified comparing my donut to the proficient prints displayed above.


Tomorrow I'm off to lead a two-day workshop in basic lino-cut printing.  I enjoy leading workshops but usually work myself into a tizzy, (an expression my mother always used) beforehand; rewriting my syllabus, checking my lists, battling self doubt.  This time around has been no different.  I will be leading two additional workshops in the next month so I may be residing in 'tizzy-ville' for the next few weeks.  In addition to tomorrow's lino-cut workshop, I'll also be leading a workshop in one-block reduction woodcuts and another in moku hanga, (the Japanese waterbased printmaking method).  It will be my first time leading a moku hanga workshop and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it; more nervous than I am normally, that is.  I'll start worrying about that, full-force, on Monday. 
In the midst of all my workshop preparation I've also begun a new print.  I'm planning to work on it during the in-between moments of my upcoming month.  It's a two-block reduction, (my favorite way to print) and right now it's looking rather pink.  I'll need to do a bit of carving before the next layer of color.
In lieu of a sketch, this week I'm posting a funny little collage.  While cleaning out a drawer a few days ago, I came across a stack of paper circles.  I had cut these circles a couple of years ago for a Christmas ornament idea that didn't pan out.  I started rearranging the circles and found this assemblage amusing.
There was a nice post about Chuck Close and his work ethic on Brain Pickings this week.  He says a lot of things but this is one of my favorites:
Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.

That's all for now.


Saturday Sketch

One storm blowing in off the Pacific today, another one tomorrow.   It's a good day to stay indoors and think about spring.


Zandra is a kindred spirit!

Oh, Zandra Rhodes I like your philosophy about, and approach to sketchbooks!  Start at page one and work your way through to the end of the book! Draw everyday, even if you don't want to! Use your sketchbook as the best kind of resource material!  I even sort of agree with her on saving every single (stinkin') drawing, although I have been known to tear out a page or two...I mean, who wants to live forever with something that makes you feel cross or ashamed?  Watch this video, she's a jem, and I'm not just talkin' about her fabulous pink hair!


Happy Year of the Horse

Happy lunar new year!  It's the year of the Wooden Horse.  From all I've read, Horse energy is brave and  bold.  The time for pondering and planning is oh so last year, (2013 was the year of the Snake).  This is  the year to act... close your eyes and take a leap, launch a business, travel the world, buy that pony you never got for Christmas!!  If it’s right, then there’s nothing to think about; just do it. It's a time for trusting our instincts. And if you have your doubts, remember what Oprah says, 'if you are on the right path, the universe rises up to meet you.  
I'm taking these suggestions to heart and, pardon the pun, am boldly getting back on my blog horse!  Today I resume my long neglected weekly post entitled Saturday Sketch. Who knows, maybe with all the bold horsey energy floating around,  I'll add a Sunday Scribble and a Friday Figure to my line up!
Recently, a couple of people asked me a couple of questions about my sketches...How long does it take to do a sketch, and, do I draw straightaway with my pens or use a pencil first?  Both questions can be answered with a word or two:  Just a few minutes or hours, and sometimes yes and sometimes no.  Let me explain.  I try to draw every single day.  Most times I pick up my pen without any preconceived image in mind; I let my hand do the thinking and within a few minutes I have sketch that seems to have 'magically' appeared and often leaves me asking myself, where the heck did that come from?  Other times, like with the drawing above, I had an image in mind and needed to do a little thinking.  I mean, how many people can really draw a horse???  I gathered some photo reference, hit upon a composition and used a pencil to block out the shapes.  After the basic shapes were in order I used my pen to draw the finished image and later popped the image into Photoshop to add the festive red background.  The above did not magically appear, it was much more intentional. For me one kind of sketch isn't better than the other; spontaneous or premeditated, both are good!  I truly believe the the sketchbook is a 'most necessary' tool for the creative process. My current sketchbook entries are more inventive, but I have scads that were used solely to document the world I observed around me.  IMO, both approaches are good for the hand and good for the brain.  The most important thing is to keep sketching!


Ink Stomp revisited

Hot off the presses! Here's short but wonderful video, documenting the Ink Stomp event that took place at the Schack Art Center last October. The beautiful prints created by these young people are now on display at Columbia City Gallery. A reception is scheduled for Saturday, January 18th, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. I'll be there, hope you will too!

Ink Stomp 2013 from Annie Mulligan on Vimeo.



On moving forward...
A wish:
May Light always surround you:
Hope kindle and rebound you
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.
D. Simone

A plan:
Make New Year's goals. Dig within and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part.  It is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the year to come.
Goals give us direction.  They  put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious and subconscious level.  Goals give our life direction.
What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?
What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?
What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen n your career?
Write it down! Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time and write it all down - as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose.  Then let it go.
The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.  We can help to write that story by setting goals.
Melody Beattie

And some fun:
I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment in order to ease your hangover.  I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second.
Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones's Diary

Or maybe on January the fourth?