Image above: hidden/revealed, acrylic & ink on aluminum, 17.5 x 23.5 inches

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Three Cornered World

Been reading this book, The Three Cornered World by Natsume Soseki, 1906.

It starts off with:

"Going up a mountain track, I fell to thinking.
Approach everything rationally, and you become harsh.  Pole along in a stream of emotions, and you will become swept away by the current.  Give free rein to your desires, and you will become uncomfortably confined.  It is not a very agreeable place to live, this world of ours."

That first paragraph sets off some reflection and a tone that so recalls for me Anne Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,  published in 1974.

I've been reading about Japanese culture, and reading whatever literature strikes me from reviews or recommendations.  I've even read a ton of manga, to get a sense of modern tropes, and obsessions [also I really like the best of the artists and authors].

This book is I think, a life changer.

What is the three cornered world?  From the front-piece: "An artist is a person who lives in a triangle which remains after the angle which we may call common sense has been cut from this four-cornered world."  Soseki

Natsume Soseki, born in 1867, died in 1916, became one of Japan's greatest authors of the 'modern era'.  I qualify that because at the time of his writing so many of his contemporary writers were over whelmed by the influence of Western Culture and virtually abandoned Japanese traditions and styles, so their modernity was Western, unlike Soseki.  From what I've read in the book's preface Soseki was able to create a literary space that was in balance between eastern and western cultures creating a unique modernity.

The Three Cornered World was titled in Japanese Kusa Makura, literally the Grass Pillow, which the preface explains is a common phrase in poetry to indicate a journey.

I've always believed that books, their ideas, attitudes, insights come to me when I'm ready for them, sometimes I must come back to them knowing I've missed the essential on first read.  That may be years later, or simply reading and starting again immediately.  This one feels like it's right on time!

'fer'shure, more to come on this.


[The Three Cornered World, by Natsume Soseki, in Japan 1906, pub. 1970 by Gateway Editions, translated by Alan Turney and Peter Owen, 1965.  ISBN 978-0-89526-768-9]

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Essence of the previous post.

Art is a journey into the most unknown thing of all - oneself.  Nobody knows his own frontiers . . . I don't think I'd ever want to take a road if I knew where it led.

Louis Kahan

It's the journey to the discovery.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Step Stumble - Gyotaku/acrylic

Ah, I know this but sometimes forget and go running in the dark with scissors:  I am a process artists, pre-planning, what Ansel Adams called pre-visualization, is not my forte as it always leads me astray. Well it did with the fish prints mounted over an under painted surface.

After multiple tries of mounting the paper, both tissue and various good washi papers, on to various designs both simple and complex, I find that the transparency/opacity of the fish print paper is too variable for me to control; that the strength of design is un-interesting; that on the best attempts the result is soulless.

So, I really like the fish prints, and will play [such a better word than 'plan'] with various colorations and multiple printing on paper, displayed perhaps in a more traditional way like floated, matted or perhaps hung banner style.

Time to get back into that meditative zone of process that consumes me so nicely.

Next up: a day trip to Bandelier National Monument, which will be a long day, 2 hours each way, but the forecast is 70f and cloudy, so great for photography and hiking.  I'd wanted to camp overnight with my brand new tent [North Face Talus 2] but not enough time this week. I did set it up in the backyard today, tent design has gotten wild lol, but 'twas easy set up.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day trip to Carrizozo, NM

Did a day trip down to Carrizozo from Albuquerque, the day started off fine, but the wind picked up quite a bit and ended up leaving out the walking tour we'd planned of all the old buildings around the 'gallery district' of the town.  Indeed it became a NM Spring day with high winds and blowing dust in the Valley of Fire, fairly unpleasant.

There are a couple of good restaurants,  and I think a microbrewery, but the wind blew us out!

So what we found, Gallery 408, a contemporary art gallery and Tularosa Basin Photography Gallery, a very large photography gallery.
First the photo gallery, it was vast, with excellent natural light and extremely high ceilings.  The building dates from 1917 and was a hardware store.

Click on image for larger view.

Notice the burro on the left roof corner.

Interior of the gallery, about 10,000 sf.

There were 32 permanent photographers in the gallery, plus a special exhibit of the current New Mexico magazine photography winners.  The 32 are from all over New Mexico, and are juried into the gallery.  The 2nd floor has art studios for the use, as I understand it, of visiting artists doing a residency at the gallery across the street: Gallery 408.

The view across the street, area between a small gallery of copper work and another building.

Building in back under construction.

The wall to the right of the gate.

Further down the street [to the left] is the courtyard for the Galery 408.

Below are in the courtyard.

For information about the artist in residence program contact Joan Malkerson, owner via the website. The contemporary works in the gallery are of as fine of quality as any I've seen, remarkable range of media and visions.

A return trip once the Spring winds die down is in order.  BTW there is RV and tent camping in the lava field outside of town, in the Valley of Fire National Forest Service area.  The last eruption was 3,000 years ago so you're probably ok.....


Friday, March 11, 2016

2nd Step: Gyotaku

The fish.  Inking and printing off of a fish onto paper is called Gyotaku, and was invented by the Japanese fishermen to record the type and size of their catch.  Today one can still use real fish, but most often -especially for us desert types - rubber models are used.  Gyo means fish, taku means print.  Its pronounced ghe-yo-tah-koo.

Yep getting the technique of making a decent fish print.  Started with an acid neutral tissue paper [Staples] and printed until I got the feel of how much ink/pressure then re-started with some expensive Japanese paper Sekishu - natural.  Expensive is relative in this case it's 14 cents vs 3.45/sheet; as printing papers go really not expensive.

See: Graphic Chemical & Ink  for supplies, and also The Japanese Paper Place for more info on Japanese papers.

Click on image for larger view.

Blue Gill,  Akua carbon black ink
on Sekishu paper

This requires a very delicate touch to transfer the ink, it is very easy to over/under 'rub' the paper.  My first 6 on tissue paper were fairly poor, then I found the pressure sweet spot.  Unfortunately the Sekishu, while very thin, was not as thin & transparent as the tissue, so I had/have a tendency to over-rub the paper.  I think I was relying on what I saw from the back to much when using the tissue, so now I've got to focus on the finger pressure and not go over a spot again.   It's strangely soothing to do these, so unlike using an etching press or book press which are more about muscle than touch.

So now I'm working on the mounting on gessoed board.  I've done one, and while the process was fairly straight forward, the results were poor as far as judgements on under painting colors and intensity.  More experimentation, but i've a number of small boards ready with three coats of gesso.

BTW I haven't abandoned polymer plates, I'm just waiting to afford my next plate order!  But what I do with the results of the polymer plates and the mounting of the fish prints will work together, as my plan is to do the same with the images from the plates - much more mixed media than straight print making. 

Someone once said to me "If there is a hard way to get to where you want to go, you'll pick that path everytime."  So true.  But that's why I'm a process artist - the trip is more fun than the destination.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

First Steps

So in this case the first steps are those that are leading to my next series of images.  Below is the first step in this process, an acrylic and oil pastel work on paper mounted on gessoed board.

The process that i'm working out will next substitute the painted paper with a relief print and ink, with acrylic under and over the mounted print.  Right now i'm using an acid neutral tissue paper, but once i've got the look i'm going for i'll start using some Japanese papers, such as Kitakata, Sekishu and Thai Chiri Kozo all of which will add more character to the work.  I haven't decided which of these paper yet, that'll be the 3rd step of decisions most likely.

Click on Image for Larger View

12 x 8.75 inches [30.5 x 22 cm]

The whole image area has had 6-7 coats of acrylic matte medium mixed with drops of Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold and Interference Blue Fine which softens the underlying colors and changes the feel of the finished surface away from that 'acrylic' look.  For this formula and several others check out the Golden Paints website newsletter Creating an Encaustic Look.