Tuesday, July 26

Process color experiment

I've been doing screenprint for quite a while, but with my kids I usually teach using freezer paper or contact paper stencils to block the screen. I rarely venture into photo process with them because the added complication of coating screens isn't direct enough for my pre-teens. Personally I really like the hand-drawn qualities of using screen filler or the boldness of cut stencils. So I've never really done any 4 color process in screenprinting, and it's been niggling in my subconscious that I really should know how to do it.
So I started off with a photo I took at Cumberland and American Streets of the trash-strewn lot in front of this beautiful mural, and doctored it a bit in photoshop to boost contrast and saturation. I also tried to format it so it looked kind of like a Polaroid or one of those IPhone instamat pictures (I don't have an Iphone and I so want to try out some old-timey photo aps). Then I proceeded to get totally lost in Photoshop trying to figure out how to do the color separations!
Google to the rescue! I found this fabulous video tutorial that not only goes step by step for doing the separations, but also showed how to build the image back up to check if it was done correctly. Check it out. He's a little rambly, but it's slow enough to follow easily. I also kept stopping and starting so I could do each step as he described it. And here's the result:

That's my re-built image in CMYK. I'm hoping to burn my screens tomorrow, and then I can try it out with ink on paper. Unfortunately it probably won't turn out as perfectly as my lovely Photoshop play.

Monday, July 25

My very last grad studio!

For the past 3 weeks I've been taking an intensive 9-4 bookbinding and print portfolio class at Tyler to fulfill my very last graduate studio credits! I'm both happy and nostalgic to be so close to the end of my master's studies (I want to be a perpetual student). But here's what I made this past few weeks:
 We tried out a few different bindings including a Japanese stab binding, an adhesive flip book, and several maze books. I already knew how to do the stab binding with odd number holes, but now I know even-numbered holes as well (start at the top hole instead of the center). I've got my maze books corralled in a little purple sleeve with a notch clasp. We also learned how to construct various boxes, so my first book got a little purple magazine-style box/sleeve, and I also made a map-covered box just the perfect size for holding folded roadmaps.
 My first real book was printed as one large image, below, and cut and folded into a little maze book. It has the map printed on front and back, a river-like path in green, a bicycle-chain path in purple, the words "Who is in the driver's seat?", and all of the various modes of transportation that have been a part of my life. There's my little red tricycle, my dad's big white van, a school bus, an Air France plane, a PATCO train, my first car (a chevy corsica), a SEPTA bus, a Turkish airlines plane, a Bosporus ferryboat, my white Jetta, and my current bicycle.
 I'm very happy with how layered it is.
 I also like how it starts and ends on a bicycle- the mode of transportation I love the most for the sense of freedom it gives.
 Printing and finishing that up took up the first two weeks, partly because I missed the mornings of week 2 due to teaching camp. But the final project fulfilled an idea I've wanted to do FOREVER.
 It marries my love of origami, coptic binding, color theory, and pattern essentials. I printed a gradation of flats from cream to dark brown, then printed subsequent layers of crosshatched stripes on the exteriors. The interiors have a gradation from pink-orange-yellow-green-teal- and purple shifting from stripes to squares to triangles in increasing complexity and back.
 Each page (56 of them) was folded into an origami book that springs open and snaps shut revealing a surprising interior to these rather formal and monotone exteriors (got to watch out for the quiet ones).
 The great part about the coptic binding is that it allows the pages to flex, snake-like. It's a very playful book/sculpture.
In critique, my professor noted how meditative it was- the layering of the print colors, actually crosshatching the print instead of printing crosshatch screens, all the folding, the one-by-one process of coptic binding, and the motions the viewer must go through to view the interiors. Seems I can't get away from that meditative process. It's the same as stitching- all that repetition and slow building of something.
I could use some meditation.

Sunday, July 24

My "wall"

In March of 2010 I began the biggest embroidery I'd ever made with this little sample piece as inspiration:
 It sat in a corner untouched between August 2010 and June 2011,  much to my chagrin because I absolutely HATE unfinished objects (no UFO's allowed in my house, haha...right). But i finally picked it up again, pushed through to the finish line, and here it is:
You can see my wall "Girard" at the Fleisher Faculty Show now on display through August at Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia. There's lots of other amazing work by my fellow faculty including 2 other embroidered pieces. Check it out!

Saturday, July 23

Critter Softies 2011

It's summer art camp season! Critter Softies was such a hit last year, that we offered it again this summer at Fleisher. I had 8 kids aged 8-10 join me for a new adventure in fiber art. We did felt finger puppets, a 2-sided marker detail creature, and a multi-part patchwork creature. Here are some of he results:
 I loved this monkey (that's a lot of marker coloring since we started with white muslin), and this patchwork duck. The duck's wings were left unstuffed for some flop, and the felt beak was sewn on before assembly so it would also stick out and flop a bit.
 My one boy in the class made this "sick dinosaur" complete with thermometer, bandaids, blanket, and tongue sticking out. His felt creatures include a family, 2 dinosaurs, and a house for the family to hide in.
 The rainbow unicorn was quite a feat to stuff with those skinny legs and the clumpy fill I got from DickBlick. I've now discovered that brand names in stuffing matter- Polyfil and Crafter's Choice are the best- nice and squishy.
The turtle at the top there ended up being a 2-headed turtle because I didn't catch her in time to remind her to flip her image for the 2 sides to meet up properly. But her teddy bear turned out really well.

This turtle had a whole patchwork of felt squares to applique on for the shell, and the bunny rabbit had a very complicated selection of patchwork that she planned out before we could sew it.
The kids were incredibly focused for a whole week of softie-making. It's always a bit of a whirlwind because I do all the machine sewing for them. But I love getting to be a part of their creativity and help them bring the visions of their imaginations to life!

This summer I'm also teaching a grown-up softies class. We're 2 weeks into a 6-week class, and there's already been some fabulousness I hope to share soon.

Sunday, July 10


It's been a busy week writing thesis, starting a new bookbinding/printmaking class at Tyler, planning summer camps, etc. Today I took time out to complete a project I started with the artist-in-residence we hosted at Kensington Culinary arts High School during my student teaching this past Spring.
 Students learned about portrait photography and created emotive expressions. Our artist, Alana Bograd, discovered a global art project started by French artist JR, recipient of a TED prize, where people could upload portraits and have them printed and posted back to them in poster size to be installed in neighborhoods around the world.
 We had permission from the owner of the building across the street from the high school to wheatpaste our posters on a wall facing the school. Our Print Center artists, several teachers from the school,a few students, and even the Principal showed up to help with the installation. It was very messy and windy, but very fun and exciting to see these huge portraits lining the wall.
The Inside Out project to me seems to be about making the invisible visible, making voices heard, helping people take ownership of their neighborhoods and culture. How often do you hear something positive about urban teenagers?  These kids' photos are larger than life and stare back at the school. Most of them were seniors who have now graduated and some of whom are on their way to college. I hope some of the students next year (if the mural lasts that long) feel inspired by it. I hope the students who participated feel proud to be present in their neighborhood. I hope the posters don't get defaced....

JR says, "Art can change the world."
I believe it.
Here's to changing one little corner of Kensington.

Friday, July 1

Multiple Perspectives

I'm in full thesis-writing mode. Since my topic is about use of blogs in reflective practice for arts educators, it makes sense to walk the talk here. So here's where my head is at this point:
Reflective Practice requires taking multiple perspectives on a situation or experience. Like Duchamp’s cubist "Nude Descending a Staircase", the reflective artist-teacher takes a look back on a 4-dimensional experience(teaching being a time-based activity) and critically revisions it to fit together the multiple vantage points into a new understanding. I'm liking this cubist metaphor, and I wonder if/how I can fit that into the paper.
I'm also enjoying my moments of image connection to my research. It makes sense to me as a visual artist to use images to illustrate my ideas- it makes my thinking more concrete. By documenting my thought/images I can look back and track the train of thought.... Haha! more reflective practice! There's no escape!

In other news, my Wall piece is complete and delivered to Fleisher for the annual faculty show. I'll post some pictures of the final product once the installation is complete!