Friday, November 29, 2013

Accordion Sketchbook Class at MCBA

Accordion-Bound Sketchbook
with Suzanne Hughes
Wednesday, December 11; 6-9pm
Great for beginners

Create an accordion structure from a single piece of high quality art paper (Rives BFK), perfect for sketching, for journaling, or for a photo album. Learn to fold and tab paper sections together to create a long accordion. Wrap boards with decorative paper all created and supplied by the instructor (an assortment of marbled, painted, and paste papers). Use the covered boards to construct a hard cover to house the accordion pages. Then finish off your book assembly with a handy elastic closure.

We will bind this book from prepped materials but the class will include a discussion on other suitable papers for this structure and identifying them, breaking down paper for future books made outside of class, and creating your own decorative papers.
You will leave class with a finished book and the knowledge needed to create more.

Register BY PHONE: 612-215-2520
Register IN PERSON
: visit The Shop at MCBA
Register ONLINE:  at MCBA's website 

Monday, November 11, 2013

MCBA Visual Journal Collective November 18, 2013 Meeting Reminder

Monday, November 18, 2013, 7 to 9 p.m. 

STAMP CARVING NIGHT at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective, at MCBA

We're going to be watching a how-to stamp carving demonstration by me, Suzanne Hughes. Participants will then be given a small block (2x3 inches) of their own to carve into their very own mini-block print.  We will then create super easy multi-color prints by using watercolors. 
Come to the meeting prepared to create your own stamp!  
You will need an image or two to create a stamp from;  any small (2x3 inch) image will do.  It can be from a photo that you are going to draw from or from a journal image that you would like to replicate, for that matter it can be more of a pattern than an image and be used for backgrounds.  I will talk about multiple ways of moving the image you bring from its starting place onto your stamp block for carving.  
Bring a small set of watercolors and a brush - waterbrush or regular.
Bring a small cash donation ($2 max) for MCBA to thank them for supplying our paper.
After we all carve our image we will make a stack of stamped images (think edition) to trade with everyone on hand!
It's pretty cool when you get to both make and trade art on the same evening!
If you're interested in stamp techniques because you want to incorporate them in your journal you'll come away inspired and armed with your very own stamp. If you have always seen stamped images and been curious about the process come and give it a try.  Stamp carving really is very addictive and you only need a few very basic tools at home to repeat our activity any time the fancy strikes.
There may be some time to share current journal work after all the stamping and trading, so bring what you are currently working on.
If you're an adult visual journal keeper come and join in. It's free, usually, although a small $2 donation to MCBA will be collected on Monday as they are supplying our paper for the stamped image trades. We'd love to meet you, or see you again. And of course peek into your journal!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Not-So-Easy-to-Fill Journal and it's Reclaiming

For the last six months a journal has sat on my studio table.  From time to time I have paged through this journal and added a thing here or there, completing some pages along the way.  On those page throughs however this journal has often stopped me, stumped me, and other wise frustrated me like no other journal has.  This journal has a looming deadline and must be conquered before time is up and my frustrations were quickly turning to a panicky feeling every time I was near this nearly empty, needed to be filled, monster on my studio table.
What journal is this you ask?  How is it possible that someone who writes grocery lists on fine art paper and will splash watercolor with near abandon on a thirty dollar sheet of Arches can be stopped by a collection of color copied sheets bound into a book?  Those are the exact questions I asked myself this week.  Why?  Why is this a stopping place instead of a jumping in place?
This week I finally had an answer to that question - I have been trying too hard.  Trying for perfect.  Waiting for the right idea for every page.  Desiring that each and every background would shine and be the star it was meant to be.  As an artist I recognized that desire, the elusive quest for perfect and as an artist, I also was seeing the same results, nothing; a not-so-blank-sheet as it turns out.  When perfect is the goal, nothing is the result, because nothing is perfect, particularly when making art.  We all see the flaws we create so clearly that the resulting work will never be perfect.  It will be so completely un-perfect that we will be stopped in our tracks.
Thankfully, I also remembered our goal and original starting place for this idea.  The Smash Journal and the desire to make our own custom version to use as a collaborative project because it was fun.
Let's get reacquainted with the original idea:
Watch the Smash Journal video.
If you type Smash Journal into Google images.
If you have followed my links you should see a common thread of delicious non-perfection.  A mash-up of lives, ideas, images, drawings, and day to day stuff that is glued down and penned in with abandon. Books bursting with extra papers and lovely unique liveliness.  No thought was given to the background other than that it was a vehicle for the stuff contained on the page.  Not perfect and in its non-perfect state we reach wonderful, fabulous page turning journal goodness.
In my focus on the not-so-blank part of the project I was forgetting the most important part of the project title - journal.  A journal is a personal record of experiences, thoughts, events, and observations.  A record of a daily life on paper.  This week my focus came off the project as a vehicle for perfect pages and went to a focus on the project for MY pages, it is a journal after all.
With the pressure to create perfect pages off my back I have been creating my pages all week with complete and utter abandon.  Oh, I am still going out of order and not quite taking the sheets as they come but I am not letting sheets stop me anymore.  It's my journal and the pages need to be mine, whatever that means for the background.  Suddenly, I am having fun with this journal.  Knocking out multiple pages a day, not because of a looming deadline but instead because I am enjoying myself.
If you too are a part of this project and have been stopped by the pages, the project, the pressure of perfect, let it go.  Perfect will never happen and the idea of perfect only gets in the way of making the pages yours.  Remember it is meant as a journal, not the fancy Art Journal where the pages must be beautiful works of art, but as a record of your thoughts, observations, and experiences.  
A journal journal that's real and a reflection of you and your life.  Go!  Smash some of your life today into those pages:  receipts, recipes, drawings, photos, thoughts and all.  It will be beautiful because it will be uniquely you.  I know that's what I cannot wait to see in December, the completely unique approaches, the beauty that we each placed on the pages that reflects who we are and where we are at that day the page came to be smashed together.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Art from my classroom.

My sixth grade students are working on watercolor koi fish and while they painted today I drew and painted a few more koi myself. In only about ten minutes of course before I had to answer a question and settle a disagreement.
I am working on Stonehenge paper here that was left over from another class making accordion books, so it was folded before I drew on it (causing my washes to settle in the creases). I used a Uniball Vision Elite pen, which I assumed would be waterproof like a regular Uniball, but it is not it turns out, at all. My lines bled and blurred into my painting the longer I painted, or the longer they were wet really.  When I realized the pen wasn't waterproof and that the longer the sheet was wet the more paint that pulled out from the line, I started to try and play with the effect a bit as a way of adding value. As you can see from the photo, I am painting with classic Crayola watercolors. I have my regular Daniel Smith colors with me but I was curious what I could do with the sets in my room and they were out from my demonstration on my counter so it was easy to go from what I was doing to a little bit of play in a peaceful moment.
What I do know is that I am putting these in my bag to take home and add to a Not-So-Blank-Journal page when I get home.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dead Robin

This robin hit my dining room window and died in the yard below.  I happened to be standing nearby when it hit the window and a dead bird is sad but a perfect sketching opportunity.  My family thought I was a little strange sitting with a dead bird on the porch but I am sure they will get over it and I have to say if it happens again I will repeat my actions and draw the victim.
Handmade journal with Rives BFK, Faber-Castell PITT pen size F, Daniel Smith watercolors.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sketching at the Minnesota Zoo

I have been so behind on scanning and posting my work this fall.  It is not because I haven't been out sketching but mostly because I have been busy and would rather spend my time making art than scanning art.  To try and remedy this situation I am going to be doing a couple of quick posts this week and next with simply a few images and minimal text, showing some of my sketching out adventures from this fall.
Hornbill sketch in handmade book on Rives BFK,
PITT pen size F, Daniel Smith watercolors.
Sketched from life a the MN Zoo.
These sketches are from the end of September at the Minnesota Zoo where I spent an afternoon sketching and enjoying beautiful fall weather outdoors with a good friend and her young daughter.  We had a great day sketching, enjoying the animals and each other's company.

Oaks on the grounds of the MN Zoo in Apple Valley.
Handmade book with Rives BFK paper, Faber-Castell PITT calligraphy
pen, Daniel Smith watercolor

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October MCBA Visual Journal Collective Meeting Recap

For the October meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective, local artist and creativity coach Briana Goetzen came and gave a presentation on the Gelli Arts Printing plate.  Let me just say, her demonstration was fantastic!  
Briana brought along her Gelli plate and set it up right in the flexi space at MCBA.  It is small (8x10) and portable, coming in a plastic shell type box that works for storage and transportation.  It needs no special set-up, you simply take it out of the case and apply paint.  The Gelli plate is really quite magic for making monoprints in the quickest possible fashion using any acrylic paint, texture tools , stencils, or stamps.  Results are instant, dry really quickly, and it turns out you don't even need to wash the plate between prints (bonus).  

Briana showed a number of different techniques for the printing plate highlighting it's versatility and ease of use.  One of her first recommendations was to use multiple colors of paint in the same print, blobbing them on the plate, allowing them to blend with a brayer.  Textures and shapes are then applied to the wet paint layer by simply pressing them into the paint on the plate.  Prints are lifted from the plate by rubbing the back of the sheet and pulling it up.  The process is seamless and enjoyable.  Once the plate is set up and your paints are out it really is quite addictive.

She also showed how easy it was to layer prints on top of each other creating new interesting layered effects.  Sheets that have been printed dry fast, and with no need to wipe or clean the late between images, a quick rhythm of making image after image, experimenting as you go becomes apparent. 
Participants on hand got to try the plate themselves, we had two Gelli Plates on hand and plenty of paper and paints.  Nearly everyone who tried was instantly in love with the plate and its potential.  It was so easy to use and the options for different ways to create prints are nearly endless, allowing for each artist to put their own spin on how and what they create on the plate.
If you enjoy mono printing, pastepaper, or gelatin prints, you will love the Gelli plate.  That it is durable (real gelatin is not) and easy to use makes it all the more enjoyable.