Saturday, December 31, 2011

Palimpsest:: Language - with convoluted commentary

In a previous post, I showed you the beginning of this piece, and the second unfinished part was featured here.  It has taken me quite a while, what with Christmas and other projects, but here is the final result.

 Palimpsest: Language
ingredients: vintage book cover, vintage maps, handwriting from 1930's composition book, vintage newspaper pages, vintage book cut-outs, 1950's dress pattern pieces, stamps on vintage paper, Chinese Hell notes, inkjet print, acrylic paint, acrylic gel mediums, Caran d'Ache crayons, watercolor pencils, stitching, vintage ledger paper, image transfers, brads, metal spinner, metal thingie (?), feather, pen nib
languages/alphabets: English print, English handwritten script, shorthand, Chinese, Spanish, Tibetan, Tibetan ideograms/ pictographs, cuneiform (2 Types), Mayan pictographs, English numbers/mathematics

Several of you indicated you wouldn't be bored by reading more about the concepts, symbols, and meaning of this piece, so here goes.

As I said, I started to consider the concept 'palimpsest' to my way of working, and drawing parallels between those ideas.  Palimpsest is defined by Wikipedia as "a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again.".  (recycling!) These manuscripts have often been disaggregated, deciphered, and used to recover important lost writings and other information.

palimpsest with Greek text of Luke  (Wikipedia)

Much of my recent collage work has incorporated a process of layering in which materials are partially scraped off to reveal parts of what's beneath. The idea of the interplay between the transparency of layers and the mystery of covering other sections has always been present in my work- probably because I so inherently see everything as connected to every other thing; I just can't seem to separate them.

Angel of the Sunrise

So, back to the language thing. (If you're not at all interested in linguistics or the human brain, skip over the next 3 paragraphs.) As I shared before, language is my business, in a sense.  As a special educator, I think a lot about ways to remediate my students' reading, writing, and spoken language deficits.  As I watch them struggle with these skills that come so naturally to many of us, I can't help but wonder how the human brain processes language, and ultimately, how language came to be in the first place.

Needless to say, the topic is too complex for me do an in-depth study.  However, I did encounter some interesting and useful ideas, foremost among them the widely-held belief that the human brain is hard-wired for language.  Many would argue that this is the one characteristic that separates humans from other animals. Thought and language appear to be inseparable- we think in words, and apparently can't think without them.  (You might be interested in watching this.)  Why some of our brains seem to be hard-wired differently (or less) than others is unclear, but calls into question that whole "nature-versus-nurture" debate; research indicates that both are involved in this case. 

As for the origin of language, no one can say for certain, because it happened so far back in prehistory that there's little evidence available.  Research into this subject continues, and perhaps someday more clues will be discovered.  I was surprised to find out, though, that preeminent linguist Noam Chomsky believes that language acquisition occurred over a short period of time as a result of a sudden gene mutation, while most other experts think it evolved slowly.  Chomsky says: 'To tell a fairy story about it, it is almost as if there was some higher primate wandering around a long time ago and some random mutation took place, maybe after some strange cosmic ray shower, and it reorganized the brain, implanting a language organ in an otherwise primate brain'. While cautioning against accepting this literally, Chomsky insists that 'it may be closer to reality than many other fairy tales that are told about evolutionary processes, including language.' (Wikipedia, Origins of Language)

This brings me to myths, folklore, and mystical stories concerning language.  There are plenty of stories about the invention of language, often imbedded within larger creation myths. What I found particularly fascinating is that the concept of the power of "the word" is basic to virtually all of the world's spiritual traditions.
"We find in the Bible the words: 'In the beginning was the word, and the word was God', and we also find that the word is light, and that when that light dawned the whole creation manifested.... It teaches that the first sign of life that manifested was the audible expression, or sound: that is the word."  - from The Power of the Word.  This same idea is echoed in the Hindu Vedas, in the Hebraic Kabbalah, in Sufism, Islam, Zoroasterism, and many more.

I normally don't like to explain the meaning and symbolism in my work to a great extent, because I believe  each viewer brings his/her own experiences and perception to the piece, constructing an individual interpretation which has meaning for them.  Please don't think that my meaning is the only one; it's simply the perspective from which I created the piece.

The idea of the invention of language and of the creative power of the WORD is embodied by this figure, who speaks the word of creation, OM, in Tibetan script.  The sweeping shape of the dress pattern piece with stitched lines coming from the figure's (other) mouth represent the sounds being put forth into the world, and reinforce the idea of something being made, or created.  The bird in symbolist art has long been seen as a messenger, due to its ability to fly to realms beyond our reach; the map within its body implies access to all parts of the world.

 This part of the piece has so many layers of print and symbols that they blend together to form almost a unified surface.  The red symbol tumbles out of the original utterance from the figure's mouth, breaking open like an egg to spill out letters and symbols.

I started on the bottom part first, before I really knew where the piece was going as a whole.  I knew it was going to be about 'palimpsest' and 'language', but beyond that, my idea had yet to gel.  I was hoping that it would reveal itself as I proceeded.  After scratching and scraping and rubbing paint into the surface, I cut the book cloth and ripped a big hunk of it off, then stuck part of an old piece into the hole (yes, 'hunk', 'hole', and 'stuck' are the correct technical terms).  I glued things on, ripped things off, scraped, peeled, and transferred.  I did lots of this for a long time, and can't really remember what came first, next, or before.  It was very therapeutic!

Some of the first things I glued on were from a girl's high school composition notebook, circa 1931, that I bought at a used book store.  The girl, Margaret Duncan, was apparently quite fascinated with the newly discovered "Life of Our Lord" by Charles Dickens, which had just been published for the first time as a result of the death of Dickens' last surviving family member.  As each section was published in the Lexington Herald Leader, she cut it out and glued it over her own compositions.

I was more interested in her writing than in the newspaper clippings, so I started pulling them apart in places where there was no glue. 

By accident, on the back of one part of the Charles Dickens story, I uncovered an article about the execution of someone from the Dillinger Gang, which you can see in this detail.  In another section, there was an article about the possible repeal of prohibition!  As I scraped and uncovered and dug down into these old books and writings, I felt at times that I was time-traveling- it was really the oddest feeling.  And so it seems fitting, I guess, that I finally finish this on the last day of this year.

I hope you've enjoyed my long and winding explanation, or, at least, that you didn't die of boredom.  Happy New Year, my dear friends!  Happy New Year, Margaret, wherever you are!   Please give my regards to Mr. Dickens, and to the Dillinger Gang.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Scary Christmas to Me

Christmas can be a bit scary.  I don't just mean the whole "getting-the-house-cleaned-&-decorated-(omg- where did we put those ornaments?)-&-buying-presents-&-wrapping-presents-&-making-food-&-no-way-will-I-get-all-this-done-in-time" thing.  No.  My Christmas is even scarier than that.

"What could possibly be scarier than that?" you may ask in astonished skepticism. OK. I'll show you.  Be ready to hide your eyes.  It's-

a blank canvas.  This simple white rectangle has struck cold fear into the hearts of artists for centuries, and I am no exception.  The fact that I hadn't done this type of work in- oh, let's see- since I got my BFA in 1993- served to increase the degree of terror by a factor of about- well, a lot.

But I forged ahead, because, you know- it's Christmas.  My baby (my daughter, who, by virtue of being my youngest, will always be my baby) had expressed to me that she wanted a painting of a big, red, 'abstract-ish' flower to set on her living room mantle.  I chose one of my red amaryllis photos, and cropped it to make an interesting (or so I hoped) composition. 

the original photo

I sketched the composition onto the canvas, bought paint, got out the brushes, took a deep breath, and began.

At the end of the second day (sorry, I forgot to photograph the first day), I was surprised at how far I'd progressed, and was feeling pretty pleased with myself.  I guess it's sort of like riding a bike; it all comes back to you...

...or not.  At the end of the third day, it seemed I hadn't gotten much done at all, compared to day two.  What the heck happened?  Well, I was suffering from a respiratory infection, and it could be that I spent more time blowing my nose than painting.  Sure, that must be it, right?

The fourth day was a nine hour painting marathon; I could hardly believe it when I finally checked the time and found it was 4:00.  I'd started at 8:00 that morning, and after being surprised by the time, I painted for another hour.  At that point, I felt it was approaching the way I had envisioned it. What bothered me was the first part I had worked on- the big flower at the top left, which now seemed too flat and too orange.  The stamens/anthers were also a problem; I couldn't decide if they needed to be brought out more, moved, or what.  Two days to Christmas and counting.

The next day I resolved most of the issues.  I repainted the left flower almost entirely, including the stamens, which I moved over toward the right.  I repainted the background for at least the twelfth time, and decided to call it finished.  Here is the final version. For whatever reason, the background color looks weird in this photo, but otherwise it's pretty accurate. 

But then, my final, and biggest fear reared its ugly head:  What if she didn't like it?  Of course she would never tell me; she'd just live a tortured life with this horrible thing on her mantle.  What was I thinking?  The painting really wasn't abstract at all- my own personal style had taken over without me even knowing it!

It was Christmas Eve, so I resisted the temptation to re-paint the whole thing (yes, that insane thought did actually cross my mind), and decided to wait for her reaction before freaking out completely. (Yes, I can hear you all laughing right now...) 

She loved it!  She said she liked it because she could tell I painted it- it was my "style".  Do you think she meant it?  Maybe she just didn't want to hurt my feelings...

OK, now for an abrupt change of subject... I hope you've been reading Seth Apter's online collaborative project "The Pulse" on his blog The Altered Page.  Part three, "Master Class", is now underway, and my answer to the question, 'If you could take a class from one artist from anytime in history, including the present, who would it be and why?' is featured on the Christmas day post.  Please click on the link above or the image below to check it out!

Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season to you all, my dear friends.  May you be blessed by true peace and joy.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Brighter Day

It's December now, and our weather is beginning to take on a darker mood- a cold, dreary, gray sameness...

... that seems to hover over us through much of the winter.  John Updike describes it pretty well:

The days are short,
  The sun a spark
Hung thin between
  The dark and dark.

Such a cheery guy, right?  Well, maybe that's a bit overly gloomy; but anyway, on days like this, my mind tends to dwell in brighter places.

 I dream of meandering down the Kinniconick on a bright warm day...

 ...walking down to the place where I sometimes cross over to the island...

 ...hearing the crickle-crackle of the shale as thin layers snap under my feet.

If the creek is up, and running fast,

I'll never get across the slippery sandstones without bruising my behind, and getting very wet besides...

So I'll go back to where it's safer (though still pretty wet)- the point where water flows out of the swirl-hole. That's our "beach" on the left, and the island on the right.

Here's a view looking back at our little "beach" from the island.

Standing on the island, where it curves around the swirl-hole...

I gaze across the wide expanse of shimmering green reflections...

... to the tip of the island, which divides the swirl-hole from the other side of the creek.

My little "mental trip" is turning out to be longer than I expected, so it seems I'll have to continue it in another post.  I'm feeling much better now, though- aren't you?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sky Buddha

"In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true."  -Prince Gautama Siddharta

 Sky Buddha
 ingredients: vintage book page, map fragment, decorative papers, image transfers, cut outs, various artist pens, watercolor pencils, acrylic paint

 “How is it I haven’t seen this lofty sky before? And how happy I am that I’ve finally come to know it. Yes! everything is empty, everything is a deception, except this infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing except that. But there is not even that, there is nothing except silence, tranquility. And thank God!” 
-Tolstoy, from War and Peace 

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Top Part, So Far

Here is my progress to date on the top half of the altered book cover I've been working on. 

Palimpsest: Language
ingredients: acrylic paint, map fragments, Chinese Hell Notes, vintage book pages, vintage dress pattern, vintage math scratch paper, pigment markers, images transfers, brad, metal spinner

Languages/scripts: English (various fonts, typewritten, and hand-written), Tibetan print, Tibetan pictographs, Mayan pictographs, cuneiform (2 different types), Chinese, Japanese, math symbols, numbers

I'm moving forward with this piece very slowly.  It seems that each language and culture that becomes part of it must be digested and processed somehow.  I don't know how to put it into words, ironically, but as the layers of symbols in the piece build up, so do the impressions of their forms in my mind.  This has led me to wonder about the relationship between language and thinking, which led me to research the topic.  I may share some of this with you later, if you're not quite bored enough. 

For a bit of background about this piece, and a look at the bottom part, go here.  Hopefully, more to follow soon.
A bientot,
Zai jian,
Khoda hafz,
my dear friends and fellow travelers!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday's Featured Favorite: Artist Kathleen Farago May

I'm proud to introduce you to the work of Kathleen Farago May, whose digital art eloquently speaks not of cold technology, but of a spiritual realm that resides somewhere within the time and space of our souls.  She gives visual form to states of consciousness I can only describe as transcendent.  How she makes this magic is even more of a mystery, at least to the technologically uninitiated (like me); her skills are far beyond anything I can comprehend. 

Why do you make art? How did it all begin? 

I make art because I have to – the pressure to create comes from another plane. The rewards are a combination of peace and joy – sometimes the pressure lightens briefly. I have been creating since childhood, there was never a question of what I was here to do. There have always been questions of practicality and of how to finance the creative process. Even during those periods where there was no time or support for making art, I would take “photographs” in my mind, of the beauty around me and hope that my subconscious mind would store them. The evolution of my work from drawing to painting, to photography, to printing (etchings and silk screens) and finally to digital painting has been part of my life’s adventure. While my early paintings often expressed a rejection of traditional religious forms, each subsequent medium has allowed me to express more clearly the spiritual impulses that drive my creative work.

Who or what inspires you?

Though I am glad that I studied art history at university and have a grounding in what has gone before, it is primarily my Muses who inspire me. They have always been there, but it is only in the last two years that I have been clear that it is not “I” who is doing the work. Of course, the world, the people I love, the art and beauty all around me are all inspirational elements – but this would not be enough if I could not hear my Muses. My aesthetics, technical skills, and experience as a printmaker, photographer and painter are all useful, but ultimately the work would not have the energy it needs to come alive, without the Muses. I can see this very clearly when I revisit my earlier work, from a time when my awareness of the Muses was sporadic. You might wonder who exactly these Muses are? I don’t. I am simply grateful that we finally connected and that they share with such abundance. In the last two years I have produced approximately 600 new works. I don’t worry about where the Muses come from, because all anyone has to do is to look at the work and know that their intentions are positive and filled with love. I use the time-honoured term Muses for them, simply as a convenience.

 What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore in your artwork?

The range of my themes reflects the fact that I adhere to no single religious tradition; but rather stay open to guidance. The work is clearly influenced by my spiritual and literary explorations. I am thrilled when viewers recognize a reflection of the sense of the numinous that we feel when we acknowledge Oneness. Each piece is a process of discovery and unfolding. I am often quite surprised at the gifts that appear through this intuitive co-creation. The imagery is sometimes symbolic, a sphere, a face, wings, water, the sun – alluding to elements of philosophical and spiritual significance. When the images are not figurative, there is simply a feeling in the abstracted color-scapes and mandalas – a sense of awe, wonder and transported gratitude. If the work leads to someone asking new questions about their place in the cosmos, the elements of their lives; if a viewer can feel their heart more vividly, become more aware of the present moment and glimpse the flow of all that is here – then that painting is successful.

Do you have a work space or studio? How would you describe it?

My "twin flame", Bodhi, has been beyond generous in encouraging me to dedicate a corner of our living room for my computers and printers, and lately that is all I need for studio space. I would love to also have a “wet” space for paint and other messy techniques – I do love to get into tactile media, but that will come if it is meant to. My studio space and our living space are seamlessly intermingled - we still use this area for living and even eating – because the dining room has also been re-purposed. It is a lovely, warm, creative chaotic whirl, with many of the things that comprise our lives left out in the open – there is little time or incentive to tidy up, because the Muses just won’t wait.

What is your typical process for creating a piece? 

Sometimes, with great anticipation, I set aside time to create; I am alone, the house is quiet, the dog is asleep and I can dive in with great gusto. Just as often, my Bodhi is talking to me, the phone is ringing, the dog is trying to corral us into meeting his schedule, dinner is running late – and I keep saying, “just a few more minutes, I'm almost done …” The inspiration to work is not something I can set up – I can only show up. I do have art that I have collected – mostly from unknown artists and some from a contemporary group collectively known as Visionary Artists – that I look to for inspiration, but I rarely sketch and never plan. Usually there is neither time nor need for any preparation – before I even realize it, a digital painting is forming on my monitor and I am so curious as to how it will develop. I do make aesthetic choices, and if I don’t like where a work is going I will sometimes stop and store it for another day. I have often returned to these unfinished pieces and completed them later, when I found a fresh insight about their direction and purpose.

What goals do you have for the future? 

I hope the future sees me continuing to spend a great deal of time exploring this exciting co-creation. I would be immensely gratified if the work could be more supportive of the cost of its production – this is an age-old challenge for artists and it always has been one in my life. Another goal is to find ways to expose the work to more eyes – without having the traditional exhibition process consume time that is now being dedicated to creating.  It would be delightful if the Muses would send me an agent I could entrust with the practical elements of exhibiting the work.

To see more of Kathleen's work, please visit her facebook galleries:

You can purchase her archival quality giclee prints here:

Other sites:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

National Collage Society's 27th Annual Exhibit

I was recently thrilled to learn that both my entries were accepted into the National Collage Society's 2011 27th Annual Juried Exhibit.  This year's exhibition is their first to be shown strictly online, which is cool, because it means that more people will have access to it.

There is an impressively wide variety of techniques, styles, media, and content represented here.  I'm excited and honored to have my work included, and hope you'll take the opportunity to see the exhibit; I don't think there's any way you'll be disappointed.

I'll leave you with a new collage I just finished- one of the small ones I think of as studies or experiments.  To be honest, I had no idea where this one was going, and I'm not sure if it's arrived there yet. 

ingredients: vintage book pages, image transfers, watercolor pencil, acrylic ink, Chinese hell notes, acrylic gel

I haven't come up with a title for this one- any ideas?

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Piece in the Works

"In the works" is a convenient multi-purpose phrase which encompasses anything and everything from "floating around somewhere in my brain like blobs of that stuff inside of a lava lamp" to "partly finished and coming along nicely."  In this case, I guess both of those descriptions apply to some degree.

I think about language a lot, because I teach kids who have language deficits, mostly in the areas of reading and writing.  They also have poor vocabularies, and generally don't express themselves well in any context.  And I was wondering what factors influence the development of the parts of the brain that process language, which led me to pondering the original development of language in early humans.  I've also been thinking about the word "palimpsest" lately, sparked by Robyn's recent post on Art Propelled; before that, I had read about the "The World is a Town" mail art project, based on the Novgorod Codex.  It occurred to me that there are parallels between my work and the concept of the palimpsest, since my pieces often involve applying layers and scraping them off, leaving traces of each previous layer beneath the next.

These were some of my lava blobs.  Eventually they began to bump into one another, combine, and take on a form, which at this point looks something like this:

Palimpsest: Language

It is the cover of a typing text book from 1938.  So far, it has been scratched, scraped, and painted; many types of writing, printing, and maps have been glued on, scraped off, and transferred.  This is the bottom part of the piece, and it still has a ways to go.  More progress will be posted as it comes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday's Featured Favorite: Artist Kathleen Piercefield

Each Friday, I thought it would be fun to feature a different artist whose work inspires me.  Yeah, I know it's Saturday, but I only missed it by a day, right?  Maybe I should just change the name of my blog to "Slower Than Molasses in January", but that's another subject entirely.

I'm so excited that Kathleen Piercefield has agreed to be my first featured artist, because I can't think of anyone whose work is more inspiring than hers.  Not only is she a master of many media, she is a genuinely kind, generous, and intelligent person.  Though we met only recently, I already consider her a close friend; we share many interests besides the obvious.  Enough from me; I'll let you hear from Kathleen in her own words.

Ask the forest  collagraph & monotype     15" x 22

Why do you make art?  How did it all begin?  
It all started with that first box of wonderful smelling Crayola crayons in 64 luscious colors!   Really, I make art because I absolutely love getting my hands on art materials -- seeing them, smelling them, feeling them, and then getting caught up in that timeless state of being completely absorbed in a process.  Some of my earliest memories are connected with drawing.  I was an only child, and reading and drawing were the ways I would entertain myself.  I could sit in my room or outside in the yard and be happy for hours, absorbed in that world I created with my books and my drawing.  My father was a paper salesman for Mead Paper Company in Chicago, and he would bring home lots of paper samples -- different colors, different textures -- so I always had a fascination for paper, and for the different kinds of marks I could make on it.  I think like most children I started out wanting to imitate what I saw; then later drawing and painting became more of an emotional response and a way of thinking about the world around me.

Look and look again
collagraph & monotype     15" x 22"

Who or what inspires you?  
First and foremost, nature -- I'm fascinated by everything that walks, crawls, swims, flies & grows; the process of learning about these things is deeply enhanced by drawing their forms, and then the drawing in turn generates other visual echoes to explore.  Reading frequently inspires me; I pay attention to the images popping into my mind as I read; sometimes they lead to very fruitful ideas.  Also, as mentioned above, the materials and processes are their own inspiration.  Specifically with printmaking, I'm in love with the smell of the inks and the feel of the paper, and with seeing the gorgeous marks that result when ink meets paper under the pressure of the press.  The pleasure of these things is not only aesthetic but sensual and extremely addictive.  

Looking at the work of other artists, of course, is a tremendous inspiration -- impossible to name them all but a few that come immediately to mind are  Paul Klee, Andrew Wyeth, Rembrandt, Ben Shahn, Odilon Redon, Munakata Shiko, Mary Frank, John Tuska, David Blackwood, Lynd Ward, Hayao Miyazaki, Emily Carr ...I could go on and on.  Reading about how other artists approach their work and think about their processes -- Ann Truitt's books Daybook, Turn, and Prospect for example -- can also be a tremendous motivator and makes me itch to get into the studio and start working. 

From the Headwaters of the Eternities
etching and aquatint 12.5" x 17"

Do you have a work space or studio? How would you describe it?  
I do!  It's far from ideal, being several areas of basement space with small windows and low ceilings, but it's my space, where I can leave work-in-progress out on the table.  I would like it to be clean and beautiful and light and airy, but in truth it is cramped, cluttered, always in a state of chaos -- but work is happening in it so that's what counts!   My husband has, over the years, constructed storage shelves and work surfaces for me that have made the studio more efficient, and has patiently put up with the fact that, as children moved out and rooms were vacated, more and more of our house has become an extension of my art-making space.  Of course the pride and joy of my studio is my Takach etching press -- I feel extremely fortunate to have access to a press whenever I want.

collagraph, intaglio & polyester plate lithography 15" x 11

What types of themes, ideas, or concepts do you explore in your artwork?  I try to access --and hopefully communicate -- the roots of my love for the natural world.  One of my deepest concerns is how we humans relate to our environment -- or increasing don't relate -- and a lot of my work revolves around an impulse to say -- wake up!  look! see what's around you with awareness and appreciation...and consequently, value it and take care of it.  With that in mind, recording what I observe in nature is part of the work, but there's always an interplay between observing and evoking a personal response.  I try to keep in mind Paul Klee's words: "Art does not reproduce the visible; rather,  it makes visible."  Sometimes natural elements occur in my work as metaphors for human relationships -- what we share and what we keep secret from one another are recurrent themes; so are dreams and the imagination.  I'm fascinated by the idea that the world we create inside our head is as varied and complex as the physical world around us, and in some ways just as real.  Things I read give me ideas to explore -- the visual and metaphorical elements in Moby-Dick have been a recent topic -- and finally, sometimes I'm just discovering where I can go with a particular process; in that case, the work is all about the visual interaction of the materials.

A Bosom Friend collagraph and monotype with hand coloring

What is your typical process for creating a piece?  
If I already have an idea of where I'm going, it usually begins with a lot of doodles.  Sketchbook pages (I always have multiple sketchbooks going), scraps of paper, book margins, envelopes, & junk mail on the table get filled with little sketches and doodles that relate to an idea that's percolating in my head.  Eventually I collect all the doodles together and start making larger sketches until I have a rough drawing of the desired size, and can transfer the basic shapes from that to a plate (or a sheet of watercolor paper, if I'm doing a painting.)  I sometimes make "idea boards", on which I pin color swatches, pieces of different papers, magazine clippings and photos that relate to something I'm trying to bring together.  And sometimes if nothing else is generating ideas, I'll go down to my studio and do some purely physical task, like coating a piece of board with gesso for a future collagraph, or filing the edges of a plate; doing that physical work will often clear my mind so ideas can start to flow. 

 Prairie Music 1  collage    6" x 4.5"

A lot of my recent work has been a combination of collagraph and monotype.  Typically, I start with a collagraph plate, created by gluing shapes and textural elements to a board coated with gesso and acrylic medium.  Once that is sealed and completely dry (which can take several days) I mix up some ink and apply it to the plate, then burnish it off with newsprint and tissue paper.  I then lay a dampened sheet of printmaking paper on the collagraph and run it through the press.  Depending on what I see, I may further develop the plate with more glued elements, or go on to enhance the print with layers of monotype -- created by rolling out a thin layer of transparent ink on a sheet of mylar and then wiping off selected areas before laying it on the print and again running it through the press.  A typical print goes through the press at least five or six times, and maybe more.   

In any case, once a work is begun I try to let the medium have its own voice, so what happens as the piece is coming together is partly what I planned and partly what happens of its own accord.  I really like the fact that many of the processes I use -- collagraph, monotype, watercolor -- are unpredictable.  I value the surprises that occur and find that many of those unforeseen results can lead me in good new directions.

The wise fool's tale  collagraph 9.75" x 6.75

What goals do you have for the future?  
To keep exploring; to never run out of new ideas; to grow; to become more proficient in the processes I use, and more productive in the amount of work I create. Art-making has not made me materially rich, but has greatly enriched my life; I'd like to continue sharing that richness with others. 

To see more of Kathleen's art, go to