Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Riddle of Samson

Do you know the riddle Samson set for the Philistines? I mainly know it because it was on the Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup cans I remember as a kid, complete with hokey graphic. The riddle goes something like: Out of strength came forth sweetness, out of the dead came forth life. The idea was that the Philistines were supposed to come up with what was happening in this riddle.

The answer was the body of a lion in the desert, in which bees had made honey.

It's a lovely concept, and I often like to think about it when a highly stressful situation (weather, danger to invalid, you name it, all explained in Field and Fen blog today) results in some art. It sharpens your vision when you have been on high alert and it's now down to just ordinary alert! Out of fear comes relief, out of strength of human spirit, comes the gentle vision of art.

So, after a massive series of storms in just a few hours, involving two major snowfalls, one ice storm, one thunderstorm with lightning, and one dangerous power outage considering the situation in this household, came great images of the snow, and the trees recovering from the onslaught.

So here they are. As often with my art, close to home.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Image Transfer -- the art that plays the artist!

I had a lot of fun with image transfer in the last few years, and I'm showing you a number of images which are a first: you are the first people outside the studio to see them, and I'm hoping to show them at some point, but this is their first view of daylight.

Image transfer is the literal moving of an image, just the image, not the paper or support, to another surface. We did it as kids when we pressed an eraser against the funny pages and got an image on the eraser which we could then press onto another piece of paper, very exciting stuff.

I did a whole range of ways of doing this, involving art that delved into itself, as I'll explain as we go along. I should mention at the outset that you should not be doing image transfer with anyone work but your own, if you plan on presenting it as your own work. These images are all from my own original art.

Some kinds of art, unless you have a studio with a fume hood, which I don't, are best done out of doors. In this northern climate, that means summer. Image transfer is a good example of this, since you use a solvent (I used acetone) to move the image and it's much better to be away from any risk of inhaling or setting fire to it in the process.

I'm fiercely careful about safety in art materials, never allow spray adhesive anywhere in my vicinity, never use spirit gum, never work with pastels indoors, since the dust that comes off is toxic, all that. So I like to emphasize the importance of working with solvents out of doors if you don't have a powerful suction type of fan system in the studio, and I don't know anyone who does.

So, cautions said, here's a wonderful experience I had incorporating film photography, drawing, environmental art, the kind of work that draws you in and you can't plan it ahead of time, since the work tells you what to do as you go.

All these pieces are small, since that's often the nature of image transfer, few bigger than maybe 8 x 10 inches in size. Big works in small sizes! And all are transferred onto Arches hotpress paper, wonderful paper.

The range of approaches I explain as we go, in case you want to try it for yourself.A lot of these images are taken from a very small radius around my house, since part of what I wanted to do was find the art of the neighborhood, without feeling you have to make an expedition to find subject matter.

Water shutoffs outside the building. This was a film photograph which I got developed, two copies, then assembled them in opposition to each other, then used solvent to move the image onto the hotpress paper. Photos face down on the paper, solvent liberally doused over the back, gently stroke the back of the photos to make sure the image transfers well.

This was a monotype which I created freehand, then photographed, doubled, and transferred.

Painting, photographed, and transferred

This tree filled with rocks was part of a series of environmental art pieces I created in the trees out behind the house, using rocks from around the tree, to make a nonintrusive art piece. There's a golf course behind there, and golfers wander about looking for stray golfballs, so they see these things.

One pointed this tree out to me one day, not knowing I had anything to do with it, and said, will you look at that? how do you suppose that could have happened? In the end between freezing and thawing and the assistance of squirrels, a lot of the rocks were redeposited on the surrounding grass over the next year.

I photographed and then transferred this. But I also made drawings of the tree and others, and photographed the drawings and transferred them, too. This make your art go through dimension after dimension, showing you interesting changes as it goes.

Continuation of the environmental pieces.

Shadows through the fence around the dumpsters!

One of the neighbors had these two chairs out on the porch, and they were so eloquent that I had to get a picture, and then transfer it, to catch a dreamy, soft focus feeling about it.

Much sharper image, because this is photography transferred.

This was one of those winter scenes where nature makes the art and you just get to record it. The patio after a big snowfall, photographed then transferred.

This scene you also saw in a charcoal drawing in an earlier post -- I made an entire series of charcoal drawings of this scene. This is the original quick snap I took at the shrub nursery, of trees burlapped for the winter, which I transferred. It's eerily like a crowd of people, even when you know it's shrubs.

Engineering art! one photograph of the top of the heating unit at our house, doubled, arranged in opposition, then transferred.

This was an ink monotype, but this time photographed and doubled before transfer.

This is two images, a comment on the similarities between flowers and shells, taken at the shore, the only piece in this series made more than fifty yards from my front door.

This was a monotype, which I created then photographed and transferred, to give it a soft focus, evocative feel.

This is a couple of electrical junction boxes, photographed, doubled, related and transferred.

The artist's hand shadow on an iron cover, while I took the picture with the other hand. Two images, related, then transferred.

This is a painting, made with soluble crayon, and transferred.

Another painting, same idea.

Flower pushing through a gap in the fence.

Another winter scene, this one the markings done by the cable guys after a snowstorm, and the flags they left after they'd done whatever cable guys do. Double image, related in opposition, then transferred.

Cable boxes again, I get a lot of mileage out of the local engineering. But they're beautiful, symmetrical with oddness too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Dollivers character dolls, and winter sports

I just thought you'd like to see some art in action. The Dollivers continue to thrive and seek adventure everywhere!

At the pharmacy, where the pharmacist obligingly put up Handsome Partner's urgently needed heart medication with the assistance of a Nurse Dolliver

And on the ski slopes

where after a large snowfall last night, there was fun for the more frivolous Dollivers while the serious professional nurse was busy at the pharmacy, and then jonesing for flowers as a reward for such dedication

Back at the ski center, these are not the beginner slopes, but then the little Swiss doll is an expert on skis

Unlike her Dolliver student who is finding this harder than it looks

And is glad of apres ski hot chocolate near a warm microwave

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Read all About it!

I have a piece in this installation, so if you are anywhere near this gallery, do stop in and enjoy the whole thing.

January 2011
The Milkweed Project at The Eclipse Gallery

Dear Liz,

You are invited to attend the opening reception of The Milkweed Project and Other Flawless Fibers at The Eclipse Gallery on Friday, January 14, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

An exciting fiber and textile exhibition opens this month at The Eclipse Gallery in Algoma. The Milkweed Project, a collaborative artwork made up of approximately 150 objects created by several hundred artists and crafters from 30 states and 10 countries, is a main highlight of the show. Participants from the U.S. and around the world have contributed works that are knitted, felted, crocheted and woven. They became a part of one artwork that is intended to capture the essence of a milkweed pod; its soft, ethereal beauty and its importance to the natural world.

Other nationally-recognized textile artists, including Alison Gates, Jennifer Hunold, and Mindy Sue Wittock, contribute non-traditional textile and fiber pieces that make this exhibition one not to be missed.
Sculpture, basketry, quilting, embroidery, weaving, sewing, crocheting, felting, and knitting will be represented in unique ways.

Join us for the opening reception on Friday, January 14, 5:00 - 8:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. The exhibition runs through February 28.

Visit for directions, hours, and more information about The Eclipse Gallery. This event also coincides with the next Algoma Art Wave, a gallery/studio tour that takes place every 2nd Friday evening of each month. For more info, visit

The Eclipse Gallery combines contemporary art, indie craft, & handmade design from a wide variety of artists and makers. They are located at 507 4th St. (Hwy 42) in Algoma, WI. For more information, visit, call (920) 487-8060, or email

The Eclipse Gallery
507 4th St. Algoma, WI

Thanks to all of you for making this happen!


Shan is the artist and coordinator who guided this whole huge installation to completion, involving the work of artists, hundreds of them, from all over the world.

My part, after many choices I made and designed and rejected, in process

My section, finished.

This was one place where art really does have a healing and tranquillizing effect -- this piece was designed and created in various emergency waiting rooms, surgical waiting rooms, corridors of various hospitals, during a long and terrible siege for HP (Handsome Partner). Being engrossed in it help keep me on an even keel even when all around me was shaking apart.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another gallery of drawings

I went through literally hundreds of drawings and picked out a few favorites for you to enjoy. This is one of the things that my adult students had a hard time getting: just how many drawings it takes before you like one, if you have any critical faculty. They would get down on themselves because the second or twentieth drawing, as beginnners, wasn't up to their aims.

Then I'd show them Japanese drawings, which they liked a lot, and tell them gently the person who made them had been drawing for maybe seventy years! But it's not about the end product, very often, rather it's about the process, the journey being at least as significant to the traveler as the destination.

Bird studies, which, surprise, are based on the egg shape. What a concept.

Scraped paint and ink drawing

Study of a sparrow's head

Abstraction in pencil, taking a line and its shadow for a walk

Pansies, line and wash, but really a drawing

Marker drawing of art materials -- there's always something to draw, no need to search

Marker drawing on card

Ink on card multiple views

Ink drawing, daffodils. I did a series of these one per day until the flowers faded, and they were equally beautiful at all stages, what a metaphor

This drawing nearly made it as a cover drawing for a local big organization brochure, but they had another meeting and their chief honcho thought it was "too arty"! wonderful compliment, but not intended that way

Gesture drawing of cat on sofa

Pencil abstraction

Charcoal drawing, seated nude

Charcoal drawing, woman's head

Charcoal abstraction on brown paper

Chalk drawing on brown paper

Chalk on black paper, seated male

Chalk abstraction on black

One of many many three-stroke drawing, charcoal on toothed paper

Chalk drawing, white on dark abstraction

Pen drawing of kitty Marigold