Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Celebration like no other!

Another year in my life has passed and as I approached a significant milestone, my husband made sure it would be memorable.

Jade Mountain
He whisked me off to beautiful St Lucia and surprised me with a stay in a most fantastic resort! Tucked high on a hillside and looking like a fabulous layer cake sits Jade Mountain; bejeweled with tropical flowers, reflective glass sculptures and rooms with only three walls.

Yes, only three walls!

One side of this unbelievable room was totally open to the elements. And to top it off, a large infinity pool sat at the edge of the space offering spectacular views of the lush hillside and ocean.

The Pitons were in full view and as I swam to the edge of the pool I felt like I was in an amazing tree-house with the birds flying in and about the space. And there's nothing like watching dawn breaking or viewing a sunset, from a pool in your room ... too much!!!

Netting around the large four poster bed was dropped into place before retiring to ensure that there were no bug bites over night. To be honest, we didn't encounter any pesky bugs.

In addition to the pool, there was a Jacuzzi in the luxurious elevated bath just in case you wanted bubbles with the view.

And to top it all off, the stay ended with a helicopter ride! This was a once in a lifetime birthday treat that I will never forget and it definitely took away the sting of turning ......

Thursday, October 8, 2015

In limbo ...

It's been a long time since my last post but the summer has been very busy (almost too much going on at times) and there hasn't been much time for the studio. Even though summer is officially over I'm still at the beach but becoming extremely homesick and wishing I had a block of uninterrupted time for printmaking.

The summer was a fun time with the grandkids and grandpups. Sleepovers, sandcastles, playgrounds, swimming and daily adventures filled my days. I welcomed this precious time with the wee ones -  because we all know how time flies - but boy, toddlers can keep you on your toes!

And the pups love the beach so they are constantly wanting to go swimming and chase tennis balls. They barely have time to dry off before they're back in the water.

The reason for my prolonged "summer" is home renovations.

The chimney needed to be replaced and this was determined to be the best time to do so. Furniture needed to be moved and shoved into surrounding rooms, rugs rolled up and all odds and ends moved out of the way. It's amazing how much stuff accumulates in one room!

Bricks were torn down and the living room sported a gaping hole where the fireplace once stood. Very unnerving I might add, to have a hole in your house!

Slowly, the new chimney took shape.

Since the chimney was being replaced we decided to change the fireplace from a brick facade to stone. It looks great but took time.

We went from a raised hearth to one flush with the floor. It took a bit of searching but I finally fould the perfect stone at a local granite supplier.

And like any good renovation project, one thing naturally lead to another. We decided to add windows on each side of the fireplace which meant cutting holes in the house and replacing siding.

We figured this was the opportune time to scrape the popcorn texture (big in the seventies when we built the house) off of the ceiling. And of course, this required painting walls and ceilings.

After seeing how great the spray foam insulation had worked in the cottage, my husband decided to spray foam the attic at home. This meant all of the fiberglass insulation needed to be pulled out of the attic. A nasty, itchy job! We now we have half a garage full of bagged insulation which needs to be carted to the dump. This is definitely going to take a few trips with the pick-up truck.

Finally, a roof leak which showed up from last winter's heavy snow buildup needs to be repaired. Hopefully, that should be the end of this round of renovations.

We're fortunate to have a place to stay while our home is in such a state of turmoil but driving back and forth to check on the mason, contractors, and do as much as we can ourselves, is starting to take its toll. Patience, never one of my strong suits, is in order. I just have to keep reminding myself to relax, take one day at a time, home will be back together soon, and the studio will be waiting.

In the meantime, since I'm not in the woods surrounded by towering oaks, I get to enjoy spectacular sunrises,

dramatic sunsets and

 unobstructed views of the moon.

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Baby!

I have often dreamed about having a table top press. Something fairly portable that could be taken on the road for printmaking demonstrations and most importantly, a press to use at the beach house. This weekend my dreams came true!

A printmaker, in the process of moving, advertised their press for sale. I called the minute I saw the ad and the purchase was confirmed. So, a weekend trip to Cape Cod was planned and I'm now the proud owner of a Conrad etching press. E15  It's a little beauty in pristine condition and she is now sitting in my workspace at the beach. I can't wait to give "Moondance Press" a try.

Not only did I acquire a press, but my husband and I took some time off to just enjoy a nice weekend trip. Rather than turning around and heading home from Wellfleet, we decided to stay over in Chatham, at The Captain's House Inn. Inn

Take some time to relax, dine out and enjoy the sunset.

We took a detour on the way home and stopped in at The Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, Ma. museum to see the Boston Printmakers' members exhibition - "Look Again". slide show
This regenerative exhibition challenged BP members to create response pieces to one of 42 works from the museums collection. I chose to respond to a print by Ken Kerslake.

 And ended up with this.

The distinctive composition and title of Kerslake's "Sense of Place" inspired me to explore an idea I've often contemplated. If you had two places that you loved, how could you choose one place over the other?

Two locales I call home are distinctly different. One a secluded nest-like sanctuary surrounded by tall oaks. The scent of the woods surrounding you, sounds of birds and wildlife and glorious seasonal transformations. The other with a majestic view of the Atlantic ocean; infinite space, salt air, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets accompanied by an endless soundtrack of surf. When I'm in the woods, I'm thinking about the beach. When I'm at the shore, I'm thinking about the woods.

"Conundrum; Woods or Water?" addresses the dilemma of choosing a favorite.

It was interesting to see the three responses to Kerslake's print hung side by side.

One of my favorites in the show was this piece printed on Post It Notes.
This large bee triptych was quite impressive.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and it felt great to break up our routine and get out and about.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yeah! CMYK

Over the last few days I've been researching color separation for photopolymer film. I've always wanted to experiment with this process but just haven't had a span of uninterrupted studio "play" time.

Transparencies, plates and inks ready to proof.

Since I don't always know what I'm doing when it comes to Photoshop, it's best to just focus on the nuts and bolts of "how to" and experiment as I research over a period of contiguous days. The Akua site had a great video and a clever process for making color strips. Color Overlays  I also picked up good info from the Vimeo site about color separation. 4 color process separation The Non-Toxic Print site Non-Toxic Print has a lot of great information and a section dealing specifically with registration and color separation. Color Separation Four color intaglio-type

It wasn't long before I managed to break down an image into CYMK color channels, make transparencies and create my plates. For this trial piece, I used Akua intaglio Phthalo Blue, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Carbon Black. I mixed a little transparent base into all the colors except the black.

Rock #1

This is my very first multicolor proof. As you can see, I have to focus on better registration but over all, I'm pleased with how far I've come over the past few days. Now to tackle the registration issues.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Plastic Plates

I spent the day in the studio working on "cracks & crevices" and ended up with a couple of strong proofs. Adjusting the curves in Photoshop before I make my transparencies makes a world of difference!

I really like the individual compositions of the two proofs below, but I especially like them together so I'm considering presenting them as a diptych. I'm in the process of figuring out my color options; the left is printed in Akua's Carbon Black and the one on the right in Graphite. This series should offer a variety of options that will be fun to explore.

I found out something interesting today. I started out this morning by adhering ImagOn film to a piece of Plexiglass scrap that I had on hand. Even though I was using my new and improved transparency and the same exposure time as my last session, I ended up with a really poor, washed out print.

Plexiglass plate and proof.

This didn't make sense. So just for the heck of it, I adhered film to a different surface; some thinner flexible plastic dry point plates that I've had forever. I ended up with great proofs. There must be something about the thicker plexiglass but for the life of me I can't imagine why the ImagOn won't work when they're used. A puzzel to be solved another time I guess. 

I ended up ordering some plastic plates from Dick Blick. Akua Plates The nice thing about ImagOn is that plates can be reclaimed and used again by placing them in a strong soda ash solution over night to strip the film.

Standard Plexiglass & old plastic plates from Rembrandt Graphic Arts.

Before I called it a day, I exposed both images to a new plate. This time I adhered two layers of ImagOn to one of the larger flexible plastic plates. You can see that after processing, the images look strong. I'll let the plate set over night and see how they print tomorrow.

Flexible plastic plate with double ImagOn layer.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Successful Experimenting

I'm beginning to finalize an idea for my rock piece. Just like the dune is comprised of carefully placed individual boulders, I'm thinking of creating a series of small individual plates focusing on cracks and crevasses and then assembling them on the press bed to print as one unit.

First, I need to do a few test pieces to get my positives and exposure times correct. This is always the trial and error period before I can get down to business.

I'm a self taught novice when it comes to working with Photoshop. I learn as I go along and try to pick up tips and techniques from various sources. There are some pretty good tutorials online and it's just a matter of taking time to sit at the computer and experiment.

Film positives. The one on the right with curve adjustment.

I was having trouble getting details in dark areas. Even though I was using an aquatint screen there were areas of open biting. I decided to take the time to experiment and see if I could solve this problem once and for all. Dragging out my Photoshop books I came across a section on "curves".  It sounded as though the blacks on my film were too dark.

Because the image is translated into a dot structure, the blackest areas need to be reduced from 100% to around 70% for ImagOn and 80% for Solarplate. With this information, I created two transparencies on Mylar. There were no adjustments done to the one on the left. The one on the right  had an adjustment using curves. The adjusted transparency looks lighter and has a gray tone.

ImagOn plate, transparencies & proofs.

To keep exposure and processing times the same, I exposed the two transparencies to the same surface - ImagOn adhered to a sheet of plexiglass . Using a NuArc exposure unit, the plate was first exposed to an aquatint screen for 20 LU's and then the image was exposed for 35 LU's. It was processed in a soda ash bath for 9 minutes.

Transparencies on top - proofs below.

After proofing the plate, I was happy with the results and surprised to see what a difference the adjustment made. The image above shows the two transparencies and their corresponding proofs. The plate that was made using the 70% transparency has much more detail than the darker transparency. More light was able to penetrate the image during exposure to provide greater detail. Eureka!

So, once you have your image, click Image - Adjust - Curves. Pull the right end point of the graph straight down towards the middle of the system of coordinates until the Output field shows 70% for ImagOn and 80% for Solarplate. Then click OK and print your transparency.

Beautiful Boulders

I have always been drawn to rocks and decided that it was high time to make them the topic of my next project. There's something about their forms, textures and colors that speak to me and at times I can't resist playing around with whats at hand. 

For me, rocks also play a vital role in protecting a beloved shoreline home from natures forces. When a hurricane is pushing waves relentlessly onto shore, a sturdy rock dune provides a barrier to natures fury.

Our original family cottage had a small dune and we were very lucky over the decades to not to suffer catastrophic storm damage. Even though the '54 hurricane managed to push in the front wall and deposit sand and rocks in the basement, it was repairable. The old place held up well.

Over the years though, the water has been creeping closer to the dune and we knew it was just a matter of time before our luck would run out when it came to warding off mother nature's tantrums. We decided to rebuild the cottage, raise it up and reinforce the dune. 

It was fascinating to watch the dune building process. Heavy boulders would be trucked in, a few at a time because of their size. An excavator would pick up and carefully place each rock making sure they were locked tightly against each other. I had to admire the skill of the machine operator. He would manipulate the bucket as if were an extension of his hand. I would often spend time watching the progress and must say that I longed to try it myself.

As it turned out, it was a good thing that we rebuilt when we did. Super storm Sandy hit shortly after we finished the house and built the stairs over the dune. This is what the dune and walk-over looked like the day after the storm.

Beautiful blue sky; the calm after the storm but such destruction along the coast. The Atlantic was right up to the remainder of the dune.

It was amazing to see that the huge boulders in the dune had been pushed into the front yard and rolled out toward the ocean. The force of the waves must have been astounding! But the dune did its job and absorbed the brunt of the waters force.

But, because of the dune and the fact that we had raised the building, there was no damage to the house itself. The basement took the hit; sand and rocks in the basement, a couple of break-away walls and a garage door that needed replacing. We were lucky; I don't believe the old cottage would have survived.

After Sandy, we immediately rehired the excavator crew to come back and rebuild the dune so we'd be prepared for the next storm.  I happily got to watch to watch them play with rocks again.