Monday, February 3, 2020

Project Update #2: 100 Acts of Human Kindness


Past halfway point! I'm starting to doodle...
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Posted by Maria Arango Diener
Feb 3, 2020
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Thank you everyone! We now have over half of participants needed to make the project "a go"!
Please keep sharing, especially directly through email, text or direct message, if you have some fellow artists that are on the fence. Remind them of the awesome group deals and how cool the final prints are. Did I just dangle a verb?! Sigh...
Calendar of Events for everyone's info:
  • January 26 2020 - PROJECT LAUNCH WOOOOSH!
  • March 3 - Funding period ends
  • February/March 2020 - Blocks designed and cut by me
  • April 1 2020 - (at the latest) Single puzzle pieces mailed out
  • September 30 2020 - PARTICIPANT DEADLINE to return carved puzzle pieces with information filled out
  • October 2020 to January 2021 - I print assembled Kindness puzzle, photograph each image, gather info, send book to publish, send poster to printer...whew!
  • February 2021 - 100 Acts of Kindness woodcut print, books, posters and postcards mailed out
Anyhow, aside from that I am so convinced we are going to make it I started to doodle in my head about the final 4-panel work (maybe 5 if we have a rush-hour influx of artists!). This takes some thinking; the great City of the World was 5-panels side by side and it is the easiest to exhibit. On the other hand, the Peace Puzzle and the Fantastic Garden were easier to design because of their shape. 
Our Fantastic Garden was truly awesome and the most "puzzly" of our puzzles
I'm thinking along the lines of graphic whimsical butterflies let loose by a helping hand or hands, with the characteristic swirls you expect from a true Maria design. we go doodling, I promise to share once I have something that actually looks presentable. 
Tell a friend! Thank you all and sharpen your chisels,

Update #1 WOW What a start!
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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Peace Puzzle on the web finally! Kindness awaits...

Peace Puzzle

I finally got around to dusting off my website skills (such as they are) and published a page with the Peace Puzzle 2015 images. This was our largest undertaking, 160 artists, 8 22x30 inch panels, massive!
Mounted on my studio table...
not me! the puzzle!!!
 Here is the final image and a link to the website where you can browse all the panels:
Peace Puzzle 2015

100 Acts of Kindness Awaits all of you!

Newest art-venture! In the spirit of peace and kindness, here is our next collaboration awaiting artists from all over the world to join us. Details:

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Upcoming event and a puzzle print

Festival alert!

I will be back in Scottsdale for the great Scottsdale Arts Festival ( in March. Here is all the info and keep an eye on my Facebook Page where I will publish my booth number and location once I get it. Get your tickets now!

Celebrating 50 years in our community
A three-day celebration of art, music, food, and family fun located at Scottsdale Civic Center Park.

March 13–15, 2020

Open Rain or Shine!

$10 single day tickets
$16 two day pass tickets available online only until Saturday, February 1, 2020.
$6 for students (student pricing not available online)
FREE for children 12 and under
FREE for members of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMOCA)


Scottsdale Civic Center Park
3939 N Drinkwater Blvd,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Puzzle Print Alert!

Yeah! Another great art-venture directed by the fearless yours truly. Here is the main/sign-up page, which will be live 1/24/2020 

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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Getting the hang of finishing carved wood

The scary part

I really enjoy carving the woodblocks and I am getting a bit bolder, I'm thinking full 3D sculpting next year!? maybe...
Hija del Sol (Daughter of the Sun) gets a remake. Actually the entire history of this image which dates back to 2002 goes like this: I completed Hija del Sol way back as a reduction print, sold out the edition then and two years ago decided to rekindle my love for this print and revived it as "Just You and Me," a homage to nature.
Getting there, with the print reference hanging
to guide my chisels

I believe I'm finished carving, now for the scary part

Anyhow, this block was challenging because it was cherry plywood and that means 7 layers of different "stuff" that appears while carving. Although that in itself is interesting, I wondered how the different layers would take stain and oil and if that would make a horrendous mess. After roughly a week of carving, the thought of staining and messing up can be a bit daunting.
But today I felt bold and adventurous...

Stains and pigments and oil

Scary part 1 completed
A base coat of golden oak stain with:
1. Gold pigment by the sun
2. Copper pigment next layer
3. Mixed with cherry stain on the fringes
I use standard stains from the home improvement store as a "base coat" to keep the wood carving unified, after all this is not an oil painting. I apply the stains with fine artist brushes, of which I own far too many. I also want to keep the wood, er..."woody" not obliterate it with color. Stains are mostly transparent, they penetrate into the wood and darken cracks and crevices while really enhancing the carving, thus the application is always a surprise.
Raw pigments mix well with the stain and allow me to modify a bit, linseed oil acts as a binder for both stain and pigment and seals the wood. So far I haven't screwed up anything too badly so I'm happy with the results. 

Here I wanted to keep the wood showing, shine the sun gold and enhance the copper mountains. First coat was the lighter golden oak stain (MinWax) mixed with a bit of gold pigment (Daniel Smith pigment). Yummy shiny golden sun...I like it. I followed with the same base golden oak and a little copper pigment which gave a good transition between the lightest areas and the dark. Next a coating of darker cherry stain mixed with the golden oak for the front mountains, the water shadows and some of the sky. So far so good. I felt emboldened again. 
As I want the stains/pigments to mix, I work fairly fast so things don't have a chance to dry, wet on wet as it were. If I wanted harsh contrast I probably would let some colors dry before applying the next. The linseed oil which I add in bits to the mixes helps keep everything from drying too fast. I also keep a bunch of cloth and paper towels around in case some stain goes astray. A quick wipe and the error is all but gone.

I felt I needed more contrast so I added a bit of ebony stain to the cherry/golden oak mix and slopped it (very very carefully) over the front mountains, water shadows, around the woman figure (with a tiny brush) and a bit over the back sky. Oh how I love is the final result with some details following. After about 24 hours I will decide if it needs a coating of polyurethane of if it's "a go" as is. 

Camus said: "There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night"
By adding dark ebony mix and later a few careful touches
of pure ebony stain, the light shines bright

Hija del sol up front, surrounded by gold,
ready to enter into the dark waters,
following the sun (yeah, I just made that up)

Gold, copper and umber mountains, the carving
really comes through when the crevices fill
with the dark ebony

Part of the composition with sun, mountains and Hija del Sol

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Carving adventures in bas relief

What to do with all those woodblocks

Printmakers are the luckiest bunch in art. Tradition dictates we are the ones who reach the audiences with our multiple editions and relatively affordable artworks. Although some see the "limited edition" as an obstacle, I have learned through the years that any one image has a long life even at editions of 100 or less. And they sell better if they are limited in scope as people still see unlimited editions as "production work" or "reproductions" gasp! Right or not, that is the reality among the masses.

In the shallows, framed along side the last print

Yet another advantage of being a printmaker is that we can have a foot into the "one of a kind" world with our carved woodblocks. Long ago I learned that the same masses also love the unique and are willing to pay large sums to be the only one to own a piece of art.
So long ago I started selling my cancelled blocks to satisfy that craving. With over 600 images completed, that's a lot of woodblocks I don't have to store!

How I cancel and beautify woodblocks

Floating World II

Detail of Floating World II
Cancelling the blocks is a problem because invariably some wanna be artist comments: "oh so I can make prints from that if I buy it!?" Ummmm... not really, no...definitely not! I had to find a way that the blocks were unprintable. Tried many approaches, signing and dating in the front of the block, heavy polyurethane coating, stain and poly to fill the lines, leave the last inking to dry on the block to fill in the lines. All were good approaches and made the blocks look awesome, but this year I decided to transform my blocks even more and turn them into bas relief pieces. And oh how I love carving!

Here in pictures are some of my latest creations.
This was a tedious undertaking, the block is just
9x9 inches. All I did is recede the background and
"round" the bodies to give!
Finished the block with two coats of linseed oil,
second coat lightly tinted with cherry stain to give
the lines more depth

This block needed 3 "layers" in bas relief speak.
Sky to be receded the most, moon rounded and in a middle
layer, and the lady-shadow to be the front layer.
Carving plank cherry is very involved, especially between
all those "cloud trails." 

Detail of the edge of the moon against
the sky layer. Trickery: the edges of one
layer against another get deeper carving
which gives the illusion of more depth contrast
between layers

After staining, sky got darker with an ebony stain and linseed oil.
Moon got lighter with iridescent pearl pigment mixed with oil, and
my lady received a very light coating of ebony, bronze pigment and
linseed oil. After the oil dried, I lightly buffed the whole block with
a soft cloth and gave it a polyurethane (satin finish) bath to seal
in the pigments.

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