Monday, December 7, 2009

Works in progress, finally...but not yet

When I can't make new art, I entertain myself doing something in the studio. I HAVE been carving a large project and been designing some new but these days I just can't bring myself to print. Tough year!

One of my long-standing projects on my never ending list of things to do was to take better photos of my artwork and complete my digital files. With almost 300 images on record, this has been a tedious and boring project. And I'm not done yet!

But I'm liking the results and now all my images look better. Since it's "the season" I also decided I had too many prints laying about and, not in the mood for returning to the festival circuit as of yet, I decided to revamp my online shops in ebay and Etsy. The details work very well to give someone a better idea of what they are getting within the limitations of online art displays.

Automating tasks in Photoshop and Dreamweaver makes the process a lot faster, although there is still a bit of work for each image. And since I can't seem to do anything without thinking of my fellow artists, I'm also working on a guide on just how to do this, imaging, online selling, and so on. Great...another book project...just what I need.

Here are some examples of some of those details. With ebay's new "free gallery" policies for the art category, it has become a lot easier to make better looking and more visually informative displays. For anyone that has been thinking about placing a couple of older art items online in one of these shops, this is the time!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Carving Goldwell blocks these days

While I was at my residency last October at the Goldwell Open Air Museum, I fell back to my old habit of taking a bunch of "sketch blocks" with me on daily walks.

Here are some of them. I favor Sharpie markers as my sketching weapon. No room for mistakes that way which makes me capture things in a very spontaneous and direct manner.

I made quite a few of these and plan to print them as sketches and bind them as a coloring book.

Here are some progress pictures of the smaller of the two East blocks. This one is the Red Barn as seen from the East.

One down, seven to go! Oh yeah, and all the little ones...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keeping in touch with collectors!

My two cents on marketing...

When I first started this crazy "business" I sent everyone that collected my artwork a thank you card, a Christmas card, and a quarterly printed newsletter. Marketing is a full-time job; making art is a full-time job; selling art is a full-time job. Who can keep up! (Besides Annie Bisset and David Bull, that is, my heroes!).

Anyhow, here we are a few years little customer list grew and grew! Where I began with about 100 faithful followers, I now have around 2100 in my database. What to do?
First thing I did was start to "clean it up" so every year I drop a few that have gone silent. I drop bounces and returned cards as I don't want to waste precious marketing pennies and I'm sure my customers don't want to be bothered again and again after they are no longer in touch.

Still keeping up with the thank you cards for every purchase at festivals. NOT even close keeping up with Christmas cards or printed newsletters; the Christmas "card" and the neatly printed newsletter have metamorphosed into:

- An email Christmas greeting.

- An email newsletter, I call it 1000 Woodcuts Updates and am pretty faithful about sending about 2-6 a year depending on how busy I am and how much I have that is really "news". Here is a sample:

- This blog, which is a Blogger blog but kept archived in my own website just in case. Every artist should have one (did I just say that?).

- My own website, of course. Actually, two websites, one for me and one for my Art Festival Guide
They take a bit of work to keep updated, but the "building" is the hard part. I would like to have more Studio Notes for all the artist friends out there, but they will come in due time.

- Pages in Facebook, Inkteraction, eBay ME page, Etsy Shop, AbsoluteArts, and every once in a while I find one that I had forgotten and is in horrible need of an update. Now that I can update Facebook from my iPhone I might keep up a little better there.

- I also belong but rarely log on to WetCanvas, various online printmaking groups, various online art festival groups, the National Association for Independent Artists, the Nevada Arts Council...I'm getting a headache...

Every little bit helps and the world wide web has really changed the way us lowly artists can market themselves to a global audience. Keeping up with it all is the problem!

This year I'm going to surprise my collectors by sending them all a printed newsletter again. The printed physical piece has become so rare in these days that I always welcome post-cards and letters from people I want to follow in their art adventures.

What a wacky career we have chosen...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Workshop at Goldwell Encore!

Once more I'm dragging a few unsuspecting souls out into the quiet of the desert for another workshop with all proceeds to benefit the Goldwell Open Air Museum

In addition to joining their Board of Directors I have been ordained their Workshop Director? Organizer? Anyway, I will be recruiting instructors and attempting to put together a program of workshops and demonstrations.

The Red Barn Art Center is ideal for workshops because of its remote location. Participants can work in a great setting without distractions and the desert has a way of making us focus on what's important: ART!

For starters, here is the information on mine:

Intermediate Woodcut Printmaking Workshopwith Maria Arango
February 20-22, 2009, Red Barn Art Center Instructor: Maria Arango (2008 Artist-in-Residence)Members: $140 for both days Non-Members: $175 for both days Beatty Residents: $50 per dayAdditional studio time: $25 per day

Woodcut printmaking is a very simple and rewarding process. An image is drawn on a block of wood (or linoleum). The areas that are not part of the image are cut out, leaving the image in relief. Ink is rolled onto the block, paper is placed on the inked block, and pressure is applied to the back of the paper. When the paper is lifted the image is transferred, transformed by the cutting, fresh and beautiful.

This workshop will cover the essentials of relief printmaking and introduce more advanced techniques. Instructor will demonstrate various techniques to achieve multi-color woodcuts, including puzzle woodcuts, reduction woodcuts and multi-block woodcuts. Participants will be encouraged to complete a multi-color project during the workshop. Participants of every level can be accommodated. In the spirit of printmaking tradition, participants will create a minimum of one small edition in order to exchange prints with every other participant and walk away with a beautiful collection.

Two full days of dedicated instruction from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, on Saturday and Sunday.To reserve your space, send an email to with the word WORKSHOP in the subject line.Lodging is available in nearby Beatty, lunch, a Friday night arrival dinner and all basic supplies will be provided. For more information call 702- 870-9946.

Goldwell Blocks Get Going

I can't believe it's been four months since my residency last October!

Anyhow, I managed some trench digging projects (ongoing) and other home things and now I'm beginning to carve the 8 Goldwell Blocks.

First cuts are always pretty cool; I'm using cherry plywood which shows the marks very well and allows me to see exactly what's going to happen in the print. Almost exactly.
Notice to the right of my block is my new favorite device for keeping tools handy: a magnetic tool organizer from either or, I forget which. Keeps all my carving tools handy, at eye level and off my working desk-- not that my working desk is clean at any time, but the tool holder helps.
The second picture is of my favorite helper. She makes me stand up by taking over my chair because she knows I carve so much better when standing (hmmm...)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Me in a tree in progress

The key block, on the hanshita paper ready to be transferred. This hanshita paper is a huge time and head-ache saver! I just print the carved key block, kentos and all, as many times as there will be color blocks.

I pasted down my hanshitas with rice paste, ready made and purchased from Dick Blick , search for Nori. I then stack the blocks and put weight on them so the hanshita won't wrinkle. It dries perfectly flat. The hanshita is composed of two layers, a thick backing sheet and a thin sheet.

Once dry, the thick sheet peels off and the thin sheet remains on the block. A few drops of oil and the paper disappears (visually speaking) leaving just the perfect image on the block to be carved right through the paper.

The first picture is the key block printed in blue with the green block, leaves background printed as well. Fun working with such transparent inks and certainly very different from using oil-based inks. The second is the sienna block printed over the key block on the tree trunk. I printed the leaves and the tree twice to achieve saturation.

Lastly a purple block to get some depth on the leaves, a bit of shading on the tree, and a background for the "hiding place" behind the figure.

My favorite part of being a pritmaker! A bunch of prints all in a row. Next post shows the finished print and some details.

Me in a tree...

Here is my latest attempt at moku-hanga, the traditional Japanese technique.

I actually had fun this time! I enjoyed working with transparent colors even though some need to be printed twice for my preferred saturation.

I used the Baren Mall's hanshita paper to transfer the key block to the color blocks, kento and all. Then a mixture of tube watercolors, raw pigment also from the Baren Mall and Akua suspension pigments for tinting.

All in all, a fun image to work with. I tried for "goma" on the tree blocks, but the truth is that I can't control it quite yet. No problems with registration, actually got 46+ good prints out of 48 pieces of New Hosho paper.

When I was a child I used to clim trees, mostly as an escape from the "cliques" and "groupies" that children form around each other. I was a bit of a loner...and a great tree climber! While I was printing with my Murasaki Baren (in dire need of a new skin) I got swept by the rhythm of the printing action and a poem came to me. My husband says it's sad but I didn't really see it that way.

Me in a tree
No one looks up
No one can find me
Or laugh at me

The gory details: