Monday, November 2, 2020

Time flies! New print

Exchange time!

Another print made for an exchange among printmakers. To the uninitiated this may seem like a silly exercise, artists make prints and send them to each other. But looking closely, exchanges allow printmakers (many without websites) to send their art to 30 fellow artists and receive a neat portfolio of prints from all over the world. I personally have built an astounding collection of 2500 prints and counting and in exchange, my prints are in possession of a thousand printmakers worldwide. Wow.

Some details and info here:

Below is my contribution to Exchange #84 with some progress pictures.

And here a YouTube Video of the print making!

Print Title: Liquid Glow
Paper Dimension: 10x15 inches
Image Dimension: 8x12 inches
Block: Cherry plywood x2
Pigment or Ink: Daniel Smith oil based, Gamblin transparent base
Paper: Lotka Rust with leaf inclusions, handmade in Nepal
Edition: 100

warming light
liquid glow
a new dawn

For some reason this size paper inspires figures immersed in nature (often represented by a lone woman, go figure). Nature is my safe place, my healing light, inspiration, stress relief, pure bliss, even if only in imaginary fantasies.
 I combined a puzzle cutout print, the sky, and two rainbow rolls. This combination of techniques allows me to print, with only two blocks, 5 colors and the intermediate colors of gradations, plus the paper color which I used as a midtone.

All the details:

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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Update on the Kindness Puzzle

30 in 70 to go

Tiny blocks are arriving all the time now and the excitement grows in my studio, as if I needed any help! I faithfully record them as they come in and log them into my spreadsheet. Participant information entries are quietly building a book to be sent to everyone as soon as the print is done.

For those of us who don't know what I'm talking about, a puzzle print is in the works called 100 Acts of Kindness. Basically I take five huge blocks, design something, cut them up and send each participating artist a tiny block. Artists carve their block, send it back, I build the puzzle and eventually print the whole thing. Everyone gets prints back with tiny contributions from all over the world. Fun, hard work, entertaining and a great way to spend 2020!

You can follow the play by play on the Facebook Page:

Here are the latest contributions:

And more

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Lead Me Out and Lemonade

Conversation With a Canyon II: Lead Me Out

"So how do you like it?
Good, all good, it is very peaceful in here
Are you staying? Few wander in, you know
A little while, I brought lunch
I have water, here and there, clean and cold...
What if I spend the night on that cool bed of sand
I will keep you safe, I will let in the moonlight and the moss scented winds
(to be continued)

Lead Me Out, already transferred to the color block and ready to be printed


When life gives you lemons...
Takes a bunch of daily exposure to keep up the online sales and I still miss the festival life and the face to face contact with customers. These days, it would be mask to mask I suppose but some of us in the "high risk" category are advised to stay away from crowds altogether so even if there WERE any festivals to go to, I would have to abstain. I tweet and post on Facebook and Instagram often, many artists do that now and it is good to see more art on those platforms. 2020 be over!!!!!!

SO! Online shops are the only thing. With the help of my friends at Google (!) I am working on improving my main website and actually I am pleased with the results both on visits and sales. One thing that I enjoy is the messaging system, I have Facebook Messenger linked to my site so many times visitors strike up a conversation and it has the "feel" of a visit to my booth.
EBay has some features that I enjoy such as the bargaining that goes along with the Best Offer feature and the back and forth of offers and counter-offers. Almost like being in the booth on a Sunday afternoon, almost!

I have had more time to finish some editions of little prints that never got done. And I am enjoying using up all the handmade paper in my flat files. My happy studio is a great place, I really like working daily on different things and there is always plenty to do. Working, for me, is bliss and I will leave you with that thought.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Conversation With a Canyon I is done!

The Inky Stuff

Finished print I on the two-part series of canyons. Now that I'm "in" the canyon, I have to carve my way out. Here are all the printing photos of Lure Me In

Decided on the color scheme
now the real stuff, all Daniel Smith (RIP)
oil based inks

First proofs
the stripes are done a la poupee
another way of saying applied free-hand
with a tiny roller

The block inked and assembled,
ready to print

There we go, about 55 or so
paper is Rives BFK tan

Key block with all 
the definition

Overprinted the key block
in umber-purple-red-more-umber

Final prints, "Lure Me In"

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Conversation With a Canyon, Lure Me In

Oh those canyons

They let you in
One of my first homage to canyons
this one in the Valley of Fire

Hiking alone sometimes results in some strange and wonderful events; as the feet trudge through rocky washes and rugged trails, the mind goes off on a fantastic journey of its own. Around these parts, there are a myriad of slot canyons, many well off the beaten path. I like to find them and then...
What are you looking at?
I'm trying to see how deep you go
Oh, I'm deep alright, why not come in and find out
It's really cool in here and the breeze is fresh and smells like wet sandstone
Are you trying to lure me in?
Why not, what are you afraid of?
Not much out here...your eyes are staring at me, is there a way out?
The water carved me and my eyes, the wind rounded me smooth, both of them found a way in and they found a way out
just follow the water
    follow the wind
        then follow the light

Lure Me In

The first in the series (of two, not so ambitious!) is now carved and ready to print. Following the "color field" challenge, I decided to carve a key block first, then divide my color block into the fields of color. Not a new method with me and it was much fun to revisit my old puzzle color woodcuts.
The key block gets transferred to a single color block and that poor thing gets chopped into as many colors as I want to have in my canyon. Scroll saw in hand and a few hours and presto! I mixed inks yesterday according to my sketches more or less. Ready to print.

Key block all carved up

Color map top left, and some notes on newsprint
bottom right

Inks mixed, tested on the tan paper
and into the color coded tubes

That's part of my brain spilled all over
that piece of paper, makes sense
to me!

Tentatively, first pieces get cut

Three hours and six scroll saw blades later...

The scroll blade kerf is so thin
you can't hardly see the divisions.
Once inked, the lines between color
fields disappear under the key block

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Sunday, May 31, 2020


Working in a series

Most of my woodcuts aren't born alone. Usually when my brain is storming with ideas I think of waaaay too many to actually create, I need another Maria to keep up with myself.
Many artists work in a series, it's a way to explore an idea or concept fully, to get all the angles, create all the derivatives until the creative bug is exhausted.

I tend to begin with what I call "sketches" although I don't sketch on paper, I go right to the blocks! When developing ideas, I grab smaller blocks and begin with a pencil, usually working from memory but relying on model books (for figures) and maybe photos (for landscapes). Once the pencil roughs things out, I commit and use a permanent marker to settle the drawing. From there, it's just another little woodcut.

Here's a studio tip: I often print them together and then trim the paper after the ink dries. Saves time and makes the series of prints more cohesive to have them on the same type of paper and ink.

Figures and landscapes

Here are two such series from my website

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In the waterfall

There she is!

Before it all begins, block, wood stains, 
oil paints for tinting, fine brushes
and a lot of courage

The easy part, a bit of walnut stain
on the pine tree and nearly 
transparent satin finish with a tint
of ebony on the rocks

Same light tint of the rocks
add some green oil tint

Same light gray tint with 
blue for the water

All the gory details

Finito! Added some shadows
and some pearl in the waterfall

Showing off texture
and my "chop"

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Just working! Oh and online news

New works in progress

Just about done with a new version of an older work. I changed the name because I can so what used to be "Pine creek" is now "In the waterfall" There isn't a new print, just a deep relief single hand carved basswood block. Staining/painting in progress. Pics of the old print and new version:

In the waterfall getting carved up

Block finished and old(er) print from 
previous block

New in progress

I still participate in exchanges and there is a deadline coming in about 6 weeks. The theme is "colorfield" and so I'm planning a couple of canyon landscapes. The key block will be subdued and the color block will be cut, inked separately and assembled at press. Here are the sketches for the key blocks. I love hiking the narrow slot canyons of the Southwest, they lure you in and they guide you out.

They lure you in
They guide you out

And finally...

Lacking art festivals until at the very least the fall and maybe beyond, I have been busy upgrading online management of my storefronts. First, I acquired a new listing tool that allows me to manage inventory on several fronts; handy little gadget although the learning curve is giving me headaches. I chose SellBrite although there are many others out there. Just seems to fit.

Second, I'm baaaaack on Ebay!!! Oh how I have missed the bargaining, wheeling and dealing, auctioning...just seems a lot more "live" and interactive than a plain ol' online store. Almost like being there with my collectors in person (almost). 

Aside from that, I also have a presence in Amazon Handmade and my main store in Etsy. Links please!

Next is a Shopify store which gives me more flexibility than any online marketplace since it is in essence my website. Working hard on that! 

Seems like a lot of shops but "they say" in this case more is better. So far I sure have seen an increase in sales in all fronts. Just sold this one over the weekend on "the bay" Awesome!

Angry Skies original block
going to a new home!