The Beginning of Looking Close

June 15, 2014

a new lexicon to use

Recent explorations in the studio and in the long-buried recesses of memory have opened a vein into where my new work is headed. These intricate and overlapping pieces of time that I collect and keep buried are akin to building my own world - a place of wonder, cold truths, and some pockets of pain and anguish. In an effort to catalog and understand my own inner-workings, thereby creating a system of knowing, I am slowly going through piece by piece of data. Instead of the large, pulled away and necessarily distant view most of my work has taken, inspired by maps that seem to dominate a terrain by labelling them, I am now ready to come closer. I'm willing to accept that previous systems of analyzation may not have been the only way through this territory.

new little icons for meaning-making

Everything has always been so precious. I think my early attraction to printmaking is rooted in the nature of its traditions and craftsmanship. With a foot in that world, I'm inching my way more and more into a mode of working in which the purely ephemeral is allowed in, and I can actually let go of some of my most deeply held truths in order to obtain a larger goal. But what is that goal?

I am now on that journey. This is the beginning of looking close.

new post up at NASSR

June 3, 2014

blubonnets growing in a dry riverbed.

My most recent writing, The Desert: Spirit of Place and Encountering the Dream, has been posted on the NASSR Graduate Student Caucus homepage. This narrative piece follows my first visit to the west Texas desert and revelations about its nature versus the imagined place I dreamt it to be in my expectations. In the place of adventure and openness to experience, I find that there is room for new ideas and thought to take root; the old assumptions of a world's descriptions for a place no longer fit my frame of reference. I find that the desert is not a place that feels foreign to me, but a calm and reclusive silence that, not unlike deep piney woods of my youth, could be as dangerous as a swamp if I don't know where I'm headed.

A new press enters my life...

May 8, 2014

bringing home a new press

Just a few weeks ago, I got a lead on a little baby Adana Five-Three that was for sale here in town. I went and checked it out, looked over the parts it had, the condition it was in, and even some type that it came with and ended up bringing it home for a very good price. The press even came in its original box which was a treat to see, though the box is moldy and needs to be thrown out. This press was manufactured sometime in the 1960s and still has its manual and typesetting handbook with it. I immediately fell for its bright red color and tiny size. It doesn't weigh very much and could transport easily for demos or little workshops if ever needed.

sorting through the type and spacers

First things first, after a quick dust off and oiling, the press definitely needed new rollers in order to function again. I browsed several resources on the internet for replacement rollers and found that Caslon Limited in England would offer the best quality rollers for my little press. They also make replacement parts for the Adana should anything break or go missing. The rollers are a bit pricey with the currency exchange and shipping, but it's a good investment in the press itself. I also saved a little bit of money by reusing the old trucks that came off of the original, damaged rollers. They were in fine condition and just in need of some cleaning. While waiting for the new rollers to arrive, I had plenty of type to sort through from the haul that came with my press. Because it's chase is so small (5 inches by 3 inches, thus the name Adana Five-Three), it can print some pretty tiny type. I was bequeathed some 6pt Sparta, 10pt Times New Roman, and 14pt Times Bold. Amazingly, the 14pt actually seems quite small when I printed my first test print, even though it is the largest of my type. I can tell that I've got a lot to learn about the finer points of this little press. The manual for it boasts that no quoins or keys are required for lock up, but I am still cautious about this claim. I'm hoping the more I print with it, the more I'll get the hang of it.

new rollers and old trucks (runners)

The day that my rollers arrived in the mail came rather quickly as I had only to wait about a week for them to show up on my doorstep. I was really excited to find that the trucks fit perfectly onto the new rollers and, once in place on the press, they ran smoothly. My first inking was not with letterpress ink but with a Gamblin relief ink, and my first print was a small typeset tryout of a birthday card that I wanted to try printing at least once to see if it could be done. Hopefully the next time I give it a whirl, I can learn more from the process and develop a knack for lock up on this little thing. And I do believe it needs a name.

my little red press in its new home

embarking on a new series

April 4, 2014

bags of collected Florida ephemera

Toward the end of last month, I started on a new project of cutting down several large (for me) 12" by 12" plates that could work in tandem with one another to start a new body of work. I've been unsure of where this new stuff will go, but I know it's been really fueled by texture and color moreso than my work has previously. The richness of memory does still permeate what I'm thinking of when beginning this stage of prints, but I hope to be able to let words fade away and use the power of the forms themselves as the actors in this suite. So far, what I've been able to print has been sparse and needs to be reworked, as I spent all this week with a horrid cold that brought my world to a halt.

one of the proofs of new work: soft grounds of broken palm fronds

I really can't wait to get back to the studio with a clear head (quite literally) and some space between me and this cold. I need some good old-fashioned art time to get out of the funk of being ill!

print work and thought

March 18, 2014

Jaime from P.R.I.N.T. Press in Denton, Texas

Last week, I participated in the Contemporary Print Fair in Austin hosted by Flatbed Press. I got to show my work next to some amazing printmakers and cool print shops from around the entire state of Texas. Not only did I get the chance to share what I do with a new audience, but I got to reconnect with old friends and phenomenal printmakers that I haven’t seen since graduate school. The experience was not only inspiring but also had great little moments when someone would get close to my work and find something meaningful inside of it.

"In The Pines" detail, intaglio, drypoint, chine collé

“You talk like a geologist,” said an attendee, smiling and peering over his large glasses. I’d just rambled on about looking for analogs in the earth’s history that compare to my personal history, roadcuts producing a kind of visual excitement that could spawn years of study. He and his wife, local Texans, know geologists and their way – driving out into a landscape and not only seeing the way it is now, but the way it was. He’d been looking at my portfolio when something I’d said, some romantic notion of the past sticking out like a sore thumb into the present, triggered an excitement in my voice.

I took his words as a compliment, because the work of understanding what I know about geology has been a long road. Though I'm an artist by training, I have a deep reverence for the scientific method. When I first began to seriously study geology, I had preconceived notions that science would be a candle in the dark of my emotions, clarifying to work that seemed full of deep passion and doubt. But geology is not an exacting knife that divides the world into a true and false dichotomy; it can provide structure and knowledge about the world, yet you still must make conjectures in places where not enough data exists. Geology taught me to be okay with the fact that sometimes, I may not know the truth.
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