Wednesday, April 26, 2017

March at The Grand Army

Sunday printing at The Grand Army NYC happens about once a month and it is the best time between friends and artists who respect and admire each other.  Not to mention that the intimate setting, Rob's home and studio, can some times lead to shenanigans that will not be revealed in this blog.  We feed into each other's insanity, all while creating a body of work that will hopefully have a dialogue across the different styles of each individual.  So what is The Grand Army?  Initially it was born out of a need to run some monotype prints in a more relaxed and private setting.  Two friends, Rob and I, who found a mutual obsession and we wanted to start a tight group that would also enjoy the monotype process.  I would hate to use the word society but that is the idea.   
Access to a bigger press with no time restraints has been a God sent.  I have been able to work on larger plates, 12x18 inches copper plates to be exact, and this has brought in a new kind of freedom to my monotypes.  Above is an image of a larger plate ready to go under the press. 
Two in a Row, 2017, momotype, image 18 x 12 inches, sheet 23 x 17 inches, Private Collection 

This is the printed image, a bit greyer than I expected.  I have been running into a small problem that my black ink has been setting faster than it should and it is not transferring to the paper.  It is not a press issue that I am sure.  Although I add burnt plate oil to the ink mixture it still seems to dry on the plate, especially the dark areas which I leave untouched.  I'm not sure how to correct this problem, but if any of you print makers with more experience have any suggestions please be kind to let me know as to what I'm doing wrong.  I still have a good amount of ink left in the tube but I can feel that it is getting stiffer each week, and I think this is why it is not transferring over to the paper.  
My friend Ashley, a sculptor who lately has been working on large scale drawings, gave monotype a go and has fallen in love with the process.  Come back soon you hear Asheley!
A Tuscan Villa, 2017, monotype, image 10 x 8 inches, sheet 13 x 11 inches 

A Tuscan Villa, monotype (ghost print), image 10 x 8 inches, sheet 13 x 11 inches 

Here's another plate almost ready for printing.  Recently I have been working with 8x10 and 12x18 plates which are bigger than what I'm used to, but the biggest change is that I have not been using any reference sketches for these.  I come up with the images on the spot, which can be an exciting, challenging, and scary all at the same time. 
A Walk Through the Park, 2017, monotype, image 10 x 8 inches, sheet 13 x 11 inches

This print came out well, all the dark areas printed how I wanted them...success!
While Ashley and I were working on our plates, Rob was on the other side of his studio drawing and painting into his monotypes.  His process becomes more involved and painterly after he runs his prints. 
In the video above Rob is running Ashley's first print...a moment that can't really be described, you just have to look at her face and it says it all!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

February Monotypes

Tranquilidad Campestre, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

 These are some of the most recent monotypes I've done.  This group was actually created in one long night at Salmagundi Club's 2017 Draw-A-Thon, which ran from Friday Feb. 24, 9pm - Saturday Feb. 25, 6am.
Water's Edge, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

There are always a number of challenges when making any sort of art, and in this case you add the factor of sleep deprivation, which can affect your judgement.  To my luck my lack of sleep didn't affect my prints and I did not end up with kooky images.  Although I'm sure some may have enjoyed a little bit of strangeness in my landscapes.  
Paisaje Bucolico, Irlanda, 2017, monotype, image 12 x 18 inches, sheet 17 x 23 inches

This was also the night when I decided to go big!  This 12 x 18  print was definitely fun to make, something about the size allowed me to flow better.  I can say that I'm hooked on working this big.  
Arboles y Pradera, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

On these all night drawing/printing parties the goal is to make six prints, if not more.  To my relieve I have been able to cut my time down on most of these, almost one hour per plate.  On the larger prints a little bit of more time is required, but that is expected. 
Untitled, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 10 inches, sheet 11 x 13 inches 

There are times when prints are successful, and times when they are not.  Sometimes things are not as obvious on the plate, and you are made aware of necessary changes after it has been printed, which is too late by then.  Such is the case with this print.  There are some things I could have done better but there's nothing I can do about it now.  Although I beat myself down for this, it seems like this was a favorite of some people on Facebook.  Go figure!
Gathering on a Hill, 2017, monotype, image 10 x 8 inches, sheet 13 x 11 inches 

I usually work from drawings in my sketchbook; imaginary landscapes done with pen as I commute in the subway.  Then there are cases when I don't have an image in mind and just start whipping ink away and let the marks lead the way.  This print is one of those done on the spot and in one hour.  I've come to like these better, there's something more organic about them,  there is more movement, and I think that in any artwork is great.  More prints to come!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January Monotypes

Arbolado XIII, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

These three prints are the most recent of my monotypes, all created at Salamagundi's Monotype Party of January 5.  As with all of my prints, I'm always proud and happy with the outcome, but this group of three perhaps more so.  I'm starting to see growth in the execution, and I'm beginning to see my admiration for the Tonalists come through.  Perhaps this is why people have been responding positively to this body of work, they always reference the moody and mysterious qualities of these landscapes.    
Menacing Sky, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

At first I was uneasy to hear the praise of these prints over my paintings.  It was upsetting to hear that the work that I was doing prior to the monotypes was not as good, and as a painter, it hurt to hear people say "I like your monotypes better."  I may as well just put away my brushes and not touch a canvas again.  It doesn't bother me as much anymore, I've learned to accept it and in the end I can see what everyone's been seeing. 
Moonrise, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

I'm not giving up on painting though, I just have to approach it differently with what I've learned with printing.  It's strange having this dual personality though, because when I paint I love to see color, things are brighter; but the monotypes are what they are, black ink that can only be seen as dark silhouettes on a dark day. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Scaling Up the Monotypes

Along North San Carlos Trail Head, 2016, monotype, image 10 x 8 inches, paper 15 x 11 inches 

Recently I have been thinking of making bigger prints, but perhaps the biggest push is coming from my friend, and fellow painter/printmaker Rob.  What will happen if I'm put in front of a big plate and go at it?  I have yet to work with a big plate but slowly I'm moving in that direction.  These two prints are 8x10 images, so far that's the biggest I've gotten with these.  I think this format works well for me, the prints are a little bigger but they still retain a level of intimacy which has been the main focus of most of my work through the years. 
Cold Spring Woods, 2016, monotype, image 10 x 8 inches, paper 13 x 10 inches

I work small because I think it works best for me and because I'm a firm believer that art doesn't have to be big to be taken seriously.  Some of the most beautiful works of art in the history of mankind have been on the smaller scale.  There's too much crap out there that gets attention because it's big and flashy, this doesn't mean that it's any good, or that the attention it's receiving is a good thing.  In the end the work has to have an element of surprise every time you look at it, which is not to be confused with shock value.  Once people get the gimmick, or formula, it doesn't matter how large the work is, in the end it still fails to be transcendent.    

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monotype Madness

Tuscan Landscape II, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

On December 10 I attended Salmagundi's All Day Monotype Madness, a mini monotype marathon that happens every so often on top of the monthly monotype parties.  As usual I go in with certain goals, I always have to take advantage of my time and the press while attending these parties.  A printmaker without a press, that's a funny idea, but that is my current position and I have to make the best of it.  This is why when I'm working I tend to sit in a corner, not getting involved in too many conversations, I have blinders on and I work on multiple plates at the same time so that I don't waste time standing in line at the press.  I may seem antisocial at these parties, detached perhaps, but it doesn't mean that I'm not paying attention to what is being said or who's around.
Tuscan Landscape II, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Since Feb. 11, 2014, I have been attending the monthly monotype parties at Salmagundi, and through the years I have met some nice people, talented artists who serve as inspiration.  It's easy to forget sometimes about the historical importance these parties, but from time to time you are reminded and it feels good to be a part of it.
Dead Tree, monotype, image 9 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

From 1888 to 1929 members of the club would meet on a regular basis  to have dinner, and once the plates were cleared from the tables different kind of plates were brought out.  Zinc and copper plates were handed out to those present and they would all get to work by inking the plates and creating images, some of which now form part of a monotype collection which hangs all around the walls of the club's bar.
Dead Tree, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 9 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Not much has changed since those days, the sound of chatter and dinner plates fill the downstairs rooms where the parties take place.  After searching the club's archives, Robert Pillsbury, now the 50th president of the Salmagundi club, brought back the monotype parties about six years ago.  Now once a month members of all ages meet in the downstairs bar and pool tables area and let the press crank all night.  
Three Trees, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

If you are interested in reading a little more about Salmagundi's monotype parties and the folks who attend them, check out this article by the Epoch Times.
Three Trees, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Storm Clouds Over a Field, 2016, monotype, image 4 x 6 inches, paper 6 x 8 inches 

Storm Clouds Over a Field, 2016, monotype (ghost print) 

Breaking Clouds, 2016, monotype, image 5 x 7 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Recent Monotypes, Part 2

Arbolado XIII, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

As promised on my last blog post, here are the last prints of my Arbolado series plus a couple more.  I have not done any printing in a month, and to be honest I think I'm starting to go through withdrawals.  Good thing is that I've been keeping myself busy painting, while the gears are turning in my ever running mind about the next few projects I want to start.  It never ends but that's the beauty of it all, I have plenty of reasons to keep waking up every morning, and the great thing is that even though the world is turing to shit I still have my talent, something that no one can ever take away.  So as people collide, nations crumble, and the world decays, I feel good knowing that I wake up every day to add something positive to this planet.  That's my purpose in life.      
Arbolado IX2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Arbolado X2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Arbolado XI2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches

 Arbolado XII2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Young Tree, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

Prospect Park, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 10 inches, paper 9 x 11 inches

Friday, November 11, 2016

Recent Monotypes

Arbolado III, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

I present to you some of my recent monotypes, this group forms part of a series of prints I talked about in a previous post.  The Arbolado series is a group of prints representing walls or groupings of trees which are very close to the foreground.  These clusters of trees take up most of the space, creating a darker, more mysterious space than other imagery I've worked with.   
Arbolado IV, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

The biggest challenge of this group was to keep them spontaneous, not relying on any other image previously made, like a photo or sketch.  These are all made up on the spot, letting the ink on the plate dictate some of the shapes.  Sometimes when rolling ink on the copper or zinc plate I would see certain compositions arise and I would leave those areas alone, not covering them completely so that I could be able to go back to them and carve out the image.  
Arbolado V, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

The original goal was to make a series with a minimum of ten prints, but the final count was open, and perhaps it still is.  So far I've created twelve of these prints, I think this is a good stopping point because I don't want them to start becoming repetitive. 
Arbolado VI, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

I have been thinking about why I decided to work on this series.  The way I arrived at it was out of chance when in a monotype marathon party I was pressed (no pun intended) for time to get the last image done for the night.  In a matter of fifteen minutes I came up with the first Arbolado and at that moment something clicked.   
Arbolado VI, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

The approach was simple yet challenging, and yes very fun.  The spontaneity of it was what attracted me most, but what about the images?  I was drawn to them and as I kept thinking about it some more I remembered that while at the Hartford Art School,  Eric Holzman exhibited a group of large landscape paintings in the school's gallery.  I was mesmerized by them, not only by their size but because they were dark, mysterious, and beautiful.  His paintings of large singular dark trees with moody skies behind them, had an effect on me, I still think about them constantly and I think that this series was a way of externalizing my feelings towards his work.  
Arbolado VII, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

The world can be a small funny place, and these days, through work, I have constant direct contact with Eric.  Even though I was intrigued by his work years ago, I failed to take note of his name but I never forgot those paintings.  I always kept on a look out for them, I wanted to find out who he was.  Over ten years later while at work, one of my colleagues had an artist's website up on the computer, and I was elated to find out it was the same man who had show his work at the Hartford Art School.  The man was a client of ours, someone I had talked to many times but never knew he was the artist who's paintings never left my mind.  Weeks later when Eric visited our shop I spoke to him and confirmed that yes those were his paintings I saw years ago.  I guess these are an ode to him, and to Eric I want to say thank you for the inspiration.   
Arbolado VII, 2016, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, paper 11 1/2 x 8 inches 

More of this series to come in a future post, come back soon and check them out. 

Friday, November 04, 2016

Two Paintings from Summer

I'm back!  Actually I never did leave, I just stopped paying attention to the blog because Instagram has taken over my social media.  But once in a while I do need to post in this blog to be able to explain more about the process and progress of recent projects.  Such is the case about a color I recently added to my palette and I don't know how I lived without it before.  This summer while painting in Prospect Park, my friend Charles shared some of his Chrome Yellow Primrose paint.  I've known that this is a historical color highly used in the nineteenth century, and slowly it's use declined due to the introduction of Cadmium paints.  Due to it's precious status I was never inclined to use it, but Charles placed a big dollop on my palette and my life was changed!     
It was perfect timing since during those weeks we were painting around Prospect Park Lake, which was covered in one section with a bright green-yellow plant call Floating Water Primrose...coincidence or fate?  With Chrome Yellow I was able to achieve a bright green yellow mixture, but one that was not as acidic as a Cadmium mixture.  Cadmiums most of the time can be hard to work with because they can be too intense, and trying to tone down that intensity without effecting the clarity of the color can be very tricky.  With Chrome Yellow I was able to get the desired brightness but without the unnatural acidic effect of a Cadmium Yellow.   
Floating Water Primrose, Prospect Park Lake, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 14 inches 

Chrome Yellow aside, there was another change happening starting with these two paintings, and that is the full use of hog bristle brushes.  It's been years since I've used bristle, but I think using sable brushes have caused me to become too detailed, and that's not good when painting in plein air because it takes too long to finish a painting.  Most of the time I don't finish the paintings in that first session.  Using bristle on these two paintings allowed me to be more free with paint and it also brought some much needed texture to my work.
Floating Water Primrose, Prospect Park Lake No. 2, 2016, oil on linen, 10 x 15 inches

Here they are, the last two paintings of summer, at least the ones painted in NYC.  Six plein air paintings from Bali coming to this blog very soon, stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Recent Monotypes

Clouds Over a Field, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Although I have been missing in action when it comes to updating this blog, I still have been busy working on paintings and monotypes.  A number of things have been keeping me busy and the blog was put on the back burner for a little while, but here I am today sharing a number of recent prints I have worked on the last couple of months.  
A Lake in Rhinebeck, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

The monotype frenzy, the two year obsession which is now taking over a few artists I know, continues.  Perhaps the biggest reason for the excitement towards this medium is the immediacy of the creation of each print.  Things have to come together quickly, which means that I constantly have to keep coming up with ideas and sketches to feed this printing beast.  I work from sketches, compositions created from imagination or taken from reference photos of places I have been, this keeps me drawing constantly, which is an excellent way of exercising the brain.        
After Corot, Ville d'Avray, Thicket at the Edge of a Pond with a Kneeling Peasant, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

In the case with this print after Corot, things happened more impulsively.  For a number of years I have been wanting to do a copy after one of his paintings, but doing so can be intimidating.  His catalogue is too large and good, and his talent is unmatched that I would be making a fool out of myself trying to copy something of his.  I did feel more comfortable turning one of his paintings into a monotype because he did not make any prints, at least none that I have seen over the years, and the process would allow me to make it more my own while still working with his composition.     
Prospect Park Lake, 2016, monotype, image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

I am also starting to make prints out of plein air paintings.  This is the second monotype I've made based from a canvas I completed recently.  That painting has not been posted on this blog yet but it's coming soon.  I thought it a neat idea that one day some of my plein air paintings could be shown side by side with prints based on them.  They each are so different but they will still maintain a special dialogue with each other..  
Prospect Park Lake, 2016, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 9 inches, paper 8 1/2 x 11 inches

If you are interested in keeping up to date with works in progress, news,  and other projects I'm involved with,  follow me on instagram, handle @luiscolanart.  I update there regularly.