Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sometimes're the Roadrunner and sometimes you're Coyote.  No, you're not seeing double.  This little detail view of the upper corner of my woodblock shows lack of good judgement.  I was making a great trial proof on my woodblock when ....BAM... !!   The misjudgements of Wylie, cliff edges and gravity flashed before my eyes.

I underestimated the dampness my paper; that little dance between too wet and too dry.  Controlling the dampness is also key to maintaining the size of the paper. If the paper dries out and shrinks then suddenly all your work tuning up the blocks to register properly doesn't matter.

I'm running a series of trial proofs now and trying to work out my colors. This particular piece is made from five blocks.  Four with color and one black key block.

My trouble began with the black key block.  I inked it up using lamp black which was too transparent and I decided to re-ink with carbon black, a denser more opaque black.

The Japanese paper I use is stored in what's called a damp pack while printing. A stack of moistened newsprint separates each print and the whole stack is wrapped in plastic sheeting. After a color is printed, it goes back in the pack until I'm ready with the next color. It stays damp and dimensionally stable.

After inking up the black for a second time I realized I hadn't returned the paper to the damp pack but decided to print it despite my inner voice screaming at me to stop.

BAM...Splat...  paper dried a bit..shrank a bit and I'm seeing double just like Wylie after one of his falls.

At least I'm still in trial proof mode with some more color decisions to zero in on and perhaps unconsciously I needed this reminder before I begin printing the edition.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kickstarter Virgin

_Art Mysteries #6, cover art by William Evertson, due for release late March_

Is it ever the right time to take the plunge...shake off the doubts just say fuck it and mean it?  Is it time to see if all the Facebook 'likes' have any meaning?  Time to get a reality check on the base of support for a limited edition comic set in the art world?  Time to see how Kickstarter works for raising funds to help with the production costs for another year of Kalicorp Art Mysteries?

Oy...but do I really want to find out?

First there is the discomfort involved in bugging friends (most of them other artists) to support a project while they are struggling themselves.  So let me apologize for that right off.

But on the other hand, +Susan Shulman+ria vanden eynde and I started off with the idea that a comic that featured working but under-represented artists as the real heros of art world is a totally unique concept. The shared struggle of making art is what makes sticking to it bearable.

Plus, Artworld is a mysterious place full of inexplicable hurdles and controversies that form the backdrop of each issue.

Art Mysteries #3, detail page 7

For instance, this panel from #3 featuring Damien Hirst's over hyped Spot paintings that threatened to suck all the air out of Artworld also contains two colleagues worthy of art stardom themselves; performance artist and musician, Jane Wang of Boston and artist Angela Ferrara of Brazil.  And the dialogue about CPR? We keep our eyes and ears open; this issue came out in February, 2012 and by November the art world was reporting crashing sales for Mr. Hirst's work. (Daily Mail)

To date over a dozen artists have appeared in cameo roles. (and we include links to their works)

The first issue frankly wasn't much more than appropriating a comic format and then using the ad space on the inside covers to let people know what the Seeking Kali Artist Collective was exhibiting and where. It was a busy time with a flurry of projects for my collaborators Ria Vanden Eynde, Susan Shulman and myself. 

We loved the feedback we got and got more serious about parody as we put a second issue out. We started using news of the art world as a back story; usually the things that bother us about our profession.  We did panels on Soethby's striking art handlers, strange fundraising at MoCA with Marina Abramovic, OWS, art forgery and the worldwide over saturation of Damien Hirst.

First five issues of Kalicorp Art Mysteries

By our fourth issue I think we hit our stride and found that the comic was part tongue-in-cheek, part art history and part critique. 

Now we've completed five of these hybrid comic limited edition collages it's time to take stock and see what form they should take in the future. Ideally we want subscribers and advertisers and we want to continue to produce these by hand so that they bridge the worlds of comics and zines. 

Hyperallergic ran this article last Oct. 31 around the time when we were first considering running a campaign.  Valentine wrote about some real concerns that we shared as the two quotes typify.

"Commodifying our friendships felt more and more like a real danger"
"Kickstarter doesn’t offer a way of maintaining a consistent practice over a long period."
My head spins as I over think Kickstarter.  I've contributed to others; yet I wonder, "should I be  putting this out there?"  But ultimately the comic is about artistic risks and the mystery of art making and it helps if we keep our sense of humor about the whole endeavor.

Embarrassing video below.

So, please take a few minutes to take a peek at our Kickstarter Page. We think you'll like what you see. (Some great rewards are there for your support)  Thanks in advance! 

Kalicorp Art Mysteries is a Seeking Kali Artist Collective project.  Seeking Kali is William Evertson, Ria Vanden Eynde and Susan Shulman.   All images ©Seeking Kali

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Goatman Trials

_Artist Susan Shulman in my CT studio with her trial proofs of Goatman._

("And what was Goatman on trial for?"... quipped our mutual Facebook friend, artist Mara Thompson.)
Goatman is a reoccurring character in the online exquisite corpse blog Analogue Narratives in which several artists take on the task of providing an ending to Rene Daumal's unfinished novel, Mt. Analogue.

An artist I often collaborate with, Susan Shulman, visited the studio this past week to work with the press and solarplates to transform her oil stick sketch Goatman into a print.

The original oilstick on paper, 8" x12" Goatman ©Susan Shulman

Unlike painting, printmaking labors are not immediately visible; visual feedback takes time and it's tempered by experience with the print medium. We can't just scrape off paint or paint over what we don't like.  We can easily be sent back to square one at any step.  

Moving from an idea to a final print edition is filled with discovery.  We struggle to control the many steps and processes of the printmaking to obtain that idealized vision in our minds eye.  The first place we get to see some results of that struggle is in the trial proof stage.

 Various transparencies, solarplates and trial proofs

Solarplate is a light sensitized polymer on a thin steel backing. It's an eco-friendly method of etching that doesn't use traditional acids grounds and related solvents.  Plates can be worked on directly or transferred from clear acetate.  The plates are exposed to UV light either from the sun or a lightbox and then washed in tapwater revealing a graduation of light pitting on the surface that holds ink.  For this print we also used an aquatint screen to help fully develop the tone variation.

UV Lightbox with a relief plate (left) and an intaglio plate (right)

Solarplate showing the pitting that holds the ink in intaglio.

The series of transparencies used in the print. left to right - yellow, red, blue, green and black

Washout of an exposed Solarplate.

Susan inks the black plate.

Checking the blue.

Comparing trial proofs

We didn't like the way the red was printing so we ended up burning a relief plate.  In the photo above we are comparing the results.   The decision to change to relief provided texture to the print which served to make it really pop.

Final trial proof (almost - because we should bump up the blues)

Goatman will need to be editioned on Susan's next visit but most of the trials are complete.  And for the question of what was Goatman accused of?  Probably compulsive attention to detail and excessive use of ink.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Random Focus

...The Thinker, Auguste Rodin...

How do you work at art? Do you focus on one work at a time? Have many irons in the creative fire?

I’m in the later category; an artist with several projects percolating at any one time.  Every morning when I enter the studio usually one of them will emerge as the winner for the bulk of attention that day.   But, as with a big family they all demand time and careful consideration.  As I enter 2013 I've got three projects underway; along with the usual mess of residency and grant applications, a half written Kickstarter proposal and some documentary video that needs editing for the archive.

Detail of woodcut, I Imagine You, ©William Evertson (for Analogue Narratives)

One project has been ongoing for over three years now.  An artistic collaboration that began as a book discussion evolved around the idea of finishing Rene Daumal's unfinished novel, Mt. Analogue.  In Equisite Corpse fashion we (core group of 6, with another 6 occasional contributors) began to construct the surreal and fanciful ending of this spiritual adventure using mountain climbing as a metaphor. Trading words and images we continue this climb to transcendence with often odd side trails and miscalculation of purpose.

Details of woodcut, trial proof of key block, ©William Evertson (for Analogue Narratives)

Lines of the narrative that go along with the image
I glance down at Fish, who is holding me on belay and find myself nearly blinded. He seems to be evolving the higher we climb. Somehow he seems to be exuding more fishness than I’m used to. I fumble in my rucksack for the glacier goggles to make the glare off his scales a bit more bearable.

“Telepathy is more than a parlor trick,” he shouts up to me, “my scales are actually iridescent and in the thin air their refractive properties are magnified.” 
Damn him, how did he know what I was thinking about?

He continued, “At this altitude with it’s delightful thin air I do believe that I can explain Now.”
I could swear that his lidless eye winked, but that’s impossible.

“Since the past is memory and I’m still imagining tomorrow I must be creating the world as I speak.” “Isn’t that grand, William, I’m creating you”

The next piece in the studio also begging attention also relates to the Mt. Analogue saga.  This is the beginning of a dirigible called Harmony that will play a role in an upcoming chapter.

 Beginnings of the sculpture Harmony, ©William Evertson

Link to the Analogue Narrative Blog

And the final Work in Progress

Fishsongs, the Extinctions, ©William Evertson

This third piece I'm cycling with is also a woodblock print.  This piece will be my largest to date, measuring 22" x 84".  The original image is from my series Fish Songs which appeared in The Billboard Project in Atlanta this fall.

Video version produced by my friend and often collaborator, +Susan Shulman

Atlanta Art billboards from Susan Shulman on Vimeo.

Intended as a series based on ecological catastrophes the first that is in progress is a reference to the rapid melt of polar ice.

Fishsongs, panel carving detail, ©William Evertson

So whether you work one piece at a time or find yourself working with random focus, Cheers to a creative New Year.