Today's postings

  1. [Baren 31813] Re: Size of Art (ArtfulCarol #
  2. [Baren 31814] RE: drawings ("Mike Lyon")
  3. [Baren 31815] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification (Blog Manager)
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Message 1
From: ArtfulCarol #
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 11:39:29 EDT
Subject: [Baren 31813] Re: Size of Art
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True, our culture goes for BIG.
I'm sending this to say have fun and do what comes naturally! We do what
feels most comfortable, and for me it's what is natural and fits in my station
wagon after it is framed!

My works are usually small experimental on paper and I've had positive
experiences with Museum acquisitions-- Poured watercolor landscapes Pure
Decalcomania prints, and Loopomania prints.

In four major collections, all small works. : The Victoria and Albert
Museum, London, the Hermitage, Russia, Zimmerli Museum, and the NYC 5th
Ave.Print Room ("Loopomania ", Web).
On my second trip to the curator of the NYC Public Library Print Collection
to give her the resumes of the Baren 911 Printers, I decided to ask what I
should do with my "Loopomania". That was when she wanted "Web" and followed
with a letter of very nice comments.

These acquisitions have given me a validation boost for what I do . No
curator said 'that's too small'. In fact, one curator said "We're not going to
ask you how you did it. We want it"

I'e been in art for a l o n g time and I've gotten advice along the way.
One of the best was from Robert Blackburn "Go with your gut feeling"

Carol Lyons
_ (
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Message 2
From: "Mike Lyon"
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 16:43:34 -0500
Subject: [Baren 31814] RE: drawings
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>...When you do a woodcut,
>can you program it to remove just the white space? I like the ones you do
>that are multiblock, but I think one that was just one block would also be
>interesting, like this drawing in reverse for the block. Are the lines just
>too close together to cur well? At any rate, this is very impressive.

>It does show that large gets attention. Your museum purchases probably would
>not have happened if they were small. Not to knock them in any way, just an
>observation on the fact that large seems to sell. I think this is one reason
>prints are not taken as seriously as paintings, the fact that they are so
>much smaller in size. I have sold several prints this year, a few small ones
>but also two huge ones that were assembled on the mounting block, that is
>the paper glued down like a collage. For some reason the large ones generate
>way more interest than the small ones. An interesting comment on our culture
>in general, I suppose.  Probably one reason large aluminum plate lithos are
>so popular as collaborations with painters, they want to do large scale
>Best to all,

(The late) Dale Eldred, former chair of sculpture at KCAI used to say, "If
you can't make it good, make it big. If it still sucks, paint it red!" I
suppose that didn't completely sink in, as a lot of my work has been...

When I do a woodcut, of course I 'program it' to remove just the white space
-- that's the most basic principle of woodcuts, right?

The 'thing' I became intensely interested in about 10 years ago was the
surprising, interesting, and difficult to comprehend (when looking at the
finished work, anyway) idea/technique/process of LAYERING! Say, for
example, that I have one of those self-inking rubber stamps (a current
project, actually) which prints in pale gray transparent ink the word
"LAYER"... If I press it onto the paper once, it's pretty easily seen that
I printed "LAYER" with a light gray rubber stamp. If, however, I want to
make an image of my face, then I go crazy with the thing and begin stamping
the paper repeatedly, more often in the darker areas of the (intended) image
and less often in the lighter areas, the gray "LAYER"s become darker and
darker with each printing and the words "LAYER" become virtually unreadable,
having been over-printed so many times -- and what the paper looks like in
the end is... ME! Each "LAYER" stamp has been completely lost in the
layering process, and maybe something much more interesting and complex and
beautiful comes out -- OK, maybe I shouldn't be using MY face as an example,
but you get the idea, right?

That's the 'concept' behind most of my woodcuts of the past four years --
build 'em in layers! My interest in layering began to develop around 1993
when I began overprinting colors and had developed into a sort of passion by
1998 while I was experimenting with tile patterns -- see the sorta ugly for one example.
This was printed from a 'movable type' block set of square plywood parts,
each of which had half the square carved away from a diagonal. I would set
these into a square grid, ink them and print them (the example is 64 such
tiles in an 8x8 grid. The first printing is very simple and ordinary, like
the single "LAYER" stamp -- just 64 triangles printed on paper. Then I'd
rearrange the triangles and ink and print again (and again and again) until
I felt I was 'done'. The final images were unpredictable and difficult to
deconstruct and I liked that all very much, both process and object.

What I actually 'do' is to draw each and every area to be carved away in
black, then I outline (currently using a raster to vector conversion program
from ) each of the black areas. Then I use a more
sophisticated program to 'toolpath' the outlined areas -- based on the size
and geometry of the router bits I intend to use, this program calculates the
path of the router bit through the block in order to clear away the interior
of the outlined areas. There's a choice of two major strategies for
clearing, raster (parallel straight lines) and contour (more or less
spiraling in parallel to the perimeter of the area to be cleared). This
program produces the list of movement instructions my machine will follow.
These are text files and easy to read, basically like, "M3,12,5,0.1" which
means "move in three dimensions from the current location to X=12, Y=5,
Z=0.1"... X, Y, and Z are the length, width, and height from a point above
one corner of my machine. In my applications, each block requires several
hundred thousand such instructions for carving and two or three tool

The pen and ink drawings are experiments in 'cross-hatching'. They are made
of layers -- 14 layers in "London" up to 23 layers in "Sarah." The
individual layers have NO cross-hatching at all -- they are essentially just
concentric parallel-line fills of the same contour outlines I'd have
generated if machine carving a woodcut (I use the same software, but define
a special "pen" tool which looks like an extremely narrow (almost '0')
diameter router bit to my toolpathing software. BOOOOOOring! But the
effect is that, having replaced my router with a pen, the pen is dragged
over the paper as if it were clearing away the wood... When the layers have
all been drawn, a wacky cross-hatching has been produced (which neatly
follows the contours of the image, a bit like the George Washington
engraving on a dollar bill), and tones from pale gray to luxurious deep
black are reproduced, more or less... Interesting (and kind of amazing) up
close, and quite startling from far away.

I've experimented with a very different way of producing tone using a paint
brush -- the stroke is wide when the brush is pushed down and narrower and
narrower until no mark is made at all when the brush is lifted. So far
these have made less interesting objects than the drawings and woodcuts but
I haven't given up. I used a similar technique with a V shaped router bit
to produce this modest little woodcut from three blocks: -- in this case,
each block was carved in a spiral, with the bit moving deeper into the block
in lighter areas and pulling out in darker areas. Two blocks each had a
spiral (of different offset) centered on one of the cat's eyes, and the
third block had a spiral centered on the other eye. Not a very successful
print, but the concept is there (and all the lines and lines of code I wrote
to generate the tool paths -- no off the shelf software for THAT task!

OK, TOO lengthy an answer for ANYone to actually READ, right? Anyway, I'm
not much interested in prints from a single block -- that's for somebody
else to do -- I'm still deeply involved in those layers!

-- Mike

Mike Lyon
Kansas City, MO
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Message 3
From: Blog Manager
Date: 15 Sep 2006 03:55:09 -0000
Subject: [Baren 31815] Baren Member blogs: Update Notification
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This is an automatic update message being sent to [Baren] by the forum blog software.

The following new entries were found on the listed printmaker's websites during the past 24 hours. (23 sites checked, five minutes before midnight Eastern time)


Site Name: Woodblock Dreams

Author: Annie B
Item: A Print for Iraq


Site Name: pressing-issues

Author: Ellen Shipley
Item: Ghost Whispers


Site Name: Depicture

Author: Miss


Site Name: VIZArt

Author: Viza Arlington
Item: sword and dagger


[Baren] members: if you have a printmaking blog (or a website with a published ATOM feed), and wish it to be included in this daily checklist, please write to the Baren Blog Manager at:

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