Thursday, September 4, 2008

Contrasts and Mysteries

Have you ever experienced such total absorption in what you are creating that time seems to actually suspend itself and what feels like a few minutes passing is actually hours? A feeling of pure elation and engagement accompanies this state and no matter what comes forth from your brush, your pen, your creative tool, you know that the deepest part of your creative being is connecting with your work. Focused time working can induce that incredible state; for me, it's been this past three consecutive days working with various resists and printing new layers and working through problems on this current piece. This state, which approaches sheer bliss, is a mystery to me but the joy that it induces is something that leaves me in awe and appreciation for the opportunity to be able to create each day.

However, radiant joy in creating does not guarantee perfection in outcomes! The various techniques I'm employing for marks and textures are working beautifully together, but the dyes are not; the premixed gray dyes have washed out to pale blues after I process and wash the fabric. The distinctions between the layers, the wonderful textures and lines are disappearing after processing. The contrast between the intensity and absorption of my work and the disappointment in the outcome is quite amazing as well. It doesn't seem to upset me, surprisingly enough -- not getting what I expect has often proven to be a great gift and I'm open to change. I just want to understand what is happening with the dyes.

I've finally come to the conclusion that the mixed dyes I'm working with -- three pale shades of gray from Pro Chem mixed with print paste -- will only create grays at full strength. Dilute these down to medium or pale shades and apparently only enough blue particles remain in solution to bond. I'm actually going to ask the dye manufacturer for verification about this, but my test piece yesterday washed out without turning blue.

On the strength of the successful test, I overprinted this piece yesterday with full strength solutions, preserving some of the light blue so it glows out from behind the safari gray and smoke gray lettering. I'll wash this out today and see how the colors fare full strength. If they remain much as they look below before processing, then I will add one more layer to this piece, toning down these large whitish letter forms a bit and will start composing the final layers that will go over this ground fabric.

I am particularly fond of the monoprinted rusty orange printing on the whitish areas where the resists were and just want to tone the contrast the slightest bit more, but not until I see how the current piece looks when I finish processing it today.

As another example of contrasts, I took a look around my studio and realized that after six years of dragging items in, it's time to start weeding and carrying some out. My inner self is defining my processes and directions as an artist, but my outer space doesn't reflect it. Between teaching and experimenting and collecting items I might use someday, I've got a small landfill starting in my space. So each day I've been picking a spot to focus on -- a drawer, a shelf, a box -- and I'm ruthlessly decluttering. Yesterday I tackled the tangle of boxes underneath the table where I keep my copier, thermofax and heat press.

By the end of this week everything will be out of these boxes and either heading off to friends' studios, in the trash or stored where I can see them. No more cardboard boxes. New shelving units may be in my future too.

1 comment:

  1. Well done on the decluttering.... I seem to do this constantly and more keeps mysteriously appearing!