Monday, January 26, 2009

Artistic Release: Monotypes Class

The past two weekends, I've (Val) been in a monotypes class at New Grounds Print Workshop & Gallery in Albuquerque with my brother, Brad. Since it's been a bit of a tough few months for both of us, it was nice to get our minds off things in a 9-5 Sa/Su art class. After a couple of classes, Brad and I headed to the local Irish tavern, Two Fools, where Jonathan met us one night to hear about everything we'd learned in class. It was a great way to start off an otherwise grueling year.

Monotypes are, as the name suggests, one-of-a-kind prints. In the most basic terms, the artist paints an image onto a smooth plate called a matrix, then runs it through a press on a piece of paper to create the print. Traditionally, artists sketch something original onto the plate without referring to another image (so, they paint from their heads--like improv Jazz). They can either run several plates in layers to create a final composite image, or paint an image all at once and run it. We learned all kinds of different techniques in the class: working with textures, subtractive painting, working with different additives to the inks, a technique called Chine Colle (Chinese collage), etc.

One technique we learned was to run the plate a second time on a different sheet of paper to get a "ghost" image, which I found to be the most fun. After running a ghost, I painted layers onto several plates and ran them over the paper with the ghost on it for different effects. You can see an example of this with the two different versions of this "conch":

While I've dabbled in oil and acrylic painting since 2001, I had never heard of monotypes. The medium thrills me because it satisfies my need to finish things quickly and completely (although I don't feel these prints are finished because we didn't have much time in class). It's pretty expensive to continue with monotypes since it requires access to a printing press (I'd have to join New Grounds as a member to use their printing facilities) and the inks and tools are costly. But to repeat that free feeling, to be in that kind of FLOW, it may be worth it!

Here are my favorites. The Asian-inspired print on the right was a class favorite and, during our final critique, even won the gallery owner's vote among the top 3 prints of the class (although she said it still needed some work or even a do-over to really pack a punch, and I agree whole-heartedly):

Hopefully, more prints to come!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009: A Rough Start

We're not accustomed to writing bad news on our blog, but these days it seems to be the prevailing news going 'round for us. Not only did we lose our buddy, Maximus, last Monday, but today my company Autodesk announced significant layoffs. My job is "secure", thank God, but I had to let someone go today, and like Clint Eastwood's Mr. Kowalski in Gran Torino says, "you don't want that on your soul."

I've lost some dear friends in this restructuring, friends who have shared with me political drama and angst and bizarre trips to places like Houston, Japan, Calgary, Plano, and Boston to do our work. We'll likely keep in touch to rehash old stories, but it's sad to have to move in different directions from here.

Needless to say, I'm draining a good bottle of Paso Robles Merlot right now, and hoping for the best on those 750 displaced Autodesk people who are swimming in the growing pool of U.S. unemployment. I'm also praying for our country and our global economy, that it rebounds from this dark, insidious corruption that is causing so many so much pain.

It's a tough day--a tough year--for the Ashes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Maximus "Cat" Ashe: ca. 1993-2009

Known by so many people. Known by so many names. Please say a prayer for our dear Maximus. Our old friend is suffering from acute renal failure and will be euthanized today. He lived 16 wonderful years and we are definitely blessed to have known him. I won't get sappy, but this cat was the best there ever was...and the best there ever will be. See you later Maximus. Godspeed.