Sunday, January 20, 2008

Illustration Friday Theme: Plain (Socks)

(Please click image to enlarge and view)

Illustration Friday Theme: Plain
Artist: Debra Woolard Bender
Title: Socks
Medium: Digital
Materials: Paint Shop Pro; painted using mouse
Category: Painterly (Style: expressionism)

chill morning—
we all go to dancing
on the roof of Hell

DW Bender
haiku, January 2008
alludes to a haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1763 -1827):

yo [no] naka wa jigoku no ue no hanami kana

in this world
over Hell, we promenade,
gazing at flowers

(translation version, mine)

2 versions:

Note: It's now midweek, and judging by the number of comments, I doubt these sport and business socks are running a race for 'Most Popular Submission' on this week's Illustration Friday theme of "Plain." Socks as subject matter did give me the incentive, however, to open a separate blogsite for my IF image posts. And the socks helped to inspire a name for it, too: As of next week, MONKEY SOX will be the repository and avatar for my IF creations. 'My Hermitude' blog will now be used for postings on printmaking.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Illustration Friday: Stitch (21st Century DesignSpeak)

SEW WHAT?! Stitch Trivia—in tbe realm of textile design, there is a little-known embroidery technique called the balloon stitch. While the decorative threadwork has never actually been known to embellish fashionable lighter-than-air circus poodles or inflated latex birthday hats, we think it pops.

Illustration Friday Theme: Stitch
Artist: Debra Woolard Bender
Title: 21st Century DesignSpeak
Medium: Digital
Materials: Paint Shop Pro; Drawn with mouse; Fonts: Mistral and Bauhaus
Category: Cartoon

mother says
something's wrong with my poetry—
perhaps it's me

DW Bender
untitled senryu

rev. 18/01/08

Sunday, January 6, 2008

OMG! Web Findings - 3 fabulous artists

Woodblock prints above are by Lojze Spacal [1907–2000] (Slovenia).

drawing the air around
the apple

DW Bender

Browsing the web in the early hours, before anyone else is awake...except for the several cats...I've had the wonderful fortune to discover for myself, three exceptional artists:

#1. The first artist of my excitement is Lojze Spacal (1907 - 2000), a fantastic Slovenian artist who worked in graphic arts as well as painting, muraling, mixed media, photography, etc. I would love to visit the Lojze Spacal Gallery in Štanjel. His woodblock and linocut prints are incredible, and bring to mind my favorite Japanese Sosaku Hanga artist, Kiyoshi Saito. I include more info on him, as most sites are not in English, and because he is my favorite find today, tickling all my right-brain art receptors. The URL below leads to a documentary on Spacal with wonderful images of his himself, his works, his house/home studio, the garden and hometown. It includes some images of the artist printing woodblock or linocut works at his press in his beautiful studio.

There is a bio in English on Vodnik website:

LOJZE SPACAL (Trieste 1907 – 2000 Trieste, buried in Skrbina) painter and graphic artist. Region: Obalno-kraška regija

Lojze Spacal has the reputation of being one of the most prominent artists in the post-war Slovene and Italian areas, and an artist of worldwide acclaim. He reached his artistic peak in graphic techniques, mainly in linocut and woodcut. He also used many other techniques: oil, mosaic, tapestry, fresco, and various mixed techniques, for example, a combination of sculpture, relief and painting. He came to be remembered as the artist of Istria and the Karst, because he derived inspiration for his work from these two regions and he interpreted them in his own artistic language. He spent a lot of time in his house in Skrbina in the Karst, where he is also buried, as he wished. His work was awarded many national and international, Slovene and Italian awards: the Graphic Award of the Biennial of Contemporary Art in Sau Paolo, Brazil (1953), Graphic Gran Prix at the Venetian Biennal (1958), the Award of the Presidency of the Chamber of the Members of Parliament of the Italian Republic (1968), the Preseren Award for Life Achievement (1974), the Trieste Golden St. Justin (1977), the Golden Star of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (awarded to him by J.B.Tito in 1978), the Golden Medal of the Trieste Region (1984), Correspondence Member of the Slovene Acedemy of Science and Arts (1987), the Jakopic Award (presented to him posthumously in 2000) and many other awards for his artistic works. He participated in numerous collective and individual exhibitions in Slovenia, Italy and in other parts of the world. He participated four times in the Venice Biennial and his works were exhibited on a regular basis in the Ljubljana Biennial. His paintings and graphics form part of numerous important gallery collections of contemporary art all around the world.
Since 1988, there has been a permanent exhibition of his works in the Castle of Stanjel.

# 2. The second artist is a living designer, Thomas Heatherwick, an Englishman who brings together design, sculpture and architecture. His beautiful sculpture for Wellcome Trust, constructed of 150,000 sphereical glass beads is called Bleigiessen, (lead guessing) a German word for pouring melted lead into water, in which the resulting shape is used for divination (future/fortune-telling).

Google "Thomas Heatherwick" for images of his works. Here is a URL link to one view of Bleigiessen:

#3. The third is an artist who piques my leftish-brain minimalist graphic bone. Among other mediums with which he produces his works, German artist, Christoph Feichtiner, travels around the world making "Ferrograms" (iron prints) from designs he finds on manhole covers:

His gallery site:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Illustration Friday: 100% (For/Given)

(Please click image to enlarge and view)

Illustration Friday Theme: 100%
Title: For/Given
Artist: Debra Woolard Bender
Medium: Intaglio (etching)
Category: Figurative

attuned in deep prayer
the air was charged with silence
upon entering
the great void wherein is all...
I have searched so long for you

DW Bender

untitled tanka
published in collaborative tanka series,"Between Breaths" (5/01)

Woodblock Printing: Sunbird, Artist's Proof #1

(Please click image to enlarge and view)

o wild Icarus
how you melted into time
as one born too soon
yet I have arrived too late
to follow my desire

DW Bender
untitled tanka
published in the collaborative tanka sequence, "Between Breaths" 05/01)

Ouch, the camera flash was a bit bright!

Yesterday, I pulled the first artist's proof from the third block, "Sunbird," using water-based black Speedball ink. I handcolored the background with oil pastels, and melted the colors with a bit of citrus oil. I had thought about using water colors, but had read in Keiko Hiratsuka Moore's book, Moku Hanga, about kurepasu hanga (cray-pas woodblock prints), a woodblock printmaking technique using cray-pas (mixed crayon and pastel coloring sticks) instead of ink, swabbing the back of the baren-rubbed paper with benzine to melt the colors into the paper. The method was invented by her father, famous sosaku hanga artist, Un'ichi Hiratsuka in the 1930's, the technique being very popular among Japan's schoolchildren, according to the author. I decided to try oil pastels for the background, and may try the kurepasu hanga technique on a different block in the near future.

While I love the luminosity of the colors in the background, I'm not entirely happy with the result of my first experiment on "Sunbird." I think I need another type of solvent for the oil pastels to reduce or eliminate excess oiliness on the paper. Maybe I'll get some benzine or try mineral spirits. I also want to try using some different colored inks in various areas of the image. I won't cut separate blocks for various colors, but will ink the various areas in the desired colors. I don't think I want the sunbird to be black. So, I'll exeriment with both foreground areas and background. I also want to experiment with embossing powders (heated) as pigment. I'm looking forward to this experimentation. (Update: I bought a heat gun, some colorless embossing ink and clear embossing powder which I can sprinkle over or mix with colored and inked areas of the paper.

I also, at some point, want to try some encaustic painting, and see if I might be able to combine it with relief prints. I've decided to use this first artist's proof and perhaps some others as bits to cut out as shapes for future collages, and will cut out areas of future prints that would be otherwise discarded because of some flaw.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Woodblock Printing: Dreaming Series

once I spilled to earth
from a distant silver star
a dewdrop's shiver
banished from a captive sky
by Ama-terasu's loom

DW Bender
untitled tanka (5-01)
published in collaborative tanka series, Between Breaths

Alrighty then. So, it will take some time for me to buy the tools and materials I'll need for Japanese style moku hanga and to learn it. If I'm lucky, it may be sometime this year. Meanwhile, with the nasty, rough exterior pine plywood siding retrieved from a dumpster, I'm cutting and stabbing, slashing, chipping and carving away at the backside of another piece for a new woodcut print.

Naive style suits this rough wood, and my poor, student grade carving tools. But, hey. It works for now, for getting used to "painting" with chisels and gouges. And I enjoy the folksy, choppy, bold look of the artwork produced on them. Inelegant, clumsy things, but with a sort of rustic wabi-sabi of their own (imho), and even maybe a little yugen in the subject matter. Like an influenciality mixture of Marc Chagall and Abner Graboff, maybe? Or inspiration ala mode Bjorn Wiinblad and Munakata Shiko (thanks "Paper Pictures" :^D)? There's a sort of 50's-60's look to these floating subjects in the dreaming series. Yes, I can draw realistically and cartoon ("ha! I can even draw with a mouse," she squeaks). Right now, the naive work is more stimulating (and...there are so many styles and techniques I admire and could explore in whatever lifetime is mine, that I'm not sure if I could (at my advancing age :^D) ever achieve a personal voice or style in my poetry and/or artwork. Especially since I've been such a procrastinator about doing my art. I do everything else but.)

This problematic siding-wood demands its own treatment, it's own "hand." I can't cut and carve into it easily, as perhaps cherry or luan might comply — or even a block of solid, soft yellow pine, which I've used thrice and long, long ago. I find I can't use the gouges on the particularly resinous, hard areas of the siding. It's just too hard, and/or my simple tools are not sharp enough. I do have a tiny Japanese whetstone which I'm using in efforts to keep the blades as sharp as possible. I had started carving some small, random squares into the design, and I found that I can use the little straight edged bullnose chisel and a hammer to outline the squares on the hardest parts; I can chip out the insides or outline the solid ones, instead of trying to use the U or V gouge. Which lends to a happy alternative and solution for those resistant areas, in this case. The challenge of the difficult wood has made me explore the design in different ways than otherwise I would have.

On these 3 "dreaming" pieces, I'm drawing designs freehand in pencil, directly onto the wood. On the large piece, I later tried doing a bit of the lower part of the drawing in magic marker, but decided I didn't like doing so, as it can't be "mentally" changed easily if one wants to alter or experiment in the approach of the design; I am carving intuitively, as I go along, in the same approach as I did in originally drawing the images on the blocks. I find that although I might prefer a less "noisy" background for the pieces, i.e., I best like empty, carved out spaces, this particular wood has dictated background chip-texturing with the U gouge and, other kinds of texturing where the wood is too hard to carve normally or clear away. Still, I really love that kind of challenge. It is an immediate experience of necessity being the mother of invention. It makes the carving process and resulting designs more intuitive, fun, and the process expands the creative mind.

I have two other dumpster-dive siding blocks which I'll be carving. They are taken from two drawings which I created on Paint Shop Pro a few years ago. One, I've started carving, already, although I'm already thinking of doing different works entirely from those blocks. Like most things, I jump from one thing to another, whether it's areas of the woodblock, canvas, paper, housework or reading chapters in a how-to book. Undisciplined, perhaps? My mind seems to tire if it spends to long at one place. Guess that's why I've never kept any one paying office job for more than about 4 years. 4 years at one job is an amazing feat for me, and horrible, too, in my experience. I even long to pack up and move after being in one town or State for over 3 or 4 years. I think that is a permanent psychological result of being a military brat, and then a military wife into my 30's. But age and necessity has caught up with us, and we've now been in this present house for around 15 years. And we've lived in Orlando for entirely too long a time. Yeech. I've been ready and willing to move for years. To Arizona. With my wandering spirit and mind, it's amazing that I've even stayed married to one man for nearly 40 years. :^D. But he was a military brat and a military man for 10 years. So, he understands, though he's more methodically and happily planted down in one spot than myself.

Lately, my mind keeps thinking of things I could do with this or that, artwise, so I've finally, after decades, gotten into the flowing and creative state of mind again. I have been thinking, even before I started the woodblock printmaking, that I could cut and paste wood veneer on plywood for some designs. Print antique textile blocks for some areas of a piece, and punch areas with leatherworking stamps. Or use antique butter molds and other kinds of simple carvings for areas of integrated embossing, along with my own cutting. And when I'm done with making a print, I'll probably paint and frame the woodblock or, if it's a particularly wonderful piece of wood (like the slab of Paulownia I bought a couple weeks ago on eBay), I may try my hand at some woodworking to create handcarved plates, platters, etc., or whittle bits for mobiles. I want to do some mixed media with veneer and enamels, mother of pearl, etc., or wood veneer with other materials.

I've been doing some abstracted collages as "sketchbook" pieces. I should say "cutwork sketches" or something. I'm excited about creating the ones I like best with handpainted and printed (acid-free) papers, wood veneers and drawing/paintings on papers that would be cut out to be in the actual finished artworks. When I find the time. It has taken a whole day to get the second half of the larger dreaming series block carved and there is still more to be done...