The death of a friend puts your life and those of the people you know into perspective, especially when your friend was only thirty years old. It brings up questions of purpose and happiness, drive and goals, reconciliation and separation, among myriad others. This was the first death of anyone directly connected to me, friends or family, in twenty-one years. In 1989, a grandfather died of multiple cancers and a thirty-five year old uncle of a drug overdose, six months apart. For whatever reasons, I had an exceptionally difficult time dealing with those losses. While I feel sorrow from this recent passing, I am grateful I was able to grieve. In the traumatic or shocking life experiences of the past two decades I had only ever shut down and denied my emotions, gone hysterical and off the deep end or jumped into a knell-like depression. Last week was different and I am grateful that at this point in time and space I was able to open a door instead of nail it shut once more.
Putting a rather rough week of ups and downs behind, I cracked open a rather old tub of photo emulsion to start experimenting… and when I mean old, I mean Joan Rivers old. It had been sitting in my refrigerator for 5x the manufacturer’s recommended shelf-life. Crazy, but the damn goo is still good! In exactly ONE test burn, this without being able to locate my exposure notes from the past, I nailed a successful screen. I wouldn’t have wagered a dime if you propositioned me that it was going to do anything but fly right through the mesh during wash-out.
Printmaking is making its orbit back into the focus of my process. While I have been fervently working on collage panels, even completing one from start to finish in a 14-hour studio session two days ago, print has been a secondary light in my thoughts. I love the medium, but I love the challenges and opportunities even more. I think for the most part screenprinting is approached as an artsy alternative to Xerox, to its more commercial roots in t-shirts and logoing tchotchkes, as well as creating editions of ‘affordable’ work from high-priced artists. Clearly there is credibility to all of those but I also believe that the full value of the practice is frequently discounted for reasons of capital, time or just plain lack of creative drive.
That said, I’m going to be doing some pretty boring minimal color work in the next two weeks to recalibrate and regroup, reorganize the constantly shifting studio into a new work flow to accommodate the panels and the paper. I’ve needed business cards for sometime now and it just makes sense to print my own. From there lies a couple of big projects that are being kept hush, motivating me to think in hue against the achromatic collage work that drives me.
I spent an hour searching through four banker’s boxes of notes, ideas and ephemera of the past three years for my exposure chart… no dice as aforementioned. Instead, I found two delightful legal pads full of abbreviated points and sketch-graphs from Johannes Itten’s seminal work The Art of Color. Highly recommended read for anyone interested in the basics of color and already de rigeur for art students, the world looked significantly different for me upon finishing the book.
Color is a really interesting thing to think about. Reflected light purporting herself to be an actual color. Does it really exist? Is it illusory? Artist and blogger Steven LaRose recently posited if there was any difference between illusion and reality, this after my short comment on apophenia. Black, white, blue, red… it is all is, not-is to me. An extension of math.