Monday, November 24, 2014

Quotes: Michael Haneke

"I'm lucky enough to be able to make films and so I don't need a psychiatrist. I can sort out my fears and all those things with my work. That's an enormous privilege. That's the privilege of all artists, to be able to sort out their unhappiness and their neuroses in order to create something." –– Michael Haneke (b. 1942), Austrian film director and screenwriter

Friday, November 21, 2014

Screen prints 2

Screen print 4 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
In my screen print class I've been testing patterns that I designed while learning Adobe Illustrator. Since there are so many, I've been exposing my screens with two patterns. By the end of ten weeks, I'll have tested eight patterns. I'm only printing papers for the purposes of collage, so I don't need large prints of each pattern. Above is a Zig Zag and Dots duo on a security-patterned envelope.
Screen print 5 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The same Dots pattern on one of my acrylic ink/Chartpak marker Lent drawings.
Screen print 3 © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Here's a less successful print of a Spiral/Waves duo on a colour copy of a textile that I pieced together from fragments of old kimonos.

I bought a pack of 100 acetates and have been playing with making marks with a variety of materials on them. I'm curious to see how they will translate to prints on paper. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Power Spot: Chester Bench

Chester bench; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
I took this photo in early September when it was still warm. It's mid-November now and we have snow. This Chester bench is one of two facing the Chester Basin, but this one is my bench and I return to it with each visit to Nova Scotia. My husband and I pack a simple picnic lunch of St. Mary's maple smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes, and an avocado and we eat it while seated on the bench.
Chester bench; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Flanking the bench are wild roses, which smell divine. They connect me to my childhood. I can't explain what draws me to this spot, or why I find it so powerful. I'm not really a sit-on-a-bench kind of gal (unless I have something to draw or stitch). The bench is nicely weathered and offers up beautiful rubbings of its wood grain. 

My only other power spot would be my studio. The moment that I cross its threshold I am invigorated, which is great except on weekends and in the evening when I should be getting to bed. Do you have a power spot?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Quotes: Marcus Aurelius

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious." –– Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor

Friday, November 14, 2014

Studio Series: Screen prints!

Screenprint 1 on collage © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Autumn has been rather busy with natural dyeing, the usual collage and stitching, and my first silkscreen-on-paper class. Years ago, I was trained to print on fabric. The program was rigorous and there was no time to play. After graduation, I never wanted to screen print again. That changed when my friend Bob raved about his class with a young artist. This reminded me of all the things that I wanted to try while in school and all the patterns that I have created in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in the intervening years. So, I took the plunge and signed up. The teacher, students, and non-toxic studio are a perfect fit. The students are a range of ages from a high school student, a retired teacher, and several graphic designers and we learn from each other. The teacher is knowledgeable and she provides support and encouragement for each of our interests. I'm obsessed with experimenting and making messes. Above is a print on a colour copy of a collage that was part of a commission. I'll cut it up and collage with it another time.
Screenprint on painting © Karen Thiessen, 2014
This is the same pattern printed on a crappy painting on paper. I can't wait to cut it up and collage with it. I've been printing on all manner of old collages and assorted papers. When one print doesn't work out, I print another layer over it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In this class I'm not aiming for perfection or even excellence. I just explore, make messes, and learn. Since I have more patterns and ideas than I have time to print in the ten week session, I'm planning to register for the next round of classes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dorothy Caldwell Silent Ice/Deep Patience @ AGP 9

Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
In her 2003 In Good Repair solo exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada Dorothy displayed several bound notebooks (along with white cotton gloves with which to handle them) in which she had made marks with ink and with burning/scorching. Collecting cards is a notebook in another form. One hundred and twelve cards are pinned to the wall with three-inch black specimen pins. The cards are about 2" X 3" and appear to be heavy cotton rag paper, similar to BFK Rives printmaking paper. The edges are nicely deckled and I wonder if Dorothy purchased the cards this way or if she moistened the heavy paper and then tore it against a sharp edge.
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The Collecting cards are small intimate studies that Dorothy stitched, wrapped, marked with earth ochre, ink, and appliquéd with plant material (leaves, small flowers).
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Together they resemble an ancient alphabet.
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Note the layers of shadows cast by the cards.
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
A stitched leaf. Could it be eucalyptus?
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Earth ochre, stitching, plant matter, and black charcoal marks.
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
The middle card is adorned with either delicate plant matter or dead mosquitoes.
Dorothy Caldwell Collecting cards (journal); Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2014
Collecting cards was one of my favourite parts of the exhibition. The cards are very personal and reveal the research and thinking behind Dorothy's new work.

All photos were taken with permission from Dorothy Caldwell and the fine staff of the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quotes: Dani Shapiro

"I used to be angry with myself for my inability to live a normal life with normal rhythms, and also be a writer. But I've come to believe that normal is overrated––for artists, for everyone." –– Dani Shapiro, American author. From Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, page 207.
* Amen! I read Still Writing a few pages at a time over the course of two months. If you are a creative professional or know one and want to understand him/her, I highly recommend this book.