My brain skitters around like drops of water on a hot griddle when I’m experimenting in the studio.
Try this… Okay, that worked. Nope. Modify… Hmmm. What if I try that? … Oooops… Now what? …Oh, maybe that… Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a cool down and clean up… Write some of this stuff down before I forget it…
No wonder I’m exhausted at the end of a productive art day.
Sometimes I frighten myself with the way my brain disengages from my active thoughts. Split brain, if you will. I don’t know if this happens to everyone. Probably. It happened this morning, as I was journaling. Writing is much slower than thinking and I was writing about a workshop I’m preparing, when my brain flashed to the the open sketchbook on my desk with a drawing that might help to instruct the workshop.
I’m preparing some printmaking workshops, but next up is molding paper sculptures for my next exhibit. So part of my brainpower kept the words I wanted to write lined up ready to jump into my hand, pen and then paper. But held enough in reserve to plot the logical steps from the sketch to modeling clay to making a mold to casting the paper sculpture.
I have actually really frightened myself by stepping back from a piece of artwork and thinking, “Wow, I don’t even remember doing that.” I actually videotaped myself drawing, “Universal Witness”. Still, somehow as strange as it sounds, it felt like channeling… See, scary stuff…Sometimes when I draw I succumb to the process and have a semi conscious thought to relinquish control to my right brain intuition, or the Universe, or whatever the power of the piece comes from.
Like many artists when I pull out of that altered state I am absolutely drained. So much of my being and absolute energy went into the piece that I have little left for myself.
So while Diana Hume takes the credit, I’m not completely sure that I haven’t been the tool, not unlike the pencil or paintbrush in my hand. The more I succumb to an unconscious direction the better it often is. Though it’s not a switch I can turn off and on. It requires investing some time in the technical skills, and also sitting back and discussing between right and left brain what the impact of the piece is and where it might be made stronger and more appealing to the left brainers.
"Universal Witness"; Diana Hume, 2010, 22" x 28", Graphite on Paper
Recently, I was asked by a nearby art gallery* to teach a printmaking workshop, since my BFA major is printmaking.
Mostly folks don’t really know what printmaking is. I didn’t until I took my first class. In a nutshell, printmaking is making a “plate” that can be used many times to print an image over and over. The simplest “plate” is a rubber stamp. In this workshop I showed participants how to carve an image into a rubber block, ink it, and print it. The stamps in the picture on the right were made by Grade 4 students. Stamps were printed several times each, including Artist Trading Cards, and a large poster of everyone’s stamp.
“A” printmaking workshop turned out to be 3 days of workshops. Students ranged in age from grade 1 to grade 12. Time varied from 1 – 2 hours, as well as an adult class that was all day. Time between classes was sometimes non-existent. Ahhhhhhh. The hardest thing for me, was preparing materials because it changed for each group, especially because the youngest group didn’t use sharp carving tools. To say the least it took considerable effort to prepare for!
The highlights of the workshops were seeing sparks of inspiration. It made the hard work worth it. I fanned those sparks into flames as often and as hard as I could. Mostly, I loved being asked repeatedly where to buy these materials, and I loved that they wanted to keep working even when it was time for them to go.
I thought I’d prepared for every possible scenario though, until I set out to teach my daughter’s grade 4 class. As I was leaving home, my daughter phoned to say she wouldn’t be meeting me at the school after all, since she was going into labour!
It made for a very interesting couple of classes! Her students were darlings who clamoured to know about their teacher and the baby that was coming soon.
My daughter made her own stamp on the world with a big beautiful baby boy who was healthy and perfect. And her students felt like they somehow shared the experience because their teacher’s mom was with them while she had the baby. Their excitement was fantastic!!
Besides the excitement of a new baby, and making stamps, our workshops were sponsored by PV Disposal who also gave each of the kids an apron to keep the ink off their good clothes. They were almost as happy with the aprons as they were with their new rubber stamps.
Even though we used brayers and printer’s ink in the workshop, at home they can use their stamps over and over again using a simple stamp pad. I’m pretty sure more than a few will go out and get supplies to make more stamps at home. My job here is done!
In my next blog entry I will describe how to make a rubber stamp in 6 easy steps.