Cavalcade of awesomosity

I’m picking up a psychic transmission from my readers… let’s see if I can make it out. Hmm… sounds like… “we’re bored. You haven’t posted in forever. Show us more art, woman!” Wow. Okay kids, you got it! Today’s post is chocked full of photos, including sneak previews of some in-progress works that will be gracing these digital pages within mere days, so stay tuned!

It rained here recently, which I interpret as nature’s way of telling me to spend a bunch of time in the studio. I’ve also got several showings lined up for the rest of the year, which means most of the work that’s been cluttering up my home and studio will soon be on tour throughout various locations in Northern California- giving me room to make more things, of course. 😉 Check the “news & events” section of my portfolio site, MarianneBland.com, to see up-to-date listings for in-person displays of my art.  But that’s the old stuff (you’ve seen all of it). So, without further ado- new art!

Completed linocut of V. Sattui Winery

Above is the completed test print from the block I showed you the other day, which looks like this:

Finished linocut block

If you’ve never been to V. Sattui Winery, you should treat yourself and go. It’s in St. Helena, which is near Napa, and they have this amazing deli with all kinds of goodies that taste great with their wine. Plus gorgeous grounds, lots of picnic areas and beautiful buildings-like the above stone structure covered in ivy. It’s one of my family’s favorite day trips. I also did a linocut of the Grgich Hills Winery, which has a much prettier garden than implied by their site.

Grgich Hills linocut

And this is what the carved block of linoleum I used to make that print looks like:

Carved linoleum block for Grgich Hills print

If you’re one of those people who changes the channel to avoid seeing movie previews (ahem.. Rob), you may want to stop scrolling now. Otherwise, here are sneak peeks of a few new pieces:

I’m particularly excited about that last one. So much color! 2 cityscapes, 2 abstracts and a big mixed media piece in the works. Want to know what music I’ve been blasting throughout the house to fuel this flurry of artmaking? Check out this sweet playlist I made on Grooveshark  for some nuggets of indie music goodness (no commercials, totally free, I’m in love.) See you again soon, darlings!

Commissions, curators and carvings, oh my!

Who's the cutie pie? You are!

Sometimes I miss doing the daily art project. And I’ll admit it may someday make a reappearance. It’s exhilarating to be so productive. Then again, this whole art thing is often 50% making and 50% marketing, and those things don’t necessarily split themselves up perfectly each day. So lately I’ve had a show of nearly 30 mixed media abstracts here in Sacramento, I just finished the above commission drawing of an adorable doggie,  I’m also working on some wine country art including these linocuts…

An almost-done linoleum carving of V. Sattui Winery

.. and today I’m heading to the bay area to hang out with my mom, sister and nephew before meeting with 2 curators tomorrow about prospective showings of my cityscapes in Palo Alto and San Francisco.  I also had a couple of serious interviews last week for a job that I think would be just perfect for me, so fingers crossed! I entered some art in the State Fair and will find out within the next few days if it was accepted, and some other contest deadlines are looming, so it seems that the “marketing” thing has really taken hold here lately. Here’s an image of the reference photo I used for the dog portrait:

Not bad, eh?

I’ve never done a solid doggie drawing before, but it’s pretty similar to doing a person portrait. What do you think? Should I start offering pet portrait commissions in my Etsy shop? 😉

Amor eterno y musica

From drawing to lino block to ink on paper in 4 hours

Day 306: Romeo & Juliet Linocut

Oh, Google. No “Day of the Dead” kickass homepage drawing? No stupid election day graphic? Not even an interesting combo of the two? I’m disappointed. Today I decided to make my still-sick-self create something with my hands. In honor of Dia de los Muertos, I decided to finally do some skull art. But I wanted a starting point.

I thought about it as I drove to my polling place today, listening to an instrumental version of Radiohead’s “Exit Music for a Film” on my car cd player. This song was specifically written for the end of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet. I got choked up thinking of how powerfully beautiful and sad the song is at the same time.

When I got home, I decided to do a Romeo & Juliet/ Dia de los Muertos linocut. I clearly forgot how long linocuts take to make, but once I’d bitten it off, I figured I should chew it all even if it meant several hours of shoulder pain. Sugar skulls aren’t really my thing, but the woodcut medium really lends itself to the style, and I’m happy with the end result.

"Romeo & Juliet", a linocut

Listen to the original version here. Listen to the instrumental version I was listening to today here. Read about this song that apparently helped Marilyn Manson decide against suicide by cliff jump here.

Madcap adventures in the land of the Handmad(e)

I love the big windows in my studio.

Day 179: Handmade Hand Linocut

With the gallery showing coming up right away, I’ve been preparing prints, cards and paintings for the day of the hanging (the art on walls, not the public gallows) on Tuesday. Arriving home from Staples for a last minute card-holder-upper-thingy this morning, I discovered one of my tires was pretty much flat. Thankful for the slow leak instead of a dangerous blowout, I prepared to change it out to the spare when Rob stepped in like my knight in shining armor. He changed out the tire in crazy Sacramento heat, took it to the tire place to be patched, and even swung by an auto parts store to get a replacement bulb for my rear taillight, which he then fixed for me. He even wiped mechanic (and Marianne) grease off of the steering wheel with one of those disinfectant things. Hooray for husband!

These tan lino blocks by Speedball are my favorite for detailed work.

This freed me up to do things I needed to do, like create labels, seal bags, and do my daily art. I’ll be posting a new instructable soon on the easy way to make linocuts, so I spent a lot of time photographing the process for this tiny one, a tracing of my hand with a heart in it and the word “handmade” in cursive, which clearly came out a lot more like “handmad”, which I find to be incredibly hilarious for no good reason. Don’t worry, my actual hand isn’t woefully undersized. I shrunk the tracing to fit my lino block. 🙂

Although, I’m sure I could make a name for myself in the circus art circuit as “the tiny-handed wonder”. If a circus art circuit existed. And my hand were actually tiny, which again, it is not. 🙂 Lots more photos of how this “handmad” lino came to be and how you can be the rockstar of your own craft corner in an upcoming instructable. Stay tuned!

Linocut + fabric + safety pin = custom patch!

Linopalooza

6 hours spent cranking out linocards = joy.

 Day 178: Hand-colored block prints

Every time I tell Rob I have to go to the art store, he does the wallet cringe. You know the one- the pained expression and partial body cramp that seems to occur involuntarily whenever you think about having to spend money that you don’t have in abundance at the time.

I find this is a particularly pronounced condition among we artist-types. We so frequently have to look at expenses as “this OR that”… “groceries OR gas?”…. “cable OR car insurance?”…. “student loan payment OR credit card?” It’s so common, they should really start including a course on it at that $16,000/semester private art school I went to. Kind of like the “math for art majors” course I managed to find at my community college (a title that just barely won out over “the bare minimum of required math knowledge for hippies”, I imagine)- “budgeting for art majors” would include key points like growing your own garden to save money (on *vegetables*, people!), the law of disappearing money (you know, how it goes out of your account like 20 times faster than it goes IN to it) and how to be frugal at WholeFoods. Just kidding on that last one. That topic would be more applicable to a fantasy writing class.

Too bad I can't barter these beauties for utility credits.

Thankfully, I can use a lot of my supplies over and over once I have them. Block-printing is one example of this. Once your linoleum is carved and you have the ink & stuff, you can print away! Heavy-duty cardblanks are great to have, but there are other options too, including using fabric scraps, old book pages or making your own recycled paper out of junk mail. Which I have yet to master, but which sounds extremely satisfying.

Linocuts are addictive, as my friend Nicole of BlueBicicletta can attest to. Nicole is an amazing drawer (as in illustrator, not furniture) and loves using black and white, so linocuts are a natural boon to her art-making style. We’ve both been bitten by the block-printing bug.

I made these prints of my carving on 5x7 cardstock, gave them a spritz of fixative to keep the water-based ink set, then hand-colored them with oil pastels.

As you guys know, I love color. So today I did something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile- I hand-colored 4 copies of a block print I designed for this very purpose back on Jan. 21st (which I only remember specifically because it was my birthday). They’re as cheery as a vase of gerbera daisies all together on my table. I also did some color prints of my lovebirds lino. Awwwww! It’s too much cuteness for one post. I have to stop now before it gets out of control. 😉

If Warhol had ever done 'cute', it might have looked something like this.

Day 128: Smooching Snails

Smooching Snails Linocut Card

We’ve been sprucing up the garden a bit lately, and while spiders scare the crap out of me, I do enjoy being around the other little critters. Rob cares for all plants and creatures great and small and rescues the creepy crawlies from the house pretty often. Being around the pill bugs, ladybugs, worms and bees today recalled fond childhood memories of playing in the yard with my sister. My little sis, Ashley, loves snails and has always been a protector of these little guys. Today’s linocut is in her honor. She is a newlywed and she and her husband are perfect for each other- just like this pair, mid-smooch on little blades of grass.

Oh also, did anyone catch the Sharks game? Because they won the second round and are moving on! Oh yeah! I know, really important news that everyone must needs urgently, right? You’re welcome!

I’ll be announcing the winner of a free linocut card tomorrow evening! There’s still time to enter. Visit Day 123 to add your comment for a chance to win.  

Day 127: Courting Cacti

Courting Cacti!

More than simply succulents are growing in this garden…love is blooming too! Do plants love? I think the answer is yes! Mr. Moustache offers a flower to his senorita, who blushes and turns coyly. This original, hand-carved linocut is printed on to 5×7 cardstock. I showed it to Rob who said “Aww, that’s sweet! I bet he’s saying ‘promise I won’t be a prick!'”, which made me giggle quite a lot. I got a late start on this one and am a little tired, so I’m cutting this post short. Hope you’re having a fabulous Friday night, everyone!

Day 126: Corn on the Card

Today’s piece is an art card made with a linocut of corn. When I look at a nice ear of yellow corn, with its glittering kernels peeking out from nature’s green wrapping paper, I marvel at the beauty of the earth. But I can’t think about corn without also thinking about high fructose corn syrup, and I can’t think about HFCS without thinking about those commercials poking fun at us idiot consumers who aren’t even able to verbalize why it’s bad. With battered insulin responses as a key contributing factor to weight gain and diabetes in our country and in our youth, it’s truly insulting that this marketing campaign thinks we can’t understand why it’s unsafe. And that’s without considering the genetically modified organism issue!

In my Netflix queue is King Corn, a documentary following two eco-activists who embark on a mission to grow their own acre of corn and learn about corn farming firsthand. Some other movies that cover food health issues and farming practices in the US are Food Inc and The Corporation. Here’s a video detailing a study finding that GMO corn causes organ failure.

Printed on to another vintage cookbook page, this one featuring such corn-tastic delights as baked corn custard and surprise corn casserole. Yum! It’s sewn on to a heavy cardblank with olive thread. I think it would look nice framed on a wall too. What do you think?

Day 125: Spring Onions Art Card

Spring onions linocut printed on vintage cookbook page

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I hope you’re enjoying a plate of enchiladas and a nice cold margarita right now. I know there’s an actual historical event behind today, but I see it more as a great excuse for having Mexican food. I love Mexican food (it’s in my genes). I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and probably not get tired of it. Beans for breakfast? Hell yes! And what would Mexican food be without onions? Sadness, that’s what it would be.

Today’s piece is a bunch of spring onions printed onto a vintage recipe page from “Vegetarian Cookery” including such tantalizing tastebud gems as “Onions and Eggs in Cream Sauce”. Hurk. The bottom of this print didn’t come out as well as I’d like, but hey- I have plenty more pages of creepy gluten recipes to work with here.

If you’re tiring of the linocuts, I do apologize. But there are two good reasons I’ve been stuck on them lately. 1- I’m working on a big commission piece in a tiny studio, and I can do linocut work in the living room, and 2- if you want to get good at something, you need to practice it. Oh, and 2b- my lino carving tools get rusty if I don’t use them for awhile and they’re a bitch to clean. 😉

Yes, I may have a few nicks and cuts on my fingers. Yes, the ink and the palette and the brayer and the other thingamajig are kind of a pain to get out and wash up. But it’s really satisfying to spend a couple hours making a detailed carving knowing that I can re-use it in the future.

Day 124: Artichoke Art Card

Artichoke linocut stamped on to a vintage vegetarian cookbook page

Ah, the artichoke. Despite the inclusion of a violent verb in its name, this veggie is beautiful. I don’t really like to eat them, which seems sacrilegious since I’m Californian, but I am not a fan of mayonnaise and also they have spikes on the tips of the leaves plus a dangerous center. I like the flavor of artichoke, and I once had some crazy awesome artichoke bread at a roadside bakery near Santa Cruz. I’m just not into combat with my vegetables.

They make patient models for drawing, however. I stamped today’s linocut on to a page from the “Vegetarian Cookery” book I mentioned the other day. I included its cover in the first photo so you could see what I meant when I said it featured an unappetizing pile of slop. Seriously, who would pick this up and say, “mmm! That vomit-like slush bucket looks like a fabulous vegetarian dish! Sign me up!”. That’s right- no one. Which is why its recipe pages are best as the background for some sassy veggie linocuts sewn onto cards with olive green thread. 🙂

P.S. Is anyone interested in learning how to tackle linocuts? If so, I can put together a how-to for my curious crafters out there. Let me know in the comments. Thanks!