Archives for the month of: January, 2010

January. Hey, January! Where is the hope and renewal a new year supposedly brings? Where have you hidden my fresh resolve? That drive for personal improvement we so earnestly discussed on all those heady December nights?

Fresh resolve my frozen butt.

I’m exactly the same person with exactly the same weaknesses as ever – just not as drunk or hopeful. And now I’m stuck here in JANUARY, frigid desolate grey January, without nearly enough excuses to rediscover my willpower OR get drunk.

And I’m so tired of being cold.

Winter guarantees intellectual myopia. I become small-minded in my chilled and contracted physical world, unable to think beyond the thin walls of a drafty house. My body hides beneath a defense of sweaters, scarves, socks, blankets. I’ve forgotten what my own skin feels like. But here: full moons, big skies, bare shoulders, flowers and long views have been my drawings, in direct opposition to this closeted, wintry world – though every idea seems tinged with frost. True desires and fears manifest only in dreams, pin-sharp against vague days. And in my diminished waking life, smaller things take on larger meaning. I am stuck, staring cross-eyed at the components while ignoring the whole.

I digress.

A friend of mine wants to take a trip to New Mexico. Would I like to go? Get out, get away, go find some of that elusive hope and renewal? I raise an eyebrow from within my wool and cotton wrappings. Would I like to get out from under these layers, these leaden skies, my mind gasping and shrinking like a deflated balloon? Would I? A muffled HELL YES!

Travel makes me see better. A good junket restores my long-range perspective in thinking and doing. The clear vision, the wide-eyed focus I can gain on my fate is, conversely, like squinting at a painting in progress: better to see it’s entirety through half-closed eyes. Better for determining your next big swipe of the brush, without getting hung up on the details. I can view the lay of the land in my life when I am somewhere different, when I drive long distances and just end up. Simply being in a new place to check my email every morning is fun. I like change, I like exploring. I like shrugging off the usual routine, in body and mind. It’s good medicine.

All this and not a word about the actual trip – though here I am, ten days deep. Ah, musings! Next time.

(this idea became a poster for the very talented Night Night)

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A lifetime ago I learned how to screenprint. Picture this: a high school in the foothills of California, mid-eighties. LOTS of jocks and aggies. And me, the moody teenager with ratty dyed black hair who adjusted her curriculum to slouch around the art department most of the day (Ah, J-Wing.) Algebra II and Biology be hanged! There were clay pots to throw, stones to be carved, photos to capture and develop, and a chaotic art room to explore. I quickly exhausted all basic activities on offer in that art room – I mean, really. Do I have to shade another sphere or cylinder?

My teacher sent me to the library. “Go do some research,” she said. “Tell me what you want to do and we’ll do it.”

I found a book on screenprinting.

Out from the cluttered art room closet came old wooden frames. I stretched my own screens, coated them with photo emulsion in the photography darkroom next door, and set them in the sunshine to expose. I printed the CRAP out of my ideas. I enjoyed the limitations imposed by the medium, I celebrated that visual punch you could achieve because of those limitations. It taught me how to show and tell with an economy of color, line, texture, detail. It was great fun and I’m forever grateful to my batty old art teacher for giving me free rein in her classroom.

I’ve been lucky enough to access really good screenprinting equipment over the last year. Grown-up, professional equipment: large-format printer for my acetates, an exposure box with vacuum hold-down and automatic timer shut-off, a backlit wash station, four-color carousel and one monster of a belt dryer. So after 20-some years, I get to screenprint again. What a wonderful excuse to design and print posters for all my charming, attractive and supremely talented musician friends! I love the physical act of printing. I love mixing my inks, I love pulling those inks and then lifting the screen to see the result. There’s a lot of swearing if my screen gets blocked or things get out of alignment, but oh. When it works I’m grinning ear to ear. Immensely satisfying.

I can’t find any of my old high school prints, but here’s a few recent posters I’ve done, from initial germ to final design.

And when I print, I look REALLY GOOD. I’m just sayin’.