Posts Tagged ‘taxonomy’

CCO Creative Commons image from Pixabay

So, I’ve been thinking about my summer reading, making, and seeing plan. I have a tendency to imagine that there will be approximately 75 times as many hours in my day during any non-teaching days AND that I will also be 75 times more time-efficient, all while not taking into account my usual, extensive lounging time.

My reading plan

I have already reread most of the books I will be teaching in the fall. So, besides rereading a graphic novel and investigating some Neil Gaiman short stories, if I’m so inclined, I’m in good shape there. Here are a few titles I plan to read, or at least sit next to, over the next weeks.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Dandicot.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I have seen this mentioned in all sorts of “you must read this” articles and whatnot. My son inhaled it in two days.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. I loved Everything I Never Told You and don’t know why I have not already read this book.

We Were Eight Year in Power by Ta-Nahisi Coates. I have read some of these pieces, but want to read them together.

The Glitch by Elizabeth Cohen. I know the author and am so excited for her.

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. I know nothing about this book, but was taken with it at the bookstore the other day and we were already buying something so…

The Atheist in the Attic by Samuel R. Delany. Also saw this at a local bookstore, read the back, and added it to the pile.

I would like to finish The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and perhaps skim through a few other education books.

 

My Making Plan

I also plan to make things. I have recently been back to sewing in addition to my other crafty making. I’ve got a few projects in the works, no surprise there, and a few on the agenda. I have two sewing projects that are already cut out and just need sewing. However, my machine and I are currently not on good terms, perhaps I need a new needle, maybe we just need a break from each other. Also, I have a mostly finished project that just needs a little attention. I would love to finish those and one other.

I have two sets of taxonomy projects that are in process. Those can definitely get finished and posted on the blog. I’m sure I’ll get to another set as well. I have some partial ideas that just need a little more time to marinate.

I would also like to get to some e-textile or soft circuitry projects. I have one makespace type project in the works, although it does not incorporate any circuitry. And, I have a project I started a long time ago that I might finally be ready to tackle. It would mean I would really have to force myself to get a little better with both coding and circuitry– goals of mine for several years now. With the makerspace just sitting there in the summer, calling my name, it seems a shame not to answer.

 

My Seeing Plan

I also like to get out and about and see things. Sometimes I just need to fill up my visual library.

Rodeo–we haven’t been to the Cowtown Rodeo in a few summers. Time for a trip.

MASS MoCA. I love this place and hope we can find some way to make it part of a driving adventure. It’s fun to see images from exhibits I’ve seen there in the past on their Instagram.

Storm King Art Center. I can’t believe I have not been there yet, but it will happen this summer. They also have a great Instagram.

Also, I’m sure I will drag my family to other exhibits or festivals, or outdoor happenings here and there.

Ultimately, I will probably, read, make, and see all kinds of things that may or may not have anything to do with this list. However, I do love to make a list.

So, I’m continuing on my taxonomy project where I make sets of 5 works and share them.

Text shows up in a lot of these sets of works. Many of them have had a blackout poetry component to them or some sort of found text as part of the final piece. I really like the idea of taking some sort of text and turning it into something else, either by choosing to use only some of the words or inserting the text into a new context. Both options appeal to me in that they combine or remix in an unexpected way.

Sewing of some is also showing up a lot. Stitching is an easy way to add some color and another layer, to break out of boundaries, but subtle ways. It’s also something that is a bit of a lost art and therefore creates an interesting contrast sometimes.

For these works, I started with a book I got at a used bookstore called The Way of Enterprise, not my usual genre, but the paper is nice. I thought it would be a challenge to try to turn this writing about business and case studies into poetry that is not about business. And, then sewing the words together rather than blacking out all the extra words made for a more unexpected combination. Rather than just having one poem on each page, I went for two overlapping poems. You can tell them apart by following the sewing lines. I tried one with two different colors of thread but then decided that it was better to have two very similar colors instead. As I did more of the sewing, I also started to think more about the shapes of the connecting lines and be more intentional about the paths rather than just going from one word to the next.

Here they are in the order they appear in the book, not necessarily in the order completed. Follow the thread to find the poem, some of them are much more successful as a group of words or ideas than others.

This poem is in 2 stanzas, hence the 2 at the bottom.

 

I like the fact that both poems end with the same phrase. Somehow the thread colors seem to change on the way down the page. Not sure what happened there.

 

So, there you have it. I also have a series of contour line drawings in the book. Nothing that needs sharing, but I have not decided whether to take the pages out of the book or just keep altering in the book and see how many different ways I can mess with the pages. As I said, this book has good paper; that’s mostly why I bought it.

So, I’ve been working on some more images for my taxonomy sets.

starting image of a house

This set begins with the same image, which I created from a photograph that I put through the Adobe Capture app using the shapes tool. I adjusted it some and took out some stray marks. With other images, I have used the lasercutter to make a woodblock and then printed from there (description of that process). With these, I printed from a regular document printer onto a variety of paper, mostly heavier art paper, but one image is one plain old copy paper. Then, I cut out the window spaces (they were very dark and distracting) and thought about what might replace the darkness.

The idea of not knowing what is behind windows and inside houses that we see from the street was interesting to me. What if the outside were inside? What if it was unexpected? What if some things (birds) were both inside and out? If I remember correctly, I was also thinking about the Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Our House.” I think the “two cats in the yard’ line got me thinking about what is behind the fence, but in the yard, and what if the things that are in the yard were inside instead…

Once I cut out the windows, I went my trusty miniature copy of Audubon’s Birds of America and started cutting. It is truly the book that keeps on giving. I thought we, the viewers, should also see that the birds’ habitat was behind the walls, so I put bits and pieces of the background scenery in the windows too. Finally, everything needs a little bit of sewing. I definitely need a sewing machine that allows for more free movement; I think I can get a plate to adjust my machine, but that is for another day.

So, here are the images. As is becoming a habit, the idea shifted a bit during the process. The first two were as described above. The sewing traces some of the lines of the siding and is in a color similar to the paper. The next two have larger images of nature behind the windows and the plants are kind of taking over the house. To me, they seem wilder, especially the fourth one with the sewing of the plant shape on top. I completed four of the five in more of a group and then set the group down for a bit. I was trying out different color paper and ran through the colors in my pack.

First. The Blue Grebe House. Subtle sky in the windows.

 

Next. I like the grasses in the windows and the magenta stitching.

 

Third. I return to the music score as background and nature starts to take over.

 

Ran out of my good paper, but added some free-form plant shapes in the sewing.

I then came back to the group and thought about fabric. Also, I was tired of cutting all those tiny windows and just got rid of the middle horizontal piece in each window. Rather than plants in the house, I used the music score as a background and painted it so that there was more difference between it and the house. Again, I added the birds, inside and out, and then noticed this deep purple velvet fabric. I like that it almost reads as a curtain, especially with the vertical zig-zag stitch. I also returned to the stitching at the fence line.

Final piece. The house as a barrier or dividing line is back.

It’s interesting to me that the final image has the house back in charge in some ways. Things aren’t busting out, nature isn’t all over, inside and outside may be unexpected, but they are distinct.

If I decide to continue with this idea, I have the image printed on vellum ready to go. The vellum would allow even more of an inside look at what’s behind the wall.

So, I’ve been working on some more art. I do love spring break for making art. (This is part of my taxonomy project where I make sets of images.)

As I wrote before, I’ve been focussing on mixed media and collage type works which takes away some of the pressure on brushstroke or have as much control over mark making as I would like. What it does require is that I maintain a supply of raw materials. So far that has meant some or all of the following: contour line drawings, prints of various things (many of them on different papers and in different colors), other images that I think are interesting, bits of text, stamps, paint, ribbon, string, you name it.

For this set of works I used contour line drawings of plants, laser cut woodblock prints (of chairs and a fireplace), some cabbage prints (where I cut a cabbage in half, ink it right up, and print it onto various paper) and paint. I was really interested in building up layers of fairly simple images, although the original contour line drawing is not on plain paper, but on a musical score. The layering gave me the opportunity to trace over lines or hide them a bit. In the photographs, the layers are sometimes hard to see in the pictures, but it was a challenge to find the paper and color combinations that produced the effects that I wanted.  Most of the individual pieces did not have a lot of color, or were one color, yet I wanted colors in the final pieces. I tried out coloring background, image, or musical notes.

Here we go. There are five pieces, for the last one I have included a close up to try to show the colors and layers better.

The chair print, done on old airmail paper, covers a lot of the original drawing. The bird provided that extra layer I wanted.

 

Here the print also covers a significant amount of the background. It also has an addition of text on the chair.

 

Here there are several types of paper and printed pieces here. The chair was cut out around the edges, but there are also horizontal stripes of mulberry paper that do not have additional printed images. They are most obvious as they cover parts of the leaves.

 

The cabbage print is on top. of the contour line drawing and then the chair is cut out and added on top. The paper mutes some of the lines, but I drew them again on top of the cabbage.

 

The green in the plant only where it overlaps with the fireplace print really works for me.

 

The yellow cabbage print here with the magenta background is more visible in person. This close up gives a little more of an idea of the detail.

 

As I continue to reflect on my five-piece set idea, I notice that there are several outcomes for this experiment.

  • I really push to find those last pieces in the set.
  • The set stays fairly consistent there’s not a lot of variety.
  • It turns out there are many more than five pieces to be made in this set.
  • A small change becomes significant enough that I split the set and continue to work with until I reach my five pieces.

 

What I’m also finding is that often one work with initially still fit my group, but also suggest a new direction for another time. The last work in this set of images fits that description, and I think will form the jumping off point for more pieces that have both positive and negative spaces addressed through color.

So, I’ve been thinking about contour line drawings. It’s fall and that is what my personal kids were dong in art class; so, that is what I did as well. The other thing I have been thinking about a lot is layering. At the moment, I just don’t seem to think any of my art is finished if there is just one layer.

A colleague of mine was relating a conversation between two former students. One asked the other why he always worked abstractly or something like that. He replied (and this part I do have correctly) that he “couldn’t hide behind brushstroke” like she could. This led the good-brushstroker to reconsider the other student’s opinion and even seek it out when it came to composition in particular. This little story really got me thinking.

First of all, I really relate to the one student’s recognition that brushstroke (or technical ability to represent what is in front of you) was not his area of expertise. I used to have more ability in the brushstroke department, but as it turns out if you don’t practice, you not only don’t get better, you do a little backsliding. Shocking, I know. The fact that I can see this change in technical proficiency does not make me feel good and probably contributes to why I have trouble even calling the things I make art. It’s so easy to see the expression of that skill, and therefore it’s easy to be impressed by it. While I could with practice get back some of that skill, it is just not something I have enough time for at the moment. I’ll get to it. That’s where the layering comes in. Taking bits and pieces of other works or images or whatnot and combining them is a way of working with which I can experiment. I can put pieces together, move them around, move them again, try something else, all in a reasonable time and, if I don’t glue anything, I can put it down and look again a few days later. Lots of actual drawing or painting I can’t do.

For these images (part of my ongoing taxonomy work where I try to make 5 images in a series), I started with those contour line drawings of chairs on music score paper, kept with my Audubon birds theme (preferably in a totally different scale), and added some other this and that. Also, I cannot say enough how much the self-imposed 5 images requirement is a catalyst.

Here we go. In no particular order, this is what I made.

Very basic in a lot of ways. I like the different scales of the chair (which is a kid-size chair) and the bird.

 

 

Maybe the garden image on the right doesn’t work–wrong size, too dark? The bird and chair combo works for me.

 

This one also includes a woodblock print. The chair got a little too washed out. The blue stripe on the right seemed too dark, so I added some thin paper over it to tone it down.

 

I thought there needed to be something significant on the left, and so I added a print of a cabbage, which extends the size of the image. Not sure about that. I do like the birds in the tree/cabbage.

 

The bark paper on top of the image around the chair works for me. Not sure if there needs to be something else here too.

So there you have it. Conour line drawing of chairs, birds, music, and other spare parts.

So, I’ve been thinking about secrets, redacted text, and how we don’t have access to all the information.

As part of my ongoing taxonomy series where I create 5 works of some sort, I decided to head back to blackout poetry. I’ve been a fan blackout poetry for a long time. In some of my wanderings around the interwebs (hello, Pinterest!) I’ve seen a lot of interesting embroidery and sewing combined with words. That’s where I started.

I started with the same old children’s book, I Know a Secret by Christopher Morely (1927), that I used in my beet images and others works. I thought the book title, visible at the top of each page, was a nice touch for each image. Instead of using a sharpie to get to the poem, I stitched across words that I did not want. I mixed up the colors of the thread and tried a few different stitching patterns. I like the 2x zigzag strategy that looks like cross-stitch. The straight stitch with loose threads is another combo that appeals to me.

Once the poems and stitching patterns were finished, I thought that there needed to be more hidden; the poems were too easy to read. I really wanted to say something about how hard it is to get to information sometimes. Things get fuzzy. In addition, I wanted to consider the idea of crossing something out, but maybe also decorating to distract, hence the ribbons. I used whatever ribbon I could find in my boxes of odds and ends. As usual, some of the results are more successful than others.

The pictures below are in pairs. The image on the left is with the vellum and ribbon layer; the image on the right shows what is visible when the vellum is raised. The text of the “poem” is at the top.

I Know a Secret 4 “a warm morning/round the house/leathery smells from the garage/and sweet biscuits”

 

I Know a Secret 6 “quarreling over the world/worried about that/we all have to do sooner or later/Startled by a voice beside her/with a slight foreign accent”

 

I Know a Secret 8 “with nervous hopefulness/I continued/I heard your name/mentioned at the station/Before my marriage/I had connections/and worked in France”

 

I Know a Secret 14 “Mr. Perez/in the evenings/peered timidly/waved boldly and/began eating Escargot./Every morning they would sit quietly together”

 

I Know a Secret 16 “he grew stronger/meditated on the meanings of things/he withdrew/into his personal fortress./A secret fear/a sudden scream”

 

Some of them look almost like awards or presentations, which was intentional. I thought it was a contradiction worth trying. Others are more about more layers of hiding and blocking, which, with the festiveness of ribbon still has potential. Again, sometimes working out, sometimes not.

I’m definitely interested in the combination of words and sewing. Not sure I’ve found the final version, but this is a start.

So, I’ve been thinking about book art and printing. One of the things I have been doing for a while now if trying to make sets of 5 images/works/whatnot, my taxonomy project works.

Working in multiples has been a great option for me. When I do have make time to sit down and work on something, I know it’s not a one and done. This makes the individual item less precious, and therefore I don’t feel like I have to get it just the way I want the first time. I can, and have to, try out a number of different strategies and combinations. Super helpful. Not only do I create more, I also have an easy way to keep at a project without having to come up with an entirely new idea. Also helpful.

Since I am not really an artist, I tend to do a lot of putting things together, altering, mashup type stuff. Less pressure on the technical art skills. My latest set of images combines art and tech.

I started with an old book that had great paper, font, and feel to it. Do other people buy old books just for the paper and type, or is it just me? I’ve done a lot of different blackout poetry type things, so I wanted to do something different. I also happened to be cooking beets. The color is just too wonderful. I took the top where I sliced off the greens and stamped it on some pages of the book, like beet polka dots. Those images sat around my kitchen for a while. They were clearly not finished.

Next, as I wrote the other day, I have been experimenting with Adobe Capture. I am really intrigued by the pattern option where you can turn an image into a black and white block print looking image and slide the scale on the dark/light balance. I made a few patterns of chairs with the app. I cut the images with the school lasercutter and printed them (not only is my office pretty much in our beautiful new library, but I have a key to the makerspace, and it’s summer so no one else is in there).

I first printed the images on plain paper. But I got to thinking–several of the chairs were in the library at school. Library, books, book images, we sit in chairs and read, words are all around, AHA! I decided to print my chairs on my beet polka dot book pages.

I like the images in general. The beet color has faded quickly and now looks more like rings from a wine glass in some places. I’m ok with things I enjoy being used and showing signs of being well-loved. I use my grandmother’s tablecloth; it’s got some spots from her parties and some from mine. So, the red rings kind of remind me of that sort of familiar use (tablecloth, book, chair) that is part of the living of life and permanently marks objects in the process.

I have a few other sets in mind: one with chairs that mixes it up with the upholstered part of the chair, one with cabinets or containers and what they hold.

Any other ideas for sets and combinations?