Kafka, Chapter 2 (‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.’ )

Kafka, Chapter 2 (‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.’ )

When I started the book, everything went smoothly and it seemed like it would be a straightforward project. The plan was to open the paper, stack it flat to relax, and cut it to size on a guillotine. Easy, right? I had cut Japanese paper this way, so it should work and I could get to printing. Then, out of the blue, Robbie Burns’ ‘Gang aft a-gley’ kicked in. Chinese paper is shipped ‘gently folded’ in packages of 50 sheets, rather than being rolled around a core. When the box arrived, I opened the packages and lay the paper out flat so it could relax before being cut to size. It didn’t relax. I waited. I tried putting weight on top. I rolled it up and let it sit over night. In the process of trying to flatten it, I realized that, because of its soft texture, it also wasn’t going to jog well enough to be cut on a guillotine. Time for plan B. Water. The 27″ x 54″ sheets were too big to dampen and stack, so I folded and knife-cut each sheet into eighths by hand. As I started folding it in half, I realized the paper wasn’t square. The concertina structure, with pages tipped back-to-back, requires that the pages be the same size and square. Time for plan C. Sigh. I would have to fold each sheet in half and trim it to square by hand before printing, then trim the head and tail of the book block after it was glued so they would all be the same size. The paper is Double Xuan, 2-ply paper we chose because it...

Taking a Breather

This is the last painting, Not a Breath, delivered yesterday! Finally, all the work has been delivered and the show is hung for tomorrow’s opening. You can see the pieces here:    Christina Parker Gallery – Tara Bryan, Littoral Light Now all the chores that have been piling up while I finished paintings now cry out for attention. The eternal game of catch-up! Today, to weed part of the garden and get the last few plants in the ground. I am trying to be methodical and work section by section so I can see my progress. I’m starting with the front bed, thinking I might be able to get it done this morning since it’s not too big. In the meantime, the white irises and lupins are gorgeous. See for yourself!...
Artistic License

Artistic License

  This painting is finished. The photograph I used as reference had an iceberg in it, and when I started painting, I intended to include the iceberg, but move it forward in the composition. I was focussed on the iceberg, although it was only a small part of the image. Hmmm. My struggle is almost always to stick with my “Less is More” philosophy, to pay attention to the image as it gets its own voice, and be willing to let go of my original plan. To find the perfect balance between what I think I’m doing and what the painting becomes. This painting doesn’t need the iceberg. The omission can be called Artistic License, but  I don’t think it’s my decision. It’s looking at the painting and realizing it doesn’t need what I thought I wanted to include. I think the creative process flows like a river, and my job is to jump in and become part of the flow. Not to struggle to keep my head above water, but to submit to the current and be in the process, pay attention but be detached enough to hear when the painting says, “enough.” I think writers, musicians, golfers, chess players, salmon fishers, race car drivers and more find a similar groove when they do what they do well. Be attentive and adjust constantly but don’t grasp too tightly. Stay in the flow. Some days are better than others. There is always anxiety at the beginning, my brain telling me I don’t know what I’m doing,  I’m not working fast enough, not sticking with the plan, or I could totally screw up. Lose a day’s (or...

Book projects- two into one

I seem to be genetically incapable of working on one thing at a time, so I am researching and pondering 2 book projects and stretching canvases for new paintings, as other ideas dance like sugar plums in the back of my mind. My commitment (last year) to make a book for Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here has been an exercise in what I don’t want it to be, and I have spent a year thinking, reading, looking at other books, and being stymied. It wasn’t until I signed up for another group project, Book-Art-Object, that a concept arose that seemed to fit, and, I hope, will merge the two commitments into one book. The title I chose for BAO is Making Bread. I started thinking about Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Civilization, the Fertile Crescent as the breadbasket, all information stuck in my head in 7th grade Geography class. And then, Baghdad as a focus of high culture and the irony of moving from heights of intellectual creativity to fear and fundamentalist intolerance. Now I am reading histories of bread and writing in my journal about having grown up in an intellectually curious extended family amid fear-instilling radio and television news reports of the Cold War, Viet Nam, and myriad civil wars, genocides, famines around the world. Man’s unimaginable inhumanity to fellow man, but not in my neighborhood. I started making bread in High School, as my Sunday morning meditative replacement for going to church, and as a way to connect with the millions of people who make bread around the planet (yes, I was an aspiring Hippy). I have added...
Progress

Progress

All the pieces are slowly taking shape. Kitty Drake has been helping; the sculpture now has paper on it and the Narrows has most of its underpainting. The mulberry paper, adhered with cooked wheat paste, drew up when it dried, pulling away from the indentations in the armature. It’s like a drum– tapping different spots produces a variety of sounds. Now we are experimenting with small areas to re-form the paper to the original shape. It’s all a learning...

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