These are some gelatin block monoprints I’ve made using reference images. For the skull and the cat, I used background textures created with stencils.

I learned gelatin plate printing while developing art workshops for senior citizens with physical and cognitive challenges. It’s easy and fun, and there’s lots of info on the web. I used the resources of gelatin gurus Linda Germain and Sharon Giles.

While experimenting, I found that one of my favorite techniques involves hand-painting monoprints using a reference image. I made a tutorial video to help others try it:

In the video, I didn’t go into detail about building the hinge jig: Basically, I made a little foam core platform so that my paper was flush with the surface of my gel block. Then I taped an additional piece of foam-core on, to align with the top of my printing paper. This functioned as a “masking tape hinge holder.” (Depending on how big the paper is, you’d just line up the hinge-holder with its top, and tape it down.) You can also just use a masking tape hinge and skip all the foam core fussā€”whatever works!

Of course you need a GEL PLATE RECIPE Gel Plate Recipe Steps (PDF)
(Again, thanks to Linda and Sharon for their resources. They really know this stuff.)

Below are steps for a rest-home art project using a simple image. I practiced with an image I found on the web (sorry I couldn’t locate its original source to credit). Click on the first image to arrow through.

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Hey, don’t talk about my friends and family like that! They are too a step up from mimes and improv performers. They’re puppeteers.

This year’s adult puppet show at Bozeman’s Verge Theater will be Fri-Sat May 12-27 2017. The show, written by comedian Ryan Cassavaugh, is called “Freak Out.” It was described to me as “a hippie blood cult B-movie musical.” So it’s got that going for it. Among a talented cast of actor/singer/puppeteers, my daughter, Wren, plays the part of the cult-leader’s daughter. Proud moments in parenthood!

I was asked to help with props, so I said yes to painting a police car and two motorcycles. Little did I know that this didn’t mean just the gas tank (easy!) it meant the motorcycle chassis: not a thing I felt overly confident about.

Here, puppeteers Pol Llovet and Ryan Lawrence Flynn experiment with their motorcycles-to-be, after cutting out plywood shapes in the back room of Sadie Cassavaugh’s frame shop (Frugal Frame Shop). Somehow they’re planning to add a front wheel, Easy Rider style. You’ll have to go see the show to see if they pull it off. šŸ˜‰

(crew photo courtesy Ryan Cassavaugh)

These were some really rough canvases ā€“ made from a “canvas” drop-cloth, actually ā€“ so gessoing was the hardest part of the job. Paint doesn’t cover well on a rough surface, so I decided that a rough, painterly look was fine. I didn’t get too fussy with it.

The Police Car was really wide, but the sides were short, giving it a clown-car-like appearance. Appropriately.

Here’s what the motorcycle chassis looked like, unpainted.

First step was to paint all surfaces black. The laminate surface was smooth, so it only took a pint of “cheep” acrylic to cover all 8 sides. (It took just under a gallon of gesso to cover the three car canvases.)

The next step was to paint a bunch of mechanical looking doodads in white and bluish silver.

There were two sides of two cycles to do, so four sides in all.

Whew! I was glad I got them done early enough that the cast could rehearse with them. I am dying to see what the show looks like on stage!

Show times are 8pm Fri-Sat May 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27 2017. Tickets can be purchased in advance on Verge Theater’s Ticket page, or at the door while they last. The comedy is intended for mature audiences.

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I’ve been working on a series of paintings for a show at Wild Joe’s in September, and I stopped to experiment with some of my under-painting in a series of anti-trump, feminist greeting cards.

It started with some basic ideas: (These are all available on Etsy):

Then I thought it would be cool to do a full 4-card set of notecards:

I added a needlepoint look to these, to add that revolutionary flair.

Then, one of my friends suggested that I instead use the art for a Mother’s Day card, hence the birth of the “Smash the Patriarchy and Happy Mother’s Day” card.

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This week the Gallatin Rest Home celebrated Art Week (intended to “focus attention on how artists make the world a better placeā€) so we did a project involving a recognizable masterpiece. I had seen student art projects that cut a work of art into a grid, then have each student paint a piece. I thought this would work well for our group of seniors citizens, so we undertook Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.”

I cut an image of the original painting into a grid of 15 squares.
I sized each square at 4 inches and placed them on 8.5×11″ sheets for easy desktop printing. I also made a printable “coloring book” version of the 4-inch squares with black outline only, to give the painters a bit of a head start.

You can download the colored 4″ “puzzle pieces,” the 4″ “coloring book” squares and a printable example sheet PDFs here:

Since the rest home activity director wanted to do something more special than just painting on paper, I took the project a step further, and transferred outlines to 4″ mini canvas boards (purchased at the craft store). I coated the back of my 4″block print-outs with powdered graphite and traced on top with a pencil to transfer simple outlines to the 15 canvas boards. (Graphite is messy, so carbon paper is a good option, if you have it!)

Materials:

  • 15 numbered Puzzle Piece example squares (from the PDF above)
  • 15 4″ mini canvas-board squares (or the 15 printed 4″ coloring book squares from the PDF above, printed on card stock or some other paintable surface)
  • Smallish acrylic brushes, water cups, smocks, paper towels
  • Acrylic paint: Phthalo blue, white and yellow. (I also provided black and violet to artists painting dark areas along the left side.)
  • One black canvas (20″x 12″ or larger) to mount the finished canvas squares on when done.Ā  (A black poster board or foam core would be good alternatives)
  • Glue or heavy double-sided tape to mount squares

Process:

I printed out one copy of my painting puzzle squares, cut them out, numbered them 1-15, and temporarily attached them on my black canvas using double stick tape.

I also numbered my corresponding “coloring book” pieces on the back. (If you don’t think your painters need guidelines, you could just provide a colored example square and a blank canvas)

We showed the painters the entire painting-puzzle, completed, and asked each to select a piece to reproduce as an individual painting.

Next we gave each painter the black line “coloring book” square that corresponded with the example piece they selected.

Each painter received a paper plate palette with blue, yellow and white paints, and those who selected darker parts of the painting also got small dots of black and violet.

Volunteers and rest home staff passed out brushes, water, paper towels and smocks. We helped the painters get started by pointing out a place to begin, and continued encouraging them keep painting as needed. We also demonstrated how to mix colors, as needed.

Outcome:

Participation was good. Four-inch squares were enough to keep our senior painters busy for the whole hour. Some people had time to do more than one. It was fun to see how they all looked when reassembled and mounted to the black canvas.

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Some people write letters to the editor when they’re happy or disgusted or proud or worried. I get on Cafepress and make swag.

Today’s swagfest is a tribute to a guy I’m proud to call a fellow American. Al Franken! He’s smart, he’s dedicated, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s a FUCKING ROCKSTAR. When the world (and the US in particular) seems crazy, I can listen to him speaking or read something he wrote, and realize, “Hey! There are some cooler heads, there are some smart people, there some really good, hardworking civil servants busting their asses to keep the rest of us safe and happy in a healthy, normal world.” Thanks, Al.

In case anyone else shares my Al enthusiasm, I made a boatload of Al Franken tee shirts, Al Franken pins, Al Franken stickers and other items emblazoned with heartfelt hoorays for Al.

(Thanks, Jon Tester, too, BTW. This happens to be Al’s day, but there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for Montana Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, and many other smart, decent, fair-minded people who do the difficult, crappy and thankless job of representing the people of the USA. Keep on rockin the free world.)

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vintage-valentines

For this month’s Rest Home art workshop, I wanted to do something Valentine-inspired.

I collect old photos and love is one of my favorite subjects, so I thought it would be fun to paint on some old photos. Okay, actually not on the vintage prints, but on duplicates that I scanned and printed.

  1. I scanned the photos on the color setting at 600ppi, which is very high resolution, so that I could blow them up to 5×7″ prints.
  2. I printed 2 to an 8.5 x 11″ sheet on Epson shiny photo paper and trimmed them to 5.5 x 7.5″ (This left a .25″ white edge, in case we want to border them).
  3. We used tempera paint, right out of the bottle, providing only red and white, so artists could mix to get pink.
  4. We painted the sky area in red, and added a few embellishments, like the man’s necktie and a bow in the lady’s hair.
  5. I brought some small heart and letter stickers as embellishments
  6. I provided paper mats, to make the art look more finished.

Participation was good, although just painting the background was plenty of challenge. I started by explaining that the first step was to paint the sky, and leave the people unpainted. I helped some participants by providing an outline to fill in. For most in this group, painting their own embellishments (hats, shoes, ties, etc.) was a bit too challenging, so they enjoyed placing heart stickers to add some Valentine flair.

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I had so much fun that I made a few to send to my friends!

valentines

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Our family participated in the Women’s March on January 21 2017.

As a writer, I think words matter. Especially words spoken by people who call themselves leaders. Saying ugly things about innocent people is despicable.

When I learned that a person of despicable character had been elected as the U.S. president, it was like getting the news that a loved one had died. The loved one was the ideal of American democracy. How could a government by the people elect a person of low moral standards: a liar, a cheater, one who demeans the helpless, one who insults instead of conversing, one who flies into a senseless rage at the slightest challenge to his ego, one who seeks to aggrandize himself at any cost?

The day after the election was one of the saddest days in my life. How could anyone vote for a sleazebag who treats women as objects? How could they care so little about the people this creep demeans: A whole religion? A neighbor nation? An entire gender?

To me, the election of this sad walking spectacle of human failings seemed to mean that the majority of voters couldn’t care less about the things that make life more than just breathing. It seemed that for whatever reason, they didn’t place a high enough value on character, generosity, compassion, decency, pride. Yeah, pride. It allows you to feel good about who you are, without feeling the need to fear and destroy others.

But the brighter news is that the majority of Americans did not vote for this poisonous, greed-crazed charlatan. He may insist on pretending that he is admired, but that’s just another lie. That’s why many of us who are usually pretty quiet felt a need to stand up and be visible, at least for a day, and show we won’t accept empty promises of prosperity at the price of normalizing belligerence, cruelty and outright stupidity.

I didn’t march because I thought it would cure some pitiful narcissist’s deeply ingrained personality disorder. I didn’t even do it because I thought it would change anything. I did it simply to be seen and heard for a moment.

I stood up to express my conviction that the words and actions of a few ill-mannered bigots don’t stand for the values of equality, justice, compassion, intelligence, acceptance and teamwork that my family, our friends, our neighbors, and millions of Americans (yes, the vast majority) care deeply about. And the world stood up with us!

America’s democracy is founded on the peaceful inclusion of all. It promises liberty and justice to all races, all genders, all lifestyles, all beliefs. It learns from skeptics and dissenters, instead of silencing them. It’s founded on the ideals of helping each other, providing equal opportunities, welcoming those in need, and taking care of each other, even when personal beliefs differ, and especially when personal resources differ.

Inclusiveness and peaceful cooperation are American values. And I’m willing to stand up for them.

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Please note that I do not endorseā€”and in fact may condemnā€”advertisers who appear on this blog. This is a free blog that WordPress (i.e. not me) monetizes through ad revenue.

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These banners are sized at 1200 x 300px, but if you would like to use one and need me to reformat it to a different size, feel free to contact me.

distress funeral protest

 

The following are sized for facebook:

protestfbfuneral-fb

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mtflowers-mugshot

I spent the first few days of January creating artwork to help my fellow Montanans express feelings of unity and pride. With the upcoming Women’s March on Washington and Women’s March on Montana, plus ongoing efforts by the Montana Human Rights Network and others to address Nazi harassment of Montana citizens (particularly in the Whitefish area currently), it seemed like a good idea.

Montana includes all races, colors, genders, loves, family styles, faiths and nonbelievers: a wonderful reality that the majority knows, but that a few noisy bigots sometimes outshout.

8x8-transfer

I wanted to make it easier for people to express a message of unity, so I got busy and made some art. I didn’t have a convenient means of printing, stocking and distributing swag, so first I made a Cafepress site offering a plethora of Montana Unity festooned items.Ā 

mtflowers

Next, I thought it would be nice to make something more affordable, so I got some printable iron-on transfers that I’m making available at cost. (The packaging and prep I do to sell them on Etsy costs me some time, so contact me if you want to get a no-frills/no package/pick it up at my studio and trim-it-yourself version, which is cheaper.)

kid-tees

I printed a few baby and toddler shirts with iron-on transfers, which are available on Etsy while they last. To Bozeman locals who can pick them up at my studio, contact me for a 50% off coupon, which just covers my production cost.

mt-unity-what-you-get-b

Finally, I decided to make the artwork available for digital download on Etsy, so anyone could purchase it for personal use: T shirt, poster, whatever. I just ask that you don’t resell my artwork or sell items printed with it for profit. (If you have a a commercial project that would benefit a philanthropic cause, contact me to discuss.) I made the digital download available for $5 on Etsy, proceeds of which (if any) I plan to donate in $50 increments to Montana Human Rights Network.

This isn’t a money making venture for me. I’m just trying to recoup costs. If you would prefer to have the printable artwork at no charge, here’s the free link.

We’re all in this together!

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matchbook-group

Eeeeee! I’ve developed a new technology!

Well, actually, I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person ever to make a little matchbook-book, but this is the first time I’d ever thought of it, and it took quite a bit of dinking around to get it right.

I was exploring new ways to present prints of my “on fire” series of paintings (now known as the “Everything’s Fine” series). Seems that not a lot of people want to decorate their kitchens with nihilistic pictures of people standing around placidly while their world goes up in flames. But encouragement from my friends about the little print books I was making inspired me to keep messing around with ideas for affordable art with that heart-warming underlying “we’re fucked” message that I so seem to gravitate toward.

So, I reverse engineered a packet of Albertsons matches that we keep around for lighting birthday candles, and eureka, a new use for the tiny stapler I got at a garage sale last summer emerged.

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