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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 fuss—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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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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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.

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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. 

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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.)

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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.

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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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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.

I am cursed with the gift of prescience.

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I recently learned (from this video) how to make a perfect-bound book. (However, in my case, “slightly imperfect-bound yet with much TLC” may be more accurate.) This is the style of book-making where you stack the printed pages and glue them along the spine with archival PVA glue, then add a cover, also glued along the spine.

Yesterday, I made my first two perfect-bound books, little 4.5″ x 3.75″ 16-page books of the prints from my 2016 series of fire paintings.

I decided on the title, “Everything’s Fine.”

I’ll give you a hint about the subtext. Everything isn’t fine.

This book and original paintings from the series are available in my Etsy shop.

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Please note that this is a free blog which WordPress monetizes through ad revenue and that I do not endorse any advertisers who may appear on this blog.

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Somehow it’s become an October tradition for me to draw cartoons of the costumes that David and I “decided not to wear for Halloween.” I draw them on my i-pad using the Sketchbook app, using my finger as a stylus. Some are messier than others, depending on the time of day that I draw them.

Coming up with the ideas is a family affair. My daughter, Wren, sends me texts of her ideas. And my son in law, Mike, came up with several over dinner at Starky’s one evening. Some of them are David’s ideas, some my own. Some are inside jokes, or feature people we know (e.g. the two Ryans).  Thus, I give you “Rejected DavMar Halloween Costumes 2016”

(If you missed last year’s series, you can find them on my haphazard cartoon blog, Tepid and Oversteeped.

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Please note that this is a free blog which WordPress monetizes through ad revenue and that I do not endorse any advertisers who may appear on this blog.

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To purchase works, contact me via form at bottom of page or buy via my Etsy shop.

My most recent series of paintings, oil drawings and prints are on display at Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot, August 1-31. Stop by, have a cup of joe, and visit them in person! These are works I’ve done over the past few months on the theme of Fire and Water. Some are large oil stick drawings, some are small acrylic paintings, and I included some affordably priced framed prints, too. If you purchase a work, I’ll arrange to get it to you in the beginning of September. (If you can pick up at my Bozeman studio, be sure to contact me for a free shipping coupon.)

Fire and Water (my bio/artist’s statement of sorts).

I come from a world of beautiful, ordinary, safe things. I grew up in a rural area south of Bozeman, a fourth generation Montanan. After my dad retired from the Navy in 1969, Mom and Dad resettled the family in Montana. They bought an old farm house where we lived out a 1970s version of an idyllic pastoral life.

My lifestyle there included half-heartedly weeding the garden, gathering eggs, picking berries, watching Six Million Dollar Man-era TV shows, reading, listening to The Beatles and The Monkees, singing, playing guitar, throwing rocks in the creek, fishing, swimming, building forts, making mud pies, tagging along on trips to town (Bozeman’s trendiest boutique, Jay’s Hallmark, had exotic things like strawberry lip balm) and waiting at the Buttrey’s fountain counter with a lemon Coke while Mom did the grocery shopping.

My sisters, brother and I spent hours around the kitchen table, talking and playing games after meals straight from the Betty Crocker cookbook (interspersed with handed-down recipes for venison, trout and game birds). We considered store-bought foods a delicacy, with Pop Tarts being the ultimate. Since my dad was an electronics specialist, we weren’t really farmers or ranchers and I was envious of our neighbors, who were the real thing. While we were listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Prima on Dad’s reel to reel tape machine, they were listening to Tammy Wynette and Tom T. Hall on the radio.

My favorite activities were reading, drawing and riding horses. While my sisters played pinochle with Mom and Dad, I would entertain myself, using library books as reference, to draw horses on the same freezer paper that Mom used for wrapping deer steaks. Those days, I would draw anything just for the thrill of seeing what my pencil could reproduce: beer bottles, cigarette packages, pictures from magazines, anything that would sit still long enough for me to examine its form and shadows.

At some point I lost interest in drawing for the sake of drawing, though. Growing up in my rural Montana bubble, I was shocked to discover that not everything was pinochle, horses and berry pies. Awareness crept in. The angst of the nuclear age weighed on me. I began to feel compelled to look for subjects that told some kind of truth.

As a young teen, my truths were dramatic (I drowned Ophelias by the swarm). Later they became more mundane (my penchant for painting shirts and bathrobes compelled my college advisor, Hal Schlotzhauer, to guess I was copying Jim Dine, though I’d never heard of him until then).

Lately, my subjects tend to combine aspects nostalgia and peril. As much as I love landscapes (in fact, I tend to buy a lot of them) I never really feel like they tell the whole truth. I feel like around the corner from every beautiful, safe thing is something frightening or depressing. My sister, Jana, always says, “If I could draw, I’d draw nice things! Can’t you just paint something pretty?” I can, sometimes I try, but… those little flames of worry keep sneaking in.

So I give you Fire and Water. This series is a two-fer. It began when I started using vernacular photos of bathing and boating subjects as reference for simple oil stick drawings. The subject satisfies my craving for a peaceful lost world, and I love the strange quirks that happen to figures and shapes in back-lit photos.

But the truth is… I really seem to want to paint things on fire. Ironically, for a person who avoids adventure and excitement, I’ve always loved fire. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there’s something going on in this theme. People posing with oblivious smiles while danger lurks all around them. How can they not see it? Is it possible that they don’t even notice?

Maybe this comes off as a sophomoric fancy, like when young boys go through a stage of drawing plane crashes. But this is the way I see things: beautiful, ordinary, confusing and scary.

Marla Goodman, August 2016

 

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So here’s what I’ve been up to since I last posted.

A moment of gumption that struck me as I drank my coffee one morning turned into a thing, thanks to unprecedented support and participation.

One of my favorite hobbies is making things happen. In my many years as a publicist, the thing I like best is taking an idea and making it a reality, just by getting the word out. (Similarly, it breaks my heart when there’s a really good thing, but nobody knows about it.)

In this case, the “if you build it they will come” force was strong.

One January morning I was sitting drinking my coffee and I thought, what do I want to do this year?  I started thinking about a discussion I’d had with my friend, Cristina, about collaborative art shows. At the time, I’d come up with a lot of themes that might tie together disparate art styles, and one of them was “Three Story Houses.” I figured everybody’s got a house, and a story, so the theme might spark a collection of narrative art that could engage viewers.

Within minutes of remembering that conversation, I decided to create an event and invite my artist, artist-leaning and art-curious friends to participate in it. I did it right then, on my ipad. I created a logo, a name, an event, a half-hatched scheme without leaving the couch.

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I told people I would provide everyone with a substrate upon which to make their art on the theme, “Three Story Houses.” They would make something, and in a month’s time, we would all get together, see what we made, and decide from there what to do with it. Was anybody in?

Well, it happened. Defying my usual expectation of 5% participation, out of the 35 or so people I invited, nearly ALL OF THEM said yes, they’d do it! So one January day, I ended up driving all over Bozeman, delivering cheap 12×24″ canvases I’d bought. My front porch was a hive of activity, too, as labeled canvases awaited their keepers.

I figured, well maybe half of these people will actually DO this, so we’ll end up with maybe 12 or 15 paintings. Even six would be cool. 

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It turned out that all but one of the people who accepted the invite showed up at my house Feb 21 with art in hand! (Okay, one of them didn’t get his done until after the deadline, but still pretty impressive.)

So, we ended up with 29 pieces of art (one person did two!) and they are all cool, and they all represent unique approaches to the theme.

At my February party, I asked everybody to give me their input on where we should hold a public show. I got a lot of great suggestions, but one of my own dreams was to make sure the art could be seen by a lot of people who weren’t actively looking for art. I didn’t want it to just be an Artwalk event where tourists and wine-guzzlers wandered by. And I didn’t want it to just be a one-night underground thing, where only the hip in-crowd saw it. And I didn’t want people to have to pay to see it. I mean all of those things would have been nice, but I wanted more.

My dream was for people who might not otherwise seek out art to get a surprising little goose of stimulation.

So, I did some calling around, and my friends Ryan Cassavaugh and Ron Gompertz  agreed to my pleas that the Verge Theater and Wild Joe’s Coffeespot, respectively, would bookend a crazy little series of pop-up shows in places where people might not expect to see art.

I scheduled shows and art talks throughout April and May 2016 at rest homes, a school, and I’m in the process of nailing down appearances at an engineering building and (please, God) a bowling alley! It looks like publicity from the premiere show & reception, April 9 at Verge Theater might spark more pop-ups before the final public show at Wild Joe’s, June 1-30.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

If you’d like to catch one of the shows, check out the Calendar at Community Art Bozeman, or see my post about the opening at Verge April 9.

Here’s a sneak peek at my own “Three Story” story, “Truths, Secrets and White Lies.”

Three Story Houses submission-lr8

 

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An upbeat greeting card…

I drew these birds a couple of years ago and they just resurfaced. I had been inspired by a “draw an alphabet” prompt from fellow illustrator Sharon Glick, and at the time, they just seemed too horribly, horribly sad to even show anyone! I was afraid people would think I was in a pretty dark place.

It actually happened kind of innocently. I was trying to think of words that start with A, and I guess abject was the first one that popped into my head. I mean, like, after aardvark. I just rolled with it from there, and produced a rapid, messy sketch, which I then hid away from the world as too weird and creepy to take credit for.

When I exhumed the S.A.D. birds from my drawing pile a few days ago, I was sort of charmed, in a wallowing way, by the sad, sad, sadness of them. I decided it was time to let them see the light of day.

After I made the greeting card, I made some hand-colored 8×10 SAD Birds prints, in case anybody might be weird enough to want them.

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8×10″ print half-heartedly hand-colored in dismal tones

That’s when I discovered how much fun (and creatively non-threatening) it is to color crappy drawings of sad birds, so I made my drawings into a teeny little coloring book. On one hand, I feel kind of bad unleashing such a sad coloring book on the world, but it is actually really fun to color, so maybe there’s something therapeutic about it? I left lots of space on the pages so people can draw in their own circumstances. Maybe a happy surprise is right around the corner for these birds, who knows? (I mean, that didn’t happen on any of the pages I colored…but things might go differently for you.)

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4.25×5.5″ mini SAD Birds coloring book

But the mini coloring book is really best for colored pencils, so next I got busy and created a crayon-ready 8.5×5.5″ version. The line-work blends with crayons so your crayon lines won’t look “foreign to the overall work.” (Try to read that while picturing me looking deeply serious.)

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Crayon-Ready 5.5×8.5″ version

And I decided to make a print-it-yourself instant download version in 8.5×11″ format, too. Whew!

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8.5×11 instant download (PDF) version

And poof! My whole day was shot! (Two days, really, who am I kidding.) As in many cases, I figured, well, if nobody buys them, they’ll make great gifts for my weird family.

In any case, I know from experience that the sun does eventually get higher in the sky, and things grow again, and the days won’t always be so bleak and short. So until then, I’m eating plenty of cookies and coloring sad birds.

(If you feel compelled to purchase any of these sad items, click on the picture or visit my Etsy shop, Kitschatorium.)

 

It isn't a picture of a David and me in our living room, but it's not exactly not us.

This isn’t a picture of a David and me in our living room, but it’s not exactly not us.

 

I was reading Kipling’s autobiography, “Something of Myself,” in the tub. (Though I grew up in Montana, I hate winter and I’ve never been able to get used to the cold. India seemed like a good destination, at least in terms of climate.)

Anyway, after he survives the rigors of British childhood in the care of some particularly abusive religious fanatics, young Rudyard returns to his birth family and is delighted to learn that they are wise, kind, gentle people. In describing this reunion, he says,

“Not only were we happy, but we knew it.” 

At the risk of being unbearably smarmy, I have to say that these words struck me as about the nicest thing I’d ever read. What a double blessing, not only to be happy, but to be aware of the fact. I wish that charmed state of being to everyone.

All cool exteriors aside, thanks to my own family, friends and pure dumb luck, I have known plenty of happiness. (Though maybe I didn’t always know I was knowing it.)

I tried to draw a picture to go with the quote… (I confess I thought of the quick buck I could make on Etsy selling the quote alone. If they like LiveLaughLove, they’ll crap over this one!) But the drawing didn’t really come out too great.

Nonetheless, (and in spite of the fact that warm sentiment makes me feel barfy) it’s something I wanted to share with the big, tired world during this saddest of seasons.

Not because I want to baptize you in my smugness. Not to coerce you into being happy. And not to pretend that I’ll ever be smart enough or giving enough to make the slightest difference to all the people out there who can’t even dream of knowing happiness.

I just feel like it’s a good thing to think about. What, to those of us who have no legitimate wants and few legitimate fears, does happiness look like? If I stop to know my own happiness, maybe I’ll be more inclined to find ways to help everyone get their share.

(The illustration was finger-drawn on my ipad, using the Sketchbook app.)

 

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