Working hard on some new ideas

A few posts back, here, I showed you a test piece I had done – thinking about ways of presenting information and photos from our Italy trip ready for an exhibition in Wellington in May. In that piece I used a couple of MM foam stamps. I am happy enough with the result but would really like to be using something more personal, something uniquely my own. When I was studying with the Learning Connexion I did some lino cuts and a lot of monoprints. Here’s a couple of examples:

I decided the answer was to take an image from our trip and cut a stencil or make a stamp and use that in the new artworks. The image needed to be something iconic enough that people here in New Zealand would still recognize it even after I had simplified it right down. I had a play with statues, the domes on top of churches, the bridge over the Tiber and the Colosseum. The Colosseum won easily, it is just *such* a recognizable structure. I scanned one of my photos into Photoshop and reduced the level of detail, then turned it to a negative so I could cut out the right parts. I transferred the image onto my lino and got cutting. My first attempt I really liked, but I had forgotten to flip the image and so in terms of my memories of the Colosseum, the building is running the wrong way. Okay. I flipped the image and started again. The end result is quite a different linocut to the first, because that’s the way I work, but I like it. It has energy and it’s mine, not someone else’s idea of the Colosseum.

I wanted to do some more linocuts but had run out of lino, hadn’t had time to get some more, and it’s quite expensive. Today I was watching ‘Acrylic materials and techniques for expressive art with Merle Rosen’ from North Light DVDs. It’s a great dvd by the way, fun to watch and Merle has an exciting art practice. Anyway, part way through I had a total “Aha!” moment. Merle uses old styrofoam packaging to make stamps; it’s cheap (free) and easy to make marks in with scissors, metal tools, old pens etc. How cool is that?

We tend to buy most of our meat from the local butcher. Grant’s old-fashioned, in the best sense of the word, and wraps the meat in brown paper. So no styrofoam meat packaging in our household, but we can always buy some muffins — just for my art practice you understand.  In the meantime, here are my first attempts at the Colosseum – these are the linocuts themselves, not the printed images. The images are not perfect and I don’t want them to be; they’ll be used in the background of mixed media works I’m creating over the next month or two.

Linocuts of Colosseum

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