Finish Lines

A very early improvisation on the theme of a box, with a nested figural object, and an ampersand. I was exploring grammatical symbols as visual elements, such as asterisks. This small study seems to have inspired a later full sheet idea. “And”, Monotype, 13×9″, 2023

I somewhat offhandedly posted a picture of me at work on a monotype in the last post. It seems fair to post the final image. I now have a professional shot, as opposed to my rushed iPhone shots taken while moving between phases. They’re bad, and I generally get professional shots of the bigger, more important pieces a couple of times a year, for publicity. But the snaps can be great for tracing the sometimes confusing history of an image, with elements criss-crossing and popping up in multiple iterations.

This is a second layer view of the piece in the studio picture. The relief element (L), and chine colle element (R) in the margins are actually just laid there to explore composition. You can see the final execution in the last image, below.
I began a series of boxes in different colors with different variations of stenciled imagery. I did not try to make specific ideas, but to take a simple idea and drill down with different solutions. This makes them both decorative and a bit edgy. “Box With Object”, Monotype, 15×11″, 2023.

I have been better about documenting the various stages of a given art work, and it’s been a while since I explored the various permutations leading up to, and out of a given idea, so here’s a series of images that explicates that process.

The ‘Box’ series, like my ‘chair’ or ‘place’ series, is meant to explore the possibilities of a given simple image, both visual and metaphorical, in a gradually refined way. It’s typical for me to start off with many small variations, then pare down the options to execute a grand, refined image using some of the same ideas, or indeed, some of the same stenciled imagery.

A blue toned variation in the same size, printed over two sessions at the Art Students League of Denver.

I always explore different textures and effects as I go. Gradually the image seems to take on meaning, to me, at least. The first boxes were visual/textural experiments. Then I gradually moved into almost pure decoration:

But boxes were meant to contain something, so that implies a simple statement, or context. I’m a fan of organic branchings, and this implies outgrowth. I had added an asterisk, a symbol of “further information to come” to a chair image, and these were quickly co-opted to act as placeholders for stars, their alter ego. The spheres are somewhat molecular, but also astronomical, and I often put those lower in the plane to represent earth, but a famous comics artist Jack Kirby, often employed those as crackling, electric energy. A somewhat heart-shaped object in the box calls to mind an obvious reference to Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box”, but the slatted construction also, to me, feels like a rib cage or a coffin. Sneaking all these diverse elements in is a bit of a gamble, trying to create levels and complexity without becoming too busy.

It is rare that a title comes before the image. Usually, the image suggests a title to me. If it’s a simple image, such as a box, then a simple title becomes a working title. I add other details to the image, usually to create a new metaphor, such as a tablet, or ampersand, or ladder, and these accrue new meanings and new expanded titles.

If the various studies and small work-ups seem to have their own metaphoric presence, I put them in some shows. The #SummerArt Market2023, for example, requires a lot of work, so it’s the best place to see the various stepping stones in the process. The various create threads turn into finished lines. You can track them from the small work bin to the larger framed works. There are many other creative threads on display there, as I have a lot of new work. I hope to see you there!

The Art Students League Summer Art Market is August 26-7, 9-5 Saturday and Sunday. I am in Booth #54, between 2nd and 3rd on Grant Street, near the garden. One ticket ($5) gets you into both days, and is available here:

This is the finished piece, “The Juggler”, Monotype, 30×22″, 2023

#SAMprintmakers #ASLDprintmakers #summerartmarket2023 #monotypes

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