Friday, July 30, 2010

Gel Transfer Technique

So... I started this project with the intention of using photocopy acetate to transfer the images onto a gel covered surface. The trouble I experienced with this technique was that it was just a bit too unpredictable. I wanted to preserve the quality of the image, but with the acetate, I was only getting a faded and sparse image.

Aiming to achieve a different effect, and with some advice from my Mansfield professor, I started painting thick layers of gel over a paper image. The image has to be toner-based, but can be color, b&w, or even from a magazine or book. After the gel layers dry sufficiently, I submerge the entire paper into a bowl of water (as seen on the video clip). After the paper fibers have softened enough to be removed, I carefully work the paper away from the gel. The toner has already bonded to the gel, so when the paper is removed, the image stays on the gel.

In the video, I begin removing the paper from an image that has been coated with gel, and I finish up paper removal on a smaller gel that has already been worked once. No narration, just the artist working with the birds happily chirping in the background!

I've found that this technique is working well with my "femmage" collages... and I have been able to successfully control the results to some extant.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lori: The Process

On this particular work, there are two gel transfers on the bottom layer that have been painted from behind. The next layer has some transfers from a book that Lori passed along to be with some basic tissue paper collage. Each layer has been coated with "enviro-tex" epoxy which has been flattening and smoothing the layers. The layer added in the video also included text that was derived from Lori's personal experience in art, along with some line work.

There are several aspects of this piece that qualify it as a "femmage." First of all, it is created by a woman, and the subject is female. Photographs have been included, by way of acrylic gel transfer. The quilted transfers add two femmage aspects. The fact that they are photographs of quilts, I believe, can be interpreted as a form of fabric. Also, the book was something saved by the subject. Text, although it is not embroidered, has been included.

Overall, I am quite pleased with the result, and I can't wait to see if Lori and other viewers can identify the piece as a portrait. Final image will be posted soon!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Adding a gel to "Lori"

The video clip captures the artist at work! After removing the paper from the gel, and deciding on placement, I use the gel medium to adhere the portrait transfer to the piece. Once dried, I add a layer of "enviro-tex" polymer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leah: Free Spirit

Leah was my first phone interview and we had an amazing conversation. Leah is also the first Woman Artist Educator that I have interviewed that is also a mother. From this interview, I have learned that Leah has an amazing sense of who she is. Not as an artist, or mom, or woman, but as a human being.

Leah has struggled with the definition of artist. Being an artist isn't something you do, but rather a way of thinking. She tells me that this realization occurred when she became a mother and it was an evolutionary process that took about two years. An artist is an artist even if he/she isn't actively making art. She has a similar view on the role of educator. Although Leah made the decision not to teach in a formal classroom, she is always teaching herself or others. As a counselor now, Leah sees herself as a personalized educator.

She is working hard to define herself. We are more than the roles we play. I am a mom, wife, provider, artist, homemaker... but I am freedom, joy, love, and spontanaeity. Leah is a free spirit.

I asked Leah what makes her a great educator, artist, woman, and mother. She was the first participant to answer without questioning her "greatness" in these roles. I interpret this as self-confidence and self-awareness on a different level.

Leah's level of consciousness makes her a great educator. She realizes teachable moments and shares her experiences from the heart, not from the ego. Being a great artist and a great educator are one in the same. You are great if you are creating through the heart. Leah is a great woman because of her balance of masculine and feminine energy. Feminine energy is strong, powerful, and seductive. Men and women are powerful in different ways.

Being a great mother is challenging. You take inspiration from the moms you admire and trust your intuition. A great mother has patience and gives unconditional love. It is important to consider that we do not own our children, we are facilitators of their growth.

See the video clip of my phone interview with Leah. She responds to the question, "Do you feel limited by any of your titles?"

Do you feel limited by your titles?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Carrie: Artist Educator

I sat down with Carrie on Tuesday, July 13th 2010. The most notable point that I can take away from the interview was Carrie's belief that being an artist and and educator play off of each other. You can be better at both by doing both simultaneously.

Another interesting fact about Carrie was that she knew that she wanted to be an artist and an educator from a very early age. She didn't decide later that art education was a good career choice, rather she planned her education with a career as an art educator in mind. Carrie recalls viewing her own artwork on a wall when she was in the first grade. It was a pastel of a bunny with a carrot, and she still has the piece.

Always labeled the "artist" in her small school, Carrie chose a college close to home and studied art. Although her degree was labeled 3D Studio Art, she was a graphic artist at heart and made it a point to study all types of media to prepare her self for a career in art education. She knew since about the 8th grade that she wanted to be an educator and that artist and art teacher go hand in hand.

When I asked Carrie how she defines herself, she responded with, "I don't like labels." She doesn't think of herself as the stereotypical artists. She is competitive and a perfectionist. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. There are many things that make a person unique. Some of the things that make Carrie unique, she views as weaknesses and doesn't want to be defined by those particular factors. Carrie tries to maintain a balance and believes that your unique combination of characteristics makes you who you are.

Why does anything have to be titled? The label of art teacher can limit you, since people make assumptions based on titles. Your titles combined define who you are, but they can also limit you. Carrie is an art teacher, she grew up on a dairy farm, and she looks incredibly young for her age. Although these things are part of who she is, she dislikes the stereotypes associated with them.

I asked Carrie what makes her a great educator, artist, and woman. She had similar responses to all three questions. "How would I know?" How does anyone know if they're great at anything? It depends on who is judging. Carrie says that she has done her best, and it's her responsibility to provide an art education to children. It's not a job, it's a responsibility.. I think that pushes toward greatness.

In art, there is always room for improvement. I believe Carrie has made a commitment to being a lifelong learner and that opens up the possibility to achieve greatness.

As a woman, Carrie believes that there are certain things that society defines as "great" in women. Our grandmothers were great women. They were housewives and mothers. They ran a house. Carrie thinks she has not achieved greatness as a woman because she has not earned these societal labels. However, she is an educated woman, with a job and a house who gets to make art for a living. I think that's pretty great.

In the photo, I have displayed the items that Carrie donated for her femmage. The glass, favorite photograph, soccer ball segment, and scrap paint board will be incorporated into the piece.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gel Transfer Experiment

I started to experiment with acrylic gel medium transfers. From what I've found floating around on the web, there are about four thousand different ways to go about it! I am trying a few techniques simultaneously. First, I photocopied some images onto acetate in b & w. I painted a few 5x7 gesso coated boards with a light layer of acrylic and then coated with gel medium. I cut out parts of the acetate image and rolled them (coated with medium) on to the board with a brayer. From what I'm seeing so far, I think the gel medium must be allowed to dry, and then the acetate can be peeled off. I'm finding that it is helpful to use some sort of barren tool to burnish the image before peeling off the acetate. Results have varied, drying times have varied, but I'm getting close to the proper procedure.

I also took a paper photocopy and covered it with a thick layer of gel medium. After this dries, I will be able to soak it in water and peel the paper backing off. This will produce a clear and flexible image transfer which can then be collaged into a piece. Again, I must wait for it to dry before moving on.

Of course, I had a failed experiment with printing directly onto the transparency film. What a mess. The inks began to bleed immediately.. which was sort of cool.. but when I attempted to transfer the image, all of the ink just smeared through the gel medium. I don't think I'll try that technique again.

I will be testing out a few more variations on technique before working on my larger pieces.

Lori: Independent Female Artist

I sat down for an interview with my first "Woman Artist Educator" on Thursday, July 8, 2010. Lori is extremely shy and very soft spoken. So much so, that she became uncomfortably nervous when I asked to video record some of our interview. Of course, I didn't pressure her and we had a wonderfully relaxed conversation about her life, work, and art.

Lori knew that she was an artist at age 4, and was always "the girl who could draw." She told me that she can even pinpoint the drawing of Charlie Brown that confirmed at an early age that art was for her. She went to Kutztown for undergrad and specialized in printmaking, then to Tyler for her MFA. This artist did not have any intention of being an art educator. She was an artist with a fear of public speaking. After having her run at being a starving artist, she decided to go back to school and get a teaching certificate.

Currently Lori is working as an educator, working even harder as a single female artist, and maintaining her independence.

I loved that Lori considers herself an artist first. Being an educator is sort of her day job. She teaches at the high school level, but sees herself as teaching the students about what it's like to be a working artist in today's society. She stressed that art needs to come from the self. You make art for you, not for anyone else, and it must be significant. Art should tell a story.

I asked Lori what makes her unique. Her response was that everyone is unique. Life experiences, how you use those experiences, and how you treat people defines the self. Lori confessed that she feels boxed in by the title of art educator. Her perspective is that when people hear the "art teacher" title, they interpret that as someone having limited creativity as opposed to being thought of as an "artist."

In my personal opinion, Lori is great in many ways. However, she doesn't see herself as great... yet. She teaches great things to her students and enjoys guiding and encouraging students with a true love for art. Again, she doesn't view herself as a great artist, but is great at expressing things visually. Art is an outlet for expression. "I don't do art for other people." Lori shared with me that she thinks of her mother as a great woman, but she has yet to achieve greatness herself. She is proud of her independence, her honesty, and intuition. "I'm not afraid to do what I want to do."

Lori is a single female artist who is inspirational to artists of any background or gender. She is an artist educator with an unique perspective on working as an educator. There are "things that you have to do to be able to to the things you want to do." Lori just wants to make art.

The image is a manipulated photo taken in Lori's home. She has a "thing" for shoes, and as an independent female, she can collect all the shoes she wants without answering to anyone. The image includes some of Lori's fantastic footwear and one of her self portraits can be seen in the background.

Great first interview. I'm looking forward to learning more about the lives and work of women artist educators.