Text and Image

I was recently asked to write a guest blog post for Ann E. Grasso, a talented East Coast artist and architect. I had a great time reflecting and writing it and wanted to share this repost with all of you.

Because I take classes online, I meet people from various geographical locations that I would never bump into otherwise. Hannah fits this category. While my usual draw is the visual, in the case of Hannah, it was her words, her thoughts, her care, and concern. Therefore, it is interesting to learn from her writing below that her first solo show was titled Text and Image. Text came first. It is my sincere pleasure to know Hannah through her art as well as her words.

Ann Grasso

And now the page is hers.

Text and Image

Text and Image was the title of my first solo show, many years ago. The title conjures a feeling of magic; the alchemy that occurs when words are combined with images. Those 3 words continue to resonate in my art, years later.

You Know Who You Are @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, private collection

You Know Who You Are @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and colored pencil on paper, private collection

How did I come to add text to image? It’s classic case of nature and nurture.

I went to college in Iowa City, IA, home of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Words flew through the air like birds. And my parents were writers; it was natural that text would flow into my work. A bookworm from childhood, I just figured that the best way to approach a piece of paper was as a page of a book.

Gazing Ball, @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and Collage on paper, Collection of University of Iowa Hospitals

Gazing Ball, @2004, 11” x 14,” Acrylic and Collage on paper, Collection of University of Iowa Hospitals

Nonetheless, it took many years to figure out how text and image (painted, drawn or printed) interact and how I can use them in my art to create a tight and powerful piece of work.

When I incorporate text, I’m aware that the words exist as hundreds of drawn lines which combine with the lines of paint or drawing to form a composition.

I love to use foreign language books and because I can’t read Japanese or Hebrew (for example) and I lean more on the linear quality of the letter forms.

I also use my intuition when placing text. There are times when someone sees my work at an exhibit and knows the language that I have used.

More often than not, the meaning of the words harmonizes with the spirit of the artwork.

Another issue that arises when incorporating words is whether or not the words need be readable (especially in English). I’ve gone back and forth on this.

There are times in my work when I obscure the words, turn them upside down and make them difficult to discern. I don’t want them to lead the meaning.

Seeds: New Year, @2017, 7” x 10,” Monoprint collage on paper

Seeds: New Year, @2017, 7” x 10,” Monoprint collage on paper

In my most recent work though, I’m more open to the words being easy to see and read. I’m using a Hindi-English dictionary as well as another dictionary in French.

I can understand some of the French, and that adds additional shades of meaning to the piece.

And although I can give you reasons why I include words in my work and tell you how I use them, what undergirds it all is a kind of joy. When words come together with color, shape and form, I feel whole and complete.

As You Begin, @2017, 12” x 12,” Monoprint collage on panel


As You Begin, @2017, 12” x 12,” Monoprint collage on panel

How about you? How do you use text in your artwork? I’d love to hear from you.

You can find me at https:hannahklaushunterarts.com, hkhunterarts@gmail.com or on Instagram: @hkhunterarts.




In Spite Of, @2006, 12” x 12,” Collage on panel, private collection

Inspiration, Influence and Confluence

Recently I’ve thought about the line between inspiration and influence and when influence can become confluence in art. I wanted to break it down even further so I could understand how these elements operate in my own art making practice.

Last week, I had the chance to explore the thread I call “confluence” following a workshop in botanical contact eco printing.

Examples of botanical eco printing on paper

Examples of botanical eco printing on paper

I love the ethereal effects that I see in eco printing and wanted to see if I could use plant pigments in my own monoprints.

The workshop, led by artist Lotta Helleberg, was challenging and absorbing. Each day we explored the subtle combinations that plants and mordants (fixatives) can create. I tried to keep the various equations in neat columns in my mind’s eye.

My best work came when I threw up my hands and stuck to the basics.

Infinity scarf printed with prunus leaves on silk/wool blend

Infinity scarf printed with prunus leaves on silk/wool blend

The question of inspiration, influence and confluence only truly emerged back in my studio. I work with plant materials, acrylic paints and a gel plate to create botanical monoprints. I wanted to carry over the watery influence of the eco dye baths; the way plants emboss themselves into the paper and leave tangible marks of their presence. I figured this would be easy.

After several printing sessions, I ended up with prints that were neither eco nor mono but a muddle.

Eco prints and monoprints converging

Eco prints and monoprints converging

“What’s going on?” I wondered. “I know how to do this.” I was confused until I received an email from another student. She mentioned how stuck she was following the workshop.

The metaphor of two rivers joining rushed into my mind. When one river joins together with another, it’s called a confluence.

Many things happen when two or three volumes of water with different temperatures, speed and density merge. It’s a messy affair.

The same thing happens when we take part in classes or workshops. The nature of a workshop is immersion; in technique, artwork and the work of other artists. That’s confluence. Once back home, it’s confusing. What’s us? What’s not ours? What marks, patterns or colors looked good but may or may not belong in our work?

Like two rivers converging, it takes time for new material to settle, to allow our unique voice to emerge, hopefully all the stronger for joining with others.

After all, when the Yangtze River absorbs the water from the Jialing, it becomes more powerful and runs for thousands of miles until it meets the South China Sea.

How about you? What’s your experience of confluence in your work?

 

 

Spring: Wide Open

Spring has come again to my corner of the world. Each bush, plant and tree bursts forth in shades of lilac and pale gold so quickly, it stops me in my tracks. The weeks of winter, all the days of waiting give way to wonder.

Seeing Light, 12" x 12," Monoprint Collage with Walnut Ink

Seeing Light, 12" x 12," Monoprint Collage with Walnut Ink

I can't keep up with it! The jasmine over our back gate opens, showering its fragrance on passers by.

The jasmine's abundance is infectious. Up in the studio, my pieced collages grow apace. Tender new leaves tempt me on on my walks. I gather handfuls of leaves and carry them, like gifts, up to the studio.

Last fall, I started a bucket of walnut ink last fall and this week, I called it ready and poured rich, inky liquid into half pint jars, lining them up to admire their contents.

I'm brushing the ink on some of my paper squares before I print and I like the subtle undertones it adds to the work. I'm curious to see how it affects the direction of new prints and I'll share more as they emerge. In the meantime, I wish you much delight as spring unfolds, wherever you are.

Squares with walnut ink, ready for printing with eucalyptus leaves.

Squares with walnut ink, ready for printing with eucalyptus leaves.

Days of Gratitude

MAHALO / THANK YOU

It was a weekend of gratitude. There was much baking and chopping, talking and walking in the midst of this delicious weekend, which heralds the beginning of the holiday season. And it's not over yet. I've still got two tubs of persimmon pulp in the frig just waiting to turn into fragrant loaves of bread.

As I follow the string of days, deeper into the darkness of winter, I imagine all the people I know, all of the people who support and encourage me in my art like many tiny flames, lighting the way.

I'm grateful to all of you who have taken the time to write to me about my work, and to those of who've come up to the studio and said, "keep going." I'm tickled and delighted when you come to open studios and exhibits and perhaps decide to take art home with you. And classes--well--I learn as much as you do. You all stretch me way beyond where I think I can go.

However and whenever you choose to mark this season, may it be filled with people you love, time to see or make art, and a good helping of inner wisdom for these times.

HOLIDAY FARE:

Look for my work in several venues this holiday season:

The Southern Gallery in Charleston, SC is hosting a show called 99 Problems, (But a Print Ain't One.) You can check out the entire show in their shop and I've linked to my work here

Closer to home, The Sparrow Gallery will be hosting their holiday show beginning in early December and I will have several of my favorite botanical pieces there for you to visit.

POP UP HOLIDAY SHOP!

Join Linda Clark Johnson, Leslie Colby, Allison Spreadborough and I at a collaborative pop-up holiday shop at Linda's home studio.

Sunday, December 18th from 1 pm - 5 pm.
2379 39th Street, Sacramento

There will be lots to choose from: prints (great sale prices!), a new selection of cards, and my coloring books too. Come join us for an afternoon of hot cider, and art.

Summer Camp Days Ahead

facebook post_art campThese hot June days take me back through the years to the days of summer camp. My first experience was a YWCA camp on the shores of a Michigan lake. It was all foreign to me; morning reveille, raising the flag and evenings by the campfire, singing songs whose words even now come to mind. Most of all I remember the sensation of walking through woods, the paths banked by ferns with tiny  pine cones crunching under my feet. And the dark, cool inside of the craft cabin, where any imaginable project might rise from the sturdy wooden tables.

In the last several years, there has been a resurgence of summer camps for adults. It's a great idea and our local art center offers day camps for adults. So why not a day camp for cancer patients and their caregivers? Of course!

I've created a 3 day, 2 hours per day Art Camp for Wellness Within, an organization serving cancer patients, their families and caregivers located in Roseville, CA

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We will make art that stretches the boundaries of what we think we are capable of, that heals our spirits, and provides a respite from the woes of cancer.

Of course there will be snacks and laughs and lemonade and maybe a little kombucha too. If you know someone in the area who might benefit from this program, please tell them about it. There is no fee for these programs.

 

Bridging the Gap

I've been tucked into my studio for the last couple months, drawing jade plants, diverse succulents, taking notes and obsessively printing gelli prints. I’ve filled a notebook, and in the process, found a rhythm and perhaps some answers to a problem I've been trying to solve.

For the past couple of years, I've worked on a series called Shift, in which I explored my ecological niche of Davis. As the series progressed, I became more interested in the unusual shapes of plants I found visiting various botanical gardens. I began another series of collage works I called Botanical Dreams, inspired by the 30 paintings in 30 days  challenge presented by Leslie Saeta.

I’ve wanted to continue this series and I wanted to wed the monoprints of Shift with the collage, but after several months of trials and lots of recycled prints, I think I’m trying to make an arranged marriage. Shift needs to be one series and Botanical Dreams another.

As I write this, I realize that actually, I'm the bridge. I think that it's hard to leave the safety of a known series and decamp to another largely unknown territory, but the connection lies simply in my own two hands.

Poppies, Lupines and Printmaking Too!

MOO7 Many years ago in graduate school, I was introduced to a form of printmaking called monoprinting, or sometimes, monotype. I'm a person not well suited to the long and meticulous craft of printmaking. But I did so love the notion of placing paper onto plate, applying pressure and seeing the creation of a whole new piece. It appeals to the alchemist in me.

Through the years I've experimented with different kinds of plates: glass, plexiglass, even the plastic surfaces of cutting boards, but I couldn't find a decent, printable surface that worked without the aid of a press. Then, one day several years ago, I visited an open studio event of a friend. She gave me a tour, and there, in one of the other artist's spaces, it's colorful package glinting in the sun, was a gelli plate.

As I touched its soft yielding surface (much like a batch of jello), I considered the possibilities. My friend offered to show me how it worked and we had several weekend workshops including other interested artists. I was hooked. Now several years and a number of plates later, I'm still experimenting, trying to push the limits of what the plate can do.

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Next month, I'll be teaching a gelli printing workshop at our local Pence Gallery: Saturday, May 14 from 10- 3. There are still a few spots left, so whether you're new to gelli printing, or you'd like to stretch your printmaking  boundaries, I'd love to have you. I'm super excited about the planning--and look forward to sharing what I've learned about the simple beauty of this process.

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"Be Happy and Color!" Goes Live

IMG_5734(1)I was standing in front of my art cart about a year ago at the UC Davis Children's Hospital, looking over my supplies, organizing them for the day, when a nurse came through the door and began riffling through the coloring  books on an adjoining cart. "Do you have anything for a three year old?," she asked. "That's a good question," I thought as I too flipped through the stack of donated coloring books. I saw Spider Man and his assorted cohorts, but nothing that would really be appropriate to a 3 year old's developmental needs. As I walked back to my office, I thought that we could really use a book with healthy images that connects children to the natural world without the inclusion of violence.

When I got back to my office a bit later, I logged on to my email and found a new  note from a person that I didn't know, Pauline Molinari, a book editor, asking me if I would be interested in writing the text for a coloring book.

Kismet? Ask and ye shall receive? I was delighted that my unspoken question was answered so promptly. I quickly researched Pauline and the publisher for whom she worked, Walter Foster Jr.(an imprint of Quarto books), and picked up the phone.

Thus began a collaboration between myself, the fabulous illustrator, Stephanie Peterson Jones and Pauline. I was fortunate to have free reign over the structure of the book and decided to focus on 4 of the 5 primordial elements: fire, air, earth and water. (I didn't include ether because, well, you get the picture.)

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Over the next several months, we mapped out spreads, I created prompts and Stephanie's illustrations unfolded in response.  All the while, I began to see more and more coloring pages emerge on artists' and art therapist's sites. I was excited and after the last prompt was done, the last quotation cited, the last drawing approved, I couldn't wait to hold the book in my hands.

But I did-- until last Friday, when I arrived home from an opening to find a package with the publisher's return address on the label. There, packed neatly, was the quotient of copies promised to me; crisp and ready for crayon wielding fingers.

I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait to share the book with my family and friends.  If you'd like your own free copy of Be Happy and Color, leave me a comment at the end of the post. I'll put all the names in my husband's Irish cap and draw one. (And I promise to draw blind.) That fortunate person will receive a package full of inspiration and coloring bliss.

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Anatomy of an Exhibit

I decided to piece out all the steps (that I could think of) that are included in creating art work for an exhibit. Step one, a sine qua none; Inspiration. Most of the inspiration for the Bloom 2 exhibit at the Pence came from visits to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

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Step 2, Experiments. When I started making the prints, eager to see how they might look together, there were lots of false starts.

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Step 3, Hmm. Prints that were good in themselves, but didn't quite fit into the 9 piece format I wanted.

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Step 4, Coalescence. After a couple of months and lots of future collage fodder, I saw possibilities. When this happens, I've reached a certain way of seeing, and mostly, thrown caution to the winds. Solutions come spontaneously, rather than through a forced march.

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Step 5, Documentation and Photographs. If you take good ones yourself, wonderful. I found a most excellent photographer in the artist, Diana Jahns. She finds the best angles, the best light and works until she gets what I want (as well as many options I never considered).

Step 6, Framing. Am I going to do it myself with pre-made frames or pay to have them housed in a nice shadow boxes with precise measurements? What's my investment as a whole? I opted for a framer and they turned out wonderfully.

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Step 7. Getting the word out; time to hit social media.

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Step 8, Delivery! (and Deliverance).

Step 9, The Opening.

Bloom 2 Opening this Friday!

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Bloom II, Pence Gallery

212 D St., Davis, CA March 8-April 19 Opening Reception: March 11, 6-9 pm

Bloom 2 is up and 2nd Friday is around the corner! With an abundance of gallery spots in Davis, there's something for everyone to see. Of course, I'd love to see you at the Pence, where we'll be celebrating the Bloom 2 show. I'll have several of my multiple monoprint works on display including Folia, pictured here.

Come and enjoy a glass of wine, some fresh art chat and lots of gorgeous art for sale!

 

 

Monday Morning Art Circle

mandala

In March I'll begin a new job at Wellness Within, an amazing organization that provides support to cancer patients, survivors, their families and caregivers, all at no cost. They offer programs in expressive arts,  yoga, meditation and mindfulness. I feel very lucky to be a part of the program.

As I worked on designing a class, I came up with the idea of an art circle. I think of it like a living mandala; a gathering of people exploring the healing powers of art making. Creating art in a community setting is a gentle way of bringing all of us, facilitator (me) and group members alike, back to our essential, inner selves.

We'll be using a variety of media; collage, visual journaling, creation of personal mandalas and a wonderful directive that was created by art therapist, Gretchen Miller; Creative Covenants. Don't let this list scare you though.You do NOT need any prior art experience. The only requirement for our time together is the ability to wield a glue stick and use a pair of scissors.

If any of you reading this knows anyone with a cancer diagnosis, cancer survivors or their families and caregivers in the Sacramento area, who might benefit from this group, please have them contact Wellness Within. If you’d like to learn more about this workshop, you can email me at hkhunterarts@gmail.com. I’d love to have you join us!

The Monday Morning Art Circle

Date/Time Date(s) - 03/07/2016 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Discovery of a New Series

Sometimes, a project ends with fireworks and celebration, sometimes with the feeling of quiet satisfaction of a challenge met and completed. In the case of 30x30, I found the latter but also, the opening to a new series of work. In Kauai, I was captivated by the foliage and flowers; the variety of colors and the fantastical shapes of the leaves. One day, riding down to the beach, I twisted my head around to stare at a tree whose branches and needle patterns wound around in an elegant spiral. I made the decision to return to the island this fall for an artist's retreat; a time to study, paint and draw the plant life. Until then, I think I'll be spending a lot of time at our local botanical garden, haunting my favorite, the Australian section, the closest cousins we have to tropical plants.

Below you'll find a convening of the 30 days--I was excited to make them into one giant collage; a celebration of the challenge.

 

 

 

 

25,24,23, 30x30--Counting Down!

I got busy over the weekend with an art therapy project for Wellness Within. They are a wonderful organization in Roseville, CA that works with cancer patients, survivors, their families and caregivers. It's a new job for me and I wanted to do my best for the workshop, so I put the 30x30 on the backburner for that time and let it simmer. In order to catch up and cover the three days, I laid out the ground papers and worked on all three simultaneously. It was fun and gave me some ideas about how to expand aspects of this series into larger pieces.

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