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

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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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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Day #22, 30x30, The New Year of the Trees

Tu BiShvat Seder, or the New Year of the Trees is a Jewish holiday that takes place each year at the end of January or beginning of February. There are many different explanations for the holiday, but I'm most fond of the one that expresses gratitude for the quickening of life within the trees, or, in other words, the first invisible signs of spring.

Although it is gray and rainy outside, warm inside my studio, I think of the Dylan Thomas' poem: The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.

#22 celebrates the greening of life, becoming juicy and ready to bloom whatever our age.

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Day #18, 30x30, Total Immersion

After I've been in Kauai for more than a few days, it's easy to feel like I've been swallowed up, head, heart and hands. Even if I hold back, there are the mountains, the  mist and the sea, beckoning me with their hands out, and slowly drawing me in. Once immersed, I want to stay forever! I'm returning to my sweet home in Davis, California tomorrow, but all of these days will come back in the form of art. And if you'd like to share in the aloha and own one of them yourself, don't hold back! Each piece is $100, mounted on cradleboard, $150 with cradleboard and frame. You can contact me at hkhunterarts.com

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Day #15, 30x30, Talk about blessings!

Attachment-1(5) I'm straying again from my theme of Botanical Dreams, for good reason. This morning our family traveled to one of our favorite beaches to explore. I stopped in front of the crashing waves and offered a short prayer for the day: for protection, for grace and for generosity and walked off towards the lava rocks.

I stopped to put on my Keens, knowing the danger of lava cuts. As I bent to pull on my sandal, a man appeared and began to warn us of the 40 foot waves. My mind took in the information, but as it did, a huge wave flipped me over and dragged me out. There was nothing I could do, but shout for help.

My sister and the gentleman had to wait for the water to go out before they could reach down and pull me to safety. My next thought was for my daughter and her boyfriend who had gone on ahead. I asked the man, who appeared ocean savvy, to go with my husband and find them. Which they did.

But the story wasn't over. My leg was fairly cut up from the lava and my husband also scraped his foot, trying to help. We stopped at a local store for band-aids and Neosporin. My sister, who was still in shock from the incident (as was I) ran in without her wallet. When she got to the cash register, she discovered she'd forgotten her wallet. Another protector emerged in the Australian woman behind her in line, who simply said; "I'll get it." Amy promised to pay it forward.

After two such incidents of grace what can one do but be thankful?

 

Day #14, 30x30, Still Sailing

After a day trip to the south shore of Kauai to visit family (and a delicious meal from my chef cousin), I decided it was time to keep it simple on the 30x30 challenge. A night of aloha can mean a morning of, well, you know! Sometime during the evening, my cousin Mike mentioned that on a clear day, he could see to Oahu. His remark stuck in my mind and manifested in these sailboats that I remember from the Honolulu harbor. FullSizeRender

Day #12, 30x30, Flight to Paradise

I took a break from 30x30 over the weekend to begin my Yoga Teacher Training program at Kaya Yoga in Davis. Not making a collage Saturday and Sunday felt like trying to keep my hand out of the proverbial cookie jar. And then, flying to Kauai on Monday, well how can you argue with that? Now, settled in our home away from home, the colors of #12 surround me.

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