Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dangers Ahead at Five15 Arts


First and Third Friday are over and 3 of 4 Saturdays too.  One more Saturday next week and this show will come down.  Fifteen months of work - challenging, interesting, failures and successes, but mostly all fun and satisfying.  I have sat at the front of the gallery looking at the work on 3 walls and felt pretty proud of myself.  The work is beautiful and everyone seemed to respond to it at that level.  The gratifying part for me has been the emotional connection people made of a deeper level.  I appreciate the kids and the elders and the various age groups in between who braved the traffic and craziness of First Fridays; and the friends and art lovers who attended my reception last night.  I felt loved and connected.  For those who couldn't attend, here are some images of the pieces which received the most comments.
Microplastics
Muro-Ami

Pirate Fishing
Flushed Prescription Drugs

The above prints are diffused relief prints. This is a process created by Moniker Meler of Stockton California.  We saw it demo'd at a printmaking conference in Philadelphia in 2010 and tried it unsuccessfully upon returning home.  A couple years ago we brought Monika to Phoenix to teach us directly and what a fun and impactful 3 days we had with her!  We are still trying to master the process - to be able to predict an outcome. But the beauty of it for me is it allows me to let go.  After the restraints and controlling nature of my reduction relief printing, the randomness and mystery is so freeing. 

By Catch II
  
Gill Nets I
Coastal Erosion

CO2 Emissions

Bottom Trawling
The five prints above are monosilkscreen prints.  The first two have reduction relief prints collaged onto them (the 4 small images).  Coastal Erosion and CO2 Emissions have some pieces of diffused relief collaged onto them.


If you are able, please come next Saturday (May 28th) for my last day with these prints at Five15 Arts Gallery.  (515 E. Roosevelt, in Phoenix).

I would also like to thank Marlys Kubicek and Diana Hartley, who hung the show for me and provided support in so many other ways. I am humbled and grateful for their friendship, understanding and assistance.  For the beautiful and delicious charcuterie at my reception I thank my sister, Nancy Willis, whose creativity in painting and printmaking has been born in,  part out of, and spills back into, her culinary skills.  She is still the best role model Artist I could ever have. I love you all!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sleeping with Fishes

In support of my May solo exhibition at Five15 Arts Gallery, I am undertaking to do 8 4-5 color reduction relief prints in less than 3 weeks. (8.5' x 7".) I started actual printing of the first two prints Monday.  I finished Friday.  I have to say I am having so much fun.  I love carving.  And seeing the next color printed. 
Drawings and color separations
I have completed detailed line drawings from which I made color separations.

I am using Gomuban instead of linoleum and have cut all the plates to the same size so I can use a jig to hold them in place. I use a 7-layered masking tape bumper to hold the paper in place.
 
First plate, color one



First plate, color one

2nd plate, color one

After printing, I use transfer paper to draw on the plate what needs to be cut away from the color just printed.


Plate 1, color 2
Plate 1 color3
Plate 1, final



Plate 2, color 2

Plate 2, color 3
Plate 2, final

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Winter Musings

It's hard to feel like it is winter when it is 85 degrees.  But such is the penalty (?!?) for living in the beautiful southwest.  The weather was weirdly warm in North Carolina where we spent the Christmas holidays with my brother in Charlotte.  I'm not complaining mind you!  I much prefer warm to cold, 110 degrees to snow and ice.

I've been working on diffused relief and monosilkscreen prints for my exhibition in May at Five15 Arts.  My imagery is more sea-related than swimmer, but I'm not ready to talk about it too much at this point - everything is still in process. With lots of work yet to do!

stARTup LA
The "girls" went on an art road trip to LA for few days the end of January to see the stARTup LA art fair in which my sister, Nancy Willis, and dear friend, Catherine Ruane, were participants.  Marlys, Diana and Carol and I spent the day at the art fair and the next day at the Aquarium of the Pacific and Long Beach Museum of Art.

Lipstick monotypes and oil painting by Nancy Willis
Carol and Catherine

Carol, Marlys and Diana

My favorite sister!  An inspiration always.

DIABLO PRINTMAKERS
The Diablo Printmakers is a group of ASU printmaking students and they put out a call for art for their first annual juried exhibition.  Marlys and I wanted to support the students' effort so we entered work and each had a piece was accepted by the Juror, Mary Hood, a printmaking professor at ASU.  Tonight was the opening reception at the Harry Wood Gallery and we were pleased with the quality of the work in the show.  Two other Arizona Print Group artists also had work accepted in this show and Chris Dawdy from Tucson won the first place award!
Our prints off in the distance





Mary Hood, Juror
Christine Dawdy, organza collagraph

PRINTMAKING CLASSES AT THE PHOENIX CENTER
There are 3 classes going on now, the Collagraph/Drypoint Class that Marlys Kubicek is teaching and I am teaching Solarplate Etching and 2 Color Reduction Relief.  I am happy to have some new students who have never made art before (or since high school) and some who have never done printmaking before.  It is an honor to expose them to joys of printmaking.  I have 5 week relief and solarplate classes starting in March.  When they are completed my classes no longer be held at the Xico facility.  I am not sure where I will be - either the Phoenix Center on Moreland or a new PCA facility near Bell and 7th Street.  Watch this space to see where I land!

Solarplate etching by Laura MacKay

Solarplate etching by Ed Dubrow

Marlys giving a demo on inking and wiping the collagraph

Friday, November 6, 2015

My New Website


I am so happy to report I have completed creating my new website. It is www.wswillis.com. The process was so easy and whenever I hit a snag, my "guy" at Photobiz was able to magically make it go away!  I have a guy!

I am really not a techie person. I believe it is important to try to keep up with the changing world and the technology that keeps evolving.  But I am far from comfortable with it. So I have spent over a week's time pulling images, updating my resume, and all the other decisions I needed to make about how I wanted it to look.  I am eternally grateful to have had Diana Hartley's assistance in funtionality and helping me think it all through.  I guess I have a "gal" too!  

So please check out my new website and tell me what you think. I hope you find it easy to navigate. I learned about Photobiz from Sam Dahl, who created an easy to update website for us at Five15 Arts Gallery.  Check it out too, at five15arts.com

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Monosilkscreen Process

I enjoyed another monosilkscreen workshop at the Mesa Arts Center, the past 2 Saturdays. The workshop is offered every quarter and since there is so much time between classes, I feel pressure to be ready and take advantage of the time available.  So for the week or more before each session, I plan what I want to print and cut stencils and pull color chips for each concept.

So with the stencil on the right I printed 3 backgrounds of a solid yellow/green. When that dried I mixed up a darker green and put the stencil down arcing from bottom left to to top right.  For fun I pulled a 4th print of the stencil and the yellow/green over a plain white paper.
 When those dried I reversed the stencil putting it on the right side and tried to mix a transparent blue/green.  But my first two efforts were not transparent enough and covered the first stencil more than I wanted. So I kept adding more transparent base until I got to this point on the last two:


Not satisfied but that's what I had to work with.  After the first Saturday class, I decided to print with a stencil I had used for diffused relief on these two prints.

I mixed up a very transparent (finally) blue and printed them both today.  I was very happy with the result.  I am not sure these are the final versions of these prints but so far so good.


As always I want to thank Nieves Manje and Jeremy Yocum for all their help and expertise.  The size of these images are 25" x 17.5".

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Stars are in Alignment

I am having a bit of a lucky streak.  You can see why I might feel that way: 

My print, Native Son, was included in the Family Matters exhibition at the ASU Art Museum this summer. Rossi Todorova organized the print exchange SB 1070 which was donated to ASU's art museum.  From that donation, they pulled my print and used it in the exhibition which ended July 31st.  Someone saw my work and told me about it.  What a thrill, to have my work in an Art Museum exhibition!  



I was contacted, as per my last post, by someone wanting to feature my work in a blogpost about Family Art Collecting.  It appeared in Phoenix Magazine.  



Then Kim Larkin contacted me about participating in a show at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort for the National Swimming Pool Federation conference.  I was one of 7 artists and all four of my prints sold from that 3 day show! 

I finished my print for the Mesa Arts Center calendar at Santo Press last week.  Here is the final version.

And then today I got a routine email from the NAU Art Museum announcing a new show - NAU Art Museum:  Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.  I clicked on the link to see if I could see whose work was in the show and lo and behold, there I am again!!!  The museum is using many prints from the Passport Required print exchange I helped organize for the Arizona Print Group.

I mentioned how lucky I felt to another artist and she pointed out to me that luck didn't have anything to do with it.  She said that I have produced a consistent body of work and that I work hard at getting my work out there.  It is so difficult for an unrepresented artist to get their work seen and this is something I have worked diligently at over the years.  And I keep producing new work.  But it is hard not to feel lucky and much gratitude that my work is noticed and appreciated.  I want to thank all the good people who have included my prints in their shows or writings.  And for featuring printmaking!

 I can't wait to see what happens next!
  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Artwork in Progress/Phoenix Magazine Blogpost

SANTO PRESS - COLOR 1

                            

It is such a luxury to have your reduction relief printed for you. Brent Bond at Santo Press is a joy to work with. I love the Mesa Arts Center - it's where I learned I was a printmaker! - and I'm grateful for their facilities and galleries. So supporting their annual fundraising effort is important to me. Each year artists donate prints to be included in the MAC calendar. A buyer can get 12 original fine art prints for $200. Such a deal! But carving out the time (a little printmaker pun) to print 50 2 color reductions, just isn't available to me right now. So with much gratitude, Brent printed the first color of my print yesterday.  This photo is a test proof, not the final color but close.

PHOENIX MAGAZINE BLOGPOST


Deborah Lewis freelanced a blogpost for Phoenix Magazine about family art collecting.  It is a wonderful idea and I encourage one and all to start with their kids today.  Most artists welcome inquiries about their art, process and prices from those who are sincere in their interest.  Artists I know like to give small prints as baby presents so the baby owns original art from the get go.  Birthdays are perfect opportunity to grow a collection.  Let me know if you have any questions about my work.  My email is listed on my Facebook badge on the right column of this blog.  Or make a comment with your contact info and I will reach out to you. Here is a link to the Phoenix Magazine post