Summer work

23 Oct

I made a ton of work this summer, but didn’t find a lot of time to post.  I finished a ton of pieces from my series on memories. Here are a few pictures that show what I have been up to:
I am me and you are you, we make paper airplanes behind the couch for hours
Miss Havisham Borderlands Chasing and Hiding Kingswood Fern Hexenspiel

Some of these have been up on here before in various stages of work in progress, but they are all done and mounted!  I still have a few more in this series to work on, and a couple more I would like to draw out and start.

The next series is going to be very text heavy, and this is the only piece that is 100% completed:Untitled – quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For this next series I have quotes and text I want to use, mostly about art itself. I got the technique of spray painting the paper cuts down with this piece, and am really happy with the metallic silver. I think the next one will be metallic copper.  Currently this piece is up at the Tangled exhibit at the WSAC until next Saturday, October 29th. Stop by for gallery hours on Saturday and see a ton of great work!



23 Jun

I love tools! Rulers, scales, t-squares, angles, curves, blades of all shapes and sizes, handles and grips of all textures, model knives, scissors of all lengths!  And that isnt even getting into paper, cutting mats, tape or finishes. Here are some of my favorite tools to work with…

Top row: white Magic-Rub rubber eraser, metal (cork backed) ruler with english and metric, rainbow pack of Staedtlar marker pens in the stand-up case.

Bottom row: chalky white soft pencil, medium-hard .3mm Alvin mechanical pencil, purple Fiskars swivel tip blade, Blick standard red blade handle with a soft rubbery gel grip on it, and a blue Fiskars triangle shaped blade handle.

On: 24″x36″ Alvin gridded rubber mat with various angles outlined.

My marker and pen selection is 100% related to the papers I like to use. I like very smooth papers, like vellum and tracing paper. Anything with texture or tooth is not really my thing, and I also really like cutting black or deeply pigmented dark paper. The white pencil is perfect for sketching and laying out on dark papers, and the magic rub fixes all my mistakes. I use the fine line markers when trace paper sketching, to play with different ideas and overlaying elements. I use different colors on each layer of trace to play with ideas. If I have opaque, or lighter-colored paper, like in my sketchbooks, my design background has made me super in love with mechanical pencils. For the same design reasons, I always have to have a good ruler handy. The metal ruler is perfect because it is nice and heavy, the cork has good grip on the back, and I can also use it to make smooth, long, straight cuts with my knives. I probably have 7 different rulers, all for different uses!

My knife collection is pretty extensive, and this is only about 1/2 of it. When you cut a lot, you need to give your hand a lot of changing grips just to keep your fingers flexible and not cramped up.  The different types of blades that can fit in each knife also are good for different types of cuts. Some knives feel better for straight, long, even cuts, while other are far better for curves and small details. If you have a generic x-acto knife, I cannot recommend putting a 99 cent gel grip on it to save your hand and wrist.  Not pictured are my giant boxes of fresh blades, of course. Switching up the blade often keeps things smooth with minimal snags. With fresh blades you also don’t have to apply as much pressure so your cuts can be more free, and more delicate.

❤ Tools! ❤

Ess Ohh Ess Success

1 Jun

Somerville Open Studios was pretty fun!  It was a really nice weekend, so it was a little hard to sit in my studio all day, but I had enough visitors to keep it interesting. Everyone at the WSAC brought in snacks and drinks, and we all milled around and played music all day. I was able to sit at my desk and get a bunch of work done too.

This is a piece that I started and finished during S.O.S., in my excellent tradition of crappy cell phone pictures:
Cat's Cradle

I made all of my studio visitors play Cat’s Cradle with me all day (also known as Hexenspiel in German!). It was fun to remind people of it, and then have a reason to stare at and draw their hands.

This piece is pretty big, about 24 x 36 inches.  I have been working pretty large lately, which is good for getting a lot of negative space, and a ton of detail into small areas.  There is another piece that I started on the last day of S.O.S. and finished slowly over the past few weeks. It is about the same size as the one above, and here is just a detail of one corner.
Hide & Seek Detail

The bush there is about 3 inches tall, the crouched figure is maybe 2 inches tall. I love doing tiny little details so much.

Last week I set everything up and spray mounted these paper cuts to white bristol.  Spraying them and getting them to lay smooth and flat nearly killed me.  I could have ruined all of them, but managed to get them all done, with only 1 really annoying wrinkle. I think most people would barely notice the wrinkle but it bothers me.  Luckily once I get these framed and matted, the wrinkle will be 90% covered up!  I left some of the wires/string details bowing out from the paper ever so slightly as well. It makes an effect that I really like, because it calls to attention that these are cut paper, not drawings or silkscreens or some photo process.

I think my next post will be a tools post, which I am pretty excited about. I love new tools and talking about tools and supplies!

In Progress Pieces for Somerville Open Studios

18 Apr

Somerville Open Studios is Saturday April 30th and Sunday May 1 this year.  I will be at the Washington Street Art Center with my studio-mates, and you can check us all out on the S.O.S site here.  I have been working on 2 sets of themes for papercutting, one of which is a series of  flowers.


These poppies are finished, and this is a teeny resolution of a proper scan of the finished piece. I used Canson paper, in 8.5 x 11. The Canson is pretty thick, so it was hard to get fine lines, but the sturdiness helped with preventing wrinkles. Using vellum is also new for me. While I love looking at pretty things, I don’t usually make things that are pretty for the sake of being pretty. These poppies are the first in a series of trying to get over that. I love art nouveau, especially the flourishy floral stuff, and I was thinking about all the beautiful stained glass at the Smith Museum in the Chicago Navy Pier. It is spring here and flowers are starting to go nuts, so while I was drawing the other week I decided to work on some pretty things related to that.


These lilacs aren’t quite finished yet, maybe about 90% done, and so far I like the layered effect with the vellum. I bought a new brand of thin art/craft paper that is really nice to cut, and comes in a package of nice bright colors. It is 11×17, so quite a bit bigger than the paper I had been using. I am getting used to this paper and think I will continue to use it, since I like the smooth flat color, as opposed to the more textured Canson paper. I also really like that this craft paper is white on the backing side, even though at first I thought it would be a problem. Using the vellum is nice because you can mute and mask the colors and cuts underneath to focus on one area. It is super hard to cut though. The vellum snaps when you slice it, and if you dig or wrinkle the paper, it ends up with these sort of milky scars. So you have to be really really careful, especially with curved edges.


The ranunculae are less finished, and I am not as sold on the way they are coming out. The backing green for the leaves will probably be switched out for black, and I will likely add some other flowers so you can see the dark fuschia second color under the pink more. I do like how the details of the bunched up petals came out, so I am going to keep working on it to try to salvage it. Right now I think it looks a little half-assed.  When they are pressed flat, and in nicer light, both papercuts look less messy.  I like to take crappy quick cell phone pictures of in progress work!

When making 2D art, I usually have some sort of narrative, or at least scene  set up, and almost always include human or animal figures as the focus. It is sort of nice to just focus on color, form and composition without thinking about a narrative, but I end up feeling less psyched about the finished product.  The other series I am working on are all images of children, mostly girls playing outside. For these I have been using the flat black paper I used for the Feathers & Scales pieces.  I feel a lot more invested in the 2 finished scenes I have for these. When I was making them I was working out more ideas in my head, where as with the flowers I was just thinking about…flowers. I am going to show them all for a critique at the WSAC on Thursday, so it will be interesting to see what other people think of these 2 series, and if my mental investment in one series more than the other comes through.

February 2011 Show: Feathers & Scales

13 Apr

I had my first show at the Washington Street Art Center in February 2011. It was the first time since college that I made life sized figures, human or animal. I generally work very small, and in the context of framed pieces.  It was awesome to use the entire gallery space to install the larger scale pieces I worked on. This installation took about 5 seasons of Law & Order, and probably 500+ cups of tea to complete over the winter.


The show was titled Feathers & Scales, and was based around imagery from a Celtic myth of two sisters, Fand and Li Ban. These sisters were twins, they were gods who lived in the ocean. When they needed to, they could transform into birds to take revenge on their enemies. They would lead an enchanted flock of birds to attack and kill, with each bird linked by a silver chain to another bird in a pair.  The sisters flew linked with gold threads.


For reference for the birds, I used the North Atlantic Shearwater, and ended up with around a dozen birds, each linked together with a thin silver chain. The feathers were the most fun, and fluid cuts to make. I referenced any feather I liked, from fluffy chick down, to pin feather, flight feathers, owl feathers, or peacock tails. Most of the water and waves were layered, individually cut out scales, ranging from about 8 inches across to less than 1 inch across. At once point, I counted over 100 individual feathers, and 75 scales, then I cut some more.



The gallery at the WSAC is an interesting shape, with lots of turns and corners to the walls, as well as heaters, pipes, and doorways to consider. It was nice to be able to tailor the installation to the room, since I was working upstairs it was easy to be able to measure and come down to the gallery to work on the layout whenever I needed to.


These pictures were from about 90% of the way through the installation, and I somehow did not end up taking pictures of the completed set up.  I used quite a bit of gold thread woven into the hair of the sisters, as well as silver thread woven in among the fish, kelp, and scales. The paper I used was a 4 foot tall, 200 foot long roll of black Spectra ArtKraft paper. It has a really nice finish, and is very easy and clean to cut.  To install I used a variety of double sided tape and glue dots.  I like when the paper can come away from the wall and cast shadows, as well as move around with the air currents, so striking a balance of enough tape to keep the pieces up without making them too flat took a week or so.

I will have some of my favorite smaller pieces from this show framed at Somerville Open Studios!

Artists I am excited about

8 Apr

I was in Portland a couple weeks ago and they have a pretty nice, if a little small, art museum. The modern art wing was really nicely laid out with a lot of really cool pieces in it.

Since I like cutting paper so much, I was really psyched to see a ton of Kara Walker’s art. She seems to work a lot (or only?) in black and white, but also had a few pieces that were cut to stand up in a sort of scenic diorama. Her art has a lot of imagery about race, gender and sexuality, and I am totally fascinated by how fine her cuts and lines are. She tends to display the paper very very flattened, so her pieces often look like silkscreened black ink on white.

Another artist I really loved, was Mickalene Thomas. Her silkscreens are AMAZING! The picture below is so much more amazing and detailed and vibrant in real life. She also sometimes uses rhinestones or glitter, which sounds like a weird effect. Somehow it looks perfect, and not at all cheap or tacky. Or maybe the cheap and tacky quality of rhinestones is what makes it so perfect? Either way if you ever see or hear of an exhibit of hers around, and you like silkscreens, I would highly recommend going, they are so beautiful.

So there are 2 artists that made me feel really excited to work on my own stuff.

Hey look, I have a website

7 Apr

I had a website at some point, but like a lot of other things, it was abandoned! Let’s see me try not to do that this time.