Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There comes a time when all good postings come to an end

Such a time has arrived. I only post on this blog because I haven't had time to break away clearly and switching blogs would likely break my concentration on the artistic ventures I have been playing with. However, spring is upon us and I must venture off with these undertakings in new directions. Here is a batch of Frescos, in cloud form, drying in front of the fireplace. Since it will be warm soon I will no longer need to carry these brick-like paintings inside to dry. I can simply stack them along the wall outside and place them on top of each other until someday I find a way to exhibit, sell or destroy them. Hiding is also an option. I was considering hanging them today and the problems that someone would face who tried to put one of these 10-20 lb. frames on a wall. Not likely. Just not a good idea in Earthquake country.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Transfer Papers and Further Advances to Nowhere

How can it be, 2010, and still transfer technology is like throwing bricks through windows as compared to screen printing. All the crap in the world piled on top of all the crap in the world and surprise, we still have a pile of crap. I am like a caveman in that I still do screen printing when all the world has passed me by for other forms of technologically advanced digital processes. Digital this, transfer that, oh, la, la, it just doesn't last. I don't always have the time to mock what could very well have been my future, but when I do I get a certain sense of "I told you so!" Frankly my dear, who gives a damn. Nobody.

T-shirts are a convenience product, that is somehow also sold as a fashion product from market to market. T-shirts range from barely a dollar in some places to hundreds of dollars in others, yet they all can be judged equally once they come out of the wash and if people will continue to wear them. Longevity is a measure of success. Like marriage, if you have survived you must be in love. People fall in love with their clothing that evolves with them and does not disappear. Transfers tend to dissappear long before they should.

Twenty years later, I wonder, have t-shirt transfers gotten any better? My kids always think that it sounds really cool to be able to print out a shirt from the computer and not have to make screens or try to count the colors in a design, because they have heard me bitch about terrible artwork and impossible prints over and over again. However, I did some test today with inkjet transfer paper onto dark and white t-shirts, and when I showed them the designs they did not say they could wear such a glossy feeling thickened object heat molded onto the t-shirts. I tried.

Why is it so hard to imitate screen printing? Screen printing must be rooted in magic and voodoo to be this hard to duplicate with computers. There is always a lot of talk about digital processes like straight to garment printing, but I fail to see the potential. Basically some companies have loaded a pallet onto an inkjet bet and then they feed and adhesive precoat and/or a white coat and then other colors onto a garment as if it was a piece of paper. Sounds good in theory, like communism or democracy, but I have enough trouble making one print, much less running one thousand t-shirts through an inkjet printer. This is the age we live in. No flying cars and no instant high quality t-shirts.

There are some alternatives and I am sure that the quality of transfer t-shirt technology has improved, but it is surprising how long it has taken to get so short a distance. Screen printing is still a dominant technique for adhering images to garments in bulk. Sure, there are some successful techniques like discharge printing that has made all over printing more bearable and wearable simultaneously, but generally we have not come very far. Shirts that light up are too bulky, shirts that are very soft are too frail, shirts that are super soft are toxic and shirts that are too cool are too expensive.

Still I must see what transfer papers are currently on the market and test those papers to see if I am missing the boat. Will there ever be an easy to handle transfer paper that is one-step, mutli-color, self-weeding, ink jet or not, that is affordable and will survive a wash through a general clothing cycle? Tell me more, tell me more.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where did these come from? - Candle Wax Linseed Oil Prints with Teflon

Ok, I know where they came from, I just am not totally sure what I was up to. - Candle Wax Linseed Oil Prints with Teflon - That is the best explaination I have. Overall these experiments benefitted from distractions, because they needed time and I am not a patient man. I hid them, as I do much of my work. Sometimes I hide things in the yard, other times in different states. Regardless, these were hid under my nose and unless I wasn't looking for my teflon sheet I would have never dealt with these images. Originally I mixed some sort of black bone pigment with a copal varnish I had made from scratch. Then I printed a 4-up set of images onto a teflon sheet and let it dry by hiding. A few months later I was still unable to get the image off the teflon as it was so I later made a mixture of linseed oil and a white pigment, titanium or some such powder, then I painted that onto the back of the other print. This did not work and I stored it again for a few more months. Next I tried putting a coat of adhesive onto a piece of wax paper and tried to lift off the image once it dried, but that did not work. So I stored the teflon and it dried some more.

Finally I needed my teflon and I found it hidden in a cabinet, completely dried. I thought I was just going to have to rub the image off and scrub the teflon experiment into the trash. I ripped off the paper, with no idea what the experiment was originally trying to prove, and it pulled the images off quite cleanly, cosidering the force of my peel. I got the rest of the goop off of the teflon with a heat transfer machine, but now I am left with these images in a sort of waxy dried state and trying to figure out if this technique was successful or not. The images attached to this post are approx 3" high and were made for transfering the images to candles with organic substances that would not pose a problem if burned.

The Failure I've been looking for - Frida Khalo Broken Fresco Revival

A few months ago I found myself breaking these things and reassembling them for craft (See prior post 10 steps to enlightment through destruction). It seemed an interesting way to work with previously created works by great masters without duplicating the work directly. In fact I thought that it was a statement of sorts, not just a derragatory one, but a statement about craft. I moved out of that phase in my efforts as I tried to simply control this medium before I set me sights on breaking the pieces I was making. Most of the last six months has been spent on trying to get both an artistic and a spiritual interpretation of pop culture images so that I can get back to a the literal duplication process that I am yet to completely control. Personally I hate literal duplication, which may explain why it is so hard to achieve. My impatience is my biggest enemy and in this case it has taken me back to the broken Fresco, the mosaic fresco, made from the pieces of an otherwise decent print.

As I have mentioned previously I have had the most trouble trying to get some spiritual transliteration out of Frida Khalo and Vincent van Gogh portraits. I attributed this to the original artwork that I started with which were paintings and not photographs. For some reason I cannot get the same blurry, soul enhancing properties out of these self-portraits when I convert them to black and white images and put them through the rigors of fresco photo casting. Here is a whole batch of Frida Khalo photo fresco prints that shows how I have tried. I can't seem to leave the image and I returned by using it as a print to try and make a direct copy of the screen painting of the painting that I had made. In the casting my impatience caused it to break and before I smashed the entire piece I forced it back together and let it dry. Previously I had done this with a William Burroughs piece shown here. Again it hit me that this is the interpretive process for works done by artist themselves that are not photographic in their origin.

The best explaination I can come up with is that because the images are artistic to begin with, both in color and in composition I may not be able to transfer the visual representation of the soul spirit that is contained in photographic images. The breaking and reassembly represents my failure, but in essence it is consistent with my disgust at literal interpretation to begin with. I cannot pull anything more from these images than what the artist originally intended. I cannot channel that which is controlled by it's maker. I cannot take and reinterpret something that speaks it's own truth. I have nothing to add. My destruction of the image is acceptance of this fact and the reassembly is the duplication that I am forced to do for some other reason that I cannot explain.

Moments are fleeting and my underlying rationale for working artistically is that there is a visual language that is beyong our abilities to explain, but that artistic works individually propels our cognitive senses to new heights. I grasped a sense of abstract communication through some works at the Modern in New York and have never been the same. The works themselves were DeKooning and Pollack, but even though they were old they read this was modern, this may be the last word you read that makes sense, even though the lines did not make sense. The lines had meaning of time and by seeing these works firsthand they transcended time. The art is a craft, but the dimensionality artistic works last longer in a physical state than many other fluid crafts. In order for these literal works like Frida and Van Gogh to achieve a new meaning I need to pull from them something different. My tools are limited, but this breaking and re-assembly is sort of like the dribble that I considered so meaningful. I can only accept this because I did not contrive the meaning, it just happened and it keeps happening because I have no patience.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A cloud shrine, maybe? Hollywood Clouds Intro

Here is a sample of a shrine version of the Hollywood Cloud using Hunter Thompson photo. I like it because I am not sure how I ended up at this place, but at least this looks somewhat finished. The way the layers are combining seems Japanese, and the out of character black and white photo image floats on top, yet it is molded into the plaster itself. I had already made these tacky shrine type shapes and painted them red, but I like the contrast between the red and the light blue.

I was able to make this from the reversed image of Einstein. I had to work in the negative since his hair is so white. This spiritual effect of the shadows is what I have been trying for and the cloud may be a more controllable way of getting the image to migrate as I add more pressure on the printing while it is setting up in blob form making the cloud. Not sure, but I was able to get some blur on Einstein and JD Salinger, who has been the hardest print to-date besides Van Gogh and Frida (who I have all but given up on). This is the original shrine version of the Einstein Fresco before reversing to black and white.

Here is what I was able to pull out of JD Salinger and this photo from a book cover. I am attaching both the shrine color image and the new base image for a Painting.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Le' Shit C'est Arrive - Hollywood Clouds

It was a terrible day to start. The first day with sun. I cleaned and arranged scraps of prior designs laying around in the mud so that they could dry. By most accounts it was beautiful morning. I even fell for the concept that the ground would be dry and my feet would not be sullen with mud and chill. I put card board over my regular mud puddles, arranged glass plates, watered my blueberry bush and cleaned frames. Then I made a couple of frescos, Frida, with both dye inks and pigment inks, expecting that I would be able to compare the two. They both sucked and neither was what I expected, again. I turned from my work and let it dry in the sun. Hours later it was no better off than when I left it, both pieces failed to make a decent transfer and the dye inks were just strangely colored and too dark. Time wasted on high expectations. I spent the rest of the day working to offset my expectations of artistic success with business.

The real work did not begin until the afternoon and then even later. It was as if I could not think until I expelled all of the business thoughts and responsibilities from my head. I do not think I am a creative I am driven. I don't even think of it as a vision as much as my body fulfills it's task when it is ready. If I actually thought about my results I could not achieve the things that I am doing. Somehow they happen, I am just there to do my part.

I was upset about my prior work in the morning and decided to make a few more prints for fun. Earlier in the day I had stacked a bunch of paintings that I needed to frame right in the middle of my work table so that I couldn't miss them. I plan to take a batch of work to LA and sell it in my store and need to complete the pile of screen paintings that I have completed. Once I made a few prints, in black and white, I realized I needed a more complete product for my work. The cloud effect is very fragile and recently I had attempted to pour a frame of blue around the cloud to make it durable. This worked, but to make it work successfully I needed to pour the blue before I removed the first fresco from it's mold / position. I cut out several images from their frame while the plaster was setting and quickly positioned them above the images I was about to transfer. The end result was a three layer casting with a rectangular frame. I think this is the shit. Because they are celebrity pop culture icons I call them Hollywood Clouds.

These images have combined many levels of conceptual dribble that entertain my brain. I think they are silly to begin with and unexpected as the result of so much serious work. I mean puffy clouds, c'mon! The symbolixm is also a paralell to my everyday life as I have always considered the Puffy Cloud the ultimate symbol, uncapturable, and inspiring in it's elusiveness. I once had a club called "The Puffy Cloud" patrol, whose only purpose was to chase clouds and photograph them like those storm chasers that chase tornados. Hawaii by the way is one of the best places in the world for puffy clouds. Click on the image below as these three puffy cloud images dry and you will see where I am heading with this. Closer to the obv ious.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

So many calls, so little time

I turn down 2-5 jobs a week for instant printing jobs, but just don't have the time. The problem is that usually the job becomes more complex than it seems and although transfer technology and printing transfers seems easy, there is no accounting for the shirts required to be thrown away before the customer is happy. As such, I am testing a whole new batch of heat transfer t-shirt, mousepad and coffe mug papers. Report to follow.

Back to real work - Laser printing and transfers

My entire enterprise and attempts to create something new and different could be avoided if I just worked with the methods that already exist. The techniques of transfering images to products is an industry in and of itself that I have sidestepped over the years. Evey so often I try transfer papers and materials and see if things have changed. I picked up a new laser printer, a Samsung for only $170 and am going to test it with the laser printing papers that I have for t-shirts, mousepads and coffee mugs. It's not photo-frescos, but if these papers work they will provide me with income and products to sell until the rains end and I can get back to messing up prints with plaster.

The Magic Touch paper is from a German company and cost nearly $5/sheet. I've been dying to try this stuff, but it is a mutli-step process. I'll be back with info later on how it works.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The clouds have gone away

I mixed a new batch of plaster, longer drying time, but had no success. A day like today is a day to forget. More mess and less results. Basically this was an off day, but I thought about how to make the cloud type images fixed into a mount that may preserve their shape. It's risky, but I think I will tint some plaster blue and pour around the cloud in a frame to mount the image securely. The final result may be a sky type effect with puffy clouds suspended in a field of blue. For now the clouds have gone.

The risk of doing a double pour is that the new layer will seep under the side with the image and block the graphic. It would be best if I pour the blue before I separate the original print, but I only want to add the blue plaster to images I plan to keep. My present state wants to throw all my samples and rejects, but for a few, into a trash bin, clear the decks and start anew. I can't get back to painting when I am in the middle of a bunch of casting. Ideally I would split the task to different locations so that I'm not trying to do too much at one place.

Puffy Clouds appear as frames to hold iconic Fresco images

I left off last night with a reference to making the vague the obvious. It sounded good, but I didn't really think about what it meant. I think it means that I can take something and make it into a kitschy t-shirt or a simplistic joke, but as I have struggled with the Fresco printing technique I keep finding new meanings for the direction that I am going in. Now I have gone on and did it again.

I have been suggesting that these iconic images are ghost of the real people and that through this process I am pulling their visual spirit back into these works. I also suggested that these were temporary in that I am no longer working with frames and the result is a super fragile piece that is only around long enough to photograph it, but noooooo. The new shape has taken on a simplistic and symbolic form of the puffy cloud.

What better shape to carry spiritual images of classic icons on than puffy clouds? Even I think it is beyond obvious to the level of stupid, but I can't deny the ridiculous symbolism and the process by which I have come upon it. Now I am going to be forced to keep the originals and figure out a method to hold the fragile shapes longer than I intended and potentially these are the final form for these pieces and this effect. Check out this group of seven photofresco prints, in cloud form.

Monday, March 1, 2010

When all else fails try voodoo...and a little wine.

There is a reason why I am accepting all of these formless approaches to this craft of photo-fresco icon regeneration. Since nothing in the normal realm of experimentation can give me control of the results I am resorting to esoteric rationalizations for my methods. Today I breached a new level in conceptualization. While consuming large quantities of wine and working myself up to attempt a mass fresco casting of seven frameless images I decided to share my wine with the plaster. These are my friends, my only friends the images. I dipped my finger in the glass and dropped three drips into the approximate gallon of freshly mixed juice. Physically the wine did not change the color, but in spirit the wine represented the blood of life and a drink for my homies to make them want to appear again. Did it work? Not so much.

I used glass as my flat surface and I was able to look at the images before I pulled them from there monoprint positions. They still seemed like perfect duplications of the originals so I added water to the back side of the plaster to force the images to spread. For some of the images it may have helped and for others it simply made them darker. I am having the most trouble getting a spiritual print of Van Gogh and Frida Khalo. I've made over 10 prints of Van Gogh and nearly 30 of Frida and I don't seem any closer to success than I was at the first one. It may be that I am working from painted portraits and not photographs. It also may be that they have been dead much longer than the other icons I am working with. On a humorous note I have gotten a much more potent image of Ultraman, but Einstein has no essence in the latest print. JD Salinger is anothe bitch to print and I may have to stop here since his face is sullen and non-descript. Still it is hard to drop any character from use until I feel I have drawn into the hardened rock the feeling of their being. It's as though I am beating a drum and calling into the dark.

I don't know what I am asking for but once it arrives I know that I have it. The fragility of the originals is now a part of the process. By the time a get a decent photo of the casting the edges snap and the image crumbles. In this way I don't feel like I am keeping the spirit beyond a reasonable amount of time for their portrait. The original image becomes pieces once I have the portrait and then I can work with it in duplicate and in 2nd generation printing techniques that will never be referenced to their origin. Somehow this comforts me in that I am not capturing and controlling something that I don't understand completely. My place in this is to channel, not to control. My place is to see with castings that which I cannot create by hand. My place is to translate the vague into the obvious.