Sunday, December 17, 2006

end of semester artist's statement

this is what i learned in school this semester.

Mark Phelan
Artist’s Statement
Fall 2006, Relief Printing

This semester started out as a lesson in discipline for me. I wanted to work my way through a lengthy period with good plans and drawings and end up with good results on the other side. However, my emotions got the better of me, and I ended up spending most of the semester working in a different medium, and with no real plan, shooting from the hip, and drawing what I felt inside me. I do not have regret concerning the latter part of this statement, because I feel that I connected to a part of me that has been previously hidden. But I did discover that I am not as naturally disciplined as I once thought. It took real work for me to turn this semester around and complete the required assignments. I found myself almost resentful of the fact that I had to get them done.
It’s interesting when a person finds something new about himself. Whether good or bad, if he can then find a way to use it as a tool, it can be a very powerful thing. I found that when I work from raw emotion, I have a very difficult time dealing with the world around me. I have a tough time at home. I have a tough time at work. I even have a tough time at school, where I want to be most, if the work to be done there is not exactly what I want to be working on at the time. The monotypes that I worked on simultaneously with the assigned work got me in touch with something that I didn’t know previously existed. It is a hard thing to deal with. This untamed emotion welling up from down there somewhere. I don’t even know why I feel it. I do know that it needs to make its way out on paper as soon as I can make it happen. . I also found out that when it comes down to it, I can get that assigned work done, and do it fairly well. But it does feel like work.
Beyond that, I did learn a few things about technique in relief printing. I learned that when I pay close attention to composition, the print comes out well. I learned that when I make a piece that I want to make it comes out well. And I learned that when I take a few deep breaths, and start carving that linoleum with my knife, I am quieted. The process is cathartic, and the rest I find in it is revealed in the prints I make.

But I do wonder how often I will be put in the position of having to make something that I am not connected to in some way. I wonder if I will need to leash that emotion and save it somewhere while other work gets done. I wonder if it fair to ask an artist to do this.

This semester I learned how to feel through my work, and I learned how to wonder.

Friday, December 08, 2006

sometimes, i forget how to breathe

i love this one. i don't know what else to say. sometimes, i forget how to speak.

'sometimes, i forget how to breathe'

'sometimes, i forget how to breathe' detail

Thursday, December 07, 2006

you had to be there

this is what happens when you drink blue liquid from beakers. or maybe when you have one too many white russians. or something. you had to be there. or there. or maybe it's more ominous than that. or more hopeful. or something.

'you had to be there'

'you had to be there' detail

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

upon this rock

'upon this rock'

finished another. not too many words. i'll let the pictures tell the story. like i've had to say way too many times, "if i was good with words, i wouldn't NEED to make these pictures." it's just what i do.

'upon this rock' detail
those images on the right are getting cut off, and it's driving me nuts. i can't figure out how to fix them. argh!

show opening

went to the print and pottery show opening this afternoon. got to do a little mingling and networking. all for the good no doubt, but i'm a bit uncomfortable with all that.

i saw the gallery director a couple hours after the show closed, and she said that there is someone interested in 'this house' (previously untitled). i was kinda hoping to hold on to all the monotypes until they are done and can be shown together, but i might work something out. we'll see. i'm supposed to let her know, and start the negotiations. it's weird how some buyers want to remain somewhat anonymous. makes you wonder if it's your mom buying it to make you feel good. we shall see...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

annual print and pottery show

massasoit college opens its annual print and pottery show monday, with a reception tuesday from 12:30 to 1:30. i got several pieces in, including 2 of the italy prints, the caryatid print, and a preview of 4 of my new monotype drawings. hopefully this will cement the solo show that i am trying to land in the same gallery this coming spring. the akilian gallery is part of the milton art museum, which is housed currently inside the campus of massasoit.
details of the show are listed here:

info on the museum here:

and here are a few pics of the show, before it opens:

a few of mine:

'echo' and 'upon this rock'

'this house' and 'a tear in the fabric'

'the caryatid rests, 'gheto vechio', and 'gondola'

and a peak at some other artists' work:

mallory powell

beth gilmore and brittany halstead

liz delorey

karen hays

karen hays

this stuff in on sale cheap! most linocuts and monotypes are priced from $20 to $50.

Friday, November 24, 2006

so, this one is untitled for now, but it's done.

i don't quite know what to call this one yet, but it's part of the story for sure. i'm not sure how it fits in yet, i haven't even decided what it means to me. hot off the press i guess.


detail 1

detail 2

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

greek women sure were strong

in greek architecture, a caryatid is a sculpted column formed to look like a woman in some rather uncomfortable position, and to me, i thought this one needed a break.

'the caryatid rests'

linocut from relief class

here's the first print from relief printing class this fall.
single color linocut with 3 color chine colle.

'of life and the knowledge of good and evil'

in progress

i've been experimenting with a new technique for photographic printmaking, and this is an example. still in progress, it needs a couple details worked out. the photo images are printed by making a plate from a specially treated velum that is used to put a photocopy onto. then you use a rubberized ink to print with. the funniest part is that you need to treat the plate with toothpaste and water in order for the non pigmented areas to resist the ink. crazy, and i love it.

into thy hands...

a tear in the fabric

a tear in the fabric

sometimes i just see stuff in my head and i have to get it onto paper before i go nuts. i could tell you what this one is about, but i'd be making it up.

fabric; detail

fabric; detail

i'm just a dreamboat, i guess.

echo; detail

lately, the free form side of me has been winning and i have been experimenting a bit with drawings over monotype backgrounds. as i make the backgrounds, i try to concentrate on what i am thinking about or feeling inside, i want the way that the ink flows across the plate to reflect what's going on with me. then, as they dry, i just sit back and look. the background pretty much tells me what to make from it. then i dive in with pen, pencil, paint, and marker, and get results that i am relatively happy with.

i wish i could articulate my process a little better. but if i could write well, i wouldn't need to make these pictures. i have 2 completed, one on the easel right now, and about 8 or 10 more in my head. this one is called 'echo' and probably has something to do with self image and the delicate balance of the world, or something like that.


echo; detail

echo; detail

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

gorilla marketing

i have been thinking about a marketing scheme to promote my art in a bit of a semi legal guerilla type fashion, but i am also rethinking the general gow pseudonym as an identity for myself. anyway, i like the images, but i am not sure of the identity. here they are for now. this blog is a mess, really disorganized, and in no particular order. but i figure it is best to have it down on 'paper' in any case.

Friday, November 03, 2006

heart, mind, and soul

for my first show, i wanted to create a work about the fragility of the connection between two people and the effort it takes to make it all work. this series of seven drypoint etchings is what i came up with. not as 'mature' as my newer work, it definitely reveals a good bit of compositional simplicity, but the naivete reveals something real about what was going on with me at the time. i made these in the fall of 2005, about a year ago.

your heart

your mind

your soul

in our next life, love me this way

my soul

my mind

my heart

Thursday, November 02, 2006

blast from the past

i did a little experimentation with drypoint etching on plexiglas a couple semesters ago, and i liked the way i could essentially draw on the plate to get a very natural line. i will be taking an in depth intaglio class next semester and working with this technique among others, hopefully using copper plate to get softer, more predictable lines, and better results. here are a few random prints. to follow is a group that i did as a series of 7.

christmas nap

i am not ashamed

one man's work^

Monday, June 19, 2006

art show recovery

the show went swell. great turn out. great music. great people. great food (thank you, mom!).

charlie and i each sold some work, and i am particularly happy with the reactions that mine got.

i'll show some below, and hopefully i'll get my hands on some more pics from the evening.

i sold two of this print, 'burano' 11x15 linocut and water color additions on paper.

sold one of these, 'gheto vechio' 11x15, linocut on paper.

and i may have a buyer for one of these, 'gondola' 11x15 two color linocut on paper.

i guess folks like venice. i may need to go back again for more inspiration.

here's one more,

'andy warhol's jesus, or jesus loves the little children'
linocut and chine colle on paper, 22x30.

sorry for the reflection from the flash.

anyway, karen and i have another show at the stoughton public library running from july 1 through august 31. i think i will show my 3 monotypes, which you havent seen yet, and the 3 venice prints. karen is showing her accordian book opened to the full length of 14 feet. should be good exposure to a new audience and someplace for the work to hang before the print show at school in september.

thanks to all who ventured out, it was a great evening.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

hot rod art

I recently began a series of prints of hot rods and custom cars that I have some affinity to. Once I completed the first proofs, I posted a tech article on the HAMB where I spend far too much time looking at hot rod stuff. It is a great place to hang out if you are an old car junky, and they are very supportive of the arts, hosting a Friday Art Show each week. I have posted the article below as it appears on the HAMB. Check the HAMB out here:

So after many years of watching with awe the art that is posted on the Friday art show every week, and after being continually impressed with the quality of the tech posts that come through here every week, I have decided to do my own brand of tech- ART TECH. Now I don’t usually make car related art. Most of my stuff lately has been soul searching stuff, not wuite self portrait work in the stricted ‘Rembrandt’ sense, but definitely about me. And I have been exploring with some printmaking methods that are a bit ‘out there.’

But I do often work in linoleum for printmaking because it makes such a nice simple looking picture. I love the high contrast of single color prints in black and white.

I have been thinking for quite some time about what I would do if I ever tried anything with auto related art, and I decided that I would do lino cuts of cars that really blow me away. I have a short list and I will work from that. There are a couple here on the HAMB that slay me every time I see them so I figured I would start with one of those. And what car could better exemplify the HAMB than Bob Bleed’s roadster? It has a great history, strong family ties, and still runs strong today, evolving as time goes by, getting better with age. There are a couple others too, that will come later, including av8paul’s roadster and kevin lee’s (grimlok) modified. I think the Calori coupe will probably make its way to paper soon too.

Anyway, I thought that I would chronicle the process for my own contribution to keeping this board about cars, art, and the process of creating something other than drama.

Oh, one last thing before we get to the tech; I will be printing an edition of 30 of each of these plates. Number 1 from the edition will go to a HAMB Auction to raise money to keep Ryan’s little bench racing effort afloat, the others will go to the classifieds to be offered for sale. So keep an eye out. Now on with the show.

First, we start with a sheet of linoleum, untreated (you can’t really use flooring tiles), and transfer the image you are using to the sheet with carbon paper. What you don’t see here is the drawing I did from a photo of Bob’s car that was then transferred to the lino.

Next, I bust out the tool kit

And get started. Watch out, these suckers are sharp.

Now I start carving, cutting away the areas I want to stay white, leaving that which will be black. After about 2 or 3 hours, it’s starting to look like something.

And then I carve some more. After another couple hours, it looks like this.

At this point I put some ink on a plexi plate and roll out out smooth with a brayer. Once the ink is nice and velvety, I roll it onto the lino plate with the brayer. I didn’t really show this step because I figured no one would really be interested in seeing a black splotch on plexi and newspaper. The next step is probably the best. Pulling the first print is like Christmas morning. You really get a chance to see what you’ve done. The ink that I use at home is a water based intaglio ink, and to print relief needs an oil additive. This process takes a little work to get going and I usually have to pull 3 or 4 prints to get the look I want. I am using Akua Intaglio Lamp Black for this particular edition.

When I have access to the press at school, I use a beautiful Praga printmaking press from Canada. When I am home, I use an old bookbinding press from the late 1800s. These presses were originally used to hold the pieces of a book together while it was glued and sewn together. For my purposes, it prints relief plates like my linocut quite well. It does require a good deal of elbow grease to get a good impression on the paper, a sure sign is a nice little embossing around the edges.

I lay the plate and paper in the press, making a little sandwich with a piece of cardboard and a couple felt blankets. The blankets go on top, allowing the paper to conform to the plate and create that embossing.

Wind the wheel clockwise, pushing the top plate down into the base, and then wind it back out again. Pull the paper off the plate and voila! A nice little linocut print of Bleed’s roadster. This is the second pull I took. I made a few more cuts after the first pull. This is a good example of why you should make several proofs before starting the edition with your good paper though, because if you look under the grille, you can see a white area. That was caused by a little shard of linoleum that was cut away. It got stuck in the wet ink and I never saw it. No problem, wipe it away, and re-ink the plate and pull another. In this state, the plate is ready to print the edition, so now I will tear my good paper to size and print the edition tomorrow.

Look for the edition to be available in the classifieds in the next day or two. I will probably bring some with me to the HAMB Drags too.

Oh, and if I make a print based on your car, you get a print too, if you want it. So Bob, if you see this, PM me and I’ll send one out to you.

Hope you liked a glimpse into my workshop. I can’t chop the top of a 37 Chevy, but I like to contribute if I can. Thanks for looking.