Monday, March 31, 2014

Love is an ever

fixed mark that is never shaken

linocut on handmade paper, 2014
 My latest linocut on handmade paper
linocut on handmade paper, edition of 3
 is inspired by Shakespeare's Sonnet 116
detail of linocut on handmade paper, 2014
Made paper from cotton pulp and up-cycled papers.  Dyed wet pulp using turmeric and red pigments.  Formed sheets using deckle and mold.  Pressed wet sheets in a drying press for 4 days before printing linocut with high quality ink (Charbonnel).  Untrimmed deckled edges give paper character and highlight the handmade process.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Night Wind

Life moves forward
Silkscreen and monoprint on black paper, 2014
when all is dark
Silkscreen and monoprint on black paper, 2014
Edition of 4 prints
star-crossed voyager

Saturday, March 29, 2014

History, Art, Politics, Culture


Taiwanese Postage Stamps, pre-1911 (Imperial Period)

I love stamps.  I appreciate the stories behind them and the craftsmanship involved in creating them.  When I visit the National Postal Museum, there is always a knowledgeable guide or volunteer philately expert to answer any questions I may have.  It seems the more I know about stamps, the more questions I have. 

I was sad to miss the curator-led tour of the newly opened Pacific Exchange: China & U.S. Mail exhibition on March 8th.  So when I recently visited the museum, I was just going to browse around. To my surprise, I met the perfect guide: A young elegant Taiwanese lady named Nana.   
A box of stamps at the interactive table.
Nana was sitting at one of the interactive displays in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. This one allowed visitors to select six stamps from three large plastic containers and take them home.  FREE.  When I sat at the table, Nana had just finished searching through hundreds of stamps and she was arranging them in a certain order.  I was curious and asked her about her stamps.

Taiwanese Stamps with Sun Yat-sen, post 1911
Nana patiently translated the stamps to me, pointing out historical and cultural symbols. She explained why the monetary values on the bottom left of the "post 1911" stamps had so many zeros.  She said that the exorbitant currency amount on the stamps -- 50 million, 10 million, and 2 billion--  reflected the inflation of that time.

When I sat down to select my six stamps, I wondered what cultural, political and historical information my stamps would contain.

Later, I learned that Sun Yat-sen is on two American postage stamps.  One with Abraham Lincoln in 1942, and one by himself in 1961.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gilded artist's books & matching clamshell boxes

What do I do with all these prints I've been posting?
Detail image of page from artist's book Voice of Shadow, 2014
 I turn 90% of them into artist's books.
pages from artist's book Voice of Shadow, 2014
Voice of Shadow
28 pages, 10 linocut prints, and two pages of original poetry
center page from Voice of Shadow, 2014
 The cover of the book and its matching clamshell box are gilded with genuine 14kt silver leaf.
Gilded silver artist's book and box
Gilded silver book inside Chiyogami lined silver gilded matching box.  Voice of Shadow, 2014
I like to buy my supplies from Talas.   When I lived in NYC I visited their store often, now I order online.  They specialize in conservation, bookbinding, and archival supplies.  They are very reliable!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How do I love thee?

Let Me Count the Ways!,  2014
(inspiration for my new Venus & Adonis artist's book)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pulp, Paper, Print

Paper making is a highly artistic craft
Linocut on handmade black paper, 2014
that has taken me years to understand.
Linocut on handmade paper dyed with turmeric, 2014
I appreciate the experiments: Frustrating days of endless trials and errors in order to get the precise measurements and formulas for the perfect paper recipes.
Final proof of linocut, 2014
Making the pulp is just as important as making a complex mold, an intricate cast or a linocut.
Details of texture -- remnants of text from ex-library book, 2014
I now know how to get the colors I want, the textures I adore, and the durability I need for my prints and artist's books.

Monday, March 24, 2014

the hand of God

Bronze Sculpture by Auguste Rodin, (cast 1909 - 1918)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
The Hand of God by Auguste Rodin, (modeled 1896 - 1908)

The Hand of God, by August Rodin, bronze
Inspiration comes from many sources.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Andy Warhol & his museum

by Suzanne Coley
They "museum" differently.
The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
In the North Shore neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh is the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist, The Andy Warhol Museum.  The museum is an impressive seven story building with thousands of paintings, prints, drawings, film, sculptures, and videos by Andy Warhol.
The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
Don't look for somber guards in blue uniforms.  Here, staff look and dress like enthusiastic artists who are ready to talk about any art technique, art work, and video in the museum.

What I enjoyed most about my recent visit was Warhol's 1940s student art work and his 1950s commercial illustrations.  Currently on display, on the seventh floor gallery, are photographs, documents, and images of Warhol's life growing up in Pittsburgh.  You will see his original report card during his first semester at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon University) as well as his first drawings and class projects.
Enjoying my visit at The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
The Andy Warhol Museum is an interactive museum like no other.  The Silver Clouds room is amazing and really puts you in the spirit of the creative mind.  You walk into this glowing room filled with lots of large shiny silver helium balloons that move with air currents. Shaped like pillows, these playful balloons are everywhere, moving with you as you walk around.  Fun.  Fun.  Fun.  Spectacular!
Larger than life exhibits, The Andy Warhol Museum, 2014
Another unique feature of The Warhol is their basement Education Center.  It is really a little studio or Factory that encourages hands-on participation. Visitors create art works using some of Andy Warhol's famous techniques: the blotted line drawings and silkscreen printing. The friendly artists and educators give demonstrations of these techniques and then encourage you to try them.  I really enjoyed the blot drawings.  And, you can take your creations home!

The museum goes beyond presenting artwork and its history as a fixed body, instead they present art as an ever-changing process. The museum is no longer a building with exhibits and plaques on the walls: it has become an action verb.

The museum offers an opportunity to engage in discourse on art & aesthetics, critical thinking and art criticism.  Curators change the displays and exhibitions every few months, offering different ways of viewing Andy Warhol's art and analyzing it on a larger platform -- the purpose of art and the role of the artist in our society. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sam Gilliam, Luminary


When I look at Sam Gilliam's art, I feel.  
 I feel emotions that don't have words.
Elegy # 2, by Sam Gilliam, 1980
How do I "read" the language of Elegy #2?  (cause it is talking to me!)   
Color & Texture

Gray offers a calm respite from the mayhem of yellow and deep blue fighting for attention.  Reading the work from left to right I see three different panels with somber black painted dead smack in the middle of the left.  Raucous reds and blues in the middle, running, escaping to the right side -- this is what moves me most. This isn't our ideal of beautiful, instead Elegy #2 offers a glimpse of  the art of the sublime that philosophers Burke and Kant wrote about.

As an artist I appreciate the technical genius of this handmade paper.  In several areas, the whole is divided into sections by sharply angled embossed textures, offering rough and smooth surfaces, suggesting moods.  I am not sure if the embossed textures were created when the fibers were formed (while it was wet pulp) or after the sheet was dry.  However, if the texture was created during the wet pulp stage, then this is more amazing.  Paper is malleable, yes, but when it is wet, it is still fragile and can easily tear.  Also, it's easy to lose the embossed textures once you begin monoprinting and applying oils and drawing on the paper.   

I could go on, however I think this is enough to get a sense of how Sam Gilliam's art moves me.  After all, everyone experiences art in his own way.

According to Spaightwood Galleries, Elegy # 2 is part of a mixed media series of 4 monoprints on thick handmade paper printed at the Jones Road Print Shop with William Weege in 1980.
Elegy 2, Sam Gilliam, 1980 (detail)
It is my pleasure to introduce Sam Gilliam.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Working on a series of silkscreens.  
Silkscreen: First color run
Letting the prints dry before applying the 2nd color
Second color run.
I'm not sure if I will print something else on them.

created in Baltimore
by Suzanne Coley

Sunday, March 16, 2014

True Love

Even though I love making paper and creating works on paper, 
my true love is large scale abstract paintings.
silver paintings with handwritten equations,  Suzanne Coley
silver paintings placed side by side
Large paintings need large spaces:  
It is easier to put them on the floor and paint away.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Reading works of art

silkscreen by Suzanne Coley
Mapping my fingers as I draw, 2014 
I wonder if it is important to understand why an artist creates a particular work?
What techniques she uses?  Why does the artist choose one technique over another?
What were his influences?  How does the art make a person feel?  How does the art make the artist feel?  Does the work of art hold up a mirror to the world and reflect reality?   Is the work more understandable with text attached to it?  What happens to a piece of art when the artist destroys it, leaving only the digital print behind?

spatial-temporal reasoning in Baltimore
by Suzanne Coley

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Negative, Positive

 Some days, to get to the positive
I must go through the negative.
Linocut from artist's book Geometry of Chaos (printed in the negative)
Art allows me to work it all out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Book Arts in Baltimore

Saturday was spent teaching book arts to teenagers
at the Reginald Lewis Museum in Baltimore.
Only with teenagers can you have this much fun creating inspiring books.
 And play with Gesso.  
And play a little more as we practice the technical side of making covers.
Practice makes perfect.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Women's Day, 2014

from Algeria to Zimbabwe
from Afghanistan to Yemen
from Australia to Vanuatu
from Antigua and Barbuda to the United States
from Argentina to Venezuela
from Albania to Vatican City
Happy international women's day

 Google's amazing Doodle & Video

Thursday, March 6, 2014


scorner of sentiment and emotion
Linocut on handmade paper from ex-library book, 2014

When I create paper from discarded books, sometimes
the text that survives is the most interesting thing.

created in Baltimore
by Suzanne Coley

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