Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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Riding the rails, part two…

If you know me at all, you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for printmaking. After seeing the room with California faience tiles at the Crocker Museum of art, we walked to the gallery room next door and there was another wonderland! Multicolored block prints by an Arts and Crafts master.

William S. Rice came to California in the early 1900″s, originally to Stockton and then to Alameda and Oakland. He was a public school art teacher and art administrator for their school systems. He wrote two books, including Block Prints: How to Make Them and traveled through California making art before population influx had changed it. If you ever look at old Sunset Magazines, you might see his work on its covers.

From the Crocker Museum website:

Rice was a prolific painter of the California landscape but is today better known as a printmaker, one who authored two books on the process and executed every print himself. He applied the classic Japanese art of ukiyo-e (woodblock printing, or “pictures of the floating world”) to images of the West, where he moved in 1900. This exhibition brings to light many of the artist’s accomplishments, including several never-before-exhibited pieces capturing the California landscape before development.

The exhibit had many of his water colors but I was entranced by his block prints.

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In particular I enjoyed the demonstration of the multi-block nature of his printmaking work.

Lonerock-Santa Cruz

Lone Rock-Santa Cruz, c. 1935

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Progressive layers of the block printing process for Lone Rock-Santa Cruz

This demonstration of how he went from pencil sketch, to etching, to block print was masterful!

Leona Live Oaks pencil live study etching block print

Leona Live Oaks
pencil live study
etching
block print

The block prints themselves swept me away. (My apologies for the reflections on the surfaces, very hard to get away from that when there is excellent museum lighting on glass framed works.)

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The Lumberdock-San Francisco Bay c. 1917

The Lumberdock-San Francisco Bay
c. 1917

Pt. Lobos Cypress c.1925

Pt. Lobos Cypress
c.1925

Moonlight-Eucalypti c. 1920

Moonlight-Eucalypti
c. 1920

Carmel Pines c. 1920

Carmel Pines
c. 1920

Hollyhock Garden c.1925

Hollyhock Garden
c.1925

Blue Gums-Berkeley c. 1917

Blue Gums-Berkeley
c. 1917

Clear Lake c.

Clear Lake
c. 1920

Nuthatches and Iris c.1930

Nuthatches and Iris
c.1930

Source of the Glacier c. 1920

Source of the Glacier
c. 1920

Sierra Sunrise c. 1925

Sierra Sunrise
c. 1925

Mot-Mot Bird n.d.

Mot-Mot Bird
n.d.

Sleepyhead c.1930

Sleepyhead
c.1930

Parrot and Butterfly c. 1925

Parrot and Butterfly
c. 1925

Magnolia Grandiflora c. 1930

Magnolia Grandiflora
c. 1930

White Calla c.1925

White Calla
c.1925

Dessert Butter c. 1930

Dessert Butter
c. 1930

Mt. Diablo 1929

Mt. Diablo
1929

Dancing Pine c. 1925

Dancing Pine
c. 1925

Guardian of the Timberline c.1924

Guardian of the Timberline
c.1924

Ancient Oak-Mt. Hamilton c. 1918

Ancient Oak-Mt. Hamilton
c. 1918

 

 


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The Rock, the Gulls, and Fish from the Sea…

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We spent January’s MLK Weekend at the Morro Bay Bird Festival. We used to be faithful participants, but for the last two years we had not attended. This year we registered early, got all the workshops we wanted, and were set to enjoy beautiful weather (in the 70’s and clear as a bell…January, no less!). Friday we arrived in time for Terry’s 3:00 workshop on identifying seagulls…the whole weekend he kept showing me his knowledge (evidently, they are tricky to identify because there are so many different kinds of them.) Then we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Bay Cafe soaking in the old sights, the smell of the sea, and having the first of many meals featuring fish. Oh, and there was a sunset.

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The next morning, Terry was off early to a field trip looking for Golden Eagles (successful) and I strolled through Morro Bay’s commercial district (about three blocks of that). After lunch, I went to my workshop on drawing birds while Terry went kayaking on the bay.

I walked into the Natural History Museum for my class and the sky looked like this:

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Drew for a few hours…

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and when I came out four hours later, the sky had turned to this…

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What a place! The next morning, we were both up and on field trips by 7:45. I don’t know what Terry saw, but I birded with a group that went toward Turri Road and over to parts of Los Osos. The Central Coast was looking so good…

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I met my old friend, Kathy, who lives in Atascadero, for lunch and we drove up to Cayucos for some fabulous salmon tacos. Couldn’t walk on the pier, though, as it is under construction.

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Ahh, the hours I spent on that beach in my youth… That evening we ate at The Galley (more fish) and had another spectacular sunset to enjoy…

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This is the Townsend’s Warbler that I drew in my class and the block print I made from it when I got home…

warbler

I definitely would not mind looking at that kind of sky every day…


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Collagraphs…

The reason that I ended up with two boutiques on the same weekend in December was that I had taken a class last fall through Walnut Creek Civic Arts. If you take a class then you are invited to participate in the sale. I had taken a printmaking class and had a great time. The facility has a large etching press that is wonderful, so, along with block prints I made some collagraphs which I fell in love with doing. It is not like I need to go out and buy any textured papers to create these things, right? I ripped of the back cardboard from every pad of paper in the house and set to gluing. Then I coated the printing plates with layers and layers of gloss medium so the water-based ink could be washed off after the printing was done. Once they were printed I could not leave them alone. You know me, they also got some collage elements added on top and additional printing and coloring. Here is a sampling…

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These two were printed on Rives BFK paper with two printing plates one for the background textures and the other with the animal.

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These were printed on rice paper more like a block print would be rather than with the press. They were embellished with water color and colored pencils along with collage elements.

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This had a background made with a collagraph on the etching press but then had silk screens added on top.

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These were carving blocks I made and stamped on background paper. In the bottom one some of the paper had been sent through my inkjet printer but the paper tore. What to do but tear it some more and emphasize it.

Had so much fun I am taking the class again so I can use that wonderful press and make more collagraphs!


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Battered suitcases…

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”—Jack Kerouac, “On the Road” (1957)

Yes it is true, we are hitting the road again. This time to Umbria and Venice. When I return I will finally use the book I made in the “Ticket to Venice” class I took many long months ago. It will hold all the ephemera I collect and photos I take. (Classes are on sale right now, hurry, before Mary Ann Moss gets back from Amsterdam!)

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My journal turned out too big for a suitcase (or I am getting smarter about packing), but in the interim what will make it into my valise is this:

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The cover is laminated paper I made (lots of scraps layered with gel medium) and it has a soft, flat binding.

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The inside has Fabiano Artistico paper and inserts from Gelli prints I have been making. (We will be quite near the Fabiano factory!)

Some pages have stencils gessoed on them (you won’t be able to see it until I watercolor on top. I have been a virtual dervish of rubber stamp carving so there are stamps put on with StazOn ink and then water colored inside.

book1

A pocket on the back cover holding extra watercolor squares and tracing paper.

The next few weeks will not be filled with nuages, wine labels, and Deux Chevaux. Instead they will be filled with nuvoli, wine labels, and Fiats. Two weeks near Spoleto and then a week in Venice. The really fun part is that we will be meeting old friends Chris and Darrell from Pasadena (we met more than thirty years ago when we lived one house away from each other in Redlands, CA.) The last few months, every time we have communicated we have signed off by saying, “See you in Orvieto, in front of the Duomo at 10:00.) It will be this coming Friday. Excitement! (Oh, the best thing ever…TM on this, our fifth trip, has given me the gift of Economy Plus…the BEST 5 inches ever!)

Busy packing, but here is a collage I made after our trip to Italy two years ago (that time it was Florence and Tuscany, but we hopped over the border into Umbria for a day trip so we could see Orvieto.) Think of us on Friday, standing here in front.

Orvietto

I will be blogging, hopefully a little easier this time as both apartments have Wifi. You will be happy to hear that I have new music selections for my movies…I know, I know…relief!

One of my favorite columnists in the San Francisco Chronicle (Leah Garchik) has a section called “Public Eavesdropping”. I leave you with this item from her column:

“Do you speak English?’

“Why yes, certainly.”

“Oh, good. I wonder, could you direct me to the Renaissance?”

—Conversation between two female tourists at the Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence by Roberto


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Pattern, Color, Printing…

Pattern          Color          Printing

While in Provence, we went to the factory where Les Olivades fabrics are printed. These are the iconic “Pierre Deux” fabrics characteristic of Provence. I was excited to see the silk-screen process. (You may remember that when I entered my first Duomo in Italy I decided my goal was to become the intern sitting on the floor cleaning ancient mosaics with a tooth-brush; when I marbled paper in a paper store in Florence I wanted to hire on to be their “marbler”; and Paris made me think I could get hired to paint walls the colors that the Musee D’Orsay has chosen.) Now that I have returned from Provence I want to follow in the steps of the many Cheesemen I saw in the marches (my friend Lisa and I have signed up for a cheese making class in August) and I keep wondering why I spent so many years in that classroom when I could have been learning how to be a master-printer at Les Olivades? The process is very similar to EZScreen printing which I love because its cleanup is with water. Here is my iMovie of the process: (You can make it full screen by clicking the square to the left of the word Vimeo.)

pillowThe pillow I bought at the factory store. (Any one else have a husband that hates pillows on the couch? geez, I felt like I was bringing back contraband!)

patternsPatterns for a class with guru Mary Ann Moss here and an inkjet transparency of a photo I took of the clock at the Musee D’Orsay ready to be made into a silk screen. Fun is happening here!


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The elephant in the room…

or, as it is known in some circles, pondering the pachyderm…

“When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”
Abraham Lincoln

I spent a lot of time in front of the elephants at the Oakland Zoo a few weeks ago. Since then, I have been thinking about them often. I have early memories of circuses and zoos as my father would take us as kids along  (with his sketchbook) to any circus that came through town. Many family day trips were to the Griffith Park or San Diego Zoos for him to catch up with his animal keeper friends and get some drawing done. I think I associate sketchbooks with the smell of hay and peanuts. After I entered school and questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” became pressing, when I asked my dad what was his he would say: “elephant’s breath grey.” (When I was an art teacher I often thought that the name should be submitted to Crayola for their boxes.) Even though his name was Charles, my father had gotten the nick name of Chang when he was in art school. The name came from an elephant in the zoo that was his favorite to draw and he was always known by the name afterward. He kept a record of every elephant’s history that was in the United States and wrote articles and a book on circus history. So, when I ponder elephants, I really ponder elephants from a long family history.

My parents on an early date…………….Wait for it…

My dad is just off camera holding the pole. Even though he took her into a lion’s cage, my mother married him anyway!

The “elephant in the room” is always very literal with me because I have so many on my walls…

A watercolor from 1940 of raising a circus tent:

My father also made lithographs.  (During World War II he was stationed in Texas for Officer’s Training School where he learned lithography from Merritt Mauzey.) When he got out of the war, he purchased a lithograph press with a war bond his brother gave him. (I think in celebration of them both having survived the war.) That press was always stored in our garage.

“Circus Sunrise” 1942

Babe and Jenny, 1952.

In the 60’s and 70’s he loved doing acrylic ink dry brush paintings. He used to rave about the way he could build up the tone with layers of ink. He did a lot in black and white ink, but some were in color. He also painted in oil, but I do not have any elephants painted in that medium, lots of clowns in oil, though.

The top of my piano also includes the death-defying Stella griping a rope by her teeth and a porcelain elephant sculpture by my good friend Jan Mrozinski Crooker (before she was a plein air painter she worked in porcelain).

When I was a production potter, back in the day, I often used the circus as a theme, also.

Photos of old porcelain boxes with new application of iPhone alteration.

It was a natural thing for me to use an elephant as the subject of a collage for a class I have been taking on-line from Misty Mawn.

I used every “elephant’s breath grey” paper I could find around here for the elephant plus a photo of a bird house I own that is shaped like an elephant and a photo of an exotic yellow bird I took at the rain forest exhibit at the Academy of Sciences last week. Of course, once I had taken the iPhone photo of the paper collage, I just had to start layering it with other images in my files. First with a photo of a side of a barn plastered with circus posters announcing the date of the next circus…

Then with a photo of a wheel of a circus wagon…

“Words are cheap. The biggest thing you can say is ‘elephant’.”
Charlie Chaplin