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A printmaker's progress


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Paper Dreams


Paper Dreams

Paper Dreams

I am thrilled to finally unveil my latest large piece, Paper Dreams, which was completed in 2015. Paper Dreams is probably the most complex and considered artwork I have created to date. Below is the artist statement I prepared for the work.

“Paper Dreams is a complex paper and wood sculpture created as a meditation on the impermanence and fragility of our dreams. Designed to loosely resemble paper strips going through a shredder, it consists of multiple photopolymer gravure prints with poetry, and reflects a significant period in my artistic life. By cutting and discarding portions of these prints, I surrendered the life I had created for them. In doing so I was able to create something new and beautiful, demonstrating how destruction and creation often go hand in hand, as do fragility and resilience.”

The idea for Paper Dreams began with a desire to create a complex paper construct made up of multiple hand-pulled prints, which would provide glimpses of figures in various moments and moods. This would be achieved through a combination of layering, folding and cutting of the prints. I had, over the years, created a large number of figurative works on paper, and in a decisive moment of clarity I realized what I truly wished to achieve. I wanted to create an artwork that represented who I was as an artist at this moment in time. Gathering all these images together in one piece would be one way to do that. At the same time, by tearing and discarding portions of these prints I was letting go of the life and dreams I had created for them individually. This was not an easy thing to do. I chose prints that I had deep connection to for their meaning and quality, as well as the treasured experience of creating them. They were an integral part of my life as an artist and a woman. Many of them were self portraits. By shredding them I was letting go of my own dreams. And in the letting go I found that I was able to create something new and beautiful with its own new life and meaning.

Below is a photo of the initial stages of layering and ordering the images. Some of the prints had to be cut and collaged onto new stips of paper to fit well. Here you see them before any collaging was done.

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Paper Dreams in progress

Several new prints were created for the piece as well, and new and old poems were added throughout the work, all with dream motifs.  While choosing the images for the piece I realized that the word “dream” had been used in a good many of the individual artwork titles. Where I could, I left these visible. Below is a detail showing some of the poetry.

Paper Dreams, detail

Paper Dreams, detail

The photo above also shows how the layering affords mere glimpses at times of the images behind the front layers. I decided early on that this piece would be unframed and the poetry would be written in pencil, as this was an essential part of the theme of fragility. It was also necessary in order to lift layers to see those behind.

To anchor the pieces of paper I chose two strips of maple cut from one piece sliced in half and which had a  gorgeous live edge on the top. I found it rummaging through Detlef Grundmann’s woodworking shop and commissioned him to cut and sand it to size for me. I then finished it with GAC on the inside for a protective barrier where the paper would adhere to and with a finishing wax everywhere else. The pieces of paper were then glued on in four layers, two to the back piece and two to the front piece of wood. Finally the two pieces of wood were joined together as shown below. The back piece was wired like a regular frame for hanging

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Clamping the wood pieces together.

Below is a side view of the artwork showing its three dimensionality.

paper Dreams, side view

Paper dreams, side view

The title, Paper Dreams, works on several levels. It refers to the nature of the materials used in the artwork, wood and paper being the same material in different stages of creation. Primarily it denotes the fragile and transitory nature of life, attachments and desires and the deeply personal perspectives from which we view our world and ourselves.

Paper Dreams will have it’s unveiling at the 2016 Sooke Fine Art Show this July 22 – August 1 at the SEAPARK Complex in Sooke, BC. There will be a Purchaser’s Preview evening on Thursday, July 21, 7-10pm and an Artists’ Celebration on July 23, 7-10pm. If you are in the area please do visit the show and enjoy the many fabulous artworks on display.

To whet your appetite here is a final detail of the artwork.

Paper Dreams, detail

Paper Dreams, detail 2

Paper Dreams, photopolymer gravure on paper on wood, 34″x33″

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Photo Fridays – Gabriola Sunset


sunset shadows

sunset shadows

Sunset is my favorite time to shoot. Shadows are long, sunbursts are magical, backlighting creates powerful contrasts and colors are rich and warm. No wonder it’s called the golden hour.

As promised here are some pics from Gabriola Island, taken at sunset, on a gloriously hot summer day. Enjoy and have a great weekend in the sunshine!


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Photo Fridays – The End is the Beginning


My First Studio

My First Studio

Endings are just beginnings for something new. This is the thought I hold fast to as I contemplate leaving my art studio.

About seven years ago I opened the School House Studio, forming an artist co-op with three other artists. It was in the Metchosin Elementary School, the old portion of which had been converted into The Metchosin Arts and Cultural Center. The image above is of me standing outside the door to my studio, early on, when we were the only renters and before the building got a facelift.

Since that time an art gallery and other studios have opened, and some have closed, and my studio mates have changed numerous times. Below is an image of an early incarnation of the studio.

School House Studio

School House Studio

In addition to being a place to create my own art, the studio has served as a place for me to teach printmaking and drawing classes, host art events and shows, film video clips, have photo shoots and of course, share a cup of tea with many who have visited. It has often felt like a second home and has been a refuge from the world when I needed one. More images of the studio in use below.

The etching press

The etching press

Inking a plate

Inking a plate

Printmaking class

Printmaking class

It is with very mixed feelings that I say goodbye to this studio which has been a huge part of my life for a long time. Just like with a home, I must put aside any dreams for a future there as I move away. But unlike a home I will take with me the community of artists and art lovers that I have become a part of through the studio into my new work space. In the end, it is this community that forms the foundation for my future more than any place.

I will be leaving the studio at the end of April. If you are in the neighborhood do stop in for a cup of tea before then.
I will also be having a huge closing studio sale on April 12 from 1-5pm. There will be tons of artwork, and other art related stuff like frames and tables, for sale. Yes, I am very prolific! There will also be an online sale on Friday, the 11th. More details to follow.

Wishing everyone a wonderful, creative weekend!

 

 


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Winter Solstice – Lighting the Way


Sandcut Sunset

Sandcut Sunset

              For the earth turns
While the dark night sings to the dawn

                          Too long December

Today is the winter solstice. It marks the day when the earth tilt begins to bring it closer to the sun, starting the lengthening of our daylight hours once again. As we move out of the darkness our spirits lift with the brighter days. For many this is a solemn moment in the year to be celebrated. It is no coincidence that Christmas falls around the winter solstice, for Jesus is worshipped for bringing light and hope to a troubled world. While I am not a religious person I do embrace spirituality, for I feel it is our path to an enlightened life. And I do believe that the light is there within us, wanting to be brought forth.

A few years ago I wrote a post around the winter solstice. It was a difficult piece to write, and when I reread it, it still brings tears to my eyes. Whenever the winter solstice comes around I am reminded of it, of how it resonated with so many, but also of the charge I laid on myself then to live life fully and true to myself. I think I am about waist deep in the sea now.


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Music Mondays – Slowwwwww It Down


Today’s song is one of Coldplay’s lovely tender pieces that I was lucky to see performed on stage. It’s lyrics are particularly poignant for me as another birthday looms and,  following it, big changes in the new year.

Please life won’t you just slow down a little?

Us Against the World by Coldplay

And below is the magic these boys create on stage. Enjoy.


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Tuesday Tales – Reflections On Water


Water Sprite

Water Sprite

A few years ago, I put together a show called Mirror, Mirror. In this show I explored themes of self perception as seen through the eyes of others. When creating the works for the show, I wanted to include one artwork that used water as the mirror. One of the thoughts I wanted to put forth was the importance of the clarity of the mirror in presenting what it shows, for the clearer the mirror the more true will be the reflection. Or in the case of people, the more free of preconceptions or misperceptions they are, the more honestly they will see you.

Water, being such a motile and refractable medium, easily affected by conditions surrounding it, would act as a good metaphor for a person who is unable to perceive you clearly and fully due to their own internal and situational circumstances. For this piece, I photographed my reflection in a bathtub filled with water. The bathtub, being under a skylight, reflected some branches and leaves just outside the window, making the figure appear outdoors rather than inside. The light, being dim, was only able to capture the forms in silhouette. This worked very well for what I was trying to express. With the figure turned away from the viewer and the forms barely discernable through the abstract swirls of paint, the viewer is offerd only a small obscured glimpse of the person, and therefore left to wonder and form their own opinions with minimal “clarification”. In the second print below, I increased the level of bewilderment even further by turning the figure upside down and painting greater movement and abstraction into the piece. The figure is seen as through a fog, the fog serving to symbolize the cloudiness of our own assumptions about others, and how important it is to clear that fog in order to see each other more clearly.

Water Sprite 2

Water Sprite 2

At the time I created these pieces I was struggling with the fact that vastly different perceptions of me could be had by the people in my life. I understood that distance and poor communication played a large role in this, but in time I realized that the assumptions and conclusions they made often had less to do with me and more to do with their own experience and concerns. And I was left wondering if it is ever possible to see others clearly and fully, for we all carry ourselves and our experiences with us.

Water Sprite and Water Sprite, 2 , both 8″x8″ monoprints on 15″x20″ paper, are offerd this week at $200 each or $350 for both, unframed.

You can contact me at chiarina@charina.com for further info or to purchase.


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Music Mondays- Still


Room With a View

Room With a View

This week’s song is one of my favorites from a band which is generally not known for their mellow sound, but when they do acoustic they do it like nobody’s business!

Still by Foo Fighters. Enjoy!


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Tuesday Tales – A Balancing Act


In Good Company

In Good Company

The Japanese love odd numbers and things off center. When I first lived in Tokyo many years ago I immediately fell in love with their pottery and china but couldn’t fathom why their tea and dinner sets came in groups of five. I thought how awkward this would be for entertaining. Do they have gatherings of two couples with a child or a single person? Is that last place at a table for six always left empty? Or do they buy double sets of everything? They didn’t seem to have particularly large families, or dinner tables for that matter. Quite the opposite. Most Japanese families were small and living in cramped quarters. I soon learned that the number four in Japanese is synonymous with death so that number is avoided. But why five and not six? I received no clear explanation on that. Some said it was to avoid divisible numbers, especially with gift giving, for to be divisible means to be more easily broken. Others claimed this was the ideal family size.

Then came the study of ikebana. I now had to learn to arrange flowers of vastly uneven lengths in odd shaped vases and tilted at extreme angles, all held together in the tiny circle or square of the sharply needled kenzan. While confusing at first, it developed my appreciation for the beauty and the delicate balance of its minimalist design.

In fact I Iearned that balance was key in many aspects of Japanese life, and it was not rooted in evenness or stability but in a dynamic interplay of all things. I brought those lessons to my own life and my own art, and I have learned that the greatest harmony and beauty is achieved not when we have our feet planted firmly on the ground but when we embrace the mutability and precariousness of life.

In the piece above I tried to infuse that sense of delicate harmony and pay tribute to my Japanese sensei. There are five cups but not all the same. The teapot is mirrored with the ghostly presence of another, for comfort is closely tied to the knowledge and memory of treasured traditions. The vertical elements are reminiscent of Japanese scrolls and banners. The colors in the piece are the subdued tones seen in much Japanese art both past and present.

In Good Company, a 12″x16″ monotype, is offered this week for $250, unframed. You can contact me at chiarina@chiarina.com to purchase or for further information.


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Tuesday Tales – Time to Say Goodbye


Wraparound Home

Wraparound Home

I linger in rooms
Vibrating with memories
Time to say goodbye

A few weeks ago and two years after leaving this home, I created this print of a house that was a part of my family’s life for almost two decades. It was a constant throughout our sojourns in foreign lands and a comfort to settle into when the journeying ended. It was the place that saw my children grow into young adults and saw me grow into a welcoming community. It was the abode of dinner parties and  Friday night movies, broom burning and blackberry picking, afternoon winds and moonlit trees, long summer days spent at the beach and quiet winter snowfalls that kept us housebound. But change is an inevitable part of life and the time came when we each had to move on.

As I wandered through the house on my last day there, I photographed the empty rooms, saying my farewells to them, while remembering all the happy and sad times, the important events and the quiet days, the hours of labour and love that went into making this house a home. I shed a few tears for the imagined future that would not occur for our family here. And I left my memories and gave the house over to the new family who would come in and make it their home. I hope they are filling it with more wonderful memories and allowing it to wrap itself around their hearts as it did to my family.

More images of my old house can be seen here.

The print above is not for sale, as it is too dear to part with. However, I am offering a special price for any commissions ordered this week, $100 for a 5″x7″ and $60 for a 3.5″x5″, both on 10″x11″ paper, using a photo that you provide. These can be images of people, pets, homes, anything at all that you would like converted into a unique archival work of art. Email me at chiarina@chiarina.com with a digital photo and I will do the rest, turning your photo into a family heirloom!


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Tuesday Tales – The Seattle Public Library in Print


Diamond Light, 1

Diamond Light, 1

I was reminded recently of my trip to Seattle this past February. It was a little holiday to celebrate both Valentine’s Day and the nearly one year anniversary of my new relationship. While there we stopped into a pet food store and the saleswoman in it remarked on how she had seen us across the street and was delighted to notice what a lovely and loving couple we were. That was one of the highlights of the trip.

Another highlight was to visit the Seattle Public Library. I’d been to Seattle many times but had never been in that building. What a sweet gem it is, with its angled glass and steel frame creating a multitude of diamond panes that sparkle and reflect light in wondrous ways throughout the building. Of course I had to photograph it from every possible angle! You can see some of those pics here.

I took a couple of those images and turned them into etching prints. buildings aren’t my usual subject for my artwork but I thought the architectural forms could translate into interesting abstracts. A second print of Diamond Light is below. Its colors are not as strong as the first but being a ‘ghost’ print it becomes an even more abstracted and impressionistic image.

Diamond Light, 2

Diamond Light, 2

The final print is of a second image, one with a rather ethereal quality that appears both futuristic and retro at the same time. This print is titled Panes Grey, a little play on words alluding to the commonly used artist color, Payne’s Grey, that perfectly reflects the Pacific Northwest quality of light in winter.

Panes Grey

Panes Grey

All three prints are 3.5″x5″ photopolymer gravure monoprints on 10″x11″ paper, offered this week at $60 each, unframed.