Saturday, January 26, 2008

More New Gum Prints

I’m still adjusting to the new semester and being back at school after sabbatical, so my studio work has been progressing more slowly than I’m used to. Having said that, I do have some completed gum bichromate prints to show you, and I have four more in various stages of completion.

All three prints posted here were made from negatives shot with the Holga toy camera. I like the results obtained by making gum prints from Holga photos. The distortions present in photos shot with the Holga pair nicely with the paper texture and impressionistic look of gum prints.

This is one of the rides at Navy Pier, an overpriced, overhyped tourist trap that in my opinion is about the most unpleasant area in the entire city of Chicago. For all it’s unpleasantness, however, it can be pretty photogenic. I like this print a lot. It’s not perfect, but the flaws (most noticeably streaks in the magenta layer) add visual interest to the print. The color works nicely here as well.

Speaking of overhyped tourist areas, this was shot in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco (click on that link, and scroll down to the Culture heading. Click on the photo, and you’ll see a different view of those legs). This print is kind of a disappointment. It was looking pretty good while I was printing all the individual layers, but when it was finished looked dull and flat. Thinking it needed more dark values, I added a second black layer, which didn’t make a significant difference. Oh well, can’t win them all.

This image has been seen on this blog before, it was part of the test file I made to work out the technical details of making digital negatives. I really love this print. Unlike the other gum prints you’ve been seeing in the last few posts, this is a black and yellow duotone, not a four color image. I made a duotone of the image in Photoshop, and separated it into two negatives for printing.

Technically, this image is unfinished. To intensify the colors, both the yellow and black layers should be printed a second time. However, this print was lying around in my studio for a couple of days, and I decided I like it just the way it is. It’s pale, more light yellow and gray in tone, but that seems to fit the image really well. It looks like a still from a Guy Maddin film.

I might remake this print later and print each color twice, just to see how it turns out. I have other plans for it first, however, which if they turn out will probably be in my next post.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Two New Gum Prints

The past couple of weeks have been kind of crazy, so I don’t have much to report. As I mentioned in my last post, I was sick for a week and a half, and as a result didn’t get much work done during that time. I feel better now, but I was sick right up until this past Monday, when I returned to teaching for the first time since last May. The first week of school is always exhausting-there’s a million little things that need to be done RIGHT NOW, and getting back into the routine of teaching is tiring. I was expecting it to be worse after having been away for so long, but it really wasn’t. I’m about as tired as I would be after any first week in a semester. In other words, exhausted, but I’ll survive.

In between teaching, trying to sleep, and being sick, I did manage to finish a couple of gum bichromate prints that I started a couple of weeks ago.

This one, like several pieces I’ve posted here, was shot at the Musee Mechanique in San Francisco last October. It’s looking into one of the antique arcade games they have there.

This one was shot after Thanksgiving at the Museum of Science and Industry here in Chicago. There’s a display of three dated looking anatomical models tucked into a stairway. This is one of them. I shot several closeup photos and made a mosaic in Photoshop to print from.

Both of these pieces were printed five times. I printed yellow first, followed by magenta, cyan, and black in that order. After the black layer was printed, I thought that something was lacking in both of these prints. Deciding that they needed more yellow, I added a second yellow layer, which proved to be way too strong. I ended up removing most of the second yellow coating from both prints, but the little that I left on really improved the prints a great deal.

I’ve got five more gum prints in progress as I write this, including a couple that I’m experimenting with. I’ll explain in detail when they are finished and I post them here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back To School

I’ve been sick for the past few days with a horrible sore throat and feeling run down, so I don’t have any new work to show you. I just haven’t felt up to working in a cold, damp basement. I have two gum bichromate prints that just need to have the black layer printed, which I hope to do today or tomorrow, depending on how I feel. I also have four more gum prints in the works. I’ve been making separations and printing negatives, which I can do while sitting at the computer and sipping tea; as soon as I feel better I will start printing them.

The bigger news is that my sabbatical is pretty much over. I have an in-service at my school this Thursday (I hope I’m feeling better by then), and will resume teaching duties with the start of Spring semester on January 14.

Sabbatical was wonderful, this was the longest period of time I’ve had to focus primarily on my creative work since I was in graduate school. I’m very grateful to have been given this opportunity.

The end of sabbatical will not mean the end of this blog, however. I’m still making work using the same alternative processes that I’ve been exploring over the past several months, and I will also be mounting a post-sabbatical exhibition. The exhibition will be at the Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College, where I teach. The exhibition will run March 25-April 17, 2008. Before that exhibit, I’ll be continuing to make new work, selecting which of the pieces I’ve completed will actually be exhibited, matting and framing work, etc. I’m sure there will be lots of info to post here.

Although I started this blog as a way of documenting my progress during my sabbatical, I’m pretty sure I’ll keeping it active indefinitely. Posting here has helped me reflect and stay focused on my work, and knowing that people are reading it keeps me motivated to make work. I’m also considering expanding the scope of the blog. So far, I’ve kept it pretty much focused on the technical and creative explorations I’ve made as part of my sabbatical. I’m thinking of keeping that, but also occasionally talking about the work of other artists that I’ve seen, maybe recommendations of art and photo books or web sites, etc. Let me know if you have an opinion on that.

Nearly every blog I’ve seen has eventually resorted to begging for comments. I’ve resisted that here, and even so have received comments and requests for info or advice from both people I know and others I don’t. I’ll just say thanks, and keep them coming!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year's Eve.
Here's the second gum bichromate print I've completed. I printed the last layer on the afternoon of Dec. 30. The original photo was taken the day after Thanksgiving in a shop window in Chicago's Chinatown. This gum print came out nicely, I like the colors I got.