Summer Residency at PreNeo Press

August 4th, 2011

"Changing Places"

This summer I was invited to participate in a residency program at PreNeo Press in Redwood City, California. PreNeo Press invites artists to work together in collaboration with founders Kent Manske and Nanette Wylde in both digital and traditional printmaking practices. Since 2003 PreNeo has been pushing the boundaries in print media through their residency program. I am truly honored to have been invited to play in the PreNeo studio.

Since ideas are at the heart of creating art, I began my journey at PreNeo with a conversation with Nanette while hiking together in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This conversation began to explore some of the reasons I had chosen to relocate to Panama and to begin the Art Farm project there. As we hiked, Nanette posed some questions that touched a deep place in me, and I still find myself thinking about them today.

One thing about Kent and Nan is that they are explorers, and their route of exploration is through thought provoking questions that cause pause and reflection. Their questions are not easy to answer, and sometimes make one a bit uncomfortable, because they make you dig inside of yourself for the answer.

"MSCU331565-1"

The next conversation was with Kent, sitting around their big round table in a sun filled room. We both spoke about life, and what we were finding meaningful at that current moment. I had been thinking about the residency, and had some loose ideas about imagery and content that I was considering, however, during this conversation, all that was abandoned. What came up full force was how I was feeling about the process of relocating: packing, inventorying and shipping my entire life overseas. On one hand, I felt full of promise and adventure, on the other hand, I felt entirely vulnerable, and a little scared. It was one thing to live in a country with a backpack full of stuff, but it was entirely a different thing to ship your life there.

On a side note, interestingly, that same week, my best friend and I pulled Goddess Cards – a tradition that we had enjoyed together over the course of our long friendship. We pull one card, asking for Goddess guidance on something happening in our life. I asked that a Goddess come forward to support me in the work I was doing packing up my life. The card I pulled was Cerridwen, the Goddess of Death and Rebirth. This was huge, as I had been going through the motions of packing and inventorying, but had not consciously connected to the fact that I was in the midst of a huge transformation, that I had reached the end of a cycle – my life in California – and that I was in the process of birthing a new cycle – my new life in Panama. It was a beautiful gift that Cerridwen came to remind me to honor this process, to look it straight in the eyes and to embrace it for all that it is and will be.

As my conversation with Kent deepened, it became clear that the work I would create would center around this big and important decision I had made to relocate to Panama and begin a new life there. We discussed symbols, icons, and code that could represent these feelings, and together we began to identify a direction for the work we would collaboratively create. Over the course of this conversation, we identified five main coded components that could begin to tell this story.

Mosaic

1. Since I had been photographing the entire contents of my life, these mundane photos became an important record of my process. We discussed using these photos to populate a map of the Americas into a mosaic to represent the movement of my stuff from one country to another.

2. The shipping container itself was playing a big role in the transformation from California to Panama. This 20 foot metal crate would hold and transport my life from one place to another. We decided that this icon would be printed as an etching on natural paper and incorporated into the digital print.

3. We discussed how the night sky looked different in other places on the planet, yet no matter where we were, we were still part of the same universe. We decided to use the changing position of the moon as a reference to the interconnectedness of my life in both places. In California, we see the moon as a crescent, however, in Panama, we see the moon as a smile. However, in all places it is the same moon.

4. The next piece of code was a nod to the flags of both countries. Both use symbols of the star and stripe, both contain the colors red, white and blue, and both countries have had a longterm relationship with each other. We decided to use a hybrid design of both the American and Panama flag to represent my connection to both countries.

Lyn and Kent pulling a screenprint

5. The last piece of code that felt important was the unique ID number of the actual shipping container, and this was silkscreened onto the container etching as a way to individualize my own personal experience.

Over the course of a few days, the ideas solidified and came together into two small unique editions. The first an archival digital print combining chine-colleé, etching and screen printing, and a second print that incorporated screen printing, etching and chine-colleé.

It was truly an honor to spend time in the PreNeo studio and I have deep appreciation and gratitude for their nurturing of my recognition and honoring of this transition in my life. Pura Vida PreNeo!

Lyn with etching plate

Inking the etching plate

Kent with containers and broken finger. Ouch!

Stencil for the screen print of the unique container ID

Lyn and Nanette in the Studio

House cat Dax, offering advice and inspiration

 

 

 

Artist Trading Cards at Boquete Artworks

April 8th, 2011
Self Portrait

Self Portrait by Lyn Bishop

Boquete Artworks is a newly created artist group based in Boquete, Panama. As a way to stay active with the arts and to network with other creatives in the Chiriqui area I decided to join. The group plans to organize exhibit opportunities, offer workshops, and help it’s members with marketing and promotion of their work. For me, it’s an excellent way to share my work with the community, as well as exposing myself to the work of others. Artists in the group work in a variety of mediums, including traditional painting with acrylic, watercolor and oils; photography; wood sculpture; jewelry, and printmaking.

Our first project together was chosen to allow us to meet each other and to have exposure to each others work. Each artist who wished to participate created a small set of unique Artist Trading Cards, or ATC’s as they are often called. Artist Trading Cards are miniature works of art 2 ½ X 3 ½ inches (63 mm X 89 mm), and are produced in any variety of media. The cards are traded and exchanged with other artists and are not offered for sale. They are an easy and fun way to get to know each other and other techniques.

 

Poetry of Flovers by Lyn Bishop

To create a series of cards that express my passion for printmaking, mark making and collage, I stared with a monotype background that I created using acrylic paint transferred through a plexiglass matrix. To that, I added marks made by transferring drawings through painted acetate, bits of college material including newspaper, tissue, aluminum foil and random paint strokes. I called the series “la poesía de las flores” or “the poetry of flowers” as the flower petals were created from printed poems. These cards were traded at the gathering of Boquete Artworks members.

 

In exchange, other artists gave me their cards, which included small works of art executed in watercolor, collage, and photography. Here is a sample of the cards I collected.

 

Ocean - by Heather

When I returned home, I felt the draw to explore the cards as an expression of a self portrait, and wanted to execute it through the digital medium that is my foundation. The card created at the top of page is that self portrait. I look forward to changing the colors and position of the elements, and after printing on a heavy paper stock, to spend time embellishing them with paint and bits of collage materials to add to the unique quality of the work.

 

 

 

The following internet resources will help you get inspired to make and trade your own Artist Trading Cards:
http://www.cedarseed.com/air/atc.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist_trading_cards
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Artist-Trading-Cards
http://www.art-e-zine.co.uk/atc3nov3.html

Rooster by Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Papayas y Papels by Betty

Art and Architecture of Honduras

March 17th, 2011

While traveling in Honduras recently, I was struck by how different the art and culture is from what I find in Costa Rica and Panama. While they all are Central American countries, it’s interesting to me that the cultural landscape varies so much. In Honduras I found strong evidence of a culture rich in art and architecture of pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial and contemporary periods, and a stronger bond between craft and craftsmen.

Copan

The great Mayan city of Copan projects an aura of timeless history that permeates it’s surroundings. The great city was occupied for more than two thousand years and it’s artifacts represent the height of the Mayan Classic period. The artisans of the city developed a distinctive sculptural style within the tradition of the lowland Maya, that is thought to emphasize the Maya ethnicity of it’s rulers. The attention to craftsmanship and quality of the carvings is said to be some of the best (and best preserved) within pre-Columbian ruins found in mezzo america.

The old Spanish colonial architecture features strong Native American influences combined with Moorish, Gothic, and Baroque styles. Many of these structures are well preserved and cared for by their modern day inhabitants. White washed adobe buildings with their red tiled roofs stand along side cobblestone streets that ooze old world charm.

Most contemporary artists reflect their colonial heritage and social themes are reflected in the paintings, poetry and short fiction popular with modern artists. The literature of Honduras came into its own in the 20th century. The poet Clementina Suárez became an object of national intrigue and pride in the early decades of the 20th century for her brilliant verses and Bohemian lifestyle. Another poet, Robert Sosa, gained international attention for his works reflecting poverty, inequality, and political oppression.

Much like literature, many of the greatest Honduran artwork depicts similar themes of poverty. The work by Victor Lopez that I encountered at the National Gallery of Art in Telucigalpa, titled Hambre (hungry) depicts a somber image of a huge plate with only a cockroach for food set in front of a sad woman. Looking at this work broke my heart as the poverty faced by the average Hondurans continues to this day.

Themes of nature, and especially the jaguar, appear often in Honduran artwork. The fantasy work by Allan Caicedo Solis titled Al Acecho del Jaguar is full of scary animals and symbolism set in a colorful jungle environment.

Perhaps one of Honduras most recognized visual artists is Miguel Ángel Ruiz Matute. His works are painted in an expressionist style. He is a master of color and movement and manifests himself through expressionism of themes of humanity, which make his work unquestionably universal. In this work from the series El Contemplado, we can feel the intense sense of human emotion even though we can not see the models face. The sense of movement and the position of the hands creates an almost uncomfortable tension between art and viewer. Curiously, I found it odd that in some paintings he signed his work Matute, and in others Matutte.

Overall, I was happily surprised to find the art and architecture of Honduras full of expression, history and social themes that speak to the cultural heritage of the country. I’m looking forward to returning again to explore more that this country has to offer, especially the pottery and other traditional crafts that I didn’t have time to investigate.

Alternative methods in monotype printing

January 9th, 2011

There are many different ways to create a monotype, and quite often a press is used to transfer the image to paper. However, here in Panama, I don’t have access to the traditional ink and press that I was so fortunate to use at Studio 1801. So, I’m working to experiment with other methods to produce my print work. I’ve been thinking about printmaking without a press for a few months now, and finally, I’ve found some basic supplies. They include plexiglass to use for my plate, acrylic paint to use for my ink, and some rather textured thick watercolor paper to use for my substrate. I don’t have any brayers, so I am using paint brushes and my fingers to distribute the paint onto the plate.

To apply pressure in order to transfer the image from the plate to the paper, at first I was using the back of a metal spoon. I always cover the art paper with newspaper or even a plastic bag before I begin to rub, however, I felt that this did not offer an even transfer from the plate to paper as the point of pressure was so small (the back of the spoon). Recently I discovered that I could use a wine bottle to apply pressure. From my early experiments, I like this better, as I can provide strong and even pressure, especially when working with smaller paper sized.

I enjoy combining techniques in my process, and sometimes use the prints as source material or backgrounds in collages. Adding light weight paper Chine Colle’ is great way to add additional college elements. And cutting out stencils to use to create graphic areas of positive and negative space also allows additional opportunities to creatively work the print.

Here are 7 basic steps I use to pull a monotype without a press:

1. soak your paper in water for an hour or longer
2. create the art you wish to print on your plate, remember it will print reversed.
3. drain and blot your printmaking paper and position it on your plate.
(if you are using a drawing as a guide under your plexi, hinge your paper to the plate before painting to insure registration. if your paper dries while working your plate, you can mist the back with some water.)
4. cover the paper that is on the plate with some newsprint, and then a thin towel
5. apply even pressure and roll the wine bottle over the area where your paper is. the towel will give a little cushion.
6. pull up a corner of the paper and see if the pressure is enough, if not, release paper back down and continue rolling the wine bottle over the area.
7. pull your print off off of the plate and allow it to dry

I’d love to hear other creative ideas to making monotypes without a press, things like applying ink, applying pressure, papers to use, and anything else would be good to hear about. Please share your techniques and ideas in a comment. And if you’re in Panama and know where to purchase printmaking supplies, please fill me in. They sure are hard to find.

Collaboration with the Crab

January 4th, 2011

Spending time on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, I am always inspired by the organic forms I find on the beach and in the jungle there. I often don’t have art materials with me besides my camera, so I make photographs and think of ways that I can interact with the environment there.

There are repeating forms and patterns that I continue to find fascinating with each visit. For example, the arching, twisting and inter-twining shapes made from the monkey ladder vine, creating a looping, climbing maze of arboreal thoroughfares for countless animals, like lizards, snakes, sloths and monkeys, the trapeze artists of the forest canopy. There is something seductive about the organic shapes of the vines that I find inspiring, and each time I tuck the thought away into my treasure chest of inspiration for future ideas.

The Monkey Ladder’s giant seed pods span three to six feet and contain multitudes of shiny brown seeds that resemble wooden hearts. These seeds are washed into the rivers and then to the sea and ride the ocean currents of the world for months or years — eventually washing up on the beaches of distant shores. For countless years they have been fashioned into any number of items, from necklace pendants to snuff boxes. I find myself collecting them as I stroll the beach, sure that I will find a use for them someday.

But the pattern I find myself physically pulled to interact with is the waste left behind from the sand crabs that scour the beach sorting grains of sand from the organic matter and microscopic plankton which they consume. Their trails dance in my eyes like free flowing flowers carved in the sand. I can’t resist picking up a stick and working with these organic flowing lines to create new patterns based on the crabs initial work. In this sense, I feel that I am collaborating with the crab.