Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hello 2014.

Meet my little etching press.
I've been dwelling on a new blog post for so long that I can't remember when my last one happened or what it was about. But I feel a brain-dump coming on so I'll just start writing.

Several times since creating this blog, my first post of the new year has been a recommitment to personal athletic goals. It usually comes after the realization that spending most of my time trying to please others (family, friends, peers, bosses) is a losing battle, that hard work rarely pays off in the workplace, and that I am crap at office politics (well,.. politics in general). After the realization, I crawl in a hole and bash myself to pieces, then crawl out, stand up (slowly), and recommit myself to a new season of running or triathlon. This has been the only thing that depends entirely on me.. and the one way for me to reap the benefits of goal-setting and hard work.

This year, part of me so desperately wants to write that athletic recommitment blog, but I can't. I can't put my "all" into training when I know damn well that my hamstring tendon is still injured. Lately I've had to remove myself from social media because most friends and those I follow are runners and triathletes. After reading and celebrating everyone else's successes for the last few months, I now find myself, not inspired by them, but feeling like a bigger loser, viewing my 2013 season as a huge fail, and declaring my 2014 season a failure before it even happens.

Before racing in London, I had the injury diagnosis. And after returning, I was forced to take time off and focus on healing. Then I survived a car accident. Then I survived buying a new car - which was, perhaps, more stressful than the accident. To avoid going insane, I started compulsively drawing again.

And then came an unexpected light at the end of the tunnel that had nothing to do with training. Somewhere in the mess of the interwebs, I landed upon several artists' websites describing intaglio printmaking with an acrylic plate. I was instantly hooked. My etching press (bought to expedite the process of making Christmas cards) would no longer have to sit in a corner unused for eleven months out of the year. Almost immediately, I was digging out tools, impulse-buying plastic plates and ink, and pulling my old printmaking studio books off the shelf.

This was mid-November - in the midst of the pre-holiday rush. Still hanging over my head was my yearly "other" creative endeavor: block-printing my 2013 card (which due to my procrastination, became its own fiasco of a time crunch). But, I don't f*ck with inspiration. Especially when it is artistic inspiration. I must drop everything and follow it.

And now, after a couple months, I am able to relax a bit and write about it.

For my first prints, I used random photographs I shot on my iPhone. And I couldn't even wait for the purchased materials to arrive. In desperation to get started, I scrounged up some old scraps of plexiglass from an old picture frame and secretly cut it into rectangles at 5:00 a.m. in the farthest corner of the basement to avoid waking up my husband Jim. (If you've ever scored and cut plexiglass, you already know it sounds like a gunshot.)

My first print was average at best, and more impulse purchases were required to find the right ink and all the right tools. I'm still developing my techniques, but I'm seeing improvement (there's that hard-work thing again...). In the even that I never race again, I hope I've found something that keeps me creatively and energetically engaged and has future development and growth potential.

2014 now seems like a new direction. I have some new art and I'm hopeful about my future artistic possibilities for the first time in about ten years. Creating stuff is giving me a sense of internal fulfillment, and if I can no longer compete at the level I'd like to as an athlete, all does not seem lost.

Anyway.. below are a few of the new intaglio prints - starting with the first one - made from a photo of my headlights while I was driving at night. The method I'm using is called "drypoint" - scratching the image into the plate directly instead of etching it with acid (and thus avoiding the hazardous-materials-in-the-house issue). In the future, I would like to switch the imagery and use some of my drawings for inspiration, but my photos are giving me ideas for now.

"Headlights on Boston Mills Road"
"Riverfront Trail Scene 2"
"Le Canal"
"Scenes from the Towpath I"
"Afternoon Near Corn Hill"

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