Virtually every peregrino I met was walking towards the west - towards Santiago. The Camino Francés appears to be a one-way street.
For Painted Steps, I need to figure out where along the green/ sienna/ gold/ band I should paint the little pictures. I need benchmarks, a plotting of towns, villages along those 500k from St Jean to León.
I use the information given to us in St-Jean at the office of Les Amis de Saint-Jacques- Friends of St. James/Santiago.
The sheet plots the elevations of the Camino and the distances between towns and pueblos from St Jean to Santiago.
SO, several, (several!) hours later of scanning, cropping, stitching parts together with PAGES, printouts, scotch tape, re shrinking another 5%, my own spin on ‘cartographic welding’, I produce an 88 inch long elevation line map St Jean to León.
This map reads as usual left to right (west to east) so I reverse it by tracing the line of elevation onto transparent tracing paper and flipping it over.
(The flip/flop is something I’ve used a lot in printmaking where plate and imprint are left/right reversed). I spread the painting, the 2 sheets of Somerset, on my long table, tack the tracing paper in place and redraw the line with sufficient pressure to transfer the pencil mark onto the painting.
Here it is on the painting. It’s an abstract plotting of the elevations of the actual path but it appears to be a mountain range in a landscape! Change of perspective....
Now I can locate the towns, I can place the little pictures.
I have another idea. The somewhat relentless band of grey is meant to be another place for this same line.
I transfer the the line onto the grey with white conté using the bottom of the band as the bottom of the image …then flip it and hang it upside down in a mirror image.
It’s created a rhythm.
I like the way it also makes a path in the space between the two elevation lines. I want to make it feel like the act of the Camino, step by step …pasito a pasito ….
The little white ticks mark the towns and pueblos. At each shift in direction of the lines I pencil a vertical, making sort of lines of ‘latitude’, segmenting the continuous space, suggesting to me -day after day- step by step- heartbeat followed by heartbeat.
I try painting tonal intervals, trying to give a sense of the up and down my feet felt, the large and small shifts in effort and incline. Quite beautiful, but impossible as a system.
I tried the idea of a kind of contour map to describe the changes in surface of the path. The problem is that I was forcing a square peg into a round hole i.e. a the concept of a 3 d space, the actual foot path onto the concept of a 2d line the elevation map…
The dilemma discussed with my partner, we came up with the idea of using colour rather than tone.
Obvious to some!
For me, using etching as a fundamental medium and paradigm I’ve long been able to compartmentalize these aspects; tone, light, dark, composition design/ hue saturation etc.
Now I have to learn to use paint.
I start painting the intervals. Beautiful! Each and every segment a different colour, contrasting more or less abruptly, smoothly warmly, shining, dull. Like the weather, like the landscape ...new each time.
Alto de Perdón
The peak is the Alto de Perdón -a nice long climb up from Logroño, (Fortunately there is an ice cream van at the top.This is not the West Coast Trail) and a very steep hike down on loose stones.
I can paint about 8 inches at a sitting. (Camino questions.."how much did you do today?")
Simply painting in the intervals makes a good change from the finicky tracing and computer work and/or from the intensity of painting the little representational pictures. It’s really relaxing and soothing but also absorbing to paint ‘just’ colour.
So, to quote from another well known journey- Salut to another rosy-fingered dawn!
The journal of the process of making 'Painted Steps'
I saw in Madrid, a most significant object, linking the gold in the churches, the path of the Camino and home: Juan de la Cosa’s mapamundi (map of the world), made in 1500 that includes the earliest surviving European mapping of the Americas.
on parchment 3' x 6' approx.
Having laid the ground (literally the background) of Painted Steps, I’m gathering up images of individual things about the Camino I want to put into the painting, like the little pictures of people, cities, sea monsters and gods, found on maps like this.
I make lists of the birds, plants, animals, structures, dovecotes, peloté courts, oats, peas, barley, wheat, almond trees, a dust devil, goldfish, bugs, butterflies, outcroppings, wild boar…..
......remembering the first day, the first place, I came across this new creature, or thing.
I make pen sketches and gouache studies using various sources: my souvenir photos, my partners photos, brochures picked up and carried along the Camino, and images from the web: from personal and commercial websites about The Camino, government, agricultural, scientific, and historical websites, universities, clubs, societies, and Wikipedia, in English French and bits of Spanish.
Las urracas – magpies- on the green lawns of the Opus Dei Universidad deNavarra on the outskirts of Pamplona / Iruña - a lovely parkland walk as we head out for the Alto of Perdón.
I was thrilled to see the storks, a fairy tale bird–reminds me how European fairy tales actually are. My first sighting was a nest on a pole/tower as we approached Puente la Reina. I wonder if those poles were built for them, or what else is their purpose? There, the medieval church tower held 4 or 5 of their bulky nests. We stopped under the stone archway to hear the bells and the chanting.
Studies of Cometa Rojas, Red Kite- fabulous! We stopped and watched them swooping over the hills around Zubiri. If I were a lamb I would be nervous.
Distant barns…all that delicious pork? A reality check.
The unique sighting of el Jabalí -wild boar -on an alternative Camino trail- “the one less travelled” (another quote from Robert Frost) with our Camino friend Terry from Seattle.
The highway barrels straight through the narrow streets of Villafranca Montes de Oca, where we are staying overnight. Huge semis drive 2 feet away from the door of the Supermercado, little convenience store. The hungry peregrinos/pilgrims rush across for the 5pm opening to buy supplies for supper. Accidents? The residents are hopefully used to taking precautions.
Where along the green/sienna/gold band of the painting do I place the pictures? Well, extreme right is St Jean - the beginning, extreme left is León,- the end, so I need to lay in a map of distances.
I will do this with the chart given to us by Les amis de Saint-Jacques, the friendly and informative pilgrim helper association in St Jean-Pied-de Port -French, San Juan Pie de Puerto- Spanish, Donbane Garazi - Basque.
The journal of the process of making 'Painted Steps'
Within days of returning home to Victoria, Canada, after 7 weeks in Spain walking the Camino and visiting Madrid, I started “Painted Steps”, getting down on paper my visceral response to this rich experience.
I think of this blog as the Special Features extra of a DVD, a kind of ‘making of ‘ documentary, telling the back-story, revealing the mistakes, the pleasures and challenges of the project.
I will paint many more little pictures into the middle band, studies of the paintings of Goya and Bosch, it will include the yellow arrows and shell motif signage seen all along the Camino, elevation map, a trail map, place names.
When the painting is complete, the blog will stand as a kind of legend or key to the meaning of the painting.
I expect this painting to be complete in 6 months, slow travel, slower painting, much longer longer the time I spent walking the Camino....
Just as it takes longer to digest a feast than to eat it.
‘Painted Steps’ work-in-progress
Gouache on SOMERSET, grey/green printmaking paper, St Cuthberts Mill, England 30”h x 88i”w (2 sheets 30 x 44) 770cm x 2200cm
This is the state of the work as it stands so far ….. At the centre of the left panel is an illustration of the Dovecote- el palomar seen near Villalcazar de Sirga
I’ll walk you through the steps of getting to this point and take you along to the end of the painting.
Painted Steps, from the ‘ground’ up
I needed the painting to be ‘this’ wide, spreading out my arms - a wing span. I chose two sheets of a green/grey Somerset I’ve had in my shelf since the 1980’s.(saving them for this?) I laid the paper out on my long table, mixed a bunch of paint and started.
Using the convention of north at the top of the page, I paint east to west, right to left, beginning in St Jean Pied-de-Port, crossing the French border and traveling across Spain towards Santiago, working against the habitual current, the 'reading' right to left. I start with the Middle Band.
The Ground Colours In the Middle Band I paint my sense of the basic colour shift of the landscape from St.Jean to Leon.
Starting on the right, GREEN, all the richness of Basque country in the Pyrenees’ spring…
...moving towards the middle, crossing the divide between the Somerset sheets, the incredible SIENNA earth colours of the silt and clay of Rioja....
...then the high green-y GOLDS of Castile y Leon in the sharp sunrays of June on ripening wheat fields and adobe.
At The Top Band After 40 days walking the Camino, we stayed a week in Madrid in the Cuatros Caminos district. Our room was on the top floor of the Hostal Almansa a kind of ivory tower, peaceful in the city of 6 million, Watching the ceiling fan whirling madly, watching the sky storming- wind, thunder and lightning, trying to rain, but failing in the 39c heat. Intense and beautiful.
So Above the green, sienna, and gold area, I paint a band of blues and yellows: the Madrid sky, and above the sky, I leave a band of bare paper, conventionally a place for decorative elements.
At the bottom of the paper I make another wider band with little marks, little niches in yellow grey gold, reminders of the gilded grapevine trim on the retables /reredos / retables of the golden churches.
This band will be a place for my studies of paintings from the Prado, especially Goya, and Bosch- el Bosco.
Between the gestural bottom area and the brush stroke layers of green sienna gold, I painted a hard-edged strip of neutral grey running flatly, relentlessly, across the paper.
So now I have five distinct horizontal bands, a ground, a place, an arena, for the unfolding/plotting of this journal.
To paint all this I’ve had to move up and down the seven foot length of the piece….still walking the Camino!
*the quote at the beginning......... Robert Frost, New Hampshire,1923
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep
“Bloodlines: Flying the Red Flag” and some variations, it being reoccurring experience. It has always fascinated me that my body could appear to bleed, and the blood being a sign of health and wealth… the possibility of generating more life.
“Signature de Temps, mark of time, is another one… The passage through a month marked in the ebb and flow of my body, a visceral experience of living in the dimension of Time.
What is other art about menstruation?
Signature de Temps
Then “Blood Story” around the ideas of Feeding / Bleeding, where the horrible hands of Nosferatu, Mernau’s Vampire, transform into a fallopian /uterus image.
Stencil and Word Portrait Printmaking Workshop “Me, Myself, and I… and now some additional information …" with Agnes Ananichuk
Great workshop! July Agnes will lead us through a series of stimulating word exercises and share her process in the creation of oil-based monoprint word stencils. She will present an overview of prints where text has been used, and demonstrate the making and printing of word stencils.
Participants will be guided in inking, rolling, and printing colourful bookmarks made from their word portraits. The workshop will inspire new ideas on using text as a visual element and help develop a vocabulary to enhance the creation of “selfies”.
For the past year at GZPS Desiree has been the Intern as well as a regular studio member and has produced an amazing body of prints. It's great to see some of her work in a more formal setting. The prints will be up for a bit longer if anyone wants to drop by -studio hours tues eve, and daytime thursday and friday, 250-382-2186
This small aquatint etching is one of a group of three, on the same theme. For me, it contains a universe: the fire, friends, the moon and stars, the beach and the ocean beside. I'm so pleased to have this as the latest addition to my art collection!
I love the grain of the aquatint. Even in the close up, about one inch square, I can still see the people.
So Poetic...is this the moon from the earth or the earth from the moon?
Wondering around the mountain surrounded 'campus' on the day of my arrival, waiting for my hotel room to be ready. My ID DOLL against the mountain.
Taking possession of my beautiful sky-lighted studio in Glyde Hall. There are 24 artists Residency artists meeting that first day with staff, artist facilitators, Thematic faculty. Fantastic getting to know them.
The morning of my last (BAIR) day, before my studio show, I made it down to the river,the Bow, frozen at the edges.
Basic curatorial proposal: To invite thirty artists to make a 30 in x 30 n piece in response to "Abstract painting (1985) 587-5" by the German artist Gerhard Richter.
“The name of the exhibition is "Difference and Repetition" which is a reference to the book by Gilles Deleuze. The concept is based on Deleuze's idea of how a new series brings back an older series and transforms it into something completely new, so that repetition brings about difference. The source of this series will be a single painting "Abstract painting (1985) 587-5" by the German artist Gerhard Richter (see attached image).
I chose this painting by Richter because it was created as a result of a series of unpredictable chaotic or gestural actions that make it difficult to reproduce. But it is also a work that evokes many possibilities.
It is essential that your piece be created in response to this specific Richter painting as the whole concept of the show is of a series derived from a single source and the repetitions and variations that result from it. For that reason I want the pieces to be a specific size 30 x 30 inches though the medium is open.”
The Slide Room Gallery,
Vancouver Island School of Art (VISA),
2549 Quadra Street.
November 1 - December 2, 2013.
My final piece, "Repeat after me" contains 64 spaces, the 64 possibilities of the I Ching. Cardboard intaglio 30" x 30" with a monoprint 'copy' of the seminal Richter piece, & polymer litho. It seemed a good opportunity to explore some of the inherent qualities of repetition and difference inherent in the printmaking medium so I made a decision to response through in printmaking: gestural monoprint, colour separation digital lithography and knife cut intaglio.
"Dis-asemblage Blue", Dis-asemblage Red, Dis-asemblage Black", 3 lithos mimicking colour separation printing process, but drawn in an expressionistic stye.The have been printed into "Repeat after me" and also are their own editions.
Some monoprints thinking about the project
'Like' as in 'the same as'
Like as in appreciating, enjoying, caring about' The softness of the image results partly from the drypoint-ish technique and partly from the colour of ink: graphite.
The ' Me' repeated, and repeated, referrs to myself, but refers to a different me each time, I was at a different age, so different experiences, physically etc, and also seen and experienced through different relationships, am different. The scanner can't figure out the medium; a not unusual problem when scanning etchings and other prints.
“Nic @ Mac" Artiste au travaille /Artist at work. .. on the laptop Sugar lift on copper, Vernis au sucre sur cuivre, chine collé, Papier Stonehenge 4" x 5" Edition 8
Sugarlift Home made sugar syrup Watersoluble Black ink Soap flakes
The image was drawn with a brush and sugar lift on an old copper plate. I bit the plate in the same ferric bath that I bite zinc -Open Bite for 2 hrs 15 minutes. I used the new coloured Stonehenge paper-"Kraft", and bright white Chinese rice paper for the chine, with Graphic Chemical Vine Black ink.