Tag Archives: printmaking

Summer Ends

20. Touched with Fire – Kay Redfield Jamison
The title comes from a line in the Stephen Spender poem “I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great.” The subtitle of this book is “Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.” After finishing this book, I know two things: 1. I am not manic depressive. I have never been manic in the manner described in Touched with Fire; although perhaps in retrospect it will seem like I was when I finished so many creative things this year. And I haven’t even put all of them up in my store . 2. I relate more to Henry James than I like. I hated reading Washington Square, now I begrudgingly respect it. Actually, I still have that “ugh” feeling in my gut thinking about reading it, so it may mostly be a product of whatever mental state I was in at the time.

One of my favorite aspects of Touched with Fire is the list of artists, composers, and writers who were either manic depressive, had probable cyclothomia, or had major depression. It’s marked with who was hospitalized, who made a suicide attempt, and who committed suicide and it was super interesting seeing who did what. Like extremely late to the party gossip.

There was also a section of shorter biographical pieces dealing with the family histories of “madness” of famous artists and writers called “Genealogies of these high mortal miseries” after a phrase by Herman Melville that I truly love and that was the section that resonated with me the most. Writing and art are both solitary pursuits and when you consistently wonder if anyone is ever going to connect with your work or why you should care or if you should really be doing this work when you’re not that stable financially and it’s not really helping with that and you know that it’s all you’d like to pursue regardless but you can’t put aside everything you care about aesthetically just because people tell you should if you want to make money… well, that whole section just provided a lot of material for me to relate to. There are a lot of differences between the time period when Herman Melville was writing and now, but, those differences are easily bridged by the mental anguish a large swath of artists and writers feel on a regular basis.

Personally, I remain true to my artistic vision regardless of what anyone tells me; which doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to criticism. I just look for relevance in the criticism. Sometimes you’re doing something people don’t get, and the main thing to consider in that case is whether or not what you’re aiming for people to “get” is coming through. If it’s not, there’s work to do. If it is and they don’t like it, that’s a different story altogether. You’ll have to beat them to death with their own shoes. Or not. To be fair, I know that many people are not ready for guinea pig domination or ladies being clever in realms where men are used to being the only clever ones. I would like things to be different and therefore I create. And I had a shitload of catching up to do after my on and off dealings with depression over the past thirteen yearsish. I proved to myself that even if I’m very stressed and very depressed I can write and paint and when I can focus, I can write and paint A LOT. I did drop one giant amount of baggage between last year and this year, which enabled me to focus on myself and what I want and apparently that was to finish manuscripts, print, paint and paint and paint, print some more, and actually execute some of the ideas I’ve had for so long while still working full time in a job that can be really stressful in so…many…ways. And I can’t say that me doing all of this has been met entirely positively. Some people really want you to stay in the place they expect you to be. But it’s not up to them and I have also received a lot of very encouraging sentiments too and I do want to specifically thank everyone who came out to see me at the Wizard Worlds I participated in this year, it made it clear to me that my work is unique, and, Cute, – and a special additional public thank you to those that facilitated me actually being able to participate. Overall, my experience reading Touched with Fire worked like a door through the darkness I get overwhelmed by sometimes and reminded me that I’m not the only one like this, even if I’m on the major depression side and not the manic side. To borrow a phrase from Mr. Presley, I’m a bit more “Filled with fire” now than anything else – no touching-; although that fire has turned to a smoky haze quite often in the past. No phoenix metaphors, it was there the whole time.

I also have muse-pigs to honor and I'll never let them down. Danger Crumples, perpetual muse-pig, stepping on all my journals, would personally thank everyone who purchased images of him and expressed how adorable he is, if he was available.

I also have muse-pigs to honor and I’ll never let them down. Danger Crumples, perpetual muse-pig, stepping on all my journals, would personally thank everyone who purchased images of him and expressed how adorable he is, if he was available.

 

My little unexpected muse-pig Peregrine and the start of my Pigoween painting. She (and Merricat, their relationship was very Duke of New York-Snake Plissken) was very much the inspiration for my John Carpenter's Guinea Pigs series of paintings.

My little unexpected muse-pig Peregrine and the start of my Pigoween painting. She (and Merricat, their relationship was very Duke of New York-Snake Plissken) was very much the inspiration for my John Carpenter’s Guinea Pigs series of paintings.

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I’ve finished 47 paintings, 8 silkscreens, put out 1 e-book, and carved out my own little corner of an online store so far this year. Last year I did a little less. A little.

Seventeen of the eighteen "blind paintings" I finished. All of these will be available for an adorably low price at Wizard World Chicago, but they will also be wrapped up so no one knows which painting they're getting. Drawing and painting eight animal and bird skulls in one weekend is not something I advise anyone to do, regardless of how much they used to like painting skulls.

Seventeen of the eighteen “blind paintings” I finished. All of these will be available for an adorably low price at Wizard World Chicago, but they will also be wrapped up so no one knows which painting they’re getting. Drawing and painting eight animal and bird skulls in one weekend is not something I advise anyone to do, regardless of how much they used to like painting skulls.

 

All the printing for Chicago! I do think my Army of Dangers tea towel is my favorite of the five images I've printed on tea towels this year.

All the printing for Chicago! I do think my Army of Dangers tea towel is my favorite of the five images I’ve printed on tea towels this year.

 

Postcard swag.

Postcard swag. After the reception my images received at Wizard World Madison, I wanted to make it more possible to take home my aesthetic and I’m pretty fond of postcards.

Some of the images on these are no longer available in any handmade format… all three Danger Crumples takes over for Christopher Pike paintings went to a good home. And the one of Danger with the white starburst behind him was solely a commission. But! Fear not, anyone who picked up my cute little Merricat with the Zebras record, turned it over looking for a price, and then had to ask me only to recoil in slight shock (I like that one too), I had both postcards made AND posters. The poster is bigger than the painting, but still looks sassy thanks to my friend Rebecca’s skills.  Enjoy McWikken, Army of Dangers, Danger Dixon (not pictured, previously posted), and both Danger Who paintings (“) are also now available in full color posters – I didn’t get very many made, and of course, they are only purchasable in person from my booth at Wizard World Chicago August 18-19-20-21.

AND, to keep going yet longer, I also made several of my images available to be purchased on a variety of things via Redbubble . A link to my profile page is at the bottom of my blog, also on my About page, and I’ll have a more thorough post coming about my store in a few days so I can showcase all the products I think are particularly amusing. Here is a teaser photo –

The real reason I chose to put stuff up for sale besides being asked quite few times if I sold online (I sell handmade things in person, non-handmade online), I can now get Merricat on a throw pillow. And Horace. And Pere. And I can get a guinea pig skull duvet cover. It's ridiculous.

The real reason I chose to put stuff up for sale on Redbubble besides being asked quite a few times if I sold online (I sell handmade things in person, non-handmade online), I can now get Merricat on a throw pillow. And Horace. And Pere. All the throw pillows! And I can get a guinea pig skull duvet cover, or Finny as the antichrist on a duvet cover, or the golden Danger Crumples (not pictured). It’s ridiculous. I could have the weirdest couch decor ever. So could you, gentle reader. So could you.

 

47 Paintings, 8 Silkscreens, 1 Link – Wizard World Chicago profile

For those who cannot come to Chicago and wish to work on the amount of guinea pigs visually available in their home – my Redbubble profile

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Filed under Books, Night of the Squirrels, Uncategorized

Shop smart. Shop…

…at the Guinea Pigs and Books booth at Wizard World Chicago, August 18-19-20-21.  Yeah, I know, that bit of terrible word play is not really going to pass muster; however, I have a good excuse in that I’ve been using most of my brain to work on paintings again. Paintings like these:

Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Very fluffy.

Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Very fluffy.

 

Danger Dixon-Rachel E. Smith

Guinea pigs sit down to use crossbows. They sure do.

 

Danger Crumples has taken over for Ash and Daryl this time around. Oh, and also Blaine.

 

iPiggie - Where I dared to question whether or not guinea pigs would use chopsticks, eat brains, and if Horace would dare to wear a sweater vest. They can do all those things, through the painful magic of painting.

iPiggie – Where I dared to question whether or not guinea pigs would use chopsticks, eat brains, and if Horace would dare to wear a sweater vest. They can do all those things, through the painful magic of painting.

These are but three of the six new paintings I’ve done since the Madison convention in April – six! And you bet there are Danger Dixon and Army of Dangers tea towels (and also prints on paper), Danger parodies only truly work if there are kitchen accoutrements. Plus, as established, I am a bit of a lunatic and I like tea towels with strange things on them. My kitchen will never be boring. Yours doesn’t have to be either.

Oh, and I should warn you, iPiggie is only available in mildly expensive painting and much cheaper postcard format. The world could not withstand the complications of an iPiggie tea towel. By the world I mean me, printing simplified versions of my two Danger designs was torturous enough.

Come facilitate further torture at Wizard World Chicago! Whee!

Here we go again with the linkage – Wizard World Chicago profile

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Did I ever tell you my favorite color was blue?

In the Mouth of Madness is one John Carpenter movie I won’t guinea pig-ify- because it is just too close to home sometimes. As a writer, who has written while watching In the Mouth of Madness, and who writes horror things that could be considered ridiculous under certain circumstances, and who decided that it would be a good idea to finish her Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy before Wizard World Madison started, I can relate to the “Did I ever tell you my favorite color was blue?” scene from both Sam Neill and Jurgen Prochnow’s perspectives. When I finished Night of the Squirrels, I yelled the same way Sam Neill does. And I wanted some Cheetos, if you read it, you’ll be able to tell that I wanted some Cheetos.  I did not have any Cheetos and it was late enough at night that I decided not to go out for some. Such a dilemma.

Anyway, Night of the Squirrels is up and ready for purchasing via the usual ebook retailers, I’m waiting for distribution to finish to a few retailers, and it’s currently easiest to find via my Amazon Author Page (Who knew that title would be so hard to search for? Me. I am a librarian, so I know some searching, but, still, that’s why I also decided to use “Squirrelpocalypse” repeatedly and I should have used it when I printed the first cover…damn the permanence of printmaking!)

It's all three covers together at last!

It’s all three covers together at last! So squirrely.

 

Of course, I’ve also done some paintings and prints related to my series (I have a few sets of all three book covers, several of the Day of the Robots cover, and several of the Night of the Squirrels cover – all in multiple colors) for Wizard World, today is the last day, so…  Merchandising, where the real money from the novel is made!

 

 

I've always been inspired by the WPA posters. Not only because if I was alive during that time period, I would have been angling for a printing job, I'm also just super fond of the typography. This one recreates a scene from Night of the Squirrels. The travel poster, McWikken style.

I’ve always been inspired by the WPA posters. Not only because if I was alive during that time period, I would have been angling for a printing job, I’m also just super fond of the typography. This one recreates a scene from Night of the Squirrels. The travel poster, McWikken style.

 

Another WPA inspired one (oh, and although I am a printmaker, both of my WPA inspired works are paintings), this time in honor of Babette and Louis. Shiny purple!

Another WPA inspired one (oh, and although I am a printmaker, both of my WPA inspired works are paintings), this time in honor of Babette and Louis. Shiny purple!

 

They call her Regan Brite. This one is a silkscreen also available in glow in the dark green. This print was so involved that I barely came away with any to sell - and so I made some postcards of this version. A few.

They call her Regan Brite. This one is a silkscreen also available in glow in the dark green. This print was so involved that I barely came away with any to sell – and so I made some postcards of this version. A few.

 

Will you endure the placement of this link with me, one last time? my profile on the Wizard World site

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Filed under Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels, Writing

Gotta have you on my wall, ’cause-

I love skulls. And bones. At one point I was tempted to call this blog Guinea Pigs, Books, and Skulls because those are the three things that I’m interested in artistically, but at that point I didn’t think I was going to feature my paintings on this blog- Ha.

The four paintings below are going to be available for sale at Wizard World Madison April 8-9-10 ( my profile on the Wizard World site ).

The star painting, I also have prints of my Bye Bye, Li'l Sebastian design.

The star painting of the most important mini-horse skull. I also have prints of my Bye Bye, Li’l Sebastian design.

 

My signature piece, Guinea Pigs are for Life. Now one person can also have a guinea pig skull painting (I kept the first one I did) and about six people can have guinea pig skull prints. Sometimes I don't have very many available because printing is not always a sure thing when you do it all by hand.

My signature image, Guinea Pigs are for Life. Now one person can also have a guinea pig skull painting (I kept the first one I did) and about six people can have guinea pig skull prints – sometimes I don’t have very many available because printing is not always a sure thing when you do it all by hand.

 

This is what a Columbian Ground Squirrel's skull looks like...when I paint it.

This is what a Columbian Ground Squirrel’s skull looks like…when I paint it.

 

The skull of the other mammal I'm regularly associated with, the squirrel. I made its teeth less scary in this painting than the teeth featured in Night of the Squirrels.

The skull of the other mammal I’m regularly associated with, the squirrel. I made its teeth less scary in this painting than the teeth featured in Night of the Squirrels.

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Filed under Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels

Tea towel-palooza

So, this one time, in order to make things to sell at Wizard World Madison – my profile on the Wizard World site – I decided that I should do a massive amount of screen printing in one day and I deemed that day “Tea Towelpalooza,” the results of this lunacy are displayed below. I will be bringing all the successful prints I finished that day to Wizard World Madison on April 8-9-10, and as I am a big fan of unusual kitchen things (especially novelty tea towels, ever since I didn’t buy a Nick Cave tea towel the first time I ever saw one at a show in Manchester in 2005 – Never again will I refrain from buying a Nick Cave tea towel! No more regrets!), thirtyish of those successful prints are on tea towels.

This is the end of having available space in my living room until the prints dried.

This is the end of having available space in my living room until the prints dried.

 

That's right, it's Parks and Rec fan art tea towels. I do love a skull or a mini-horse, and this has both; so, Bye bye, Li'l Sebastian, you're 5000 candles in the wind and this is my tribute.

That’s right, it’s Parks and Rec fan art tea towels. I do love a skull or a mini-horse, and this design I created has both; so, Bye bye, Li’l Sebastian, you’re 5000 candles in the wind and this is my tribute.

 

I hand painted in the red side of every pair of 3-D glasses. It was meticulous. I will never do it again. David Tennant is a major super awesome guest at Wizard World Madison, so I hope he likes my guinea pig parody of his turn as Doctor Who.

I hand painted in the red side of every pair of 3-D glasses. It was meticulous. I will never do it again. David Tennant is a major super awesome guest at Wizard World Madison, so I hope he enjoys my guinea pig parody of his turn as Doctor Who.

And here's Danger Crumples in red as Matt Smith's 11th Doctor. Putting a fez on Danger was impossible to resist. He also has a bow tie.

And here’s Danger Crumples in red and blue as Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. Putting a fez on Danger was impossible to resist. He also has a bow tie.

 

The dissolving of the Danger Whos. I will only print these images once - some of them went badly and I had to re-paint my screen filler and print them again, but, there's still a serious level of singularity in that these hand pulled prints and tea towels are going to be available at Wizard World Madison first and it may be the only time my hand pulled, hand packaged versions of them will be available.

The dissolving of the Danger Whos. I will only print these images once – some of them went badly and I had to re-paint my screen filler and print them again, but, there’s still a serious level of singularity in that these hand pulled prints and tea towels are going to be available at Wizard World Madison first and it may be the only time my hand pulled, hand packaged versions of them will be available. Also, I know it’s weird to see my human kitchen. I’m a person who displays a still packaged coffee cup for squirrels. I’m not going to open it and make them coffee, I barely know how to make coffee.

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Write. Print. Repeat.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

Two squirrels! Two robots! So appropriate for the second book of a trilogy.

The Guinea Pig-style (Duncan Hills) first edition of Night of the Squirrels: Day of the Robots, sequel to Dawn of the Interns and the middle section of the Squirrelpocalypse trilogy,was initially available on Amazon in May of 2013. Now, in June of 2015 (well, sort of May because it put it up in May, but there are always delays while I wait to see my cover and not a grey box on websites before I say anything), the “Call of the Merricat” second edition is available with its more squirrelpocalypse-appropriate cover and two less typos.  I’ve been told it’s better than the first one – but! – I don’t think that matters unless you’ve read the first one, so maybe it’s an Evil Dead II situation and maybe it’s Gremlins II, there really aren’t enough horror comedies with sequels that remind me of my work, so it’s tough to be sure.

It’s also occurred to me lately that it might be interesting to show my work, at least in terms of how I create my clearly a-mah-zing squirrel covers. I do have a lot to say about cover art on here – that’s because I’m an artist. I use my human brain and hands to write my novels and also to draw and print the squirrel versions of their covers through the bewildering process of silkscreening. Silkscreening is the process of shoving ink through mesh to put images on things, in my case, card stock. In order for the ink to make the images I want it to, I hand paint the mesh of my screens with screen filler.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

The dark red business is screen filler. Everything that’s covered with filler will remain the color of the card stock I’m printing on.

Many people can get their drawings onto their screens much more easily using photographic methods (light and photo emulsion). I can barely breathe most of the time because of my severe allergies and chemical fumes will destroy me very quickly, so I hand paint. It’s, um, not very easy to maintain the level of detail I want because I still only have human hands, but I do my best.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Pre-print Robots, post-print Interns, with discerning critic Danger Crumples. It is possible to remove the designs from screens, it’s called “reclaiming.” I am able to keep my designs on the screens by only washing out the ink when I’m done printing. Cold water takes out the ink, hot water is required to remove screen filler.

Once all the screen filler is dry and I’ve held it up to several light sources five million times to check for pinholes that will ruin my feelings while I print, I sort out the paper I want to use (I have to run a veritable shitload of prints when I silkscreen) and get the screen secured into the t-shirt press that hooks onto my coffee table. And then I print. On my knees. I ran this print sixty-one times.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

Here’s my print-covered floor and the screen upright in the hinge clamps of my t-shirt press just before I went to wash the ink out of it.

I pretty much throw my prints everywhere there’s space because I need to run the print until the ink runs out, gets too dry, or some sort of blobbiness takes over. I had an ink-thickness issue this time, so I only ended up with twelve great prints and thirty-two mostly good ones. That’s a pretty good ratio considering I haven’t printed anything for over a year and my ink was definitely too thick for all the teeny details I wanted to come through.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

Peregrine critiques my print from above.

I should mention that I’m leaving out a lot of details about the process of silkscreening, like tool names (squeegee!) and how you should have mylar on hand for proofing and registering your print and other things, so if you want to silkscreen in your living room you’ll need to research actual tutorials. I took silkscreening in college way back in 2003, and I didn’t put enough time into it, but I’m kind of glad I didn’t because of the chemical processes and my lack of allergy treatment at the time. I could have learned I have allergy-induced asthma earlier by passing out in a creepy basement room trying to coat my screen with emulsion, but at what cost? Actually, the cost would be these prints and all the others I’ve done since being able to re-visit silkscreening. Too much. It would be too much. And I retained a large amount of what I learned in that class over twelve years’ time, so…peaches. Of course, the guinea pigs would be much happier if I didn’t do so many things that take my attention away from them. A cost I must pay.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Horace and Danger Crumples don’t think I paid the cost to be the boss.

Anyway, that’s my cover creation process and if you want to support projects done completely by hand by someone who is nearly extinct because of their allergies or just want to know what happens next in my Squirrelpocalypse trilogy, I will list some linkage below and add to my “About” page. Oh, and since it’s YA Megamix Summer and my chapter titles tend to be song titles, here’s a sixtyish minute mixtape of chapter title songs to go with Day of the Robots:

1.     “Bang!” – The Raveonettes
2.    “Underdog” – Kasabian
3.    “Incubation” – Joy Division
4.    “Be My Wife” – David Bowie
5.    “River Styx” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6.    “Worm Tamer” – Grinderman
7.    “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night” – Ween
8.    “Sistinas” – Danzig
9.    “I Wish This Song Was Louder” – Electric Six
10.    “Retrovertigo” – Mr. Bungle
11.    “Deep in the Woods” – The Birthday Party
12.    “I Think That I Would Die” – Hole
13.    “Running Up That Hill” – Kate Bush
14.    “Dog Eat Dog” – Adam and the Ants
15.    “Heart of Stone” – The Raveonettes
16.    “Cat People” – the Danzig version
Linkage:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Kobo
Bol
Itunes

P.S. One important thing, there are several “Rachel Smith”s writing and self-publishing. Accept no substitutes. It can be confusing. I have only published two novels so far, both are pretty clearly linked thanks to that new cover and the adoption of series specification (Night of the Squirrels/Squirrelpocalypse Trilogy) – even that other “Rachel Smith” who wrote an ebook about guinea pigs is not me. I would think that anyone could tell the difference between her writing voice and mine and her cover aesthetic and mine – I just wanted to make sure we’re all clear that she’s not me. And I haven’t written any books on shopping addiction either. Just YA fiction about the squirrelpocalypse thus far.

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Filed under Books, Dawn of the Interns, Day of the Robots, Night of the Squirrels

Digression Post

So, the last post I made mere seconds ago made me super sad. And then, I noticed that someone found my blog by searching for “adjectives for guinea pigs” and my mood changed slightly – cute didn’t instantaneously come to mind, searcher?

Belvedere! I miss Belvedere!

Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty cute. Belvedere knows how to sit.

 

The other adjective that comes to mind (beyond like fifty synonyms for “cute”) when I think of guinea pigs is: Demanding.

I miss Mortemer too.

Yes, demanding is so much more than an adjective. I think it’s obvious that Mortemer wants something here.

Also, I wanted to mention that this week I screenprinted the new cover for Dawn of the Interns and I am super happy with it. I am quite fond of my Pickles model guinea pig cover , but it seems relevant to make a slightly more appropriate cover, since I have the skills. I would say I have the technology, but I’m a hand done art kind of person. My silkscreens are hand drawn, hand stenciled (no photo emulsion, it goes bad and might get on the carpet), and hand pulled – which often leads to tragedy. Twiglet, subject of the sadness inducing post and anchor pig forever in my heart, will of course be on the guinea pig version cover of the last book in the Night of the Squirrels trilogy. I haven’t written that one yet, but the new cover and the second volume in the trilogy, also with a guinea pig cover (featuring the beautiful Duncan) will be out in May.

I don't have to miss Thaddeus because I can hear him whistling right now. Phew.

“Snazzy” also comes to mind. Check out the Abyssinian moustache on Thaddeus. One could also use the adjectives: smart, fluffy, fuzzy, portly, or perfect to describe any number of guinea pigs.

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Filed under Dawn of the Interns, Night of the Squirrels, Uncategorized