Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Upside Down is Inside Out

If you are skilled at thinking backwards and upside down, Bravo! You will make an excellent printer!
It seems I have some sort of spatial dyslexia. Never was this more apparent than while learning to carve a woodcut plate! My ineptness aside, I had a wonderful time working again with master printer and image maker Ouida Touchon in her Advanced-Multi-Plate Woodcut Printmaking Class this past weekend.You can check out my beginning class with Ouida, here.

The design for my woodcut was inspired by a tiny viola Ouida picked for me from her garden. I used it as a jumping-off point to create a thumbnail image and then learned how to "proportionately scale" the tiny image to one that would fit the size of the printing plate and of the jig you see below...coolness.

This simple jig registers a multi-plate print beautifully. Here's more about the entire process. Thanks Wikipedia.

 This next bit is my nemesis. The finished enlarged design is traced onto glassine...

Then overlaid and retraced face down onto the wooden plate. You can see my pen line at the tip of the flower bud on the photos above.

Next, retracing through the glassine and carbon paper (FACE DOWN!!!) onto the wooden plate transfers the design onto the surface of the wood. The carving..which I next.
Ouida...carving demo
Each different color gets it's own carved plate and I was doing fine until the last plate...gonna put the blame on...let's see, full moon, about allergies, yes! Allergies...a terrible thing this time of the desert, yes, allergies make it terribly hard to distinguish top from bottom.

Of course, a successful print is one that is registered properly...meaning, that each plate is carved correctly, printed in the exact same place so the colors are exactly where they are supposed to be! You begin by printing the first color plate, then each plate consecutively until, at last, you print the full plate...which, in my case is the one that creates the black lines.

So, here is a graphite rubbing I made to test my design. You will see the note I made to myself, "Always Place Traced Pattern Face Down" which I should tattoo somewhere on my person if I ever hope to be any good at this...

Ouida demonstrating how to "ink on"

The one-color print was a success...... was the second color...

...but...because....I copied, transferred, and carved my third plate (the one for the leaves) upside right, which was wrong (!!!) my third color plate was a fail. Several hours and a bit of whimpering later....I pulled several successful prints, pleased with the results of what was now to be a two-color process. 

I loved working with Ouida and truly appreciate her patience! I plan on taking her Chine Collé printmaking class in the near future. If you are local, you can visit with the artist and see her work at the upcoming Las Cruces Arts Fair March 14, 15, 16.

My original cool I could frame it too!

Next morning I woke staring at my bedroom curtains imagining how I might translate the curtain's pattern into a woodcut....oh dear...

...I even like that oil-based inky smell...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Advanced Wood Block Printmaking

I am off this weekend to Las Cruces to take an advanced class in woodcut printing. How many ways can you say, "tax diversion technique"!!!
The instructor, Ouida Touchón is a visual artist from New Mexico with her BFA from Kansas City Art Institute in Painting and her Master of Arts from the University of Missouri at Kansas City in studio arts. I took her beginning class and loved it. You can read more about that here.
So, could I help it when her advanced class happened right in the middle of my tax prep?!!??!!

Here is more about Ouida, she's really wonderful. Her new blog is great reading as well... Click here to read more about Ouida and to view her stunning prints. Stay tuned next week for the results!
Have a great weekend everyone! I know I will!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tax time...really?

This is me right now. Can you guess what I am doing? It's that time again and I am completely buried in the muck and mire of government overreach. You know what that means, right? I am one crabby ass right now. I know it is futile to resist but if you call me I will use you as an excuse to resist, hang a sign on me...I am temporarily out of order!

Taxation with representation ain't so hot either.  ~Gerald Barzan

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together, it spells "THEIRS?"  ~Author Unknown

Another difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time the legislature meets. ~Robert Quillen, "Paragraphs," Lincoln Star (Nebraska), 6 April 1931

...and finally...I am posting this one again, because it is a personal favorite and Dave Barry always manages to sing my song perfectly...

Question:  " I understand that Congress is considering a so-called 'flat' tax system.  How would this work?"  Answer:  "If Congress were to pass a 'flat' tax, you'd simply pay a fixed percentage of your income, and you wouldn't have to fill out any complicated forms, and there would be no loopholes for politically connected groups, and normal people would actually understand the tax laws, and giant talking broccoli stalks would come around and mow your lawn for free, because Congress is NOT going to pass a flat tax, you pathetic fool."  ~Dave Barry




Monday, February 17, 2014

Gabe & Sarah's Famous Butternut Squash Soup

You know you have a winner of a recipe when the most difficult part of the prep is cutting a squash in half. Created by good friends and Chicagoans Gabe and Sarah Morrison (snow bunnies in their own right), it is their simple and obvious response to a bumper crop of butternut squash!
I am sending this out, with love, to all my friends and family currently braving the outrageous weather in the Midwest and East. Keep warm and well...this soup will help, I promise.

Gabe and Sarah’s Famous Butternut Squash Soup

Your choice of butter, olive oil, or coconut oil for sautéing
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, diced/crushed

Your choice of spices, I used:
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 2 tablespoon curry powder, 1 tablespoon thyme, whatever sounds good to you
1 large butternut squash, cooked and pureed
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, more or less depending on how thick you like your soup
1 reg. size can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to 350°
~ Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, place face down on a baking tray with a little water, drizzle olive oil over skin. Roast for approximately 45 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce the skin.
~ Scoop out flesh place in a large bowl and puree with some broth. (I use my immersion blender)
~ In a dutch oven or a deep-sided pan sauté onion and garlic in your choice of oil/butter/coconut oil.
~ Add the spices to the pan and a little broth if there is sticking/burning
~ When onions are translucent add the squash puree and continue cooking on medium heat, stirring to blend
~ Add the coconut milk and then enough broth to get the consistency you like.
~ Add salt and pepper to taste
I make one more run with the immersion blender to get a thick and blended consistency.

Body and soul warming and pretty to boot! This lovely soup keeps well in the fridge and although we never have leftovers, I'll bet it freezes well too! Stay safe and cozy my friends!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Contemplation

Flag  Jasper Johns 1954-55  Collection of the SFMOMA                                                            photo credit Victoria Copeland
Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.  ~Herman Wouk

Friday, February 14, 2014

Opposites Definitely Attract

"Honeymoon Heart"   Reclaimed & broken vintage ceramics, pearls, jewelry and found objects of interest  Victoria Copeland
A few years back Michael and I were asked to create and donate original artwork for a charity event. It was a Valentine's theme and we were asked to use the heart motif.

True to the saying a look at our work side-by-side spotlights our very obvious differences, but it also demonstrates a common theme. Can you guess...

"Route 66 - The Escape"  Reclaimed metal, bones, acrylic, found objects of interest     2007

No, not collecting found objects, although...that is a nice way to connect...but that crazy, sometimes subtle, sometimes outrageous sense of humor we share...which, gratefully, keeps us from taking the differences too seriously!
Hugs to my Funny Valentine and Happy Celebration of the Heart Day Everyone!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Half Mile High Birthday Pie

"Don't fear the meringue!" The gauntlet thrown, I set out to conquer the eggy, fluffy stuff. My motivation?  It happens to be birthday boy Michael's favorite pie. I can count on one hand the number attempts I have made to tame this beast, everyone one of them a failure. Arrrggghh....

Not to be deterred by pie anxiety (pun intended), I poured over tons of recipes, found one that looked perfect and as I started to prep, began feeling a bit like I was lost at sea, (I know, I know, it's only a pie) so I phoned a wonderful mother who has a merit badge in pies...I swear. She sweetly talked me off the ledge and stayed with me on the line as I pulled it all together. The pie turned out to be a delicious creamy balance of tart and deep lemony yummy-ness that made all the worry worthwhile. Topped with clouds of fluffy melt-in-your mouth meringue, made us swoon. Thanks Mom.

Happy Birthday dinner of steak and lobster and Lemon Meringue PIE!!

This recipe comes from an amazing cookbook called "Meringue" by Linda Jackson and Linda Garner. I am slowly working my way through this magical journey of egg whites, sugar and air!

I adjusted the meringue in their recipe (brave of me, no?) I just wasn't ready for a mile-high steps.

Good thing looks aren't everything. This is the next day and still oh so tasty!
Half Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie
Gently borrowed from Linda Jackson and Linda Garner

Pie Crust
I just couldn't tackle a home-made pie crust (another nemesis) AND the pie, so I used store-bought. Next time though!
Follow package directions for pre-baking the crust...let it cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Filling
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt (not kosher salt)
1 1/2 cups water
4 egg yolks, placed in a small heat-proof bowl, slightly beaten (save egg whites for your meringue)
2 to 2 1/2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest (I used four medium organic lemons)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used two medium organic lemons)

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of salt (not kosher)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (you can make your own by grinding regular sugar in a food processor)

Lemon Filling

In a heavy-bottom medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in the water. Bring to boil over medium heat, (watch the heat!!) stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute; mixture will be thickened and translucent.
Remove from heat. Add a little of the hot mixture to the egg yolks in a small bowl, whisking constantly; pour tempered egg mixture back into saucepan and add the lemon zest.
Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils again, about 1 minute. 
Remove from heat and add butter, stirring until melted.
Gradually stir in lemon juice. Pour into center of cooled pie crust. Let cool while making meringue.

Meringue: Heat oven to 375°

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
Add salt and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form.
Add sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, and continue beating on high until peaks are stiff and glossy.
Note: Now, this all sounds super easy, which it is, but take heed: Make sure your mixing bowl and whisk are spotless and dry. When you separate the eggs, careful not to get of speck of yolk mixed in with the egg whites, if you do...toss them, really.  Most importantly, egg whites must be at room temperature.
Also, do not over-beat...whatever that means...what? does it turn to butter?

Assemble the Pie

With a teaspoon, place meringue in mounds all the way around the outer edge of the pie where the filling meets the crust to form a seal. This will prevent the meringue from shrinking and pulling away from the crust.
Pile remaining meringue in center and spread to cover entire surface of the pie. Using the back of your spoon, form decorative swirls and peaks.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Make sure the bottom of the pie is at room temperature before slicing. Store any leftover in the refrigerator.
Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Finding Orlando Rivercow a Birthday Love Letter

I met Orlando Rivercow the summer of 1984 and fell in love. It was a mad love. An "abandon all hope ye who enter here" kind of love. Who could blame me? Just look at that face!

Finding Orlando Rivercow that summer meant finding myself. Is there a greater gift to oneself or a greater gift from another? Thirty years ago Orlando and I went on a birthday jaunt together and in true Thelma and Louise fashion, flew right over the cliff and never looked back.

This is a love letter to you Michael Copeland. It was I who was truly "gifted" the day you were born. Thank you for bringing your creative, crazy, original self into my life and blessing me daily with your loving nature, infinite compassion, and unyielding humor. Congratulations to us and to you and to Orlando too...for making it all the way to the museum!
Happy Birthday, love of my life, torch bearer, friend, inspiration, enigma, happy dance partner. I love you with all my heart now and forever. Mag.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's Only Make Believe

No, no cooking today, or these past six months and here's the reason. My focus has been right here with Michael pulling together forty years of his work for his first major museum exhibition. His three month long exhibit opened last night at the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, Wyoming. WOW.

Fearlessness is requisite for a forty year "look-back." Akin to writing an autobiography, Michael's paintings are a visual journal, a time-line of a life lived, and yes, reflecting is a bitch and a blessing, and a true leap for a man known for leaving the past waaaay behind. Just ask any one of the hundreds of students who know him, "What time is it?" There is only one possible answer in the universe known as Copeland, "NOW."

So, how does someone so focused in the present even begin?  Really, with a journey of the heart. Compiling a life's work also means opening up to the life; a perfect opportunity to embrace one's past and all of it's complexities and celebrate the perfection of what got us here, right NOW.

Mounting this exhibition has been one such journey for my husband and also for myself. This May, at the Nicolaysen's reception for the artist, we will travel to Casper and see for ourselves the impact of forty years of Michael Copeland's work; a visual thesis on his creative and artistic contribution, and his life so far...

I invite you to join us to celebrate this milestone. You can read all about the reception here and here. There is also a nice article and short interview with Michael for the Star Tribune in Casper, WY. You can fly into Casper and I will meet you there.

For those of you who have been a part of this journey these last 40 years, we thank you. For those patrons who released their iron grip on Michael's artwork and generously lent their paintings to this show, we thank you. To all at the Nicolaysen Art Museum who gave breath to this exhibition, there are no words large enough to express our gratitude and appreciation.

Finally, I leave you this wonderful quote...can't you just picture Cope, casting his net...
I am picturing you in Wyoming! Victoria

"The creative act is a letting down of the net of human imagination into the ocean of chaos on which we are suspended, and the attempt to bring out of it ideas." - Terrence McKenna

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