Tag Archives: Lisa Houck

Plates Popping Up

I spent the winter painting ceramic pieces with the help of the talented Jill Curtis.IMG_1678

Advertisements

Four Big Birds

Last May I participated in a class with Julia Talcott at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown.  In this class we carved  24″ X 36″ linoleum blocks and created big black and white prints.  We printed the blocks using a steamroller.

Over the last few months I worked on additional linoleum block prints and now I have a series of four prints completed.  I worked at MIXIT Studio in Somerville during the summer to print the four pieces in editions of ten.  The prints are inspired by the Hokusai show I saw recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the work of John James Audubon.

IMG_0646
Carving the linoleum for Swooping and Swirling
Printing Swooping and Swirling at MIXIT studio in Somerville, MA
Printing Swooping and Swirling at MIXIT studio in Somerville, MA
Flying and Fishing
Flying and Fishing
Wading and Wondering
Wading and Wondering
Swooping and Swirling
Swooping and Swirling
Watching and Waiting
Watching and Waiting

Haystack, How Do I Blog Thee?

I had not been to Haystack in over 35 years.  I was there three times as a young emerging artist, twice in ceramic classes and once as a teaching assistant in printmaking.  This place is as beautiful and inspiring as ever.  Even more so than it was for me in my twenties.  To have two peaceful weeks in a studio filled with artists of all ages and backgrounds to pursue some new directions in Japanese woodblock printing with our teacher Takuji Hamanaka made me delirious with the possibilities.  I was in the studio until midnight most nights.  Haystack thoughtfully brings together passionate teachers and a delightful mix of artists/makers/craftspersons/game changers.

The view from the top deck at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
The view from the top deck at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts

The buildings are perfectly designed by Edward Larabee Barnes for working and for resting (mostly working). Haystack is designed to nurture creativity and to encourage questioning and to respect and revere the search for meaning.  I was touched that the campus has been so lovingly rebuilt over and over and it was still there for me when I was ready to go back there this summer.  So much was the same.  The sense of community, the great food, the conversations between the generations, the freezing dips in the ocean, the auction where so much generosity was put forth to raise money for scholarships.  Below are a few views of the thousands of worn shingles that cover the buildings at Haystack.

IMG_0505IMG_0507IMG_0510IMG_0512

The Bluefish is Back

This mural spent the winter being re-painted in my studio in the South End of Boston and now it has been re-installed in its proper place at 237 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, MA.  Thank you to George Hagerty and Justin Bothwell of US Art for their hard work moving the mural and getting it back up on the building.

Getting Started on the re-Install.
Getting started on the installation.

This project was directed by Rika Smith McNally, the director of the art conservation program at the Cambridge Arts Council.  I am grateful for her energy and guidance about using the proper materials for an exterior mural.  It even has UV protection now, so no sunburns!

George and Justin putting on the finishing touches.
George and Justin putting on the finishing touches.

Please join me for a party on Wednesday June 24, 2015 to celebrate and rededicate the mural.   We will convene right under the mural from 5 to 7 for some live jazz by saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase, food from the East Coast Grill, and good company!

The Bluefish is Good Tonight will be looking good for another twenty+ years!!
The Bluefish is Good Tonight will be looking good for another twenty+ years!!

Big Print Day, International Style

Since 2007, the Monterey Peninsula College printmakers have devoted the first Saturday in May to printmaking. What began in the Monterey Bay Area of California has become a worldwide event, with printmakers participating from over a dozen countries, on five continents. We didn’t even know this as we planned to print fifteen large (24″ X 36″) linoleum blocks at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA on May 2nd, 2015.  A class taught by Julia Talcott was culminating in a Big Print Day where we were using a steamroller as a printing press.  And we were accidentally part of an international day devoted to printmaking! 20150502_103856 My two prints were designed as an homage to Audubon’s large-scale bird paintings.  One is a wading bird and the other is a flying bird where the wingspan fills the three-foot length of the linoleum block.  The backgrounds of the two prints are filled with swirls and patterns and circles and stars and comets.1gYXnp1WBhWMAE7ZLxMwm2ncGr_zI8Bf_2zHQRuOxXQ 20150502_154825

Fifteen artists worked together rolling out ink and wrangling huge sheets of paper and cleaning all of the blocks and rollers over and over throughout the day.  All thirty prints that we made on May 2nd were big and bold and black and white.

Many of our prints drying in the wind on Big Print Day.
Many of our prints drying in the wind on Big Print Day.

We also printed a Charles River Alphabet organized by Leslie Evans, with 26 artists participating.  We each chose a letter and created an image of something associated with the Charles River.

IMG_0260
My letter is  Z for zooplankton
The alphabet is 90″ X  30″ and we printed it on both paper and fabric.

The individual prints from the alphabet are available for $30 each at the shop at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.

Going Swimmingly

The restoration of the mural, The Bluefish is Good Tonight, is going really well.  With the help of a bunch of wonderful assistants it is moving along quickly.  As soon as it stops snowing the painting will be put back up at 237 Hampshire Street in Inman Square where it belongs!

in the studio
Harrison Ringel, Regina Gaudette, Carla Hauck and Rachel Newsam work on the details of the mural. Two coats of acrylic paint were applied to all areas.
Carla
Carla Hauck applies the first coat of paint to a green school of fish.

It was interesting to re-work a project that I did so many years ago.  My color sense has changed, and I think the new color choices will be easier to read from a distance.  I had more confidence painting it this time, which made it a lot of fun.  I removed a few details and worked with bolder shapes this time around.

Rach transferring design
Rachel Newsam transfers the designs from the original mural onto the newly refreshed panels.
detail during painting
Complimentary colors really pop!
Maya1
Regina Gaudette and my new puppy Maya were both very dedicated to the project.
stethoscope2
I remembered why I chose all of these shapes several decades ago: I used to take a ceramics class in Inman Square, so I filled up all of the empty spaces with pottery forms.

I am very grateful to Rika Smith McNally, the director of the art conservation program at the Cambridge Arts Council, for her energy and guidance on this project.  She assures me that the painting will be looking good for several more decades!

IMG_0881
Driving home on the Massachusetts Turnpike after a long day at the studio.

The Bluefish is New Tonight

In 1987, with funding from the Cambridge Arts Council, I was asked to paint a mural for a building in Inman Square, Cambridge. The painting was called “The Bluefish is Good Tonight”, as an homage to the original Legal Seafood restaurant that once stood on this site. The imagery also contained references to the vibrant jazz scene in the area.

It had faded badly over the years and I was ready to have the mural taken down since it had been on display for almost thirty years.  It turned out that it wasn’t so easy to remove the painting because the neighbors had grown attached to it and they still liked it, even though all of the reds and purples and much of the imagery had disappeared.  I was pleased to know that it was so well-loved, and I started to hope that a plan could be made to save the mural.

Rika Smith McNally, the director of the art conservation program at the Cambridge Arts Council, was determined to find a way to re-paint the mural, and she made it happen last week!  Before I could say “What is that huge thing in my studio?”, Rika and a team from USArt, George Hagerty and Alfred Zuniga, had moved the five panels to my studio.

George
George Hagerty and Alfred Zuniga removing aluminum panels from Inman Square building
Rika Smith McNally and Rory Beerits of Cambridge Arts Council, cleaning the mural
Rika Smith McNally and Rory Beerits of the Cambridge Arts Council, cleaning the mural to prepare the surface for painting with Golden acrylics.
Rika and Regina sap
Rika Smith McNally and Regina Gaudette applied a layer of Golden MSA resin varnish to the surface to prepare it for painting with Golden acrylics.

I am planning to re-paint all of the background colors, and then with the help of  assistants Jill Curtis, Rachel Newsam and Regina Gaudette, we will trace the shapes and patterns back in place and repaint them.  On Rika’s recommendation we are using Golden 100% acrylic emulsion colors which are rated for excellent lightfastness.

Painting bright colors over faded areas.
Here I am painting bright colors over faded areas.
Coloful backgrounds ready for patterns to be added.
Coloful backgrounds ready for patterns to be added.