Polaroid Transfers and Emulsion Lifts

Ball's Crossroads by Nancy Murphree Davis
I recently took a class on Polaroid transfers and emulsion lifts. Essentially, you use Polaroid pack film (the old peel-apart kind, for those old enough to remember it) and place the image onto surfaces other that the Polaroid paper.

Traditionally you use slides and a slide printer, but I prefer to use digital photos which I alter in Photoshop and then print onto transparencies and mount in a slide frame.

The two different processes, image transfer and emulsion lift yield different results. Overall I prefer the image transfer, but am planning to experiment with applying the emulsion lift to monotype or etching. I will post the result when it is completed.

Today, I did an edition of a triptych entitled Balls Crossing which depicts images from the corner of Wilson Boulevard and Glebe Road here in Arlington. That corner has an interesting stainless steel sculpture entitled Bud/Blossom which I have attempted to show at interesting angles. It is still drying, but I will include it soon. I am hoping to sell some of them at the Ballston Art Market at Welburn Square which resumes next month.


St. Michael's, Pensacola, FL

St. Michael's, Pensacola, Florida
by Nancy Murphree Davis

Since I am not overwhelmed with words today, I will just add an insight and post a photo. This picture is an original watercolor that I painted from a personal photo dating from approximately 2003 (pre Ivan and Katrina.)

Today was a studio day for me. We are in the middle of a portfolio swap. When I arrived ready to print my remaining eight prints for the edition, the drying rack was mostly full of prints from yesterday.

I asked the (3) studiomates if they thought the artist whose work was on the drying rack would mind my stacking their work. I got a (slightly non-committal) "no."

Knowing that this work was (at least) twelve hours old, I gently stacked it (in order). I printed my remaining eight prints in the edition, I took a break. When I returned, I found a very upset artist. Apparently the prints I had stacked were not sufficiently dry. I felt extremely bad and apologized profusely. I think the artist realized that it was not a malicious act and there may me additional circumstances surrounding the drying time, but I felt terrible.

My husband keeps saying that I should set up my own studio, but I feel the interaction among artists overshadows the problems of the shared space. What works best for you?



Sunday I received our new book for a Lenten study. The cover is a rich, Expressionistic painting. I quickly opened the paperback cover and began scanning for the credit for the painting I believed to be Rouault. The ONLY credit given is, and I quote, "Cover Art: Private Collection, Texas/Super Stock."

I searched (in vain) to find this painting elsewhere. I found some wonderful paintings that Rouault did of Christ, but not this one.

Feel free to weigh in or enlighten me.


Edvard Munch

I decided to go to the Smithsonian Kite Festival. This was not meant to be an "art outing," but a fun day with my family. It was quite fun, but upon returning home, I was at a loss for a blog topic. While reviewing my photos, I began to ponder why someone had chosen Edvard Munch's "Scream" for their kite design. I have always liked the painting, but I did not realize it had permeated pop culture to the extent that it has. A quick web search proved that the original image can be found on a myriad of objects and that the image has been made into an even wider array of joke items.

Depending on which source you believe, there are somewhere between four and thirty versions of "Scream." The high number also includes sketches and studies, while the lower number represents what appear to be finished paintings. Munch described the walk he was on when he received inspiration for the painting, "The sun was setting -- suddenly the sky turned blood red. I paused, feeling exhausted ... there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city ... I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."

I was also unaware that one version of the painting was stolen off the wall of a museum in Norway in 2004 in the middle of the day. Reports of the theft said that this famous artwork was hanging on the wall by a picture wire, with no alarms and minimum security. It was insured against water damage and fire, but not theft! I found this incredible. Many months passed before the painting was recovered, unharmed. Three individuals were arrested.


Ellipse Juried Photo Show

Today I visited (as planned) the photo show over in the Ballston area. It was quite tricky to see this show which is open limited days and limited hours. For some reason I always want to do this type of thing on Monday, which is not an option. Also, last time I was over there, I was told I could park at the building and they would validate my parking. I attempted to do this, but there was a big sign saying "Monthly Parking Only." I circled a few times and found a metered space. When I inquired, I was told, "Oh, it does SAY that, but you can park in the garage." Next time, I'm going to try it.

The show itself was juried by Michelle Anne Delaney who has worked at the Smithsonian American History Museum (nickname) for more than fifteen years. Almost any medium loosely fitting into the photography category was eligible for inclusion. The array of alternative processes chosen for the exhibit was dizzying. A few I recall were silver gelatin prints, Ilfachrome, Polaroid transfers, digital prints (many), cyanotype and palladium prints. I have probably left several out.

The images themselves were mostly architectural or figurative. Many street scenes from around the world, but most American scenes had a nostalgic bent. A very small percentage of the works were in color, perhaps one-fifth. A few were handcolored, but most of these were digital prints, so likely "Photoshopped." A small percentage of the photos looked like amateur photos of children and the like which just happened to come out well. Others were well thought out or planned shots. There were almost no animals in the show.... two pieces with horses and one with sheep. Surely there was a dog somewhere, but I don't now recall it!

One of my personal favorites was a black and white photo taken in China of a man (I think) begging on the street. There was a printed container on the sidewalk in front of him with beautifully designed Chinese bills inside. He was laying down on the pavement over his cane. The salt and pepper hair, his weathered skin and the ornate money were a wonderful composition. The emotion it elicited was also powerful.

Another photo I enjoyed was titled "Mall Rats." It was taken on the National Mall in DC and showed wonderful elongated shadows of two people. Very small in the background you notice the Capitol building. Although a regular black and white photo, the image appears abstracted or distorted. Maybe it is just me, but I have always loved the elongated shadows in the afternoon.

One interesting thing I noted was that visitors to the gallery were given tiny stickers to place under the title cards to "vote" for which works they believed should have been given awards. I was not offered a sticker, so I don't know if that was done by a specific group or if they have just stopped doing it since the show has been up for so long. What a democratic way of silently showing approval or disapproval with the outcome.

If I have piqued your interest, the show only runs until April 1, 2006. Sorry I don't have a link to the Ellipse Gallery, but apparently it doesn't have its own website.


Cezanne in Provence

I recently visited the National Gallery of Art to see this exhibit which runs through May 7, 2006. Although I like Cezanne's work and was happy to be spending the day at the NGA, I had not anticipated what kind of reaction I would have to the exhibit. Without the audiotour and my art history studies, I would have been disappointed. However, this was not my experience. The audiotour and placards on the walls filled in forgotten details of Cezanne's life, and I found the exhibition fresh and educational.

One of my favorite pieces was a portrait of Hortense, the woman who Cezanne eventually married and who bore him a son. It was stated by the audiotour historian that Cezanne's sisters did not care for her and made her time at L'Estaque unpleasant. The portrait conveys a formality that makes this apparent, while compositionally drawing you back into it.

Considerable wall space is given to Cezanne's quarry paintings, which I could not grasp on any level. This was also true of some of the paintings of trees and Chateau Noir. On the other hand, other the rare painting of a tree spoke volumes, especially the lone pine tree painting(s). I also greatly relished the room graphite and watercolor sketches which humanized the iconic painter.

All in all, the exhibit was time well spent. Great effort was made to collect similar themes for comparison and contrast, and this makes for contemplative inspection. The exhibit does what great art always accomplishes for me, leaves me in awe while making me believe that I too can go and accomplish great things.


Plein Air Painting and Paint Outs

I recall in art history classes studying the Impressionists and learning about plein air painting. I suppose that ever since that time, artists have worked in this manner. Not being a landscape painter per se, I have given this subject little thought until recently.

One day at the studio, a friend asked me if I had ever heard of a paint out. I had not. She proceed to tell me that there has been a resurgence in this method and a friend of hers in California had been attending them and said she MUST try it. We talked a while about how different this would be for us, considering that printmakers aren't often producing art out of doors; not many presses are sitting in the center of the park!

Yesterday as I was leaving the studio, I caught sight of a flyer titled ArtFest. I picked it up and noticed that there is going to be a Plein Air Paint Out here in the town where I live in about ten days. Artists will meet at 10am and paint until noon. At that time they will gather for lunch and informal critique.

I just may try it. Who knows.....it could my new thing! Just kidding, but it sounds like fun and a great way to spend a few hours outside. (Tip from those who have done it. Bring bug spray!)


Master Street Painters

What fun it is to share this next unusual talent with you readers. I was forwarded some photos of work by Julian Beever. Though the medium I am impressed with, pavement paintings, is not associated with fine art, given a bit of scrutiny you can certainly appreciate his genius. I would love to see a piece of his work in person, especially one like Make Poverty History. (Be sure and look at both pictures.) This work is an example of an anamorphic illusion. This technique is credited to China and was brought to Italy in the 1500s. It has been used on a smaller scale since the Renaissance. It was used by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Hans Holbein the Younger. While looking into Julian Beever, I also ran across an American artist who does pavement drawings. His name is Kurt Wenner. His works are typically more classical in style, but are also amazing.



Today is the first day of spring. I can't think of a better day for beginning my blog. I hope my blog will be an effective way to discuss my artwork, the creative process and interesting art and artists.

My name is Nancy Murphree Davis. I am a 38 year-old artist just getting the nerve to pursue art as a career. Between a professionalism workshop I recently attended and the encouragement found through the tasks and methods of the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron I feel empowered to take the next steps. I welcome constructive comments, suggestions and especially reactions and comparisons to others' artwork. If you also have an art blog, I would love to view it and when I find it interesting, I will likely link to it.

I moved to the DC area last summer. The excitement of having so many art opportunities nearby fired the creative furnace. I subscribed to several local email newsletters. To my surprise, one of them listed a roundtable discussion where one of the featured panelists was an artist that I went to undergraduate school with. Her name is Margaret Boozer. I think her large wall hung pieces are beautiful, interesting and very different than past usage of clay as a medium. The Smithsonian blog, Eye Level agrees. Read their take here.

Another artist I would like to mention is Duane Keiser. He has a blog where he posts one new painting per day. These oil paintings are small (approximately postcard sized) and exquisite. The site was recommended to me by a fellow artist at the studio where I create. I find the paintings exquisite. It did not hurt that the first one I viewed is an olive shell, one of my favorite shells. If you like the paintings, or are intrigued by the "A Painting a Day" idea, you can have each new painting image emailed to you.