ART STATEMENT for the Jazz Combo Monotypes Series
Making visual art about live jazz music became the source of my inspiration and direction in a large group of monotypes titled “The Jazz Combo” series. After leaving printmaking for 12 years, I still had my big press working and lots of cans of oil-based colored inks. These one-of-a-kind prints on paper are meant to have the mark of the music, with abstract, interacting shapes and rhythms in the instruments and the figures. However, monotypes require a rapid working style, limited by the relatively short time that the printing inks remain moist on the plate before printing (about 30-40 minutes). Thus, the initial composition must be in mind, along with a well-defined process to develop all the elements. Each piece is extemporary and adds fresh ideas from the previous monotypes, that then come together in the making.
My first monotypes began with a smaller size (16″ x 20″) to reacquaint me with the whole process again. Above is “Jazz Combo #2”, as an example of my starting place. #1 didn’t make the cut. And I used my previous approach of rolling out the background, then placing stencils inked in patterns onto the still wet background on the plate. These early ones basically were trial runs, kept simple with no mixing and gradations of colors and values. There are the three players with stringed instruments made with cutouts using manila folders. The three wobbly shapes above their heads are also made from manila folders, and used to suggest the out-flowing music from the instruments. At the bottom stage section are torn strips of newsprint. And I have usually used freshly picked nasturtium leaves from my yard to add the rich organic shapes and add to the rhythm of the shapes.
After getting acquainted with my printmaking processes, I then began to make better work, beginning in early 2017. The piece above shows a significant increase in the colors, values and interwoven parts of the two players on either side with their instruments, a central planter of nasturtiums that also has a blue-toned background, and a mix of organic shapes and drawn lines. The colors interact among the figures and the pattern shapes. Note too that the basic background colors are rolled together and blended to change color and value from top to bottom. I like that their feet are in the air and turning in different directions, suggesting dancing with the rhythms. The player on the left has his guitar showing in two positions of play. I also play a jazz guitar, although not very well. But I’m inspired by such great American music.
This post serves as an introduction to the coming addition of ten of these monotypes to my art portfolio. viewing all of them together provides a better understanding of the uniqueness of each one, and of course the breadth of the “theme and variations” presented. A couple of these can work together too. I would appreciate your comments and feedback. Thom