May 1st marks the opening of BEST OF SHOW at the Marcia Evans Gallery in Columbus Ohio. The show features digital prints by artists Robert Lazuka.
The following is the second of a three part series of questions and answers relating to Bob's life as an artist.
Question: How does all the new technology impact your work verses the use of more traditional techniques?
Bob: I still enjoy mixing the inks and trying new combination's of colors using traditional printmaking techniques. It's a very pure and direct way to create - similar to drawing, but with the added challenge and possible surprises that come with printmaking.
My current interests, however, are more about creating the illusion of time and event, so the photographic image makes more sense. The traditional prints are more gestural and more visceral, whereas the digital images have more to do with the image and idea.
Question: How do you start a new print and how do you know when it is finished?
Bob: The works that I am showing at Marcia Evans Gallery this May/June represent three different approaches to the art making process. All of them address the "magic moments" I referred to earlier, but they are arrived at in different manners. The heart of the show consists of a series that I call "Spirits." They are archival digital prints that begin with the camera. I usually shoot at dusk or dawn for the optimum interplay of natural and artificial light. Sometimes I shoot while I move the camera,or while I'm riding my bike or driving my car. I know, it sounds dangerous, but artists must take risks. Right? But seriously, I am looking at the road while shooting, not at my subject. It takes practice to pull this off, and I sometimes must circle back and shoot again and again until I get the effect I am looking for.
After I have gathered the "evidence" I use digital tools to alter the color, add some lines, shapes, or shadows, or I delete unneeded parts of the image. I often combine three or four images to make one finished piece, but sometimes a single image carries enough information to create a foundation for the piece. I work hard to make these images look as if they have just appeared in the camera lens, but in truth, the colors, forms and textures have been reworked and refined to create an animated environment with a life of its own.
The second group consists of smaller images that often begin as collages. I find some interesting textures of spatial qualities in a magazine and paste a couple of them together creating the suggestion of a horizon or an interior space. Then I draw , print, or paint on them, making the marks interact or enhance the collage information. I usually scan or photograph the results so that I can work on them digitally, and then print them using archival inkjet processes. At this point they might be finished, or I might decide to do some more handwork before re-scanning, enhancing, and reprinting.
The third group is from "Personal Spaces," and consists of the larger mono type prints that convey a sense of time and space without a particular location. They are often described as "mental or spiritual landscapes." I begin by printing two colors adjacent to each other on the paper to establish a color relationship and the beginnings of a space. Each subsequent layer of ink serves to enhance the sense of light and atmosphere, while enriching the surface and complexity of color. They feel finished when the light quality and atmosphere appear to come alive. I know it is finished when I "feel the magic" oozing from the print. Ha!
Question: Do you keep a sketchbook or journal?
Bob: Not much anymore. I don't do much drawing or writing these days. But I do collect hundreds of images in an array of folders - both digital and physical. These constitute my sketchbook. When I have time for studio work, I usually browse through these images. Each one is a kind of visual note that reminds me of something: an idea, a place, a quality that interested me at the time. I also collect digital files of textures, and images of different kinds of space.
Tomorrow will be the third and final installment in this series.