Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Woodcut Workshop 2017 continues

Time for week 2 of the 2017 BAC woodcut workshop, and a few things have happened since last week.  First, I ordered some more supplies- ink, tools.  Bought more hand soap, inventoried my refound water based ink, but I still need to order some more paper.  The other change is that the class grew from five to six students.  Was contacted my e-mail a few days ago and asked if it was possible to join.  She was willing to pay the full tuition so I said yes, and tonight she had checks for the class and materials.

After that it was business as usual.  Everyone had sketches, which I reviewed and advised.  Cut off blocks of wood for those who didn't have them yet, and they got started.  Just showed a few prints tonight, giving them more time to work.  Talked tools one more time and gave a quick demo of the proper way to use the various gouges.

On a regular basis I worked around the table, giving cutting and tool advice.  One of the concerns raised last week was how to avoid cutting oneself, so for the demo I brought out one of the bench hooks.  Went over well, because I ended up passing out all I had.  And one bandaid, despite the demo and bench hooks,  but just a minor injury.  A few felt some soreness in their joints, but first time cutting after a long time without and I can feel the same way for a little while.  You get over it.  No one finished a block tonight, but all made good progress and had to be reminded that the class had ended and it was time to go.  Next week cutting continues, and printing if anyone is ready, but I doubt anyone has their own tools, so we'll see if that happens.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Woodcut Workshop 2017

Tonight was the first meeting of my latest round of woodcut classes in Belmar.  It's been a few years since I was able to hold it, the problem being lack of students.  We put it back on the schedule in the spring, but only one student signed up.  We decided to try again for an early summer class, so that spring student returned, and we got four more, for a total of 5.  Very respectable number.

Took about 3 trips to load my car with all the necessary materials, and that's with some stuff already stored at the Boatworks.  I got there a little past 6, with the first student arriving as I was still unloading my car.  All five paid up students were there.  As has happened before, I was too busy teaching about woodcuts to think about taking photos- maybe in future weeks when they're all working and have something to show.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

St Georgia part 8

Later this week my entry for the upcoming Bird themed show in Belmar is due, so I figured it would be good to get this print done.  One difference from last time is that I brought with me a bird identification book with lots of images of various pigeons and doves (biologically the same bird), plus my plan for the 2nd try.  As I said last week, I preferred the lighter version of the walls on the tower, so brought a color closer to that to the main church and apse walls.  And instead of the blue-gray that I put on all the birds last time, plumage that is more accurate to the birds.  Turns out that pigeons are one of the most common and widespread birds on earth, and thousands of years of breeding has resulted in a wide range of colors, and I tried to reflect these options this time around.

One effect of the lighter color on the walls is that the name of the saint is easier to read compared to the first experiment.  Not planned, but it works out.  Not as much color in the birds, but it's still a good balance, and the value balance also holds up.  And if you compare the above image to the one from last week, the quality of the black printed ink is much better, which is why the last proof was my initial practice/experiment copy.  Is this the final version?  I don't know, but it's good enough for submission to the show later this week, and the color choices may hold up to be the final version.

Herb Herbst 1926-2017

On Sunday, June 4th, the Jersey Shore Arts Center held a large visual arts event, a group show that filled much of the building.  Unlike the recent WinterArts festivals, this one included artists not currently connected to the building, a former high school that has been transformed into a regional art center, mostly through the hard work of volunteers.  We had a good turnout at the show, but the one person missing was Herb Herbst, the man behind the JSAC and one of the hardest working people there.  However, earlier that day one of the many artists who have studios there found Herb needing medical help.  Not the first time our leader had to be dragged to the hospital and away from his pet project.  One of the grandsons supervised the well attended event, while the rest of his family joined him at the hospital.  Unlike the other stays, this time Herb didn't come back- passing away a week ago.  Word quickly spread through the building (I had been proofing my newest saint block), and while no one was surprised at his passing, we were all a bit stunned.  Despite being in his 90's, he was still there most days, often pitching in with physical labor.

We are all wondering what this means for the future of the building, but the word is that plan is to go forward with everything on the schedule and maybe to continue expanding.  Many of the visitors to the recent show were first time visitors to the building, even though it has been on the edge of Ocean Grove for more than a century.  And Herb realized before most people that the building was a treasure of late 19th century architecture and came up with a plan to save it.  It has been a lot of work and it's a gradual process- the 3rd floor was only occupied starting a few years ago.  But it's a going concern, and a very active place.  None of us are sure what comes next, but as long as I am working there, I'll be recording my activities on this blog.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

St Georgia part 7

The past few days have been devoted to things related to employment, which has given my proofs of the latest saint print time to dry.  Meanwhile I had spent some time studying colors and considering my options.  Originally in my head I was thinking a basic gray for all the stone of the church, but two things changed my mind.  First, I still haven't had time to buy more watercolors, including the hues that typically make neutral grays, and if this church were gray it would take a lot of paint.  Second, pigeons/doves have a lot of gray color in their feathers, and I'd like them to be seen.  Warmer color architecture would give more contrast.  Besides, I know enough art history to know that while neutral gray is the common color of neoclassical architecture, back in St Georgia's day all kinds of color stone was used, so I had options.

For today's color test, I was using the 2nd lesser proof from my printing session a few days ago.  I knew I'd go with a typical blue sky, so put that in first, some pthalo wash.  The stone walls are all done with a limited edition burnt sienna, with the variety in value coming from gradually adding more water.  For the various roof sections (tower and apse) I went with one called terre ercolano, which is pretty much a terra cotta, standard for roof tiles all over Italy and not uncommon in traditional European architecture. Had no bird photos with me today, so I just put down some blue/gray colors that I associate with this type of bird, premixed colors I already had on my palettes.

In the final version, I will play around with intensities (so far I prefer the lighter value brown on the tower to the darker version on walls in the foreground) but I think this general palette will work well. I will research bird plumage patterns a little more, but when I go in next week to color the final version, this color combination is what I expect to use.

Friday, June 09, 2017

A Nice Surprise

Back a few years ago my Belmar woodcut class was running fairly regularly-  3 to 4 sessions per year.  At that time, I was granted some storage space in the Boatworks, a piece of a shelf in the closet/storeroom that was part of the addition that was added to the building.  (the bigger piece of that addition became a multipurpose space that these days is the dedicated classroom space, and my upcoming woodcut class will be held there)  My woodcut class has been put on the schedule a few times since then, but hasn't made enough enrollment to run most times, and not at all for a few years. My attempt at a late spring/early summer class this year also failed to get off the ground, but my one paying student from that class was really determined, let her tuition payment ride, and was joined by several new students for the session that will be starting next week.  That means I will have to order some more materials soon- ink and paper that are essential to the process but just not widely sold in any stores around here.

Besides consumables, this process requires some tools, which I began accumulating in the more popular years, and I still have most of that stuff.  Gouges, brayers, etc.  For example, I had made a number of bench hooks from old scrap wood, a simple device that can be purchased, but can also be constructed and can make cutting easier to do.  A few of my students have been impressed enough to make their own for working at home.  They are heavy and bulky, and between classes I keep them in the Studio, but I had some free time this afternoon, and knowing that I have an available storage bin at the Boatworks, it made sense to start moving some stuff to the location I'll be teaching in.  So I took a ride up to the Studio in the late afternoon, grabbed all of them (have 6, enough for my official class size as of now) and brought then down to Belmar.  Grabbed my plastic storage bin from the shelf and found it wasn't empty.  It contained a tote bag full of inks, large tubes of water based relief ink, all colors.  Could have used this in the spring when my Intro class was working on their collagraphs.  I knew I had once had a large supply, but couldn't find it, and figured I'd have to buy some for this class.  At least the black.  So in one trip I moved some heavy tools and found a nice supply of ink.  Still more tools and supplies to bring there, not to mention the ink and paper I still need to order, but today's effort will make my work next week a bit easier.

Monday, June 05, 2017

St Georgia part 6

The exhibition in Ocean Grove is up and we got a good crowd yesterday.  So now it's time to get back to the business of making art.

Entries for the bird themed show in Belmar are due in about a week and a half.  That is digital images for the entries are due, so the finished framed piece does not need to be ready.  But that means I still need to get a finished one ready to photograph.  Rain would keep me from mowing the lawn again today, so it seemed a good day to get going on this project.

The block was finished on Friday, and over the weekend I tracked down my ink supply and various tools.  This morning I grabbed some paper from my supply at home, plus everything else I would need.  In the early afternoon I drove up to the Studio.  Experiments from earlier this year showed me that water washable inks do sometimes redissolve and leak back into watercolor, despite claims to the contrary by the manufacturers, so I went with straight oil based ink today.  Above is the first proof from the new block, the best one from today.  The second proof shifted a little during printing (an occasional problem with the heavier paper I chose), so I'll use that one for working out the color choices.   Brought the proofs home to dry, in case I can't get back up there in the next few days.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

This Great Earth Opens

After two years of WinterArts shows where we often battled the elements, they decided this year to move the annual art show to the edge of summer.  Definitely no snow or ice today, even a bit of sun.  Of course, that also means more summer traffic in town, which means much less available parking.  I got there more than 30 minutes before the start, but cars were already starting to fill the back lot. Forget the main lot.  A glance up the street told me that the back lot was my only option at that time, so that's where I went, hoping I wouldn't be blocked in.

Still not sure exactly how many artists or artworks are in the show.  It does occupy all 3 floors.  We were asked to produce an artist statement, but none of these were out anywhere for viewing, as another artist remarked to me.  (they're still working on it)

We seemed to have a pretty good crowd today, with people coming and going all day.  Probably more than we had for any of those winter days.  There were several people I knew from the building, and several I knew from Belmar, who had never been in the building before but were very pleased.  Part of the point of these festivals is to raise awareness of what the Jersey Shore Arts Center has to offer, so in that sense they had some success today, and I relayed these conversations to a building representative.

As with other festivals, food was provided, I assume from an outside caterer as I didn't see any cooking going on.  I had eaten lunch at home a few hours prior and never did get hungry enough to want to eat more.  Maybe there will be some leftovers around the building tomorrow.

Unlike the previous festivals, I'm told this one was organized as a juried show, a process that caused some concern for some of the less experienced artists, though obviously many figured out how to get into the show.   As part of that, there were prizes for artists in several categories, though printmaking wasn't one of them.  (and I wasn't the only printmaker- I saw several stone lithos, and one artist entered some Japanese style fish prints)  I believe they were gift certificates for art supplies relevant to the category.   I won't be selling my piece in the show (as far as I know it is my last surviving copy and the block was destroyed), but I may have lined up a paid appearance, so my streak of making good connections through JSAC festivals continues.

The  This Great Earth Multi-Media Art Exhibition will remain on display through September 8, 2017.  It's on the walls inside, so I guess it's open any time the building is open, which will be most of those days if not all of them.  Attendance is free.

Friday, June 02, 2017

St. Georgia part 5

Last night I found I had received an e-mail from one of my former co-workers, telling me of a plan to drop off work for the incoming Belmar show, but wondering if this would be able to happen.  Too late to find out anything on my own, so I decided the best thing would be to go to the Boatworks early the next morning in case I needed to meet them and let them in.  As it turned out, Rebecca had gone in early to meet them and was already there, and within 10 minutes the van showed up with a big entry for the new garden themed show, a few staff, and even a few clients in wheelchairs, if only because this would mean less coverage back at the center.  There were some van lift issues, and confusion about how to set up the piece, but it all got straightened out on a timely basis.  And I got to go have a nice lunch at home.

In the afternoon I went up to the Studio and finished the cutting of the new saint block.  Took about an hour, about what I had expected.  Cut out the feast day at the top, and widened the margins around the image.  Have about two weeks until the entry is due, so I'm well ahead of deadline.

Yesterday afternoon I had noticed by piece for the upcoming show was leaning up against a wall on the 1st floor.  Today that piece was hanging on the wall in the same area, so I guess that's where it will be.  When I had arrived today the hallway was dark, but as I was leaving the lights were on an I could get a photo.  I didn't remember there being a payphone there in the hallway, but this old building is full of antiques, so why not?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

St Georgia part 4

Took care of other business in the morning, and then got up to the Studio in the early afternoon.  No new information about the big show this weekend, though I did see my piece on the 1st floor today.  Maybe I'll be able to get more information on my next visit.

Had two other purposes today.  First, I picked up and packed the two boardwalk prints I had produced this year.  Not new prints, just reprinting ones I had completed a few years ago, but the exhibition this past winter resulted in two being ordered.  Spent the past few months coloring them, as shown on this blog.  Those are now home and safe.

Second, more work on the St Georgia block.  As planned, started by cleaning up and redrawing some of the architectural details in the immediate foreground.  Then I finished cutting everything in the main panel- the architecture, the letters, and even cut out the insides of the birds.   Still have to cut out the letters and expand the margins a bit, but this means I should have it printed by the end of next week, leaving plenty of time to color it before the submission deadline.

Toward the end of the day I learned that I now have a third student signed up for my woodcut class in Belmar later this month.  I'm going to have to order more ink and paper than I had expected, but this is a good thing overall.  I also learned that the corporate gallery space I was recently showing in was very impressed with my contribution (boardwalk Wheel Game print), with one of the gallery people there saying she would have bought it if she could afford it.  Story of my life.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

St Georgia part 3

Late last night I typed up an artist statement for my piece in the upcoming Ocean Grove show.  As the piece is almost 20 years old, I know it well, so this was not difficult to write up. Sent a copy by e-mail to the show organizer, and told her I bring a hard copy today.  In the morning I added a title and my name to that statement and printed it out.

Got to the Studio in the afternoon, dropped off the statement in the office, then headed downstairs to continue my block.  Today I started cutting some areas within the architecture, doing most of the tower, and starting work on the semi-circular apse in the foreground.  More birds have been outlined, but I still haven't cut within any of them yet.  I ended up stopping because I realized I still hadn't resolved all the architectural drawing in these areas, and decided I should do that before I cut any more.  There will always be more time tomorrow.

Each time that I participated in the WinterFest, I was given a whole small wall to fill, right down on the first floor.  The walls on that floor are already filled and no sign of mine, so I asked the organizer yesterday what the plans for my piece are.  She said that she was still working things out, but was leaning toward having it up on the 3rd floor by the yoga studios, adding that it's a busy part of the building, so lots of people will see my piece.  So after I was done cleaning up, I took my stuff to my car, then took the elevator up to the top floor.  Somewhat disorganized still- some things on walls, some empty walls, lots of tools, ladders, etc.  However, it was true, a lot of people around, especially kids, on a floor that was still closed to the public a few years ago, so maybe this will work out ok.  Not quite as easy to visit as the 1st floor, but we now have multiple stairways, plus a working elevator, and enough stuff going on to lure people up there.  The opening will be Sunday, June 4th, 3 to 6 pm.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

St Georgia part 2

I arrived at the Studio to see a rare Molly sighting, but she was on her way out.  Also ran into Jackie at the building's front door, but she came back a little later.  As I was cutting she was doing something  at the sink, but then had a problem and called me over.  Couldn't get the water to shut off.  The faucet is doing nothing right now.  Short term solution was to use a shut off valve to stop the water from reaching the sink, but that's not a good long term solution.  Told Herb about it and he complained about all of us.  Maybe he'll get it fixed, maybe not.  Meanwhile I called a left Molly a message so she's know about it.  Early in my Studio visit I dropped off the paperwork for the upcoming show.  I received a few postcards, which tell me that the opening reception will be Sunday afternoon, and I believe there will be some refreshments.

My main task today was starting the carving of the new block.  Since I am planning to use this piece as my entry in a bird themed show, I have a deadline to meet, two weeks from Friday.  Leading up to my MFA show, I was regularly producing one whole block per day, so I'm not worried.  Finished cutting out all the sky today, and I'll be back for more tomorrow.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Blowing Things Up

Once in a while watching 60 Minutes leads to thoughts of art.  Back when I was still in the midwest, they did a piece destroying Thomas Kinkade and his fans, causing one of my old friends to call me up and ask me what I knew about the guy.  Tonight there was a story about a guy who has made a lot of money in his business, but is plowing that money into space research, specifically the idea of structures that can be inflated in space.  Small and lightweight for transporting, but able to become large contained spaces.  Apparently it had been a NASA concept, but never got fully realized and the funding got cut, and this guy decided to run with it.  Experiments still going on, but looking promising.

So naturally my thoughts were drawn to the inflatable project I do with my 3D classes, as in these student examples.  Made from drop cloths and plastic sealing tape, these are not space worthy, but still require planning and execution, a good way of summing up skills learned in the class and most students succeed with the project.  For years the only practical use for the skill that I could think to share with them was creating balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, but now I can tell them of a second career opportunity.   As with the parade, better quality materials would be needed, but if you can figure out how to make things like this, you can figure out other 3D objects.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Back to Work Yet Again part 13

I had not an opportunity to stop by an art supply store the past few days, and I didn't want to drive to one just for a single tube of watercolor paint, so I decided to see if I could manage with what I had in stock.  Had a small tube of white, and a broken half tube of completely dried black.  Dried watercolor paints are not as convenient to use as liquid paints squeezed from a tube, but they can still be used.  In fact, most of the watercolors I used in coloring these pieces were dried mixes of common colors of my palette.  It's just harder to mix, but I needed a bunch of grays so I got to work.

The main thing I had left for today was a bunch of grays- the ice cream machines in the back, the pizza ovens in the back of the other corner, and the sausage and peppers grill in the foreground, plus some other minor things.  Took a few hours, but it's all done now.  Below are the two boardwalk prints that I pulled and colored specifically for this purchase.  I'll give them one last look next week, then sign and stamp them and pack them until my customer is ready to pick them up.  At one point she had been talking about coming back to the Shore for a spring visit, but that never happened.  And despite the fun to be enjoyed on the boardwalk in summer, the crowds and hassles keep me from recommending it to visitors.

Dropping Off and Picking Up

Some days the art life is a lot of driving around, dropping off things, picking up things.  Got in some of each today.

The past two years the building where the Studio is held a WinterArts festival, celebrating the artists who work in the building, while also trying to lure people in during the bleak winter season.  Each time a week's worth of events, and the show remained up for months.  Of course, the down side of a winter art festival is dealing with the weather, and each of those past winters we had a lot of snow, ice, and freezing temperatures that kept it from melting, which may have cut into attendance during these events.  Perhaps that's why they skipped the event this year, though as it turned out this was the least snowy winter in quite a few years.   (I'm not complaining)  In the spring it was announced that there would be something different, a show called "This Great Earth", with a nature theme.  Not something I have done much in my career, so I figured I'd skip it, but when I was in the building earlier this week I was begged to submit something.

Looked around when I got home and realized I did have one suitable thing available.  Back around 2000 I produce two prints for a themed show at the Print Council called "Preserving the Garden", which celebrated our then governor's decision to preserve from development half of the untouched land left in New Jersey.   The piece shown above is one of those pieces.  Called Moving Day, a simple portrayal of the effect of rapid development on the wild areas of the state.  The second piece showed a small cornfield being converted to a housing development, based on an actual site not far from my house in that time.  I had shown this piece in one of the WinterArts shows, so I let them know this up front, but I was told it was still desired for this new show, so on a day when it had ceased raining for a few minutes I moved it to my car.  The person in charge of the show wasn't around last time I was there, so I kept it in my car until today, when I finally got word that they did want to include it.  Before going to work on my ongoing coloring project, I got the piece from my car and brought it inside.

With that settled I turned to my ongoing coloring project, but I'll save that story for another post.  With the coloring done, I packed up and headed down to Belmar.  We had gotten word that the show that we had in the nearby corporate space and been picked up and brought back to Belmar, and that we needed to come get our pieces as soon as possible.  What I had in that show was my boardwalk Wheel Game print, so I took advantage of another rare dry day and picked it up and brought it home.

I expect that there will be events linked to this Great Earth show, and when I learn the details I'll post them here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Back to Work Yet Again part 12

When I woke up this morning I was hearing lawnmowers, like every Wednesday.  That told me it wasn't raining at the moment as expected.  Later I learned that the rain had already passed through and out to sea.  Still, we had gotten all the planting work done yesterday, so I had today available for art.

On the way to the Studio I stopped in Belmar to update Rebecca on why I hadn't yet posted images from last week's guest visitors.  While there I learned that my woodcut class now has a second sign up- it looks like the class will be happening, and with three weeks before the starting date, maybe we'll get more.  I was told that this new student found out about the class doing a google search for a woodcut class.  Later at home I did a similar search of woodcut class NJ and there was my Belmar class on the first page.  I don't have a lot of competition for woodcut classes.

Meanwhile, work progresses on the boardwalk print coloring.  Late last year my customer mentioned the possibility that she might come up this way for a spring visit, but a more recent e-mail has her thinking winter again.  Still a good idea to get this done and be ready whenever she's ready to claim it.  Added some blues today, as well as touching up lots of other colors.  Don't know if I have enough black and white to make all the grays needed for the pizza ovens, ice cream machines, and the huge sausage and peppers grill in the foreground, though I did color the gulls and some other small gray things.  In fact, everything but those large metallic things are done, so one more trip may be enough to finish this job.