Thursday, June 14, 2018

Promotion for Everybody

During the day I was at my parents' house, and looked through the issue of the Coast Star that arrived today.  One notable thing was a large article about my upcoming woodcut class in Belmar.  Last time I just was a mention in a whole list of Belmar activities.  The text was pretty much from my faculty page on the BelmarArts website, but I wrote that so it's all good stuff.  The article included an illustration, which ended up being one of the examples of student work from the class that I have on the workshop page this time around.  What was chosen was the side by side images of two proofs of Mary Lane's portrait of a woman playing a large instrument (cello or something of that nature), from 2012.

I had to come up with some images quickly, so went to my folder of workshop photos and chose 3 examples that I thought showed common approaches and possibilities that might spark some interest- Mary's very balanced black and white figure image, a color image made from multiple blocks carefully registered, and a complex image printed on a piece of scrapbooking paper  that also included images/patterns and colors, leading to a more elaborate composition.  I don't know who chose the image for this article- it could have been sent out by our office, or may have been downloaded by the newspaper to fill some space.  (both are common in newspaper publishing)  It's a good image, and the kind of thing that might cause a visual artist to want to try a woodcut.

The one negative is that I hadn't included art credits for me or Mary on the original page, so naturally there aren't any for us here either.  But if it gets people to sign up for the class, that's enough for me.

Linoleum in Belmar

The first time I ever taught a linocut class was a workshop in the Studio, part of the Creativity by the Sea festival in Ocean Grove.   The linocut tools that I have go back to this event, though I also used them to take 2nd place in a pumpkin carving contest in Belmar, and one time that I used a piece of linoleum to substitute for an incorrectly cut part of a boardwalk print.  But otherwise they sat in a wooden cigar box locked in my small cabinet, until I got them out a few weeks ago to see what I had.   The occasion was that suddenly I had multiple requests to teach linoleum cutting classes this summer and wanted to see what tools and materials I had in my possession.

The first class was tonight, at the Creativity Lab in Belmar.  This brand new business is up on Main Street, just a few doors down from Pyanoe Plaza and Don's King of Pizza.  Owner Lauren recruited me after seeing my woodcut class on the BelmarArts site.  By day this place will mostly be occupied by kids, and there are plenty of classes and workshops with them in mind, especially with an emphasis on technical stuff.  They build and program simple robots, do some 3D printing and things like that that are popular with parents and schools these days.  (check the above link to see more)  At night it's all adults and alcohol is freely shared.  I use computers plenty in my own life (such as this blog), but for art I tend to prefer an old fashioned approach, as do those people who take my woodcut classes.  Unfortunately, tonight was to be only a one night workshop, which doesn't work for woodcut, which is why I had suggest linoleum.

No experienced printmakers in the class, but they all seemed excited to get started.  I did make them sit though a quick safety lecture, which worked well with Lauren getting some bandaids across the street while we were waiting for a few late arrivals.  During yesterday's test cutting and printing she ended up cutting herself while cutting the linoleum, despite (as she confessed to the class tonight) I had repeatedly warned her not to do what she was doing.  Just a minor cut- she's fine now.  But then we got to work.  She had been expecting 8, but 2 couldn't make it, which was probably for the best as the six we had kept me hopping.

Most of the chosen designs came from the web, so mostly I advised on how to convert them to simple  monochromatic designs and demonstrated the best ways to use the tools and cut the material.  The participants all figured it out quickly and soon were ready to cut and print what they had.  Lauren and provided small tote bags, but some had brought in t-shirts as well.

Lauren and been looking at examples of patterns, and some of the participants decided to try such things themselves.  The above artist chose the leaf shape, which I showed here how to cut, and mixed a color she requested.  I had also demonstrated how masking tape could be used to cover large negative spaces and cover up trace ink marks.  But she took it from there, and before I knew what was happening, this artist was covering a tote bag with a leaf pattern.  Eventually another column of 3 would fill that space on the right.

Meanwhile, another participant wanted a more multicolor design, so after cutting down all the negative space in her design, I lent her a brush so she could paint each raised section with individual colors, and my instructions on backwards lettering were followed.  She liked the results so much, that she reinked her linoleum and printed a second one.

Everyone seemed to be happy with what they did and had a good time.  Lauren seemed like she thought it a success as well, and we are likely to do more things like this.  When I know more, I'll post it here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What is Teaching?

We're now almost a month past the end of the spring college semester.  As of now, I am pencilled in by my university to teach again in the fall, but that is still months away.  When college classes end, the college checks stop coming, too.  No surprise there.  But it's why I spend part of every summer looking for some kind of summer work.  The past 3 summers I had various summer jobs, each of which I kept going well into the fall, ending them when they started taking time away from my college work, which is pretty much what paid my bills.  Summer jobs typically pay around minimum wage, which isn't even close to what one needs to live on.  I took advantage of having no other commitments to pick up extra shifts, sometimes getting close to 40 hours/week, what one might call full time if employers ever hired full time employees, but even those long weeks I couldn't earn enough to pay rent, much less my other fixed expenses, so that kind of work is a dead end.  Which doesn't mean I haven't submitted some applications and won't do more of them.

But so far this summer I have been concentrating on teaching art.  First of all, it is something that I'm actually good at.  Been doing it for decades, and have done it in lots of places.  Second, it's just part time, but it pays far better than most part time jobs. But you don't get paid for all of it.  One has to spend a lot of time on things related to the job that have nothing to do with teaching art.  Right now I have three part time relief printing teaching situations progressing forwards.  The longest established is the BelmarArts woodcut class, which I have taught many times, including a series that I just finished recently.  The next one starts up again in about a month, pending people actually signing up for the class.  It's been on the web for at least a few weeks, and an e-mail blast to members went out a few days ago, but even before that I was sending e-mails to individuals who had taken the class before, or who had expressed an interest but couldn't sign up in the past, just letting them know it was out there if they were interested in another go, or knew someone who admired what they did and might want to try it themselves.  Don't know if anything will come from these recent contacts, but getting the word out is part of the job.

Meanwhile two other jobs seem to be directly related to the existence of the first one, as it seems to be how they found me.  I am scheduled to teach a one day workshop in linoleum printing for high school age students at a library in Ocean County in August.  (I figure lino is a lot safer than wood for inexperienced students)  The initial plan was set up a few weeks ago, but getting it official has been delayed by paperwork.  I stand to make more for one afternoon than I would in a whole week at a typical summer job, but only if I can get my vendor license straightened out so I can be paid.  It's a online process, but does require being given a special password from a county employee, and that employee had been out sick the first few days this week.  Hours spent on the computer and on the phone that accomplished nothing.  But the missing person was back today, so that class is on as of now.   The other class is close to home, in Belmar, just a few blocks from the place I have taught before.  Again, linoleum and a one day class, but this time adults, and if it works, there will be more of these scheduled, or my expertise may be turned to other types of art.  This place just opened a week ago and things are being figured out, so I decided it would be good to go there before the class and show exactly what we can do.  Lauren, the owner/operator was there today and so I came by with  one of my collection of tools and other materials, so she could see what is involved.  (she's into a lot of high-tech stuff, so there are workshops for 3D printing, building robots, etc)  So today was not paid work, and it won't affect the plan for tomorrow's scheduled class, but it could pay off in the future.  Because I did show her how to cut and print a small linocut (demonstrating teaching skill) and she found it to be really fun and the resulting print to be very cute (making it easier to sell the class to future students).  Paying work begins tomorrow night, but I'm hoping more classes will follow, and if the first print class goes well, I'm pretty sure more will be scheduled.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Return of the Woodcut Class

Following the successful conclusion of the early summer woodcut class, I decided to get going on the late summer edition.  So yesterday I stopped by the office, picked up the check for the previous one, and reserved dates for the next one.  I was asked to update the photo I had accompanying the write up last time.  Nothing wrong with that photo (showing me working on my 21st Century Employee print), but I was advised that this would let those within the organization know the print class was a going concern, not to be removed from the website.  Between my role as the blogger for BelmarArts and my custom of documenting all my art activities, I had dozens, maybe hundreds of relevant photos that relate to the workshop, so not a problem.  Except the e-mail system was refusing to send my mail with the attached photos to the office.

But things were back to normal this morning, so I sent our administrator mail with 4 attached photos, one group scene from last summer

 and a few individual prints done in class over the years, and told her to choose what she liked.  Or if she didn't like them, I could come up with more options.

I guess she liked them, as when I went on earlier tonight all four photos were there, along with the new late summer dates.  Once again we will be on alternate Tuesday evenings, now in July and August.  (too many other things going on there to ever get the same day of the week in four consecutive weeks) The registration form is there as well, so people can start signing up right now if they want to.  Could work out- for the most recent class the stuff went up on the computer only about 2 weeks before the class was to begin, and it was only promoted one week before it started, and I still had 3 paid students.  Now I have almost 2 months.  The down side is that they won't send out press releases or e-mail blasts until we are much closer, but are counting on instructors and participants to put it out on social media sooner.

Thus this blog post.  The next round will be on Tuesday evening, 6:30 to 9:00, on July 17, 31, and August 14, 28.  For more information, go to the education section on the BelmarArts website, or just drop by the office whenever they are open.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Woodcut Class Draws to Conclusion

Well, all good things must come to an end, and that thing tonight was the current woodcut class at BelmarArts. I had three students sign up and pay, but only two have ever come to class, but both are dedicated.  I was a little worried tonight because I heard they were having door issues at the Boatworks, but I heard nothing new and everything worked when I got there tonight, so I guess they resolved it all over the weekend.

Tonight was the 4th and last night, which usually means a lot of printing.  I've never had a class where everyone didn't finish and proof at least one print (some completing more than one), and I didn't want to break that streak.  Last week we pulled a first proof on Linda's first block, an image of her black cat, and she had told me she planned to make a few adjustments to it before this week.  She had also asked about hand coloring prints and mentioned a desire to hand print greeting cards, so in addition to the usual print supplies and tools, I brought in several examples of my past holiday cards and the catalog from the Painted Prints show I saw with Tom Huck on my visit to St Louis a decade or so ago.  Meanwhile, Mary Ellen had acquired a few linoleum tools and found them more effective than those cheap woodcut tools she had been using, made some good progress on her block, even pulling a couple of proofs along the way.  While Linda continued to look at my catalog, I put out my woodcut tools, Mary Ellen asked me to advise her on a few things with her block, and she grabbed a few tools and finished her block.  She was ready to move on so we printed her first.

I had brought in my supply of colored and decorative papers, thinking her mermaid print might benefit from such a thing.  After looking at my supply, she chose a piece of the green lokta paper for her first proof and some Rives Lightweight White for a second.  Below are the two proofs.  My earlier advice had been to cut the tail a bit whiter to help balance the brightness of the mermaid's upper body and the large sun on the horizon; she had taken it a step further by widening the ribbons of white at the bottom, another good change.

I inked the first proof and demonstrated hand printing, then let her do the second proof from start to finish.  Seems like she learned a bit along the way.

Meanwhile, Linda had not worked more on her cat piece we proofed last time, but went out and got more wood, and cut two new blocks.  Plus she brought in a white enameled butcher tray that she once got to be a palette but she didn't need it for that, and some small size art papers.  Since she had watched my printing demonstration earlier, she was confident to do the whole process herself.

Again we printed both of these with the same oil based black relief ink I had prepared for the mermaid prints, though she had told me from the start that she planned to try hand coloring these.  My St Louis catalog reinforced her plan.  The first one printed (above) is a white line design, but I believe pink petals and green leaves are part of the plan. The second one (below) is also a plant with flowers, and color is expected there, too, but I don't know the specific plans.

And with that, our 2.5 hours of tonight's class were done, our four woodcut classes are done.  Will there be more woodcuts in their future?  I don't doubt it.  Linda was already talking about buying inks  and woods and seemed almost giddy with excitement about future projects.  Mary Ellen asked to take home a few bits of colored paper to experiment with in future prints.  Both had questions about registration systems.  Would either consider retaking this Belmar class?  (I was asked by the office to look into it) Depends on timing and availability.  I don't see such a thing happening until late summer, but if BelmarArts is willing to put it on the schedule, and actually promotes it this time, it could happen.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Woodcut Workshop Rolls On

Tonight was the third meeting for the current woodcut class in Belmar.  Still only two students showing up out of the three who signed up and paid, but those who are coming have been working hard.

Both of my students have been able to make use of my provided tools during class times, but both have been using alternative tools at home in between our meetings.  Linda has gotten the furthest into her first block using a variety of x-acto type tools, which I know work because my college students have had to rely on such things over the years.  I can't afford to provide imported tools to every student in a college class during class time and I never let people take my tools home to keep working.  I still make use of some here and there myself.  She came in with a very specific idea she wanted to do, and had a detailed block drawing at the start of our second meeting.  Since our last meeting she had used her tools to cut a lot of the image, and even pulled a few pencil rubbings to check the progress of her value balance.  What she needed tonight was to get my opinion on a few areas she was unsure of, and use of the better tools to do a few delicate areas.  Working efficiently, she felt ready to see how it would print, so I showed her how to pull a proof, using water based ink so it would dry quickly, well before our next class.

She was extremely pleased with the result.  I'll have a better image of it next time when it's finished and properly inked and printed. First inkings are always low quality, and water based ink is fairly inferior to oil, but this gives her the best take on what she's got so far and what she needs to do before our next meeting to make it better.

Meanwhile, Mary Ellen came in with a long way to go on her mermaid print.  Tried working with a really cheap set of tools, the kind that come in a large package for several dollars, and didn't get too far.  The tools I provide the class let her do some better things.  Showed her some pages from a Masereel novel that included mermaids and undersea scenes- not to get her to copy, but just for some inspiration.

She wasn't going to be printing anything tonight, but she got to watch me demonstrate the process.  Maybe she'll be ready to try it next time.

We have one more meeting to go, two weeks from tonight.  At that point both will be printing something, and maybe even working on ideas for a second piece.

Monday, April 30, 2018

That time of year

Spring is in the air right now- winter may finally be over.  And that means the end of the spring semester at college.  Unfortunately, that means extra work, as grading adds all kinds of things that have to be done on a deadline.  At my university, I have two sections of Intro going right now, 34 students total, and just 2 weeks to go.  That means just two more meetings, just two more long days, long early morning drives.  I like that part.  But it also means a lot has to get done in those two weeks.

For example, I devoted part of today to grading the recent 2D final, and shared information with students regarding the current 3D final, and trying to get some to finally turn in their research assignments, which I hope to all have graded by this Friday.  But my biggest task today was working on a student art exercise, their collagraph project.   I always try to have at least one print project in every studio class I teach, and with the Intro class that takes the form of a collagraph.  I have the materials, it's not too difficult for inexperienced students, and results are not too bad.  Plates were made in class a while back, and I brought ink and tools to class a few weeks ago so students could get them printed during class.  Of course, students being students, some had not completed their plates, some had forgotten them, some didn't show get the idea.  But prints are important to me, and it's the one thing they really can't finish on their own, so if they can get me the plate by a certain point, I'll just take them to my Studio and print them there.  More efficient than bringing all the printing stuff each week.

So today I had 7 such prints to take care of.  Above is a photo of the resulting prints.  The students will have the option of adding color to the dry prints (used water based ink, so they will be dry when they get them back), but even in this form they have their charms.  This usually ends up being one of the things they do and actually choose to save at the end of the semester.  And I had at least one student last week who asked me for more of the material we used to make the plates, so maybe I'll get more of these to do this coming week.  If they don't get them to me by then, they are on their own.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

East Meets West part 3

Got a call from the Belmar Arts Council today with some news that I already knew, but I guess now everyone knows.  Last year various trustees and other people who run the BAC had asked me about the possibility of doing a printmaking theme show there.  Maybe it was because of my successful woodcut class there last summer.  I had expressed doubts, as there just aren't that many people doing printmaking, especially in this area.  But then one of my former Belmar print students approached me with something she had cooked up with an old friend she had reconnected with at a college reunion.  Part of that new connection was that both were doing a lot of printmaking, and my student had even been invited to go out west to Portland and hand pull some very large woodcuts.  (my class is very old school)  Their idea was a print show pairing traditional printmakers from the east and west coasts.
Where could they show such a thing?

So I suggested Belmar, and I got a good response to the concept, and had Mary put together a proposal.  More good response, so it moved forward.  She got a date for the show and I started helping her navigate the policies and rules for such things. Then the trouble began.  Big turnover of authority there in Belmar, and the new faces either lacked an interest or experience.  Feet were dragged for weeks.  Policies and rules were piled on.  Two coasts worth of organizers were not satisfied.  Mary asked me if it would be okay if she sought another location for the show.  Told her it was her show and she didn't need my permission.  She started looking for other options and about 2 weeks ago she informed Belmar of her desire to pull the show out of there.  She took a meeting with a new location, but I'm not going to say more about that until it is official.  But now BelmarArts has told me that they discussed her request to end the show and have agreed to go ahead with that, including giving back a donation for that show that she had secured.

What remains now is for them to decide what they want to do with the exhibition slot.  Another print show?  Something completely different?  I'm not going to worry about it until they ask me about it.

Studio Business

A few days ago I learned that this Sunday they will be celebrating the birthday of my niece Georgia, the one I did the mermaid for a while back.  Even before I made the mermaid, I had done the traditional thing I had made for her siblings. a saint print of a saint he shares her name with.  I made a prototype, but hadn't gotten around to making a copy to hang along side the previous ones, mostly because I couldn't find the block, completed last summer.

I thought the print successful, and it received many compliments when people had seen it, and I figured when I started gathering things for the new print class, I would finally find the block.  And I did.  Had a lot of other things to deal with over the past few weeks, and still do, but I had time for a Studio visit today and went there this morning to take care of business.

Nothing like rolling out some ink and getting to work.  I had a can of black ink in progress, and one new one, but wanted to save the latter in case I needed it tonight.   The older can was mostly dried up, but I was able to extract enough ink to pull a proof. Below are the results.

Proved to be tricky, between the bits of skin in the ink and lots of stray marks from the block.  Not a great proof in itself, and if just the black and white probably not usable, but the watercolor may be enough to save it.  Had to use a lot of masking tape to cover the stray marks, so after it dries, I may attack the block with woodcut tools and cut away some of that offending wood.  Meanwhile, I left the print to dry at the Studio.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

St Dwynwen part 4

No things I had to do during the day today, so it was a good day for a Studio visit.  Had two things to do there- talk to the new director about some show related stuff, and to start drawing the latest block. The print is one I was planning for the East Meets West show, and whatever happens with that it's still months away, but this can also help me with my Belmar woodcut class, which will resume next week.
Week 2 of that class is when they start cutting, which I will demonstrate early on.  Normally I just cut random shapes in a piece of scrap wood, but I think it would be more exciting for them to see an actual block being carved.  Of all the blocks that I'm planning for the near future, this was the one that would be easiest to draw.

The block design is very much like the one I worked out in the waiting room of the car repair shop back in February.  In the center is a wheel, which I think was mentioned in the television report, a symbol of a man's promise to work to support the woman he gives a wooden spoon to.  I had considered basing it on the design of the wheels and hubcaps on my own car, but in the end I figured a wooden wheel made more sense, so this one was based on a covered wagon wheel.  (every day my television brings me dozens of vintage tv westerns, so finding a source was no problem)  Wooden spoons are a major part of the Welsh custom in this case, but they are also significant to my own process of printing.  Combining the playing card format and the romantic holiday associations, opposite corners will have small red hearts, accompanied by the common feast day date.  Horizontal above and below the wheel will be drawings of wood carving tools, significant to the traditional custom of carving a wooden spoon to give to the woman one loves.  I will be carving spoons, but only as relief, not in the round.

I just started on the carving tools when I had to call time and make a stop at the store to pick up ingredients for a batch of meat sauce.  No problem- the woodcut demo will be next Tuesday, so plenty of time to finish the sketch before then.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Return of Woodcut Workshop

My latest Belmar woodcut workshop started tonight.  (the above photo is from a class taught at a college a few years ago, but the activity and effect was about the same as tonight) I had gotten confirmation last week that the class was going to run, with my minimum of three paid students signed up.  I bought wood last week, and a good bit of today was spent gathering materials for my traditional first night.  I brought several exchange folios (what you see above), some examples of my own prints, books by favorite prints artists, plus tools, blocks, and other things to show them how we'll be working in the coming weeks.

Only two of the three registered students showed up, so perhaps I'll eventually hear from the missing guy.  One of those present said she had been interested in this class for a long time, but this was the first time that money and her schedule allowed her to take it.  Those present seemed to be impressed with what they saw and they walked out with nice clean birch blocks at the end of the class.  I encouraged them to come up with drawings before we meet again in 2 weeks, on paper if not on the wood itself.  It took me a good half hour to pack up all my stuff and clean the room, and another half hour to drive home and unload my car.

As I expected, in the process of gathering stuff to show the students tonight I uncovered my St Georgia woodblock, which I figured I last had to show last year's woodcut students.  So in the near future I can finally produce the final version of that for my niece.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Studio Changes

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Molly telling me that Jackie had informed her of a plan to move out of our Studio.  I've known Jackie for many years, first from a gallery and studio space she had on Cookman Avenue in Asbury, where she had exhibitions of her own works and other people.  A few years ago that place closed, I don't know if it was her decision or she was pushed to do it.  At some point she started working in a store in Ocean Grove (I think while she still had her space, too) and Molly had produced product to sell there for years, silk screened t-shirts and stuff.  I was told that Jackie was working on art out of her garage, but that was awfully cold in winter, so Molly offered to split our rent with her and invited her to join us.  A blog entry from that time can be seen here.

Molly always claimed she never gave her permission to take up as much space as she did, but three years later, she was still around.  My friend Jenny even met her in her store up the street, and believes she bought one of Molly's shirts there.  But I was told that job ended.  Jackie was able to find a replacement job, and this place is even giving her a nice work space, so she's relocating to there.  She started packing up her stuff (she had a lot of things in her corner) last week, but today it's mostly gone.

A few things are left (that brown wooden desk wasn't part of our space), but I'm guessing she'll come get them soon.  What happens next is yet to be decided.  Molly asked me if I wanted to seek a new third person to split the rent, or to just go back to being the two of us.  There are advantages to both options, so I told her I was okay with either, just wanting approval of anyone coming in, and advising that she establish up front the space, since she still claims she never wanted to let Jackie have all that space (but as lease holder, she had the power to stop her, but didn't).  In our last conversation, Molly was leaning toward just keeping it the two of us, as it was for several years.

What I fear is that her plan is to just start using the vacated corner as her workspace so she'll never have to clean up her corner, which looks like this today-

I guess we'll see what happens in the future.

St Dwynwen part 3

Now that the mermaid sculpture and its prints are finished, definitely time to move on to something else.  Plus, I have a woodcut class coming up real soon in Belmar, someone asking to visit the Studio and see the process, and I like to keep busy with the art.  I have firm ideas for 3 prints, and two have been started to some extent.  Decided the one to work on today would be St Dwynwen, which I wrote about back in February.

Although this piece is a saint, it's not part of my Everyman series, mostly for two reasons.  First, it's not in the Butler's books that are the origin of that series, and second, it's not clear if she is actually a saint, as neither the Catholic Church, or the Anglican Church (which dominates the part of the world that she was from) acknowledges her.  Right now there's mostly just a decayed abandoned church building in Wales and a lot of legends.  Butler's casts doubt on the stories of quite a few saints in the biographies, but at least it lists them.

However, the story I have pieced together is hard to resist.  Not so much for the saint, but for the customs of the holidays, which involve carved wood and wooden spoons, both part of my print process.   The above sketch was done weeks ago in the waiting room of my auto repair shop, as I was getting a repair done.  Since this isn't a part of my Everyman series, I don't want to use that standard format of those.  What I came up with that day was something reminiscent of a standard playing card.  Maybe it was the plan to use heart shapes that made me think of it.  It will be a vertical design, more or less the same whichever end is up.  In this early version, long wooden spoons point up and down, there's a wheel in the center (a common symbolic thing in art of this tradition), and typical woodcarving tools. horizontal and filling the space.  It will be hand colored, but color patterns will be simple.  Right now the plan is to make this for my contribution to the East Meets West print show, but it could be part of other shows as well.

I found a medium-small piece of birch plywood, on which I started laying out a 10" x 7" design, based on the above sketch.  Didn't get too far today, since I had other things to do, the show it's intended for is several months away, and I could see from the sky that a big storm was heading our way.  Brought the block home to work on if I have time.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

2018 Tournament of Art part 4

Last night was the Championship Game, the conclusion of the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  Which means it was also the conclusion of my annual Art tournament.  Result was about what I expected.

When I filled out my bracket a few weeks ago, going game by game until I reached the end, I found that I had selected Villanova to be this year's basketball champion.  I'm guessing many people agreed with me.  They were ranked #1 for most of the season, no worse than #3 the rest of the time, and were at the top of their conference most of the year.  Had a few students left from their national championship team of a few years ago.  Their conference (The Big East) is a dominant one in this area, so I had seen a few televised games this season, and I knew what they were capable of doing in a game.   Thus I still had one of my art teams in the final game.

And it played out.  A lot of 20 point wins in recent weeks, and most of those against big midwestern schools, so I'm guessing they were not intimidated by last night's opponent, Michigan. It was a fairly intense game, close early on, but in the 2nd half, Villanova took the lead for good, and gradually expanded it, getting to that 20 point margin with a few minutes left.  Is it because they were smart enough to host a group show that included a few pieces of my art back in 1997?  Probably not, but if more schools thought so, I'd likely have more shows. The news today showed that the Philadelphia reacted much the same way that they did following this year's Super Bowl, making me glad I live at the Jersey Shore instead.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Mermaid Piece- finished

Got a bit of a scare from my mother recently- said something about how she had seen my niece on her birthday.  I was surprised to learn she was already a year old, but was told it was her "11 month" birthday.  Still, I've made two artworks for her and it seems like she (her parents anyway) should get at least one of them real soon.  The saint was done a long time ago, has been seen (and praised) in two critiques, been submitted to two juried shows (rejected from both), and it seems like a good time to make them a copy, but I can't find the block at the moment. Doesn't seem to be in the Studio, so it's probably buried under something in my apartment.  Probably turn up as I am gathering stuff for the print workshop next month.  The other thing is the mermaid sculpture, which has been used to make prints, and the coloring was done back in January.  The thickly applied ink took longer to dry than I expected, but a few weeks ago I saw that it was ready to go.  Just needed a hanging wire.

My brother called me this morning to invite me over for homemade meatless (Good Friday, you know) pizza tonight, so I figured it was about time to turn the mermaid over to the intended recipient. The logical place to attach a long wire is from end to end, say tail to head, but then the wire would have to cross a big empty space, and I didn't know if they would like that.  In the end I attached two wires- one from tail to shoulder (probably not balanced) and a short one behind the hair.  My niece was already up to bed when I brought it out, and since she's not yet talking, I have no idea what she'd think of it anyway.  The two older children were both a bit envious of the piece, so I expect I may get a request to make some new sculptures in the near future.  But at least I'm done with this one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Woodcut Opportunities

So, you want to do woodcuts but have no experience.  No problem.  I saw some examples of German Expressionist woodcut in an art history book, decided it would be cool to try, and I took the approach of figuring it out.  Found a nice sanded hunk of pine plank where I worked, did a sketch on it in pencil of a portrait,  based on a photo in my college yearbook.  I never had a lesson, or owned any woodcut tools, but I understood the basics of relief.  I cut out the design using a drypoint needle, a carpet knife, and a small screwdriver.  Got a simple brayer and some Speedball ink, and ended up with something I liked.  (if I can find a copy, I'll post it) Did more, liked those, too, decided to take a class, and the rest is history.

Now if you'd prefer to have someone show you the basics, teach you about tools, inks, papers, etc, that's a little trickier.  If you can even find a college that teaches printmaking (fewer and fewer over the years), they may not cover woodcut, or may not teach much.  Several years ago I was hired to print four editions for a college print student who was too injured to do it herself, and she was astonished to learn you could print blocks by hand without a press (I had to make some quick BAT's for her unprinted blocks and didn't have time to clean the junk off Molly's press).  And last year when a senior at my university wanted to include large woodcuts in his final show, he remembered that I had told him about better tools and where to get them, not the official print professor, and asked me to  be his faculty.  And some of the organizations that used to teach woodcut just aren't anymore.  Thanks to the internet, people who want to learn woodcut in New Jersey often find me.

I may need to count on that again.  Had a successful workshop last summer, six participants, including one who had searched the state looking for a place to teach him.  Here they are in action.

Belmar encouraged me to do it again, and also asked if there could be some kind of printmaking themed show for the gallery.  A few months later I was approached by one of my longtime students there about an idea for a show, something from her and an old college friend out west, which seemed to suit their needs.  I brought it to the director, who liked it and gave us an exhibition slot in September 2018, with me promising to offer my woodcut class a time or two for those who needed to learn the process in order to participate.

Since then things have broken down a bit.  The previous director left to take a long needed full time job, a new crew is running things, and they aren't so much into the printmaking.  My former student tells me she gets no response from the board regarding issues that need to be settled very soon on this fall show (she and I took a meeting yesterday afternoon), and weeks after I put in dates for the first woodcut class of the year, it still wasn't on the website.  Finally last week (thanks to reminders from the college student who is a holdover from the previous administration), the class and the registration form finally was added to the website, but as of today there is still nothing on the online calendar, and there have been no e-mail announcements to members or other places, so if you don't know to go looking for it, you aren't going to know about it.    (Update- later that day I brought up the current status of things to that college student and she went and put the class on the online calendar, which I have since verified.  She also said that she would see if they will put out announcements by the end of the week, but I'll believe that when I see it.)

The only way the class happens is if people sign up for it, so we'll see what happens.  Meanwhile I'm doing what I can to promote it.  Been talking it up for weeks, and now I'm promoting it here.  If you want to learn woodcut here in New Jersey and the internet brings you here, just take the link to, and click on the tab for Education on the home page.  That will show you woodcut printmaking in a drop down menu, which will give you the information and a registration form.  This first print series will be on alternate Tuesdays in April and May, starting April 10, 2018, and includes 4 sessions of 2.5 hours each.  Paying participants get basic wood, ink, and paper, plus access to cutting and printing tools during class meetings, as well as instructions and advice, all more than I ever got when I started.  Whether or not this spring class happens, I will offer it again in the summer if they are willing.  Maybe someone reading this will find their way there.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 Tournament of Art part 3

Two weekends are done now, and the field of 68 teams has been cut down to 4.   Results are about what I expected.

I entered this round with two of my teams still active.  Syracuse had won its play-in game to get the #11 seed, then won its way to the sweet 16.  This weekend they got to go up against Duke and it was the end of the road for them.  Meanwhile, Villanova won games over West Virginia and Texas Tech, and earlier today claimed a spot in the Final Four, which one might expect from a #1 seed in their region.  The above mentioned results match up with my predictions for the bracket, so I can't complain about them.  The rest of my bracket was not so good.  My Midwest region (which is where Syracuse was placed) was pretty good- only two games wrong out of the 15 that cut the teams to one. And that one, region representative Kansas, was one I picked.

One of the big surprises right now is that Loyola- Chicago, which won two early round games on last second shots, had some decisive victories this week to get a Final Four slot of their own.  Which means that the automatic bid from the Missouri Valley Conference (which one of my alma maters is a part of) has as many teams in the Final Four as the Big East, and more than the ACC.  That's sure to upset a lot of people, but I'll take some pride in that.  Meanwhile I still have Villanova active and can pick up a few more games in my art school competition.  More on that in about a week.