Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Buyout

The word is out that Marvel Entertainment, which includes the Marvel Comics Group and all their thousands of heroes and villains, is to be acquired by Disney, at a cost of 4 billion dollars. That's a lot of money, but the assumption is that Disney will make plenty more back in the long term, between licensing and movies. The bigger concern at the moment is from comic book fans, many fearing that Disney will impose "family values" on some of the more edgy characters and storylines. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. I'm not too worked up about it myself, as I don't think Marvel has put out anything worth buying in well over a decade, so I don't see there being anything to ruin. But once upon a time, there were a lot of interesting comics out there. Artwork like the early 70's Trimpe/Severin panels above was one of the things that first got me interested in art.
By the way, if anyone out there has 4 billion bucks to spend, I have plenty of stuff for sale around the Studio.

Friday, August 28, 2009


The Belmar Stories show at the Boatworks officially ended today. Normally I'd go tomorrow to pick up my piece, but I'm going to be busy all day, so I swung by today to get it right around closing time. While I was there, I decided to investigate what happened with the piece I provided to the silent auction this past Saturday. (I wasn't there, but you can see the set up in the above photo from Joe Villa. More photos of the event can be found here.) I was at the BAC for a coordinators meeting last night and was told that it was one of the artworks that sold, but I didn't get the details. Today I got them. I'm not going to say exactly what it brought in, but I will say that there was more than one bidder, and that after the BAC takes their cut and I subtract my framing costs, my profits will allow me to buy a large pizza with the topping of my choice. In this economy, you take what you can get.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beside the Sea

Met up with a former co-worker in Toms River for lunch and a few beers this afternoon. After that, while I was more or less in the neighborhood, I drove east on route 37 to Seaside Heights. Want to get going soon on the next print and I needed a few more specific details. With good weather and just a few weeks of summer left, there was a pretty good weekday crowd. Into my sketchbook went little sketches and notes, as in the sample page seen above. Also took about a dozen photos that should prove helpful over the next several months. I walked up and down the boardwalk for about 2 hours, collecting as much information as I expect to need in the near future. And if there's something that I missed, I can always go back again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Old Boardwalk, New Boardwalk

Dropped by the Studio for a little while today, but made no art. Did some related stuff. On my way there I picked up some plexiglass pieces I ordered about 10 days ago, finally ready. Also with me on the way up were an empty frame (which I used to make sure that the plexi was the right size) and the matted copy of the tattoo print in an identical frame. Once there, I peeled the protective blue film off one of the plexi pieces and inserted it into the frame holding the tattoo print. That is now ready to hang, whenever I need it next. I left the blue plastic on the other piece for now, to keep it protected for future use.
After that I decided to prepare a block for the next boardwalk print. I'm not ready to start drawing, but this way the wood will be ready when I am. In fact, I had two pre cut pieces of plywood. One is the remainder of the panel that provided the blocks for the last two prints. The other was cut earlier this year, but had a pronounced warp in it. I decided to put it under some heavy boxes in my basement for several months. Pulled it out the other day- still a little curved, but I think I can work with it. I decided to go ahead and apply wood filler and sand both pieces. I may work on the next two prints at least partly simultaneously.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hanging in Belmar

I signed up for another day of gallery sitting at the Boatworks, since there are many empty slots and I had to go there for something else today anyway. As always, I brought other stuff to keep me busy- sketch paper and reading material. As it turned out, spent most of my time talking to other people there, so didn't get to do much toward the new boardwalk print. At least I accomplished the other task today, dropping off my piece for the silent auction that happens this coming Saturday. About 30 people have provided something for the auction, about one piece for every four people in attendance. Maybe some of those four will bid on my piece.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Posing in Chinese

Tonight's model was new to our group. She was very thin, with long limbs. Models with such a build are not always interesting to draw, but this one made it work, taking a lot of closed poses and otherwise positioning those long arms and legs in interesting ways. The top photo is a 3 minute pencil sketch. Another artist there tonight described the drawing as looking like Chinese writing. Not a farfetched idea, since some of the basic Chinese characters were derived from images of the things they represented, but I have no idea what concept might be represented by this pose. I did 3 short pencil sketches and 4 charcoal sketches, about 15 minutes each, the best of which is shown above in the second photo.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cotton Candy Model

I think my next boardwalk print needs a cotton candy eater. (Full story to follow when I'm ready to start the block drawing) I prefer to work from a model when possible, especially if its a role they are particularly suited for. And in this case I had someone. I first met Michelle at the Belmar Arts Council, but I see her just as often in my Studio, where she is a regular at our critique group. Not only does she enjoy eating cotton candy, but she has done paintings and drawings of it, produced a 3-D cotton candy sculpture, even has it tattooed on her arm along with other favorite sweet treats. Who could be more qualified as a cotton candy model? I brought up the idea with her a few weeks ago, she liked it, and today was the day we picked to do it. She met me at the Studio, and I spent about 20 minutes doing pencil sketches of her with her cotton candy sculpture. One of the resulting sketches is shown above. I'll try to make the face look more like hers in the block drawing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mad Man Prints

When I tell people that I'm working on a print series that combines aspects of New Jersey boardwalks and traditional ukiyo-e woodcut prints, the latter part of that statement goes over the heads of a lot of people. And for those who are familiar with that artistic period, a percentage assume that the series will involve erotic, if not pornographic, images. While it's true that artists from that culture produced some very explicit images, they are just a small percentage of all the thousands of woodcuts produced in that culture. Most are simple portraits, street scenes, and landscapes with or without figures. The most famous Japanese woodcut to westerners is the image above, from Hokusai's portfolio, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Nothing too racy about that.
People who know me know that I'm a big fan of the tv series Mad Men, set at an early 1960's advertising agency in New York. In addition to the well deserved accolades for the writing and acting performances, the show is noted for its attention to detail of design from that period, something I've long been interested in. (Life magazines of that era have provided reference to prints of mine going back to the mid-1990's) Naturally I was eagerly watching last night's 3rd season premier, and it did not disappoint. But I did get a pleasant surprise. The firm's senior partner (Bertram "Bert" Cooper) has been shown in previous seasons to be a fan of Japanese culture and a collector of art. (an episode last season had a plot line about a Rothko painting he had just purchased and hung in his office) In last night's episode a group of executives are seen to be checking out Cooper's latest art acquisition, a Hokusai print. Not a view of a mountain, but a rare erotic work of his, involving a woman and a couple of octopuses, one I'd seen before when doing the initial research for my Floating World series. I'm not going to post the image here, but you can find it on this wikipedia page if you're curious. In any case, I'm very happy to see a woodcut get such prominent placement on a quality television show. I'd love to have one of my prints featured on Mad Men, but the current season is set several years before I was born, and they are sticklers for accuracy. (Several years ago I had a dream that an exhibition postcard with one of my woodcuts was seen tacked to the wall in the girls' apartment on the tv show Friends, but that's not the same thing)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keeping Busy

Nothing too exciting today, but was busy throughout the day with various art related activities. A few days ago I matted and framed a small piece for a silent auction. I need to put my mat cutting machine away by the weekend, but while it was still out I decided to cut a few more mats. These are for boardwalk prints. Since it may not be possible to buy the inexpensive frame parts locally anymore, I ordered some that are essentially the same from an art catalog. They came in a while ago, and a few days ago I ordered some plexiglass to fit. That won't be ready until next week, but no problem cutting the mats now. Did two of them at 20"x25", each with a 2" wide frame. Mounted the tattoo print (which had been in the frame that now holds the arcade print in the Belmar show) in one, and will save the other for next one that needs framing.

Had a working lunch of sorts. Walked over to the local Surf Taco outlet to drop off a pile of announcements regarding the upcoming BAC surfing themed exhibition, looking for potentially interested participants and visitors. Brought home a tasty burrito.

In the afternoon I took a turn gallery sitting for the current show at the Boatworks in Belmar. Lots of people came through, but all BAC people there for various business- winetasting event committee, surf show committee. I had something to keep me busy- my big sketchbook and some 18"x24" paper. The sketchbook contains some notes and sketches for the next boardwalk print, and I used the time and space to start working out a rough composition sketch at the full scale. More details on the print when I'm ready to begin.

Though my sitting shift officially ended at 5 pm, I stuck around to continue what I was doing. Listened to some cool music, continued doing big sketches, and eventually had a dinner break- a sandwich and drink brought from home. The reason I stayed was because tonight was BAC critique night, and I figured it would be easiest to just hang around in Belmar in between. We had the largest turnout I'd ever seen for this BAC crit, six people including myself. Of course I showed the arcade piece, just temporarily took it off the wall and put it up on the easel. A few in the room had seen it in progress, while it was completely new to others. Got a very good reaction, mostly for the large amounts of narrative detail and the bold use of color.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Upcoming Belmar Events

Took care of a few things relating to upcoming Belmar Arts Council events. I had gotten another request for specific details of what I'd be providing to the silent art auction at the big wine tasting evening in a couple of weeks. I decided to go with the skeeball fragment, which is similar to the detail shown above. (a few colors are different, but it's essentially the same print) So I cut a little window mat and framed it in a small ready made frame that had held another small print that hadn't sold in previous attempts.

Another task for today was promoting next month's exhibition at the Boatworks, "The Innermost Limits of Pure Stroke". The theme of the exhibition is surfing. (I'm assuming that the show title has some relevance to the surfing world, but the reference is lost on me) I'm going to sit this one out, but I figured I'd do my part by spreading the word to people who might have something to show but probably were unaware of it. I thought of two such artists in the area and contacted them- one by phone, the other by e-mail. Neither were aware of the show and both expressed an interest in participating, so mission accomplished.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Arcade on Display

Tonight was the opening for the Belmar Stories exhibition at the Boatworks, a show of paintings, prints, photos, collages, sculpture, etc about Belmar, with an emphasis on the town's history. My piece was the just completed woodcut above, the third in my Floating World series, about boardwalk arcades in general, but especially referencing the old Belmar Playland arcade. This is the print's first official exhibition, but I expect it will make a lot of appearances in the future. For those wishing to see the exhibition, it remains on display through August 28th during regular gallery hours (Wed to Sun, 1 to 5 pm). More photos from tonight's reception can be found on the BAC blog.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Another Drawing Night

First Wednesday of the month is a meeting night for the BAC figure drawing group. The last few times I've done pencil in a sketchbook for the short poses and charcoal in a large pad for longer poses. My last charcoal of the night was by best, but it still wasn't that great, so I'm posting one of the 3 minute pencil sketches.

Artists Still Starving

Got a piece of mail today which was actually a hard copy of an e-mail I got last week, but didn't get around to blogging about. It seems that the NJ State Arts Council has decided to suspend its 2010 Fellowship program. This decision was made less than 2 weeks after all the materials were due, less than 2 weeks after I drove all over the county to download and edit photos of my recent work, and to print out the official consent form that had to be mailed separately. Not to mention all the time I spent online filling in all the pages of the application. The reason is logical enough (the state is pretty much broke right now), but that situation was known many months ago, well before the application process was even made available. I can't complain too much about the state deciding not to give me some free money, but I (and hundreds of other NJ artists) could have saved many hours of work and still been just as poor.

For the moment they are retaining all the materials and could, in theory, restart the process in the future. (this happened to me back in the 1990's- they accepted the applications, suspended the program for a few years, then finally evaluated everyone's two year old applications) Meanwhile, the money that would have gone to that will be used for arts organizations, possibly ones I am involved with.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Bite Sized Prints

About a month back I received an e-mail from the Belmar Arts Council, inviting me to be one of a group of "selected artists" to donate an artwork to an upcoming fundraiser. (in other words, my work is generally good and I've been known to donate things from time to time) The event is something called, "A Journey Through Wine Country", an evening of music, wine tasting, and hors d'oeuvres at a private home in Belmar. There will be a silent art auction as well, with the proceeds will be split with the artists, so there would be a little something in it for me.

In the past when I've donated works to fundraisers it's generally been leftovers from an old edition or other small works. This time around I decided to do something different. Last time I was printing, I took a few minutes to pull two additional prints. I chose small pieces of two of my recent boardwalk prints, inked them up, cropped them with masking tape, and printed them onto small pieces of the okawara. I set them aside while I concentrated on getting the arcade prints colored in time for the Belmar Stories show at the Boatworks, which opens this coming Saturday. Last week, while coloring the 3rd copy of the arcade print, I also spent a few minutes putting color on the small excerpt I had printed- the skeeball area. (Isolated from the rest of the overall composition, I decided to change a few colors from the original.) Today I spent a couple of hours in the Studio, finishing the skeeball fragment and then coloring the other fragment- a piece from the wheel game print. Sometime in the next few days I'll choose one to put into a frame (I have a few small inexpensive frames on hand for this purpose) and drop it off in a few weeks. The one that doesn't get used this time will likely end up a donation at another time.

As far as I know, tickets are still available for the wine tasting event on August 22, from 6 to 9 pm. More information is available from the Belmar Arts Council website.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Big Crowd in the Studio

We had one of largest ever crowds at tonight's critique night- ten people, including two first time attendees. I showed my just completed arcade piece, which people liked. Molly had a variety of stuff, but we mostly talked about her small print (next to mine in the top photo). We also had paintings from Jill, Edy, Jane, and Sandy, a small artist book from Mary, a mixed media sculpture from Adam and ceramics from Dean. (The tenth in the group didn't bring any art this time.) As always, everyone had a good time and seemed to get something from it.