Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boardwalk Nights part 5

While I was still in Belmar this morning, I took my camera for a short walk on Main Street. One of the things that I shot was this sign out in front of Freedman's Bakery, a long established business in town. The sign is a good example of what is commonly called Googie, an architectural and design movement that was widespread in the 1950's. Also sometimes known as Doo-Wop and Populuxe, the style was designed to draw attention from motorists, doing so with futuristic looking buildings, unusual geometry, and bright colors, especially evoking the atomic and space ages. The style was also used in a lot of signs, even when outside otherwise ordinary buildings. Common elements in Googie signs include combinations of different geometric shapes (often mixing hard sharp angles and curved forms), as well as combining different colors and lettering styles, and including elements that have no structural function, but exist just to catch the eye.

What this has to do with the current project is that Wildwood, NJ not only has one of the state's largest boardwalks, but was also considered a nationally recognized center of Doo-Wop architecture. (a lot of it has been torn down in recent years, but some good examples remain) I'm not planning to do any prints in my boardwalk series specifically about Wildwood, but it makes sense to me to have some of that style pop up in the series. So back when I was converting my reference photos to a full compositional sketch, I added an oddly shaped structure on top of the nearest building. Not a copy of any existing boardwalk sign that I've ever seen, but just something that I made up using the vocabulary of the style. Today it was one of the parts of the block that I worked on, refining some shapes and adding text. (I didn't want to use any existing boardwalk pizza place names, and chose the name Don's mostly because it's short, not because of the Belmar pizza restaurant a block away from Freedman's) I also put the same lettering, but larger, on the overhang above the front entrance to the store, but I'm pretty sure that I will be changing that soon to something else. I moved the angled counter in the store to the other side of the opening, as I realized that there was no room for balloon game booth that shares the building's corner. No further detail in there today, since I expect figures will fill a lot of that space. Also on that side of the block I added more detail to the balloon booth, and made the store to the left of the pizzeria a clothing store.

On the left side of the block I put in the fireworks and hints of the smoke left behind. On the ground level I added another amusement park ride in the deep background, and decided officially to make the nearest building a public restroom. I also added spotlights to buildings in both panels, since logically something must light all these signs at night.

Below is a view of the whole block in its current state. I still need to work on a lot of the signs, and then start adding people- individuals and crowds.

The Show Goes On

This morning I had a bunch of art to pick up in two locations in Belmar, luckily only a block apart. Today was the pick up day for the recent Belmar Urban Myth show, and it also happened to be the day to collect work from the show of selected art from the annual juried show, on display at a local bank. (actually, it was selected work from the juried show plus one unrelated piece from me, since the bank would not allow my original contribution to hang in their space) So I parked at the Boatworks and walked up the street to the bank, carrying the custom box built to hold the framed piece. No further complications with that, but when I returned to the Boatworks to remove and pack up the eight woodcuts I had in the Myth show, I was asked if I could leave the work for a it could be shown at that same bank. Here we go again. I have no immediate need for any of the pieces, so I can let them hang on walls for another month or two. No nude figures in any the prints, but some are a little odd, so it remains to be seen if I'll be notified again that I have to remove some art from the show.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Northern Wanderings

The summer is drawing to a close, and there is much to do before it ends. Today was on off day from my job, and I spent most of it wandering around the the northern part of New Jersey taking care of some important things.

Took care of my first non-art task, then worked my way back to the Parkway and drove up to Paramus. I've been a patron of Pearl Paint for more than 20 years. The original location for this art supply chain is up on Canal Street in Manhattan (within walking distance of such well known neighborhoods as SoHo, TriBeCa, Chinatown, and Little Italy). The building is an artists dream- five floors of just about any artist material one could possibly want, all discounted. The first one that I ever went to was the branch in Paramus, originally crowded into a tiny building, some aisles so narrow that two people literally could not pass each other. Eventually they moved to a larger, more modern building on the other side of route 17, but before and after the move it was the place I went for all my oil paints, canvas, stretchers, charcoal, printing inks, papers, etc, during the years I lived in North Jersey and my semi-annual visits back east on vacations from Carbondale. After I moved down the shore in the mid-90's, I started going to the location in Woodbridge, considerably closer to home. Unfortunately, that store closed very suddenly earlier this year (from what I have read, they closed about half their locations), leaving me with a chunk of money remaining on a gift card.

Today I used that gift card (and a little bit more) to buy some very large paper, big enough to print all four feet of the smoking block when the time comes. And while I was there, I also got some oversized matboard and foam core so that I can frame a copy of the print, and some other incidentals. Luckily, most of the rest of what I regularly use I get mail order or can pick up at local arts and crafts stores.

After a lunch stop, I dropped by my university to take care of some pre-semester tasks, including a parking permit for the fall and making copies of my first day syllabi, removing the pressure to get those made during the first week when there tends to be a line to use the department copier. More time to pull slides and prepare for my fall art classes.

From there, back to Monmouth County, with a quick stop at the Studio to drop off all those oversized art supplies before going home. I won't need any of those things for a while, but I'm glad they will be at hand when I'm ready for them.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boardwalk Nights part 4

Put in a little time on the current block this afternoon. Nothing new added, just making subtle changes to the architecture on the right side of the block. The perspective on the buildings still isn't exact to any classic system, but at least it's a little more consistent. (as I've stated earlier, a lack of perfect order is not a bad thing when trying to capture the ambience of boardwalks) If nothing in particular is bothering me next time I sit down with it, I'll start adding details to the surfaces and visible interiors of all the buildings.

Some Of Us Are Still Starving

I received some mail from the state council on the arts today. If you've been following this blog for more than a year, you may remember back last August when I was notified by the same people that they were canceling the individual artists fellowships that they had just taken applications for a few weeks earlier. That letter said that they would retain all applications in case the money was found to continue the program. Today's letter, announced that they found a few extra dollars in Trenton and would reinstate the program, using the year old applications, grants to be distributed in early 2011. It's not going to help me, however. They are only reviewing applications from the categories of choreography, music composition, and painting. Several other categories, including my category of Works on Paper, will remain on the back burner until further notice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boardwalk Nights part 3

Back to work on the current block today. After considering the matter for a few days, I decided that the more symmetrical composition that I had switched to when I developed the full size paper sketch was a little too regular. So today I changed the angle of the boardwalk edge on the left side of the block to better reflect the original 8"x10" sketch, which was in turn based on photos taken from specific locations on a boardwalk. It opens up the space more, which will allow more room for me to eventually add people. I roughed in a building on that side (still haven't decided yet if it will house games or public facilities), and some deep background stuff, including a ferris wheel on a distant amusement pier. I still need to make some perspective adjustments all around the scene, but I feel better about the layout than I did yesterday.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Committee Work

I spent a good bit of the middle of the day at the Printmaking Council of NJ (and on my way to and from there) for a meeting of the Exhibition Committee. Back about a dozen years ago when I first joined the committee, we met very often, every month or two. Since then there have been many changes to the meeting schedules, the membership of the committee, and to my job situation, and in recent years my involvement has tended to be by phone and e-mail. A new committee chair has recently taken charge and wants us to be a bit more hands on than we've been of late, as well as look for ways to make the exhibitions do more for the artists and the whole organization. So today we spent a few hours discussing ongoing issues, ideas for improvements, and possible plans for the future. No specifics decided, but we came up with some general goals to work on for the next year.

While I was there, I finally got to see the fully installed Myths & Marks show. I saw most of it as we were installing it a few weeks ago, but the two large pieces (shown above) were not in place yet, so today was my first opportunity to see them. The exhibition is on display through October 9th, so there is plenty of time for everyone out there to go see it as well.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boardwalk Nights part 2

Today I put in a few hours at the Studio, starting the block sketch for the new boardwalk block, a wide view night time scene. The results are down at the bottom of this posting, but this seems like a good time to show how I got to where I am today. Above is an early concept sketch, based on some brainstorming of ideas and a pile of saved newspaper clippings.

I knew that to get a better sense of the perspective and scale of the open spaces of a boardwalk, I needed to do some direct observation. So I took a walk up to Asbury's and took a few photos of scenes that could stand in for what I had in mind. Later that afternoon I did a few quick sketches from those photos, with the one above my favorite.

The next step was to reproduce that sketch at the full block scale. The left side is pretty much the same, though I removed the clusters of tables. I changed the angle on the right side to make it a lot more symmetrical. I brought the drawing home with me to look at over the next few days, and maybe make some adjustments.

Most of the changes were made to the left side. The original building was a large, modern, upscale restaurant, typical of contemporary ocean front development, but I wanted something that had more of the classic boardwalk feel- big bright colorful signs and architecture that was made up as they went along. I wasn't completely happy with the whole thing, but the overall composition was working well enough that I knew it was time to start working it up on the block itself.

And that is what I did today. I want the final print to be in the same orientation as the paper sketches, so I started drawing it in reverse on the wood. I started on the right (formerly left) side, since that is the part that was most resolved. There will be many adjustments to the perspective, but it's more or less what I had in mind. The left side of the block will see a lot of changes, but I had to get down to Belmar for a meeting, so that will wait until next time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The End of Summer Drawing

No matter what age you are, summer always seems endless, until suddenly it's over. Sure, the calendar still shows a few more weeks to go before Labor Day, but I can sense the end is near. I've been getting mailings from my schools, related to the upcoming semester. The NFL preseason has begun. And tonight I realized that this was the last time that the figure drawing group will meet this summer. At least I'm going out on a relatively high note, with this 40 minute charcoal sketch being one of my better drawings of the season. The group will go on in September, but then it will be one of many things to squeeze into my busy weeks, instead of a fun activity on an otherwise relaxing day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Boardwalk Nights

I put in a little time in the Studio this afternoon, continuing my development of the next planned boardwalk print, a long view of a boardwalk at night. What I did was take one of the sketches that I had done while gallery sitting a few days ago and expand it (on a large sheet of drawing paper) from about 8" x 10" to the eventual block size of 15" x 20". The only significant changes to the design at this point is that I eliminated some of the tables and chairs and figures that occupied the ground outside the buildings (the original photo is off a large restaurant building) and indicated some scale relationships by scattering a few stick figures around the composition. The next step is to change the sketched in structures to resemble more the ramshackle haphazard nature of boardwalk amusement buildings, with their combination of arcades, skill games, food stands, etc. As is my custom, I'll save posting any of these early sketches until I'm ready to start the block sketch.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My original plan for yesterday was to visit a boardwalk or two in the late morning/early afternoon, before going to Belmar to do a shift of gallery sitting. That all changed when I got called into work on what should have been a day off. So I get an additional day of pay this week and shifted my Wednesday plans to Thursday. The only possible problem was that forecasts were predicting some wet weather all over the region. Skies were cloudy, but no rain was falling and the radar showed no major storms heading for the area, so I decided to try a trip in the afternoon.

I drove up to the Studio, but rather than go into the building, I left my car there in the lot and walked to the Ocean Grove beach. Then I turned left and kept walking until I was on the Asbury Park boardwalk. My plans for the next boardwalk print call for a view of a commercially developed stretch on one side and big rides in the distance. I'm envisioning something like Seaside Heights, but didn't feel like traveling that far just for a few reference photos. Asbury's boardwalk currently has much less development and no rides, but what is there will do fine as a guide to the perspective and scale of what I have in mind. Some light sprinkles were falling all along, but it never turned into a steady rain. I took several photos from different points (such as the one above), and took a few minutes to see Molly's art on display at Langosta Lounge. Then the walk back to the Studio, where I picked up a few items, got back into my vehicle, and drove to the Boatworks.

Gallery sitting was as quiet as it always is, so I used some of the time to do some sketching. Using the view screen on the camera, I combined aspects of different photos into a few very rough sketches in a sketchbook. A lot more will need to be determined soon, but I think the composition I had been considering will work. The next step will be to blow up that sketch to full block size and start working out some of the specific details.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

There Can Be Only One

Tonight was the finale of Bravo's Work of Art, the three finalists to be reduced to one winner of the big prize. Spoilers to follow.

Since the conclusion of the previous challenge, the three finalists all returned home, given three months and $5000 to make any art they wanted to be part of a small solo exhibition. The episode more or less begins two months into that time, with mentor Simon traveling around the country (Minneapolis, Kansas City, and small town Pennsylvania) to visit those home studios. (a number of the contestants are NYC based, but none of these finalists) Then, thanks to the magic of television, that last month has passed and everyone reconvenes in New York. Simon's gallery/auction house will host these last shows, each contestant given an enclosed space to install their work.

Miles continued with his typical highly conceptualized work. He took cellphone photos of security monitors at a local White Castle. After learning that one of the people (homeless) in those images died shortly after, he makes death a focus of his show. The way he did this was to digitize that photo and blow up tiny details, which were then turned into large geometric abstractions. His installation included some of the cellphone photos and the geometric pieces.

Peregrine's show was a reflection of her approach to art through the series. Her theme was a country fair, though an odd one to be sure. She produced many small cast pieces (heads, small horses, empty frames), drawings (cartoony images of girls vomiting), and photos. The many objects were arranged all through the space, resulting in an interesting colorful environment, with a cotton candy machine to add to the atmosphere.

Abdi's strength through the whole series has been his skills with the figure in two and three dimensions. Coming off his inspiring figure piece in the final challenge, Abdi produces two more oversize figures. These are cast sculptures, very dynamic poses but laying on the floor. Some large figural drawings and paintings in unusual color combinations on the surrounding walls round out the show.

The gallery opens and the large crowd includes the judges, many of the previous guest judges, and most if not all of the other contestants. Everyone seemed impressed. Nothing revolutionary on display, but all three artists put on shows that were comparable to what is found in contemporary commercial galleries and museums today. After some debate, the judges chose Abdi as the winner. Based on what I saw on television, I'd agree with their decision.

I haven't been a fan of Miles's work all along. I had a period in my education process (when I was around Miles's current age) where my works were built from foundations of obscure internal references, but even if the psychology behind them was too obscure for the viewer to understand, I hoped that the colorful and expressionistic style would provide some interest. There was nothing about the black and white digital patterns that Miles produced that gave any feeling of the death theme that he said was behind them, and in my opinion, nothing visually interesting about them. For what seems like the first time, the judges didn't accept his explanation of how the work related to the theme. His efficiency in construction during the challenges was impressive, and likely part of his success with the judges, but his work in the final seems like it should be far more resolved given the length of time available to complete it.

The approach Peregrine took, creating a stimulating environment with the hope of developing an overall mood, can work well when done right. It struck me that she succeeded at least partly in that, but that none of the individual parts were that interesting. The objects themselves had little power outside the combined effect of the installation. For me, that's a major flaw.

Abdi's 2D works were not particularly interesting, but his two sculptural figures had a presence that could be felt through the remove of my tv screen. They are the kind of objects that would attract viewers and encourage them to stick around a while to absorb the impact. Abdi is really just a kid right out of school, his career as an artist can't be properly assessed for many years to come, and as such the sculptures are not something I would think worthy of being in a major museum's permanent collection. But a lot of art spaces could do worse than to put them on display. Of the three finalists, I think Abdi would inspire the least backlash from viewers of the promised show at the Brooklyn Museum, but I'll see if the comments online tomorrow agree with that guess.

Some general thoughts on the whole series-

Like many artists, I'm not convinced that art and reality tv are a good fit. Professional artists do their best work when they can pursue the concepts that interest them, in the medium they prefer, and given as much time as is needed to finish it to their satisfaction. The compromises required by forcing the artistic process into a reality show format almost guaranteed that the resulting art would be below professional standards.

The process of making art is very fascinating to artists, but not to the general public. As such I don't know if we've seen the last of this show. It seemed to me that the network did very little to promote it, giving it only one airing in prime time each week, and 2 or 3 other at odd hours, while some of their other shows would get 15 to 20 hours per week. On the other hand, during tonight's broadcast, there were multiple requests for people to apply for spots on a second season of the show.

Most of the contestants on the show were way too dependent on computers to produce their work. There is nothing challenging or particularly skillful about editing photos on a computer and printing them out on a large format printer. If you want to convince me you are a great artist, you'll have to show me you can do more than pressing a few keys and buttons.

Thus ends the first season of Work of Art and my love/hate relationship with it. If the show comes back for a second season, I'll have to decide if it's worth blogging about again.

Local News

People who arrived early at the Belmar Urban Myth reception this past Saturday saw something we don't generally have there- a news crew. The BAC has always enjoyed excellent local press coverage, and a few reporters and/or photographers are common enough at our bigger openings. But this time the local weekly Coast Star sent a video crew to shoot a piece about the exhibition, which included interviews with some of the artists. That I'm blogging about it here should be a good indication that I am one of those interviewed. While the digital video that I produced is currently on view exclusively at the Boatworks, the video shot by the newspaper is available to everyone with internet access. You'll see me talk a little about the incident that inspired the myth portrayed in both the print and my video, and about my supermarket series in general. Go take a look, and then come to Belmar to see the show itself if you haven't already.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Into the Night Again

Spent a little time in the Studio this afternoon giving some thought to the next piece. Since my one night time supermarket piece is now hanging in Belmar, it is definitely not available for the night themed show in the same gallery, so it's a boardwalk print or nothing . The first step was doing a little brainstorming, thinking about ideas/details that could be incorporated into the ideas I mentioned last time. I had a pile of newspaper clippings gathered over the past few years, all relating to the boardwalk in one way or another. Not looking for a specific scene to copy, just trying to get a feel for the layout and perspective. I divided the pile into three smaller ones- one that could be helpful for the night time overview of the boardwalk, one for potential reference for the bar themed print, and one for everything else. Because the simplest one to finish would be the long view, I concentrated on that one today, doing some very rough sketches. Nothing worth showing now, but the result was enough for me to think the idea should work. Before I go much further, I may make another boardwalk visit, to get a better sense of the perspective and scale from the point of view I have in mind.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Urban Myth Show Opening

My new video had its big(gish) screen debut today at the opening reception for the Belmar Urban Myths exhibition at the BAC Boatworks. It would have been easy to find things to do on this beautiful Saturday, but about three dozen people came by to see one of the more unusual shows that the BAC has put on. I received many complements for both the video and the wall of prints that inspired it. No prizes announced yet, but there's a people's choice vote going on for the duration of the exhibition. There are too many interesting contributions to the show for me to say winning the vote is likely, but it is at least a possibility. To see more photos from today's opening, see the new post on the BAC blog. Belmar Urban Myths remains on display through August 27th.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Myth Show Almost Here

Today was the day chosen to install the Belmar Urban Myths exhibition at the Boatworks. Since about a third of the work in the show is from me, I figured it would be nice to help hang everything. Because we had a lot of walls to fill and relatively few people had submitted work, it was decided to give me a whole wall and use all 8 framed supermarket prints that were part of the video. I hung them two on each wire, as seen above. Another artist who attended the workshops and received some help from Mark in making her video also filled a wall with the pastel drawings she used to make it. We filled in the rest of the work around it, leaving a corner where a video monitor will be set up to show a loop of all the video works for the duration of the exhibition. (during the opening reception we'll use the big projection screen in the back room)

After some debate, it was decided that the opening reception will be this coming Saturday, August 7, 2010, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. The show remains up during gallery hours through August 27th. Admission is free.

Art Vs. Nature

My thoughts on last night's episode of Work of Art, for anyone who might be interested. For the story of the image to the left, skip down to the last paragraph.

For the second to last episode, and the last themed challenge, the remaining five contestants were put into more of those sophisticated luxury vehicles that we saw a few weeks ago and driven to a nature preserve, complete with plenty of woods and water. The challenge was to create something inspired by the visit, and that included at least some natural material collected during the visit. Most of them were excited by the possibilities, though not city dweller Jaclyn, who told us she probably would have done one of her nude photo shoots in the woods if not for the cold wet weather. She settled for taking some photos of the water and picking up some rocks instead. Other grabbed such materials as sticks, gravel, acorns, etc. Miles found some large fungus to build a work around.

They got a little more time this week, and needed every minute of it. At the end of the gallery show, two would be sent home. Jaclyn spent the first day just sleeping on a couch (suffering from a cold she had before the trip to the woods). The next day she decided to use a nude self portrait photo she shot in the bath tub back at the residence, but this required permission of the rest of the contestants, and Peregrine was having none of that. (it's all over the blogs today that some of the others, including Peregrine, were able to add outside items with the blessings of the other artists in previous weeks) Her idea didn't strike me as that interesting, but a naked Jackie is usually successful in these challenges, and the stakes were very high this time around. Her plan B was to print out some of her water/horizon photos on the large printer and mount them in a corner, with one of her rocks hanging from a bar fixed to the walls.

Miles, once he was talked out of creating mustard gas, used his basic carpentry skills to build a giant membrane and a mechanical poking device/medieval torture instrument, all in the service of producing an obsessively planned random pattern with bleach on brown craft paper, which he hung on the wall. Oh, and in the gallery show he put the fungus a shelf next to it for some reason.

Nicole had the most fun collecting stuff, and talked about her childhood spent in the woods and her family's Algonquin heritage. She created a small but complex symbolic sculpture using plaster and lots of her collected natural materials. Peregrine decided to reference her experiences as a child exploring the urban parks of her native San Francisco. But beyond that she didn't have a clue what to do. She built a sort of figural thing with her collected tree branches, stuffed into a pair of plaster filled boots and partially wrapped in papier mache. On the second day, with no idea where to take it from there and no time to start over, she got some advice from Miles as to how to save it. (whatever else Miles has been accused of, he has generally given advice and technical assistance to the others whenever asked and has never appeared to be sabotaging anyone)

Abdi was in the most precarious position coming into this week, and spent the first part of his time in the woods meditating/praying for guidance. He collected some black gravel, which he ground up and added to charcoal and black pigment to create an oversized self portrait drawing (based on a photo of himself reclining). In the very impressive resulting drawing he appears to be either floating on the water or levitating. He finished framing it just seconds before time expired.

Abdi was declared the winner of the challenge. Miles got the next spot in the finale, despite it being noted among the judges that his intellectual work generally lacks heart and soul. Of the remaining three contestants, Jaclyn's piece was probably the most conceptually sophisticated (resembling Miles's work more than a little) but not very interesting in its execution. She was the first to be sent off. Neither of the works from Peregrine or Nicole were particularly impressive (the former a mess, the latter indecipherable without her explanation), and the judges decided to send Nicole away and advance Peregrine to the final. One more time with the gang next week.

Now, my work above. My prints are pretty traditional in technique, but there was one occasion about a decade ago where I chose to use some different materials. In the years leading up to the year 2000 people began to become concerned about the potential perils of Y2K bugs in computerized systems all through society. Many felt the likelihood of disaster was exaggerated, but it didn't stop some for preparing for everything from minor inconvenience to the collapse of society. I wasn't too worried, but if civilization did end and I couldn't buy plywood or Japanese tools anymore, it would be good to have a back up plan. So I dragged a small log from the woods behind my house, stripped off the bark, and rubbed it with rocks to smooth it out a little. Then I found some small rocks and chipped them to make some crude stone age style tools. For the design I combined (from top to bottom) a simple self portrait, the engineering symbol for batteries, images of canned food, the molecular symbol for water, an image of cash (the last four all things being hoarded by some at the time), and the date. On New Year's Eve I chiseled the design into the log, inked it, and printed 3 copies. Having proved I could still make woodcuts no matter what happened, I could relax and enjoy the holiday. And as it happened, I didn't even lose cable that night.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Advantages of Unemployment

Based on the results of figure drawings I've done in recent months, I have come to the conclusion that I have much better results on days when I don't go to work first. Putting in a full day on the job must take something out of me. No work for me today (I did put in a few hours in the Studio, but that gives me energy), and the drawings from tonight's figure group are the best in more than a month. Tonight we had a new model (for us, but she's had plenty of experience) and sometimes it takes me a while to figure out how to draw an unfamiliar face and body. However, this time I did reasonably well. Above is a 5 minute pencil drawing, and below is a 45 minute charcoal drawing. The latter has some serious flaws (the head is way too big and the foreshortening in the legs is awkward), but the individual parts work well, making it the best charcoal drawing I've done in a while.

Into the Night

The plan for the moment is to set aside the large figure block for now so that I can get another piece done quickly. Several months back I volunteered to be the assistant chair on an upcoming themed show at the Belmar Arts Council, with the theme of "After Sunset". Since I'll be putting in some work on the exhibition, I figure it would be nice to have something of mine in the show. Time has flown by, and I realized that the show is now a mere two months away. The only thing I can think of that I have in stock that would fit the theme is one of my supermarket prints, but that print may be hanging in the Urban Myth show this weekend, which would make it ineligible for the show in October.

Toward that end I decided to prepare a new boardwalk block today. At least two of the images planned for the series specifically take place at night, so one of those would seem a logical thing to work on right now. One print will be set at an outdoor tiki bar (inspired by, but not necessarily a copy of the one at Point Pleasant), a location that is open in the day as well, but the action definitely picks up at night. The other print is a general outdoor/wide view scene of night on the boardwalk. The first one has the potential to be very interesting, but the second one would likely be easier to finish. In the next few days I'll sketch composition for both ideas and commit to one or the other.

Smoking Figure part 8

Back in the Studio for a few hours today, with part of that time spent working on the smoking figure block. I'm not going to deal with the issues raised in the critique yet, but I did want to fix those letters I put in recently. So once again I marked out a variety of perspective lines, and looked through a reference source (a book of 1950's photos of store signs) to select letter and number styles. Despite making them much bigger, I think that the viewer should still see the letters as part of a web address. As for the numbers, the intention is to be part of a phone number. Numerals could also represent a street address, but the placement on the window makes that unlikely. Below is a photo of the whole block in its current state.

In my plans for the image, that area to the left of the model's near arm was to be all black, so the large letters will serve to break up that dark mass.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Small Group, Big Discussions

Only five of us (all veterans of the group) at tonight's critique, and for what I believe is the first time in the almost 3 years that we've been meeting, no one brought wine or beer. But everyone brought art and the smaller group meant that we could devote more time to each artist and still finish up on time. We even had time to discuss that Work of Art show on Bravo.

Two artists brought oil paintings (far right and left above) that had been done years earlier, both representing a style that neither has worked in recently. However, in both cases recent events have given each artist an interest in returning to the medium and style of their earlier works. Jill brought in two small works (second from left), a painting and collage. People enjoyed the former, but the latter generated more discussion. Edy brought in her latest efforts in her evolving plastic project, part of which is seen below. The general feeling seemed to be that her big idea was worth pursuing, even as the pieces tonight didn't fully address it.

My piece also generated a lot of discussion. They did get that it was an image of someone forced outside to smoke. After that, there was some disagreement between my vision for it and what they were feeling. The issue of the hand came up again, a little for the size, but mostly for its placement- a number of people felt the whole composition would work better if it extended out slightly away from the shoulder. It might work, but it would be a bit of effort to adjust the ink drawing. A bigger problem was that the group was not seeing my concept of capturing a specific moment in time as a focus of the piece. They love the figure itself, and it was suggested that I just concentrate on that and ignore the 21st century employee concept that is driving me to do this. I don't see that happening (this thing has been too long in the works to toss all that away now), so I will have to give some more thought as to how to make the theme more apparent to the casual viewer. Luckily I don't need this piece to be complete anytime soon, so I have lots of time to consider my options.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Smoking Figure part 7

As I drove up Main Street/route 71 toward the Studio I saw this interesting decoration on the reconstructed back door tympanum of our building. From the street I has assumed it was paint, but when I approached it to take this photo, I quickly realized that it's made from bits of broken brick (refuse from some work up on the 3rd floor) and some very strong adhesive. It doesn't fit in with any of the building's very traditional exterior, so I'm thinking it's a temporary addition. And I'm guessing that the shape in the lower left corner is a Neptune's trident, since this was once the high school for Neptune, NJ.

I arrived just as Molly was packing up, but she was willing to stick around for a few minutes to look at the current block, which she had not yet seen. She seemed very impressed with what I have done so far. She had a few small concerns about what she saw as proportional issues. After comparing the drawing to the model photo, I decided that she was mistaken about the size of the hand holding the cigarette, but she may have a point about the skirt length. (and she's definitely in favor of keeping the full length of the block) She pointed out that this piece may surprise a lot of the people at the critique, who aren't familiar with this facet of my work.

After that I put in a little more time on the block. Today it was adding more text to the window, just to the left of her hip. I marked out a bunch of perspective lines, and then roughed in a few numbers and letters. I decided to try the idea of both a phone number and a web address. (see below) I think the idea is fine, but the size is way off. On my Main Street drive, when phone numbers did appear on windows, the numbers were about the same size as other sign lettering (easily read from the street). If I can get in early enough before the crit, I may try making some larger numbers and/or letters, and see how that looks.