Sunday, February 27, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 15

Got to spend about 2.5 productive hours in the Studio this afternoon. I continued the process of cutting out all the floor tiles on the left side panel. I also had time to cut out just about all the right most shower stall, including the architectural column of tiles that separates it from the next stall over. I'm going to take a slightly different approach to cutting the remaining tiles, which I'll try to work out on paper between now and my next cutting session.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 14

Another busy Saturday. Today was the intake day for the next show at the Belmar Arts Council, an open show with the theme of Humor. Late last night while waiting to fall asleep I remembered that I had a framed print in storage that would be a good fit for the show- my piece Advertising in the Jerry Springer Belt. I keep it in a custom box (it has been shipped a few times) and when I took it out this morning I discovered that I never got around to fixing a mounting issue- the linen tape hinges had come unstuck from the backing board and the print slid a bit behind the window mat. Easily fixed, except that I couldn't find the roll of linen tape that I keep handy for such purposes. I suppose it will turn up eventually, but meanwhile I dug up an unopened box and put it to use. After some errands in town I drove up to the Boatworks and dropped it off. The show opens this coming Saturday, March 5th, with a reception from 3 to 5 pm.

Had a quick lunch sitting at my work table in the Studio, then got back to work. It's the time of year for student woodcuts, so my first task was to cut a 2' x 4' board into a bunch of 6" x 8" blocks. That includes sanding the sides to remove the worst of the splinters. Between the ones done today and leftover blocks from last year, I think I have enough for my spring classes. With that out of the way, I could get on with my own woodcut project.

Part of the time was spent continuing the drawing. Adjusting a line or two here and there, but mostly working a little more on those two showering figures. Based on various shower curtain observations, I made some slight modifications to the figures I had already drawn. (see above) The new vertical lines represent aspects of the rippled shower curtains and how that affects what is seen through them. This is not the final look, but a guide that will help me figure it out as I'm cutting.

However the majority of my time was spent cutting the block. I continued where I left off on the right side panel, finishing all the tiles on the wall and floor. All that's left on that side is the figures, the bench, and the details of the sign. I had enough time to do a little more, so I continued the floor tiles into the left side panel. I'll do all the background cutting before I begin any of the figures. The above photo shows its state as of the end of the day's cutting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 13

With a few parts of the block drawing unresolved, I brought it home from the Studio earlier this week with the intention of finishing those things before resuming cutting. As is often the case, other activities filled those days and I didn't get to the sketching. I did give it a bit of thought however, so when I brought the block back to the Studio today to get in a few hours cutting, I had a plan for the right panel. I have long planned a sign on the wall by the lockers, rules or something like that. In fact, early versions had the word "RULES" at the top, and underneath would have been horizontal rows of marks standing for small text. By last week I had decided to eliminate the heading and maybe make the text of the rules larger, and then changed the list of rules to a single statement instead- the classic not responsible for lost/stolen items message. I decided that I liked the idea of filling the remaining space with a logo, as in representing the town or beach where this mythical bath house is located. So I got on the internet and looked up some of the local beach towns, and found some simple logos, mostly based on waves and boats. Didn't want to use one directly, as I don't want to identify my scene with a specific town, and I don't want to just copy someone else's design. Then I came up with an easy way to get around all this- steal from myself. A few years back I designed a t-shirt for the Belmar Arts Council with a water/beach theme. I decided that a simplified version of that (fewer boats, add ferris wheel, and eliminate the word BELMAR at the top) will be fine. So this afternoon I drew that in, along with the text of the sign. (see above)

With that settled I picked up my knives. I finished cutting the tile wall on which the sign is hung and parts of the floor in front of the lockers. Had to end things at that point in order to take care of an errand before an office closed. Below shows where I stopped today.

Brought the block home one more time, should I want to deal with those showering figures in the upper left panel before I get back to work on the cutting this weekend.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 12

My original plan yesterday was to go up to the Studio to continue working on the block drawing, but then I had lunch late and decided to stay home and make my changes while I cooked a big pot of sauce and meatballs. The drawing consisted of cleaning up some earlier sketching and adding a few details. For example, finalizing the lockers and locks, reworking the wall sign, and putting back a towel on a hook (above) and fixing some previously drawn tattoos and adding a tote bag (below). Still not completely done with the drawing, but it's far enough along that I was ready to start cutting.

This winter being what it is, there's more snow in the area this week, including some significant accumulations in the northern part of the state this morning, but around here a little overnight sleet had disappeared before I got up. That meant that there was nothing to stop me from spending part of my day off up at the Studio starting the cutting of the block. As usual, cut out the border all the way around both panels first, then I decided to cut a big chunk of the background in the right side panel- the lockers and the trash can next to them. About 2.5 hours work all together. Results of today's efforts are shown below.

I decided to take the block home with me one more time. Tonight's next round of snow is not likely to be significant, but just in case I get stuck at home I can work on the last few parts of the drawing that need to be resolved.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 11

Got a three day weekend and no specific plans for any of the days, so I expect to make some major progress on this block before my next work day. Today's step wasn't particularly exciting- dealing with the perspective issues on the walls- but I couldn't move on without resolving it. After looking at the block for a few days I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Two hours later I had brought the block to the state shown above. I started with the exterior room corner in the right side panel, erasing almost all of the previous tile perspective lines and setting up a new eye level at just below the top panel borders. After that I just worked with a ruler and very gradually worked out perspective lines based on the established heights of tiles on each section of wall. I marked out all the tiles on the wall facing outward, then on the inner walls that mark the shower alcoves. (I also added a third column of tiles to the alcove walls to deepen the spaces a little) It's long been my plan to have rows of colored tile on these walls, so for now I marked a dark row (likely black) and two shaded rows (will be color in final version) along the whole wall, going in and around all the architecture. It's a very common design element in shower/locker rooms, will reinforce the perspective, and provide a visual element to draw the eye across the composition. Of course, there's no way that I'm going to individually cut out every tile in the image- there are over 200 just around the showers alone. I'll cut all the larger ones (floor and wall) and the colored tile rows, but for many of the others I will cut to show selected lines- just enough to imply the tile patterns and perspective.

Got a few other things done today as well. I had to make minor adjustments to the lockers to reflect the new eye level, and I redrew the showering figure on the far left. I've been thinking of adding a floor drain and roughed in a potential location for it. After that I called it a day. Assuming that I still like all this tomorrow, what remains is adding a few details and cleaning up a few areas. Things are looking good to begin cutting very soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 10

Put in a few hours at the Studio today, working on the current project. I haven't solved the perspective problem yet, but at least I think I know what has been causing the problem to this point.

One thing that I had noticed last time is that there were a lot of inconsistencies in the back wall of the left side panel. The wall tiles were dramatically diminishing in size toward the left, but the the showering figures weren't at all. And the horizontal perspective lines in the wall tiles were not consistently matching up with the anatomy the different figures. And there was the architectural issues with the shower alcoves.

Today I started addressing some of these problems. The first step was standardizing the width of the wall tiles from the center moving to the left, which meant coming up with a more logical rate of diminishing and marking the new verticals. I made the decision to simplify the alcoves- just turned them into standard right angled exterior corners, lined up to match the new tile pattern. I wanted to put in the horizontal lines, but as soon as I tried matching them to the existing tile, I figured out the bigger problem.

I had completed a lot of the structures and tiles in the right panel, and drew the initial wall tile perspective in both directions from the room's corner. I set an eye level fairly high up (in the above image it's even with the upper level locker handles, right above the head of the figure to the farthest right. Works fine on that side, but when I extended the perspective lines across to the other half of the diptych all kinds of problems set in. For example, a row of tiles that is eye level in the right panel was barely shoulder high on the far left. Sadly, the it looks like the only solution will be to redraw the perspective of much of the right panel. I had to stop at the point and go somewhere else. I'll deal with it over the weekend.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A New Face

Tonight's drawing session at the Belmar Arts Council was typical enough in most respects, but one difference- a new model working for us. Not a stranger- this is the woman who contacted me at the Studio last month looking for modeling work and who posed for a few of the figures in the current boardwalk block. At her request I had passed her contact info to the guy who runs the BAC figure group at its last meeting, he met with her, and the rest is history. The rest of the group was happy to add another good model to our roster, the model was happy to make some extra money and see all the resulting art, and I ended up with the 30 minute charcoal drawing above. It's not great, but I achieved a little bit of a likeness in the opinion of a few people there, which isn't bad for the first time drawing someone's face.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 9

Today I got back into the Studio to work on the current block. Getting to the end of the drawing process, which means that I have to deal with a few things I've put off until now, as well as fix some problems with what is already in place. Early in the morning I had looked around the internet for images of bath house Ukiyo-e prints, as well as architectural photos of contemporary Japanese baths, but none of what I found seemed to really apply to what I'm doing. If I look at any additional references, it will be western locker/shower rooms.

The large tiles on the floor seem to be working, but the smaller squarish wall tiles that I had roughed in previously needed a lot of adjustments, and some areas of the walls were still blank. I ended up redrawing almost everything on the walls, and some of the walls as well, making the vertical strips facing outward between shower stalls a little wider to accommodate the square tiles better. My original plan called for these to be slightly wider than the shower vestibule itself, providing a small recessed area (such as where the striped towel is hanging in the top photo), but so far the structure looks a little confusing. I'm going to have to redraw a bit of it, whether it's just fixing the perspective (there are some big scale issues back there) or simplifying the architecture.

I also devoted a little time to some of the figures. In Monday's critique, some participants felt that a few of the figures were not as realistically drawn as they could be, specifically the one in center shower and the standing figure drying her hair. The first is a minor character, and will be further obscured when I cut it for the shower curtain, but for now I made a small adjustment. The latter figure was of more concern because it's a point of focus. The criticism was that upper and lower halves didn't quite match up in a typical posture. This block drawing is a sketch of a copy of a life sketch made from a posing figure, so I figured there may be something to it. I'm not going to bring the model back in, but when I compared my block to the one in my sketchbook I could see some differences with the legs and a few other parts. Brought my block sketch back in line with the original life drawing. Tattoos are starting to be considered as well. One of my models has several, which I plan to scatter around some of the figures she posed for. These include the shoulder on the woman emerging from the shower, and on the shoulder blades of the seated figure. They need cleaning up, but I think they'll stay. Below is a view of the whole block as it looks today.

Over the next few days I plan to deal with those things mentioned above, add a few more details, and then see if it's ready to cut.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

24 Hours

Things have been kind of quiet on the blog this week, as a whole lot of art related stuff has kept me from working on any actual art, which I hope changes this coming week. Meanwhile, here's what kept me busy the past few days.

Every few years the College Art Association holds their annual conference in NYC. I'm not a member and don't participate in the conference, but it does draw a lot of people I know into the area, and so I will try to get up there for a visit. With that as my basic plan, early yesterday morning I boarded a train in my hometown, bound for New York. It arrived on time, and I climbed out of Penn Station and hit the streets of Manhattan around 12:30 pm. First thing was to contact a few friends from grad school, John Siblik and John Lustig. (Don't have a current photo of them together, so I posted one above of them playing some one on one basketball in Carbondale a long time ago.) As expected, they were wandering through the gallery districts of Chelsea, so I was given a meeting address and I started walking that direction.

It took about 20 minutes to get down to the block on 22nd where I was told to meet them, but no sign of them. (I did, however, have to detour around some event that had limousines disgorging people who posed on the sidewalk for photographers before going into some invite only function in a gallery) A second phone call found them still a few blocks away, so I walked back north and met them halfway. We had a relaxing lunch in a small Italian restaurant nearby, then went back to gallery hopping. We had no agenda, so just checked out some street level spaces and went through one of the large buildings with gallery spaces on multiple floors. As is typical of these kinds of tours, the quality level of the art varied from dull and pointless to very impressive.

Late afternoon we took a subway back up to the 50's where all the conference hotels were. I dropped off my stuff in the room where I'd be crashing for the night, and we met back at an Irish bar that has been a designated spot for the SIU art people at these things. One beer apiece and we went over to the Hilton for the official alumni reception. A much larger room than last time (including a hotel employee to dispense the alcoholic beverages instead of the bathtub full of beer from last time), but it seemed like fewer people in attendance. Chatted with a few professors from during my time there, met a few new ones. We ended up staying for the whole thing. Dropped by a open portfolio session, where I saw a printmaker friend from Mississippi, an adjunct from my current university, and met a few new people as well. From there, back to the Irish bar, where we were joined by Armen, another midwesterner grad painter from our Carbondale years. I guess we're not as young as we used to be, because by midnight we were all pretty much tired and decided to call it a night. Below is a photo of some of the free items picked up in my day's wanderings.

We got up early this morning (as I was assured by my roommate, no need to set an alarm- the heavy traffic on the avenue would be noisy enough to wake us up), and grabbed breakfast at a small place a few blocks away. I said goodbye to Siblik, heading for an early flight home, but met up with Lustig. Like me, he has a long time interest and involvement with comic books, so after another breakfast stop (him, not me) we walked the blocks in a radius of Times Square, finding that none of the shops opened before 11:00. We worked our way back to a store on 7th by that point, where we spent about an hour looking through new comics, back issue bins, and bound collections. Looking at the older stuff was fun (an inspiration for both of us in our artistic development), but no need to buy things we already owned, and we had no interest in any new things they had in stock. (such is the state of the current comics industry) Said goodbye to John outside the store, and he went north as I walked south back to Penn Station. I arrived there about 12:30, just about 24 hours after I had left it, with plenty of time to catch my 1:00 train back to the Jersey shore. All in all, a very good day.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Standing Room Only...Again

It's been almost a week since any snow fell around here, so no problem holding our monthly critique group tonight. Ten of our regulars brought art, but we were outnumbered by a contingent of Molly's art history students. The students were mostly quiet, but for those of us who do this regularly, the discussion was as good as ever. The photo above includes paintings from Vince, drawings from Trevor, a spread from Michelle's sketchbook, my current block, and an assemblage sculpture from Lisa.

Adam brought two unusual pieces, both involving cloth that had been treated to be stiff and retain an open volume. One of them (see below) even included some color, something we rarely see in his work.

Edy brought something in progress, the frame shown above, with newspaper pieces collaged. At her request we offered her a number of suggestions as to how to proceed with the piece.

Jane brought in this epic novel of a blanket, featuring an interesting variety of knitted patterns. After we finished discussing the work that was displayed in the Studio, we all moved out to the hallway and cafeteria to see some larger work.

Mary had set up a series of prints in the narrow hallway (above), while Molly had stuff there and in the more open space by the kitchen (below).

Because most of the people in the room were brand new, I did have to go through my basic description of the whole boardwalk series, as well as the history of the new block. In general, everyone likes the changes I made to new block, the only suggestions for changes were some proportional issues of a few figures.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Slight Thaw

Everyone around here is pretty much sick of winter weather, but today those of us who live down the shore got a little break. Icy precipitation fell well into the morning hours up north, but down here it was all rain, and that ended by early afternoon. That, and some long awaited plowing meant that the parking lot at the Boatworks was as clear of snow as it's been since before Christmas, and that we could venture out for an evening of figure drawing in relative safety. Tonight's model was the one who posed for most of the figures in the current boardwalk block, so I brought it along to let the model to see its current state. But mostly I was there to draw. The 40 minute charcoal drawing above was the best of the night.

Boardwalk Showers part 8

Late in the day I took advantage of a few hours of down time to get some routine scheduled maintenance for my car. The waiting room was pretty full when I arrived, but before long I had the place to myself. The room has a tile floor, and I knew that I wasn't satisfied with the tile floor I had drawn on my current block the other day, so I figured it would make a good reference. I found a seat where I could view an exterior angled wall from the right location to duplicate my composition, and did a detailed paper sketch of what I saw. Back home I reproduced some of those notes on the block. The result is that the angles in the foreground aren't quite as deep (and distorted) and the tiles are smaller in size. Still need to fix the wall tiles, but that can wait for another day.