Saturday, April 30, 2011

Smoke Break

For years now the Belmar Arts Council has had a policy of asking participants in the various exhibitions to do some gallery sitting duty. (we have a paid office employee, generally there during the regular gallery hours, but she has way too much to do to be sitting in the gallery) The current show has 80 artists, so most of the two hour shifts have two gallery sitters. This afternoon it was my turn. Usually these gallery sitting days are pretty quiet so I always bring something to keep myself busy, often an art project. Right now I'm in the coloring process of the shower room print, a process that I've done there sometimes, but with this show the room is a little too crowded for all those materials. So instead I brought the smoking block from the Studio, which will likely be the next piece to finish after the current boardwalk image. As it turned out, I ended up spending the whole shift talking art related matters with the other gallery sitter, and talking to gallery visitors. We even managed to sell a few things on our shift, not too common on these occasions. (no luck talking the patrons into adding my print to their shopping list) Our replacements showed up on time and I was on to the next errand of the day.

Still, not a total waste of art time. As long as I had it there I showed the current version of the block to the other sitter to get some reactions. Once we got past the letter reversal confusion, she felt that the biggest obstacle to seeing my subject as an employee on break was her skirt. Like many, she saw it as a pair of shots, confusing the dark line that represents the edge of a shadow for a pant leg. I don't know if fixing that alone would make people see her as an employee, but it would probably help people understand the image better, so I expect to reflect that when I finally get to cutting. Her other suggestions were related to the background, a part of the print that I'm still debating. I'll keep this stuff in the back of my head for now, and hope I have some better ideas when I'm ready to seriously work on it again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 32

It's been two weeks since the last time I was able to work on my shower room print. I thought about it quite a bit during that time. I can't say that I have it all worked out now, but at this point the only way to figure out how to finish it is to start coloring. I filled in the floor and most of the wall tiles, a combination of straight indigo and a neutral ochre I mixed up. The trash can in the left panel is a color mixed from the other two. Still a long way to go, but I think it does a better job of providing that dim atmosphere that others have mentioned. Below is a side by side comparison of the second and first proof of the print.

I don't know that I'll finish this in time for the next critique. I have a plan in mind for the shower stalls and lockers, and some of the towels, but the rest is still up in the air.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Playing Around

Haven't had time to get much art work done of late- holidays, school work, exhibition related all adds up. Yesterday it was school work. I'm reaching the point in the semester where it's time to talk about the Board Game project. I finished coloring the board itself months ago, but I had always planned to make some character game tokens to be used by players. I chose 4 figures from Bosch paintings (not the ones the board images came from), sketched them on folded pieces of scrap card stock, glued them and then trimmed them to the shapes of the bodies and accessories. A little watercolor took care of the rest. Each comes with its own stand, and they do stand as long as the board is on a level surface. Meanwhile, I took advantage of the unusually nice weather to take my board outside and go over it with some spray clear acrylic, to give my carefully painted surface a little protection.

Took all of it to school this morning. My fellow faculty were more excited by my creation than the students were, but I think having the physical example to show them helped the class understand the whole concept of the project. Today at most they got as far as some rough compositional sketches, but a few of proposed game boards look like they could be interesting when finished.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Very Long Day

Today was a pretty long and tiring day. Got up very early so that before leaving for work I'd have time to pack my car full of art. The back story here is that I have been asked to represent the world of woodcut in a big art fair coming up in Somerville next month, partly organized by the PCNJ. Over the past few weeks I have put together a list of framed works and packaged a few saints for the bins. Yesterday, I even picked up some small framed watercolors in nearby Long Branch, to transport them to the show for someone who can't do it himself. This morning all that art was packed in my vehicle while I was teaching at my university. After ending the class and cleaning up, I had a quick lunch and hit the road. I drove to the Printmaking Center, where I dropped off all the art (see above) and checked out the current show in the gallery.

I got home late in the afternoon, about 150 miles past where I started. After just enough time for a quick meal, I was back on the road and on my way to Belmar, for the figure drawing group. For various reasons I missed the last few sessions, so I was a little rusty. The drawing below is the better of the two I did tonight, but still not a very good drawing, so that's why I need the practice.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Catching Up

During the school year I have very little spare time, with art related activities taking a lot of it. Late this morning I set out with lots of plans, but only got to some of them. An unusual traffic situation cost me a bunch of time on my way to my first errand, and required me to to take a long scenic route to get to my second location, an art reception in Belmar. The second half of the annual Jersey Shore Arts Show at the BAC is a sort of Salon des Refuses, 25 works that didn't make the main show at the Boatworks, but the jurors still felt were worthy of exhibition. This show is at a bank about a block away, which has had a relationship with the BAC for a while now. By the time I got there, things were almost over- maybe half a dozen people looking at the pieces hung all around the lobby. As the bank was ready to lock up, I helped walk the leftover cupcakes back to the Boatworks. There I ran into more visitors than we usually get on a weekend and got into various conversations, and before I realized it, much of the afternoon was gone.

Still, I drove up to the Studio to at least get some of my planned work done. Not personal work, but school work. With about a month left in the semester, the work load builds for both students and professors. Today I printed a late arriving woodblock (after the first day of printing with a class, I generally just collect blocks and plates in following weeks and print them at home myself) and graded a color project from one of my 2D classes. The project (shown above) was taken directly from the 2D class that I took back in the 80's, and completion requires the student to mix hundreds of colors. Grading it requires me to verify that students have not repeated any colors in each set, an extremely tedious process. Despite that, I have stuck with the project through a decade of teaching because it does provide students with some necessary experience in color mixing, which helps them with future projects.

By the time I was done with school stuff, I had no time left to continue working on my own color project- the color studies for the shower print. Well, no particular deadline for that- it just means that I have a few more days to think about it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 31

Had enough time for a Studio visit this afternoon, so I went up there and continued my color studies for the new print. I took the one I had started last time (above) and added to it. At first I intensified the bright blue color I had washed on the lockers, but I felt it became too bright and colorful, so I went over it with some gray and indigo to dull it a little. I darkened the tan color on the upper walls to neutralize it a little. Both are improvements. I tried out various color combinations in different parts of the wall (color tile stripes) and floor (possible patterns)- nothing definite decided yet, but it gives me stuff to figure out.

I also started putting colors on the other tracing copy (below). Like last time, all the skin and hair first, then moving on to the architecture. This time I started with green colors- a very pale green wash on all the walls, and a more intense version on one of the horizontal tile stripes. Not liking this one as much. I'll add more to it over the weekend, but as of now I think I'm more likely to go with a blue dominated color scheme for the next proof of the print.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Art Reception in Belmar

Another annual Jersey Shore Juried Art Show at the Belmar Arts Council, another huge crowd. How many in attendance? No official head count is available, but we estimate somewhere between 200 and 300 came through during the reception. One of the many pieces everyone got to see was my Boardwalk Food woodcut, which turned out to be a prize winner.

The jurors had been asked to choose 5 works to receive awards- a Best in Show and 4 categories. My category was Photography and Graphic Media, which they felt put together such a diverse group of artwork that it called for additional awards. So six works in the show received Honorable Mentions, including mine. No special prize goes with it- just the recognition of the judges and a pretty pale blue ribbon. More photos of award winners and the reception can be found here. Go check out the show in person at the Boatworks, open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 pm, through May 13, 2011.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 30

Back to the Studio today to continue work on the latest print. I had originally thought that I would use the first proof to experiment with some color changes (based on thoughts since the critique this past week) but it occurred to me that it might be easier and better to try some new color studies on separate paper. The simple solution was to trace the print onto new paper. I have a pad of cheap 18" x 24" drawing paper in the Studio, so I took out two sheets and made two tracings of the first proof. Just clamped a blank sheet to the print and held it against the window of the building's front door, which let both the black ink lines and the color clearly show through. Sketched the basic contours of each color and a few key details, as shown above.

As for color choices, most people there at the crit generally agreed that making the backgrounds cool and/or neutral colors would let the figures stand out more, so that seemed a good place to start. Sometimes when I'm giving a lot of consideration to a particular topic, I can't escape it, and this week especially I kept coming across images of locker rooms and restrooms (which share similar interior design) without actively searching for them. Television shows, old movies, Sunday comic strips, etc. Made note of the color combinations in each. At this point I'm thinking of color schemes centering on blue or green.

Today was blue. I took one of my tracings and quickly filled in the established skin and hair tones. In this first experiment I put down washes of indigo, phthalo, and turquoise in various places, along with a buff color and a neutral gray- all hues found in previous boardwalk prints. I'll come back to this during the week, and either intensify these colors, or rearrange or replace them with new ones.

Monday, April 04, 2011

A Long Long Night

No worries about snow tonight, a rare day when temperatures were far above normal rather than the far below we've had for months and months. The crowd was a little slow to arrive- several of our regulars present, but some not available tonight. However, we had a few new people, some of whom may be back again in the future. Because we started out with fewer than our usual number, a decision was made to not use the timer and just let the conversation flow. Of course, that's why we started using the timer in the first place, but we'll get to that later.

We opened with Michelle's piece (above top), a sideshow style banner that fits in with the circus/carnival theme that she's been exploring a lot lately. We then moved across the displayed items (2nd photo), discussing Tara's mixed media painting and Tim's abstract drawing.

From there we moved out into the hall, where Adam had installed the pieces above, his latest variation of using materials from tires. Also in the hall were the ink drawing below, from Molly. Although it was not her intention, many people present saw them as having associations with various water based disasters, such as the BP oil spill and the recent tsunami in Japan.

Back in the Studio we discussed Vince's latest figure piece (top photo), late arriving work by one of Molly's students and a friend, and then we finished with my piece.

I put out both the first and second proofs of my latest print to get some feedback. The overwhelming favorite was the newer incomplete one. Mostly they liked all the flesh tones and felt that the all the other colors in the first proof were completing too much with the figures. Many calls for moving more cool tones into the architecture, and we also discussed the advantages of various more neutral colors or darker colors in these areas. Because so many new people were present (maybe 8 more connected with Molly's classes) I had to explain the series yet again (everyone liked the concept) and when I quickly showed the complete set, they acknowledged that my color choices for the shower print do make some sense in connection with earlier prints, if not for the scene itself. A few questioned whether this print itself has anything to do with the boardwalk concept and if it should even be part of the series. It's true that there is little in the image to say that this scene has to be at a boardwalk, but the same could be said for a few others in the series, and I think it will work in the context of the whole series (some agreed with me about this). Since I'm not particularly satisfied with the first proof, it makes sense to consider what came up tonight, and maybe experiment with some different color choices on that first copy before I do anything more with the okawara proofs.

Anyway, with the late arrivals adding some art to the mix, and the longer than usual discussions that went with each artist presentation, we didn't finish until well after 10 pm. Still a very productive critique session, but maybe the timer comes back next time.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 29

I found myself with some spare time in the early afternoon today, so I decided to drive up to the Studio and get in a quick coloring session. I'm still not sure of some of the color decisions to be made for this print, and will ask some feedback at the next critique group. However, the figures themselves are pretty much set from the first color proof, so I figured I can go ahead and put those in now. I had hoped to take care of it in about an hour, but I had to spend some time mixing some new colors. After that hour I had a layer of color everywhere, but none of the shadows or other tones, so I spent another hour adding washes. The above photo shows where things ended today. None of these areas are necessarily finished, as some areas had lightened in drying, but it's good enough for everyone to see where this image is going.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 28

During the week I stopped by the Studio for a little while to look at the 2nd proof of the showers print. I still believe that it was an improvement over the first version of the print, but after about 20 minutes I decided that there were a few things that I could improve on the block.

It's now been a week since I pulled that 2nd proof, and the ink on the block was dry enough to make it possible to do a little more cutting without making a big mess of myself. Today's trims are more subtle than last time, most of them to the showering figure in the center of the right panel, and a little to the standing figures in front of her (see the detail at the left). Also spent some time cleaning up bits of the block that had picked up some accidental ink last time, making them less likely to do the same this time. After that, I inked it and pulled a proof (shown below). The overall effect isn't too different from the last one, but these improvements may be noticed by anyone looking closely at the details, and viewers who are drawn to my work tend to like to search it for the details.

In a side note, the VCU Rams lost their game with Butler this evening, ending their improbable run through the NCAA Tournament. I'm a little disappointed to see the art school gone from the competition, but the resulting pairing of Butler (midwestern mid-major) and U Conn (Big East perennial contender) should provide a very entertaining game on Monday.