Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smoking Figure part 17

After my time breaking clay in Belmar, I drove up to the Studio to work on a project of my own. Before doing anything else, I took a walk up Main into Ocean Grove to look for more lettering examples. I sketched something suitable from an office window, walked back, had some lunch, then got to drawing. I erased the lettering I had drawn earlier in the week and put in pieces of two lines of lettering, which can be seen above. I don't know if this is the final version (at minimum a few minor adjustments are needed), but it's definitely better than any of the earlier versions. While I was there, I also finished roughing in the brick and mortar patterns in all the appropriate places. The state of the whole block can be seen below.

I worked my way home, but wasn't quite done for the day. I took a walk up my town's Main Street and did some sketches of windows, looking for hints of items/architecture visible through them, as well as patterns of reflections. It's something I may try to add to this print in and around the head and lettering. Also in the plans, using more ink to fill in some background values (to make sure it's all balanced) and I'm still considering giving her a tattoo.

Mud Slinging

For the last few weeks there has been an ongoing project at the Boatworks, this year's BAC community project. To this point I have had a limited role in its making. My biggest contributions have been introducing project leader Kat to the Belmar Arts Council last summer (she wanted a place to attempt some cob building projects, and I figured that if there was an educational component, the BAC would go for it) and taking dozens of photographs for the BAC blog. On the first day, I got there later than expected and they were almost done with the day's planned work. (I did a weave a few branches into the wall) On the second day I was there from the beginning, but there were so many people wanting to get involved in the messy fun, that I was told to stay clean and take photos. Work continued today, and with no crowds, I was given something dirty to do.

One of the main components of the cob mixture being used to build this wall is clay, dug from a site in central Jersey. The clay has a lot of rocks and stuff in it, so one task that has gone on from the beginning is sifting this clay through a screen to remove the unwanted materials. Today I took a turn on clay sifting duty, spending a few hours turning the clods of dried clay from chunks (shown above) to dust (shown below).

It seems like very little result for two hours labor, but I guess it will be more impressive when water is added to it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Smoking Figure part 16

Days that I'm not working one of my paying jobs come with a long list of things that I need to do, and today was no exception. Of course, this blog isn't about that stuff. I did squeeze a short visit to the Studio into today's schedule. Working on the window in the background this time. I'm planning to keep the same words, but change the size, location, and style. The BR that had been there was in the start of an arcing pattern, not uncommon for words in a front window, but it didn't quite work with the wall perspective. I thought I'd try it in a straight line, and as long as I was doing it, go with a more simple, modern font. I chose a letter style from an old book I have- photos of interesting store signs, mostly from the 1950's. It didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I decided to keep the letters big (the larger the letters, the less window transparency/reflection I have to deal with), but that leaves room for only two again. I don't think that shows enough to understand that they are diminishing with perspective; instead it just looks like I made them different sizes or didn't line them up properly. It doesn't look any better in the mirror. Next time I will make them a little smaller (giving me a 3rd or possibly even 4th letter in both lines of text) and maybe a different font. I would have tried it today, but I had to take care of a few more tasks before one more art related thing- a committee meeting for planning an big upcoming juried exhibition in Belmar.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Smoking Figure part 15

Back to work on the Smoking block today. I mentioned last time that I was leaning toward putting back the cornerstone that had been there since last summer. So yesterday, while on various errands, I documented a few area cornerstones. Downloaded the photos last night and sketched out letters, numbers, and text designs. Today I brought those sketches to the Studio. The base of the wall will now be concrete/marble, with the cornerstone as part of that. Using the original perspective lines as a guide, I put in the cornerstone engraving on the right side. For my design, I combined the layout of one from a local church with the font from one on a former Masonic temple. Needing the space to draw, I removed part of the masking tape I had along the right edge of the skirt, "erased" the old ink with sandpaper, and used a marker to indicate the new edge.

There is one potential issue, which I had forgotten about since I had drawn the previous numbers last summer. There is a weak spot in the block- a place where there is a gap in the plywood core and just a thin layer of the veneer over the top. (some of it came away with the masking tape) This area can be seen above, a slightly darker mark that goes from the edge of the skirt, through the lower left leg of the A, and ending near the top of the 1. If I'm careful, while cutting I can reinforce the A from underneath (sliding splinters and glue under the veneer) and retain the surface shape. Even if it's a little ragged, I can use it as a guide and fix the edges on the print itself. And worst case scenario, I remove the AD from the block and just leave the date. Next time I'll deal with the lettering in the window.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Smoking Figure part 14

I pulled into the parking lot at the Studio at the same time as Molly, so we had a rare day of working side by side. While she was screening t-shirts, I went back to work on my smoking block. Not the figure this time, but the background. Before going to Ocean Grove I had made a brief stop on my local Main Street to look at that building one more time and do a few more sketches. My latest thinking was to forget the idea of having a section of brick above a section of marble, but still keep some architectural elements from my source. So I started by drawing in layers of standard brick everywhere that the window wasn't. They will likely be cut to have a dark tone of some kind with white mortar between them. The window remains in the upper left, but it is now a little wider and doesn't come down as far. Around the window will be a wide frame of light stone/concrete and an inner dark frame, which in the above photo is shown adjacent to the top of her head and the shoulder on the left. (this will all be a lot easier to see after it's inked) The window will also be mostly black, but I may try to indicate some building interior through it, or reflections on it, or some combination. For now, a little of the text remains (the large "BR" letters), but I will be redrawing those letters and others in a different style and arrangement. I still plan to put in an additional element with text, either a bronze plaque or bringing back a version of the light colored cornerstone that had been in the lower right. (Molly favors the latter) I'll think about it a little bit and try something later in the week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Smoking Figure part 13

Put in a little more time on my smoker today. My plan was to work on the background, but the more I thought about it, the less sure I was of what I want to do. The building that I had been looking at as a model has a mix of white stone work below and brick at the window level. I can do that, but I have to consider how those play against the figure in terms of both rhythm and value. (I'm cutting this as a black and white print, so value will have to serve all the functions that color otherwise might) And what I will do with the window and other wall details will have to wait until I have a clear idea about the brick and/or stone. So other than redrawing some of the brick patterns that I had erased a few weeks ago, I put off the building question for at least another day.

Instead I gave a little more thought to the figure. At the last critique, one of our regulars mentioned that he thought that the figure's arms were not the same size. Another regular said she was of two minds about that, but had decided for herself that she was fine with how it was drawn. I said I'd give it a look later, and today was that day. Everything seemed fine with the forearms, but I came to the conclusion that the upper arm on the left was just a little shorter than the one one on the right. The problem seemed to be that the shoulder was too low compared to the other one. Using masking tape and a marker, I made a slight adjustment to the one on the right, adjusting its slope just slightly downward. On the left I used considerably more tape, raising the slope of the whole shoulder, and bringing the upper arm up a little in the process. The version above is the equivalent of a very rough sketch, but it seems a bit more logical, so something it will end likely end up in the final version.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Small Gathering

Tonight was the second consecutive meeting of the Belmar figure group that I was in charge of. (the regular coordinator had commitments these past two Wednesdays) No big deal, since the models were already scheduled, so I just had to arrive early, set up the platform and easels, and play cool tunes. I was also in charge of the money, collecting it from artists and paying the model. Only 3 artists showed up tonight, so plenty of room to circle the model's platform and pick a good view to draw. We had two poses tonight. Of my two drawings, the model liked the one above (45 minutes) best, and I agreed with her.

Boardwalk Showers part 40- Finished

I used a brief window in my day to get into the Studio and finish coloring the 3rd proof of the shower print. No surprises- just made it look like the 2nd proof, which I finally was able to show to a critique group a few days ago. So technically this print has been finished for a while, but now I can finally say that I'm done working on it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Better Late Than Never

To accommodate Molly's schedule, we decided to postpone the June critique group meeting for a week. The changed date seems to have worked out, as 10 people brought art (including two first time visitors) and 2 additional regulars came just to hang out and be part of the discussion.

The photo above shows several of the works brought in. The two colorful pieces on either end are paintings by Sheilagh, between them is a pen and ink/wash drawing by Ginny (both new to our critique), and this view includes two mixed media pieces from Edy and Michelle's ruby slippers in a glass box. The photo below shows my smoker block and two oversized sculptures (bag with donut and coffee cup) from Lisa.

At one point we moved down the hall (to the space that has become our unofficial gallery annex) to view Vince's figure based paintings and Jane's clay tree forms.

I don't have other photos, but we also looked at Molly's plans to use her monocle bear image in a full color work, and Adelle's prototype for a poster, each an image that is designed to be reproduced for publicity purposes.

As for my work, I quickly showed the 2nd proof of the shower room scene to everyone, just seeking feedback on the color. There was a general agreement among those who spoke up that the new colors work fine (even if some aren't balanced with a matching piece elsewhere in the composition), and so I am going to declare it done. I'll finish the 3rd proof next time I'm there and be done with it. I also brought out the smoking block, first seeking reaction from those who were unfamiliar with the piece. Again, it was obvious that the woman is smoking outside, but after that people have wide opinions about everything else. At least one new viewer saw her as a person on a break (perhaps from work), but within the group there were disagreements over whether her way of dressing matched my concept of someone on a job. No one liked the name tag idea, feeling that it's better to let the figure stand as is and let people interpret it as they see fit. A few suggested that some kind of adjacent ashtray might do the trick, indicating a destination location for smokers, not just a random person on a street. People generally like the figure, bringing up just minor suggestions for modifications. I'll look into those areas and consider those suggestions next time I'm there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

36th Annual PCNJ Member Exhibition Reception

Today was a busy day around the Printmaking Center of New Jersey. I missed an early demonstration by a guest artist, but arrived in time to catch a good bit of the annual member meeting, where they typically give an overview of organization finances and plans for the coming year. After that is was time for fun. We had set up the traditional pot luck lunch downstairs in the studio. Those in attendance enjoyed the food and beverage downstairs, then came back upstairs to look at the art, which was hard to do during the very crowded meeting.

My piece, seen just to the right of the doorway in the above photo, received a lot of positive comments. Everyone who spoke to me about it asked which boardwalk it was, often suggesting one they thought it might be (Seaside, Atlantic City, etc), but regular readers here know that it's from my informed imagination. In a related comment, I heard a story from one of our board members regarding the recent Arts on Division show. On a day when she was there my tattoo print attracted a lot of positive attention from a group of younger viewers, who seemed to recognize the depicted artist, or his work, or maybe both. Makes sense- just as many in attendance today instantly recognized my piece as my work just from its style, these viewers had an eye for an artist they seem to be very familiar with.

Above and below, more artwork from the show, which included 45 pieces selected from over 200 submitted prints, artist books, photographs, and mixed media paper works.

I ended up staying there until about 3:30, at which time I returned to the shore area. Stopped first in Belmar to visit another reception and shoot photos for their blog, then finally home from there. In the next few days I'll get back to the process of making some new art.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Smoking Figure part 12

It's not likely to get much hotter this summer than it was today, but it's early enough in the season that we don't have much humidity yet, and the basement space that holds the Studio hasn't achieved that level of dampness that comes this time of year. Being the basement, it's relatively cool (despite lacking any air conditioning) so working conditions were actually pleasant. But before that, I took a walk to the center of my town to look into some references. I'm not satisfied with the building background I had drawn on the block last summer and decided to to try something else. The above photo was actually taken last year, but I wanted more information and details, so I brought a sketchbook and made some quick notations.

Before I could even start working on backgrounds, I had to deal with some more figure issues. Back last year there had been a comment or two about the size of the hand holding the cigarette. I determined that the size was fine, but I realized that the shape could be improved. I had taken a close up photo of the model's hand in the original pose, and had taken a few minutes earlier in the week to do a life size sketch of the hand on paper. I used that to make the adjustments shown in the above photo. Around the same time I used masking tape to consider changes to the lips. I'll probably keep the changes.

Another thing I played around with was the skirt. I felt that the area below the waist was slightly out of proportion to the upper body, and the tape and markers above show an improved version of those main lines.

As for the background building, I liked the projecting ledge of marble, which on the original building would be above the head of just about any adult. I moved it down in my version to be able to keep some of the window as a visual element, as well as to use the curved transition underneath the ledge as a contrast to all the verticals in that part of the composition. However, the resulting structure would have been very awkward for someone to lean against in that pose, so I started adding another projecting stone ledge around the level of the hips. Indications of these changes can be (just barely) made out the above photo, maybe a little better in the detail photos of the hand and skirt. I think it's more interesting than the simple vertical edge of brick wall that had been there. Molly was in the Studio for a little of the time I was there, but was not a fan of the changes, feeling that the resulting building did not look like a comfortable place to lean. And she may be right, so a more traditional straight wall may return, but with some different architectural elements and proportions than the previous version.

The current state of the block at the end of today's session. I hope to get it a little further along before the next critique.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 39

Part of my wanderings around this part of the county today took me to the Studio. I took the 3rd proof of the shower print off the wall, got out my watercolors, and colored the large bank of lockers. As shown above, when coloring something near the top of the panel, I tend to rotate the print 180 degrees, so I am less likely to mess up other parts of the image as I reach over them. One other little bit today- adding the colors to the logo on the poster on the wall- and I'm declaring the background done. (it looks pretty much like this state of the 2nd proof) Towels, bathing suits, etc, can wait until after the next critique.

Before leaving, I spent a while giving some thought to my smoking image, since I plan to make that the next project to finish. Didn't touch the block, just looked at some old sketches of possible backgrounds, as I'm not really satisfied with what I have on there at the moment. I may try to make some changes with that before next week's crit.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Boardwalk Showers part 38

A few weeks ago I attempted to go to a newish critique group that has started in Asbury, just a few blocks from the Studio. I found the place open, but no critique. I was told that likely few or no people confirmed that they would attend, so it didn't happen. (I wasn't sure that I'd make it, so I hadn't contacted the organizer) Today would be the normal meeting day for the critique that Molly and I host, but Molly asked that we postpone it for a week and everyone we contacted was agreeable. This coming Thursday was the scheduled day for the critique group that meets in Belmar, but the most recent weekly newsletter said that the meeting was cancelled. Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to get a few people to look at some current art? I've been holding off on working on some projects, hoping to get some reactions to updates on some current pieces, but when I have a few hours available I like to bet back to work again.

So today I put in some more coloring time on the 3rd proof of the boardwalk shower scene. Last time I saw it, I had colored all the figures but nothing else. Today the goal was to get as much of the background done as possible. I arrived in late afternoon and stayed a few hours. By the time I was done, I had finished the walls, floor, shower stalls and curtains, bench, and trash can, leaving only the lockers left to finish later this week. And I'm leaving the towels and other accessories for next week, after I hear some opinions on how I colored them for the 2nd proof. I like the choices made there, but if anyone feels differently I give them an opportunity to make their case.

Shortly before leaving, I heard a few people coming down the hall- one of our regulars who didn't get the word about the change of date for the critique, and a friend or hers. Luckily I was there to explain things, and the pair live just a few blocks away in Ocean Grove, and didn't travel a far distance for nothing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Keeping Dry

We've had some surprisingly hot weather around here over the past couple of weeks, like we went right from winter to summer. Today was one of those hot humid days that inevitably ends with a thunderstorm, which actually sounded like the best option of those we were threatened with today (tornado, hailstorms). There were a few sprinkles late in the afternoon, but nothing that could be called a real rain. My luck ran out just at the moment I pulled up in front of the Belmar Arts Council. Took three trips to get all my stuff in, each trip more wet than the one before. The model pulled up to the Boatworks at the same time I did, and joined me inside- as the other artists arrived, they decided to wait out the storm (about 10 minutes) in the comfort of their own vehicles. While we were waiting, I showed the model the completed second proof of the shower print (carefully packed for the weather), since she posed for 4 of the figures. She liked it, specifically mentioning the poster on the wall, praising the color choices for the background as feeling very real for the setting, and happy to see some of her tattoos show up on some of the figures. (she was also amused to see the changes I made to her appearance to make the various characters feel like different people)

This is the same model who posed for the smoking print, so I showed her a photo of the recent changes I made to the face in the block drawing, and updated her on some of the other things I'm considering for it. The model believes that I always make her look angry in my drawings, so she liked that the changes I made reduce that. At the rate I'm going with this piece, it may be quite a while before I can show her a finished print.

As for tonight, did two charcoal drawings. I'm not crazy about either one of them, but the model liked the one above, because even though the resemblance isn't as good as I'd like, I didn't make her look like she was about to go beat up someone.