Friday, May 30, 2014

Bd James Strepar part 6

Back to the Studio this afternoon to continue the cutting of the new block.  I finished all the negative space in the image around the objects on top of the map and around the land of Galicia.  I also went ahead and did the body of the canteen (so I could finish his name) and the blade of the knife, which I knew would have to be light in value.  Everything that's left will be cut at least some, but I wanted to leave them while I considered if I wanted any parts to be left as black.  In any case, I'll finish cutting it by Monday, and I hope pull a proof to bring to the June critique.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bd James Strepar part 5

Today I did something I haven't done in a very long time- sit in my Studio at my work table and carve a block.  Due to weather and other disasters, it hadn't yet happened in 2014, and off the top of my head I can't remember when it had last happened.  But I had the opportunity today and took advantage of it.  I had started this block as a cutting demo in Belmar during the art walk and had found that my tools were a bit dull, so on that day I just used my class tools.  On this occasion I had more time, so I opened my workday by sharpening the two gouges I use most; testing them in a margin, I found a big difference.  I started out by the borders, widening it on all sides, and fully cutting out the feast day date.  Then I moved inside and started cleating the land areas outside of Galicia.  Had a few visitors.  Molly's friend Jackie, who sells clothing Molly silkscreens came to drop off some money for her. She loves the space, but remarked how messy it is.  I pointed out that it's actually the cleanest the room has been in years.  And later Molly stopped by to pick up that money, at which point we settled on a plan for the June critique.  She liked the changes to the block since our last critique.  I continued working until around 5:30, then cleaned up and headed home.  Brought the block with me in case I want to look at it, but I don't expect to cut any more before I return to the Studio tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bd James Strepar part 4

Recent days have been a mix of yard work and various errands, with some occasional block sketching at home.  Today I brought the block on location while I was waiting to get my car serviced.  The block shows some of the changes made since last week.  I redrew the knife, making it slightly larger and making it look more like the actual knife I used in my scout years and brought into the woods to build a shelter with.  I added some necessary detail to the canteen.  I chose a design based on canteens from the   Civil War- old enough to look old fashioned, but still a design that looks enough like the contemporary version to be recognizable to a current viewer.  Lots of photos are available on the internet.  The one I had in my youth had a screw-on cap, but looking at the photos, these 19th century models had a simple spout and were plugged with a cork with an attached ring to make it easy to pull out, so that's what I went with.  In the actual era of Bd James, water would have been carried in a skin bag, or in glass bottles, but I felt the former might not be recognizable to my current viewers, and the latter might have too many associations not compatible to my story.  Since most canteens have straps to make carrying easier, I added one.  The photos of vintage models show it was typically a canvas or leather strap fitted through a metal D-ring attached to the canteen, so I based my drawing on a similar strap on my camera case.

My slightly larger knife covered part of the Galicia name, so I redrew the word, moved over just a little.  At one point I had considered putting more names on my map.  The last version of the block includes a fragment of the name Transylvania (near the wolf and where the strap attaches to the canteen) and I had considered labeling Poland, Austria, and Hungary, all of which are part of this map fragment.  However, I decided that would make the image too cluttered, and that many associations with those modern nation state names might be a distraction from the mood I'm going for.  (the name "Galicia" will be meaningless to anyone who doesn't have extensive knowledge of that region or medieval history)

Still some decisions to make regarding colors and values, but enough is done that I can continue cutting it, and my plan was to go up to the Studio after lunch to do that.  But as I was packing up, rain moved in hard and quick,  So I decided to take care of indoor stuff the rest of the day, and have a long Studio day tomorrow.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Out By The Edge

At the Belmar Arts Council it's time for the annual Art on the Edge show.  The time of year has changed over the years, but I'm thinking this will be the fourth edition.  It has generally been a successful show over the years, bringing in a slightly different group of artists and viewers than many of our shows do, despite there being no clear consensus on what the show is about.  The idea of "edgy" is in the eye of the beholder.  At a planning meeting for an early edition of the show, a volunteer became upset to learn that we would not have any monitors set up to show digital art, saying without such art there was no point to our show.  (she then suddenly decided to she had no time to work on our show anyway and left)  Last year I was contacted by someone who had just submitted work to the show and after seeing the postcard, was upset that she had submitted her mixed media painting to a "graffiti" show and no one had warned her.  I replied that though the card had a graffiti based design (specialty of the artist who designed it), the show was open to all kinds of art, and no surprise to me, her piece did get accepted.

Any time there is a juror involved it's hard to predict what will happen, and we tend to bring in outside people to be our jurors.  And when I have no idea what the juror(s) like, I try to give them a choice- a couple of different subjects and styles, and hope something sticks.  So I went with a color piece (above) from the Ecclesiastes series, which seems to have some kind of message, even if it's not clear what it is, and a print from my supermarket series (below), which refers to alcohol and violence.  Both prints have good strong graphics if nothing else.  I submitted them today, while the deadline is the middle of next week.  A week after that, the juror decisions are announced, and I"ll have an update for everyone then.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bd James Strepar part 3

It's been a few weeks since I had an update on my latest print, but those have been two very busy weeks.  That period of time included my last week of classes and calculating all my final semester grades, always an ordeal.  We had a Mother's Day in there, which meant multiple special meals, including some cooking for one of them.  Now that the weather has warmed up, the grass needs to be cut at least once a week, and it's finally the time of year to get the vegetables into the ground.  Today I even had a work shift at the Belmar Arts Council, but in this case it meant I could get back to making some art.

Today I was gallery sitting, which also means answering the phones and other building stuff.  However, I know from experience that there isn't that much to do, and it's important to bring along something to keep myself busy.  I haven't had time to work on the latest saint lately, but I've had a bit of time to think about it and the things brought up at the last critique.  To emphasize the journey concept, someone had suggested adding some ships or sea monsters around the map, as in the one above.  The big problem there is that the territory in question is completely landlocked, but I can see where others may have been confused- with no color yet or details around my Galicia border, it did kind of look like an island.  Simple solution- continue the nations map beyond the borders of the country in focus.  But I did find a way to add some other elements.  The map above and below are from yet another old calendar in my collection, this one featuring images from a 1665 atlas by Joan Blaeu.  The middle of an Aftrica map includes small drawings of some of the wildlife one might expect to find there, probably not a bad thing for an explorer to know about.  Elephants and tigers wouldn't make much sense in my image, so I substituted to common predators in that part of the world in those days, a brown bear to the north (Russia) and a wolf to the south.

Taking another idea from the ancient map, I started marking in some mountains along the southern border (the Carpathians) and gave the name of the territory or more vintage font.  The other significant change I made was to move the compass from the right side of the block to the left, and in its old place, started sketching in a piece of a canteen, the one other most obvious thing one would take on a hike.  My plans for the day were slightly thwarted by the arrival shortly into my shift by a couple of guys working on installing the new air conditioner,  Besides taking over my workspace, they spent at least 15 minutes pounding the aluminum ducts with hammers, creating a racket that was probable heard a few towns away.  I had to give up answering some questions from gallery visitors during this time.  When my shift ended, the block now looked like what you see below.

Still a long way to go here, lots of things to be fixed, but I think it's better, and the composition is more complete.  I'll fix some flaws in the coming days, and get back to cutting it soon.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Nice Day for a Critique

The weather hasn't always been good on critique nights this year.  Twice we has to postpone because of snow.  Spring seems to have finally arrived for real, though I'm keeping my snow shovel ready for a little while longer.  We had 6 for the critique, including some people we haven't seen for a few months. Out initial display group above includes (top row) me, photos from Margery, (bottom row) drawing from Tim, and two older pieces from Molly.  The multiplate etching recently appeared in her Spring Lake presentation, and was one of the first things she made in out Studio, back in 2007.  

Tim had a whole pad full of sketches based on faces, most with a cubist feel, like the one above.
Below, Vince had some new paintings, intentionally trying to get away from his traditional grids.

Jill is now back north for a while, and brought a mix of new work- a traditional painting along with some of her elaborately assembled digital photo collages.  For my new block, response was mixed.  The idea of exploration was clear.  One person saw the knife as being about violence and murder, but I think anyone with backwoods experience would make the connection to hiking the woods.  I expect it will remain part of the image in some form, but maybe with some other hiking equipment or map symbols, its relationship to the concept will be more clear.

Bd James Strepar part 2

Over the past week I had given a lot of thought to the Bd James print, but hadn't had time to do anything with the block.  But this past weekend my commitment to the Belmar train show and related activities ended, and with a crit scheduled for tonight, I figured I should get back to work.  I decided that the idea of a map and compass was still my starting point.  Tried to think of other symbols of outdoors and hiking that I could add.  I tried several compositions that would allow me to put hiking boots in the image, but they all ended up too illogical or too crowded.  For tonight's version, I did throw in my lock blade pocket knife, which has gotten a lot of use in the woods.  The beer is because Lisa, one of our regulars gave me the instruction to have a beer for her in her absence.

I drove up to the Studio by around 4 pm, wanting to get there before the dance kids showed up, and their parents' cars filled the lot.  Plus, it would be nice to get to actually use my Studio to make art.  My big book of historical maps actually included one of Galicia, so I had that to work with.  A few of our regulars who hadn't been around the past few months arrived early, so they just hung out in the Cafeteria while I went to the print shop to rapidly sketch my idea.  Below is what I got done.

This is just a rough idea, so I may end up redrawing all of it.  But for now, its a starting point.