Saturday, June 15, 2024

Manasquan Art Walk 2024

 I learned today that we are having an art walk here in Manasquan today, and decided to check it out.  After all, I did drive up to Ocean Grove to see one last weekend, so I figured the least I could do is go to one in my own town, especially since I can walk there from home.  I know because I have done it a few times this year.  I couldn't find a list of artists anywhere online, except for things posted by a few of the artists themselves, and I didn't know any of them.  However, staying home just meant my parents watching old westerns all day, so I took the walk.  Weather was decent- warm and sunny, but not yet the heat and humidity that are expected next week. 

So I walked local blocks to Main Street, then up Main Street to the festival.  As I mentioned last week, I don't have much luck with outdoor events, so I didn't mind that I wasn't a part of it.  I walked through the entire business district of town, on Main from Route 71 to Broad Street, then cross and walk back.  If you didn't make it, you didn't miss much.  I would estimate maybe 30 or so artists there on the sidewalks.  Most just sat in chairs reading or looking at their phone, with only one actually greeting me, a potential customer.  The art was mostly seascapes, a subject that doesn't interest me. I only recognized one name, someone who has taught some local classes, but if she was there I didn't know it as we've never met.  Some artists claimed to have prints, but I only saw commercially produced reproductions in full color.  If it doesn't come directly from a block, plate, stone. or screen, I consider it a poster, not a print.  Here's a photo I took at one end:


You don't see much art, just a lot of cars, kids on bicycles, people eating at outdoor tables, some pedestrians, people walking pets, and that is pretty much what I saw.  The whole walking round trip (what with weekend traffic,  there was no way I was going to try to drive there) took only about an hour.  My conclusion was that the art I saw last week was way more interesting and skilled.  Like I said, at least it was a very nice day.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Back to the Old Habits

 I was up early enough this morning that I could try again to go to the figure drawing group. Actually Joe was sitting on the steps inside as I arrived in our building, so he said he'd see me upstairs.  Well, not until I retrieve my materials from the basement, but I did that.  Took my usual space in the old 40's room, which was a bit more comfortable today.  Don't know if it was the weather or if the AC was working better this time.  About 10 people showed up for the session- not enough to take all the spaces, but enough to keep things going a while.  With Joe back, we went back to the format he liked, so lots of gestural poses, and a few longer poses.  The longer poses were about 20 minutes, which is a good time for me with figure drawing in charcoal.  Shorter ones (30 seconds to 10 minutes) I did in pencil.  The one negative was that the model was male (first time ever for this group, Joe said), which doesn't help me with my Robert Johnson project, so I spoke to our organizer later and he said he could put me in touch with the model from a few weeks ago, who back then had expressed an interest in working for me.  Still, practice is practice, and I am mostly there to work on proportions and such, so I drew for the two hours.  My best charcoal of the day can be seen below:

The other long one was a standard seated 3/4 portrait, which turned out ok.  However, the model really liked it and how I dealt with his chin, and even took a photo of it.  

Before I even left the parking lot, I got a call from my former student Mary, who has hired me to do some printing and constructing in the past.  Today was about more printing, a couple of blocks that she wants proofed in time for a show in a few months.  With Jenny's project done, I can probably do that, and told her so.  She says she can provide ink and paper, and the block has been proofed before, so there is some kind of BAT to work from.  Size is reasonable.  I'm supposed to get back to her next week and discuss the details.  (I did some for an old friend of hers back in the summer of 2021, so I can probably do these as well)  She had questions about how to credit me, and if I can be called a master printer.  Usually most people who are called 'master printers' are employed by established shops or have some kind of certification.  I'm just a guy who has been printing his own work for decades and knows a thing or two about the process.  

Meanwhile, I exchanged emails with Jenny regarding the shipping of the prints she ordered, so on my way home today I made a couple of stops at possible shipping places to see what they had and what materials would cost.  Wasn't able to find much, so I may have to try a few more places next week, the next time I expect to be out and about in my car.


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 20

 A potential problem with all prints is inking those borders, especially if there is nothing else really in that area.  The problem comes because the brayer is about 4 inches wide, and the process of inking is much easier if both ends of the brayer can be resting on uncut wood.  Besides the aesthetic value of having large shapes of black throughout the print composition, having some large black shapes around provides a spot for the brayer to rest while narrow areas (like border lines) are being inked.  One thing I noticed about this latest boardwalk print is that there was one potential problem area.

There is an area of open sky in the left side panel, above the bicycle rider and below the airplane.  It may be possible to ink both those interior boarder lines (the diptych format for this series) with the rest of the brayer resting on Convention Hall in the right panel, but I'd rather be safe and have something on the left side as well.  I considered putting a cloud over there, but I haven't in any other boardwalk prints, and don't want to set a precedent here.  I could just leave an uncut area that takes ink and is taped over for the purpose of printing, but that becomes a last resort.  What I came up with instead was the idea of putting some flying birds over there.  Gulls are a frequent fixture on boardwalks, and I have occasionally used them in prints for that reason.  I remember once being followed around on a beach in Ocean Grove (right next to Asbury Park) by sea gulls, as I was searching for shells for my 3D class. (I suspected they were hoping I'd give them some food) So why not just borrow from a previous work?  All of my previous boardwalk prints are either in the basement or the show in Ocean Grove, but there is a copy of my tower piece hanging in the dining room where I live these days, and that includes some gulls flying and walking around near the bottom of the composition.  Copied a few of the flying ones into my sketchbook before leaving for the Studio this morning.

It was a sunny day when I arrived, plenty of parking.   No Molly, so I could listen to music, but had not brought a book of discs with me today, so I had to rely on what I had there.  From that pile I selected my Bob Marley disc, which is mostly Babylon By Bus, along with a live song from another album to fill the space on the disc- written about back in October of 2021 if you want to know more.  Had a few tasks to take care of once I got there.  First was putting in some flying gulls in that empty section of sky.  Just placeholders really, as I will probably go back later and redraw them with better detail.  But it looks like they will do the job I want them to, so I think the idea is sound.  The results of today's sketches can be seen below:


I like it enough that I will probably add a few gulls on the ground, which will likely come from the same print. 

Next up was to prepare a block for the next Robert Johnson print.  I have an idea (lyric and image) for the next print, assuming I find a suitable model.  I don't know when that will be, but I can get the wood ready for when I do.  I still haven't heard anything from the organizer yet about the show, but I may as well be ready.  That includes whether this piece is meant to be horizontal or vertical, so for now I guess it's my choice.  Vertical seems more practical, and most of his work in the past used the portrait format, but the one of mine that he said he liked best was one that was landscape (or horizontal), so for now I have a choice.  This new one seems like it will be best as a horizontal, so that's what I prepared today.



Simple enough, I used the other horizontal block to roughly trace the size of wood I would need, and then the metal straightedge (also a ruler) to measure out the proper size rectangle for the print image, as well as leaving space for the block printed lyrics that I will include in case I need them someday.  As for what these will be, I'll save that for when I start drawing the actual block.

My other task for today was to finish labeling the three prints I am sending to Virginia. The proofs are printed and dry, the editions are numbered, but I hadn't titled or signed them yet, so that was done today.    I still want to try to remove a few spots of ink, but before then I may try to contact my potential purchaser and let her know they are ready to go and verify how she wants to proceed.  Took a photo of the done works so I can send that to her later:

That was enough for now.  I do have plans for each block, so next time I go I know what to do.


Saturday, June 08, 2024

Art On The Porch 2024

 Last year's Art on the Porch event in Ocean Grove must have been seen as a big success, as it was back this year, with even more artists participating- something like 80 or 90.  Not me, as I have never done well with selling works at outdoor shows, so I was there as a viewer.  The idea is simple enough- artists display work on host porches around town, and viewers walk around and look at it.  Free admission, and Ocean Grove is a small town, so not hard to walk around.  In my case I knew 5 of the participants- 2 from the building where I have my studio, 2 who were former students, and 3 who had been regular participants in our critique group (some were in more than one category) so I had made a list of names and addresses in town, and a simple map to show how the streets were laid out.  I got up to the building a little after 11:00 and went in long enough to use the restroom.  I did notice that all the walls were now full of art, and there were a lot of tables and chairs set up in the wide part of the hallway, but I didn't know why.  And with that, I left the building and set out on my walk around town.  

I started with the few people who were on porches in the north half of town.  (Main Ave kind of cuts it in half, so I started by going straight up that way toward the beach, then over a few blocks)  My first stop was to see Rosie Rounds, a former student and a building resident; she took a small studio on the 1st floor recently to work on her jewelry.  She has a small kiln, one that can be powered from a standard outlet.  The downside is that she can only make small works in it, but so far she is pleased with having a place to work, and visitors to her studio.  She had tables of her work next to a house and on a porch of a house on Heck Avenue.  


From there I went a few blocks over to see Harriet, who I've known for years, between her being a former student, but mostly from being a regular in our critique group.  In fact, she even held the crit at her house a time or two.  Her host was only a few blocks from the beach, on Pitman Avenue, so wind and out of towners were a factor.  I remembered some works from last year, but some things were new, at least to me.  She had so many visitors (more than last year she said, and was already tired an hour into the 5 hour event) that we really didn't have much time to talk.  I remembered this standing figure in blue from last year, but the pink man was new to me.


Now a longer walk, to the south half of town.  My first stop there was on Franklin Avenue, to see Michelle, who was a model for a character in one of my boardwalk prints, plus a regular in the critique group.  She said she hadn't had the big crowds yet, but while I was there a lot of people dropped by to see her arcade and fair inspired works.  She said most recent were a series based on paint spray cans, but there were other things I didn't recognize as well.


From there two blocks to Joe's porch on Cookman Avenue.  I know Joe from the art building, where he helped organize the Open Studio events, as well as the figure group I have attended recently.  I gave him an update on how that class went this week in his absence, and to give him some general updates regarding the building.  Like Michelle, he thought attendance and sales were down from last year, though like her a bunch of people came around to check out his work while I was there, so who's to say what will happen in the rest of the day.

My last planned stop of the day was Tim's porch, a few blocks over and one up on Abbot Avenue.  He recognized me before I even got to his stairs, and was probably the most glad to see me, as he hadn't seen me in the longest time of any of today's artists, and he wasn't sure how to get in touch with me.  The last time Tim appeared on this blog was back in the spring and it was for his music, not his art.  I told him about the music thing, as that song specifically mentioned birds, a common subject of his art in our critique times, as well as a part of his current art.  He said he was fine with viewers coming up with their own ideas of what they all meant, which as an artist I understand.  (I've heard it said that black and white artwork can increase this, as viewers are forced to decide what objects actually are, and it involves them more)  His nice large porch was probably the most comfortable one of the day, though the breeze was knocking down a lot of artworks on a regular basis. 

I worked my way over to Main and started the walk back to my car.  Stopped in at Artisan Gallery, where I once had a solo show right around the time of the pandemic. (the show lasted a long time, probably because everything was shut down during that time)  It was clear that Jackie recognized me, but didn't know from where until I explained it to her.  I passed Jeanne on the way.  I congratulated her on finding work for all the walls.  She said that all the tables were for some kind of post event art function, but I wasn't going to hang around that long.  I stopped back at the building and saw Bobby's car, so I stopped in to say hello, then began the drive home.



Thursday, June 06, 2024

Old Habits Continue

 I decided to try another meeting of the figure group.  I knew the organizer would not be there today, but he had someone lined up to run it, and a model was scheduled.  I was free today, so I went.  Again, the parking lot was mostly empty, so no problem finding a space.  The rain falling earlier had stopped, but as predicted, it was warm and humid, and that may have been worse.  Didn't notice it when I entered the building or went down to my space to pick up some things I would need, but I sure noticed it when I got to the second floor room reserved for the group.  However, a model was arranged, so I decided to stick it out.   Our new leader set up the music, a mix of 50's to 80's songs, a few of which I knew.  I recognized one song, for which I have a version on the live album by X, so at least that one was something I'd listen to in my own Studio. 

The model didn't feel well, so the organizer and the crowd decided to let her do all her poses in recline.    Not my favorite kind of pose, plus I couldn't see her head much of the time (either because her back was to me, or it was hidden behind the arm of the couch), but it is my custom in these kind of workshops to draw the poses I am given from where I am set up, part of the challenge as I see it.  But the weather was a bigger challenge- despite the overhead fans, I was mostly uncomfortable, to the point were my short pencil drawings were getting too wet from sweat.  Less a problem for the later charcoal drawings, but I never really found a rhythm.  My best drawing of the day is below:


Like many area models, this one had a lot of tattoos, which I didn't bother to draw- using compressed charcoal, it would have made for too many black spots all over the figure, and I'm more concerned with shape and proportion of the figure anyway, so I tend to ignore them.  In this case, completely covering the exposed arm, a big one on her back, and more you wouldn't see in this pose.  I'm used to doing this with models (had a good one in Belmar who had even more tattoos, too bold to be cut into wood or drawn with charcoal, so either I didn't include them at all, or made up much lighter ones), so I had a plan to follow. 

I had issues with proportions with all my drawings today, so I think I need to stick with this for a few more weeks at least, get my figure drawing to a better place.  I also did some thinking about the next Robert Johnson print.  Not ready make the block just yet, but I do have an idea of what song lyric I want to do, and an image to portray it.  Meanwhile I have another one to work on.

As I left through the 1st floor, I could see works leaning up against two more walls.  Mine were still where they had been hung.  None of these new works impressed me much, but at least they are big and colorful.  The walls will look better. 

Monday, June 03, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 19

 Up to the Studio today, to take advantage of the nice day, and that I may be busy much of this week.  Plus, I had things to look into.  For example, the showing of my work there on the 1st floor.  When I arrived I could see that my work had been hung, on the short wall by the theater.  That's a new spot for me, but I don't mind- there will likely be activity there, and the lights were on.  I also saw that my little statement (sent to Jeanne on Friday night) had been hung underneath the image on the left, so anyone who goes up to look at the prints more closely will see what they are about.  Works can be seen below:


On to the basement.  I had two things I wanted to do there- a little more drawing on my current block, and to clean up some more the prints I pulled for eventual sales- at least those already ordered.  They had been printed a few weeks ago and were completely dry, so this seemed a good opportunity to trim the paper on the margins, and to label these for the edition.  So this got done for the five proofs from the Robert Johnson series that had been ordered.  Did a little more erasing as well, but I think I will need to attack a spot or two with a knife, and since I had no tools with me today, that will have until another day.  


As for the block drawing, there were not major changes, but just refining background figures I already had there.  But it needed to be done, so I did a little of that. I don't think any of these is the final version, but it brings everything a little closer to where it is going. Results as of today are below:

I also stopped by the office.  Jeanne was in, so I confirmed that I saw the work on the wall and the statement, and was satisfied with what I saw.  At this point there is only work from 3 artists on walls, but she said she planned to ask more tenants for work.  No mention of dates when this will be needed by, but I promised to send something to Molly about it.  Molly hates framing things, but I know she has some things wired, and that is enough, if she and Jeanne can work out how and when to meet.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Old Habits

 I had various business to deal with up in Ocean Grove this morning, and the weather was good, so I drove up there. Coming up Main, I could see that men were working on the roof in the back, and sure enough, the dumpster was finally out of the handicapped spaces in the front (although a bunch of pick-ups parked all around the office would have made using them very difficult), but there were plenty of spaces available in the front, so I was able to grab one and unload my car.   First down to my space in the basement to pick up and drop off things, then up to the 2nd floor to draw.  One of the more active artists (organizer of the open studios, among other things) has put together a drawing group.  No lessons, so not a class, but there is a model.  Over the years I have sculpted, painted, and drawn from dozens and dozens of models, as a student and in workshops, and even taught the class at a college for several semesters, and I do credit my time doing this as what made me the artist I am today.  

However, I haven't done any lately.  I was a regular in the group that met in Belmar, but the guy who ran it had to close his business and leave the area, and no one wanted to take over. Then a lot of stuff happened (see the reasons why I've taken so long to do my current boardwalk block), and I haven't done much figure drawing lately.  Even most of the Robert Johnson prints, all of which include figures, were either things I copied from photos or just made up out of my head (those years of practice paying off), however, for larger or more significant characters, I would prefer to work from life.  In any case, some of my upcoming print projects call for figures and I think I could use a little practice. This thing today is not a class, just pay as you go, draw what you want, when you show up.  I think that would work for me.

This not quite class meets on the 2nd floor (in the old 40's room, a place I have taught before myself) and there are tables and such present, so all I had to do was bring drawing stuff, and I have that now.  As is typical we started with short gestural things (30 seconds) and moved onto 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute, and 10 minute poses, before finishing with a couple of 25 minute poses. Here you see a couple of the 5 minute pencil drawings, and my best long pose, done with charcoal. (that sort of skirt thing she was wearing for the charcoal was something she brought from home, but I didn't feel like drawing all the spangle things on it)




But I also had some building business to take care of, including bringing in some work to hang on the walls.  What I ended up bringing in were three of my boardwalk diptychs, prints from my Floating World  series.  All have been in many shows, including some held in this building, but not recently, so they may do for this.   All were already framed (though I did switch one from being framed behind glass to behind plexi, much lighter) so I packed them in the car yesterday, and brought them into the building when I arrived.  The three chosen can be seen below:



After the drawing group and cleaning my hands of charcoal as best I can (from inking I have some good soap) I stopped by the office.  Jeanne wasn't in (I was told she's be back soon), but Andrew was, and he said no problem if I dropped off the requested work. Took care of a few things, then put the three pieces into a plastic bag and carried the whole thing to the office.  There I found Jeanne was back, so I took out the pieces and showed her.  She was impressed (possibly because she said she really likes playing Skee-Ball) and looks forward to hanging them upstairs.  (one thing she mentioned was that there is some interest from a guy who does a PBS arts show in doing something about the building, so she really wants things to put on the empty walls, and my prints are busy and colorful, just like the actual boardwalk)  At this point there is unlikely to be a reception or postcards, but it does get things out of my home basement.  If I learn more, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 18

 Weather reports on tv said that yesterday would be pouring rain at times, and today would be sunny, and those things turned out to be true.  So I stayed in yesterday, and took the trip up to Ocean Grove this morning.  I had various papers in a box in my car from the other day, so this was a good day to take them up there and in the building.  And despite the construction going on, I did find a spare spot in the front lot, so I parked there and carried my box inside safely.  

When I was up there last week, Jeanne asked me about putting up some work.  She was in the process of hanging a new show, and I didn't even realize it was her up on the ladder.  Apparently a lot of the 1st floor is empty right now, and she is willing to hang anything to fill it up. What she was hanging was work from a tenant, and not at all new.  My initial response was doubtful, as I only have a few things that haven't been shown there and I am saving those for the next tenant group show.  But over the weekend I thought about it some more, and decided if she didn't mind something that had been up previously, though a few years ago, I could lend them some boardwalk pieces from the past.  Not the one I had most recently, but ones displayed in the past, which is now a few years ago.  They are all in frames in the basement at home, ready to go, so why not?  Thus my first task on the day was to stop by the office and see her.  She was in and is agreeable to the idea (on the 1st there are only two artists currently showing), so I told her I would bring something in on Thursday (the next sunny day).  Just have to figure what I have down there.  

Next task was to check out the printed work that I had requests for, and clean them up if I could.  Started with music.  Molly had been playing the radio, and loudly, so I switched it to CD, and put in the Bruce disc I had bee listening to.  Still in the American period, with his most successful album, Born In the USA.  Then came a few songs from what I think of as his California period, where he married an actress and moved out there, away from the band that had been on most of his albums.  That didn't work out, so he moved back to New Jersey, married a second woman, and got on with his life.  That's about when I ended those discs of Springsteen, so while he continues to put out new albums, I have seen fewer patterns, and I don't have access to them.  (my 2 disc set of copies covers through 1995) Art continued.  Using a newish pencil eraser, I was able to remove some of the unwanted ink, so that looks like it will work.  I will attack them all on a future visit and try to get them in proper shape.  

Of course, the main thing I was doing was drawing on the new block.  Last night I copied some figures from the internet, all in the background, so not as detailed as if drawing from a person, but it's the best I have right now.  Of course, these are mostly background, so not as important.  I put these figures in where I had roughed in some stick figures last time.  I also looked at my photos of Convention Hall, and made a few adjustments to my block drawing.  I also made a change to the banner being pulled by the plane- fewer words, but a name that reflects an actual boardwalk place of my youth.  Below is a detail of where most of the work was done today, and an overall view of the whole block as it looks now:


I don't know if any of this will stay or not.  Updates to the building will probably remain, the figures will probably all be refined at some point, and maybe more added, while the plane banner may stay the same or change.  I'll figure that out later.  Meanwhile, I may not be done with this Asbury Park woodcut, but it looks like I'll have to pick some new music to work to.


Monday, May 27, 2024

I am not on the boardwalk today

  


This is definitely not a day to be on the boardwalk.  Yes, I am currently working on a print in my boardwalk series and need more references, though I am hoping to get them all via photos I have or can find on the internet.  And I do have ideas left over from years ago for at least 3 others, for all of which I already gathered some references.  Still don't know if I am going to do them, as I don't necessarily have the wood, and definitely don't have the wood filler (which I spread first on the luaun to eliminate the grain) or the sandpaper to make the surface smoother, or all the watercolors I use to have when I made most of them (though the sand paper and watercolors can still be purchased).  On the other hand, if I like the way the current piece turns out I may try more.  Nothing I need to decide today.

Two reasons not to be on the boardwalk today.  One is the weather, which is predicted to be rainy today, and we have had enough rain today to believe that.  But also because today is Memorial Day (or Decoration Day to the older crowd) which is the unofficial start to the summer season, and a good day to avoid any place that would attract a crowd.  The towns around here started filling up last week, when the weather was much nicer, so on Wednesday it was getting hard to get around on the roads around here.  

I have written on this blog in past years about some of my connections to this day, whether it be blues music (Howlin' Wolf's "Decoration Day Blues" was on one of the earliest blues albums I owned, which let to a lot more record/tape/disc purchases, my radio shows, and the Robert Johnson series I am currently working on and exhibiting and selling), life in Carbondale, IL (which is among the towns that claim to have invented to holiday, and have a case for joining that extensive list), teaching (have had a lot of students in the military- their past and present), or my own artwork.  So no need to write about it again, though you should be able to find it if you want to know more.  Meanwhile, in the coming days I do expect to get back to my current piece, set on Asbury Park's boardwalk (the above photo shows a piece of it) in the coming days, hope to have the block drawn by the end of June, and the whole print finished sometime over the summer.  At that point maybe I'll be ready to take another trip to the boardwalk.  

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 17

 Pouring rain this morning as I showered, but news showed via radar that it would end and clearer weather was coming into the area, so when the rain drops became less numerous, I decided to drive up to the Studio.  However, I remembered that last Thursday I had to find my way to the back parking lot and walk around the whole building to get in, and I certainly didn't want that to happen.  When I did get there I saw that work seemed be done on the roof, but the dumpster was still occupying the handicapped spaces, and not surprisingly, the sidewalk wasn't done yet, which meant the main driveway in and out of the back lot was still not available.  Luckily there were a few spots available in the front lot, so I did find parking.  

Last night I had done some sketching of my location for the latest boardwalk print, from photos taken of those buildings at the time I started it.  So far it's saving me from going back there to sketch in person, as I did a few times back when I started it.  I sketched these architectural details in my sketchbook, easier to bring with me to the Studio.  Also coming with me was more Bruce (made sense for this Asbury scene), but this time Disc II, which picked up where the last one had ended.  So nothing about Asbury Park itself, but from what I call his American period- or in other words, songs from The River and Nebraska.  (written about back in March of 2020 if you want to know more)  As that disc played, I made changes to the block, all concentrating on the Convention Hall part of the image, as can be seen below:

Around noon I set aside the art to head upstairs to talk to the guy who is running a figure drawing group.  Explained how the weather had been discouraging, but mostly I wasn't there because I had ordered art materials, but they hadn't arrived yet.  He did say that they will be doing it next week (I wasn't sure because of the holiday), so maybe next week I will be doing that.  

Then back down to the basement to document and put everything away.  Took a photo of the whole block as it exist now:


Got home before my parents left, and found a bunch of art supplies waiting for me.  Looks like I'll be doing some drawing next week. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 16

 Another sunny day today, so I decided to go up to the Studio.  Didn't really have to do any work, and with the work going on around the outside of the building, I had no idea if there would be any place to park.  But I went up because of the weather, and I had a box of paper to bring inside.  That doesn't work so well on a rainy day. 

As I drove up Main I saw that the back parking lot was empty, but still caution tape stretched across the side of the parking lot with the driveway off Lawrence. Continued on to the front lot.  Still work being done on the roof, and a dumpster was still parked in the handicapped spaces, and workers still working on the sidewalk, but there seemed to be a few spaces available in the front.  I was able to get one, so I was happy.  Went in through the front door, carrying my paper box with me.  

Set aside the box for the moment (wouldn't need any paper today) and got to drawing on the latest block. Still had the Bruce Springsteen disc with me (in my jazz/blues book from last week), and since I was going back to work on my Asbury boardwalk scene, it made sense for today as well.  This time I skipped some of the early songs, and as a result got to hear some tracks from Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The River.  I consider these albums to be part of his American period, when the music was less focused on his New Jersey background and more on national events and conditions.  For the most part, I have tried to make my art with an American focus, which may come from a plan to be more universal, and may come from the fact that as part of my education I lived for several years in Virginia and in Illinois, and time spent there made me more aware and interested in life in those places.  (to put things in their perspective, this boardwalk series is very much about New Jersey life, while the Robert Johnson series is not, and the prints could be about life anywhere)  

I do need some more reference for the boardwalk print, and hadn't had time to do that yet, though I have spent a little time looking at the scene in photos, and had some things I can do.  For example, I noticed that the benches have three boards across the back and seat, not the two boards I had drawn, so I made those changes.  There is something along the roofline of Convention Hall that doesn't match anything there, but I did see some things I could fix or draw in.  I very much roughed in a few of the planned figures that will occupy some the space between buildings, but I want to get more specific images of those figures to work from before I do final versions.  Results of today's brief session can be seen below:


I'll be needing a lot more time with drawing this one, but I decided to head home before my parents left for their latest thing, so I'll deal with it later. It's waited years, so a few days won't make a difference.  Meanwhile, before leaving I put my paper box in the usual place I keep it.



Monday, May 20, 2024

Terraplane Blues part 13

 While this print is officially finished, I still need to pull a few more copies, such as the one for possible inclusion in the Robert Johnson show in Nashville in the future.  So far my contact has told me it should be acceptable to send a digital photo of whatever image is used, although I also told him I'd be willing to send the actual print itself if they want to photograph it in a way that I am not equipped to do.  But in either case I need a better print than the one I pulled the other day, so I had a goal for today's Studio session- pull that suitable print.  

First step was to tear down some paper to the right size.  So while my hands were still clean, I took out my paper storage box from the place in the Studio where it is stored, and took care of that.  This left me with only one full sheet of the Rives Lightweight I have been using for this series.  I definitely need more.  Then I got out my tools, ink, etc.  Didn't put the box away as I had more plans for it.  For music I brought my pop/rock book of discs, and from this selected my home burned Dap Kings disc- a full album of Sharon Jones, plus as much of the Binky Griptite Ghetto Funk Power Hour bonus disc as I could fit on the blank disc I recorded it on.  (you can read more about this disc on this blog back in June of 2019 if you want to know more) My reason for choosing this was because Amy Winehouse has been in the news lately, as a bio-pic is coming out soon.  I don't have any of her albums, but I do know that her most successful album was done with the backing of the Dap Kings, and in my opinion what made the album successful was the band's music, not her singing. 

Music on, I got down to business.  I used carving tools to quickly remove a few bits of stray marks from the block, then began to ink it up.  Having inked this block a few times now, it was not too difficult.  I inked the block, then printed the image on one of my recently torn pieces of paper.  Result can be seen below:

I think this new proof is suitable for any purpose, but I will eventually pull one more with the song lyrics, just to have in case I need it. But I don't need it right away, so that won't happen right away.  I blotted the block, cleaned up, all while the disc played.  As I left, I took the paper storage box with me. 

Over the past weekend I had done some more looking in the basement.   As usual I was searching for one thing, and ran across another thing I was looking for.  What I had found was a box of rolled paper with a very heavy cardboard cylinder inside.  I think I brought it home the last time I visited the storage unit, but hadn't looked at the contents, just remembering that I had some paper stored in it.  What I found was some sheets of hot pressed heavy paper (perhaps some Bristol board, or at least something suitable for future Christmas cards), a few sheets of heavyweight cold pressed paper (left over from a drawing class, where I gave it to students for the final ink wash drawing if they wanted something more substantial than what was in their drawing pads- something that was donated to the art department after the new operators decide the college bookstore would no longer stock art supplies) and what I took for 15 sheets of the Rives Lightweight.  So today I brought home what I had left of what I knew was Rives Lightweight, compared it to what was in the basement, and finding it matched, put 10 sheets of the basement paper into the plastic envelope that held what I kept in the Studio, and put it back in my car. 

I will adjust my order of art supplies to reflect my new reality, and call it in soon. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Boardwalk Days part 15

 It's been a long time since this work was mentioned here, about 10 years since the last post, and about 12 years since the last time I worked on it.  A lot has happened since then, and here's a little explanation.  I think this was the seventh print in the boardwalk series, also known as The Floating World.  One of the boardwalk prints I finished was called Boardwalk Nights, and it was a scene of a boardwalk at night- completely fictitious, though thoroughly accurate. (Many times people saw it in shows and claimed they had been to this boardwalk, but I knew it was a lie, as I made it up myself.)  However it did occur to me that maybe I should make a boardwalk daytime .print of a real place, and chose Asbury Park, which is within walking distance of my Studio, and mostly because no town loves itself more than Asbury Park, and any art that features any recognizable part of Asbury would likely be shown in galleries in town.  I picked a piece of space that I particularly liked, and set about drawing fairly accurate renderings of those buildings.  

Then some things happened.  We had a major hurricane roll through, which meant a loss of power for more than a week, and hours devoted to cleaning up the basement where much of my older work had been stored.  Part of my  walking path to that location space was torn up, which made it a little more inconvenient to get there.  As the end of the fall semester approached, I had to devote a lot of time to grading of student work.  The type of wood I had been using became unavailable.  My sources for ink, paper, mat board, and frame parts all closed or went out of business, leaving me scrambling to find alternatives.  A pandemic hit our nation, which affected everyday supplies (food, paper products, etc), teaching jobs, and exhibition opportunities,  although somehow Molly and I were categorized as "essential workers" so we could still use our Studio space, if we could get to it.  Thieves took advantage of the mostly empty building to break into that same Studio space, and from there enter the building.  (Molly and I had little worth stealing, so we didn't lose much)  I was hit with two potentially fatal medical conditions, which took a lot of my time, and continue to do so.  And I probably came up with more ideas of prints I wanted to do.  I looked at the in-progress block drawing at times, last seen in the apartment I had back then, but it went into storage and I hadn't seen it in a while.  At my last visit to the storage unit I found the block again and brought it home.  Maybe it's time to work on it again.

I finished the last Robert Johnson block earlier this week, and I'm not quite ready to start the next one, so it seemed a good time to get back to my boardwalk scene.  Today was a little rainy, but nothing I couldn't handle, and I had brought the block up to my Studio on a sunny day earlier in the week.  However, there were problems.  For one, the whole front lot was full, and a dumpster was occupying the handicap spaces, so that was out.  The sidewalk and driveway from Lawrence Ave to our back parking lot were all torn up and closed, so I couldn't use that.   However, from the street it appeared that I could get to that lot from Main, so I went around the long block and found my way to a parking spot.  The back door was unavailable, so I had to walk completely around the building to get in. 

For music I had brought with me a home burned disc of favorites from Bruce Springsteen, what I call Volume 1.  I made the two disc set in chronological order, and so what I listened to today were songs from the first three albums, which is what I think of as Bruce's New Jersey albums, the first of which is called, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, which seemed very appropriate for a scene set on Asbury's boardwalk.  However, before I got any further, I headed upstairs to find out more about the figure group that I had read was meeting on Thursdays on the second floor.  The windows were covered, and I was told the doors were locked (made sense for a class with a nude model) so I waited for it to end.  Andrew let some people locked out of the room in, but I continued to wait.  Fifteen minutes after the group was supposed to end I checked it out for myself and found dozens of people sitting in chairs, not drawing, and a little sign on the door saying that the drawing group was moved to the first floor.  But at that moment I saw Joe (the organizer) by his studio door, so I asked him the questions I had, which is why I was up there in the first place.  Problem solved, back to the basement.  

Early on I tested my ability to cut the wood with the tools I had, as this wood was at least 12 years old, but luckily it worked.  Didn't do much drawing today, just fixed up the benches in the foreground a little and added an element planned from the beginning, an airplane towing a banner with words.  I remember such things being common enough on beaches when I was young, plus it filled up a section of the otherwise empty sky.  Exactly what it should say I wasn't sure.  I do remember seeing messages about "Schickhaus Franks" up in the sky when I was a kid, but I think those were skywriting, not banners.  So for now I put a message about a common beach activity, but it may change.  What I added can be seen in the diptych below:


I do plan to add some figures, doing such activities as riding bicycles, on skateboards, walking, sitting on those benches, putting on suntan lotion, and whatever else I come up with.  (part of the reason I want to get some practice with figure)  Plus there are pieces of the buildings that I have no idea what I started- but I think I have enough photos of the space to figure it out.  And I doubt that I have the proper watercolors to finish the piece, but I won't know that until I start to color it, and that is way off.  (again, photos of the buildings will help figure out some of it)  I have ideas for two more prints in this series (ideas that go back over a decade), but I'm not going to worry about those until I finish this one. I was let out the back ramp to the parking lot, so at least my trip back to my car wasn't too long.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Terraplane Blues part 12-finished

 At first I wasn't sure if I was going to go in to the Studio today, but then I decided I would.  Then I wasn't sure what I was going to do there.  I planned to take a better proof of my most recent block, but wasn't sure if I would include the lyric or not.  In the end I decided not to- I won't need them for the Nashville show, and in theory, that is still the next possible plan for this piece.  I had a piece of print paper that was a little smaller than the one I used yesterday, but I knew it would just cover the image area (and text if I had done that), so not really suitable for an edition print, but good enough to record any changes.  At first I looked for my rock/pop book of discs to bring with me, but couldn't find it.  Had I left it at the Studio yesterday?  So for today I brought two loose discs (in cases) I had in my home pile, and a block I may work on next, and used the sunny day to go up to my building.  (possible rain is predicted the rest of the week)  The inked Terraplane block was still there, sitting in my drying rack.

As soon as I got to my space, I saw the disc book I had left there.  Years ago I just kept it there, but brought it home to have things to listen to as my main collection is still in storage.  But I had brought new discs to listen to, and put on one of those.  I went with one made by my college friend Doug, including two albums- Mountain Jack by Hans Rotenberry and Brad Jones, and Street Songs Of Love by Alejandro Escovedo, a disc I wrote about on this blog back in June of 2022.  Although it is two full albums, it is not that long.  First step was to remove a few bits of blue tape, then I proceeded to do a little more cutting.  I used to proof from yesterday to decide what more needed to be cut- maybe some changes, but mostly spots that picked up ink unintentionally.  Now they wouldn't.  The process made my hands good and dirty, but the ink wasn't thick, so washed off with soap and water.  Then I used much thicker ink to roll up the block for printing.  I carefully placed my printing paper, which indeed just covered the image area without much margin to spare.  I rubbed it, and re-inked as necessary, as you can see below:


I was careful enough not to let the paper slip, so I got a useful image, if not one I can include in the edition.  The resulting new and improved print doesn't look much different from the first proof (other than the small paper margins), but I can see the differences and am happy with the results.  Check it out for yourself:


I still want to pull one more proper print on larger paper, and may to one with the lyric text, but that can wait until the block is properly dry.  Meanwhile, I will declare this one done, and work on something else next time.  

My first disc ran out, so I put on another one to do my cleaning of tools and palette.  What I had brought with me was Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which you can read about back on August of 2019 if you want to know more.  Everything (including my hands) got clean, so I left the new proof and the blotted block in the rack, yesterday's first proof hanging on my tack wall to keep drying, and after a stop at the store, I went home.