Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Here We Go Again


Tonight was scheduled to be the first night of the second set of woodcut classes this summer in Belmar.  Got an e-mail response from the director when I came home from mowing the lawn, providing me with a requested roster of students, in the form of scanned copies of all the enrollment forms.  That works.  Left me with just one problem- every weather report said that a huge rain storm was scheduled to pass through my area in the late afternoon/early evening, just when I'd be needing to drive to Belmar and unload for the class.  At least I was able to load the big and delicate stuff early (the stuff that can't get wet) in the afternoon.  But everything was packed against the weather, so no problems there.  Still a big concern- Belmar has a history of flooding in the rain.  Had a storm almost keep me from getting to the opening class of woodcut there a few years ago and only my habit of going early got me there that day.

So no surprise, the rain came, showed no signs of moving on, so I left plenty early.  Both main road into town Route 35 and the back roads to the south west have a history of problems, so today I decided to try route 71.  No good- within one block we got detoured back to where we had come, the road was closed.  OK, let's try route 35.  Police cars were blocking many of the side street leading from 35 into town, but 35 itself was open and clear, at least as far as 10th Avenue, my planned point of entry into town.  That and Main Street also remained open, so I was able to get to get to the Boatworks by a reasonable time.  Rain was still falling steadily, so I skipped my traditional slice for dinner and unloaded a few things that could survive a few drops of rain.  The class room had 3 small tables set up, 6 chairs, but I figured we could use more table space, so I used the time waiting to bring  in an extra full size folding table.

My first student showed up about 15 minutes before our start time, and I had the expected 6 students all in place by the start of class, so I figured all was right.  But when I went through the list I found one of my 6 was not among the names I had been sent today.  She did have a print out of her online registration, which seemed to indicate that she was paid up, and the other paid student never showed, so we had the room and I figured we'd get it straightened out later.

Class went on as usual.  Started with some exchange folios (emphasis on relief and traditional prints), and some examples of my work (supermarkets, boardwalks), all of which are intended to show the range of possibilities with the medium.  No demos tonight, but I did take some time to show the kinds of paper I'd have available for the class, and the kinds of tools we will be using .  Cut everyone a block of wood (by now the rain had stopped and I could safely move the stuff inside) and gave some general advice for drawing their ideas.  That took us up to about the end of class, so I answered any remaining questions and told them I'd see them again in 2 weeks, which is our next scheduled class.


All that was left was to clean up.  Packing materials when it's not raining goes a lot faster than when it is raining.  Same for loading and unloading a car.  And driving through Belmar for that matter.  I will have to go back tomorrow to turn in some paperwork and see if I can figure out what is going on with my roster, but that's a problem for another day.

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Change of Pace



Back to the Studio today for maybe the third time in a week.  The last bunch of times it was mostly to continue coloring a saint proof, and I had thought about doing more of that today, but I had more pressing issues.  Turns out tomorrow is the first day of my next woodcut class series in Belmar.  No surprises expected, but there is still work to do.

I had received a box of supplies last week, much of which was ordered for my summer classes, such as some new woodcut tools.  These are more of what they call their "standard quality" tools, not as expensive or carefully manufactured as their superior tools (which I use for my own art).  However, they are a good value and still much better than anything else sold in stores (which is almost nothing these days) and I have been using them for this class for several years, adding a few more year by year, to meet the requested needs, or to replace ones that need it or have gone missing.

The tools come with long wood handles, which users are expected to cut to their preferred size.  In fact, they send instructions for how to best measure for this.  I usually cut some of them down, and leave some longer, so students in the class can find what works best for them.  I find that the shorter size fits the hand better and is easier to cut with (the more expensive ones I use come much shorter than these).  So today I cut a bunch down to an easier size, 6 or 7 of them, a mix of blade types and sizes.  Couldn't find my coping saw, so I used a keyhole saw.  Forgot to bring any sandpaper with me, so the job was eventually finished at home,  smoothing out the ends of the handles while sitting on my front step.

The other task up at the Studio was picking up the wood I had stored there, such as that piece of birch  the tools are sitting on in the above photo.  If tomorrow goes as expected, the tools won't be used, just shown, but I will need the wood, which I will cut down into blocks and distribute to the students.  Stuck it in the car for now.  I have more than enough for blocks suitable to first projects, and if that runs low, I can get more.  Meanwhile, I also verified that my saw is in the back of my car, that I have spare blades for it, and my straightedge ruler for measuring.  Everything else I need it inside my apartment and I'll start gathering and loading the car tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2018

More Fun with St Georgia



My other reason for going to the Studio today was to continue working on the proof of my St Georgia print, so I had brought my prototype with me.  Today I moved on to the next big thing, the sky.  In recent years, I have been using a very thin wash of pthalo blue for my skies, and I had some of that color on one of my watercolor palettes, so I put that wherever it was needed.  Because the sky is almost half the print, the paper was fairly wet, and I decided it would be better not to try coloring any of the birds that were surrounded by sky, to avoid color bleeding.  I did layer some of the blues, grays, and browns on birds on the roof in the foreground, not touching the sky in any way.  Will probably need more touch up as we go.  Do that next time, as well as all the other birds, and this one will be just about done.

A Box of Treats



I made a pretty big order of print supplies just before the 4th, though with the holiday it took a few days for them to process it, but it went out and I received a delivery tracking number and information.     The estimated date for delivery was Thursday afternoon, and nothing in the tracking system indicated a change was expected. I have things delivered to my parents' house since they are more likely to be home than I am to receive it.  As it turned out, on Thursday afternoon they were home, but I went down anyway to make sure it would get into my hands.  I have no idea when the delivery day ends.  At 5 pm, nothing yet, but I was told they could go much later.  Still nothing at 6 pm, so since I had people there who could receive it, I decided to go home.  However, before I could pull out of my parking space, I saw a delivery truck rolling down the street.  Shut off the car, and met the guy at the front door, who handed me my box.

At home I had done a quick inspection to make sure it was all I expected, but to get a good view of all the contents, I brought it with me to the Studio this morning.  A lot of the stuff is for print classes going on this summer.  The stack of linoleum is for a class I'll be teaching in Brick next month, though I will use one piece to test the tools I have.  An inventory I had done of my class woodcut tools, combined with the knowledge that I had 6 people sign up for the class, made me decide to add 5 new ones to my class supply.  The can of ink is the standard oil based black I am using these days, and though I had some, I decided to get an additional can for the class supply.  The new thing was to try the company's new pigment paste inks, which are water based in the Japanese tradition, and these were said (in the catalog) to make use of traditional ukiyo-e era pigments and color mixes.  Potentially useful in my work, as well as something for interested student to try.  Got the three primaries, which should allow me to make pretty much any color I would want.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Still More Printmaking Stuff


The Studio visit was very nice, but it's usually only a small part of what I have to do in a day as an artist.

I didn't get around to writing about it yet, but over the weekend the mystery of my bench hooks was solved.  I stopped by the Belmar Arts Council on other business, and was asked if I had seen the e-mail.  I hadn't.  Turns out a bin full of stuff was noticed in a corner, under some piled up stuff.  I went in to check it out, and it was full of my bench hooks.  So I don't need to make new ones, just have to hope these aren't misplaced before my class next week.

Got some teaching related mail delivered today.  My contracts for my university classes arrived, pretty much what I expected- the amount and classes I have gotten the past few semesters.  Nothing is guaranteed when you are an adjunct (the university has a history of ignoring contracts that no longer suit their needs) but at least this shows things are progressing as expected.  It was a reminder that I need to get my Disclosure form done and up to the university soon, so I downloaded it from the e-mail today, filled it out, and that's ready to go.  Knowing who has to approve it and sign it might help choose the day I make that trip up to Union, but if I can't get an answer soon, it will be up to them to figure it out.

Also an envelope from Ocean County, regarding my linocut class in August.  All the addresses seem to be right now.  I'll contact the library (where I'll be doing this) to verify a few things, then sign and send them off, all so they will pay me when the time comes.  Made copies for my records though.  Purchase orders instead of contracts, but as long as I get my pay, I won't care how it happens.

Next on the agenda, getting some verification on the Belmar linocut class (also in August it seems) and then acquiring more supplies, the things my Portland supplier doesn't carry.  The Belmar woodcut  class starts in about a week, but I seem to have all the materials for that, just the challenge of loading them all into my car and getting them there.



Still More with St Georgia



After spending the past few days updating the whole Belmar Arts Council blog (10 years worth of posts to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary), time to get back to work for me.  The gap between visits was much shorter this time, only a few days since I taped the proof down.  Started the coloring process today.  My prototype is still in a frame from being submitted to a show, so I just brought it with me to the Studio.  In about an hour I was able to color all the church parts.  Trying to do more than that today would have likely led to one wet color bleeding into another, and a lot more work, so I ended it like you see above.  Stuck the proof in progress, drawing board and all, in my drying rack.  Move on to the sky in a few days.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

More Printmaking Stuff


A few weeks ago the BelmarArts Council sent out an e-mail reminding us of the plan to close for a few weeks for a cleaning of the Boatworks, and that if we had anything stored there, to make sure it was properly labeled to make sure it wouldn't be disposed of.  I had a large plastic bin for my class, which this year mostly contained several bench hooks I had made years ago.


It's a low-tech device that can be very useful in the woodcut process.  Basically a board with a raised edge at both ends, on opposite sides of the board.  The one pointing down is placed against the edge of the table, while the one pointing up becomes a place to secure the end of the woodblock.  The result is that the artist doesn't need to use as much energy and muscle power to hold the block in place while cutting, allowing both hands to be used to guide the cutting tool.  I have made several over the years for the class to use, such as these two from 2012.  Some students have quickly gone ahead and made their own, such as one I remember made from a wooden cutting board purchased at an estate sale.  The plastic bin was on a shelf in the supply closet, marked with my name, a date of Summer 2018, and Woodcut Class.  I pointed it out to our student worker, and she assured me it would be safe from the planned cleaning.

Last week I stopped by the Boatworks to drop off my artifact for he Ancestors show, went to take a peek in the closet, but the bin was missing.  Nothing else in there was marked to indicate that my items were relocated there.  But the office was officially closed down until after the 4th, so nothing I could do then.  They reopened today, so I stopped by in the afternoon on bits of business, including asking about my missing items.  Diane, our new director, was in and mentioned seeing the bin on the shelf, properly marked with my name and class (which she knew was filled before this cleaning project happened), and followed me to the closet where she saw it was missing.   Her plan is to ask the person who took charge of the cleaning what happened to it.  If they can find it and let me know where it is, no problem, and we have a few weeks before the first class anyway.  If they threw them away, then I expect to be compensated for the devices- wood, screws, labor, etc.

On a more positive note. got e-mail confirmation today that my big print order from early this week finally shipped.  Have a tracking number and an estimated delivery date next week.  Last time I ordered from this place the post office lost the package for a few days, after inexplicably sending it to the wrong town and then across the state while they figured it out, which I found especially odd, since the correct shipping address appeared on both printed shipping labels (company and post office) affixed to the package.  I'll be relieved when it arrives in my hands.

More with St Georgia



Despite promises from weathermen, the high temperatures and extreme humidity are still hanging around.  But at least I didn't have to mow the lawn today, having done that for the past few days.  Lots of errands to take care of, and so I managed to squeeze in a quick Studio visit.  Back in April I had pulled the above proof of the most recent saint print and left it to dry in my rack.  Obviously it would be dry by now, so the next step is to tape it down and prepare for coloring.  So late in the morning I drove up to Ocean Grove with a drawing board and some paper tape.  Looked into a few things in the building, then quickly took care of the task of taping the proof to a board, which will help keep it flat after I color it  As I said last time, as a black and white proof it is far from perfect, but I think that the watercolor will help hide the few minor flaws.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Important Day of the Year


The Fourth of July is a very important day for a variety of reasons that affect almost everyone.  The declaration of that day was a starting point of our nation, and for good and bad, the United States of America has had a huge effect on almost everyone in the world.  And for those of us who live in this country, it is practically a holy day.  Like religious holy days, it comes with a whole bunch of associated things that have nothing to do with the origin of our country, but are still enjoyed by many people.  Like fireworks, a big custom associated with this holiday.  Every town around here has its own show, so if you miss your local one, you can catch another.  I watched a show from my kitchen window the other day, seen over the rooftop of the next building, between a couple of tall leafy trees. We are several days into a long heat wave, no rain in sight, so nothing to interfere with all the local fireworks shows.  When I was creating a fictitious nighttime boardwalk scene, of course I put a fireworks display as part of it.


For myself, the Fourth of July also refers to my largest single body of work, the woodcut series of the same name, created from 1993 to 1994.  Very little of the series is about anything specific to that day on the calendar, but since it was done in the years when I was in the midwest completing my college education, I consider it to be my first "american" work, by which I mean a piece about the American experience in general.  For example, the boardwalk series is about the boardwalk experience, a coastal phenomenon.  The Ecclesiastes series is about all mankind and the world and the history of civilization.  But the Fourth of July series is about life in America.  Being my life, it's a bit heavy on art, but it's also about cars, and trains, and highways, and farms, and corn on the cob (which I ate today at my brother's holiday cookout), and diners. and county fairs, and laboring, and farming, and interaction with immigrants, and shopping in big box stores and local rural stores, and everything else that can happen in a year.  The link embedded at the top of this paragraph can take you to the series if you need to see it.

Happy Fourth of July!

Monday, July 02, 2018

Summer is Here


We are now in July.  Even if I never had a calendar, no doubt about summer- the consecutive days of 100 degree temperatures and high humidity say it all.  I have a bunch of summer workshops and classes on my schedule, so if I'm stuck inside most of the day in front of my air conditioner, I may as well use the time to get ready.  I'm talking about materials, since I am somewhat responsible for making sure people have what they need.  Unfortunately, few place in the area sell anything that is needed, which is why I have to start preparing now.

Actually I began last night, doing an inventory of my woodcut class tools.  Over the past few years it has been my practice to use some of the materials money to purchase items that everyone will be using, now or later in the class.


As a result, I have a decent pile of inexpensive quality tools, which I make available to the whole class at each meeting.  (if they want their own to use in between, I give them the catalog information)  I had plenty to serve my two students earlier this summer, but the next time (about 2 weeks from now) we have 6 signed up.  So this morning, before the heat reached its high point, I went up to the Studio to test what I have.  Nice big table with room to spread out, and all my spare wood is stored there.  It turned out most of what I had was in pretty good shape, but for 6 students, I think I'll need several more.  Materials fees from 6 students means I can afford to buy more.

Out again in the afternoon and one of my stops was a local dollar store, which I was told would be a good source for what I needed.  Indeed, they had plenty of rolls of non-slip shelf liner.  A rubbery mesh like substance, which I guess is designed to line shelves, but (as to borrow a line from William Gibson) the street finds its own uses for things.  I learned about this stuff from a former student, who was told about it in another woodcut class she took- does a good job of holding the wood block in place while being cut, reducing the effort needed to hold it down.  The rolls are 1 foot by 5 feet, enough to make several non skid mats.

After cooling off back home for a few minutes, I put the finishing touches on my big supply order from Portland.  Several more woodcut tools, more ink, linoleum for my lino cut classes later in the summer.  So that is taken care of.  I may do more later tonight, but this day has not been a waste.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Woodcut Ancestors Continue some more


Today was the first day of intake for the upcoming Ancestors show in Belmar.  I had filled out my form with some of the family story, and brought that, the artifact, and my framed woodcut to the Boatworks in the early afternoon.  After I signed in with my artwork, Louise showed me the plan for my works (I guess she had gotten word from Diane on what I was bringing).  As of this afternoon, the plan called for my framed woodcut to be hung in the front room, and the artifact (a sewn and embroidered cloth with giant initials on it) to be draped over a tall wooden chair/stool that will sit in front of (and under) the framed piece.


She showed me what she had in mind.  One thing I quickly realized is that my artifact has the advantage of the initials on it being SS, which reads the same both right side up and upside down, so no matter how they drape the cloth, it will make sense.  I turned in the written information, which will be turned into a card to be posted on the wall near the piece, so all that information will be available at all times.

Right now the Boatworks is still officially closed for cleaning, so this exhibition will finally open to the public on July 5, 2018, and the official reception will be on Saturday July 14, 2018 from 5 to 7 pm.  The current plan also calls for artists to do some kind of presentation of their stuff, around 6 pm, kind of like the Salon shows, but I can easily tell the story, so no problem.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Woodcut Ancestors Continued


Last night I sent an e-mail to the office at Belmar, requesting clarification as to when they would be open, both to finally pay my entry fee, and also to get more information regarding the presentation of the artifact part of the show.  Finally received a response this morning from Diane, our new director, saying she'd be there until around 2 pm.

That freed up my morning for other purposes, including picking up my artifact from my parents' house.  I knew it would be one of the very old embroidered pieces of cloth that my grandmother had, and had now passed into my mother's possession.  When I filled out the application form, I just gave a vague description of hand embroidered cloth from an ancestor, not sure which one I'd be using.  My mother pushed me to go with the most elaborate one, lots of stitching, lots of fringe, and two big initials on it, those of the piece's creator.  Seems like the best choice.

Early this afternoon I made it to Belmar and found Diane there.  Paid my fee, got a receipt, so that's now all taken care of.  When I asked about rules and methods of presenting the artifacts, she told me to just bring it in on the day we deliver our artwork, and it would be up to show co-curator Louise to decide.  Said she has lots of ideas and plans, so I'll see what she comes up this weekend.  Diane also gave me a form that will eventually go to all the artists, with a space to fill out a description of the object and its relation ship to us and artwork.  There are stories to go with all this, so now they will be known to all who visit the show.

With all that taken care of, we had time to talk about my upcoming class.  First thing I wanted to thank her for the big press release/article, which I credit for at least some of the good response my class got.  Earlier I had no students, and after the article I had a full class.  I got the impression that the size of the article and the illustration was not her idea, so I guess it was the paper's doing (slow news week maybe.)  I looked over the list of signed up students, and none seemed to be names I knew, so I guess no previous students.  One story she shared was that it started filling so quickly, that when one person signed up she said she'd have to check to see if the limit had been reached yet; this new person got the last spot and was very excited, almost like she won some kind of prize.  No, just the prize of getting to make woodcuts, which anyone can do.  Diane has no problem with my 6 person cap, and even seemed surprised I could handle that many.  With a bigger room I could have more people working, but it's a little dangerous if the room is crowded with people and very sharp tools, and when everyone wants to print at once, there is your big challenge.  I have a few weeks left to get ready for it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Woodcut Ancestors


A few months back I learned about a coming show at BelmarArts, one called Ancestors.  The inspiration (I was told) was a member having some quilts made by an elderly relative and he was looking for a way to show them.  What we ended up with was an exhibition that would feature artwork related in some way to our ancestors, and we had the option of showing alongside it something created by or involving some related ancestors.  Not one of my big topics, but my parents reminded me I had some work that fit the bill, and we could probably find something for the ancestor part.  I gathered more details as the dates drew closer.


One thing was kind of in front of me the whole time.  A while back I had produced a landscape piece featuring a view of Castelnuovo Di Val Di Cecina, a small mountain town in Tuscany.  I don't remember if there was a specific reason I decided to do it.   It's certainly a nice scene, an aesthetically pleasing composition.  Had plenty of images to work from, between photos taken by myself, immediate family, and distant cousins, since this is a town that has a significant place in my ancestral line.  This was the hometown of one of my great grandfathers, and I still have relatives living there.  I don't know if any of them live in the part of town depicted here, the 13th century hillside of stone that crawls over the hill.  The ones I met were all from within a short walk of this scene, a more modern section, though I was shown the original one room space as well.   This image combines bits of multiple photos, and is a bit simplified, but captures the general appearance.  It was carved as a woodcut, printed with black ink, and then hand colored with watercolor.  This particular proof was made, mounted and framed, and was given to my grandfather, who I was traveling with the first time I saw the place, and whose father had once lived there.  When my grandparents decided to move back to New Jersey, it came back with them, and eventually ended up hanging in my parents' living room.  As far as something really old, my mother remembered that she had some very old hand made cloth items that she had gotten from her mother, which had originated with people of this town.  So this could be done.

The next step was the application process.  Years ago, Belmar switched to a digital process, where we  submit information and a digital image over the internet, which can save a lot of time and space compared to the old fashioned drop off days that galleries required in the old days.  The problem was that I had no digital images of this print.  The only photo I had was a 35mm slide, which was the ideal form of recording things back in the last century when I made it, and I have no idea where the block is.  The only copy is that framed one, so yesterday while I was waiting for the lawnmower battery to recharge, I took apart the frame and shot digital images of the woodcut.  (shooting through glass is almost impossible- the dark areas of the print act as mirrors and you get weird glares all over the place)  The other issue is that the new people running things in Belmar have changed some of the rules we always had, adding specifics to the submitted digital images.  Maximum file size was easy, and maximum pixel length was handled with a camera function and editing the photo on my computer.  The request for a specific DPI (dots per inch) made no sense, as it is a term relating to printing on paper and this image will be submitted digitally and viewed on a monitor screen.  Anyway, it's not something I can adjust on either my camera or my computer.  Downloaded and edited a photo yesterday (the one you see above) that seemed to suit my needs.

Got an e-mail last night saying that they had decided to push the deadline back from tonight to tomorrow night, and that the gallery would be closed this week for "cleaning", but the office would be open, except when it's not, and no word as to when that would be.  So earlier this morning I remounted the piece in the frame (new linen tape hinges and framer's points needed, an in the afternoon I completed the digital application, including uploading my edited photo of the Castelnuovo woodcut, and submitted it.  But I still have questions about presentation of the artifact, plus I usually hand in the exhibition fee in person, but when I stopped by today during office hours, the place was dark and locked- no one in the office, and no one cleaning.  Luckily we got that extension, so perhaps tomorrow I can stop by and this will all be done.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Promotion for Everybody


During the day I was at my parents' house, and looked through the issue of the Coast Star that arrived today.  One notable thing was a large article about my upcoming woodcut class in Belmar.  Last time I just was a mention in a whole list of Belmar activities.  The text was pretty much from my faculty page on the BelmarArts website, but I wrote that so it's all good stuff.  The article included an illustration, which ended up being one of the examples of student work from the class that I have on the workshop page this time around.  What was chosen was the side by side images of two proofs of Mary Lane's portrait of a woman playing a large instrument (cello or something of that nature), from 2012.

I had to come up with some images quickly, so went to my folder of workshop photos and chose 3 examples that I thought showed common approaches and possibilities that might spark some interest- Mary's very balanced black and white figure image, a color image made from multiple blocks carefully registered, and a complex image printed on a piece of scrapbooking paper  that also included images/patterns and colors, leading to a more elaborate composition.  I don't know who chose the image for this article- it could have been sent out by our office, or may have been downloaded by the newspaper to fill some space.  (both are common in newspaper publishing)  It's a good image, and the kind of thing that might cause a visual artist to want to try a woodcut.

The one negative is that I hadn't included art credits for me or Mary on the original page, so naturally there aren't any for us here either.  But if it gets people to sign up for the class, that's enough for me.

Linoleum in Belmar


The first time I ever taught a linocut class was a workshop in the Studio, part of the Creativity by the Sea festival in Ocean Grove.   The linocut tools that I have go back to this event, though I also used them to take 2nd place in a pumpkin carving contest in Belmar, and one time that I used a piece of linoleum to substitute for an incorrectly cut part of a boardwalk print.  But otherwise they sat in a wooden cigar box locked in my small cabinet, until I got them out a few weeks ago to see what I had.   The occasion was that suddenly I had multiple requests to teach linoleum cutting classes this summer and wanted to see what tools and materials I had in my possession.

The first class was tonight, at the Creativity Lab in Belmar.  This brand new business is up on Main Street, just a few doors down from Pyanoe Plaza and Don's King of Pizza.  Owner Lauren recruited me after seeing my woodcut class on the BelmarArts site.  By day this place will mostly be occupied by kids, and there are plenty of classes and workshops with them in mind, especially with an emphasis on technical stuff.  They build and program simple robots, do some 3D printing and things like that that are popular with parents and schools these days.  (check the above link to see more)  At night it's all adults and alcohol is freely shared.  I use computers plenty in my own life (such as this blog), but for art I tend to prefer an old fashioned approach, as do those people who take my woodcut classes.  Unfortunately, tonight was to be only a one night workshop, which doesn't work for woodcut, which is why I had suggest linoleum.

No experienced printmakers in the class, but they all seemed excited to get started.  I did make them sit though a quick safety lecture, which worked well with Lauren getting some bandaids across the street while we were waiting for a few late arrivals.  During yesterday's test cutting and printing she ended up cutting herself while cutting the linoleum, despite (as she confessed to the class tonight) I had repeatedly warned her not to do what she was doing.  Just a minor cut- she's fine now.  But then we got to work.  She had been expecting 8, but 2 couldn't make it, which was probably for the best as the six we had kept me hopping.


Most of the chosen designs came from the web, so mostly I advised on how to convert them to simple  monochromatic designs and demonstrated the best ways to use the tools and cut the material.  The participants all figured it out quickly and soon were ready to cut and print what they had.  Lauren and provided small tote bags, but some had brought in t-shirts as well.



Lauren and been looking at examples of patterns, and some of the participants decided to try such things themselves.  The above artist chose the leaf shape, which I showed here how to cut, and mixed a color she requested.  I had also demonstrated how masking tape could be used to cover large negative spaces and cover up trace ink marks.  But she took it from there, and before I knew what was happening, this artist was covering a tote bag with a leaf pattern.  Eventually another column of 3 would fill that space on the right.


Meanwhile, another participant wanted a more multicolor design, so after cutting down all the negative space in her design, I lent her a brush so she could paint each raised section with individual colors, and my instructions on backwards lettering were followed.  She liked the results so much, that she reinked her linoleum and printed a second one.

Everyone seemed to be happy with what they did and had a good time.  Lauren seemed like she thought it a success as well, and we are likely to do more things like this.  When I know more, I'll post it here.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What is Teaching?


We're now almost a month past the end of the spring college semester.  As of now, I am pencilled in by my university to teach again in the fall, but that is still months away.  When college classes end, the college checks stop coming, too.  No surprise there.  But it's why I spend part of every summer looking for some kind of summer work.  The past 3 summers I had various summer jobs, each of which I kept going well into the fall, ending them when they started taking time away from my college work, which is pretty much what paid my bills.  Summer jobs typically pay around minimum wage, which isn't even close to what one needs to live on.  I took advantage of having no other commitments to pick up extra shifts, sometimes getting close to 40 hours/week, what one might call full time if employers ever hired full time employees, but even those long weeks I couldn't earn enough to pay rent, much less my other fixed expenses, so that kind of work is a dead end.  Which doesn't mean I haven't submitted some applications and won't do more of them.

But so far this summer I have been concentrating on teaching art.  First of all, it is something that I'm actually good at.  Been doing it for decades, and have done it in lots of places.  Second, it's just part time, but it pays far better than most part time jobs. But you don't get paid for all of it.  One has to spend a lot of time on things related to the job that have nothing to do with teaching art.  Right now I have three part time relief printing teaching situations progressing forwards.  The longest established is the BelmarArts woodcut class, which I have taught many times, including a series that I just finished recently.  The next one starts up again in about a month, pending people actually signing up for the class.  It's been on the web for at least a few weeks, and an e-mail blast to members went out a few days ago, but even before that I was sending e-mails to individuals who had taken the class before, or who had expressed an interest but couldn't sign up in the past, just letting them know it was out there if they were interested in another go, or knew someone who admired what they did and might want to try it themselves.  Don't know if anything will come from these recent contacts, but getting the word out is part of the job.

Meanwhile two other jobs seem to be directly related to the existence of the first one, as it seems to be how they found me.  I am scheduled to teach a one day workshop in linoleum printing for high school age students at a library in Ocean County in August.  (I figure lino is a lot safer than wood for inexperienced students)  The initial plan was set up a few weeks ago, but getting it official has been delayed by paperwork.  I stand to make more for one afternoon than I would in a whole week at a typical summer job, but only if I can get my vendor license straightened out so I can be paid.  It's a online process, but does require being given a special password from a county employee, and that employee had been out sick the first few days this week.  Hours spent on the computer and on the phone that accomplished nothing.  But the missing person was back today, so that class is on as of now.   The other class is close to home, in Belmar, just a few blocks from the place I have taught before.  Again, linoleum and a one day class, but this time adults, and if it works, there will be more of these scheduled, or my expertise may be turned to other types of art.  This place just opened a week ago and things are being figured out, so I decided it would be good to go there before the class and show exactly what we can do.  Lauren, the owner/operator was there today and so I came by with  one of my collection of tools and other materials, so she could see what is involved.  (she's into a lot of high-tech stuff, so there are workshops for 3D printing, building robots, etc)  So today was not paid work, and it won't affect the plan for tomorrow's scheduled class, but it could pay off in the future.  Because I did show her how to cut and print a small linocut (demonstrating teaching skill) and she found it to be really fun and the resulting print to be very cute (making it easier to sell the class to future students).  Paying work begins tomorrow night, but I'm hoping more classes will follow, and if the first print class goes well, I'm pretty sure more will be scheduled.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Return of the Woodcut Class


Following the successful conclusion of the early summer woodcut class, I decided to get going on the late summer edition.  So yesterday I stopped by the office, picked up the check for the previous one, and reserved dates for the next one.  I was asked to update the photo I had accompanying the write up last time.  Nothing wrong with that photo (showing me working on my 21st Century Employee print), but I was advised that this would let those within the organization know the print class was a going concern, not to be removed from the website.  Between my role as the blogger for BelmarArts and my custom of documenting all my art activities, I had dozens, maybe hundreds of relevant photos that relate to the workshop, so not a problem.  Except the e-mail system was refusing to send my mail with the attached photos to the office.

But things were back to normal this morning, so I sent our administrator mail with 4 attached photos, one group scene from last summer


 and a few individual prints done in class over the years, and told her to choose what she liked.  Or if she didn't like them, I could come up with more options.

I guess she liked them, as when I went on earlier tonight all four photos were there, along with the new late summer dates.  Once again we will be on alternate Tuesday evenings, now in July and August.  (too many other things going on there to ever get the same day of the week in four consecutive weeks) The registration form is there as well, so people can start signing up right now if they want to.  Could work out- for the most recent class the stuff went up on the computer only about 2 weeks before the class was to begin, and it was only promoted one week before it started, and I still had 3 paid students.  Now I have almost 2 months.  The down side is that they won't send out press releases or e-mail blasts until we are much closer, but are counting on instructors and participants to put it out on social media sooner.

Thus this blog post.  The next round will be on Tuesday evening, 6:30 to 9:00, on July 17, 31, and August 14, 28.  For more information, go to the education section on the BelmarArts website, or just drop by the office whenever they are open.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Woodcut Class Draws to Conclusion



Well, all good things must come to an end, and that thing tonight was the current woodcut class at BelmarArts. I had three students sign up and pay, but only two have ever come to class, but both are dedicated.  I was a little worried tonight because I heard they were having door issues at the Boatworks, but I heard nothing new and everything worked when I got there tonight, so I guess they resolved it all over the weekend.

Tonight was the 4th and last night, which usually means a lot of printing.  I've never had a class where everyone didn't finish and proof at least one print (some completing more than one), and I didn't want to break that streak.  Last week we pulled a first proof on Linda's first block, an image of her black cat, and she had told me she planned to make a few adjustments to it before this week.  She had also asked about hand coloring prints and mentioned a desire to hand print greeting cards, so in addition to the usual print supplies and tools, I brought in several examples of my past holiday cards and the catalog from the Painted Prints show I saw with Tom Huck on my visit to St Louis a decade or so ago.  Meanwhile, Mary Ellen had acquired a few linoleum tools and found them more effective than those cheap woodcut tools she had been using, made some good progress on her block, even pulling a couple of proofs along the way.  While Linda continued to look at my catalog, I put out my woodcut tools, Mary Ellen asked me to advise her on a few things with her block, and she grabbed a few tools and finished her block.  She was ready to move on so we printed her first.

I had brought in my supply of colored and decorative papers, thinking her mermaid print might benefit from such a thing.  After looking at my supply, she chose a piece of the green lokta paper for her first proof and some Rives Lightweight White for a second.  Below are the two proofs.  My earlier advice had been to cut the tail a bit whiter to help balance the brightness of the mermaid's upper body and the large sun on the horizon; she had taken it a step further by widening the ribbons of white at the bottom, another good change.



I inked the first proof and demonstrated hand printing, then let her do the second proof from start to finish.  Seems like she learned a bit along the way.

Meanwhile, Linda had not worked more on her cat piece we proofed last time, but went out and got more wood, and cut two new blocks.  Plus she brought in a white enameled butcher tray that she once got to be a palette but she didn't need it for that, and some small size art papers.  Since she had watched my printing demonstration earlier, she was confident to do the whole process herself.



Again we printed both of these with the same oil based black relief ink I had prepared for the mermaid prints, though she had told me from the start that she planned to try hand coloring these.  My St Louis catalog reinforced her plan.  The first one printed (above) is a white line design, but I believe pink petals and green leaves are part of the plan. The second one (below) is also a plant with flowers, and color is expected there, too, but I don't know the specific plans.


And with that, our 2.5 hours of tonight's class were done, our four woodcut classes are done.  Will there be more woodcuts in their future?  I don't doubt it.  Linda was already talking about buying inks  and woods and seemed almost giddy with excitement about future projects.  Mary Ellen asked to take home a few bits of colored paper to experiment with in future prints.  Both had questions about registration systems.  Would either consider retaking this Belmar class?  (I was asked by the office to look into it) Depends on timing and availability.  I don't see such a thing happening until late summer, but if BelmarArts is willing to put it on the schedule, and actually promotes it this time, it could happen.