Monday, September 20, 2021

Fever Dream part 8


The last main piece of my new block drawing was a third helicopter nurse.  For the two inside the room I used photos from the internet as my sources, but the largest and most prominent one, and perhaps the most significant one, I wanted to get a live posable model.  At first I had thought about asking one of the assistants at my physical therapy place (ether one would do), but suddenly all their schedules changed and they weren't around when I was, then my time there ended.  More recently, I decided my speech therapist might work.  Her build was appropriate to what I had in mind, her standard clothing for work would suffice for conversion to scrubs, and she had some appreciation for my art skills.  So I asked her and she agreed to a quick sketch session there in the office, following our appointment for therapy.  

Today was the scheduled day. I brought with me a sketchbook and pencils, an eraser, the block itself, a sample block of the same material (birch, the one I used for the video piece last summer), a mirror, some painter's tape to mark the XY axis that will help me add the helicopter later, plus some surgical gloves and masks in case we needed them.  (Normally she wears a face shield, requirement for the office, but the masks were more common for nurses, including the one she is portraying.)  And of course, the binder where all my speech exercises and homework is kept. We took care of that first.

I had the actual block for two reasons.  First, I figured she deserved to see the actual block itself, and the drawing so far, as she deserved to know what she would be part of and why I was doing it.  Second, I needed to see how the figure would fit in, plus this way I only had to draw it once, instead of drawing it on paper, then copying that drawing onto my block.  My concept called for this last nurse to be helping to open the door to my studio, so we had to figure out how to make use of the door to her office for this purpose (not the same hinge system, and there was the open in/open out thing and the mirror effect, but my art training and print experience helped me to figure it out) and the best way to pose her for the image. With all this figured out, the simple gestural sketch took only a few minutes.  Used the mirror to make sure it was all working in reverse, and that was it.  I'll refine it, add more details in the coming days.   

I was hoping to be able to add a photo of this new figure (and the block itself for that matter) to this blog post, but my camera is still missing, probably in storage.  My new phone (earlier this year) technically has a camera in it, and I did take a photo of today's work, but despite watching many internet videos over the past few months, I still haven't figured out how to get photos from my phone to an email so I can get them to my computer. I may have to stop by the store where I bought it (here in town) and ask them to show me how to do it.   Meanwhile, I have a photo and will continue to work on my drawing.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fever Dream part 7


Took care of some other business, then let myself into my Studio.  I knew this would be a relatively short day today, so I chose a disc from my jazz/blues set, 'Round About Midnight from Miles Davis.   In the title cut (of sorts), Davis does a pretty good version of Thelonius Monk's 'Round Midnight, but the rest of the album is a classic as well.  And it times out at about an hour, which is what I could spare today.

Didn't draw anything new today, but used my time to clean up and redraw a few things done before.  A better version of the stackable chairs I have, improved perspective on the Entemann's end of the aisle display, and updated the two images of helicopter nurses I adapted from internet sources.  Darkened the border I had put in.  Fixed a little flaw in my comic book display. Also spent time just looking, thinking about things I may change in the drawing before I am ready to cut.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Another one gone


I had first learned about it a few days ago, and earlier today I saw a newspaper article about it from a few day ago.  Another local landmark is closing- Don's Pizza King.  It's in Belmar on Main Street, adjacent to Pyanoe Plaza, across from 9th Avenue.  They sold whole pies and slices, plus all the usual Italian dishes that you'd find at any local pizza place.  I considered it to be average- not bad, but not great.  I first went there in the early 90's. on a day trip down the shore, along with a college friend.  There were a lot of places in town she liked.  The record stores were good, but now long gone.  The Pizza King is still there, but not for long. It opened around the time I was born, but as with many older places, the founders are ready to retire.  In the article, the owner complained about not being able to get help, but that's a problem in a lot of places, a combination of Covid related behaviors, and that most businesses prefer to pay low wages and a lot of workers want more.  I haven't been there in a while, mostly because there were enough better places closer to where I lived, in my various homes around the area.  

I don't know if the concerts are still going on in the Plaza.  For years, there were weekly music shows in that plaza, and Don's set up picnic tables and chairs where people could order, sit, and eat their Italian meals while enjoying live music.  Once I went to see and photograph one of the shows for the BAC blog, and saw a large group of our founders enjoying a meal.  I stopped by to greet them, and pointed out the dark indigo sky to the west, generally a sign that a giant thunderstorm is approaching.  One of the party put down my suggestion, saying he had an ap that told him the rain wouldn't come.  I wished them luck and started walking to my car, parked in the spaces on 10th.  Felt the first drop when I was a few feet from my car, and once I was inside, it started to pour.  If those shows are no longer happening, probably not helping the business.

Several years ago I was doing the above boardwalk print, the subject being the boardwalk at night.  As a kid we always went at night, ate dinner at home, and could ride the rides and play the games as the sun went down.  All the boardwalks have pizza places and I wanted my night boardwalk to have one as well.   I wanted a nice short name for my place and chose "Don's" despite the Belmar (which no longer has any amusement things on its boardwalk) place, not because of it.  Over the years I've had a few viewers tell me they figured they are related, but they are not.  All the signs are quite plausible for boardwalks, but completely made up.  Same goes for all the stores and games.  Some people have told me they've been to this boardwalk, but since it only exists in my head, I know they never have.  

Saturday, September 11, 2021

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today


Pretty much all week the top news story has been the events of 9/11 and the results of those terror attacks. Today there was even more.  After all, today is the 20th anniversary of the event.  A whole generation has grown up without having experienced it which seems kind of odd for all of us who did.  

In my case, I experienced it as a media event, first hearing about it as it was happening on the radio, and seeing all of it on television as the scenes ran without ending on all stations for the next week.  (in the piece above, sketched out that night, except for the radio event at the right end of the first row, all my imagery of the events at the World Trade Center came from television broadcasts)  I wrote about this in detail September of 2019- you can find it there if you want.

One thing I have thought about today is that I rarely do work about current events.  I wrote about this a while back, but today I decided to do a little research on past works. For example, one of my most well known works is my Fourth of July series, where I showed an event in my life for each day for a year, a total of 366 prints.  Surely one would expect that major political events would show an influence on what I selected, but not so often.  Over the course of a year, I found only four images that might qualify as national stories.  On July 7th, I did something related to the midwestern flood of 1993, where the rough winter and warm spring and summer had resulted in major rivers across the country cresting and the equivalent of a 6th Great Lake forming in the midwest.  This was both a local story (the county I lived in at the time was declared a disaster area), and a national story, as many states were affected all over the country.  On November 3rd, I struggled to get results of the off year elections in New Jersey, but the Illinois news never wanted to talk about it.  My piece on April 25th about the local showing of a piece of the AIDS quilt was kind of a national story, as the then incurable disease was feared everywhere in the country, including where I was.  The one thing that was mostly political was my April 27th piece about the funeral for former president Nixon.  (these can all be found on the linked blog above if you want to see them)

Another things I thought of today was my piece A New Year for America, which can be seen below.

Some 52 stories, all found in news sources (mostly newspapers, but occasionally the internet if I had no luck elsewhere), yet most of the stories turned out to be more about the local nature of the event. It was based on current events (all within a month before or after the new year), but most are related to the individual state, and not the national story that formed around it.  So the fact that I rarely do contemporary events is maybe a trend.

That's that


As I expected, this computer site for keeping track of registration never really worked.  It allowed me to sign up for an ID, and sent me an acknowledgment of that, but never let me back in to check anything.  No big deal, as I never had a system like that or any class anywhere.  I did know that I was also supposed to receive notification if anyone signed up (and they had my address) but I never got any of those either, so my thinking was that I had no students.  Unfortunately, by last night I still hadn't heard anything, and the class was due to start today.  I sent an email to Nichole, but no response from her.  Checked back in late morning, but just another reminder about their big race next week, and the class was still listed on the site. I decided it was best if I was up there in the early afternoon, and if I could find out for sure there wasn't a class, I wouldn't have to worry.  On the other hand if students had signed up, I better be ready to teach a class.  

Usually on the first day, I show a lot of prints from my collection, bring my books, do a safety lesson on using woodcut tools, and distribute woodblocks for the first print. Unfortunately, most of my possessions were in storage, including all my books and prints.  My saw stopped working this year, and without students signed up I hadn't been in a hurry to buy one (and hadn't) I had some wood, enough for 3 or 4 students, but normally I'd get more, and with no saw to cut it with, no immediate need.  At least I had the set of student tools, so I could do my safety lesson, and no books to show, but I could give the names of relevant artists to the student to look up for whatever kind of project they had in mind to try.  I don't have my collection of artist prints, or any of my unframed prints (carrying large numbers of framed prints in very heavy and difficult) but I had a few things in my studio I could get if I wanted to show some.  A few things in postcard form as well, in my car's glove compartment.  This would have to due.

I got up there around quarter after 1.  No sign of Nichole's car, but I went in through the office anyway.  Bobby was there, a new device attached to him for now, but very happy to be in his current condition.  He knew nothing, but said Nichole was up in the kitchen on the 3rd floor.  Took the elevator and found her there, washing big sheet pans and pots.  I think those who use things should wash them, but that's me.  She used her smart phone to confirm that no one was signed up for the class, so we officially canceled it.  The future is still up in the air, but nothing is happening probably until next year.  Maybe print again, maybe drawing (which I taught there successfully a few years ago).  Nothing gets decided next week, probably that race takes up all her immediate time.  With that settled, I decided to head for home, with a stop along the way to pick up a few things at the store.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Fever Dream part 6


At first I had thought that I got so much done yesterday that there wasn't much left for me to do.  But the more I looked at the block, the more I realized needed to be done.  My plan was to go up in the early afternoon, even though I tend to avoid going anywhere around here on holiday weekends, and we are just starting Labor Day weekend now.  Plus, we have some nice weather predicted for the next few days.  On the other hand, too nice a day to hang out in the house all day.  So my new plan was to go right after lunch.  Of course, my parents decided to take a long lunch of their own. I packed my book bag (this time selecting my larger CD case) and waited.  And waited.  I made the decision that by 2:30 I would leave whether or not they were back, but then they came home around 2:20.  I grabbed my stuff and took off.

Thanks to the later than expected start, I figured I'd have less time, and may only have time for one part now, so I selected a single album copy from my rock/pop case. Went with Kirsty MacColl's Tropical Brainstorm, which I wrote about in March of 2020 if you want to learn more.  Of the three roughed in areas inside the room that I knew needed more work, I decided to work on the Disney Castle image.  This one started in a dream from a long time ago.  I was watching tv, and had been handling some blotter papers that had LSD on them, for reasons I can't remember.  In the dream, I feared that my skin had absorbed some of the hallucinogenic and I would be affected.  I looked at the television, which was tuned to the current version of Disney's Sunday evening show (this was before they had their own channel, so all Disney programming was seen for a few hours on Sunday nights on whatever network was carrying it that year).  The show always ended with a scene of one of the Disney castles (I don't remember which one) lit up at night, with Tinkerbell flying in and  zapping it with her magic wand.  As I watched the show ending, there was no Tinkerbell, and the castle was starting to go up in flames.  I decided that the acid must have affected me some.  I don't remember how the dream went from there. 

In my new print, I had decided a while back I would include the castle burning in the deep background of my studio full of strange images, and sketched one in detail on a page in my sketchbook from an internet source.  (There are castles in both of the main theme parks in this country- Sleeping Beauty's in California and Cinderella's in Florida.  I think I went with the latter.)  I had roughed in the castle when I started this, but today I did it with more detail, using a mirror for more accuracy. For now I decided to add something that I didn't have before- Tinkerbell, an arm covering her eyes, afraid to look at the flames consuming the castle.  There's a lot of detail in these Disney things, so I may pull it up again on my computer and make sure I got everything right.  As it was, these two things took about an hour, so I decided to end my day there.  The other things will wait for another time. 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Fever Dream part 5


Today was a nice day to be outside.  Low 70's, low humidity, light breeze.  Especially after last night, which included the remnants of Hurricane Ida passing through the state on its way from Louisiana.  Some parts of the state saw huge floods as rivers overflowed, and those haven't finished cresting yet, so some of those floods will be worse.  (If I was still working at Kean and on Thursdays, I would have had to deal with flooding on the GSP and much of Union, but I don't work there anymore.)  We got all the same warnings here, but the worst of the storm passed to the west, giving us only a few inches, and winds not unusual for around here.  And no matter what part of the state, it was all out to sea by this morning and the sun came out.

I had to wait a while for my parents to end all their adventures, so I couldn't really leave until almost 3 pm.   But I did want to get out of the house and get some work done.  I had packed my backpack with all I needed, and took off when I could.  I saw Nichole's car in the lot, but we had taken care of business earlier in the week, so I got right to my task.  

Yesterday I had spent some time sketching circular clothing racks of the type seen in department stores, including how the clothes hang.  My block had one roughed in, so today I wanted to improve that.  However, I never bothered to take out my sketchbook with these sketches, but just redrew it based on my memories of what I had studied.  For everything else, I didn't have sketches already, but just cleaned up my drawings based on my abilities to draw things, one of the perks of being an artist.  So I used perspective and a ruler to put in a tile floor, an aisle end Entemann's display (dream objects), a large escalator (dream), and a rider (art abilities) turned to check out the deep background- a Disney castle burning (dream).   Still has a ways to go, but it's starting to come together.  

Just a short visit today, so I had brought the smaller jazz/blues collection.  And knowing I had only a short time to be in the Studio today, I went with a single album disc, my home burned copy of Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, an early 70's collection mostly made from his first few albums, which were his most successful anyway.  Scott-Heron was an unusual case, mostly backed by a jazz combo, over which he sometimes sang, and sometimes spoke, making him one of first rappers in recorded history.  Many of his songs were about the problems of life in the ghetto, and the dangers of drug use, but this didn't stop him from eventually becoming a drug addict.  I remember a tv show and a discussion about his being open about having become a crack addict, albeit a functioning one, as his income from music made it possible to get the drugs he needed without a life of crime to support it, in some ways like Townes Van Zandt, whose income from past recordings and song writing was just enough to keep him in alcohol and drugs he needed.  Both musicians/song writers eventually succumbed to their addictions, as they always do, but until then I guess they lived the lives they wanted to.   That was the point of the Scott-Heron discussion- if he could support his drug habit without crime, was it a bad thing, or just the way he worked and lived?  I don't know if a conclusion was reached.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Fever Dream part 4


Had a variety of business to take care of at the Studio today.  When I arrived, I saw Nichole's car, so I stopped by her office first.  She confirmed that I still had no students yet.  I have about another week to go before the registration deadline, so I guess it's wait and see.  She doesn't know why the computer system is not letting me in, but I should have gotten notices if anyone signed up, and I haven't, but she confirmed this by checking her records as well.  I also asked her about fellow building resident Bobby, who I haven't seen in quite a while, seeing if she had heard anything since his last operation.  She says he's recovering fine, just taking a lot longer than he had expected.  (we had expected exactly what is happening)  We also discussed the fun of delis, then I got to my space and did some work. 

Last time I had roughed in some things in the middle, so today I cleaned them up a bit.  One thing was a comic book fan going through some comic bins, like you would find in any store or convention, in this case a dream image.  The starting point for my comic book fan came from the internet, essentially a search for images of "comic book fans", and I found someone who looked a lot like what I had in mind.  Sketched the figure and the comic long boxes in my sketchbook in pencil, but it was facing the wrong way to fit my design.  No problem- just used a mirror to sketch it out on my block, changing things like clothing, hair style, and facial hair to make him look more like my original idea, plus less like this photo I had found. In that same mid-ground I refined the figure of two helicopter nurses I had roughed in.  The helicopter nurses are something that didn't come from a dream, but more like a delusion I experienced in the hospital.  One day I woke up and I didn't recognize the room, which was not that unusual during my times in the hospital.  (I got moved from time to time)  The room was very bright, every light on, which almost never happened. The hallway was completely dark, again unusual.  I could see a clock on the wall, round type with two hands, and it read about 9:00, so I thought maybe I had slept late.   Moving around my room were nurses, but not what I was used to.  Typically the nurses wore light colored scrubs, always masked, and often with additional protective gear.  These nurses had masks, but the scrubs were dark, like a navy blue, with images of large helicopters in white on the backs, though no words.  I had a new roommate, but the curtains were drawn so I couldn't see him.  I decided to lay like I was still sleeping for a while, see what I could learn. I heard a voice ask one if they worked on helicopters. "Sometimes" one said, and that was all I learned for sure.  My neighbor's television was on, and it seemed to be some show about American culture and history from the 60's to the present, with a lot of popular music from the various decades.  This kind of show is common enough on cable tv, but in my delusional state, I came up with an explanation that the helicopters roamed around picking up bodies on the ground and bringing them back to the hospital, and my neighbor had been a prisoner of war, absent from our county for decades, and this television program was part of updating him on some of the things he had missed the last few decades.  As I said, I was a bit delusional.  With the nurses gone, I decided to do a little exploring, put of some clothes, and grabbed a walker, which was the most I had been allowed to use yet.   I got out to the very dark hallway, all still unrecognizable, when  a nurse demanded to know what I was doing.  I told her I was looking for a bathroom and didn't want to wake my neighbor, which was partly true.  I was ordered to go back in the room and sit on the edge of my bed for ten minutes.  Besides, it was still 9 pm the night before, way too early to get up.  So I did all that, but they never came back.  Five more minutes, and still nothing, so sat down in the armchair next to the bed. Eventually I got back in bed and tried to get more sleep.  Some time later I realized I was in the same room I had been in for days, but had never seen in so lit up, and the hallway so dark.  Never did learn anything more about the helicopters, or anything else going on.  Anyway, I decided that these mysterious helicopter nurses would be part of a future artwork, which turned out to be this one.  What I had roughed in last week and cleaned up a bit today were images taken directly from the internet, like my comic book fan, sketched in my sketchbook.  I am planning a third nurse, who will be in the foreground, but for that one I'd prefer a live model who I can pose exactly the way I want, so for now that will have to wait.  

Meanwhile I had brought my smaller CD holder today, one with a supply of blues and jazz discs, and from this I selected some Ella Fitzgerald, a home burned and abridged version of a disc set I had at home- "Oh Lady Be Good!  the best of the Gershwin songbook."  From the liner notes I learned that this was part of a series she had done, coming into the studio and tearing through songs by particular song writers, backed by Nelson Riddle's orchestra.  At times the orchestra does get a little overblown, but I like her for her vocals, and those are well done, and the songs are all standards.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Old Activity


I had learned a few days ago that Molly had a show coming up.  I hadn't seen her, but the level of activity in the Studio had picked up, and the amount of art she was making went up as well.  But I found out for sure when my mother had mentioned seeing something in the local weekly.  There was a show at the Main Street Gallery in Manasquan, a place that had turned me down in the past.  I knew Molly had found some part time work sketching animals (pets) and some of this art included that.  It was a two person show, along with someone named Elizabeth Sabine, who did classic landscapes.  I wasn't sure if I was going for two reasons- first I had never received an invitation to go by postcard, phone, or email, and second, there was a lot of rain predicted for the day and night.  But in the end, the rain never came, and since I hadn't seen Molly since before my operation, and the gallery was a very short car ride away, I went.

The gallery was easy to get to, and there were hardly any cars around, so plenty of parking.  No one in the gallery was wearing a mask, so I left mine in my pocket and went in. Maybe 15 to 20 people in the gallery, including staff and live musician.  One person I knew- Sandy Taylor from Belmar Arts, so I got to learn a few things that are going on there, as well as let her know what was going on with me.  (as an artist, I know that you end up spending a lot of the time at these openings working the room and not talking to friends and acquaintances that show up)  Some of work was older and I had seen before.  Some were items I had seen in the Studio, or similar things.  There were three pieces that were new to me- large works that combined some of her typical abstract shapes and large versions of the sketchy figures I saw a lot of in the Studio, as well as there in the gallery.  I liked them and told her so in the limited time I had to talk to her.  Whenever I next see her in the Studio (which she promises she will finally have time to clean now, with this show up and both her kids in college now) I will talk to her more about those.  After about an hour, I headed home.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fever Dream part 3


Was up at the Studio a little past 1 pm today.  Didn't see Nichole's car in the lot, so I figured she wasn't there and went right to my space to work.  I had worried that it would be hot and sticky today, between the weather and the tendencies of the basement, but it was fairly comfortable in there.  

I had drawn a few things in detail on the block, but hadn't tried most of it yet.  Today I decided to bite the bullet and rough in the ideas I had, and see what would fit and what wouldn't.  (I have more ideas than I have space for)  So today's sketches were mostly pretty rough, but enough to see what might fit where.  What I put in today was one of my Studio chairs (drawn from life), some very rough helicopter nurses, part of a supermarket, a comic book bin being looked through, a clothing rack and escalator from a mostly abandoned department store, and a Disney style princess castle starting to go up in flames.  (I have some weird dreams, but this one isn't too weird for art)  The floor includes some carpet, some tiles, and some overgrown grass and weeds.  

In some cases I have source material for the final drawings, and those will be easy. I can do those there or at home.  Some borrow from art I have already done.  A few are things I just have to work out, but I have enough art skills to do that.  Some I still need to find, but I have ideas where to look.  I think the general composition is good, so I'm on the right track.

For music today, I brought my case of rock/pop discs, and without having a plan of what to listen to, I selected my Gun Club disc.  You can read about that on this blog back in November, 2019.  Good music for a crazy kind of scene like this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Trying Again


It's been a while since I had a woodcut class.  Last year just about everything was shut down, so there were no classes of anything anywhere.  The year before that I had two classes of woodcut at the JSAC, plus two drawing classes, but last year Covid shut down everything. (the above photo goes back to the last class a few years ago)  But we are trying to get back to normal now, so it was put on the schedule for this summer.  Unfortunately, no one signed up. (People either really love the idea of learning woodcut, and are willing to travel far distances to take a class, or they are scared to death to try it.)  It may be that potential students are still afraid to take any class, or people aren't used to taking classes yet.  This summer, some classes happened, and some got no sign-ups.

The director at the JSAC still believes in what I do, and art classes in general, so she decided to put up another small bunch for the early fall, including woodcut, so part of the responsibly falls to me to promote it.   So that is what I am doing.   This next class meets for 6 weeks instead of the usual 4, and rules for contact between students and tools are still being worked out, but we have a few weeks before it is scheduled to start.  The class will meet Saturdays, from 2 to 4 pm, assuming that people sign up.  They are looking for minimum of 4 students, but we do get to meet on the 1st floor, much more comfortable conditions than he basement we mostly had the last time.  I still provide wood, paper, ink, cutting and printing tools, students bring their ideas, and woodcut are made.  Never had class any place where every student didn't finish at least one print, and that was in four weeks, so we may have to find something else to do, or explore some other processes. The first step is getting some students, which I  hope happens.  If not, we will try again next year.

For more information, see the JASC website, or contact them to sign up for the class.  And if you are not interested, but know someone who may be, pass the information on to them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Fever Dream part 2


Had enough time today to go up to the Studio, so I went in the afternoon.  Upon arrival I saw that Nichole's car was there, so I made her office my first stop in the basement.  I was sure that by now, the class I may have would be listed, but I didn't know when the deadline is, and just didn't feel like putting on my computer today to look for myself.  It turned out that the class just went online yesterday, so my timing was about right.  No one yet, which is expected.  The registration deadline isn't until September, so I have some time there as well.  

Went to my Studio next.  Not too hot, but was feeling a little steamy. However, nothing to stop me from working.  Had brought my block home, so I had to bring that with me today, as well as pencils and my sketchbook.  I am planning to have my usual border, but I have also decided to use my Studio as part of the structure of the composition.  The plan includes looking through my Studio door, with items on both sides, making a kind of frame for the composition.  Everything else will be seen through the door, things in there.  As part of my plan, I had made a list of elements I was planning for the composition, I gave each a designation as either foreground, middle ground, or background, an aid to putting it all together.

My start last week was a foreground piece, my hand holding one of my key rings, the one with all the studio keys. It's in close up, one the right side of the block. or what will be the left side of the print.  The wall behind it will go in eventually.  Today I added the border line, and some items that will be just inside the door.  There is a little piece of a desk, covered with papers, on top of which will be a food tray, and a hand can be seen holding a slice of pizza.  Leaning against the desk are some silkscreen frames.  The small desk with papers and food are common elements of dreams I have had lately, though the slice of pizza is drawn from life, take out I bought across the street from the Studio, open following the worst of the pandemic.  The silkscreen frames are always there in my Studio- Molly hasn't gotten rid of anything she has in years.  I don't know if any of these things are finished, but they look good so far. 

My music for today was my live Dream Syndicate album.  I wrote about this back in April, 2020, if you want to learn more.  That it also mentions the word "dream" is just a coincidence.  I actually wanted to listen to my home burned disc of The Brood album "Vendetta", but it refused to play in the boom box I had there. I am listening to that same disc right now on a boom box at home, so I guess it's not the disc itself.  The Brood were an all girl group out of Portland, Maine in the 1980's and 90's, considered garage rock, but I'd also say a retro band in the nature of the Cynics, with appropriate keyboards and guitars.  More about them if I ever can listen to that disc in the Studio.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Fever Dream


I haven't made any new art since last year, and I am looking forward to getting into the Studio and trying to do a woodcut.  I feel like the skills I had before my surgery have returned, or maybe never left, so it's time to test them out.  

An idea that I've been playing with for a while is another complex composition, in black and white, but a bit smaller than the 2 foot by 3 foot pieces I was making a few years ago.  Partly this is to make printing easier, and partly this is to be able to use frames I currently have, since all the places I used to buy frame parts and mats have gone out of business, and plexiglass is getting harder to find as well.  

While still in the hospital I started to work out the idea.  I had a working title of "Fever Dream", which is a term that usually applies to odd dreams that are sometimes a result of the brain being a little warped by fever and other bodily problems.  What I have done in this case is gather images from strange dreams I have had recently, plus a few things I remember from the past, plus one very strange event in the hospital while I was there that included some odd delusions that may or may not have been an effect of my surgery and hospital stay.  As with some of my larger prints, I thought about organizing them into a single composition, which would be a little strange because of the nature of the dreams.  (the really disturbing ones are being left out; the art world and viewers aren't ready for those yet)  

Several weeks ago, I started sketching some of the elements that I expected would appear in this image, based on still life or digital images found on the web.  I found a piece of wood that was about the size that I use for supermarket prints, which I thought might work.  (I have more wood, but when I tried to cut up that board recently I found my dependable old saw was no longer working;  I've had it since I was in Carbondale, and it was used and old when I got it before then, so this is not much of a surprise) 

Today I decided to finally start the block drawing.   I brought my block (had been at home), my sketchbook, a set of pencils and eraser, and a hand mirror, since I may need to reverse some of these sketches to fit my composition.  I also wanted to measure some of the architecture in the room, using myself as the measuring unit, since I want to see how these things worked with humans.  I had finished my business with Nichole, so put on some music and got a little drawing done.  I had brought home my two CD cases so I would have some music at home besides this computer, but left the boom box there and a small stack of loose cased discs that I knew Molly liked, in case she didn't want to listen to the radio, which is what she usually does. Relying on what was there, I selected an album from Toshi Reagon, "The Righteous Ones."  (a burned copy of the original in my main collection in storage)  I had first learned of this record from Vin Scelsa, who had played the opening song on his radio show, so this must have been a while ago.  I was impressed enough by it to write down the artist and title, and later picked up the album after listening to it at a CD World, which also places this as a long time ago. (came out in 1999)  The singer is the daughter of one of the members of Sweet Honey In The Rock, a well known Gospel/accapella group, which may be how this album happened, and that group provided some back up vocals on that song I had heard.  Unlike most contemporary female recording artists, the lead singer is not particularly attractive and I'll leave it at that, but she had a great voice, which is all a singer needs in my opinion, and the backing band is pretty good as well.  

Didn't get too far with the block, doing the first element of my sketched ideas, but at least it is now started.  I don't have sketches of everything I am planning yet, but have enough to start it at least, and I have no deadline to get it done.  

Still have no camera, or the one I have is in storage to be more precise. It's old, probably dating to around the start of my university teaching, but it worked with this computer and had features that many new ones didn't, so I have stuck with it.  However, I don't know when I will get that one back, so I may have to get myself a new one before long.  So no current image of the new block, but probably before it is done.  

Yet More Ocean Grove Business


I decided to go up to the Studio today to get a little work done, but I saw Nicole's car there, so I decided to see her first and settle some new questions.

A few days ago she had sent out a mass email about a schedule change in the film series, but also added a thing about fall classes.  Of interest to me is that she mentioned a printmaking class among them.  This surprised me, as a few days before, she had said she didn't plan to do any fall classes except continuing a few summer ones if there was interest.  So I sent an email asking about it, and she confirmed that she decided to put printmaking on the schedule, not knowing if there was a demand or not, since no one signed up last time.  The next day she sent out something about a new way to check the rosters, but I hadn't dealt with that yet.  She was in her office today, so I got a lot of business taken care of.  

One thing I had noticed was that this new class was 6 weeks instead of the four we had always had, yet the price was the same.  Wasn't sure how that would work out.  In the past the cost of all supplies came out of my pocket, the reason for my concern.  She said that the building could pay some cost of supplies, which would make the difference.  As far as doing an open house/demonstration, she agreed that me demonstrating made more sense than having the students just come in and try stuff (mentioned my safety demonstration, which is a regular part of woodcut), one reason it would not work to have potential students try cutting with sharp tools.  After all, when I brought my Intro students through the wood shop at the university (furniture class), some were very fascinated to see the place, and some were scared to come in the room with drill presses, table saws, band saws, and other wood shop equipment.  (those tools were in the hands of the students who had received training on those, never my beginning students who were just getting a look at what was offered)  We also talked about other forms of printmaking, and even acrylic paints, should this woodcut again fail to get any customers.  Maybe I'll send those student work photos again.

The other good thing about a demonstration is that many new students might not know what woodcut is. That is sad, but true. I've done a lot of those before, so I could do it again.  

We have about a week before the registration opens up, and about a month before it closes, so we have time to figure all this out.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Back in Ocean Grove


Went back to the Studio today for various reasons.  Didn't really make any new artwork, but I did pick up a piece of wood, cut to the size necessary for a supermarket print, but this time may be my new multistory piece.  I'll see after some more paper sketches.

Part of my reason for going was to see Nichole, and she was there, so I learned a few things.  One was about future classes.  My class this summer didn't happen, so I am waiting to see what happens in the future.  Some may depend on who comes back for the fall or not.  Some summer classes may continue in the fall, and if they do, they will get those spots.  There also may be a open house thing to promote future classes. I'll learn more later.

Part of seeing her was to get an update on Mary's questions.  She confirmed that she had met with her and had mentioned the workshop room in the basement as a possible place for her to set up her planned classroom. On the other hand, she may end up giving her the whole space, or at least making it all one large classroom. She agreed a lot of cleaning will probably have to happen, and it will be a while before it happens. She also said that she may want to talk to Asbury Park herself before Mary does, which might be for the best.  But she does feel that the JSAC could help the school district fill some gaps in their arts education, and that's a good thing for everyone.  

The other thing I had wanted to find out about was a new discussion group happening tonight.  I got an email this morning announcing it.  Two women I don't know, but are running the performing arts schedule there this year, are hosting it.  Early Wednesday evenings in the lobby.  Of course I thought of our old critique group, which had many art discussions, and sometimes met on Wednesday nights, though a bit later.  However, ours was a true critique group, while this one seems to be more about discussions of creativity and the kind of things I tend to skip.  Nichole didn't know much about it, and the organizers were not there during the day, so I'll still skip this, and find out about it later.   Our critique group was successful and brought in people from all around the state, but ended as more or more regulars moved away, and founder Molly only seemed to want to be there if she had something of her own to show, often disappearing for the rest of the critique after she had shown her own thing.  I don't plan to go this weekly thing until I learn more.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Art on TV

Yesterday on the CBS morning show they had a feature on a new art show coming to the Met- a retrospective of Alice Neel.  My college friend David Lasky used to swear that I painted just like her, but I never bought it.  True, we both concentrated on head and figure, but her style (her works were well known) tended to be a little more cartoony, or perhaps expressionistic.  I was going for more realism, influenced by the Renaissance, Baroque artists, and even 20th century American realism like Edward Hopper.  Not that I necessarily achieved it, but that was the goal, like so many fine art students who are influenced but whatever they are looking at in art history class.  But that was the goal.  

I do appreciate Alice Neel, because we did end up doing a lot of the same stuff- portraits designed to capture the qualities and stories of the subjects.  I would probably enjoy the show, but I don't plan to go see it.  It's a long journey from where I live at the shore these days, involving a walk, a long train ride with a transfer, and an even longer walk to the museum, plus a hefty admission fee these days, with my college ID giving me few breaks.  I could probably get as much looking her up on the internet, since I am not painting much these days.