Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 21


As of last night I still hadn't heard anything regarding t he possible woodcut class in Belmar tonight, so I set out to take care of other business. Eventually my errands got me up to Belmar, a bit before noon. I was told the class was not happening. The woman who had left a voice mail and mentioned an interest in joining the class (several hours after we had cancelled it) had not called again or responded to calls that came from our office.   On my way out I took a peek at the side gallery and it was already full of youth art.  I guess I had gotten my art out in time and done fine with my repairs to the walls.  The day I took it all down I sent a reply e-mail to my contact, telling her it was all done, and I heard back from her yesterday, thanking me for getting everything done and being one of the more efficient people in the organization. No surprise- as far back as grad school I had developed a reputation as a guy who gets things done.  One of my first tasks as grad assistant in printmaking was to reorganize the printmaking supply closet.  A few days later I was talking to someone and mentioned I was the new printmaking grad student, and she exclaimed, "you're that guy who gets things done!"

With no class to run tonight, suddenly my schedule was more wide open.  After lunch I took a ride up to the Studio.   The predicted rain had not yet arrived, so it seemed a good opportunity to return the stuff I had picked up yesterday in preparation for the class.  Plus, I had some curiosity about my latest print.   The building was fairly empty.  Since I had the Studio to myself, I could listen to music.  Seemed like a Wipers kind of day.  Continued with the same old ink can I had used on the last day of the last woodcut class.  A lot of dried ink in there, but after some digging I found some usable ink.  My printmaking bag in the car had everything I needed, except my apron, so I was careful not to be too messy.  Used the black ink to roll up my new block and finally see what I had.


The composition seemed good, and the level of detail seems consistent with the series.  There were some flaws that can be fixed on the print itself, such as the broken up large F in FIREWORKS.  But there are also things that need to be cut- some minor, some major, like that shopping cart in the lower right corner. Way too dark and heavy.  I had left my cutting tools at home, and the ink was too wet for that anyway.  So I pulled a couple of proofs on newspaper (no need to waste good print paper on a proof I would never use) to speed up the drying time, left the block in my drying rack, packed up and went home.  And the heavy rain had still not arrived yet, so I got home safe.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 20


Had a strange dream last night (or maybe early this morning) with a lot of art content.  Some of it seemed to involve taking down a show and installing a new one.  No doubt influenced by my recent activities in Belmar, though this place was unfamiliar, as were the people in the dream.  As the first show was coming down, the music playing was vintage Devo, known for some intense and very electronic new wave songs in the early 80's.  I don't own any and don't recall being exposed to any recently so I have no idea why they were in my head.  Then another group started bringing in the next show, all packed in corrugated cardboard boxes.  The people carrying the boxes were all young African-American men (didn't recognize any, but reminded me of many of my college students) and the music they were playing was all 70's Paul McCartney and Wings.  Not a combination one often sees, and while I do have some of this in my collection, I haven't listened to it lately nor have I been exposed to it anywhere.  But where the dream got interesting was while unpacking the boxes.  Don't recall much about the art itself, except that it was all framed.  Turning up occasionally in these boxes were tubes of watercolor paint, and the one that I remember best was something called "charcoal orange". Never seen anything like that for sale anywhere.  Not even sure what it would be.   Perhaps a very cooled down orange, approaching a neutral.  Something that any experienced artist could mix, and not the kind of thing that anyone would produce as a tube color.  Strange things can wander through your head, especially when you are an artist.

My plans for the daylight hours included a Studio visit. I was very close on my current block and want to get that done and get on with the next project.  But before going to the basement, I stopped off at Nichole's office, but she was busy with someone so I figured I see her later.  After that dream it made sense to listen to some McCartney music, but I don't have any of the post Beatles stuff in my Studio library, so I brought some from home.  One thing I have is a 2 disc set called WINGSPAN, which contains a disc of "hits" (the band had many) and a disc of "history" (highly regarded album tracks), 40 songs total.  Not a bad collection, but unfortunately several of the songs are "radio edits."  When record companies send music out to radio stations, they often send records or discs with multiple versions of the same song.  Some of these edits are done for content, with potentially offensive words removed or even replaced.  The one song in the collection that had that issue was a hit, and left intact.  However, the other common radio edit is for time, a shorter version of the song that can be fit into the 3 minute limit favored in the top 40 format, and this set has 4 such songs.  There are 7 or 8 tracks I could have done without to make room for the full versions of those 4.


As for actual art, all I had left on this block was the shopping cart in the lower left corner.  In my original block sketch I had put a few items in the cart, so I redrew them a little more clearly and finished cutting the cart.  Then I took a pencil rubbing using a piece of copy paper, and found a few things that needed more cutting.  The technique doesn't show great detail or accuracy, but it can help you find those mistakes where something was forgotten.  I won't know for sure what I have until I ink the block, and I wasn't ready to do that today.  But I think I am done with the cutting now.

On the way out I stopped to talk to Nichole, now done with whatever inspection was being called for. This drop in Wednesday night thing is being promoted primarily through social media, and interest is building slowly, but it is building.  In fact I was told that there were quite a few commitments already.  Does that mean they already paid?  I was told no, that will be done at the door.  I like it when they pay in advance, and even if they don't show up, I get paid.  (if they do show up, I'm happy to work with them)  Meanwhile Nichole is plugging away, and we are hoping for a good crowd once things start up in a few weeks.

Haven't heard anything yet about the possible class in Belmar. So I'll stop by tomorrow and see what is going on.  I can be ready without much notice.  Just in case, I brought home the spare wood, left it in the car.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

All Good Things Must Come to an End


Yesterday was the last official day of my recent show in Belmar, and I was told that it had to all come down this weekend.  Another show is scheduled to arrive for this week. Given a choice I want wth Saturday.

I had been told when it was offered that I would be responsible for installation and taking it down, including repairing any effects on the walls.  As part of the redecoration of the room, a pair of parallel wooden strips was installed on the main wall, and I got verification that I was supposed to hang work from these.  No problem, in fact probably better than having to nail hooks into and repair drywall.



Taking down the works was easy, all on wires hanging from hooks.  Next step was removing the hooks.  Got the 6 foot folding ladder from the store room, and I had brought a hammer for home with a claw for pulling nails and such.  Problem is that first one I tried did not want to come out of the wall.  Got a set of pliers (the nail head was lost early and the hammer claw had nothing to get hold of) and still had to make a lot of effort to pull that small nail from the wall. The hook had come off easily, and with a lot of tries, most of the nail was removed.  (a short piece remained buried in the wood) Luckily the other 3 hooks came down very easily.  There was a small plastic pail of spackle and a putty knife in the closet, so patching the tiny holes made by the brads was very simple, and there was a large can of the red paint for the walls in the big closet.  I had brought a small paintbrush with me, and touched up the repeated areas quickly.


And now the empty red wall was back.  Probably spent more time moving furniture than removing art and patching holes- the lounge is way too full of furniture to be a proper gallery.  Couches, coffee tables, tables with chairs,  rocking chairs.  I get the impression that this was partly created as a way of storing unwanted furniture.

While I was there, Diane (our office employee) shared some information that she found unbelievable, but seemed quite plausible to me- We had cancelled the Tuesday class that day at noon for lack of students, and around 4 pm there was a voice mail with a woman asking about joining the class. Over the years a lot of people have decided at the last minute to take a class.  That is why I showed up that night for the planned start, just in case.  As far as I know, no one came that night looking to be part of the class.  Also present today was Dana, one of our co-chairs, and they would really like the class to happen, so I was asked if both the previous student and this new one still wanted the class, could I do it?  I could be prepared if they have the space, so Diane was going to try to reach them by phone and see if it could be worked out.  However, I never did hear anything else today, so I don't know if I have a woodcut class on Tuesday, or starting the following Tuesday, or maybe none at all.

Since Dana was around today, I asked her a follow up question about the idea of a new t-shirt, since my current block is almost done and that would be the logical next project.  What she had told me before was they liked the idea of something that involved sea shells, and they wanted a current BAC logo. (not allowed on the first shirt, by the organization that allowed us to have a t-shirt sale and required the sail boat theme) The problems that the new logo involves multiple colors, and while such things can be accomplished with both blocks and silkscreens, for t-shirt production of such a thing it would require multiple separate ink runs, bringing the cost way up.   As a woodcutter, I am used to achieving such effects with varying the marks used and created, and the pieces I had in the show had many such examples, it seemed a good time to bring it up.  She said she had already been considering that, agreed that a single ink run was what they would want, and said that she had a black and white version of the same logo that they had already prepared- she'd be happy to send it to me today.  Like the woodcut class, I didn't hear from her today either.  My current print project will keep me busy for at least several more days; I'll deal with it some time after that.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 19


The plan for today was to work on that left side of the block, including the bakery section. Looked at my music shelf and nothing leapt out to me as being appropriate music of cutting out a bakery.  So I went with high energy rock and roll- a compilation of songs from the Ramones called Ramones Mania.  Don't know if it can be called a greatest hits collection because I don't know if they ever had any hits, they barely cracked the top 100.  However, if you listen to rock radio, you know many of the songs.  The story is that the four young men from Queens showed up at the legendary CBGB club, all dressed in leather jackets, t-shirts, torn jeans, and sneakers with long shaggy hair, carrying instruments, and the club owner didn't know if they were a band or a group of hoodlums who had robbed a band and were looking to sell their instruments.  After the audition he still wasn't sure, but booked them anyway.  The band members all disliked the current state of 70's popular music and preferred the simple rock and roll they grew up listening to.  The problem was even that was too complicated for them to learn, so they developed their own style- short songs, played super loud and fast, maybe one chord, lots of references to the seedier aspects of New York in the 70's.  And thus punk rock was born.  And following that pace, I could get a lot done.


As part of my research, I had looked at the bakery section of my local supermarket, seeing what kind of stuff was for sale, and of course the sparkler cake was something we actually put together and tried at a critique group, but my guide for much of it was the paintings of Wayne Thiebaud.  One different thing was the sign indicating the location is done to evoke a neon sign, which I have never seen in such a location.  but I liked the idea.  Color would help a lot of in this section, making it easier to understand everything depicted, but that's not an option with this series.  Also cut out the shopping cart in front of the counter.  A quick rubbing looks promising.  However, I still didn't do the shopping cart in the lower corner, still thinking about what to put inside it, so that will be the last step, another day.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

No Gig Tonight


Last week I stopped by the Belmar Arts Council to check on the status of my latest woodcut class. With one week to go we had one person sign up, which is more than we got last time it was offered, but not enough.  However, with a week to go, and another e-mail blast planned, I was hopeful.

Stopped at the BAC today around noon, and the total sign ups was still at one person.  It was decided to pull the plug.  A lot of that was about fairness, so the person who had signed up could find out in time that there would be no class.  Great effort was made to get this class to happen.  It has been on the website for more than a month.  I was invited to display my woodcut prints in the side gallery, and information about the class was posted nearby.  It has been listed on art websites, in the local paper, talked up at functions. I was told that the woodcuts received many compliments and the approving visitors were reminded they could learn the technique in the class. Multiple people walked up to me and told me to my face that they couldn't wait to sign up for the class.  The price is competitive with all the other classes there in Belmar, and in the area, and all necessary materials are provided so students don't have to go on a search to find them.  But people still don't sign up.

The office sent the one registered student an e-mail about the cancellation, his refund to come shortly.  Unfortunately, I have no control over the website, and as of this afternoon the class was still being listed there.    I'd hate to have someone show up thinking maybe they could join the class and then finding an empty building.  So I decided I would be there at the class start time just in case anyone showed up.  A lot of people like waiting to the last minute to do things.

I was there about a half hour before, and the building was dark.  Hung around.  Just about our start time, a few people showed up, and the lights came on and the door opened.  Someone was inside so I went to check on what was going on.  It was Neal and the writers group, which sometimes has had simultaneous meetings with my class.  I let him know what was going on with my class and requested if anyone showed up looking to cut wood, to let them know what was going on.  With that settled, I felt it was safe to go home.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 18


With building business done, I could get some artwork in.  No Molly today, so I could listen to music.  From my Studio library I selected a home burned disc of Townes Van Zandt.  As the recent Ken Burns documentary series about country music progressed, I wondered if and when we we get a segment about Townes.  Burns had always been detailed about everything, so eventually we got one. Townes was originally from Texas, a good singer and guitar player and an outstanding song writer, and like so many other Texans, made his way to Nashville seeking success in music.  One thing that series showed was that so many of them were sent packing, usually back to Texas. The people who ran the business in Nashville believed that the industry had to run their way, and artists with their own   ideas were shown the door. Townes Van Zandt recorded several well liked albums, but none sold particularly well.  What he had going for him was the admiration of so many in the industry- song writers and performers, and the royalties from the covers kept him going for years.  What he had going against him was a history of mental illness, and a hopeless addiction to everything, with alcohol being the thing that took him in the end, killing him around the turn of the century.  I remember a radio interview with his good friend from Texas, Steve Earle, a music buddy, drinking buddy (until he finally cleaned himself up), where he said something to the effect that some great artists fail because they never get a chance, but not Townes. Due to his skills he got many chances, but he always blew them. Didn't matter where his foot was, he'd find a way to shoot himself in it.  At least we were left with some great songs, his versions and the dozens of excellent covers by those who admired his work.  What I have on my shelf at home is a two disc set, an anthology of some of his best work, which I had condensed down to 71 minutes for the disc I have in the Studio.


The job I gave myself today was to finish cutting out all the white tiles in the supermarket floor, at this point over on the left.  Not particularly difficult, but time consuming.  Using my good tools helped, so I got a lot done while the 71 minute disc played.  Even got to the table where the sparkler cake sits (but not the cake itself), and some stuff around the shopping carts. Still haven't decided about everything in the shopping carts, so those and the bakery counter will have to wait until next time.

The Latest Studio Business


Got up to Ocean Grove around 11:30 this morning.  Had gotten an email over the weekend that the building would be doing a check of the heating systems this week, so I had some curiosity about that. One of the reasons I made my first stop in the building Nichole's office on the 1st floor.

The heating things being looked at right now are not the ones we have in the studios, which in our case is one that hangs from the ceiling.  As it is needed, a coil heats up, then a fan blows the warmed air into the room. The good thing is that the system works, and our basement Studio has never not been a comfortable temperature in winter. The bad thing is that when it gets very cold out, the unit runs almost constantly, making a lot of noise.  In the past, there were cracks around the window frames (daylight was visible), but the new windows installed a few years ago seems to have resolved that problem.  Back then we had less light as well, as two of the windows were covered with boards, but those left with the new windows.  One thing that didn't change was that the thermostat that controls the whole system is on the wall only inches away from the windows.  Nichole agreed with me that it can't be a good thing, so when those heating guys come around in the coming days, they have something to check.  Don't know if they can do something about it, or what it might cost, but heating is a building expense, not ours, so whatever is decided won't affect us.

Meanwhile, Nichole showed me a handout flyer she had made for the Wednesday night drop in group.  It's called the JSAC Artist Creative Collective.  We have scheduled four nights, beginning in late October.  All will be up in the 3rd floor cafe space, where we had a still life drawing group a few weeks back.  October 30th and November 13th will be rhythm and art, the idea of participants making art in reaction to different types of music, something I've been doing with my Intro class for years.  Nichole is in charge of picking the music, and participants can choose their materials (though a grant has been submitted that would help us provide some.)  November 6th is a high contrast challenge, and November 20th is a still life challenge.  That takes us up to the Thanksgiving holiday and since getting people to show up during the holiday season is almost impossible, that will be the end of these art classes for the year.  Word has gone out through social media, and so far there has been a good response to the idea.  That is not surprising.  Getting all those people to show up those nights and pay the $10 fee for refreshments and participation is a whole other matter. We shall see how this goes.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 17


Got to the Studio around 11 am.  Molly was already there, so no music today- she had NPR on so I got to hear discussions of President Trump's recent activities, evaluations of some of the many varieties of apples on the market in various parts of the country, theories about how genetic characteristics may be passed to generations, etc.  So I got some work done.


Today's mission was to finish more of the right side of the block.  So I finished up all the shelf scenes- the front edges, the back panels, and even things like the coolers and beach pails.  Then I moved on to the floor, clearing all the white tiles from the right edge to the area under the rotating sparkler rack.  That leaves the only untouched areas the bakery department, the floor in front of it, and any items found in that area. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 16


A very gray day with threats of rain that never quite showed up.  No problem, because I was working indoors today.

First stop was in Belmar today.  Have two things going on there, my next woodcut class is scheduled to start a week from today, and my woodcut show is scheduled to end next Friday.  I can't come in on Fridays, so I guess it would have to come down on Thursday or Saturday, which would involve patching any damage from the picture hooks.  Sounds like something to be worked out next week.  Bigger concern today was the woodcut class.  I asked in the office if I had any students yet and was told that one person had signed up. Not enough to run the class, but it's more than I had last time and we have a week to go.

Grabbed a slice of local pizza and then drove up to Ocean Grove.  Brought more Pixies today, a record company album.  The last new album before the original break up came out in 1991, which has given the record companies time to put out a lot of other music- out takes, live cuts, alternate versions, etc.  The disc I brought from home today collected songs recorded for the BBC.  Success in England generally involves promotion on the BBC, even for American bands.  In the case of the Pixies, they were based in Boston, but originally signed to a British label- 4AD, which had the only releases of the early albums (my copy of the first two albums was a two for one on a single disc issued by the British label and imported as there was not an American distributer yet- now they come as two separate discs) and still got a cut of all subsequent albums.  I don't know what the current state of radio is over there, but in the Beatles early days there was just one legal BBC radio station and it played classical, except for a few short shows of popular music on Saturday mornings.  As an up and coming band, the Beatles needed as many appearances as possible and even had a few shows of just them, performing live in the station studio, regularly through 1965.  (America had its own equivalents, and many jazz, big band, blues, and country musicians all had regular broadcast slots on their way to fame.)  The internet may have changed things, but back in the early 90's, success in England meant going to the BBC studio and performing live songs for playing on the air.  This disc I had today (issued in 1998) collects 15 songs the band recorded from 1988 to 1991.  Some had been issued on 12" EP's in England, or as single B sides in various countries- I had heard and owned a few, but this is the biggest set I know of. And since they were a band that didn't favor a lot of elaborate production on records, their live performances are generally pretty good.  When that disc ended, I went with their last studio album (Trompe le Monde), of which I keep a copy in my Studio library.


On the block I continued where I had left off yesterday. I worked to the left, cutting the rotating rack of sparklers, plus some of the floor and other things surrounding it.  The biggest things left are the bakery section and a lot of floor, plus some of the shelves of pails and other beach stuff.  Assuming the Belmar class happens, it will be good to have something in progress to show the students.  The rack has two signs, one saying "Not for cakes" (a reference to the sparkler cake that can be seen a few inches to the left) and "Hey Kids! Sparklers", a spoof of the Hey Kids Comics rotating racks found in so many supermarkets and drug stores.



Monday, October 07, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 15


Another Monday- time to get back to work. Arrived at the building in late morning, started my day with a visit to Nichole's office.  Just a little information exchange.  There has definitely been more promotion this time- a Facebook meet up group, information distributed at an event this past weekend. Because this is a walk in art event(s) we have no advance sign ups, but several people have acknowledged the computer invite and expressed an interest.  I guess we will find out the results at our first class meeting.

Then I went downstairs to do a bit of work.   Put on some Pixies burned from vinyl.  On one disc I have the entire Doolittle album, which turned out to be the last new release vinyl LP I purchased at a mall record store.  Within a few years, all the big music chains would be gone, from malls and the stand alone stores, a victim of the changing tastes of people younger than me.  Most mall bookstores are gone now, too, eliminating the two best reasons to visit a mall.  Anyway, this disc I made also includes a 7 song live vinyl record, a radio only release that I found at the college station I was working at the time that the Pixies album came out (and borrowed long enough to make tape copies), and a 4 song vinyl EP I got at a local record store in Nutley that used to give the station free records as part of an underwriting deal.  (suddenly became a hair salon, but still had a large box of old inventory and I picked up the first album from Southern Culture on the Skids that way)  I had put the three records on disc back when I could still record discs. That disc is on a shelf at home, and what I have in the Studio is a copy of that one.  Probably for the best, as the disc looks like it has been chewed on by Molly. Some of the songs no longer play.  The band is symbolic of its era, the late 80's and early 90's when the original releases came out, which was followed by decades of solo work, then a re-formed band, which has since changed line ups (internal fights), but now have a new album out.  Most fans prefer the old stuff, which was a mix of early alternative rock, punk, surf music, with lyrics that address science fiction and biblical stories (this disc includes songs about David and Bathsheba, Samson) and fine art.  Good to listen to while in an art studio.


Remembered my camera this time, so you get to see where I am at now.  Last time I had finished the display box with the "fireworks", and today I started working outward from there- the two sneaky smokers, the rockets shooting out of the top of the box, some folding chairs behind them.  A lot more to go, but I have no immediate deadline, so I can take my time.  So far I like the results.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 14


As I have said, the demands of students never really end.  After a few days of trying I had arranged another potential meting with Nellie, who was pleased enough with her experience in my August woodcut class that she hasn't stopped since.  First she showed me (at the Belmar opening) her in progress drawing of a new portrait piece. Then I heard from her with a request to come into Ocean Grove so she could print it under my supervision.  When I couldn't commit to a time right away, she used the knowledge gained in my class to print it herself.  E-mailed me an image and it looked  just fine.  Then questions about sharpening tools, so I e-mailed her what I know about razor strops and water stones. Then having acquired a stone, she wanted information on how to use it.  Don't want to leave an interested printmaker hanging, so I told her I'd be in my space today.

Got there this morning with a plan of my own- continue work on my latest supermarket block.  Felt like a blues day, so I started with T-Bone Blues by T-Bone Walker (a compilation of 50's sides cut for Atlantic), issued as an LP in 1972, and I was very glad when a CD version came out in the late 80's.  Walker was one of the great Texas guitarists, clearly part of the tradition that gave us Lightnin' Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughn, both sounding like them and not like them.  High quality recordings, exceptionally clear for that era.  When that disc ended, a home burned combination of two John Lee Hooker albums from vinyl in my collection, sides from the 40's through the 60's.  In that era, blues musicians didn't record albums, just songs for 78's that record companies might assemble into albums if they felt there was a demand.

Meanwhile, I continued cutting.  I wanted to finish that fireworks display box, taking on the complex designs of the side with its list of fireworks names.  Had made good progress when Nellie showed up.  First she was pleased to be hearing some blues, but I had no knowledge of her potential interest, so just a coincidence, or perhaps that people just like John Lee Hooker. Like many of my students, she decided that she wanted some tools of her own and bought some of the same variety I have for my classes.  These are not the top quality ones that I use, but are Japanese made and far better than anything that can be found locally, yet at a reasonable price.  But she has been using them and showed me the results.  It turned out that her portrait piece was not a woodcut as I assumed, but a linocut, proofs of the two being indistinguishable.  Tells me she loves the wood, especially the natural quality of it, but sometimes the cutting makes her sore.  Well, it can have that effect- it takes a little effort at times.  Worth it I think.  She hasn't given up on wood, and showed me a piece of poplar plank she acquired, having been told it works well for the process.  Never tried it and have no idea.  Also showed me a recent purchase, a brand new can of ink, made by Speedball and with Bill Fick's name on the label.  Fick is a core member of the Outlaw Printmakers, whom I've known for many years and have worked alongside in places from New Jersey to Texas.  He's a linocut artist, an if he's endorsing this ink it must not be bad- I'll get her report when I can.

But the real purpose of her visit was to learn about sharpening.  She had ordered and already received a grooved molded sharpening stone, but it came with no directions, details, or instructions in the packaging.  Hoping it would work the same as the stone I have, I dropped it in some water to soak while we were talking.  When it seemed that sufficient time had passed, I placed it on a paper towel to absorb the excess water, selected one of her gouges, and showed her my guess as to what would work.  She tried the sharpened tool and thought it might be improved, but wanted a better test.  So we took her 1.5mm round gouge, her favorite tool and the one she used most, thus the one that now most needed sharpening. So she tested it first on some scrap wood, then I resoaked the stone, found the bevel angle, and put the tool through the process.  I tested it on wood, then she did, and she felt it was now better.  In fact she seemed relieved, knowing she'd be able to get more use from her small gouge.  She also wanted to know if there was a more detailed tool available.  I pointed out in the catalog, that for a little bit more than the standard quality tools, she could get a superior quality level gouge, which can come in a 1.0mm- just be careful not to break it.  She told me that she intends to order one soon, so I guess she's hooked.  We also talked about some of her new blocks in progress, additional options for what she had already carved, other materials (she confirmed what I had told her- that water based inks that claim to be waterproof once dry did run when wet), upcoming classes there in the building, the ups and downs of being a model  (as I told my students using charcoal last week, it's when you're not supposed to scratch that you suddenly feel very itchy), stuff about colleges, etc.

When she left, I got back to my block, finished cutting the section I had been working on, then cleaned up and got on my way.  Got class tomorrow and have to get ready. Forgot my camera today, so you'll have top see the results next time.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 13


Last night I had sent Nellie a long detailed e-mail on the topic of tool sharpening and some of the options (her request) and let her know I planned to be in the Studio today if she wanted to come by (she's local) and learn more.  As of this morning I hadn't heard back from her, but I had things to do at the Studio, so I was going in anyway.

First stop was the office to talk to Nichole.  Had hoped to talk to her on the weekend and drove up there, only to find the building packed.  Both front and back lots full. But my timing must have been good, a lot of people were coming and going, and I was able to grab a recently vacated space in the front.   A lot of clueless people wandering around (a music event), but no one from the building, so I got out of there quickly.  (good thing Nellie had managed to print her own) What I wanted to know about was the classes, specifically were there any before my first one in late October? (I have connections to a lot of art organizations, so everyone is always asking me about things)  No, they begin with mine.  I'll pass it on.  Ran into Bobby Duncan while I was there, asked about his recent opening there in our building.  Said it was a big success- huge crowds, a few concrete sales and many interests, but of course, wasn't able to eat. At their own receptions artists never get to partake in the food  they provide.

My main purpose in going in was to do more cutting on the new block.


I decided to start on the central piece in this print, the fireworks display box. also one of the more complex parts of the composition, so I never got past the front of the box. Hope to get back to it later this week.  Nellie never did come by, but I had plenty to keep me busy.  


It Never Ends


On Friday I ended up working with a bunch of students, and only some of it took place in a classroom. A lot of former students made their presence known.

The day began with Intro classes at my university, drawing with charcoal.  Most had little or no experience, but some found it quite interesting.  (I'm a charcoal fan myself, so I am not surprised.)  But before that first class started, I had a visit from Tino.  A student I first had for 3D, but I saw him struggling with a woodcut for his print class and gave him some advice.  This led him to ask me to teach him woodcut as an independent study, and he made woodcut a big part of his senior BFA show. That was over a year ago, but he often still hangs around, to enjoy access to the faculty and our knowledge (he respects us) and to use the workspace in the classrooms.  On this day he wasn't showing me any new work, but said he was on campus to do some research.  As an artist I know this can be an important part of making art, so after the rest of our discussion had concluded, I let him go and got on to the business of my current classes.  Those went as expected, and eventually I packed up and left.  But the teaching had just begun.

The day before I had been in an e-mail exchange with another former student, Sue, from one of my Belmar classes.  She's at point where she needs paper and was unsatisfied with anything at the store where she usually shops. Remembered liking the paper I had for the class and wanted to know what it was and where it could be found.  Gave her the name, some possible sources, and the material/size/weight in case she couldn't find the exact one but wanted to look for something similar.  Armed with this, she called the store and told them what she was seeking, and was told the a large shipment had just come in and was on sale, so she offered to pick me up some.  I sent her a reply agreeing to this, then got to bed to get ready for my long day of classes.  The mail I got from her on Friday had a different outcome.  She had taken the long ride up to North Jersey, but her phone contact was not there, there was none of the promised paper, no one present knew anything about a shipment, or anything about paper for that matter. I felt more disappointed for her than for me, but let her know she may have just gotten a valuable lesson-  art supply stores are getting worse and most of the store staff will know less than she does.

But I wasn't done yet.  Also got a series of e-mails from Nellie on Friday night.  She had been in my August woodcut class and completed some blocks and printed them on our last day.  (everyone always does) She had come to my Belmar opening and shown me the drawing for a new piece in progress, so I later sent her an e-mail with some thoughts on that.  Early on Friday she mentioned having acquired materials, but was hoping I could have her come to the Studio on Saturday to supervise her printing.  I sent her a reply that I couldn't commit to a time.  Late that night I got another e-mail from her telling me she did it herself- no reason she couldn't; we covered all this as part of the class.  Attached a photo of her new print, and it looked like she learned the lesson well.

Got another e-mail from her last night, questions about tool sharpening.  Like I said, it never ends.



Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More Drawing Classes


Printmaking is the process I have officially studied and am known for, but probably most of the money I have earned for teaching is related to drawing.  It is a part of most Foundation classes, which is what I am generally assigned to teach at colleges.  Drawing has been part of the Intro class I currently have at my university.  At multiple colleges I have taught classes in drawing, figure drawing, 2D design.  This past summer I taught a bunch of local classes in drawing, and I have been asked to start doing so at another location this fall.  Last week I was leading an evening drawing group in Ocean Grove, and they want more.  Luckily I have also had multiple woodcut classes this summer, have one scheduled for next month, have some commissioned woodcut pieces, and received an e-mail with a printmaking question from a former student this week.  So I guess I am justified in thinking of myself as a print teacher, a more specialized skill with less competition.

But drawing was up front today as I met with Nichole up in Ocean Grove to discuss plans for future Wednesday evening drawing activities.  The first one (last week) was just a general situation and not promoted, an we just got one participant.  We are hoping for better from now on.  This series will start in late October, so there is time to promote these.  And each week will have a different theme, with plans for color choices, musical influences, etc.  Actually those ideas are related to things I have done teaching painting, but that can be a whole other topic.  Details can wait until we get a little closer, as it's still being worked out.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Supermarket Fireworks part 12


With the new show now up, and no immediate deadlines, I can get back to making some art.  So I went up to the Studio this morning, though I had some other goals as well.

For the past several days I have been toting around some things that I normally keep in the Studio.  On Wednesday, prior to the still life walk-in session, I decided to produce a stack of viewfinders, pieces of cereal box cardboard with windows cut in them, a useful tool for a still life.  Never got back down to the basement to return the ruler and scissors.  Also that day I had picked up my wooden desk chair, something I have had since I inherited it in Carbondale.  Been using it for an exercise in negative space drawing ever since, and since we were covering that in my Friday class, it's been in my car ever since.  So today was an opportunity to put all this stuff back.

I had seen Nichole's car in the parking lot, but her tag was not on the hook and the office door locked. Guess she was out.  Catch her later.

Once I had put things away I could settle down to work.  On my way there I had heard an early Beatles song on the radio, which put me in a mood to hear more, so I selected the earliest Beatle music I had in my collection there.  A home burned disc with two early albums- Beatles For Sale (1964) and Help (1965).  I think the last two albums they recorded that included cover songs; after that the songs they wrote were superior to anything already out there, as much as they loved American music.


No tools today, just drawing,  But I had noticed last time that the firework display box was crooked and that's a problem for a pencil.  Used my newly returned ruler to measure things, and sure enough the bottom of the box was a quarter inch narrower than the top.  May not sound like much, but try building something and being off by a quarter inch and you will notice.  Now I know why it had been more difficult to find room for the firework names lower down on the display box.  By the way, if you are not as adept at reading backwards block printing as my decades of woodcut have made me. the firework names are "Patriot Blast", "Super Color", G Force", "Atomic Glory", "Rocket Attack", and "Dynamax"- all names completely made up but also completely plausible.  Refined other parts of the display signs as well.

On the way out I stopped by the office but Nichole still wasn't there.  It can wait for another day.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Scenes From New Jersey Opens


Tonight was the opening reception for my new show in Belmar.  As of yesterday nothing had been posted to the website yet, but a check this afternoon showed that something had.  Unfortunately, it wasn't correct.  Not yet knowing what they would want for the show, last week I sent 9 jpegs, expressing a preference for the black and white pieces, and on Monday (3 days later) I was finally told just hang anything you want.  On Tuesday I did just that, going with 4 black and white pieces, then e-mailing a list of works and a quick artist statement to one of the chairs.  The page that finally showed up on the website today included three images, only one of which is in the show.  Not knowing what was going on, I put the other two framed pieces in my car, just in case.

Got there and asked what was going on.  Was told that the two color pieces were thought to look better on the web page so they went with that, all approved by the bosses.  The two boardwalk prints are good pieces and I don't object to having them by my name, so if those in charge don't have a problem with the site advertising works that aren't on display, I'm not going to complain.  Left it alone and got on with the evening.


My show received much praise, partly for the quality of the work (these are all good prints) and partly for how they looked on the wall.  The pieces were chosen because I felt they would contrast nicely with the deep red color of the wall, so not a surprise.  The food was put in that room, which probably guaranteed a continuous flow of visitors.

Many people recognized the bottling plant, even if they wren't sure exactly where it was.  Multiple people seemed particularly impressed with Moving Day for a piece that is a few decades old.  If there was smaller version they would buy it right now.  Of course, a lot of people talk, but few offer the money.  On the other hand, the design part is already done, and on occasion I have made smaller versions of larger pieces.  But nothing happens until I finish the current piece I have in progress. Also talk tonight about another Belmar t-shirt.  I guess I can start thinking about ideas.

Most who came into the room were there for cookies, but some were curious about the art.  David Levy, there in the building as a juror of the photo show came into the room for a second extended look.  He was very impressed with my use of positive and negative space.  Well, that's what woodcut is about in my opinion.  I'm told that he is high up at the artist guild in Shrewsbury, so maybe this will lead somewhere someday.  Some former local students came by.  I had seen Linda in the building last week and mentioned the upcoming show, so not really a surprise. We had even talked about deer that day, so I knew she'd appreciate the piece that featured them.  What struck her tonight was the scale- she had seen smaller reproductions of some things I had done, and as a student she tended to work small, but in these cases I always point out that the same process is used in both sizes, so get a larger piece of wood and an ambition to work bigger, and large prints will follow.  Large woodcuts can be overwhelming- there'e real power in this medium.  Nellie, from my class last month in Ocean Grove, also came by, showing me a piece she's working on and I gave her some advice.  I reminded both students that this work would be on the wall for another month, should they want to come back again or tell their friends.

Of course I talked up my next woodcut class, and some talked about taking it, but I know from experience that getting people from talking to signing up is a real battle.  So we'll see.

Another Kind of Class


At the Jersey Shore Arts Center they are trying to find out what people want.  As a long time artist, I know that can be a struggle.  For every student who signs up for something and pays for it, there are probably 15 who declare an actual interest, but decline to ever commit to the activity.  But we keep trying.

I taught two 4 week classes at the JSAC in July, and two more in August.  Drawing and woodcut.  Neither was full, but enough people signed up to run them.  Students who made it to the end seemed to enjoy them, learning good stuff.  No room in the building for them right now, but maybe there will be a slot in winter, and definitely next summer, maybe starting promotion a little earlier.  Meanwhile, they are looking at some drop-ins- no scheduled series of classes, just one night, pay at the door, make some art. We are talking about some theme nights and some specific projects, but for the first one they want with simple still life.  Used the 3rd floor cafe space, set up two larger complex still life groupings (a mix of things Nichole had found and stuff from my collection of props), mounted clamp lights to create interesting lights and shadows.



These were the two big still life subjects, plus we had a table of small items for people who wanted to make their own.  The problem was a lack of customers.  Nichole admitted that she hadn't done much promotion- no advertisements, no signs, just word of mouth.  We had one artist show up, who made her own, using some of the objects I had provided.  She seemed satisfied, but one artist doesn't pay very much. I guess we'll keep trying.