Friday, February 29, 2008

Late Night Frame Shop

Yet another busy day and night in this very busy week. Worked the day job, the easy part. Got home, got stuff together for the BAC juried show, and drove to Belmar. Drop off for this show was tonight or tomorrow morning, but I'm definitely busy on Saturday. I dropped off two pieces to be judged, things I won't need for the big solo show. I'll find out the results some time next week.

The big action was after dinner. I set up my mat cutting machine on the dining room table. I built this thing several years ago- a couple of boards, a straightedge, a small bevel cutter, and some clamps. Total cost was maybe $40, a lot less than any of the manufactured mat cutters. I do need to use a ruler to mark out the dimensions on the back of the mat, but after that it works great, and can handle 40" mats. I needed that ability tonight as I had to do all my final framing in preparation for tomorrow's show installation. I did the largest one first, the tower print. Cut mats and backers for 4 others, mounted them. I also switched out 2 supermarket prints, and 5 saints. Final packing remains, but I can do that in the morning.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The barrier between a plan and its fulfillment can be very frail. My original plan for today was to finish coloring the 2nd tower print, maybe even get started on the final framing. But that changed last night. On the way home on the parkway I was pulled over by a state trooper. Nothing serious- he saw I had a headlight out (I was unaware), informed me of this, and let me go on my way. Aside from the possible legal issues, someone who works at night as often as I do shouldn't be riding with just one. So for lack of a tiny filament in a light bulb, my day's plans would change. My owner's manual showed that the repair would be simple once I got the part. After some searching, I found one at an auto parts store on the edge of Asbury, and as long as I was in the neighborhood, I dropped by the Studio to see what was going on in there. Glad to see Molly had cleaned up as promised. I took time to jot down a bunch of notes regarding some detail areas of the first copy of the tower print, things I hadn't dealt with yet and were hard to discern from the photos I have stored on my computer. And while I was there I saw Herb was rehanging art from building residents in the main hallway. I had brought in a few pieces to be added to this display, so I got them from the Studio and we got them up on a wall (see the above photo). I'm glad to get that taken care of, but by the time this was all done (plus the time spent swapping the new light for the old), I had lost almost 4 hours of my free daytime hours.

Late tonight, after class, I was able to put some of those notes I took in the Studio to use. I was able to fix the clouds, the figure drawings, the subway signs, the game board, the marble church floor, the wave and water, some figures in the prison, and some of the casino. Additional coloring was done in areas that I didn't need my new notes for, but just hadn't gotten to yet. Tomorrow I have half a dozen minor things to finish, then the big item- the sky. I'm still on track for being ready to hang everything on the weekend, so I guess everything worked out.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


A sunny Sunday afternoon today, and I debated what I wanted to do about it. I knew that I wanted to continue work on the second tower proof, but it was a question of whether I wanted to bring the print and paint up to the Studio to work on, or just keep going at home like I did on the snow day. Decided to stay home. Lots of good light in the dining room where I was working (for a while anyway), and I could listen while I worked to the Godfather movies playing on cable in the living room. As the sun went down I took a break to cook dinner, then continued for a while in the evening. Having finished all the warm/earth colors, and then the grays (as seen above), I was able to start getting to the cool colors late. Not done yet, but the end is in sight.
Being home this afternoon had another advantage- I was there to receive a phone call from the local paper. This was expected (I had been tipped a few days ago that I might be requested to help with an article about the upcoming juried show at the BAC), I just didn't know when I'd be contacted. I gave some requested information about last year's best-in-show piece and my process in general. There may be some e-mail follow-up to come. The article itself should see print in early March. Details to come when I know something.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Prints Gone Wild One More Time

The 3rd edition of Prints Gone Wild is taking place this weekend in St Louis at the Comtemporary Art Museum. On Saturday Feb 23rd and Sunday Feb 24th many of the usual gang will be set up in the museum's Front Room projects area with piles of prints for sale, all under $50. And to keep the fun going, in the same space there will be an ongoing exhibition of prints from all the Outlaw Printmakers (including me) through March 2, 2008, all thanks to the efforts of Mr. Tom Huck. If you are anywhere else this weekend, you are missing the most exciting event of the year.

Snow Day

We're officially about 2 months into winter, but had yet to have a real snow storm around my neighborhood. That changed today. A snow came in overnight, and by early morning had deposited 3 or 4 inches, with more to come. It eventually stopped by late morning and started changing over to rain, but by then we had several inches of wet snow and my employer of the day had cancelled work. Other than eventually clearing my walk, I had no real reason to venture outside the house, and plenty to keep my busy inside.

One task was to request my panel comments/scores from the recent fellowship competition. Earlier in the week I had received my official letter, which contained contact information to request it. Decided to try the e-mail route first. Sent it off in the early afternoon. To my surprise, I got a response within hours. Also surprising- I was told that there were no recorded comments to go with my application (they've always been available in the past). Even more surprising- she did give me my final score and the number was the lowest I've ever gotten, even though this is the strongest group of images I've ever submitted to one of these things. Makes me really wish I had the comments to know what they were thinking.

I spent a good part of the day working on the second copy of the tower print. This was the copy I had brought to the gallery last Sunday. I had never gotten it (or my watercolors) back to the Studio, so I could continue working on it without having to brave potentially icy roads. Made great progress, finishing pretty much all the warm colors, and starting to work on the neutrals. I may get this one done in time to be the copy that goes into the show next month.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Running between the raindrops

I was speaking with Gallery Director Matt from the Printmaking Council the other day, and he mentioned that he was finally going to Brookdale to pick up the Process Exposed show that I helped curate. He offered to do me a favor and bring the framed copy of my Employee print down with him- it's not needed for the travelling version of the show it was in, and having it back now would save me from framing a second copy for my March show. And by meeting him at Brookdale, I could save a trip all the way up to Somerville. And since I was off work for President's Day, I was available for the early afternoon meeting. The one wrinkle was the weather- possible rain was predicted and I wouldn't want the piece to get wet moving in and out of cars. But the morning rain cleared early, so he called me to let me know he'd be bringing it. I met him on time and picked up the piece in question, as well as another piece of mine he had up there.

Got home, the sky starting to brighten. With the weather unseasonably warm, I decided to give my white painted objects (props for value drawing exercises) an once over with spray paint, since they were a little knicked around the edges. As I finished spraying the last item the sky darkened quickly. And they were dry enough to handle and bring in the house just as the first raindrops fell.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

History Repeats Itself

Today was my second gallery sitting shift in Belmar. Like last time, I expected few visitors, so I brought something to work with. Today that was the other proof I have of the tower image. As it turned out, a total of 3 visitors came by, leaving me plenty of time for other things. I used some of the time to make phone calls, getting the word out about my upcoming show to possibly interested persons. But that still left me about 2 hours of coloring time. I did it in the same order as last time, starting with the tan stone color, and starting to work into the golds and browns, using the color guide (on the white paper on right) as a reminder of where everything went on the first one. Knowing where everything goes definitely speeds up the process- what I did today took twice as long on the first copy. I won't be posting my progress every day on the second copy, since you can see all the steps in previous entries going back to late January.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A History of Art part 76 - Finished

In the afternoon I took a ride north. Stopped first at the BAC, where I dropped off a stack of my new postcards in time for tonight's Valentine Dessert Cabaret, as well as a few additional copies of my information sheet. From there I continued north to the Studio in Ocean Grove, where I went back to work on my tower print. Today's efforts were mostly touch up and details. A few examples are seen above. The top photo shows the Masereel City section, where I added a light wash of violet to the shapes representing figures and the train, to help them separate further from the warm tones of all the architecture. The middle photo shows the bottom corner, where I added a little bit of light blue wash to the figures on the wallpaper, as well as darkening such items as the green grass, the brown rabbits, and the indigo wash on the station wagon windows. Did this kind of thing in several other spots, and took the whole view photo on the bottom. As of now, I think this is the final state of this color proof. There are some things that are not perfect, the result of having to put a new color over an old one that didn't quite work, but next time I'll have had all these decisions made. Tomorrow I begin coloring the second copy. If I finish it in time, the 2nd copy will be the one I frame for my March show. If not, this proof is good enough to show.

Around 7:45 I closed up the Studio and continued north, this time just 1.5 blocks (on foot) into Asbury to attend the opening of the Magical Worlds show at Crybaby Gallery. The main artist is Robert Ryan, who I first met as one of Molly's students, though he has since continued to book time to work on silkscreen prints. Some of those prints are in this show, but it's mostly his colorful mystical paintings. Then Molly Johnson herself gets a few walls to put up her work, in this case a variety of prints, collages, and drawings mounted on wood, as well as one very large work that involves carving, painting, and collaged relief prints. Rounding out the group is Meghan McAleavy, who had a variety of embroidered images with religious themes. The show remains up for 4 weeks, so go check it out. Rob was there, along with about 100 other people during the time I was there. I don't know if Meghan was there. Molly was on her way back from teaching in Virginia, and hadn't yet arrived when I left around 9 pm. I went back to the Studio, left Molly a message with the story of what she missed, picked up all my stuff, and went home.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Skunked Again

When I got home from work today I fired up the computer and checked the Arts Council website. As promised, they had a press release about this year's grant recipients. Out of 350 applicants, they awarded a total of 30 fellowships. They awarded 10 fellowships in my category, Works on Paper, but my name was not among them. Definitely glad I skipped the trip to Red Bank. Based on the group photo, I would have been underdressed anyway.

This was my fourth time through the process, same end results. The first time I applied was in 1995, when I was just back from school. The score report I received stated that I had the 3rd highest score in the Graphics category (as I was classified then), but they chose not to award any fellowships in our category. The next time I applied, printmaking fell into the new Works on Paper category. My total score went up, but I wasn't informed how it ranked in the category. Either way, no money. My preference would be for printmaking to be back in its own separate group- based on some brief investigating around the web, it seems only 2 of the 10 are primarily printmakers; the rest do such processes as painting, collage, book arts, drawing, and paper making. There are often very different goals among this group of media.

What's next? I should get official notification soon. If they offer the usual opportunity to see the scores and panel comments, I'll request them. And I'll be ready two summers from now to put together another application.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Road Not Taken

When the NJ State Arts Council announces the winners of the annual individual artist grants, it's done at a public meeting. Every other year that I had applied this was done in Trenton (usually in January), but this year they decided to hold it in Red Bank on February 14th, the same place where they hold the regional workshop. This is a lot closer, and so I had been thinking about going to it. And if I didn't have so much going on these days I probably would have. But I also had to get my new postcards down to Georgian Court for their mailing, and after hefting that stack of 250 cards, I realized it would cost me less in gasoline than postage to get them to Lakewood. The only day that I could do this and get them out in time was today. And since I had been told that the results of the grants awards vote will be online tomorrow, I decided to skip my ride up route 18 and take route 70 and various county roads down to the college.

Besides dropping off the stack of cards (plus some they'll post for me), I met the woman who has been my contact through all this process, said hello to the people I've known from my past times there, and got to see the gallery's new look. Spent some time considering how I might arrange my work in the space. With a class to teach that evening a little further south, I went out and picked up route 9 (or Highway 9 as Mr. Springsteen calls it) and took that down to Pleasant Plains, where I could cut across to get to school. This was a simple and direct route, but turned out to be quite slow, so if I ever make a trip between the two places again, I'll go a different way.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sliding Around North Jersey

A very long day today. I was up in Union extra early, stopping by the printers to check the proof of my new postcard. The image looked very good, considering it was shrunk to about 2% of its original size. (check 'em out in the photo above) I found one mistake on the back and pointed out the correction to be made. From there I drove to school, less than 10 minutes away. By noon we saw the first signs of snow, mostly flurries. Next time I looked outside the snow was starting to slowly accumulate. By 3 pm the snow was still falling, but still not really deep, so I decided to make the run back to the printer to pick up my cards. Took a lot longer than 10 minutes this time, I think probably a back up from one of countless accidents all over the area today. Picked up the cards, jumped back in the truck, and back to campus, not quite as quick as this morning's trip, but not nearly as bad as the getting to the printer. Half these cards will go to the gallery for their distribution, the rest are mine. Handed out a few tonight, and many more will go out in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the snow continued to fall, starting to accumulate a little faster. However, the school stayed open, and the majority of my students showed up, so we held class as usual. Leaving town and heading south on the parkway was a bit of a challenge, but with low speeds and very careful attention I got though the worst of it, and once I got past the Driscoll Bridge it all turned to regular rain. Very glad to be home now, warm and dry.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A History of Art part 75

Back to the Studio this afternoon to continue coloring the tower print. About 4 hours later I stopped, having put color pretty much everywhere that I planned to. That's not to say I'm done- there are still some areas that will need reworking, and after a few days I may change my mind about some other things, but as of now, this is pretty much what the final version will look like. I made one change today- changing the walls of the hardware store from yellow to light green, which broke up a large area of warm colors and is a little closer to the reality of the store. I finished the rug under the tv, the big red and blue blocks near the tower base, the boat ride, the casino, the drawing studio, the gulls, and assorted bits and pieces that I hadn't gotten to previously.
I think I like it. The colors are all pretty much what I planned from the time of the original sketch, but still I'm struck by how colorful it is. Very different from anything I've ever done before. It's certainly very different from how it looked before I started coloring it. Once I've decided that I'm satisfied with the color choices, I'll start coloring the second copy, which should go a lot faster, all the decisions having been made.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A History of Art part 74

Today saw the biggest changes in the print since the first day of coloring. Lots of blue today- road signs, boat ride trench, train car, assorted odds and ends taken care of first. Then all that sky, including the clouds. I did my best to match the hue and value of the one from the Bruegel painting, at least as far as it matched my composition, to maintain some of that original palette. So far it seems to all be working. There are still some major areas to deal with- the casino, the drawing studio, the large building blocks, as well as various things in the lower right corner (boats, gulls, rug). Some will be matching reality, some will be color choices to balance the composition. Then touch-ups and adjustments of a few previously colored things. But it looks like I'll have this worked out in time to make this piece part of my March show, which was my goal.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A History of Art part 73

I made it into the Studio for a few hours this afternoon, all devoted to the tower. Today I put a bunch of color into the mall, basing it on photos found on the web of Willowbrook Mall (the mall I grew up with) from the early 70's. As a kid, I much prefered the mall spaces between the big department stores, the "brown part" as I would call it. Lots of warm tones- browns, oranges, golds (it was the 70's after all), dimmer lights, lots of plants, fountains, funky architecture and decorations. Of course, that's all long gone, along with the charm. Since my mall scene included plants, and these plants extended up into the woods scene above, I was using a lot of green today. At first the color for the tent was similar to the green nylon tents we used for most of my time in scouts, but it was too similar to the greens of the foliage around it, so I overlaid it with a lighter color (kind of a toothpaste green, left over from a long ago project) that brought it closer to the color of the old canvas tents. It needs a little more work, but I think this is the right direction. The mall is just about set, except for the figures. While I was working with green, I finished the Italian village, and put some green on the grass around the tower base. The latter will definitely need adjusting later. The next step is to start putting in all the large areas of blues, but that will be another day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Getting The Word Out

With my next solo show opening in less than a month, I've been working to get things ready. Yes, trying to finish my tower print, but I've also stocked up on frame parts, sent publicity information to the gallery, considered which prints I'll put in the show, and the last few days I have been dealing with the postcard announcement. Too late to go with my California printer, and color is too expensive around here, so I was scouting black and white options. I decided to try the place that did the cards for the 4 Artist show, which happens to be in Union, just down the road from my school. So last night I burned images and text to a disc, and today I brought it to the place during my break between classes. If all works according to plan, I'll have them by next week, in plenty of time to get them to the gallery for their mailing.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A History of Art part 72

Today was my first day of gallery sitting at the Boatworks, and I expected that I wouldn't have too many visitors. So I went first to the Studio and picked up the tower print in progress and my watercolor box. After I got the place all opened up I found a folding table to set up, some stacked stools to hold my palettes and water can, and I was in business. As it turned out, I only had two couples stop by over the 4 hour shift, so I got quite a bit done. My main focus today was working with reds, found throughout the image, but especially concentrated on the left side. The middle photo shows some of the main areas I worked- the White Manna, erector set parts, barbershop/supermarket, road signs, railroad crossing. I put in the reds for the Candyland section, and went ahead and did the other colors, too. I also used a variety of colors on the works hanging in the brick gallery. The last photo is the whole print, so you can see how these reds and the others all work within the overall composition, as well as with the other colors. There are still potentially a lot of reds yet to come, but I'm saving some areas until much later in the process, when I'll have to balance against all the cool colors yet to come.

At the end of the day I cleaned up, put everything back where I found it, closed up, and brought the print and paints back to the Studio before heading home.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

4 Artists Reception

Today we had the opening reception for the 4 Artists / 4 Mediums show at the Boatworks. We hoped for a good crowd, but had no idea who would actually show up. Our best estimate is that close to 100 people came through at one point or another. Some were BAC regulars, but many were making their first visit to the Boatworks, and were very impressed with the facilities, not to mention the art on the walls. I spent pretty much the whole 2 hours telling the stories behind the saints and supermarkets to everyone who asked about them, which was a lot of people. Received a lot of compliments regarding my work, usually citing either graphic quality or the humor in them. When all was said and done, all the artists were happy, the BAC people were happy, and the guests seemed happy, so I'd say it was a successful event.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A History of Art part 71

Once I was done hanging my work at the gallery, I used the rest of my afternoon to get into the Studio and work on my tower. I mostly concentrated on the upper half. I finished coloring the rest of the inhabitants of the dungeon, darkened the brick wall in the gallery, put in the gray metal parts of the White Manna and mall escalator, various small color details in the hardware store. The biggest effort was in the area of the Homer country school house, which is all filled in, but I think some colors need a little more work. All this can be seen in the top photo. I've also included the full view, which shows some of the other scattered work areas- by the train tracks, some touch up on the background city, and the asphalt street, the latter definitely needing at least another layer. So far it's coming along about as I expected, but I haven't had to make any difficult decisions yet. That will come soon.

Setting Up

Up very early this morning to begin the process of setting up the 4 Artists / 4 Mediums show. We arrived to find the gallery space pretty much a mess- art still on the walls from the last show, paint cans, boxes, all kinds of junk, probably moved in when they painted the floor in the back room. So after we brought in our work, our first order of business was to move all that stuff to the back room again. Then we figured out how to divide up the space. Once that was settled we could begin the actual hanging. I had brought more than I needed, wanting to see the space I'd end up with before deciding exactly what to hang. What I ended up with was 3 supermarket prints hung in a vertical stack, a cluster of 4 from Ecclesiastes, a cluster of 6 saints (one of which I swapped out with another and reframed while I was there), and two larger pieces- my barbershop triptych and a collaborative piece I did with Linn Nelson in Carbondale. The clusters were hung on rack walls, which made it easy to line up the framed work in even grids, so I finished relatively quick. I'll be back at the gallery for tomorrow's reception, 3-5 pm.