Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Bigger Show, For Good or Bad

Today was the intake for the Belmar Arts Council's upcoming Belmar Urban Myths show. Last night I put a copy of the most recent supermarket print in a frame, and I had one of the DVD's out where I could easily find it. I drove the two items up to the Boatworks in the early afternoon. There had been some concerns in recent weeks as to what the turnout would be, since attendance was very small at the writer's workshops and only two of us chose to make use of the video assistance. The hope was that a lot of people knew what they wanted to do and decided to skip the workshops and just make the art on their own.

Unfortunately, the low participation on the advance opportunities seems to have played out with the show- less than a dozen works were submitted to the show by the deadline, though it's possible a few more will turn up over the next few days. So I was asked to help fill some of those empty walls. I went back home and brought my boxes of framed supermarket prints up from the basement. It turns out that every supermarket print that ended up being part of my new film was currently in a frame, so I rearranged them to put all in one of those boxes that got them to Iowa and back. I brought that box back up to Belmar and dropped it off. We'll see what happens when it's time to hang everything, but I may have as many as 8 prints in this show, in addition to the video, which we are hoping will be available to view during all open gallery hours.

Whatever happens with my work, the show opens on Saturday, August 7, 2010, with a reception whose start time is up in the air for now. (I'll update this post when I get a firm answer) It remains up during regular gallery hours through August 27th.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Final Cut

Three weeks ago I sat down to work on my video contribution to the upcoming Belmar Urban Myths show. At the time I was told that everything would be finished in about a week. The down side of working with a professional is that he has plenty of his own paying work to do as well, which took more time than expected. He told me last week that it was pretty much done, but it took several more days before he had time to burn a few DVD's with the result. He dropped them off at the Boatworks this afternoon, and I picked them up on the way home from the Studio. After one more stop (supermarket, nothing interesting) and another rainstorm, I got home and put one on to see.

Mark made a few minor changes since I last saw it. He inserted the last two images I had sent him into the segments left for them, added a sound effect I had wanted, and it looks like he changed one shot toward the end, but the new version works better. Below are a few still shot off my television.

Eventually I hope to post the video somewhere online, but probably not until after it has an exclusive run at the Boatworks. I'm very happy with the results and I think it will go over well in the Myths show.

Smoking Figure part 6

A lot of rain passed through the area today (we need it), and between morning storms I ventured out as far as Main Street in my town. Studied a few brick patterns, but mostly I was taking a rubbing off a cornerstone, to get the vintage style of engraved numbers. When I got to the Studio I made an adjustment to the equivalent piece of architecture (just to the right of the figure in the above photo), extending it another half inch or so, and adding a hint of two numbers. I still haven't decided if the final print will include this lower section, but if it stays, it might as well be more interesting.

I spent the rest of my short stay working on the tattoo question. I traced the part of the block that includes the model's near shoulder, then cut it out to make a template. I traced that several times onto separate paper and began to fill some in. The model's tattoos on that arm include the sunburst design from the Carousel House at Asbury's boardwalk. A little too bold for my purpose here. If I do use something from the model, it would be a pair of tattoos she has on her shoulder blades, birds carrying scrolls. One would be seen clearly on the near arm (the drawing on left in the photo below, maybe a bit smaller), and I would put a piece of its twin on the other arm (below center). Another option is to do something more generic, such as the simple rose on the right below. Over the next few days I may sketch out a few more options to present in next week's critique.

Again with the Collaborations

Last night's episode of Work of Art was not too inspiring, but I've written about all the previous ones, so I may as well see this season through. If you're not interested, you can skip the rest.

For the second time in three episodes, artists were assigned collaborative partners, randomness resulting in three boy-girl pairings. That same process assigned each group a topic- Mark and Peregrine got Heaven/Hell, Nicole and Abdi got Order/Chaos, and popular kids Miles and Jaclyn got Male/Female. Each artist was to produce their own work (based on one of their two words), the two halves should work as one piece, but only one artist would be sent home in the end. Seeing how the previous collaborative challenge worked out, I had little hope for anything good coming from this challenge.

Reality television, as many have noted before me, has very little to do with reality. Artificial conditions and careful editing can influence the results and response of the viewer. Personality conflicts are the focus of this genre in general, and despite the hopes of many artists, the producers of this show have made them as significant as the art. Maybe more so, since the parameters of the individual challenges and the extremely limited time allotted severely limit the possibility of great art being made by anybody. Forcing collaborations between competitors in this game adds further problems. Each pairing dealt with the conflict/art combination differently.

Of the three resulting pieces, Peregrine and Mark's worked best visually as a whole, a diptych with identical size and format on both halves, both featuring photos of a shirtless Mark. He did the "heaven" half, which was roundly criticized for being too simplistic and literal. I can't deny that, but it did address his topic more clearly than any of the other artists. Peregrine attacked her photo with grommets, hot glue and glitter, paint, etc. I thought the result a little too decorative to be evocative of hell. Worse, when the combined piece was criticized by the judges, she put all the blame on Mark, even though she was the one who conceived the total project. She may have been in our traveling print show, but she's no Outlaw Printmaker, acting like that.

Nicole and Abdi's individual pieces had no obvious relationship with each other, hers a small wooden hand cranked machine (order) that didn't function, his a large painting with an amorphous subject (chaos). Abdi was clearly out of his element with this challenge, and Nicole tends to be hit or miss, but at least they play nice together and didn't blame each other for their shortcomings this time around.

As usual, Miles and Jaclyn provided the most fodder for discussion. The producers really went out of their way to play up the Miles as villain concept. Early in the episode Jaclyn expresses a concern that Miles can easily convince people to follow his ideas instead of their own. He suggests a secondary theme of control for their piece; his male part will be about losing control (building a nice wall and punching holes in it to represent male anger), and he suggests that she do another nude self portrait as part of her ongoing female empowerment (gaining control) theme, generally not a hard sell for Jaclyn. He goes further to suggest that she show herself engaged in what Jaclyn would refer to throughout the episode as a "private sexual act". (there are repeated cuts back to him delighted in how he's manipulating her into these decisions) She takes the photos, and produces a nice photo realist painting based on that. Her idea of how their parts will work together is to have her painting reflected in a distorted mirror on one of Miles's walls. Of course he has a late inspiration. He eliminates her mirror in favor a wall of black tar with a glossy surface. (he reveals to us that the tar had been purchased by Ryan for some earlier challenge, and he talked Ryan out of using it, hoping that he could claim it for himself in the future, as he has done) Miles doesn't give any logical explanation of why he wants a tar wall, other than he just thinks it would be cool and he now has the opportunity to make it, and Jaclyn, despite her earlier concern, goes along. The two individual works have no relationship to each other (and there's nothing in Miles's walls themselves that suggest maleness), but the judges are all predisposed to liking these two, so they are declared the winners.

Mark, thrown to the wolves by his partner in this challenge, was shown the door. Unlike Erik a few weeks ago, he was gracious about it on his way out. Nothing in his work leads one to believe he has much future as a gallery type fine artist, but he is proficient enough in commercial/graphic art that this show should give him a boost in that world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Smoking Figure part 5

Off from my day job today, and some relatively tolerable weather, so a good day to get back into the Studio. Over the past few days I had spent time with my local architecture notes, sketches, and photos, and created a composite building influenced by several of my sources. That sketch can be seen above on the left. When I got to the Studio today I put a version of this behind the figure on a photocopy of a printout of the block sketch. (above right) It looked like it would work, so I used that as a guide to transferring my background idea to the block.

The first thing I did was make some adjustments to the organic shape to the left of the figure. When I first sketched it in (during the original pose) I had thought of it as a shadow. But later I realized that it was on the same side as the main light source, so it couldn't be a shadow. A closer inspection of a photo of the model in the pose showed different colors in the shape, and I realized that it was actually a reflection in the semi-gloss paint on the door behind her. I liked the effect, which is one of the reasons I put a glass storefront window in that space instead of solid masonry.

Using perspective clues from that door behind the model, I drew in the major structures and the detail of the brickwork above her head and in the lower left of the block (under the window). The last task of the day was to put in the lettering on the window. It's not referencing any specific place, but the "RE" in the second line could be the beginning of REAL ESTATE (a job in my model's past for which she would dress as she did that day) or of RESTAURANT (another type of business that smokers are regularly found outside of). A photo of the whole block is shown below.

There are still a few things to deal with in the background. I will add at least one more element to the window (down low, to reinforce the perspective below eye level), the existing lettering may need some adjustments, and I will consider other bricklaying patterns for the wall before I declare that done. All the background stuff will be inked when I'm sure of it, which will make the value relationships clearer than in the above photo.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gallery Work

Work on the new figure piece has been suspended a few days with a combination of job/school, family, and triple digit temperatures that discourage visits to my un-air conditioned Studio. Sitting on my couch at home looking at my architectural sketches was as far as I got. I will get in during the week and advance it a bit further before the August crit group.

Today I drove up to the Printmaking Council of New Jersey as part of my duties on the Exhibition Committee. I don't have nearly as much free time these days as I did back in the late 90's when I started on the committee, so I haven't been as much a part of the planning and installing of shows. But for once they needed help on a day when I had nothing else that needed doing, and I had to go pick up my piece from the just closed Member's show anyway. We spent the first hour or so packing up the previous show (mostly trying to match packaging with framed artworks), and almost 4 hours working on the installation of the new show. There are about 3 dozen works in the exhibition, most fairly large, and a few very large. We picked places for the latter first, then arranged the rest around those. We had a crew of five (plus another installing a small show in the library gallery) with tape measures and hammers to get it all done. Those two very large pieces will go up during the week (waiting for special hanging materials/parts), but the rest got up and looks pretty good.

The exhibition, called Myths and Marks: Archetypes through the Ages, opens with a reception on Saturday, July 31st, from 1 to 4 pm, and remains on view during gallery hours through October 9th. Admission is free as always. Nothing of mine in this one, but there's plenty of interesting prints in the show- definitely worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smoking Figure part 4

I put in a little Studio time today, making more adjustments to my block drawing. I had shown a photo of the block to the model last night and she remarked that it was a good how she might expect to look in 10 years, especially if she keeps smoking. I decided to see if I could take a few of those extra years off her. I got out my brush and ink and made some subtle changes to the face contour, making it a tiny bit less angular. I also fixed issues with the eyes and mouth, and made slight changes to the hairline, ear, and far shoulder. Before finishing, I added more ink to existing shadows around the upper body and face. The combined changes do improve the portrait in my opinion, subtracting maybe a couple of years if not the full decade. Still bothering me is the nose. It's a nice nose, but it's a little small relative to the face and may be a tiny bit off center. I traced the whole face in its current state onto a spare piece of tracing paper, and I plan to use it to try some options. If it works there, I'll fix it on block.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Origins of Artists

When I saw from last week's coming attractions that this week's episode of Bravo's Work of Art would deal with childhood art themes, I knew that some of the contestants would likely have more trouble with this challenge than anything else thrown at them so far. The gang was brought to a children's art gallery/studio in SoHo, and asked to make art that referenced their beginnings as artists, using only the materials available in the location. Some of them interpreted the concept as producing art that resembled what they had done as children, while others used more adult art strategies to explore incidents and emotions from their pasts. Miles pretty much blew off the assignment and made a giant minimalist grid piece using duct tape.

In general the results were not impressive. This seemed like one of those times when the producers were making the decisions. Miles, whose piece did not even remotely address the assignment, was put in the safe group, and the judges couldn't find any redeeming qualities in Jaclyn's piece, but she gets to hang around for another week, perhaps in hopes that she'll be finding an excuse to take off her clothes again. The top two this week were Peregrine (brightly colored sculptural work that evoked childhood pleasures and interpretations of adult behavior) and Nicole (a conceptually complex construction that in my opinion required too much explanation in order to understand), with Peregrine getting the nod, but no immunity. Jaclyn survived her latest visit to the bottom group, but Ryan wasn't so lucky. His installation of childlike art wasn't particularly good, but at least it was apparent what he was up to, as opposed to Jaclyn's incomprehensible last minute construction.

Unlike some recent weeks, I could have gone to town with this one, since I've dealt with the concept before, and on that occasion I pretty much worked out the whole idea in about two minutes. A few years ago I produced the above print, A History of Art, which dealt with my personal history as an artist (click on the image to enlarge). I went back to very early childhood, and represented such things as building with blocks and erector sets, using hand tools in various wood construction, painting, and whittling, not to mention comic book characters, a favorite subject of my childhood drawings. (the tower also incorporates many things of that era that would go on to influence my adult artwork, but wouldn't have been an artistic interest then) Obviously I couldn't produce a large woodcut in the 12 hours allotted by the show (I think I spent about 6 months on it), but I could have used the materials at hand to make an actual tower of some kind that would incorporate most of the childhood related aspects of the print. I'm sure it would have been more interesting than most of what the contestants came up with.

Smoking Follow Up

Another drawing night in Belmar. Our model tonight is the same one who worked there two weeks ago and who worked for me last week for my new smoking piece. Tonight's results weren't great (the night's best, a 30 minute charcoal is seen above), but they were a little better than what I did on July 7th. If only one of the 3 weeks was truly successful, I'm glad it was the day I was working on the woodcut.

I took advantage of the model's presence to follow up with some questions related to the woodcut piece. The model has about half a dozen significant tattoos, which I always ignore when I'm drawing with charcoal. However, with this smoking piece at least partly about documenting life in the early 21st century, it makes sense that the figure have a tattoo, as they have become very common in this day and age. (fifty years ago, respectable women generally didn't have tattoos, and it's possible they will fall out of fashion fifty years from now) Our discussion was related to the significance of the locations of her various tattoos (two are visible on her right arm in the photo of her in the pose), since anything I would draw would be a change from her actual appearance. Luckily she is open to whatever I decide to do. When I decide what that is, I'll post it on the blog.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Smoking Figure part 3

I still have a few things to deal with in the figure part of this new block, but for today I decided to give some thought to the background. She's leaning against a building during her smoke break, on the street side where she can be seen by those passing by. It's a close up of the figure, so any architectural detail will also be close up. With that in mind, I did a bit of walking around today, main streets in various towns, doing little thumbnail sketches and notes when I saw some possibilities. Later at the Studio, I expanded some of these into full sketches. Since I have no particular deadline for this piece right now, I don't have to rush this. I'll probably keep my eyes open whenever I'm in commercial areas over the next week or so, and I would expect that whatever I come up with may combine aspects of more than one building from my wanderings.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Smoking Figure part 2

Between various things today I found time to get into the Studio for a little while and continued work on the block I started yesterday. I got out the ink again and used it to define some areas around the head, to darken the established shadows on her torso, and to make significant changes and additions to the skirt. The latter was necessary to establish the location of each leg, to correct overall proportions, and to provide more interesting value patterns in that part of the print. I still haven't decided if that lower part will end up in the final version, but I like what it does to the composition, so I may need to go looking for some paper large enough to print the whole block.


Some thoughts, including spoilers, on last night's episode of Bravo's Work of Art-

Of all the challenges given so far, this one was the least interesting to me. I'm not a fan of most contemporary public art, which generally went abstract about half a century ago. Some of this was because non-representational art was big everywhere in the art world for a while, and some (my theory) is because most people may not love abstract lumps, but there's nothing specific about them to offend either. Put up a representational statue of an individual or archetype, and a portion of your audience will find a reason to be upset about what it is or isn't. Throw in the common practice of public art having to be approved by a committee, and you almost guarantee that nothing interesting (having an individual point of view) will be produced. Almost ten years later nothing has been built on the World Trade Center site and a lot of that is because the various parties can't agree on what to do.

The eight contestants were randomly assigned to two teams and given two days to design and construct a piece of public art for a sculpture park. This didn't leave much time to develop an idea, so on each team one artist took the lead. The other artists made some suggestions, but largely worked on aspects of construction at the direction of the leader. For the red team, this system worked. They created a nondescript polyhedron out of wood, and surrounded it with small cast pieces. Very forgettable. The blue team had a bit more trouble. Erik, the outsider artist (no formal art schooling) had previous issues with two of his project teammates- Jaclyn (for taking credit for an idea he suggested to her) and Miles (for producing the kind of projects that art insiders tend to like but average people can't relate to). Miles launched the original idea, and the other three made various suggestions, but all of Erik's were voted down 3 to 1. So he split his time between being a laborer for the team and pouting about the situation. Erik had some reason for concern- he had reasoned that the judges would want to know what his contribution to the project was, and lacking one, he'd be out the door. The blue team's sculpture was basically an elevated seat made from wood beams and curved plywood.

I wasn't crazy about either piece as art or design, and neither were particularly practical for a public park. (the blue team piece had many exposed sharp metal edges, and it would be only be a matter of time before someone was impaled on the upward pointing spiky projections that were part of the red team installation) The kid in me would have gravitated toward the chair piece and the opportunity to climb it. The judges went with the red team, and Erik was shown the door. A point he made on the way out was echoed by many online today- it seemed unfair that he was the one who was forced out for the failure of a project that he did not contribute to, while Miles and the others all got to stay. I couldn't help but feel that if Erik had ended up on the other team (where he had some friends), he might still be around next week.

Besides the problems of creating public art, the episode does point out the difficulties that can come with artistic collaborations. Compromise is necessary in such situations, but that can be difficult for strong willed artists who are used to making all of their own decisions. Having another artist involved does bring the benefit of a second brain to contribute ideas and solve problems, but it only works if they are willing to work together as equals or if one is willing to be subordinate to the other. Over the years I have occasionally collaborated with other artists, the most recent time being the postcard project. No traditional compromises in these cases (working together from the beginning to develop the idea), but rather it was each of us separately making a part of the final print. I took the card I received and added to the design in the way I wanted, making no use of the themes that were on her mind when she did her part. If viewers deem it a success, it's not as much because we both contributed, but more like in spite of it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Smoking Figure

Way back in the first week that I started this blog I mentioned that I had an idea for a head and figure woodcut. It was partly influenced by a co-worker on one of my jobs, and partly by a recent New Year's Twilight Zone marathon on the SciFi (as it used to be called then) Channel.

The Twilight Zone built its reputation on science fiction and fantasy, but it was also a product of its time- the early 60's. That includes a lot of space age and cold war themes, as well as fashions and room decor. Strip away the sci fi/fantasy elements and the result is a kind of time capsule of life 50 years ago. One thing that may stand out as anachronistic to the 21st century viewer is how prevalent smoking was throughout the series. Show creator/host Rod Serling almost always had a cigarette in his hand when on screen, and cigarettes, cigars, and pipes were everywhere in the episodes, even in the mouths of doctors in hospital rooms and corridors. As creative as the TZ writers could be, even they could not imagine that smoking would not be common in the distant future.

Fifty years later, attitudes about smoking (in this country anyway) are very different. There are severe restrictions on how and where tobacco products can be advertised, and smoking is banned in almost all indoor public places and more and more outdoor public spaces. (it seems hard to believe now, but my high school cafeteria had a smoking section, a seniors only privileges) As all the current anti-smoking laws gradually took effect in the 90's, a new phenomenon became more and more common- people seen outside of restaurants, bars, stores, and offices while smoking.

Which brings me back to my print idea. One day at work I was outside and noticed one of the women from the other side of the office also outside, smoking. Instantly I knew there was a print to be made here, something that could be a nice head and figure image, as well as being documentation of life at the beginning of the 21st century. (I'm assuming that the current practice will be resolved in some other way fifty years from now) So a few days later I asked that same smoker if she'd be willing to pose for it. After a few weeks of consideration, she turned me down. Several months later it occurred to me that another co-worker (this one a professor at one of my schools) also was a regular smoker and had a look that would work. She agreed to pose for it, but various things on both our ends delayed the session, and then she changed her mind. With plenty of other projects to work on, I set the idea aside until I found another model.

What got me thinking about the project again was the reorganization of the figure drawing group in Belmar. One of our regular models is a heavy smoker, a natural for the project (my quest for authenticity requires me to use an actual smoker in the role), but she comes down from North Jersey, and generally demands a hefty travel bonus in addition to her considerable rate. On the other hand, another one of our regulars is only an occasional smoker, but she lives just minutes away from the Studio, has worked there with me before, and has availability and a need to make money. I had brought up the possibility of the pose with her a while back, and set it up last week.

Since she would be dressed this time, I decided to take advantage of the bigger space and better natural light in the building's cafeteria. She had forgotten to bring actual cigarettes, but she couldn't smoke in there anyway, so with a substitute object in hand, I took photos of her in a few dozen poses. After reviewing all the photos, I combined aspects of different poses into one, and had her set up leaning against a wall, as seen below.

The first step was a pencil sketch. I propped up a 24"x48" sheet of lauan, and began drawing. I started with the portrait head. I don't need it to look exactly like the model (it's not about her specifically), just a believable face. Then I continued down the block, drawing the rest of her until I ran out of room, somewhere near her knees.

My next step with these life sized woodcut portraits is to go over the pencils with a brush and india ink. This loosens up the lines a little and gives it some of the character of my charcoal drawings. At the end of the session, the block had reached the state seen in the photo below.

Obviously there's a long way to go here. Using the photo as a guide, I'll be adjusting some of the shading on the figure. I have to come up with a background. I'll probably base it on actual architectural structures, so I'll start looking around for inspiration. Another decision is the final size. I used the whole board, but the paper I have used in recent years for other large prints isn't big enough, so I either need to cut off part of the composition (the bottom obviously) or look into some bigger paper. The whole skirt area needs some fixing, but that will wait until I figure out the paper size question. It's entirely possible that I'll start and finish another piece before I finish this one, but at least, after more than three and a half years, I finally got the posing part of the project finished.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back to the Pool

Last summer we held a poolside critique at Mary's house, which worked out so well that we decided to do it again this year. Adding to the fun was a pre-crit pot luck dinner, with our hostess providing pork loin and manicotti, while most of the others brought assorted salads. The way my homemade focaccia (with artichokes, tomatoes, and asiago cheese) disappeared, I'd have to say it was a hit. A couple of pies for dessert helped us transition to the art portion of the evening.

We had 7 in attendance, with 6 of us bringing art. Shown above is one of Vince's paintings, and above and below are collages from Edy and a linocut from Mary. Also seen below is a pastel from Jane.

Above are more paintings from Edy (landscape) and Vince, Jane's ceramic goblets, and my newest woodcut.

Molly brought this set of ink drawings, not quite yet mounted on the wood panels. The stones are not part of the piece, just something to keep the paper from blowing away in the breeze.

Of course, one problem with the outdoor setting is that we lost the light before we ran out of art to discuss, and the last few were finished up inside the house. And when the day's hot sun gave way to clouds by the time we arrived, only one of our group was still in the mood to partake of the pool. But despite that, everyone had a good time as usual.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

16 Years in the Making

The past couple of days I feel like I've been wearing a groove between my house and the Boatworks. I stopped there yesterday on my way home from work to talk to Mark Ganguzza, one of the coordinators of the upcoming Belmar Urban Myths show. Yesterday and today he was set up to help any interested persons with producing videos to enter into the show. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and discussed it with him, making plans to meet him there today. From there I went home, then a few hours later I made a round trip back to Belmar for figure drawing.

Today was mostly dedicated to the video process. I started by writing a script, putting down on paper exactly what I wanted to say. Then I shot new digital photos of supermarket prints. The new one of course, relating to my dog food story, but pieces of several others, that would be used to illustrate bits of my story. I got up to the Boatworks at noon, and Mark (seen above with just a little bit of all his digital equipment) was waiting. We downloaded the new photos from the camera's card into one computer, and I recorded my telling of the myth story into another. A whole lot of editing followed, including adding background sound effects. We wrapped up the day's work around 4:30 pm. Two more print images are needed, things that will illustrate part of the story. The oldest of these is a detail of some dogs from a Fourth of July print. The final film will make use of about a dozen woodcut images, ranging from that 16 year old Fourth of July woodcut, to the new supermarket print I finished last week.

I drove home, where I photographed the two remaining prints. I e-mailed them to Mark, who will integrate them into the video, where they will slide into placeholder spots in the sequence. He should have the final cut ready by the end of next week.

After a quick meal I was back in my car for one more trip to Belmar. This was for the BAC critique group. Maybe it's because this is a holiday week, but only two of us showed up. (That's why the one in the Studio postponed our July meeting to next week.) It was a good discussion, and then I drove home from Belmar for the fourth time in two days.

The Entertainment Industrial Complex

Last night I thought I had tuned in my favorite art-based reality competition show, but all I saw was an infomercial for expensive cars. Things started out normally enough, with all the contestants dragged out of bed before sun up as part of the week's art challenge. The challenge was to be shown on camera driving luxury SUV's a few dozen blocks to the automaker's showroom. Once there, the artists were encouraged to spend time in and around all the cars, and to reflect on their experience inside the "very sophisticated vehicles". (the name of the automaker was spoken or shown 10 times in the first 3 minutes, but since they haven't paid me, I won't be promoting them) Most of the artists set about taking photos in and around the cars, while two went with their established preferred strategies. Miles the printmaker found a place to curl up and take a nap, and Jaclyn decided that all the men passing by on the street couldn't stop looking at her (despite her radical decision to keep all her clothes on this week), so she stood in the window in front of the cars to facilitate this. The pieces produced by both related to these experiences, and they were the top two finishers, so I guess each played it right.

Although I usually don't agree 100% with the judging panels, over the five weeks I have agreed that the works on the short list for elimination each episode have been pretty bad. Mark's abstract grid (overhead city view concept) was inoffensive, but dull. Ryan's triptych self portrait behind the wheel looked like a rush job from a hack artist. Jamie Lynn (who would be sent home) made something that looked like a high school art project. Like Judith a few weeks ago, her attitude seemed to be that she had more or less given up with this piece, and seemed ready to go home.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Return of the Sultry Nights

Weather here in the Northeast has been in the neighborhood of triple digits the past 3 days, which tends to discourage time in the Studio. (our basement space is cool compared to outside, but it can't compete with air conditioning) And I'm kind of between projects right now anyway. By evening the temperature had dipped to the high 80's, and I ventured out to figure drawing group in Belmar. It reminded me of a night I wrote about last year, which featured the same model as tonight. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as well tonight. I suppose I could blame the heat, or coming off a full day of work, or that I was breaking in a new hunk of charcoal. The 10 minute pencil sketch above isn't great, but it's the best thing from tonight.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Shopping Mystery part 8-finished

Today's plan was to print the new block, but first a few cuts. Some were just lines to separate two black shapes. The biggest change was the customer's shirt. It had been a gray tone that was very similar to those around it, and based on the rubbing, I thought it might not separate will from the background. Didn't want it to go all white, so I used a gouge to cut out every other vertical stripe, resulting in a lighter gray.

After pulling the first proof I wasn't completely satisfied. That customer's shirt (above left) stood out, but I didn't like the effect, and the surrounding contours were too thick. So I got out the gouge again and cut away most of those remaining vertical stripes and cleaned up the contour. I also made a few changes by the dog, thinning the black patch on its rear leg and cutting the dog bowl a little more.

With that settled, I pulled the next proof. I liked the results, and pulled one more, giving me two successful copies of the print for the edition. The print is officially titled Scenes from the Grand Opening #22, completed not quite two years after the previous supermarket print.

I had one more piece of Rives Lightweight ready to go and ink on my palette, so I decided to pull of proof of that last supermarket print from 2 years ago. I did this because when I was recently photographing work for my website update I realized that I didn't have a loose copy of it. (the first two from the edition are in frames behind glass, having hung in simultaneous shows) Ten minutes work and I had #3/10 printed. I took my last two prints of the day home, and left the first two (state proof and edition #1/10) of the new block in the Studio to dry.

The print part of the project is done, and if nothing else happens, I have added to one of my most popular series with a nice print. However, I may try to use this as the basis of a video artwork for the upcoming Belmar Urban Myths show. Next week there will be a workshop at the Boatworks to help facilitate this. I'll go check it out, see what's possible, and maybe try my hand at a new medium. If not, I'll just submit the print to the show.