Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Work Begins

Week 2 of the latest woodcut class, and all four students showed up on time, ready to work.  Our street was a lot less crowded than the last time I was there.  (since these dozens of spaces did not exist before this spring, I find myself wondering where all those cars used to park every Saturday)  My two experienced students both jumped right into the projects they had been working on last week, while I sat down with my new students and we got into the business of cutting.  Harriet decided to buy two round gouges for herself, while Carol opted to just use the class tools.  I did the usual safety demonstration first, then they began the process of cutting their blocks.  Cutting is not hard, but it takes a while to get used to the tools, and first timers often find their hands getting sore.  Well, they have a week to recover.  Meanwhile, Jill had two blocks to print, one she had completed in the time since her last class, and a small one she was working on in class last week.  Results are shown below.

Two weeks down, two weeks to go.  These class series just go by so fast.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Neighbors Put On A Show

Tonight was the opening reception for the new Belmar & our neighbors show at the Boatworks in Belmar.  I just submitted one piece, since I only had one thing that both fit the theme and hadn't been shown there before.  I received many compliments for my boardwalk print, but no one I spoke to had any memory of the golf course.  If I didn't have a photo of it, I might start doubting that it existed.  They are currently working on plans for building new buildings on Belmar's newly repaired boardwalk, and a rooftop miniature golf course is one thing being discussed, not without some controversy.  Maybe they need to make sure a giant bluefish will be part of it.  We had very good crowd as usual.  More photos from the opening can be seen here.  The show remains up through August 23rd for anyone who wants to see it in person.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back to Work

Summer is flying by.  It's still just July, but already I'm beginning preparations for my fall semester.  Yesterday I was up at my university taking care of necessary paperwork, and by next week I have to take care of some for my community college.

However, even before then, I've got some teaching to do.  Tonight was the first meeting of my latest round of woodcut classes in Belmar.  Coming into today, I had only one person signed up and paid, but  I had good reason to expect two others to be officially joining on the first night.  I invested in a new piece of wood today, but otherwise I was well stocked with supplies from the early summer class, so it was just a matter of gathering the stuff I had stored in the Studio and at home.  I got to the Boatworks on time, unloaded everything into the back room (front room is set up for a show opening this weekend) and got ready to meet my class.  My official student arrived, along with the two I was expecting, and then a few minutes into the class, a bonus student intending to sign up tonight.  That brought me up to four for this round, a nice number.  I got my two experienced students set up to work on their own and then sat with the two new ones and went over all the introductory stuff.  As usual, the time flew by and soon it was time to clean up and pack up.  And as usual, no time to take action photos of the class on the first night, but the above file photo of class supplies looks pretty much what was there to greet my student tonight.  Next week, everyone works.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Neighbor to the North

This weekend was the intake for the latest show at the Belmar Arts Council.  It's an all media show called Belmar & our neighbors, with the theme being art specifically about Belmar and the surrounding towns.  I've occasionally mentioned how it's getting hard to find things to show at the Boatworks that I haven't shown before, but I had been sitting on one older piece that will be perfect for this show.  Most of my Floating World prints have been made up scenes based on general boardwalk scenery and themes and meant to reference all boardwalks, but a few have been based on specific locations.  The above print references my favorite of the Belmar miniature golf courses from my youth.  I had done an earlier print in the series about another long gone local landmark, the Belmar Playland arcade (which had the other mini-golf course in town, on its roof), which became part of an earlier BAC show with a Belmar theme.  Someone seeing that sent me a vintage photo of the course that had been on the boardwalk, including the giant bluefish that made it stand out, influencing me to add a mini-golf themed print to the series.  It's a nice print, but hasn't had many showings since it was completed in 2010, and none in Belmar, so it was perfect for this new show.  

The Belmar & our neighbors show opens next Saturday, July 27th, with a reception from 5 to 7 pm.  It remains on display at the Boatworks during normal gallery hours through August 23, 2013.  Admission is free.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What I Needed part 3

Nothing new with the tables today, so back to prints.  Got to the Studio in the late morning and finished the coloring of this 3rd proof (2nd good one) of the St Genevieve print.   I left it there to continue drying.  On a future visit I'll cut it loose and bring it home.  After that framing will just take a few minutes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Table Talk part 5

Molly and I had made very tentative plans to meet on Monday.  We both knew we'd be in Manasquan around the middle of the day, so I had put my various table leg samples in my car, figuring it would be with me.  That day a few phone calls back and forth and we had firm plan to meet where I had been mowing the lawn.  I showed her what I had come up with and she liked the angled one with the deck hardware best.  And she definitely liked the mitered corner better than the butt joint corner.

Today I was briefly back on the project.  One thing she had brought up yesterday was whether I could move the angled leg just a little closer to the corner.  I had already considered this question myself, and thought I could shorten the angled corner block by maybe a half inch.  So in the afternoon I stopped off and bought two slightly shorter lag screws (again needing to teach a cashier the difference between screws and bolts), and when I got to the Studio, cut a slightly smaller angle mount block and attached the hardware mounted leg to the mitered corner, so she could see how this would look.  Left it there on the table in the middle of the room.

Nothing more that I can do until Molly gives me the list of exactly what the dimensions will be of each table she wants.  Once I get that, I can put together a list of the specific boards, bits of hardware, etc that she'll need to purchase. The plan calls for us to have a new space in our building for this project, and that should be available in August.  And sometime after that is when the building can begin.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What I Needed part 2

Molly won't be available to give me her reactions to the table models until early next week, so I decided that today I may as well get on with some traditional art.  I pulled this proof of St Genevieve about a week ago, but my plan to color it a few days ago was delayed because I didn't have any paper tape with me to tape it down to my board.  I took care of that a few days ago, so the proof was ready for coloring.

Working from a completed proof usually goes quickly, but one problem today- the humid part of the summer has arrived.  I could power through the unpleasant conditions (it hasn't stopped my furniture practice), but it's gotten so damp in the Studio that the "dried" watercolor mixes on my palette were sticky with moisture.  And it really slows the rate at which the watercolors dry on the paper.  So today I limited myself to just the 3 colors shown above then left for more comfortable surroundings.  No rush on this one, so I can wait for a nicer day.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Table Talk part 4

With this table project I've mostly been concentrating on the engineering part of it, in connection with design aspects that Molly has specified.  Both of my corner/leg designs met one of her requests- attach the legs without having visible bolts through the exterior frame.  However I was thinking last night about how these exterior corners were still not particularly pretty.  Looking to make my samples quickly, I had put them together with simple butt joints.  This worked for my Studio worktables, but even covered with paint you can see the texture of the end of the board and the seams between them.

One simple solution, make the corners miter joints.  When the time comes to make these table frames I'd be taking extra care to make sure they are perfect right angles and absolutely level, and with the use of a miter clamp, that takes no more time and effort for the miter corner than a butt joint.  I still have to put two screws in it, but I can recess them and fill in the holes.  Since Molly hadn't come to see my corner constructions yet, I came in this morning and used the last piece of 2" x 4" that I had, cut a couple of angled ends, and made myself a corner.  Just a few minutes work.  I left it on the table with the other two corners for whenever it is that Molly finally shows up to see my work.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Table Talk part 3

I made a few stops in the car (including buying assorted screws) and got myself up to the Studio by early afternoon.  I had started two of these leg corner samples yesterday.  Up above is what I call the square model, the 4"x 4" leg flush into the corner of the frame, with a couple of scrap right angle pieces screwed into the leg and adjacent frame to keep the leg in place.  Then I added a piece of 2"x 4" angled across the corner, with long screws into the frame and one into the leg itself, this being mostly to keep those first two angled supports in place.

The second type is the angled leg, the leg at a 45 degree angle to the rectangular frame.  The metal bracket is designed to hold 4"x 4" deck posts, so it should do fine here.  Holding it to the angled corner brace is a couple of 1/4" lag screws (a mystery to my cashier this morning, reduced to looking through a big binder of UPC codes and trying to figure out what these things were), which fix the leg very firmly to the frame.  The second one is actually a little faster to put together, though adding a few dollars to the cost of each corner.

And this is about as far as I can take this project until Molly comes to look over these samples and decides if she likes either solution or wants something else.  Then she has to order all the supplies, get tools, etc.  But I'll be ready to go.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Table Talk part 2

I spent some time doing more research and foraging for possible building materials at a local home center yesterday, then doing some thinking when I got home.  I have some ideas as to how to construct these table legs to meet Molly's parameters, but the only way I'll know for sure what will work is to actually do a little hands on building.  So today I borrowed back my brother's mitre saw (he had just requested it back recently to work on a project at his house, after it had been in the Studio for the past 8 years, which saved it from the ravages of Sandy), and along with a few items I had bought yesterday, and some stuff from the wood scrap box under my work table, did a little building.  These will just be crude models, with paired 2"x 4"s to act as the planned 4"x 4" legs.  Cut up all the wood this afternoon and tested the arrangements, but I decided that I didn't have enough of the right kind of screws with me to actually put it all together.  Instead, I put everything away and cleaned up.

Tomorrow I'll pick up some hardware on the way up, finish assembling both options, do a cost analysis of materials and labor for a whole table done each way, and then let Molly take a look.

Monday, July 08, 2013

The Critique Goes On

Molly had a conflict that didn't allow her to come to tonight's critique, but she did clean the place up earlier today, put some beer in the fridge, and texted her group of contacts to remind them about our meeting.  We had nine people show up, most bringing art.  Above is Ani's painting (shell), a piece that had evolved a bit since we saw it last April.  (At the top of the board are some drawings from Molly, but since she wasn't there, we didn't talk about them.)  Below are three proofs of Mary's latest woodcut, including one hand colored version.  Our group was impressed with how she's taken to the medium in the year since she tried her first woodcut.

Sheilagh brought in her latest painting experiment.  Like recent works involving encaustic and acrylic, this one (above) with a cold wax medium is applied in many layers, resulting in subtle rich colors.  Vince brought in his latest grid paintings (below), which continue his recent trend toward loose washes of color and unraveling shapes.

Jill brought in her latest mixed media digital prints, combining photos, paintings, and sculpture into finished images that relate to the collage pieces she's been bringing us for years.  Meanwhile, I showed my just finished St Pamphilus print, along with the earlier proofs.  Everyone agreed the changes I've made have improved it.  We also had three regulars show up  (Lisa, Tim, and TJ), bringing no art, but enjoying our refreshment table and and contributing opinions.  We were done with the critiquing early, so spent the last half hour snacking and talking about general art events in our lives.  A good time had by all.

St Pamphilus part 16- finished

We had a critique scheduled for tonight, so I decided to go up to the Studio early to make sure it was in shape and to get a few things done first.  Some good news- Molly had cleaned up a lot of her stuff, giving us plenty of seating area, plus clearing off the middle table.  And as special bonus, she put a six pack left over from last month in the fridge, so it would be cold for tonight.

That just left me needing to work on some art.  I had one last proof of St Pamphilus to work on, everything colored except the background.   Last week I had made some color samples of the four colors I was considering for the four figures, and I had since tried placing them in different positions on top of an earlier proof.  Having settled on a plan, I carefully added them to my last proof.  Above is the result. I think it's all working, so I'm declaring this print done.

I had thought that I might start coloring the proof of St Genevieve that I pulled last week, but I found that I didn't have a roll of paper tape with me to tape it to my drawing board.  That will have to wait a day or two.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Table Talk

Over the past week or so I've been putting in some time on a side project.  Molly is gearing up for a interactive project called Table Talk, which will be encouraging community interaction at sites all around the Asbury area.  I've had a few short conversations with Molly about what kind of help she needs from me, and I've put in some time doing sketches of some of my previous tables, and researching materials in stores and online.  Today we had a longer meeting in the Studio, where I could share some of the information I had gathered, and she could tell me about some of the ideas she's had in mind.

My role would still be what she had told me previously, constructing some basic functional wooden tables that can be customized and decorated to suit the needs of the locations that will be hosting them.  My next step is to take today's input from Molly and come up with a basic engineering plan that can be applied to any tables I'd be building, along with a materials list and estimate for labor costs.  A bunch of stuff for me to figure out over the next few days.

Friday, July 05, 2013

What I Needed

One of my ongoing projects over the past month has been to finally frame a copy of my St Genevieve print for my niece Genevieve.  (she likely hasn't been bothered by the delay as she hasn't learned to put together full sentences yet)  A few weeks ago I ordered the frame.  Last week I cut the mat.  This past week I bought the glass.  I figured I'd put it all together today but ran into a little problem- I didn't have the print.

I pulled two copies when I first finished the print a year ago, and colored both.  What I had forgotten over these past 12 months is how there were significant differences between how the two were colored.  I made some color changes between the first and second proofs and liked the second version much better.  I can't give that one away until I have another identical copy, and I don't want to give away a lesser artwork like the first proof.  So a quick visit to the Studio today to pull a 3rd proof.  This block inks and prints easily, so in less than 30 minutes it was done and sitting in my drying rack.  I'll do the coloring next week.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

It was exactly 20 years ago that I began my Fourth of July woodcut project, a woodcut for each day for a year.  I didn't cut or print any blocks that first day, but the idea came to me while watching fireworks from the upper deck of parking structure on the campus of Southern Illinois University.  The day, thoughts of my friend Dave Lasky's mini-comic story about the Fourth of July, my interest in doing Masereel style woodcut novel- it all came together in my mind.  I took a few days to work out parameters, and actually cut the first block on July 7th.  On the following Fourth, all 366 prints were done.

The complete series has been shown four times, most recently earlier this year in Belmar.  And the whole series is posted online, with a brief explanation of what event that day inspired the print.  The online version isn't quite so impressive as the over 150 square foot wall version, but it's certainly more convenient.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

St Pamphilus part 15

Another one of those days of running around from place to place.  One of my art related stops was the Studio, just long enough to paint the color samples shown above.  These are for the St Pamphilus print, the colors for the four background figures- straight indigo, indigo warmed with some sienna, a dark earth green, and a red cooled with a little bit of that same green.  The idea is to position these over the figures in an early proof and decided which color will go with which figure.  Once that's officially decided it will just take a few minutes to put them in place, which I should be able to do before next week's critique.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

All Part of the Job

Haven't spent any time working on any particular prints this week, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working.

For example, on Sunday I met Molly at our favorite buy-a-drink and get a free omelet place to discuss a project that she's had in the works for a while.  It's a big post-Sandy public spaces thing involving the creation of tables that will be installed around the Asbury area.  Molly has been producing tabletops since before we had the Studio, but she's not much for legs and bases.  Since I built the extremely sturdy worktables in our Studio, she approached me about the possibility of helping her with this.  So yesterday I put in some time carefully measuring and sketching the construction of the worktables in order to remind myself of how I made them.

A brilliant and economical design it turns out, and strong enough to handle years of abuse, but these aren't fancy pants tables- they're built for heavy work and they look like it.  That will do for some of them, but Molly may need nicer versions for some of the planned locations.  So after I was done in the Studio, I drove out to my local home center to both price the kind of materials I had used when I made them 8 years ago, and to see what other things they had to work with.  I continued the process today, stopping by a millwork place in Manasquan to see if they had something that would make a classier table leg than the 2x4's I used in my construction (yes, but not cheap).  I plan to look at a few more things, then put together some options for Molly to consider.

I continued my framing project, by picking up a piece of glass.  Most of my work is framed behind plexiglass, which is lighter in weight and has much much less risk of breaking in shipping or transit, but  is considerably more expensive, pegged to the price of oil.  Since this piece will be handed off directly to the new owner, and it's not so large that the weight will be an issue, I went with glass.  I'll finish putting it together in the next few days.

Being an artist means always having to be out there looking for opportunities, and that includes teaching.  Today I stopped by a relatively new gallery in the area, a place that is looking to also offer some art classes.  They seemed open to the idea of some print classes, so I exchanged contact info.  If something develops, I'll post some details.  Meanwhile, my latest class in Belmar went up on the website this morning, giving me three weeks to recruit myself a bunch of students.

So I haven't touched a block or print over the past few days, but all this stuff I've done over the past few days is work related.