Saturday, January 19, 2019

St Dwynwen part 15

Not much going on around here today.  Yesterday's storm never really showed up where I live, and tonight's has been now downgraded from snow to rain, but a very long rain storm, accompanied by heavy winds, and freezing cold temperatures that will likely turn all that water on the ground to ice.  And colder temperatures tomorrow. And even colder the day after that.  Meanwhile, the dark gray skies we've had for the past few months, and if not freezing, still pretty cold.

Still, using the car on a daily basis seems to be a good idea, and seems to be beneficial to the battery.  Had no places I needed to be today, but had something that needed to be done sometime. I may have finished coloring the latest proof of my St Dwynwen print yesterday, but I have one more copy to be colored.  And I'm still not sure when I need to get it to her and how it will be presented, so I may as well have both copies ready to go as soon as possible.

Took a trip up the Studio today to continue the process.  Usually not a lot of people around on a weekend, but once in a while there is an event that fills the building, and the parking lot (and whole town) with cars, and I hoped that would not be the case today.  And it wasn't.  Only a few cars in the lot, only a few people in the building.  Took care of my business quickly, using paper tape to stretch and secure the other recently pulled proof of the current block.  No reason to hang around there today.  So after a stop at the store for a few things, went back home to the comfortable warmth of my apartment, to take care of needed household tasks.  There may not be snow to shovel tomorrow, but I think it will still be a good day to stay in.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

St Dwynwen part 14

All the weather forecasters are calling for multiple storms to pass through the area in the coming days.  (rain, snow, ice, single digit temperatures, repeat the cycle, etc)  Generally they have been wrong about this kind of thing of late, but what if they are right?  Made sense to me to finish up this print.

Got up to the Studio around noon, and the building was pretty quiet.  The door was open, but very few people inside.  Went to my space and started the last two colors on this proof.   Thought it would be safer to put down the light background first, then the dark blue.  The background is a color I've used before, but I was out of premixed paint, so had to mix up a new batch.   A slightly warm off white, not quite dark enough to be a buff.  Don't remember exactly what I used to make it from, so this one is mostly white, with a very little bit of cadmium yellow and an earthy red.

Used it everywhere within the boundary of the playing card, except the inner rectangle.  Gave that a little time to dry, then put in the dark blue in the boxes that hold the saint's name, but this color I had left over from mixing it a few weeks ago.  (indigo, ultramarine, a touch of white) The idea is to make the card stand out from the white paper in a subtle way.   It can be discerned here, but shows up even better in better light, which I will hope the gallery areas will have.

I left it there, but I'll consider this photo over the next few days, and if I decide this is the answer, I can stretch the other proof and color it quickly, since the decisions will have been made and many of the colors will already be on one of my watercolor palettes.  (one nice thing about watercolor paints is that they dry as stable colors, and can be reconstituted instantly with water, even years later)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

St Dwynwen part 13

Back to work in the Studio, picking up where I left off yesterday.  I continued coloring the stretched copy of the St Dwynwen print, based on the colors used in my first color experiments on the first printed proof.

Got out all the paints today.  I had taken the precaution of writing down the colors that went into the brass color in my first proof experiments, which likely save me a lot of time.  The blades were a simple gray from black and white, also used in the center of the wagon wheel.  The spokes were from one of the colors I used yesterday, and the wheel and hub are a burnt sienna, not quite as dark as the first version, but still different from all the other browns in the image.   Put the red in the hearts so I could see the balance there now.  I used my blurred practice proof to experiment with a pale color for the whole card.  When I see how that looks when it has dried, I'll know if I want to try it on one of the good proofs. I like this particular color palette so far.  Haven't touched the other Rives proof yet, but assuming I am satisfied with the final colors on this one, it will just be a copy and go pretty fast.  We have some storms expected to arrive starting tomorrow night and possibly continuing into next week, so I'd like to get this done soon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

St Dwynwen part 12

When I pulled the two most recent proofs of my St Dwynwen block I was under the belief that the prints were going to be due today.   Didn't think I'd quite make that, but wanted to come close. Since then I got word that the new deadline was more like the beginning of February.  So things need not be hurried quite so much, but there is still a bit of work to be done.  Figuring those proofs would be dry enough to color now, I went to the Studio this afternoon to get that process going.

I played around with some color combinations last week, and that was my starting point.  What is most different this time is the paper.  Last time I pulled a proof on Okawara, a very thin Japanese paper, while the newest ones were on Rives papers, cotton, white, and not so thin.  They take watercolor much differently than the Japanese paper does, so I figured it's best to test it before coloring the new proofs.  At my last printing session, the first proof somehow shifted on the block, and I ended up with a double printed page, useless for the final print.  However, suitable for testing colors, and that ink is also dry now.  So I started putting some colors down on that one, as the paper tape I was using to stretch one of my new prints was drying.  Didn't pull out the tubes and make new mixes, just used some leftover paints from last week.

Also was testing colors because I wasn't quite satisfied with everything I had tried last week. What you see above are three different proofs and states.  Furthest away is the proof I had pulled weeks ago  on Okawara and colored last week. Closest is the double printed proof I used today to test some color choices.  The one in the middle is one of my new good ones.  Going slow with the colors today, so I only got two done. Last time I thought the colors of the wooden spoons and carving tool handles were too similar.  This time there is a little more visual separation.  The spoon is a mix of naples yellow and white, a very light brown with a hint of warmth.  The tool wooden handles are a mix of raw sienna and white, and once dried, a wash of buff titanium and white.  Makes the color a little paler and a little duller, a possible effect of handling the tools for a few decades.

I didn't have any more of my brass mix left, so next time I'll have to mix up a fresh batch, test it, and then apply it to the good proof.  I can probably do the wheel same as last time, and I think the blue color and red heart will be fine also.  Thinking about putting a pale color on the whole card, to make it feel like a whole object and giving it some separation from the white paper, but I'll need to test a few things before I do that.  Perhaps this all gets done tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2019

St Dwynwen part 11

All my school deadlines have been met.  My piece for the next show has been completed, framed, and delivered.  So next up is the next show I will be a part of, East Meets West.

This morning I searched for and found a recent set of notes from our many meetings on this topic, so I could verify rules, dates, etc.  Then I sent Mary an e-mail, requesting clarification on a few points, and updating her on information I had found out over the past month or so.

In the afternoon I took a ride up to the Studio.  The most recent deadline I could find for when the prints are due at Mary's was crossed out and changed to January 15th, just a few days away.  I got to get busy on this thing.  The block has long been done, I have experimented with and picked a color scheme, but I will need a new proof, and oil based ink takes at least a few days to dry, so no time to waste.  A blast of arctic air just arrived, plus plenty of wind, so the perceived temperature today was in single digits, and part of me would have rather waited until next week when it is expected to be more normal temperatures, but I didn't think I had any time to waste.  Grabbed some extra paper, while everything else was either in my car or in the Studio.

My first proof and test piece was on okawara, a tissue thin mulberry paper.  It's a nice paper, and I have used it for many things, but it can be tough to color, as watercolors sometime soak right through  and spread.  Still, I figured I'd print one on that, and a few on various Rives papers, western papers made from cotton.  Hand print well, and take watercolor well, though the lighter one will need to be stretched (paper tape) first to keep it from buckling too much.

Before doing anything else, I took a few minutes to clean up the block- cutting away a few bits that took ink last time and had just been covered with tape.  Tore the paper to large pieces, as I would need extra to account for the parts that would be taped.

Got to the Studio, and found that the piece of okawara I had in my rack was too small (pieces for the show must be 14" x 11"), so it would just be the western papers today.  My first attempt with the Rives Lightweight didn't work out; it shifted somehow and I got a double exposed image.  But my second attempt on another piece worked fine, as did a proof on Rives Heavyweight, both of which can be seen above.  Both proofs are better than the one I had on the okawara. And my first double printed attempt will serve a another practice piece for the colors, which will look a little different on a western paper anyway.  Left everything in the rack, cleaned up, and got home before dark.

In the evening I found I had heard back from Mary.  Thanks to a change in other events, I can have a few more weeks to finish everything, so tomorrow I will send out pitches to other printmakers, and see if anyone else wants to be part of this show.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Laughing in Belmar

Dropped by the Boatworks today to see and photograph some of the new LOL: Humor exhibition, as it's easier to get views of artworks when the place isn't full of people.  The web page for the show said it would open yesterday, but new posted hours for the winter have the building closed on Wednesdays.  I had something else to do yesterday anyway, thus my visit today.  As it turns out, the show may not even be completely installed yet, and one of the organizers may have disappeared again, as she has a history of doing.  My piece is up on display in the front room.

Meanwhile, our coordinator was trying to figure out our new website, which may not be working yet but she says is set to go up soon anyway.  My BelmarArts blog is its own site, not part of the BelmarArts website, and I'm happy to keep it that way.

The show opens on Saturday at 5pm, assuming we don't have weather issues.  Current forecasts have the snow arriving on Sunday, so maybe we will be okay.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

St Dwynwen part 10

Last week I calculated and submitted the class grades for all my students from the fall semester.  Over the weekend I evaluated the Student Learning Outcomes, 12 categories for each student, and submitted those.  One last task for over the break is to produce my spring syllabus and submit it for approval by the end of this week. That meant that today I could spend a little time working on art.

I completed my piece for the upcoming LOL show and delivered it last week, so next up is to continue work on my East Meets West piece, which will be the St Dwynwen project, which started as an idea almost a year ago.  I pulled a proof back in December, then set things aside to deal with Christmas cards, the end of the semester stuff, the LOL show, and many other things.  But I knew the ink on that proof would be dry enough now to experiment with colors, so late this morning I took a ride up to the Studio play with color.

When I arrived, I had a an idea of where I wanted to go.  Red for the hearts, wood colors for the spoons, the wheel, and the tool handles, and metal colors for the ferrules and blades.  All my watercolors were up at the Studio already, as was my proof. I had some tools in the car, and brought them inside with me to be a color guide.  I tried various combinations for the wood handles, including some already mixed things I had,  but in the end what I liked best was naples yellow with white, what you see in the top three tools.  The brass ferrules are made from burgundy yellow ochre, charcoal gray, and cadmium yellow, among other things.  The blades are mostly charcoal gray.  I wanted these to be accurate to the actual tools I use.  I have options with everything else.  For example, these spoons are raw sienna and white, and I've seen wooden spoons like this, but they could be changed.  The dark parts of the wheel are a burnt sienna, and the light one of my mystery old paint mixes, could stay, could change.  The one thing I hadn't planned from the beginning was the blue bar with the saint name in it, top and bottom, a mix of indigo and ultramarine blue.   I just felt like I needed to have something to go against all the warm colors, and deep blues are common on face cards.  Usually darker than this, but I wanted to keep the saint name easy to read, and made the blue a little lighter.

I'll spend some time considering this version, and soon will print a new proof, a little more carefully this time, one suitable for the upcoming show.  Got time to figure this out.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

LOL part 4

Pretty standard procedure in Belmar is for the show intakes to be Friday afternoon and Saturday late morning/early afternoon.  Saturday would have given me more time for the last step- framing the entry, but all the forecasts called for heavy rains on Saturday, possibly all day, and transporting artwork made with paper and colored with watercolor in a rain storm can be quite risky.

Luckily I was able to get it done by Friday afternoon.  After some measuring, I decided that my piece would fit into a mat and frame from my saint series, with no further cutting of the mat needed.  The only complication was that the saints are vertical, and this substituted piece is horizontal, so the wire would have to be attached to the other two frame chops, and the wire that was there was too short. However, I do have framing wire in my supplies, so I cut a new piece and got it all together.  Brought it to the Boatworks during the allotted time.

I was curious as to how many artists were in the show and was told the number was in the 20's, so not many more than had signed up when I did.  A deadline so soon after the holidays probably didn't help.  If I didn't have a suitable block already cut, there's no way I would have had time to create something new this week, what with all the other deadlines in my life right now.  Maybe we will eventually learn the reason for the odd date schedule of this show.  Another thing I learned was that most of the pieces are on the small side, a surprise to the curator.  I hadn't thought about it ahead of time, but it makes sense to me.  Over the history of fine art, humor and satire are not that common, perhaps because of the time and effort needed to create major works.  Where it is more common, is in the world of printmaking, especially the northern renaissance.  Large expensive works were usually the goal of artists, things sold to churches, kings, etc. (museums didn't exist yet), while humor and satire were considered more suitable for small mass produced and inexpensive prints sold to more common people.  Actually anything with an alternate point of view was more likely to be a print, or perhaps a small drawing.

The show opens to the public during the week, and then the Salon event (where artists are encouraged to discuss why they did what they did) will happen next Saturday.  I won't get into nearly as much detail as I did on this blog, but I'll answer any questions I get, and if someone wants to talk about it afterwards, I'll be there.

While I was out yesterday, I put another card in the mail.  Just a few more to go out.  Since so many of the people who used to send me cards have given up the practice, I have many fewer to send myself. Just as letter writing is much in decline, so is the tradition of mailing cards.

Late last night a heavy rain did come in, which I could easily hear from inside my apartment.  This morning there were some sprinkly showers, but nothing serious, so I probably could have packed my piece for delivery.  But I didn't have to.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

LOL part 3

For some reason it was decided to hold the latest show at BelmarArts with an entry deadline of January 3rd, right in the midst of holiday season.  Just barely finished my first major college task of the break, but I have two more to go.  And while I finished coloring my first batch of cards today, it may take a few days to get them all in the mail.  And then there was this deadline.  Luckily I had this old unused piece, as I would never have had time to create something new this week.  

Last night I decided that I would go with this one as my entry for the upcoming LOL: Humor Show at BelmarArts.  It's one of the prints from my A Side Effects Profile that Favors Consumer Compliance series.  I blogged about the whole series yesterday, and this one fits into that theme.  On the left side we have out two "scientists" who could have been a part of so many tv commercials of mid 90's.  I know of no logical reason for then to be examining a basketball under a microscope, or for one to be taking notes regarding the experience, but that's what they are doing.   Side by side we also have two young men intensely playing basketball on what seems to be a small urban basketball court (brick wall, hoop without a net, evidence of the court surrounded by a chain link fence, skyscrapers in the background), just as much symbolic as the scientists.  There are probably many associations that one might have with the two athletes, but intellectual pursuits probably aren't among them.  I don't think I ever had a plan for what all these characters would have been advertising, but each pair of figures, their activities, and the location, all carry strong associations, and could imply a kind of endorsement of the product or activity by associated personality types.  I'll leave that for the viewers to decide.

So once I had finished my e-mail to a student, I took care of the entry for the show.  All done online these days.  Filled out the blanks, uploaded the image, and sent it in.  Then I drove up to Belmar to pay the entry fee in person.  Before I could leave, another artist showed up to do the same thing, so I'm not the only one with this routine.  Tomorrow or Saturday I need to drop off the piece.  It's a matter of inserting the above print into an appropriate sized frame and then bringing it over.  The LOL Humor Show officials opens on Wednesday January 9, 2019, and remains on display through February 1, 2019.

Art and Work Go On

Classes may have ended almost two weeks ago, but teaching college never really ends. Finished my fall class grades and submitted them (all on computer these days) a few days ago, but then late last night I received an e-mail from a student who was hoping to get a better grade.  (his assigned grade was well above average, but all college students believe they deserve an A, even when they don't)  So this morning, after I was up and dressed, I got out all my grading sheets from this past week, and verified all the numbers I had, plus checked the math.  Turned out I had gotten it right the first time, so I sent a reply, explaining the percentages and procedures used in grading, why he got what he got, and what he could have gotten.

Didn't get a chance to get off the computer, as tonight is the deadline to apply for the latest BelmarArts Salon style show, the LOL: Humor show.  I'll save the details of all that for another posting.  Stopped off in Belmar to pay the entry fee, then up to the Studio.

People working in the basement, but much of the building was empty, as everything seems closed down for the holiday season.  Just a short trip today. Not to work on the next major print, but to finish the coloring of my first batch of Christmas cards.  My goal is to get the rest of the completed cards out to those who are getting them, probably by this weekend.  And then there will be more prints to work on.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

LOL part 2

About a week ago I pulled a couple of prints from some fairly old blocks, potential entries for an upcoming show.  Past the need to finish off a few cards, and my student grading, today I got around to coloring them.  Here is the result and more of the story:

As I wrote last week, these pieces were part of a series (a single three piece artwork- a vertical triptych one might say) from the late 90's, but never exhibited.  I know I made at least one proof of the whole set, and last week a thorough search brought me one image of the completed work, a slide. I believe that the old proof was lost to Hurricane Sandy, and my recent search only turned up two of the blocks.  Proofed the two blocks last week and completed coloring of both today.

As I wrote last time, the piece has its roots in my appreciation of advertising, and a class covering semiotics, as the two are related.  The purpose of advertising is to get people to buy products or services, by any means necessary.  Multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone portray it as a harsh, undesirable business.  The more recent series Madmen (set in that era) shows a constant battle between the creative/artistic parts of the profession and the pure business parts, with each side believing they are the only one that matters.  Not surprisingly, it's the creative part that interests me more, and the visuals of that era (courtesy of old issues of LIFE magazine) have played a part in more than a few prints over the years.  However this piece probably owes more to television advertising.

Toward the end of my grad school experience, I took a class that dealt a lot with semiotics, putting that in the forefront of my mind.  It is basically the study of symbols and the narrative they can provide, which can be applied to art, but can really be a factor in advertising, where getting messages to potential customers is very important.  An article we read actually referenced a French print advertisement for tomato sauce, a scene packed with items that were meant to scream "Italianicity" (to quote the article) without actually saying that.  I found a similar print ad for various Chef Boyardee products in the early 60's that seemed to be constructed the same way.  I don't have any food products to sell, but as an artist I'd rather let viewers draw conclusions instead of hitting them over the head with my point of view- I tend to believe it's more interesting visually, and that the viewer is more likely to agree with the idea if they believe they discovered it on their own.  My experiences in studying semiotics and visual symbols in art, put me in a frame of mind to see television ads a bit differently than I believe was intended, and that's where the art came from.

In the early 80's there was a series of short large format soft cover monographs published by a pharmaceutical company, a few of which are on my bookshelf.  The first (and last) several pages are full color glossy ads for a new hypertension drug (still on the market so I am not going to name it here) with the rest of the publication devoted to the paintings of the artist.  I don't know for sure, but my assumption was that the publications served the dual purpose of advertising the drug to doctors who might prescribe it, and to potential patients who might find these publications in waiting rooms and doctor offices.  The medication ad part mentioned "a side effects profile that favors patient compliance..."which I interpreted as a message to doctors that their patients wouldn't mind taking it so much as other drugs.  A lot of these found their way to used book stores where they were inexpensive reproductions of fine art.  Meanwhile, in the 90's I was back in New Jersey, watching tv, and seeing ads that made no sense to me.  Very often there would be brief scenes of what seemed to be scientists, doing nothing that had anything to do with the product for sale, but I interpreted as an attempt to lend some scientific authenticity to the product.

The result was pieces like this.  I titled it A Side Effects Profile that Favors Consumer Compliance after the line in the publications, with the images combining symbols and locations that had no relationship, except that I saw some humor it it.  So I included lots of scientific types- white lab coats, and always looking through microscopes, on computers, or writing on clip boards, all with no explanation or logical reason for doing so, just as I saw in so many tv commercials.  And these people are found in somewhat incongruent environments, such as in the above images like the urban basketball court, the traditional farm, (or what I found in that slide), a western landscape being traversed by people on skateboards and bicycles, all of which also carry associations for the various viewers.  None of it means anything, but I find it amusing, so I finished coloring the ones I had, took advantage of the Studio space to photograph them, and plan to submit one tomorrow in time for the deadline for the upcoming open show in Belmar.  And then I'll just hope that the viewers see the humor in it, too.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Art Continues in 2019

Here we are, another new year upon us.  More art to be made, since there always is.  One concept I always share with my woodcut students is that if a particular block doesn't work out as you expected, you can always start another one the next day and hope it will be better.

Today was a federal holiday, but I have too much to do to ever really take days off, and today was no exception.  This morning, just out of bed, I continued work on my class grades.  Basic calculating was all done by yesterday, but I like to double check all the numbers and mathematics before I submit them.  Did that in the afternoon.  Also looked over the rubrics of another part of the Student Learning Outcomes evaluations we have to get done, just trying to figure out how it can be applied to a studio art class.  I think I have a handle on it now, but I won't continue on that until tomorrow.

Of more immediate concern is the LOL Humor show in Belmar, with the application deadline in a few days.  As I mentioned before, I'm going with some old block, conceived and cut in the 90's, but as far as I know, never exhibited.  I remembered the whole series as three blocks, but I could only find two in storage.  That third one may have been a victim of Hurricane Sandy, as was so much other stuff I had stored in that basement, along with the one proof I know I had.  I assumed that I had documented the completed set at some point, and after a search of my apartment found a single slide showing the set.  With that I could see what colors I had chosen at one time, and today I stretched one  of the proofs on a drawing board, and started to match the colors.  Not a large piece, so I almost completed the coloring in one session.  Probably finish it and knock out the other one tomorrow, photograph both, and then choose which one I'll submit to the show.

What else is coming in 2019?  The East Meets West show will be starting in February, so I should try coloring the practice proof I have of my print for that show, and then make one suitable for the exhibition.  And I have been invited to participate in another faculty show, this one in the big gallery space on Long Beach Island, starting in April I believe.  Exhibitions are like woodcut blocks- after each one, there is always another one.