Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Taking Care of Other Business

Had the local news on this morning as I was getting ready for the day.  Most noteworthy was the news that AC Moore has announced it is planning to close.  No date given yet, just that the chain can not compete anymore and all 140 stores in various states will eventually close.  Several dozen locations are set to be taken over by Michael's, another arts and crafts chain, but we don't know which ones.  This won't have too much effect on my art- they don't carry any print supplies and rarely have anything I need.  What it may affect is my students.  Not the woodcut classes- they already know they have to order by mail or internet and I point them in the right direction.  I'm talking about my college students.  Back in my school days, college bookstores carried all the needed art supplies for classes. Sometimes they were the only game in town.  Even long after I graduated and was on campuses as a professor, I still sometimes bought supplies at college bookstores.  However, several years ago a chain that was failing in the retail markets decided to take over a lot of college bookstores, but had no interest in carrying art supplies. Seems odd- you might think a retailer with a local captive audience would want to make that money, but I guess not. What makes it worse is that quite a few regional chains of art supplies that had been in this area have also given up. Thus students complain that they can't get the things on the class supply list.  This won't help.

A few weeks ago the Intro class printed their collagraphs.  I like all my classes to have a print project, and this one works in that kind of class.  No skills needed, most materials cheap or free, results are usually good, and it's something that few have tried before.  I think that they tend to like it- at the end of the semester many dispose of their portfolios, but keep their print.  I spring for a tube of water based relief ink for the class to share, small price to pay for getting a print project done.  Unfortunately, being college students, sometimes they don't show up, or forget to bring the plates on our printing day, and few have the materials or tools to do it themselves.  So what I do is tell them to bring in their plates, make sure their name is written on it, and I'll bring them proofs I pull in my Studio, to which they can add color or collage.

I dropped by the Studio briefly yesterday to drop off some things and saw that Molly had been working.  One of her big products is cloths with screen printed art on them.  The ones I saw yesterday were layers of leaves, as in the examples below:

She was back in there since (last night, early this morning, I don't know) because now there was something new- green bicycles.

Her fondness for multiple colors leads me to believe these aren't done yet, but I guess we'll see.

On the way in I had stopped briefly in the office to chat with Nichole, learning of the changed schedule for the planning meeting, then I got downstairs and got to work.

No Molly when I got there, so music was an option.  Another story on the news this morning was that an auction was selling a hand written lyric from an early Bruce Springsteen song, predating his first E-Street album by a few years, but never recorded.  This put me in a Springsteen mood, and I have a two disc set I burned years ago, a copy of which I keep in the Studio.  Since the inspiring story was about an early song, I went with volume I, assorted favorites from the first four albums (Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., The Wild, the Innocent, & the E-Street Shuffle, Born to Run, and Darkness on the Edge of Town), plus a few from The River, which gets continued on volume II.  I tend to think of his first 3 albums as his New Jersey albums (could have been enjoyed anywhere, but probably could only be made by someone who lived around here), the next 4 as his American albums (for good and bad, a trip through the heartland, and all our nation contains). After that he moved to California for a while and things were never the same.  Oh, did I mention that the Studio is only a block from the Asbury Park city limits?

One advantage of working in my own space is that it is much more efficient.  Ink and brayer are the same, but the table is better.  Paper came from a student sketchbook (once they are unclaimed for a semester, they become mine, as I make room for the next semester's sketchbooks), and I knocked out these four in less than an hour.  I will give them and the plates back to the students next week.  The last phase is for the students to add elements of color (watercolor, pastels, etc), collage, or whatever else they feel will improve the composition and make it better art.

With that task done, all that was left was to clean up, move stuff to the car, and grab some lunch on the way home.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Taking Care of Business

Had some bits of business to take care of at the Boatworks today. Got an e-mail a few days ago from Diane, asking me about the existence and location of the red paint for the Lounge gallery.  I sent a reply, but I decided to swing by today and make sure it was all set.  When I got there the place was nearly empty- the recent color themed show had come down and the work was walking out the door, I assume with the artists who created the pieces.  I verified that the red paint had been found, then another important thing. Last time I was there I had learned that one of my mini-saints had sold from the display case, but no one was present to sign the check so that had to wait. Plus I was told that I should replace the piece that sold, though not given a specific request.  I thought it made sense to replace it with an other copy of the one that sold (someone bought it, so others may like it, too), but I had no idea which one it was.  I brought the whole set I had with me.

Sure enough Diane had the check for me, but didn't know which one had sold.  The check mentioned the code for the one that sold, but I don't remember those codes all these months later.  Found papers that mentioned the code, then one that made reference to a cougar, but I have done no cougar prints, saint or otherwise.  Finally found one that mentioned St Cungar- now we're talking.  I knew the print well, and even had a second copy of the mini-saint version with me.  Put a new code label on it (PB A4) and added it to the inventory sheet.  The replacement saint was put in the case with the others and I walked out with a check. Not a huge amount (these are small prints) but it would be enough to buy a large pizza or my typical assortment of Chinese food,  No time to go to the bank today, but I got plenty of food in my house right now, so this gives me something to look forward to another time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

It Finally Happened

Late afternoon I got up to the Jersey Shore Arts Center and to get ready for the last scheduled drop-in drawing group of the season.   We had scheduled four weeks of the event to take place in t he 3rd floor Cafe Artiste room.  Unfortunately, the group had not been much of a success.  Lots of promotion, but so far no one had showed up for any of these Wednesday night events.  I always have things to do in the Studio, so each Wednesday I would show up, take care of stuff down in my space, be up in the 3rd floor room for 6pm, but no one was showing up. This afternoon I got up to Ocean Grove, checked in with Nichole for some other business, then made my way downstairs to do things for a while. No evidence of Molly being present or having done any work of her own,  but there was a new table in our room.

I have no idea where she got it from, but I got the idea she would start filling it with stuff soon.  But that was not happening today.  So as I was taking notes I enjoyed a home made disc of the Jayhawks, a disc I had made for the Texas trip, in case music was needed.  It wasn't, so the disc became part of my initial Studio library.  It's pretty much their major label debut album Hollywood Town Hall, and a good bit of its follow up, Tomorrow the Green Grass.  Two 90's classics that put them at the forefront of the Alt-Country movement.  Actually this is one of Molly's favorites, second only to the Beatles disc that she has taken home a few times.

A little past 5 pm I made the trip up to the 3rd floor.  Tonight's class was a still life challenge, meaning I was to set up some still lives, and participants would have to meet the requirements, all devised by Nichole.  I had even brought with me my large bag of still life objects, items I have used many times over the years in my college classes, but left it in the car waiting instruction.  Nichole had received word that a few people planned to show up, but we had heard that before with no people showing for the event.   Since I was there, I told her to go ahead and hold it.  Shortly before the 6 pm start time Nichole brought some art supplies to the room, but no students yet.  I went down to my car in the parking lot and got my large bag, one of the giant art tote bags that Rebecca used to make out of the giant promotional banners for shows at the BAC, this one with my train design from that show. Nichole and I set up two still lives, and got ready for the class.  And then someone actually showed up.

One set up was pretty much all stuff I have commonly used in set ups for years, the other included one of my green bottles (a gift from someone who thought I could make use of it), some other stuff I had, including a cloth that Molly had printed with a design and I have occasionally used in still life set ups.  Nichole was one of our artists, but we had one other person, whose name I don't remember, but was a local woman with some artist training who said she had been meaning to try out the group and had finally gotten around to it.  The plan for tonight was a limited palette challenge, which Nichole may have adapted from one of the college assignments I had shown her.  Used the white of the paper plus two mediums of different colors.

Nichole (above) chose a complementary pair of colored pencils, while our other participant had brought with her a large piece of heavy paper (probably for water color) and used jarred paint, gesso, and pastels,  combination from her college days.  Neither felt obligated to match exactly what was set up, but this was not a class and neither was obligated to.  They wanted to have fun and that made sense to me.

Meanwhile, we had a steady stream of visitors from the dance classes. When the 3rd floor was first opened up a few years ago, a full commercial kitchen was constructed, with plans to create a place for visually impaired people to learn cooking skills.  For various reasons this never happened, so this kitchen has never really been used.  The dining room and its tables have gotten much use, including this Wednesday night group, but we can't sell food from the kitchen until the proper licensing is arranged.  Maybe soon, with a plan to sell to the dance and yoga people, and anyone else who might be interested.  Meanwhile, the counter sells chips, candy, cookies, and other already prepared items.  In the past we had people show up a few at a time seeking treats, but tonight one of the classes let out as we were cleaning up, and we had a small mob scene.  Once we get those fry vats working, this space could prove to be quite popular.

So that's the end of the planned Wednesday night drop in groups.  We will be off for the next few weeks (holiday season), but back in early December for a planning meeting, open to the public.  No specific things decided yet, but tonight's art was good, so I think down the road there will be more things like tonight.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Getting Ready

Generally I spend a lot of Thursday getting ready for teaching on Friday, and today was no exception.  After I was up and dressed I went to my car to inventory what I had there.  Found my supply of black water soluble relief ink, but there wasn't much- remnants of several tubes.  I also have most of a jar of akua black ink, which claims that it cleans up in soap and water, but it doesn't really, so I took some time today to travel to a store that sells some that does. (with a room full of students, soap and water clean up is valuable)  And since my car inspection had not turned up any of my glass palettes, I stopped by the Studio long enough to grab one on the way home.

Meanwhile, I got an e-mail from my contact at the BAC regarding the t-shirt design. She had loved it, showed it to the trustees. Their conclusions-

1) love the idea of doing another t-shirt.

2) love the idea of me producing a design for this t-shirt.

3) do not like this seashell idea and want something else.

The seashell idea wasn't mine, and I'm not married to it, so I'm open to suggestions.  Ideas that I am told come from them- maybe something based on the work I had in the recent show there (all great prints, but I don't know is any are t-shirt material or have anything to do with art), reprinting the design from 2007 (a good shirt, but is the sailing theme any better than the seashell theme?), or a composition involving art materials and/or tools (but how does one pick and would this end up like the seashells idea?).  I don't have time to deal with this until the weekend.  I replied to my contact with my reactions to their reactions, and said I'd be available to talk about it on the weekend.

I've got classes to prepare for tomorrow, which include a major project and a print project.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Day in Ocean Grove

I woke up this morning around 7:30, felt a need to visit my bathroom.  Also noticed the apartment seemed a bit chilly.  Forecasts had mentioned an expected temperature drop over night, so I raised the heat before going back to bed.  My alarm went off around 9:00, but everything not under my blankets felt cold, so I gave myself a later alarm.  No hurry for today.  At the next alarm, I decided to go ahead and get the day going.  I could feel that my baseboard heaters were functioning, but it was still chilly. From the news I learned that temperatures had dropped about 30 degrees overnight- well that would do it.

The one thing on the schedule for today was the latest drop-in drawing class, rhythm and art with a 60's theme (chosen by Nichole), but that isn't until 6pm.  I was in the Studio briefly on Monday, but Nichole wasn't around (holiday?) and I didn't go yesterday, what with predictions of heavy precipitation all day. (actually not much rain, and he intense snow flurries ended without accumulations, but I was in for the day, making a big pot of sauce and meatballs)  But last I had heard, last week, we had maybe 4 people committed to the class, so I assumed it was on for tonight. I got up to the building around 3:30.  I had gotten an e-mail from my BAC contact this morning saying she really liked my t-shirt proposal and hoped to show it to the board tonight, but until I get that report, that project is on hold. But I always have things to do in the Studio.  I was looking for water soluble black relief ink for Friday's class, but found none.  Perhaps it is in the pile in the back of my car, but I'll save that search for tomorrow.  Meanwhile I started preparing for some upcoming woodcut projects.  Since the fall class didn't happen, I had plenty of wood in stock, and cut two pieces of wood to the right size for planned future projects.

I'll save details of those projects until I am ready to start them.  Neither one is the t-shirt project- no point in starting a block there until I know it is going to happen. Meanwhile, no Molly again, so I had the music option, and how better to prepare myself for an event built around 60's music than one of my Beatles discs.  On this one I had burned the two 1967 LP's, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour.  Both albums include songs that could sum up the concept of 60's music. While still in my space I noticed more than a few young children wandering the basement halls, something the building generally doesn't like, but they weren't bothering me.  By 5:30, I had cleaned up, left my coat there, and climbed the stairs to the1st floor.  Lots of activity up there, mobs of adults and children all working on the Christmas decorations, which I guess are going up now.  Bobby Duncan mentioned there was pizza available, and sure enough over the the big lobby area they had a table set up.  I was offered a slice and took it as a pre-teaching snack, then took the elevator up to the 3rd floor.

Nichole dropped by with materials, and a speaker.  With all the activity related to decorations and holidays, she had not gotten around to preparing a music thing for tonight, hoping that anyone who showed up would be understanding.  At times some dance kids wandered in to buy treats from the Cafe Artiste counter, but no artists showed up.  Looked like Nichole was going to get away with not preparing the music.  She joined us in the room a little later, and seemed a bit shocked that no o ne had come, especially since she had gotten reassurances from several people that they planned to be there tonight.  I was thinking that maybe it was the cold.  Around 7 pm she decided to officially call the class done.  Well, at least I got some of my work done and a free slice of pizza.

Next week is the last scheduled drop-in session, I think a limited palette still life challenge.  At this point Nichole is not taking odds on whether we will have a class or not, but until I hear otherwise I plan to be there.  Besides, by next week the fryer might be up and functioning, so in addition to the chips, candy, and cookies available now, we may have fries and chicken wings.  Maybe that will lure some people up to the 3rd floor.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A New T-Shirt part 4

Had a plan for this morning, but wasn't sure if I'd be able to go through with it. On Saturday I had seen my contact at the BAC for this t-shirt project. so I was thinking I should finish my design proposal and get past this phase of the project.  Drawing on paper, I can do that at home, but photographing the results is easier at the Studio, and it's a good place to work anyway.  The problem was that I didn't know if I could get in. Several years ago they put in a new alarm system, which automatically shuts off early in the morning and turns on again late at night.  However, we were told this wouldn't happen on certain holidays, but I can't find that list, or even the code that allows me to bypass the alarm.  I should get another copy of that.  My simple work around has been just to work during the day.  Today is Veteran's Day, and it's the kind of day our founder (a WWII Navy Veteran) would have seen as a holiday to close the building.  Didn't want to go up there to find the building inaccessible, so after my morning routine I called the office.  Turned out they were open today.

Late morning I drove up there, bringing the necessary materials- a sketchbook, various markers, my previous sketches. My piece today was a better version on the second try from last week, but now with a fine point marker in some areas to allow more detail, especially in regards to texture.

The overall layout is very much like the first one, but in that one I have the BAC logo as solid black letters (as requested), but I noticed the curved shape of the shells has some similarities to the curves of the shells, and decided to bring some of that into the letters, breaking them up just as varying colors do to the letters in the full color versions of this logo. Used that same fine point marker to add more surface lines to the shells (both for value and cross contours), texture to the top of the starfish, and grittiness to the sand here and there.  A level of detail that I can match in woodcut and would translate to a silkscreen for making the t-shirts, if the trustees approve of this.  The next step is to send the images of the past week to my contact and see if they like one as is, want to make a change, or forget the project.

No Molly today, so I had music.  Chose one from my Studio library, a disc of the Gun Club, a band from the 80's.  My disc includes a copy of their first album Fire of Love from 1981, and I filled up the disc with various songs from a live album from a show in 1992, which I bought at a record store in St Louis on a day trip there.   (Some art students had to go to a museum for a class, I took the ride to see art, buy bread and music) A review of that first album called it too "bluesy/punky to ever be a hit" and perhaps it was, but I like that kind of music, so after my friend Doug included some songs on a tape he made, I felt a need to get my own copy, as well as other releases from the band on vinyl and disc.  I think that live album was one of their last releases, as band founder and lead vocalist Jeffrey Lee Pierce died shortly after that.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

A New T-Shirt part 3

Went out this morning to take care of some errands. Quite chilly this morning, but I'm sure things will get worse, however I took the trouble to put on a winter coat.

Made a few stops, one of which was the Boatworks.  A class going on in the front gallery, so entry was through the side door.  I had gotten word that today they were holding an event, a Salon type thing for the current Cornucopia of Color show.  I am not in that show, and I covered one of these type events over the summer for the blog, so I wasn't planning to be there.  Had other things to do anyway, plus the cold weather made it feel like a day to stay home. I let them know I wouldn't be back for the Salon, but asked if there was anything else going on.  One of those present was one of our chairs, Dana, who is also my contact for the t-shirt design, and so she was curious as to how that was coming. I told her that I had finished my other woodcut, and was now working on it full time.  Created a first paper design, thought that the second design suffered for the lack of thinner markers and so would be redone, and I would have some images to send her sometime next week. I also gave Diane, our receptionist some bad news- figs might be done for the season.  (she had given us a big bag of homegrown tomatoes this summer, so I decided to give her some ripe figs from our garden when they came in, which she appreciated)  When I saw the fig grove a few days ago, there were still a bunch of figs on the trees, and the leaves hadn't fallen yet, but the figs hadn't been getting plumper, or changing color, and the leaves were starting to curl up.  I think that the cold weather the last few weeks had made the trees decide they are done for the year.

A bit of good news though. I learned that one of my mini-saint prints in their store had sold and they wanted another.  The person who has to sign the check wasn't available, so I'll have to wait until next week to be paid.  Just a small print, so probably not a large amount of money, but every little bit helps.  After I left I realized that I hadn't found out which one was sold. Well I'll just bring all the packaged mini-saints with me the next time I go and if I have another copy of the one that sold and they want that one, good, and if they want a different one, we can do that, too.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

A New T-Shirt part 2

Went up to the Studio today for a few purposes.  One was to work on my latest idea for the t-shirt design, and one was to find out the plan for Wednesday night.  When I pulled into the lot, I saw Nichole's car, and figured I should go see her while I knew she was still there.  She confirmed what I had expected (based on yesterday's conversation on the the topic), that the drop-in event for this Wednesday would not be happening.  Not a cancellation but a postponement, as she hopes it will be occurring in early 2020. It was her idea after all- an exercise built around the idea of positive and negative space.  That positive/negative relationship is the core of relief print design, so of all these Wednesday night drop-in things, this was the closest one to woodcut.  Unfortunately, after checking all 3 social media platforms she had put it out on, there was only one confirmed plan to come. We have four people confirmed for next week, so we hope that one will go on as expected.

With that settled, I went down to my space to take another run at the t-shirt design.   I though what I did yesterday wasn't bad, but I realized the relationship of the letters in the new BAC logo had some shapes in common with the shells on the beach and thought it might be interesting to play that up.  The logo often shows the letters gradually drifting from one color to another, but we can't do that with our one color shirt design, so I represented it as solid black, as requested, in my first attempt.  Cross sections of trees have rings that represent annual growth, and seashells have similar markings, which I believe also represent indications of growth, the shell being expanded as the living creature within gets larger, though I have no idea what length of time is represented in this case.  But I used such lines in my clam and mussel shell designs yesterday, so I thought it might work in the letter design on this latest drawing.

And maybe it will, but all I had with me today were relatively fat black markers, which were a little crude for the idea I was trying out.  Using more lines, as I did on the shells this time, and textures in various places, may work, but I will need a different pen.  But the session wasn't a total waste, as I did learn what can be done.  Adding more lines to the shells (and similar lines to the logo) and textures to the sand and starfish seem to be good ideas, but for a sketch I need better pens.  And since Molly wasn't around, I got to listen to music.  Put on one of my home burned discs- a copy of the early Southern Culture on the Skids album Too Much Pork for Just One Fork which I originally found in that leftover music box at the record store that had become a hair salon.  (Back in the early 90's, at one point two friends from two different parts of the country who were musically knowledgeable told me to check out this band,  so when I found this disc I bought it. a good decision.) I filled out the rest of the disc with songs from the second album from the Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, which my friend Doug described as "porch music"- two guys on stage sitting in chairs, playing guitars, and stomping on boards.   (kind of a southern thing) On the way home today I stopped at a local supermarket to buy some needed items and picked up some fine point black markers, so I will redraw this one before I send it to my contact.

Back home I sent an e-mail to one of my summer woodcut students who had expressed an interest in the Wednesday night thing for this week, to let her know that it wouldn't be happening, saving her the trip.  Nothing would have happened that she couldn't do on her own, except getting some feedback from other artists.  Maybe when it gets rescheduled.

Monday, November 04, 2019

A New T-Shirt

Another Monday, another day of work.  Had a few options for the art part of that.  No immediate need for a good copy of the new supermarket print, so pulling another proof can wait for another day.  I have a small pile of museum papers to grade, but that deadline isn't until Friday, and it's probably best to have a computer handy while I do that, so not a good Studio activity.   Of all the possible new print projects, the logical one would be the new t-shirt for the BAC.

The last time I did a t-shirt for them was back in 2007.  I was in the midst of working on the first mural we would do when I was informed that I had been nominated to design a t-shirt for the BAC, to be sold at a local sailboat youth regatta, and beyond that as well.  To get this deal, we had been told that the shirt had to have a sailing theme and not be just an advertisement for our own organization, so our logo was just a small one on the back, under the collar.  I was able to meet the deadlines and we had the shirt for sale at the event and later as well.  (the whole story can be found on this blog if you care)  The original plan was to pay a percentage of each shirt to me, but then they decided it would be easier to give me a one time fee for my woodcut design.  There was talk of having me design a new one, then talk of making it a youth project to design a new shirt, but nothing happened.  Eventually they all sold out, but many people liked it, and talk of having me design another one came up from time to time.  Now it has been decided to have me propose a new idea. I am the one actual graphic artist in the organization.

My plan is to complete a paper sketch design, which I will share with my contact on this (one of the co-chairs at the BAC), and it approved (and we come to a proper financial arrangement) I'll do the design as a woodcut, and turn it over to them. So far all I know is that it should have the current BAC logo as a prominent part, it will be a monochromatic design, and it was suggested that it involve seashells, since we are a beach town.  Over the past few weeks I have done some internet research, but now is the time to get something on paper.

I have the original block used to make the woodcut print that was used to make the scanned image that was used to print the t-shirt, and so I brought that with me to the Studio today, along with my reference sketches of beach detritus.

I created a rectangle of the same size as the first block (which was used at about 100% on the shirt itself) and then used pencil to work out a composition, then a permanent black marker to produce the design . Here is the result of today's session:

I was told to keep the logo as solid black, but I may play with that in the next sketch. The logo on our website is gradated in different bands of color.  That we can't do, but I can play with different shades of gray with mark making, and the roundness of the letters and the proximity to each other sets up a rhythm not unlike the shells in my design, and it might be interesting to play with shell-like cross-contour lines in the letters.

No Molly today, so I was able to listen to music as I worked.  I had brought with me the Dave Brubeck Quartet's album Time Out, the best selling jazz album of all time, and containing the best selling jazz single of all time- Take Five.  What made the album stand out was that the songs all have unusual rhythms, influenced by a world wide visit by the musicians, and none in standard 4/4 time.  What put it in my mind today was that a recent dream I had included the album's lead song, Blue Rondo A La Turk.  When that disc ended, one from my Studio library, Miles Davis's 'Round About Midnight which opens with his legendary take on the Thelonius Monk song.

I also took time to talk to Nichole about teaching stuff.  Some debate over whether or not we will have Wednesday night's class.  We both want to, but so far there is just one sign up.  We really need more than that to make it practical, so if we don't have more by tomorrow, we may cancel it and put our efforts into the one for week 3, which currently has four sign ups.  That will be figured out tomorrow.