Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas from Studio Arrabbiata

Haven't said much the past few days for two reasons.  One, not much art related to talk about- cards printed, and holiday activities made me too busy for much else.  Two- my internet was working only intermittently for several days, then not at all.  My provider did a remote check and decided the problem was with my modem, which may be since it was several years old. But I have to submit grades soon, so getting that fixed was a priority.  Plus, as I have mentioned a few times in recent years, it's far too easy to get dependent on the internet. Considering that it didn't even exist though my initial degree, and I had no access to it until I got home from grad school, it's astonishing how much I end up using it.  So, at their suggestion, yesterday I disconnected the old modem, and brought it in and exchanged it for a newer one.  I installed it in the early afternoon, then called them to have it registered and activated, which all worked, which is why you get to see this year's Christmas card today, colored last night.

This year my studio assistant was old favorite Wayne Thiebaud, still hard at work as an artist as he approaches age 100, though this piece is based on one he did back in the 60's.  It shows a flat counter of bins of toys in the foreground, and back shelves with stuffed bears in the back.  How close the two are to each other is not apparent from the painting, and in my imagination there is space between them, enough for people.  So I decided to put some toy makers working on the toys in the bins- painting wooden alphabet block, pumping up inflated balls, and assembling large spinning tops.  I did a Santa and his elves Rembrandt piece several years ago and didn't want to get too close to that so soon . One good thing this time of year is that there are a plethora of Christmas specials on tv, great opportunities for research.  Most of them have traditional toy making elves in colorful costumes, pointy hats and ears.  Or they don't show it all.  One exception is March of the Wooden Soldiers, a favorite since my youth, and always shown on Thanksgiving. It's an adaptation of Babes In Toyland,
an operetta built around nursery rhymes, but filmed by Hal Roach in black and white with two of his biggest stars- Laurel and Hardy.  They portray versions of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, in this case renting a room in the giant shoe, owned by the old woman who used it as a rooming house, and lived there with her beautiful young daughter shepherd girl Bo Peep.  The guys work for the master toymaker, and naturally do a lot of dumb things in both places, but before they lose their jobs we get a few scenes of the toy operation, and all the workers there wear white shirts, black overalls, and little caps, so my Christmas card workers do as well.  The feature length film is quite cheesy, but the climax is the village being overrun by Bogie Men from outside the city walls, with big furry suits, formless rubber masks, and large amounts of padding, and 6 foot tall mechanized wooden soldiers (one of Stan and Ollie's many mistakes) saving the residents and driving the monsters out. Can't have a holiday season without it.

The image shown above is one made from a proof on the Okawara paper, glued down with a little PVA to a stiffer paper, in this case one of the unusable cards on the heavy paper from my initial printing run.   Knew those early proofs would come in handy.  I made and distributed two such cards today, and have two more of those Okawara proofs left. I also have 3 proofs on the heavy paper that I think may be salvageable, which sets the overall edition at 7 cards, which is probably enough in this era when few people send Christmas cards anymore.  Hope to mail out a few by the weekend.


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