Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 6


Was at my father's house today to view the Giants game, but I felt like this was something else I could take care of.  When I was there yesterday (lawn mowing), I checked on the pumpkin piece and found it was still a little tacky.  The forecast called for no rain on the weekend, so I left the piece out on the patio table last night, hoping the sun or the constant breeze would finally complete the drying of the surface.  As predicted, no rain, but the pumpkin was still not completely dry when I checked it today.  No color came off on my hands- just a  little bit of stickiness to the surface.  Perhaps that is as good as I can expect any time soon. 

So at halftime, I went out to take care of the next step.  I knew there was a can of clear acrylic spray in their kitchen (why I wasn't sure, but I had seen it sitting on the counter for a while), so I grabbed that.  Instructions showed that it would work like spray paints, so I gave it a proper shake and applied a coat to the front side of the pumpkin.  A few minutes later, that front side was completely dry, so I gave it a second pass.  When that proved dry a few minutes later, I put it down on its face and sprayed the back, since this is plywood and if it rained, that would probably get wet as well, then put it upright and sprayed the edge.  Left it that way for the rest of the game.  At that point I checked it again and found everything dry.  I showed it to my father, who liked the paint job,  so I installed it as it was intended to be seen, on one of the front steps, holding one of the potted chrysanthemums on top.  It seems this project is done.  

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a camera with me, so a photo of what this looks like will have to wait for another occasion.  When I get one, I'll attach it to this post, and you all can enjoy it.  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 5


Back to Manasquan today to mow the lawn and check on this pumpkin project. The coloring is definitely done, and I took another blotter proof. Mostly dry, but tacky enough that I decided not to spray the finish on it yet.  Anyone who knows painting knows that putting a varnish coat over still wet paint is inviting trouble.  Rain may come tomorrow before I am back there again, so I moved it into the shed.  Halloween is still weeks away, so another day won't hurt anybody. 

Friday, October 09, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 4

 Using relief ink to color a wooden object relates to some of my recent experiences making wooden sculptures for my nieces, but long before that it was part of woodcut printing.  That's how I knew it would work, and besides, I had the color inks. I had left it in the shed to dry, knowing when the ink is applies thickly (as in a brush) it takes longer to dry than the residual on a printed block. However I also know from printmaking that pulling a ghost proof on scrap will remove a little more ink from the wood and help it dry faster, which is why I sometimes call these things blotter proofs.  Yesterday I stopped by the shed just long enough to check the progress on my painted pumpkin, and used a sheet of old newspaper to pull one of these blotter prints.

Today I got there a little earlier with a goal to finish the coloring job on the pumpkin.  I had the tube of brown relief ink in my car, along with the glass palette and brush that were also in my Studio.  I also brought a tube of black ink I had in the car already, plus my print shop apron. 

The pumpkin, all the color inks, and the ink knife and brayers were also in the shed. One extra thing I brought from home was an empty can left from lunch, a place to put some water.  Inside the tubes the ink sometimes separates over time, the thick pigment separating from the liquid medium.  Squeezing it out on a palette, no problem- squeeze out enough to get some of each and use a brush or ink knife to remix it, good as new.  Squeezing out just a little directly onto the wood I was coloring, more of challenge, which is why I picked up a palette the other day.  I also grabbed a folding chair from the patio to use while I painted- the last few times I just stood, bending over the table, and my legs didn't like that.  For this longer task today I decided to use a chair and spare my hamstrings the ordeal.

Used the backyard hose to put a little water in my can, into which I could dip my brush to make the water soluble ink flow better, or what in printmaking is called viscosity.  (with oil ink I would use oil, such as a burnt plate oil or something like that) Squeezed out a little brown ink on my palette and added that over the top of what I had painted on the stem. Quick and easy.  Then some lamp black, and touched up the cut holes in the jack-o-lantern design, such as the eyes, nose, and jagged smile.  Also used it to repaint the tendrils over the surface- they had been covered by my early layer of orange, but showed through so I could see where they needed to be.  Then outlined the leaves as the original design had.  Then more orange, a better one than I had put down the other day.  Put out a squeeze of fresh yellow and red on my palette, a little white, and the leftover black in the brush I used to mix it gave me a suitable color, more vibrant than what I had there.  Adding a little water helped me put it exactly where I needed it. 

My father came outside, was surprised by how warm it was there in the sun, and asked if this would survive the weather, since while today was dry,  there would likely be rain a few times before the end of the month.  Good question, one I had thought about myself, and I don't have an authoritative answer.  Never left a finished block out in the rain. In my experience, once this ink dries it is pretty stable, but I told him after it was dry I would spray it with a clear acrylic finish, knowing there was a can of it in the kitchen.  Hope that will do. 

I decided the coloring was done, but left it on the table to continue drying in the open air and sun.  No rain in the forecast for tomorrow, so I decided to take a chance that it would be safe until then.  The only problem is that with everything else I remember to bring today, I forgot my camera, so for now you will have to take my word for it. I'll get a photo and post it tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 3


I stopped by Manasquan just long enough to check on the planter piece, and as expected, the ink was still a bit wet.  So nothing painted today, but preparations were started.  Earlier in the afternoon I stopped by the Studio to pick up a few items.  Got the glass rotating plate from an old small microwave oven, a small tube of brown water soluble relief ink, and a small square brush.  Any one of these things would have made yesterday's work easier.  I use the glass plate (and also a square one from a different microwave oven) as small portable palettes for mixing and rolling ink- the thick tempered glass doesn't seem likely to shatter as I carry it from place to place, and the smooth surface is easy to mix on, to roll ink on, and to clean off with water.  The brown ink will improve the depiction of the woody stem on the pumpkin, and the brush will allow me to paint the details a lot better.  For now these items stay in my car, but when this thing is dry enough for the next layer, I'll be ready.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin part 2

 Had some time this afternoon, so I went back down to Manasquan to check on the progress of my pumpkin project.   I had everything from yesterday out in the shed, so I went directly there, brought it to the patio table outside, and got to work.  Yesterday's orange ink wasn't quite dry yet, but I wasn't planning to paint directly on that, so I figured I would be fine.  

The original design includes four sections of cool green, which I figured could be the Phthalo green and some titanium white.   All the leaves have veins in them, but those can be added later as lines of black ink, and I can fix the jack-o-lantern cuts the same way.  The other thing today that had no orange ink on it was the woody stem on top. In theory brown can be easily mixed from red, yellow, and green, plus white, but today I still have no palette, so had to do the mixing directly on the wood surface.  It didn't help that all I had with me were a set of very cheap brushes (probably a gift because I would never buy such things for myself), falling apart as I tried to use them (bristles falling out, ferrules coming off the handles).  Comparing this photo to the previous one, the stem color isn't too far off from what was there, but I think I can do better.  Probably have a little actual brown color ink in my Studio. Meanwhile, it all went back out the the shed to dry, and I'll wait a day or two before I try again.

Monday, October 05, 2020

A Not Quite Great Pumpkin

 Yesterday when I was watching football with my father he pulled out something he wanted my help with.  An old wooden holiday item, flat boards, one basically a shelf, and rising vertically behind it  a background piece, in the shape of a pumpkin. It was painted to look like a jack-o-lantern, the idea being a potted plant can be placed on the flat shelf and the pumpkin would sit behind it.  It was pretty old, much of the paint worn off, whether it be from age or weather, but enough paint remained that it was clear what the image was supposed to be.  He wanted it repainted so he could use it for this coming Halloween. I told him I had no paint there in the basement, but I could probably figure something out.  Before I left, I had.   

For an image on paper, I'd have a bunch of options. Being that this is a wooden object, I thought of some of my recent wooden sculpture pieces, which I colored by painting them with water based relief ink, which I have in many colors.  And thanks to my color theory training,  I can use those colors to create all the others. Apply the ink thinly to the wood and it will dry on it, in whatever color I chose.  Figured it would be best to put on a background color, then paint objects on top of it- the holes in the jack-o-lantern (black). the leaves and vines (phthalo green) etc.  All those inks are in my Studio, so a visit to there was added to my list of errands for Monday.

My third stop this afternoon was at the Studio, picked up some inks. Down in Manasquan, did the lawn first, then my pumpkin project.


 Mixed an orange color using red, yellow, and white inks, and used a small soft brayer to put a thin layer over the whole pumpkin shaped piece of wood, then left it in the shed to dry overnight.  Everything else can wait until tomorrow. Halloween itself if still a few weeks away, so I'm not worried.  Applying ink with a brayer is not as precise as using a brush, so it's not as neat as the final version will be.  

Thursday, October 01, 2020

A New Challenge

 Right now I have a problem I have not had to deal with for a while, finding a job while not having one.  That would seem challenging enough in this age of high unemployment, but I was unprepared for one task that is part of the process- finding job references.  Most job applications ask you to provide references, maybe letters, or at least a list of names they can contact to check up on you.  In the past I had a list of such people, generally linked to past or current jobs I had.  The problem is that it's been a while since I had to look for a job, and the list of people I had is a problem- they have all moved on from the jobs they had.  Retired, moved away, died, etc.  And generally there is a preference for people who are currently working in jobs, which is not as common as it once was. 

Generally most jobs ask for three, so that was my goal. Thought of a few likely candidates and got their agreement to do so early in the week.  Still wanted at least one more.  Yesterday when I was talking to Nichole (from that initial list, and she agreed), she suggested a few more, some of whom I had put on a short list of potential third persons.  Sent an email to one last night (recent former student in Ocean Grove) but as of now I still haven't heard back from her yet.  The email was not bounced back, so I guess the address is still valid, but I have no idea is she has read it or not.  Meanwhile I tried another possibility today- Bobby Duncan.  He's one of the artists down in the basement and has known me for years, plus he even has an actual job title- building monitor, which sounds more impressive than it is.   So I went to see him today, taking a meal break in the Room of Many Feasts, between a shift on the mural he's been employed to create and his job in the building. He agreed, and gave me one of his homemade business cards to use for his reference contact, so at least I have this task done.