Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Print Work

Most of the time I am making prints that I want to make, and I have devoted a lot of time in recent years to teaching, whether it be in a college classroom or in a workshop. But once in a while it is straight art for cash, using my skills to make a profit.  That could be commissioned work, or it could be pure labor.  Today was more the latter.  My most loyal student's oldest friend hired me to produce an edition of relief prints, pulled from linoleum plates.  The plates, paper, ink, and a press were provided.  The rest was to come from me.  

I've done this kind of thing before.  Several years ago a college student hired me to pull editions of 4 blocks (lino, wood, and MDF) for a show she had coming but due to an injury would be unable to do the task. At first she wanted large editions of each, then I explained to her what it would cost to make all those  prints, and it became 7 of each.  Since a press would speed that up, I brought Molly onto the project, which resulted in her getting almost half the money, but we got it done in a single day.  This time it was only 3 each of two linoleum plates, and I did it at the home of a former student who lived in Bradley Beach, and was able to have her small press moved downstairs.  Molly was not involved.   A price was negotiated with the artist, and a date negotiated with my student.

Today was the day.  I had my printmaking go bag sorted and in the car, and got up there on time.  She had everything ready, and air conditioning, which is very important today, as we are in a bit of a heat wave right now.  I started by making a template, a large sheet of paper on which I marked the size and shapes of the paper and plates, to make it easier to line everything up consistently, which is expected with editions.  Paper was sorted and marked.  Mary had a new can of Outlaw Black, a quality oil ink I have worked with before.  One thing I wasn't sure of was the paper.  It was a Japanese paper, with one side very smooth, and one more natural.  Which side to print on?  No clue given.  I decided to go with the inside of the roll, which was the smooth side.  I didn't like it, so I tried one on the rougher side.  Liked that better and decided to go that way.  Just then the friend called and I was able to ask her.  She said she didn't care. Rough it would be.

So we ended up with 4 copies of the first print.  Later prints went much faster, as the block had a bit of ink on it from the earlier prints.  Then we jumped into the 2nd print.  As with the first one, that first proof was the toughest.   The second was better, but the paper had shifted ever so slightly at initial application, and I decided it didn't meet the standards.  I had prepared 6 sheets of print paper, which we had used to that point.  My assistant was getting tired, and my back was starting to tire, so we decided to clean up and call it a day.  I took most stuff home, but left a few things there, as well as all her stuff.  Two more prints  to go. We have no real deadline here, so waiting a few more days won't hurt.  Driving home it was so hot I did something unusual- I actually put on my car's air conditioner.

Also got news that her friend may be coming back. She lives in Portland, which is having an even worse heat wave than we are, like 115 degrees and up, and no one has an air conditioner.  Her family put her up in a hotel, but it might be cheaper to fly back here and hang out with her friend in NJ.  Meanwhile, I'll set up another date to finish this one that is started.  No photo available today, as my camera is probably still in storage.  I'll try to come up with something for the next print session.  

Monday, June 21, 2021

More Ocean Grove Business


As we move through June I realize that I may have a woodcut class coming up soon.  I am scheduled to teach a second session class at the JSAC in woodcut printmaking, and as a reminder I've been getting the general emails going out on the subject.  I taught two sections of woodcut in that place back in 2019, the last time classes were offered there, or probably any other place, thanks to Covid 19.  But things are starting to get back to normal, and that includes a bunch of classes this summer.  All I have heard is that the watercolor class is full, and other classes are filling fast.  (the above photos are from one I taught back in 2019)  I recently inventoried and cleaned out the tote bag I was keeping print supplies in, in my car.  Further car cleaning turned up a bag with cans of ink that I thought was lost or in storage, so that is good to have.   What I didn't know yet was if there would be a class at all, and my email question was ignored, so I decided to go ask myself. After my weekly speech therapy appointment, I took the ride up route 35 to Neptune.  Unfortunately, it was decided to close 35 and divert us to another road going in the opposite direction, so it took a little while to get to my destination.  

I found Nichole and got the latest, which was while most classes were filling, mine was one of those still with no signed up students.  We have another week to go before the deadline, so we are hoping for the best. No class means I can delay the acquisition of a new saw for a little while. We also talked a little about Mary Lane's plan to donate a press and tools to the building, but it may be a while before she can come up with a plan to do so. Although the building still seems pretty empty, the phone list that was published last week shows almost no vacancies.  

Went to my Studio to see what I could find there, as the books and prints I used to bring to classes (if there is a class) are mostly in storage and I'm unlikely to see them in the next week.  As I expected, lots of blocks are available to show as examples, and a few prints.  My mother suggested that I see if the library has any print books of the famous artists, so I may do that tomorrow, online of course.

While still in the basement I ran across Bobby Duncan, one of our longtime tenants. (his class is also empty right now) He has also had a lot of illness, worse than me, but is making a recovery himself.  Besides the work he does for the building, he also is a professional artist, often working on commission.  Today he told me about one thing keeping him busy these days, a giant mural inside a warehouse/garage of the Circus Drive-In, so we had a new subject to talk about.

He mentioned a fondness for the Soft Shell Crab sandwich, which I made part of the subject of print I did a few years ago.  

After that, I headed home. I always have something to do there as well.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ocean Grove Business


Today involved some things around Ocean Grove, even though I never set foot in the town, or left my own.  I was being treated to lunch by East Coast and West Coast Marys, the former a woodcut student of mine, the latter one of her oldest friends, as well as her collaborator in the East vs West print show we had a few years ago.  The lunch was a belated thank you for my help with that show.  And I did provide a lot of help.  I set up the original show at the Boatworks, making the original connection with then director Rebecca.  I helped East Coast Mary create the written proposal and helped with hanging suggestions.  When the BAC turned over their staff and the show proposers were looking for a new venue, I hooked them up with Nichole at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, where I have had a Studio for more than a decade, and the director was looking for shows.  I was part of meetings, and assisted with the hanging of the show.  Plus I had a few prints in it, helping to fill wall space.  Lots of other things as well.   I hadn't heard from my student for a long time, and wasn't sure if she was even still around, so I was glad to hear from her last week. 

Eventually they settled on a plan to pick me up where I'm living now and take me out to my local choice of place for lunch.  As part of it we would be discussing some print related projects they were interested in.  Creating potential conflict was that West Coast Mary was heading back to Portland in less than a week.  They pulled up to the house as expected, I got in the car, and gave them some options, from which they chose Squan Tavern, a local Italian place that has decent food.   Was there a few times with family during my convalescence in their house, and had some take out, so it's the restaurant I know best these days.  They both went for full pasta dishes and very much enjoyed them.  I had a nice sausage and peppers sandwich, which I knew would be large and tasty, plus not too expensive.

East Coast Mary had mentioned in emails that she was interested in water based color inks and using them.  I have almost no experience in this area, but I can figure it out.  The question is whether she should take my upcoming class at Ocean Grove, or hire me as independent teacher to work with her on it.  West Coast Mary has two blocks that need to be printed, but at 87 and not as physically fit as she was in the past, was looking to get small editions made. That much I knew before today. I've done the print for hire thing in the past, but it's been a while.  I tried looking up my old email communications related to that time, but I don't seem to have access to that account these days. 

However, there was a lot more to be learned.  The blocks turned out to be linoleum, not a problem. And she is willing to leave them for her friend to ship to her later, so we don't have an immediate deadline, which is a big help.  She has paper, a Japanese style, which can tear easily if hand printed, but I didn't know if I would have a press available.  (Molly has a large roller press that we used for the last such job back in 2012, but I would have to excavate a lot of Molly's stuff just to get to the press and she would expect a big cut of the money made, so that's not my preferred option.)  Ink may already be available, and that and paper are big expenses, so that will bring the cost down.  There is no BAT, but she showed me some images of what she wants and discussed it with me, so I can probably do without them. 

East Coast Mary lives locally, so there is no immediate deadline on her color project.  Whether she would take my class or want to work with me independently was still up in air, and is partly dependent on if the class even runs.  What I learned today is that she is considering donating a lot of her printmaking equipment to the JSAC, in exchange for her (and me) being able to use it when needed.  Putting it in my individual space can't happen- Molly fills just about every square foot with things she doesn't want to get rid of. (see above photo as an example)  When visitors to the space comment on how messy and cluttered the place is, she just claims it is part of her working method, while finding other places in the building to actually work.  Another thing I learned is that she and Mary have a meeting with Nichole tomorrow, where they can discuss if there is such a place in the building, or to at least put the idea into her head. Another thing I learned today is that the Mary's are planning another show, and are looking for a space.  I don't know what space is available for either a print studio or a gallery show, but Nichole would know better than anyone, so the meeting tomorrow may be productive.  West Coast Mary may also want to donate some tools and equipment, which may help the deal.   I'll find out in the near future.  

I will have to give a lot of thought to all these things, and do some calculations.  In the short term, I was able to provide some ink information to East Coast Mary by email.  Turns out I know a lot about relief ink, having used it so much the past 30 years or so.  I have a bunch of print friends who have made deals in recent years to have special ink made to their standards, but also sold to the general public.  Some of these could figure into these projects. 

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Time to get to work


I haven't started any new work in a long time, which is mostly because of the brain surgery and recovery process.  Recovery is still going on, and probably will for quite a while, but I can walk fairly well now with a cane, have permission to drive, have my car as fixed up as it can be at its age, am done with my most time consuming therapy, and have had a few ideas, some of which relate to the events of the past 6 months.  So this seems as good a time as any to get something started.

Nothing on the schedule for today, and rent was due on the studio, so it seemed a good day to start the process.  My parents had a doctor's appointment to keep them busy, but I had no problem getting myself ready.  I'm going to save the details for the future, but I will say now that it will be in the vein of the piece shown above.  A New Year for America was the first of my pieces that combined many small pieces (which may have been separate prints in some earlier series) into one large print.  Since there is one overall message, it works.  This, and a follow up, Employee. were both 36" wide by 24" tall, fairly large by my standards.  I kept them black and white to make the combination easier to put together, and more logical as a composition.  Eventually this was followed by History of Art, which turned the print on its side to make it 36" high by 24" wide, but that was planned for color, and cut as such.  This new piece will use the same idea of combining many stories into one landscape, and the horizontal idea, but go back to black and white, be mostly an interior, and be at a smaller size- planned at 18" x 24".  Still a good sized print and will have a lot to see, but a little easier to print and frame.  I have been doing sketches of items and spaces that are expected to be part of this piece for a few weeks.

Today was a chance to get up to the Studio. First item- leave the rent check for Molly, as I had promised her by email I would.  Second, see if Nichole was in (and with her door open I could) and discuss a few loose ends regarding my summer woodcut class.  I quickly learned that I will be covered by the building's insurance and won't need my own (that's good- will save me a bit of money), and gave her the  official letter she had asked for to give the board.  So far so good.  Except that she informed me that so far no one had signed up the July woodcut class.  She's hoping that promotion of the first session will bring more people to exposure to the second session, and I hope so as well.  But this was what I expected, and why I wan't too upset that I wasn't also given a June session.

On my first trip in I had brought in my saber saw, which had been in the back of my car, in its box, since the last time I used it, which may have been last fall.  But I knew I also needed a yardstick before I did anything else, so I decided to make my next trip outside.  I had one other task outside the building- get a slice of pizza across the street. This meant a walk across our parking lot, down to the corner, across the road, and though the shopping plaza parking lot.  This last part was the most dangerous part, as people like to use the parking lot for racing, so one must take a careful look before stepping forward. But I have known this for many years, so I was fine.   What I feared most was also true- many employees go there on their lunch breaks, and in that 12 o'clock hour the place was packed.  But we all engaged in voluntary social distancing, and we all got served.  Took care walking back across the parking lot and street, so that was again survived.  The slice of pizza served as both a drawing prop for my new piece and today's lunch. 

Then my luck finally failed.  I pulled out my saber saw, found it even still had a blade in it, got one of Molly's plugged in extension cords, and plugged in the saw.  But it didn't start running. Tried the other extension cord, but same result.  Took the saw over and plugged it directly into the wall, but still no action.  Changed the blade, tried again, same result.  This saw just wasn't going to work and I knew of no reason why.  Other than the saw's age- it was used when it was given to me, and I had been using it since I was in Carbondale in the early 90's.  That will have to be dealt with soon.  

By then I had been there a few hours and decided to call it a day.  But I had gotten things done, learned a few things, found some more postcards and a disc I thought was missing, and had driven my car more than I had in a long time, so on the whole, not a bad day.