Monday, August 30, 2021

Fever Dream part 4


Had a variety of business to take care of at the Studio today.  When I arrived, I saw Nichole's car, so I stopped by her office first.  She confirmed that I still had no students yet.  I have about another week to go before the registration deadline, so I guess it's wait and see.  She doesn't know why the computer system is not letting me in, but I should have gotten notices if anyone signed up, and I haven't, but she confirmed this by checking her records as well.  I also asked her about fellow building resident Bobby, who I haven't seen in quite a while, seeing if she had heard anything since his last operation.  She says he's recovering fine, just taking a lot longer than he had expected.  (we had expected exactly what is happening)  We also discussed the fun of delis, then I got to my space and did some work. 

Last time I had roughed in some things in the middle, so today I cleaned them up a bit.  One thing was a comic book fan going through some comic bins, like you would find in any store or convention, in this case a dream image.  The starting point for my comic book fan came from the internet, essentially a search for images of "comic book fans", and I found someone who looked a lot like what I had in mind.  Sketched the figure and the comic long boxes in my sketchbook in pencil, but it was facing the wrong way to fit my design.  No problem- just used a mirror to sketch it out on my block, changing things like clothing, hair style, and facial hair to make him look more like my original idea, plus less like this photo I had found. In that same mid-ground I refined the figure of two helicopter nurses I had roughed in.  The helicopter nurses are something that didn't come from a dream, but more like a delusion I experienced in the hospital.  One day I woke up and I didn't recognize the room, which was not that unusual during my times in the hospital.  (I got moved from time to time)  The room was very bright, every light on, which almost never happened. The hallway was completely dark, again unusual.  I could see a clock on the wall, round type with two hands, and it read about 9:00, so I thought maybe I had slept late.   Moving around my room were nurses, but not what I was used to.  Typically the nurses wore light colored scrubs, always masked, and often with additional protective gear.  These nurses had masks, but the scrubs were dark, like a navy blue, with images of large helicopters in white on the backs, though no words.  I had a new roommate, but the curtains were drawn so I couldn't see him.  I decided to lay like I was still sleeping for a while, see what I could learn. I heard a voice ask one if they worked on helicopters. "Sometimes" one said, and that was all I learned for sure.  My neighbor's television was on, and it seemed to be some show about American culture and history from the 60's to the present, with a lot of popular music from the various decades.  This kind of show is common enough on cable tv, but in my delusional state, I came up with an explanation that the helicopters roamed around picking up bodies on the ground and bringing them back to the hospital, and my neighbor had been a prisoner of war, absent from our county for decades, and this television program was part of updating him on some of the things he had missed the last few decades.  As I said, I was a bit delusional.  With the nurses gone, I decided to do a little exploring, put of some clothes, and grabbed a walker, which was the most I had been allowed to use yet.   I got out to the very dark hallway, all still unrecognizable, when  a nurse demanded to know what I was doing.  I told her I was looking for a bathroom and didn't want to wake my neighbor, which was partly true.  I was ordered to go back in the room and sit on the edge of my bed for ten minutes.  Besides, it was still 9 pm the night before, way too early to get up.  So I did all that, but they never came back.  Five more minutes, and still nothing, so sat down in the armchair next to the bed. Eventually I got back in bed and tried to get more sleep.  Some time later I realized I was in the same room I had been in for days, but had never seen in so lit up, and the hallway so dark.  Never did learn anything more about the helicopters, or anything else going on.  Anyway, I decided that these mysterious helicopter nurses would be part of a future artwork, which turned out to be this one.  What I had roughed in last week and cleaned up a bit today were images taken directly from the internet, like my comic book fan, sketched in my sketchbook.  I am planning a third nurse, who will be in the foreground, but for that one I'd prefer a live model who I can pose exactly the way I want, so for now that will have to wait.  

Meanwhile I had brought my smaller CD holder today, one with a supply of blues and jazz discs, and from this I selected some Ella Fitzgerald, a home burned and abridged version of a disc set I had at home- "Oh Lady Be Good!  the best of the Gershwin songbook."  From the liner notes I learned that this was part of a series she had done, coming into the studio and tearing through songs by particular song writers, backed by Nelson Riddle's orchestra.  At times the orchestra does get a little overblown, but I like her for her vocals, and those are well done, and the songs are all standards.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Old Activity


I had learned a few days ago that Molly had a show coming up.  I hadn't seen her, but the level of activity in the Studio had picked up, and the amount of art she was making went up as well.  But I found out for sure when my mother had mentioned seeing something in the local weekly.  There was a show at the Main Street Gallery in Manasquan, a place that had turned me down in the past.  I knew Molly had found some part time work sketching animals (pets) and some of this art included that.  It was a two person show, along with someone named Elizabeth Sabine, who did classic landscapes.  I wasn't sure if I was going for two reasons- first I had never received an invitation to go by postcard, phone, or email, and second, there was a lot of rain predicted for the day and night.  But in the end, the rain never came, and since I hadn't seen Molly since before my operation, and the gallery was a very short car ride away, I went.

The gallery was easy to get to, and there were hardly any cars around, so plenty of parking.  No one in the gallery was wearing a mask, so I left mine in my pocket and went in. Maybe 15 to 20 people in the gallery, including staff and live musician.  One person I knew- Sandy Taylor from Belmar Arts, so I got to learn a few things that are going on there, as well as let her know what was going on with me.  (as an artist, I know that you end up spending a lot of the time at these openings working the room and not talking to friends and acquaintances that show up)  Some of work was older and I had seen before.  Some were items I had seen in the Studio, or similar things.  There were three pieces that were new to me- large works that combined some of her typical abstract shapes and large versions of the sketchy figures I saw a lot of in the Studio, as well as there in the gallery.  I liked them and told her so in the limited time I had to talk to her.  Whenever I next see her in the Studio (which she promises she will finally have time to clean now, with this show up and both her kids in college now) I will talk to her more about those.  After about an hour, I headed home.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Fever Dream part 3


Was up at the Studio a little past 1 pm today.  Didn't see Nichole's car in the lot, so I figured she wasn't there and went right to my space to work.  I had worried that it would be hot and sticky today, between the weather and the tendencies of the basement, but it was fairly comfortable in there.  

I had drawn a few things in detail on the block, but hadn't tried most of it yet.  Today I decided to bite the bullet and rough in the ideas I had, and see what would fit and what wouldn't.  (I have more ideas than I have space for)  So today's sketches were mostly pretty rough, but enough to see what might fit where.  What I put in today was one of my Studio chairs (drawn from life), some very rough helicopter nurses, part of a supermarket, a comic book bin being looked through, a clothing rack and escalator from a mostly abandoned department store, and a Disney style princess castle starting to go up in flames.  (I have some weird dreams, but this one isn't too weird for art)  The floor includes some carpet, some tiles, and some overgrown grass and weeds.  

In some cases I have source material for the final drawings, and those will be easy. I can do those there or at home.  Some borrow from art I have already done.  A few are things I just have to work out, but I have enough art skills to do that.  Some I still need to find, but I have ideas where to look.  I think the general composition is good, so I'm on the right track.

For music today, I brought my case of rock/pop discs, and without having a plan of what to listen to, I selected my Gun Club disc.  You can read about that on this blog back in November, 2019.  Good music for a crazy kind of scene like this.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Trying Again


It's been a while since I had a woodcut class.  Last year just about everything was shut down, so there were no classes of anything anywhere.  The year before that I had two classes of woodcut at the JSAC, plus two drawing classes, but last year Covid shut down everything. (the above photo goes back to the last class a few years ago)  But we are trying to get back to normal now, so it was put on the schedule for this summer.  Unfortunately, no one signed up. (People either really love the idea of learning woodcut, and are willing to travel far distances to take a class, or they are scared to death to try it.)  It may be that potential students are still afraid to take any class, or people aren't used to taking classes yet.  This summer, some classes happened, and some got no sign-ups.

The director at the JSAC still believes in what I do, and art classes in general, so she decided to put up another small bunch for the early fall, including woodcut, so part of the responsibly falls to me to promote it.   So that is what I am doing.   This next class meets for 6 weeks instead of the usual 4, and rules for contact between students and tools are still being worked out, but we have a few weeks before it is scheduled to start.  The class will meet Saturdays, from 2 to 4 pm, assuming that people sign up.  They are looking for minimum of 4 students, but we do get to meet on the 1st floor, much more comfortable conditions than he basement we mostly had the last time.  I still provide wood, paper, ink, cutting and printing tools, students bring their ideas, and woodcut are made.  Never had class any place where every student didn't finish at least one print, and that was in four weeks, so we may have to find something else to do, or explore some other processes. The first step is getting some students, which I  hope happens.  If not, we will try again next year.

For more information, see the JASC website, or contact them to sign up for the class.  And if you are not interested, but know someone who may be, pass the information on to them.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Fever Dream part 2


Had enough time today to go up to the Studio, so I went in the afternoon.  Upon arrival I saw that Nichole's car was there, so I made her office my first stop in the basement.  I was sure that by now, the class I may have would be listed, but I didn't know when the deadline is, and just didn't feel like putting on my computer today to look for myself.  It turned out that the class just went online yesterday, so my timing was about right.  No one yet, which is expected.  The registration deadline isn't until September, so I have some time there as well.  

Went to my Studio next.  Not too hot, but was feeling a little steamy. However, nothing to stop me from working.  Had brought my block home, so I had to bring that with me today, as well as pencils and my sketchbook.  I am planning to have my usual border, but I have also decided to use my Studio as part of the structure of the composition.  The plan includes looking through my Studio door, with items on both sides, making a kind of frame for the composition.  Everything else will be seen through the door, things in there.  As part of my plan, I had made a list of elements I was planning for the composition, I gave each a designation as either foreground, middle ground, or background, an aid to putting it all together.

My start last week was a foreground piece, my hand holding one of my key rings, the one with all the studio keys. It's in close up, one the right side of the block. or what will be the left side of the print.  The wall behind it will go in eventually.  Today I added the border line, and some items that will be just inside the door.  There is a little piece of a desk, covered with papers, on top of which will be a food tray, and a hand can be seen holding a slice of pizza.  Leaning against the desk are some silkscreen frames.  The small desk with papers and food are common elements of dreams I have had lately, though the slice of pizza is drawn from life, take out I bought across the street from the Studio, open following the worst of the pandemic.  The silkscreen frames are always there in my Studio- Molly hasn't gotten rid of anything she has in years.  I don't know if any of these things are finished, but they look good so far. 

My music for today was my live Dream Syndicate album.  I wrote about this back in April, 2020, if you want to learn more.  That it also mentions the word "dream" is just a coincidence.  I actually wanted to listen to my home burned disc of The Brood album "Vendetta", but it refused to play in the boom box I had there. I am listening to that same disc right now on a boom box at home, so I guess it's not the disc itself.  The Brood were an all girl group out of Portland, Maine in the 1980's and 90's, considered garage rock, but I'd also say a retro band in the nature of the Cynics, with appropriate keyboards and guitars.  More about them if I ever can listen to that disc in the Studio.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Fever Dream


I haven't made any new art since last year, and I am looking forward to getting into the Studio and trying to do a woodcut.  I feel like the skills I had before my surgery have returned, or maybe never left, so it's time to test them out.  

An idea that I've been playing with for a while is another complex composition, in black and white, but a bit smaller than the 2 foot by 3 foot pieces I was making a few years ago.  Partly this is to make printing easier, and partly this is to be able to use frames I currently have, since all the places I used to buy frame parts and mats have gone out of business, and plexiglass is getting harder to find as well.  

While still in the hospital I started to work out the idea.  I had a working title of "Fever Dream", which is a term that usually applies to odd dreams that are sometimes a result of the brain being a little warped by fever and other bodily problems.  What I have done in this case is gather images from strange dreams I have had recently, plus a few things I remember from the past, plus one very strange event in the hospital while I was there that included some odd delusions that may or may not have been an effect of my surgery and hospital stay.  As with some of my larger prints, I thought about organizing them into a single composition, which would be a little strange because of the nature of the dreams.  (the really disturbing ones are being left out; the art world and viewers aren't ready for those yet)  

Several weeks ago, I started sketching some of the elements that I expected would appear in this image, based on still life or digital images found on the web.  I found a piece of wood that was about the size that I use for supermarket prints, which I thought might work.  (I have more wood, but when I tried to cut up that board recently I found my dependable old saw was no longer working;  I've had it since I was in Carbondale, and it was used and old when I got it before then, so this is not much of a surprise) 

Today I decided to finally start the block drawing.   I brought my block (had been at home), my sketchbook, a set of pencils and eraser, and a hand mirror, since I may need to reverse some of these sketches to fit my composition.  I also wanted to measure some of the architecture in the room, using myself as the measuring unit, since I want to see how these things worked with humans.  I had finished my business with Nichole, so put on some music and got a little drawing done.  I had brought home my two CD cases so I would have some music at home besides this computer, but left the boom box there and a small stack of loose cased discs that I knew Molly liked, in case she didn't want to listen to the radio, which is what she usually does. Relying on what was there, I selected an album from Toshi Reagon, "The Righteous Ones."  (a burned copy of the original in my main collection in storage)  I had first learned of this record from Vin Scelsa, who had played the opening song on his radio show, so this must have been a while ago.  I was impressed enough by it to write down the artist and title, and later picked up the album after listening to it at a CD World, which also places this as a long time ago. (came out in 1999)  The singer is the daughter of one of the members of Sweet Honey In The Rock, a well known Gospel/accapella group, which may be how this album happened, and that group provided some back up vocals on that song I had heard.  Unlike most contemporary female recording artists, the lead singer is not particularly attractive and I'll leave it at that, but she had a great voice, which is all a singer needs in my opinion, and the backing band is pretty good as well.  

Didn't get too far with the block, doing the first element of my sketched ideas, but at least it is now started.  I don't have sketches of everything I am planning yet, but have enough to start it at least, and I have no deadline to get it done.  

Still have no camera, or the one I have is in storage to be more precise. It's old, probably dating to around the start of my university teaching, but it worked with this computer and had features that many new ones didn't, so I have stuck with it.  However, I don't know when I will get that one back, so I may have to get myself a new one before long.  So no current image of the new block, but probably before it is done.  

Yet More Ocean Grove Business


I decided to go up to the Studio today to get a little work done, but I saw Nicole's car there, so I decided to see her first and settle some new questions.

A few days ago she had sent out a mass email about a schedule change in the film series, but also added a thing about fall classes.  Of interest to me is that she mentioned a printmaking class among them.  This surprised me, as a few days before, she had said she didn't plan to do any fall classes except continuing a few summer ones if there was interest.  So I sent an email asking about it, and she confirmed that she decided to put printmaking on the schedule, not knowing if there was a demand or not, since no one signed up last time.  The next day she sent out something about a new way to check the rosters, but I hadn't dealt with that yet.  She was in her office today, so I got a lot of business taken care of.  

One thing I had noticed was that this new class was 6 weeks instead of the four we had always had, yet the price was the same.  Wasn't sure how that would work out.  In the past the cost of all supplies came out of my pocket, the reason for my concern.  She said that the building could pay some cost of supplies, which would make the difference.  As far as doing an open house/demonstration, she agreed that me demonstrating made more sense than having the students just come in and try stuff (mentioned my safety demonstration, which is a regular part of woodcut), one reason it would not work to have potential students try cutting with sharp tools.  After all, when I brought my Intro students through the wood shop at the university (furniture class), some were very fascinated to see the place, and some were scared to come in the room with drill presses, table saws, band saws, and other wood shop equipment.  (those tools were in the hands of the students who had received training on those, never my beginning students who were just getting a look at what was offered)  We also talked about other forms of printmaking, and even acrylic paints, should this woodcut again fail to get any customers.  Maybe I'll send those student work photos again.

The other good thing about a demonstration is that many new students might not know what woodcut is. That is sad, but true. I've done a lot of those before, so I could do it again.  

We have about a week before the registration opens up, and about a month before it closes, so we have time to figure all this out.