Saturday, April 30, 2022

Walkin Blues part 1

Time to start working on the next block.  For now that looks like the Robert Johnson project that Tom called me about a couple of months ago.  As he requested, I selected some song lyrics that I thought I could work with, then I did some sketches.  For now, I chose 4 songs, after listening to a bunch of his work on YouTube.  (my own CD's are still in storage)  Of the ideas, two sketches in my sketchbook are further along, and one of those is a vertical composition, which matches the wood I prepared yesterday.  (Next piece of wood I buy, I'll do some horizontal blocks, for the other idea that's further on.)  Since the open studio thing was today and I needed something to work on, this will be it.

As for the title, there is some disagreement as to exactly what it is.  The original Robert Johnson record I had listed the track as "Walkin Blues", while the 2 CD set of complete recordings calls it "Walking Blues".  Which is right?  Both are found all over the internet.  Since what he says in more like walkin, and the record came out a few decades before he disc set, I'll go with that here.

This is a case where I do wish I had my camera, but it's still in storage.  I have an alternative for showing Tom the results, but I hope to solve this dilemma before then.  It's not like I haven't looked, but it seems all the low price cameras are listed as unavailable, and I'd prefer not to go 4 figures for this thing.  So for now you get my descriptions, and someday I'll have photos to share.

The lyrics I chose for this case were, "she breaks in on a dollar 'most anywhere she goes."  What does this mean? Cant find any agreement on that either.  When it comes to blues, my belief is that if the metaphor is not easily understood, it's probably a sexual reference.  In this case, the one explanation I found the most on the web was that it refers to a woman who very easily makes friends with all the men in a room, almost as soon as she arrives.  I took this to mean an attractive woman who gets all the attention.  Sounds like Robert Johnson all right.  So my sketch is what appears to be a bar room, and a somewhat statuesque woman walking toward the viewer, not paying attention to anything going on.  Seated next to her at a table is a couple, the man with his head turned to check out the woman walking past him, while the woman at the table seems unhappy with the effect she has on him.  In the background are 4 figures, male and female, of similar states as the couple.  View is from slightly low and looking slightly upward as a result, so we see more ceiling than we would looking straight out.  

My first step was to look at this in the mirror, to decide which way I wanted the composition in the final piece. I had decided I liked the way it looked in the paper sketch, so I decided to draw it backwards on the block.  Used a mirror to start this process, working from my paper sketch for the overall composition, and for the striding woman.  I had done a sketch of the couple at the table, but for the block I wanted something different, so I looked at sketchbook drawings I had done of men and women at the little cafe tables we made at Belmar Arts.  Since I took all those photos, I don't feel bad about using them as a source.  And in three hours, that is as far as I got.  So right now I have three figures roughed in in the foreground, and four very rough figures in the background.  I left it up there to continue the drawing next time I'm in the Studio.

Unfortunately, I can't listen to Robert Johnson or his contemporaries in the Studio, and I left my book of jazz and blues CD's at home (so many things going on today, something had to be left at home), so I was just left with the few things I keep there.  So as I drew, I listened to acoustic Neil Young (described here back in September of 2021), Toshi Reagon's The Righteous Ones album (see August, 2021), and then a more electric Neil Young with Crazy Horse, details of which I don't have now, though I remember it was a Fillmore show.   

A Very Long Day


I'm not kidding- this was a very long day.  I was awake and up a little past 7 am, so I could get everything done that I needed to before leaving.  Left on time, drove to Ocean Grove, got there just before 9 am, and my day was just beginning.

Nichole arrived just moments after I did, so I let her open up and turn off the alarm.  I took two trips to get everything in, though some of that was for later.  I rearranged the furniture there in my classroom, then set up my still life.  Some of my favorite props are still in storage, but after looking at drawings of similar past projects, I was able to find enough other things to have a similar still life set up.  For the first time in weeks, I had 4 students, but still there was room for people to pick spots as they arrived.  Simple pencil line drawing, but as they discovered, what should be simple shapes are not always so easy to draw.  Just did the one drawing over two hours, and all were surprised that they did fine, but at the end the drawings were the proof.  Told them that next week was the last week of our first 6, and we would use charcoal, so they are prepared.

I cleaned up my classroom, opened the door for someone who was banging on the door at the top of the ramp, and talked to a few people already walking around.  Brought some things to my car, then headed downstairs for item #2 of the day, the open studio event.  There were a number of barriers around the basement, but nothing I couldn't push through, so I went to my space.  Found some sandpaper and sanded to backs of my newly cut wood blocks, then it was time to draw.  I will save details on the new block for a post of its own.  During the three hours or so that I was down there, I had maybe 10 people wander through, which was a good as I could have expected.  In general, people were very impressed with the building, both for the artists and the structure.  A lot of questions about classes, but I could only tell what I knew, which wasn't much.  As an example of a print and its block, I selected something I had there, the new version I did a few years ago of Moving Day.  As usual, people were impressed that I was doing woodcut, a process that seems difficult and challenging, but I know that its all about drawing, the division of positive and negative space, and that the technology hasn't really changed in 500 years.  They were also impressed that I did everything as a mirror image.  This was emphasized if they saw a supermarket block, and realized that all the lettering was backwards.

Around quarter after 3 I put away my materials, locked up and turned out the lights, and headed upstairs.  Time for item #3, closing reception for the tenants show, up since February. Not a lot of people there, other than the people who were also there for the open studios, which was also still going on for some.  Cheese, crackers, and thick sliced soppressata, and assorted beverages, was out for those who wanted it  Some people asked about my woodcut prints, and one guy even wanted to see the Studio and any prints I had there, so I considered it an extension of the open studio and did so.  Maybe he'll take a class in the future- he asked about those.  

There was also a cake, but Nichole wanted to wait until Joe, our open studio organizer, was present to cut it.  He had people up in his space for the open studios, and wasn't ready to come down.  But eventually he did, and thus we had item #4, the final toast and the taking down of the artwork.  So I had a toast (non-alcoholic, since that is all we are legally allowed to serve there in Ocean Grove), a piece of cake, and then it was time to start taking down the artwork.  I had brought all my packing material with me (plastic, bubble wrap, etc), but I couldn't remove my pieces from the wall from the ground, so I waited for help.  After we were done with the celebration, Nichole brought the staircase/ladder around, and Tony volunteered to go up and take the wires off the hooks.  He handed the works to me, and I carried them quickly to the art classroom I had used hours earlier.  Nichole had given me permission to keep things there overnight, but I wanted to take care of it on the spot.  Two pieces were wired to hang on the hooks, so I quickly removed those wires and gave them back to Nichole.  I put the color piece down in my studio. as once I get my paper, I'm going to try printing some new copies for the sale I have lined up.  

I carried the rest of my stuff to my car, and now I was finally ready to leave.  Was home by about 6:30, which these days is still daylight.  Brought into the house what I could carry, left the rest in the car for now.  Saw that my new paper had arrived, but I was too tired to open the package.  I can wait until tomorrow.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Back to Ocean Grove


I went up to Ocean Grove for a while this afternoon to take care of some business, mostly to save me from having to do it tomorrow, which will likely be a very busy day.  

I walked through the first floor on the way to the elevator and noticed something immediately- a statue. This was expected, a bronze rendition of the famous Rosie the Riveter poster, courtesy of the Johnson Atelier, a loaner for Women's Empowerment month. Of course it wasn't expected until sometime next week, which was odd.  I went to school with a sculptor who had a job at the Johnson Atelier for a while after she finished grad school.  She had the bronze experience to do the work, but was happy to get a teaching job on the west coast, and I never heard from her again.  She said that all the bronze workers who were there actually disliked these Seward Johnson pieces, since they were not particularly original, but rather things made from famous paintings.  But these things paid the bills.

The first task was to leave the May rent check for Molly in the usual place.  This is one of those things that could have been done tomorrow, but now it's done so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow.  

Another task done in advance of tomorrow is preparing wood blocks for the next project, since I may be having an open studio tomorrow.  As I write this, I still haven't heard from Tom with any new details about this Robert Johnson thing he is putting together, so I will do what I said I would do- produce some drawings at 11"x14", as he originally asked for.  If nothing else, I can make woodcuts that size for myself, as I am interested in doing this for myself even if the big thing doesn't happen.  Today I used my new saw to cut two pieces of 1/2 inch birch plywood to an appropriate size for prints he originally stated.  I have sketches for 3 ideas, but I'll start with two, and have enough wood to do more should I want to.  I probably won't get past pencil drawing tomorrow, but I will bring india ink, brushes, and markers, in case I want to take things further.  After I get some drawings done, I can decide if I want to send those to Tom, or cut the blocks and print them, then send my print images, which he can use as is, or give me some directions on what he wants instead.  Since I still don't have a camera, it's all moot right now anyway.  The pieces of wood still need some sanding along the edges, but I can do that quickly tomorrow, before I start drawing, or even later, since it's on the back of the wood.  The block shown above is actually a supermarket block, but it's the same kind of wood, and you get the general idea.

Another thing I had to do was pick up a canvas tote bag.  I believe some time next week, all stores in the state will be forbidden from supplying customers with one use paper or plastic bags for purchases, a law that was signed into existence years ago and is scheduled to take effect quite soon, unless some kind of delay is put into place even sooner.  Of course, all stores also sell reusable tote bags for the same purpose, but I don't want to buy more bags, and I have huge supplies of the old plastic bags, which I have been reusing for years, as garbage bags, to hold art supplies, provide to students for use, or whatever.  I figure to use the disposable plastic bags as liners with the reusable bags, so I can throw them out when they are beyond help.  I knew I had one canvas tote in the car, holding all my print supplies, my printmaking go bag, so that one is in use.  I had one or two in my apartment, used for print classes and such, but I assume those are now in storage, so no idea when I'll see them again.  I used to have two in my Studio, but one disappeared during the break in a few years ago.  All I lost was that bag (probably used to haul some of the old power tools that Molly had stolen from her), and a roll of paper towels, which were probably the most valuable thing I had there at that point.  (at least for most people, as they ignored all the valuable wood and paper that Molly and I have, as well as my boom box and CD collection, things that Molly and I value, but most people don't, which is why no one sells them anymore) So now I had just one bag, full of tools and hardware, but otherwise clean, so I moved stuff out of that one and to a triple layer of plastic bags (have lots, and it will hold that stuff for now) and I'll have a canvas tote I can use for food shopping next week.  As a bonus, I found a few ear plugs in there (from the table building project) things I thought were lost or in storage, so next time I need some, I'll have them.

Stopped by the office, but Nichole was not there.  She had been in earlier, and would likely be back later, but for now she was off.  There are events scheduled for the next several days, some also unexpected for them, so she will be busy.  (the sculpture was indeed expected next week, but was delivered early, so for now we have an extra artwork in the gallery)  I'll be there a lot myself tomorrow, so I'll know more then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Teaching Business


Decided to take care of some teaching related business yesterday.  We had been sent a form to fill out, but while my computer was able to open it, I couldn't get it filled out online, so I just printed it out and brought it with me to Ocean Grove.  

Up at the JSAC I found Nichole was somewhere in the building, but not in the office, and people there in the office told me she'd be busy for a while.  So I just decided to fill out the forms on the spot and leave them for her on her desk.  Besides, we had some conversations on this topic in recent weeks, and there would be more on all those surveys the students filled out.  It was mostly about teaching- what classes we had and when, do we need to make any changes, any recommendations for materials, etc.  Nichole has all the information related to the classes I have done recently, including the week by week breakdown for two levels of drawing, one of painting, and materials for each, and I can put together the print one quickly if she wants it, but last I heard, she was going to try for the drawing and color one first.  From what I saw of the surveys, the biggest issue for most students was the room itself, though compared to the basement, it's much better than that one.  Either way, I have nothing to do with that. 

I chatted with the two people there (I know them both), but I had nothing else to do there. I mentioned my plan to send Nichole an email about the teaching stuff as well, checked the status of my studio space (no new problems there), and headed home.  I'll be back there on Saturday for class and events of the day, so everything can wait until then.   I have no idea when the decisions will be made about the next round of classes, but Nichole had said that she wanted time to advertise the classes and for people to register, so I figured it was in my best interest to get my information up there. If she wants to know more, she knows how to get hold of me.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Open Studios 2022


A few months back we got word of a new Open Studios event being planned for the Jersey Shore Arts Center.  We've had at least one of these happen in the past, and I think that the show I had at Ocean County College several years ago was a result of that event.  Essentially, I just worked at my table in my space, and occasionally people wandered through.  A few things are different this time.  For one, this was completely organized by the artists.  The idea for this came from one of the participants in the current tenants show we have going on up on the 1st floor.  The organizer remembered such things from his time living up in Hudson County and saw no reason why it wouldn't work in our building.   Well, maybe.  Instead of being scattered in studios all around a dense and busy county, we are all in one building.  Another person at that first meeting claimed that we would need at least 6 months to organize this, as in her experience doing this in the past, that is what they got.  I don't think so- the month we had was more than enough.  Some people volunteered to produce graphics for postcards and other publicity, such as the one at the top of this post.  At least it has a phone number and email address, because it doesn't have any listed date or hours.  (by the way, this event will occur on April 30th, from about 12 to 5 pm, though the closing reception for the art show is now scheduled for 3 to 5 the same day, so how many artists will be in their studios remains to be seen)  At least one person stated that food had to served at this event, and it does seem something will be sold out of the cafe space up on the 3rd floor, though what I have no idea.

Will I be participating?  I have no idea.  For a few weeks I believed I had a class on Saturday afternoons, and Nichole felt that the teaching should be the priority.  And since I had committed to that earlier, I agreed with her.  If Molly was going to be there, that might work, as she would have the place open and I could stop there around teaching, but she refused to commit, and I haven't seen or heard from her since. (our organizer didn't even know who she was, even though she's been there as long as I have) The afternoon class that I would have had has since been cancelled, so technically I am now free, though the deadline for officially signing on was weeks ago back when I still had the class.  More significant, I don't even know yet if visitors are even going to be allowed in the basement right now.  If they can't get there, they won't be visiting.  

As for what I would be doing, I would think that my next project is the Robert Johnson project that Tom wants me to be part of.  Final prints are due until early next year, but I figured I could at least start on some drawings on wood, a necessary step.   And even if he doesn't want to use one of these designs, I could still turn it into a new print series.  The problem is that he has given me no information since that first day back weeks ago, and I would like a few details before I saw off blocks and start to draw images.  I sent another email a few days ago, and he promised to be in touch today, but as I write this, he still hasn't contacted me yet.  He still has about a week to go before this event, so it's not too late, and if I don't hear from him, I will do drawings anyway.  

Either way, I like to do my part, so I will promote it.  I've done so here on the blog, and I'll tell my students about it tomorrow.  And whether I hear from Tom on not, I'll do some kinds of drawings of my ideas next week. More than that I can't do right now.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

What Goes Around, Comes Around


Earlier this week I took advantage of the nice weather to re-spray paint a set of plastic bottles, probably used for the last value drawing exercise done in my college teaching career.  By the end of the day, I moved the box I used as my spray booth to the shed, and let them dry there, as well as release all their fumes.  A few days ago I moved that whole box to the back of my car, taking advantage of another nice day.  The reason I did these was because my prepared list of assignments for the JSAC drawing class called for value drawing with charcoal this weekend, and I had nothing else I could use.  Gathered everything else I needed, and moved them to the car yesterday during another dry and sunny moment.  So naturally we did charcoal value drawing today.  I had told them all last week, so they knew what to expect and to bring the materials.  Forgot to tell them to wear dark colors, but I did.

Someone was there earlier than me to use the building, so I didn't have to unlock the gate or turn off the alarm.  I did have to get the key to unlock my classroom, but it was in my Studio, exactly where Nichole had said it would be, so I just took the envelope upstairs with me.  Back on the first floor, I opened the envelope and found a very brightly colored key.  Unusual, but it worked, so I'm not complaining.  I had plenty of time, so I put away a few tables, set the room up the way I wanted, set up my still life of white painted bottles and a white towel, a direct light source (a clamp light with a fresh bulb), and was ready. 

I had three students show up, but that is what I expected, as I knew one was going to be away or otherwise occupied for the holiday.  We did two drawing today, first a reductive drawing where I had them create a field of medium dark gray, then erase the light shapes out, drawing with the kneaded eraser.  They had never heard of such a thing, but found the process very intriguing.  (I expected this, as over the years I had a lot of college students do this and they enjoyed it as well, some even choosing to do it for their final drawing where they had a choice of materials and styles to work in)  Did that for an hour, Then moved things around (and taking away one milk jug and replacing it with a painted funnel) and had them do a more traditional charcoal drawing, using black charcoal and white paper, and eraser for fixing, not drawing.  I pointed out that in some ways, this was a bit like the negative space exercises we did last week- the chair and the bottles.  The above photo (college students) isn't exactly what they saw, but it's pretty close so you get the idea. 

I gave them sheets of blank paper to protect their blank pad pages from charcoal, but advised them to spray with fixative or at least hairspray as soon as they can.  A few are planning to work on their charcoal drawings a little more first, and I said they would be just as workable until sprayed, which is true.  I cleaned the tables of charcoal dust and turned off the lights before I locked the door. Let the office know I was leaving, and took off.

One thing the students remarked on was that these classes at the JSAC are so much cheaper than what other places charge.  I don't know about that, but if they want to pay more money, I'd be ok with that, since it means more money for me.  They also expressed some interest in taking more drawing with me, or learning woodcut (having seen my work in the hallway), but that is also out of my control.  I told them to talk to Nichole about that.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Another Bit of Studio Business


Having gotten through the weekend, suddenly it's time for more work.  I'm used to it.

My first stop was at my speech therapist's office.  Last time I was there she told me she tried to go to my show, but had problems and thought the locked door to the basement meant the show was off.  Actually the locked door is a stupid plan that was provided by the building, which was intended to save them from having to watch the door (which has a camera on it), and mostly inconveniences the people who have spaces in the basement.  But since the show is up on the 1st floor, that it was locked made no difference. Anyway, I told her that I was teaching classes on all Saturdays, morning and afternoon, so if she came by during the run of the show, she'd find me on the 1st floor.  But I have since learned that the afternoon class is cancelled, and there is no reason to hang around all day, and I won't.  Today was just to deliver the message of my new schedule.  As it turned out, my speech therapist was in, so I let her know my updated schedule, and that she could go, or not, and go while I am there, or not, but if she wanted to go while I was there, it would have to be by about 12:30. The office (speech) will be closed next week for Easter vacation, and she'll be away, but may try to go next week.  In any case, my work was done.

Next stop was up at the Studio building.  Last week I had Nichole show me the alarm system and verified that I had functioning keys for the gate and the front door, and we came up with a plan for room #3.  Over the weekend I realized that there may be a problem next week.  I can open the door for my students, and leave it open for anyone who comes to see the show, but what about the doors after that?  The postcards advertise the gallery (and show) being open Saturdays from 10 to 2, but will there be anyone there after I leave, and if not, should I lock up the place when I leave, well before 2 pm.  Turns out, she hadn't thought of that.  Luckily I did.  She has almost a week to figure it out and let me know what she wants me to do.  As long as I had her there, I asked if she had any white painted objects I could use for next week's light and shadow value assignment.   She said no, so it will be up to me to provide my own.

Next stop, buying some white spray paint.  For years I have started value drawing with vine charcoal, and specifically lit white painted vessels.  The idea is to concentrate on light and shadow by eliminating all local colors, and I think the idea of using white painted vessels came from one of my early classes.  I had a lot of painted objects, but had no idea where they were at the moment.  Not in the basement, not in my car, and not in my Studio.  I saw two options.  They were in the shed or in storage, and if the latter, it might be a while before I saw them.   I knew I had some plastic vessels in the recycling bin I could paint, so on my way home, I stopped at a local hardware store and bought a can of white spray paint. My old spray booth/box was gone, but there was one we had saved that might work.  After lunch, I went out to the shed (some yard clean up going on this morning prevented me from checking it earlier) and found a bag of white painted vessels.  Good. However, all were at least a little chipped (and some very chipped), so some painting would be necessary.  At least this was a relatively nice day.  I don't have my typical white bed sheets, but I do have a towel I used with my niece last spring, so I will wash that this week. These plastic jugs are surprisingly challenging to draw (as many students have learned over the years I taught college), so a good subject for any drawing student.  The four I sprayed this afternoon are the same ones I sprayed in the above photo, just years later they needed a touch up. I hit them with two coats, then carried the box to the shed.  It may rain tomorrow or not, but either way they will be safe there. 

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Drawing Class


Yesterday I wrote an email to Nichole, requesting some illumination on my acrylic class on Saturday afternoon, as I knew nothing and it was scheduled to happen again the next day.  She replied by sending me the email she was sending to the registered students, asking them what was going on.  I heard nothing, so prepared for both classes.  Left as usual around 8:30 am, so I could get there an hour before class, more than enough time to prepare for the early drawing, as well as the afternoon color class.

The problem was that no one was at the building to open it up.  I have a key to the wrought iron gate at the main entrance (same padlock that we had for the back gate when there was a back gate), and the keys that unlock the front door.  However, I don't have the key to the classroom, and no idea how to work the alarm system, so I decided to wait and hope.  And wait.  And wait.  Nichole finally showed up about 20 minutes before class began, which is plenty of time for me to do what I had to.  She turned off the alarm, unlocked all the doors, help me set up the classroom, and cleared some stuff from the lobby.  Meanwhile, I retrieved my old wooden desk chair from my space in the basement, and got ready.  

Once again, I had four students, the same four as the first week.  Five have registered, and I will get paid for five eventually.  I had the scheduled class information, so I just followed the plan.  I've done this lesson every time I've taught drawing, so I knew it well.  First an hour of negative space drawing of my old wooden chair, which is more challenging (as these students can attest) than it sounds.  Still, they conceded it was an important lesson to learn.  The second half of this is always bottles, drawing the positive shapes, while using the negative to get the spacing and shapes right.  A more popular subject, but as they quickly learned, not any easier than the chair.  At the top of this blog are examples of these exercises from my college classes, which give an idea of what I was doing today.  One student was amazed that I sketched the neck, shoulders, and part of the barrel of a wine bottle so accurately and quickly (less than a minute), as she struggled for half an hour to do the same thing.  Chalk it up to experience.  I let them know that we would be doing value drawing next week, what they would need, and then dismissed them on time.

From Nichole I learned that she had officially refunded the person who claimed to de-regester from the class, and that the second person decided to postpone taking more acrylic right now, so I no longer have an afternoon class.  So after making sure of the process for turning off the alarm, I decided to leave and just go home.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Ben Franklin, woodcutter on TV


Earlier this week I caught the two part Benjamin Franklin series on PBS, the latest project from Ken Burns.  I have enjoyed his work in the past, as I did this one.  My parents wanted to make sure they saw it, so they recorded it on the DVR at the same time as we watched it.   I knew a bit about him already, so there were no true surprises, but some things served as reminders.  I knew that Franklin was from a large family, grew up poor, and was largely self taught.  He first achieved fame for his Poor Richard's Almanac, later through experiments learned most of what we knew of electricity, and with that knowledge, invented the lightning rod, a major invention of that era.  (like Jefferson, he was knowledgeable in many areas and invented many practical devices)  Later still, he was a driving force behind American independence, contributing to both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Along the way, he was a key individual in getting financing for the American revolution, due to extensive efforts in European diplomacy.  The most famous American of that era, despite only a few years of formal education.  Like Lincoln down the road, educated himself to the top of many fields, and donated what he achieved to the betterment of mankind.  (he also had many lesser, if not low, qualities and habits as well, but we'll ignore those for now)

As I watched these two episodes, one thing I noticed was a large number of graphic black and white images, not identified during the show, but to me looking like woodcut or linocut, or maybe wood engraving, or possibly black and white drawn art meant to look like a print.  Especially in the first episode.   As someone who has cut a lot of blocks, and looked at a lot of prints, I know what relief printing looks like.  Making it more likely to be print than drawing was that Franklin was a printer, an experience and skill that he maintained for much of his life.  His first real job was being an apprentice printer to his brother, who had a print shop there in his hometown of Boston.  He later ran away from that, but started his own print shop in Philadelphia, which eventually led to his first fame, along with greatly assisting his education, building his muscles (carrying around trays of lead type have an effect on the body), plus providing a steady income.  When the pandemic raged last year, Molly and I still had access to our studio and could use it, even as some other tenants of the building were shut down.  At least part of this was Nichole's interpretation of "essential workers," but I guess we can give some credit to Franklin as well.  No one was more essential to our Revolution than he was, and he got his start as a printer.

But that didn't solve the question of these graphic images used so prominently in this video series.  Took advantage of a few hours of empty house to look at the first episode again, but I couldn't find any credits for those images, except maybe some very long and very small names of important contributors.   In any case, impossible to read.  Went to the internet. I have long said that all the information known to man is out there on the internet, you just have to know where to look and what questions to ask.  (just a few days ago, my father and I were looking at a first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and two bridge officers struggled to find information about a past incident, that would pop up in a one question internet search today, but this episode aired a few years before the world wide web was invented, so I guess I can't blame them) And I had to ask a lot of questions.  Nothing about it on the PBS website, no reference on IMDB, and the above image was found in online reviews of the series, but no credit given.  A bunch of Google searches turned up nothing, until I asked about woodcuts.  Should have known it would come down to that.

Eventually, searches of "Benjamin Franklin", "PBS", and "woodcut" somehow led me to Charles Turzak, who was an artist/printmaker active in the early/mid 20th century, who did a woodcut novel about Ben Franklin back in the mid-1930's.  The images I found look like the ones I saw on the television show, so I'm guessing that this is where they came from.  (I'm still not positive about the image at the top of this blog post, it's from a review of the Ken Burns series, but there is no credit for who did it, so I'll just hope it's Turzak.)  I don't know the size of the original image.  It was mentioned that his Franklin book had about 85 images, more than some of Masereel's novels, less than others.  On the other hand, it's nowhere close to the 366 prints that were part of my Fourth of July series/book, so I have this on the guy.  Tom mentioned he still tells people about that series, so maybe no one has ever taken on such a large series.  The whole thing is up on the web for anyone interested in seeing the whole set, at

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

More of the Same


Today I picked up where I left off yesterday, going through all this old artwork and deciding what I don't need anymore.  I do have a lot of my old artwork.  Today I tackled the heaviest box I had, which I knew from when I packed it, contained a lot of things from my school years.  It's not that the work in that box is so heavy,  but that the box has no handles or anything to grip, so moving it is very difficult.  What does it contain?  There are a few things from my first ever art class, 2D Foundations with H.E. "Coach" Coleman.  Saved those.  Paintings on paper from my early painting classes- paper coated with shellac, poured on and spread with a piece of mat card, which would allow it to be used with oil paints once dried.  (a trick from our painting professor, Bill Barnes) Some I will keep, some will be disposed of.  I had forgotten I had some of these, so I was glad to see them.  Lots of life drawing from my undergrad days, on various size sheets of paper.  Some were just plain bad- poor proportions, no foreshortening, strangely drawn limbs.  Glad to get rid of that kind of thing.  Early prints from my old days, quality varying.  The etchings and monotypes represent some of my earliest prints, before I even tried my first woodcut.  Kept some, tossed some.  Watercolors, complete with the old watercolor block they had been cut from.  None were great, but kept the better ones for historical reasons.  Prints and drawings from my Montclair days.  Still primitive compared to what would come later, so I kept what still interested me and tossed the rest.  My paintings from this era were done on canvas, so what I have left is elsewhere, still stretched over wood stretchers, some with frames.  (most of my paintings from that era were removed from their stretchers and rolled up, and destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, so I don't have to dispose of them now)  So I could eat, everything I decided to keep was put back into the large box, but eventually I'll take out the small stuff and pack it elsewhere, and put the large drawing pads from yesterday in there.  Then create new handles for the box (I have an idea how to do that) and take it to my rack in the basement.  

I have found some related things in these boxes, not mentioned before.  Found a bag of old photos, generally from the 1980's.  All were saved because of art relativity. Do I need them?  I don't know, but they don't take up much room.   In a bag I found my large filter mask, which I had for mixing acid back in the days when I was the grad assistant in printmaking and it was job to do so.  I made use of this mask back in the early days of the pandemic, when it was the best mask I had and sometimes I was expected to have one on upon entering a supermarket.  Don't know how effective it was, but it sure looked scary, and that was good enough for those days.  Made use of it for my print on the subject, the last supermarket block I draw and cut, though I don't think I ever printed a copy, and I ended up in the hospital shortly after that.  (the mask and the block are shown above) I look forward to finding that block in my storage unit and printing it and seeing what I have there. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

A Necessary Task


Having gotten hold of some of my past possessions yesterday, and having them all delivered to my current home, I now had a new task ahead of me- disposing of it.  In the days between my diagnosis and my first admittance to the hospital (and subsequent surgery), I had just a few days.  I elected to spend them at home, doing as much disposal and packing as I could in that time.  I never set foot in that apartment again.    I had lived there for 10 years, and though I was meticulous about taking out trash (especially food related stuff) and recycling, there was much that had built up, and most of it related to art and teaching.  Some of that was turned over to my brother and his family, and they claimed to have brought all the art stuff to my new location.  A lot of framed artwork was brought her and put down the basement (my recent show at the JSAC came from this material), I knew there was a lot missing, and had no idea what had been saved.

Finally yesterday I got my first taste of what I hadn't seen in about a year and a half.  One thing I brought home was the packaged figure drawings, covering my whole artistic career, but mostly the ones done in Belmar as part of the figure group.  Most nights that I went, I posted my best drawing of the night right here on this blog.  However, we drew for hours, and some of my drawings were not as good as others.  But good or bad, all was drawn in large 18" x 24" pads I had (some bought new, some salvaged from those unused but left behind by students) with charcoal, and all saved.  But back then I had a two bedroom apartment, financed by a bunch of jobs I don't have anymore, and may not be able to replace.  I do hope to have a place of my own again someday, but I may not have that kind of space again, so things have to go.

For example, I have posted two drawings above.  One is the best of the night, and one is something I chose not to show here when I did it.  Today was about getting rid of some of those original drawings that were just not as good.  My computer records show that I did a number of drawings of that particular  model that evening (a regular, so there are a lot of drawings of her on this blog), and the lower one is the one I selected to show on my blog that night.  (April 20, 2011)  However, the upper drawing was done of the same model that night and I didn't like it as much. So the photo was not edited and not posted. (I generally did not draw her tattoos, but that one on her shoulder, from the doorways of the old Carousel House in Asbury is one she actually has)  So today was the day to dispose of drawings I wasn't that satisfied with and didn't need to keep, so that top drawing was torn out of the pad it was in, and then cut up- it no longer exists except that above photo.  I got rid of dozens and dozens of drawings today.  As an artist I want to hold on to everything, but I don't have the space, and some of these drawings are not any good, so it's better to get rid of them now.

Monday, April 04, 2022

A Very Busy Day


Early Sunday afternoon I sent an email to Nichole, a thorough update on the events of Saturday, the people involved, etc.  I didn't hear anything that day, which didn't surprise me, even though she said she'd try to figure out what was going on by then.  But as I write this, I still haven't heard from her, so I don't know if she took the day off, or if she is still trying to get answers from the parties involved.  But I don't sit still for long.

I have standard things I do on Mondays, so that went as usual.  Got home, made myself a quick lunch, and barely had time to sit down, when my parents got home from their day.  Not much time to rest, because my brother called, and said that he had time to go to my storage unit, and the weather was cooperating for the moment, and my mother was willing to go, so I was going to get my first look at the place ever.  I had no idea what was there, just that there was a lot I was looking for, and it wasn't in my Studio or my current residence, so I hoped it was there.  Had no idea how to find it, but I was willing to go and find out something.  (Two planned excursions to the place were planned for last week, and canceled when it was decided by others that it wouldn't happen.)  I hopped in the car with my mother and we drove up there, half expecting to find my brother already there.  He wasn't, but Mom had a key, so we could get in.  As I had been told, my old recliner was right by the door.  It looked even worse than I had been told, though I think a lot of the dirty dust came from the storage unit.  (I saw this because where a box had rested on the seat, the cloth was still a bright blue, not the brownish color of the exposed parts of the chair, and surely that part of the chair I had sat on for years would be as dirty as any part)  One of the bookcases was not behind it (as I was told), but right next to it.  I decided that it would be best to get some of kitchen stuff and the recliner outside temporarily, so I could get at the rest. So I did that, and got a look at some of the art stuff.  There was a lot there.  I pulled some things out, putting them in or by my mother's car, until by brother finally arrived with his large car, and whole family as well.  

One of the things I am hoping to get is access to all my drawing props, as I now have a drawing class going, and we won't be doing shoes every week.  (I can probably get through next week for both with what I have at home, but life will be easier beyond that if I have my old props) I left behind some props that I don't need right away (like a giant mallet and a vintage bowling ball), but it's good to know they will be available still.  Also left there some print group folios- things I will want, but don't need them right now.  Mostly what I brought home was packages of drawing pads, mostly figure stuff covering decades of drawing.  I'll go through that, keep the best, and dispose of the rest- I just can't keep everything I've done.  I have found some print paper, but not the Japanese stuff on this first trip.  I found a bag with some of my watercolor palettes with premixed combinations, and my trusty water can (as in the above photo), but not yet the wood case that holds the tubes.  One of these boxes had by good woodcut tools, which will be very helpful for the new Robert Johnson prints, if I ever get the required information from Tom as to dimensions and such.  I was surprised to find my missing pencil case, not that I need the teaching stuff right now, but it's good to know where it is. I saw boxes of books, and found a few of the things that were on the medium bookcase in my living room, so I hope this is a sign that the rest of that stuff is also in storage, but for now the books stayed there- no room at home yet.  The old recliner and kitchen stuff went back in the unit for now.

We are expecting a lot of rain the next few days, so I expect to be home sorting through everything I brought home today.  Maybe I'll find some other treasures in these boxes.  

2022 Tournament of Art part 4


The 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament still has a little ways to go (North Carolina has a comfortable lead), but that has no affect on my art tournament, which ended Saturday.  My last art school that was still in, Villanova, lost its Final Four game to Kansas that night, thus ending my involvement.  It was also the last team I had on my brackets, so I have no reason to care about the current championship game. It was fun while it lasted.  I hope to have better luck next year, both with my art schools, and with my picks in general.

Saturday, April 02, 2022

First Day of School

 Okay, not my first day of school, but my first day of teaching in my latest position, classes at the Jersey Shore Art Center.  Actually I have taught there before as well, but things have been closed down since the pandemic started, so these are the first classes that I have taught there since then.  What's not new is the subjects, things I have taught before, both here and at colleges. And as of last night, I had two classes running, one with 5 students (basic drawing, taught there before a couple of times), and one with 2 students (acrylic painting/color, new for this place, but something I've done dozens of times at a few schools around the country).  Today's lessons were easy enough, and required few props, which was good as I could load in one trip, and getting out ahead of the planned Jerry Garcia/Grateful Dead festival was also easy.

The first class was at 10:00 am, so I got there around 9.  Found Nicole, who let me into the room.  I had brought something for lunch, as I had only an hour between classes and didn't want to waste it walking somewhere for food, so it was stashed in a refrigerator that I knew was in the room. And then I waited.  I had a list of registrants (from emails I had gotten all along) and I hoped they would show up.  The first sign ups were over a month ago, and I've known some students to forget they had signed up for a class that far ahead.

The good news was that students started to arrive.  Four out of five showed up, which wasn't too bad.  The lesson was in contour line drawing from shoes, something I've done since I had my first art class back in 1986, but I've been using that as an opening day exercise ever since, in various classes, and had some shoes from my parents (my collection still in storage?), so I was confident.  The students were all women, I would judge older than me, but that's no problem either.  I don't know that anyone loved it, but all took to it and did what they were supposed to, and I would judge that all learned that with time and effort, they could render things, which is the point of the lesson.  One of those students was also listed in my afternoon color class, but said she wouldn't be there.  Not because of me, but because she had decided that a Saturday afternoon class extending into May might interfere with her summer plans, and she had worked this out with the office toward the end of last week. I hadn't gotten anything about this yet.

Had my small lunch, used the bathroom, and got ready for the afternoon.  I was planning the basics of color theory (color wheel and compliment mix) the starting point for all color I've done over the years.   The student who told me she wasn't coming back was true to her word, but the other one did show.  Nichole did around the same time, so both got the same update.  Nichole was unaware of my other student's claim of having deregistered for the class, but told us she would look into it, and let us know something soon.  She disappeared, and the student who did come and I had some conversations about materials and where to purchase them (my morning group had a hard time fining stores that carried these things, which didn't surprise me, an artist and teacher who has dealt with this before), but I was able to explain things like the differences between various types of paints, and the binders that have been used all through history, as well as why all was purchased for the class. It was obvious that Nichole was not coming back any time soon, so I suggested we start the planned lesson, break out her paints and brushes, and figure out what will follow later.

So we did that, and did make a color wheel, something new to my student.  She seemed to know nothing about mixing colors, so it was informative to her.  We ran out of time after that, so didn't get to the compliment mix, something we probably would have accomplished if we had started on time, but that will wait until next time.  Just finished at 3 pm, so I shut the lights and locked the door, saw Nichole on the way out (too busy with the day's event to figure out what was going on with my class) as all the vendors were arriving, so I got out quickly and started my way home.