Thursday, May 19, 2022

Making a Living part 8


I decided to go into the Studio today and work on my current coloring job, as I may be busy tomorrow taking my mother to a very long doctor appointment.  Plus, a chance to investigate some other colors.  One thing I hadn't tried out yet was a plastic container with a clear plastic lid, containing 18 pans of watercolors, the kind of thing where you wet a brush and rub it in to make the paint.  Every kid has used one like this, and more than a few of my college students showed up with similar kits for their intro class (I allowed it, as regular watercolors can work the same way).  What I didn't know was exactly what colors could be found in this set, since I forgot to take it out when I last checked my supply, and it's not at all labeled with what's in it, plus it was out in my car and I didn't feel like going out there to get it.  It must have been a gift, but now if the colors worked out, it would be put to use.

The rain had stopped by the early afternoon, so I had a quick lunch at home, made sure that untried color set was in my car, and took off.  At the Studio, I noted that Molly had moved a screen from one part of the room to another, so she had been there again.  (her work was still hanging in the elevator hallway and the chalkboard was now very full, but those aren't my problem to deal with)  I looked at my new set of watercolors.  Not much to go on there.  First of all, not a real red in the set.  An orangey red, but not good middle red.  So I won't be doing those today and I would still need to order one.  The orange was a little light, but might work.  There was a light teal blue-green that could have some uses.  That white would definitely be useful, but not needed yet.  Probably the brown (will compare that to proof I have at home, see what it could be) and maybe one of the yellows will be useful as well.  Got some water.

For music I had brought my blues/jazz set and selected my home burned copy of Gil Scott-Heron, mostly because this had been a question the other night on an episode of Jeopardy.   (the clue asked what Scott-Heron had said would not be televised, and I knew it was the Revolution, his most famous song and the title of the album)  You can read more about the record and the man back on this blog back on September, 2021.  That disc lasts about an hour, which gave me that much time to work today. 

I put the teal to use in a prominent t-shirt, and it did well in a few small spots.  The orange wasn't quite as intense as what I had before, so it was good enough for some things I needed (pizza slice, small t-shirt, Irish flag design, balloon game sign, and a balloon) but an experiment showed it won't do for the large rooftop pizza sign, so I guess I will need a real orange after all.  I had carefully observed a boardwalk fireworks display as part of my research, and noted that the exploding overhead fireworks were surrounded by a ring of smoke clouds the fireworks had generated.  Against the night sky, these showed up as mere hints of colors, partly reflecting the colors of the yellow and orange fireworks, so I had painted those clouds with a combination on orange, deep red, and indigo.  Could I match that with what I had?  Tried on isolated piece, and it looked good enough to me, so next time I'll try to whole set of both rings.  (could take more than an hour just doing those)

So in the end, the experiments were successful, as even when I learned what I had wouldn't suffice,  I had learned something, and I was able to advance the coloring a bit in general.  

As a bonus, I stopped by the office on my way out and found Nichole (saw her car in the lot and hoped she would be there) and got some information on the upcoming classes, as well as the check for my cut of the first round of classes.  Not a lot of money, but every little bit helps.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Making a Living part 7


When I mentioned my plan to go up the Studio today to continue my coloring process, my parents were a little confused.  After all, I was just there yesterday, doing the same thing. What I told by father was true- I will only get paid for this when it is done, so I do have a reason to want to get it done.  However, I do have one other reason to continue work on the print- coloring the proofs is the best way to see if I have enough watercolors to complete the coloring.  If not, I will have to order some new paints to finish the job, and that process takes about a week.  I went through what I had on small palettes last week, and found I have enough to do most of it, but I won't know except by putting down all the colors.

So with all that in mind, I drove up to Ocean Grove today, with all my painting stuff already in the car.  I planned another short day, so one or two more colors.  Perhaps some orange or bright red, colors I will need for this piece eventually.  However, when I got there, I found that I had no significant amount of either color on any of my small palettes, so for now that is out.  Two more colors to add to my eventual shopping list.  The next major color to do was an earthy red, used as an architectural element on some of the buildings, and I had a big glob of that paint available.  (could be a terra cotta kind of thing)  I started with my lesser proof, in case there were mistakes, and ran into a new problem- some reverse leakage.  As part of the concept here, I have used a relatively thin Japanese paper, and what this means is that the paint can leak through the paper and appear in other places, coming back through the page.  After a few such spots on the first proof, I put a paper towel underneath, and that seemed to have solved the problem.  This hadn't happened with any of the other colors done so far, so I don't know if it has something to do with particular color of paint (as an oil painter, I learned that some reds behaved differently from other colors, but never learned why)  or if was just applying it with too much water today.  With the second proof, I used the paper towels from the beginning and there were no problems.  

Music today was influenced by something yesterday.  I was in a local supermarket, and heard playing over the sound system a song I knew from the Jayhawks, and while the arrangement and words were the same, it was definitely a different version.  A cover?  A new recording by a later version of the band for a new label?  Anything is possible, but I didn't know what was going on.  Except that I have the version of the song that I knew on my studio collection of Jayhawks that I kept in the Studio, now one of the things I have at home.  So I listened to that disc today, songs from the first two major releases.  I have written about this before, back on this blog you can find it back on November, 2019.

No images to post today, as all my file photos show things either much further along than what I've done so far, or some completely different colors than what ended up being used.  

Monday, May 16, 2022

Making a Living part 6


I decided to head up to the Studio today, do a little more coloring on my ongoing project.  It was actually raining a little as I left today, but not much.  In fact it had stopped long before I made it up there.  As I pulled into the lot I noticed Nichole's car was there, but as usual, she wasn't there.  I had nothing I had to talk to her about, so it didn't matter.  Luckily, there was other business to be dealt with. For example, my patron for this print was there today, for the firs time in weeks, so I was able to give her an update on the pieces I am making for her.  She was very pleased with where I am at right now.  And another surprise- Molly had been to the Studio at some point and had collected her rent checks from the past few months.  

As long as I was there, I was going to do more coloring.Normally I do a lot of light and warm colors in the beginning, and that is what I have done, but today I put in some light blues and greens.  I did this mostly because I was kind of tired and new I would only be there about an hour anyway.  For music I chose my disc of Tom Waits, as it fit the theme of what I would find on a boardwalk as well as anything I had.  (if you want to know more, find what I wrote on this blog back in February, 2020)  I put on several shades of colors, doing both copies of the print, which is the way I've been handling this process to this point.  And with that, I headed home to relax, before the rain came as expected.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Blast from the past

Not much is on tv on the weekends, especially now that we are heading toward summer.  My father suggested some entertainment for the evening, a new HBO series called "The Time Traveler's Wife.  It was based on a best selling novel from a while ago that sounded familiar.  I read a lot of science fiction, so things involving time travel are familiar to me.  So I decided to give it a try.  The show began at the time expected and suddenly I knew why I was familiar with the title, even though I never read the book.  I know the author.

Actually I don't know her that well, but we did spend a week working side by side back in the 1990's, in Carbondale, IL  Audrey Niffenegger was part of big print exchange program back then.  A bunch of printmakers from the Chicago area, a group of print faculty from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, and a bunch of Mexican printmakers from a studio in Jalisco, Mexico (Guadalajara is there, if that helps any).  Audrey was an etcher from Chicago, I think attached to the Art Institute, as we had a bunch of people who were from there.  There were gatherings in Chicago, Carbondale, and Jalisco.  I didn't travel, but I was around for the Carbondale events, a print assistant as people like that were needed.  What I learned quickly was that the experienced printers from Chicago varied in knowledge-  those who had more "experience" (and more fame) claimed to know nothing, so they could make us do all the work for them.  (what they asked was often very simple stuff, things any professional would know, so assume it was just because they didn't want to work)  One of the Chicago people (Doug Houston)  knew a lot and showed these skills in silkscreen, and I learned much from working on his multi screen prints, often involving an image and computer color separation for each screen.  I used ideas from his set up when I had to do multi block color prints in my print workshops in Belmar.  Below is an example of one of those.

He later sent some tapes he made of interesting tunes, and I even ended up buying one of his conceptual books, a novel made from phrases found in numerous cowboy novels, all footnoted so that we knew they came from other cowboy novels (called "Vast"), an interesting piece.  Audrey was working on a series of etchings about bad things happening to hands, injuries and such.  I never kept up, and would not be surprised if she left the print world for the literary world once this book became a best seller, and the first movie was made, which was at least a decade ago.  This new series is also an adaptation of the same book. 

I had a bunch of prints that came from this combination of printmakers working in Carbondale, but they are all in storage right now.  Maybe later I will get hold of them and post an image here.  I doubt that I had any of Audrey's solo work, because I doubt she did anything while there.  There were some collaborative pieces done in that room, and maybe I have one of those. Someday.

As for tonight's show, it was strange, as happens when events occur in a non linear sequence, a problem with time travel stories.  For now I will continue to watch it.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Making a Living part 5


Well, I guess it's time to get back to work on the new proofs of the Boardwalk print.  I had my watercolor palettes with premixed colors out in my car, but I had one new thing to get- the latest bill from my insurance agent, since my half year payment is due in a few weeks.  The office is on my way to the Studio, so this is a convenient time to stop by and leave a check.  Unfortunately, the office was locked up for Covid, so I'll have to figure out something later.  

My first stop was at the office, to share information with Nichole.  Saw her car there, so I figured it was a good time to try. I was told that I must have passed her in the hallway, but I would have noticed that.  Turned out she was in the workroom, which was one of my topics anyway.  But first I asked her about the class registration(s).  Despite the email I got stating I had registrations, it turned out to be only one on the system.  But not bad, considering that she hasn't officially opened up registration yet.  (happens tomorrow) But I also had email from my former student (and exhibition organizer) Mary, who is working on setting up a print studio in the building, offering her accumulated equipment and aimed at the local high schools that have eliminated art programs.  Nichole likes the idea, and showed her a potential space (that work room mentioned earlier), but has been way too involved in other projects in recent months and hasn't dealt with it yet.  However, when I last talked to her about it she was still interested in doing it.  I had passed this on to my former student last night, and gave Nichole a heads up today that she may get a phone call on the topic soon.

Then I got to work.  Next up- yellows.  Long ago I was taught to do watercolors starting with the lightest colors and gradually working my way through darker and bolder colors, and that is what I'm doing here. So first a light lemon yellow, then some pieces of more like a cadmium medium yellow.   That plus the buff titanium I put on the other day looks a lot like the file photo above.  More time left, so I added some pinks, clothes, balloons, and a sign.  I decided to stop there, saving all the flesh tones for next time.

For music today I went with my home burned collection of the Flat Duo Jets (songs from first 3 full length albums) and a copy I made of Twang Bang's Kicking the Toybox to keep in the Studio.  Neither is what I would call boardwalk music, but both seem like they would be home in such an environment, so it worked for today's job.  You can read my descriptions of them on this blog at January 2020 and December 2021 respectively.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Studio Business


I stayed home today, but things keep happening.  I got an email from the JSAC registration system saying I had new students, but all I see in the mail I got was one student, in the drawing class.  Since it mentions students, I assume there is more than one, but I don't know yet.  Next time I see Nichole I will try to get some more information.  But either way, it appears that I am on my way to having classes next month.  That's a good thing.  Still need more for the classes to run, but I still have a month to go before they start. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Making a Living part 4


It's been a week since I printed the second copy of my night time boardwalk print, so I figured today was a safe day to start the coloring process.  Plus, I figure the only way to learn if I have enough watercolors to color the two prints that are ready is to start the process.  Had my watercolor palettes with their premixed colors, my can and brushes, all packed and ready to go.  Also had my back pack full of stuff, including my book of general discs.  

Got up there around quarter to 1:00.  I knew my parents were eating pizza for lunch (at a meeting of some kind), so I figured it would be good for my lunch as well, since I know we wouldn't have it tonight.  However, the local place (across the street) tends to be very busy during the noon hour, so I took care of a few other things first.  One was moving one of the prints to a lower position.  When I first printed the second copy I put it way high on the tack board to dry, actually in the spot that the 3rd proof  had been for a few years.  Problem is that it is not easy climbing up there, and this coloring will take a while, so it made sense to put my push pins in a place where I could reach the thing from the ground.  Also carried in my bags, and left them in the Studio. 

Went across the street and got a slice, what I think of as an eggplant rollatini slice, since it is a regular cheese pizza, but then covered with thin slices of fried eggplant, small mounds of ricotta cheese, and puddles of tomato sauce.  My Virginia residing friend Jenny is amazed that eggplant if available on pizzas up this way, but it is a fairly common pizza topping here in New Jersey.  I'll put a file photo of such a slice up at the top of this post if I have one.  Brought it back to my space, where I had a beverage waiting for me.  Pizza was still warm and all was very tasty.  Besides that I knew my parents were likely eating pizza, I also knew that I would start my boardwalk coloring with the building that holds "Don's" pizza and clams, a completely authentic rendition of a boardwalk eatery from the 50's, even though the place is completely made up in this century.  

For music, I started with the copy of the Brood's Vendetta album that I had kept there in the Studio. (you can read about it on this blog in August 2021).  I had chosen that mostly because something I had heard on a local radio station kind of reminded me of the band.  Didn't sound like them, just reminded me of them.  Followed that up with my home burned collection of songs by the Wipers from 1978 to 1988, which you can read about on this blog at July 2019.  I wouldn't say that either one is strictly boardwalk music, but both are good rocking collections of songs, good for working to.

Ready to color.  I knew from my study of the completed print I had in the basement that the outer wall of that whole building was a light neutral color, essentially a buff titanium, a color I had a big pile of on my largest palette.  That works out.  Study of the copy in my Studio showed that the same color was used for the small building that holds restrooms, and a few well lit spots on the boardwalk itself, plus a few undersides of signs and a counter in the pizza place.  So I took down the second printed copy (fewer stray marks) and started adding that color to the appropriate places.  For this purpose I put the print on a piece of foam core which seems to have served this purpose before, based on some color already on it.   As I finished the first print I started to wonder if I had enough of that color to do all its use in both prints.  It's probably the largest color I have to do in that print.  But it turned out I had enough, so for now I don't have to order more water color paints.  A view of painting from palettes can be seen here:

I did one other color today, a more golden version of that same near neutral, rising that buff titanium with a touch of yellow, and putting that in a few places. Left that to dry for a few minutes, and went to check the office.  Nichole's car wasn't there when I went out for pizza, but as I approached the office door I could here her in there, so I had a brief conversation with her regarding various teaching questions, then left her to her pile of tasks, cleaned up, carried stuff to my car, and went home.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Last Day of School

 Today was the last day of the six week class I have been teaching for the JSAC.  It's beginning drawing, a class I have taught plenty of times before in different places, including the same building I was in today.   The big difference was that it's now 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks, or the random drop-in thing we tried a few years ago.

Not a great day today.  We had a big storm arrive yesterday, as expected, and it continued to be around all day.  I had loaded my large art bag yesterday before the rain arrived, so I didn't have much to move in the rain today, and even then I was leaving during a lull in the weather.  Still, I wanted to leave on time, as I have driven through Belmar (can't completely avoid it going to Ocean Grove unless I want to take a really huge detour) and I know from experience that the town can seriously flood during big storms.  I figured I better leave time in case I had to detour a few times on the way up.  Luckily, not much rain was falling then, so I got through to the building okay.  Was there by 9:00 am, an hour before my class.   No one was there, which didn't surprise me, as I knew there was a big event there last night.  So not for the first time, I had to unlock the gate, open the doors, and turn off the alarm, before I went in to carry my props, open my classroom and get ready for class.  I knew I'd be missing one student, who emailed me that she was going to miss class, as she was on her way out of town for Mother's Day.

Today's plan was more with charcoal, this time mixing black and white, so I had brought suitable props from home. What I hadn't counted on was that the room was not cleaned up at all from the night before, so I had to spend a bit of time moving stuff off the tables and to the counter.  The square table I use to hold my still life was missing from the room, but luckily I found it in the main hallway, where it had been used the night before.  Now that our art was down, that hallway held some large paintings.  The paintings weren't the worst I'd ever seen, but there were issues with perspective, especially in the painting of cars.  The tires were very poor.   In an abstract piece this would not be a problem, but these were realistically painted solid objects, so I noticed.  It's something we had worked on in my current drawing class, so I had to notice.

Only two people showed up for class, which I blamed on the weather.  I set up the still life, the students arrived, and we started the drawings.  They had definitely improved in handling still life, seeing the objects, seeing how they lined up in the piece, using what was there in the set up to measure things. So some lessons had taken hold. Sometimes the best way to explain is to show examples, so I showed them actual charcoal and ink drawings I had done, and even did a sketch in charcoal of a object in the still life, so they could see an example of how an artist could draw an object in charcoal.  They were very impressed, but I did point out that I had been using the stuff for more than 30 years, and that experience does pay off.  Since they were there, I did promote the next drawing class, which picks up where this one ended, so if they liked what they learned, and wanted to continue, this new one is an opportunity to do so. What will happen remains to be seen, in about a month from now.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Making a Living part 3

Nothing I can do to the new boardwalk proofs I have until they dry, but I can start thinking about colors.  The next step is to color the proofs so they match the original piece.  I have a couple of copies of the original colored print, as well as photos of that colored print, so finding a source is not a problem.  Finding watercolor paints could be more of a problem.  I had taken them all home a while ago, sometime after the Studio break-in, but in time to color something else.  But then I had to leave my apartment, and all that stuff got put into storage.  A few weeks ago I got to visit that storage place for the first time, and one thing I came home with was a plastic bag with all the plastic palettes of mixed colors I had made over the years. Watercolors dry and can be reconstituted as created just my adding water back, so these colors are as good as they ever were.  However, what I don't have so far is the wooden case that held all my whole tubes of paints, my main supply.  The question was did I have enough to color these two proofs.

The only way to figure it out was to make a detailed chart of all the colors used, and then compare them to the paint I had.  If I'm missing anything significant, I'll have to buy more of those colors. (since one of these proofs is a commissioned piece, from someone who has already purchased and paid for one,  I can buy paint if I need it)  I had an unframed copy of the print in question down in the basement.  It still has the tape on the corners from being framed, and it's a little wrinkled as a result, but the image area is just fine and it could be framed again and look good.  For the purposes of determining colors, no problem.  In the end I found 91 different patches of color in the diptych, but some of those are duplicated, so it's maybe half that actual number of different colors.  After checking that against what I had, I think I may have what I need already.  So for now I make no paint purchases.  I start coloring next week, and that will tell me for sure what I actually have.  And then I will know.

When I start it will probably look like the image above, which is a file photo of the first time I colored this particular print, a long time ago.  

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Making a Living part 2


Another nice day today, so time for part 2 of my printing of the boardwalk block.  Plus I had another reason to be up at the JSAC- last night Nichole sent the teaching agreement letter, and that needed to be returned in order for things to go forward with classes.  So after lunch, I drove up to Ocean Grove. 

I had left the Japanese paper up there, so that was one less trip I had to take today from my car to the Studio.  I had hoped things would go a little faster today, with the block still having some ink from yesterday, but this was not the case.  Since the item of the day was a boardwalk print, I decided to play some Bruce as my musical background.  After all, even though my after sunset image is largely made up, I did take some general inspiration from Bruce's favorites- the Asbury Park boardwalk he sung about, and the Manasquan boardwalk, a place he gets seen on a regular basis.  This was my home burned selection of songs from 1973 to 1995, two discs.

Actually, before I did anything with the boardwalk print, I first went to the office.  Once again, Nichole's car was in the parking lot, but she was missing.  So I followed her directions and left the letter on her desk.  I assumed that she had a copy of my inoculation/booster card from the first round of classes, so I didn't need to worry about leaving a new photocopy of it.  Last night I had emailed another copy of the two page document that broke down the drawing and painting classes, week by week, plus the list of materials.  All part of the fun.  As of now, the plan is for me to once again be teaching drawing on Saturday mornings, and basic painting with acrylics on Saturday afternoons.  I don't know if the drawing is beginner or advanced, or both.  I do know that the next round of classes begins for me on June 11, 2022. This week the current students will be offered a chance to sign up for classes, and I think that the listings are open to all the week after that.  As with before, how much I make will depend on how many people sign up.  If they sign up.

With the school stuff taken care of, time to work on printing.  Got out a new sheet of the okawara, made lots of pieces of masking tape, since they tend to start falling apart after a few inches, and removed the tape from the block that had been useful yesterday.  I also took a few minutes to use my good tools and remove a few spots that had picked up ink yesterday.  Now they wouldn't pick up ink again.  

All together, it took a little over two hours to print another copy of the print, when you include both the original inking and all the re-inking that needed to be done. But in the end, I had a second satisfactory print.  There was one slight tear from rubbing, but it was small and I can repair that easily once the whole thing has dried.  Once again I hung it up to dry on my recently repaired tack wall, but this time I had to climb up on the cabinet and hang it higher than yesterday's proof. My patron mentioned that she'd be gone this whole week, so they may as well stay up there on the tack wall for now.  Maybe I start coloring next week, assuming I have the watercolors.  Probably tomorrow I'll stay home and check what colors I have against a colored copy of the print I have at home, and see what I have.

Around 4:30 I was finally finished with printing and cleaning up, and so loaded my car.  Saw Nichole's car was still in the lot, so I decided to go to the office via the outside entrance.  She was there, so I verified that she had received my teaching letter (yes) and she was all set on information.  She said she'd send me a copy of what she planned to post, but that can wait a few days if it needs to.

Once again today's photo is from my extensive files, probably from the last time I printed this, over 10 years ago.  But it's what you would have seen if you were there today.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Making a Living

While I was busy up in Ocean Grove on Saturday, a large package arrived at home for me.  I was too tired to open in that day, so I opened it on Sunday. It was only half the paper, which I kind of expected.  When I ordered the two kinds of paper, I was told that one type had not come in yet, even though the online catalog said it was available.  The person I spoke to said it would arrive and gave me a date, which was the day I was talking to her, so she hoped it would be soon. I opened up my package, not sure what I had, and it turned out to be the Japanese okawara paper.  Since I do have a few sheets of the other print paper ready, and I needed the Japanese paper sooner for a commissioned piece, this as what I needed.  Also, I looked at the okawara, and while the online listing said it was white, it was actually more a natural color that I wanted, not bleached white like I figured it would be.  More good news.

I did check when I arrived and Jeanne (my purchaser) was not in the office, so instead of showing her the paper for approval, I just went ahead and printed a copy of the image she wanted- another proof of the boardwalk after sunset image.  There were no major complications in printing it, but boardwalk prints are arduous tasks, and this one is set at night, so there is a lot of black.  It was all inked, and then there was a lot of re-inking as I tried printing it. But in the end, I got all of it.  I hung it up to dry, and decided to call it a day.  I will go back tomorrow probably, and print one more copy.  The best one will be chosen for the print that will go to a customer willing to pay for it. Next up is seeing if I have enough watercolor to do this piece, and if I don't have the right colors, I may have to order some more.  However, it will take about a week for the ink to properly dry, so I don't have to worry about this right away.

The above image is a file photo of this block being printed the first time around, which was over 10 years ago, but this is pretty much what it looked like today.  I brought my small book of jazz and blues discs, so not as much to pick from, but I still found things to listen to that seemed appropriate to the piece.  I started with Django Reinhart, classified as jazz, active in the early 20th century.  He played a wild guitar, hot jazz style, often accompanied by a violin.  When that ended, I threw in Marc Ribot and the Cubanos Postizos, which I have written about before here back in July, 2020.  When the second disc ended, it was time to go home.  At first I had hoped to pull two proofs today, but I was just too tired.

In the evening I found I had an email from Nichole (also not in the office when I stopped by, though her car was in the lot), regarding the next round of classes.  Specifically she was looking for information on drawing II, and images of color works from the acrylic class.  I had sent her both months ago, but rather than wait for her to find them, it will be easier to just attach the same things to a new email and send it again.