Saturday, May 29, 2010

In progress

I think I finished a painting today. I hope I finished a painting today. The reason being that it now only has a week to dry before being dropped off at the RISD Museum for the Art League of RI members show. If it seems like I've been working on this painting forever, its because I have. I even showed it once, in my show at the now defunct Gail Cahalan Gallery. But it wouldn't stay finished so back in the studio it went. If it's really finished when I look at it tomorrow, it will be the grand finale of the shoemaker series. After 4 years, it's time I moved on from the machines.

Besides, I'm really anxious to concentrate more on a few other paintings that are in the works, especially my painting from the Great Sand Dunes. I know I have a couple of months before my year's deadline is up, but I feel it's really inexcusable to have taken this long to send it. So if you're reading this, kindly Great Sand Dunes ranger, it will head west soon. Below is a snippet of the painting in progress.

I've also got several other paintings that were started ages ago. It's been so long since I really worked on them it will take some doing to reconnect, but I feel ready to follow this new direction to see where it leads.

So I'll give the big painting a good night's rest, and a signature tomorrow....I hope!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Among the Living

I guess I'm officially Among The Living, although some days it doesn't seem so. That's the name of the latest group show at Bert Gallery that includes my painting "Fourth Church". The show is up until June 18th, so if you're in the neighborhood, maybe sitting by the river and sipping a cool one across the street at the Hot Club, stop in. Or see the 3-D version just east of the gallery at the Holy Rosary Church.
The opening is on Gallery Night, June 17, which is also the opening of the Art League's show at the RISD Museum. I have a painting in that one too and will post more about that soon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Body of Proof - the trailer

It looks like the scenes from the TV pilot my paintings were starring in made the final cut! Check out the paintings on the wall at 1:20.

I know, those pesky actresses are in the way, and the paintings seem a bit blurry, but it's only the pilot after all. In the series (Friday nights on ABC!) I'm sure they'll clear the set and get the paintings in better focus. It's not certain, though, if they are going to film the rest of the series in Providence. The show itself is set in Philadelphia and could film elsewhere, especially if Gov. Carcieri succeeds in killing the tax credits for filming in RI

But whatever happens, let's hope she doesn't redecorate her office!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Traditional Japanese Ninja Laser Annihilation Woodcut

This block is the result of my third class in Japanese Laser woodcut. It's a reduction block, which means I took the block I cut (well, the laser cut) and sent it back into the jaws of the laser.  Since I already printed the lighter color, I can now annihilate more of the wood, leaving only the darks to be printed. The area that looks green is what's left after the second pass. The previously cut areas look darker, since the laser cuts deeper each time it passes over the block.

Below is the actual machine. It reminds me of an ink jet printer, that is, if an ink jet spewed sparks and smoke. The actual laser is so bright you aren't supposed to look too long at it, although it's tempting. You also are not allowed to leave the room while it's printing, just in case you have to pull the flaming block out of the cutter and dowse it with the fire extinguisher. We did see some flame with my block, but I think it was just leftover pigment flaring up, so no drastic measures were needed.

I'll post some more photos, as soon as I print it (in my studio this time, cubicle printing is good in a pinch, but my studio is a nicer place to be).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Printmaking, the movie

Introduction to Printmaking - Drypoint Etching on Vimeo.

All this thinking about printmaking made me think I should re-edit the video I made when I took a another printmaking class at AS220, this one on drypoint. At a little over 11 minutes, it was too long for youTube.  I had no idea when I'd find the time to do that, then a voice came from above....

**use VIMEO, they have no time restrictions!**

So here it is, in all Vimeo's glorious RGB color.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blocking out time

Proof that you can do Japanese woodblock printing in your cubicle. On your lunch hour*
*boss disclaimer

Monday, May 10, 2010

I love the smell of burning horsehair in the morning...

Yesterday we printed the first color of our laser-cut prints. After vaporizing the block in the last class (we'll be doing more, so I'll show some photos of the machine in the next post), we're ready to print the first color.

First we make a "damp pack" for our rice paper by spraying newsprint with water until evenly wet, then layering it with our paper which we've torn to the correct size. We leave it for about an hour, but  even better, prepare it up to a week before and store flat in a plastic bag. The wet newsprint will impart a nice even moisture to the paper.

The block should also be dampened by running it under water till evenly wet then wrapping it in damp rags.

To spread the ink we use a horsehair brush called a Maru Bake. Because our brushes are new, we need to prepare the ends of the bristles. To do this we lay the brush on a hot plate until the hairs start to smoke, sizzle and smell awful. I advise an open window nearby.

When the edges of the brush are singed, we run it back and forth on a metal grate called a sharkskin. I imagine they once used real sharkskins, which must have really annoyed the sharks. We do this until the brush looks nice and velvety on its face. This splits the ends of the hair so the ink spreads evenly.

Now we are ready to ink the plate. You can use gouache, watercolor or sumi ink and a white glue called Nori. We brush paint and half a dozen dabs of Nori here and there on the plate. Then we take our brush and spread the ink and Nori over the surface till we have a nice satin sheen.

We take a sheet of paper out of the damp pack and register it to the edge of the plate, and drop it down, giving it a quick swipe to adhere it to the surface. Then we lay a sheet of wax paper over the back and rub down with our burin till we can see the image appear through the paper.

That's about it, it's pretty simple in theory, but incredibly complex in its ultimate form, like in the prints of Hokusai.  And he didn't even need no stinkin' laser.

For more info on the tools and how to use them, is a good source.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The first cut

Last night I took the first of 3 classes in laser cut Japanese woodblock printing at AS220. I thought it would be a good chance to check out their new cutter, which uses a laser beam on wood, metal or even stone to make super sharp and exact cuts. I also figured I could do some printmaking and show my face in the studio again.  I had taken few classes at the AS220 print shop before, and vowed to book some studio time, but I never did find the time even though I can see the shop windows from the building I work in. Paying for a class forces me to show up though, so last night I completed the first run of my block.

Since I've never used this method before, I don't think my drawing was quite appropriate, so I had to manipulate it on the computer, something I don't like to do with my work. It has to end up in the computer eventually anyway though, to be sent to the cutter, so I broke the drawing down into black and one shade of gray for a 2 color reduction print. This is the gray plate. After printing I'll send it through the cutter again to cut away more, then print it again in black.

I'm not sure how I feel about this method. The block printing I've done before has been laboriously cut from pine planks, which dictates the type of line and detail you can get. The laser cutter can do virtually anything you can send from a computer, without regard to the grain of the wood. I think it might be good for a look of it's own, so I'll see how my print comes out and what it suggests for future work.

The plate looks kind of cool though, almost too pretty to cover with ink. I'll post more about the method after my next class.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pools of water - Mt. Monadnock

The summit of Mt. Monadnock is usually so crowded that it can be tempting to want to escape the rambunctious kids, picture takers and cell phone chatterers and head back down the trail to a more peaceful overlook. But the summit is as special as it is triangular. I don't know what it is that causes the granite to split into 3 sided sections, but I love the pyramid boulders that trap rain water into little pools that reflect triangles of blue sky. It makes me want to paint them all over again.

We avoided the crowds on the way up by taking the Marlboro Trail to the west instead of the more populated trails that leave from park headquarters on the east side. Marlboro starts with an easy and not too rocky hike through the woods until you cross a stone wall, after which it begins to climb steeply up an increasingly rocky trail. Only after scrambling over the rocks for awhile did I realize why my footing seemed so awkward. I had grabbed an old pair of Sears hiking boots that I hadn't worn in about 7 years, instead of my nice REI pair, which I will appreciate more the next time I wear them.

Despite it being windy and cold up top, it was a beautiful day for a hike. I'll have to climb it again later this summer when there will be so many wild blueberries growing in the granite crevices that I can easily fill a few bagfuls to freeze and last me into the winter.

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