Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's done!

Five hours and ten very tired fingers later, the as-yet-untitled mussel shell linocut is finished and drying happily on the rack. Yippee!

'Tis the Season

I think it's safe to say that my attitude toward the holidays typically aligns me with Scrooge and the Grinch. Who can really feel cheery and expansive when their one local horrible box store starts stacking up plastic Santas and playing White Christmas BEFORE HALLOWEEN? (Luckily the rest of the community was as indignant as I, and the perpetrators were forced to change their muzak for a least a few weeks.)


Ever since I moved to Salida (working on seven years ago now!), I've felt that one of the most lovely days of the year has been the day after Thanksgiving. No crush of people flinging themselves headlong into stores at dawn HERE, thank you very much. Instead, we celebrate our post-gluttony day in true small town style.

This year the DM and I went out The Morning After armed with a Forest Service tree permit, a saw, and a sense of adventure. Since neither of us owns a four-wheel-drive or high clearance vehicle, we'd secured insider information on an easy-access section of forest that's scheduled for a burn later this year. There was a skiff of snow on the ground at home, though. Who knew what the road would be like further north?

It turned out to be no big deal at all, and it was delightful to be the first vehicle to pass down a snow-dusted forest road. In short order we found a quirky little fir tree that turned out to be the exact perfect height for our front room, and we invited it to come home with us for a spell. (Later it will be part of a brush pile for wildlife.)

Decoration turned out to be a more of a challenge than we expected, especially once we decided we'd string popcorn garland. Neither of us had done this before. The only thin thread I had was transparent nylon. Our eyes are over 40.

The house still smells like popcorn and we are not finished yet. Hm.

Thankfully, by Friday evening we were forced to abandon the tree project so we wouldn't miss the Parade of Lights and the lighting of Christmas Mountain. THIS is Salida's quintessential winter event. Once upon a time the event was so small that the "parade" stood still in downtown and the people walked around to look at it, but we've since graduated to an actual, mobile procession of friends and neighbors and lights.

Our little downtown fills with people. Shops stay open late and many have cookies and gingerbread out for visitors. The Rotary club perches in the bank parking lot and gives away cider and hot chocolate. Greetings are shouted up and down the street. The parade goes by. Santa arrives to throw the switch and the iconic conical hill at the end of town becomes a ginormous lighted tree. There are two solid minutes of fireworks, and then a mass of people flows towards the river to see the memorial trees in the park. There's a jazz band and dance at the Steamplant. A concert at the café. It's a night for the community and the community embraces it with enthusiasm.

My humbugs are banished on the day after Thanksgiving. Even Ebeneezer would have to smile, just a little.

(Ooh, look. My first attempt at making and posting a little video from my still camera!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

How I spent Thanksgiving morning

Dealing with technology problems! Argh!

The tiny linos have friends! I expanded and renamed the Small Print Gallery the other day to include many of the linocuts I've done that are 4" x 6" or smaller. Somehow in doing so, all the PayPal code disintegrated and stopped working. Of course PayPal has changed their code-generating system since I originally built the page, too... so everything just fell apart. Bless my friend and web guru Mark, who was willing to pop over for a few minutes yesterday morning to help me troubleshoot. (I expect such dedication was helped by the fact that we were due at their house for Thanksgiving supper in the afternoon and that we were bringing "his" apple pie.)

At any rate, I think it's all working now... so pop on over and see what's been added.

The end is near!

The carving is finished for the last color of the shell linocut, started here and developed here and here and here. Oh. And here and here.

Geez. Is everyone sick of this thing already?

I anticipate printing tomorrow, but today we're off to find a TREE! It snowed a little overnight, so we're waiting a bit to see how the roads look before we bundle ourselves into the Cruiser. We're also going shopping for a new bed... our holiday/anniversary gift to ourselves. The one we're sleeping on now was passed on to me by friends almost 9 years ago, and it was slightly saggy THEN.

Tonight is the annual parade and lighting of Christmas Mountain. It can't possibly be that time again! Film at 11:00.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Six down, one to go!

Happiness is a long line of almost-finished linocuts drying on the rack! (MORE happiness will be a long line of completely finished prints.)

Color #6 went down without a hitch today... WHEW! It was slow going, but no major crises. I'd like to keep going, of course... now I see places I would have liked even more color depth... but the next, darkest color will be the last for this image. I'm getting twitchy to start something else!

Speaking of starting something else... last night on a whim I signed up for the Art House Co-op's Sketchbook Project. (Because I need another thing to do, right?) Art House sends each participant a little Moleskine sketchbook, participants have until February 15 to fill it up based on a theme, and then ALL of the little books are displayed in multiple venues around the country. Sounds like fun, eh?

Part of the reason this little project appeals to me is that my own journaling/sketchbook habit has suffered a bit in the last few months. Inertia has set in, so I'm hoping the Art House project will give me a little kick in my complacency.

In other news, the Darling Man and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend with a hike on the Colorado Trail to Harvard Lakes. Hiking at 10,000 feet in November without snowshoes seems not quite possible, but there we were.

Obligatory goofy-looking camera-propped-on-rock shot below.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The carving continues...

Bet you're wondering what happened to the linocut. It's still in progress. The latest carving stage has been long and intricate, but it's finished now and ready to print. I'm going to give the prints another day or so to be certain they are dry before I print this next color... so look for an update tomorrow or Tuesday.

Keeping track of where I'm going and what I should be carving can be a little tricky, especially since I don't typically map out a color plan before I start. At this point, however, I think I only have 2 colors to go, so I can apply my tried-and-true Sharpie application method of remembering where I've been and what's left to carve.

It's SO high tech.

Basically I have a nice, fat, chisel-tipped Sharpie pen that I use to run over the sections I've carved. The contrast makes the image easier to decipher, and running the pen lightly over the raised surfaces can sometimes show where I've missed a spot. I can't do this from the beginning in multi-color prints, obviously (it would cover up all the carving-to-come), but since we're nearing the end game I can use the pen and be mindful. There won't be a lot to carve between colors 6 and 7. It's best, by the way, to NOT use a brand-spankin'-new pen for this, because all that nice, juicy ink can sometimes run down into tiny detailed carving. If the pen is a little dried out, you can rub across the surfaces and not worry about ink bleeding into the carved areas.

So here it is, ready to go. I skipped the Sharpie application in places where I still need to see delicate carving details, but everywhere else is good to go. Keep your fingers crossed....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back to gray

The first color I pulled on this new linocut was a very pale gray... and here I am at color #5 and I'm back to gray again. What's up with that?

At last, however, you can finally see that there are, indeed, mussel shells here. From this point on we'll be working on the rocks and eel grass in between... the shells are pretty much done and there's no going back. I'm hoping I can do what needs to be done in just two more color passes. We'll know after the next one.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Linocut blues

I promised myself that my first priority today would be to finish the carve and printing for the fourth color on the new, insane, shell linocut. (If you missed the beginning of this printmaking adventure, you can find it here.) So here we are, all inked up and rarin' to go.

The color went down okay... but there are still some strange things happening with some sheets of this (Hosho) paper. A few of them behave as though the paper has some sort of greasy resist to it. Heck, I dunno. So far it's not entirely a deal-breaker for those sheets, we'll just have to see as the rest of the colors unfold. I've started with 20 sheets, hoping for an edition of 12-15 prints when the image is complete. So far I've wrecked one for certain: wasn't watching my registration carefully and the third color went down 1/4 inch to the right of where it should have. Oops.

Since I was on a roll (was that a printmaking pun?), I cleaned up after color #4 went down and started the carve for color #5. It's looking now like I'm headed for at least seven colors on this beast. Hmmmm. I have an idea in my head now of where I'd like this thing to go, but what I would LIKE to have happen and what actually DOES happen... one never knows.

The nice thing about this next color is that I finally get to step away from the blue shades of the mussel shells. Preserving the blue in each of the shell shapes means clearing all those areas of lino material.. and that means bigger gouges to clear larger areas and more discernible progress. Observable progress is good for morale.

I have to call it a day now, since my neck and shoulders are getting sore (occupational hazard of spending too much time bent over carving tools), but I hope tomorrow to finish this next carve. It will be a few days before the prints are dry enough for the next color, but there's plenty to do between now and then!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blue Skies, Red Rocks

One of my favorite combinations.

Yesterday at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs. (Perhaps you remember that I started work on an interp panel for this location last winter. It got delayed. It started again. It delayed again. At the present time it teeters on the brink of completion. Oh please oh please.)

Our Fair City

The other day I received an email from friend and web guru Mark Wiard, over at Wiard Web Works. In his exalted position as local web knowledge dispenser AND the one person who knows more about my Mac than I do, Mark's notes are generally worth, well... noting. (Probably his wife will caution that it's not good to pay too much attention to Mark, as it only encourages him, but some attention is good.)


Our Fair City of Salida boasts fewer than 6000 folks and is two hours from just about anywhere, but that doesn't stop us from taking advantage of high tech AND low tech solutions to our local and global community concerns. Check out some Stuff Mark Told Me About:

The Salida Citizen : A local news blog! From the Citizen website-

"The Salida Citizen is an effort by the residents of Salida, Colorado to improve coverage of critical local issues, support smart decision-making, and facilitate positive communication between elected officials, City staff and concerned local citizens.

We are an experiment in citizen journalism, as described by Mark Glaser:

'The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. For example, you might write about a city council meeting on your blog or in an online forum. Or you could fact-check a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on your blog. Or you might snap a digital photo of a newsworthy event happening in your town and post it online. Or you might videotape a similar event and post it on a site such as YouTube.'

We sincerely hope that by providing better access to information we can elevate the level of discourse beyond typical party politics to make Salida (and the Arkansas Valley) a better place to live. Contact us at salidacitizen at gmail dot com."

Cool, I say. Contributors so far include City officials and department heads, the Mayor, and local citizens.

And then there's the matter of Nathan Ward, a local guy with a global outlook. Nathan lives here sometimes, but more often than not he's living abroad as a journalist/photographer. The newest adventure, in Africa, began in the last few weeks. Ice Mountain Adventure Travel is all about responsible travel, so expect some stories of mishaps and mind expansion. Nathan and his mom, Suzanne, also authored a local trail guide.

Cool again, I say.

Back to Mark, who also maintains a page that tidily keeps all the local webcams in one place, and this week he added a new cam to the collection. This time of year I am a tad obsessive/ compulsive about checking the weather (especially if we're planning to go anywhere), so a one-stop local weather page lets me check over and over and over whilst keeping my weather bookmark list to a minimum.

Last, but not least... and I'm not sure if Mark sent me here himself, or if I wandered in from elsewhere, but the Salida Mountain Trails website has a great map and information about the ongoing development of great singletrack trails just across the river from downtown. Just in case you're planning on a visit or feel a need to weild a shovel on behalf of the community.

In other Salida news: I'll be back to linocuts this weekend, I promise!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The morning after

We're a little bleary here in the Center of the Universe this morning. The show reception went well, good attendance and a few sales (always good). The DM played for the admiring crowd, and much socializing ensued.

I rarely remember to take even one photo during show openings... the fact that I actually took TWO is some sort of record, I think.

Happy show visitors trying to learn the secret of linocuts.

After we closed up shop at the café, we wandered next door to the Paquette Gallery at the Steamplant for another reception (I had a piece in that show, too). Sadly, we missed the poetry reading and circus school performance, but we did get there in time for a little wine and some more munchies. Probably I would have been best served by going home to bed after that, but the DM was hungry (his fingers had been busy playing music, NOT consuming hors d'ouevres), so we went out to the local pub for something that qualified as a real meal.

Linocuts, snacks, and live music. What more could you ask for?

Ooph. This morning we're both feeling the effects of heavy food at a late hour. We're also both feeling that we might be fighting "a little something sinus-y," and hoping desperately that we're wrong. It's a grayish day here so far this morning, so maybe it's a good day to just lay low and drink lots of tea. I'm not usually very good at taking days off... but maybe if I just start with a morning off....

Friday, November 7, 2008


The show is up at the café, but I was too tired at the end of the day to take photos. I'll do that today when I'm out running errands.

The DM and I both consumed too much caffeine during the exhibition mounting process. I was restless and he was completely awake most of the night. Bad us. But this morning I only slept in about a half hour, and then was up and at it to print the third color on the new shell linocut. Since this color is almost dark enough that progress can be observed, I thought I'd post some images.

If you've ever wondered why a lot of the photos I post seem to have a greenish background... well... here's your answer! An ancient Borco cover still protects the surface of my working table. It's critical when printing on this table to be certain that several sheets of white paper lay under my inking glass. It's a detail one would neglect precisely once, I think. Accurate color mixing against a green background? I don't think so.

You're also correct if it appears to you that I'm working on an angled table. At the present time this might be set up a little TOO angled, as pencils have a tendency to roll off the edge, but I find it's easier on my back to stand and rub prints with a slightly angled surface below me. I also do drawing and painting at this table, so....

Still difficult to tell what's happening here, but you can start to see a hint of image resolution. Three colors down, and I think at least 3 more to go. This makes me nervous, because I typically start having a little trouble hand-rubbing prints at color #5. Not sure why this is.... I try to keep my ink layers as thin as possible.... I imagine there's some really simple, dope-slap of a solution. I just haven't found it yet.

More later, after I go check the exhibition. By light of day, what will I discover? That we hung something upside down? That labels are wrong? Hopefully none of that... but we WERE pretty caffeinated. One never knows.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hangin' day

The nice thing about an exhibition of mostly-tiny linocuts is that it's a lot easier to fit in the car. No struggling with ginormous frames and glass this time!

Usually when I've mounted an exhibition at the Salida Café I've had a rich array of helpers. As a matter of fact, several times I've been relegated to putting up labels. Period. All the aesthetic decisions, ladder climbing, and wire cutting were taken out of my hands. Literally.

THIS time my trusty crew are all off on their own adventures (teaching school, doing a book tour, preparing to open the ski shop, taking their offspring hunting), so it will just be the DM (a show-hanging virgin) and I. For a while last night it even looked as if the DM would be called away and I would be tempting tangled wire fate alone! Ack! Thankfully his schedule rearranged itself and I'll get to boss him around.. errrr.... benefit from his expertise.... this afternoon after all. But, GEEZ! I can't give the man any sharp implements to work with today. He's already cut his finger, and we NEED those fingers to provide music at the reception. I guess it will be the DM relegated to label affixing this time.

So the work is piled by the door, along with trusty pliers and wire and duct tape. (NEVER leave home without duct tape.) Labels are made, business cards are printed, exhibition statement is mounted. I think we're ready!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not-so-standard time

I banged smack into a bad case of Overwhelm yesterday morning when I opened the door of the fridge and a bowl of just-made edamame salad crashed across the kitchen floor. Funny how it's the little things that can put one over the edge... camels and straws and all that. After some major whining and a short walk to the lake I wandered back in to the studio. The first color on the new lino wasn't quite dry enough for the next color to print, so what to do other than wallow in my discomfort?

Try something completely different, of course.

No 7-year-old knitting kit this time, though. For the past week or so I've been gathering supplies for making paste papers. I've seen some beautiful examples, and thought about using them in bookmaking adventures, so why not try my own?

Without getting TOO crazy about it, I set up a workspace and proceeded to play around a little with the technique. If you're not familiar with paste paper, think of it as fingerpainting for big people. One adds pigment to paste, paints the paste on to damp paper, and then drags, drops and prints through it to make lovely patterns.

My first experiments were just that, experiments... but it was fun to moosh stuff around for a bit. I feel quite ambivalent about the results, but at least I have the basic idea now.

Adding insult to mental injury, Saturday night's change to Standard Time has us totally confused, especially where our stomachs are concerned. We were already finished with supper by 5:00 last night and still had the entire evening ahead of us. Could be good, could be bad. Depended on what fell out of the fridge when we put leftovers away.

Eventually we settled in the living room. The DM has a live gig on local radio this Friday, playing the beautiful guitars of local luthier Jeff Bamburg,* but he hasn't actually PLAYED guitar since he started concentrating on Chapman Stick. Oops. Out came the stacks of music books and one of the neglected guitars for some practice. We made tea, and I settled on the sofa with a sketchbook and journal and pencils and paints. Perfect. The last of the day's frustrations dissolved in the scratching of pencils, the plucking of strings, the steaming of tea, and the unraveling of time.

This morning I woke from a dream in which I was a good witch, unafraid to go to battle against great armies.

And then I printed the second color on the new linocut (not that you can tell yet).

Coincidence? I don't think so.


(* This gig has just been postponed for family emergency. New date TBA.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No turning back

I printed the first color on the new lino today. It's so pale that it doesn't show up in a photo, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Guess I'm committed now!

I took a big 18" x 18" linocut, "Cottonwood," down to the Pacquette Gallery at the Steamplant this morning, for an exhibition there that will also run until early December. Wednesday a piece goes up to Denver for a short show. Some time next week the exhibition in Cincinnati closes. It's one way to be in four places at once, eh?

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...