Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shooting for the stars starting Wednesday

I spend time at the end of each year looking ahead to goals and plans for both my personal and my professional life. (Not resolutions. Goals.)

I check in with my list from time to time during the year, but always put some quality time into review when June rolls around. It's perfect timing, then, that friend and colleague Alyson Stanfield is launching an online course than includes goal planning and accomplishment this coming Wednesday.

I'll be there, since the class promises to be a great blend of motivation, coaching, and practical tools. Check out this description of course components:
  • Commit to accepting responsibility for your life (rut ro!)
  • Capture your Vision and plan to enact it
  • Monthly financial worksheet (getting a grip on your financial situation)
  • 2009 Plan for continuing education and handling your information overload
  • Identify tasks you can hire out (or let go of)
  • Complete a challenging (but workable) plan for the entire year
Summer schedules are already insane... so I say, "Why not add some focus to all that running around?" Besides, since the course is online, it's one more thing I can do in my jammies. And we all know how well that works! You can find out more about the class on Alyson's website.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exhibition Updates

The summer schedule is already packed! Yikes! A quick exhibition update is in order.

Mother's Bistro, Buena Vista, Colorado: Next Monday, June 1, is the last day for my linocuts at the Bistro. It's been a great run, and part of me is sorry to take it all down. HOWEVER,

I'll be putting framed and unframed linocuts, as well as a few handmade books, in an exhibition at the Fremont Center for the Arts in Cañon City later in the week. Show runs June 5-July 5.

The National Small Print Show is still up at the Creede Repertory Theatre, through June 28.

Salida ArtWalk runs June 26-27, I'll be at The Book Haven downtown on F Street on Saturday, 4-8pm.

I'm not sure how it is that July so far looks exhibition-free, but it might be because I have a week's worth of workshops scheduled at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival.

And as of today, the DM and I will be flaunting our wares at the Salida Farmers Market on Saturday, August 1. Expect linocuts, books... and the brand new CD! Yup, David's CD shipped off to the duplicators yesterday and we expect boxes of Residue to appear on our doorstep in a few weeks. Once it's in hand, we'll be organizing a release party. Keep your eyes on David's news page if you want an invitation to the fun!

In September I'll be putting work in the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center's upstairs gallery...

Whew. What am I doing messing around online? I have WORK to do!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holiday puttering

We started to dry out today from our lovely, crazy four days of rain. The DM and I tackled what yard chores we could (did the grass REALLY grow six inches in four days?), put the finishing touches on the cover for the new CD (possibly going off to production tomorrow!), and participated in obligatory firing-up of the grill for Memorial Day supper.

In between all of that, I finished building two and a half new leather journals. Yippee! Probably they will make their way to the Etsy store in the next few days. Book building will probably be a little more common in the next few weeks, as I'm gearing up for display and presentation of book arts miscellany at The Book Haven during Salida ArtWalk. It's always satisfying to see a shelf of freshly-made journals just waiting to be filled!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Unusual weekend in progress

Here in the Heart of the Rockies we are experiencing our fourth straight day of clouds and rain showers. I realize that in most of the rest of the universe this is normal, but for us it's practically unheard of. RAIN? For FOUR DAYS? In a place with an average annual precip of only 10" or so?

So it's a peculiar holiday weekend that we have underway.

Friday night David played for the opening reception of Jon MacManus's show at the Paquette Gallery here in Salida. Despite the rain Jon enjoyed a fine turnout, and the venue gave us not only a view of Jon's fine work, but also a front row seat for the chocolate brown turbulence of the Arkansas River in runoff. We've already had surges of 2400 cfs, above the 100-year average for this time of year. It's not as high yet as it was in peak last year, but it's getting close! All this rain is definitely adding to the drama.

Personal creative dramas are also playing out. Weekend linocut experiments are so far showing dubious potential for success. Can YOU make any sense out of this mess?

I can't, either, but I'm trying to maintain a certain amount of optimism. Or at least flexibility. It's the mantra of the weekend, since all of our big outdoor plans have been washed away with the current. We desperately needed the moisture, though, so no one is really complaining.

We'll see what tomorrow brings!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Breakfast, anyone?

This morning at Snail's Eye View there's a link to some great pictures of a python taking a five hour lunch break with a large goanna guest.

On the heels of which came a link to this interview with one of my all-time-favorite gastronomes. Now that we've had breakfast, let's go print something...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You never know what you'll find

Quick sketches enroute to a wedding.

Last week I was looking desperately for a sketch I KNEW I had made and which I wanted to make into a linocut. No luck. I looked through every sketchbook I had.

I thought.

I've been pulling sketchbooks off the shelf to share with a friend and colleague tomorrow (for a secret exciting reason to be named later) and voila! There, in the last place I expected, I found it. So... tomorrow expect a quick start to a new (only TWO passes, I SWEAR!) lino. Will simple be good? We'll see....

The curious thing about finding the sketch is that it was in a book marked "hundreds." A couple of years ago an oil painter friend and I challenged each other to create 3-4 thumbnail sketches each and every day for a year. 100 sketches per month! I had forgotten about what a fun and challenging exercise it was.

I had also forgotten that I had some interesting sketches in the books from that year. Weather, time, and bouts with laziness meant that I couldn't always make sketches from life, so I had to get creative about fulfilling the "assignment." It looks like I managed it in a few ways:

- Actual sketches of landscapes on location
- Life sketches at the zoo or museum
- Life sketches at the coffee shop
- Sketches of natural objects brought in to the house
- Sketches from photos
- and my personal favorite: Sketches from the TV! I had forgotten how fun this was. I would put in a DVD that I'd already seen a hundred times, and when an interesting composition came onscreen, I'd hit the Pause button. I limited myself to the length of time the image was paused before the screen saver came on.. on my machine I think that's only about 2 or 3 minutes. It was a GREAT exercise for recognizing strong compositions (and finding new respect for the cinematographer's craft), for finding the gesture of figures, and by golly, every once in a while I even managed to get a decent likeness of an actor in a very short amount of time.

Finding these books has rattled my cage a little bit. What am I doing to challenge myself right now? (Aside from the every day challenges of life in general.) I'm making a plan to spend a little time this weekend designing a new challenge and finding someone to help me stay accountable for it.

And starting a new lino from a long lost sketch.

Sketches from the front yard of my old apartment.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Workshops and art shows and music gigs, Oh My!

It's mind-boggling (and slightly terrifying) to realize that this coming weekend will be the Memorial Day holiday. The "official" start of the summer season! Yikes!

Here's what's on the (too) near horizon:

Creede Arts Council National Small Print Show
at the Creede Repertory Theatre, Creede, Colorado
I have two linocuts in this exhibition, which opens this Friday, May 22 and runs through June 28. Unfortunately, due to schedule conflicts, we're going to miss the opening again this year, but hope to get up there before the show comes down.

Jon MacManus at the Paquette Gallery
Salida, Colorado
Friend Jon is the reason we won't be in Creede. The DM will be playing for the opening reception, Friday, May 22, 6-8pm.

Journal Jumpstart Workshop
Salida, Colorado
Revive a sluggish journal habit or launch a new one with me. Saturday, June 13, 9:00am-1:00pm. Details and registration on the GARNA website.

Salida ArtWalk
Salida, Colorado
June 26-28
Stroll the Heart of the Rockies while checking out local art and artisans. Roberta Smith, Lisa DeYoung and I will be holding down the fort at The Book Haven, dazzling visitors with handmade books, artist books, and sculptural books! The Darling Man (as soon as that CD comes out I'm going to have to start calling him by his real name) has THREE (count 'em) venues to play that weekend, including some afternoon hours at The Book Haven. Come on up!

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival
Crested Butte, Colorado
July 6-12
I have field sketching, journal-making, and journal-filling workshops scheduled Tuesday-Saturday of the week. Online registration is available now on the CBWF website.

I also still have work hanging at Mother's Bistro in Buena Vista, through June 2. If you saw the show early, you probably have to go see it again. About half the show has been replaced at some point, as sold pieces keep wandering out the door. (Hooray!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Postcards from Trinidad

Not THAT Trinidad. The one in southern Colorado. (Southern as in a scant 10 miles or so from the New Mexico border.)

We're just back home from another amazing, inspiring, intriguing, paradigm-challenging Colorado Art Ranch Artposium. As always, we enjoyed intriguing speakers and workshops, this time in an examination of how sexuality and gender influence art, society, and behavior. Among the presenters: a performance artist who sews beads on sports trading cards and knits his own superhero costumes, the foremost gender reassignment surgeon in the country, and authors who write sensitively and humorously about biology, relationships, and sexuality. Links to the various speakers can be found on the Colorado Art Ranch website, so I won't repeat them all here, but do check them out. On the evening social schedule? A reception featuring "torch songs" by Gavin Maurer and my own Darling Man, David.

No, Gavin and David did not empty all those wine bottles themselves. Really. Can you see the Colorado Art Ranch label? They're premiums for contributors. Really. I'm not kidding.

During the breakout sessions I participated in a workshop with artist Katy Haas, who provided materials and inspiration for creating small figurative wire sculptures. It was so fun to "draw" with wire in three dimensions... oh dear... do I feel another supply store run coming on?

We took the long way home along the Highway of Legends scenic byway and through the Wet Mountain Valley. (long contented sigh) It's the sort of country that makes me happy to live where I do, and doubly happy to explore it with someone for whom it's all brand new.

Tomorrow it's back to what passes for normal routine around here, but WHEW! It sure was great to get a little perspective change: geographically, intellectually, socially....

The next Colorado Art Ranch Artposium happens this fall near Paonia, Colorado. The next topic? FOOD! You don't really want to miss THAT one, do you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Goin' Art Ranchin'

It's that time again! Colorado Art Ranch Artposium in Trinidad this coming weekend.

Presenters include Dr. Marci Bowers, authors Laura Pritchett, Joe Quirk and Charles Baxter, film studies professor Melinda Barlow, and artists Katy Haas and Mark Newport.

Oh, and the DM and Gavin Maurer will be playing torch songs at the Friday night reception.

There's still time to rustle up a seat... come on down and join us!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Headed for the barn

Yes, indeed, I am happy to say I have COWmpleted this tiny linocut without further mishap. As usual, I can see a half dozen things I would do differently next time, but here she is. This is Cindy Cow, and she has a nice story, but I think I have to save it for a couple of days. I'll tell ya' later...

Before the final dark went on, I briefly succeeded in cleverness and inked two colors in the same pass.

In addition to deep philosophical knowledge about the achievement of cleverness, I gained a few "light bulb" insights. (Okay, we could also call them "dope slap" insights. )

1) I think best with my hands.

I've often been asked about my planning process, and I always joke about not really having one. More than once I've regretted this reality... realizing that a little more planning could have made a better piece. But I don't always see the options until I'm in the middle of something. I like being flexible, and staying open to changing my mind, but it's not without risks if one is working on a reduction plate.

2) I have two distinctly different approaches to reduction linocuts.

(This was a d'oh!) The larger, more complex pieces (lately) have come from a combination of photos and sketches, and the process involves taking things OUT of the visual mayhem. As I work I think about some judicious simplification.

But in the smaller pieces I tend to work from field sketches. My on-location sketches are generally spare and linear, with big, flat shapes of color. If I try to make them into linos, I find myself adding things in. Or wishing I had added. Or realizing I could have added. Or...

Hm. Here is a place where planning might come in handy.

3) Making little prints is to big prints as sketches are to drawings and clay maquettes are to sculpture (sort of).

They're a (relatively) quick way to try out ideas and get one's fingers dirty. Sure, it's more time consuming than making pencil sketches, but one really needs to manipulate the material to get a sense of what is or isn't possible. (There's just no getting around practice. Ever.)

The first day I worked on this little cow I also realized that making linocuts is not entirely like riding a bicycle. One DOES forget. Or at least one loses the rhythm. It had been a couple of weeks since I printed, and I stumbled around a surprising amount before I got into the right head space again. Could be a symptom of middle age, but I don't think so. I think it's one of the challenges of moving back and forth between media and focus. The work I do as an illustrator is not the same as the work I do as an artist: focus, goal, method–mindset–are all quite different, even though it could be argued that either way I'm making images. For me they are two distinctly separate beasts, and I need to give myself time to make the switch.

So. A cow and an education. It's been a good couple of days.

Celebrate Odd Day!

Friend and colleague Nancy just shared this piece of trivia du jour from the Odd Day website:

Today's date, 5/7/09, is one of only six this century that will feature three consecutive odd numbers.

Things to do on Odd Day: It's a great day to do your odds 'n ends, give a friend a high-five, root for the odds-on-favorite, read the Wizard of Odds, watch the Odd Couple, say aaaahd in the doctor's office, look for sea odders, find that missing odd sock, and beat the odds.

Visit Odd Day to get the whole odd story.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oops. Or, getting too clever for one's own good.

I am (I was) trying to control the number of color passes I use for the tiny cow linocut I started this weekend, so yesterday I had the brilliant idea to do a gradated ink-up for the second pass. Perfect! This cow has gray in the face that gets darker towards the end of the nose. Sure, it's only a 3" square block, but I figured I could do at least a little gradual value change....

Ink-up went splendidly, so I happily pulled the second pass on all the prints.

Last night I realized I had done the entire ink-up upside down. Was supposed to go light to dark from top to bottom. NOT dark to light, as I did it.

Poo. And other assorted exclamations of displeasure.

My options were: 1) Ignore it and carry on; 2) Change nothing on the plate, re-ink, and overprint in the right direction; 3) Noodle around a little on the plate and print a new color; 4) Start over or 5) bag it and do something else.

In the end there were really only two options, as this is a portrait of a particular cow from a particular time and place AND I've learned there's good motivation for finishing it this week. Rather than start over, I went with option #2, figuring I might actually learn something. Which I did. (I learned it's best not to imagine oneself as clever until one has successfully accomplished cleverness.)

I'm sure it seems like a lot of angst over a 3" square chunk of lino, but if one can't obsess about prints....well....

On the left: incorrect subspecies "raccoon cow." On the right, genetically modified "closer to the real thing cow."

PS: I probably don't have to tell you that I was NOT wearing pajamas at the time of the disaster.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cow. Of course.

The Monterey Peninsula College print club declared a print holiday today, and asked printmakers everywhere to do their thing for printmaking and unity. It looked for a while as if I might miss the bus for this one, but this afternoon I managed to squeak in the start of a tiny reduction linocut. It's gonna be a cow. Of course.

In other news, after untold frustrating hours wrestling with the last necessary file, the nine Collegiate Peaks Byway interp panels are off to the fabricator. Ginormous files and temperamental FTP sites meant I was trying to upload until nearly midnight last night, but I was determined to be done with it. Sadly I had to finish this morning, but used the time to work on my art inventory database. One eye on the FTP client to make sure it didn't drop me AGAIN, and one eye on the database.

It's going to be slick once I get it all together, but UGH. It's a tad tedious at the moment. Maybe because I'm simultaneously trying to learn the software and do the work. Well, that, and my previous record-keeping was, shall we say, spotty? And about two months elapse between each time I sit down to work on it... and...

The software I'm using is a nifty little application based on Filemaker called Flick! One doesn't need Filemaker to run it, and it's only $30. It doesn't do everything I'd like, necessarily, but it actually has a way to manage editioned work. Those clever Aussies.

We had a little rain shower today, it started the moment the DM and I left the café to walk home, turned into a downpour three blocks from the house, and stopped about the time we got in the door. Figures, huh? But it was delightful to smell rain, even when being pummeled by it.

Hopefully the next color will go down on the lino at some point tomorrow.... stay tuned.

Linocut in Progress: The Finish and the Rescue

 In the first post about the process of this linocut I mentioned that I was distracted and unfocused during the time I worked on it... whic...