Saturday, April 24, 2010

And a little more exhibition news....

It's always nice to get something in the mail that isn't a bill.

It's especially nice when that something is an acceptance notice for a juried show.

And extra especially nice when the notice says they're including everything you submitted and sending some of it on the road for the traveling show.

It's an extra especially nice day at our mailbox.

The 10th National Small Print Show
Creede Arts Council at the Creede Repertory Theatre
May 28-June 28, 2010
Opening reception, May 28, 6-8pm.

The last time we tried to go to the opening we were thwarted by snow. (sigh) Do I detect a theme?

Count down to camping, count up the spring migrants!

Is it still "getting away from it all" when you have to take so much STUFF along? Tent, sleeping bags, stove, cooler, utensils.... (sigh).

Ah, well, we're approaching preparedness and I think we'll manage to keep it reasonable, anyway.

It's a little disconcerting to be on the verge of a camping trip when the weather all about us is completely unruly. Fortunately our route to the south looks better than the route directly west. Twenty minutes up the pass from here it looks like this today:

Nice, huh? We're turning the heat on in the house again this morning, and I'm clinging desperately to an improved forecast for the next few days.

Still, the crazy spring isn't ALL bad. Yesterday morning's walk started out cold and gray and lonely, but ended in a bit of a surprise party, just for me. 

I get a little "funny" about walking just now-- determined that every single day should yield some new sign of the advancing season. Halfway through my walk it looked as if I was going to get skunked (figuratively, not literally). Not one new winged arrival and several species "missing," no doubt hunkered down out of the wind. Bummer.

But as I approached Frantz Lake I heard some sort of cacophony... gulls? Hm. I don't see a lot of gulls here, maybe 2 or 3 at a time during migration... up to a dozen on a "really good" day.

It turned out to be a really, really, really good day, as I found 150 Franklin's gulls swirling and wailing against a steel gray sky. Below them? 60-plus white-faced ibis. I'd seen one ibis a few weeks ago and a couple of gulls last week... but THIS? Yeah, baby. Great.

And I was the only one around to see it.

Adding to the delight of the spectacle were two snowy egrets, my coveted first-of-the-season arrivals for the day. They looked like tattered plastic grocery bags caught in a still-bare tree, but, nope.... egrets. Finally.

 Sadly, all I have is a little point-and-shoot camera, so you'll have to take my word for it. You can trust me, though. I would never joke about spring arrivals.

The blue squares still hang forlornly on the rack, as an illustration deadline demanded my attention the second half of the week. That's done... so after a few more pre-trip errands this morning I'll see if I can't make post-able progress on the print before departure, too. Just in case I don't manage it, though, I wish everyone a great week. Sketches from the canyon when we return!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A blue square

Yep. That's all it is. But it's a 14 x 14 blue square printed on 12 sheets of paper. That's something, eh?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Agony and...

About this time last year I bound a set of little booklets, ten small books that fit just so in a cigar box. A single booklet fits in the pocket of my jacket, so I always try to have one with me when I go out. Four or five of these little books are now filled with species lists and walk-induced musings, along with the occasional lament. Recent exasperation with the fickleness of the season prompted this scrawl:

April is agony.

 Rainy April morning on the Arkansas River

Uh huh. Agony... and delight.

I'm back in my morning walk routine, in part because it's the time of year when every day yields something new: migrant birds arriving, grasses sprouting, tiny proto-leaves emerging. Friday I went out the door in the rain and was rewarded with wave of 500-plus swallows along a 2-mile stretch of river. Sure, yesterday it was snowing in the morning... but today dawned crystal clear and glorious. Winter may be reluctant to concede defeat, but the season is changing.

It's agony for me to stay indoors and get work done, but I do keep trying. (My printing-first-thing-in-the-morning-whilst-still-in-pajamas routine has been supplanted by my walking-along-the-river-first-thing-in-the-morning routine.) I mounted the new 14 x 14-inch lino block last week, and this weekend drew up the image. I'm still trying to decide how to begin, whether to go ahead and do this image as a reduction print or to plan for two separate blocks. I anticipate just four colors for this edition (WHAT?), but I'm undecided about the first one... so here we sit.

I did get a stack of paper trimmed, though.

The week ahead will be a busy one, especially since we're headed out of town next weekend and I need to get some contract projects in good order before we go. Hopefully my enforced efficiency will also get this print underway.

What was that? You want to know where we're going? Well, since you asked.... We're going camping at the Grand Canyon! Yippee! The DM has never been to the canyon, and I haven't seen it since I was a child, so off we go. Keep your fingers crossed for us.... the forecast calls for SNOW there this week and we'd rather that not be the case when we arrive. The trip is going to be exciting enough without having to shovel out a spot for the tent.

But even if it's a little on the cool side, I'll have the perfect new field sketching attire. For everyone who so kindly cheered my epic scarf-knitting project, I proudly offer proof that it won't always take five months for me to finish. Behold! Fingerless mitts made in a weekend! And I figured out how to use double-points all by myself.

Yeah, April might be agony, but it's definitely not boring.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Starting and stopping and stuff

When we last left our hero, she had a stack of unsuccessful prints, a ridiculously long new scarf, and a date to spend several hours as an admiring groupie whilst her Darling Man played gigs in another town.

Check, check and check. (With a big thanks to everyone who sympathized with posted-failure-as-public-pants-dropping.)

The DM's gigs at Adams Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs went really well. So well, in fact, that they booked him for four more dates. Hooray! There's a gig diary over at David's blog, Optimistic Bits, if gory details are your thing. (Photo by Ted Castro.)

But now it's Monday. Time to put aside the groupie guise and get back to work. (Well, right after I take a long walk. Latest spring arrivals: black phoebe, cliff swallow, cinnamon teal, double-crested cormorant, house wren.)

I'm getting a new linocut underway, but at a glacial pace. It's not entirely my fault. (Really!) I made two trips to the lumber yard today, on a quest for two 15 x 15-inch slabs of 3/4-inch particle board. I buy unmounted linoleum and trim it to size when I want to use squares and other non-standard formats, but I like to work on a mounted block. Typically I can get my mounting boards cheap because I buy scrap lumber that the shop guru cheerfully cuts to my specs.

Except for today, when there's not a single chunk to be found that's 15 inches wide.

After much hemming and hawing I decided I could go with something 14 x 14, but we still didn't have enough for two boards. (I want two boards because I'm considering two separate reduction blocks for this next image and it would be best to have them cut at the same time so I'm sure they're identical.)

(sigh) I am SO not patient.

I took the single 14 x 14 board so I can get started, and hopefully someone else with a bigger project will create just the scrap I need in the next few days. An illustration project just popped back to the top of the priority list late this afternoon, so my impatience won't be appeased right away, anyway.

In the meantime, I'll be compulsively checking the post to see if my copy of "Printmakers Today" has arrived from Schiffer Publishing! Today I received the press release and other assorted advertising propaganda.... very exciting! I'll be sure to say more about it and put up all the details when I get a book in my hands, but in the meantime here's a shot of the cover and a link to the publisher's site. I'm not sure how many of my images they included, but there's at least one in there!

Oh, and one more thing. I am quite remiss in publicly acknowledging the "atta girl" I received from Perfect Laughter some weeks ago. They featured images from the "Underfoot" series, and although I added them to my blogroll and sent a thank you, I think I neglected to give a shout out. Which I'm doing now. Better late than never?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blow ye winds. Or not. Please.

The wind is still blowing.

Today we also had snow. And sun. And clouds. And something that smelled like rain but wasn't quite. Is it any wonder that we're all completely neurotic here?

I guess the benefit to all this stubborn wintry weather is that I might actually get to wear the scarf that I (novice knitter) finally finished today. Iris, Beki and Deborah! Look! I did it! In November I showed off the first 9 or 10 inches of this project at the bottom of a post. Today it's (I kid you not) 9 feet long. Insane. Many, many thanks to Carrie, who bailed me out several times. (And who has been so cheery about it that she's even going to help me make mitts and a hat.)

It's safe to say I'll never be a full-fledged garment knitter, but I'm finding I enjoy working on projects that exercise my brain in ways that carving and printing linos do not. (Well, I enjoy it when I'm not making a huge mess or wondering if I will ever finish...)

And speaking of wondering if I'll ever finish. I did go back and try to make some changes to the tiny aspen leaf linocut I was working on last week. I managed to get the blue where I wanted it, but by the time I did, the entire thing just looked overworked and tired. The theory was good but the execution was weak, so this one's relegated to the chopping-up-for-other-projects pile. Oh, well.

In the wake of non-success I have found it challenging to identify what I want to work on next, but I think I'm finally there. Image idea is in place, but size and format are still questionable. I typically print on Hosho paper, which comes in 19 x 24 sheets, and I feel pretty strongly that I want to work 18 x 18 this time. So..... I need to decide if I want to try a new paper! After all these weeks of 4 x 4 and 6 x 9, it seems an epic leap to increase both size and surface, so maybe I'll just work 15 x 15, which will comfortably fit on familiar Hosho. 

Let's see... what else?

This week I am also working on illustrations and design for an interp panel (draft ready to go out in the morning) and packaging up some more work for another show. Hm. And I'm minding friend Brenda's business while she's away. And the end of the week we're headed to Manitou Springs, where David has gigs at Adam's Mountain Cafe on Thursday evening and Friday morning. Come on out if you're in the neighborhood!

Maybe it's not really windy. Maybe I'm just running around so much that it feels windy.

Probably not. But at least I have a nice new scarf.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Barking on the trail

Aaaaaannnnnnnddddd........ back to winter! In the 30s and blowing a gale, but I went for a walk anyway. Had to, or I would have paced a hole in the carpet.

Not good sketching weather, so I popped this nifty piece of bark in my pocket and brought it on home for drawing in warmer, windless studio. Trail notes along the bottom include bird species brave enough to (ahem) go out on a limb in such weather.

So many bad bark puns available, I couldn't choose. (Insert your favorite here:_______)

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...