Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy 500th Post Day!

Yes, indeed, it's Brush and Baren's 500th Postiversary! Probably slightly disappointing to those who thought I'd be announcing I'd won the lottery or was moving to France (come to think of it, it's slightly disappointing to ME on those two counts)... but this is what the Mystery Countdown was all about.

Brush and Baren launched at the very end of 2006, with no clear purpose and only a haphazard sense of timing, but Oh! The places it's taken me since! I can no longer imagine a world where I don't have friends and colleagues (and sympathizers!) connected by a shimmering web.  Readers, lurkers, commentors... fellow artists, writers, picker-uppers-of-things-on-the-ground, and delighters-in-nature-all-around... I thank you all for making my life rich and resplendent.

So put on your party hats and toot your party horns, it's time for a present from me! Wish Brush and Baren a happy birthday by commenting on this post. The first 10 people to comment will receive a little party favor and from ALL the comments I receive one will be chosen at random to receive the linocut Deep, which readers watched unfold right here this winter. But hurry! Deadline to comment is July 7 at midnight Mountain Standard Time. Let the celebration begin!

(Oh. And PS: It's my brother Steve's birthday today, too. We can include him in the good wishes. Really.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recap and drumroll

Wow! What a weekend! The Darling Man's chum Matt was here for ArtWalk, so between David's three music gigs, my demo, and a little art walkin' we piled into the Cruiser for the Highlights of Central Colorado tour. Whew! We're POOPED.

ArtWalk was, as always, a fun and festive event. Art, music, performance (as you'd expect), mud people, stilt walkers, and belly dancers (as you might not expect). David and Matt boggled the minds of folks who had never seen or heard either a Chapman Stick OR an EWI and were suddenly faced with both. I gave a linocut demo on Saturday that was well attended by engaged and curious folks... always a treat.

It's a Windwood reunion tour! Sort of.

Friday, before the real craziness set in we took Matt up our local Greens Creek for a short hike (which we needed to work off what was fast becoming FoodFest weekend). It was the first time we'd been up that trail this season, and it was fabulous to be in a lush riparian creek drainage. As a follow-up to last week's moth theme... the place was full of butterflies! Black swallowtails and admirals were the most dramatic. (I feel a new lino coming on....)

On Sunday we went on an epic tour to the "ghost town" (now partially inhabited and under restoration) of St. Elmo, over Cottonwood Pass, through Taylor Park to Crested Butte, Gunnison, and back home over Monarch Pass. I always think it's important to get visitors up on the Continental Divide at least once while they're here. How many times does one get to stand on the spine of a continent and throw snowballs in June, after all?

Cottonwood Pass, elevation 12, 123 ft., on the Continental Divide

Highlight of the trip for me was the spotting of a MOOSE! Uncommon critters in these parts, and exciting to have a chance to flex the new camera! I certainly need to spend time working out all the little details of focus (auto or manual?) and zoom (75 or 300?), but it was fun to give it a whirl. David got some nice video of the beast, too...

As always, though, it's back to work today. I've a zillion and one things to do... although now that I'm at the end of this post I have only a zillion more to go. Our Mystery Countdown now stands at ONE, and I know you're all sitting on the edges of your computer chairs, waiting for The Big Reveal.
Here's a hint: get out your party hats and noise makers, 'cause there's gonna be a little celebration.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moth... RAH!

It's a headline you'll only understand if you, too, share some portion of your life with someone who likes cheezy science fiction films. Or if you are that person yourself.

The other day, enroute to the grocery store, the DM and I found a moth that was in fine shape- other than being dead. Even its antennae were perfect... wide, yellow fans. I held it cupped in my hand the entire time we did the shopping, checked out, and walked home. I don't think anyone noticed... but I don't think anyone who knows me would have been surprised.

A few weeks ago I found a moth of a different species, not yet dead but sitting quite still in the middle of the street. I scooped it up and put it in a safe spot in the yard, but it expired overnight in the flower pot.

They've both been on the shelf since their passive collection, but yesterday I found a page with a painting I'd done of ANOTHER moth some time ago. It seemed a good time to add to the two-dimensional collection, so.... here they are. One is white-lined sphinx moth... I haven't sorted the others out yet.

Mystery countdown: TWO!

A shipping agent's best friend

Unless you're a shipping agent who doesn't actually like to deliver things, you were happy to visit my house today! Except for the part about having to pay for (almost) everything myself, it felt like Christmas or my birthday or something.

First: I'm gearing up for my linocut demo this weekend at ArtWalk* and workshops in July at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. The latest box of goodies for my classes arrived today.. this time it's the cheap-and-simple starter supplies for beginning relief printing. Oooooooooooh!

Second: My good friend Tony (now my VERY good friend Tony) visited last week from the east coast and brought with him a "loaner" digital SLR camera body! I've been longing for something other than my little point-and-shoot for a long time, but haven't been in a position to bite the bullet and invest in new equipment. But with a camera body in hand, I had to buy a lens... so at least the process is started. The new lens was box #2 today....

And finally.... WOOT! WOOT! Friend and colleague Carla Sonheim has a new book on the brink of release, and my "contributor copy" arrived! You'll be hearing more about "Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists" in July, which is not that far away! Congratulations, Carla! The book looks fun and inviting. (And yes, I received a contributor copy because a couple of the exercises use my drawings as examples!)

The DM is off in the morning to collect his friend Matt from the airport (a 2-hour jaunt each way from here) and I'll be staying home to ensure Matt has a clean guest room to sleep in. In between playing with art supplies, a camera, and a new book, of course.

*I''ll be at the Book Haven, venue #41 on the map.

Mystery countdown: Three.... (the drumroll is starting...)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Up Next: Art Walk!

It's Monday, and the first (official) day of summer! This past weekend we survived the 62nd FIBArk madhouse (not personally present for all 62 events, mind you) whilst simultaneously celebrating the opening of our Farmers Market and dodging the 2,000 cyclists who arrived to complete the annual Ride the Rockies tour.

Busy weekend? Understatement.

 Seems like I'm always taking photos on the wrong side of the street at the wrong time of day.  Book Haven window, ready to go! Actually, a linocut sold this weekend, so I had to bring a replacement today. 
Ain't THAT grand?

But that was yesterday, and today we have to start preparing in earnest for this coming weekend, Salida's 18th Annual ArtWalk. (Also not personally present for every ArtWalk event, but certainly for half of them!) I have a little display of linocuts in the window at our local independent bookseller, the Book Haven, and will be giving a demonstration of my printmaking process at the store this Saturday from 1:30-3:00 or so. David Tipton (aka the DM) will be playing there from noon-2:00, with the good possibility that his friend and partner from Windwood, Matt Traum, will sit in with him. If you've never experienced a Chapman Stick / EWI musical duo before (and quite honestly, I don't know where else you even COULD) you're in for a treat.

 The window from inside.

So what else is new? (Geez, isn't that enough?)

I'm wrapping up a couple of interpretive panel projects this week, as well as starting on some educational materials for another client. And getting ready to hang another collection of work at the Salida Café on July 2. And...


And of course there's always a new print just around the corner... I need to get started on a small linocut commission this week, too... yikes! What am I sitting around here for? I have to get back to work.

Oops. I almost forgot. Mystery countdown: FOUR

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hanging out to dry - "Runoff" linocut

Well. Okay, then.
Eleven colors all together. Really, it's the limit of what I can do by hand with any sort of grace and aplomb, at least in my current level of expertise. Always looking to improve, of course... and always happy to have learned something.

"Runoff" - reduction linocut - 6" x 9"

Tomorrow my attention turns back to some contract assignments... at least it will once I send tonight's surprise company on their way. 'Tis the season when all roads at least go through Salida... it's a good thing we finally got that spare room functional!

Mystery countdown: FIVE!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Writing Nature 2010

Here's some fabulous summer reading! The 2010 issue of "Writing Nature" is now available (free!) online. I'm delighted to have "Decay, Comma" on the cover, but check out illustrations inside by journal-keeper cohorts Sarah Rabkin and Margy O'Brien!

Of course, there's some great writing, too... when you're done looking at the pictures.

Mystery countdown: SIX

Whoo-ee! That was fun...

The mighty Rio Grande

Monday morning, and I'm wading through piles of post-travel debris once again. Thankfully I think I'm home now for a few weeks, and it feels good to know I have a chance to settle in to a bit of a groove.

Not that traveling isn't wonderful... it is! This last jaunt could even be considered spectacular, given the setting, the company, the purpose, and the unfolding. But one thing at a time, eh?

Last Wednesday I kissed the Darling Man goodbye and headed south to Albuquerque. Multi-layered trepidation was enthusiastically crossing swords with happy anticipation, but I kept going and arrived ready to relax at the Spiritual Renewal Center (SRC) with sketchbook and comrades.

Tucked away behind a housing development and a ginormous church, the SRC faces the Rio Grande Bosque, a five-minute walk through which lands you at the edge of the Rio Grande. Perfect. It was quiet, private, and a perfect facility to house the almost 30 of us who gathered for the annual meeting of journal-keepers AND for the opening of "Drawing on Nature," our exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

And here we are! Thursday night our excited cadre arrived at the museum. There were MANY photos taken of the group... hopefully some of them will start making the rounds soon and I'll be able to share them.

Entering the exhibit. More photos.

Wow! Look at that! Look at that! Hey, that's mine! Hey, that's yours!

But wait! There's more!

My contribution is in the case on the right!

The funny thing is, when I got home and looked at my photos, I realized that I took no close-ups of work in cases. It comes from the respect that we all show to each other's work when we share journals amongst ourselves, I think. I didn't want to take photos of anything private. Funny when you think that this is a public exhibition, though. It's not like a zillion strangers aren't going to look at these things, too!

Many thanks to David Baccadutre and the rest of the exhibit staff (whose names all elude me at the moment, but I'll get them!). The show looked GREAT, and everyone was delighted with the respect and care taken with every aspect of it. There are even some murmurs that perhaps it will become a traveling exhibition... keep your fingers crossed! Most especial thanks, of COURSE, to Margy O'Brien, one of our "littermates" and the inspired (and inspiring) woman who thought of the entire thing in the first place. (I can't BELIEVE that Margy doesn't have a website I can send you to. Her work is amazing.)

After the high that was the exhibition opening, we settled in to the business of journal-keeping. Friday morning the group scattered in all directions... some headed to the Sandia Crest, others to the Jemez Mountains, Petroglyphs National Monument, Old Town Albuquerque, and some to Santa Fe. For me, the fact that Santa Fe and Albuquerque are only 4 and 5 1/2 hours away meant I was less inclined to try to cram in sightseeing and more inclined to hang around the "neighborhood." The lovely Albuquerque Open Space Visitors Center was a short walk from the SRC, the Rio Grande Nature Center just a short drive, and the bosque and river were out our back door. For me, it was enough.

Cottonwood in the Bosque, remnants of a fire. From my journal.

The traditions garden at the Open Space Visitors Center. From my journal.

Some of the gathered throng putting finishing touches on the day's journal entries.

Time for me to get back to work, but I'll feel sustained by the energy and friendship of this past week for a long, long time. (And just WAIT until you see the yarn that Beki spun for me!)

Mystery countdown: Seven

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Darn it. And hooray!

The "darn it" part:

It looks like I'm not going to get this linocut finished before I leave in the morning. Things are drying more slowly now that there are nine colors (!) on this little image. And two more to go.

I had originally intended only 10 colors, of course... but in my impatience and rush I put on an eighth color that just didn't quite do it for me. It's okay.... and I'll save parts of it, but I went ahead and corrected the color for some areas and printed the block again.

So now they will sit until next week. I'm a little nervous that they might be TOO dry when I get back, but I'll just have to deal with that situation when and if it happens.

The "hooray" part:

Where am I off to in such a rush this time? Albuquerque, New Mexico, of course! For the opening of "Drawing on Nature" at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and the annual gathering of the nature-journal-keeping clan. I think there are 30 of us who have contributed journals and sketchbooks to this exhibition, which opens this Friday and runs through September 12. The opening reception will be Thursday, June 10, 5:30-7:00pm. Stop on by if you're in the neighborhood!

I'll be hangin' wid da goils through Sunday, hopefully filling journal pages and working through some ideas that are continually lost in the day-to-day hubbub. It's about a six hour drive for me, and were it not for the fact that it's supposed to be 100 degrees down there the next few days I'd be doing some major dawdling en route. I expect I will only manage minor, shade-dependent wandering tomorrow, but the forecast for the return trip looks a tad less oppressive. The DM will sadly not be coming along for this one.. he's got his own gigs to attend to. Not to worry, though. I've left him a nice list of projects to keep him from twiddling his thumbs.

Until next week, then... have a great week, everyone.

Mystery countdown: EIGHT (It's not what you think....)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Magic number 7

Did get color 7 on the new lino today. Minor disappointment that my two greens have lost their contrast now, but the gray is starting to mellow, so I'll take it.

Colors 5 & 6

Color 7

Mystery countdown continues: NINE

(Oh, PS: Yesterday the Arkansas River runoff hit 4700 cfs, putting last week's 3500 to shame. That's what 97 degrees will do for ya.)

Balance? Don't make me laugh.

Excruciating. The temperature yesterday afternoon? Exruciating. Two weeks ago it was snowing up the valley, yesterday it was 97 degrees. Can we PLEASE have a little balance here?

And speaking of balance... it's hard to come by in the studio just now, too. The Darling Man and I were gone to Colorado Springs for a couple of days, he played a couple of gigs at Adams Mountain Cafe (go there) and we did some arts schmoozing and such. Today and tomorrow I'm back at the computer for some contract work and in the studio to try to move along the current linocut... and then it's off to Albuquerque for the "Drawing on Nature" exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

As I said. Can we PLEASE have a little balance here?

Oh wait. I forgot. Friend Marj Hahne, poet and bright, shining mind stayed with us a few weeks ago, at which time we pinky swore to accept that we led unbalanced lives and just get on with it.

Right. On with it.

I got two more colors on the current linocut before we left last week, both green. Things are definitely at the "ugly duckling" stage just now... the gray looks purple with the green next to it (speaking of unbalanced). I'm trying not to panic. The feel-good thing about this stage is that I FINALLY got a transparent color to do what I wanted. More or less.

The next learning point will be centered around a product mentioned by Kellie Hames, Dullit. It's supposed to take the shinies out of oil-based inks... which I am quite tired of fighting with. I had never heard of it, but then it's been 20 years since I've set foot in a print studio other than my own. I do, however, have exciting news on the "Sherrie-is-finally-going-to-take-a-printmaking-workshop" front. Hm. But I think I'll save it for another post. This one's all over the place as it is.

Aiming to get back in the studio this afternoon, once the usual "how-dare-you-leave-your-email-for-three-days" triage and unpacking/washing/repacking of the suitcase are well in hand.

Mystery countdown: TEN

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lots of progress, not much to see

In fit of questionable sanity, I got on a little printing roll in the last 24 hours. Spurred in part by the knowledge that I'll be mostly out of the studio in the next two weeks (and in part by waiting for others before progressing on other projects) I decided to throw caution to the wind and print successive colors over still-damp layers. I did add dryer to the inks along the way, so I don't think I've made too much trouble for myself... but we'll just have to see.

I apologize that these images are so poor. Bad lighting, a camera that's becoming temperamental, and wet ink do not for good photography make.

First color on the new linocut, an ocher-y yellow. This pre-mounted block has a flaw in it that I tried to sand out but was not completely successful. I'm not too concerned, though. One of the nice things about hand printing is that I can do a little judicious nudging of ink into a low spot and overcome the problem.

Second color, a light salmon.

Difficult to tell precisely what's happening here, but a darker ochre color went on third.

And then a gray as the fourth color. Nothing is resolving at this point in terms of image, although I promise the colors look better on the drying rack than they do in these shots.

I'm hoping everything will be dry enough in the morning for one more pull before leaving for a few days. Keep your fingers crossed!

Mystery countdown: Eleven

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Here we go again!

Should I be worried that I anticipate 10 colors before I even start?

I'll tear down paper tonight and possibly get a color on tomorrow. The kicker is that I'll be gone several days this week AND next, so I don't think I'll get very far very fast. But without a lino block on the table I get really cranky really quickly. And you just don't want to be around for that. Trust me.

Mystery countdown: Twelve.

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...