Monday, July 25, 2011

Oncoming train... or brilliant spark?

This summer has felt like that oft-told joke about tunnel lights and oncoming trains. Life has been a blur since May, and I'm. Getting. Tired.

Okay, I'm actually beyond tired, but this time there really IS light at the end of the tunnel. Sort of. On Wednesday I take myself on the road again, first to Denver to take down my show at the Dos Chappell Bathhouse in Washington Park and then to Rocky Mountain National Park to teach a workshop. Next weekend I hang another little local show and then? I have about three weeks to just be home getting things done. I've plenty of contract work to keep me busy during that time, so I don't know how much printmaking will happen, but it will be nice to be more or less stationary for a bit.

Carve it, print it, scan it, clean it up
and off it goes to be a map icon.

I spent the weekend doing prep work for Friday's workshop, and last evening I managed to finish the last (?) little linocut icon for the Southeast Colorado Heritage project.

The adventure on Hog Island already seems a bit like a dream, but I have a few quick little sketches to prove otherwise. This one shares the page with a favorite quote attributed to Jack London. (Apparently there's some dispute about all but the first line, but I like it anyway.)

I read these words at dinner one night last week, inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the fifty-seven educators who were our campers. In a crazy season like this one, Mr. London reminds me that I chose this active and busy life... and that a life well-lived can be its own reward.

"I would rather be ashes than dust.
I would rather that my spark should die out in a brilliant blaze, than it should be stifled by dry rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hog Island Educators Week video

Ultra-efficient Hog Island staffer Erica has already posted the slide show created by campers our last day on the island. I guess the rendering cut off the tops (read: people's heads) and bottoms of all the photos, but it's still awesome.

Hog (Island) Heaven

Oh. My.

It's going to be impossible for me to write about the past week and do it any sort of justice. At least not in fewer than 50,000 words. We had amazing campers and outrageously fun and knowledgeable instructors, awesome support staff and an unparalleled location. We spent days in the field and evenings enthralled by guest speakers including author Lynne Cherry, seabird expert Steve Kress, and 12-year-old conservation activist Olivia Bouler. For now I'll let pictures tell the story... and if you want to see more, the camp has a growing Flickr site here.

Sharing Nature: An Educators' Week

Hog Island Audubon Camp from the mainland.
57 educators serving populations from pre-school through adult
spent 5 action-packed days exploring coastal habitats.
Here, getting up close and personal with the intertidal zone
at Indian Lagoon.

What did we find in the seine net?
Crabs and sea stars, herring and lumpfish, mollusks and
crab worms, shrimp and lobster and even a flounder!
Field sketchers at work in camp.
You know you're with your peeps when one idea of a good time
is sitting under the apple tree contemplating the identification
of unusual animal droppings.

One of the highlights of camp week is a visit by boat to Eastern
Egg Rock, home of a re-established Atlantic puffin colony.
Campers aboard the Snow Goose III scan for seabirds.
And here are the puffins! We hit them on a great week... I was
out here once before during August and most of the birds had
dispersed already. We easily saw 100 of the little beasts... plus
gannets (my favorite), terns, gulls... and harbor porpoise!
After a few turns around Eastern Egg Rock we went ashore at
Harbor Island. Picnic on the beach and then several hiking
options to explore this beautiful location.

There are many habitats to discover on Hog Island, including a
small bog. Carnivorous plants here include pitcher plants and
Spruce and pine forests dominate the center of Hog Island, and
this group of happy campers dominated the examination of
ferns, moss, and fungus on the forest floor.
Campers and staff on the last night... lobster dinner, puffin
pastry desert, and contra dancing for the masses. Thanks,
everyone, for a spectacular experience.
Sunset, Muscongus Bay, from Hog Island.
(Actually, this shot is from the door to the
women's bathroom. Not bad, eh?)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(Lobsters) Packed for Travel

That's "The Hog" on the horizon.
Hog Island Audubon Camp photo.
Nearly twenty years ago I made my first (brief) trip through Maine enroute to New Brunswick, Canada. On that journey it seemed that every few miles we came across a shop with a big, friendly sign that declared "Lobsters packed for travel."*

Is it just me, or does your mind also conjure a little crustacean perched on a bench, suitcase in one claw and bus ticket in the other?

I'm no lobster, but I do have a plane ticket and a bag packed for travel. Tomorrow I'm off to join a stellar cast of instructors at Hog Island Audubon Camp near Bremen, Maine.  Thursday we receive our 60 or so campers for five days of adventures in environmental education. Me? I'll be teaching field sketching and journaling. Gonna be fun!

In the meantime, Brush and Baren will be in radio silence until late next week. Pictures when I return!

*(Seriously, there's a video on this site... a charming young woman will show you everything you need to know about packing lobsters for travel.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: Mt Ouray SWA

Mount Ouray State Wildlife Area is just a couple of miles from the house.
It's an interesting combination of riparian wetland on one side of the river
and gravel pit and historic ore smelter remains on the other.
Click to embiggen.

Determined as I am to avoid squandering the entire summer in contract work, Fieldwork Fridays are essential. Even if, as this morning, I can only get out for an hour or so.

If you're anything like me, you are constantly searching for the "perfect" sketchbook or journal for the field. I've used "store-bought" spiral- and stitch-bound books and made my own books, but never, NEVER, am I completely satisfied. I like a fine-toothed paper for drawing and writing, and something with some weight for watercolors. I don't know why I can't have both.

Once upon a time I did start working with an assortment of loose sheets, intending to bind them later.... it was a semi-successful endeavor that I may try again.

At any rate, I recently found a Daler-Rowney "Cachet" spiral-bound sketchbook with decidedly cream-colored pages, rather than white. I thought it might be easier on the eyes than the bright white (or even "soft" white) of most books, and so far that's true. Of the myriad discomforts that could (and did) arise this morning (heat, biting bugs, and allergies for starters), paper glare was not one of them.

I like the look of the cream pages, but the paper could (as usual) stand to be a little heavier. My Sharpie pen isn't bleeding through, but I can see the "ghosts" of preceding pages. And even light-handed application of watercolor causes some paper buckling.  Ah, well... it's a good excuse to keep buying sketchbooks and papers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A flash of July

Um, yeah. Hot.
The summer whirlwind continues! Monday the DM and I made a quick trip to the Front Range for a gander at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Sculptor friend extraordinaire Bill Starke was exhibiting at the festival and encouraged us to come out and scout the scene. We saw lots of wonderful artwork (including a respectable number of printmakers), but the key word for the day was HOT! When we finally called it quits the temperature gauge in the DM's car said 100 F, and that didn't take into account the radiant heat from the asphalt streets on which the event is held.

Clouds and rain and 30 degrees cooler on Hoosier Pass.
We took a slightly longer route back to Salida, through the mountain resort of Breckenridge. It was a delight to watch the thermometer drop to 69 degrees and then to encounter rain. (My queendom for some rain here at home. As I type it's actually thundering, but I know better than to hope for anything to come of it. We've had frighteningly little precipitation here since last summer.)

Wednesday morning it was back to contract work.... some of it corn-ier than usual. (See right.) Tomorrow I'm hoping to squeeze in a little Fieldwork Friday time, and then next week I'm off to teach at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine! A week later it's Rocky Mountain National Park, where I'll teach another workshop and then Zoom! There goes July.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

That's more like it! A drying rack full of linocuts

Happiness is wet prints. Even if they're destined to be map icons.

My homemade print drying rack has been very lonely for many weeks now. Too much illustration going on, not enough printmaking. This past week, however, I've been involved in one of those projects that is a bit of both.

Birds... tractors... corn... deer... trains...cows. Can you guess
the character of the area these icons will describe?

I carved 16 little icons on unmounted linoleum. (A supplement to the 18 I carved last winter!) Originally I intended to print them with the help of Elvis Press-ley, which is why you see little "railing" lines on the top and bottom of the images, but in the end I decided it was faster to just do them by hand. I'm not yet in love with Elvis, I'm sorry to say, but I honestly haven't had a big chunk of time in which to get to know him better. Yet. Maybe this winter?

In the meantime, I've a rack full of little images that will hopefully be dry enough to scan for the designer later today. I know one isn't supposed to have favorites among one's offspring, but if you promise not to tell I'll introduce you to the "keeper" of this batch.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fieldwork Friday (on the sly)

Couldn't face another day of indoor labors without some outdoor exploring, so I wrangled myself a brief Fieldwork Friday adventure. After my usual morning walk I sat down for about 45 minutes with a sketchbook. The page itself isn't well thought out, but since I felt pressed for time I just drew whatever I could wherever I could.

There's a funny little note in the upper right...
My reading glasses were perched at the end of my nose
and suddenly an ANT ran across the top of the lenses!

Interesting to me was that I started with the distant view in the upper left and then worked closer and closer to where I was sitting. Buildings across the river, tree limb on my side of the river, rocks at my outstretched feet, plant... well... I was almost sitting on it. It wasn't planned... it just worked out that way.

Gonna go print me a stack of lino icons now!

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...