Friday, September 30, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: St. Elmo/Chalk Creek

This morning I headed upriver, north through the Arkansas River valley. Just before the tiny raft-stop of Nathrop I turned west up a county road, across the valley floor and into Chalk Creek canyon.

Past the fish hatchery and Chalk Cliffs, past the bighorn sheep habitat at Love Meadow, past the Agnes Vaille and Cascade Falls lies the not-so-ghosty-anymore ghost town of St. Elmo. I hadn't been up there all year (it's about 45 minutes or so from home)... it seemed like time for a visit.

As is usual for "peak" color season, I spent more time dawdling with the camera than actually drawing. By the time I reached St. Elmo the hordes of weekend ATV enthusiasts were arriving, so I made this little sketch and then turned back around for home.

There's an urgency to this time of year. I'm sure I've written about it before. A Rocky Mountain autumn is fragile and ephemeral. Resplendent, glowing hillsides last only until the next big wind or early snow and once October hits it feels like we're living on borrowed time. October. That's tomorrow. Ummm.... I'll see ya later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Attraction distraction

Is it any wonder I find it difficult to concentrate in September when this sort of thing is going on outside? Autumn was so slow to get started and now... WHOOSH! Blink and you'll miss it. So don't blink. And don't miss it.

David and I took a picnic supper up Marshall Pass this evening and despite less-than-perfect light conditions we managed to fill more hard drive space with our annual gazillion shots of aspen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Woodcut experiments

Tiny woodcut experiments

Okay.... raise your hand if you're the sort of person who decides to try a brand new recipe on the night you will have dinner guests.

Or perhaps you can remember any number of times when you agreed to perform a task ("Sure. I can do that.") and then immediately set about learning how to do it. Usually under deadline.

Yup. That's me, too. Which is naturally why I decided to participate in my first-ever [Baren]forum print exchange now. It's Barenforum's 50th exchange, with 100 printmakers participating. (As opposed to the usual 30-something.) The format is tiny (2.5" x 3.5"), but 101 impressions are needed for the exchange. By October 1. Sorry, November 1. Wait. I think. I should check.

I know from previous experience with small prints that registration on tiny sheets of paper is far more challenging than it is on larger sheets, so a single-color image seems to be in order. But hmmm.... what to do and how to do it? Border print? Bleed print? Naturally I've also decided to carve wood instead of lino, which means I'm using less familiar tools on a less familiar surface. Experimentation required!

I'm not completely satisfied with any of these, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.

Meanwhile, we had a spectacular sunset this evening. Not just in the west, but in the entire sky. All of town glowed pink and orange. It would be challenging to try to interpret such images as relief prints. I don't think I'd have the slightest idea how to start. Which means.... Uh oh. Must. Resist. Idea. At least until 101 other little prints are done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Woodson Art Museum makes "Ripples" all its own

Just when you thought things couldn't get any more exciting post-Birds in Art...

...Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum collections curator Jane Weinke telephoned to share the happy news that "Ripples" will join the Museum's permanent collection!  I responded to Jane's call with all the professionalism you've come to expect from me: I all but shouted, "Get. Out."

Yeah. Professional.

Dubious decorum aside, I am honored to have this piece included in the Woodson's spectacular collection. You really do need to visit there if you're ever in or near Wisconsin.

Here's the extra fun part, though. Remember my description of Project Postcard? It was a fundraiser I felt good about supporting, and in return it has supported me. I send a huge thank you to all the artists who donated postcards and to all the exhibition visitors who bought postcards. Because of you the Museum will acquire not only "Ripples," but also pieces by Julie Bender, S.V. Medaris, and Michael Todoroff, all from the 2011 Birds in Art exhibition. It's all good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Even MORE linocut icons!

Yep, a few more images were recently added to the tick list for the Southeast Colorado Heritage Area project. After so many weeks of running around like a headless chicken it feels good to get back to carving and printing, and "simple" black-and-white linocuts have proven to be the perfect limbering-up exercise for atrophied printmaker muscles.

I love a pile of lino kanoodles, don't you?

At least I only had to clean off 7 plates this time, not the 18 of the last set.

Yes, they're hanging on the drying rack, now...not all over the table.

There are exciting things afoot here... stay tuned for a couple of big announcements later in the week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lucky Me! (aka Seaside Studios' blogoversary)

One of the things I most love about blog writing and blog reading is the opportunity to meet (virtually, at least) friends and colleagues from many corners of the world. I'm alternately inspired and humbled by hard-working artists in a variety of media. Thank you all!

In August my virtual colleague Lisa Le Quelenec at Seaside Studios celebrated her first "blogoversary" with a gift-away. To my great surprise and delight, her independent ajudicator (Ducky) selected my name as giftee! (The only other thing I can remember ever winning was a collapsible camping table that says "National Wild Turkey Federation" on it. Long story.)

"Storm at Southbourne" arrived last week in a happy little parcel from across the Atlantic. (Gift wrapped with a bow, even!) At present it perches above my desk, reminding this land-locked creature of the smell of the sea and of the generosity of artists everywhere. Thank you, Lisa, both for a lovely painting and for continuing to share your endeavors with the world.

Storm at Southbourne
acrylic on paper 13x12cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: CR 105

Some days just don't unfold the way one might hope. Today, for example, started at 3:30am. Not on purpose, mind you. I just woke up and couldn't go back to sleep.

So I wrote a letter and cleared some more of my inbox. Made a couple of lists, put away some laundry, ate some breakfast. When the sun finally rose the outside temperature was still only 48F and it was threatening rain... it took me a long time to get out the door for Fieldwork Friday.

The first two hours of the day were spent just walking and birding in my "patch," which has been sadly neglected the last few weeks. The birds were a little slow to get started this morning, too... except for Wilson's warblers. The path along the river is dripping with WIWA.

When I finally turned my attention to sketching the clouds were looking even more ominous, so I parked my car alongside County Road 105 and did this little doodle from the comfort (?) of the driver's seat. My lack of sleep caught up with me... I found myself nodding off while I was drawing! The last time I remember doing THAT was in a math class in college.

I might mess with this some more later.... add a few details and some better color to the foreground. Or I might not. Someone just mentioned a nap, and now I... can't... keep... my... eyes.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birds in Art: Highlight of *any* year

"The most amazing indoor birding opportunity anywhere!" It's just one of the superlatives attached to the annual Birds in Art exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. I can think of a whole lot more, but I'm going to try to keep this post under 1000 words, eh?

The 2011 edition of Birds in Art (the 36th since the show's inception in 1976) includes more than 120 paintings, graphics, and sculptures created by artists who bring a global perspective to their passion for birds. To my great honor and delight my linocut, "Ripples," was among the works selected from nearly 1000 entries for this year's exhibition.

That's the corner of a piece by Frank LaLumia on the left edge.
Yeah, "our corner" rocked.
The Woodson Art Museum staff are the cream of the crop, and the exhibition is always a masterful blend of great art, efficient and detail-perfect organization, and enthusiastic community involvement. It's a huge honor to be included in the show, and mind-boggling to be treated to such an artists-as-rockstars opening weekend.

Not to worry. The rumbles you felt last Friday were the stars aligning to
FINALLY bring friend and honored colleague Debby Kaspari and I together
in the same geographic location. First time EVER, despite knowing each other
for several years now. That's Debby's awesome piece on the wall behind us.
Everything happens so fast during the weekend: from the first reception (there are three) to the presentation of the Master Artist award (this year to Jim Coe), from an elegant patron dinner to a cutthroat croquet match on the lawn. It's a blur.

"Project Postcard" was by all reports a huge success at the Friday evening preview reception, and during the Saturday morning opening I took my place alongside seven other "Artists in Action" who were all offering demonstrations of their particular work processes.

Another nice touch was a small exhibition of works from the Museum's extensive drawing collection which featured pieces by artists who had been juried into Birds in Art this year. (We neglected to get any photos, but I was tickled to see my drawing hanging next to that of another friend, Barry Van Dusen.)

Engaged, thoughtful, and appreciative. Couldn't ask for a more fun audience.
Or more perfect weather!

Sixty-seven of the artists included in the show made the trip to Wausau for the event, including three from Japan and others from England, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Sweden and Canada.

Best of all were the opportunities to see old friends and to make many new ones. Still, I look at my list of weekend attendees and realize how many people I barely saw or had time to visit with. (sigh) Ah, well... it's good incentive to try again next year.

 Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, 12th and Franklin Streets, Wausau, WI (USA).
Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
(Thursday until 7:30 pm during Birds in Art and first Thursday of each month)
Saturday-Sunday, Noon - 5:00 pm
Closed Monday and holidays. Free Admission Always.

Here we are! But, oops. I think Jim Morgan's head got cut off. Don't tell him.
Colorado artists were well-represented again this year.
Back row, left to right: William Alther, Wes Hyde.
Front row, left to right: Daniel Glanz, Dena Kirk, Sherrie York, Frank LaLumia.
Ned Aldrich, where WERE you?
The Wisconsin artists held up three fingers as a "W". The Michigan artists
did their "mitten" gesture. Colorado artists? We're the Square State. Of course.
One last shot of the DM and me all gussied up for the patron dinner.
Just to prove we clean up okay.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: In absentia

Well, I'm not exactly in the field today... I'm all gussied up and attending the opening of Birds in Art. No grubby field pants and sneakers for me. I actually went out and bought a new dress!

My walk on the dressy side doesn't mean I've abandoned Fieldwork Friday, however. Here's another drawing from Yellowstone, which of course comes with a story.

I was sitting on the fallen tree to which this twisted branch was attached... down along the lakeshore, across a small meadow from the Lake Lodge deck. We had seen bison in this meadow previously, but on this particular morning they appeared to have wandered off somewhere else.

I'd been perched here for some time, engrossed in the drawing, when suddenly I became aware of a semi-familiar sound. It was a sort of rhythmic Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Not unlike the stout breathing of bison at close range.

In a micro-second I felt the panicked rush of adrenaline: "Oh, (insert expletive here)... Did bison sneak up on me while I was focused on drawing?" I looked around frantically.... but saw no enormous brown creatures. The sound persisted. What the...?

And then I discovered the source. My seat was just above the water's edge, and a fast-moving motorboat was cruising just beyond. Its wake created small waves that rushed up through the gravel along the shore: Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.

Once my heart stopped pounding I had a good chuckle. There's probably some clever anecdote in this about not being able to see the bison for the tree, although I can't come up with it at the moment.

Still, it was a good reminder that working in the field requires one to practice a sort of observational-multi-tasking. Pay attention while you're paying attention, eh?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Project Postcard

Here's something nifty I received in the mail on Saturday:

It's an invitation to the "Project Postcard" event during the Birds in Art opening this weekend at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Artists who had work juried into the show were invited (optionally) to create postcard-sized artworks for this clever fundraising idea. Postcards will be displayed anonymously at the Friday evening preview reception where, for a $25 dollar donation, attendees will stand in line to select a card. They will discover the creator of their mini-artwork only after their selection is made. Want a second card? Pay another $25 and go back to the end of the line.

Artists get asked to donate their work all the time, which can be a sore subject. Here's why I like this particular project, though: Monies raised in this manner are applied to the museum's Acquisition Fund. They use the funds to buy art. Patrons get special little art pieces, artists sell work, the Woodson Art Museum's amazing collection grows. (Why, yes, they do already have a Sherrie York or two. Or three.)

Here's the extra-fun part: Take a look at the "O" in the word "Postcard." (You can click to embiggen if you like.) Recognize that mallard?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fieldwork Friday: At home and away

It's taken a few days, but I'm finally feeling more or less back in the swing of things. Even so, my neck and shoulders complained mightily this morning at the thought of a backpack and hike for this installment of Fieldwork Friday.

In my (ahem) advancing years I am learning to pay attention to what my neck and shoulders have to say, so I opted to spend some time in the closest field I have: My yard.

There's not much to look at there just now... I don't seem to have found the right plants to provide blooms through the end of summer. While we were on the road the deer had their way with things, too, so it's all a bit scraggly. Still, the beloved bee plants have some color and they continue to share their oh-so-lovely scent whenever I bump up against them.

I also found my way to scanning a couple of things from LAST Friday in Yellowstone National Park. Both of these drawings are from the West Thumb geyser basin. I loved West Thumb in part because it was a smaller, less-visited area and it had just about everything you could want for thermal features: hot pools, mud pots, and geysers.

This is a corner of the Abyss Pool. The amazing and unlikely colors indicate different species of heat-loving micro-organisms (thermophiles) living at various depths and temperatures. One of my most pervasive memories from this trip will be sitting on the boardwalk next to this pool. Mid-day, glaring sun, no shade, smell of sulphur.... and me sitting practically on top of a huge expanse of steaming water.

But the funniest story comes with this sketch:

It's still early morning at West Thumb and I am perched on a bench, asking myself what sort of insanity compels one to draw boardwalks along lakeshores. As I work, a man in cowboy boots comes clomping towards me. He stops to see what I am doing.

"Is this for some kind of class?" he asks. (The implication being that no one could possibly do what I'm doing unless they were obliged to meet a class requirement.)

"No," I reply. "Just drawing for the sake of doing so."

He asks a few more questions ("What will you do with that drawing? Will you make a painting?") and then suddenly he says, "It's nice, but you never saw that here."

It takes me a moment to realize he's facing the opposite direction I am. "Sure I did," I say, and point behind him. He turns around and looks back the way he came.

"Wow," he says with a mystified tone. "You see stuff."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to linocutting

Yippee! I'm back to work... at least temporarily. The small linocut I started last week with the new "mini jig" is intended for use as a reduction printing demonstration, so today I got it to the point at which I can show both carving and printing steps in the allotted program time. The mini jig, most of my carving tools, ink knife, block and ink are now bundled into a box to be shipped to the demonstration venue tomorrow. It's perhaps a day or two earlier than I need to ship everything, but better safe than sorry, I always say.

It felt good to be carving and printing today, although after all last week in the car and all day yesterday at the computer I found myself struggling with neck and shoulder issues. (sigh) Good thing tomorrow is Fieldwork Friday again, 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...