I've been thinking about portraiture all week, since discovering eight year old Lorraine's delightful self-portrait last Sunday. (see earlier post). So, I've pulled some other favorites from my library of art books.
This afternoon, Joe and I stopped by our favorite eye wear store, 2nd Street Optical, in Belmont Shore, owned by Jacquie Clarke and Tony Canfora. For sixteen years, they've had the best window displays in town, created by artist Olivier Chupeau. Today, we got to see the new one, perhaps my favorite of all: a crowd of poetic people created from recycled white plastic bottles wearing sporty glasses. Here are some pictures.
You can see more of Olivier Chupeau's creative work at his website. And, if you live in the area, you can visit 2nd Street Optical at 4810 East 2nd Street in Long Beach. Jackie and Tony excel at helping you select glasses that are perfect for your face and personality.
I've worn these jeans for years of work in the studio and teaching. They've been splattered with ink, paint, chemicals, and general muck, never complaining. It is time to lay them to rest. Thank you, dear pants, for serving me, and art, well.
I'm reading a great new book about how to make woodcuts, The Woodcut Artist's Handbook by George Walker. The book explains everything in such a way that a reader (in this case, me) is likely to jump up, tear up the day's to-do list, gather the tools and supplies and start cutting immediately. Here is the first paragraph from Mr. Walker's introduction:
Printmaking is all about making an impression on paper, both figuratively and literally. Successful woodcut artists use their drawing, carving and printing skills to creat images that have an enduring meaning and make a lasting mark. Making prints is both an art and a craft; it combines the art of creating original images and the craft of making them into prints.
What a great way to set the grand stage. And the rest of the book is written as beautifully. I find it no less than spell-binding.
I've read only one other instructional book I'd call spell-binding - William Zinsser'sOn Writing Well. It was such a compelling read, I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it! Now, that is a good instructional book on writing!
We've had the heaviest rain I've ever seen this week in Long Beach. ALL week. Plus a couple of tornadoes. Plus, of course, flooding everywhere. Night classes (including my printmaking class) were cancelled Wednesday at LBCC. CSULB cancelled classes for two full days. Many freeways throughout southern California were closed off and on through the week, due to flooding. It has been an amazing time and I have to admit I loved it.
Fortunately, the burn areas around the Los Angeles basin did not experience dreaded mud slides, as expected. (Recall the out-of-control forest fires of last summer that claimed many hillsides and homes.)
Today, however, the downpour has stopped and the sun is shining brightly. People are out walking their happy dogs, gardening, and marveling at the clear, blue sky.
Our friends Mar and Virginia are selling their beautiful home in Portland so they can retire to the countryside. I've not been inside, but the pictures show a real beauty. See more views and get information by going to Oregon RMLS and clicking on "ML Number Search" in the upper left side of the window. Type in 10005743.
What is the asking price of this beautiful, 2691 square foot craftsman style house? Could it possibly be under a couple million? under $850,000? even under $500,000? YES!!! The asking price is a mere $339,000.
Saw a great exhibition about abstraction in Latin American art at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach today. And equally wonderful was the sculpture garden there. In particular, the cacti were stunning. Here are some pictures.
You may recall my post last Sunday about my favorite pancakes. They were so good, I had to make more today. With blueberries! They were delicious! Joe was already on his way to Starbucks for his weekly crossword-puzzle-and-coffee gig, so I had to eat them all myself. (I timed it that way.) Here they are, just before the first bite:
UPDATE ON CLASS: The first week of the semester is behind me. Both morning and evening groups seem ready and focused. I'm especially excited about the intaglio group. It is made up of returning students who take the class as a personal interest and to have access to an etching press, and beginners, for whom intaglio is new but, in this case, already have a lot of art and printmaking background. In fact, I think I am the most challenged one: My mental acuity in the evening is not what it used to be and I'm going to have to get used to thinking on my feet again after dark and remembering in an instant vocabulary words with more than three syllables! But I think I and we will make it through and have a great time in the process.
The first assignment in our Intaglio class is to create a drypoint print. A drypoint is made by using a variety of etching tools to scratch lines and textures directly into a flat copper or zinc plate, much like drawing on paper but requiring more pressure.
At the end of Wednesday night's drypoint demo, the students began trying out the tools on a test plate, a way to practice and experiment before working on their own plates. After everyone has the chance to add something, we'll print the plate as part of the printing demo next week. Each student can then see how his or her contribution came out and we'll also have a finished group print - a record of our experience together.
The following three drypoint prints are the results of previous class groups. In each of these examples, it is remarkable to me how well the individual contributions came together as a cohesive and interesting whole.
My semester schedule starts up for good tomorrow. I'll teach screenprinting (intro and advanced sections) on Monday and Wednesday mornings from 9 - 12 at Long Beach City College and then come back in the evening to teach screenprinting (intro and advanced) and intaglio (intro and advanced) from 6:30 to 9:20 p.m. Both classes are full at 30 students each. This semester, I'll not add any wait listed students although there are more than 20 for the morning class and almost that many for the night class.
On Thursdays, I'll spend the day at Irvine Valley College as an academic advisor. This is something I've done on a part-time basis for many years and I enjoy the one-on-one student contact. It is especially satisfying to meet with students interested in becoming artists.
So, since today is my last official day off, I'm making the most of it! First up, my favorite breakfast- pancakes a la Mark Bittman, who writes The Minimalist column in the food section of the New York Times. I'll print the recipe at the end of the post.
My pancakes, almost ready to eat.
Next, coffee and a slow read of the newspapers.
After that, a visit to our neighborhood farmer's market. I bought two large, beautiful Asian pears. (TIP: The vendor suggested this home remedy: scoop out some of the pulp from the top of an Asian pear and fill it with honey. Boil it in water for 30 - 45 minutes. The resulting tea will be soothing to sore throats.)
Next, a couple of quick errands with Joe and some last minute class preps. (But these don't count as "last hurrah" activities.)
Next, some chips and salsa while watching football. (At this moment, Arizona-24, Green Bay Packers -10.)
Later, pizza for dinner! (Yes, this day isn't my best in terms of healthy eating.) And we'll probably watch one of our netflix finds, an episode of Rebus, a BBC detective series.
Our favorite pizza: DiGiorno.
Nice day! A bit slovenly, but a great way to finish my vacation and get motivated for the new semester. I'll be ready for a fresh start in the morning.
Mark Bittman's Light, Fluffy and Rich Pancakes
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup all-purpose flour
dash of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Butter or grapeseed or other neutral oil as needed.
Beat together the ricotta or cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt and egg yolks. Combine baking soda, flour, salt and sugar. Beat egg whites until fairly stiff but not dry.
Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat while you finish batter. Stir flour mixture into cheese mixture, blending well but not beating. Stir in lemon juice and zest, then gently fold in beaten egg whites; they should remain somewhat distinct in batter.
Add about a tablespoon butter or oil to griddle or skillet and coat surface. When it is hot, add batter by the heaping tablespoon, making sure to include some egg white in each spoonful. Cook until lightly browned on bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook second side. Serve immediately. Yield: four servings.
I'm preparing for the new semester, which begins on Monday. This morning, I pulled together a group of etchings from our collection to show the new intaglio students. I've always loved this etching by Kristin Weaver. She gave it to me at the end of a printmaking class I taught as a graduate student, probably in 1993. (My, how time flies.) She was a very talented art major. I wonder where Kristen is now and what she is doing...
I just finished this book and liked it very much. The first chapter introduces a group of people living in New York whose lives intersect around a main character. Each subsequent chapter focuses on the life of a different character from this group and, in the end, the final chapter pulls everything together.
But today was a delightful reminder. I met friends Roger O'Leary-Archer and Pat Sullivan for lunch in Pasadena followed by a visit to the vast acreage of TheHuntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in neighboring San Marino. There, we saw three great exhibitions: The Color Explosion, about how color lithographs revolutionized the printing industry in 19th-century America; Central Avenue and Beyond, about the Harlem Renaissance in Los Angeles in the 1920's and 30's; and Drawn to Satire, a show of John Sloan's etchings.
The entrance to the Huntington.
Pat and Roger graciously pose. The place was packed with visitors today.
Part of the vast gardens surrounding the many buildings that make up the Huntington.
The Huntington Art Museum
On the way home, I couldn't resist stopping off in South Pasadena to my all-time favorite clothing store, Koi, on Fair Oaks. (It used to be called Sonnie's.) So many beautiful clothes! Where to begin? I held myself back today, but it was terribly hard.
I've been sitting at my drawing table several hours each day this weekend to work on this copper plate. The light is good, my new office chair is very comfortable, and great music is playing in the background. Intermittently, I work on preparations for the printmaking classes I'll teach this semester, which begin on January 11th. The papers on the left are class notes to update. I am hoping the updates will happen by osmosis.
I tried a new recipe for dinner last night: Chicken Curry with Pineapple and Coconut over rice.
We had a lazy day yesterday. Joe played his 5400th game of Freecell. He started at game one and is working his way through all of them. Yes, there are millions, so it will take him a while. I started a new drypoint and am liking the results. Today I hope to finish incising the image and pull a proof. I like this one much more than the other one I've been working on.
Gisele and Bill Thompson recently sent their friends CDs of their year's favorite music including Yo La Tengo, Johnny Cash, The Cramps, and Billie Holiday, among others. I listened while working in the studio. Terrific!
After dinner, while Joe read, I watched another episode of BBC's Hamish McBeth from netflix. It is a series about a police officer in a quirky little village in Scotland. Beautiful scenery - makes me want to go visit. On my lap, Sophie napped and purred (he can sleep and purr at the same time) after his own special New Year's day dinner of a bit of the chicken left over from dinner.
I don't think these things would hurt: sincerity, striving for our best, contributing what we can to the world, working hard, thinking creatively, finding our way. So, these are my goals for 2010.
Also, I'd like to learn how to use my iPod Touch.
Last night, Joe and I met our good friends, Debra and John Grace, for dinner at Trattoria Limone, the terrific Italian restaurant in our neighborhood I've mentioned before in this blog. Our strategy was to meet at 6, before the masses arrived, and it worked. We had a wonderful meal and lots of good conversation. When we left at about 8, all tables were full and many people were waiting in a happy, festive mood. I'm happy to see Trattoria Limone doing so well.