Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another Color Study

Cathy Baird e-mailed this great photo she took of brightly painted toenails in contrast to neutral shades in sandals and tile. Ahhhh, painted toenails - one of the happy rituals of summer.

Friday, July 30, 2010

R.I.P., Trattoria Limone

Our cherished local eatery, Trattoria Limone, is closing after this weekend, due to the economy. We will miss it dearly. Tonight, we enjoyed a bittersweet last meal there with our friends, John and Debra Grace.

Street Art

While I'm reading Josef Albers's color studies, I'm especially aware of the influence of color everywhere. Here are some examples from a recent walk:

Road crew markings. I suspect the color choices signify technical specifications, but it is fun to think the guy with the spray cans has been reading Albers, too.

I love the contrast of the hot pinks against the strong, neutral grays.

Lovely. Now, how can I mix this exact shade of vibrant blue?

Earth tones, naturally.

So many shades of gray! And that nice hot pink again for eye catching contrast. Just a little bit does the trick.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I'm Reading Now

The artist Josef Albers (1888-1976), member of the Bauhaus group, studied color throughout his long career. In 1972, when he was in his eighties, he finished a series of 127 screenprints called Formulation: Articulaton. These screenprints have been stunningly reproduced, along with his notes while making them, in a book of the same name published by Thames & Hudson and available on Amazon. I've got my own copy now!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tragedy Strikes Again

Today is the final day of my cat feeding duties for out-of-town friends, and they are ending in the nick of time. First the bird batterings (see Saturday's post) and now, on my walk over this morning, I discover the poor little Pillsbury Dough Boy lying in the middle of the street, the victim of a hit and run. Ominous signs. Hurry home, Cynthia and Doug, before it's too late!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Murder on a Saturday Morning

I'm doing cat feeding duty for out-of-town friends this week and I stop by early each day. Today, I walk over. It is normally twenty minutes from our house to theirs, but this morning is different.

This sign catches my attention, so I decide to investigate. You never know what you might find...

Seems promising...

Look at this nice table with chairs! The whole set is only $35. A deal! But I resist.

Wow... another garage sale. I peer down the block and see it way down at the other end, so I maintain course.

Yet another sign. Man, the economy is moving today!

I continue to our friends' house, unlock the door and walk inside. Oh no! Mayhem! Bird feathers everywhere!

Feathers in the dining room...

Feathers in the living room...

I look around for the two cats, Gertrude and Ivan. I don't see them; they must be hiding. I walk into the kitchen to assemble their food trays. I make a lot of clatter. Sure enough, Gertrude wanders in. She's all wide-eyed innocence. Ivan sneaks around the corner. He won't look at me.

But I see the truth of it all and it ain't pretty.

Traci, Her Work, and Menage a Trois

Traci Durfee with mixed media collages (left), screenprint, and intaglio works (below).

So, I've got to report on Menage a Trois, the art show I attended last night: It was terrific! Lots of interesting art beautifully displayed in a great gallery space with a large back patio holding a long table of delicious goodies, a wine bar, and a band! What could have been finer on a cool summer night?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Art on the East Coast/Art on the West Coast

I'd fly to New York every month if I could. Just to see art. And if I were there now, I'd rush to MOMA to see Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940s to Now, an exhibition of drawings, prints, books and sculptures by a dozen international artists including two of my longtime favorites, Louise Bourgeois and Gego, and a new favorite, Atsuko Tanaka.

Atsuko Tanaka
Untitled. 1956
watercolor and felt-tip pen on paper

Pablo Picasso
The Bull, state VII (Le Taureau)
December 26, 1945

Then I'd find my way to Picasso: Themes and Variations, which is a show of more than one hundred of Picasso's prints. But the wonderful thing about this exhibition is that there is a really cool web presentation on the MOMA site for those of us who won't get to see the show in the real. You can view the web presentation of Picasso's prints here.

The art viewing life here in Long Beach offers a gem tonight which I WILL get to see in person. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by to see Menage a Trois at 2nd City council Art Gallery, a group show including the work of Traci Durfee and Jamie Kivisto. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday Best (self-portrait), 1987
Marian Shuff

My wonderful Mother is an amazing 92 today!

Actually, I think we could say she is 184. She was born on July 20th but her birth certificate says July 22, so she likes to celebrate on each of those days...

Some of my readers know or know of my mother. Want to wish her a happy birthday yourself? You can e-mail her at or leave a greeting on her blog. She'd love it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet Elizabeth James

Yesterday morning, I met my good friend, Susan Sweet, at the Long Beach Vet's Stadium for the monthly swap there. The sun was bright and hot but the energetic breeze made for a very pleasant walk-around/talk-around. Early on, I was excited to find this booth of gorgeous, hand blocked fabrics, run by Elizabeth James. Elizabeth founded her company Pacific and Rose, located close by in Orange, California, only a few years ago. She works with a workshop in India to create these unique hand printed linens for the home. She also had a boxful of woodblocks. Most of them were carved into intricate repeatable patterns, but I also found a block with two interwoven birds, some swimming fish, and one that seemed to show an aptly formidable but eyeless Valkyrie.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Excellent Hand Printers Blog

I've just happened onto artist Roxanne Sexauer's inspiring blog, Hand Printers. This weekend's post is about her current woodcut in progress, how the image was applied to the large block and the various ways she is thinking about printing it. Scrolling back to previous posts brings lots of other interesting discussions that would interest any artist or appreciator involved in the print world.

Roxanne is the chair of the printmaking department at CSULB and I have much to thank her for: she taught my first printmaking class!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yesterday's Efforts

I burned two screens with boat images translated from the colorful wrapping paper pictured in yesterday's post. You can just barely see the images: the screen on the left has the same design (that will print in one color) and the screen on the right has an enlargement of two of the boats, created easily in photoshop.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Great Design is Everywhere

This is wrapping paper from the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend. I brought some home with me from our vacation and have been giving some thought to how I could apply it to my own work.

One possibility is to translate it into high contrast black and white using photoshop, print it out on a transparency and use the transparency to burn a photo-emulsion stencil for screenprinting. I could print the image in any color. Think I'll experiment with this today...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What Next?

After our wonderful vacation, reality hit hard yesterday when I stepped into the Counseling Center at Irvine Valley College to do a day of academic counseling. (I've been a part timer there for almost fifteen years.) The Center was crowded with returning students, new students, anxious students, confused students, students needing help with summer classes, students needing help with fall classes, students in need of personal counseling, students trying to decipher financial aid forms, limited English speakers seeking ESL classes, and students ready to transfer who can't because the four-year schools are admitting significantly fewer students due to their own budget crises. To mention just a few of the scenarios. Our lobby was a madhouse all day. And no one had time to even try to answer questions coming in by phone and through our on-line counseling service. Greater need than ever, fewer staff hours than ever.

At Long Beach City College, my printmaking classes scheduled for fall have been full since May and the wait list of wishful students is longer than the list of enrolled students. The LBCC website already shows many more closed classes in all subjects than open classes for the fall. And it is only mid July.

Just two examples of how the California budget crisis is effecting education.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Northwest Loop

I'm baacccckkk!

During the last two weeks, Joe and I traveled around the northwest, visiting our favorite places and some of our favorite people. We began with a long weekend in Portland, Oregon and then sauntered over to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast for a few days. From there we took a scenic route up to Port Townsend, Washington to visit our good friends, Brig Knauer and Kris Morris. Roger and Lynn O'Leary-Archer joined us all there as part of their car trip with Toby and Tyler through national parks. Next, Joe and I completed the loop back to the Portland area to see Tari Brand and Dean Smith and Tari's daughter, Madeline Rabinovitch, in their new rural setting near Sandy, Oregon. We flew home yesterday after a great, great vacation.

Here are some of the highlights:

Blue skies, cool summer temps and balmy winds were a perfect backdrop for our stay in Portland. The whole downtown area gleamed. We walked everywhere, visiting our favorite places, including the Portland Art Museum, Powell's Books, the Pearl District, the riverfront boardwalk, and Changes (a women's clothing store), where I went alone and Joe should have come with me since I wasn't in a "less is more" mood.

Portland is on the cutting edge of urban trendsetting and good environmental practices. These sleek bus stop seats made us want to sit right down to wait for public transportation!

Here's a great screenprinted poster we saw on a downtown Portland business door.

Our favorite store in the Pearl district is Cargo, a huge warehouse crowded with creative imports of every kind from all over the world. These two boxes are filled with hand tooled scissors of every size and shape. Even some for lefties.

On Monday, we drove to Cannon Beach, just two hours from Portland. We began our stay with a long beach walk. This is the famous Haystack Rock there, with my favorite cool wet atmosphere.

Another day, new weather. Day Two in Cannon Beach brought sunshine and clear skies. We went for another long walk on the beach. Lots of people were there but it wasn't crowded in the least. Leashless dogs pranced and kids built sand castles. Because of an especially low tide, we got to see lots of small creatures in the tide pools around Haystack.

We love staying at the small, European style Cannon Beach Hotel.

I'm convinced all residents of Cannon Beach have green thumbs. Lush gardens everywhere.

Crows, 2009
Hanne Greaver

We came across a great group exhibition of prints at the Cannon Beach Art Association. Among the many great works, I was particularly excited about two etchings with chin colle by Sherrie Funkhouser. A second show of prints will go up in August, including the beautiful etching above. The prints and paintings of Hanne Greaver and her husband, Harry Greaver, can be seen at Greaver Gallery, on Hemlock Street. I got to chat with Harry there: They moved to Cannon Beach over thirty years ago, hauling their 1000+ pound lithography press with them.

We left Cannon Beach on a grey, rainy Thursday, headed to Port Townsend. It is approximately ten miles north to the Oregon-Washington border. The Columbia River separates the two states and a low bridge spans the wide mouth of the river.

The historic port town of Astoria rests on the hilly banks of the Columbia River on the Oregon side. Colorful clapboard houses, built long ago, butt up against the busy highway leading to the bridge. I'd like to explore this area someday.

Welcome to beautiful Port Townsend, Washington! This is a view of the town and the bay from Brig and Kris' house. Gorgeous, isn't it?!

On our first day in PT, Brig, Kris, Joe and I went for a hike in the woods around Fort Flagler with Dorie and Chloe (hiding in the shadows). A bench with a stunning visual backdrop provided a perfect setting for lunch. Have you ever eaten Safeway's chewy double chocolate chip cookies? They are a chocoholic's dream. (I had two.)

On our way to the farmer's market the next day, we encountered one of the many deer residents. I was reminded of an early morning walk with Roger on a previous visit to Port Townsend in which we saw a deer approach a big bed of rose bushes in someone's front yard. Within minutes, all the beautiful blooms were eaten. I got a kick wondering what the home owner's surprised reaction would be...

Gorgeous leafy greens at the Port Townsend Farmer's Market.

If there had been a Best Dressed Contest, this little girl would have received first prize. Think I'll start shopping for some sparkling pink tutus and ballet slippers of my own...

Come to think of it..... I HAVE SPARKLEY ITEMS ALREADY! These are my favorite shoes... saved for special artsy occasions. They sparkle! I love them! Hmmmm... maybe I should wear them more often. Find that pink tutu and wear them together! Frequently!

Just a thought.

Now, back to the trip.

Many options abound at the Market for lunch, including fresh clams and oysters. Delicious!

Kris gave us a tour of the Northwest Maritime Center. What an impressive place! They sponsor training programs, career education, recreational events, sailing and kayaking clubs and the yearly Wooden Boat Festival in September. This is the boat building arena.

Meet Tugnacious, Brig and Kris' new 26 foot Nordic Tug.

We sailed around Protection Island in Discovery Bay on Tugnacious and got to see every kind of sea life except whales.

On Sunday, the Fourth of July, we attended Fiddle Tunes, a concert marking the beginning of the annual festival drawing fiddlers from all over the world. The concert was held in this former airship hanger, built during World War I and now converted to an amphitheater.

Pilar McCracken's letterpress Fiddle Tunes 2010 Poster. The image is from an original woodcut print. I'm inspired, because I've registered for a letterpress class at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena in August. I'm looking forward to learning a new (to me) process.

On the drive down from PT to Sandy, Oregon, we stopped for lunch in Kamala, Washington., a sweet little town full of antique stores. We asked someone why there are so many antique stores there and were told, "Kamala is an antiques destination!"
Well, alrighty then! We took some time to explore a few of the stores before heading back to the road. It was fun.

Tari Brand, Dean Smith, Joe

Our last stop was the new home of Dean Smith and Tari Brand, located in a stunning woodsy and pastoral spot near Sandy, Oregon.

You may recall my post in May 2009 about their wonderful wedding in Long Beach and their gradual move north, a special challenge because Dean is a sculptor of large metalworks and has lots of heavy stuff. It took a long time to get all that heavy stuff up to Oregon, but now, it is pretty much there. I asked Dean for an update of the final tally: he said the move took two semi-truck loads and 5 smaller truckloads. Plus, the semis were too big for the last narrow windy road to their house and had to be unloaded a few miles away, with contents carted in from there. What a project! This reminds us once again that the life of an artist is not all glamour.

Tari and Dean's new home in Oregon.

Some Neighbors

Anyway, once Joe and I arrived, we decided to stay forever. I think I could have lounged on their porch aaallll daayyyy watching the expansive front yard activities. Bunnies hopped through. Deer wandered in to ravage the blueberry bushes. Bugs buzzed. Birds floated over. Gofer holes popped up through the grass. Rain sputtered on and off. The sun moved across the sky. Shadows evolved.

Do anything more than that? Why?

But we did. On Tuesday, the four of us took a drive meandering east from Troutdale on the Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway, originally built in the early 1900's. Edged with the original 1913 rock guardrails and winding through the original tunnels carved out of big granite boulders by hand and hard work, the highway is a beautiful way through the woods along the river.

We stopped for breathtaking views at Vista House at Crown Point, built in glamorous art deco style in the early 1900's and recently restored to all it's glory. Note the beautiful stained glass windows.

Our final destination was Multnomah Falls, the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. We had a good time hiking up to the bridge and through the woods along the side.

On our last night with Tari and Dean, we had dinner at their favorite restaurant, Rendezvous.
It was delicious and we had a great time. The owner took a picture of all of us, which I'll post it here soon.

The next day, Joe and I flew home after a wonderful vacation. Cheers!