Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finnish Disco Lesson

I've just got to share this delightful little ditty from YouTube: click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dee's Experimental Screenprint


In my screenprinting class, we are beginning Project Two. It focuses on brushed stencil methods which allow you to create some great textures and painterly effects. The first two class sessions following the demo were devoted to "play time" in which students could try these methods freely without planning ahead. This lovely abstract image suggesting a bearded man's head and shirted shoulders was created by Dee Atkins in class on Monday night. I think it is beautiful!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Results of The Monoprint Demo

I did the Monoprint Demo for the Intaglio class the other night and, happily, it was a success. Demo success can be gaged by the following: 1) When revealing the fresh demo print at the end of the press roll, the participants react with an impromptu "AHHHHH!" 2) Everyone is enthusiastic about doing their own monoprints as soon as possible.

The first monoprint of the demo, created by applying ink to a plexiglass plate with a brayer used like a paint brush and using found objects to "draw" textures and lines. Some shapes were cut out of
old manilla folders, inked and laid on the plexi surface. When the image seemed finished, it was printed on paper using the etching press.

A "ghost" monoprint created from ink leftover on the plate with a few added embellishments.

A third "ghost" with added embellishments. Everyone had a part in creating this monoprint. Sort of Lari Pittman-esque!

The final monoprint of the session, created by Traci Durfee, Roger O'Leary-Archer, and Lorraine Papadopoulos.

Monday, September 27, 2010

And I Thought Yesterday Was Hot...

Sophie Deals With the Heat...

It is ONE HUNDRED AND TWELVE degrees today in Los Angeles! 109 in Long Beach. Must be an all time record.

See ya' later... I'm jumping back into that bathtub of ice....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

110 in the Shade

Or nearly! Outside, the air is heavy and thick. The sun is piercing. Wanna come visit?

It was hot at 2 a.m. last night, even. I know because I was up finishing Tana French's In the Woods. I couldn't stop reading despite the extra heat generated by the lamp light.

So, today, think cool. Think fresh ocean breezes. Picture sitting in a bathtub full of ice.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


My stepfather loves flowers and has supplied my Mother and their household with weekly bouquets for years. So, it seemed like a natural, of course, to send him some while he is recuperating in the hospital.
I googled "Hot Springs florists" and called one yesterday. When a woman answered the phone, I said, "I'd like to order some flowers to be delivered to St. Joseph's Hospital." The woman replied, "OK, we can do that. Why don't we start with the name of the patient." I responded, "His name is Robert Shuff and he is in room nu...." She interjected, "Oh! You mean Bob?? He is in ICU today and ICU does not allow flowers. But he'll be moved tomorrow and then we can deliver." I said, "But I thought..." and she said, "No, honey, they had to wait an extra day for his room to be ready. But he's sure looking forward to getting out of ICU." How about that?!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good News From Arkansas and More

1. My stepfather is chipper and doing well today. It will be a slow recovery, but Bob is up for it.

2. My cold persists; I "had" to spend another lazy day reading. (Traci may have identified the killer early on, but I haven't. And don't you dare tell me, Traci!)

3. Tom Selleck is coming to the rescue tonight in the new Blue Bloods series.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A "Snow Day" in So Cal

Still feeling puny, I spent the day in bed napping and reading a good book (In the Woods by Tana French). I must admit, in and around the coughing spasms, it was fun. Like an unexpected day off from high school, one of the advantages of growing up in the midwest where an overnight blizzard creates impassable roadways.

My thoughts, though, were in Arkansas, where my wonderful step father suffered a serious fall this week. He is in the hospital getting good care.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My New Best Friends...

I'm down (but not out) with a bad cold...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fog and Friends in Santa Monica

We met good friends Roger and Lynn O'Leary-Archer for dinner at Lobster in Santa Monica last night.

The restaurant is next to the Santa Monica Pier, which was busy with people.

The ferris wheel glows through the fog.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Swap Finds Roundup

Joe's been on a roll at the swap these last few weeks. Here are some of his finds:

Beautiful ivory netsuke animals

soft drawing pencils, Faber-Castell dust-free erasers, and totable pencil sharpeners

3" clay figure with musical instrument

The Fauvist Painters by Georges Duthuit, one of the Documents of Modern Art series published in the 1950s with Robert Motherwell as Director

Small painted plastic band members

New Day, New View

Ok, I feel better today. Self doubt - just part of the process. The life of an artist is not all glamour.

Here, on the right, is the best proof of the bunch printed yesterday. With fresh eyes, I can see some strengths. I can also see a way to move forward on this plate: the flower needs a lot more line work to strengthen its role as the focal point. The embossed waves of the background are overpowering... maybe the flower should be embossed more? Maybe some fluid line work in the background? I'll give myself a few days to mull over the possibilities and determine a course.

The fun of the challenge is back. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Results of My Day in the Studio...


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working, Swimming, Singing

My busy work schedule was crammed into the first three days of this week but today and tomorrow are all mine! Just got back from a great swim in the outdoor pool at the fitness center. The pool was busy. Beside the lap lanes, a water aerobics class was in high gear and swimming lessons were going on in a corner spot. Now, I'm headed to the studio to continue working on those etching plates I've mentioned.

Doing my laps this morning, a great swim memory from a few years ago came to mind: It was a foggy, cool, rainy Sunday afternoon and I was the only person in the pool (for reasons I can't at all fathom). The life guard, to keep from falling asleep during such light duty, I assume, began walking around the outside of the pool singing! Blues, jazz and opera. He had a great voice and it was wonderful to listen to him in the middle of all that atmosphere.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Power of Suggestion

Last Thursday, Cynthia Evans and I had brunch at Jongewaard's Bake N Broil on Atlantic in Long Beach. We both ordered egg dishes, but after we gave our menus back to the waitress, Cynthia said, "The Lemon Pancake Special with Blueberries and Raspberry Sauce is really good."

Later, I couldn't get those pancakes off my mind. "Hmmmm. They certainly sound good," I thought to myself that afternoon. The next morning, my favorite breakfast cereal tasted a little dull. And then, over the weekend, I thought a lot about the fact that blueberries have antioxidants, which are essential to good health.

You can see where this is heading so I'll cut to the chase: This morning, I returned to Bake N Broil, ordered the Special, and found out that Lemon Pancakes with Blueberries and Raspberry Sauce are DELICIOUS!

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Amazing Story

Notice anything unusual about the woman on the right? Like the fact that she is wearing a back brace? That is Michelle Napoli, member of my screenprinting class. Less than a week ago, she broke her back in a water accident. Christine, her cousin and the woman on the left, pulled her out of the water and got  aid. Between then and now, Michelle has had two surgeries, up and walking the day after each one. Kristine came with Michelle to class tonight to help out. But did Michelle need it? Nope. She was printing all evening with the best of 'em. Remarkable!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Over The Bridge

Norm Looney and Frankie Read hosted a potluck party this afternoon at Norm's in San Pedro. He lives in a big building that formerly was a bar and grill and now is a fabulous live/work space with a lush garden in back, thanks to Norm's aesthetic sense and hard work. The party was fun and I got to chat with friends I don't normally run into during my regular activities.

San Pedro and Long Beach are neighboring cities along this portion of the rugged California coastline but they are separated by a lot of ocean water and the L.A. and Long Beach Ports. So, I got to drive over the beautiful Vincent Thomas Bridge twice today, going to the party and coming home again. That's always a thrill because it curves high over the scene below and one gets a great view of the ocean and shipping yards.

William Kenah's Impressive Show in Long Beach

Joe and I stopped by the opening last night of William Kenah's exhibition at the Unitarian Church in Long Beach. The show included a large group of exceptional prints including lino cuts, wood cuts, intaglio works and monoprints as well as amazing masks made from palm fronds. William, teaching by day in LBCC's English department, attends the Intaglio class at night as a personal interest. He has been doing this for years with wonderful results. I'll include some pictures from the opening, but please beware that picture quality does not equal subject quality, due to glare on glass, lighting and focus issues.

William Kenah in front of his work.

A woodcut over monoprint

A linoleum cut print

A mixed media print

A mixed media mask including palm frond

William's show is on display through October 4th at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 5450 East Atherton Street in Long Beach. Call for viewing hours. It is worth a visit if you are in the area. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Poised for Quick Intervention

Or maybe not. At least Sophie, Our Resident Guard Cat, is napping by the door.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Three Exciting Exhibitions I'd Like to See

Gerhard Richter, the German artist, is known primarily as a painter. But the Drawing Center is showing fifty graphite, ink, and watercolor works on paper made between 1966 and 2005. They are terrific! Here are three  examples:

 Gerhard Richter
watercolor on paper

Gerhard Richter
ink on paper

Gerhard Richter
water color on paper

And then there is Dan Colen, whose show at Gagosian Gallery in New York is reviewed in this morning's NY Times. He is interested in how randomness can transform something, which is one of my interests, as well. One of his large works on canvas was made by "drawing" with grass stains. The stains were acquired by dragging the canvas across a grassy field. He also likes to work with chewing gum as a medium, like this:

Dan Colen
chewing gum on canvas

The third show I'd love to see is in Milan, the work of Roland Flexner discussed in this month's Art in America. I am drawn to his ink and bubble drawings, created by a process he developed inspired by the Japanese marbleizing process call suminagashi. He works by creating a structure for uncontrollable processes.

Roland Flexner
ink bubble drawing

I, too, like to work with processes incorporating accident and chance. Most of my mixed media works on paper are exciting to me to create precisely because of those elements.

Now, I am headed to the studio to continue working on an intaglio project. I am putting the image on this plate in the traditional, very controlled way, although I usually like to apply methods of chance to intaglio, too, as in this example:

Two Hearts, II (self-portrait), 1993
intaglio with chin colle
18" x 18"

The plate I'm working on now in the very controlled, traditional way will be printed using the viscosity method (see August 13th post). I'm finding, with delight, that the viscosity method can be adapted very nicely to incorporate chance. Oh boy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weekend Update

I was asked by several people whether I'd accomplished all I'd set out to in the studio over the long weekend. Well.... no. So, here is my report (confession) on what got done and what didn't in the order I listed the projects on Thursday:

1. Finishing touches (signature, labels on the back, etc) for the 32 collages called Six by Six: Meditations: I did nothing, nada. Well, I did shuffle them around a bit. I think I'm stymied because I can't figure out how to order and number them. I see them as a "mix and match" series in which two, three or four of them can be grouped in any of a number of ways. Yet, they have to appear in some sort of sequence on my website at least. So, I feel like there is some importance to how they are numbered.

2. Here is where I spent most of my studio time. These are the asphaltum covered zinc plates that I'm incising images into, readying them for their first (of several) acid baths. The one on the left is ready to go. I've got to finish the background on the other. This work - just one step of the intaglio process - takes lots of careful time and thought, yet I find it very enjoyable and relaxing.

3. The sketch book is finished... red coil added by Kent at Office Depot. It is a blank slate, as they say, on the inside. I'll keep detailed procedural notes in it for my intaglio plates as they develop. Nice to have a special place to keep such records.

4. and 5. No activity on either of these projects. I won't even mention what they were, due to chagrin. If you really want to keep track, you'll have to look back at Thursday's post.

6. The ivory soap needs a second week to dry, so those cakes must wait a bit longer before grating into small flakes to make soap soap ground. So, I successfully left them alone to do their thing.

7. The box from Daniel Smith: I opened it and put away the two new cans of etching ink. (It is always a good strategy to include quick projects in one's to-do list.)

An unanticipated project came to happy fruition. Joe installed the pegboards we saved from the pre-renovated studio. They are perfect over the sink! After he finished, I put all my brayers and squeegees onto their new home. Beautiful, heh?!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Great Show Coming to the Armory

A retrospective of the work of Pasadena-based artist Steve Roden will open this week at the Armory. His work is all over the map: painting, drawing, sculpture, film and sound art. Should be an exciting show to see. You can check out more work at his website and read a great interview and story in yesterday's L.A. Times.

Sad News

I just learned of the death, on Tuesday, of artist Patrick Merrill. He lived and worked in Southern California, maintaining a printmaking studio in Covina. He served as director and curator of the Kellogg University Art Gallery at Cal Poly Pomona and was an active leader in the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art for many years. He was a friend and mentor of many. He died of colon cancer at age 61.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lazy Weekend Musings

For variety this morning, I walked to the local Farmer's Market via alleys. The route offered much food for thought on a lovely Labor Day holiday weekend:

This boat is at home today. Guess these neighbors aren't 
celebrating the holiday on water this year.

Hmmm... perhaps a home improvement project gone awry.

What a great shade of green! Our house is due for new paint and it is always a challenge to chose the right color. This could be our answer.

A nice entrance with a door plate announcing GAS METER. These neighbors deserve special rates. 

Here is an example of why visual literacy skills would benefit everyone.

It is refreshing to see this statement without the color green. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Creative Thought for the Day


                    Prints mimic what we are as humans: 
                    we are all the same and yet every one is different. 
                    I think there's a spiritual power in repetition, 
                    a devotional quality, like saying rosaries.
                                              -  Kiki Smith, 1998

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What I'm Working On in the Studio

With the nice long holiday weekend coming up, I'm anticipating some great studio time in the next few days. Here is what I'll put my attention to:

1) You may recall the collages I've been working on over the spring and summer. I've got thirty-two now. I'm calling the series Six by Six: Meditations, with each given a number in sequence. This weekend, I'll sign them all and put a label on the back of each. That will make them officially finished!

2) I've already coated these two zinc plates with asphaltum, a kind of heavy, black tar, which is now dry. I can now scratch images into the surface with etching tools, readying them for a first acid bath next week. Eventually, I want to print the finished plates using the viscosity method (explained in a recent post). This process is slow and methodical. Zen-like, peaceful, happy, creative labor.

3) The pile of papers on the left will soon be a hand made sketchbook. Blank sheets inside my own screenprinted covers cut to a 5" by 6" size. I'll take them to my local Office Depot copy center to have them coil bound. I like making sketch books. This one might be dedicated to a semester's worth of notes related to my classes.

4) I'll sit in my grandparents' chair in the studio to sift through books looking for images of birds, fish, or boats (or perhaps something else) as a starting point for cutting my own linoleum blocks for a new series of unique mixed media images on paper. I've been ruminating about this project for quite some time. It would be wonderful to have a break-through moment.

5) On the left, an unfinished screenprint. On the right, a tablet of Dura-lar transparent plastic sheets. I'll create an overlay image by laying the Dura-lar on the screenprint and drawing heavily with a 6B pencil. Then, I can turn the overlay image into a photo-emulsion stencil for the next layer of this screenprint. From that point, I may see my way clear to a resolution to this piece.

6) Ten cakes of ivory soap are drying in preparation for the making of a "soap ground."  It is a new etching process for me. I read about it in one of the Crown Point Press books about intaglio. I'd like to try this method and demo it in the Intaglio class before the end of the semester. This weekend, I'll grate the dry soaps into a powder, a first step for making the ground.

Ahhhh... a package from Daniel Smith Art Supplies. I know what is in it: two cans of creamy black etching ink, my favorite. The order came this week without shipping charges! A special sale. I'll open the box, smile lovingly at the new inks, and put them in the cabinet where they belong, on the ready.

And a happy Labor Day weekend to you, too!