Saturday, September 30, 2006

Cards or no cards?

Originally, we were off to see Maryhill Double today, the installation across the river from the Maryhill Museum. Just as we were about to leave, I realized that the site is only open on Sundays! Although we could see the installation from the Museum across the river, we would not be able to get into the installation site. So after talking it over, M said he can move his Sunday plans around so we can do that on Sunday.

I had a hard time settling down to do any work though, since I was all set to take the day off. Finally managed to get myself to try the C88+ some more, figuring that I might print up some cards of my paintings to sell at Portland Open Studios. Tried several cardstock, different printer settings, etc.

Later in the evening, we went to an outdoor showing of Shaolin Soccer in Old Town/Chinatown, along the newly refurbished Festival Street. The movie was ok, I thought Kung Fu Hustle was much better (same director), but it was fun to attend an outdoor movie. Hadn't been to one of those since I was a little kid.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Two different directions

Finally got some studio time today and returned to my 2 plum blossom paintings. The two started off in different directions and they continue to go in their own ways, one deliberate and controlled and the other intuitive and loose. I'm enjoying working on them at the same time. Tami came by to pick up her Open Studio signs and we chatted for a little bit. She paints beautiful ceramic vessels and tiles. I plan to visit her sometime after West side Open Studios.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Again, a day with no time in the studio. Met with Laura for lunch and she gave me a ton of tips and hints for printing with my new Epson printer. Showed me lots of stuff she did, paper samples, etc. Told me about the good deal on inks at Fred Meyers, so of course I had to pick up several sets of inks at FM. Stopped at Paper Zone to get some card stock samples to try as well. I think I'll print up some cards of my paintings for Portland Open Studios. M and I started fencing lessons tonight. What a lot of fun it is!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rare books

Not much making art today; in fact, no studio time at all. Did take care of some business for Portland Open Studios, coming up in 2 weeks. And spent the afternoon volunteering in the John Wilson Room at Multnomah County Library reshelving books. And as always, got to look at some books, too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Plum blossoms, stage II

Here's how they start to look after I've worked on them for a little bit -- murky and confused. Well, the one on the left isn't quite as confused, but it will become confused soon enough. Since these are small, and they're the 5th and 6th plum blossom + moth images that I've worked on, I'm feeling freer with experimentations. Which probably means they'll get even more confused and murky than my usual.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday is the new Sunday

I hate running errands on weekends, jostling elbows with everyone else. So today was the go-to-every-store day: pharmacy, grocery store, mall, sporting supplies. Managed to squeeze in an hour an half in the studio, which was better than I expected, and made some small changes to the bat portraits and continued on with one of the plum blossom images. Have gotten into the habit of listening to audio books while I work out, and these last 2 I checked out have been page turners and I found myself listening to them while I work in the studio. Just finished The Sign of the Book (Cliff Janeway mystery) and started on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this afternoon. Coincidentally, both books featured autistic savants as main characters.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Two portraits of little brown bats

This was something I started back in Feb and never got it to a point that I was happy with. While I was waiting for the new plum blossoms to dry, I got out the little brown bat and my cropping L's and started playing. And 3 hours later, I had cut it up into 2 smaller pieces, each focusing on one image instead of 1 larger piece with both images. The left is based on a Chinese papercut of a bat, it being an auspicious symbol; the one on the right is a slice of a fetus of a little brown bat, stained and viewed through a microscope. Two very different views of bats.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Buying time

Although I'm pretty certain that I'd be happier with the Monkey King cut up, I can't quite do it yet, so I'm buying some time by working on a few small paintings. For over a year now, all my paintings have started with some plum blossoms, a symbol of perseverance and also a nationalistic symbol in 70's Taiwan. Here I've started 4 of them at the same time, but I don't frequently do that.

This is how they start -- the paper is painted with whatever colors I have around, then come the plum blossoms. They look really stark right now, but they'll get mushed around a lot, and much of the blossoms will almost disappear beneath layers of images. Here's a painting that started out life more or less the same as these:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Portland Open Studios postcards

Bought the Epson C88+ inkjet printer today. It's a printer a lot of book artists like, and I'm thinking I'd use it for the Monkey King book. It's about $80, so not too extravagant. Spent the rest of the afternoon dealing with more marketing/business stuff, including screenprinting (with the Gocco) the Portland Open Studios postcards. The organization printed up postcards for everyone, but just the front side; each of the artists then have to print the backs ourselves.

This is just taken with Photobooth on my Mac, about 10" from the monitor/flash. Gocco printed in 2 layers (pale green background and black text on top) --

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Postcards, labels

With Portland Open Studios 3 weeks away and Portland Art Center show 5 weeks away, today was a day of dealing with postcards, labels, etc, etc. Rounded out the day catching up with Art News and sketching. No, haven't cut up the Monkey King yet. When I walked by it today, I thought, well, this doesn't look as bad as I thought...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Drawn and quartered

Hahaha! Well, that's a low hanging fruit as far as puns go. So I lied yesterday about leaving the Monkey King for a while. I went back and fussed with it again today, and realized that having the entire story presented all at once in a painting really just isn't working. There is a punch line, after all (see previous entries for the story). And, I don't care for the composition as it is. I got out my cropping L's, and found that I liked it better as 4 smaller images. I think I will put them into a book format to control the flow of the narrative. The piece isn't really cut up yet, I've just roughly cut it up in Photoshop, so they're not identical in size. I haven't figured out what book format yet, but roughly, here's the narrative:

Larger Than Life -- a glimpse of a figure.

The Monkey King -- meet the character in the story.

The King's New Shoes -- here I like that the Nike shoe stands out better in a smaller format. It disappeared in the larger painting.

The Wager -- this needs reworking. I'll do that once I actually cut up the piece, probably tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Moving along

I had some ideas where I wanted the image to go, so I tried this:

I wanted to bring some movements in, I've been using the moth to denote vanity, so that fit the image well. I also liked the way it looked (those were just taped on there); I painted one moth in. And I didn't like it. Took the moth out.

After staring at it for so long, I finally just took a big brush and some zinc white, and started putting in the movements in big strokes. Still not sure what I think of this yet, but I think I'll leave it for now. Maybe I'll go back and bring the lotus back out again.

And right, the punch line to the story with Buddha -- the Monkey King returned to where he left Buddha, "I flew to the end of the world, surely I escaped your palm! And I left my mark on a stone there."

Buddha held out his hand, "you mean this?" On Buddha's finger, you could read "The Monkey King was here," and there was still a little wet spot.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tracking time

I've been tracking how I spend my time for about a month, just typing it all into a text file, mostly so I know where all my time is going. This blog is a side effect of that project, allowing me to record how I'm spending my art time in particular. The text file doesn't offer an automated way of tallying the hours, which I have been doing manually. So today I finally set up a database to do that. Took most of the afternoon. Wrapped up the day with Byzantium...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Spent zero time in the studio today (and not by coincidence that today was full of 'beauty'). Went to a lecture by Barb T as she took down the exhibit of her collection of artist's books at the Contemporary Crafts Gallery, and then went to see 'The Beauty Academy of Kabul', a documentary about a beauty school that was started in Kabul soon after the fall of the Taliban government.

The lecture by Barb was great -- as she took down the books, she talked about them, how she acquired them, and then passed them around for all to see and handle. 'Beauty' isn't the theme here, but many were quite beautiful.

'The Beauty Academy' was an interesting movie, sweet at times but infuriating otherwise. Professional hairdressers with generous hearts and a mission went to Kabul to teach women a profession that they could do at home, and make excellent money with. That was great. What wasn't great was seeing the standard of beauty of the 21st century West pushed on these women. The level of reverence the Western teachers have for beauty also caused quite a bit of laughter at the showing I was at. At graduation, the top prize was named the Anna Wintour Award. And why would anyone in Kabul care who Anna Wintour is? They could've named it after an inspiring Afghan woman, couldn't they?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Byzantium, Faith & Power

Now that the painting is looking so bad, I've turned to reading again.

The current reading material -- miniatures, Medieval art, and icons are a few of my long time favorite subjects. This is the catalog for an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years back that I wish I could've seen. Finally got it out of the library on Sat and have been going through it as time allows. I'm taking a Byzantine bookbinding class in October, so this seems like a great time to finally be reading this.

And created the blog today. I've been keeping track on my own computer since August, but decided to try blogspot for a bit. That's why you see posts going all the way back to Sept 2 even though I just signed up today.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Looking more and more awful

OK, I finally got back to the painting -- decided that the Monkey King needed to show up better against the background, added more highlights to the Monkey King and darkened the Buddha's hand...and now it looks awful. One could hope that awfulness leads to interesting solutions...

So, last we spoke of the Monkey King, he was on his way back to meet the Buddha and collect his winnings:

After days of flying and running, jumping and somersaulting, the Monkey King finally returned to where he left the Buddha, and he saw that Buddha was still sitting there with his eyes closed, as if nothing has happened. (To be continued...)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Portland Art Center show meeting

Took a friend on a whirlwind trip of the high desert on the 12th, and then spent the 13th recovering. It was a lot of driving. Still
didn't get any studio time today, but spent a few hours preparing for the November show at Portland Art Center. Met most of the participants for the first time. I'm also not sure where I'm going with the Monkey King, so I'm dragging my feet returning to the painting.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Grape juice

Spent a little time in the studio today, not much to report. Finished making grape juice, and found that the cheese cloth had been dyed a most beautiful purple. I rinsed it out and maybe I'll do something with it, maybe use it for a mixed media piece.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bright Earth

A lazy day. Went with M to his office and read for a couple of hours while he worked. Book is Phillip Ball's Bright Earth, a wonderful history of colors and pigments. Talks about historical and cultural interpretations of colors, their chemistry, theories, and how colors are/were made. Learning lots of interesting tidbits, too, like the term 'miniatures' (as in miniature painting) comes from 'minium' for red and has nothing to do with their small size.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A new friend

Only spent a minimum amount of time in the studio today, made some small changes to the painting.

Went off to meet R for lunch; I met R at the Myth and Images class at Sitka this summer. It was a strange experience -- we're both trained as engineers and then became artists, and at dinner, we found out we were both belly dancers, and flute and string players (I violin, she viola). Someone at the table said jokingly, "hahaha, what are your birthdays?" And whadya know?! Yeah, we have the same birthday! How is that for coincidence? It's almost creepy.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Decided to go more 'obvious' with the Buddha reference and added the lotus. Not sure what I'm doing with the plum blossoms at the lower corners

Continuing with the Monkey King & Buddha encounter -- after leaving his mark, the Monkey King embarked on his return trip, to collect his winnings from Buddha. Again, he flew and flew and ran and ran...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What the Monkey King is thinking

Now you can read what the Monkey King is thinking. I'm liking the fuller wrist better.

Back to the fable -- the Monkey King arrived at a mountain range after many days, and he thought "surely I've come very far." He took out a brush and wrote on a rock "The Monkey King was here," and for good measure, he did a number one on the spot, too.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Buddha's hand

Added the finger prints and lines on the hand to also bring to mind rockeries. To continue the story...the Monkey King took on the bet and then took off flying. He flew and flew, and ran and ran, and after a few days, came to a mountain range...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monkey King meets Buddha

Back in the studio after being away for 2 days. I hadn't planned out what I was doing with this image (other than having the Monkey King wear Nike shoes and fly through the sky). Here I've decided to use the fable of the Monkey King's encounter with Buddha. The Monkey King is very boastful and vain; one day, he met up with Buddha and was telling Buddha about his tremendous powers, how far he could run, how quickly he could fly, etc. Buddha wagered him (would Buddha really gamble?) that however far he could run or fly, he would never escape Buddha's palm. (To be continued...)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A new painting

A new painting, just started. This is an iconic image of the Chinese trickster god the Monkey King. I did something I've not done before -- drawing the image in pencil first before going in with the paint, but I wanted a very iconic, very recognizable image, and so I decided to do that. This is from a traditional Chinese papercut image of the Monkey King, only I have him wearing a pair of Nike shoes.