Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feeling like a Real Neighborhood around these parts

Happy New Year!

It occurred to me last night that our neighborhood is evolving to feel like a Real Neighborhood here. Just in the last couple of years, we've seen the opening of a skate park (Holly Farm Park) next to the library; it also has all kinds of play structures for the younger set.

And next to that, we now have a pho place (Korean-Vietnamese, painted BRIGHT lime green) and a good vegetarian Chinese place, both opened in the last 6 months or so. Both good additions to the existing Middle Eastern/Mediterranean place.

Across the street, a new coffee shop that serves Stumptown Coffee and Kettleman's bagels (REAL bagels, not the round bread variety, started by a fellow with the name off Jeffery Wang). The Domino's pizza next door to the coffee shop closed, so I'm hoping for something interesting to open there.

So now I'm thinking—somebody should do something with that huge commercial building between the skate park and the pho place. In the almost 20 years we've been here, it has been unoccupied more than it has been occupied, it seems. The last incarnation had a professional yard tools place, but it's been empty for maybe a year now.

Maybe something that can house a yoga/dance/exercise studio, a small exhibition space, and..whatelse? Right now, it's ugly as sin, but it backs up to a lot of trees and has parking. Seems like a great opportunity for the neighborhood.

On other fronts—working hard on Portland Open Studios website update, getting ready for the 2010 application season. We're going to try to have some animators in our mix this year, so look forward to some fresh and new artists in the lineup!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Frosty Christmas of 2009

December 26, Tumalo, Oregon (although it was just like this on December 25 too), my mom's garden:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Washing the dirt

What a strange concept, huh? That you need to wash dirt. But the Sauvie Island soil has a lot of organic materials in it—bits of half composted leaves, needles, roots of weeds, etc. And remember those 2 worms I rescued out of the soil before I baked it?

So that's what you see floating on top there, all the half composted vegetation. As it turns out, I have a serendipitous tale here. When I went to the Vietnamese grocery to get a mortar and pestle set for grinding the soil, I also picked up a set of wire mesh sink drainers. Ours didn't work so well and the Good Prince's solution was simply to not use it. Which of course causes the sink to be all plugged up which then means I get to clean it out when I come along to use the sink next.

So I used the largest drainer in the sink and had 2 small drainers that I had no use for. And of course, today, they were just the perfect tools for scooping out the organic materials that floated to the top!

So here the vegetation had been scooped out. There were several iterations of stirring up the slurry, letting the vegetation and minerals separate, scooping, and repeat.

As it turns out, although I got a huge amount of the Sauvie Island soil, it was so rich in organic materials that, after washing and grinding (and removing small rocks), I only got a little more usable amount than the South Dakota soil, which surprisingly had little organic materials in it. Nor rocks. I wonder if the person who got me the South Dakota soil had already cleaned the soil?

The other surprising thing was how different the two soils feel—the South Dakota soil created a very creamy, very dark paste, rather like a dark chocolate sauce. The Sauvie Island soil resulted in a lighter and grittier paste, which I suppose makes sense, as there's probably a lot more sand in it.

And Helen Hiebert, the artist who's making the papers for me, sent this photo the other day. These are the Pacific Ocean sheets, made using water from the Pacific. Here it looks really bright—the sheets are wet. Once dry, they'll be a much paler blue.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I have some paper samples!

OK, I finished grinding the South Dakota soil and made a nice, smooth mud pie and took it to Helen today. We made 4 paper samples, one with the SD soil and the other 3 w/ just plain water. The purpose today was to find the right combinations of pigments to color each of the paper sets. The “bodies of water” papers will be 3 different shades of pale blue, with the Pacific being a fairly light, pure, turquoise, Willamette being a bit grayer and the Columbia being a bit browner.

We added the SD soil to the pulp and then added some pigments to augment the pulp so that the colors will be a better match to the actual soil itself. We got really close on the hue! It is a bit lighter, which is fine.

And on the science lesson of the day—when you add the pigment to the pulp & water mixture, both the pulp and the water turn that color. Then you add this stuff (and now I've forgotten what it's called) to the mixture and it makes the pigment bind to the pulp. But the magical part of that is that it draws the pigment out of the water and the water actually turns clear again, and only the pulp is colored! Well, I'm sorry, I just thought that was the coolest thing.

I'm also teaching a bookbinding class at PNCA this week. It's for Horatio's printmaking class—they got through their syllabus early so Horatio asked me to come teach a couple of book structures that might be useful for printmakers. So we're doing a Japanese Stab Binding and a Leporello. I have to get on the bus at 6:45am!

Monday, December 07, 2009

More pop-ups

The pop-up cards have been very popular with the seniors that I work with, so we're doing another pop-up tomorrow. And naturally I waited until today to make a model. So this was my model...not as 'gardeny' as I really would like, almost looks more like a fish tank. Maybe that's what I should have them make tomorrow, a fish tank. The individual flowers are attached to a cut and folded base so that they open up when you open the cards.

This came out of a book model that I made years ago but never developed fully. There's way too much tension and the pages do not open fully, neither will they stay open. Here I'm holding it open with my feet while I take a photo. The card above has a similar problem, but maybe because there aren't quite as many flowers pulling the pages closed, it's not quite as bad.

Here it is again, but not fully opened:

"Someday, I'm going to be a REAL book," says the model.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Floating plum blossom...

Well, that's what it looks like to me anyhow. It actually looked a lot better before I had to run off to grab the camera. I had the brita filter turned up side down and was rinsing the outside when I saw the suds on the bottom on the inside. By the time I grabbed the phone camera, I had lost half of the blossoms.

So probably the biggest 'excitement,' if you can call it that, was that I taught my last beginning Gocco class yesterday! At the Atelier Meridian, as a fundraiser for Print Arts Northwest. It was in a giant warehouse style print shop. Lots of large presses of all kinds. It was a cavernous space.

I am actually pretty happy to be finished with teaching beginning Print Gocco—it's hard to teach it when I know the participants will not be going home to make more prints. I used to hand out copious amounts of class notes, templates, etc, but I haven't done that ever since the supplies became harder to get and more expensive.

And today was the all day Portland Open Studios planning retreat, which happen twice a year. So that was a long day.

The other big excitement was that I delivered several pieces to 23 Sandy this week. Laura had had a couple of my artist's books in inventory for a while, but now she has some paintings too!

I'm still slowly grinding dirt for my senior's book. The papermaking isn't going to happen until Jan (as Helen's schedule dictated), so that kind of allowed me to relax a bit too.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Another artist, Nancy Pobanz has been very generously sharing her knowledge of grinding soil for my project. She suggested an Asian grocery store for finding heavy duty mortar & pestle. And yup, I stopped by at an Vietnamese grocery store and found something for $10 cheaper than what I had been looking at. So here's the South Dakota soil. It looks and feels like a very dark, very thick, very creamy chocolate frosting! I find it hard to not lick my fingers when I'm scraping the bowl.

And of course, I got some junk food too. It's the only time I succumb to junk food, when I'm at an Asian grocery store. "Hey, I used to really like that!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The cat secretly likes to have her teeth brushed?

The E. Coli scare in west Portland has us all brushing our teeth out of bottled water, although I do wonder if that's really necessary. Since it's trouble enough to brush my own teeth with bottled water, I decided to skip brushing the cat's teeth today, and just give her the wipe-down part.

This is our normal routine: I scoop out her litter box, and as soon as I do that, she starts to run around wild, because she knows what comes next. Then I chase her around the house for a few minutes, playing hide and seek, until she lets me catch her. I wipe her down with a hot washcloth; this part she likes.

Then I brush her teeth. It's true. I've done this since she was a kitten. They even make kitty toothpaste with whitening formula, which I think is a little strange. But I digress.

After I brush her teeth, I put her collar back on, open the bathroom door and she zooms out of there like a speeding bullet.

Today, I wiped her down with the washcloth, put her collar back on, and opened the bathroom door. She sat on the counter, looked at me, looked at the door, and didn't budge.

I left the bathroom, stood by the door, she just sat there on the counter, looking at me. Did you forget something?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Boiled Sea, Baked Earth

That's kind of dramatic sounding, isn't it?

I finally got my act together and started preparing the materials for my senior's book.

The soil from his family's S. Dakota farm (in the foreground) and the soil from the Oregon farm (in the back). There's a pretty dramatic difference in color between the two!

I tried pulverizing the soil first, but because it was damp, all I was doing was making lumps by pounding on it.

So I decided to bake first. Here are two trays of the Sauvie Island farm soil, ready to go into the oven. But I'm not sure if that was the right choice or not, because after baking, they turned into very hard granules.

Here I am, trying to pulverize after baking, using an old cookie sheet and a chunk of granite. I was making clouds of dust all over the room. And I still have lots of little hard granules. So now I'm wondering if I should soak the soil to make a slurry? The baking part isn't to dry the soil, but to maybe kill off whatever microbes are living in there.

I was glad that I broke up the soil into bits before baking—I found 2 worms!

While the soil was baking, I was also boiling and filtering the sea and river water. So here are the jars of boiled and filtered Pacific ocean, Willamette river and Columbia river. See how yellow the Willamette looks compared to the others. It also had a very different smell from the other two.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fruits of my labor, labor, and more labor

Despite losing half of the persimmon tree last year and another half of what remained this fall, I was able to harvest around 100 persimmons today. There are probably still 30 left on the tree, I'm waiting to see if they'll ripen some more. I'm not sure the tree will survive this winter though. The branch that broke off this fall left a pretty significant wound. Last year, the wound was pretty clean, this year, not so much. And we'll see if these persimmons turn out to be any good.

the 2nd and 3rd batches of quince paste! This was basically the quince paste weekend. I peeled, cored, cooked, pureed and baked yesterday. And then baked some more today. The little toaster oven was going all night last night and all day today. It really just doesn't set like the recipe says it will, although after cooling in the fridge, it's set enough for me. I also tried something else today—the top half of the paste seems to set more during baking, but the bottom half really doesn't want to. So today, I flipped the paste over and returned it to the oven, and the paste did not seem to suffer from it. So I think I'll revise (further...not like I didn't revise it already from the original) the recipe as:

Peel and core lots of quince; cover in water, add lemon zest from 1 lemon) and boil for ~20 minutes until quince is fork tender. Drain. Puree. Return to pot. For every cup of puree, add 1/2 cup of sugar (this is half of what the original recipe calls for). Add the juice from the lemon; add vanilla extract (1 Tsp for every 4 cups of puree). Cook and stir frequently for 2 hours. Line baking dish w/ parchment paper, pour quince mixture into dish. Back at barely warm oven (I had mine set to 150F) for 1.5 hours. Let cool. Flip the paste over. I did this by pulling the paste out by the parchment paper onto a plate, putting the baking dish over the paste and flipping the whole thing over. Return this back to the oven for another 1.5 hours. Let cool. Refrigerate. Cut into pieces, wrap and store in fridge. The 2nd round of baking (after flipping) doesn't seem to require another sheet of parchment. The finished paste lifted out of the pan very cleanly and easily. [Added Nov 24—I think a little ginger would be really terrific!]

I think I'll make this a new Thanksgiving tradition. Not that we had any old ones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stories about color

OK, so this is a mishmash of stories about color.

Story #1, Quince Paste

I have a quince tree that produces prodigious amount of fruit every year. I've always given most away and then kept enough to put in cooking. I like to braise pork chops or chicken with it.

Last year, my critique group buddy Anne made quince paste from the fruit I gave her, and it was heavenly and looked beautiful, like a bowl of rubies! So this year, I decided to make some quince paste myself. Here's the basic recipe: peel & core 4 pounds of quince, cook and puree, cook for 1.5 hours, then bake for 1.5 hours. And enjoy the ruby red quince paste!

Here's what happened—2.5 hours to peel and core enough fruit to make 4 pounds (they're hard as rocks), another 0.5 hour to cook and puree. Cook for another 1.5 hours and bake for another 1.5's not done! So back into the pot for another 1.5 hours and bake for another 1.5, at which point, I really had to go to bed. Pulled it out of the oven and left it out to cool. It was not ruby red, just a dark shade of orange. This is now 9 hours later...I should've started much earlier in the day, of course.

And to my disappointment, the fairy godmother did not show up and a miracle did not happen—it was still not ruby red this morning. It still tasted good though, so I'm calling it a semi-success.

Story #2, My New Gloves

The Good Prince is red-green colorblind, a fairly common affliction. I bought these new gloves, bright magenta. I mean they screeeeam magenta. As we were going to the Met's Simulcast encore showing of Turandot tonight, I had my gloved hand on the stick shift, and the Good Prince noticed the new gloves and said "Blue gloves."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Pacific in my peanut butter jar!

The iconic Haystack Rock, above, and a couple and their dog, below. There is a dog in there somewhere...

The weather through the coast ranges was not pretty—raining cats and dogs in places and very foggy in the others. I wondered if it was really a good idea to go today, but figured that it wasn't going to get any better for another 6 months and so pushed on. When I got to Cannon Beach, it was actually relatively dry, just some mist.

However, it was very windy. And I had on the Good Prince's rain coat (the only rain proof coat we have between the two of us), which was of course giant huge on me and very billowy in the wind. I had images of me sailing through the air into the waves with the next gust of wind.

It must have been low tide, because it felt like I was walking and walking forever to get to the water, which seemed full of REALLY HIGH WAVES. The whole time, I was thinking, I hope my last thoughts are not going to be “what a stupid idea this was...”

Finally, I got out to where the water was and with the next in-coming wave, I scooped up the Pacific Ocean and quickly retreated back up the beach. My ankles got wet, but thanks to my water proof boots, my feet stayed dry, which was very nice. I was smart enough to bring extra shoes, socks & gloves, although what I really needed was an extra pair of pants. But it wasn't bad at all.

My plan had been to turn north towards Sauvi Island to pick up more water and soil at my senior's farm on my way back. But it was pretty dark already, and I knew no one was going to be home. The idea of rummaging through their barn in the dark seemed like a pretty bad idea—even though they knew I'd be there, their neighbors wouldn't necessarily know so. So I'll do that tomorrow in daylight instead.

So ta-da! The Pacific Ocean:

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's official

The new website is up, at the usual location.

If the weather permits, I go to the coast on Sunday to get some Pacific ocean water. I'll be stopping by my senior's farm where his wife has collected soils from the S. Dakota farm, their Sauvi Island farm, water from the Columbia and from the Willamette, all ready for me to pick up. I haven't heard from my senior's son yet...he was supposed to get me water from the St. Claire. Not sure what's happening on that front. May have to call or find someone else to get it for me.

I've gotten really good feedback on the book arts list over using the ocean water, river water and soil for the book, so that's been great. I've been forming a lot of different ideas in my head in the last few days, imagery-wise, as the website work was winding down and I could focus on the book more.

Tomorrow is my 2nd to last beginning Gocco class. Got a good deal for one of those 6' long folding tables at Office Max today so now I have a bit more table surface to work with. It will be better, I think. This will be the first time I'll have 5 students in the space (that'd be 6 people in the space including me); I'll find out just how spacious it REALLY is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's #&%*$ brilliant!

And Jim C says so, so it must be true.

Can't remember if I've already mentioned this, but for my senior's book, I want to include water from the Pacific, the Willamette, the Columbia, and the St. Claire, and also earth from S. Dakota and Sauvi Island.

I've been looking around for small vials for containers and trying to figure out ways to contain the vials in such a way that, if they should spring a leak, break, or some such thing, the water would not damage the book or other books near it.

I also wanted the water and the earth to be accessible such that you can 'hold' the water in your hands, or the earth in your hands, and not feel too removed from them.

I've gone through so many different iterations on this theme (including using diaper filling, or some other form of water absorbent material), and even when Jim finally said that he thought the containment method would be acceptable, things just never quite felt right. I suppose that's part of the reason why I've been procrastinating getting started on this book.


As I was riding the bus today (there's nothing else to do on the bus but thinking up brilliant ideas), I finally figured out how to do it, and I can't believe it took me this long to think of it. Especially since one of my buddies is a papermaker.

So, drum roll please -- I'm going to have papers made with water from the 4 bodies of water and earth from those 2 locations. When you hold those pages, you will be holding the water and the earth in your hands.

It makes me want to jump up and down and shout IT'S #&%*$ BRILLIANT!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Putting things on the back burner my foot!

I am apparently unable to do that. So instead of shifting focus to start working on my senior's book, I've been putting in 8-10 hours a day for the last 10 days finishing the website redesign. It's almost all done, I just have 1 last page to do.

So of my original goals --

1. Learn to do layout in CSS
2. Learn PHP
3. I can't even remember what the 3rd goal was

I managed 1 1/2. I've got the CSS layout down. I got the gist of PHP, although without knowing a lot more javascript, I can't accomplish what I had in mind. So I'm leaving that to another time. (Just to clarify, quite a bit of those hours are spent reading the CSS and PHP manuals/tutorials. It wasn't all spent on developing the new website.)

But, I did make it so that if people don't have javascript turned on, everything should still function just fine. Maybe that was the 3rd goal...

I have the mostly done new website uploaded in a test spot, if you should want to take a look.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Website redesign

I've been needing to update my website forever but haven't had the time. My original plan was to do it this October after Portland Open Studios and before November, at which point I'm going to be working full time on my senior's book so that I can finish it by the end of the year.

But, between getting sick (I'm still coughing like crazy) and being on a grant review panel, the end of the month is here and I'm just getting started. So that's not getting done but I have a mockup for the homepage. Rest of the pages will follow the same style.

The grant review panel—what a blast that was! I met one of my favorites (Kay French) plus 3 other really terrific artists. Now that our part is done, I figure I can talk about it a bit. It was an amazing experience, although it did take a lot of time. I figure it was probably 30 hours of work by the time I read 29 applications, viewed the supplemental materials, and we had our whole day discussion.

So the website redesign will be on the back burner while I get started on my senior's book. But the plan is to get serious about learning to use CSS to control layout, The home page is completely laid out using the proper methodologies...not that it's that complicated a layout, but it did still take some trying. Next, I need to learn php so I can do a better job displaying artwork images.

But like I say, that will be on the back burner as I get ramped up on the book.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I'm going w/ a darker background to save energy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dorkfest '09

Goodness gracious, looks like there's scant competition for it this year, so it looks to be my chance!

My qualifications:

1. If I win this year, I shall use up the remaining Starbucks card! No socially-well-adjusted buying 1 cup of coffee and leaving the rest of the card for Dork '10! No Siree! Previous Dorks who did such things were ninnies.

2. After entertaining art lovers for 7 hours a day during Portland Open Studios, I relaxed in the evening by reading my O'Reilley Web Design in a Nutshell book, updating my CSS knowledge.

3. I've probably been on the net for longer than most of M5K's readers have been around on this planet. If they were on Mars prior to coming to Earth, that doesn't count.

4. This is Friday night, and I'm listing my dorkitudes for millions to read on the web...need I say more?

5. All my previous entries still stand...

OK, got to submit this before the last minute deadline rush!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My good name is being sullied

Way back when, we used to laugh at people who used their own names for domain names. Then it became the expected thing for artists. By then, [insert my name here].com had been taken up by a Chinese software company selling math related tools. (You'll see why I'm not using my name for the reference shortly.)

But after a few years, they went away and the website [insert my name here].com just had ads. So I carefully marked the domain expiration date on my calendar, and as the day approached, checked and double checked whois to see if they renewed.

Well, they didn't. So the fateful day arrived. I checked as midnight approached. Nope, not renewed. So immediately after midnight, I checked again, and aaaargh, it had been renewed. Bots!

So I didn't look there for a long time. And today, I looked. And oh, I really shouldn't have.

[Insert my name here].com had turned into a very naughty place. Although there are no photos, the links all supposedly point you to some rather 'interesting' places. (But all in Chinese.) Although, I certainly wouldn't click on any of them, no matter how interesting they sounded. I was reading the links off to The Good Prince, and he was going "whoa, too much information!"

Certainly if I were on a PC, clicking on any of those links would probably be an extremely bad idea. And on a mac, still not good.

So there you have it, do NOT go to [insert my name here].com. (But of course you will.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm still around

I seem to have fallen down on the job of blogging. I have been working hard on a variety of art related work, but not much studio time in the last couple of weeks. Portland Open Studios ended last weekend, but being on the board, that means we're now planning for next year. We've already had out first meeting tonight, not only wrapping up for this year, but starting to think about next year.

The first weekend this year was very slow for many people. The good weather, Wordstock, both had an impact. The second weekend—Saturday was just the craziest weather we've seen in a long time, and Sunday afternoon, it seemed like everyone was finally out doing Portland Open Studios.

On Saturday, when I was doing my first Gocco demo of the day, I got to the part about flashing the screen. I pushed down on the Gocco (with the lamp unit in there, but with old bulbs) and said "...and at this point, the lamps would flash."

And KABOOM! LIghtning and thunder went off, just as I pushed down.

Now that's Gocco Power!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Portland Open Studios, week 2

The second week is always so much easier to do than the first week. I didn't have a whole lot to do—made a few changes from last week, dug out some old photographs from my photography days, prepared a new demo, and got the giant huge pizza to last us through the week. Yes, we survive on pizza during Portland Open Studios.

The old photographs from the late 80s and early 90s were fun to see. Portland has changed a lot since those days and a lot of the things I photographed are not there anymore. I'm putting out a few of the silver gelatin prints and a few of the RC prints and see if there's any interest.

[Oct 18: and the answer was no.]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking it easy for this week

This is in between the two Portland Open Studios weekends, and I'm determined to take it a little easy this week. I got caught up on making various appts that I need to make, finished writing a profile on Susan Gallacher-Turner for the Portland Open Studios blog, and tomorrow, I'm off to see a few exhibits! Yay!

I've also been working on a mock-up for updating my website. Not sure how far I'll get with that. I was originally thinking that I'd finish that before the end of October and then I can focus on my senior's book for November and December, but that was before I was asked to serve on a grant panel, which was just too good and educational an opportunity to pass up. So maybe I won't get my website updated before the end of the year after all.

Here's a photo of the 7x7 panels installed in the front entry. I'm pretty sure that I damaged my camera last year when I dropped it on the driveway. I don't think I've taken a photo that's in focus since. I guess I'll have to take it in.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I've joined Etsy

OK, I resisted and resisted, but I can't believe that I couldn't sell a single bat print during Portland Open Studios! I figured that little baby would just fly out the door like those Austin bats at dusk. So I've listed 2 prints on etsy. We'll see how they do there. Here's the etsy page.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 Portland Open Studios, day 1

How does one get by on 4 1/2 hours of sleep? With lots of leftover pizza and coffee I guess.

I was up until 3:30am this morning getting ready for Portland Open Studios, and was up again at 8am. It was a pretty slow day though, probably the slowest day I've seen yet. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

What was funny—I had set out Superfoodland!, the board game I did for For the Love of Food earlier this year. Part way through the afternoon, I mentioned to some neighbors who had stopped by that I was surprised that no one seemed impressed by the blueberries. There was a short pause, and he said, "they're not real blueberries?" The Good Prince thinks everyone just thinks I've put out a goblet of blueberries on the table and they're not sure why.

Now it's time for me to catch up on my beauty sleep.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

All's not quiet in the studio

Well, ok, so I was gone for a few days celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival out on the Alvord Desert (see a few photos on my facebook, even if you're not on facebook, I think you can see them), but outside of that, I have been working hard.

I'm still finishing the paintings (airbrushing the gouache pieces with the GAC500 mixture), painting the edges of the panels, and having my 3rd solarplate intensive with Barbara Mason. We did relief prints in the 3rd session, and I have some nifty prints to scan and show, I just haven't had the opportunity yet. At this point, it will have to wait until Portland Open Studios is over. Speaking of which, I was up until 3am this morning finishing up this profile on Jason Kappus, a very young and very talented artist.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The new 8th

Slightly better than the old 8th. Maybe.

There's very little difference, actually. I thought the old 8th was just a bit too dingy, and so I added a bit more spectrum red and ultra marine to the edges. Although I have to say that now it looks less desert like, which was what I sort of had in mind before, the desert colors. I'm also wondering if it's a bit too red-white-blue-ish. I guess I'll sleep on it some more.

I actually got to this point last night/this morning around 2am or so. Spent most of today doing Portland Open Studios stuff (preparing to ship some tour guides, meeting minutes), and also getting ready for my 3rd session of the solarplate intensive with Barbara Mason tomorrow. I have some etchings from our 2nd session that I haven't scanned in yet. I'll do that sometime. Tomorrow, I want to do some relief prints.


Am I done? I'm not sure yet. I'll sleep on it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For those of you who don't facebook—I figure this means that the gods think I'm flossing and brushing right. And for Shu-mei, who can't believe that I noticed this—I just spat out my toothpaste, I had my face in the sink, I was staring right at it, how could I NOT notice?

Unfortunately, the last couple of days have not been productive in the studio. For some reason, I had bouts of stomachaches all day yesterday. On and off, and through the night. Thank heavens it didn't continue today. And today was mostly a Portland Open Studios day. Shipping out tour guides, picking up tour guides, incremental updates on the website. I still haven't finished Kate's profile.

Tonight was the China Council's annual membership meeting/dinner, so that took up almost 5 hours! For a meal! Well, ok, there was a talk too, and this year, by the Portland Art Museum director, about the new exhibit China Design Now. I'm sure it was an interesting talk, but unfortunately, I did not have a very good seat—the last table, close to the rest of the restaurant which had diners not involved with the event, and the other Chinese patrons at my table kept on talking to me through the talk. Yes, this is always a problem—while the speaker is talking up there, half the Chinese people in the audience are having their own conversations. I can't exactly just ignore them when they say something to me, and if I respond, it just keeps the conversation going. What do you do?!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Queen Bat and Her Royal Jewels

Going to Bend knocked me off my painting track for a bit so I had a chance to catch up on some Portland Open Studios chores. You can now buy a tour guide using PayPal, and I'm also working on another feature, and an artist profile.

Got back to my bat this afternoon (see this entry for where it was last I worked on it). I'd say this is a worthy facebook picture alright!

For those keeping count, this was another 5 1/2 hours of work. That makes the total 10.5 hours, excluding preparation time. I prepare the boards a bunch at a time (3 coats of gesso then mounting paper), so it's hard to track how much time it takes per board. I'd guess maybe 15 minutes. Of course, I'm not done-done yet—I have yet to spray it with the GAC500 mixture. Again, I'll batch that step of the process too, so we'll say it's another 15 minutes. Which brings us to a grand total of about 11 hours.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Half a bat...

I was hoping to get my 7th panel done today before I head over to Bend to see my mom tomorrow, but well, it's past midnight and I must go to sleep now.

I've wanted to do a bat image for a long time now. The other day, I was going through my books of images with Susan (who's doing a bat pin for me), and I got inspired by all the bat photos all over again. And after my 6h panel, which was very red, I wanted to do a blue image. So a bat at night seemed like the perfect antidote to panel #6.

Here's how it started this afternoon:

And here's where we're at tonight.

This is a fantasy bat. Some fruit bats do have extremely fancy noses and others (the ones that hunt) have extremely fancy ears. So I've combined the two. I think it's looking very Balinese, which is not intentional. It's also looking a little grimlin like, which is also not intentional.

For a change, I'm happy with how the panel is going, and I don't see any major revisions in its future. But maybe that's bad?

[And people always ask, took me about 5 hours to get to this point, which does not include the preparations part. And for the most part, I'm painting with a size 0 brush.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Going Around in Circles

This piece has had a rough life. It started out as this (you can still see this pattern in the finished piece above, sort of):

Which I decided I really didn't like. So I brush an earthen red all over it:

Before it finally arrived at its current state, which is the 1st image above.

Another fairly labor intensive piece. This was a 4-part repeating image, created using the same basic method as the 6-part repeating image here. I have to say that the 4-part repeat is a lot easier to do than the 6-part repeat—the 4-part repeat is at least symmetrical, which is a lot easier to deal with.

But as you already saw above, I did not care for the resulting pattern, it looked kind of crudely done. Even though it wasn't finished yet, I had the nagging feeling that I could put 10 more hours into it, and I'd still see it as kind of 'crude.' I'm not sure why, maybe the pattern was too large?

Friday, September 11, 2009

5th bir...

I'm getting tired of typing out the whole 'birthday present to myself' thing now.

But anyhow, of the 5 panels done, this was the most time consuming. Not because it was difficult, but it was labor intensive. I'm figuring that this was about 12 hours of neck-cranking, carpal-tunnel-damaging work. Here's how the piece started:

I divided the square into 6 parts and did whatever I wanted in one of the parts, and here it is:

Then I took a photo of it and used photoshop to replicate the other 5 parts. I printed this out in black & white and trimmed it down to size. Then I took a charcoal stick and blackened the back side of this printout and taped it to the painting. Then I used a pencil and marked some of the key spots so that I can replicate the image. The charcoal transfers to the painting, sort of, at least enough for me to locate where things are supposed to go. Then I remove the printout, keeping it taped to the edge of the painting so that I can always flip it back on the painting to locate myself again, as necessary. And it was often necessary.

I am undecided about the orientation at this point, and the Good Prince has been pretty busy so I haven't asked him for an edict on the subject matter.

[I should add that the background colors you see in the beginning stage photo—that was put on there days ago, before I had an idea of what I wanted to do. It just so happens that I'd been itching to do a 'kaleidoscope' piece for a couple of days, and here was this panel that was already kind of divided into 6 parts with the bright center spot. I also want to do a 4-part and an 8 part image. I kind of think the 6 part image looks a bit like a face, probably unavoidable because the way the repeating happens, it will just always have that '2 eyes and a mouth' look.]

4th birthday present

This is searching for a title. And I'm having too much fun.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Solarplate intensive with Barbara Mason

This is a 5"x7" test solarplate intaglio printed on Rives Lightweight. The yellow stripe down towards the left is from the scanner (I despise this all-in-one scanner/printer/copier).

I got a RACC Professional Development grant to do 20 hours with Barbara Mason, and today was my first session. For the first session, I prepared several tests—

1. The above, which is collection of various line thicknesses from 0.5pt to 20pt, various fonts (serif, sans serif, italics, etc) at different sizes, ultra fine sharpie, fine sharpie, black oil pastel, brown oil pastel and gray oil pastel.

2. A sheet of mylar painted with ivory black at different density levels. We test printed just a small strip of this.

3. A sheet of mylar painted with an image in bone black (which is more transparent than ivory black). But this was NOT dry after 12 hours, so we did not test this today.

3. A high contrast photograph. We did not test this today, as the laser printer output showed a visible grid, which would image on the solarplate.

4. A low contrast photograph. We test printed just a small strip of this.

5. A B&W positive and negative of a painting. We test printed one of these, although I don't remember which.

Here are a couple of details. Again, the yellow stripe is from the scanner.

I'm pretty sure the fuzziness is from the wiping (this is intaglio and not relief printed). The Rives Lightweight gave the 'cleanest' print as far as the fine lines and texts go. Rives BFK was a little fuzzier (both of these were printed dampened). The Arches 88, printed dry, gave the fuzziest result. Although, both the Lightweight and the BFK showed the slight 'woven' pattern that is visible on the backs of these papers when unprinted, ie, the 'weave' became visible on the front of the paper in the print. And the ultra fine sharpie is barely visible at all.

I love the lines drawn with the oil pastels!

We're scheduled to meet next on Sunday, that will give me a chance to create a few images to print for real (rather than just tests). I'm thinking that I will do intaglio for the first half, and then relief for the 2nd half. I'll be trying the relief plates on the letterpress and also the sign printer that Catherine loaned me. (Yes, I just have all kinds of presses here, on loan from other artists!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

In either case, there's trouble

That's the statement the Good Prince made about the piece, and I decided that it made a good title.

So this was the 3rd of the 7x7 panels. I was up until 3:15am working on it this morning, followed by another 30 minutes of just staring at it. At one point, I poured brown paint all over everything. Finally gave up and went to bed. Got up at 9:30am, and after my morning activities, went back to work.

When I finally decided I could do no more, I asked the Good Prince which orientation he liked. He chose one, saying that the other made it look like the 'thing' was trying to escape from fire. I said, but this way it looks like a comet is about to hit the house.

He said, well then, in either case, there's trouble.

But I learned something—if you put down a layer of brown, after that, doesn't matter what colors you use, everything looks kind of Indian-ish. As in India Indian, not Native American. Everything gets an ochre undertone, maybe that's what makes it feel Indian.

And after days of sitting for 6-8 hours a day, painting, I think I need a rest.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

2nd birthday present

In honor of Shu-mei, who thought the last one was about slugs. I think I'll call this Dude, They're Serving Free Beer!

Ooops, I just now realized that I forgot to put in the stars. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. But then again, maybe I'm done.

First birthday present to myself

Remember those 7x7 panels I got for myself for my 49th birthday? I finished the first panel today. [Now titled "Angelita Sluggyfish," after Angelita Surmon who came up with the name 'sluggyfish.']

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Time to start thinking about Portland Open Studios

Not that I haven't been thinking about it all along. It's impossible not to, having to do the website and the secretarial duties and the Portland Open Studios blog. (Just finished this profile on Kamala Dolphin-Kinsgley a couple of days ago.) But now it's time to start thinking about me in Portland Open Studios.

Helen Hiebert, Diane Jacobs, and I (three from our foursome critique group) are all participating, so we decided to do coordinated hands-on demos for the event. Make paper at Helen's, letterpress print at Diane's, and silkscreen print at my studio.

And we made a little postcard. Got it off to psprint yesterday, in time to take advantage of their 1/2 price postcard sale.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Seasons & projects in transition

Along with summer, several projects are now wrapping up (or have wrapped up):

Roof, check.

Gutter, check.

Studio remodel, mostly check. I still need to paint the other half.

Write Around Portland broadside, check. Diane and I printed the colophons today, so we're done. They're just missing signatures and numbers at this point.

And I'm ready to start on some of my 7x7 pieces—I mounted paper on 6 panels today. I'm planning to mount paper as needed as I go along, rather than mounting all 30 of them right away. In case I get other ideas for what I want to do with them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The struggle may (or may not) be over

So there it is, the text printed, the leaves printed. I'm not sure that I'm so happy about it. It took me three ink mixes before I found the right color for the darker color of the leaves. I wanted the colors to move, ie, to not be so perfectly registered, so that the leaves looked like they were quaking in the wind. I don't think I like the result though.

So I made 2 more screens today, to give the leaves a bit more definition, and after printing up a few more, I decided I liked that even less. So here I am, leaving well enough alone, for now. See this entry for where it was before I added the text and the darker color of the leaves.

Now I'm back to finish prepping my 7x7 boards.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shut up, sit down, paint!

Turquoise and Lime Green Fight to the Death, gouache on paper on board. Although I might call it Woman and Cat. Or maybe After Our Conversation.

The stars have been aligning for me to come to this point.

As a 49th birthday present to myself, I bought 30 panels (7"x7"...) to do whatever I want with. No agendas, no themes, no influences, no worries. Just me and paint. And I can do whatever I darn wish. And make a mess, if I just can't help myself.

And when Artist X and I met to exchange our last pieces, we had a conversation about whether it was necessary for paintings (and art in general) to have any meaning at all.

Then of course, on Saturday, I spent all day trying to gain some control over the letterpress and not getting very good results at that.

Came Saturday night, I was ready to throw all cautions to the wind and just do whatever I wanted. No agendas, no themes, no influences, no worries. No meanings.

This is done on a 12"x12" panel. (I'm not finished prepping the 7"x7" panels yet. Most of them have been gesso'ed, but none have paper mounted.) I'm not quite sure if I'm finished or not. Time will tell.

(Credits: the wonderful panels come from Art Substrates; the 7x7=49 is inspired by gl's 6x6=36 birthday pastry last year...)

We have progress on the broadside

After printing my first pressure print layer on the letterpress at Diane's last Wednesday, it took me 3 tries before I had a plate that I was happy with for the 2nd layer. In the process, I completely destroyed the plate for the 1st layer, so that's officially cancelled.

My first attempt, using pva on cardstock, buckled the paper. My 2nd attempt, again pva on cardstock only this time I pressed it between release paper under bricks, I tried to lift up the release paper a bit too early and completely peeled off a layer of the paper. The 3rd time, I left it under bricks for overnight and that was ok.

I printed this layer at home, and had a heck of a time achieving any kind of a control over the situation. Everytime I changed the packing, things changed in ways totally different from what I was expecting. Everytime I inked up (with very little ink), the next print got way darker, and then 2 prints later, it seemed like I needed to ink up again.

I went through my 56 sheets of paper and it wasn't clear to me that I was going to get 40 good prints for the edition. But at this point, I really can't start over again.

I took a break from the broadside on Sunday, then on Monday I added the leaves and the white in the bark. So now there are 2 layers of pressure print on the letterpress (1st layer—gray & yellow background, 2nd layer—blue & orange over that), 2 layers on the gocco (the leaves & the bark).

Today, I looked at the bark and decided it needed to go white still, so there are now 2 layers of white over the bark, and here I'm printing the gray areas in the tree bark. The paper size measures 20"x13", so it's hanging over the edges of the gocco.

Now this is 2 layers of pressure print and 4 layers of gocco. I still have the text, patterns over the leaves, and maybe a rabbit to print.

The print is too large to dry on my drying racks, and I do like seeing them all lined up like this: