Thursday, July 30, 2009

I best start selling some art!

When I was still working in high tech, one of my fellow engineers walked into my cubicle, sat down, and asked "how many times have you been laid off?"

I thought that was a very strange question, and told him so, and told him I had never been laid off.

His eyes bugged out. He thought that was highly unusual, given the state of high tech in the Portland area from the 80's through the 90's.

Then I told him that the Good Prince had never been laid off either. He thought that was doubly strange.

Well, after a combined approximately 50 years in high tech (and related industries), we've had a layoff! Yes, the Good Prince took a voluntary layoff from his job and today was his last day. He came home with a packet of information of his 'Career Transition Benefits!' Career transition. Who think up these terms? The benefit, I guess, would be the severance pay. The first time either one of us got a severance. Unfortunately, it was not as good a deal as they had offered during the last layoff. Too bad...but it's better than no severance pay.

Anyhow, so he's reviving Five Bats (consulting). And this time, he says his website will say something other than 'There is nothing here.' (Which is what it says now, check it out.)

The garden in this 100+ degree heat

For years, I've been trying to pitch my garden to Portland Open Studios for promotion, and finally, this year, when my garden is looking pretty weedy, they want pictures! So here's one I snapped today, when we had about 3 seconds of cloud cover. Weeds and all:

More about the studio remodeling

Mainly, I'm just waiting for the floor guy to install on Saturday. In the mean time, I'm doing a few things that I can do, like hanging things back up on the wall, and making this bulletin board:

I bought the frame at a garage sale for $0.25 a few years ago and made a bulletin board, except that I didn't quite get enough of those cork tiles. Rather than making another trip to the store, I just made do. Well, this time, I did it right. Here's a close up of the frame. It's really a very nice frame, and you can't beat 25 cents!

And I'm also getting other things accomplished while I wait for the floor guy—Portland Open Studios artists' profiles and website changes are all getting done...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another type of painting

There have been a few occasions when someone's said "I'm a painter" and I think one kind of a painter when they mean another. So I've been busy doing the other kind of painting lately. As always, it takes longer to clean the walls/ceiling, paint, and also more muscles, than you might think. I have a pretty good kink in the neck from doing the ceiling yesterday. But here we are, it's close to finished. They'll need to remove the molding and re-caulk to do the floor on Saturday, so I left the bottom foot of the wall, along with the molding, to do after the flooring goes in.

When the interior of the house was painted (18 years ago!), the color was Polar White. It doesn't look so white here any more, compared with the new Natural Ivory that's going in.

Here's the bottom foot unpainted:

Here's the new closet and the newly painted new wall:

Now I'm off to finish Katy McFadden's website...

Oops, before I do that, I keep forgetting to mention that I got a bonus wall:

This wall was never very usable before because it was the narrow hallway that the walk-in closet created. I could hang tools from it, but that was it. Now I have this big wall that I can use for art!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Write Around Portland

A couple of months back, I was invited to print a broadside for Write Around Portland. I was thrilled to be invited and happily accepted. I was given a selection of 9 short pieces written by participants in Write Around Portland and I was to choose one to print. I liked many of the pieces and selecting one was difficult, but I ended up choosing A Shift in Focus. I don't have permission to excerpt it here, I'm sure, so I'll just say that the way she talked about how "...everything looked the same..." and then realizing that "the shift was inside me..." really resonated with me.

I finally started sketching out some ideas this afternoon, doing some research on images, etc.

More about the studio remodeling

The floor installer called today, and it was a good thing I wasn't planning on waiting for the floor before I started painting, since they're not going to install until August 1, a whole week away. If I paint now, I can be back to work by Monday, August 3. If I wait until after, I'd be out of commission for another 3-4 days after that. And I do need to start working on the broadside soon. It's due on Sept 4.

So here are the painted bi-fold doors installed. The green is actually much paler and not so minty green. The name of the color is called Avocado Essence, although it's not quite as yellow as I think of avocado colors.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Who am I kidding?

Or should that be 'whom am I kidding?'


Yesterday, I said I'd wait until the floor goes in to decide what I'd do with the closet doors. Today, I realized that I will not make a better decision then as I can now.

I mean, really, I'm not much of a decorator. Having the floor in will not inspire me to become incredibly creative in home decor.

So today, on went a coat of primer and a coat of some leftover pale green paint I had from painting some shelves I built a couple of years ago. Tomorrow, the 2nd coat. Then I'm done with it. Then I can paint the walls (while). Then, MOVE ON.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Closet be back!

Ta da!

This is actually just slightly deeper than a normal sized closet, but so much better than that stupid walk-in that was in here before. In fact, it's about the exact size of the door to the walk-in closet, and now the door has found a new life as a member of the closet shelves team:

Two years ago, I bought a couple of drawer pulls for some other project but they didn't work out, so I've had these drawer pulls sitting around, and now they too have found a new life as the door 'knobs' for the bi-folds.

And now I'm wondering if I should tart the whole thing up by painting the doors some funky colors? The rest of the flooring is going in next week (I hope), so I guess I'll take a look-see and decide. I might also put cork on there and use the doors as a bulletin board. So many choices...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughts on the DNA piece

I think I'm finished:

Again, this piece is a response to an exchange with Artist X's piece, titled "Pacific Rim."

Stop reading if you prefer to interpret things for yourself.

It started with a color coded DNA sequence (mine). My mitochondrial DNA puts me in Haplogroup D, which is shown crossing over the Bering Strait into the Americas. Nothing surprising there, but I was surprised that the map did not show the group going into China/Japan/Korea as well, which of course it did.

Over the DNA sequence, I layered a fish that was half Northwest Coastal Indian salmon and half Chinese carp (with a lotus fan tail) with a map of the Pacific Rim. After that, I put down some waves, which I did not like and backed out (at least insofar as it is possible when you work in gouache).

Today, in went two figures—one of a coast Indian and one of a Chinese, holding what looks like a net but really is a very long umbilical cord. (That it also looks somewhat like a bridge is intentional.) The text is the letter my mother wrote to my American mom prior to sending me to the US. The circular space between the tail and the body of the fish is meant to evoke earth.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Closet be gone!



I've always hated this walk-in closet. It made no sense. It was a walk-in closet in a room that was barely half again as big. And it was situated such that it created this hallway after you walk in to the room. It blocked the light. And worst of all, moving anything in and out of the room was a great pain as I had to negotiate this 'L' with two long skinny hallways.

Soon, it will begin a new life as a normal closet, appropriately sized for the room! I had already brought in two of those bi-fold closet doors without having to twist and cuss to make the turn. Yay!

Popups at RSM

It was a big hit!

Four ladies came (although my favorite resident was away and didn't come), and we made cards with popups in them. Two ladies had the worst case of the giggles, and that kept the rest of us pretty well entertained. One lady made a card for her boyfriend—I'm sure this was unrelated, but her popup card had a frog, and lots of kisses—and another made one for her grandson.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Popup cards at RSM

I'm supposed to be teaching popup cards tomorrow with the seniors at RSM, and so of course I waited until today to make my models.

I made two, one was really simple and here's one a bit more complicated. It's hard to see with the flash snapshot, but there are 7 different layers. The photos are my nieces from last year, when we went blueberry picking.

I actually made this one first, and then late at night decided that it would be a good idea to have something fairly simple to show as well, so I made a one-layer popup. Not exactly worth breaking out the camera again.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My week at The Dalles

I've been working with a senior, a WWII veteran, out at The Dalles. The Dalles is about hour and half drive from Portland, so it's not really practical for me to commute back and forth each time I visit. I had gone out to visit him on several 1 day visits, but his wife and I, with the help of one of the social workers at the Veteran's Home there, planned for me to go out and spend seven days with him, while staying with the social worker. So that was July 6-12.

It was a pretty intense week, for both me and the senior. His wife gave a a lot of personal items—old family photos, more recent photos, school year books, papers and speeches he had written, etc. I read his papers and speeches out loud to him, I think he really enjoyed hearing those, although he couldn't remember writing them or giving the speeches. That was actually one of the toughest moments of our week together. He had been given an award by his alma mater and was honored at an event at the school. His wife brought a video of the speech, and I later found his handwritten notes for the speech, along with the printed program for the evening with an introduction of him. He couldn't remember giving the speech, although he remembered watching the video of it the day before. When I read him the bio of him in the printed program, he kept on asking me if he had really accomplished all those things, which of course he had, to the best of my knowledge. There were a lot of tears that day.

I have to say that he's a very courageous person—he readily acknowledges that he's having memory issues, which I think must be a very hard thing, and terrifying thing, to say. Not only to a relative stranger (me) but to himself. And even as he acknowledges this, he's always kind and gentle, never angry. I know people can become angry when they suffer from memory loss, but I've not seen that in him.

In retrospect, I think 7 consecutive days was really hard on both of us. It's pretty intense to absorb someone else's life for 5, 6, 7 hours a day and 7 days in a row, and it was pretty hard on him to go through all that on a daily basis too. If I have another opportunity for something similar, I'd probably do 2-day trips with breaks in between.

I have a few ideas for the format of his book, and will need to research the feasibility and cost of the options. In the mean time, I'll continue to visit him as part of my Central Oregon Senior's Tour—visit my mom in Bend, come back through The Dalles. I did just that this last Thursday-Saturday, and it worked out pretty well. Although my visit with the vet was pretty short, he was really absorbed in the baseball game.

From baseball bats to flying bats

My visit with my mom went really well. We went to the High Desert Museum for the live bat talk & presentation! There were 3 bats there (not five, sigh...), and they were all adorable and beautiful. The talk was given by Rob Mies of Bat Conservancy, and although it was mainly aimed at kids, it was great fun. And I got an autograph!

My mom talked about the presentation several times during the evening, and the next morning when I went in to wake her and to say good-bye, she opened her eyes and said "Did you enjoy the bat talk? Wasn't that just amazing?"

I think it went over well.

World Grapevine Wrestling Champion

I never seem to remember to take the before picture, but trust me, the grapevine was one monstrous mess with long vines hanging down over the garage door, growing into the roof, and blocking the way to the mailbox. After the wrestling match, it's looking much more civilized:

And look at these grapes:

When they're ripe in the fall, they're so fragrant you can smell them from the street.

And phase II of the studio remodel

I decided to scale back on this part of the studio remodel. Originally, I was thinking that I'd take out the walk-in closet all together and put in another window. But after thinking about it, having a normal sized closet in that room would be good, future owners can always turn the studio back into 2 bedrooms again easily. So we're getting started on that tomorrow—turning the walk-in into a normal sized closet. I picked up bi-fold doors for the new closet; I cleared out the contents of the closet; I moved half of the furniture. See the big empty spot here:

It's all here instead:

The rest of the furniture I'll move later in the week, before the floor guy starts. I'm hoping to finish my DNA painting before that, so my painting table is still setup.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Remember this piece that many people thought was a quilt?

Over the last couple of days, it's gone from that to this:

To this:

And now finally to this big mess:

Even the cat thinks I should quit now before it gets any worse.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Off to The Dalles

I'm leaving first thing in the morning to spend a week with my senior at The Dalles. Spent the day doing my usual Sunday chores and preparing for the week (but of course I left so many things to the last minute).

No computer access, probably, the whole week. Report on the 13th.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A self portrait?

I've started on my next trade piece with Artist X. The piece I'm responding to was titled 'Pacific Rim,' and here's how my response is starting:

It's a self portrait of sorts (hey, you can't get much more 'Pacific Rim' than me)—it's my mitochondrial HVR I sequence (whatever that means!). It came as a very long string of letters broken up into ten & half lines, using a variable width font which made counting the sequence rather frustrating. I did not realize that some lines were 1 letter short, which made my count 3 off. I had originally thought the number was a rather beautiful 24x24-4, which made the 12"x12" square panel just perfect. But alas, not quite. [And oops, now I see a few mistakes...fix tomorrow.]

In any case, I had this done through the Genographic Project a few years back and found out that my DNA puts me in Haplogroup D, which on their map is shown as the group that comes out of Africa, travels through the Middle East, Central Asia (no wonder I feel such affinities for both), up into Siberia, and then crosses the Bering Strait into the Americas. The map shows the group fanning out across the Americas but it does not show that the group goes south into China/Korea/ Japan at all, although their audio presentation says that they do. See what I mean (I hope I don't get into trouble for using this image):

The piece was very hard to get started—trying to follow this very long string of letters and coloring in the squares to match. The first color was particularly difficult and as you can see, I made lots of mistakes. Here I've already added the 2nd color:

In real life, the first two colors were alizarin red and turquoise and looks much more red, white, and blue than the picture here shows, although that was NOT what I was aiming for. It was a complete accident, but the colors are a bit off in the photo anyhow and doesn't look quite so July Fourth anymore.

It's a long ways from being completed, and I probably won't finish it before I leave for The Dalles for the week. I have some preparations to do tomorrow.

On my July 2 (last Thursday) trip to The Dalles

I went out to visit my senior on Thursday, trying to squeeze in a bit more 'familiarizing' time before I show up for a whole week next week. I took a bunch of the old family photos as well as some more recent photos. I was very surprised that he recalled as little as he did. But maybe he was not having a good day. We'll see how he does next week. He was excited when I told him it was the Fourth of July weekend coming up.

Friday, July 03, 2009

That BIG gouache experiment

Remember I had painted up three copies of test strips back in Feb so that I can coat two of them with two different acrylic mixtures to see which one was better? Then about a week ago, I fired up that airbrush in preparation for spraying the mixtures, and today, I got to do some sprayin'.

Here's one of the original 3 test strips, cut up into individual strips so I can hold each one up to the other 2 blocks and compare.

Here I'm comparing photo to photo (taken under similar but not exactly the same studio conditions and lights):

Again, comparing photo to photo taken under similar but not exact conditions:

Yes, both of the 'after' shots are shot at a slight angle because the acrylic coating makes the test block shiny, and I don't have a way of taking out the shine.

Before I sprayed my test blocks, I also sprayed some scrapes I had. These are trimmings from pieces or just scraps I had scribbled on. Again, two different formulas on the left & right.

The two formulas produce very similar results—both darkened the image just slightly. It's hard to see in the photos but in real life, I can tell that there's a very slight difference, with the GAC 500 darkening the image just a little more than the Liquitex (I just noticed I spelled Liquitex wrong in the caption...well, I'm not going to re-do that, so that's that).

However, I don't know if it's my newbie airbrush technique or what, but the GAC 500 seemed to produce a more even coating. I noticed this in both my scrap tests and my actual test blocks. Also, I'm not sure that I like having the varnish built into the acrylic coat, given that that's not removable, and the varnish is there to absorb the UV, so I think it will tend to darken over time (even if the manufacturer says it won't). So it being not removable would be problematic. With the GAC 500, I always have the option of putting varnish on top.

I also played around with painting/inking the edges of the board black so that they look a bit more finished. And I'll have the option of painting the edges as well. Either case, having the edges black did make the image stand out more.

That, was pretty much the whole day. Plus I mounted paper on two boards. Hope to start on my next exchange painting with Artist X tomorrow or Sunday.