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:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The first layer of the broadside

After a few days of proofing the plate, I finally printed it at Diane's last night. I had never done rainbow rolls before, so I thought it best to have some supervision. I made some potstickers and we had a potluck at her place with her family. The potstickers were a huge hit with the kids. After dinner, we went to work.

So here's the final version of the paper plate for this first layer. This is a single sheet of cardstock (probably 80lb cardstock) that I have either cut out some shapes or removed layers of the paper from it (without making big holes).

And here's the printed result. Pressure printing is just so incredibly sensitive. The image is completely created by the various thicknesses throughout the single sheet of cardstock.

I have yet to make the plate for the 2nd layer, but I hope to do that tomorrow.

The roofers finished putting on the new roof this afternoon. The garage (where the letterpress is) had to be cleaned up (again) before I can use it again. There was debris everywhere. So now it's beautiful and pristine (on my side at least, we're not looking at the Good Prince's side).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I guess you just can't tell...

In the last 10 months, I've had people think that I wasn't yet 30, to people who asked me if I qualified for a senior discount, to someone thought I said I was 59 and she thought that was perfectly reasonable (and she didn't even say "you look really good for 59"). When I said, "no, no, 49," she said, "well, you know, you just can't tell with Asians."

But wow, from under 30 to almost 60, that's a pretty big spread.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pressure print, day 3

I'm getting warmer still. Here I'm peeling off more layers of paper. You can see the hawk shape in the lower left corner of the paper:

With the light shining through it, you can see the different thicknesses in the parts of the image:

And here's the result. I think I must've worked on the plate more after I took the photo above.

I had a hard time getting a completely even print. I printed just the solid block many times, trying to get all the unevenness worked out, but never really could. So I just went with it.

Since making this proof, I've removed even more paper from the plate. Although, I'm thinking, there must be an easier way to print this. And I'm hoping that the plate will last though the print run of 50.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pressure print, on my own

Hey, things are moving right along. I got the MDF, the plexi, adhered the plexi to the MDF using Duromount, which worked beautifully. Here is the base set up in the print bed:

I prepared the plate using the cardstock I got from Diane. The cutouts are the leaves in the mockup. (Picture of mockup in this entry.) You can't see, but the backside of the cardstock had been scrapped in the places where I want the ink to gradually fade to white. And after phone conferences with Diane & Andrew (during a layover in SLC) to make sure I've got everything correct in my head, I went to work.

The print. Obviously, I have not achieved the fade to white, but I'm getting there—you can vaguely make out the shape of the hawk's shadow on the bottom right. And that's done just by removing a layer of the cardstock from the back, leaving the hawk shape intact. The middle of the tree trunk is also supposed to go to white, and I can see a slight difference. More paper removal and experimenting is necessary, but I'm a lot closer than I was yesterday. I'm also a lot more tired. Running the letterpress is physically much harder work, although you're not bent over the press like you do with the gocco, so at least my back doesn't hurt.

I do have a couple of problems that will need conferring with Diane or Andrew, but hopefully, by Wednesday, I'd be printing and not just experimenting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pressure print, lesson 1

Oy! That went badly. My mylar painted with medium was way too thick, and I was surprised at how much it embossed the paper. And it made an impression on Diane's tympan too, which of course is always bad. Given that the medium feels soft to the touch, I didn't expect that.

Every little brush stroke was visible, which actually was ok for certain parts of the print, but really wasn't what I was after. Also, the mylar was pretty hard to work with, so Diane gave me a parent sheet of the cardstock so I can redo the image.

We scheduled another session for next Tuesday to try my next iteration, but I'm now thinking that I can't really wait until then, I'm running out of time. So I've cleaned up Andrew's press, turned it on and played around with it a bit. I'll need to get the MDF & plexi to get it set up to do the pressure printing, so it might be Sunday before I can try it, but that's still two more days ahead of my current schedule.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Well, I wasn't supposed to be here...

Earlier this year, the Saturn's wipers started acting funny. So in June, I took it in and it got a brand new wiper motor. A couple of weeks later, when I had to use the wipers coming back from The Dalles, it was still acting funny. So I took it in again on Monday. They still saw nothing wrong with it, but replaced the then still new motor with yet another new motor.

On Tuesday evening, I started down I-5 heading towards Bend. As you Portlanders might recall, it was raining that evening. I got maybe 2 or 3 miles down the road when the wipers went kaput all together. Now, that was NOT funny. It was dusk, not the best visibility, and I had no wipers in the rain.

So on Wednesday morning, the tow truck arrived and the Saturn went into the shop again. Wednesday afternoon, the shop called and said they don't find anything wrong with the car except the 2nd new motor is most definitely dead, so they're going to give me ANOTHER new motor. Except now I've run them out of motors and they'll have to have one shipped to them.

Well, now, that is not a very satisfactory answer! And I told them so. What are the chances that I'd have 3 bum motors in a row? Me think the car is killing the motors. But apparently, they find nothing wrong with the car.

This is now Thursday night, and I've not heard from them again. Did the 3rd new motor not show up? Did it show up and then died immediately upon meeting the car? What?

So rather than spending 3 days away visiting family in Bend and Hines, I found myself here and trying to get my brain to focus on work that I hadn't planned on doing for a few days.

Write Around Portland

First thing first, this is my very next deadline, the broadside for Write Around Portland. (This is the mockup.) After talking to Carla, the organizer, I found out that although some component(s) of the broadside needs to be printed on the letterpress, it need not be the text part. This makes a huge difference in terms of how I can do the text. So I'm doing all the text wrapped around the tree trunk, and I'm doing the background (the gray on the right, the hawk shadow, and the orange on the left) as pressure prints on the letterpress.

Here is the texture that will go under the paper to create the pressure print. The hawk shadow is cut out in fun foam with the edges feathered and layered (haha, but you know, like haircuts). The rest of the texture is matte medium applied to mylar in varying thicknesses, which will hopefully create varying density of the background color. Not having pressure printed before, Diane will be helping me with this tomorrow. The mylar is sitting on a sheet of newsprint, so where there is no matte medium, you see the yellow newsprint underneath, and that part will not print. Where it's white is where there's matte medium, and that will print, we hope.

On the Relay Replay book

I was able to meet one of my senior's children this week when he came out to visit his dad. We had a very good couple of hours at the coffee shop. He told me about their lives together a bit, and I told him about the concepts that I've been working with. He seemed happy with the directions that I've been exploring, and promises to get me some water from the St. Claire River to include in the book!

And OK, I can't help it, I'm really liking the darker window frame with the orange highlight. Here's a shot from the day time.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ah...much better!

I painted the front of the window frame (the parts that face the room) a darker shade of purply red (left-over from another project), and it's 100% better:

Before, the orange window just commanded all your attention (well, all my attention anyhow) whenever I was in the room. Now it's much more civilized.

On the broadside

I've been mocking up my Write Around Portland broadside. Despite not wanting to take the extra time to mail-order my paper, I ended up mail-ordering it anyhow, because the Rives Lightweight at the local store is, as usual, all creased up. They really have trouble keeping that paper flat & crease-free. So now it will be the middle of next week before I have my paper, and I'd be gone then. So realistically, I won't be able to start printing until the week after. That's still enough time, so that's good.

Here's the mockup. There's a lot more text. I'm playing around adding some of the text like they're the patterns on the Aspen tree trunk. I'm not sure that I'll do it the way I've started it here; I might just do it to suggest the volume of the trunk instead.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Buyer's remorse?

Well, I don't know. That paint is definitely way orangey-er than the paint chip, and orangey-er than I like. I was looking for something not quite so matchy-matchy, yes. I was looking for something a little unexpected, yes. But it's such a bright & strong color that it's sort of oppressive, especially around the window frame.

I like it well enough around the door frame and along the floor, but I'm thinking that I'd repaint the window frame...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Last + (Last - 1) == New Last

Michael5000 was asking me the other day if the Last Bedroom was still the Last Bedroom, and the answer was "yes, of course." In fact, the Last Bedroom has combined with the (Last - 1) Bedroom to become the bigger & better new Last Bedroom.

The new, smaller but better closet contains pretty much everything that was in the walk-in closet that was twice the size. In fact, see those 3 large boxes smack in the middle of the picture? Those did not fit into the walk-in closet before and were just sitting on the floor in the (Last - 1) Bedroom. Now they fit:

Years of photos (both family photos and from my photography days) occupy the top shelf, including my collection of cameras. I think I will sell some of the old photos during Portland Open Studios this fall.

I did have to leave out the box of wrapping paper and other rolled up things, as they're too tall for the way the new closet is organized:

In this shot, you see the biggest change in Phase II of the studio remodeling project—the room opened up quite a bit from closet-downsizing, and my work table is now oriented the other way. Also the (Last - 1) Bedroom has not yet been painted:

Turn to the right, and here's the bonus wall:

Turn to the right again:

And again:


Again and we're back to where we started. The symmetry on the two sides of the new closet is a coincidence. I only just noticed it now as I'm looking at the photo:

I was thinking of attaching a bone to this hand...or maybe attaching a bat to each of the fingers:

But on the other hand (I've been waiting to say that all night...) is the chain of hearts:

And now I must go get some sleep. I've been working 10+ hours for many days, and sleeping only 6 or so, trying to get this finished so I can get back to some real work soon. So that's what's on tomorrow's agenda.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Why does the chicken sit on the molding?

Why? To hide the shoddy workmanship from the painting department, of course. And the cat is just keeping the chicken company.

Well, after 3 coats of the "Peony Red," I'm done, even if it does still look rather more orange than their little chip shows. And talk about the sloppy painting department—the floor sure does need some cleaning! Man, this type of painting is a lot harder than the other kind. I had previously thought that the death star would be fully operational by today, but it was not meant to be. I have most of the floor to clean still (paint splatters), and tomorrow is a full day of volunteer activities, plus a social engagement, so now it's looking like Thursday would be the first possible day that I'll get back to doing any actual work as opposed to just making sketches and doing research while I watch the paint dry.

Progress on the Relay Replay book

Speaking of research, I have some information about the book that I'm working on with the senior out at The Dalles. Can't remember if I've already talked about this, but I wanted to enclose some water from the Pacific ocean, water from the Columbia River, soil from the farm he grew up in, and soil from his farm here in Portland in the book itself. So I checked into enclosing the said materials in either glass or acrylic. Well, the glass guy didn't get back to me yet, but the acrylic people have gotten back to me with useful information. Plus, I've talked to a rare books librarian to see if they'd have problems with having water and dirt enclosed in a book, and sure enough, I was glad I asked. Yes, they would have problems, but just with the water part.

Double enclosure would be what's necessary. So now we have a plan, some shopping to do, and getting a sample made and getting a price check.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

It's looking mighty orange!

The floor guy was here yesterday and the floor is installed. I picked up where I left off as far as painting went and finished up the walls and started on the window and molding.

Since I didn't have enough left-over paint to do the woodwork, I did have to go look at paint chips. I had 3 top choices—black (homage to the bats), red ("Peony Red" it said), and a olive-y green. The olive-y green actually looked the best with the floor (and the avocado closet doors), but I decided that it was a little too calming. I mean, It's the studio, we want to be energized, not fall asleep! And besides, I've been painting all those peony images, I figured it was fate that I should go with the peony red. And then there was the Good Prince, "you're Chinese, go with red."

Since the woodwork was originally painted with oil paint, I had to prime it first with this special, stinky primer before I could paint over it with a latex paint. So that pretty much took care of today—one coat of primer and one coat of "Peony Red".

All I can say is, after the second coat tomorrow, this better get more red and less orange!

While I was waiting for the floor guy...

I didn't just sit around and twiddle my thumbs, I got a bunch of Portland Open Studios stuff done, including this profile of Sabina Haque. And I interviewed another artist today, Kamala Dolphin-Kingsley, hopefully the profile to come in a few weeks. I have three more interviews to do in the next 3 days, in between finishing painting and moving furniture. I probably won't paint the other half until later. I must catch up on studio work.