It’s ironic to note that as the reopening of quarantined restaurants, bars and businesses presents options for going out after a long lockdown, the heat has made leaving the house quite unappealing. Viruses and global warming have made our world resemble a Steve Erickson novel.
My own narrative this Winter/Spring has included a health issue- no, not that one in the news- a lovely condition where one’s autoimmune system attacks your own joints and muscles, making going anywhere, even to the fridge for a drink, painful. Thanks to treatment, that’s now manageable, and I’m back in the studio, if not in the bars.
And I’m preparing for the Summer Art Market, now postponed to August 26-7, and distanced and limited to a few thousand visitors. As I was incapacitated for March/April, this postponement has been a fortunate twist. It was not fortunate for a friend- we’ll call her Susie- who went down to visit my booth during the traditional weekend, this last one, and found a quiet intersection in front of the school.
Don’t be like Susie! Read my blog for further updates.
Classes are also ongoing as people begin to venture out. A teen camp in July is full, and an adult evening class is registering now. The print room is religiously cleaned and distanced, and we’re going on a year without any reported re-closures or incidents. You may attend without a mask if you are vaccinated. Evenings in the print room are cool and pleasant.
Other than that, It’s been a lot of what I’ve come to think of as ‘comfort’ reading and viewing, with soccer books and telecasts a prominent feature. International football is returning with the Euro Championship, and with the US national team winning its own continental championship. I also re-read The Ball Is Round, by David Goldblatt, a history of the game from a somewhat Marxist/cultural perspective that is even more rewarding with a second run-through. I post on reading and pop cultural matters to break up the content presented here, and I may work up a post on that soon.
Stay safe and be cool! #sam2021 #asldprintmakers #monotypes
The Summer Art Market is back! It will of course be different as a result of the pandemic, and I’ll be posting about it several times before it returns, August 26-27. I’m going to be in a very similar spot to where I have been in past shows, which is right near the school’s main entrance at 2nd Avenue and Grant. I’m not publicizing the booth number yet, as the restrictions on attendance and number of artists are fluid, so the booth numbers may change, though the location will remain the same.
First note the dates. The old second weekend in June slot was too soon and too uncertain, so August was chosen. I’m glad, as the studio was closed for several months, and it’s given me time to make more work.
Second, and most important, the event will be smaller, per city guidelines. This may also be subject to change. There’s a limit to how many artists and visitors will be allowed in, 5,000 people as of now. This is about a 6th of the normal crowd, IIRC. It will allow for distancing.
To control for crowd size, a reservation system is being set up, and thus the show is expected to sellout before it opens. If you’d like to see the show, please consider reserving early. There will be a nominal $5 charge for reservations. The festival is the school’s major fundraiser, and will help them recoup lost revenues from the reduction in booth fees.
For more info, go tothe school’s website. I have not seen a link for registration yet, and will post it here when I do. I’m having photos of new work done, and will post previews soon.
I have several classes scheduled for Summer. An online teen camp from June 20-25 is registering right now. There is also a live teen camp in July which is full, but again, guidelines for class numbers may change, so getting on the wait list can’t hurt.
Tomorrow, June 8, begins registration for my adult evening class, Monotype Starter, which is a beginner’s class that gives you all the basics of printing monotypes and also certifies you to use the studio on your own. Registration link for that class is here. Numbers for adult classes are currently limited, so don’t delay. Again, however, changing guidelines may open more spots, especially as unlike kids, adults have generally been vaccinated.
More general info on all my classes is under ‘Workshops’ on the menu at top. I’m hoping to see some people this Summer, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Regular studio work is necessary for any artist. The power of a disciplined schedule has been noted by writers, such as Hemingway; and some artists such as Picasso, seem to never leave the studio. For most of us it’s hard, especially as real wages have nose dived under corporate/conservative economics. One just works harder and longer to pay the basic expenses that the studio time can’t provide for, at least immediately.
So for me, one or two days a week is pretty normal, with two edging into luxury. I work in the print studio at the school where I teach, so for 6 months during the shut down, it was no days. Since the studio has reopened, I’ve been engaged as a monitor, to ensure covid protocols are being met, and in the 6 months since then there’ve been no cases recorded ( which would have necessitated re-closure), so I’ve been making up for lost time with a regular schedule.
Having to commit to a regular schedule actually helps with my own work. I can cover all the bases with a day to test concepts in smaller work, and then a day to expand my idea onto a larger sheet. Also, breaking news- the Summer Art Market will be back this year, but has been pushed back to late August. So I’ve been able to settle into a regular rhythm of working that isn’t as rushed by spring deadlines. I think it’s had a good effect. The ability to build up incrementally, in layers, or even set a monotype aside for a week to mull it over isn’t great for getting a lot of work finished, photographed, and framed in 3 months, but over the course of 6, it can lead to a lot of work in the flat file. That makes for a better show ultimately, as I can afford to pick and choose items for that show. It’s one small benefit of the quarantine.
I’ll pick one piece to illustrate the idea. In picking up the lost thread after shutdown, I had a fairly big stack of unfinished prints from last Spring and before to start with. This one is a ghost from my Fall ’20 return to the studio to complete work Left unfinished for all the various MoPrint 2020 shows I’d been invited to. So the original idea ( ladders, dreamy skyscapes) dates to 2019, although this one came in 2020. When on a deadline I use ghosts as insurance- if a print fails, I can use the other to pursue the idea. When not on a deadline, I use them to push the idea in different directions. By the time I was ready to finish it in January 2021, it had been a year since I worked on the concept, and my train of thought had changed a little.
Here is one of the 2019 works that inspired it. Also a ghost, it was displayed during MoPrint 2020 in the Colorado Print Educators show at Arvada Center before shutdown.
Here is the first impression of Wishful Thinking, inspired by a song on a past Wilco album, about the power of fantasy in love and life. I had been exploring ladders and nightscapes in previous images. The sky is a stenciled field of circles, the ladder is assembled of inked mylar scraps.
Another impression simply developed the ladder and skyscape.
The final state looks like this. I confess to forgetting whether there was an intervening addition to the sky and ladder before I added the organic leafy elements, and the box/nest in lower right. But it’s starting to get busy, and now I’m done. In my opinion, one can put too fine a point on a narrative or verbal concept, and lose some of the mystery. I like the contrast of the box/ nest figure to ground the ascending ladder and counterpoise the teeming sky. It gives a sense of place, which I like to think helps the viewer enter, but leaves the ultimate narrative open.
See it at the Summer Art Market, August 28-29, in the West Washington Park neighborhood , in front of the school!
Sundays tend to be quiet in the studio. The school is open for artists who want to use the presses with a monitor (me), and there has been steady traffic on other days, but I’ve had Sundays mostly to myself. Whatever the repercussions for school revenue, the quiet time is welcome. There has been 7 months without regular studio work, and the quiet has been helping as I dream myself back into a good rhythm for creativity.
Smaller works are over too quickly and there is not enough white space to stretch my mind, so I went with larger work. Full sheet (22×30) after a couple of half sheet warm ups. Blobby, cloud like shapes allowed me to open up space, while also carrying the assortment of yellow, pink and salmon that popped up immediately on my palette (oops- no pictures yet).
Clouds are compatible with my subject matter, ladders (Jacob’s Ladders: I’d been recently reading Emily Dickinson). But the placement and execution of these wasn’t apparent at first, so the next week, I switched to an older, incomplete print from before the shutdown which turned out to be almost screaming for a ladder as central figure. Then a couple of ghosts followed on from that. This is in a deep blue that was appealing to my more crepuscular subconscious visions.
That’s where I stand now. All potential and no resolution, wondering how it might all coalesce. The ladder image clearly needs more emphasis, but the open space behind it is probably going to need restraint, or it will get too busy. The theme, from a Wilco song on my earbuds: Wishful Thinking. I don’t really have anymore than that right now, but it feels like it’s building nicely.
I’ll be in studio a few more weeks, then I’m taking a break in mid December. I’m taking lots of process pics that I will post later. If I don’t post again before the holiday/solstice week, then here are my wishes for a safe happy season of light to you and yours!
While my social status remains ‘distant’, there are of course little projects going on in my life, and an overall goal of reviving my creative endeavors. Professionalism dictates that I have to maintain some sort of public profile, even when health guidelines say I should be sheltering as much as possible. I’m trying to strike a healthy balance, but the need for social interaction and creative productivity certainly figure into my idea of a healthy lifestyle. These, I guess, are the sorts of questions and choices many are confronting right now.
As mentioned, classes began at the Art Students League of Denver September 1. It’s been slow going with enrollment at the school, but the need to bring in some sort of revenue is there. My September class for example was cancelled for low enrollment. I have another beginning October 19 and there are still limited spaces available. The cleaning and distancing protocols are stringent. The link is here.
To help make up for lost revenues during the shutdown, the school is hosting an online Artist Showcase in which all proceeds go to the League.
Let me stop right here and emphasize how wonderful my experience with this organization has been for over 10 years, and how hard they’ve worked to help artists during this crisis. Though the classes- and thus, their major source of revenue- were cancelled for months, they’ve tried to do what might help strapped artists most, and are still scrambling to provide opportunity where they can.
So I’m donating multiple pieces to this sale in order to give back. All the pieces are small, as they will be shipped to your house. One of my lockdown projects was to do a little painting and to re-hang the walls with new, or re-arranged art. It was a fun and refreshing thing to do, especially when stuck inside. Might I suggest this sale as a way to jump start your own Fall home refresh?
Another new thing for me is online classes. I’ve triumphed over my natural reticence for learning new technologies and designed a course that uses non toxic Akua inks and simple techniques to hand roll monotypes at home, and it’s gone pretty well so far. Another benefit of this type of class is that people outside my area can now take a class! Please click on “Contact Me” above if you have questions, or simply go to the registration page at ASLD.org beginning October 13th.
Open Studios are also re-opening at the League, with a difference- print room open studios will be monitored for now, to ensure compliance with the distancing and cleaning protocols. I’m going to be one of the monitors.
This applies to those already certified to use the facility, usually done by taking a class.
First, I’m glad to be back in the studio. I will be working on my own work as I’m monitor, and it’ll be nice to explore some new ideas after 6 long months. But for those feeling the rust ( as I will be, too) I’m happy to answer any questions or provide brief refreshers. Most of my shifts will be on Sundays in October, November and December. I hope to see you, should you feel that it’s the right time to get back into the studio for you.
Hope this finds you well, and I hope to see a return to art making for all.
I’m halfway through my first online class and I’m relieved to report it’s going pretty well. Online teaching is obviously a new thing for me, as well as for the school, so I was obsessing not only about lesson plans, but video and slide show integration as well. Compounding that was that they changed the materials I was using (ink) at the last minute to something I’ve never used before. In response, to all these uncertainties, I simplified everything. It helped that in the transition to the new normal, registration was low- just two very attentive and clever teens. I think that’s pretty normal for the summer camps in our new normal of online learning. I know I was freaking out about the logistics a little too much to really promote.
Leaving aside the simplified lessons and materials learning curve for now, I’ll put down my impressions on the tech side of things, in case other artists are interested in the process. I’d posted my reaction to doing a full length video previously, and that’s here if you want to read it.
The software used is Zoom, and it being my first time doing this, I can’t compare it to anything, but I will say that it’s simple enough to learn and to use. The school is ‘hosting’ the meetings, so I don’t have full control over the functions, which can be limiting, but there are certainly enough work arounds to keep a smooth flow.
I’m able to switch back and forth between slide shows of art examples and bullet points that I prepared ahead of time using Keynote, meeting style face shots, and my ‘studio cam’ which is my iPhone mounted on a tripod, and connected with Lightning/USB. It’s not instantaneous switching as in a video control room, but certainly fluid enough.
The students have their face shot/webcams, and so have to hold anything they want me to see up before the camera. This is not optimal, of course. Seeing how artists are working can give me as much info as what the results are. Also in art, not everything can be held up vertical while in progress. They can solve this with their own phones if they have a hook-up, but I don’t know if Zoom really supports that.
Other equipment that’s essential: obviously, the tripod, a cheap one I got just for this type of project. A nicer one with an adjustable boom for straight down shooting might be my next suggestion. For one thing, it would enable both close-ups of work and full table medium shots. But at any rate, a hands free studio cam is essential in art instruction. Zoom’s interface does make it easy to hook up a second camera, and switch to it when the demo begins.
Lights: the first part of “Lights, Camera, Action!” And just as important as the other two. I used basic painter’s lights with flood bulbs, though possibly the diffused bulbs might create a less shadowy look. But having two mounted higher up at different angles did do a nice enough job.
For the slide show, I kept my sentences and bullet lists short, and tried to include lots of pictures in between. For illustration, I used both my own work as well as pics from the web of monotypes by Degas, etc. I had pics of student work from previous classes to show them examples of peers’ creative solutions. One nice thing about the slide show is, You can pick a slide to leave up as a reminder, or just as a decoration while you fumble with switching to the studio cam, or even clean your tools for the next demo. It buys you time.
The work area would necessarily be set up in advance with tools handy and short distances between your work area and your ‘anchor desk’ for good transitions. I also took masking tape and did preset blocking for my viewable work area and my camera position. You’ll probably want to see the Zoom screen as well as your work area when demoing, in case questions pop up in the chat. So I placed my laptop behind and slightly to the side of the work area, and was able to monitor the screen while demoing. When you switch to studio cam, Zoom shows that, so you can make sure they’re seeing what you want them to see, although it’s backward, one thing a camera boom might help with.
All in all, it’s a pretty fun and doable project that I will tinker with after this class to set up for an adult online class I’m teaching in the Fall ( ASLD.org), as well as short videos that I can post to my You Tube channel to promote future classes. I spent a day setting things up and testing it in advance, that is certainly recommended. If using Zoom, you can just set up a 1 person meeting with yourself for a dry run.
Please comment with any comments or suggestions. I think it’s natural to learn as you go, so I’m glad in a way that the lockdown forced my hand. I do miss live classes, and can’t wait to get back to properly distanced classes at the school, which are coming in September. I’ve updated my Workshops page ( above) with info on the Fall class schedule. I haven’t plugged in all the dates and links yet, but registration isn’t live yet, anyway. That’ll be soon, so check back.
I made a video about hand rolling monotypes using water-soluble non toxic ink. You can watch it here, and let me know if you like it. I intend to make more, and I’m planning on a series of follow-ups before Fall. I’m also exploring Zoom-based online classes. The catch is that printing in a studio with a press doesn’t translate easily to home-based learning, so I’m basically designing whole new classes, based somewhat on my experience teaching classes through the Plaza program at Denver Public Library. Just like the video, in other words. What I know on the status of my in-studio workshops has been posted on my ‘Workshops’ page, here.
There are stirrings that may lead to limited studio and class access in June or July. Check back for more info. I really wonder whether we’ll see a Summer Art Market this year, but, the school is working with the city to see what might be possible. There’s an incentive to work on online alternatives, naturally, and the school is exploring that, as am I. As we settle in to the new normal, I hope to develop more online presence, which I’ve always felt to be important.
I also opened up a Zoom account to get familiar with that, as it’s bound to be a growing factor at the school and elsewhere. What follows is a ‘making of’ account, for those who are interested, of the video in the link above.
Making a video is a challenge. You have to organize in your head what you plan to talk about, all while paying attention to details of light, composition, clarity and originality. So essentially, talk about light, composition, etc, in art while being mindful of its light and composition in presentation.
I took about 12 hours to plan, set-up, shoot and edit the 30 minute video, which can’t be that bad of a ratio for the medium ( I had worked in video during my Public Access TV days, so I was under no illusions that it would be a 1-day project), yet, at what I was paid, reduced my hourly to well under minimum. I’m not complaining, it was more of an opportunity to make a demo than any sort of payday. I thought of it as a minimally paid internship. I learned a lot by doing it, in other words, and it’s now a resume piece in case someone offers better money.
I outlined the vid right in iMovie by creating title cards for the various subjects I intended to touch on. This created a structure and allowed me to familiarize myself with the program’s controls, which I hadn’t used since 2010. At that time I created a short video for my soccer group, and later, I began to experiment with art video at Open Press, using a fellow artist as my camera guy. I even started a YouTube channel to collect my videos, and posted one that Joshua Hassel of Channel 12 made for me there as well. It still exists. I was planning on making a series of vids to promote my work and classes, but time gets in the way, and as one can see, it is time consuming.
The virus closures brought the issue to the fore. Even then, I was still working in my ‘essential’ ( a new synonym for poorly paid?) day job, and it was difficult to make time for shooting. Only after being let go at the bookstore, and with the school’s deadline forcing the issue, did I get into my spare bedroom/video studio and complete the thing. Even after 12 hours it is a bit rough around the edges, but the perfect being the enemy of the good, and all, I went ahead and uploaded it.
Lighting was a bugaboo, I remember from my old Public Access days. Getting it to look halfway natural is very time consuming, and I got as close as I could, and moved on. But before setting up, collect your painter’s lights and floods and experiment with a multi directional set-up, which will fill in shadows. Blend in diffused bulbs and natural light if you have those, too.
You can see the simple format I used. Intro-title card- set up, title card, etc. You can save time and file size by using dissolves or even jump cuts. I get distracted on camera, as mentioned, and there were goofs and awkward moments as I tried to stick to a mental script without sounding wooden or nervous. Segmenting the creative process helped me to focus, and reduced the amount of re-shooting if I screwed up ( I screwed up).
Camera angles were also time consuming. Reserve a day for set-up and test footage if you can. And one for fixing errors. Other glitches are inevitable- the phone ran out of power in the middle of a crucial long segment for example. I re-enacted what was a live to tape action in a minimal way, and edited it in. But recall that monotypes are a one of a kind print. If you lose a shot just as you are printing, the final piece will be different. Finally I added a couple of informational or personal touches to give it character. Such as a studio shot or web site info with illustration. I’m looking forward to doing a follow up soon. I’ll see about sharing both here going forward.
I’ll be making more, that’s the whole idea- to use the extensive set-up time and the experience of it to make future productions smoother and faster- and will be seeking to get more money for them, but certainly to get the promotional value too. First up will be a movie trailer-style promo of about 2-3 minutes that I can post on my media platforms to drive traffic to them, as well as the full video. I can have real fun with that, and will probably explore all the toys in the tool box.
The basic light and camera set-up I’ll leave available for further deadline work, and the lessons learned will be more productive if I go right back in and use them. So a rough, once-a-month shooting schedule would seem to be a good goal.
I have a couple more things to add or update in my last post. I’m also going to do my regular post of my Winter/Spring class schedule, for those curious about the details of making monotypes. This will be another short one. I do have longer drafts queued up, but this is not the time for that. Do stop at some of these show openings (most will be on the same night, February 21, if you catch a glimpse of me walking fast) and tell me what’s going on with you.
New show added: Process Show at Metro CVA on Santa Fe Drive. I’m assembling a series of recent work with an eye toward highlighting the progression of that idea for this show, a last minute addition to the #MoPrint2020 schedule. I’m pleased to be invited, mostly because in working on other projects, I had generated several variations on a theme suggested by a quick sketch I did last fall for future works. All of these materials will be in the show, in raw form, an idea that was much too intriguing to pass up, made possible by not needing to provide framing.
Work progresses on Monotype-A-Thon: we have a good committee assembled, and some details are being hammered out:
You’ll see a Call for Entry soon. It’s incredibly cheap, and a nice way to dip your toe in the water for showing and selling, if that’s your ultimate goal. Collectors, I’m imagining that these will be some of the cheapest work you’ll see in a while, and yet 13 (!) of the League’s artists and instructors were represented in the 528.0 and Imprint: Print Educators show at Arvada Center.
ASLD Workshops for Winter/ Spring are here, and I guess the newer additions such as Non Toxic etching have to be considered the highlights, though I’m enjoying the old stalwarts such as Monotype Portfolio. I haven’t gotten sick of being present when the eyes open, and the alchemy of ink under pressure is first discovered. The creative process does require a bit of openness to new ideas; a beautiful room in a historic building, among new friends, turns out to be a congenial atmosphere for new ideas. Put your dreams to the test.
The holiday break was brief, as #MoPrint2020is upon us and I’m up to my neck in the sort of events that that 3-month fiesta of the pressure arts brings us. Call it over commitment, call it opportunism, call it giving in to ‘pressure’. I’m calling it a great source of material for a blog that is supposed to be about my so-called printmaking career.
The official Month of Printmaking 2020 will be, as always, March of this even-numbered, biennial year. But MoPrint has always had a way of spreading through the first four months, and the first shows kick off this month, with a juried show at D’art last week and the two signature shows at Arvada Center beginning this Thursday, January 16, 6-9 PM.
I’m in the Arvada Center’s “Imprint: Print Educators” invitational show which is concurrent with the “528.0” juried show. IFine art prints are becoming more popular as affordable collection starters. If that interests you, it’d be hard to top this night as a place to jump in.
You can pick up a schedule-flyer for all MoPrint events there, or any of the events I’m about to list. If you make it to every #MoPrint2020 event, I’m thinking there ought to be some sort of cultural “Ironman” medal waiting for you. I’m exhausted just thinking about only the events I’m involved with.
“Rhythm in Balance: Five Contemporary Printmakers” is a show assembled by Patricia Branstead a fellow Art Students League instructor. I’m in it with Judith Bennett, Austin Buckingham, and Charles Woolridge. It’s at Niza Knoll gallery on Santa Fe. Opening night is February 21, and there will be a First Friday event as well.
That same night there will also be work of mine, along with student work at the nearby Very Special Arts Colorado’s Access Gallery. This is a celebration of a class I co-taught with Javier Flores from VSA with special needs young adults. Two shows in one place! They are also planning a First Friday event.
I’ll again be a part of the Artma Benefit Auction for Childhood Cancer, February 8. They do put on a good party, and they treat donating artists well , something I emphasize is an important consideration when I’m donating. My piece has sold each time, so get there early.
Teen Mad Science Monoprint workshop, March 14. The idea is to offer MoPrint2020 events for kids, too.Go to ASLD.org to register online. If this doesn’t fill, you’ll see me at:
The Open Potrfolio event at Redline March 14 is a very casual affair with artists simply showing prints on a table. I generally show things that are too old for my other shows, which means I can offer some bargain prices. If I can’t do this ( because of teen class, above) you can still see my bargain portfolio at:
Pop-up Print Sale and Show at ASLD March 28. Yes, same thing as the Redline event, but with Art Students League printmakers. There will also be framed work for sale, and the Monotype-A-Thon will be going on during the same time. A can’t -miss event.
That’s it so far, I suppose there may be more, and I’ll be posting about my DPL workshops soon, which are always open to the curious public. I’ll post my regular Adult classes at ASLD, also. Stay warm and hope to see you at one of these events.
My Mad Science Monoprint workshop is this close to filling up. It’s my last publicly available class this year and runs for five Monday evenings, ending in time for Holidays.
I’m also co-teaching a class in large monoprints for Very Special Arts Colorado students with Javier Flores, of VSA and Metro State. It’s been fun, with the side benefit that I am working on a Lino cut for the first time in decades.
I’ll have two pieces in the Arvada Center’s January show Print Educators. It will be one of the signature shows for #Moprint2020. The opening is January 16.
The winter-spring catalog is now open for registration online at Art Students League of Denver. My first workshop availability in 2020 will be Jan 7. That will be my Monotype Starter beginner’s class, which prepares you for my other classes, and also certifies you to use our big airy print room independently ( for a reasonable fee per month). I don’t know whether it will fill up, but it can’t hurt to register now.
My last library workshop of the season, at Green Valley Ranch branch, has once again been re-scheduled for November 20 at 5:30-7 PM.
I’m going to do my Besties top ten book list for comics and graphic novels again this year. I can’t say I’ve kept up on this year’s releases that well- mostly because of still catching up on last year’s releases, but I realized that this is a decade-turning year and I have lots of opinions on this decade’s batch of comics, some of which will be noted for a long time. So I’ll have plenty of candidates. I’m adding a link to last year’s version, my first attempt at this holiday staple.
My webstore is again making progress after upgrading my website programming and security to hopefully accommodate the finicky Woo Commerce plug-in. I’m taking a few days’ break after a busy fall, but will return to it within days. Still hoping for a Thanksgiving launch.