Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Chicken for your Consideration - part two

Last time I overwhelmed you with some quality-challenged videos of me cutting my latest chicken linocut. Well, she's done and I've printed a small run. Here's what it looks like:

My small flock of Gallus linocutus
I always feel a little bit of a let down after printing and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because all the work is done and there's nothing left to do? But that's never really the case with my prints. Usually I'll take the print and rework it by watercoloring it and/or collaging it into all kinds of stuff. Who knows? My plan is to keep making prints until I figure it out.

This is an image of a Rhode Island Red hen. I have a bunch of these girls and they are sturdy, reliable members of the flock. I had a really large flock of chickens until the time of the raccoons and possums descended upon me and brought a great calamity to the chicken coop. I'm still sore about it and will have to revisit those bad memories some other time. For now, I'll keep making prints and drawings of my the girls (and maybe even a rooster here and there.)

For your edification, here's the block. Somehow I usually like the block more than the print. It's like a little sculpture.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Chicken for your Consideration

If you poke around here for a while you will see some chickens. A lot of chickens. In fact, you may see more chickens than are strickly rational. That's as it should be.

I've been working on a series of chicken "portraits" and I have a few under my belt so far. This Rhode Island Red hen is the latest. My process here is no different than in the past, I just thought this would be fun because I have made a few videos with a new phone. New phone, better camera, better blog posts!

I realize, of course, that I have committed THE classic cellphone video sin of verticality!

PS As I look at the quality of the videos on the blog I am underwhelmed. They look better on my phone - I swear! I'll have to check into it.                 

Monday, May 18, 2015

For Your Consideration: A Dragon

Here's a dragon that I just made. I was at a grammar school concert with nothing to do with my eyes. So I made sure to have my book and a couple of pens with me to keep me occupied. Unfortunately, I was seated on bleachers which hate me and all people who need to sit on them. But I struggled on with the dragon. After all, without something to occupy me, my mind wanders and I don't pay attention to what's going on.

I made this one with no preliminary drawing, just straight to pen. After the pen work was mostly done, I switched to watercolor pencils. I hope you like it.

I'm a fun guy, right?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Colorized Classics

Way, way back in the day there was raging debate about Ted Turner and what he was doing to old movies. He was taking dumb, boring old black and white movies and modernizing and improving them with color. Of course there were those Luddites that were totally opposed to color and wanted to live back in the days before color was invented. Jerks!

Or seen the other way; here was a guy that took films that were conceived in black and white, executed in black and white, and directed so as to take full advantage of black and white for the complete visual experience and ruined them by slapping a bunch of garish, pastel girly colors.

That's what I've done here. Both of those things. I think of these images in black and white but feel compelled to watercolor them afterwards. Who's to say which is better?

Conceived in B&W

Ted Turner-ized
Original Recipe
Extra Crispy                                       

Friday, May 8, 2015

New Drawing Book Piece

Here's a new piece that I assembled from scraps I had laying around. The Rembrandt self-portrait copy is from a few years back when I was demonstrating linocuts. The same goes for the trilobites. The watercolored background is a little more interesting. I normally keep a scrap of paper laying around on my desk in order to clean out watercolor brushes. Usually that paper looks like what it is: a mess. But this time it turned out looking like a real watercolor! So I kept it and put it into my magnificent collage.

Yes, you say. That's all very "interesting", you say. But what does it mean? Always with the what does it mean. Why can't you folks just look at a piece of artwork and appreciate it for its plastic qualities? ("Plastic" is a word which here means characterized by an emphasis on formal structure.) Notice the three horizontal bands in the composition: black pen, COLOR!, black pen. It's visual action sandwiched by calm line work. What about the left hand side being filled with imagery and it being offset by the right hand side's minimal imagery? That's some dynamic symmetry for ya! How does the seemingly random watercolor relate to the rigidity of the linocut line work? What tension! What part does the text play in how we see this piece? The big, fat letters are on the left, under the portrait and large trilobite; while the monster head is on the right, above the visually light, skinny letters and small trilobite. It seems to provide a sense of movement or tumbling as the heavy top right wants to fall over into the thinner, emptier bottom right. Or does the imagery on the left-hand side anchor it sufficiently?

Wow! Such questions to ponder before we ever get to what does it "mean". Artwork is not a didactic book, it is meant to be seen first, and then we can think about what it means. By the way, I won't tell you what this means. Maybe it doesn't mean much of anything. Or maybe it comments on the vision of the great artist, Rembrandt and what his powers of seeing were able to behold. Your choice.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Do We Draw?

Why do we draw? Let me start off by saying that, for me, drawing stands as synecdoche for all of art. At least the visual arts. I think it is foundational in that it teaches us to see; it teaches us to use our eyes properly. Without drawing there would be no printmaking, painting or sculpture. Simple as that.

So why exactly do we draw? In college I vividly remember standing in my professor's office around a table with him, another professor and a couple of graduate students where we were discussing something. For the life of me I don't remember what. But I do remember putting forward this little gem of wisdom: "We all draw in order to learn." To me this was almost a tautology. Why else would anyone do this? I mean, sure, it's a lot of fun; it looks cool, and it beats working for a living. But when you get right down to it, we all do this in order to learn about the world. Well, they pounced on me like starving hyenas on a three legged gazelle. It was made clear to me that other people draw for different reasons than learning.

That shadow in the lower right is... ummm.. part of the composition. Of course it's not lazy photography! How  DARE you?! Real artists don't cut corners. Philistine. However, as I read the notes I made almost 20 years ago, they sound pretty pretentious. I think I was trying to sound scientific. I was very young, cut me some slack.
I still draw to learn. Even if the learning isn't always the type of learning I was doing in the drawing above. I still do that type of thing, but my definition of learning about the world has expanded. Now I want to know not just what things look like but I want to know what I think about things.

Two drawings done in chapel. Both have monsters, neither deals with monsters in the text!
Sometimes this leads me into some unexpected territory. Often, I'll hear or read something and then just start drawing with no idea what will happen next. Images and juxtapositions suggest themselves and I draw them. Often the meaning, or my idea comes after I have had to me to look at and think about what I've done.

So, after all these years, I still draw to learn.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Janus Angel

In the midst of working on my brand new linocut, I have been working on another linocut. It's kind of like this:

See how cool your host is? I went so far as to go to a free meme generator for this!
I am really having a linocut renaissance here. In fact that sounds like a very cool band name...

Dude: "Did you catch the The Linocut Renaissance this weekend?"

Dude's friend: "Yeah, but they really gouged me on ticket prices. I couldn't get any relief."

This is the part where the laugh track informs you that the above dialogue was funny. So funny that you should be literally laughing out loud. Or LOL, if you prefer.

So what's this image you ask? Here it is as it appears in my all-new drawing book:

The orange on the left and blue on the right mark this image as a casualty of drawing book carnage. It happens.
The idea as it was explained to me by my friend, Ned, is that the Old Testament ends with a curse andy the New begins with hope. The angel delivering the messages pronounces fire and dread on the left and Gabriel on the right announces John the Baptist's birth.

There's more going on here, but I do not like to explain my images too much. A little here and there is okay, but too much explanation is too much explanation.

Keep looking for that new Temptation linocut; it is proceeding apace!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A New Linocut

I'm taking a short break from the drawing book excitement, not because I have no more books, but because... Well, because.

I thought I would take this break in the action to inform you about a NEW LINOCUT that I'm working on. I'm still in the drawing stages, but it promises to be a good one!

The idea for this one came to me in Lent. The idea is to make a polyptych that deals with temptation with Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as the jumping off point. I used the drawing that I wrote about on March 30th as the basis for one of the images. There will be appearances by St. Jerome, St. Anthony Abbot, St. Mary of Egypt, and others! It's meant to be a set of images for Lent and here we are out of Lent and into Easter already. But that's okay. I think the cutting of this block will take a long time. Comparable to the Cream Legbar in terms of difficulty of cutting.

I'll show more as I get it done.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Couple of Weirdos

I present here, for your viewing pleasure a pair of diplocaulus. In case you are not in the know (and exactly what sheltered-from-long-extinct-amphibians rock have you been living under anyway?) they are some long extinct amphibians. They were really big in North America about 300 to 250 million years ago. In life they were something like 3 feet long. Of course, there were different species of diplocaulus and they came in different shapes and sizes. I'm just trying to give you the general idea. You dig? You can see a few more of my diplocaulus here and here.

I've drawn mine in two ways. One of them has frilly gills like ordinary larval salamanders do today, the other does not. I have absolutely no idea if diplocaulus had this arrangement or not. Please cut me some slack as I neglected to get my paleo-herpetological PhD in between getting my art degrees and raising a family. Sheesh, you guys are a demanding bunch.

I simply love the outlandish and seeming wildly impractical boomerang heads on these guys. There are all sorts of theories as to exactly what was going on with the headgear, but I don't really care what the reason is. I'm just glad that something like this was real.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Drawings Done in Worship or Heads and Arthropods

For all of you who are, no doubt, just coming to this blog and finding the artwork here compelling, I have been writing about the history of my drawing books. You might say that is fascinating and you would be right! The drawing books are where it all happens. They are the place where ideas bounce and roll around for months, if not years. They are where things distill, ferment, simmer, condense, and other cooking-related things happen to ideas. However, what kind of a dish I am making often doesn't become clear for many months into a book.

Two heads

That was true of this book. In fact, I'm still unsure as to what I've made. I gave myself one rule early on in the making of this book: everything had to be drawn from life. There is only one page (that I'm not showing you) where I drew strictly from my imagination. It's not bad, it just doesn't fit.

A head and an arthropod
So I spent(d) a lot of time in church and a lot of drawing can be done there. When I was a Presbyterian, there was A LOT of time to draw during sermons (now I typically have 15 to 20 minutes during a homily!). Anyway, I ended up drawing a lot of heads of people in church. Hence the title of this book. I also drew a ton of crap, crawdad, lobster, arthropods in this book. Hence the alternative title.

Two more heads (presbytery is even longer than the longest sermon!)
The book itself is a pocket sized Moleskine. I bought it on clearance and thought I'd give these "legendary" books a try. It wasn't for me. I didn't care for the hardness of the paper or the way it accepted wet media. I'm sure they have models for that but I like making my own books so much I think I'll just stick to that.

By the by, you can see some of these drawings elsewhere on this blog. But you'll have to hunt for them. And also, I have a lot more scans from this book, and since I am fond of them, I'll post more of them next week.