I am finally back in the studio and working on a new, small project. This time it's a multiple block print using two separate blocks, hopefully matching them to make one print. The picture in my head was a honey bee on a honeycomb. The honeycomb would be the background of the print (naturally) and the bee would be printed on top. Easy, right?
So I started with the key block, a 3 x 4 inch mounted linoleum block
And it didn't take me long to carve it.
So then I needed to figure out how to get a honeycomb design on the second block. I tried drawing it freehand and that didn't work. I bought a drafting template with hexagons, well, that was a pain. I was about to give up.
Then last night, as I was washing dishes, I discovered the solution. We have these silicone hot pads to protect the counter and table from a hot pan or dish. And what do you know? They have hexagonal pattern the perfect size. So I sacrificed one...
I inked it with a stamp pad and laid it on the block and there it is, by geometric pattern!
And yes, it will still be a challenge to actually carve the block. Take heart, I am not going to carve the honey comb in a rectangle. I'm going to, well, wait and see. I will post the final product when it's finished...
First of all, let me apologize for this somewhat long-winded post.
I spent much of this weekend decluttering and rearranging my small studio to allow for the new letterpress. This was started into motion by placing the letterpress on my work table and then seeing, after a few days, that the saw horses I use for table support were starting to buckle. So, the letterpress was moved off of the table, new (sturdier) saw horses are on my shopping list. Also, my studio gets cluttered pretty easily. It's nobody's fault but my own.
Decluttering equals not getting any studio time making art. I am far from finished from reaching the point of being able to work in the studio and the three-day weekend is almost at its end. I shouldn't worry about it. I have no deadlines. I do have art fairs both this coming weekend (West End in La Grange,IL) and the following one (Greenwich Village Art Fair in Rockford, IL). Then I have about 2 months from them. The last art fair is in November (Winter Art Fair Off the Square, here in Madison).
All in all, it's been a disappointing year for art fairs. I blame the economy, climate change (the weather has been terrible) and the current political regime. All three have made for an hostile environment not just for artists, intellectuals, and free-thinkers, but for the majority of Americans. I'm sorry if anyone disagrees with me but the change has been palpable.
I am admittedly a little discouraged. I am pondering doing less art fairs next year. I am researching ways to branch out, much of this involves the letterpress once it is up and operational. I mentioned in the last blog post that Coffee Fish Press is the name I will use for non-editioned work such as cards and journals. I am looking forward to this change.
I also have to say that I don't know what I would do if it weren't for Valerie. I guess we are each other's rock.
And in parting (for now) I want to share something. It has nothing to do with art. It has everything to do with art. It has been shared and re-shared on the Internet since the author's passing in February of this year. I am going to share it again. I read and re-read it at least once a month. It seems to put me back on track.
The author, John Perry Barlow, was a former cowpoke, a poet, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. And so much more...
He wrote this list 40 years ago and it still speaks truth
Twenty Five Principles of Adult Behavior
1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
Isn't this the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? I picked it up last weekend after seeing it posted on Craigslist. It's a Kelsey Excelsior letterpress. It was a good price, although it definitely needs some work. I plan on, over the next few months, spending a little time and money to get it operational. It needs new rollers, for sure. As you can see (left side of the press), they are pretty decrepit. I am amazed that parts for these old presses are still available. Apparently, the letterpress is experiencing a revival with the DIY and "maker" crowds.
My intention is to print my smaller linoleum blocks with this press. I imagine that I will be more productive and be able to print larger editions with this press. The larger prints and the 3-D pieces will still be printed on the etching press.
Also, with this purchase, I have decided to resurrect Coffee Fish Press, which is the name I had for a fledgling (and foundering) greeting card business. In the future I will be offering cards, journals and other hand-printed goods and gifts. This most likely will be on Etsy. The official launch isn't going to be until I have the press up and running, of course. This minor detail didn't stop me from carving a linoleum with the updated logo.
So begins the adventure of getting my letterpress to a fully functional stage. It will be a quite the process. I will post with pics, videos and progress notes.
Good grief, I am finally finished carving all nine blocks.
Once these are printed, I will have them available individually (in the shop) and as a matted set. I'm not going to forecast when I will be able to print them. The next few weeks are occupied with art fairs. Keep checking back!
Last weekend I started a linocut series, ironically titled The Rayguns of History. At first, it was going to be a series of four, then went to 6. I am stopping, at least for now, at nine. My fear is that they are going to start looking all alike. The blocks measure 5 x 4 inches. My plan is to make them available individually, framed or unframed, or as a set, all in one frame.
Why rayguns, do you ask?
I grew up, like many my age, watching old science fiction movies and television. The St. Louis TV station KPLR broadcast several episodes of the Flash Gordon serial every Saturday morning. Other stations from the same area had Sci Fi Cinema and Creature Feature. This was long before cable television, we lived about 60 miles from St Louis, and if the weather wasn't just right, the station didn't come in. Of course, there was also Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and The Invaders. A sci-fi kid in the 1960's had a lot of choices!
One of the first sci-fi movies I remember seeing on TV was George Pal's War of the Worlds. It's still one of my all-time favorites. So, although I have never read much science fiction, I certainly watched a lot of it on TV. Rockets, rayguns, and flying saucers were part of my childhood.
I will be posting more during the process, ending with posting the final prints. I will have them available in my Shop.
And here's another time-lapse video, making the preliminary cuts on the third to last lino of the series.
To be honest, the last two art fairs were, well, disappointing. No blame here except the weather, and you can't control that. If I could it would 70 degrees all summer. For Madison's Art Fair on the Square the weather ran the gamut. During Friday set-up, it rained. Let me say, the statement, "it rained" is an understatement. It RAINED. And there was LIGHTNING. If there's one thing I learned growing up is that you don't walk around in ankle deep water holding metal poles (like a canopy frame) while it is lightning. Nevertheless, Valerie and I survived, soaked to the bone.
Saturday was great. The rain subsided just after the show started and the people were out. I was there at 5 30 a.m. hanging the prints, since we didn't get to the night before. I had decent sales, lots of visitors and well-wishers. I thought that it was going to be an awesome show.
And then there was Sunday. It didn't rain. At all. It was HOT. Heat index reached over 100 degrees. The people who might have thought about coming to an outdoor art fair wisely stayed inside. I should have brought something to read...
All in all, it was my first year there. There is a certain prestige of getting into this show and I will definitely apply next year.
The less said about John Michael Kohler Midsummer Festival of the Arts (the following weekend), the better. I had 2-3 larger sales that I am grateful for. It rained all day Saturday and well, that always has a damper (pardon the pun) on the crowds.
So, next up, Oconomowoc Festival of Art, August 18-19, Fowler Lake Park in Oconomowoc, WI. You don't need to know how to pronounce it to find it on Google Maps. I will be in Booth #50. Wish me luck (and good weather) and I hope to see you there.
Now it's time to get in some time in the stustustudio...
Or well, I was, this morning. Video courtesy of Wake Up Wisconsin on Madison's WKOW 27
I hope the video loads correctly. If it doesn't, you can follow this link
Please come say Hello this weekend. I will be at Madison's Art Fair on the Square, July 14-15.
I had a major art fair this last weekend so I'm a little late to posting for the week. Next weekend will be the same. I know, I could have posted from my phone, but I would rather do it from home.
Last weekend was Lakefront Festival of Art in Milwaukee, WI. It's a three day show and the first day (Friday) was from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. I was, to say the least, skeptical that I would have any sales from 6 p.m. on. I was astounded at how much business I got, and Friday was my best day. On the whole, it's an awesome show. As you can see, the whole affair is either under a huge tent or inside of the Milwaukee Art Museum. The best part of that is the weather has less of an effect on the crowd.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, made decent sales, and hope to do it again next year, if they will have me.
Next weekend: Spring Green Art and Craft Show in Spring Green, WI.
I have five more days before Milwaukee's Lakefront Festival of Art on the grounds of Milwaukee Art Museum. I haven't put much thought into this week's blog post. I have been a little pre-occupied. This is the first year I am a participant of this particular show, so I'm a little nervous.
Of course, you will hear me say the same thing about Madison's Art Fair on the Square, also a first for me.
Just ignore me. I have to get back to work! See you in Milwaukee, I hope.
Quite a lot has happened in the last week, or well. to say I have accomplished a lot. Last Saturday I printed four new linocuts, one of which is posted above. Today I am hand coloring them. Hopefully tomorrow I can start cutting mats, getting the prints ready to mat and/or frame. I have a little less than two weeks to be ready for Milwaukee Art Museum's Lakefront Festival of Art.
And I'm both excited and nervous! This will be the first time doing this show and it's a big deal! Between it and Madison's Art Fair on the Square (which I will also be exhibiting) I have a lot to do. Of course, ask any art fair artist if they're ready for an upcoming art fair and they will most likely say "no." The fear of not having enough stock is almost as great as the fear of not selling anything.
So, here I go, back to work! Milwaukee Art Museum's Lakefront Festival of Art runs from June 15 to June 17 on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum. For more details, click on the link.