Sunday, August 31, 2014

Now at The Barn Swallow!

Here's an exciting update:  My work will now be at The Barn Swallow!

There is a selection of my books and cards for sale at the moment.  I will be unveiling a new card line soon and initiating a total change in my press name and image.  More on that later . . . 

Check out and like The Barn Swallow on Facebook but swing on by if you are in the area to see my work in person!  You will be treated to beautiful gardens and grounds before you enter the store and beautiful treasures to satisfy the soul once you venture inside.  Look out for these guys:

They feature my new logo but be warned, Pat and I are still working on the website!  The images are hand carved from illustrations I created.  They are hand printed on an old Chandler & Price treadle press.  I try to stay as eco-friendly as possible so the cards are 100% recycled material and the clear packaging is a corn derived compostable plastic.

I'm really excited and stay tuned for new prints!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Strange Clairvoyance

The human brain is a strange device for sure.  I like cognitive puzzles and I'm aware that the subconscious mind is always ticking away logging things while we go about our daily business.  I present to you the following:

I'm categorizing another font I've cleaned out of the pile of pied type that's been collecting dust in a box.  This one is rather intriguing and I'm for sure it's some derivation of Stymie. As soon as this thought pops up, my brain whispers, "No, B." My id says, "Uh, okay. Anyway, let's start out the search with" Which I do and the result I get is Modern No. 20. I stare at the font on the screen for a while realizing that it's not the font I have at all and my brain whispers, "Look up B."

By now, I'm thinking "What the hell? I know it's not Broadway." but I look up Broadway anyway to confirm. Brain whispers, "Yeah, it's in B." "Nope," I say, "It's not Broadway." and proceed to look up Modern and go from there. Trusty American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century is always there to help me.  When Modern yields nothing, I go search Stymie. For some reason, I have a foggy recollection of a dusty old scrap of paper labeling one of the trays "Stymie" that I tossed apathetically into the trash can some five or six years ago. Upon finding Stymie in the catalog, I'm disappointed at yet another mismatch. My brains whispers, "I keep telling you it's in B."

With a sigh, I turn to section B and just start to leaf through the entire section with an eye out for the font type. Finally, I turn the page to see the match for my type font.  It is made by Mono and is called Ultra in the section of Bodoni.

How in the hell? I don't even like Bodoni but my brain remembered the passing dismissal I gave the font more than 10 years ago at the Corcoran and I never bothered with the set we've got at the VABC.  As soon as my eyes lit upon the match my brain said, "Told you it was in B."

It's all in there.  Sometimes we just need to listen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How done is done?

I taught a class recently and during one of the exercises I just wasn't feeling it. Rather than try to force myself to do something that wasn't happening I just let my pencil wander.  I ended up sketching Joe doing his typical Joe face.  We all have days when we feel like this.  It's that expression that announces your total "doneness" with a situation without having to say a word.

I have to admit that it's therapeutic to draw it out.  Paying attention to how Joe might hold his expression and how the light would fall takes your mind off your own pissy attitude.  I really should do this type of stuff more often. . .

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sharpening Your Skills

You have just finished carving the last needle on the pine tree in a landscape that is to be printed.  You notice that the edge on your tools is beginning to dull.  It’s lunchtime and your aching knuckles really need a break but there is a deadline looming.  Well, summon the sharpener!  It’s his job and that’s what you keep him around for anyway!  If you were a carver in an Edo period print shop, this would be the solution.  But . . . here in the year 2014, the woodblock print artist is often tasked with the maintenance of his or her own tools.

If you are interested in the process of Japanese Woodblock Printing, are curious about the maintenance of your own tools, or would like to take a gander at some Japanese Woodblock Carving Knives come join me at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center this Wednesday Block Night (03/12/14) at 6:30pm for a demonstration!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

more Gruff work

Itching to get back to painting and illustration, I pulled out my Three Billy Goats Gruff painting.  I miss painting, or I should say I missed painting.  I find I get hung up on wanting to paint an image in my head but stopping short because I haven't sketched it out yet.  

It's funny.  I can approach oil painting and feel comfortable sketching out an underpainting in paint but I don't like to do the same with watercolor.

At any rate, gone are those long stretches of time where one can sit in one place without disruption and sketch out, paint, and complete a piece.  Them days are lost in adulthood.  Perhaps if I was a full time illustrator, but not at this moment in time.

Anyway, as a night owl, my witching hour begins when the sun goes down and that's when a lot of my sketching gets done.  I've learned that there is a certain point in time when my eyes are no longer any good for any color work.  I've heard it called "cold-eye" in the graphic design circles.  All I know is my cones act like total divas.  They go, "To hell with you and to hell with this!  We're done!" If I don't stop there, I end up screwing things up.  I once did a painting that I thought had the most wonderful shades of pink only to wake up the next morning and find an orange painting.

My rods are like old faithful.  They could care less.  They just ask for a cup of tea or two and keep on truck'n.

When working with ox gall liquid, make sure you don't mistake it for your tea.

Into the Flamingo's Nest

I began a project in my undergraduate studies that sort of fell to the wayside.  It captured my imagination and created a haven for expression that I had missed since those bygone days where one could approach a sketch book with no ulterior motive other than play.  Those projects are valuable because the older we get the easier it is to lose sight of why artists started doing art in the first place.  As I progress, I will post more updates but it is sufficient right now to just mention that the project is called "Life in the Flamingo's Nest" and there is no due date.  There is only a drive to see this develop and enjoy the process.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Open Sesame

I've finally rounded up all the password books I've created onto etsy. Yay!

What's a password book you ask?  Well, it's the best thing since sliced bread actually.  Everyone should have one of these fantastic little bridges between past ephemera and modern technology!

If you have multiple log-ins for multiple sites, you really should have passwords that differ from one another.  Creating passwords that are also complex is a plus because they are more difficult to hack.  If your identity is stolen, you definitely don't want to make it easy for the hacker.  These are good practices in theory but in practice it is difficult to remember all of that information without writing it down.

That's where these password books come in handy!  I use mine for this purpose and also for addresses and phone numbers.  Definitely better than jotting things down on slips of paper that get lost or tossed out on accident.

But I'd be lying if I didn't say that my favorite aspect of these tiny little tomes are their hand binding and the vintage key attached to the cover of each book.  I visit my local oddities store and the little old man behind the corner has a box of orphaned old keys he lets me rifle through.  Each one is different and has it's own patina from a lifetime of wear.  There are some really neat designs on some of them and definitely interesting shapes for all different purposes.  You can check out all the different ones here: