Here’s the latest skygrid composite. The daylight hours are ever-shrinking! But they’ll soon bottom out around Christmas. Click to embiggen.
Most people who know my practice know that I pretty much mess around on the computer and rarely put pen or pencil to paper unless I’m doing a quick cartoon to calculate angles or just to get something down in physical form. Well, this summer I taught The Book As Art, a summer school class at the Bow & Arrow Press, and one of my students made me two lovely stab-bound sketchbooks as a thank-you. (You can see the video she made of the Press here.) So, basically, I felt that it would be a shame to let something like that go to waste.
Back in the day I used to make long rambling doodles when I was bored in class or at work, like most people will. So I figured, why not try those again? Maybe, given repetition and some experimentation, they’d turn into something interesting. From what I understand, that’s the way sketchbooks are supposed to work, right? But, knowing me, I have to have some sort of concept involved, some sort of boundary to push against. So I decided I would do my rambling doodles, but I would limit myself to only sixty strokes, defined as how long the drawing tool stayed in contact with the paper, regardless of length. Sixty is a nice number, not too long, not too short, and can be subdivided in multiple ways should the need arise.
For drawing material, I decided there would be no limit, I would use whatever implement I found in my backpack that looked interesting. So I used ballpoint, pencil, giant marker, and Sharpies in various colors. I also decided I would try to do one a day, and since the books were made from folded sheets so that each “page” was actually two-in-one, once I reached the end of the book, I would turn around and do the other side of each page. It turns out there were fifty pages in the book, which means one full book will be exactly 100 drawings. Nice!
As it turns out, the once-a-day thing didn’t really work out, for various reasons. Being busy was one, forgetting was another, but I also found that doing one per day did not really allow drawing concepts to be explored in depth while they were fresh. So it kinda worked out that I did seven drawings every Thursday, which gave time to play with ideas and develop at least one of them. You can see some pretty clear progressions at different points in the book.
About two weeks ago I made it to the end of the first book, which was the perfect time to document the drawings and publish them here. I wanted to photograph them without drawing on the other side of the page, because the pages are somewhat translucent and I wanted these first ones to stand alone. So, it took me a while to get around to shooting the pages, and the first run looked crappy so I had to reshoot them, but I think I have something worthy of presentation. A small PDF of the drawings is available here. And I’ll post six of my favorites below, for ease of viewing.
^ #8, using a chisel-pointed Sharpie, a nice lyric flow.
^ #20, ballpoint, nice loopy swoops
^ #26, an early form of my circle/square/triangle experiments, in yellow Sharpie
^ #44, a blind drawing, done with my eyes closed, using cyan Sharpie
^ #45, maroon and yellow Sharpies, with a nice interaction between them turning red
^ And #50, a CMYK Sharpie composition with the black and magenta done blind.
I posted about the first one back in the spring, and over the summer we did another one, and we have a third in the works. Here are some nice pictures of the first two, since I was taking shots of work at the Press this weekend.
Before and after class at the Bow & Arrow on Saturday I started messing around with my cubes of wood again. This time I started playing with four groups of four blocks, set roughly in lines, and used some graphite ink I’d mixed earlier in the month. I’m really pleased with the silvery color of the graphite mixture, it’s very handsome and layers quite nicely. Some of the earlier runs were too simple, so I added a color progression starting with PANTONE Yellow and adding a rusty red mixture one of my regulars had whipped up for a recent project. The results were interesting:
Four of Four: Graphite Graphite Yellow Orange
Four of Four: Graphite Yellow Orange Red
Four of Four: Multigraphite
I wrote about my Standard Deviations project a while back, and finally photographed them nicely so I could present them as a series. I’ll be editioning each one individually, and also in 13 sets of 5. Here they are in order:
Finally had time to assemble all the individual stills of the present Skygrid into a time-lapse movie. Be advised, at 17 seconds per day, it clocks in at around 51 minutes. But it’s a perfect environmental piece for relaxation and meditation, I would say!
Note: after watching about 8 minutes of the video, I’ll concede it might be a bit flickery for meditation. The action is pretty fast, too; I’d probably want to run it at 15 frames per second to be a little more relaxing. However, that would make this half-year almost two hours, and the full year almost four. Maybe… maybe…
One fun thing is that you’ll be getting into the whole motion of the clouds and then suddenly a bird silhouette will be caught in a frame, or a glint will reflect off of a plane, or there’ll be a leaf floating by momentarily.
As part of my artist grant from the Somerville Arts Council, I needed to do a project that involves the community of Somerville. Over the last couple of weeks I went to the daycare Open Center for Children on Powderhouse Boulevard and again created a large-scale work with the help of the children there.
We went to the Tot Lot by Tufts University, I took out my hiking GPS unit and set it to record its position. We went through the class roster to select each child, who then took the GPS and started running. The GPS recorded the path the child took through the playground and around the fence. Once returned, I saved the recorded path with the child’s name and started another round. There were a few glitches and do-overs, but at the end of the 90 minutes, we had 15 sketches around the park:
While this was happening, I took photos of the kids tearing around with the GPS unit:
Today I took printouts of the poster, the composite pathways, and each individual child’s drawing over to the preschool. It was a huge hit, and at the end I got mobbed in a group hug. Excellent outcome!
PDFs of the poster, composite and individual paths are here:
While posting about the Random Grid prints I realized I’d neglected to actually post about the first round of grid prints, done with the smaller cubes I’d had lying around from a project from several years back. So! This one, “Pixel Gradient”, was the very first one I ran, a proof-of-concept using a blue-to-purple split fountain at the Bow & Arrow:
The second one, which used the same grid as “Pixel Gradient” but split into four parts and run with four different fountains, is called “Organic Grid”:
More should follow soon!
Today I taught an engraving/drypoint class, two Crash Courses and some Intermediate and Advanced students in the Bow & Arrow Press. I also took the opportunity to take some press time for myself, and got some artwork accomplished. First up, a type sample project I’d been preparing ever since I found a lead version of my favorite typeface, Akzidenz Grotesk, at Letterpress Things in Chicopee, Massachusetts a couple of weekends ago. It’s called “Standard”, and I found it wrapped up in the boxes that came fresh from the foundry way back in probably 1975 or 1981:
I really needed to get ink on these lovely slugs of lead, so I prepared a stream-of-consciousness text seeded with the word “Standard”, and titled it “Standard Deviations”:
I liked it so well, I’ll probably do some more. (Incidentally, the title is set in Futura Light 36pt, not Standard.)
After that, I needed to run some cube prints, using the new 7/8″ cubes I’d gotten a few weeks back. These cubes are closer to being type-high, so they’d be easier to run on the letterpress. I set up two randomized layouts of 16 cubes each, referencing two grid compositions I did earlier in the fall. For the first run, I did two split fountains, one with black shading to graphite, the other 7459 Blue shading to 481 Tan:
I wasn’t quite satisfied with this layout, although I did run an edition of it. Playing around with the positioning of the cube sets and staying within the blue-tan fountain, I finally found this combination that worked:
So, all-in-all a pretty successful day at the press.