coffee & pencils

26 APRIL 2015

I NEED TO CROP THIS IMAGE If I can just zoom in a little more. Maybe not that close. Yes, these will be perfect for the last line of my blog. The line about a bass player's hand or something like that. The actual line alludes me now as I realize I'm doing this on my couch. Not that I haven't done blogs or Photoshop on my couch but it appears I'm doing this with more than my laptop as the creative device. That's my large screen desktop monitor from the upstairs studio. It appears to be in a very precarious position. Careful.

Am I dreaming this? Or is one of those very vivid, very detailed recent memories I seem to have lately. I feel like I'm napping. Yes, maybe part of this is a dream. I need to peel back what's happening very carefully. Not to undo anything.

I look at my watch. It's right where I left it. On my left arm, and like my right arm it's laying across my chest with hands folded, prayer-like. I see there's 15 minutes left until this nap with be at the top of the hour. Feeling no concern over what just happened, I resume sleeping to wake exactly at 3pm.


CANCER, I applaud you and your amazing ability to amass such a fantastic collection of pharmaceuticals with their varied quirks and side-effects to to fight you and your side-effects.

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coffee & pencils

6 APRIL 2015

TEN YEARS AGO TODAY I posted this ink portrait of T.S.Eliot. It was part of a series of portraits of writers I was calling "the PEN is mightier than the SWORD." For whatever reason. I often did these drawings while on off-site press checks. Between forms you had some time to kill in the waiting room. So, I'd bring some source material and doodle with inks pens. The Booklet Factory later would send us with laptops so we could work while we wait. But back in 2005, those laptops were not available nor the time designated as such.

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3 APRIL 2015

ON THIS DAY IN 1882 Robert Ford shot Jesse James while James was hanging a picture on the wall.

I first learned of this bit of historical trivia from Bob Dylan. That's right. There's a verse in Dylan's OUTLAW BLUES that goes:
"Ain’t gonna hang no picture
Ain’t gonna hang no picture frame
Ain’t gonna hang no picture
Ain’t gonna hang no picture frame
Well, I might look like Robert Ford
But I feel just like a Jesse James"

When I heard this line, I wanted to know if there was any real meaning to it and that's when I discovered Jesse James fate.

When I was looking for a title to my first "graphic-poem" art magazine, I decided to use a variation of that first line and Ain't gonna hang no pixel was born. It all seemed relevant. The story is a tale of an artist who decides to switch from paint to pixels. He justifies this "criminal" move by basing his decision on Dylan's switch from acoustic to electric.

I remember the expression on the face of the young man who stopped at my booth at the second annual PAINT and PIXEL Festival as he looked up to me and said, "I will never hear that song the same way." I thanked him and smiled.

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29 MARCH 2015

SISTER MARY SHELLEY AND CREW filled my head full of images during the nine years of my parochial grammar school education. Detailed verbal descriptions sometimes supported by illustrated visuals gave places like Heaven and Hell a look that I could with my young artistic sensibility always see. I remember the almost weather-map icon symbols for Heaven (clouds), Purgatory (clouds with small flames) and Hell (fire). I think I always figured I'd have to do some time in Purgatory. That I'd never be up to snuff to just enter the Pearly Gates. Some "small flames" burn time was going to be a necessary step in that process.

Now, I can't imagine what it's like to burn all the time like they do in Hell. Just because I really I can't image it. My burn experience has usually ended quickly with an OUCH! and a resulting blister. I suppose, a sunburn would be the closest comparison I could come up with. Maybe one of the reasons I've always sort of seen a packed beach as a sort of Hell—all them white people just cooking on the hot sand.

One of the side effects of the chemotherapy I'm going through is a rash. And lately that rash has quite an itch associated with it—especially at nighttime. Now, that I could see as Hell.

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26 MARCH 2015

SO, HERE I AM My last watercolor class with Astrid Sheckels took place on Tuesday. It was a great class taught by a talented illustrator with all those 'extra skills' important to being a very good teacher as well. It was a beginning class and it was taught in a very traditional way, in that we worked all eight sessions with only six colors—two reds, two blues and two yellows. The focus was on color mixing while learning the nuances of watercolor as a medium. The class worked a number of assigned paintings. The last one was our choice.

I had been looking forward to bringing this medium closer to home on a piece that would be in my style. Something where I could see how it would translate into what I've come to label my art as a caricature-portrait. What better choice than the artist's proverbial "model who's always there—The Self-Portrait."

Here's where I left off when class time ran out on Tuesday. Let's hope I can get back into a schedule that I had become accustom to over these last eight weeks and get down and get to work on getting this finished so that it doesn't become the artist's proverbial "unfinished masterpiece."

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22 MARCH 2015

ON THIS DAY TEN YEARS AGO I became a member of the co-op gallery, GALLERY 267. I got my acceptance notice via a phone call from artist and steering committee member, Janet Richards. Acceptance also included me in April's NEW MEMBER Show. I planned to include "Blue Em" ( I DWELL IN POSSIBILITY ).

I had also planned to include Don't Let On That You Knew Me and Not A Girl Who Misses Much

I planned to us the payment from the recent Equinox Magazine job to pay for framing costs.

IN 2006 I shared my in-progress portrait of DAVID LYNCH

the ink sketch

the color sketch

the initial digital sketch

the digital under drawing:
my drawings and images with photos

IN 2008 I shared the process of my BOOKENDS PROJECT. Local artists were donating bookends where the sale money would go to benefit the DICKINSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY in Northfield, Massachusetts.

The back cover was quite easy. The whole collage came
off in one piece.

Here I remove the white tape and replace with archival
two-sided tape.

I place the glue in drops then spread it --painting it smooth--
with a stiff piece of paper.

Here I'm using a burnisher to flatten it out once it's been placed...

...but actually, I found it much easier to smooth it with my fingers. The whole thing became something more like a pre-school project in that the glue I needed to use was a very wet glue --like milky Elmer's Glue. (It needed to adhere to the woven texture of the book jacket so I couldn't get away with a glue stick method that works best on paper-to-paper situations) It would get a little messy --oozing out of the edges and all! Fortunately, it dries clear. And I was pretty quick to wipe up any excess.

The front cover required more "actual creation." The "rough layout" of the front images did not come off as one piece. Besides, there were some changes I wanted to make to it's design. I pretty much had to start from scratch. I removed everything but the image of Joyce Carol Oates and Virginia Woolf and Virginia's name. With her name still in place I could remove the image to apply glue to the back and then reposition. I tore some more edges from both Joyce and Stephen to have Joyce's name place better. Stephen was easy to place as his straight cut edges aligned with the book's edge. But Stephen needed to overlap Emily. So, I played a balancing act with two pieces getting one glued before the other. You can see where the formula for "messy" becomes a little more apparent.

Here are the bookends before the sealer coat --Mod Podge-- is applied. Tomorrow (or actually later today), I'll run out and pick up some matte finish Mod Podge.

Here's what the final product looked like:

IN 2009 I shared some images from a LIFE DRAWING class I was taking.

I also shared this story that illustrates just how much I get "into my art."

This is Kate. She's a great model. Everyone in the session agrees so she'll be back in two weeks.

These two drawings shown were executed like this:
The two top poses were done first and second, left to right. Then I switched papers for some reason. The portrait was done first then the challenging "laying on the floor" perspective piece. Then Kate struck the last pose. Only a twenty minute one. Though I had an array of colored pencils sharpened, I put the first sheet back on the easel and used just those red, yellows and browns to render that final portrait.

I got so into that last pose, I "fell over!"

What actually happened was, it was so low on my sheet and easel is not very adjustable, so, I split my legs to lower my torso to a more face-to-face with the sheet of paper. Somewhere during that twenty minutes, my leg fell asleep and I toppled over.

How embarrassing! I think I scared the Hell out of the model who was falling asleep!

IN 2011 I let a coworker read the soon-to-be self-published art magazine, Ain't gonna hand no pixel—an artist stops painting with paint. He was completely unaware of the process up until this point. He didn't know how the poem-story was written after all the images had been placed in this design. His comment was: "I like how you read the story then find bits of the story "retold" in the images. It's neat to see how the images were inspired by this simple story of a conversation."

I was thrilled with his review and began the process of going to print.

LAST YEAR I shared some early sketches and their finish counterparts from graphic-poem, FRANKENSTEIN meets SISTER MARY SHELLEY as a way to promote a show I had on display at the DICKINSON MEMORIAL LIBRARY in Northfield, Massachusetts.


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