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delights of working

April 18, 2011 at 8:57 am

For a big chunk of the first couple months of this year, I wasn’t really working on print or drawing projects. Partly this is because I was re-doing the main section of my website, to focus on things that are my priorities now — rather than in 2007 when I first set the website up! (Though I haven’t even put the new pages and updated structure up yet, various reasons, blurgle…) Partly I wasn’t working because I was reading a bunch of books, because I was having lots of complicated thoughts, because I was dealing with personal stuff, because I was hanging out with friends and enjoying awesome Providence companionship.

However! whatever the factors, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been working a bunch, and man do I love drawing, and thinking about colors, and printing. !!! It’s good to remember that. I’m putting a lot of energy into figuring a bunch of other aspects of my life out, but it’s amazing to be able to come back to drawing and printing and get super entranced and delighted by it.

In part of my effort to get things done a little faster, keep it fun, and not get bored, a new strategy is “rubylith-native” letters — letterforms that are just laid out sketchily in pencil, and take their final form from the razor-knife cutting the rubylith film. “With that knife, you’re not drawing a regular line, you’re cutting the infinitesimal dividing line between what is and what is not.” Thanks, Jacob!

Two layers of the 2011 Plant Sale poster are folded to the right in the photo below — the “key” outline (eggplants & linework), in black ink on mylar, and the transparency for the orange which will fill in the front of the banners, the red rubylith. The transparency folded back to the left is for the bright green that will be leaves & stems & some other things: that one is a combination of ink & rubylith. Both the orange and the green layers are in process in this photo; you’ll see their development further down in this post. (The blue bits are painters’ tape that holds things together and allows me to fold the transparency layers back and forth while keeping things aligned…)

Here I’ve cut the paper-color letters out of the solid “orange” of the banner; that is the layer that is lying flat underneath. Out of the “green” layer, which in the last photo was still solid, I’ve made delicate outlines for both the Southside Community Land Trust and Plant Sale letters, and I’m lifting it up so they can be seen. As with all these photos, you can click for a larger image, and in this one the larger size really makes clear what is going on.

SCLT asked me for some small graphics to use as spot illustrations or decorative emblems on other promotional materials. Here are those as drawn in ink on mylar, ready to be scanned in & cleaned up to become digital graphics…


I’m usually working on multiple projects at the same time, but usually not so close together or so intensively as these two posters. Here’s some progress on the Grass Widow / Songs For Moms poster (amid the detritus of drawing day, also feat. Jacob‘s sketchbook, Christopher‘s circle template, and (not pictured) Charlotte).

Letters done / building more developed / rubylith cut & folded back to prepare for more perspective drawing (!). Plowing through the chaos.


Back to the plant sale poster! SCLT is working with a RISD design professor to unify their graphic identity for their 30th anniversary — historically they’ve had a bunch of different publications & newsletters, a website, as well as posters made by artists, which have all been designed by different people and thus all over the place visually & aesthetically. They asked me to use some of their new identity colors in the poster:

It’s really interesting to have someone else’s color selection to work with, it makes things a lot simpler in some senses, reduces the scope of decision-making. I matched the colors exactly… and then in getting ready to print, I’ve found myself shifting them slightly towards a combination that is more interesting to me, or that seems more harmonious or possibly more weird. I do have to put my name on this thing after all… :)

Final, ready-to-print orange layer (actually it’s already printed as I type this!):

Final ready-to-print green layer (that one’s tomorrow i.e. in a couple of hours):

The bottom of the green layer, showing three different materials going into one layer of a screenprint. I cut the stems and graphic stuff out of rubylith, then taped a sheet of prepared mylar over it and on that, drew the ink textures of the leaves, the speech-bubble outlines, etc. Using ink & a brush on a piece of tracing paper, I drew the names of the musicians, scanned that in, inverted it, printed that onto a copier acetate… and then cut out those names and collaged them onto the other layers, cutting out gaps in the rubylith so that the letters would show through to the color beneath…

More soon, including, most likely, finished posters!


This past week I also got to go in the Tirocchi mansion, which E. Elizabeth has some real nice photos of on With Care. Rob & John & I went over and joined lots of our friends and fellow Providencians in a huge nerd posse exploring this soon-to-be-renovated magical giant house. I took lots of pictures.

Patterns for the copyin':

Never-to-be-seen-again (at least by me) views:

And really beautiful construction details.

Rob, as is his wont and his passion, looked for unnoticed detritus, and John, as is his profession and his passion, did research:

Working! it’s awesome!

5 Comments »

  1. You went too high in the tower! First landing only!!!

    Comment by E. Elizabeth — April 18, 2011 @ 11:45 am
  2. Amazing, ongoing, inside record of artist at work.

    Sorry I missed the nerd-in at the Tirocchi mansion; I was out of town. I’ve only been gawking/wondering/bemoaning at it since about 1973.

    Comment by mark sawtelle — April 18, 2011 @ 11:58 am
  3. e.eliz! I know! I had to! one chance in a lifetime. I couldn’t help myself…. (this is why I didn’t do well in elementary school, willful & impulsive)

    mark: thanks! I can send you the number of the lady who runs communityworks (the non-profit that is renovating the Tirocchi house), she’s still amenable to walking people through it, though she said they would be starting certain renovations pretty soon. I’ll email you!

    Comment by jean — April 18, 2011 @ 2:45 pm
  4. cozz- and that’s why I spent a good couple minutes talking and listening into the, uh, what is called? Talk tubes? primitive intercom? Anyhow, probably the best day of the year, at least so far.

    Comment by E. Elizabeth — April 28, 2011 @ 10:05 am
  5. [...] the same letters” but with ink as the *positive* instead of the negative — just as cutting “the same” letters negatively or positively out of rubylith results in different forms. Someday! actual usable computer fonts will come out of all this [...]

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