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this is what a decision looks like

January 6, 2013 at 5:15 am

So I still need to actually mix & refine these colors, but here you can see the evidence that a set of decisions that I procrastinated on for almost two years has now been more or less made, over the course of the past seven or so hours!!!

sheets of paper with color notes and color swatches

I made 30 of these “Queers!” prints about two years ago and it was super fun to make them because I totally played around with the colors while printing them and no two of them were alike. This is from an unfinished blog post about them from April 2011, that was gonna be titled “not making multiples”:

… In any case, for me it is difficult to part with the objects of the world. I am now able to throw boogers, napkins, paper cups, and most things that other folks would consider actual trash into the trash! However, there are some odd folders and containers in my room/studio, of things that most people might not save: “lists”, “paper rulers” (little measuring strips I use in making drawings, that no longer have a purpose once the drawing is done, but while it was in process, they were tools that I touched thousands of times), “ephemera” (neat packaging), “pins I used to wear on my jacket” (that’s a good one, right?), “broken cups & bowls that have a sentimental value”, etc etc…

As someone who makes objects and then the objects go away from me, multiples are an easy thing to deal with emotionally, because they never have to leave me completely — I always have one left of each kind. I usually don’t sell my drawings; I’ve done it a couple of times, and probably will to a greater extent in the future, but I actually miss the ones I have sold and think about them relatively frequently. I know that the sold drawings are framed and loved and on someone’s wall somewhere, as opposed to hidden in a drawer in a flat file, and that is great to know. But… when I think of their lines and spaces, remembering the process of drawing them, I do wonder, with a certain sadness, if I will ever see them again.

… and I was going to write further about how the stress of parting with the individual unique prints was mitigated by how awesome of a time I’d had printing them.

However, even as I was making the unique “Queers!” prints, I knew I wanted to make some multiples of them too — in order to have some that I could distribute on the internet and sell for a cheaper price (the uniqueness of each one, and initially selling them through a ‘real gallery’, had pushed me to set the price kinda high). I had decided to make four different colorways… BUT I didn’t want to replicate exactly any of the colorways in the initial group… BUT I wanted to learn from the earlier color relationships as well… and that was in February, 2011.

So what happened today? First I decided not to procrastinate on this project anymore — which I can credit partly to having a deadline and partly to recently being back on medication for attention deficit disorder. Mental health care — it’s pretty crucial! First I made tests swatches of a bunch of different transparent colors that I had in the studio (previous post). Then I looked at the remaining original prints in complete confusion for about an hour or so. I finally wrote down some anecdotal notes on the color interactions… then realized I could consolidate those notes into a semi-analytical observation of what the different colors were doing in each of the original prints that I had a photo of (about half of them — thanks to photographer Pam Murray — having digital images & being able to flip through them on the computer screen really helped!). Then I looked back at my test swatches and thought about what I wanted to have happen in the four different prints, colorwise… and then through making notes and moving the swatches around, I was able to pick out, roughly, some colors that would make those dynamics happen.

paper with colored ink on it, paper with graphical diagram of color relationships

What began as a “super fun let’s play with colors yayyy” experimental project in early winter 2011, became a looming, terrifying “oh my gosh what colors am I going to use for these four editions what if they are not as good as the first ones uhhhhhngh” decision that stressed me out to the point of completely avoiding it for almost two years, and then turned into a “well I have to get this done this week!” necessary decision process. The strategy that allowed me to sneak up on the decision was making a bunch of grids & diagrams to “make sure” that I was making the “right” decision. Ultimately the crucial moments of working were just moving little tabs of color around on the table, noting down things about their roles & relationships that the charts had allowed me to understand, but really just looking at them together. Then suddenly I was able to look up & say to my housemate, “Hey, I think I just finished making this decision which I put off for two years, huh!”.

table with strips of paper, ink containers, and diagrams on it

I harnessed the momentum of that decision into another one — the two central colors here will (more or less) be the background colors for the two colorways of the “dissonance” print…

a selection of color swatches

…which you can see a very initial sketch for here, from back in July (also including my legs in Conanicut Island midsummer mode, beet-pickle juice was involved):

sketchbook balanced on knees of bare legs on a picnic blanket, with the word "dissonance" partly written on the open page

okay!

infinity of possible choices about letterforms

January 5, 2013 at 9:35 pm

…or really, about anything, for that matter. !!! No time to write much at the moment but here is some process preview for new work I’m doing for the show (opens February 2nd, 5-7, AS220, 115 Empire St. Providence). Lots to do, not a lot of time. My strategy is to do whatever it is I’m procrastinating on the most — ask myself what is the most scary thing, do that first. Ha!

a pile of postcards on manila paper with various handwriting on them

rsvp notecards from 1959-1961, from a curb in new york city to an attic in providence to my hot little hands (thanks Will, collector extraordinaire!)

process shot of desk

desk scenario — I’m referencing years of collecting ephemera & hundreds of pictures I’ve taken of fonts for letterform generation, and mining writings that I was doing (for performances this past fall) for text generation…

hand-drawn font in progress, reads

learning a lot about script fonts; the variation is so broad, anything is possible!

using an architect's adjustable triangle to create shading

architectural drafting strategies; these letterforms are based on the packaging from some fireworks that Jacob had…

letters in overlapping screenprints

print over test print, experimental zone

jars of ink and test color strips, laid out on a desk

transparent color testing for some seriously procrastinated-on re-prints that will be part of this show, and also for some new prints!

okay byeee time to make another sandwich, drink more coffee, & then back to work!

thresholding

July 2, 2012 at 3:38 am

When you feel really like things are going to come apart into pieces, not in an epic explosive way but just in the way where you are not sure if you actually exist or why you are existing or what ground you are standing on at the moment (this could be a good or bad feeling, or in between), you do what is known as thresholding.

This is where you are feeling thresholdy (the feeling loosely noted above) and you go to a place that is a threshold in some way or another, some kind of amorphous/undefined/ambiguous area, a place in transition, a place with no boundary, a place that won’t be there tomorrow. The margins, the passageway between places, the bulldozed earth. GO BY YOURSELF. And then just spend some time there and walk where you feel like within/around that place. Maybe take a camera or drawing stuff because words are generally useless on the threshold, maybe take some food if you think to grab it on your way outta the house, but usually you are leaving the house (or wherever you are) in a rush because you are feeling fucking THRESHOLDY and in your room or trying to talk to your lovely housemate or in a public sociable space is NO PLACE TO BE when you need to be THRESHOLDING.

(Does it have to be said that a car can’t take you to the threshold? Get out & walk to find it, ride your bike but get off when you get there, you need to be moving slowly & feeling your feet on the ground.)

Do that for a while, look at everything, touch things, sit down, lie down, pick up things & put them back or put them in your pocket or put them where they should be. Watch the angles & proportions of the space change as you walk through it. Do something that is scary, climb up a thing, take off your shirt in the sunlight, test the rotted floor, be alone for a little bit longer. When you are done you are done, go back to where people are, or to the coffee shop, get warm, write in your notebook.

Nothing will be solved by doing this. But you do it anyway. Thresholding isn’t supposed to offer you anything, all it can do is echo your own internal threshold but be bigger than you at the same time, hold you within it… something like that… can’t analyze it too much, it’s a threshold…

ephemera / evidence

June 20, 2012 at 6:30 am

I think Alison took these pictures…

This was us interpolating ourselves into the Pride parade here this past Saturday. I drew/painted and built two giant banners (and got them across town) in like 4 hours the afternoon before the parade? (That question mark signifies my disbelief that this actually happened.) There was awesome help from Christiane, Chris G, Olivia, Nathan, Alison, Katie, Rowan, & more. The other big banner said “Free CeCe“. I also drew & painted the ACT UP banner that you can see obscuredly in the background of both photos…

Featured in these photos are the awesome nitili, kidbijou, and patchthatsweater!

Also, Meg Powers & I made these stickers, with a bunch of slogan inspiration from other friends… Meg drew the drippy triangles & the grody tongue-&-fingers combo, I drew allll the letters! We passed them out during the parade, people really liked “Stonewall didn’t have sponsors” but were somehow not as into “Gay END Marriage!”


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

“get em, print em on sticker paper, cut em up, destroy the souls of your fellow townspeople”

Here’s what my friend & colleague newspaper publisher Jacob P. Berendes has to say about witnessing your work become garbage, in this recent interview in the Providence Phoenix:

It’s stuff like seeing it as trash blowing down the street. It was raining one time and I saw somebody use it as a hat. Really it’s nice to see your project be just another thing in the world, you know?

[hey, to participate in this process, you can SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News, the monthly paper that Jacob creates!]


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

There’s something to be written about making things that are evidence of our existences in the world, that just go into the world & become part of it & our lives are built out of and around them. I’m pretty sure that’s the role my posters & prints have always played since I started making poster-type images maybe 17 years ago. (The image I am tracing this back to can be seen at the bottom of this post. 1995! Senior year of high school! Aaahhh!)

I don’t know what to say about it exactly. I LOVE making things that become objects in the world, it’s deeply important to me to see things I’ve made become integral to people’s understandings of themselves, it’s always a privilege and an honor. More recently, though, that feeling is surrounded & hemmed in by serious frustration about not being able to set time aside to make art that might not have a literal “meaning”, always feeling like my art has to have a meaning for other people. I am pretty sure that I’m discounting my own existence and *forcing* things into meaningfulness for others because of the satisfaction that comes when other people tell me that something I made means a lot to them.

And obviously, every object has a meaning whether the creator intends it to or not, so every artist must take on the responsibility of being a “meaning-maker” rather than just an “image-maker” (differentiation thanks to Chicava HoneyChild, in this good interview about race in performance!). Can I reconcile the pride I do truly have in making images & graphics that people identify with strongly, that create important evidence of my & my friends’ precarious reality in the world… with my own need to push myself to make art that is seriously personal, looking inward & helping me figure stuff out, rather than make art that looks outward and fills a need of my community?

… I know that the art I make that is personal will have meanings for other people too, and be useful to them… and that the outward-facing art I’ve made has also been deeply personally indicative & fruitful. There’s no escaping making meaning, there’s no escaping making something that reflects myself. I just have to not be scared to approach it, to not set it aside as impossible, to let myself work on it every day, to not hold myself to untouchable standards on it…


OKAY HERE YOU CAN LOOK AT A DRAWING I MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL
This was a pencil sketch that I made of me & all my friends (in some weird russian context), I photocopied it for them and they loved it. One of them colored it in. About a year ago it showed up on facebook……!

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