right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

upcoming awesomeness!

September 26, 2013 at 4:54 am

Now fall is officially here, I guess, and with the season, a TON of work & projects just hit me on the head with their reality and urgency! So it’s time to get to work & stop feeling weirdly bummed out all the time……. okay?

Past couple days, I’ve been buckling down, and amid MUCH distraction, finally getting back to this image from the spring. Lots of ***sick*** rubylith cutting is going towards a “finished” version of the Manchester St. Power Station print (there will be many versions of this, but I’m just trying to get a decent one(1)-color [just one color?!! whoaaaa] version of it right now…):

I’m working from a photograph of these reflections, but not tracing: drawing onto paper and then cutting the rubylith out over the drawing, then varying wildly from the drawn lines with the goal of getting the feeling of the light from the windows reflected on the water… The improvisation & amorphousness that it’s necessary to embody in my lines, at the same time as I mark the precision and specificity of the reflected light, is a very strange & complicated mental/artistic state to hold myself in… and I keep having to take breaks & look at webcomics. :D

I will have the above print done for the RISD Fall Alumni Art Sale, Saturday October 12th, 2013, on Benefit St. in Providence, 10am-4pm. I’m also working on completing other (old & new) things for that, hopefully it all gets done in time!

Then the Craftland Show work delivery deadline is right after that… so all the ramping up will just continue…

Wednesday October 20th is the first night of the fourth (!) class I’ll be teaching at AS220 on “Knife-cut stencils, rainbow rolls, and other mysteries of the non-digital silkscreen process”.

Color test prints, experimenting with ink transparency and color order, by Corrine Hill, a participant in the class I taught in July:

(more images from past classes)

For this session, we reduced the class size to six, so there will be more time & space for everyone. The awesome artist/activist/engineer Jen Hall will be the T.A. This is gonna be great! Four classes (+ an extra work night as well) for $160, sign up here!

All during this time I’ll be getting ready for a solo show in November at the University of Rhode Island Main Gallery in Kingston, RI. I’m hopefully going to display all (“all”?! well, maybe) the prints & posters I’ve made since 2001. We’ve been jokingly saying it’s “a retrospective” but that is actually what it is so I guess I should quit jokin around! I was pulling out the contents of the my archive/portfolio flatfile drawers to show to Ron Hutt, the URI gallery curator, and I got slightly overwhelmed thinking “oh crap, this is like my ‘life’s work’ right here”. Geez! Deep thoughts! You better come see the show! The opening will be Thursday November 7th, 4:30-7:30pm; the show runs through November 29th.

I’m also super excited to be working on a short video with Tara Cavanaugh that will go in the gallery along with the print work, most likely showing some of my process, shots of my visually-overwhelming studio, me talking about how & why I do all this stuff, me walking romantically among some empty industrial buildings, my roommates making faces in the background, Buio-cat, etc etc etc.

(possibly similar subject matter but much better than this “action shot”:)

Okay, that’s all the near-future stuff. Further out / further away: if you find yourself in Abu Dhabi, some of my art will be in Maya Allison‘s apartment/gallery show “Providence — True Love Always” there, beginning on October 25th; in Providence, look out for some kind of holiday sale type thing in December; in February I’ll be lurking around New York City to help out my lil brother & his partner after they pop a babs (!), and maybe I’ll be making some kitchen-window drawings or something; at the end of March & maybe early April I’ll be in California cause I will have a piece in the “Queer Communities in Print” portfolio that Corrine Teed is organizing to be part of the SGC International Printmaking Conference in San Francisco; annnnd…. that’s it? for now? see you soon? what is this thing called life?

“practical tools for shifting reality” — art opening this saturday, february 2nd, 5-7pm!

January 31, 2013 at 8:00 am

overlapping rubylith, the words "desire" and "junk"

If you’ve talked to me in the past five weeks, I’ve probably been slightly incoherent, stared around me confusedly (especially in large-group social situations), and mumbled something about rubylith, mixing ink colors, and how I need to get back home to the studio to keep working… So, in sincere apology for that slightly rude behavior, I would like to invite you to come to the art opening where you can see all (or most of) the stuff that I have been working on!

This Saturday, February 2nd, 5-7pm, at AS220’s performance space gallery (115 Empire St), I’m showing a whole bunch of new work. Some editioned prints, a whole bunch of tiny drawings of words/letterforms, things in actual frames (whoa!), hand-printed “classic paisley / new pattern” bandannas/hankies, newly re-printed agit-prop from earlier this summer, and a bunch of very new (aka finished yesterday!) unique screenprints that were amazingly full of discovery and magic to make and which I’m SUPER excited about.

The show is titled “Practical Tools For Shifting Reality” — it’s up through Feb 23rd, and AS220 is open from noon to late evening every day except Monday.

Here’s the facebook event page, if that kind of thing is useful to you.

Neal uses a level to hang a framed print on the gallery wall

The work is lots of hand-drawn letters, lots of overlapping colors, echoes of my thinking about how we create our bodies and existences, and the world around us, through strategic and/or magical language and significant objects… Words as structures and tools and actions, printed things as evidence of thought & of having an idea & making it real & sharing it with the people around you… Creating reality, talking about things, making them happen. This is some of the first work I’ve made that’s felt like an extension of my embodied existence, rather than a distraction from it or dazzle camouflage for it. I hope you can come see the show!

Below are some snapshots of the world I’ve been living in for the past month or so: hover over each image for details. I’ve extracted myself from a lot of sociable things happening around town (with a certain amount of regret / “missing out”), but it’s been a really, really satisfying & fruitful re-engaging with my studio practice. I need to figure out how to maintain this level of art work energy and also have social time as well… but I don’t want to stop working on this stuff… because being engaged so seriously in these processes is pretty much the best thing ever.

So many people need thanks, first off: Neal Walsh & Mollie Deerkin for being the super patient & awesome gallery folks at AS220. Thanks to Walker Mettling for riso-printing skills, Liz Novak for fabric assistance and teaching me how to use the rolled hem foot, Tatyana Yanishevsky for glass cutting impetus & assistance, Andrew Oesch for crucial studio visit & computer loan, Meg Powers for allowing me to re-print her sticker drawings, Faces Imaging for film outputs over a national holiday, Mt. Pleasant Hardware for supplies & all the scrap glass, RI Glass for the nice non-scrap glass, Lorraine’s for their bargain fabric loft, Peter Lutz for miter-saw loan, Meg Turner for consults & encouragement, Jesse & Chris for driving me places, feeding me, & putting up with my distractedness & totally weird hours, Olivia, Katrina, Graci, Freya, David R, Noel P, Katie M, Cybele, & other friends for “hanging out” with me when I was “working” at the same time, and everybody who wrote about how & why they wear their hankies. There are probably others that I am forgetting!

and, Last but Most Crucial: Scott Reber for driving me everywhere, playing awesome music, being a late-nite studio companion, sharing selections from his readings, thoughts on dissonance, creative excitement, and terrible jokes… and Emmy Bright for frame loan, delicious/nutritious food & salted caramels, and a crucial logistical / strategic prioritization session, without which none of this work would have been completed. Thank you!!!

also, of course, insistent companion & dedicated co-sleeper Buio-cat:

cat on desk "helping" with art

late nites work nites

January 15, 2013 at 5:54 am

So nothing is stopping here, really quick here are some various process shots, as I just keep on task in a really kind of wonderful way preparing for this show (opening Feb 2, Saturday, 5-7, AS220, yes I’m mentioning it again!). When I’m really working on things, which I have been & it’s been awesome, I stay up till 4 or 6am and sleep till noon or 2pm, so A) don’t call me before noon unless it’s an emergency or we planned on it beforehand, and B) it’s really great to have a housemate who is also awake all night and practices beautiful/weird bass & piano scales while I mix colors…!

Sometimes the printed color is the same density as the hand-wiped color swatch (L)… sometimes not (R). The far-right test is closer to the ink these were actually printed with:

test swatches & printed test colors

Test prints usually look more dynamic to me than the “real” print (that’s why a bunch of these newsprint test guys will actually be part of the show…):

test printings of geometric letterforms

These are the first two colors on the four colorways (I know, four is too many) of the “Queers!” print:

different colorways of geometric letterforms

One thing that’s unusual for me is because of the deadline, I’m working on six (!) projects at the same time… I usually work on one thing at a time till it’s done. I am really, really bad at working on many things at once. But because of the scheduling, lots of different elements that need to fall into place, and different logistical things, this is how it’s rolling out — and I actually really like it. It means I have to really focus and set aside my evenings & nights pretty dedicatedly to working (and check out my organizational structures at the bottom of this post)! But it’s really rewarding & it’s pretty lovely to be in a color thinking / print thinking / drawing thinking mode a lot — though I switch back into an organizational / logistical mode often, cause it all has to get FINISHED!

Also, all of these projects were begun / conceived of / initiated sometime in the past two years… and are now seeing a final push towards completion for the show. I don’t know if I could be coming up with new ideas or new complex drawings on this kind of deadline and all in the same stretch of time… that might not be possible.

* * * *

This picture was taken as a “visual note” so I can remember how I might want to line up the next layers:

printed script letters with rubylith transparencies over them

Printed on my 5+-year-old plastic alignment sheet, as this gloss varnish dries, it seems to make the worn & scratched alignment sheet look clear & clean… hmm… oooh… gloss varnish… !

gloss varnish, printed on plastic, showing its anti-refractive tendencies

Harnessing the magic of the test prints to make cool unique “real” prints:

cool accidental/intentional color magic

Also I’ve been re-laying-out & adding a second layer to these stickers from this past summer:

screenshot of misalignment test for stickers

They are gonna get Risographed by Walker Mettling of the Providence Comics Consortium, which I am excited about, but the degree of my stress about getting the layout & alignment of the images set up for the RISO machine was totally out of proportion to the importance of whether these are actually well aligned. Walker was like “it’s just like a photocopier!” and I was like “waaaahhh I am scared of processes that I don’t have control over…” HA. hmm. Turning over control to someone else, it’s good!

Looking back at these photos of the earlier Queers prints, to figure out the next colors:

screenshot of looking through different variants of one print

Tonight, testing further colors (WHY CANT I USE ALL THE COLORS) for the Dissonance prints, and using the testing time to think about what order the layers should go in. (Anybody out there got color thoughts? I really kind of do want to use all the colors…)

color testing for script font print

… and… this is how all these things come together over time & in their logistical sequence: pages of basically illegible notes & calendars & details:

lists of scribbled handwriting

Note mediocre drawing at bottom center, of the orange cat sleeping on the mat in the hallway with all his feet tucked under! cat blob!

studio time

October 5, 2012 at 4:22 am

Radio silence here, due to mostly-quitting facebook (it was sucking all my life, time, & attention away?) and spending a lot of time taking care of long-procrastinated projects around the house & in the studio. Which has mostly meant cleanup & organization, sorting out things, taking action on random un-acted-on things, and building shelves. I probably haven’t talked about how much I like building shelves… more on that sometime soon, along with pictures of the shelves. (“It’s not hoarding if the stuff is on a shelf, right???”)

Now it’s back to art work, somewhat reluctantly. The studio is way way way more organized & more of an actual useful active work space than it’s been since we started renting it (SIX YEARS as of early September ’12!), so now I know how long it takes to have a functional studio space come together, for future reference. I find myself with a physical desire to keep organizing “just a little bit more”, to “really put things into place”, but I’m aware that organizing itself can be a procrastination tactic for me. I want to recognize the substantive value of “setting up” even in the absence of “actually playing” (as evidenced by the hours my childhood best friend Alyssa and I would spend “setting up” the My Little Ponies, in preparation for “playing with them” which never quite actually happened, the “setting up” was engaging enough in itself or maybe was really the whole point…). However, in my semi-grownup or at least no-longer-9-years-old life, I have stuff I want to make and this studio is a functional structure for letting that stuff happen, not an end in itself!

So this is what’s happening right now:

… getting ready to re-print these guys which have been my bread-n-butter in terms of what people want to spend money on around these parts; all five colors of the first printing are now pretty much all gone! Tuesday I got struck down by some sickness (cold & fever?), tried to fight it, Wednesday didn’t get much done besides a long bicycle errand, today gave in & spaced out & made good food & napped all day, taking care of the sickness which was making me immobile & useless… Then mixed some colors tonight, as seen in the photo. I’m trying to get just a couple of the second edition of these Industrial Trust Buildings printed before the RISD street art sale which is happening on Saturday October 6th, very very soon!

Also listening to a live Work/Death set consisting of Scott putting a bunch of random metal items on a crappy old turntable & recording its rotation. Ambient aluminum rustlings. Lovely.

heretical certainties

June 8, 2012 at 4:28 am

I have some work in a really neat print portfolio put together & printed by Erik Ruin, a friend & political graphic artist who now lives in Providence! The portfolio release show is tonight, Friday June 8th, 7-late at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, featuring performances by a bunch of bands including Katrina & Julia’s band Groke, my housemate Work/Death, and the Assembly of Light choir (Providence’s neo-spiritual ladies’ rock/metal vocal performance group which includes the awesome artist/scientist/singer/general-renaissance-person Tatyana Yanishevsky), and more!

Come to that if you can, check out the work & the music, it should be great! Here’s the successful kickstarter page for the portfolio project, with more info about it.

My drawing is about Joan of Arc, who I’ve felt really close to since I was a little kid, in many ways that aren’t totally explainable and some that are (and some that have only become clear over time). Making this drawing, I followed my instincts & desires for it, and tried not to over-rationalize it or to demand much logic of myself… I wanted to make an emotional thing, not a “poster”. Not that a poster can’t be emotional, but… I needed to frame the endeavor differently for my own purposes.

It was really nice to get to make a pencil drawing as a “final” object — as opposed to having to turn it into a print myself. It was also really interesting to draw a person, since I rarely draw people (it’s possible that I have been avoiding drawing people for years!!??). Even though I was drawing from a photograph (this is Renee Jeanne Falconetti in the 1928 “Passion of Joan of Arc“, by Carl Theodor Dreyer, a seminal movie for me when I saw it in 1998 or so), it felt like I was drawing an actual person, and then at times it felt like I was drawing myself, and I felt like I was very bad at it, or very naive, but I proceeded with confidence and delight, and then I felt like I was my (confident/naive) high school self, specifically at a certain stretch of time when I was drawing a self-portrait in 10th or 11th grade, which I have a distinct memory of and which I know is a drawing in which I look extremely masculine, and I remember at 15-16 years old being both stranged-out by that visible masculinity as well as satisfied by my drawing of myself… so, making this drawing was a very strange & evocative time, and that’s all I am gonna say about that!

In the two images above, I’m tracing the long text onto the paper over a lightbox (thanks Will K. for the gift of that very useful tool!). Visible here are, on the left, the main drawing of Falconetti, in progress… under/around her eyes, the initial drawing of her that I started on the other side of the paper and then abandoned as too crappy (classic style!)… at the bottom, Joan’s signature… to the lower right, the printed-out text I am tracing from (thanks to the HPLHS for the very authentic Oldstyle font!)… and down to the middle of the page or so, my hand-traced 11.5-point serif letters.

Tracing these letters was totally grueling and a hassle, but they look sooooo goooood! Most of the hassle was using a 2B (soft/dark) pencil lead because I wanted the letters really dark to contrast with the H (hard/light) lead that I used in most of the rest of the drawing (this contrast can be seen clearly in the first image in this post). With the architect’s-lead-pointer sharpener that I use, you can get a very sharp point, but with a lead that soft, the point dulls fast, and the tip breaks off about every third time you sharpen it. But it got done! There are few things I love more than turning a uniform computer font into a destroyed hand-drawn font…

The final print! Printed on the offset by Erik Ruin. If you want to get a copy of this and the rest of the portfolio, 12 other images of heretics & witches, email him: erikruin (a) gmail.com.

Here’s what I wrote about the drawing / myself / Joan, for the portfolio:

Of all the heresies for which Joan of Arc was tried, refusing to wear “woman’s dress” was the one that her ‘Assessors’ came back to again and again, over the course of their lengthy questioning — and it was the charge for which they eventually convicted and executed her. The trial transcripts reveal Joan’s impressive resolve and spiritual conviction during the harsh rhythm of her inquisition. For me, as a person who spent much of my life under pressure to dress and look “more feminine”, reading and re-reading those documents is a difficult empathetic and vicarious experience. The quote in my drawing is unedited: I didn’t want to present just the parts of her testimony that resonate with my experience, but also her religious zeal & dedication to her God.

The signature in the drawing is the actual Joan of Arc’s signature… and the text is from p.87 of the T. Douglas Murray version of the trial transcripts, which you can look at part of right here on the internet.

There’s a lot more to write about how I think & feel about her, and my ongoing & always-developing relationship to women dressed as men, “women warriors”, “passing women”, etc….. but it’s gonna have to wait for later! For now just read these two awesome young adult books, The Blue Sword and Alanna… *then* we can talk about women warriors.

late-nite printing at NUA

April 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

My friend & colleague Emmy Bright (at right above) is an amazing artist, teacher, and mentor, and has incredible abilities (and reserves of strength) to organize & inspire the people around her! I met her through New Urban Arts, where she came to be a Mentor Fellow in the fall of 2009 — to work with the artist mentors there, supporting them and developing insight into how artist-mentoring works at NUA. She also has become a super crucial presence around the studio, both emotionally, artistically, and in a leadership role keeping (bad) craziness down & awesomeness (aka good craziness) up. I can’t really put the words around how important her presence — at NUA, in Providence, and in my life — has been over the past year & a half!

it's a traditional "key" layer! mostly.

One of the first things we did together was a screenprinting workshop for artist mentors… Since then I have been proud to assist and consult with Emmy on the multiple screenprinting projects that she has taken on! I stopped in to New Urban Arts a week or two ago when she was finishing printing the poster for this year’s Conversations In Creative Practice Series, and I got to take some pictures of Emmy working with Bridgette, Noel, and CJ — NUA students & alumni who were helping her out.

sorting out finished prints

taking the tabs off the finished prints

Here’s the timelapse video of CJ and Emmy pulling the last four prints in the run of (I think?) one hundred. CJ is keeping her hands clean, placing the paper with two colors already printed on it onto the pins — then Emmy (with messy hands!) pulls the print and floods the screen with ink again — then CJ lifts the paper off and puts a new sheet on.

print details:

( these two events have already taken place, they were pretty great:)

the first two conversations in the series

(and these two are yet to come, on the next two upcoming Thursdays: April 14th & April 21st, 7pm, at 743 Westminster St, Providence. more information!)

the last two conversations in the series

A couple of days later, we went to Black Cat Graphics on Providence’s South Side to trim the edges off the posters with Jim Pfeiffer’s giant paper cutter. Check out how the guillotine cut reveals how the rainbow roll (from red to transparent ink) was slightly varied on each one of the prints:

as cut by the giant guillotine!

Emmy measuring and marking the stack of prints for cutting. Hooray for screenprinting projects!

giant guillotine blade at left...


August 12, 2010 at 1:54 am

Yikes! This internet (and others on our shared server space, including my store, Meg’s portfolio, and Andrew’s website) got hacked & infected with crappy malware or some kind of malicious self-replicating disaster, encoded in apparent gibberish. After some frustration, and a lot of being freaked out because of having tried to be a responsible internet citizen and having failed (because of not updating those wordpress installations, probably…), and spending some money to make sure nothing like that happens again… we are back in action!*


I am totally busy with a commission, so my schedule has reverted to the “sleeping 8am-4pm, awake & working the rest of the time” jammie that I slip into whenever I am really working. It’s awesome! LATE NITES. (My brother, a scholar of Arab language & culture, says, “hey, you should fast for Ramadan, your schedule is totally perfect for that!” Except I would be missing all the awesome post-sunset feasting and socialization, because I am working in my room!)

upcoming: SAVE THE DATE: print show at the Bushwick Print Lab in New York City, opening Sunday, October 3rd. Featuring an excellent passel of Providencian (& former Provy) printmakers. The title of the show is: “Pattern Factory — Symbolic Architecture and Ornamental Repeats”. (Megabus is starting Prov-NYC service in a couple weeks, so NO EXCUSES.)


This post has featured some rubylith fire-escape chasers, from the new commission in progress, for your viewing / anticipatory pleasure!

(* There are still some internet issues to figure out, looks like some graphics are missing, gotta update stuff… but that’ll happen after I finish this print.)

drawing in new orleans!

February 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

I got stuck in New Orleans for five extra days last week, because of the many feet of snow that fell on the mid-atlantic cities, blocking all airport connections. So I got some extra time down there to draw, watch the Saints win the super bowl, build a loft with Meg in her room, and work a little bit more on a new print. It wasn’t really *warm*, but we did get some good sunny days, and it was really good to be there.

post breakfast
[looking skeptical, but actually feeling great, on a typical street in the Bywater neighborhood… my facial expressions rarely correspond to the internal emotions!]

Going through the photos of this trip and my visit in December, I realized there are way too many to put up here, and I should probably finally bite the bullet and make an account on flickr or something like that… but for now, here are just a couple of pictures/notes.

My experience with metal-plate-based printing is very slim: I made a couple of drypoints back in 2002 as part of a wintersession class that I partially audited before fleeing Providence (heartbroken!) on a two-week greyhound-bus Punch & Judy tour. Now, Meg is running a community printshop at an arts non-profit in New Orleans, and they have two large etching presses… so one of my goals for visiting was to print those drypoints again, and to work on a new plate… or two… or however far I got.

meg’s favorite factory

I’ve been really drawn towards just looking & drawing, as I’ve written about here before, and I had an idea about drawing directly on the printing plate… Well, this was more complicated than I thought it would be, because it’s very hard to see what you are drawing in the shiny metal, and even harder to understand how it’s going to print.

Sitting outside and drawing the factory was really rewarding, but the technical demands of the plate made those rewards fewer and farther between. You scratch a line in the metal – it feels like it was deep enough – but it might print really lightly, or really darkly — it’s hard to tell… and you can’t tell for sure until you pull a print from it, which is a bike ride and 45 minutes of work (at least) away.

preliminary pencil drawing and metal plate with tools…
[left: preliminary drawing on paper, and right: beginning to transfer it to the plate]

I guess I should say that it’s hard to tell *for me*, a beginner. Also, it’s really hard for me to feel like a total beginner at something: and the learning curve is pretty steep here, at the point where I am, and in this process which is ancient and demanding. Right? So, I can go easy on myself. Or, I would like to be able to…

reflection & scratched lines…
[out-of-focus scratched lines in the plate…]

The initial proofs look good, but I’ve got a ways to go… somewhat like all my other projects right now… argh. I don’t know why I expect anything different, at this point. My friend Sandy, who recently moved to New Orleans, brought up the idea of doing a series of prints about the city… I would like to… maybe studies of building details, especially of awnings and overhangs… I took some pictures while I was there for source material… but there are so many things I am trying to do!

Here’s Meg’s loft under construction (for some reason there are no pictures of it completed – yet):

meg with the drill
[yeah, we know you are supposed to use nails and not screws to hold joist hangers — but she wants to be able to take the whole thing apart and re-assemble it, if need be…]

idea appetizers

January 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Way too many of my thoughts yearn towards interesting projects that I hope to do sometime in the future. Most of them, I can’t even think about starting: I already have a huge pile of unfinished projects on my plate already, that I’m also really excited about. I’m not complaining: it would be way worse to have no ideas than to have too many ideas.

It’s risky to put up images of projects that are still in the realm of intention… but here are two things that I’m excited about right now.

First, this one is really gonna happen: the drawing below (a detail is shown, in progress!) is going to become a print for Tiny Showcase. This driveway and its surrounding houses are located in South Providence.

south providence houses

I’ve been talking with Shea’la for way too long about doing a print with them, and I’ve kept starting and stopping various attempts… this is for real. It’s going to be a digital print, not a screenprint! Shocking. I’m excited that it will reproduce the pencil drawing in all its messy precise detailed obscured glory… along the lines of my general recent interest in drawing over making color separations, and because other people seem to be getting psyched about the drawings too. I’ll put up some kind of advance notice when it is going to come out, so those who desire to do so can get the jump on the release!

Okay, then we have this stuff which is really just a germ of an idea.

st. teresa’s through the window

This is what I see out my kitchen window in the early mornings when I have stayed up all night. There are four things that intrigue me about making this view into a print:

1) The steeple is of St. Teresa’s, a Catholic church in a neighborhood that once was entirely Catholic… up till recently, there were four active Catholic churches, two with attached nunneries, within about an eight-block radius right around here. These all had different ethnicities, congregations, & cultural connections: French nuns vs. Polish nuns, etc. (Mark, if you want to add anything to the history here, jump in!) St. Teresa’s shows up in these postcards I made last year of the view down Manton Ave:

manton avenue & st. teresa’s church, fall 2008

and also in this anti-gentrification poster that I made in 2006.

A couple of years ago, St. Teresa’s was closed due to falling numbers of congregants and no revenues (this being a pretty low-income area). There are still a food pantry and other social services operating out of the church, but no religious activity. You can see from the photos that it has now lost the cross from atop its steeple…

Apparently, because of the building’s structural problems and the lack of congregation, the diocese wants to tear it down. Some people in the neighborhood are gearing up to work on preserving the building, and possibly finding another use or uses for it. I am not Catholic, but the church holds a very important place in my geography, so I would hate to see it disappear. It’s on a main street, at the center of the neighborhood; I pass it on my bike ride home once I get to the crest of the hill; it has great wide steps for sitting on; its steeple can be seen from all over and marks my house for me when looking out from Federal Hill or Smith Hill. It’s no great shakes as a landmark building or anything like that, but it has historical meaning as a monument to the working people of the neighborhood who lived around it, and whose contributions & donations built it. I would like to make a print of it that was not about its Catholic holiness or authority, but about its place in the fabric of the neighborhood and its role in people’s lives… This might become that print.

2) I’m drawn to views out of, and compositions framed by, windows seen in perspective (as in the photo above). In this case, it would fit well with the subject matter, because I am thinking about the church as seen from the neighborhood…

st. teresa’s church, olneyville

3) For a long time I’ve been interested in this kind of sky, how luminous it is, how the colors fade into each other and into the glowing white, and how the heck could you screenprint something like that and make it that beautiful? I have some ideas. I like the challenge.

4) I really like the split and the balance between the glowing sky and the buildings below it that are cast into dimness… they are dark, but they are not totally black, they have tones and shadows and colors. I want to do more work with subtle changes in value and hue, to create this pre-dawn landscape, and then to balance it with the luminous sky. Similar scenes can be seen to the west in the evenings… I’ve thought of doing a series of those hill-top sunset views…

Aagcgk. Anyways, so many projects. Some of them will someday get done. Keep working. It’s okay!

(this post is to tide you over, dear readers, while I work on finishing the web store, which is getting close to being done, but not there yet! I have learned a lot about wordpress & php in the past month; not entirely, but partly, by “looking at it and figuring it out”. it’s been fun!)

I’m headed to New Orleans again in a couple of days, which is crazy because I totally really can’t afford plane tickets, but you do what you gotta do! This time I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t rain the whole time, and that I’ll be able to make some drawings, work on a collaboration with Meg, and do some intensive screenprinting and maybe some wheatpasting. I’m also hoping to re-print some drypoint plates that I made in 2001 (!) and work on new plates. WE WILL SEE. Projects. Places. yikes!

some moments from printing

November 15, 2009 at 7:29 am

All right, the prints are signed, numbered, and packed up, the screens are stripped and ready to go down to the car wash, so let’s close up this process.

Color mixing: comparing semi-dry swatches. (in the background are some alignment prints of the Liberation banner that I helped Erik Ruin print this summer in Providence, still lingering on my plastic alignment sheet!)

mixing colors…

Ink color attempts. Over the phone I told Meg I was mixing colors, she said, “mmm, I can see you surrounded by muted greens and blues, rusty reds & oranges…” My response: “NOOooooooo! Am I that predictable????” Answer: YES. (and yes, I’ve been thinking hard about this…)


MORE color mixing. Getting closer. The blue-blue-green gradient will be the sky. Figuring out the colors takes about a day, usually, and it’s worth it to have the time to look at them, think about it, & look again…

more color mixing

The first pull! Look at that nice gradient. (All these images are enlargeable by clicking, and generally look better larger!)

first print!

A detail: I have drawn a pencil rectangle to lay out where I want the print to fall on the paper; then I tape down some masking tape at the corners of the paper, which lets me put the sheet down in the same place over & over again.

first color detail

The first & second colors are printed, and I’m looking at them with the third color transparency over them, thinking about the values of the next colors, the light orange/brown and the darker red…

more color comparison…

I had mixed this brightish salmon-pinkish-orange (seen in the swatch above) for the third color, which is a color that I have mixed and used so many times before: it is kind of the closest the speedball inks that I use can get to a “brick” orange… but it’s way too pink. It’s useful, maybe, in the context of a lot of bright colors… but in this context, trying to represent real bricks, I have never been happy with it.

Andrew O was hanging out while I was setting up to print the third color, and I found myself saying to him, “Man, I really really hate this color, I’m so bored with it, and it’s not even good looking…” After he left, I started printing with it, got through 14 prints… and realized it was just not right. I decided to start over & make a different color. The new color, with a lighter value and a less saturated red/orange component, is at right below (though somewhat hard to see in the poorly-lit digital photo). Luckily I had enough extra prints that I could afford to lose 14, since the lighter / less saturated color was so much better: totally worth the loss in time & the extra work that it took to re-mix it. Follow your instincts & change it till it’s right!

color decision…

From stack to drying rack…

printing the third color…

The third color.

color #3, the bricks

At this point it was pretty late at night, and the morning deadline was unavoidable, so I stopped taking pictures & just plowed through the work. In super-focus zone for the last two colors, I was racing the clock & my own speeds to see how many prints I could pull in an hour, or how long it took me to fill up all the shelves of the drying rack. 64 pulls: 52 minutes. Bzzam. Kind of brutal and obsessive, but a decent way to get yourself through a long night / morning, and even to shorten the time you are spending on the work… Jacob & I were discussing repetitive stress injuries, and this phrase came up and stuck with me: a terrible factory of my own devising.

The completed print.

Polish National Home!

A detail: I’m pretty psyched about the different textures in the trees and in the ground, and the layering of the lines in the two brick colors. And those halftones turned out pretty nice too…


So yeah, the take-home handout for today’s lesson:

  1. if you don’t feel like something’s right, work on it till it is
  2. don’t be scared of difficult stuff
  3. don’t procrastinate just because you’re scared of it
  4. the messy parts turn out the best, don’t be scared of them either!
  5. if you work on it, it will get done eventually…
  6. sometimes you just have to buckle down & finish.

Time for bed!

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