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

the epic to-do list

July 9, 2014 at 12:31 am

Hi readers of these updates! Hope your summers are good. It’s now kinda hot here, Scøtt was dog-sitting for a couple weeks so I was hanging out with this little yellow dog Winnie as well as Buio-cat, they were hot too, everybody was/is hot, it’s hot now & it’s midnight.

excuses_01

So… this is a chance for me to tell you what I HAVEN’T done. There’s a lot of stuff I need to write more about on here, including other projects I did in the spring like complete an assignment for Headmaster Magazine #6, and the final outcome of the print that I shared some process drawings from here.

Also… I never really put together final posts about the Manchester St. Power Station print project (in progress here), or even the Recycle-A-Bike poster from a couple years ago (process moment)! Yikes!

Then there’s a bunch of other stuff from the past year that hasn’t really seen the light of internet-day, or even proper documentation: a dazzle camouflage pattern I made last summer to go on a t-shirt to give myself some body freedom/body obfuscation, which was a personal project that I now want to make some kind of mass-production possible for… a text & slide-projector performance/reading (also about bodies) I did that will become a zine someday… a map-and-memory project I made to be installed in my friend’s apartment in Abu Dhabi, that needs to have a local instance at some point, and get realized fully…

Also I’ve had a blog post in draft form for a while about tools for drawing, which keeps developing & changing in its meaning & context since I got a new wacom tablet recently, and have been learning more computer skills… and since my grandfather (who gave me his engineer’s Rapidograph pens) died this past month…

BUT! There are a couple of print projects on my plate right now which I am struggling desperately to complete. As well as organizing shows & events for the rest of the year… And being a living human who cooks, eats, gets dressed, sleeps, talks to friends, and lives. So I’m not writing those posts now!

Also eventually I will finish some really long-unfinished projects like my epically, drastically incomplete print series about everyday spaces? Aahh! (I kind of don’t want to think about all the other projects that are unfinished / aspirational, that’s just the most egregious one…) Someday I intend to eventually bring all the projects to a close. So basically, as it always has been, this blog is a chance for me to say “sorry everything is not done yet” and “it will be done eventually & then I will make a blog post about it”. It’s good to know nothing has changed since 2007, I guess.

For the moment — I am posting some nice barns, letters, building aspects, etc. to instagram/tumblr; you can keep track of my random nerdy notes in either of those spots — and please enjoy this picture of a drawing setup — on the parlor table due to the length of the horizon line I needed to use to get the vanishing point right. The cat was very happy that I was working on a surface he could sit on (as opposed to my main desk, where there’s really no room for him) while I made the marks.

excuses_02

More soon. !!!

queers edition // art sale today!

May 4, 2013 at 2:06 am

Via grainy cellphone camera, the finished colorways of the QUEERS! editions. As seen in progress here and decision-making process discussed here. Finally done, after being promised / procrastinated on for two+ years!

queers_cell

I’ll be at the RISD Alumni Art Sale ***today***, Saturday May 4th (10a-4p, Benefit St. & Waterman St. in Providence) with these brand new guys, the new-ish “dissonance” script-font prints that were in the show, the new-ish colorways of the “complexity” manifesto print (and a couple copies of this purple/orange/gold one), the Recycle-A-Bike prints, with their cool silkscreen duotone, that I finished last year but somehow haven’t posted a completed image of until now….. and lots of other stuff! Tabling with Sam Merritt of Double Vision Embroidery who is super cool.

We’ll be accepting “credit cards” via a borrowed “mobile digital device” — your favorite Luddite screenprinting grandpa dips a toe gingerly into the 21st century…

recycle_a_bike_700

Okay gotta run & finish the last stuff! See you soon! Wish me luck with sleepin’ tonight!

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!

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.

oh cleanup

May 15, 2012 at 12:37 am

I realized my room/studio (where I draw) is messy to the point of being un-usable. As in, it’s hard to stay in there & I feel like all the piles are going to fall down on me when I try to work at the desk. Which is the drawing place, the place where it should be really enjoyable to spend time because drawing is the most fun part of my work… right? So why is this place the most intimidating / feels the most precarious of any place in my house??? And, even worse, how long has it felt this way without me articulating it as such?

No pictures, it’s too embarrassing / sensitive. Now I’m wrapped up in cleanup / hopeful paradigm shift for my workspace. And things unrelated to work are going great! Even this cleanup hopefully signals/echoes the start of some new times & a different relationship to the physical scenario around me… will check in in a day or two with cleanup update… if I don’t get buried under piles… !

it’s that time of year again…

April 22, 2012 at 3:16 am

…past time, actually. But I’m excited to be working on the Southside Community Land Trust‘s Plant Sale poster again, the fourth one I’ve done so far!

(my past posters for SCLT: 200920102011)

Sneak preview.

letters (click for larger, in the upper-left-hand corner check out the pinpricks I used to transfer the letters from tracing paper):

more letters, all related:

laying out the drawing on the kitchen floor so I can make a vanishing point that goes *way* off the [very large] page!

The actual imagery of the poster (slightly visible in the photo above) is much more developed now, that photo is from a week or so ago…

I get super melancholic when I think about how many beautiful buildings & places & spaces have disappeared from this city since I moved here (1999).

I’ve (finally?) turned to photography as a consolation for this, and as a way to remember that things are always changing & to be okay with that. I used to really look down on carrying a camera; I was against “instant nostalgia“, against “making memories through taking pictures rather than remembering”, and all: “I can draw it better than I can take a picture, and I’ll learn more about it while I draw it!”. I still mostly believe those things… but at some point I realized that I can’t draw fast enough and ultimately just can’t draw *enough* to document all the beautiful disappearing things that I will want to have a record of in the future. So photography becomes a necessary-yet-incomplete resistance to the constant forgetting that life in a changing city consists of…

But yaknow, it’s also springtime so what better moment to bike around & take pictures of hand-designed, yet still-not-all-obsolete, signs in Providence!

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!

too busy for documentation

December 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Yesterday, the fabulous Muffy Brandt told me about her new tactic for artistic professionalism: “I can’t make anything new until I have taken a picture of the thing I just made and posted it on the internet”. I don’t think that that’s exactly the right strategy for me, but the conversation gave me the kick in the pants to finally update these updates. Yikes!

so…I’m gonna make a list of what I have been up to, maybe for a little bit of bragging rights, but mostly just to note or record for myself that I have indeed been involved in worthwhile activity! (and/or because of Umberto Eco’s rationale about why we make lists…)

Some of this stuff will get more elaborate updates, with more photos, sometime soon… but for now, here’s the brief rundown.

  • came back from Pittsburgh to roll straight into a solid month of finishing the Dave Cole / Unreal City print. (Aug-Sept)
  • unreal city final screen

  • visited New Orleans really briefly (early Sept) and was frustrated by my clumsiness at drawing things I saw around me. Time to get practicin’!
  • curated & organized a print show of twelve Providence (and related) printmakers, titled “Pattern Factory”, at the Bushwick Print Lab in NYC. (Sept)
  • bushwick print lab show

  • finally bit the bullet and wrote the final report for the grant I got for the second year of the New Your City project… three years late! Interestingly enough, the long-term perspective allowed me to write a more interesting report — the kids at the library have been asking for the past three years when they are gonna be able to build a city again, so librarian Ann and another local artist have applied for another grant for the purpose! Cross your fingers for them! (end of Sept)
  • went down to New York, hung the Bushwick show, went to Dave’s opening at Dodge Gallery (which the Unreal City print was commissioned for), then hosted (collaboratively with other Prov folks) an all-day art show opening which involved seven hours of live screenprinting…! (early Oct)
  • printing on t-shirts!

  • participated in the RISD alumni fall art sale, with Meg Turner… (also early Oct)
  • worked on stuff for the holiday version of Craftland, making a little bit of new print work as well as awesome tiny lined-paper notebooks! (mid-Oct)
  • notebook covers:
    many variations…

  • after a year plus of discussion and distraction (on my part), the awesome Ann and Evan of “risd|works” finally tied it down: I’m very proud to have selected prints of mine available in their shop!
  • gathered a couple of friends in my studio to teach a quick two-day workshop on multi-color transparent layer screenprinting, as a practice session for teaching a longer class in New Orleans. (late Oct)
  • working…
    working on rubylith

    the final (or at least preliminary) results!
    the results

  • celebrated my birthday with a backyard fire & lots of Yacht Club orange soda! (Oct 29th, scorpiooo!!!)
  • flew to New Orleans and stayed there for almost the whole month of November, teaching what ended up being a six-day class on advanced silkscreen techniques, specifically rubylith-stencil making and transparent color layering, at the Louisiana ArtWorks Community Printshop. I was so proud to be working with a number of people who are active volunteer members / monitors at the printshop — these people are in the shop every day printing anyways, and so it was great to be able to seed their already prolific creative practices with some new techniques and strategies and materials… and to see them throw what they were learning immediately into action… delightful! (November)
  • preliminary pencil drawings, separating an image into layers:
    hannah’s drawing

    cutting rubylith:
    will’s rubylith

    looking at different color versions of a final print:
    kitty’s prints

    I encouraged the learners to test print *before* their rubyliths were finished — this is a not-quite-finished but still awesome stage:
    rachel’s birds

  • while in New Orleans, I also:: worked on some drawings of letterforms for future text-only prints, participated in the New Orleans Bookfair, showed my work in “Editions At Dawn”, a group show of LAW printshop members and teachers, collaborated with Meg on a poster (finally)!!!!!, biked around a lot, drew, cut rubylith, built an awkward-looking-but-quite-effective light fixture in the printshop to allow people to do fine detail work, cleaned out a backyard shed for possible future inhabitation, saw some interesting performances, met a friendly letterpress printer, a neat illustrator, and an awesome painter of radical letterforms, helped out the Meg somewhat with all her projects, laid groundwork for future schemes, and generally stayed way busy. (also November)
  • collaboration with Meg (out-of-focus photo): “whoa, look at that sexy fire escape!”
    collaborative fire escape

    “termite-infested shed? or photoshoot from ‘Anthropologie’ ?”
    shed setup

    “must… have… bright light… for drawing…. ”
    lights

    chillin’ with Lentils the cat at Nowe Miasto
    Lentils!

    a beautiful and disintegrating city….
    sidewalk tiles
    tiles part II
    tiles part III

  • Thanksgiving: with family in Philadelphia (reading Tintin books), and a too-brief visit with Erik Ruin… (late Nov)
  • returned to Providence this past Sunday night; and yesterday (less than a week later) participated in the RISD alumni “holiday” art sale — a long day preceded by no sleep. (the present moment!)

In the meantime, I also was a volunteer work-share at Scratch Farm in Cranston, I’ve been compiling a list of (and then reading) young-adult books with strong female protagonists, applying for some fellowships, and trying to stay organized.

What’s next?

Specifically:

  • December 8th, 6pm-9pm: I will be live-illustrating 100 very short stories by 10 different readers! at Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue, Prov.
  • December 10-11-12: Secret Door Projects (me) trunk show at the Eli Phant art/craft shop in Portland Maine!:: update Dec 8: show not happening, postponed till the spring! Eli & Ella Phant are on the brink of having their Ele-baby, and I have enough on my plate here in RI… as evidenced by the following…
  • December 18th, 12-5pm: “Cardboard Pankakes” informal last-minute-before-holidays studio sale of a bunch of Providence artmakers/crafters, at Emmy & Andrew’s apartment (124 Chapin Ave, #2)
  • holiday-zone self-promotion: my work is for sale at Craftland, Frog & Toad, risd|works, and from me right here on the internet!
  • January and February: two months straight to spend in Providence and to draw and print. What is winter for? I know what winter is for.

and generally:

  • drawing a short comic as part of a compilation my friends are making, based on comic characters invented by middle-school students…
  • finishing prints, old prints and new prints… oh my gosh so many prints to finish. Trying to make that list shorter!
  • making some bigger/ more abstract/ more complicated prints…
  • working on the print series…
  • planning to exhibit work next fall…
  • helping build out an airstream trailer for my friend’s wife who has a chemical sensitivity…
  • organizing everything, getting things shipshape…
  • building things & fixing things…
  • seeing friends instead of looking at facebook…

Okay that last list is pretty cursory but I gotta be done with the computer for tonight!!!!

*finishing* prints, part I.

December 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

taking you Back In Time!!! … a whole pile of process images from printing the Durruti/Ruins posters. Process work from the Industrial Trust Building prints is coming in the next update, this one got way too long.

Mixing colors. a) they’re not all oranges and blues (!) , b) look at that nice set of blond-beiges, moving right-to-left, getting ever closer to the beige in the sky on the yellow-gold Durruti print.

beige assortment

Green-sky Durruti print, seen through the screen that is about to print the blue shadow. The pink of the QTX emulsion and the yellow of the screen fabric always make such weird and awesome colors. Maybe someday I’ll make a print that is as eye-breaking as this.

looking through the screen, about to print.

Trying out transparent colors for the blue shadow on the green-sky prints. The transparent inks have to be printed through the screen to show their density and hue accurately… At left is the first attempt (too purple). The final color was somewhere between the two on the right. I am excited to do some more experimental stuff with transparent colors; they can be a little bit of a hassle to print, but the way they lie in the paper (instead of on it like the solid colors) is so beautiful.

transparent colors testing…



When you are setting up your transparency on the screen prior to shooting it, remember to think carefully about how the image you are going to print will fit on the paper and how the paper will fit on your table under the screen! Or else you will end up with your screen sticking halfway off your printing table like this. In the background, AO is keeping me company, or rather, checking his email while I grumble & rant about making stupid mistakes like this one.

poor planning

Also here, as Mr. Punch would say, this is *not* the way to do it.

clamped print

Use caution when you open the door to unshaven young men who have moved into thin-walled schoolbuses for the winter; pretty soon they’ll be running up your electric bill in their desperate struggle to stay warm.

personal heating system
[a hairdryer in the studio? yup, for speed-drying color test swatches. They only show their true color when the ink is dry.]

After all that hassle, it actually works!

before & after.

This moment is always pretty magical. In this case, it was extra exciting: I’ve been trying to finish / thinking about / talking about re-printing these Durruti prints since last fall. A stack of paper with just the sky color printed on them has been sittiing around the studio since last December. I’m not sure why it took me so long: there were even a bunch of people who wanted to buy a copy, who I had been emailing back & forth with saying “if you can just wait a couple of weeks! I am about to finish printing them!”, also since last fall.

As I got to the point in the above photos — actually seeing the third and last color on the paper — a large weight lifted from my shoulders, and (not to over-dramatize it) there was a deep feeling of relief. I was antsy to print so I printed, not really thinking about it too much… but in the ensuing days, wondering why it had taken me SO LONG to get back to printing this thing, I realized that I had been completely afraid of it — that it had been pretty much PURE FEAR that was keeping me from working on it.

Fear of what? I am pretty sure it was just fear “that it was going to be really hard”. And in the end, printing it with tricky alignment, mixing the transparent color which I thought was gonna be super difficult… not that hard. Not easy, but interesting, lots of fun, and ultimately successful. I was really scared of color matching to the original prints — and I didn’t get the color totally matched — but the color that I mixed was better than the original color: better contrast, better looking, better overall. Answer: Nothing to be scared of.



Hey, what the heck is going on here? Why is the emulsion two different colors and all patchy-looking?

messing with the screen

When I initially conceived the Durruti print, I wanted the sky to be lighter than the paper. I had bought this yellow-gold paper, and wanted to print white over it for the sky and the bright details in the ruined building. So, I printed the white layer, and then went ahead and printed the blue shadow over it. Then, I began to have doubts: the text in the sky wasn’t readable enough. In the building, where the white areas were separated from the yellow by outlines, it looked great — I liked the way it popped out. But the sky, and thus the message of the poster, were too subtle. What to do?

To get the contrast I wanted in the letters, I needed to somehow print a darker color on the sky, without changing the white in the building or covering up the blue shadows. I didn’t want to cut up or modify the transparency itself, because I knew I would want to use it again to print other versions of the poster. Also, at that moment (over a year ago now), I didn’t have time to re-shoot the screen, or a free screen to shoot… There was a lot of argle bargle-ing… but eventually…

Using the screen through which I had printed the white ink, and placing it over a misprinted copy of the print for ‘tracing’ purposes, I took some of the emulsion and painted in all the white areas on the building that I wanted to keep, or areas of blue shadow that I didn’t want to print over. I re-shot the screen so that emulsion would harden… then a beige color (which can be seen being mixed at the top of this post) was printed through that screen.

yellow/gold Durruti final print

The photo doesn’t quite show the contrast as it is in real life, but I’m pretty psyched about how it came out. And — more color variations & experimentations will happen in the future!


Vibration pattern on the surface of my un-drunk coffee:

coffee frequency

It was sitting on the print table while I was printing. The main axis of the pattern (lower left – upper right in this photo) is parallel to the direction in which the screen moves up & down.


Jori Ketten, a local artist/photographer/teacher/co-conspirator (etc), helped me out immeasurably by taking documentation pictures of my prints — soon to be seen here. She also did photoshop magic on them (which would have taken me many, many hours). They look great, & she deserves a million shout-outs. Hopefully you won’t get sick of them. Thank you Jori!

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…)

inks

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…

detail…

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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