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

pittsburgh

July 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

braddock stairs
[fire escape stairs in Braddock, PA]

Well, here I am in Pittsburgh, PA with Meg Turner, at the house of our awesome friends Miriam and Jeffrey, hanging out with them and their awesome cat Boris, drinking a lot of coffee, drawing a lot, working (which includes drawing, but also fiddling with the internet and trying to stay in touch with everybody and keep it together), and trying to catch up on stuff. This is kind of overwhelming, since I am trying at the same time to explore outwardly (Pittsburgh is really intriguing & beautiful, lots of good biking & looking at buildings) as I try to clean house work-wise & inwardly (and hopefully writing some letters as well, Deb!). I’m also working on a commissioned print that has nothing to do with Pittsburgh, or Providence for that matter, so that’s another split for my time & energy.

Still, it’s really good to be here and good to focus: the unaccustomed environment allows for a certain kind of inward-ness that so far feels very productive.

I am enjoying drawing the same thing over and over. Drawing with pen only — no erasing (which is nice & challenging, though I think I’m gonna be throwing pencil back into the mix for the next one). There’s at least one more drawing to be made of this view… maybe more? as well as many more beautiful back alleys within five blocks of where we are staying.

snow way 1

snow way 2

snow way 3

Our friends and co-collaborators Liz, Meredith, Delia, and Andrew O are also joining us for parts of this informal residency — it’s (been) great to have them along. Andrew is *right now* doing a participatory city-building project in St. George, Utah — if you are in that part of Utah, you should find him, check it out, and jump in!


Here are a couple of photos from recent travels — I’ll be putting more up on tumblr soon.

gazela stairs
Stairs down to the engine room on the tall ship Gazela, in Philadelphia (May 15-18, May 29-31, July 8-12: family & weddings)

relatives?
Tape measure brothers, or maybe uncle and nephew? at my aunt’s house in Austin, TX (June 3-7, family visit & my cousin’s high school graduation)

a giant building, with a weird little cabin extension built out over the driveway…
in New Orleans (June 7-14, visiting Meg, learning about what it means to be hot)

beautiful letters, beautiful bike!  bike trips: the best kind of traveling…
Voluntown, CT (June 23-24, bike trip with my friend Laura)

photo of sketchbook…
Drawing from Chinatown in New York (June 29-July 1, work trip to draw & take reference photos for the commission)

sad neon
and… in Pittsburgh. (July 13-present).

So yes, I have been traveling around way way way too much — there wasn’t a week since the beginning of May when I wasn’t out of town for one thing or another! Craziness. This time in Pittsburgh is a good existence in one place for a couple of weeks, and I am looking forward to an August & September spent entirely in Providence.

At the end of Sept/beginning of October I & some other Prov/former Prov folks are going to have a print show at the Bushwick Print Lab in New York. In November I think I’m going to be back in New Orleans to do some more teaching… more info & dates for both those things as they approach and as stuff gets solidified.

Also, I just found out that I am going to be in the RISD alumni/student fall and winter sales! October 9th and December 4th, respectively. In the meantime, some of my prints are now for sale at the awesomely curated shop-of-precious-items Frog & Toad, on Hope St. in Providence (as well as still at Craftland).

More updates later! There is a lot more to catch up on. I’m sorry for lacks of information about crucial projects… but I need to draw!

time, timer, timing

April 24, 2010 at 6:27 pm

new orleans, poydras st.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written or posted anything here! and I’ve generally been neglecting my internets in general. (with the exception of Facebook, for what it’s worth…) The translation of this is that I’ve been working really hard & intensely on stuff in the physical world.

new orleans, beautiful can from the fridge at Nowe Miasto, long-opened and full of moldy beans!

quick list:
new orleans …

new orleans, central city neighborhood

back in Providence…

  • drawing
  • printing (postcards, prints, posters)
  • a little bit of gardening
  • making zines
  • mixing colors, printing infinite rainbow rolls that really deserve the name
  • trying to get old projects printed so I can move on to new projects.
  • building little block cities out of a bag of woodshop scraps from Utah.
  • taking lots of pictures, realizing on return from new orleans that there are a bunch of things I like to take pictures of (hand-drawn letters, beautiful buildings, useful/weird customizations of things, falling-apart stuff) here as well! and that I should document it somehow, and that drawing just isn’t fast enough… that the speed of the camera doesn’t imply some kind of lack of moral grounding. I know, self-limiting thoughts, hilarious. !

providence, off of Prairie & Public streets.  they may be tearing this building down, it’s unclear…!?

etc?

Real briefly, big developments in my life & thinking have been these two:

— Realizing I don’t need to be an architect someday. This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me it is a big one. Since I finished school, I had had in my head the idea that at some point I would stop making prints and go work in an architect’s office and work my way up into that kind of career… that that would be when my “real life” would start.

Recently, due to a number of incidents & factors that all kind of piled on each other, I realized that a) I really love making prints and those challenges and sets of ideas and questions and things to explore (especially, hey, prints about buildings); b) as an artist who understands buildings, I can always work with architects and build off their deeper knowledge and learn more from them and add something to their understandings (even in traditional architectural practice, architects hardly ever work alone, they are always collaborating with other architects, engineers, specialists, etc!); c) that I can always work on buildings but under a collaborative and co-learning model, not trying to fit the way I work into the hierarchy of an office (very intimidating to me), and not being limited by “architecture’s” rigid separation between designing and building.

With the idea in mind that I was someday going to stop printing and change paths, I wasn’t really letting myself give all my energy to print stuff… now I sense a re-focusing and a shifting of my attention, and expansion of energy… it’s very exciting. We’ll see what comes out of it. !!

drawing for plant sale poster 2010!

— A friend ribbed me that “For the past five years, you’ve been making the same thing!” Aha, a sensitive spot!

Like all writers, he measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.

(Borges, The Secret Miracle)

Thinking about this, I realized that I have, for the past bunch of years, actually just been executing ideas that I originally had two or five or eight years ago… that I have kind of been a carrier-out of my own ideas, as opposed to an artist working in the present with what I am thinking about now… ideas I have now are pushed off till later (“till I finish the projects I already planned”) and sometimes get forgotten or shoved away entirely. Not the best of situations! So along with focusing my energy on printing instead of on a vague and not-really-desired future as an architect, I am finishing up long-standing projects and trying to get to a place where I can work more directly on ideas I have now…

Okay, so this could get into a much longer ramble about thoughts for the future and specific projects and etc. that I know you all want to know about… but I really need to get to printing!!! The upshot is, still working, still thinking, same projects, new motivation, new projects, new ideas pouring in all the time, can I keep up with them? Probably not, but I’m still trying.

can I get a little figurine made of this?[attempt on the left by me; drawing on the right by Lena, inspired by San-X, there is a singing worm from the worm-bin next to me; in background, new Industrial Trust Building postcards!]


Helpful Tools note:

I have started using an internet-based work timer called SlimTimer, which Arley-Rose told me about… I was skeptical at first, having had limited success with ‘systems’ which are supposed to help you manage your time… but whoa, being able to know how long I actually spend on things is actually CHANGING MY LIFE.


Also, Meg Turner & I are gonna be selling our work at the spring RISD alumni art sale! Saturday May 1st, 10am-4pm, Benefit St, Providence. Directions are at the link… come by & say hi even if you’re broke! I will have cheap postcards/small prints and zines for sale, as well as some older/larger/more expensive work too. Meg will be bringing her gorgeous photogravures (some new & some old), as well as new screenprints, up from New Orleans. Hooray for ART!

secret store! + photo aggregation

March 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

store screenshot…

After a ton of figuring out & tinkering & messing around & adjusting & learning learning learning learning learning, I finally got the long-promised internet store up & running! It’s not totally perfect yet, but it’s at least in a state that I feel comfortable with showing to the world… so… here ya go!

secret store!

I’ll be adding a couple of prints to it every monday, some old finds from the archives, some new work hopefully! It has its own RSS feed, so subscribe to find out about new stuff, tell your friends, spread the word… YES. (and of course let me know if you find any broken links or problems as you click around there!)


Also, I’ve started putting images — photos, process shots, drawing tidbits, neat things I see (mostly buildings & letterforms), and some details of finished prints — up here on tumblr

tumblr screenshot

… which I like a lot so far. It’s letting me post images that don’t really need a update post for themselves… hopefully it’ll reduce the amount of random stuff that goes up here, & eventually make an interesting narrative/collection/aggregation in its own right. It’s been useful to read back over this updates site to remember what I was thinking about & what was going on in my life at various times… I think the photo collection page will become worthwhile in the same way.


rubylith insanity

Okay that’s it, I am working on crazy rubylith (seen above), about to go teach a silkscreen class (or two) in New Orleans at Louisiana Artworks (if you are there you should take it!), trying to get a last bunch of stuff organized & together before I leave! I am kind of broke so all I will be able to do when I am there, besides teach, is sit on the sidewalk & draw… which I am actually pretty much delighted about. Constraints!

epic organization

February 1, 2010 at 4:02 am

9 years of work…

I’ve been spending the past two days up in the studio working on organizing & sorting out my flat file & print storage shelves (assisted on Saturday by one of my awesome interns, Kate!). This is partly to take advantage of the ever-recurring January potential of “new year, new beginnings”, and partly to get ready for the secret door projects store, aka. “secret store!”, which is now actually about 80% in existence & officially coming soon. To have a store, I have to know what I actually have to sell, right?

…all spread out on the floor…

Well, it turns out that I have more than I thought I did… In sorting out the flat file, I turned up some edition copies of the American Woolen Co. print (which I didn’t even think I had any of for my own archives!), some good copies of the Knitting Machine – Providence print, some perfect copies of the Happy Birthday Mike Leslie print, a couple of edition copies (plus some artist proofs) of the Knitting Machine – MassMoCA print… plus a bunch of other stuff that I thought I was entirely out of, or only had mis-prints or damaged prints remaining.

…don’t trip!

All this will be in the store when it is up! Which should be (I say tentatively) by this coming Sunday. It would be up sooner, except I am headed to New Orleans tomorrow morning & I’m hopefully gonna be drawing, printing, & taking pictures (and maybe building some stuff) the whole time I am there.


also notable in the past week or so:

“Hunter Plaid Perspective”

feat. Serena & Will:
pattern in perspective I

and then Serena, Meg, & Will (we found another shirt!):
pattern in perspective II

[these images are a photo response to: “R U A Team Player?“]


…and, last but not least, they have been tearing down the remaining 195 highway. The steel framework surrounding the painted concrete columns had been providing reinforcement for its crumbling structure….

wickenden st. / point st. overpass

do you want to be the secret door projects intern?

January 9, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I am looking for someone to help me out with logistics, print organization, outreach, communications. This could range from schedule problem-solving to hanging out while studio cleanup happens, to doing publicity & helping put me in touch with galleries or publishers or people like that. If you’re interested in learning about screenprinting, meticulous analog art methods, and perspective drawing, I can help you out there! You could also have access to the studio here to work on print projects of your own. It’s unpaid, but perks of the position include bottomless coffee, good company, cookies and homemade bread… and of course prints.

… get in touch if you’re interested!

linear logic

December 31, 2009 at 5:00 am

So, I am working on finally, finally, finally building the long-awaited & much-discussed web store for secret door projects (and friends). This means spending a lot of time in the spot seen in the photo below, & breaking my brain somewhat trying to wrap it around the linear logic of the computer.

my drawing desk, taken over by the computer.

As a high schooler in the early 90s, I was psyched to be the only female-bodied person in the (somewhat smelly) computer room learning QBasic & other simple programming languages. I got a lot of encouragement for being there: I was the ‘token’ that everyone was proud of. Computers weren’t my strength — but the logic was really intriguing to me, I had a lot of determination, and with good concentration & good explanation, I could eventually figure it out and make some cool things happen.

I now know that it is a rare delight to find someone who has a) the capacity for a deep understanding of a logical language, and b) the patience to give a thorough explanation of how it works. Sixteen years later, as I struggle with computer-programming-type things, I constantly see the calm & gentle face of my ninth-grade computer teacher, Matt Zipin, next to me, and hear the soft tones of his voice going over something with me (probably for the second or third time).

There is nothing in the world like an amazing teacher.

Now, lacking a patient and logical person to explain things, I find myself driven only by my determination, and guided only by various how-tos and written instructions (freely available but sometimes cryptic). It’s not hard in itself, all the elements are simple enough (I think), but the issue is that I must move forward in linear ways in order to make any perceptible progress.

Today I finally made a list of what my goals are for the store, in programming and in style, what I need to accomplish to satisfy myself that the site is good. As I was doing so, the realization rushed over me that this kind of computer work feels the same as the last stages of working on a print. When I’m almost done with the transparencies for a print, I write down very specifically what I have to finish before they will be ready to shoot, usually by color / transparency:

  • blue:
    • finish sky/cloud details
    • reflections on metal
  • brown:
    • tree trunks
    • scratch out texture in roofs
    • fix mistake in large “L” (ink)
  • etc.

…something like that. Then I move through the list, checking things off as I go, forcing myself to work on the next thing on the list, adding more items if necessary, until they are all done. That type of concentration is unnatural to me, and it can be pretty grueling.

That comes only at the end, though — through most of my working process I am jumping around from place to place on the drawing, then from transparency to transparency, returning to the drawing, pencil to ink to rubylith and back. Sometimes I’ll tell people that I like the strange connections that get made by those jumps; “the way of working creates the nature of the work”, “it builds upon itself”, etc.

That is bullshit, though, because ultimately that is really just how my brain works — I don’t have another strategy. When I’m drawing or working in that stage, the hand-tool-eye-paper-brain combo takes its own paths and I kind of follow along. It’s peaceful, intense, focused, and spaced-out all at the same time. After a couple of hours I look up and: “Hey! There’s a drawing! Sweet!” I’ll lay out some aspects of the composition ahead of time, but I don’t plan ‘how to draw it’ in advance: because I can’t.

(I can’t make a preliminary outline for a piece of writing, either, to save my life — I have to write a bunch of stuff, move it around, edit it, re-read a bunch of times, etc. Only then can I pull together what the complete sense is, and consciously refine the form around an idea.)

drawing made in new orleans, partly in the rain!
drawn on the street in new orleans: begun on a rainy day, finished on a clear one.

This jumping-about method doesn’t really work when approaching a numerically logical system, nor, especially, when approaching the construction of such a system. There’s room for a little bit of what Jacob calls “being a clicker”, messing around and seeing what happens. That’s usually what I do mostly… and this can offer eventual results (like the current form of this website)… but it takes a long time. And in dealing with an actual programming language — not just markup code and stylesheets — it might not actually ever work.

Last spring, struggling with setting up a janky wordpress plugin on a website for somebody else, I was in tears in frustration with myself at my inability to understand what was going on. A friend who was advising me said, “I mean, come on Jean, go easy on yourself! PHP is a high-level programming language: you can’t just expect to look at it and immediately understand what’s going on.” At the time, I was furious and felt that he was belittling me.

Thinking about his words now, as I tangle with PHP again (still with no training or real logical background, but maybe with a little less insecurity) I realize that he was right: that is exactly what I am doing. Why? Because that is what works for me in the other work that I do. I look at the drawing or the image or the building in front of me — I learn as much about it as I can, seeking out all the corners and details and information available in a non-linear way, making multiple intuitive connections — I make lines and shapes and marks and notes — and something coherent (and possibly even beautiful!) appears.

I look at it, and it sorts itself into an order that tells me what to do with it and how to do it.

As the architect John Hejduk says, “The lead of the architect’s pencil disappears. Where does it go? Then a line appears on the paper.” It is undoubtedly magical. It’s what I’ve done all my life. It’s the most prosaic motion; of scratching the pencil over the paper, of feeling the ends of boards with fingertips to ensure that they are cut to the same length. I have no idea how it works.

Can I work with PHP in the same way? How much patience do I have to approach it in a strictly linear fashion? And… is it worth it to discipline my brain to a completely different way of thinking, when I am already “good” at something else?

…well…

The answer to the first question is probably “No, not really”. The answer to the second question is, “Don’t forget to eat and make sure to get enough sleep”. And the answer to that last question has gotta be “Yes”… or else I wouldn’t be still sitting here in front of the computer.

My ninth-grade self is super proud of me.


[hey! jean! writing this has been a lovely and somewhat comforting digression, and has helped you sort it out a little… now get back to actually dealing with what you are trying to get done!]

*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!

finished prints. wow.

December 18, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I’ve been struggling for the past couple of days with getting good photo documentation of a bunch of recently finished prints. I wanted to put up really nice photos of what I think are really nice prints — and I think I’m only 1 or 2 days away from a solution — but I’m going to go ahead and put up process/studio photos now. These were done a week and a half ago, and I’m impatient to get them out & seen by the world.

industrial trust building prints on white paper

industrial trust building prints on ivory paper

These are the finished Industrial Trust Building prints! The long ‘tails’ the prints have at their bottom edges (good for avoiding getting inky fingerprints all over) have since been trimmed off, so the final print dimensions are about 7×17 inches. I was taping prints up on the drafting desk in order to make decisions about the colors… these are the final group.

Five different versions on two different kinds of paper: 1) gray/blue/white, 2) orange/purple-brown/white, 3) green/blue/ivory, 4) blue/red-orange/ivory, 5) orange/purple/ivory. As I was working on figuring out these colors, I was thinking a lot about creating different seasons, times of day, or kinds of light… how the color of the shadow creates the color of the light that is casting it… etc.

More finished prints! Here are the new color versions of the Ruins/Buenaventura Durruti print. I’ve been trying to finish printing these for almost (or more than) a year, so to look at a stack of completed ones is an extreme delight plus a giant weight off my shoulders.

three colorways!

There are two variations on the version on yellow-gold paper, on the right: one has blue-purple outlines, and the other (shown in the photo) has brownish-red outlines. When good pictures have been taken, I’ll put up details from both of them.

The prints on yellow-gold paper are 15.25 x 25.5 inches, the prints on white paper are 15.25 x 26.

If you’re in Providence, they’re for sale at Craftland, and/or you can buy them from me via email & paypal! I am working on this web store thing but it is not there yet.

“Industrial Trust Building – Providence” prints (signed & numbered) are $30
Durruti prints on white paper (3 colors, signed, un-numbered) are $25
Durruti prints on yellow-gold paper (4 colors, signed, un-numbered) are $50
…and there are still a bunch of these little neighborhood prints kicking around.

Shipping is $4 for the smaller prints and $6 for the bigger ones… email me for multiple prints or whatever!


I have a bunch of images & thoughts from the process of printing these, especially the Durruti prints, which had me stalled for months in terror of finishing them! However, I’m gonna do something more directly productive right now & get back to writing that stuff up later. Here’s just a hint of my epic process of mixing the transparent color for the shadow in that print:

transparent colors testing…

I began November totally intimidated by the challenge of figuring out transparent color complexities, and began December with the feeling of having a deep and lasting capacity to repeatably get a good result that would surprise me by its well-fitting-ness… though not of having the control to get a repeatable exact result: that is something that I am not sure if I would actually hope to have. !


If you are in New Orleans tonight, you should head over to the Community Printshop at Louisiana Artworks for their fundraiser party and drink one of these for me!

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!

dimensions

July 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm

drafting desk setup

At the moment, I am transferring my ideas from a sketchy house plan to a dimensioned, scaled drawing. The original drawing was on graph paper, for two reasons (since Meg asked):

  1. to make it easier to keep lines roughly at right angles to each other, without having to use a straight-edge and a triangle all the time
  2. and

  3. to hold myself to a uniform notion of the square footage and measurements across the drawing, without having to use a scale all the time.

Staying away from rulers simplifies and streamlines the drawing process, and keeps ideas flowing, not weighed down by details. Also, drawing freehand (even on graph paper) allows me to retain the sense of the building as a not-yet-completed design: once lines start getting sharp and precise, they start to feel like they are fixed and permanent, a construction document as opposed to an idea. With a ruler-drawn line, you tend to start thinking, “Okay, that’s where the 2x4s go!” as opposed to, “This is roughly where the structural wall is going to be.”

(This, to my mind, is the main problem with computer drafting — which Sketchup now seems to be offering a remedy for — it makes sloppy, badly-thought-out drawings look finished — even to the people who drew them, who should know better than anybody else how unfinished they are!)

As I sketched into and modified the drawing, I would tape on sheets of tracing paper, so I could change things without totally destroying what had come before, and try out new ideas on a clean slate while still keeping the underlying dimensions the same. As I added layers of tracing paper, the exact measurement laid down by the graph paper’s grid would get a little fuzzy and vague. So, now that I have a pretty good idea of what the layout is going to be, I’m drawing the plan again, with rulers, a scale, and specific dimensions.

I’ll write more about this house plan in a future update, but here is a hallways of varying widths, with a built in couch of some kind and lots of shelves.

hallway drawing

One thing that putting a specific dimension to things lets me do is see where things do *not* work: in the detail below, the shelves in the hallway, where you walk in from the living room area (center left of the photo) make it too narrow to pass through. … Erase! Erase!

brroken hallway

My big drafting desk is up in the 3rd floor studio; here’s the kit of essentials:

3rd floor work setup

from top to bottom:

  • graph paper / tracing paper drawing (attached to drawing board)
  • adjustable triangle (for drawing angles)
  • circle template (door swings)
  • scale (the fancy one, that I can use now that I have soft floor pads under my drafting desk & am not worried about it breaking, since I drop it all the time!)
  • wallpaper-wrapped brick (to keep the propped-up drawing board in place)
  • toilet paper (to wipe lead dust off after sharpening)
  • lead holder (aka pencil)
  • non-smudging eraser-pencil (this is a great thing that I recently got, it totally solves the smudgy problems that beset me on previous vellum drawings)
  • random ballpoint pen (I’m not using this, not sure why it is on the table)
  • lead pointer (aka pencil sharpener)
  • paper scale (made out of folded graph paper, I’m using it to take approximate measurements off the sketchy drawing)
  • water cup
  • POLAR ORANGE DRY!!!!!!
  • compass
  • two more lead holders (they all have different hardnesses of lead in them, though for this drawing at the moment I’m only using 2H)
  • small piece of chocolate!

[This drawing is actually done now, and I’ve started a new one based on it, dealing with walls & doorways — this was mostly written, and the pictures were taken, a couple of days ago.]


Reading & reference:

  • short comics from Will Krause, a new friend who is about to leave town… :(
  • Complexity & Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi (again)
  • Understanding Structures by Fuller Moore, a basic architecture school textbook (again)
  • Tomorrow’s House by George Nelson & Henry Wright, 1945: book for the layperson proselytizing modern architecture in home design. Sample quote, emphasis theirs:

    There is no possible way to turn the clock back. In designing houses today we have to be ourselves — twentieth-century people with our own problems and our own technical facilities. There is no other way to get a good house. No other way at all.

    BZANG.

  • Ninja by Brian Chippendale: this is a huge graphic epic that I had read parts of in mini-comic form; it was published in a giant (12″x18″) edition a couple of years ago. I finally read the whole thing, in a concentrated manner, over the course of three or four nights, a week or so ago. I’m re-reading it now again, going slowly, trying to sort it all out and make all the connections… In some ways it’s a narrative of Providence, of a time that I also lived through, and it brings back to me very strongly the anger, emotion, and outrage of that time. Disjointed, hilarious, disturbing, and inspiring…

Okay, speaking of pencil-lead hardness, I’ve also been doing some just plain old observed drawings, which are really grounding and exciting, in a calm way. (That might make sense, or not.) Using a 4B (super soft) pencil is really fun, because it calls for a lightness of hand as you lay things out, but allows for real darkness if that is what is needed. The only problem is that if you are keeping the pencil sharp, it gets shorter real fast!

soft pencil drawing

It is a view from the 3rd floor of our house, looking out over the Woonasquatucket valley… and will be in a drawing show at Stairwell Gallery that opens on Sunday.

The neighbors who live behind us have been playing the same romantic dance song over and over again, for a number of hours each afternoon, for the past couple weeks. Possibly they are rehearsing for a dance of some kind, or else they just really like this song. My housemates are slowly being driven crazy, I think, but for me, it’s not that bad: sometimes I barely recognize the song, then other times it brings the slow acknowledgment of half-recalled memories, of a distant past that might or might not be my own. The song, combined with the faintly heard ice-cream tunes that cross and re-cross the neighborhood at intervals, gives the audible atmosphere of our house a nostalgic familiarity. . . . . I’ll be sad when the rehearsals are over.

Summer is awesome by the way.

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