Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A New Gizmo

I'm sure this thing has a proper name. I'm calling it the Gizmo. It's Jim's. He's loaning it to me and was kind enough to set it up. My camera slides on top of it and is pointed directly at a new painting. It's secured with bolts etc. Jim set up a little mirror behind it, so I can see the image in the view finder. In order to take a photograph, all I have to do is slide the camera into a slot, and click the button.

The idea is to take multiple photographs as I work on this painting, and then put together a slide show. Now I just need to remember to stop once in a while to push the button. The painting is part of the Nooks & Crannies series. I had the urge to work larger than I have been recently. So this is a 48" x 60" canvas. Not huge, but not small, either. What you see is the result of 2 days of work. It takes a long time just to get the canvas covered at this size.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clearly I'm Not Carol Diehl, Sharon Butler, or Joanne Mattera

I admire the work that Carol Diehl, Sharon Butler, and Joanne Mattera, (among others) do on their blogs. They visit galleries and the big art fairs, photographing and reporting on what they see. They are a lifeline for people like me, who don't live close to the big art centers, but need to keep up on what's going on in the larger art world out there.

So, last weekend was the Tuscon Artists' Open Studios, a twice yearly affair, with more than 140 artists in over 89 locations all over the city. My (admittedly vague) intention was to do what others do so well on their blogs–document and comment on what I saw in Tucson.

Jim and I got off to a rip-snorting start on Sunday, not managing to get to Tucson until 2 pm. Our first stop was the Citizens Art Studios, on West 6th Street. An old warehouse, it is the recent home to several galleries, including the venerable Dinnerware Artspace. Two newer galleries, Fragment and Central Arts have also made their homes at Citizens Art, as well as a number of artists who have studio spaces in the building. Fragment Gallery had just barely finished moving into their new space.

Shown here are Amy and Mark, co-owners of the gallery. First mistake, I forgot to ask their last names. They don't have a website yet, so I can't list it here. You see Amy in motion, and I have a feeling that's typical of her as she seemed brimming with energy.

Here they are again, with a glimpse of artwork behind them. Yes, I forgot to get the names of the artists in the gallery, not to mention to photograph some of the work, up close.

This is Matthew Diggens. He has a beautiful studio just down the hallway from the Fragment Gallery. He, also, has just recently moved in. You can see several of his pieces behind him. In addition to his paintings and drawings, he has written and illustrated a childrens book Andrew and the Secret Gallery, published by Red Cygnet Press. I'm pretty sure I asked him about a website for his work and he told me he didn't have one.

Well, that's it. I really meant to continue on. Just in this space, I could have taken photos (well, gotten Jim to take photos) of the new Dinnerware Artspace, and plenty more. I just plain got distracted and quit.

My excuse is below. Breena, the depressed and neurotic, yet beloved dog, was with us on this jaunt. She weighed heavy on my mind as we left her in the car to visit studios and galleries. She was perfectly safe. She had a lovely dinner, walk and poop in a park. It wasn't too hot in the car. Yet she was miserable to be left behind and I knew it.

I returned to Oracle with a renewed admiration for the people who manage to visit, photograph and document, then post their findings for others to enjoy. It takes planning, organization, note taking, concentrations and lots of plain hard work. Maybe I'll try again sometime, but for now, I plan to keep enjoying the fruits of others labors.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Grafitti Buster

We were walking down our driveway the other day, and were greeted by this unwelcome sight. Just across the wash was a brand new, big blue and black piece of graffiti. On a (formerly) beautiful granite boulder.

Now, I'm an admirer of graffiti on walls of derelict buildings and trains. I know, it's not exactly legal and it's bad to damage other people's property, but some of it is incredibly beautiful, nonetheless. Graffiti in a natural location is something different altogether. In my humble opinion. And this wasn't even great graffiti.

After Jim made a phone call to the local sheriff, and we both spent a couple days stewing, I decided to take action. First step: look in my studio for various noxious solvents. I landed on lacquer thinner. Yes, I know this is not the best chemical for the environment. I was very careful to apply it to small areas, and then scrub away with my scrub brush. What I ended up with was a big blue blob. And blue hands (yes, I forgot to wear gloves). In the photo above, I've begun to apply paint to the blue blob.

While the blue blob was a signal to the "graffiti artists" that their handiwork wasn't going to be left living around me, it was still really ugly. Well, maybe even uglier. So I got my Golden acrylics and mixed up some batches of rock like colors. I applied them with a spatula. Some water and paper towels helped with smearing the paint around.

The disguised blue blob.

Back to normal. Thanks to Jim for the photographs of this endeavor. Perhaps I can add it to my portfolio and hire myself out as a graffiti buster!

P.S. A friend told me (too late) about a tagger cleaner that is non-toxic. Next time (and I hope there isn't a next time, I'll find and try this stuff.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Studio Lighting Perks Up Depressed Dog

Poor Breena is depressed. We all awoke to unexpected snow, in Southern Arizona, in practically mid-March. Desert dog that she is, the snow baffles and distresses her. Until it's gone, she refuses to go outside.

It was a winter wonderland here until about noon. By then, the snow was pretty much all melted off.

Not sure my little cacti appreciated the snow, either. Now they're basking in the sun.

Breena loves my studio. I think she's especially happy with my new lighting. In the ceiling you see 3 sets of lights. Before this week, I only had one light, which I supplemented with big halogen shop lights. I was constantly battling with glare, shadows, and only a few hours a day of really good light. Plus the halogen lights are expensive to run and I was constantly needing to change the bulbs.

In addition to the 2 additional lights, I used natural light florescent tubes instead of the regular indoor lights.

Now I have wonderful, even lighting. No glare. No shadows. No difference when the outside light shifts or when it's cloudy out. I could work all day and all night!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Out with the Old Easels, In with a New System

When I lived in Phoenix, I had a small studio. Jim built me a wall easel, an ingenious device which allowed me to paint large without taking up much space. The wall system was designed so that the spacing could be adjusted to allow for different sized paintings.

When we moved to Ajo, the wall system no longer worked, because of the very high ceilings in our apartment. Since we were renters, we couldn't do damage to the walls. I ended up buying an easel. It was okay, but took up a lot of space, and was never as stable as I would have liked, being as I get pretty aggressive with canvas/panels as I paint.

Now that I have a good sized studio of my own, and messing up walls isn't an issue, I asked Jim if he would reconstruct my beloved Phoenix system. Well, he did and then some!

Here's Jim, making sure the holes are drilled in the right places. Off holes mean crooked paintings. Can't have that or else it would drive me crazy.

Here are the painting holder thingies. They're made of dowel with ladder hooks screwed into them. The dowels fit into the holes. There are four, because the new system has four vertical boards so that I can work on two paintings at a time.

The horizontal board at floor level is actually kind of a runner. There's a groove behind it for the vertical boards to go into. Holes are drilled every 6 inches. The vertical board is placed into position and secured with a short dowel.

Here's Jim, putting the top railing up. A flat board goes over the front of this (see bottom photo). The verticals sit between the groove and the front board. Some very clever items allow the vertical boards to slide in the grooves to the position I want them in. There are casters (little wheels) on the bottom of each vertical board. On the top are gliders. I slide the boards along, get them into position and secure them with dowels. I adjust the painting holder thingies to the right height. And I'm in business!

Here are two paintings in progress, all set up on the new system. If you look at the lower bar, you can see that I have plenty of room to increase the width. I can paint huge. I'm getting ready to stretch a 48" x 60" canvas. The first time I've been able to paint this large in a long time. And I could go even bigger. If you look closely, you can see the painting holders hooked around the bottom of the paintings.

And here I am, ready to get to work. This new system is way better than any easel. It's sturdy. It's adjustable. It doesn't take up floor space.

Thank you, Jim. My hero!

Monday, March 1, 2010

My 10 Seconds of Fame

I'm an ardent follow of a number of art blogs. One of my favorites is New York gallerist, Ed Winkleman's. He has a very interesting exhibit/performance going on in his gallery now. If you scroll down, you can see the web address for #class, with a schedule of events. There is a live feed going on during the various events, discussions and performances.

My 10 seconds of fame has arrived! Part of the #class is "Shut Up Already, I'll Look at your Art!" You can read the description below. And you can see one of my paintings by clicking here. There is a slide show, and my painting comes up fairly quickly.

"Shut Up Already, I'll Look at your Art!" an open source call to artists on the "Outside" to have their work viewed by an "Insider". For this project, gallerist Ed Winkleman will spend a portion of his time in the gallery during #class reviewing digital images of art sent via the internet to #class by artists globally. Artists will be asked to submit a digital image of one piece of art to be reviewed by Mr. Winkleman for at least 10 seconds, TWICE the average time museum goers spend viewing a piece of art.

"Shut up already... I'll look at your art"

Gallerist Ed Winkleman and guests (persons to be recruited by Mr. Winkleman to join him, for different periods of time and varied group size) will spend a portion of his time in his gallery during #class reviewing digital images of work sent via the internet to #class by artists globally. Artists will be asked to submit a digital image of one piece of art to be reviewed by Mr. Winkleman and his guests.

The Rules (roughly):

* Artists will submit one digital image to "Shut up already. I'll look at your art"
* Mr. Winkleman and guests will view the image for no less than 10 sec.
* Mr. Winkleman and guests will be monitored by a volunteer as they view the work to assure full compliance with the rules.
* Mr. Winkleman, his guests and the Monitor will sign a certificate of viewing stating the image has been viewed
* Mr. Winkleman and his guests will have no obligation to provide representation to any of the artists, make any comment about, or critique any of the images.
* Once an image is viewed by Mr. Winkleman and his guests the artist cannot complain that their work is not being considered by a professional gallery for one year from the date of viewing, Mr. Winkleman and his guests will be absolved of any further obligation to take complaints by artists that their work is not being considered by a professional gallery seriously for one year from the date of viewing,
* As Mr. Winkleman and his guests view the images, they wiil be available on the internet to be viewed.

#class is an exhibition in the form of a think tank organized by Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida. #class will feature over 50 events, discussions and performances presented in response to an open call for proposals on the topic of ambivalence about the commercial art market system.

for more info about #class and to see a schedule of event goto

for more about Winkleman Gallery visit their website @

"Shut up already. I'll look at your art"
in the spirit of Open Source and Copyleft is made up of anyone who participates, spreads the word or puts out good vibrations to the cause, and they are welcome to its authorship.

To participate and submit an image Fill
out submittal form Here

or just spread the word to people you know worldwide

So, for artists looking for their 10 seconds of fame, you, too, can have a piece of your work seen by a real live New York gallery. I did. You should do it, too!