News for the ‘making’ Category
Tonight I discovered that a couple of boxes of art supplies and art objects in my
studio spare bedroom art room were infested with the carcasses of many, many small larvae-type bugs. EW. I thoroughly grossed myself out picking thru to see what was salvageable. Unfortunately, a hand-felted wall hanging, a felted rock made from my friend’s dog’s fur, and possibly some wooden boxes were among the objects that were beyond repair. Bugs eat natural fibers, who knew?
This is actually not the first time I’ve had an art bug problem. Let me recount for you the times I should have learned my lesson.
1. Honey is Sweet
In the first assignment of the semester for Fiber Arts class, our professor gave us three yards of muslin and instructions to use ONE other material to create a sculpture. I cut my muslin into 5″ squares and chose honey as my supplementary material, stacking the fabric one piece at a time like a honey-muslin lasagna. It turned out pretty awesome, but then the honey dripped onto the floor and the local ant population moved in.
2. Peter Paul Reubens and The Gathering of The Beetles
Later in the Fiber Arts class, our professor took us to see the Peter Paul Reubens cartoons at the Ringling Museum and asked us to recreate an aspect of the paintings out of fiber materials. I chose Gathering of The Manna, recreating the burlap bag held by the crouching figure at the bottom. My twist, though, (and I can’t believe I did this) was to fill the bag with manure that I dug out of the New College compost pile. Ahem. Do you know what lives inside manure that has been decomposing in a compost pile? Lots and lots of beetles and creepy-crawlies.
3. Regina and the Resin
Another artist who shared my studio space was doing awesome casting work with resin and soaps, embedding things like hair and My Little Pony parts. She had a bunch of pieces curing — or so I thought — near the sink in a tupperware container, so I lifted the lid to take a peek. The objects which had not fully embedded in the resin this time were chicken hearts. Upon exposure to light and air, squirmy little white creatures (I will not say the name) that feast on rotting, non-fully embedded organic matter swarmed out. SHUDDER.
4. Frog Tonics
I did a whole series of small bottles with linocut labels. They were filled with various odd objects such as teeth, wool, hair, and well, a frog skeleton I found in the library parking lot. Let’s just say there is a reason that people bleach bones before making art out of them. Luckily, this issue was well-contained in the bottle, and the bottle is now well-interred in a landfill somewhere.
5. You’re Bringing What in Here??
In my New College senior thesis show, I used hay bales in lieu of sculpture stands to display my work. I remember Gail, my advisor with whom I had a love/hate relationship, questioning me with a frown. “You’re bringing what in here??” she asked. Three weeks later, I was battling ant colonies and beetles as I cleaned up. (Oh and yes, that is a giant horse hide shown below).
As much as I hate to admit it, Gail’s and others’ concerns about the materials I used in my art were warranted, and not just from a bug perspective although that is certainly an issue as I discovered today. I have multimedia pieces where I used wood glue to attach materials to the surface, and the glue has yellowed in an unpleasant way. I have paintings that incorporate latex rubber which is now dry and cracking. My encaustic pieces have suffered a good deal of damage over the years being moved from one house to another, and while some are reparable, others are not. And some have clouded due to sun exposure.
I don’t know that I would have done it differently, entirely. I embrace the idea that art, like life, is temporary and fleeting and prone to decay. Joseph Beuys, who is my most inspirational artist of all time, talked about how his sculptures are not fixed and finished such that “everything is in a state of change”. I’m not interested in having a legacy as an artist (so, like, the stuff doesn’t have to hold up until 2179 or anything). Part of the reason I am no longer much of a practicing artist is that I can’t bear to keep bringing things into the world and to become responsible for where they go and how they last. But, in some small way I want to acknowledge that Gail was right, and that she was not just picking on me or being mean like I thought at the time. I made that felt piece with my hands, first carding the raw wool for hours and hours and then felting it on the driveway outside the sculpture studio with a hose and a lot of Dr. Bronners soap. It had to stop existing at some point, but at the hand (mouths) of bugs? That just kind of sucks.
playa to-dos: 61 days until the man burns
research how to make pancake tutus
buy one million yards of tulle in rainbow colors
comb out my tutu dreads from last year
interrupt john learning david lowery songs to ask tutu length
order EL wire for bikes
A Personal History of Fire
“here i came to the very edge where nothing at all needs saying… and every day on the balcony of the sea open fire is born and everything is blue again like morning”
— Pablo Neruda
It’s too hot.
I made 6 panels of a comic tonight but it’s too hot to finish.
When I draw I sit in a specific place in my living room: against the loveseat on the floor. I just noticed the spot is turning blue from my jeans. Can you see it in this photo?
J and my dad are scheming on how to build a big wheel for Burning Man.
What’s the term in printmaking where your counters get filled in? I’m way out of practice.
Staedtler-Itoya-Micron-Rotovision (Comic Process)
I am working on a new comic, but it’s taking a while since I’ve been busy at work (fortunately I’m playing with markers there as well but in a much larger size).
My process is starting to get a little more deliberate so I thought I might try to describe it here.
My kit of equipment is really really specific. I use letter-sized paper specifically for drawing comics that I get at Meininger, because I have found that normal printer paper (which is what I started with! so easy! so accessible!) has too much tooth and the ink is more bleedy. The kind I have is Canson Fanboy Manga & Comic sketch paper.
I have a deep love of markers and my favoritest most awesome wonderful kind are made by Staedtler: the Lumocolor permanent pens in black in B, M, F, and S sizes. I think they might actually be for writing on overhead projectors so I am a little worried they won’t make them forever. Dear Staedtler, if you are listening please make sure to keep manufacturing your pens!
I have also found myself in need of smaller tips as I get better at drawing, so I have a set of the Itoya Finepoint System pens in .5, .3. and .1 and I like them pretty well. I have never been a huge fan of Micron pens but I did need an even smaller size so I got one in 005 and I got a brush pen as well.
For my drawing surface I use a hardcover book about branding from when I was in school for design at RMCAD. :D It’s not even a good book but it’s the perfect size to hold on my lap (I draw sitting on the floor with my back against the couch). I always put 5 or 6 sheets of copy paper under the sheet I’m drawing on, which gives the perfect “squishiness” to the surface and helps manage bleed-thru.
Other important parts of my kit are a big chisel sharpie (terrible not-true blacks but sometimes you need a really wide marker), a Sumo mechanical pencil, and a 16 inch metal ruler. Oh and my laptop and or phone for image reference. Finished or in process stuff lives in a folder (upon examination it appears to be a Mead Five Star folder labeled Psych from when J was undergrad).
I think one of the things I like best about drawing comics is that they aren’t hard to write since they are usually based on something real: a dream, a memory, or an event. Though I originally just drew them in real time, making them up as I went, I have started actually storyboarding them out in pencil first on a sheet of copy paper. This way I can figure out what the words are, how many cells I need to say what I am trying to say, and what images would go along to tell the story.
When I actually start making the final comic I start by drawing the blackened edges and masthead area with my ruler and the B marker or the chisel Sharpie. I started doing this because my scanner can’t scan all the way to the edge, but I like the look of the heavy border. I then letter the masthead (is it called a masthead in comics? I think that word might be a holdover from my newspaper class days).
Finally, I draw each row of cells (with the B Staedtler marker denoting the borders), moving from the top of the page to the bottom, lettering in the story as I go in the Itoya .5. For more complex visuals I sketch lightly in pencil first and then erase the lines once I ink. Oh yeah! Part of my kit is a big white eraser. I would say about half of the pictures are drawn in pencil first, but I would prefer not to have to do this because it’s slower and I hate pencils. :)
I always have my computer nearby to look up photographic references for whatever I am drawing. Okay and now the secret part. For images with perspective I will sometimes put my paper over the bright computer screen and trace some guiding outlines in pencil! I cheat! It’s true! But I am getting better at perspective in general and who cares anyway, it’s how the whole thing comes together than really matters.
Well, that’s about it, tried and true at this point. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my process and look for a new comic soon.
i dreamed this: alternative universe burning man #2
The Night Before The Night Before Christmas
Human-Centered Design Comics
I really can’t believe I:
- did these in 2006
- ever let myself get so disconnected from the basic tools of being a designer (my brain, a pen, and paper. even tho these were actually my brain, my wacom tablet, and illustrator.)
The Many-Coated Man
The History of Reading, Volume One
(the words are reeeally tiny in this one, oops. click it to see a bigger version.)
I haven’t been dreaming a lot, so instead I made a picture of a camera:
A found drawing of Mr. Kitty & a box
I found this drawing of Mr. Kitty on my pie pad tonight.
3 things I spilled this week
Well, really it was last week that I had 3 spills…
This is my most personal comic yet. It was this time last year when we lost Mr. Kitty to lymphoma & kidney disease. October 17, I think. I don’t even care if half of this is drawn one way and half the other — we really miss him and it was super hard to draw about it but also very meaningful to try.
john’s grandparents’ house drawings, by john
A drawing of J’s grandparents’ house in Willowbrook (4 houses up from where I lived as a kid and on the ridge):
The pool room:
The neighbors’ house (they had a monkey):