Archive for the ‘Other Stuff’ Category

January – February 2016

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

How’s it going? Yes, its been a while. Wow, you look great too.

Rather than a big New Year’s Resolution, I decided to spend 2016 with a series of smaller monthly challenges.

This is what I put together for January:

  • Take vitamins every day
  • Meditate every day
  • Read Sandman Preludes & Nocturnes
  • Drink no more than one cup of coffee per day
  • Ship books to Paul
  • Develop my monthly challenges for February

Here’s the reasoning and comments.

Vitamins

My doctor said I need a little more B Vitamin in my life, so I am following orders. Plus, it is a healthy thing to do. A lot of my goals center around improving my overall health. For the record, I take a Multivitamin, Fish Oil, and Glucosamine/Chondroitin.

How did I do? I did fine. I took vitamins almost every day. I think I may have missed one or two days, at most.

Meditate Every Day

This one was an experiment. I have no idea if this is going to help, or make me feel better, lower my anxiety and stress, and all of that. Maybe it will though. Who knows? I signed up for a year of Headspace to help with with this.

How did I do? I did great! At least at first. Then I started to slack. I missed a day or two towards the middle of the month, and that opened the floodgates of slacking off. I meditated about half the days in the month.

Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

Thanks to some great friends (Thanks Dave and Walter!), I have a set of the Absolute Sandman books. They are glorious in their oversized, remastered majesty. I wanted to re-read the entire saga last year, but didn’t get to it. I will this year. And yes, I have to schedule my leisure activities or they won’t happen.

How did I do? I read it. I may try to collect my thoughts one of these days.

Drink one cup of coffee a day

I have enough stress and anxiety in my life. I don’t need to drink a ton of coffee and drain my adrenal glands and burn out my stomach. Not to mention the poor sleep.

How did I do? For the most part, I stuck to this one. There was a day or two with a client visit at work with all-day meetings, and I think I dipped into the black cauldron a few more times those days.

Ship Books To Paul

I picked up a book for my buddy at Comic-Con last year. In July. I still hadn’t shipped it. I put this on the list to make sure I would get this done. It worked. Books arrived on his doorstep yesterday.

Develop A Monthly Plan For February

Done. Here is what I have coming up in February, with some comments:

  • Take Vitamins every day – Continued from last month
  • Meditate every day – Continued from last month, I’m going for 100% attendence this month
  • Read Sandman Doll’s House – Once again, scheduling my leisure activity
  • Open an Investment Account – This is one I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Time to invest my excess income, now that I have my cash savings about where I want them.
  • Drop 10 pounds by February 29 – I got fat over the holidays. Time to quickly work on that. Ten pounds may seem like a lot, but it is doable for me if I get my diet and exercise in gear.
  • Develop my monthly challenges for March – Wow, the year is already 10% complete!

I have a psuedo goal to write on more frequently, and to draw more, though nothing is formalized.

Happy 2016!

Go Read Hansi’s Blog, Hallucinations Optional

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Little Hansi has started his own website to share Hansi’s Hallucinations.

Hansi is better known as frequent BDD commenter “Your Dad”, which he comments as because he is, actually, my dad. As in, he supplied me with the Y-Chromosome that I appreciate so much.

I set him up with a shiny new WordPress blog while down in SoCal for Thanksgiving, so he can share his random thoughts about random things (why he loves Sarah Palin, his disdain of stoopid english, how diapers have kept the Chinese from converting to Christianity, and the more-than-I-ever-wanted-to-know-about-my-dad Reptile Dysfunction ).

He also draws real neat pictures, and those are neat and fun to look at, and I think you would think it is neat to look at them too.

Goodness gracious, what have I released upon the world?

Kindred Art – Art That Speaks To Me Loudest

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Wednesday is a busy day for me – rush to work in the morning, work all day, spend the evening at a buddies house, pick up some groceries, and finally make it home around 9 pm.

pencil sketch of my hand

Pencil Sketch from my sketch book

After getting laundry in the washer, I finally had time to myself around 9:15. Time to draw. I put on some music, got out my pencils, and started drawing the nearest thing to me, my other hand.

Let me back up half a sentence, because this bit gets to what I’m writing about today. I didn’t just put on some music, I put on Mahler, Das Lied Von Der Erde.

Gustav Mahler is a favorite composer, when I listen to his music, I feel like it was written about me. I first heard Mahler in a bookstore, at one of those “CD preview” machines, listening with headphones. Within the first two minutes of the 9th symphony, I was enthralled. If you want to know what what it is to feel both the pain and beauty of life (at the same time), listen to Mahler’s 9th.

As I drew, I thought about kindred artists. Every now and then, I will find art that I feel was made for me, or about me. The art captures something better than I can explain myself. I seem to find these few and far between, but when I first encountered Mahler, his music was this kind of art.

(Strangely, it is rare that visual arts enthrall me like this. Every now and then something will really stand out to me, but I usually don’t understand why. I can’t figure out why I can stare at Mark Rothko’s “color field” paintings all day, but I can. I’ve been casually reading Rothko’s book, The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art, to figure this out.)

The poetry of E.E. Cummings strikes me in this way. His organization of words is the most similar to the way I feel about the world that I have read. This was another instance when I knew within minutes that I found something that resonated with me. I read Since Feeling Is First, and I knew that whatever that was true for him, that made him write those words, was also true for me.

I finished up my work in my sketch book for the night as Das Lied Von Der Erde finished, I put my clothes into the dryer, and ate the dinner that was heating in the oven.

My CD player switched to the next CD, Mahler’s 9th. I grabbed 100 Selected Poems, sat on my window sill by the fire escape, smoked a cigarette, and read.

* * * *

Is there an artist or artists whose work strikes you especially strongly? I’m curious. Leave a comment if you’d like, let’s talk about it.

* * * *

A note about recordings: I linked above to the Pierre Boulez recording of Das Lied Von Der Erde. It is a decent performance, and a modern recording. I bought it mainly because I like Pierre Boulez’s work on the rest of Mahler’s Symphonies. I highly recommend Das Lied von der Erde conducted by Bruno Walter, however. It is a much older recording, but the performance is outstanding. I have this recording on vinyl, I haven’t gotten the remastered CD yet, but reviews I have read seem to indicate the remaster is quite good. It sounds phenomenal on vinyl. If you want to hear the 9th, I like Mahler, Symphony 9, conducted by Pierre Boulez. I’ve also got Leonard Bernstein’s recording of the 9th, but it doesn’t seem to have the urgency that I like so much in Boulez’s recording.

Back From Reality: Recompression

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

After my trip to Utah, I got back, and spent an afternoon in Union Square to readjust to the city.

I call it recompression, because that’s what it felt like.

San Francisco City Street

The City Canyon in the morning

It was louder. There are a lot more sounds in the city.

Everything moves faster. It is harder to stop.

My good friend Tiven welcomed me back from reality when I got home from Utah, and he was right. While I was out in the middle of nowhere, walking amongst giant, strange, colorful rocks, and sleeping next to the Colorado River, I felt a certain realness about the place.

That realness was hard to find in the City at the moment.

I sat in the square for an hour or two, watching everything. Ate a sandwich. Talked to a homeless guy. I felt like a rock in a river, everything moving past me, things were gone before I even realized they were there.

The sound in the city is a cacaphony, a mixture of dozens of sounds, combines into a rolling jumble.

I started to think of the building walls as the walls of our own canyons, and the streets as the deep cut wash ways in between. The city is it’s own Fiery Furnace, it has it’s own Devil’s Garden.

Most of all though, it has people. People that flow through these canyons, scale the canyon walls, and climb the mountains. People carve this landscape, like the water carves the landscape of the desert.

That is the big difference between the desert and the city: people.

People shape this place, and people make the city what it is.

Without people, this city would be nothing but canyons made of concrete and steel.

It is people that make the city worth living in.

Dispatch: Screw this, I’m going to the desert

Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Utah Desert

I'll be somewhere around here

Working too much can do strange things to a mind.

In my case, it made me think that driving to the middle of nowhere (aka “the desert”) for a week was a good idea.

I still think it is a good idea. I made a quick pit stop with the family in Southern California today, and tomorrow I’m driving the Invinci-Truck out to Utah. I’ve got food, a sleeping bag, a couple sketch books, and my freshly cut mohawk. That should be enough.

The plan is… well, I don’t really know what the plan is. I’m driving to Zion tomorrow, and I’ll stay there a day or two, then move on to Canyonlands.

It will be me, the desert, and my thoughts. I need a reset. My mind has been cluttered with stuff, and I need to let it go and start fresh.

I really have no idea what I’m doing.

Somehow, however, I know this is the right thing to do.

Talk to y’all in a week, maybe I’ll have more to say about it then.

Comments are open, but I won’t be able to reply till I get back in early June.

UPDATE

Dave wants a debrief. You can find out what happened on this trip here:

To Sleep or Not To Sleep?

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Sleep has been part of my schedule less and less lately.

This is largely due to this little series of skater woodblock prints I have been working on. While working on the 3rd in this skater series last night, I lost track of time (technically, this morning). Work, and getting stuff done, cuts into my sleep time.

Sleep may cut into my work time, but not sleeping cuts into my ability to be productive.

This, in a nutshell, is my dilemma. By sleeping less, I can spend more time working, but when I sleep more, the time I do work results in higher quality output.

Not Sleeping is a Fantasy

Back in college, my art school buddies and I would fantasize about a magic night that would never end. The night would go on and on, as long as we could stay awake working.

The dream was, once we fell asleep, the night would start again, and we would wake up, fully rested 8 hours later.

If we could stay up for 20 hours, 20 hours of work. 30 hours? 40 hours? That’s a lot of work to get done.

When I was getting my art degree, “who can have the most all nighters” contests were common amongst my friends and colleagues. I remember one time in particular when Richard, Luke, and I spent about 3 days in a row in the painting studio, and got a total of about 6 hours of sleep over those 3 days. We were no strangers to working long hours.

…but Back in Reality,

In college, it was easier to stay up all night working. I could sleep in and not go to class. I can’t do the same now. I can’t decide not to go to work on a whim.

My solution has been to work on this week’s project all night, and sleep in, losing my morning writing hour. The danger of this is missing the time for my second job, writing and marketing my art.

I’m working out how to work with this, and I don’t have a solution yet. My only solution has been to power through, and crash when my body tells me it needs to crash.

It may be sustainable for a week, but it is not long-term sustainable.

To sleep or not to sleep.

Any ideas?

Woodblock Prints Are Always v1.0

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

A woodblock print, when done right, requires planning.

When I carve a chunk of wood from a woodblock, it is gone. No ink prints there. There is no ctrl+z. No undo. I can’t paint over it. There is no eraser.

Cutting wood is final, and a woodblock print requires planning.

When I print the woodblocks, it is an event, like a party I have been planning for weeks. A party is just the result of all the planning that goes into it.

When my subject matter is an array of leaves, I do not have to be exacting with my x-acto knife, I can let my hand influence the result as I carve. I don’t have to plan quite so thoroughly. In fact, I can sorta “wing it”. The art process is done as I carve the block (more on this “art process” soon).

This is the party where you run to the store, get 2 cases of beer, a handle of smirnov, O.J., cran, and some chips and salsa to throw on the table. Invite your friends and let whatever happens happen.

When making a woodblock print of a person, however, each line, each shape, and each cut is planned. Aftar all, a leaf that is a little off still looks like a leaf. A hand that is a little off looks funny, and amatuer.

I am thoroughly planning this party. I’m assembling the right guest list, arranging the seating, picking the music, and choosing the menu.

After all, this print has to be right. “Good enough” is good enough for some things, but not this print.

This planning is the artistic process. The creative and emotional decisions happen now, before I touch a block of wood. By the time I carve the blocks, the only decisions left will be aesthetics and design.

So, I’ve been drawing. The 4th version of this image is sitting next to me on my desk. The first was a small sketch, an outline of my concept (those that watch my flickr feed have seen this one). The next was a quick sketch on a larger size paper. I broke out the ruler for the third drawing to work out the space of the image (perspective, vanishing points, that sort of thing).

The current drawing puts it all together — I’m working on the breakdown of colors and on perfecting the details of the image, mostly the hands and face.

I’ve got another 2 revisions ahead of me before I put knife to wood. Since this next print will include an image of a person, I have to work and re-work the figure to get the drama and the pathos into it. Without that, the art is little more than decorative illustration.

If I were selling an ebook, or a video series, I could release version 0.5, then update everyone with versions 0.6 through 1.0 as I complete them (a good idea, with digital products).

…but I sell art. There can be only one version of every woodblock print, version 1.0. No updates are possible, no revisions are allowed once I sell you the print.

This means I have to work the image, and continue to work it, until it is ready for final release.

It’s keeping me busy.

I Finished One Hundred and One Woodblock Prints. What’s Next?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

I genuinely thought this would be easy.

Making one-hundred and one unique, all-different woodblock prints turned out to be tremendous work.

The background

In case you don’t know..

Last May (or so), I made a simple wager with Dave. I would make 101 Woodblock prints before he wrote 101 articles about WordPress.

I started printing the day before my birthday, the last day of my 30th year. I started with a couple woodblocks and a couple linoleum blocks, and along with my buddy Patrick, spent the day mashing ink against paper.

I thought I would be finished in a month or two, but I seemed to underestimate the amount of work this would take. A little over 8 months after I started, on Superbowl Sunday, I printed the last run on the last print, right around midnight.

This project was about 10 times larger than I thought it would be.

Dave won the bet many months ago, and got a thriving website as a prize.

I’ve got ink-stained hands and a stack of artwork.

What’s happening to these 101 prints?

They are for sale.

101 woodblocks print number 80

Print Number 80. This and many more like it are part of the 101 Woodblock Series. At this low price, they don't come framed though..

And dirt cheap, for the time being.

As I started to finish these prints, I decided to sell them to my email newsletter subscribers (and ONLY to my email subscribers) for the amount that my materials cost me. That’s $3.55 each, plus $5 for shipping.

Like I said, dirt cheap.

I decided to sell them for this price until I finished all one-hundred and one. Which of course, happened last night. I still need to sign, title and number these, and I need to scan each one, so the price isn’t going up yet.

On February 22, the price increases to something reasonable, $20 or $30 per print. Still cheap, but not dirt cheap.

Sign up for my newsletter, and you will be sent a link to the gallery page where you can see every print, and buy at the current “pre-release” price. Click the word “newsletter” to sign up.

Ok, sales pitch over. You know if $8.50 is a deal for a work of hand-printed art.

What’s next?

Dave was up late last night, and called when he saw my twitter post hit. He gave good advice – don’t stop, don’t take a break.

The temptation is to “take a break” and take some time away from making prints to “recharge” or some such nonsense.

As usual, however, Dave and I were on the same page. What he didn’t know is that I had already started the early work for my next woodblock print. I spent half an hour or so Saturday morning taking reference photos, I’ll do some sketches tonight, and I should be carving the first blocks by next weekend.

Time for a Change

sketch of young boy

A sketch of my nephew, from a visit last December

If you’ve taken a liking to the sort of images I’ve created so far, you’re out of luck.

I’m shifting gears.

The 101 Woodblock Prints were influenced by design sensibilities. I focused as much on color, balance, shape, and other design considerations as I did on imagery.

I’ll be making a shift towards figurative woodblock prints (pictures of people). I want to convey drama, emotion, and pathos. I’m not exactly sure what shape this will take, I’ll find out.

(If I ever use the word “emo” to describe my work, however, you are free to punch me)

My plan is to produce one edition of prints each month for the rest of the year. I’m done making each print unique for the time being, I want to return to traditional printmaking, reproducing the same image a number of times.

What’s next? Lots more work.

No breaks, and no brakes.

Sales Pitch for Men: Give Her Hand Made Art for Valentine’s

Friday, February 5th, 2010

You need a gift for your woman.

Art makes a wonderful gift. It can be so difficult to buy, and I want to make that easier.

Coincidentally, I happen to have some hand made original art for sale…

Maybe we can scratch each others back (so to speak). Now, let me hock my wares.

Cheaper than Chocolates

101 Woodblock Series, number 76

101 Woodblock Series - Number 76

I am selling the prints from my current project, the 101 Woodblock Series, for dirt cheap. Like, a-latte-at-Starbucks cheap.

These aren’t sissy print reproductions. Each color is printed with a hand carved block. The block is inked by hand with a roller, the paper is pressed against the block, by hand, to transfer the ink.

Each one made by hand. Each one is different, and unique.

Why so cheap?

Nobody knows who I am. Yet. I’m selling my art cheap so it is irresistible, and you learn who I am. Maybe you will like some of the art I make in the future too (it won’t be so cheap though).

101 Woodblock Series - Number 77

101 Woodblock Series - Number 77

Anyway…

You need to get something lovely for your woman. I have something lovely to sell to you. You then give it to your woman, and she will be happy.

I’ll even tell you how to frame it. Easy Peazy.

Here’s the hoop: you have to be on my email list to get the art. I’m only selling these woodblock prints to email subscribers, and it is gonna stay that way until I finish the project.

When it’s all done, anyone will be able to buy these, no email subscription required. The price is gonna go up though, and you’re gonna have to give me bills with lesser known presidents on them to purchase (I know Jackson “retrieved” land from indians and drove bankers nuts, but what did Hamilton do?).

Right now, for email subscribers, these cost you a few pictures of Washington (with a Lincoln to cover shipping).

To entice you more, I put away the manly brown, red, green, and gray colors I usually use and printed some of them with blue, pink, purple — nice Valentines colors.

(I am sweet and considerate)

Thinkin’ about it?

101 Woodblock Series - Number 63

101 Woodblock Series - Number 63

Want to take a look?

As of this writing, I have about 35 unique prints completed and available. The images on this page are just a sample of what I’ve got waiting to show you in the “back room”.

You just gotta sign up for my newsletter (you will get an “opt-in” email first to make sure you really want to be on my list), and the first regular email I send will have a link to check all of the woodblock prints out.

You can even unsubscribe after you check out the art (it’s you, not me, I get it). No big deal. I use one of the good email list services that make it easy to unsubscribe, not one of those shisty ones that make it impossible.

Any orders I receive by Sunday night (Feb 7) will be shipped to you by priority mail Monday morning (Feb 8). It will arrive mid to late week next week. These are shipped in big envelopes with rigid cardboard to make sure they stay flat while in transit.

If you think your significant one might like some original art, go ahead and sign up by clicking here.

If you decide you really just want one for yourself, and don’t buy one as a gift, that’s O.K.

Fine Art also loses Round 2; Balance is a Sucker’s Bet

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I lost last week’s productivity to DayJob. I have been busy as an engineer, solving the drinking water problems of California.

I thought I would be able to catch up last week, and be on track this week. Turns out this isn’t the case. I was busy again this week, partly with work, partly with important personal business.

The real difficulty I am running into is the so called “balance” between my DayJob and my ambition to create and sell art.

I like doing a good job at work. That takes time, and it takes energy. DayJob requires about 10-1/2 hours per day, from when I get dressed in the morning till I get home and change out of my slacks and tie.

On top of the time, I am mentally drained after a day of work. This is why I started to dedicate an hour every morning to writing (at least, when I am not leaving early to work, as I have the last couple weeks).

I am freshest in the morning, so I give an hour of my best time to myself, before I give 8 hours to BossMan.

Balance is a Myth

There is a common meme around the internet (and in real life) that it is good to “balance” work life with hobbies and other activities. “Balance” is a healthy way to accomplish the things you want to do, and still maintain a decent day job.

They are wrong. The problem isn’t to “balance” the day job with art.

The truth is, the “balance” to a hard day’s work is relaxing at home, eating a good dinner, drinking a beer or a glass of wine (or 3), and relaxing with your family/girlfriend/whatever.

If I didn’t have ambition, I’d be “balancing” out this long work week by drinking beer, playing Call of Duty on my Xbox, and maybe hanging out with a girlfriend that suited the bill.

Irrational Drive is the real kick

I rely on irrational drive to convince me to get up at 6am every day to write, to work every other Friday night instead of going out, and to work on art every night after crunching through problems all day at work.

Balance does nothing to compell me to keep working.

Irrational Drive is what keeps me pushing to work what is essentially 2 full time jobs, in search of fortune and glory.

The trick is to develop my irrational drive into a monster, a force of nature, that compels me to continue to work, beyond when the “balanced” person does.