The skills of observation are the same, whether painted or photographed

Edwardian portrait of a mother and child

Here is my other treasure from the Antiquarian Book Fair (which was fairly well-stocked with so-called Ephemera, that I obv adore)— a stellar and skilled portrait, the likes of this level I’ve rarely seen in my years of collecting Cabinet Card pictures as they’re called when mounted and ‘framed’ on cards like this.

This is a true photographic portrait; staged and lighted with an astute level of skill for the age of early photographs. Lighting and composition are informed by both Dutch and Renaissance masters, that much is clear. Mother was surely holding her breath (as well as her babe) to allow for such a sharp portrait. I’d wager they may have been situated near a window with a cheesecloth or similar scrim to diffuse the available light. Beautifully executed. A+

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A long overdue revisitation

Scene of a country lane done with etching techniqueAlong A Path, 2011 (intaglio and aquatint)

I’ve just signed up —at long last— for another printmaking class! Difficult to believe it’s been seven years since my scholarship to learn copperplate etching (intaglio) at Manhattan Graphics Center, which was my first and only foray into this fantastic ancient method of picture-making.

The class begins in November, with my same instructor as last time. I’ve still got a huge slab of copper which I didn’t get to last time, and I hope it’s still in good nick. Gotta check out my supplies to see what else I’ll need to resume the practice.

This time, I’m keen to get more exploratory in my work. In 2011 I focused on pieces that were intricately detailed and traditional (as you can see from these two prints). My approach involved a lot of hand work, using a magnifying glass to see as I worked. It was incredibly time-consuming, even before the acid-etching stage— which is where a lot of magic can happen, much like going into the darkroom with one’s negatives.

Continue reading “A long overdue revisitation”

Regard me as a Sink

old penmanship on a diary pageHere’s a page from an antique journal or diary of sorts— it’s from an old “Autographs” book that I purchased at the Antiquarian Book Fair last Sunday at the Brooklyn Expo in Greenpoint, and the majority of dates found within are between 1879-1884. It was a sacred collection of sentiments, photographs, and drawings of one Antoinette Reisse from St Louis, MO.

Above is a sentiment written to her by one of her true friends, Ida. The penmanship initially made a confounding mess of this, as it seems to read—

In the golden chaise of friendship,
Regard me as a Sink.

What are you on, Ida? That’s just nonsense!

On closer inspection, it appears Tony used a pencil to correct or clarify poor Ida’s handwriting, so that on balance one can see that it is meant to read—

In the golden chain of friendship,
Regard me as a link.

Ah, yes, much better. That makes sense. For a moment I thought Ida was an early surrealist or dada enthusiast, before such things were named.

And just like that: Autumn

Brooklyn Bridger seen from DUMBO in the rainIt arrived with that kind of grey rain that settles in for a few days, so you just have to settle with it.

I was out all day Sunday and into the night; eight miles of walking in the rain, and when I got home the apartment was clammy like when it rains at a beach house during vacation and steals away some of the fun. 

I had to put on pajamas for sleeping. The beginnings of Fall.
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A little park in the ruins in DUMBO
A street lined with an arched tunnel of Locust trees in Greenpoint

india ink blotsI remember when I was younger there was a sort of general consensus around the idea that New Yorkers* were among the most self-obsessed, narcissistic assholes on the planet, especially artist and academic types†. And, I don’t know, maybe that was true.

Things have changed though. Through the power of technology (smart phones, social media, &c) now nearly everyone is a self-obsessed narcissistic asshole— it‘s a goddamned epidemic!

Have you ever run into someone, and you’re like ‘Hey what’s new?’ and they start telling you about some ongoing saga in the middle, because they assume you‘re up-to-date via their posts on Facebook or whatever?

Now that is some self-absorbed narcissistic shit! And it‘s pretty common! Here‘s some homework you can do, in case you‘re feeling a little guilty.

Repetition in ink of "I'm self-absorbed as fuck"

*LA must have been a close second.

†My schoolmates and I (yes, art school) found this notion hilarious and kinda‘ leaned into it for awhile; it seemed a very Fluxus thing to do.

Having to wear shoes all day in summer feels like foot binding

gull on the wing at Brighton BeachMy feet are shredded; torn up and abused by the shoes of summer. It’s not that the shoes are uncomfortable per se, but most (cute) summer shoes are too flat to wear often, and the others I counterbalance with: too constraining.

Opposites, each feels a relief after the other, yet compounding irritations alternately. It being a hot summer, sweat and humidity conspire— abrasions result, and blisters. Picture a ballerina’s bruised little hooves; that’s how mine feel.

The truth is, I’m not accustomed to wearing shoes for so many hours at a time. All the years working from home, I rarely wore shoes. Only to leave the house.

And despite my need for walks —2-3 hour stretches a few times a week to go thinking, when I was my own boss— my erstwhile feet were still more lithe and nimble; never sore or stiff. So I put it down to too much time constrained, even (perhaps especially), when idle.

Having shoes on all day puts me in mind of foot binding. What an effective approach to make people* stay where they were put— first the pain, then the twisted-up appendages, unable to do what they were made for.

I took trains with the shortest walks home tonight, which I never do, and pain was why. What utterly avoidable nonsense.

 

*women

The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day

lower Manhattan as viewed from Governors Island

My brother came to visit for a few days. We had an adventure-filled weekend, and I’m thankful for his visit, as I was when my older brother and his family were here earlier in the month. Not only to have spent time with them, but also because visitors ensure you get out and do things. Jon and I crammed a lot of summer into three days.

Above is the view of Lower Manhattan from Governors Island. Seen this way, it seems less an island than a mirage or some kind of magic allowing myriad structures to float upon the surface of the water.

Houses on Governors IslandChurch on Governors IslandView of the city from Governors Island

Continue reading “The floating city; a mirage in the heat of a summer day”

Cartographics color the way we see the world when we get there.

A non-exhaustive survey of art and culture in NYC, watercolor

A bit of in-progress work for a travel project— a bit of an arts and culture map via watercolor. I find it sweet and endearing. But then I would; I’ve been working on it for two weeks, and have become rather attached.

Can’t explain it in full, as it’s for a small audience, but I wanted to share just a sliver or slice of what’s been taking up some of my time and best efforts. To be repetitive, I’m so happy to be working at a place that makes use of these, the more vague or difficult to explain (on a resumé) of my talents. Overjoyed they want them, now they’ve seen the work in situ*, as it were.

NYC cartography of culture watercolor map

Continue reading “Cartographics color the way we see the world when we get there.”

Watery interpretations of celestial superstitions

Watercolor illustration of Aquarius at the UNLast month I created more images using my watercolor paired with digital vectors technique, this time for some editorial illustrations. They were for an article suggesting things to do while in NYC based upon visitors’ astrological signs, which was published earlier this month.

These took a departure from my food illustrations, in that these form complete scenes. It was more challenging, to be sure, and I learned a lot in the process. It was also great fun, honestly, and such a pleasure to be able to create things like this at work. My watercolor half-pans have basically set up permanent camp at the office.

Be sure to check out the full article on nycgo.com— it’s cheeky and fun!
Watercolor illustration of Virgo at the TKTS booth in Times SquareWatercolor illustration of Leo at the NY Public Library
Watercolor illustration of Taurus at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Summer hid a whetstone in the slender paths between cornstalks

Seneca, the paint quarterhorse
My brother and Seneca in the ring while I was up at the Farm in July.


Summer
! It’s been too hot. It’s rained a lot. It’s been busy with work, and (half Fridays notwithstanding) I’ve still not gone on a date with the Atlantic Ocean. Haven’t cycled as much as I’d like.

But it’s been good, after its own fashion; taking its own shape. Clarity and focus with my work has (mostly) made up for my extreme lack of drawing and writing. Solid, meaningful visits to and from family and friends have shored up scattered edges.

What it all has in common: that fleeting quality that I will ever associate with Summer. Happily, the meaning lasts, even if the sunshine doesn’t.

And life without meaning is little more than a series of actions or motions.

drawing of a wall needing art, w measurements
My mathy diagram of K’s wall, before we hung all the art!

Just over a week ago there was an unprecedented electrical storm —very local to my apartment. To the extent that my building was hit and I lost a few small appliances; modem, router, speaker, and the aquarium pump. What a nuisance. Amazon: order replacements. Brazenly, decadently easy to deal with such a blow in these times. Nearly everything was back to rights by the weekend.

The electrical storm seems to’ve been a metaphor for things at large. I wasn’t even upset at having to drop over $200 at the damage that ensued; indeed, it felt like a doorway. An entrance stone had opened, to quote Murakami. I took it as a sign. Old things, old equipment, can be let go of easily with the help of a catalyst. Particularly when it suits the story.

Just last year, my printer died, apropos of nothing. I was irritated, irate at first, but at length it dawned on me that the thing was 11 years old. Then I felt grateful it had endured so long. (Few have such a resumé these days.) I practically well-wished it as I left it on the doorstep of the electronics recycling center a month later. A solemn good-bye, with a wink: So long and thanks for all the fish!

I digress.

drawing of electrical wires
A drawing of the occasional above-ground wires of New York City

This summer has been the most disruptive I’ve had in a long time, and probably—definitely— overdue. I’m good with it, have found a way to be settled with it, despite not having had my sand and salt respites at the edge of the world; despite not having spent (yet*) enough time with friends in our erstwhile carefree summer ways. It’s a new chapter, demanding of change.

At Springtide I sensed it, (sortof) accepted it— was fine to wait for Summer. But it’s different now, and it’s on account of so many factors I cannot list or name them all.

I’m still absorbing, but for the first time in a long time I’m not afraid of Autumn. I’ve even taken to listening to the Shipping Forecast as a soothing interlude, a doorway to focus, or just to sleep— a horoscope of rain and barometrics, always rising more slowly.

Photo of the pagoda in Patterson Park, Baltimore
The pagoda at Patterson Park in Baltimore, when I visited K

*ever the optimist!