Friday, November 20, 2015

Keith Richard Griffiths

A former student of mine continues to grow as an artist.  This post was prompted by his participation in a two-person show at Fairleigh Dickinson Univeristy, in which his recent sculptural work signifies his clear transition from art student to artist.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Stand Up Paddleboards, T-shirts, E-Commerce web design, CAD, welding, and teaching

Someone asked me what I've been doing this Fall, I responded with the list in the title above.  They followed up with another question that asked what "art" I was doing this Fall.  I responded by asking why that person did not see the art in all of the things listed above.  

Any object can be isolated, hung on a gallery wall, and called art.  It's a valid work of art because someone decided to change the context, bring attention to the artifact, and cause discussion within the framework of the Art World.  I am not going to judge if the discussion is worth having or not.  That conversation can be left for another day.  

A point to which I would like to draw attention, is that art exists outside the gallery/museum space.  Unfortunately, most people have to be hit over the head with the obvious signifier of the white cube, and fail to recognize the art the exists around us every day.  I am not talking of the mundane, banal, ironic boring hipster privileged stuff.  I am talking about those things which cause wonder; which cause artists to express themselves in visual, spacial, tonal, rhythmic, aesthetic languages.  

Over the past few months, I was invited to participate in many different projects, by many different people.  I had the great privilege to collaborate with several artisans.  Some had formal training, others had none.  In retrospect, the most flattering part of the past few months is that so many people trusted me to bring my creative skills to their project, balanced by my ability to complement and augment the project.  From a selfish perspective, while I may have sacrificed some of my own voice over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to learn some CAD, expand my skill set within the Adobe suite (beyond my ACE Photoshop and cursory knowledge of Illustrator), start to understand the organization (and some jargon) with e-commerce web design, and do some good old labor while listening to music streamed via bluetooth to the headphones attached to the hard hat.  

I feel blessed to have worked on so many unique projects over the past several months.  I hope that the learning and creativity continues.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Reluctant to buy from Blick

I have noticed that, since the death of Pearl Paint, Dick Blick has eliminated their student discount, and raised their prices on most things that they carry.  Basic economic theory: drop the price until the competition goes out of business, then hike it back up again.  I am again a fan of looking for the local distributor and increasingly less inclined to even look at the Blick site when shopping for art supplies.  Better yet, I am a BIG fan of the hardware store and buying directly from ink/paint makers instead of the box retailers like Blick.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015

Marginally Academic Drawing 07

feels like a 4/4 time signature, but it's really 10/4

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mountain Climbing from Weld

The Weld General Store asked me to print up some more of these Seaverns W. Hilton prints.  I made a few sizes: postcards, 8 x 14 (6 x 12 image), 11 x 17 (8 x 16).   Visit the store when you are in town and get one of these reproductions of the historical mural that used to hang on the outside wall of the General Store.

*** one thing to note, is that this is an accurate historical reproduction so still has the old Chimney Trail listed.  That trail has been closed for a long time because of land slides.  It no longer exists and people should NOT go there.  These prints should not be used for navigation.  They are a faithful reproduction of a very old map that used to be available in the town a long time ago.  Anyone who is looking for a trail map that is current can find that at the Weld General Store too.  Be sure to ask for the current map if you plan to hike.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Marginally Academic Drawing 01

Building on the idea of marginal drawings, I have been exposing students to the ugly process that is an integral part of creating art.  The idea is not new, not my own, but is often overlooked.  Other disciplines teach that learning takes practice, trial and error.  Art has an ignorant concept of genius, divine inspiration, and shamanism that removes the idea of effort from the work and makes people believe (falsely) that art requires talent without effort and that an artist either is born with it or not.  The public face of any artist is that of her/his best work.  If you were allowed to see every page of a sketchbook, every scribbled-upon napkin, every franticly scrawled idea in the margins, you would see a handful of good ideas scattered among many failures and incomplete thoughts.  Some good ideas are complete accidents, most are the result of effort, work, trying, thinking, doing.  Of course the good ideas are given attention as the artist develops them into full bodies of work.  

I call this latest set of marginal drawings "Marginally Academic Drawings" because they have some kind of focus.  The idea is to create a sketch based on a simple idea, a simple set of rules, and build on the mistakes to create variations of the first idea.  This strategy is used very successfully in music.  From my own music collection, I immediately think of this strategy when I listen to the drumming of Neal Peart, the music of Medeski, Martin, and Wood, or Charles Mingus.  I call it academic because some rules exists (as opposed to completely free-form) and some of the forms that evolve look like many art school projects (without regard to the academic rhetoric attached to the forms).  

I share these marginally academic drawings in this blog because this blog is not formal, and is kept mostly for my own entertainment.  I have also found, quite happily, that revealing the working process of creativity does encourage my students to start working (and keep working) on their own projects.  It reveals that art is much deeper than the finished, packaged product in the gallery and contains many processes that are not revealed in the limited space of an artist's website.  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Don't fret precious I'm here, 
step away from the window
Go back to sleep
Lay your head down child 
I won't let the boogeyman come
Counting bodies like sheep
To the rhythm of the war drums
Pay no mind to the rabble 
Pay no mind to the rabble
Head down, go to sleep
To the rhythm of the war drums
Pay no mind what other voices say
They don't care about you, 
like I do, like I do 

Safe from pain and truth and choice 
and other poison devils,
See, they don't give a fuck about you, 
like I do. 

Just stay with me, 
safe and ignorant,
Go back to sleep
Go back to sleep
Lay your head down child
I won't let the boogeyman come
Count the bodies like sheep
To the rhythm of the war drums
Pay no mind to the rabble
Pay no mind to the rabble
Head down, go to sleep to the rhythm of the war drums
I'll be the one to protect you from 
Your enemies and all your demons 
I'll be the one to protect you from
a will to survive and a voice of reason
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices son
They're one in the same
I must isolate you
Isolate and save you from yourself
Swayin to the rhythm of the new world order and
Count the bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums

The boogeymen are coming
The boogeymen are coming
Keep your head down, go to sleep, to the rhythm of a war drums

Stay with me
Safe and ignorant
Just stay with me
Hold you and protect you from the other ones
The evil ones
Don't love you son,
Go back to sleep

--- Keenan

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Generals gathered in their masses,
Just like witches at black masses.
Evil minds that plot destruction,
Sorcerer of death's construction.
In the fields the bodies burning,
As the war machine keeps turning.
Death and hatred to mankind,
Poisoning their brainwashed minds.

Politicians hide themselves away,
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight,
They leave that all to the poor.

Time will tell them they are Power Blind,
Making war just for fun.
Treating people just like pawns in chess,
Wait till their judgment day comes.

Now in darkness world stops turning,
Ashes where the bodies burning.
No more war pigs have the power,
Hand of God has struck the hour.
Day of judgment God is calling,
On their knees the war pig's crawling.
Begging mercies for their sins,
Satan laughing spreads his wings.

--- J. Osbourne

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Up here in space
I'm looking down on you
My lasers trace
Everything you do

You think you've private lives think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape I'm watching all the time

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I'm elected electric spy
I'm protected electric eye

Always in focus
You can't feel my stare
I zoom into you
You don't know I'm there

I take a pride in probing all your secret moves
My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove

I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I'm elected electric spy
I'm protected electric eye

Electric eye, in the sky Feel my stare, always there
There's nothing you can do about it Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought And so my power grows

---  Tipton, Halford, Downing (1982)

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order

An insulated border
In between the bright lights
 and the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided

Opinions all provided

The future pre-decided

Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone

Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone


In the high school halls

In the shopping malls

Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars

Be cool or be cast out

Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth

But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city

The timeless old attraction

Cruising for the action

Lit up like a firefly

Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats

Get caught in ticking traps

And start to dream of somewhere

To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights...


In the high school halls

In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out

In the basement bars

In the backs of cars

Be cool or be cast out

---  Neil Peart

Monday, June 08, 2015

I am the one, orgasmatron the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore

I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant and revel in your pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the politician and I decide your fate

I march before a martyred world, an army for the fight
I speak of great heroic days, of victory and might
I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave
I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave
Your bones will build my palace, your eyes will stud my crown
For I am Mars, the God of war and I will cut you down

--- Lemmy

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Marginal Drawings

With each new iteration of digital tool packages, the goal (and the marketing claim) is that it mimics analogue mark-making better and faster than the previous version.  While I am not here to argue that an older way of mark-making is better than a new one, I believe that digital and manual ways of image making can inform each other.  Further, the current batch of college students have grown up without knowing life without the existence of digital manipulation tools.  I see them typing on their phones with a velocity that seems impossible to me.  And yet, when asked to draw some simple shapes with a pencil, they seem to lack the same skill and courage of my little nieces and nephew.

The skill exists.  They have just forgotten it.  I'd like to advocate drawing in the margins of notebooks.  Much to the disappointment of some of my high school teachers, I used to draw all over my notes.  It seemed as if I was not paying attention, and yet when I took notes without drawing my test scores were lower.  Drawing served as a visual memory tool.  I doubt that all of the typing on a smartphone that I see in class today is serving as an additional memory tool for the lecture in class.

Thinking specifically about art classes, students need to build skill-of-hand.  They need to learn how to manipulate a surface with a mark-making tool.  Drawing in the margins, without a goal in mind, can start developing the required manual dexterity needed for success in many art-making endeavors.  For experienced artists, it can serve to keep the drawing muscles loose.  It can also serve as a source for new ideas.  I tend to stick to formal elements.  I have colleagues, who are more content driven, who draw little stick figures while talking on the phone. These drawings might not be finished.  These drawings might not be very serious.  But, these drawings are marginally important.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wall Drawing 1

When the space is yours, and you are left to paint the walls yourself, and you get bored with cutting straight lines along the trim, and you're an artist, what do you do?  Draw on the walls with the paint brush and roller, of course.

I'm showing these in grayscale because that is how I want to think of them.  I don't know if they will inform future prints (some might just be used directly to make prints), or if they should inform future paintings.  I want to leave color out of it right now and just think tonally.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Grand Canyon sketchbook going back out on tour

with the people at Sketchbook Project and the Brooklyn Art Library
Since the sketchbook reproduction is out of print,
this is a nice opportunity to see the original that I made on my first winter Grand Canyon trip.

May 12 update:  (available in print for just about as long as the tour is happening, but the original has a quality that is unmatched in the reproduction)

Here are the stops scheduled so far:

May 8 - 10
Brooklyn Art Library
103 A N. 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249

May 20
New York Public Library
5th Ave at 42nd St.
New York, NY 10018

May 30
Ideas City Street Fest at New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

June 5 - 7
Binders Art Supplies and Frames (Ponce City Market)
650 North Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30308

June 13
Perez Art Museum
1103 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33130

June 19 - 21
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum
605 Robert E Lee Road
Austin, TX 78704

June 26 - 28
5905 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

August 7
First Friday Art Murmur
Oakland, CA 94606

August 8 - 9
The Yard at Mission Rock
3rd St. & Terry A Francois Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94158

August 13 - 15
Olympic Sculpture Park
2901 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

August 22 - 23
Chicago Loop Alliance
310 S State St.
Chicago, IL 60604

August 28 - 30
The Distillery Historic District
55 Mill Street
Toronto, ON M5A 3C4

Thursday, April 16, 2015

UPSTREAM BOARDS Launch Party and Reception in Durango

April 24 - 29th, the Lost Dog will host a week of locally made surf boards by a new company called Upstream Boards.  (Bookmark the website.  It will be live later this spring)  There will be a party on April 25th.  Everyone is welcome.

New boards will be hanging on the wall, for show, for sale, for discussion about what you want your custom to be.  I will also have some related artwork on the wall.  Come to the party.  See the boards.  see the art.  If you are cool, you might get a tshirt too.  Either way, it's a party!!!

(photo above shows the six prints on my workbench before being wrapped up and shipped to Colorado for the show)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Exposed: Exploring The Roots (Vienna, Austria)

April 16 - 26th
is a mixed photographic media show
that connects the history of photography
to the contemporary practice of hand-made photographic imagery today

I am happy to be included in this international show,
and wish I could make it to the opening,
in a city that impressed me years ago,
as one full of history with a genuine appreciation of creative endeavors

Here is a digital catalogue of the show

Below are the six Grand Canyon gravures sitting on my workbench before being shipped to the show.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kentler International Drawing Space

100 Works on Paper Exhibition
on view April 10 - May 10
Reception April 10
6 - 8 pm
353 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Here is a link to all of the images in this show

Friday, March 27, 2015

more work on it's way to Open Shutter in Durango

Here is a quick snapshot from my work bench, of some of the work headed to Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, CO.  Similar ones sold well at the last show, so this is the second additional shipment they asked me to send.  I don't know where (if) they will be displayed on the wall, but they will be in stock one way or another, so feel free to ask to see when you stop by the gallery.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Back to the future: photography becomes as impermanent as the earliest experiments

Wedgewood and Davy's experiments with photography (like so many others at that time) would fade quickly with exposure to light.  They were not fixed/stopped/permanent.  Niepce and Daguerre made permanent photographs in 1826 and 1835.  Niepce's first "fixed" photo lacks detail.  Daguerre's Daguerreotypes are small one-of-a-kind works on metal.  Soon after, Talbot's calotype produced a negative, from which many prints could be made.  From that point forward, photography quickly advanced in both resolution, permanence, and ease of production.  I argue that resolution (grain size, pixel size) and ease of production have superseded permanence.

Daguerreotypes last as long as the metal does not corrode.  Photogravure prints last as long as any other intaglio print can last.  Intaglio printmaking is proven to last for hundreds of years if created and cared for correctly.  Daguerreotypes are not yet proven to the same degree as intaglio prints, but the daguerreotype process was developed a few hundred years after intaglio printmaking (and I readily accept the argument of daguerreotype enthusiasts who claim the plates can last as long as an intaglio print).

I recently helped clean up after a flood at my family's house.  Fortunately, the flood was caught within 24 hours, so photographs did not have any extended time in water.  The clean up prompted me to think about the subject of permanence, and how it seems to be increasingly ignored by the popular photographic world.  The flood short circuited an electric circuit.  If a computer was connected to that circuit, the information on the hard drive could easily have been corrupted beyond recovery.  Digital photographs could have all vanished at the same time.  The smallest amount of water that reached inkjet and laser prints immediately damaged the photographs.  Even the photos made by "professional" inkjet printers were effected.  The photos produced by a professional photo lab, most likely on a modern inkjet style printer, faired better, but indicated that they would not have lasted more than the 24 hours.  The only damage to chemically developed photographs was some wrinkling and an occasional piece of cheap backing, postcard, or other paper that had stuck to the image surface, gluing the two parts together.  Otherwise, the chemically developed (or "wet darkroom" developed) photos are in very good shape.

The modern inkjet prints, which faded and bled with minimal exposure to water, seem as impermanent as the early Wedgewood and Davy prints that faded in the sun.

Additionally, three intaglio prints were soaked in the flood.  The frames and mats were ruined, but he prints are fine.  The only threat to the intaglio prints on cotton paper would have been mold.  But, mold would have taken a week to start developing on those expertly crafted prints.

I have colleagues and friends who have been through similar flood events.  None of them were as fortunate as my family was.  Most of them had running water for several days (or weeks).  Some of them had to contend with rising sea or river water that mixed other chemistry and abrasives into the flood, speeding the damage.  It only strengthens my resolve to keep making intaglio prints.  They won't survive flooding rivers, storm tides, or the abrasive effects of excessively turbid water.  But, intaglio prints have a better chance at survival than most other methods of photographic reproduction.

Of course, I must consider ease of production and resolution.  Photogravures are difficult to make.  Even the polymer plates that I am using, while easier to produce than traditional copper plates, are still finicky and time consuming.  Additionally, any color must be painstakingly introduced, and really amount to split toning, or spot toning (though it can be quite beautiful).  Resolution of the digital world has passed what I can do with photogravure.  It is catching up to the largest analogue negatives (if it hasn't passed it already).  So, if I need a large image, in color, I do not have any other choice but to use my digital processes to produce either a high quality inkjet print (faster, less expensive option) or send the digital file to a lab, who then makes an internegative to use in the creation of a wet darkroom color print.  I could make color gum prints of a certain size (and want to), but I have not even begun to learn that process.

This is an informal blog, so I will sum up by saying that recent events have forced me to seriously consider which images are most precious to me; which stories I want to preserve through the intaglio process; what I can do to spread those stories around.

update (April 16, 2015):
I was happy to have the following article forwarded to me.  It seems that the Royal Photographic Society and Photo Marketing Association are thinking along similar lines as me.

update (July 19, 2015):
Found this article about bit rot by Michael Ernest Sweet and how a real print will last longer than all of that digital data.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Expanded and revised edition of book planned.

I must admit to rushing to publish Making Photogravures With Polymer Plates.  I was only motivated to publish the book because about a dozen people had requested my workflow after seeing prints.  Honestly, I thought the book would only sell 30 copies.  I felt like I was writing notes to friends, not really writing a book.  This is why I kept it as a print on demand black and white book, and why the retail price was so low.  I'm tempted to use a large publisher for the new edition, but part of me is concerned that doing so would put the retail price out of reach for the average DIY artist (my intended audience).  

To my surprise, it has sold several hundred copies.  As a result, I feel that I should share what I have learned since publishing the first edition, as well as revise and expand the content.  The choice I face is to either do it fast, or take my time and do it right.  I am not in a rush.  The content is out there.  My workflow is published.  Others have published there workflows.  Do the research.  Take a workshop (which is more effective than any book or video can be).  Of course I teach workshops, but so does Dan WeldonClay HarmonPaul TaylorJosephine SacaboMark Nelson, (and more than I can remember immediately).

The images in the book (the current edition and future editions) are degraded by the printer.  Very few publishers have access to good printing.  Those that do, will not print high quality reproductions any where near the retail price that I want to keep this book.

The images on my blog are degraded by me, on purpose.  The highlights blow out and shadows block up because they are all converted to the smallest gamut possible (for web browsing).  It helps me protect my intellectual property.  Also, most people who read this do not have a calibrated monitor, so would not see all the subtlety anyway.  And, seeing art in person is far more important than looking at jpegs on a computer screen (no matter how high the resolution or how wide the gamut).

Kind of a random rant, I know.  But, I like to share what is going on with the few people who read this blog.  And, those who have used the email address in the first edition of the book have learned how much I am willing to share what I have learned and clarify what might not be clear in the text.  It will remain active as long as people are polite and it doesn't get filled with spam.  In the mean time, I'll continue to make and show my own art, with the hopes that you all are doing the same.  The new edition is just a statement of intent right now.  I don't know how long it will take.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

First sun exposure using PPM-1 UV exposure meter

Recently, I bought a light meter from that displays time, intensity, and total dose of UV light from 360 - 380 nm.  The device (often called an "integrator") is made by someone who has experience with Solarplates.  Since the UV light needed to develop Solarplates is the same as needed to develop the KM73 plates that I use, I thought it would be beneficial.  Here are the results of my first basic experiment over the past week.


February 21, 2015

Since my normal workflow uses RPX 16x20 uv unit (the one with tube lights and not CFLs) and a Takach10” x 12” stochastic screen for 5 minute screen exposure and 5 minute image/transparency exposure, I placed the PPM-1 over the RXP unit to measure the dose of a 5 minute exposure.

Dose 1:  5466                        cold unit, first firing
Dose 2:  5978                        lowered PPM-1 unit closer to lamps
Dose 3:  5683                        careful to place PPM-1 unit at exact same distance from UV tubes as the outer face of the contact frame class is from the UV tubes.

Average dose:  5709

February 25, 2015

Testing outside with PPM-1 to see how long it takes to get a dose of 5700
Direct sunlight

12:23 pm       169 seconds  dose = 5706  last intensity reading = 333
12:29 pm       157 seconds              dose = 5735  last intensity reading = 365

March 2, 2015
Direct sunlight           3:10 pm
Expose KM73 polymer plate to the “Gamelights…” transparency using same contact frame and screen as normal workflow, to make a new plate for comparision

Target dose = 5700 for each exposure (screen & image)

Screen  dose: 5761  time: 279 seconds     last intensity reading: 92
Image dose:  5813     time:  354 seconds    last intensity reading: 157

Using a plastic bag to cover contact frame from exposure is awkward.  Perhaps light leaks?
The current clamp system made holding the contact frame difficult and impossible to put down so I had to hold it (had to keep adjusting attitude of frame).

March 4, 2015

Printed new plate (outside exposure with PPM-1) and old plate (exposed with RXP 16x20 uv tube unit) using same ink and paper.

(Note:  image resolution degraded/grainy to protect copyright)

Old Plate
New Plate

PPM-1 is a good device that makes exposing any plate size possible.  Needs a new curve, probably a less aggressive curve, probably making the transparency more closely resemble that of a film inter-negative.  This first experiment was overexposed a little bit because I was not able to accurately control the exposure with just a plastic bag.  A good light-proof cover needs to be designed to control the exposure.  It might be worth making an entirely new contact frame that has edges that can rest squarely on the ground without the clamps getting in the way, so the exposure process can happen at the same attitude (angle facing the sun) throughout both the screen and image exposures. 

Since the sun is a single point source of UV, undercutting does not happen to the same degree as with fluorescent tubes.  This might explain the darker tone above 30% density (undercutting/scattering of UV with tubes over cures these sensitive tones, thus making them lighter).  Also, the darker areas (above 85%) are lighter, probably because the UV intensity is higher so they are a bit over cured.