Monday, November 14, 2016

Tempe Arts Festival one of my very favorite shows! December 2-4

Calendar Shock

December 2-4 Mill Avenue, Tempe Arizona
Look for me along Mill between 6th and 7th Streets, double booth #1355
Just looked at the calendar and realized I'm on the road in about two weeks! Oh my oh my, so much to do... Arts festivals require much preparation, inventory, mental fortitude, muscle and attitude. The more prepared and flexible artists are, the easier the managing of the chaos that is one of these events.
I booked a 10x20 double booth and, although that means more work in setting up, also means more breathing room inside for me and a chance to really show off all my available matted and framed works. 


Tempe Festival of the Arts is a twice-yearly extremely well attended and well organized festivals. Attendance is in the hundreds of thousands, an astounding mass of people walk by the 400+ artsand crafts booths. Madness to set up, madness during and complete chaos to tear down...I LOVE IT!!! Fortunately it is very well organized, has the full support of town, great security, great weather, and I have been there so many times before I am very much looking forward to going back to downtown Tempe, Arizona and seeing all my artists friends and some of my most faithful collectors. Less than three weeks...yikes!

Evolution of the Steed

First and foremost is getting the faithful steed ready for a road trip. Tune up this time, and perhaps the all important brake check. Festival wares take up space and can be crammed in all types of creative vehicles. My own evolution from top rack of the GMC Jimmy to a truck/camper combo has taken me through van and trailer. Advantages and disadvantages to all types of configurations of course, while a trailer was very convenient in that it doubles as storage (no loading or unloading of equipment between shows), the current truck/camper combo is much more flexible and agile to drive around in crowded festival aisles.
Here are som fun pictures of the various "steeds" through my career as an art festival artist.
"Truckie" a 1978 Datsun Galavan,
most of you young'uns don't know what a
Datsun is ha ha

"Tiny Trailer" still serves me well on multiple show trips

Ramps are a secret obsession of mine... are hand-carts and dollies

Always always check for cats before leaving

Current truck "the faithful steed" and trailer

Faithful steed with cargo saddle added

See you in Tempe!!!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ink can trick...with duct tape, of course!

Keeping ink fresh

Always a bummer to start out your printing day by having to carefully remove the anti-skin paper from your ink can only to find skin on your ink anyway. For one thing, those flimsy waxed papers aren't big enough, ever, for the can, ever, ever. So ink skins along the edges.
fresh ink, sniff sniff....aaaahhh
And for another thing, the ink seems to skin anyway right under the paper and the top layer sticks to the bottom of the anti-skin paper. Either way ink is lost every time.
Then I proceed to remove the tiny bits of dried up ink from the sides of the can. Takes some time to get the darned clean glob of ink nicely spread on my slab.
the dog, always oblivious to my genius
Two solutions:
 I started using a disc of foamboard, cut precisely to the inside diameter of the can. I press the disc firmly against the ink and leave a threaded piece of string to easily lift the foamboard disc. Works okay and I can scrape the underside of the foamboard disc with my ink knife so as not to waste a precious drop. Since I frame my own works, scraps of foamboard are a-plenty.

But now I use that marvel of material that should be a staple in everyone's home, backpack, purse, vehicle, bicycle...yes, friends, now you can use DUCT TAPE to prevent your ink from skinning in the can. Easier to cut than foamboard and with the advantage that you can let it "ride" up the sides of the can to prevent ink from drying there. Here is a video on my YouTube Channel and still pictures at the bottom.

Still pictures follow

double layer of duct tape, sticky side to sticky side

mark the size of the can with the top

cut along the edges, leave two "ears" for picking up

pick up by ears

awesome, no skin on my ink!

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Monday, October 17, 2016

All in the Details


Confession! I'm not much of a proofer...when it comes to woodcuts, that is. But wood engravings are a bit more demanding, capriciously so. Wood engravings (not mine in particular) have tiny little lines that fool the viewer into thinking they see shading. Fooling the viewer is what art is all about, by the way.
So I am looking at this Creatures of the Night (or maybe In the Still of the Ni-ight...) with a magnifying lamp and all I see are little hash-marks, squares, lines everywhere...and what I see when I back up is a night scene with a cat and a lamp-post and an iron gate. Funny, that.

First set of proofs

First proofs on newsprint paper,
building up the ink slowly

Proof on clear plastic, I'll tell you why in a sec

Proofs, block and the clear plastic proof by the block

Nifty Secret Trick

Apparently nobody says "nifty" anymore...when proofing woodcuts and wood engravings I have gotten into the habit of printing a proof on clear plastic, any cheap clear plastic will do. I have a bunch of transparencies from the ancient times when people did presentations using projection screens, so I use them. Then I slap the plastic ink-side down on a piece of paper.
What this proof on clear plastic does is provide me an exact copy of the print, reversed so it matches the block. That way I don't have to think "oh that area is too dark, I have to reverse in my head and find it in the block". I just look at the clear plastic pasted onto a paper and I can see exactly how the print looks, reversed. Told you... nifty!

Second Set of Proofs

Slightly more carved, especially in the lighter areas,
around the cat, some bush edges more defined

Proof on better paper, getting there!
Still some tweaking to do
Second set of proofs on the actual paper that the print will be printed on. I am using two sets of paper, a fine printing paper from Daniel Smith (not producing paper anymore), and a paper called Superfine. The Daniel Smith paper is slightly grainier with a very slight tooth, which will give the print a slightly softer look. Superfine is a paper meant for letterpress book printing, very smooth, slightly ivory, really beautiful. The smoother surface shows every tiny detail with a minimum of ink, perfect for wood engravings.

Tomorrow, final tweaks and some press printing. So far I'm liking the results but there are some rough areas to clean up still. A wise man (James Pink) once said that the final details from the time you think you are done until you are actually done, can make all the difference in an artwork. Something like that. 
I'm using a tiny etching press, most appropriate for a tiny wood engraving. Blankets, newsprint, ink, rollers, pressure...I set up everything late this evening so I could get right down to biznezz first thing in the morning. 

Part trois yet to come!

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Friday, October 14, 2016

A little wood engraving

New wood engraving

Out of this picture...
...a wood engraving is born!
We take the pibble-dog walking every night (and every day, and every morning...sigh) and it is now duskish-to-dark right after dinner time. I caught this feral en route to our feeders, no doubt, resting peacefully in front of my neighbor's gate. Cool, huh?
I thought much that a print started rummaging through my scatter-brain. That's pretty much how they ALL start, in case you wonder.

Here is my work in progress. As you can see, I flipped the image and accommodated for the elongated paper size. Aside from that, the process of drawing simplifies the details and the process of carving even more so. What is left is the gist of the image, translated to woodcut-speak or in this case, a wood engraving. 

I am using Resingrave. Resingrave is a synthetic resin plate made specifically for wood engraving. Takes ink well, gives very detailed prints. Only drawback is sometimes the edges of a carved line can crumble a bit under a larger tool's pressure so caution is needed when clearing out large areas.
More progress, some proofs and perhaps some paper notes next post, next week.
Engraving on Resingrave, resting on home-made leather support
Also shown some tools, a sharpening stone, and honing plate
So far, so cool... 

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Lemon tree, very pretty...for wood engraving!

Lemonwood for Engraving

Ah, I bet most of you don't know that song?
Lemon tree, very pretty
and the lemon flower is sweet
but the fruit of the poor lemon
is impossible to eat
And I bet you din't know lemon wood is perfect for wood engraving? Wood engraving requires very tight grained wood, very smoothly finished and it is engraved, rather than carved, with hard-tiped tools that also engrave metal.
I just received a perfect batch of tiny blocks from Paul Bendall in the UK, who is a block maker of Lemonwood engraving blocks a former block maker to T N Lawrence and sons London.
Paul's Ebay shop:
Tiny engraving lemonwood blocks, just in from the UK
Printing a wood engraving is much like printing a woodcut except it demands less ink, more pressure and a smoother paper. I have also found them to be "pickier" about everything during the inking process.
My personal wood engraving "arsenal"
patiently waiting their next project,
neatly arranged on a magnetic tool holder
Traditionally, wood engravings are smaller and more detailed than woodcuts and fine lines carved parallel to each other can very much mimic "shading" as in a pen & ink drawing. I have engraved end-grain maple (the most common), boxwood, end-grain walnut, end-grain cherry, Corian and Resingrave, the latter two being synthetic resin products.

A picture is worth a thousand fine lines...this was engraved on Corian (the counter-top stuff) which allows for infinite detail.
following the light
entrance to the Valley of Fire, my fav NV state park

Tempe Festival of the Arts!

Still a ways off, December 2-4, 2016 normal hours finally! 10am - 5:30pm daily.
Got my booth, PERFECT location! #1355 on Mill Avenue, between 6th and 7th
Here is the link:

Last time I was in Tempe

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tribute to

"We must, indeed, all hang together,

or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Printmaker Benjamin Franklin

Between traveling to festivals, making art, destroying my bathroom (see my facebook page), smelling the pines and all other activities that compose my very busy life, I delight in participating off and on in this rare creature we rare birds collectively call "baren". I just took great delight in catching up some of the online galleries of prints provided by the membership.

Baren or, is a loosely organized web-group of woodblock printmakers founded with these words: Chromoxylographers of the world - Unite! uttered by David Bull, our very energetic founding "father." His website can be seen here:

See the info page here:
Mostly we are a bunch of artist-printmakers who delight in the woodblock/woodcut process and enjoy exchanging prints. We (about 400 of us give or take at any point in time since 1999) have now exchanged prints 69 times and any one of us owns an astounding collection of more than 2,000 prints from artists all over the world.

We do this simply for the love of art, woodblock and each other. Many friendships have formed, many colleagues have come and gone, many side projects, some reunions, collaborations, exhibitions, a Facebook group, always the forum...list goes on and on.

Print Exchanges

Aside from the exchange of ideas and images now taking place mostly in our Facebook Group 
the highlight of our happy group has been the exchange program. We basically sign up, we make as many prints as we have participants and we all end up with a nice portfolio of woodblock prints from all over the world. We do this stubbornly again and again since 1999, four times a year.

Some wise quotes by our members:
"Honest effort and honest communication, that's what counts;
given that, anything goes." - [Baren] member Bill Mixon 
"It's in the doing that questions are answered." - [Baren] member Phil Bivins 
"Cut! Print!" - [Baren] member Dave Bull 
"If you like doing something, isn't it better if it takes a long time?" -
[Baren] member Dave Bull 
"Jûnin Tôiro (Ten People, Ten Colours)" -
Japanese proverb 
"... I consider this discussion about ... what art is, appropriation, editioning, if digital prints are or not fine arts, the deathly sin of using a laser or any other modern tool, etc. ... a delightful waste of time." -
[Baren] member Horácio Soares Neto

Again, here are the galleries of prints, we hope you enjoy browsing:

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Friday, August 5, 2016

No sooner I touch down...

Crazy life

As the story goes, I was driving back from Bellevue Washington and vowing to take 5 years off this crazy life when...ding! Message from Tempe Festival of the Arts in Arizona, letting me know that the very next day the invites for the 2016 Fall show would be sent. 
Tempe is a staple in my show schedule, a very well attended show with many avid collectors attending from the huge Phoenix valley. So I'm very tired and I still feel the tingle...where will I request a booth? where will I stay this time? single or double booth? ay ay ay...
And so the next day, I boot up my sleepy computer and, as I lick my Bellevue wounds and bruises, already itching to get my notice...

Going to Tempe!

Yay! By the time the email hit my mailbox I had chosen a booth, looked at hotels nearby and decided on a 10x20, double booth. Why not, only 4 festivals this year and none! scheduled for next year. I need to regroup in 2017.

Still a ways off, December 2-4, 2016 normal hours finally! 10am - 5:30pm daily.
Here is the link:

Last time I was in Tempe
double booth on 7th just off Mill Avenue
Info from the website:

"December 2-4 2016
Downtown Tempe along Mill Avenue
The Tempe Festival of the Arts is a well loved community event that showcases over 300 artists from around the country.  This year is the 48th annual Fall Festival and we have an exceptional event planned for you.
Look for a few changes to this upcoming festival.  Check out 6th & Mill Makers, a local Makers section curated by local artists.  Next we have added entertainment stages on 5th Street East of Mill Avenue and in Hayden Amphitheater, tripling the stages at the event.  Bringing the family?  You won't want to miss Kidz Row, where kids can see works by their peers and do some projects of their own.
And while you are at the festival, take a break from the crowds and check out some of our downtown restaurants, pubs, breweries and shops.   You'll find great spots that will keep you coming downtown all year long."

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Some Festival Trivia

The Festival Life for Me


As the story goes, I had a real job once! Armed with a Masters in Exercise Physiology and a lot of energy, I managed health education programs for a large insurance company and later for a rehabilitation facility. Then I started making art seriously and found myself enamored with the process of creating something from nothing. I struggled to take the leap into full time art because I liked helping people fix their aching backs, quit smoking, lose weight and manage lifestyle diseases. But I eventually couldn't stop myself from diving head first into the art world.

Once in art, I found that the "art scene" wasn't really my cup of tea so I kept finding ways to make myself fit in. Calls for entries helped build a nice resume of exhibits both in US and abroad; groups kept me motivated and involved with other printmakers. Then one fateful day, I entered into an art festival, a small local affair. I showed my artwork on clunky easels made with plywood; I shaded myself with an umbrella; I didn't sell hardly anything...but I was hopelessly hooked.
My "brag-wall" with mementos and awards from festivals

That was 1998, fast forward to now and I am planning a 1000-mile drive to Bellevue, Washington to participate in one of the most coveted art festivals in the West US. I have an indoor and outdoor setup, a modified truck to carry my wares and a trailer just in case I take off on a blissful two-festival run sometime again. The "good" festivals are few and far between and are competitive to enter so I am happy to travel wherever the collectors like to shop.
Kings Mountain Festival, California, they let you camp in your booth!

  • Thus far I have participated in some 200 festivals
  • Longest drive to a festival was 1300 miles one-way
  • Income lowest was $142, highest $12K
  • Longest festival 7 straight days, 10 hours each day
  • Worst experience in Scottsdale, Arizona, festival cut short one day, overcome by rain and wind, got caught in a desert flash flood on the return trip
  • Best experience in Colorado, a two-festival trip (Breckenridge and Castle Rock); between the festivals I stayed in a State Park campground where I was the sole happy camper aside from deer, elk, bunnies, birds and other forest dwellers

Sleepy booths in Fountain Hills Arizona

The Road Awaits

One of my favorite things about the chaotic festival life is traveling and seeing the great scenery go by. Desert, forest, mountains, farms, cities, rivers and railroad tracks...I become mesmerized by the getting there and the variety of things and people along the way. The first anxiety of a festival is getting to the destination in one piece with all my artwork and setup intact. Road travel is like a meditation, I love driving; I marvel at the fact that there is pavement between almost any two points in this vast country.
For my European friends, Vegas to Bellevue is about the distance from Barcelona, Spain to Hamburg, Germany, give or take a click.
Bellevue, Washington, here I come!
I took my Mami to a show and we took this pic in Nevada


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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Work Between Festivals and BAM! Bellevue Here I Come!!

Bellevue Arts Museum

First thing is first, here is the official announcement:

And Now More Work...

One of the "bad" things about having a good festival is that I have to mat and frame more and more between events. And as my hubby likes to say "are you bragging or complaining?" Weeeellll...a bit of both I suppose (she says with a smirk).

Anyhow, upcoming is a first for me, the Bellevue Arts Museum (BAM) Art Festival and I am told it is a good one. I applied with figurative works so I have been working my fingers to the bone trying to fill my empty art containers (I'm just bragging now). 
But seriously! Usually I need a week of rest right after a festival to allow the bruises to heal, catch up on my sleep and generally go on "hermit mode" to make up for all that socializing. 

Some of the works going with me:
Baila, baila


The web

All Those Details

Not this time, I am on full production mode and am about 3/4 of the way back to having a full truck. I also had to find indoor poles and lights and such minutia. The festival is not exactly indoors but under the protective roof of a parking garage so my indoor setup is the appropriate one. Which reminds me of the time I forgot my legs...well, not MY legs but the canopy legs! Yikes! I had to make do with some short poles cut off with a hacksaw at the last moment as the replacement for the bottom section of the leg poles. Sigh. 

All my indoor track lights got new LED bulbs to have more light with less heat and less amperage. Awesome. Indoor curtains (required division between neighbors) got a freshening up, as did my carpet floor covering. Business license for Washington...check! Extension cords...check! Reservations for halfway points (1200 miles one-way)...check! New banner and signage...check!
And the list goes you know where I've been. Here's my new banner:

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wandering Off to Utah Arts Festival

Prep time!

That time of the year again, June 23-26 Utah Arts Festival upcoming faster than I can say "yipeeee!". This massive event is held at Washington/Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The setting is glorious, a huge grassy area adjacent to the Library and along the fountains and walkways of the library itself. I'm on grass, under a tree again. I love festivals on grass, much more suited to my taste. Look for me in booth #76, corner end of a row in the thick of things.

This week I made some sketches of my booth setup (I always forget them), double checked my hotel reservation, serviced and tinted windows of the truck, made a list of things to do and padded my inventory. Festival hours are noon to 11:00 pm each day for four days! Long days for sure but the evening crowd is so energetic we don't have time to get tired. I'm looking forward to the mayhem once more.

I have the advantage that my inventory was still full from the Tucson Festival which I had to skip due to illness. Someone asked me what happens when you miss a festival? Nothing. Nothing happens; you miss a festival and that's that. Collectors sometimes are disappointed but there are another 300 artists to buy from. Nobody misses you, there are no refunds, there are no do-overs, no compensation, no pity. The art festival world is as delightful as it is harsh. One festival on top of the world, the next down and out. Exhilarating and humbling all at once. Keeps us festival artists working hard and expecting nothing. Life is always a reward that way, new blessings each day.
Bring me a beer, I'll tell you some stories...


bread and butter, tiny woodcuts

The Tabernacle

The Temple

My booth last year

New offerings this year

Almost have mat bin full

All my art containers full

Everything on wheels!

Tinted and ready for action, the faithful steed

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