Monday, November 24, 2014

drawing bell hooks

A recently completed card and illustration of bell hooks to promote her upcoming residency at the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College. The clients, Karlyn Crowley and Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer who run the Cassandra Voss Center, wanted the image to tie into the theme of this year's programming which focuses on "heroes, power, comics, and identity." They asked for a loose drawing of hooks: cartoony, but recognizable.

I drew hooks several times and struggled to be faithful to her likeness without getting too fussy in the drawing. I also kept exaggerating her cheekbones to the point of making her seem gaunt.

It's been nice to do illustration work lately. The parameters of a commissioned drawing are like a puzzle with several possible solutions. In this case Karlyn and Anna had a strong vision and gave great (read: very specific) feedback. In sussing out different visual options I also drew hooks as Yoda, but worried that the image wasn't flattering enough. Karlyn and Anna took a print out of that image to the National Women's Studies Association annual conference to show hooks and reported back that she liked it. Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art at Amery Food Hub

Photos from our trip to install Who Shares Wins: Kate Casanova + Katie Ries at the Amery Food Hub. We got to stay the night in Hungry Turtle's warm farm house and woke to more thin snow on the fields and roads.

Inside the Amery Food Hub's center space

Land Scout sash, Guide Book, and field books

Economy of the Amateur Ink desk and drawings
What You've Got 

from the Hungry Turtle farm house porch

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finish Strong

Now is the time in the semester when I start thinking to myself and saying out loud to my students: finish strong.  By which I mean ground yourself, take a deep breath, and do the work. Do not burn out, but sustain yourself with rest, food, good people, and a disciplined practice. Amen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Poetic GIFs by Daniel Maw

Daniel Maw is an artist, teacher, and cartoonist. I first saw his work when we were in grad school together, but stumbled back across it recently and was struck by his GIFs. Linked here is one I liked from the Red's Barbershop series. They are brief and poetic.

 Below, a self-portrait of the artist at the gym:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hungry Turtle Weekend

Coming up in the middle of this month, a sweet weekend of art, food, people, and music courtesy of Hungry Turtle Farm and Learning Center. I have the distinct pleasure of showing my work there with that of Kate Casanova. Casanova is an interdisciplinary sculptor based out of the Twin Cities. She is what the Ancient Romans called a bad-ass and her beautiful and minimalist work makes me swoon. I especially love this video piece, Ornament, in which hermit crabs traverse the landscape of Casanova's plaited dome.

You can see our work Saturday, November 15th from 7 - 10 PM and you can sign up for the many interesting workshops of the weekend here.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Paper Fox Printmaking Workshop

This past Thursday I got to work with Ben Reinhart and art students at Lawrence University as part of their Paper Fox Printmaking Workshop. Ben was an attentive host and the students a great help. The Lawrence printshop is full of light, well-stocked, and organized. We pulled 50 impressions of a two-color screen print on blue paper. Later I'll edit the edition down to 30 prints. The image is a drawing of small objects found walking our neighborhood. It will be part of the forthcoming Land Scout Guide Book.

Screen printing is especially fast relative to other analog print media, and it was exciting to arrive, get to work, and crank out the run. I came home with the prints neatly wrapped in a box and waiting to be sorted, trimmed, and editioned (i.e. signed with title, number, and signature). One of the things I love about printmaking is the excitement of having more than one art-object to distribute. Here is the thing I produce: this stack of objects. Let's trade.

First color in the drying rack
One half of the prints will return to Ben and the Paper Fox Printmaking Workshop. I plan to sell ten of the remaining prints to cover the costs of attending the Southern Graphics Council International conference this spring. You can see a detail below. Each print is 17" x 11" and is $75 plus shipping. If you are interested in purchasing one please be in touch. If $75 doesn't fit in your budget, please make me your best barter offer.

A detail of the print
Many thanks to Ben and students for the opportunity and generous hospitality.
Ben and some of the experimental fun prints left over. Fluorescent paper! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Just Free

Another charming bit of printed ephemera from Bill. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dream Book

This cover is one of the many pieces of paper ephemera I received from the collections of F. William (Bill) Bohne, my late colleague and stellar human. I love it for the decorative frame, the saturated colors, the prime example of "the noble savage" and the zodiac circles on the left, which I interpret to be badges. Sadly there was only this cover and I am (we are) left to guess what Dr. Kilmer & Co. explained about dreams in the Swamp-Root Almanac

Sunday, August 10, 2014

On the Lake

Our new rental house looks out at Lake Michigan. It is a big big body of water and I'm enjoying seeing the differences here: what's growing now, finding new plants, new colors, shapes, textures, and smells.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Really Big Prints

On Friday my print collaborators (Johanna Winters & Don Krumpos) finally printed our big wood block. We started carving earlier this summer and drove down to UW Manitowoc to ink it up and print on big sheets of paper and fabric with a steamroller.

We met a great group of fellow printmakers and lucked out with very little rain.

Beaucoup des process photos below.

Johanna and Don stand on the jig to keep it from slipping out.
Candice rolls up her beautiful block.
Katherine's block at rest.
Annica the steamrolling queen with Katherine and Candice of Missouri. 

In front, Chicken Pot Pie, by S.V. Medaris, printmaker and poultry farmer.
Berel Lutsky, one of the hosts of Really Big Prints
Our crew: Don, Dayna, and Johanna.  
The lovely Victoria of Austin, TX was a great help with our printing.
Final print on Kitakata with women for scale. 

We pose in the gestures of our saints.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What the Living Do

Some friends recently tweeted to each other this interview with Marie Howe  and I was so glad to see it again. When I think of my late colleague Bill Bohné I am reminded to keep on with what the living do and to live well while I'm at it. Howe is good at getting at the liminal spaces in an ordinary day and the unexpected sacred. When I listened to the story and heard Howe quoting her dying brother I imagined Bill could have said the same, "This is not a tragedy. I'm a happy man...When I'm asked if I could love I can answer yes."

In fact, Bill said as much by being loving and engaged until his last. He was concerned about craft in art, about living well, about teaching, about maintaining the art-ness and weirdness of our discipline, and about celebrating. I'm still mourning him and perhaps feeling sorry for us not to have him physically here. I am living. I remember you.

Mourning sleeves in a swimming pool. 
I first encounter's Howe's work through her poem Part of Eve's Discussion in a college course on the Religious Poetry of Asia. It was the liberal-artiest type of class that one can take in a liberal arts college and the kind that could have been total underwater basket weaving. Instead it was beautiful and unexpectedly practical. Some of the poetry and ideas of that class stuck, rooted, and enriched my thinking and my mourning. In addition to Howe's book of essays Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, the class read Robert Hass' Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa (Essential Poets). I've most recently returned to that book for subject matter in my beginning printmaking class. In fact we were sitting around a table in the printshop reading haiku when I learned Bill had died.

In honor of Bill, art, and wit, here is one of my favorite haiku by Kobayashi Issa (translated by Robert Hass).

A bath when you're born,
a bath when you die.
How stupid.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hungry Turtle

Recently got to work with the newly emerging Hungry Turtle Farm and Learning Center in Amery, WI to produce four illustrations to go in their new building. Hungry Turtle is "committed to supporting sustainable agriculture and land stewardship through education, innovative partnerships, and programming."

I'm excited to continue to work with Hungry Turtle and look forward to seeing how their work grows in Amery. In fact, they'll be hosting Turtle Scouts, their own Land Scout troop! Pretty exciting.

Below are the four illustrations that went up in the windows of the Hungry Turtle building.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Found Painting

Palette from my studio. Best painting I've made in a while.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Red Bird

The mascot for the high school down the street from our house is the Red Bird. It looks like an angry cardinal. The marquee in front of the school spells out in LED lights: It's a Great Day to Be a Red Bird. I find this funny and take it as a challenge. We'll see how great it is to be a red bird.

So far I've draped the veil-like portion of the Red Bird head piece. Need to anchor my head-mannequin so I can lean into it. I love the challenge of moving from drawing to object, although so far the drawings are more exciting and engaging than the red corduroy hood waiting in the studio.

I imagine wearing it and dancing around my neighborhood as if in a music video by Mimi Cave. The neighbors might worry. Or they might join in. Such could be the greatness of being a red bird.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bartram the Land Scout

I read an article recently about American botanist John Bartram. Accompanying the article was this great drawing of Bartram by Howard Pyle an illustrator considered to be the father of The Golden Age of American Illustration. There's an excellent group of Pyle paintings on exhibit at the Baer Gallery right now. If you live in or near NE Wisconsin, the show will be up through the end of this week.

After it the Pyle show comes down I'll help install Land Scout illustrations in that same gallery. It feels sweet and serendipitous to find this image in common.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Over the winter break I enjoyed getting into the studio more to work on things for the upcoming show. Among the things were seed balls. I will recreate the trade-installation I showed at Pellissippi last fall. These seedballs will carry a variety of midwestern wildflowers as selected by American Meadows. It is rare (for me) to get to the point where the decisions are made and all that remains is to make the things. Rare and pleasurable in its straightfowardness. I hope to have 200 + seedballs to fill two low pedestals in the gallery. While on the subject of production: a shoutout and thanks to my one-time assistant and all-time ceramicist Amy Hand, who helped me refine this process and recipe.