Solo Art Show: Tiny’s Coffee SE

For those of you in Portland, listen up: for the whole month of August I will have pictures up on the walls at Tiny’s Coffee SE.

I was trying to remember if I’ve ever had a show of JUST my illustrations. I’ve shown my canvas work here and there, and illustrations have popped up in group shows, but I think this is the first time they’ve taken over an entire public place.

The last show here was a photography show with uniform enlargements that could easily be seen across the room. My work — painted by hand on paper — is not large, so I’ve tried to group them invitingly to make people yearn for a closer look. In some areas this worked fairly well.

In others, well…better luck next time.

Remember though that most homes do not have vast empty walls but rather have a menagerie of existing features to work around. And the nice thing about small pictures is you can tuck them into almost any space.

These two didn't make it into the show, though they are available. These two didn’t make it into the show, though they are available.

This show is a culmination of about six years’ worth of work. It features pictures from all sorts of different adventures I’ve had during that time: working the recycle crew at the Oregon Country Fair, my trip to Los Angeles for the Manifest:JUSTICE show, volunteering with the Portland Opera,  and several Cyborg Anthropology pictures are available as well. One of the fennel pictures is even there. All sorts of good stuff.

The show is up through the month of August. Come by and see it, won’t you?

Monster Drawing Rally 2016

All photos in this entry were taken for the Portland Art Museum by Cody Maxwell, and are used here with permission. There are many more pictures to admire here. 

All photos in this entry were taken for the Portland Art Museum by Cody Maxwell, and are used here with permission. There are many more pictures to admire here.

I read on someone’s Facebook page that “MDR” is the French version of “LOL” (mort de rire: dying of laughter), which is a great way to look at it really. The Portland Art Museum‘s Monster Drawing Rally is a big fun time.

This was the second of such events, designed to raise money for free youth programming at the Art Museum. It’s a pretty good deal for the artists as well. In exchange for rubbing elbows with one’s colleagues and drawing before an admiring crowd, one receives a FREE membership to the art museum for a year (!). I have loved being able to just drop into the museum for an hour or two to see a certain painting or visiting exhibition without having to make a big THING about it, so of course I was thrilled to be asked to participate again.

I was in the final session this year, and I arrived right at the beginning of the event so I’d have a chance to look around. It was because of this I met Linda Hutchins.

AND her incredible ink-nib-fingers.

I stood for a long time before her, dazzled by her little invention.

I told her I was dazzled, and she beamed and said she had been attending a metal workshops for a while. This event was the ink-nib-fingers’ debut! They make tiny little scribble beasts that look like something Paul Klee would have done if he’d had the luck to play with such interesting things. It looked SO FUN.

I also met a PNCA student named Jessica who was doing a paper-cut collage.

She cleverly had her sketchbook out for folks to flip through – which is a great idea that I may borrow for future events. It made me want to see more of her work, though I haven’t yet found a website for her.

Of course I also saw a bunch of people I know. Like Kinoko Evans.

And Lisa Congdon.

And Anisa Makhoul. (Apparently giving the volunteers a hard time. When I saw her she was drawing.)

I also saw pals of mine who I don’t have photos of, like Adrienne Vita, Phillip Stewart, Carson Ellis and pretty sure I saw my Lena Podesta as well.

I saw people I don’t actually know but kind of drool over too, like the little family behind Apak Studio.

It’s an interesting exercise to put a bunch of introverts in front of a live audience and have them draw for an hour. Some people find it trying. “How was your session?” I asked Rilla Alexander, when I bumped into her after her session. She said, “I learned I really need a steady table.”

Some people really clam up. I saw several artists this year with a stash of pictures already half done, which they would sort of finesse into finished and then hand off to the volunteers. I suppose it does make for a more polished product, though to me it is not in the spirit of the event — the joy of watching something get created, from scratch, before your very eyes.

Then again, I draw out in the world quite a bit and have a separate painting kit to do so, so it is easy for me to click into an informal mode. I don’t find it difficult to just sit back and draw monsters. I am not daunted by people looking over my shoulder and I am not afraid to do a bunch of potentially terrible drawings in front of people.

I have an “always be closing” attitude towards this event. Rather than spend a long time on one or two pictures I like to make a whole bunch of quick ones. Some I like very much, some end up being not to my taste, (i.e. I think they’re awful,) but maybe they would be someone else’s taste. Because who cares in the end. Some of them sold right away, some are still probably at the art museum’s shop and may or may not sell in the coming weeks.

Once a picture is finished, you raise your hand to alert a volunteer in a blaze orange lei. They take the picture to a drying rack, slip it into a plastic sheet, label it with one of your stickers, and then it goes off to the bidding wall.

This is where the funds are raised.

I like having other people take care of all that, because again it lets me focus more on the process itself. And the result of that process. The look in people’s eyes when they see something getting made.

And the feeling you get when people stop before what you’re doing.

Finally meeting artists you’ve admired for a long time.

And the inspiration — and opportunity! — to make a little magic of your own at one of the many tables available near the concessions.

It’s all just a very cool thing to be a part of. I hope I get to do it again next year.

ICON:8

ICON is over and I’m sorry to see it go. But I’m also glad to have my life back. It’s lovely to be in a room full of illustrators, because you know that by and large you are in a room with somewhat awkward introverts who excel at being outgoing and friendly when the need arises (how else would they get work?) but who would really on the whole prefer to be left alone.

I’m still on the high of being with so many like-minded people. I have a pile of postcards and business cards on either side of my laptop that I am going through, slowly, as I get lost in people’s websites, blown away at the level of excellence everyone is nonchalantly making under my very nose.

UNSORTED ICON:8 THOUGHTS

– Lovely to hear from the different disciplines of illustration. We had the obvious rockstars: Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, but we also had surface designers, editorial heavyweights, picture book makers, and war correspondents. We had borderliners who work more with fine art these days. We had people who have been in the business for over thirty years, and we had folks that have just got started. We had art directors, art directors who used to be illustrators, curators, and above all, fans. I think everyone in the room was just jazzed to be with other creatives.

– In future I need to bring a skinny sharpie and make notes on people’s cards to remind myself what we talked about, or even make a quick sketch of what their face looked like. Certain key players were not a problem, but I have a whole pile of things that were given to me that I want to honor, but some of them I just can’t quite place. Did we meet at the Roadshow? Were they at lunch with that huge group?

– Speaking of the Roadshow: should I table in the future, a reminder: bring about 75% less stock and about 200% more business cards. Because it does not look good to run out of business cards with an hour and a half to go of an event whose entire purpose is to give away business cards.

– I wowed the socks off a gentleman with my little homemade painting kit. Don Kilpatrick, if you’re out there: I was’t kidding, please steal that idea. It’s very easy and beats paying money for a kit filled with colors you don’t need.

– I danced so hard at the final party I got blisters on my feet.

– I met almost everyone on my “best case scenario” list. I met lots and lots of other amazing people to boot. And I have more connecting to do, if these piles of cards are any indication.

The second weekend of July

I’m missing my usual gig as volunteer recycler Oregon Country Fair (a hippie fair, not a farm show) to come to ICON:8 this year, and while it is the obvious professional choice it was not a choice made lightly. I love those silly muppets, and you can’t beat camping in the woods for a week. Happily, there are a lot of unexpected similarities I have been noticing.

WAYS IN WHICH ICON:8 IS LIKE THE OREGON COUNTRY FAIR

– The stunning, unannounced appearance of a wildly costumed marching band. (We got LoveBomb Go-Go, as the Marching Forth Marching Band was doubtless tied up at the ‘Fair. Also, I don’t think they would have fit in the room.)

– People dressed their best, their tip-top to impress. And also a lot of regular people dressed normally. 

– Meeting tons of fascinating, incredible people whose names I have immediately forgotten, so that I will have to go and re-introduce myself here in the coming days. (The difference here is that I have a stack of promo swag to sift through.)

– Experiencing obnoxious, unstoppable allergies.

– Reconnecting with people I sort of know through the internet, getting to REALLY know them. And meeting their friends and pretending like we are already friends.

There was a great moment last night when Laura Bifano, me, and Meg Hunt were furiously taking sketch-notes at the opening ceremonies, each in our different ways.

There was a great moment last night when Laura Bifano, me, and Meg Hunt were furiously taking sketch-notes at the opening ceremonies, each in our different ways.

– I’ve had more to drink in the last few days than I think have all month. 

– Understanding that the point of the whole event is to be open, outgoing and social, yet craving solitude.

– Being completely exhausted, sore and drained, yet eager each day to go back for more. 

New studio

After those last two entries I feel we need a bit of a pallet cleanser. So let’s take a tour of the new studio, shall we?

Welcome! From behind a tree on the north face of a residential building to the obstruction-free east-facing window of a building in the industrial district. None of these photos had to be edited for light. I have to pinch myself. This is what it looks like on a cloudy day. 

Modifications to new studio include: new desk lights, a real kneeling stool for when I decide to stop standing, and things that were on (and next to) the desk are now underneath it. I am trying to keep the desk as clear as possible: only art work or current sketches are allowed up there. (Well, and the radio, until I can mount it up on the wall somehow.) (And the tea cup. And…)

Additional modification: the addition of a computer lab. 

Before, whenever it was time to upload some pictures or edit something in photoshop I had to scoot all the paint and paper around to clear a space for the laptop. I really, really like everything to have a HOME, it lends calm to the chaos. Now the computer has a home. This space will also double as a mailer-prep station. 

Here’s a better sense of what 8×8 means. It’s a small space that can look deceptively large on camera, when you’re only looking at parts of it at one time. It doesn’t feel that small, partly because once I’m there I just see my desk and get right to work. But also, I think, because of the ceiling.

I am not sure how tall it is at its peak, but I know that this plant is about as tall as I am. Maybe taller. And the green thing is taller than I am, so the vaulted ceiling have to be at least over twelve feet. It gives a nice spacious quality to the space, despite my cramming furniture in here. Feels nice and airy. Feels NICE. It’s the only place I want to be right now, which is exactly how its supposed to feel. In fact, I oughta get back there right now. 

The best laid plans of mice and men

Today is the first time I really sat down and looked at the calendar to work this out: thirty three days. A little over a month. That’s how long it’s taken to get the studio fully moved in.

The kinks are not worked out yet — there will no doubt be a massive shuffling of papers as everything finds its final true home — but all the major furniture is in there, most of the originals are in there. Everything that is going in there is pretty much THERE, and that’s a tremendous relief.

I would have finished moving two and a half weeks sooner were it not for a tricky bit of business surrounding painting the floor. The original floors were a dark cool grey — approximately the same color as the graphite of a number two pencil, with a bit more light blue in it, which was corresponds to nothing in my pallet nor in my soul, and simply had to go.

I am not daunted by hard labor, but I probably would have reconsidered this somewhat impulsive idea if I had stopped to think about what painting the floor actually meant in terms of time. Clean the floor immaculately, and let it dry completely. Then a coat of primer, left alone 24 hours to dry. Then a second coat of primer, a further 24 hrs. Then a first coat of floor paint, about 24-48 hours, depending on the weather and humidity levels. Then the second coat, a further 24-48 hours. And then you LEAVE THE WHOLE THING FOR ALMOST A WEEK so it can “cure”.

So, best case scenario, painting a floor takes almost two weeks. And this is assuming you’ve chosen the correct color. 

Yeah. 

Should you also find yourself in the spot I was in, with a freshly primed floor ready at long last for color, do not do what I so vainly did. Do not assume that because you know the color-family and overall feeling of the color you want, you are therefore able to pick something immediately from the color swatches and order the paint right then and there, without first bringing the swatch to the room itself and considering. Because all sorts of things that affect a color’s tone, mood, and feeling in a room, and NONE of those things are things an illustrator has to worry about when painting a picture. 

The knee-jerk reaction color was decidedly all wrong, particularly when you allow for fluorescent light, natural morning light, and blindingly white walls. It was not the wonderful deep gamboge hue I have come to love and admire so strongly, but something else entirely. Something awful. It was a dissonant chord, made all the worse because it was close to the chord I had wanted. And I was so focused on process (that is, the mechanics of getting a floor painted amidst a busy work schedule and nervous floor plan rejiggering*) that it didn’t occur to me until the SECOND COAT OF PAINT that I was painting lemony, bright, aggressive, jittery color rather that what I have come to think of as my deep deep center. 

*Honestly. These three weeks were hell. I haven’t even mentioned that I had been planning for a 10 ft x 10 ft space when in fact the space was more like 8 ft x 8ft. So that was its own little disaster. I would like to thank homestyler.com for its helpful, if not entirely customizable, interactive scale models that let you drag things around in a tiny virtual version of your future space, long before you are able set food in there, as that helped a LOT with the final planning. I am still using it for our House Move later this summer.

Anyway. So I rescheduled with the friend with a truck, unpacked my art supplies and desk, and waited for the second color’s coats to dry and cure before we were finally able to move furniture in.

I’m not showing you many pictures of this, because it’s embarrassing, but it was a great lesson in HASTE MAKES WASTE (although, there are wonderful places you can donate your incorrect paint, so all is not lost. The only thing wasted was time.)

And now I have a glorious sanctuary to work in, filled with me very favorite things and making think my very favorite thoughts. All setting me up to do my very favorite things. And it’s a great feeling. Pictures of this sanctuary very soon!

The Big Fat Moving Sale

I’ve mentioned this on twitter, but it looks like we are moving this summer. Not out of Portland — in fact barely a mile away from where we are now — but into a shared house (with a yard! and chickens!) that will have both more space to stretch out in and yet less space to squirrel away the various things I’ve been squirreling away. Notebooks from way too long ago, very old paintings, little collages that I made for the blog, that sort of thing.

I haven’t moved in six years. That isn’t a lifetime, but it’s long enough to get pretty settled in and end up with a lot of nonsense that you really have no business hanging onto — not just the art-related stuff, but too many mason jars, flower pots, all sorts of things. I have been writing craigslist ads for the weirdest things (150g of Rowan Aran Tweed in a discontinued dye lot, any one?) and am trying to secure a replacement tenant that will be happy to also accept our dining room furniture.

We are moving only a few weeks after ICON:8 — thus preparing for it roughly between now and late July. Obviously this is not ideal, and if we had been planning this move from the beginning we would have structured things much more neatly. But life isn’t a neat and tidy package at any time, and the place we are going was too good to say no to. 

One of the happy results of this move will be the inauguration of an off-site, all to myself art studio (!), which I am trying to get set up long before the household is packed into boxes so I can have a place to calm down and paint — and hopefully have a place where I can resume my planning and excitement for ICON.

So the art space will become a slightly bigger satellite of the house — no longer a place where the cat will jump up and endanger wet paintings — but the autonomous house space will in many ways be much smaller. So a lot of the artwork I have on my walls and stored away in closets has no place anymore, and therefore really needs to find a new home. This is where you come in.

There are TONS of new listings. Tons. Most everything in the shop is discounted to some degree.  I’m on the thrifty “20 listings only” plan here at Grand Central, so a lot of the true odds and ends will be listed on etsy, in a new shop section called Odds and Ends. Nothing in there will be over $40. 

For further savings, keep an eye on my facebook page, as there will be a coupon code for the etsy store here at the end of the week. Good for anything there — which is chiefly prints and ‘odds and ends’ right now.

Everything you buy is a thing I don’t have to pack. 

The Magic of Websites

This is essentially what I’ve been up to all week. Trying to get this new website off the ground. Did you know that this sort of thing is a drag? For me it is, anyway. I was tooling around with Geocities websites back when you were in your early 30s, but things certainly have changed since I was prepubescent. 

Many of those changes are for the best, though. I like these big images, these fixed navigation bars, these enormous thumbnails in your galleries, and the ability to build things like forms into your content:

Please, please, please bear with me in the next week or so as I get things all situated. I am still fretting about inconsequential things — primarily whether or not to move my entire blogspot blog over here. (It is theoretically possible, but looks like it would involve a great deal of editing, post by post, and I am not going to do that. I love you, but we can use our time better, can’t we?)