art is not fun

Yesterday  was one of those days. Last night was one of those nights. Too much time spent carefully cutting individual pieces. Too much time was spent pinning the work on the wall. Toward eleven I discovered that all of the careful cutting still led to problem areas where things didn’t quite line up. It was one of those nights where I wish more people had been roaming the fifth floor. If someone had, they would have popped their head in the door of the studio and contributed their ideas for how I could more efficiently accomplish what I was doing.

Art is not fun. Art is tedious. Art is tiring. Most importantly, art is a time suck. Borrowing from something that Drew Ippoliti said two days ago, “Artists aren’t problem solvers. They are problem creators!”

That’s as close as this son of a sailor is going to get to using sailor talk. On a related note, the piece is done but no pictures. Before Darien, Drew, Mari and I go out for dinner, I should be able to properly document the piece. In the meantime, I present one of my few and far between attempts at drawing. This is a little sketch in my Rhodia pad mapping out where each of the sections should be pinned on the wall.  Dark panels represent ground only sections. Brown represents the area I should have started at for attaching to the wall. Crappy image made using the MacBook camera and Photo Booth.

paper cuts and map tacks

Works in progress. Actually pictures of works in progress. The 24 piece image “Don’t Take This Personally” is getting closer to completion. Some of the pieces need to be reprinted due to overcoating of emulsion which creates differing degrees of silvering. Each section will be cut on two sides and overlap its neighbor. I haven’t decided left or right but top pieces will hang over the bottom ones. Last night I cut the bottom edges on the lower two rows. More cutting planned for today.

Applying a brief lesson in painting from Bridgette (, I hand painted 100 map tacks. Nine of these were painted an off white to match high key areas of the final assembled image. I used last fall’s color mixing lesson (Titanium White plus a little Light Burnt Umber) to create a hue to match the highlights of the paper. Thanks for the lesson in acrylics BBo!

ArtPrize 2011

I will be showing work as part of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan this September. The Greater Grand Rapids Arts Council will host the body of work “from walking” in their 38 West Fulton gallery from Wednesday, September 21st through October 9th, 2011. Other artists showing in the GGRAC space are Inja Cho, Clyde Gaw, Michele Shelton, John Corriveau, Ellen Stuckey, and Jodi Endicott. Please visit the Greater Grand Rapids Arts Council website or the ArtPrize website for additional information.

file under research

a detour from the goings on in the studio to write about a visit to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Another artist in the residency program, Mari Lacure (, suggested this visit so we took the red line out to Cambridge, braved the Sunday crowds at Harvard square and arrived at the museum with none of my usual “getting lost” mishaps. The draw for Mari was the glass flower display, which is a slight misnomer because while there were flowers on view, the collection was an examination of many parts of the plants including leaves, fruits and recreations of near invisible plant structures important for their reproduction. The models were expertly created by father and son glass artisens Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka and most of the specimens commissioned by Harvard have survived the 125 years since their making.

The difficult thing to express is that this trip was unplanned  (at least until a few days ago) yet so beneficial to the work that I am doing at the residency. Looking at the models made by the Blashkas, struck a couple of notes for me. The first is that I know the structures that fascinate me so in this botanical world can be seen at many scales of magnification. The general shape of a leaf or flower visible to the eye or the forms contained within a younger structure that is much smaller and shorter lived, are all possible subject matter for my photography. Some technical hurdles lay ahead which will require me to leave my favorite imaging method of choice, the flat bed scanner, and work with photomicroscopy  techniques to realize these smaller scales. The other “note” struck was a reminder of another reason for doing what I do, the slight threat embedded within these fantastical forms. They need to create a bit of fear in me because of their strangeness; a reminder of how I would sneak a peak out of my bedroom window at night at the risk of catching sight of some monster or alien being.

Last but not least some art history. My wife is a painter and she has shared with me her knowledge of the history of pigments. I had a small agenda going through the rock and mineral room. A whole blog entry could be written on magnatite and meteorites but it is important to go through that candy store of geology with a purpose. The purpose being to locate and photograph an example of Lapus Lazuli, the blue pigment of the ancients. So here it is, for Bridgette, one of three specimens in their collection but by far the one with the most intense blue.

is that a pajama top in the window?

As promised, a picture of the anthotype as seen from the outside. It isn’t the most visible window. One only notices what is attached to it from that stairwell and only then from the 3rd floor window and up. The good news is that the contraption has held for 24 hours.

Other news from the studio, I have begun printing the sections of “Don’t Take This Personally”. All twenty four sections will be in vandyke brown. Perhaps some pictures of this tomorrow. Today was taken up with coating all of the sections plus extra sheets for mishaps. I only began printing the images at around 8:30 pm.

If MacGyver was an artist…

….he probably wouldn’t be making work like mine but I like to think there is a little MacGyver in all of us. Tonight I installed the latest attempt at an anthotype in the window of my fifth floor studio. The name of this image, if it survives the four week exposure, will be Charles Tesconi. The pigment for this image is derived from mulberries. Probably not the best combination of emulsion and paper. The drawing paper from Utrecht soaked up the chemistry as I applied it which means, I should choose a paper that is better sized. This image may end up being a bit streaky. Also, a repeat of what I noticed with the henbit emulsion, there is either oxidation of the pigment or some interaction with alkaline buffers in the paper that change the emulsion from a pink purple to a gray purple.

In and out of the studio today…

I searched for labeled sleepware at a reasonably close by thrift store here in Boston, the Morgan Memorial Goodwill which is about 1.5 miles away.

Coated the paper in the studio, fretting about the streaks and light spots. I could almost here Bridgette saying “Such a photographer!” i.e. let it be more painterly.

I scanned the label on the pajama and created a transparency which will be part of the photogram anthotype.

Installed the paper and garment with backing board in the window (see above).

Below is an image of the pajama top on top of the coated paper.

yesterday, today and tonight

I am almost too tired from a walk back from Chinatown (Boston) the long way to add much in the way of words to the pictures below. The sad truth is that I had a camera and I didn’t photograph the four artists (Darien, Drew, Mari, and myself) eating at the Gourmet Dumpling House. Yes, we had soup dumplings.

I did make two exposures in Boston Commons and the public garden which were part of our route home but first, some evidence of my being a baseball fanboy.

yesterday, Green Monster, Fenway Park


today, rain on window


Tonight, Boston Commons near George Washington statue.