June 2007


I’ve been busy, busy, busy getting ready to go to India. My creative endeavors this week have focused on fibers. I finished my weaving sampler (lots of mistakes, but a good amount of learning) and also finished knitting up some gifts for my family in India. This is the second Shell Fringe Scarf (pattern by Deanna K. Van Assche) that I have made and I’m planning a third as it makes such a beautiful gift. The toy kitten is from Knitty (Kate – pattern by Jess Hutchison). I’m doing two of these – one for each niece.
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I probably won’t get the opportunity to post for about three weeks. My goals for this trip are to: visit family, take lots of photos and video, draw a little bit every day, and keep my mind open.

I started back into a planned series of woodblock prints based on my sketches of Indian stray dogs. I was taught how to make Japanese-style woodblock prints from Dawn Simmons, the former print media studio coordinator at the UM School of Art & Design. She recommended the book Japanese Woodblock Printing by Rebecca Salter which I found to be very useful.

Recently I found an excellent website Diary of Carving Woodblocks by Ryusei Okamoto which outlines the steps visually and uses a few somewhat different techniques than Salter. Some tips I learned from this site include brushing wood glue over the wood prior to carving to help strengthen the wood. Okamoto also prints the Kento in the key block to help register the color blocks. In addition he rolls oil-based ink over the key block to aid in seeing the thickness of the lines for further carving. I thought it was interesting that he masked off areas of the block that he was not working on in order to stay focused on one area at a time. I did not try this technique as my block is fairly small, but I did try to work on one area at a time and that seemed to make the carving more managable.

I printed the keyblock onto a sheet of tracing paper and used it to copy the lines to the color blocks. Here are my blocks for the print (carved keyblock, carved color block 1 and uncarved color block 2).

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During the summer at the School of Art & Design the staff have the opportunity to explore the different art studios, learn a new skill and have some fun. So this week I spent some time learning to weave. I was fascinated by all of the clever weaving tools and machines that have been perfected over the centuries.

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I’m not sure where weaving will lead me. I can never be sure how these new skills will find their way into my artwork. It is a pleasant tangent though, after working so hard getting things ready for the Staff Exhibition.

The School of Art & Design Annual Staff Exhibition will open this Friday, June 8 from 6 – 9 pm at WORK, 306 S. State St., Ann Arbor. The show will run from June 8 – July 6th.

I have several works in the show including my shrine, “Yin-Yang, Me-Earth”

Now that I am finished with the big rush to get things finished for the show, I am having trouble getting myself motivated to work. I will only do artwork if I set aside time every day to do it – even when I don’t feel like it. I know that once I am in my studio the creativity will take over and the fear will leave me. So today I pretty much forced myself to go to my studio. I cranked up CBC radio 2 and furiously cleaned up the enormous mess that had accumulated. Who knows what I will work on tomorrow. When I think about it I feel nervous. But all I need to know is that I will get into the studio tomorrow and start making something and getting the place messy again.

I hope I will see you at the opening tomorrow night!

    Over the past week I have been working on creating a video from my artist book, The Power of the Indian Stray Dog. Why did I do this, you may wonder. Well, I did it mostly for the shear joy of experimentation. I wanted to see what would happen. I found out that there were things I could do with video that I couldn’t do in the book format – such as leading the reader’s eye and music. But there were things the video missed such as the tactile beauty of the paper. I’m hoping that the video format will help expose the work to people who might not otherwise discover it. And, if nothing else, doing the video gave me a chance to learn a new medium.
    Here are the steps I took to make it happen:

  • I used iMovie, but I am sure there are other programs out there that would work well too.
  • This would probably work best with a book that uses words and images to communicate, rather than a book that uses structure and/or materials to get it’s message accross (such as a popup book or an altered book).
  • The book I made into a video didn’t have a very long script and so I put the text into titles. If a book has a longer text, you could make it into an audio track.
  • I had previously scanned the book’s images and saved them as jpgs, so they were easily imported into iMovie.
  • Control clicking on my images then clicking on “show photo settings” allowed me to edit the photo settings.
  • Using the Ken Burns effect, I was able to start the pan over the image and stop it where I felt it was most effective.
  • I used the transition “cross dissolve” to get the words to flow into the images. The transitions require clips to be over a certain length, so I sometimes needed to lengthen the clip under photo settings (moving the slider from the rabbit toward the turtle).
  • P. recorded the sound track in Garage Band and I was able to move it into iMovie. [note: Make sure to save it with an iLife Preview (located in preferences) or it won’t be usable in iMovie.]
  • Thanks to the help of Dave Liske, I exported the video as a Quicktime file using Expert Settings – selecting Options, Video Settings, Compression Type MPEG 4 Video and Quality=Best.
  • Finally I uploaded it to Youtube.
  • Here is the result:

    Let me know what you think!

I created a Google Map of art supply vendors in the Ann Arbor area for a course that will be taught at the School of Art & Design in the fall. The list of vendors came from the professors who will be teaching the course. I just took that information and put it into a Google map. It was really easy to do and if you haven’t played around with Google maps before, I highly recommend it. You can see my map at http://tinyurl.com/2acr78. I color coded each type of vendor, but couldn’t figure out a way to reorder the list or create a key. If you know of a way to do this, please send me the info. I also want to see if I can mash it up with a Google map of the University of Michigan bus routes. Send me a note if you know of any other vendors that should be included.