Saturday, April 17, 2010

· Stumptown + Oodles of Doodles Show + SFBC Comic Strip = Busy!

Wow, its been a busy couple of weeks for me, art-wise! There's a couple of things that I wanted to mention:

First off, I'll be at the Stumptown Comics Fest up in Portland next weekend. Family Style will be sharing some space at the Global Hobo table, so look for me there... I have a new issue of my bird-watching zine Bird Brain coming out for the show, it has lots of pretty great new bird illos and writing in it, including a color spread of a Varied Thrush we found late last year (above)!

Secondly, if anyone is down in LA this month, the original of that color Varied Thrush illo from BB 4 will be on display as part of the Oodles of Doodles group show at Tinlark Gallery in Hollywood! The opening is on Saturday, April 24 (obviously, I can't be in two places at once, so I won't be there), lots of amazing artists, should be rad!

Finally, Jonas Madden-Connor and I collaborated on a five-part comic strip for the San Francisco Bike Coalition. There will be a new strip every week, so check back in for more!

· Bird Brain 4 out for Stumptown + BB Painting at Tinlark Gallery

Wow, its a busy week for Bird Brain! First off, BB 4 will be coming out next weekend for the Stumptown Comics Fest up in Portland! I actually have a ton of illos and writing left to do this week, but I have faith that it can all get done! This issue will have lots of great sightings in it due to my three great field trips since the last issue (Las Gallinas, Point Reyes, and Año Nuevo), including Northern Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, Turkey Vultures, Western Bluebirds, and a color spread of a Varied Thrush we found late last year (above)! Plus some bonus non-avian encounters, including a bobcat and Elephant Seals! Family Style will be sharing some space at the Global Hobo table, so look for me there!

Secondly, if anyone is down in LA this month, the original of that color Varied Thrush illo from BB 4 will be on display as part of the Oodles of Doodles group show at Tinlark Gallery in Hollywood! The opening is on Saturday, April 24 (obviously, I can't be in two places at once, so I won't be there), lots of amazing artists, should be rad!


Friday, February 19, 2010

· Shorebirds of Las Galinas

My birder-extraordinaire pal Jeanne Marie and her husband Jim (no slouch himself) took me out for a nice morning of birding at the Las Galinas wastewater treatment facility, which is much nicer than its name implies. With thier help I saw tons of birds that I either hadn't seen before or wouldn't have been able to identify, esp. lots of lovely shorebirds and ducks. I'll be posting more sketches of the birds we saw in the coming weeks (expect the next Bird Brain to be full of stuff from this one trip alone). Here are two of the shorebird species we saw, the Black-necked Stilt and the American Avocet.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

· Bird Brain 3 out for Indy Euphoria this Sunday

I am putting the finishing touches on the latest issue of Bird Brain (you can see the Gocco-printed covers above). This issue is all about local birds, spotted within the confines of San Francisco; but there are quite a few new sightings for me in there, from the elusive Brown Creeper to some sketches of two species of egrets, a Great and a Snowy, which I spotted within ten feet of each other on Crissy Field. Below is a photo I snapped of them by using my binoculars to do some very rough digiscoping with the camera on my iPhone! Pretty rough, I know, but I sort of like the effect:

Snowy Egret

Great Egret

This issue also features a first for BB, a full-color centerfold! I was so happy with my painting of a starling that I decided to do some more sketches and create a two-page spread about these garrulous, ubiquitous birds. Look for more color plates in future issues...

I'll be at the Indy Euphoria in Sacramento on Sunday 1/10 ONLY. I'll have all three issues of Bird Brain along with tons of other Family Style stuff, including a new (and very funny) comic from my pal Nick St. John.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

· European Starling - In Color!

Starling - Ink + Gouache

I did this little ink and gouache illo for a friend's holiday gift... but I might also have some interesting ideas for incorporating a bit of color into future issues of Bird Brain, including the soon to be released third issue (coming out for Indy Euphoria in Sacramento, Jan. 9+ 10)!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

· "Friends IV" print available online from GRSF

My whale v. squid print, "Friends IV", is available now online from the Giant Robot gallery!

This is a large print made up of eight 12 7/8" square panels that connect together to make an image that's over 2' x 4'. Each panel was hand-printed by me on a letterpress proofing press from hand carved linoleum blocks, and is one of a signed and numbered edition of 20. If you'd like more info on how this monstrosity came into existence, check out my progress reports that I wrote as I was working on it: #1 (Design), #2 (Carving), and #3 (Printing).

The print is available from the wonderful folks at Giant Robot SF, click here to go straight to my piece, but don't forget to check out the rest of the fantastic Printed Matter show online, too! The bargain basement price for "Friends IV" is $100!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

· Progress Report #3 - Printing

So, here in our third and final post about my linoleum printing process, I wanted to give you an idea of how I printed the thing, and what the final art will look alike at the Giant Robot Printed Matter show, opening tonight (12/5)!

So, after carving all my linoleum, I had to mount them all on plywood blocks (generously cut for me by the wonderful Paul Stepahin). There were 15 blocks in all, eight for the black and seven for the red (there is just one panel, with the whale's flukes, that doesn't have any red in it). Here you can see the black blocks at a mid-point of the printing process (I've already printed the two blocks in the lower right hand side, as you can see).

Each of the blocks was set into the Vandercook press (at my work, Hello! Lucky: thank you, bosses!), which is a flatbed cylinder proof press. I had pulled prints on one before (the covers for Friends #3, for instance), but this was definitely by far the biggest project I had ever worked on, and I had a lot to learn, from registering the prints to cleaning the press at the end of the day! My mentor in all this was the incomparable Aaron Cohick, the head printer at Hello! Lucky and the proprietor of the fantastic New Lights Press. I learned so much durning the two weekends I spent printing, and I owe Aaron a considerable debt (maybe you can help me out by buying some of his amazing artists books, or his crazy new broadsides).

The red image (the squid + the whale's mean eye!) was printed first, since the red is a lighter intensity than the black print. The images below are from my second day of printing (I spent two 11-hour days on it!), so you will see the squid already printed and the whale being printed on top of that.

Because the blocks were so huge, and there were some irregularities with the linoleum, I would double ink the block, both by hand with a brayer (seen below), and as I pulled the prints, with the Vandercook's ink rollers. This added a ot of time to the process, but I got into a pretty good rhythm after awhile.

Below you can see one of the panels directly after printing the second color. For a final edition of 20 prints, I pulled about 34 of each panel (several were inevitably damaged, under-inked, or otherwise unusable), if you multiply that by the 15 blocks that's about 510 passes that this print took altogether! Yikes! I was definitely exhausted at the end of each day, but both the learning process and the end result were definitely worth it.

When I was done printing, I finally got to see the whole thing! I was really pleased... the print really is huge (you can see the pallet behind it for a sense of scale), and reflected the subject matter to a tee. I even like the irregularities of the print, I think there is a real beauty to it... some sections even look like they have a dappled, aquatic light on them that I couldn't have imagined would be there when I set out on the process. And of course, even though I knew it would happen, it's sort of shocking to see the whole thing flipped over!

Finally, I trimmed all of the sections down to 12 7/8" square. Below is a quickie montage of the eight sections together, I'll of course have a better photo up before long, that more accurately shows the piece in its entirety.

Thanks for your interest in this project, if you've been following along! Again, the print will be available as part of Giant Robot SF's annual Printed Matter show. The show opens tonight, Saturday, 12/5 (I'll be there early, around 6:00 - 7:30), and continues until 1/6/10. The prints, a numbered edition of 20, will be available for $100, both in the gallery, and online about a week later. After the show comes down I'll begin selling remaining prints on on the Family Style website and at comic/zine shows, I'll put up an announcement then! Again, thanks to Luke of GRSF, Paul, and Aaron for their encouragement and assistance!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

· Progress Report #2 - Carving

So, having designed the image, and having already carved the first part (the whale), I set about carving the red squid portion of the design. I drew the image on a grid, and each square of 7/8" got blown up to 3 1/2" on the linoleum (each section is 13" x 13", to fit in the window panes of the door which inspired the project in the first place... which presented some problems in that linoleum really only comes in pieces of 12" x 12", so that in a few of the panels seams show where I had to add an extra inch to the blocks to fit... you can see such an extra piece in the middle of the photo below. I still like the way it looks, however).

It was a fairly simple process to take the smaller image and draw it on the larger grid, I would just look at an individual square and think "Okay, so this tentacle passes just under the upper right corner, and continues on the the middle of the left side", etc. Old school! You can't get a perfectly exact reproduction of your initial image this way, but that was part of the fun for me, to let the idiosyncrasies of the carving process take the image in somewhat new directions. I was especially taken with how well the process of carving worked with the subject matter of these undersea creatures in mortal combat... the details of a Sperm Whale's hide really are a tracery of gouges and scratches in a huge field of color (I was lucky enough to see Sperm Whales in New Zealand, and they really barely look alive, they are too big to take in). When I was carving in the small details, like the wrinkles around the eyes, for instance, I would use a sharpie to make the lines pop out more and be easier to visualize. Overall, the final design was very close to my original drawing.

The tricky part was trying my best to make sure that the squid blocks lined up correctly with the whale blocks. Using the grid, I would line us the blocks up, one on top of the other, and use an awl to make little punch marks at the edges of where I would have to carve away the black block to show the red image (for instance, where a tentacle lay over the whales body). I tried to be very meticulous, but I won't really know how well I did until I print the black over the red and see! Yikes!

Okay, that's it for now... I'll be back next week with a post about the actual printing of the thing, with the extraordinary assistance of Aaron Cohick of New Lights Press. Until then, have a happy Thanksgiving!