Friday, February 29, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Issue #9 in which pear-shaped girl goes from heaven to hell and back again during REM sleep

Medieval Times

Arriving at Toronto's Medieval Times was easy. The roads were good, traffic was light and we thought it'd be fairly sparsely attended for a Saturday evening in February. We were mistaken. It was packed.

We were warned not to go during the week as the place is over-run by school kids brought there to experience life in the middle ages.

Well, let me clue you in boys and girls... your first clue that is is NOT medieval times is that everyone gets a crown as they enter the facilities. With over 300 attendees, all royalty with crowns, well, this ain't no medieval times. I doubt there were even a quarter of that many crowns in existence in Medieval Europe. And all this royalty and no retinues? where were my escorts, my handmaidens? Alas. None to be found.

It was strongly suggested we arrive at 6 for the 7:30pm show. We did, and found ourselves in the grand hall (foyer?) milling around, unable to go to our seats (yellow crowns upon entry=yellow section=yellow knight's cheering section). Unable to enter the feasting area, we were all channeled to the bar for $7.00 draught beer (no mead) served in souvenir plastic cups that have the images that move back and forth when you move the cup. Knights hacking at each other mostly. Other attractions were the gift shops: calligraphic, wearables, neon necklaces and waving sticks, pewter knick-knacks and I think some swords and jewelry too. There was more but my attention wasn't focused there. I was most attracted to the glass display case with the falcons in it. Two were on display. Such amazing creatures. And in another room you could see the horses in their stalls awaiting show time.

During the wait to be seated at our table, the King knighted members of the audience. Many were marking birthdays, like this woman, who turned 25 and was wearing full-on princess garb.

A few were being knighted on the occasion of retiring and turning 50, and a some were turning 11 and 12. The King looked good and hearty. I wondered what you got paid for being King these days.

Once in we were given food by our serving wench.
Here she is bringing around our medieval vegetable soup
(it had corn in it... and it was a tomato base...) which she served to us from a bucket with a ladle.

Our table setting had no utensils. We drank our soup from a metal bowl with a side handle and all the other food was eaten with out fingers.

We drank from a plastic stein. They have the best, and the biggest, finger wipes I've even seen. Good for the chicken halves we were served and the ribs. Vegetables were roast potatoes cut in half. Nary a green thing to be found. Desert was an apple pastry, strudel-like, which I didn't like yet others loved. Beverages we indulged in were medieval pepsi, coffee and water.

And such was the setting for the evening's entertainment. I'll focus on that in my next post.

Illustration Friday: Multiples

The Many Moods of Fish 24" x 24" acrylic on canvas

So many fish; so many, and varied, moods.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Astronaut series of paintings

The Floater 24 x 48 acrylic on canvas

Daredevil 24 x 36 acrylic on canvas

Spaced Out 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

Firestarter 30 x 40 acrylic on canvas

These are a series of paintings on the theme of astronaut that I am doing this term. I am not sure if Firestarter is finished. I may tinker with it some more but not until I get four more paintings in this series complete. For now it's tucked safely away. I'll let my subconscious deal with it for a while.

Etching Results

These were the first two etchings I made.

Sandman is a line etching only (20 minutes in the acid bath). Gotcha is line and aquatint.

I did the aquatint three times for Gotcha (5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute) and I like the subtlety of tone that happened by taking the time to do it. I feel both of these etchings are successful.

My next two plates were Under the Bed and Scavengers.
Under the Bed is a line etching with aquatint(5 minutes) and soft ground (30 minutes). I took a piece of linen to make a linen for the bed. I masked off the area seen as light under the bed. It's just the plate itself, no texture, and then I burnished the edges to get a soft glow.
It turned out very close to what I was going for.

Scavengers is a different story. This was already a very heavy line etching when I decided to add soft ground to it. I had some burlap which I put over the birds' bodies, and some linen for the area behind them. The soft ground etching was 45 minutes long. It really ate everything up. I knew it would be a very busy plate but we have to experiment to find out what works right? Right.
As part of a series based on nightmare images I think it works, but it could be better. I am going to burnish some of the background that was over-etched and see if I can't improve this print.

The final print is a compilation of all of my plates into one. Called Bad Dreams I made an artist proof and a series of 4 prints all in sepia ink. Then I made one variable edition print in colour. This was my 5th variable print, the other 4 being the colour versions of the single plates.

Opinion was split as to whether the sepia images worked better than the colour. I know I was very happy with the colour ones, but the sepia has a charm all its own.

As a print-making process it is so dependent upon the acid bath. I don't have enough experience to be able to look at the surface of my plate in the bath and judge whether it's been etched too deeply or whether I need more. The process is long and involved, and if you over-etch there is little you can do to rescue your plate in the moment. All you can do is burnish your image and start over. As opposed to woodblock printing or lino prints, where once your remove material from the surface it's gone forever (without taking extrordinary means like using glue and sticking bits of stuff in the groove and hoping it'll stay put when you print) etching is more forgiving. It's just not as direct.

But the look! Instant age, instant link to the printmakers of past centuries. The prints just look mysterious to me. I can't get that look any other way. And I love having the plate. You know you've made something. The bad part is these prints cannot be made at home without a press. Unlike the spoon printing you can do with relief prints, I can't just make another one when I want to. Of course I can scan and print... but where's the fun in that? Though I am sure Da Vinci would have. He loved all technology and took advantage of what was around him in his day... but that's another topic.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Illustration Friday: Theory

The Alicorn

Modern day alicorn making

Dr. Conrad Gesner of Zurich sums up the theory of the beneficial use of powdered unicorn horn as follows:
This horn is useful and beneficial against epilepsy, pestilential fever, rabies, proliferation and infection of other animals and vermin, and against worms within the body from which children faint.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Year of the Rat begins

See my happy rat with your very own eyes! Proof Gallery in Toronto had a call for prints to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Rat. I submitted a print to the show and am happy to see a blog of all the prints submitted.

I'm in great company.

And if you're curious about what Year of the Rat means, here's what Russia's Newspaper Pravda has to say about it:

The Rat to bring money and success in New Year 2008

The upcoming New Year, the Year of the Rat, is going to be a successful and ambitious time according to the Chinese calendar. The Rat is considered to be one of the hardest-working signs in the Chinese zodiac.

The New Year 2008 is the Year of the Rat

There used to be a tradition in ancient Russia to breed cockroaches in homes to emphasize the well-being and hospitality of its dwellers. Oriental nations bred rats for similar purposes. A Chinese proverb on poverty runs that rats can leave only poor homes. That is why the rat as a zodiac sign symbolizes success.

The rat became the symbol of the year owing to its artfulness, an old Buddhist legend says. When Buddha was handing out the years, the cunning Rat left the Ox, the Pig and the Dog behind.

“It reminds the situation with the presidential election that will happen during the Year of the Rat. So, we’ll see which Rat will take the lead and the office,” a famous Russian astrologer Anna Kiryanova said.

In spite of the fact that the rat is an omnivorous animal, the meals for the New Year should include grain crops, nuts and cheese. It is desirable to cook as much as possible. It would also be good to leave some food after the party and not to eat everything at once. “The more food is left, the better the year will be. It is important to stress out the abundance of food at this point,” says the astrologer.

Close people should celebrate the New Year together because the rat hails family ties. However, it is very easy to frighten the rat: it can not stand scandals and loud noise.

As for clothes, rat prefers luxury and precious metals. Astrologers recommend to wear the best clothes on New Year’s night.

The room where people are going to see the Year of the Rat in is supposed to be special. The room interior should be simple, exquisite and sophisticated. Astrologers also recommend to talk about perfectionism, something ideal and wise because the rat is an intellectual animal. Leo Tolstoy, George Bush, Carmen Electra, Eminem, Prince Charles, Scarlett Johansson and other famous people were born in the Year of the Rat.

Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina

Today's Horoscope Poem

Exhilarate me partner
Lead me to challenges
Quench my thirst for adventure
and park it in the garden

SCORPIO Oct. 24- Nov. 22

A partner is found for exhilarating fun. The thirst for adventure leads you to face challenges. Get out into a garden or park.

Mini Trips

I love to go on trips. I love getting in the car and driving away. This weekend we are looking forward to going to Toronto and claiming our Christmas gift: a night out at Medieval Times.

I've never been to Medieval Times. Sporting a degree in Medieval Art History and Medieval History, I know a little about Medieval Times myself, but you can always learn a thing or two.

I am bringing my camera.

The jousting session is accompanied by a meal. Here's what they say we get. I'll be disappointed if they give us a fork. Or anything plastic.

Toronto, Canada Castle
Bill of Fare

Garlic Bread
Tomato Bisque Soup
Roasted Chicken
Spare Rib
Herb-Basted Potato
Pastry of the Castle

I had heard that the beverage was ice tea. This strikes me as distinctly not medieval. I'm looking for mead.

Anyway I hope to have a full report on this adventure Sunday when we return.

We're going to finally see Mr. Wayne Newton on our next mini trip in March. He postponed his performance last October, the week he was voted off Dancing with the Stars, and it was rescheduled from a Saturday night to a Wednesday night in March. I'm looking forward to that too! I'm living the dream.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Share the Love

In thinking about love this month, I decided to show you a painting I did recently that I love. This little black bird with attitude came walking along while we were at the KOA Kamping Kabin this past August and he ended up the feature subject of an acrylic painting. I just love this painting.

And something else happened recently that I love... I got mentioned in someone's blog! I love that! Check it out here. Share the love.

Issue #6 of pear-shaped girl - Mr. Thang

Issue #6 in which pear-shaped girl is the voice of reason as her best friend falls for a scoundrel!

Today's Horoscope Poem

In trying not to be perfect
I'm living with hope instead

Hoping to attract compliments
or feel an unusual happiness envelope me
like fine clothing

I'm letting go perfectionism today
I just have to prepare myself to do it right

SCORPIO Oct. 24- Nov. 22
Prepare for unusual happiness. Fine clothing will attract compliments. Let go of perfectionism for a while.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Today's Horoscope Poem

i told you but
sometimes it's just a warning
an alarming error
for a little man
it's hard to understand my reasons
bring true to my word
isn't easy

Metro Newspaper February 1st Horoscope
SCORPIO Oct. 24- Nov. 22
Someone doesn’t understand your reasons. Warn a little man of an alarming error. Being true to your word isn’t that easy.

Illustration Friday: Blanket

A scene from Beach Blanket Bingo with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello

This week I decided to actually illustrate something for Illustration Friday. I discovered today that I have a paint program on this new computer so I tried it. Using the pencil tool is like doing a blind contour drawing. Interesting.