Saturday, January 28, 2017

A dog who gives new hope (and sleep) to the whole family

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Dogs can be trained to do all kinds of things to help their deaf or hearing-impaired owners. Meet Klara and her Hearing Dog Jasper, who's made a world of difference for the whole family.

VIDEO: Many thanks to NDCS (National Deaf Children's Services) of the UK, and to YouTube for this video.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What is a multiple original?

Lately I've been making more and more multiple-original limited editions of paper sculptures. But what does that mean?

Essentially, it means that each image is made by hand, and that each image is in some ways unique, although it is part of a consistent edition, limited to a particular number of prints. And what does that mean? The answer will take a little explanation, and a short walk through art history:

Commercial mass-printing methods
In my experience, the term "multiple original" arose about thirty-plus years ago, when photo-offset lithography (also called "offset litho" and/or "photo offset" printing) became widespread and affordable enough for individual artists to make reproductions of their own artwork.

This sheet-fed offset litho press dates from 1980. It, and others of its type, revolutionized the art reproduction print business (for more details see the credits at the end of this post).

Suddenly, artists could produce and sell high-quality reproductions of their work by the hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands (technically, far more are possible. But that was the practical outer limit). These prints were all virtually identical, no matter whether it was the first print off the press or the 10,000th.

Traditional, handmade printing methods
Of course, that's not at all the way art prints had been made, up until that point. Handmade, individual prints had been created for centuries (and are still being made) in small editions. Rembrandt is known for his etchings, as well as his oil paintings. He is certainly not the only artist who was a printmaker. Hokusai's woodblock prints and Daumier's lithographs are other examples of masterworks created through hand-printing methods.

Hand-pulled original prints such as this lithograph are printed by an artist or artisanal printer one at a time by hand. The printing plates used for these processes break down quickly, so a print from early in the edition will be more crisp and clear than one from later in the edition.
In traditionally-made editions, the print number makes a difference. An artist numbers the prints sequentially, based on the order in which they were printed. Print number 1/20 means that this piece was the first print made in a total edition of twenty prints.

The prints in an edition should all look as much alike as possible, to be considered "consistent." Consistent handmade print editions are technically difficult to produce, and prints made early in the edition are often of better quality, because the plate has not broken down significantly yet (when it breaks down too much, the edition ends). However, a commercially-produced offset litho edition, potentially numbering in the thousands of prints, produces identical images, and requires no artistic skill.

Inevitable controversy
When artists in the 1980s began to produce offset-litho reproductions of their prints, a huge controversy arose, especially because they often numbered them, just as prints in hand-pulled editions were numbered. This confused many art-buyers, and, not surprisingly, tended to outrage artists who used those technically-challenging traditional printmaking methods.

Yet the new reproduction method made it possible for artists in "slow" media such as oil and acrylic painting to sell their images as they never had been able to before. It also fulfilled a need among would-be art buyers who had never been able to afford the kinds of art they liked best, before. Now an artist didn't have to be able to make originals quickly to make a good living selling his or her work to a wider retail audience.

Artists who exhibit their work at art fairs such as this one (the Kansas City Plaza Art Fair in 2013) or in other, similar venues have more ways to offer their work to buyers in a wide range of prices, thanks to more affordable mass-printing methods. 
A matter of terminology
It became clear that distinctions had to be made. If a print has that fraction-like number on it, buyers need to know what that means. Is it a hand-pulled lithograph or a photo-offset lithograph? Is it a handmade serigraph, or an inkjet-printed giclée? Is the sequence number an indicator of print quality, or simply an inventory number? What does "limited" mean, if an edition is "limited" to several hundred? Part of the answer lies in an art-buyer's knowledge, and his/her understanding of the differences. Artists can and should help educate them if they aren't sure. 

When something is identified as a "lithograph," it should mean that the print was produced through the traditional hand-printing method (as in the photo of the artist above) that uses a smooth stone and the principle that oil and water don't mix--not that it was printed using the related-but-much-different process of commercial offset lithography.

Printed paper money provides another example of mass-produced identical images in limited, numbered quantities. The rules about making that kind of printed image are a little bit different from the rules about art prints, though! 
Mass-produced images that are essentially photographic copies of originals made in other media (such as oil paintings, pastels, etc.) are appropriately called fine art reproduction prints, not lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, etc. Those terms should be reserved only for the corresponding hand-printmaking methods.

Fine art reproduction prints usually come in limited editions. That means the artist has limited the number of reproduction prints that s/he will make to a particular number. If you see the fraction-like number 234/500, that means this is a fine art reproduction print from an edition limited to 500. The "234" is primarily there as an inventory number, and to reassure the buyer that it is the only "234" available. It's a double-check on the artist's integrity. If there is no number on the print, that means it is an open edition. In an open edition there is no limit to the number of reproductions that may be made.

Chris Pig of East London Printmakers uses
a brayer to roll out ink for a woodcut, a similar
technique to the printing method used by Hokusai.
Traditional hand-printmaking methods are understood to be multiple originals. This means each one is made by hand, and it is in some ways unique, because small variations arise from the process of making it (such as from the plate breaking down in subtle ways, although that's not the only possible source of variations).

I feel justified in calling my limited editions of paper sculpture multiple originals,  because although some of the early parts of their creation involve the inkjet-printing method often called giclée (generally considered a reproduction-print technique), each individual piece is made by hand, one at a time, and each image invariably has small variations that arise from the process of making it. My editions also have so far been limited to small editions of 25 images each (plus some Artist's Proofs, a term I plan to define in a follow-up post). This is much more in line with the editions created by traditional hand-printmaking methods.

Next week I will describe how I make my limited-edition multiple original paper sculptures, step-by-step.

IMAGES: The photo of the photo-offset press (an Einfarben-Bogenoffset-Druckmaschine, Type "Roland Favorit RF01", Baujahr 1980 Hersteller: M.A.N.-Roland Druckmaschinen Aktiengesellschaft, Offenbach am Main Foto aus dem Deutschen Mudeum in München) is used by permission of the copyright holder, Clemens Pfeiffer of Vienna, Austria. It was made available via Wikimedia. Many thanks! 
The photo of the (unnamed) artist making a lithograph is from Orange Carton's blog post, "Do You Know What an 'Original' Art Print Means?" The article discusses the topic in some depth. Check it out, to learn more. 
I took the photo of crowds and booths at the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, MO in September 2013. It is available for use by others if you include a link back and attribution.
The photo of the sheets of uncut pound notes is from The Commentator. The photo of master printmaker Chris Pig is from East London Printmakers. Many thanks!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A dog who has this veteran's back

The Artdog Image of Interest 

Here's another service dog video. This one tells the story of a Canadian Afghanistan War vet whose PTSD was ruining his life. Now his service dog Norman "has my back." Man and dog demonstrate some of the ways that Norman helps.

VIDEO: Many thanks to CBC News, and YouTube for this video.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A glimpse of possible futures

I have been trying to gather information and develop a post about "offices of the future," this month. It's been a more daunting task than I expected. There are lots of visions of the future out there, and many are fascinating--although some of them are mutually exclusive.

In the course of this research I also have run into a variety of interesting videos on the subject, which I'd like to share. Therefore, in addition to the post (or, more likely posts), which I still intend to develop, here is the first in a series of video "Visions of the Future."

I liked this commentator's approach, with at least one foot grounded in reality. I hope you enjoy it!

IMAGE/VIDEO: The "vision of the future" image is from "Before it's News" (a word of warning, however: this site will hit you with so many ads and confusing messages it's hard to get to any actual content). The URL for the image itself is way less complicated. And many thanks to FW:Thinking, for today's video.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A dog who gave a girl a more active life

The Artdog Image of interest

Here's another service dog video. This time it's George, a Great Dane who's making an amazing difference in the life of a little girl named Bella.

VIDEO: Many thanks to The Doctors, and YouTube for this video.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My horse-trough "Hab" lives on!

A I recently confessed, I'm a lifelong gardener. However, in the last few years Earth has had little need to "fear my botany powers." After a couple of bad falls on the ice a few winters ago, it was hard for me to get low enough to garden. I needed some kind of raised bed for easier access.

Signy and Pascal created a sturdy base for my project last May. Later, Ty filled it for me.

Well, thanks to my Beloved and my long-suffering adult offspring, I'm back, Baby! My Mother's Day present was a galvanized horse trough on a sturdy wooden stand, filled with rich, composted soil. This collection of creative solutions now sits on our back patio in easy reach of a hose, and I've been having lots of fun with it.

My cool-season crops (spinach, kale, and a leaf-lettuce blend from Morgan County Seeds) continued to yield regular crops of salads and greens well into what we Kansas Citians think of as "winter."

As cold weather approached, Pascal and I made a "dome" out of two basement-window-well covers, to protect my plants from the frost. On windy days (here at the edge of Kansas, we get a few of those), a bungee cord holds it down. It's not excessively elegant, but it works.

But then it snowed. It got really cold. I thought when temps hit the single digits that my horse-trough garden was a goner.

I was wrong. Under the dome, it's alive! How can this be? Fortuitous placement, it turns out. Back in May, we set it up right next to a furnace vent. The air goes out, and directly up under the edge of my makeshift dome. You can see the life-giving vent pipe at lower right in the photo below:

We've gone through two rounds of single-digits and snow, now, and each time I've gone out as soon as I dared, uncovered the garden, added a couple quarts warm water, and my crops have come back to life. In fact, I really need to harvest again.

Potatoes in the Hab, from The Martian: now that's extreme farming!

I've started thinking of my little survival-miracle on the back patio as "The Hab." (For Christmas, my son gave me a copy of The Martian, by Andy Weir. Thanks, Ty!). My horse-trough garden is not as amazing as "Martian potatoes," but who knows? At this rate I might be able to harvest spinach all winter long.

IMAGES: I took most of these images myself, except for the last one. Many thanks for it to NASA! It's from their fascinating article, "Nine Real NASA Technologies in 'The Martian.'" 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another way to thank a first responder

Hi! Here's a quick update to a very popular post I wrote last November. I'm gratified that many readers have read my post Three Great Ways to Thank First Responders. Thank you!

My friend, fellow writer, and excellent resource for that post, Dora Furlong (have you read her book?), recently sent me another idea: 6-LED mini-flashlights with 9-volt batteries

Firefighters are dealing with 9-volt batteries all the time, so these little things are especially handy for them. Dora's husband the Fire Captain gave them out to the guys on shift as Christmas presents last month.

Of course, you don't have to wait till next Christmas to use this idea. No time is a bad time to say "thank you."

IMAGE: Many thanks to Wal-Mart for this product image. I recently bought some of these via Amazon, too.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Which is stronger, fear or desire?

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

That's the rub, isn't it?

IMAGE: I found this quote on I Like to Quote, but I made my own graphic for it in Adobe Illustrator, using a photo I took in December 2016 as my background. Use it if you like, but please include an attribution and a link back! Thanks.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A dog who made a difference

The Artdog Image of Interest 

This week's image of interest is a video about a little boy with autism, and the dog who made all the difference in his world. I hope you'll enjoy it.

VIDEO: Many thanks to Talent Hounds and YouTube for this video.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Desk piles

There's only so much you can do in advance.
That's what I keep trying to remind myself. There are some things that can't be totaled up or capped off until after the fireworks go off at 12:01 a.m. January 1. 

For days now, I've been planning to write a blog about "desk piles of the future" (considerations of what we might clutter our offices with, in the purportedly "paperless" future). 

This was gonna be the week!

This isn't gonna be the week. Too many desk piles of of the present. 

These are actually not my own personal desk-piles. Mine aren't anywhere near this extensive and chaotic. These are more like a dramatization of how mine feel at the moment.

So please excuse this all-too-brief mid-week blog post, while I work on my 2016 Year Review, and my 2017 Year Plan With Interim Benchmarks, while also working on final revisions for Going to the XK9s and squeezing some art-making in edgewise from time to time.

Also, wish me luck, please.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Point It Digital Marketing, for the 2016-to-2017 image, and to Craig Jarrow's Time Management Ninja website, for photo of the not-so-virtual desk piles.