Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weavers and Painters  

Reflections on diligence  

He considers his digital work to be the same as that of the weaver or a painter who works diligently on detail-intensive tasks, only instead of threads-per-inch or hairline-thin brush strokes, he elaborates on the fine detail of Internet web pages’ links.  

Model ship 

Two things I want to do when I retire is, one, build a model of the Emeralda, the ship of my vision and, secondly, write the saga of the Emeralda—the mythology of my art and craft. Until the time I can feel good about the daily grind of starting the Seattle Printmakers Center on firm ground, however, I will continue with the means to this end.


I have thought, too, of going back to my roots in visual art and making a painting or two in the manner of classical work. For example, I could enroll in one of the Ateliers at Gage Academy and get good instruction about the methods used by painters in the 19th Century, and apply these methods to a great maritime painting of the Emeralda under the great wave.
As I work on a web page today, making sure every link within the page is correctly named, and the images of the correct resolution and reasonably sized for speedy downloads, or going back to an image to slice and dice it for a smaller bit count, I think about painting with the same arduous and detailed work.


Or, I imagine myself as a weaver or working on a needlepoint canvas, choosing the right thread weight and color, fiber, etc. so it will make a beautiful piece based, perhaps, on the voyage of the Emeralda. There are other fiber-based art forms, like embroidery and tapestry art from which to choose. These all require the hours and months of careful, detailed work and result in a fine, finished work.
If I were retired, I wouldn’t have a care about what became of the finished product, because I would have been enjoying the process all along, in my retirement, my retreat from the need to build the Seattle Printmakers Center and, of course, the rapid prototyping of the twenty startups that will finance and sustain the overall enterprise.

So it goes 

Moments ago I was adding a few words and links to a page on my latest creation, a prototype for the Rembrandt and Wine, and, as often happens, I saw myself like the painter of a highly detailed, classical narrative oil painting or a fiber piece. Now, it’s back to my digital art.

For, in today’s world, the artist’s function is not to make paintings and weavings such as I have in mind (unless he or she has abandoned the need to feel useful to society and culture, as I will feel when I retire) but the artist’s function, or value to society and culture, is to work partly in the digital media and partly in the real, physical mediums at the same time. It’s my joy to have come to a place—Seattle—and a time when it is possible and enjoyable to be able to work this way on the Seattle Printmakers Center.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I signed up for a webinar  

. . . and wrote this instead  

When I filled out the form to register for a webinar produced by the OneVest information service and had to describe with my plan for the Seattle Printmakers Center, I was asked to choose one or more industries I aim for. The ones I chose were Education, Media and entertainment, and Consumer products industries.

Each industry (there were about fifteen listed on the OneVest website) stands on its own, but there can be overlaps, as the planners of these webinars give everyone wiggle room.

The Seattle Printmakers Center is a “cloud” kind of concept, with many small, interrelated sections making up the whole. You might compare this to making a painting. You might start (startup) with broad strokes with a very wide brush. The brush may be loaded with one color, or—by clever manipulation of pigment and vehicle—a rainbow of colors.

The broad-brush may be the background for what comes next—the details. If the painting is to be representational, then the artist may use perspective and overlapping shapes to indicate the subject, the story, the beauty, or whatever the painter has in mind.

Now, switch to the printmaker. He or she may have a painter’s background, but the printmaker may add something to the repertoire of tools the painter has learned.

The brush, for example, has little use in printmaking. More often it is a roller—which only a house painter has any use for—that the printmaker uses for broad color areas. It, too, can carry a rainbow of colors.

But, aside from the different tools, there is a more important difference. The painter will usually work alone, and what becomes his or her painting is their creation. The printmaker may work alone, too—and often does work alone at the outset of a project—but sooner or later there are others involved in printmaking.

For example, a printmaking studio requires more than the painter’s studio. Printmaking techniques may require silk screens, for example, or an etching press. Things start to get complicated. Many printmakers find it is better to share these with other people. It’s cheaper, for one thing, and safer. It’s more fun if it is done in the right way. Developing and sustaining a printmaking studio is like developing a small community.

That’s why I include EDUCATION in my list of what characterizes the broad, overall industry of my choice—in the paragraphs above, I have stated the differences in my domain-of-expertise, printmaking, compared to its closest neighbor in the cultural list, which is painting.

Painting, however, is more popular, and that is why the Seattle Printmakers Center is needed, whereas we do not need a Seattle Painters Center. When painters do get together to set up a “center” of some kind, it is only to pool their rent allowance and get into industrial real estate so they can get out of the house. Such as center is composed of walled-in studios, and the only interaction among the occupants is by chance meetings in the halls or kitchenette.

MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT, on the other hand, is closer to the printmakers’ domain. In fact, printmaking is the ancestor of all media and entertainment industries. Therefore, a Seattle Printmakers Center will manifest most of the qualities of the media and entertainment world. For example, sharing the expenses of a printmaking studio is like sharing the expenses of a film makers’ facility, or working as a group to make a film.

Technology has made it possible to work alone in making a film, but it is rarely profitable and a sustainable model. A graphic designer, for example, can work alone in the home and be fully employed and well-paid by using the digital technologies and the Internet. But the kind of artist who inclines toward using technologies (descendants of printmaking) is a social creature—like most people.

As one person, a web designer, told me as she was putting in an order for an etching press, “My press will be a reason to have gatherings at my house.” She enjoys linocuts and even uses the old mediums to achieve effects in her graphic design which are hard to get in digital media.
Now we come to the secret ingredient for success of the Seattle Printmakers Center—CONSUMER PRODUCTS. It’s no secret, actually, because we have been designing and producing consumer products for a decade: The Halfwood press line.

However, experiencing the startup stage in the development of the Seattle Printmakers Center reveals that we were actually testing the worldwide market for the presses so that we could pay for the Center from this income stream—and the Halfwood Press is only one of twenty income streams that combine to support the Center programs.

That is why I complete my list of industry choices with consumer products. Not only is there a proven global market for Halfwood Presses, there is also a market for peripheral things that go with the art and craft of printmaking. Things such as the furniture for a printmaking studio, or accessories that let the printmaker go mobile—the busker etcher.

At the beginning of this essay I used painting as an analogy to the education portion. The analogy goes farther because the three industries—education, media and entertainment, and consumer products—are like the primary colors on a painter’s (or printmaker’s) palette. They can complement and contrast with one another, and in no other segment of the Seattle Printmakers Center is this more perfectly balanced than in the Rembrandt and Wine startup I am working on today.

As for the webinar, something went wrong and I didn’t get online. Probably there was a glitch somewhere in the system. When we have our Seattle Printmakers Center and there is a webinar on an element of this field (history, technique, business, etc.), we hope we team up with a great webinar service!