September 2007 archives

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September 30, 2007

monster month begins!

by sven at 3:06 pm

Professor Ichbonnsen took a suggestion I made, and has started up his own blog. I've reprinted the initial post here with his permission.

Introduction: My Life As A Monster Hunter

The Author

I have spent my life seeking out the unknown.

In the parlance of academia, my field of study is referred to as cryptozoology. More plainly: I am a Monster Hunter.

I have made it my business to track down legends, to investigate strange rumors, to delve into the darkest, unplumbed depths of nature -- searching out species heretofore unknown to humankind.

Now, for the first time, I am ready to share a selection of my most prized discoveries with the outside world.

* * *

"Respectable" universities have willfully denied the reality of my claims for too long. Scoffed at by closed-minded individuals -- who have never even dared step foot outside the safety of their ivory towers -- I am compelled to bring my appeal directly to the general public.

What you must understand is that we are currently in a state of global emergency.

Cryptids, extremeophiles, and exobiotes ("monsters" if you will) are facing the same environmental threats as better known species -- such as the Spotted Owl, Siberian Tiger, and Blue Whale. Man's encroachment on wild habitat may soon bring extinction to these creatures that are so exceedingly rare to begin with.

In other cases, we may ourselves become the victims of Man's relentless expansion. Many of the creatures that I have studied have remained anonymous for so long only because they are exceptional hunters -- witnesses to their existence have seldom survived to tell the tale.

We must also take seriously the environmental threat posed by invasive species that have accidentally been transported into ecosystems where they have no natural predators. I am thinking in particular of the Martian insect megafauna that have taken hold in central Africa, and the viral mutations that they have provoked in native populations.

I have been the first to sound the warning cry -- and as of yet, no university or environmental NGO has even seen fit to investigate.

* * *

My sincerest hope is that if the general public is able to experience the (often terrifying) majesty of these Monsters for themselves, then the groundswell of concern will finally compel academia and the powers that be to take action.

Toward this goal, I have hand-selected 31 animals from my personal bestiary. Over the course of October, 2007, I shall reveal them here on this "website" -- one each day. To help further illustrate my research notes and bring them to life for the reader, I have employed noted nature artist Sven Bonnichsen to produce an accompanying set of lush, photo-realistic paintings. I thank him for his willingness to embrace a broader view of life on Earth.

If all goes well, I will collect these documents into book form for wider dissemination. My tentative title: "Lifeforms Heretofore Unknown by Science: New discoveries from the world's most renowned monster hunter." As further news about the book project becomes available, announcements will be posted here.

And so, with all that said: ONWARD INTO THE UNKNOWN!

Professor Ichbonnsen writing from Brussels, Belgium September 2007

NOTE: If you want to support the book project -- or acquire a copy for yourself when it becomes available -- please consider writing to my editor at Scarlet Star Publishing. So many before him have flat out refused to be associated with my work... We must ensure that this (rather skittish) man does not also lose his resolve!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary

September 29, 2007

the poetry car posse

by gl. at 10:55 am

so it's true that magnetic poetry is no longer selling the "really big words for grownups" magnets that i have heretofore been using as trixie's typeface. but i emailed them to ask if they had a stash hidden somewhere i could buy from them, and i was delighted when they said they had ONE in "the archive" (their closet) that i was welcome to have. dave, the owner, said "give her the replacement for free; trixie was excellent."

[really big words for grownups box]

[make love with fire: look at those lovely serifs!]

["here's hoping these stay put!"]

plus, they sent a magnetic poetry keychain, a tiny refrigerator with a tiny light bulb that turns on when you open the tiny door and a tiny crisper that stores the tiny magnets!

[tiny poetry, the polar opposite of big words]

but i've always had simply fantastic service from magnetic poetry. for the clay guided art night last year, i lost the dot for the "i" in their "poetry stones" letter kit, and though i just asked if i could buy one, they shipped it to me for free and let me pick a couple of other letters, too!

the only sadness here is that because this really is the last package of really big words with serifs, the loss of future magnets will hit me pretty hard. i'll starting taking "shrinkage" more personally when i can't replace the magnets.

but on the bright side, trixie's starting a posse! bridget & caryn are thinking of putting together their own poetry cars & trucks! caryn's in washington d.c., but bridget's thinking it would be cool if we picked one night a month for the poetry cars of portland to gather at burgerville like the classic cars do. there may be only two of us now, but soon we will be a mighty poetic force, swift like haiku but as epic as the odyssey!

[celebrate the world through wild romance]

[update sep30.2007: the owner of magnetic poetry blogged about trixie! eeeee!]

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: trixie

September 26, 2007

artist's way: session 1

by gl. at 12:28 pm

it has begun! the tuesday morning clusters had a large response and it looks like a good strong group. every creative cluster is different, and in this one most of the participants are mothers. since that's not something i have any experience with, i'm looking forward to the ways they can uniquely support and encourage each other.

during the usually initially awkward "waiting for everyone to show up" period, i asked them to write down their preconceptions and fears about the creative cluster, then put them in a bowl and left them outside on the porch. it's an idea i got from vicki, who wanted artists in don't think! paint! to "park their prior knowledge of art techniques at the door."

the art activity for the first session is always a 20-minute intuitive collage. it's a deliberately short timeframe to thwart the demons of perfectionism and self-criticism. it might be more appropriate to call it an "exuberant collage" rather than an "intuitive collage" because it more accurately conveys the sense of energy and enthusiasm i see when people are engaged in this activity. afterwards we discussed my favorite form of feedback, which involves three different ways to respond to artwork without being critical about it: descriptive, emotional, and artistic. it's totally deserving of its own post.

we started a bit late so we ended a bit late, and two people really had to leave right on time, so i can see i need to be even more time conscious than usual about begin/end times. i'm usually a good timekeeper at events, so it's not a stretch, but it does mean i have to be really careful about the amount of time each person gets to speak and hold them to it, while not making them feel rushed. that's most difficult in the comments round, in part because i want to make sure people get a chance to speak even if they aren't the type to leap in immediately.

center (intro): an ostrich egg dan gave me, spilling stars onto a scarlet star cloth.

music: the amelie soundrack, which is especially suited for the 20-minute collage, but sets the tone for the whole cluster quite nicely. for this term, instead of waiting for that annoying little red cd player to randomly fail, i picked up some jbl on stage speakers to use with my ipod. i'm already happier. bonus: it comes with a remote, which means i don't have to leap up to adjust the volume between parts of the session.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 23, 2007

matt & toni tabora-roberts: generate, create, communicate

by gl. at 11:33 pm

generate, create, communicate was another successful workshop! i know how hard it is to sell performing arts to an audience that is primarily visual arts, but i remain committed to offering a variety of workshops to increase the creative vocabulary of artists, develop appreciation for different kinds of art & artists, and to have fun!

it sounded like a lot of fun from the other side of the wall, too. lots of movement, laughing and clapping. matt & toni are two very likable, flexible people with an enormous wealth of skill & knowledge. they moved here from san francisco and i was thrilled to give them an opportunity to teach what they love here in portland.

["not serious" at the end of the workshop]

i'm looking forward to the next workshop, "transforming the dark through charcoal alchemy." it's an appropriate theme to explore in the month of october, especially, i think, though i like exploring light and dark anytime. :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: classes & workshops

September 21, 2007

artist's way open studio (september)

by gl. at 2:02 am

i missed making collages! i didn't realize how much until i hosted the first open studio since the creative hiatus. i don't know why i don't usually make collages on my own, but that's a big reason why i created this event. :)

["heal": click the image to see the other collages]

i tried two other collages before this one, including one where i rubbed watercolor pencils over a page from a braille hymnal. but when this one came together (after i realized we only had 30 minutes left), it almost collaged itself, and i like what it has to say about my love/hate relationship with technology.


the next studio event is a guided intent, exploring the integrity of our internal geography with lifemaps. we're also offering an interesting "charcoal alchemy" workshop in the lonesome october, "transforming the dark." and then we get to do collage night again october 18!

also, i can hardly believe it, but... artist's way begins next week. eee!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 20, 2007

what's next

by gl. at 11:53 am

in may i created this collage, but it was incomplete because i had wanted to add a jumble of letters in the space above "next." the transfer letters i bought at art media were a complete waste and i was frustrated because i couldn't get them to, you know, transfer.

["so goodnight" in may]

then i went to an art supply swap at 100th monkey and scored some old transfer letters, and i was thrilled & relieved that these slid off the page like satin. so i have been keeping them with this project on my art desk in the hopes i could return to it in spare moments between appointments or before events. i rarely return to old projects, but this time it finally worked!

["so goodnight" final]

this is much more like what i had in my head when i created this, especially when i realized i was influenced by nathan, whose mom died at the time i was first working on this. looking at them now i like them both: visually the first one is appealing, but the second one means more to me. i think it's interesting to see how much the bingo paper has aged between the first step and the second. this certainly isn't archival paper! ;)

btw, there's another art suply swap coming up oct07 and i encourage you to go see what interesting things find their way home to you. i wish i could go, but i'll be in england, seeing the completion of expedition 360, which i've been involved with for over 8 years!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: other art

September 19, 2007

tba:07: ten tiny dances

by gl. at 3:07 pm

sven & missed going to tba's "ten tiny dances" last year, so we were determined to go this year, even though it meant going at 10:30 p.m. even so, there was a huge line around the block! i don't see much dance, so it's a treat for me and i was glad to see such a devoted fan base.

it was so packed we stood the whole time. i don't know the names of all the dances because the program they gave us was sort of obtuse and they had rearranged the order, but here are some highlights:

almost every dance needed setup and a major cleanup, which meant we didn't get out until 1:30 a.m. so afterwards went to the original 24-hour hotcake and steak house. it was my first time, so i was happy to discover the flapjacks & hashbrowns are superb, even if the rest of what we had was mediocre greasy spoon food.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 18, 2007

trying out the new stage

by sven at 10:35 pm

Sunday night I did a little throw-away animation to give the new stage a try. This is also the first time I've actually worked with the Drifter armature. Man... I haven't pushed a puppet since March. (And it shows.)

click on image to play clip (161 KB)

Some notes...

The Animation

Pretty simple: I just did a few poses with pauses inbetween. After moving the arms around a little, I realized that the armature looked dead from the chest down, so I decided to do something where there's shifting of weight. I was sort of going for that thing that Neo does in The Matrix, where he gestures to "bring it on" with his hand. Doesn't really work though when the armature's arms end at the wrist!

The Armature

Initially I had the joints tensioned really tight -- but given the joint problems in this armature, that made it almost un-animatable. So I loosened them all up... But a little too much. Toward the end of the clip the armature collapsed at the hip. Trying to recreate a pose is never fun.

The shoulders have worse range of motion than I'd thought. I knew when I built The Drifter that they were double-jointed -- that's an intentional mistake, because I wanted to feel how this design plays. The unforseen problem comes when you raise the arms up from the sides and then try to swing them to the front (as if to make the thumbs touch). When I do that, the outer shoulder joint binds, and the swinging motion is happening purely in the joints that come directly off the shoulder blocks. Pretty unrealistic.

Given the difficulties of range of motion and loss of tension, I'm beginning to favor wire armatures again. The problems of wire breakage and spring-back are perhaps preferable... Not to mention how much quicker fabrication goes!

The Stage

The stage, being steel, doesn't have the same give as MDF. When I tighten the thumb nuts on my tie-downs, it can be hard to get them tight enough... And then when I try to take them off, they can get stuck. Irritating -- but workable.

I found that I wanted the computer as close to where I was filming as possible -- so I put it up on a box, right next to the stage. I find that I'm paying more attention to the screen than to the puppet, though. I have a pair of surface gauges coming in the mail from MicroMark; hopefully they'll help break me of this bad habit.

It may be that I'm relying too much on the framegrabber also because the camera is in the way of my really getting in close to the puppet. I'm using a digital video camera which has pretty good zoom; I ought to try moving the cam back a few more feet from the table to open up some work space.

I clamped my power squid to the table... A small detail, but it sure is nice not having to crawl around on the floor! There's always going to be a minumum of three cords: for the computer, the camera, and at least one light. I think clamping my main power cord to the table's going to become standard practice.

Frame Rate

I shot at 15fps, which has generally been my default, since my intended medium is always television.

However, did you know that the U.S. Congress has mandated that on February 17, 2009 all analog broadcasts will cease? After that point, all transmissions must be digital. Meaning: if at that point you haven't bought either a digital TV or a digital-to-analog converter box, your television will be useless.

I'm doing research right now on digital television specifications, trying to figure out what stopmoes' new default should be for frame rate, resolution, and aspect ratio.

Seriously folks, killing analog TV is going to be big deal -- and a lot of people are going to be really pissed off when their expensive tube suddenly quits working. Best to start thinking about it now.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: stopmo

September 16, 2007

new stopmo stage

by sven at 5:50 pm

This week I built a new stage for doing stopmo animation.

new stopmo stage

Previously when I wanted to practice animating, I'd put a piece of pegboard on top of cinderblocks. That worked really well for a while -- it was a cheap and simple set up. However, while the pegboard works fine with 10-32 tie-down screws, it doesn't do so well with 4-40s (which are my new standard). Also, the cinderblocks were so heavy... It was becoming a burden to have to keep dissembling and reassembling the stage.

I wanted to come up with a new design. One that's lightweight, quick to assemble, and works with 4-40 tie-downs. See, I want to get all the little impediments out of my way -- so when I get into a mood to animate, I can just get right to it.

stage only

Here's the basic stage without add-ons. It's 2'x2' and about 9" tall. The wooden frame is made of struts that are .75"x1.5".

perforated steel sheet

The stage surface is a piece of 16 gauge (1/16") mild steel perforated sheet with 1/8" holes. Susannah Shaw mentions these specifications as industry standard in England on p.88 of Stop Motion: Craft Skills for Model Animation. The reason for 1/8" holes? Because that size provides just the right amount of clearance for 4-40 tie-downs.

Perforated steel stages are more common in England than in the U.S. because animators there use magnets for tie-downs more often. Because the steel is perforated, I'll have the option of using either magnets or screws. (I haven't ever tried magnets, yet.)

I purchased the steel from this page at, and had a really good experience. The metal cost $32.66, shipping options started at $9. I picked 2-day shipping and received the materials almost exactly 24 hours after I'd placed my order -- for just a hair under $50. Normally I'd go to my local branch of Metal Supermarkets to buy in person... However, when I called they didn't have any in stock -- and they didn't even get back to me with a quote ($72) until the next day... Half an hour before OnlineMetals actually delivered to my door!

When I received the metal, it was covered with a thin layer of oil, which was used as lubricant when the holes were being cut. I degreased the sheet using Citri-Solve, rinsed it with a hose, and toweled off the remaining water. The edges are sharp, so I covered them with black electrical tape. I've never seen 4-40 screws longer than about an inch; so in order to attach the metal to the wooden frame, I used 3" threaded rods and 4-40 thumb nuts, which I purchased locally at W.C. Winks Hardware.

clamping stage to table

A stopmo stage usually has to be heavy, in order to keep it from moving during the shoot. I'm using 2" C-clamps to clamp the stage to a folding table, thus depending on the weight of the table for my stability.

I designed the stage for animating while seated. Professionally, it seems that animation is nearly always done while standing up. Space-wise, however, that's not an option for most hobbyists (until they wind up converting their garage). The opening beneath the front of the stage is 6.5" tall, which gives comfortable clearance for my hands when I need to get at a puppet's tie-downs.

clamping on walls

I built wooden lips on three sides of the stage to support set walls. The lips make it very easy to place a wall where you want it and then fix it in place with a single 2" C-clamp. This is a trick that I learned from Marc Spess' book Secrets of Clay Animation Revealed! -- which I highly recommend. (It's also available as an E-Book.)

The set walls I have pictured here are 2'x2' sheets of MDF (medium density fiberboard), 1/4" and 1/8" thicknesses. To keep the walls together where they meet at the top of the set, I'm using a 90-degree angle clamp (the sort which is used for making picture frames).

clamping on a light

So, the set clamps onto a table... The walls clamp onto the base... You can also clamp on a post for lights, if you want.

I'm not sure yet how this is going to work out. When the light is so close to the puppets, I get a really bright hot spot. In most of the lighting set-ups that I've done so far, I wanted much more diffuse lighting.

An Early Design

Originally, I'd thought that the floor of the stage was going to be made from 1/4" MDF. I spent a good seven hours working on drilling holes before I realized just how insane this was.

drilling holes in MDF

I was inspired by Justin Rasch's dog pound set, which has hundreds of pre-drilled holes in the floor. From what I've seen on Justin's site, it seems like having pre-drilled holes -- instead of drilling during animation -- really allows you to just focus on performance.

Being me, though, I wanted things laid out in a neat grid. Having a 1/8" hole every quarter inch seemed about right -- like it would give me all the freedom I want.

how far I got

I knew as I was going into this that I was taking on a task that would require outrageous patience... But I didn't do the math to realize that I was actually setting out to make about 7500 holes. (That's a 22"x22" area minus the corners where the frame prevents me from using tie-downs.)

Faced with another 7+ hours of drilling holes, spending $50 for a pre-drilled sheet of metal seemed like a real bargain!

my hole-starter invention

One neat byproduct of the insanity, however, is that I invented this little device for starting holes. It's just a little piece of acrylic with a screw through it... But it's easier to hold and gives better visibility than when you use a screw and hammer alone -- and there's less strain on your joints than when you use a spring-loaded punch.

(You can see in the photos that I drilled 10-15% of the holes needed for the stage floor. What you probably can't see is that I'd already used my little tool to make hole-starting divots for 80-85% of the grid.)

Uses Of The New Stage

A stage that is 2'x2' is a bit small. You can't have a really panoramic wide shot. And you can't really have long tracking shot where a puppet walks very far. That's a limitation of this stage -- but I think the tradeoff of getting something that's easy to set up and which encourages me to practice animating makes up for it.

As I was putting this stage together, what I really had in mind was making a "black box theater." I'm interested in trying some animations where there isn't much of a set -- where you're just focussing on the performance of the "actors." I have a related idea (which I may or may not wind up pursuing) to create some generic, black-wrapped puppet bodies which can carry detachable heads... Sort of like actors wearing comedia dell'arte masks. (Which, now that I think about it, has a neat historical connection to Punch and Judy puppet shows.)

I'm not sure at this point to what extent using perforated steel for the stage floor is going to impede creating more elaborate sets. Can I only do hills, grass, etc. if I'm starting from scratch on a base of MDF? Maybe not. I might be able to cover the steel with cardstock and then build upward from there.

And as for wide shots: I have a suspicion that most scenes don't have characters walking too far...

I could see potentially building larger, more elaborate sets using a modular construction strategy. I could build more 2'x2' platforms that connect to and expand outward from my one perforated steel platform. So long as the characters don't have to walk past the edge of the steel plate (where the wooden frame prevents use of tie-downs), I'd be OK. ...And even then, maybe if I wanted characters to cross that boundary, I could just use a flying rig to support them.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: stopmo

September 14, 2007


by gl. at 10:51 am

when shelley told me she was working on a pincushion for my birthday, i didn't know what to expect. even the picture she posted on the blog seemed unbelievable. but last week i received a box in the mail and there was "squee!"

[squee! waves hello]

i was stunned! i've never seen anything like it! she comes packed with everything: scissors, seam rippers, pins, needles, a decorated needle threader, thimble, buttons, rickrack & ribbon... and thread spools for curls! she stands firmly upright thanks to a weighted base.

of course, toby took to squee! right away:

[toby says, "I HAVE A NEW FRIEND!"]

thanks, shelley! what an unexpectedly thoughtful gift! SQUEEEEEEEE!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: miscellany, toby

September 13, 2007

sunrise, sunset

by gl. at 9:44 am

last week i went to a benefit for dawn mcconnell, an artist from the portland open studios tour. the open studios tour is one of my favorite events of the year, and i remember dawn's distinctive face-pots the first year i attended.

dawn is a teacher and an artist who worked for mcmenamin's. she's suffering from stage 4 lung and liver cancer (there are only 4 stages) and her friends arranged the benefit to help her pay for hospice care.

i bought a print of one of her works and won a bid on one of her pots, which looks something like this but teal with round pinkish spots like roses on it.

if i had the money, though, i might have bought this jaw-dropping, gorgeous vanity:

or this very adorable desk set:

or this bike, which dawn painted as a raffle prize for bicylists attending the portland open studios tour. i have admired it for years, so imagine my surprise to see it at the auction, and then imagine my chagrin since i got a new bike for my birthday this year (but dawn's bike is a single-speed, so it would be great for the flatter areas of portland but not around powell butte!).

those three delectable objects are still available, as far as i know, so if you wanted one of them, you could both receive a one-of-a-kind art piece and provide comfort and support for dawn's medical bills.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 12, 2007

excellent birds

by gl. at 3:37 pm

sven & i went to the opening of tba:2007 last week to watch rinde eckert's "on the migration of excellent birds (flash, sorry) performed in pioneer courthouse square. sven remembered seeing rinde eckert in maine many years ago, and i was amused that mph had mentioned laurie anderson's "excellent birds" a couple of nights before.

using a chorus of ordinary voice & simple gestures, they portrayed flocks, rivers and song. it was unexpectedly delightful. bird serendipities abounded, most notably with a flock of normal pigeons flying dramatically out from the chorus as they lifted their voices to sing "amen."

i wanted to write about it because i've seen a lot of mixed reaction, in part because it was intended to be for a larger chorus. but the idea and the reality of it just tickles me. i can sympathize with people who thought this was a bit of an anticlimatic way to end the opening ceremony (as it was both beginning and end with no context about TBA at all), but for a group that usually advertises the annual event where the swifts fly into the big elementary school chimney, it certainly seemed appropriate.

[the umbrella is part of the performance]

this is a really terrible picture: i didn't even think to try for one until it was almost over. but hilary pfeifer has an excellent post with video on her site.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 11, 2007

blank slate

by gl. at 12:27 am

what's wrong with this picture?

[blank slate]

someone stole all trixie's magnets on her right side while sven was out shopping the other day!

one of the questions people invariably ask when introduced to trixie & her poetry magnets is "do people steal them?" usually, no. this is only the third time something like this has happened since 2003 (once in colorado). i expect a few of them to be lost to "attrition," but it's rare for someone to swipe a whole bunch. but when it does happen, it makes me sad.

(ooo, AND they yanked the cthulhu fish off the back, too. ergh.)

we used up the last of our magnets to fill the space, so now it's time to order more magnets! but i'm a little worried because their big kit looks like it's only available in san serif; they used to have an additional kit which was a serif font. it would be weird to mix them, and i lovelovelove serifs!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: trixie

September 10, 2007

diy alert interview

by gl. at 3:12 pm

last week the lovely & amazing diane gilleland posted an interview about scarlet star studios on diyalert! she was especially kind enough to post it in time to help increase visibility for the artist's way creative clusters. thank you, diane!

the fall clusters have had a lot of momentum so far. i'm happy to announce that tuesday morning is full! there's still plenty of room on monday evening, though, and there's just enough time to decide to get support for your creative process & send in your deposit. what are you waiting for? ;)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way, links

September 6, 2007

artist's way guided intent (september)

by gl. at 11:59 pm

it's september, so this means i'm officially no longer on a creative hiatus! we had our first event of the "new creative season" wednesday night and what a fantastic re-introduction it was, focussing on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. we made "creative blocks" to help keep us motivated and powerful when we get stuck. it was great to see familiar faces again and introduce new people to the studio. everyone had such enthusiasm for getting back to art!

i've started doing prizes for people who come to guided intent: linda won a pack of tiny sharpie markers, and everyone went home with a wish token in their pocket.

[alliteration: click to see more creative blocks!]

people really did some amazing blocks, and several of them were much more sculptural than i would have ever imagined!

during these sorts of events i've often been impressed & pleased that i've been able to make art while faciliating the event. even if it doesn't come out perfectly, i can often see what it means and how it represents a fragment of my Self. but i'm baffled by this. it doesn't speak to me at all. i'm much more interested in what i wrote about it than the object i created.

before we started modifying the blocks, we wrote about our strengths & things we like about ourselves. it seemed like i had a little unfair head start after responding to shu-ju's 10 things i like about myself meme a while back. but it turns out i didn't write about any of that. instead, i wrote about how my creative block usually doesn't keep me from doing stuff, but it does keep me from feeling anything about it, especially joy. afterwards when we wrote down six words that might help us overcome our blocks, i was delighted to discover mine all began with the letter A:

that's poetry waiting to happen. now that i can work with! :) so despite how i feel about my finished block, i still feel i got a lot out of the exercise. and it was great to see what everyone else made!


the next studio event is our casually creative collage night september 20 (which is already full w/ a waiting list). then we're offering a fun improvisational storytelling workshop, "generate, create, communicate" (perfect for animators -- or gamers! ;). then artist's way begins! next month the guided intent theme will be "integrity," where we'll visually explore the people, places and events that have shaped us. rsvp now!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 5, 2007


by gl. at 12:34 pm

last sunday the portland society for calligraphy was asked to write numbers on the participants of the first portland triathlon, which meant we had to be there at dark o'clock. many triathletes said they were really grateful to have beautiful numbers to wear for the next few days: the number they wear is like a badge of honor, but usually they get something scrawled with a sharpie. even the athletes who were wearing full-length body suits wanted numbers!

[smiling in the dark: click to see the other pix from this event]

and even more impressive is that lorinda moholt wrote a poem afterwards, while the rest of us had gone back to bed or were drowning in coffee!

Triathlete Numbers

(more fun than vellum)

5:30 am, dark, no coffee
(do they ever eat donuts),
tall, short, thin, almost-thin
hairy and smooth, they stop
for us to write numbers on
strong, tense bodies.

544, 837, 20l, 683, 219;
on thigh below the shorts line,
then upper arm, always the left
side, age on calf. Calm and
cheerful or focused and silent,
they leave our stations with
right sides anonymous.

20-something, 40-plus, 68,
calligraphers in the still
dark morning tell each
competitor "I only write
winning numbers." Some
say thanks, then walk to
the cold Willamette.

as alesia says, vellum "is old-school calligraphy material: goat-, sheep - or calf-skin to write on. AKA unoccupied skin, unlike what we did this morning!"

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: calligraphy, exhibits & events, writing

September 1, 2007

monster month challenge

by sven at 8:00 am

Woo-hoo! I've just gotten my first paid illustration contract!

My employer is noted cryptozoologist, Professor Ichbonnsen (no relation). He's hired me to do illustrations for his forthcoming book, "Lifeforms Heretofore Unknown by Science: New discoveries from the world's most renowned monster hunter."

Professor Ichbonnsen
click image to enlarge

I'm actually kinda baffled as to how he found me, given that I've never really done illustration work before. It's possible that he found Scarlet Letters by googling his own name -- after all, I did mention (1, 2) his work during last year's monster month.

It's also possible, though, that he's mistaken shots from Let Sleeping Gods Lie for actual documentary footage... And thus thinks that I'm a fellow crypto-enthusiast??

Anyway, the Professor -- he's never mentioned a proper first name (hm...) -- has asked me to do illustrations of 31 creatures, to be delivered one-a-day over the course of October. Doing that many is a bit of a challenge, so I've already started work on some sketches and studies. I plan to use this as an opportunity to develop my skills in painting with acrylics; that's how I'm hoping to do all the final pieces.

Ichbonnsen, frankly, seems rather eccentric. I confess, based on the adventure stories he's told me so far, part of me's wondering if he's flat out delusional! But, money is money...

(The "Dark Strider," the "Noble Shellkaye," the "Trick Squilligoss," the "Colossal Ubertuber," the "King Shielyana"... What the heck are these things, anyway??)

an open invitation

I'd like to invite all my artist friends to join in the fun. I'd love it if you'd do up some monster sketches of your own for October and post them on your blogs. ...BUT -- and here's the trick! -- be sure to make them illustrations of purely imaginary creatures!

See, I want to play a little game and test the good Professor -- to see whether he's really the World-Class Monster-Hunter that he claims to be -- or if, rather, he's a Certifiable Loony!

When I point him to the pictures on your blogs, will he believe that the intentionally made-up creatures are also "new discoveries, heretofore unknown by science?" ...Or will he immediately see through the ruse?

Help me discover the truth!

P.S. I want to give everyone adequate time to start thinking about this. But please DON'T post any of your pictures until October 1st! That's when I'll start posting my own pictures, one-a-day -- and we don't want to tip our hand to the Prof, OK?

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, exhibits & events, painting