Sunday, November 20, 2016

HIATUS

The word hiatus is defined as a pause or a gap in a sequence, series, or process. Well, my life has contained a hiatus for the past four months, at least in the studio. I finished running the edition of the wood engraving Carpe Diem at the end of July. In mid July Carol had to return to the hospital and she has been there since then. I've gone through a period of ups and downs and concerns that have kept me from focusing on work in the studio. Each time I try, I find my concentration is short-lived. But I did manage to start a series of sketches for another wood engraving in the Aliens of Planet Earth series in September. Eventually, after picking it up and setting it aside over and over again, I selected a sketch that I picked to draw on a new block. The drawing on the block went through numerous changes as well, until I finally began to engrave the block about three weeks ago.

Today (nearly three months after the first sketch) I decided it was time for the first proof of the block, to see what it looked like. It's a good feeling to have finally gotten back into the studio to work. Carol is safe and receiving good care and now I have got a focus that is keeping me from becoming a blobfish (the first member of the Aliens of Planet Earth series).

"So, Anyway" (as John Cleese would say... that's a very good book of his, by the way) I wanted to explain my hiatus and hibernation and to share Treehopper with you.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

ON SECOND THOUGHT...

Every now and then, when going through the process of creating something, the final decision is not always final. In Carpe Diem that was the case. When I was satisfied with the latest proof and I made the decision to stop engraving, I ran the edition, let the prints dry, signed them and filed them away. I was tearing up the proofs and as I looked at the last one, on which I based my decision to stop engraving, I realized there was something that was bothering me. I was NOT finished with the print after all.

Here is a cropped scan of the area that bothered me. I had hoped to create a sense of the white area of the paper around the image flowing into the arm and flowing into the composition. But by showing an abrupt change  between the arm above the water and below the water, that wasn't working. 

I hadn't realized how important that issue was to me. So I decided to make the changes in the block and run the edition again. 
Here's a cropped scan of the area after I made the changes in the block and opened up the area so the white had a better chance of flowing into the composition.

This brings up the issue of what happens to the 34 prints in the edition that I now don't like. Thankfully this hasn't happened to me before. There is always a need for paper to run proofs upon and the back side of proofs or, in this case on the back side of an edition is the answer for proofing paper. The paper I use is expensive and I try not to waste it.


Now the issue of "limited edition" comes up. What happens to the edition that I printed first? Well, I have made an X across each print in that edition with a permanent marker and I will use the edition as proofing paper by printing future proofs on the back side of these, then tear them up and send them to recycling.

On my previous post I mentioned that the block had a subtle cancellation, in preparation to sending the block on to the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. Can you see the "cancellation" change up there in the crop of the revised area by comparing the "before" with the "after"? I will now find another area to create a subtle cancellation in the block.

In conclusion, I find that (for me) one of the most difficult moments in the process of creating a print or drawing is making the decision of when to leave it alone and quit.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

CARPE DIEM


"Carpe Diem" (seize the day) is the title of my latest wood engraving, and it's part of the "See What I'm Saying?" series. The phrase, when first heard by one (such as myself) who has not studied Latin or the classics, sounds like it has something to do with carp. The image was engraved on a maple block, supplied by the Wood Engravers Network for a project titled "Seize the Carp" to benefit the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers Wisconsin. Two Rivers has a yearly carp festival and participating members of SWE were asked to include a carp in their image. As you can see, the block I was sent is a section of a maple end-grain slab that includes the edge of the slice of the log, so I incorporated that in the image.

The block will be sent to the museum for their collection and use. A minor alteration was created in the block, after this edition was completed; meant as a subtle cancellation of this edition.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

WOOD ENGRAVERS NETWORK EXHIBITION

Carol and I returned from a road trip to the U.S. last Saturday afternoon. It took us three days to drive from Greeley Colorado to Red Deer Alberta. (That included an hour wait in line to get back across the Canadian border! Maybe there really ARE Americans wanting to escape the thought of "The Donald" as president.)

The first goal of the road trip was Missoula Montana where the Wood Engravers Network traveling exhibition was scheduled and we wanted to attend the opening and to visit our friends Jim and Julia Todd who live there. Jim is a superb wood engraver. He and I each have a wood engraving in the exhibition. The exhibition was held at one of the galleries at the University of Montana and I was very impressed with the presentation and quality of work chosen for the exhibition. There were wood engravings from members all over North America and Great Britain (maybe Europe too, but I can't remember. I'm awaiting the arrival of my copy of the exhibition catalogue).
Carol, Julia, Jim and I enjoyed music in the park. 


After a few more days enjoying the company of Jim and Julia, we headed south-east to visit some other very dear friends, Bill Starke and Judy Perry in Greeley. Bill is a former student of mine from many decades ago, when I taught at Metropolitan State College in Denver (now a university). Bill is now a very successful sculptor and they hosted us for a few days, during which I had my first experience getting in and out of a kayak with Bill's help (not an easy task for an old codger with arthritic joints).
We received a very unexpected welcome in Greeley.

Jim trying his hand at navigating the rapids.



MORE ABOUT ODDBALLS

A book-review website called bookgrabbr.com has ODDBALLS listed. Here's the link if you've read the book and want to express your opinion:

https://bookgrabbr.com/books/43081-oddballs

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

ODDBALLS' medal

ODDBALLS was recognized at the Independent Publisher's Book Awards, held at the Willis Tower in Chicago. They awarded the book a bronze medal in the Popular Culture category. Porcupine's Quill Publishers picked up my bronze medal and I just received it yesterday. It's a great honour... and heavy.

  


Sunday, May 15, 2016

HANDS UP!




For those of you living, or visiting, in British Columbia, there's a new red ale brewed by Tin Whistle Brewery in Pentiction.  I've given them permission to use my wood engraving portrait of Bill Miner for their new Hands Up! red ale and I recommend it.  It's a tasty brew.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

ODDBALLS HONORED

It's me being a braggart again.
Some more good news: I just heard that the Porcupine's Quill paperback edition of Oddballs received a bronze award at the Independent Publishers Book Awards, in the Popular Culture category.

Maybe Independent Publishers Book Awards is the same thing as the Indiefab Award nomination I heard about a while ago. I don't know.

Friday, April 29, 2016

CON-ARTISTS CONNING ARTISTS... AGAIN

The con-artists are back! This time in the name of Daniel Ming.  Daniel's colleagues were Debbie From NewYork, Stan From California and Jon From Norway (all of them had From as their middle names).

This is the e-mail I received from Daniel Ming:

Hello,

          I hope this mail meets you well, Am mailing to place order 
with your company and will like to know if it is possible for you to 
ship orders to South America.If shipment is possible,kindly get back 
to me with your catalog or price list were i can chose the item 
needed to be shipped including Delivery address.

         Also you will be referred to my shipper who handles all my 
shipment, and once I receive the quote for the order and the shipment 
 then I will commence on the payment. Kindly get back to me if this 
is acceptable and let me know the type of card you accept or i can make 
payment with Paypal too but credit card is more preferable to me.

Looking forward to do business with you.
Regards


I find it odd, as in the other con-artists' attempts, that Daniel doesn't make any reference as to what he's shopping for. Here is my response:

Good morning Daniel,
Yes, I can ship orders to South America, or any other continent. The best method for selecting which items you would like to order would be for you to look on my website, which I’m sure you would have seen, to obtain my e-mail address. The price of each item is listed on the website in Canadian funds and payment (as the website indicates) is made in Canadian, US, British or Euros only. When I know which items you want I can tell you what the amount in one of those denominations would be, including the packaging (you said you have your own shipper so you would pay your shipper for the shipping). I’m presuming your shipper would pick up the goods from me. There is something I don’t understand though. If you have a shipper of your own, why would you need to know if I ship orders to South America?

So, first you tell me which items you want and the denomination you will be paying with and I will let you know the total, including packaging. Next, you will make the payment, through PayPal, and I will await notice that your funds are in my account, before releasing the order to your shipper. 

If that works for you, we can do business.
All the best



I'm surprised that Daniel listed PayPal and credit card as his payment options. His other colleagues were going to send a cheque, and of course that cheque would be for an amount above the total. Then I would be asked to cash it and send him the difference (that's the con). 

I'll have to wait and see. Stay tuned.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

BRAGGART



The dictionary defines braggart as "A loud arrogant boaster."
At the risk of being called a braggart, I want to share some good news I received a few days ago from Porcupine's Quill, the publisher of the trade edition of my book, ODDBALLS. 

The message said that ODDBALLS is a finalist in the Foreward Magazine IndieFab Book of the Year Awards, in the Popular Culture (Adult Nonfiction) category. It included this link to a page on the website: https://indiefab.forewordreviews.com/books/oddballs/

Now, it's a matter of waiting to see what the judges decide, but in the meantime I feel very honoured and humbled that the book has attracted the kind of attention to have placed it in the list of the finalists.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

ADDITIONAL SUBLIMINAL IMAGES

Here are a few more of the prints and drawings of mine that contain subliminal images (some of them going back quite a few years).  Some of the titles hint at the hidden images and some of the hidden images aren't very hidden. Remember, you can click on an image to see larger versions:

 
       Bonnie Ben Lomond   wood engraving

 
          Crocky Rocky  lithograph

 
       Crocky Rocky II   lithograph  

 
    Talking to a Brick Wall    wood engraving

 
Mouthparts of a Spanish Fly   wood engraving 

 
     Pig Headed   wood engraving

          Rhino   wood engraving 

 
        Stonefaced   wood engraving


Hope you had fun looking for them. Let me know if there are any you can't find.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

SUBLIMINAL IMAGE

Happy New Year everyone!

I've been fascinated with subliminal images for decades. I enjoy looking for them in photographs contained in printed advertising. I saw a page on line today that discussed a "brain teaser" drawing in which you were to try to find images of Indian leaders, including Ghandi, in a drawing of a tree. That reminded me of drawings I did to illustrate Jason Brink's book Fly on the Wall, published by ECW press in 2008. When the drawings were submitted to the publisher there was never a response from the editor regarding the hidden images and there has never been any response (that I'm aware of) from any reader. That's a good thing, because I didn't want them to be readily noticed. I've decided to "come clean" and to reveal that there are subliminal images in some (not all) of the drawings in Fly on the Wall, as well as other drawings and prints I've done.

So, here is the "brain teaser" (there are ten leaders) that motivated me to admit my subliminal images and you can easily see which of my drawings this "teaser" reminded me of:



A few of the pen and ink drawings for Fly on the Wall that contain subliminal images are below (You can click on individuals to see a larger image). But, before you include an image of a fly among the subliminal images you find, I need to explain that the fly is the subject of each of the stories in the book and I hid that fly in some of the drawings as a teaser to keep people looking. But there were other images hidden as well. Some were related to the particular story.

     
Bar Fly                                   Elephant Man

   
Mother's Day                                '74 Nova

    
Soccer Mom                              The Open Casket  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

JINGLE BELLS

Carol has our CD player loaded with Christmas songs this month and this morning Jingle Bells was playing during our breakfast. Automatically, my mind flashed back to 1945, when I was six years old and walking to school with friends. I began to sing along, using the lyrics we were singing as we walked to school. But our lyrics were different. I have no idea how we learned them, but we had enormous fun singing them. The chorus is all I remember.

"Shingle nails, shingle nails,
Hammers, tacks and screws,
Oh what fun it is to ride,
In Hitler's stinkin' shoes!"

(Keep in mind,WWII was ending.)

To this day, I have never come across anyone who is familiar with these lyrics. It makes me wonder if I dreamed this or if I have outlived anyone who would have learned them.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

PREMATURE ANNOUNCEMENT

I was premature with my announcement that Porcupine's Quill would release "Oddballs" in November. It seems that it won't be in November now; November's nearly over. I just received the proof of the book last week and after checking it over I returned it the next day. I'm not sure it will even be released in December. I haven't heard. Oh well, hopefully in January, at the latest.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

ODDBALLS

I just discovered that the Porcupine’s Quill edition of Oddballs will be released this November. They have it on their website:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

WHITE GALLERY EXHIBITION

I received the link to the information about the White Gallery exhibition in Sunworks. It includes the address, so if you're in the neighbourhood on September 4th, stop in during the opening for a glass of wine and a chat:


"Eye to Eye" wood engraving by Jim Westergard

Saturday, August 22, 2015

UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS

Here's more information about my upcoming exhibitions in Red Deer:
The White Gallery, located in Sunworks at 4924 - 50 St. Red Deer, Alberta. The public opening is September 4 but there is no information on the Sunworks website about the exhibition and they haven't informed me yet regarding the hours of the opening on September 4. I'm guessing it would be around 6 PM. The White Gallery has titled the exhibition "Distorted Contradictions". These are wood engravings selected from the two series "Oddballs" and "See What I'm Saying?".

The Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery (MAG), on the other hand, does have information on their website: http://www.reddeermuseum.com/exhibits-and-events/crocky-rocky-prairie-fairy-prints-and-drawings-by-jim-westergard/. The MAG is located at 4525 - 47A Ave. in Red Deer, Alberta and the exhibition is on from October 10. 2015 to January 31, 2016. The reception is at 2 PM October 18, 2015. This retrospective contains intaglio, lithograph and wood engraving prints as well as drawings that date back a few decades. The curator has titled the exhibition "Crocky Rocky Prairie Fairy".

So, now you know what I know. If you're in Red Deer then, or cruising down (or up) the QEII on either (or both) days, take the offramp into Red Deer, drop in, and say "HI!".

Monday, July 06, 2015

KEEPING RECORDS

Multiples of the same image is a common element in printmaking. The group of individual images is called the edition. There is a limit to the number in each edition and each individual print in that edition is numbered. Because of this, it's important to maintain records of each print.

I finally finished organizing the paperwork for the two exhibitions of my work that are taking place this Fall. The Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery (M.A.G.) is having a retrospective of some of my work and it opens October 10. A private gallery, the White Gallery, on Ross St. in downtown Red Deer has an exhibit of my wood engravings that opens September 4. There are 58 pieces to record and take to the M.A.G. (with at least one additional piece that is being borrowed from a collection) and 40 framed wood engravings to take to the White Gallery.

Until organizing these exhibitions, I hadn't worried much about keeping accurate records of my work; it's been something I automatically do.  Oh, I've run into a couple of occasions when I seem to be missing a print or two, but that's been rare. The records I've kept over the years have moved from paper to computer. I'm at a big disadvantage in the computer department, especially when computer companies suddenly decide to eliminate a program I'm using and I can no longer open the document with the old or new program! When I receive word that a gallery has sold a piece and I don't enter that information right away in the correct file, that information is lost. That's when I long for the days of paper notebooks, rotary phones, letters with full sentences and stimulating discussions uninterrupted by Google.

The most traumatic moment in this ordeal came near the end of the list when I noticed that I had given the curator working for M.A.G. the wrong title to a drawing! It happened to be a drawing that was already framed and I had to take the frame apart and look at the back of the drawing to verify the title. (I usually print the title of all my drawings, on the back and luckily, I had done that on this one.) Now, as it turns out, I learned from a note from the curator, that the drawing was dropped from the list and I had forgotten about that change. All that work and stress for nothing!

 It's a relief to have these all recorded, but I can't help but worry that my aging brain cells have screwed something up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

MR. IDIOT RETURNS… AGAIN

I received another call from Mr. Idiot last night (you know, the guy with the Hindi accent) who called me first back in January about a problem "Microsoft" detected I was having with my computer. After stringing him along, back then,  I told him I didn't own a computer and he said "Then why didn't you tell me earlier?" and called me an idiot and hung up. Then he called again in May and struggled with the pronunciation of my name. He had forgotten about my lack of computer, I guess, and I let him go on and on until I ran out of ways to keep him going and told him (for the second time) I didn't own a computer.

Last night, when the phone rang and the caller I.D. indicated "unavailable", I answered. There was a noisy racket in the background, as if the caller was in a busy office bull-pen. After saying hello I waited. When Mr. Idiot spoke, I recognized his voice (or maybe it was just his accent I recognized) and I had to ask him to repeat what he said because of the background noise. This time he didn't try to pronounce my name.  He went through the same routine of describing how his technicians had determined my computer had been compromised and he was calling to help me solve the problem. I used pauses and "yes" and "oh" and "what do you mean?" to keep him going. When I finally ran out of ways to stall him and could tell he was getting impatient, I said what I had said before:

"But I don't have a computer!"

Click!

I wonder how long it will be before Mr. Idiot calls again. You would think that if my phone number is known by Mr. Idiot, he would have erased it from his records long ago, having discovered the computer-compromise-scam doesn't work on people who don't own computers.



Friday, June 05, 2015

AYE-AYE

I finally ran the edition of the wood engraving print, "Aye-Aye". This critter is part of my "Aliens of Planet Earth" series. Two main features that have intrigued me for some time are the large round eyes (it's nocturnal) and the incredibly long middle fingers (it pokes into things for food). This block took a little longer (about two and a half months) than most this size (5 X 7 in.) because I kept reaching points where I thought the block was complete, then I saw more that I could do. I kept picking at it, then running a proof and studying it and picking at it, then running a proof and studying it. I couldn't decide whether to remove the negative space completely, or leave it totally black. In order to make the decision to remove all the wood around the figure I needed to see it first. If I removed the wood in the negative space and it didn't work, I would be stuck with that. So, the answer was to shift from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first for a solution. I scanned it digitally and removed the negative space with Photoshop. Of course, I could have used a nineteenth century method and printed an extra proof, waited for the ink to dry and used white opaque paint to remove the black areas. But, by this time I was ready to bring it to a conclusion and tired of indecisions. As they say, either "do it", or get off the pot ("I" didn't say that "they" said that).

The removal of the black did not work as I studied the changed digital image. By then the day was over, so I shut things down and left the studio. The next morning, as I was waking up, without consciously thinking about it (and this happens often), I visualized the jungle surrounding Aye-Aye. There was Aye-Aye in the clutter of leaves and fronds and bushes of Madagascar. The next few days were spent delicately pulling a subtle jungle up from below and beyond Aye-Aye, Then proofing and pondering, proofing and pondering to make sure there was enough, but not too much. Remember, once the wood is removed it can't be put back. I reached the point where a proof showed it was where I wanted it to be and I ran the edition.

Now it was time to come up with a title. All the other "Aliens" have been given their actual names ("Blobfish", "Star-Nosed Mole" etc.) and I was tempted to add something to Aye-Aye's name. I came close to naming it Aye-Aye's Salute, or Aye-Aye Sir, but since the others in the series have their names only, without commentaries, I stuck with that.

Please, allow me to introduce: Aye-Aye:







Wednesday, May 27, 2015

HE'S BAAAAACK!

I couldn't believe it the other day, when the phone rang and I had a lesson in "day ja voo"! I looked at the caller I.D. and saw that the call was from a State in the U.S. where a wood engraver friend of mine lives. So I picked it up and answered it. It might be my friend.

Me: "Hello!"
Caller: Silence.
I waited a second or two.
Caller, in a Hindi accent: "Am I speaking to, uh, Shgeem Veshrushgugh?"
Me: "Well, maybe, I don't know."
Caller in a Hindi accent: "Sorry, uh, Geem Westegoot"
Me: "Yes" (I'm thinking to myself that this sounds exactly like "Idiot" who called me in January)
Idiot: "We have information that your computer has been attacked by a virus and we want to help you protect your computer."
Me: "I don't have a computer."
(I didn't have the time to string Idiot along this time and I thought, if I said I didn't own a computer, Idiot would remember our longer conversation back in January.)
Idiot: "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"
Me: "Because you didn't tell me who you were or that you were calling about computers earlier."
And I hung up.

Was there a lesson learned on Idiot's part? I doubt it. But there was on my part. Next time I'll waste more of Idiot's time. He doesn't seem to learn, so it'll be easy.

OK, now to finish messing around on my computer I don't have, to post this. Then back to the next "Alien of Planet Earth" engraving. This one is "Aye-Aye".

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

PHONE SOLICITOR

I received a phone call a little while ago that absolutely made my day. When the phone rang I looked at the caller ID and it said "unavailable" so I figured it could be a solicitor, or it could be someone I don't get calls from normally. So I answered it.

Me: "Hello"
Slight pause 
Solicitor with accent: "Hello, my name is (I can't remember the name he used but it didn't match the accent) from Microsoft."
Me: silence
Solicitor with accent: "Hello" 
Me: "Yes"
Solicitor with accent: He then goes on and on to say that Microsoft has received reports that my computer has been receiving unwanted sinister things. Then finally after this explanation he pauses.
Me: silence
Solicitor with accent: "Hello, are you there"
Me: "Yes, go on."
Solicitor with accent: He then goes on and on about the dangers of letting these sinister things get onto my computer, then on and on about how Microsoft can help me rid my computer of them. Then he pauses.
Me: silence
Solicitor with accent: silence, only longer this time
Solicitor: "Hello"
Me: "The thing is, I don't own a computer."
Solicitor with accent: "Then why are you wasting my time, you idiot?"
Me: "You're the one who is wasting my time. You told me you had a report that my computer had been infected by something or other. I don't own a computer. Who's the idiot?' Then I paused.
Solicitor with accent: silence
(He probably disconnected after he called me an idiot.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

APOLOGY

I received a phone call yesterday from Art Boards. They have apologized for the quality of the block they sent me and have promised to refund the cost. I appreciate and admire that apology and I feel obligated to let you know of their apology. Mistakes can happen when building things and when restitution is offered for those mistakes it's time to move on.

I recognize now that if I hadn't invested so much time and effort working on that block, only to find the effort was wasted, I probably wouldn't have been so hasty to vent my spleen. So I apologize for jumping the gun and going "public" with this so soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THE HUNGRY BEAR IS BACK

"Some days the bear eats you and some days you eat the bear" came to mind again. I was attacked by the bear and I suppose I learned another lesson. I hope so, anyway. I had ordered an engraving block from a block supplier in the US called Art Boards. I don't believe I've ever used their blocks before and thought I would give them a try. I ordered a 5 X 7 inch maple end-grain block from them, which they claim they make for wood engravers. When it arrived and I looked at it, it appeared to be a well made block… Not so!

I stained the block and began to draw on the block, from some sketches I had made for a new print in the series I call "Aliens Of Planet Earth". When I figured I had enough information on the block I began to do some general engraving, to give myself enough to print an early proof. I like to be cautious and print a proof at an early stage before I remove too much of the surface of the block.

I noticed, as I engraved lines that crossed the joints between sections of the block, fine crumbs of glue were coming out of the joint. The joints are supposed to be milled in such a way that there is no space between them, before they are joined with glue. The person making this block had filled the gaps with glue! I was stunned to see the joint opening up as the glue was crumbling out! I had worked on this image for three weeks, including the last three days of engraving and it was obvious that, with these thin white lines running the length of the print, I was going to have to scrap this block. But I decided to print a proof and see what it looked like. I started up the press and printed a proof today and was shocked to see that, not only were the lines VERY evident, but the thickness of the block was inconsistent. Both ends of the block were low! VERY low! This resulted in no image printing from those ends (close-up of the proof below).

I suppose there's no need to mention that I don't recommend wood engravers order blocks from Art Boards.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

GIANT ISOPOD EDITION IS FINISHED

The proofing and changes to the block were finished and an edition of Giant Isopod was run on November 2. Here's a photo of a print from the finished edition. There are 36 prints in the edition and 4 artist proofs.