FineLine Letterpress

with brown ink

brown inkWe visited the Legion of Honor this past weekend where we saw the exhibit of Dutch and Flemish works.  The details in some of these works are remarkable.  Details and tiny-ness.  These artists had patience that I would love to learn.

If you go to this exhibit, do not miss the painting of The Temptation of St. Anthony.  I cannot stop thinking about it.

I am also now thinking about technical skill, and although I wouldn’t always want to display it, I would like to have it when I need it.  To make a detailed, scaly tail peek out from a skirt hem, for example.    Like everything – practice, practice, practice.  Extended, deliberate practice.

So here I am, practicing with brown ink.  Does experimenting count as practicing?




Do you remember making invisible ink out of lemon juice?

You’d write a secret note that could not be seen on the paper until you held it over a light bulb, and the heat would cause the hidden writing to mysteriously appear.    It seemed like magic.  I might like to print with invisible ink; to come up with the chemistry of lemon-juice letterpress ink (probably not good for the rollers…)

This makes me think once again about chemistry, math, physics, etc. and the ongoing discussions around encouraging science in schools.  Especially with girls.  They even have an acronym for it: STEM, for Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics.  Why did they do that – as if it is some condition, like PTSD, or ADD.  Why is it that science is not viewed as more exciting in school?  Why do we have to have “programs” to encourage girls to study science?  How did it become the less-appealing subject when it is so remarkable and beautiful?

I love reading, and studying social studies, and learning languages.  But I do not understand why a child would love these MORE than pursuing the mysteries of science.  And the basics of math are somewhat like learning a language, I think, so I wonder why it got lumped in with STEM, rather than in with French or Spanish.  Just a thought.

Circling back to the idea of mystery – do you think that understanding how things work destroys the mystery, and therefore the excitement?  I don’t think so.  I think that to see a mystery, and then try to solve it is a thrill.  Maybe not ALL mysteries should be solved (like why does the picture hanging on the wall at the top of our stairs seem to end up crooked even though no one touches it (is it something about the spinning of the planet that causes it to lean on its hanger?), and why do cookies sometimes taste better as dough?).  But working to understand enough about chemistry and physics and biology so that we can understand the world around us seems so naturally exciting.  How did we get away from thinking about it like this?


performance art

MOMA.    Salt and pepper.

salt and pepper

While at the museum, in addition to the cafeteria, I saw an exhibit of Francis Alys.  I like his work very much.

I am very curious about the meaning of art and the “artist statement.”  I understand that it is important to have an artist statement; to be able to explain and discuss one’s art.  But I find it a bit of a mystery.  I cannot yet file it in the realm of Things That I Understand.  I would like to better understand the purpose and meaning of art.  I went to the MOMA website to read a bit more about Mr. Alys.  In the description it said that he was “…one of the foremost artists of his generation.”

I had to look up the work “foremost.”   It says it is “the first in a series or progression.”  (Can you be one of the foremost?  By definition, it seems that you either are or you aren’t.  But that is sort of beside the point.)   What does it mean to be the foremost artist.  Is there some sort of ranking of artists?  Can someone be foremost in in a field that is subjective?   Does foremost mean that he produces the most work?  Or makes the most money?  Or is written about the most?

OK, I got a little off on a tangent there.   I was going to say that the photo above documents the small-scale enactment of art in everyday life.  Of everyday objects in a public space.  That in it I am investigating methods of re-enactment that reflect my ideas and process.  The simplicity of the message creates an impression of profound truth.  Embracing opaque means, I am commenting on the state of the world in the MOMA cafeteria, highlighting my existance in it.

No, not really.

But I do love the following, that Peter Schjeldahl wrote (August 8 New Yorker) about Lucian Freud’s paintings:  ”The best – notably “And the Bridegroom” (1993), which finds a slim lass asleep beside the dozing mountain of Bowery – are powerfully perfect on Freud’s truculently conservative terms, forcing raw flesh across an unguarded, because unsuspected, frontier of beauty.  At the least, they radiate the authenticity of something that no one would do if he didn’t mean it.”

forcing raw flesh across an unguarded frontier of beauty

something that no one would do if he didn’t mean it

This I understand.


in a mood

It seemed to me, yesterday, that the oatmeal had sort of an Alexander McQueen feel to it.

Maybe it’s the light, and the oatmeal just happened to be there.


a face in watercolor

bbq man



I love greys.

balloon at MOMA


beams and rivets

hands on legs

sweaty glass


New York views

Lower East Side

High Line

trafficFriday afternoon

treesCentral Park


everything is relative

OK, I had been thinking that the blade of my paper cutter was getting dull.

It is good to have a very sharp blade of course, so that it cleanly and effortlessly cuts through a stack of paper.  I get nervous about trimming a project.  I feel fairly confident about my printing, but not so much the cutting.  When faced with a stack of beautifully printed pieces under the knife, I always fight a moment of panic…. what if I slice off a portion of the beautiful cards that I just took hours creating…?    Allright, and what if I slice off the tip of my finger…?


And the concern about the blade being dull….  Uh, well as I said, everything is relative, because according to my finger, it is wicked-sharp.

Sheesh.  I am happy to report, from a safety-perspective, that this did NOT involve the blade coming down while my finger was anywhere in the vicinity.  The blade was sitting very still, in the up position, and I moved my hand up under it while – hahaha!        wait for it…….cleaning!    (that’ll teach me)

Now, here is the positive aspect of this:  (and it is kind of like when you decide to train yourself to be left-handed because you are right-handed and it would be cool to be ambidextrous) I am temporarily forced to hold my pen in a new and slightly awkward way, which slows down my hand-writing, which is a good thing, because I get to experiment with new ways of forming my letters.  And I love this – thinking about the shape of letters, and how they connect to one-another, and what impact that has on their meaning.

And that makes me think about the way things are printed, and the effect it has on the reader’s perception.  And this makes me think about electronic books, and I want to talk about this, but I will wait for another day when it is easier to type.




Despite concrete,



fog (usually),

and lack of role-model,

here it is.

And also its beautiful side-kick, the shadow.



Sun won out over the fog today.