Sunday, June 22, 2008

Berry Helper

I found this little guy while gathering berries in the morning and let him hitch a ride. Snails don't gross me out as much as slugs do. Slugs are just straight up GROSS! Anyways, I am going to have a Book of Life update soon but I'd like to throw the botanical drawings up on the net first. I've noticed the milkweed and chickory blooming here and have added them to my growing list of local floras to cover on my mail art venture. I'm almost finished (sounds better than "getting sick of") designing patterns with blackberries. Here are two of the better ones I like:

A cane of thorns twines in an infinite loop as berries sprout and flourish the arrangement

I hope, when this finally makes it to print, that this will be reminiscent of old botanical woodblock prints used in herbalist manuscripts.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book of Life Update

I REALLY enjoy working on this project. I thought I'd get that in writing for when I start printing and tearing my hair out going I hate this project! First things first, I love these images! Here is the website they are from so that you can read the material that I have read:
Thanks Berkeley!
I've completed the rough sketch for the Precipitation Cycle and am now trying to refine that with a set of symbols (*) I would like to include in the images to help unravel the puzzle for confused viewers. I have also decided to have a border of pattern around each page of the book. Not only will this give me an opportunity to include more symbolics but also a clean delineation REALLY helps registration line up. Herein lies the problem, though. I'm finding that I'm basically trying to reinvent the wheel. For example, with the Precipitation Cycle, water is the vehicle being driven and the driver is temperature. I wanted to make a geometric pattern out of a symbol for water around the boarder that wouldn't immediately be recognized as symbol by a pedestrian but easily discernible by a scientist. The simple large bubble flanked by two small bubbles seems contrived to me (I'm considering maybe this will be my answer anyway as rings instead of bubbles) but the hexagonal chains rendered in most molecular structures I have found are made more to convey carbon than any other molecular structure. Brains melting yet? For the most part, I want to push the normal scientific language for the elements into something beautiful and ancient like the temples and tomes of old. I was hoping to play around with the concept of valence shells but that development will take a little more time.
My latest challenge and puzzle has been the 11 (22) Year Solar Cycle. As nature has proven to me time and time again, in essence this cycle follows a pattern but in practice it has many variables. In the research I've done so far (and been able to understand), texts say that the sun goes through an 11 year cycle of solar maximum to solar minimum. This refers to the amount of activity erupting on the surface. At maximum, the sun belches massive amounts of material into the solar system and it's surface is violently blistered with magnetic and x-ray explosions. At solar minimum, the amount of sunspot storms is reduced to a few if any. Also, during the cycle the sun will switch its polarity of the magnetic poles. What has NOT been explained is how both of these occurrances relate to each other. Do these storms occur during the magnetic switch or when the poles have established themselves? I have not been able to find the answer in any of the texts available to me or any online sources. Instead of shelving the image and waiting, I have made an executive decision: I will render the image as logic speaks to me. If my deduction is incorrect, it will be the most beautiful failure you've ever seen. I have read that in the process of changing poles, sometimes the sun will even have two north or south poles before everything works itself out. I have also read that sun spots are explosions of material that follow the path of wayward magnetic fields. This happens because the center of the sun rotates faster that the top halves. Rotation twists and stretches the normal mesh of magnetic bands out of proportion and instead of infinitely winding around the sun, break and pop into strange loopy tables. Here's what I think: When the sun settles into an established magnetic pole phase, the maximum cycle fires up because there is now an established magnetic pathway to follow and be twisted out of proportion and create maximum storms. We'll see if I'm right.
(*) Anyways, I've known that I wanted to include some tools used by the ancients (Egyptians, Asians, and South Americans) that would help me use text without using text. Cartouches were used to set aside and delineate concepts. Going down my meager list of cycles, I realize that even these can be steeped down to a common thread. It would be asinine not to address this. I've noticed Convection, Gravity, and Chemical Reactions are usually the root of most cycles. If anyone is willing to correct me or give me more examples, I'm all ears. Also, my list of 10 is becoming compressed. I was going to address the CO2 cycle in deciduous forests and also address respiration in two different illustrations but I've found that a richer illustration would include the two. This only leaves yet more room for more cycles. My brain feels like a mad scientists lab as it steeps these concepts down and mulls them around while searching for new material. Mwuhaa-haa-ha-haa-haaaaaaaaa!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Under the Archeopteris Tree

I scanned my mostly finished Archeopteris drawing in sections and it's taking me a while to fit the pieces together smoothly. The only details missing are the spore images in each corner (That's going to take a little magic!) and the rotting vegetation in the swamp. Here two placoderms try to maneuver around the fallen branches in the brackish water to nab the 8 toed Acanthostega. The nimble fan-tailed Acanthostega are happy to disappear into their twisted branch haven and leave the placoderms to their tangled mess.
I was driving to work the other day and, for reasons unknown to me, a large turtle was trying to cross the road. Now, in Nelson County the only real definition for "large turtle" equals snapping turtle and normally they should not be tusselled with. I turned around and pulled over to help dummy across the road. He probably smelled a female on the other side or she probably wanted to lay eggs on the other side. I don't know. Anyways, when I got to him (I'm just guessing on sex) I couldn't tell if I was too late. He was flattened out and "leaking fluid". Sometimes turtles do this and pee when they get scared. I took my shoe and shifted his shell and that didn't go over well. CLACK CLACK!!! The sound of hollow bone resounded as he tried to snap at me. He quickly inflated and turned to face me with a hiss as a large semi filled with turkeys came down the road. My family had a general store growing up and the butcher taught us kids how to pick up snapping turtles. You get them to clamp down on a broom handle or stick and then pick him up by the tail. I've found as long as you hold them out at length, grabbing by the tail will suffice. Well, as the semi and a few cars is swiftly approaching, dummy turtle turns to face me so I can't grab his tail. I just looked at him and he looked at me. I was dressed for my day job and now I was late and the prospect of getting hit in traffic or turtle jaws snapping off my fingers was becoming less attractive. Judging by his size (he was about the size of a large basketball) he seemed to have made it okay this far. "Well, Jack, you're on your own." I said and bid him adew. Funny thing is, as I was leaving a young gentleman had pulled over to do the same thing! By looking at him....I don't think he knew the tail only rule....
Anyways, there was no flattened turtle in the road so somehow Jack made his way across.
The point of this story is a little moment in history. As I was drawing the placoderms, I couldn't help but notice the similarities in facial structure between them and a turtle. I read that the bony plates on it's mouth were self sharpening and sure enough the lower jaw had perfectly angled grooves for the upper fang-like protrusions to slide into. The sound of Jack snapping a warning at me MUST have sounded very similar to the placoderms thrashing about. Just another illustration that as everything is different, we are all in reality the same.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First of the Season

Here are the first Black Raspberries of the season. They are SO yummy! I like to get all I can and then make pie or tarts. My wild berries are starting to produce several babies around the original patch. I think I'll dig them up and start cultivating them on the perimeter of my garden. The thorny bushes get thick and the deer normally don't seem to like to cross through them. Besides, the ready berry food source should satisfy them enough on their side anyways. That will not deter the rabbits, though :(
On the printmaking side of things, my Archeopteris picture is almost complete! I need to draw my little Acanthostegas and the bodies of the hovering Placoderms but other than that it'll be carving time soon!
I was hoping to have photos to post of my print run today but the run was cut me. A few years ago, I invested a lot of money in a LOT of Edgeworthia paper. I thought I was going to need a good bit of the paper and it just didn't turn out that way. I have yet to produce a viable edition of one of my carved forestscape blocks. This block is two or three times the length of the smaller "Sage Forestscape" block. I went to print on the edgeworthia paper and the fibers wicked so badly on the first two that I didn't think it was worth it to continue. In conclusion, if it's not broke don't fix it. I did a print run (The Laughing Kirin) with the edgeworthia with great success because the block image had more finite detail. I did a print run (Sage Forestscape) with hahnamugle paper with great success with a block image that had a few solid shapes. I have some hahnamugle that I'll break out next weekend. For the record, I personally am now not a huge fan of edgeworthia paper.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More design work...

For at least the next month or so, design work is all I'll be doing. I'm toying with the idea of having the pages for the "Book of Life" be either watercolor paintings first or at least monoprints (hand colored key block prints)for the show next July because I'm not sure that I will be able to procure what I need for a large number of multiple block prints. I am going to try and use reclaimed wood where I can to be more "green" but prospects have proven slim so far.
AT THE SAME TIME, I've been designing items for sale at festivals and such to finance the show. I love the art nouveau period and works by William Morris. Nelson county has so many beautiful indigenous flora and fauna that they will be the inspiration for this next line. Species include blackberries, passion fruit, tulip poplar. Though it is not indigenous, my bleeding heart is still in bloom and I was inspired to start with these designs. I can't wait to start playing with colors!