Thursday, January 20, 2011

Digital Doorway: brainstorming...

So I'm not dead, first off. It's been over a year since my last post to this blog, but it's been a very busy year!

The doors and windows went well. I completed several windows and one door, but they're difficult to photograph. Hopefully I'll manage that eventually.

I am continuing to work with windows and doors as my "thing" these days, as I've found I really love their aesthetic and the opportunity they provide me to break down the chasm between digital and traditional media.

This semester (yes, I'm still doing the college grind), I've got a digital arts class in which I have the freedom to design and execute whatever I want in terms of an art piece. This class is apparently going to have a show/exhibition sometime in May, location TBA, so I want to make sure what I do is show-worthy.

My current plan is this...I want to set up a rear-projection behind a door against a wall. The door would have no window in it, but when someone opens the door, an image would be projected against the wall behind the doorway. Every time the door shuts, the image will change, so that when it opens again it will be different than the last time it was open. I would use as many "scenes" as I could, at least seven, but preferably at least ten. The more, the better.

Basically, what I've figured out so far is that I'll need to construct a space to back the door, or a false wall. I'll need to pick a windowless door (plenty of those on craigslist) and frame it into the backing projection box or wall. The projector and rear-projection screen would set up behind it, and a sensor will feed into a Max/MSP patch that activates a change in images for the projector.

Obviously, this will take a lot of work, but I am pretty sure I can figure it out. I'm good at making things do what I want.

A means of encouraging people to open and shut the door repeatedly? Hmm... Well, I think I can use woodburning to encourage them to open the door. It's how to get them to open and shut it repeatedly that's the trick.

More on this—including sketches—later.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The In-Joke Songs: "Riss Knows What I Mean"

You know what I'm saying
You know what I mean
You know the in-joke I'm about to sing

Roll it with an R
Drawl it with a y'all
Go deep or go high
Go anywhere at all
If it sounds good, I'll squirm
If it sounds bad, it hurts
I'm not into the high pitch
I'll take bass for dessert

It gets under my ribs
It gets under my skin
It gets me all riled up
It gets me unhinged

I don't care what it looks like
As long as it sounds
Like sex on the eardrum
Riss knows what this song's about

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stingers 'n commenting service...

Here's a quick screenshot of some of the wasps I've been making for the window project (there are a bunch more and this was saved yesterday before I drew even more of them).

Also, I'm mostly just making this post to test a comment service from Intense Debate. So feel free to comment and help me test, guys.

Back to my busy snow-covered day...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Artist Envy: ...Chris Coleman

A gorgeous digital animation Matt showed us a little while ago. I am so keen for the sound design. So very well executed.

The Magnitude of the Continental Divides from Chris Coleman.

I believe this piece was created through After Effects and took something like two years. Check out some of Coleman's other work at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Windows Project: "Stingers and Nettles" (wip 1)

Well, as the battle of the windows continues, my battle plan has changed a bit. Rather than working my windows to line them up to create a single surreal scene, I've opted to juxtapose things within each window instead, usually two subjects but one window might have three.

I've also settled on working with lazertran transfer papers, which work pretty well for my purposes... But that's the final step. Let me walk you through the process I've been using so far. It's been a learn-as-I-go ordeal, and there have certainly been mistakes and I've started over once already.

First off I pick which window I want to use for it, measure the size of the panes, and do a digital mock-up of the window's pane
frames... For this window I chose to use one that is 28" tall and 26.5" wide including the outside frame, with panes approximately 7.25" wide and 11.5" tall. The one to the left (it's upside down in the photo). It has a handle lever on top (the one you use to push half of a window up or pull it closed again).

Then I come up with a digital sketch plan. I spend a lot of time looking at photos of potential subjects by using the google images search, flickr, and deviantart, as well as reading up on things at wikipedia and specialty sites. My digital sketches are rough and messy and careless. Getting hung up on these is pointless, as they're only a jumping off point, so why bother?

Next is drawing the lineart for the traditional part of the drawing onto tracing paper. I cut the tracing paper to the size of the window panes and then use graphite transfer to rub my sketch layout's key lines onto the tracing paper for a guide. Then I use a .005 micron pen to draw over those guides and add details. This is my lineart.

In this case, I only drew out the jelly, which occupies 4 of the window panes, because I wanted to work with the other element (the wasps) digitally.

To double-check that things are the way I want, I repeatedly place the drawn tracing paper against the window panes throughout this entire process, right through to the end!

(Beware of audio - feel free to mute! I like to sing to myself and I'm not shy, tend to cuss a bit, and am occasionally chatting with friends who were watching the live broadcast. Also, there are a couple parts where I was rearranging my workspace; feel free to skip around.)

After I've got my lineart done, I start on color. For the jelly (a Pacific sea nettle, by the way), I used nupastel (aka chalk/dry pastel), carbothello pastel pencils (also chalk/dry pastel), and prismacolor colored pencils. Also important to this process are blending stumps and a variety of erasers. Kneaded, artgum, and stick erasers were all invaluable. It is fortunately quite easy to erase chalk pastel and prismacolor off of tracing paper as long as it hasn't been blended into the paper too well. I work one "pane" at a time and then line them up to make sure they're looking alright. I also often switch from having white paper to having black paper behind the tracing paper in order to better see where my color is going.

It's also important to keep track of what colors I used for what parts, as I am partially colorblind. My form of colorblindness is called tritanomalous, because I cannot distinguish yellows very well at all (sometimes they are simply WHITE to me) and struggle somewhat with purples, oranges, and some blues, but can see green just fine for the most part. Anyway...this is why I keep my colors organized and labeled and sometimes write down notes on what colors I used where.

Once I've finished the traditional drawing part of the process, I first put the tracing paper in the panes again just to check that it's looking okay in terms of composition...

Now I can scan the tracing paper into Photoshop at about 300 dpi. I prefer to do this from a Mac computer, as color fidelity is better, but will settle for using my little Windows laptop when I must. When I've scanned things in, I position the "panes" into a digital mock-up of the window frame.

Then it's time for the digital drawing part! I first sketch rough ideas of where I want the wasps to be... In this case, they're supposed to be coming out of the jelly's bell and flying toward the upper right corner of the window.

In Photoshop, with a small pixel black brush, I drew out lineart for a few wasps and then would reposition, rotate, or slightly redraw them as needed as I placed them on the window mock-up. I do a mock-up of the colors I want to use on the yellow jackets/wasps because, like I said, my colorblindness means I need to keep track of my color use at all times. I am very familiar with the position of colors on the digital color palette so that I can estimate which colors are in which places and use this to help me pick colors as I go.

I use soft airbrushes with low opacity and flow to "paint" the yellow jackets on layers beneath their lineart. The first yellow jacket was the slowest; after that the process sped up... Once I finish all these, the next step in the process is painting in shadows to assist the wasps integration with the jelly and its tentacles and oral arms and bell/body.

Once all the drawing is done, the final step is transferring my images to the glass of the windows. Another post regarding this part of the process will come later!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ladyparts and the apple...

While I was working on my windows outdoors today, a ladybug landed on my glasses. I think she fell off the deck staircase that I was standing under. Usually they'll fly away again pretty quickly if you start trying to handle them much, but this one seems to have some sort of problem with her wings because the couple of times she's tried she just ended up falling over. (I'm referring to her as a female because she's fairly large compared to the other ladybugs I've seen around lately, and the females are - to my knowledge - usually the larger of the sexes in the species.)

Well, she ended up staying on my hand for 30 minutes... So I did an impromptu photoshoot with her in the kitchen, as it was fair practice in macro photography with a fast moving subject (not that the macro feature of my digital camera is very good but I didn't have time to go dig out my Canon).

After I'd put her back on my hand, I decided to see how long she'd stay. Well, 1 hour turned into 2 hours, even while I was using my hands to work on projects, and so I finally moved her off of my hand. Currently (it's been over 3 hours now and counting), she's resting on the velveteen bag my little digicam is usually in, next to my laptop. She moves around every once in a while, preens constantly, does these funny little aerobics steps...but she's sticking around.

I've taken to calling her "Ladyparts." Because I have a silly/12-year-old-boy sense of humor? Perhaps!

This may, in part, be because my room is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature and the chill makes insects sluggish. What can I say? I like it cold.

I sort of have this urge now to keep ladybugs as pets. Outdoors, they can live for up to 2 years! But in a container, even with aphids and pollen and moisture sources, they would probably only live a couple weeks tops. This makes me sad...

Meanwhile, I will likely post some more stuff at KeroseneCamera soon. And for the sake of clarification, the young lady featured in the background of the photo in this post is my youngest sister.

O Jersey Swede!

Right, so. I haven't made any posts for a while. Because I'm a loser and have been letting myself get overwhelmed and sick, which tends to make taking the time to actually make a post quite unappealing!

So I thought I'd dump some pointless doodlery I've made in the last few months. Um, right.

My buddy Kat Bongard's character Danne/Dan. He's a Swedish dude from New Jersey. We did the back-and-forth-description thing where I drew him and she told me what to tweak over and over until we had what Danne looks like. ...the colors look decent on my laptop PC, but not on the Mac I'm at right now. Figures.

Okay, my attention span is entirely too distracted today. Moving on!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Play your cards pretty...

Here are another couple PE sketch assignments from the summer. This time, both are digital drawings/airbrush doodles and both are Davina Falcão's characters. The chick is Lusiada (obviously) and the fellow is Aspis.

I sort of want to tweak Aspis some more at some point, but I'm very happy with the way Lusiada came out. I was aiming for a sort card look, if that makes sense.

Davina was happy enough with Lusiada's "card" that she has said she'd like to commission more in that style when I open for commissions again. Woo!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horned people posin'...

More PE sketch assignments from this summer. Here are a pair of Unavisi (invite-only character race designed by Brianne Goetz). Davina Falcão's fella Atthis in graphite and pen and Amy Clark's Yew with a juvenile gryphon sketched in Photoshop.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ladybug jelly!'s a quickie animation done for my Drawing 4 class this semester. I plan on making this one longer in my free time over the next couple weeks. Currently it's only about 77 frames long and has no sound.

And to the left are the ladybugs I originally drew in my sketchbook at the start of this little project. I think it should be fairly obvious which one was used in the actual animation...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Timmy Has Left the Nest"

Way back in November of '08, several people around the world participated as voice actors in the sequel to "The Birds Are Honest," a ridiculous little video/animation I made involving bird skeletons. Both videos were separate assignments for the video art class I was taking at the time and, unfortunately, I ran out of time to finish the sequel in the way it was planned in the storyboards the actors used as script. I think all of the voice actors have since seen the video that came of it anyway, but somehow I never got around to posting it here. Oops? In any case, here it is!

(Note: if the video doesn't work for you, try
back in an hour. Dunno why it does that.)

Timmy --- voiced by Kat Bongard
Wagner --- voiced by Maureen Babb
La Rouge --- voiced by "Grumpy" Bongard
Crunching leaves sounds --- The Free Sound Project user: HerbertBoland
Nocturnal nature sounds --- The Free Sound Project user: laurent
Gong sound (before manipulation) --- The Free Sound Project user: Incarnadine
Bird and fox skeletons --- courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science (photographed by Kate N.Y., me)

(By the way, since a few people now have been confused by this, Timmy is voiced by Kat Bongard, not me! I'm Kate, she's Kat. She's e-less! I did no voice acting because my microphone was simply never clear enough. Bah humbug...)

Bonus material!
A couple of outtakes tracks. This is what happens when you give Bongards permission to use microphones and funny voices, apparently!

"Bongard Stylings" Outtakes (1:34):

The Baguettes Outtakes (0:21):

...I still plan on finishing it out a bit more at some point. You guys should jab me in the eyeball if I forget again!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A vingança da Davina...

I was craving a burrito terribly earlier, but told myself that unless I happened to have enough pennies lying around to pay for it entirely that way, I couldn't have it. Alas, I fell a couple hundred pennies short of the goal. Oh well. But then, as I had mentioned the craving to my buddies at one point, my friend Davina in Portugal -- whose own food craving I once rewarded with a sketch of cookies -- saw fit to take her revenge. And thus, she gave me a burrito...

...damn you, Davina! Damn you and your Portuguese burrito!

I love my friends.

Note: title is Portuguese for "the revenge of Davina."

Artist Envy: ...Gregory Euclide

My recent interest in Josh Keyes led me to Gregory Euclide thanks to the David B. Smith Gallery. Euclide confronts the limiting falsehoods of a flat picture plane and the expectations of sculptural dimension with an exploration of how our bodies truly experience nature and environment. With titles as poetic and expressive as the works themselves, his mixed media landscapes swirl and envelop, permitting the viewer a glimpse into what our senses may be, well, sensing in the intangible space between experience and the perception that our cultural connotations and biases package life into.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Semi-chromatic ladies...

More of my sketchbook PE assignments from this summer...

Del Borovic's character Tain
Black ink pen, red nupastel

Mandy O'Brien's character Amile
2B and 4B graphite pencil, various colors of nupastel

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Artist Envy: ...Josh Keyes

Currently in love with the post-apocalyptic reclamation reality-suspended paintings of Josh Keyes. I read an interview from Hi-Fructose yesterday but was so busy drooling over the gorgeous imagery that few of the words really sunk in. I do remember, however, that he mentioned something I very much enjoy and find refreshing in terms of post-apocalyptic imagery: there is an element of hope inherent in the paintings.

Go check him out!

Links for the netties...

Jenkins wanted a list of links that I thought would be helpful for you guys while you're mucking about with building your websites. The number one resource I can recommend, however, is to muck around! Just keep pushing buttons and trying code to experiment with what it does. Second best resource? A book. Just look at the web development section in any bookstore or library. Third best? Look at the "source" of any website you like. Just go to View and look at "page source" or "view source" (depending on if you're mac or windows).

Other than that, here are some places to go...

If I think of more, I'll add them here throughout the semester. Hope they help ya out.

Broody dudey...

Another thing from PE assignments this summer, Amy Clark's Conan. Broodin' boyo. More PhotoshopCS3, soft brushes and mucking with color.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pirates! Arr!

I woke up today with a horrendous migraine. At first, I decided I could walk it off and started getting ready for school anyway. Biiiig mistake. After scraping myself up off the bathroom floor, I downed a few extra-strength excedrin and went back to bed, curtains drawn. I felt like crap pretty much until noon. I'm sort of annoyed because there was Stuff To Be Done today both in my Web Art class and at the tutoring gigs I do (had to call my tutorees and let them know I'd be a no-show).

Anyway, in light of that failure on my part, I figured I should post some of the art I did over the summer for the Private Exchange. The exchange(s) these were for were a "sketch" level so I didn't really get too involved with clean lineart or developing color or even using a print-quality dpi. Um. Sooo...let's start with a couple of pirates! Swashbuckling ahoy!

Daerik (left) and Jessie (right) are characters belonging to Amy Clark, aka phoenix_element. Drawn digitally in Photoshop CS3.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The battle of the windows...

I'm working on a thematic series this semester for my Drawing 4 class and because I've long had a fascination with old-fashioned wood-framed windows, decided I would try to work with them for a sort of...installation-y piece.

Back in Drawing 2, I worked with a broken up collection of jellyfish in chalk pastel. Since then I've really had a thing for disconnected imagery, especially when it comes to natural forms. I've also really become absorbed with a love for the unexpectedly beautiful in nature, especially where there are double connotations...times when we look at things that we think of as both "bad" in some way and yet "pleasing" in another. Jellyfish are some of the most deadly creatures in the world and yet so elegant, graceful, delicate and ethereally lovely. Insects annoy the heck out of people, disgust and frighten them, and yet we still consider ladybugs "cute," butterflies and moths "pretty," and think fondly of summer when a dragonfly buzzes past. We think of dead grass as a problem and unwanted, and yet we relish the sight of fields of dried plains grass bending and rustling with the wind.

And more than that, I wanted to screw with reality. My style has so often been called "pseudo-realism" by others that I have started to embrace that idea. The idea that what I'm drawing is both "real" and "not." So my idea is to place images on the glass panes of vintage windows -- jellyfish on one window, flying insects on another, dried plains grass on another -- and then line them up so that if a viewer were to look through all those windows at once, there would be a bizarre suspension of reality, of what SHOULD be seen through a window. Jellyfish in the sky with insects over plains grass? More than a bit bewildering, don't you think? But I also want a viewer to be able to think about how what they're looking through affects what they're looking at.

Yesterday I drove out to Wheat Ridge after classes and acquired some windows from a couple people I found via Craigslist (thanks to Nathan and to Sarah) and even a big old door! I might use the door as an additional artwork if I have time, or it may end up being an independent project at a later date. The drive home with all this stuff piled up in my minivan was...interesting. I had to have one hand on the door, which reached all the way to the back of the van and right up between the front seats, at all times to prevent it falling this way and that coming around corners, especially since it was holding up the big white window as well.

Some of the windows (and the door) still have hinges and other things such as latches or handles intact, so of course I am excited and want to work with those as well. Some of the wood is very weathered and even splintering, paint chipped, left to the elements for so long, and the glass is often pretty dingy. My weekend is going to involve a lot of cleaning and sanding and other such things to get the windows to a more presentable state, one that doesn't involve me picking splinters out of my hands every time I touch them and that makes it easier to get images on the glass.

Getting the images on the glass has proven to be the most challenging aspect of this project. I do not want to have to use paint, since a) this is for a drawing course, and b) I'm not very good with paint or other such liquid-y mediums. I have a variety of ideas for ways to accomplish the conquest of the glass, whether by drawing directly on it or via acrylic transfers, heat transfers, xylene transfers, or lazertran paper transfers. I'm reluctant to use lazertran just because I've never actually seen the stuff in action... Anyway, guess we'll see what happens!

Meanwhile, a couple of big daddy-long-legs spiders played stowaway with the stuff and are now loose in my van somewhere -- I'll have to take the shopvac to the van later to deal with all the paint flakes and spiderwebs and pine needles and other debris left behind when I hauled them out of the car and down to the backyard last night. All in all, an adventure.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Net.Art, Web Art, $$$, and what is this shit?

There's often this wariness toward digital art regarding "but how do I make money off of it?" For those who use digital art as a platform for painting or producing the same visual imagery which would be created via other media -- charcoal, pastel, acrylic, the same ol' same ol' -- this wariness is mostly resolved. Their work has value so long as they find a means of marketing it.

But what of net art? That is, the artwork which is inherently sited on the internet, the world wide web with all its instant and constant and mostly uninhibited accessibility. How does one place value, a concept of exclusivity, on something which is (usually) all-inclusive?

For net artists, this was long a question answered with doom because, while the medium was welcomed and embraced by artist and public well enough...

"...from a financial perspective, this art form was a failure."
So says Wolf Lieser, who briefly owned a London digital art gallery that had to close when most of the work exhibited never sold. Such was often the plight of others, of course, but luckily for net artists it is a given that humans like to pay for shit and art likes to reinvent and lift itself to more importance than it is perhaps perceived as initially worth.

Thus, net art conquers! It is actually being paid for. This is the subject at hand in this Wall Street Journal article, discussing a few examples and avenues of net art and who is paying for it -- including major museums.

Take that, O Wary Public. Art, even when you doubt it to be such, will have your head! ...or at least your wallet.

And then there is web art. Like net art, it is a form of art which is viewed with some hesitation, but it is out there (bewaaaare). Web art is a form of art which utilizes the concept of networking and networking systems. Humans, in case you haven't noticed, tend to like to network. We constantly seek connection in some degree. Even a hermit has a network: the system by which he maintains his reclusivity via maintaining a self-sustaining life and livelihood. It's inescapable. Anyway. This means that your cell phone can participate in web art, your music collection, your email and texting and gossip in high school.

There are a lot of myths about net art, web art, internet as art. Got an assumption, any assumption, about these? Take a gander at Jon Ippolito's essay on those myths and assumptions and dispel a few! Because, as the tired saying says, "blah blah blah something about asses."

Okay, now that I've sounded pretentious for a while, here are some links to web/net/stuff art that we have been viewing in my class today. I do not necessarily enjoy or laud these, but I'm sharing them. Be afraid, be very afraid?
And there was one other, but guess what? No.

In case you're one of my "regular" readers and haven't figured out yet what this post is, it's basically what comes about when a teacher says all authoritarian, "I COMMAND THEE, MAKE BLOG POST ABOUT THESE PARTICULAR THINGS." And I say "well, fuck."