Alright…It Is Finished

Sorry for the delay folks – but this past week has been C-RAAAA-ZY! Between basketball games, having fluid on the ear, and driving through an ice storm it’s been hectic to say the least. I didn’t even work on the design at all Saturday because I just wanted to sleep (which I did). Then Monday = ballgame, Tuesday = practice, Wednesday = ballgame, and tonight = ballgame. Soooo, I’m running on a little besides middle school boy’s basketball (which, by the way, my boys are the best – at least to me!) and Diet Mt. Dew.

Still, last night, I uploaded my three images to WeLoveFine. They are the following:

The first - and still the one I like the best

Avengers A-Weeble - but they don't fall down!

Avengers!

I really enjoyed working on this project, and I feel more comfortable with Sketchbook Pro. While I know this is a lot to ask – and I’m not really sure when they will actually be up on the website for view (as of this post I have confirmation emails that WeLoveFine had received my submissions, but the images aren’t on the contest site yet) – but if you would, go to https://www.welovefine.com/contest.php?id_contest=7 and check out the designs. If you feel it worthy, please vote for me. Otherwise, vote for the one you like – I’m pretty chill like that.

Thanks for all the support and help, it has been appreciated – and enjoy!

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The Adventures of Tintin — In which the author overcomes great ignorance and is reminded of her love for pulp

“I seek above all to tell a story…and to tell it clearly.” -Hergé

Stephen Spielberg must have been chanting this mantra while directing his first animated film and homage to the pulp comic strip of the same name “The Adventures of Tintin.” Tintin, a gallant young reporter, and Snowy, his faithful canine sidekick, become entangled in a quest for treasure and redemption when they fortuitously purchase a clue-concealing model of the good ship Unicorn. The plot of the film was driven by action sequences  as quick, crisp, and convoluted as is expected in the pulp genre. Tintin makes for a fun hero who uses his wits, investigative instinct, and often his strong right hook to solve his problems.

Do not be mistaken. I held many prejudices, all of them as unfair and unfounded as prejudices tend to be, walking into the theater to see this movie. It was animated.There was an animated dog I assumed to be the main character (I mean really, what kind of name is Tintin? Of course it must be a dog’s name, I presumed.) And worst of all in my mind, it was attached to Nickelodeon.  Recalling my personal disappointment in and generally lukewarm feelings toward Nickelodeon’s movie adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I arrogantly refused to place faith in the folks that introduced me to three engrossing seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender. How ignorant on all accounts.

My husband did not understand my reluctance. “It’s kind of like if Superman comics were told from the perspective of Jimmy Olsen.” And he was kind of right. Instead of a character traditionally driven only by his reaction to a greater being’s initiative and orders, Tintin catalyzes all of the action. From his impulsive purchase of a model ship concealing clues to pirate’s treasure to his uncanny ability to know who to punch when, the storyline progresses like a freight train. In contrast to modern action icons who tend to be portrayed as more rugged (think Daniel Craig as James Bond) was a little jolting to see such a baby-faced hero pull a gun so instinctively, but it was appropriate to the source material. There were other nods to Herge including framed newspaper articles detailing Tintin’s adventures from the comics and the use of Herge’s likeness to depict the caricaturist in the opening of the film. From these tributes and the preservation of the spirit of pulp adventure, it was evident that Spielberg, Wright, and others working on the film were fans of the source material.

I ended up loving the animation in the film and the convoluted plot of the story. I have had a long time appreciation of pulp elements in book series including Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, classics like Around the World in Eighty Days, and television shows such as The Lost World. Of course the appreciation depends on not demanding too much from the genre. Pulp adventure is not particularly known for character development, so don’t expect too much here and you’ll never miss it. If you like pulp adventure, globe hopping, and quests for treasure, or as Brad put it “an hour and a half long episode of Duck Tales,” you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin. Or in the words of Thompson and Thompson: To be more precise, you should make a point to see The Adventures of Tintin.

Jason Segel, Will You Go Out With Me?

Sweet Dream

Hello.  My name is Staci and I am seeking a date with Jason Segel.

This may sound crazy, but in a globally connected society where one can just type out and ask anyone pretty much anything, I’m asking Jason Segel out on a date.  Coffee and conversation, dinner and a movie, or a night out about town – anything you would like to do.

I just think you seem like a nice guy, that we might have some things in common, and that we would have a good time together.

I’ll go ahead and address the whole “why should you go out with me over some gorgeous Hollywood starlet.”  First, we both share a love of the Muppets (I am more attached to Muppet Babies, but I love them in all their incarnations).  Second, based on your films and shows I feel we have a similar sense of humor – or you’re the most amazing actor ever and did excellent work with material you hated.  Third, I would love some advice on what type of scooter to buy from a scooter owner (I’m currently saving to buy a Buddy 170i and about a third of the way there!).

A little background on me, because while I have some vague notion of who you are – there is absolutely no reason for you to know anything about me.  I’m 30 years old and I teach Art at a middle school.  In addition to teaching Art, I help coach the boys’ basketball team with my friend DJ.  In my own time, which I don’t have much of at the moment, I draw, make prints, and paint.  My family and friends are extremely important to me and in general I feel I’m just a good woman trying to figure her life out.  I also enjoy Star Wars, Bruce Campbell, the Lego video games, the outdoors, and reading – to name a few of my favorite things.

I am also an honest person so you should know that I am currently in a relationship, but, long story short, it’s very complicated.  I’ve written about it on this blog, so feel free to check it out – or, and this would be easier, contact me and I’ll explain it all to you.  Still, so you don’t think this, my asking you out, is sneaky or lame I told him and he didn’t really seem to care.  He probably didn’t think I was serious: I was.

 

So……Jason Segel, will you go out on a date with me?

I’m asking you out, so all the burden of meeting up shouldn’t be on you, right?! Here’s what I can do in order to make this meeting happen.  I can fly to meet you anywhere because I live near both domestic and international airports.  I can drive in my fuel-efficient Hyundai as far as Texas in one night (I’ve done it before to see friends).  Should you decide that you want to visit Kentucky, I would be more than glad to pick you up at the airport and escort you around town.  Should you choose to visit Kentucky, I’d prefer if you came to Lexington, more so because I know my way around there better.  Louisville is alright, but I’m not as comfortable there – but, hey, that could be an adventure for both of us right?

You are extremely talented both as a writer and an actor and seem pretty interesting.  If nothing else, I think we would have a good time and Cthulhu knows (but doesn’t care) I could use a good time.  Also, while I wasn’t going to write this for the fear of seeming shallow, I’m just going to put this out there: you’re very attractive.

There it is Jason Segel – if nothing else, at least I tried.

Not the best picture, but hey, I'm working solo here.

 

Episode IV: Return of the Final Print

Linoleum block - at the end

This is it – the end of the road for my first reduction print in a couple of years.  I finally have my characters that will be used in future prints and I am flush with success.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the progress and that you like the final product.

For a recap, let me remind you what I’ve been doing: a REDUCTION PRINT.  A reduction print is where each color is added, lightest to darkest, starting with the area that is to be white being removed first.  After each color, the area that is to remain that color (ex: what you want to keep red) is cut away.  When you have finished cutting away all the color sections, you will be left with a black and white outline.  So, while you’ll end up with some color prints, once you’ve finished it can only be printed in one color.  Any additional color, from here on out, will have to be hand colored after printing.

Now, before getting too ahead of myself, there were some issues with the print.  While I tested the prints to make sure the ink was dry on them, sometimes the ink layers would come through.  This really doesn’t bother me since the scene has the figures watching fireworks and for it to look like some color is reflecting on them is okay.  My alignment (making sure the prints are placed the same way for each color) was a little off on a few of the prints, but overall I was pretty excited that I didn’t fudge it up!  I also got a little crazy and decided to see that maybe a lighter color could be added after the darker colors.  It can’t.

Gold on darker colors...doesn't work

Other than that, I feel that I have a success on my hands.  I really enjoy the characters that I have to work with and look forwards to making a series of prints with them.  I plan on making a few runs of prints with the remaining outline in a variety of colors.  Now it’s all about deciding what to have T-Bot and B-Bot doing next.

T-Bot and B-Bot, just enjoying the show

Peggle, why are you so much fun?!

As you are aware, I am currently working on a reduction print.  Between waiting on ink to dry on both the paper and the linoleum itself, I end up having some spare time to fill.  Yes, I could be preparing for the upcoming school year and the lessons I want to teach – and I do somewhat – but I usually find myself reading a book or enjoying the game Peggle on my PS3.

Well, I finished yet another book today (Thud! by Terry Pratchett, which was AWESOME) and I found myself drawn to Peggle for some mindless enjoyment.  For those of you who don’t know, I tend to get stressed out and over think things quite a bit.  Peggle is a nice way for me to just sit back, relax, listen to some interesting music, and look at some weird background art.

The game of Peggle is very simple: you start off with 10 shots, shoot the ball, hit the orange pegs, get points, win stage….wash, rinse, and repeat.  After you go through 40 levels, you unlock all the masters (with names like Bjorn the Unicorn and Master Hu – an owl, what’s not to enjoy right?!), and can play the Master’s Challenge levels.  Beyond that, there are various challenges that one can complete that involve scoring the most points, getting rid of the orange pegs with a specific number of shots, etc.

What keeps bringing me back to this game?  Like I said, it’s really simple, the music repeats, and when you do hit all the orange pegs, you get “Extreme Fever” and Ode to Joy starts blaring out of the TV.  That’s it, over and over again the same thing.  So why keep coming back to it?  Doesn’t it get old?  Not for me it doesn’t!

Peggle started off as a game my brother shared with me a little over a month ago when I was visiting home.  We played it until close to 2am, even though he had to go to work the next day (we did this all week!).  It was always, “one more time,” because over time, one realizes it’s not really just that simple.  You have to start thinking about angles and how to shoot the ball to hit the peg that just had to be out of your line of sight.  You have to decide which master is the best to use for this level.  It starts to become a thinking man’s game more than just shooting a ball and hoping.

Now, is it a great brain teaser?  No, it’s not.  It IS a lot of fun to play both alone or with someone..or a crowd!  It’s really just an addictive game that really doesn’t cause anyone to get THAT angry.  I like that, because and I freely admit this, I’m the world’s worst when it comes to getting aggravated at a game.

That’s being said, and since I’m now waiting for the print, I’m off to play the add-on to Peggle, Peggle Nights.  Same characters, new levels, new background art – which, by the way, is a lot of fun to look at!

Have a great evening and don’t let everything get too overwhelming.  Sometimes we all need a good book, a good laugh, or just a good time.

Just an example of a level - looks fun right!

Episode III: Adding Color to the Print

Let’s do a brief recap of what’s been going on with my linoleum print.  For those of you interested, the supplies I’m using have come from Dick Blick Art Supplies.  These supplies include the block print paper, linoleum cutter, brayer (roller that applies the ink), and barren (used to press the paper onto the block).

1) A concept was developed

2) The concept was drawn on piece of linoleum in pencil, then retraced with Sharpee

3) Using a linoleum cutter, the areas that were to remain white were cut away

L-R: plexiglass plate for ink, brayer, yellow ink, lino block, baren

Now I’m adding color, which isn’t really difficult (once you practice), but just takes time.  Keep in mind you need a glass or plexiglass plate to mix the ink on and spread with the brayer.  You will know that the ink is just right when it makes a tacky sound when the brayer is rolled over it.  Ink can be applied, and I suggest it is applied, in multiple directions.  This allows for even application.

Because I’m doing a reduction print, after each color is added, the matrix is reduced.  In other words, I cut away from the linoleum every section that I want to stay a certain color.  As I did with the initial cutting, I really try to cut in the direction that I want the viewer’s eye to move should some “noise” appear on the print.  When all the colors are added, I will have the outline of the shapes available and will be able to make prints, but the color will have to be added by hand.

Color has to be added from lightest color to darkest color – which really makes sense, because a lighter color won’t cover a darker color.  It’s similar to painting in a lot of ways.

Registration becomes an issue now as well.  When I talk about registration, I just mean lining up the print with the block so the colors aren’t off.  The registration being off slightly doesn’t really bother me too much, but you don’t want the lines to be so off from one another that its hard to look at the image.

Some tips to keep in mind while printing:  you want to apply the ink as EVENLY as possible.  If there is too much ink on the block, it’ll soak through the paper.  Not enough ink, the under color will show though.  You also want to watch for pieces that get on the brayer or the lino block.  Those little pieces will cause spots to show up on the paper.

Not enough ink

Be careful with your alignment for the registration.  I like to mark on the board where the paper and board are placed.  This helps me keep everything in line.

I have added yellow and pink (or lightish red), and plan on adding two more colors (blue and green) before the black outline.  I’m hoping this will provide contrast within the piece.

Now, I’m just waiting for the block to dry so I can cut away the other firework and add the next color.  Hopefully I’ll be finished by the end of Tuesday.  I’m really excited to get my characters finished and on their first work.

With Red added

Yellow color first

Plate after color

Episode II: Linoleum Printmaking – After the idea

Pencil Drawing on Linoleum

Earlier this week, I began work on my first linoleum print in nearly a year. Having the idea and the materials is just the first part, now the drawing, carving and inking begins.

I’ve decided to do a reduction print. This means that I’ll cut out only part of the matrix (linoleum), print the lightest color, then cut out what I want to stay that color. I’ll repeat this process until all I have is the black outline. The upside to this process is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. The downside is that I’ll be making a limited edition run on the color prints. Once I’ve cut away the various colors, I will only be able to print the image with one type of ink.

First, the drawing has to be put on the linoleum. That is done in pencil so that mistakes can be erased. After the pencil drawing is completed, I then use a Sharpie to go over the lines, and make which parts will be left solid at the end of the printmaking process. I have found that a Sharpie will allow the lines to be visible to make the reduction print easier to complete since I’ll be able to see the lines that I want to keep for the final product. To show a value change with this medium, I have to use hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling. These techniques also provide a variety of lines to make the artwork more interesting.

Drawing post Sharpie treatment

Once I’ve gotten all of my line work completed, I can now begin cutting away all the parts I want to remain white. I try to cut the linoleum in the directions I want to viewers eye to move. This is in case some “noise” occurs. “Noise” is when ink gets on the ridges left after cutting and appear on the paper. This isn’t something you always want to get rid of because it gives a nice effect, but you want the “noise” lines to serve the same purpose as the lines you’ve decided to keep – variety and direction(s) for the viewer to follow across the artwork.

Cut Linoleum, ready for first color

I can now ink the matrix with the lightest color I will be using. I could always hand color the image, of course, but that has a different look than printed ink. It’s not a bad look, and if you are afraid of how your registration will line up (making sure each time you print, everything prints in the correct space) I do recommend hand coloring. This can be done with ink, as if you are painting, acrylic paint, and even color pencils. You just have to be careful because the paper you’ll be printing on is usually really absorbent, so think applications of color will soak though. Below are some pictures of the process so far.

Tomorrow, I’ll ink the first few colors on – but that depends entirely on how fast the ink dries. Hope you are enjoying the process, I know I am!

Now, I’m off to karate class and then the Captain America midnight show.

Detail of first cuts

Outline cuts before using large gouges

V and U gouges used to cut large areas of linoleum

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