Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roi Painting

Part 1:

I've been working on this painting for my room off and on for some time now. I needed some artwork with brown tones to dress up my space a bit so I figured I might as well give it a go. I decided to do the painting using LeRoi Moore of the Dave Matthews Band as inspiration. He was one of the founding band members and played sax. He's always been my favorite band member but upon his passing in August of 2008 from complications stemming from an ATV accident, I found it more important that I document something to his memory. While I love the band there was something special I loved about him. I've never painted before now so its kind of an experiment in learning. I hope it goes well. So far so good....I'm a huge fan of "process" so here are the first images of the work up until now.

As you can see...my cat Ginger is quite nosey...she seems to end up in most photos...

I got the boards cut at Lowe's...just some scrap wood. Splinters were free.

Next came the gesso.

Ginger helping with the gesso. She likes chewing my brushes when they're drying.

First layers of paint. Trying to make the background the colors my room was supposed to be when I re-did it. That light brown is darker then the walls of my room so hopefully it'll help me not hate those walls so much. The dark brown is the color of an accent wall.

Close up b/c I love texture.

The next step was trying some gel transfers for the first time.

Here are the transfers on the board with the paper not washed off. The top image is a silhouette of Roi playing sax. The bottom image is the first group photo of the band after LeRoi died. Its just the remaining founding members and the vibe is somber. I like it.

This is the gel medium I used for the transfers. Basically you brush it on the toner side of the photocopy and then press it into the surface with a brayer. After its dry the acrylic holds the toner and you can wash the paper backing off to reveal the image. Keep in mind if you do this to reverse your image.

First I wet and rubbed off the paper on the band photo since it was smaller. Was happy with it though a bit on Dave's shirt came off b/c I rubbed too hard on a spot that wasn't totally dry. Doesn't bother me though, I enjoy the imperfect quality.

There's trouble popping her head in again.

The idea of this was to place the photo of Roi up high...not really in a heaven aspect (I'm not so much a believer in that) but in a overlooking presence that he's still there with the band, watching over them. I like the juxtaposition of the somber members missing him with Roi being above them...a bit of spirituality between friends and musicians that transcends life. He seemed to be a backbone of the band so I wanted that to be present. I think things exist in many art forms that only people who have the same craft can understand. I think some things that I do only other artists can understand etc.

The paper backing didn't wash off of Roi as well as the other photo. I think its b/c it came off a big plotter like a blue print machine while the smaller one came off my xerox machine at work.

I was going to keep this monochromatic but I kept having dreams of this green color. My room has hunter green in it, which will go away eventually but I still couldn't get away from a bright green. I went with it. Basically I did a brown wash with gel medium added to it to make it semi transparent over the center to give separation. Under that is pure black.

Then I used stencils to paint out his nickname "Grux". The new album "Big Whiskey and The GrooGrux King" was the last Roi was on. There is a track of just him playing in the studio that starts the album that is amazing. I tried to listen to that to get into that zone when working on this so I would know what to do next. For the stencil I just printed out tons of fonts then when I found one I dug, cut it out and taped it on. Touched it up a bit after but for the most part it worked. Its nice and bright.

Next I wanted to put a star up in the corner. I fought with the idea of using another color or staying with brown. I still haven't decided but I think I will use other colors but subdue them a bit to let the name stay prominent. I've also decided to add multiple stars...going from small to big out of the horn of the sax and lifting into the top corner of the painting.

Seeing how the stencils weren't  perfect I consulted my friend Dani. She was working on Christmas gifts for her family, using block printing techniques. I decided to give that a go. I mean why not? Already did tons of stuff I've never done before on this, whats one more? I purchased some linoleum block and a speedball carver and set to work. Forgot how long this takes to carve but here are those images. Since the block is so thin, I may just cut the stars out without excess. It will mean I wasted many hours carving the excess out however I'd rather not take the chance of the material hitting the board where it shouldn't.

This is straight CCS style. Mainlining caffeine and working on crafty things by light of the laptop.

Yes, I did cut myself but only once which is pretty good I think.

All carved up but thin. Next step it to cut them out and test it on paper before I give it a go on the painting itself.

Thats all for now. I will update more as I continue to work. Any suggestions are welcome. Art peeps...this means you! In particular I'm looking for a way to make the color of the stars (most likely yellow, red, blue and green) bright but toned back. My idea is to mix the paint with a considerable amount of matte medium but if you have any other ideas, let me know. Perhaps a layering effect? Maybe color on the bottom and some random stamps with just medium over it? What'ya think?

BTW, LeRoi's website can be found here: http://www.leroimoore.com/   It gives access to the fund they started in his name. It also has album tracks on it...the first of which you hear upon going to that page is the song I was referring to in my post.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boys beware...girl topic here, Women take note!

A friend asked me to post this experience online so...

I'm posting this here to link to other sites as I don't want the world reading the journal I originally wrote it in.
Pardon my language, I was severely aggravated with the whole mess.

So to explain. Lately I've been feeling not so great. Had some migraines and back pain, stomach issues etc. I attributed it all to something different. Thought my stomach problems from my Indiana trip were a virus. It very well could have been but now I'm not so sure. I had migraines which I thought were from caffeine withdrawal since I couldn't eat normal food for awhile. The back pain and neck stiffness I attributed to sitting/laying funny on the couch. The sudden breakouts i thought were a result of my new face wash. Well this week I felt worse then most. I was sleeping NON-STOP. I mean easily over 11 hours a day for a good 4-5 days. I was just soooo tired. My legs got tingly one night, my chest was fluttery. Felt a little dizzy too. I've also noticed that I've been getting anxious, having mini panic attacks for no reason. I can breathe myself through these b/c I remember having them during college but for the most part this is rare. I'm not an anxious or depressed person. I have a very solid baseline as far as that goes. Not much gets to me.

So today I'm driving to work. As I'm getting closer I'm feeling more and more "off." I figured it's just b/c I hate work and I'm a bit anxious about seeing my coworker who just lost his daughter a few days ago. So I toughed it out. Got there and felt awful. Nauseous, dizzy and tired. I damn near packed my stuff back up and left to go home. Stopped drinking coffee, drank water...tried to use the bathroom to settle my stomach. I was a hot mess. So in telling my co-workers everyone kept asking if I was preggers, saying thats exactly what happens. I'm talking 3 people said this to me. I started to freak the fuck out.

First off I'm on birth control and I'm a nazi about it. I've been on it since college to regulate and force me to menstrate as stress had fucked up my body good. I've never missed a pill in like 8 years. I take it everyday at 8pm and not a moment later. I never forget etc. If I leave the house and forgot it there, I could be an hour away and I turn around and go back to get it. I mean I'm on it! In the event I am going to be sexually active, I also ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS use protection. Meaning I've never in my life had unprotected sex, ever. So knowing these things I should feel comfy knowing I'm not preggo but since I'm the most paranoid person ever concerning that, it didn't help. I tried to ignore my crazy brain but my boss called me to her office. To do what you ask? To see pics of her daughters pregnancy test that was positive and to see pics of her grandson right after he was born and all gooey and gross. I about lost it right there.

So in my semi common paranoid state concerning pregnancy I went online to look up my birth control. I've done this many times to calm myself b/c it reassures me that the effectiveness is nearly 100% when used properly and when doubled with condom use, nearly perfect. However I didn't type in Yasmin b/c I realized I had switched to the generic a few months ago. So I typed in Ocella and clicked the first link....

OMFG batman! Hundreds and I mean hundreds of women with the exact same symptoms I've had. Some with more. Many also freaking out thinking they're preggers when they aren't. The whole point of the pill is to reassure you, you're not pregnant....so to have one who's side effects mimic pregnancy seems RETARDED. Turns out the generic pill does some super fucked up things to a lot of women. I immediately felt relieved and better about not being preggo but all the same started to worry about this drug I've been taking faithfully for months. I read up on it ALL DAY LONG. Scary shit.

Some women are even considering writing the company to have this drug banned. I find this disturbing seeing as my doc and my pharmacist said it should be fine....same as yasmin and not to worry. Funny thing is the brand name works well for most everyone and everyone was super happy with it. 98% of them went back to it even, its just the generic of it that sucks. I loved the name brand too but it was also $50/month so on limited funds I gave the generic a go.

Side effects experienced by many:

nausea and vomiting
hair loss
extreme bloating
significant weight gain
mild lower back pain
neck stiffness
moderate to extreme fatigue
a lack of appetite or more commonly a never ending appetite
late night bouts of thirstiness
stomach and GI problems
stomach and pelvic pain
breast tenderness/ bruising
gall bladder diseases or major issues
anxiety and depression
lack of motivation

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, of this list there are 3 symptoms I didn't have. I didn't lose hair or get jaundiced which were more rare. I did get pale though. I also didn't have any breast tenderness that was noticeable. I did however bruise on my chest and shoulders without knowing why. I still have a week and a half left of pills but I've decided to stop them as of today. The doctors office said to stick it out if I could then go back to my brand name next pack if I could but no. I figure the possibility of bleeding for 3 weeks straight and not being able to have sex and feel safe about it for 3 months is better then the side effects. Especially since they've gotten worse as I've been on it. I'm now irritated but feel better about my choice. Sucks to "do the responsible thing" and be safe and still get burned for it. Hopefully when I get back on the Yasmin everything will go back to how I was on it before. Sad that on my limited pay I'd rather pay $70 a month then $10 but fuck it. My health is my health and I'm over this.

I am now one of the hundreds... I HATE OCELLA!

If you're a girl I suggest you steer clear of this drug and if you're a man I hope you mention it to your female friends/gf's etc b/c its not worth the risk. Stay with Yaz or Yasmin or switch to a different pill completely but DO NOT take Ocella.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The calm quickly turned into the storm...

Pictures: 4/1/09

Adventures In Teaching: Casimir Pulaski - Part 2

The second day at Pulaski was much different then the first. Geoff planned out a lesson for the kids to work with oil pastels. They were given black construction paper and asked to draw a big fish on it in pencil. Then they had to decorate it with the oil pastels. Pretty simple...or it should have been. 

It was a day from hell. Not one but both classes were a constant struggle. Its as if someone hopped these kids up on sugar and meth before giving them to us. Seriously. It wasn't the worst I've experienced but it was not good. Tons of loud disruptive outbursts, mean and disrespectful comments, ruined artwork and pushing and shoving. The first class was bad but the second was crazy. By days end I booted 3 kids from class, damn near 5. The last two would've gone out too had the bell not rung. I wrote up 2, count them 2 incident reports. I've never kicked people out of class before nor have I ever had to file a report but it needed to be done. Just a mess. 

The thing that bothered me most was a situation with this little guy named Julius. He's an adorable little kid. When we get to the school he is the one in charge of escorting Geoff and me to the classroom for the site coordinator. He looks up and speaks to you in a soft voice but very respectful. I noticed on Wednesday that after I was done addressing him he put his head down and walked like that. He stares at his shoes like he's super sad. It was obvious enough for me to notice and wonder why.

He was in the second class of the day. The new class of kids we hadn't had before. So we start the lesson and before long I notice Julius is not drawing. Had I not noticed his demeanor earlier I probably would've gotten irritated b/c of the actions of the class before, instead I asked him what was wrong. He told me he couldn't draw. Now mind you...we teach them using shapes...so literally ANYONE can do this lesson. He refused to believe he could do it. He'd draw a line then erase it. He sat there with his head down, looking totally depressed...not just defeated but I mean truly sad. First I gave him the pep talk. I told him to sit up and look the world in the face. He's like " I can't." I told him he could and he did for a moment. I got him to come to the teachers table with Geoff and I and showed him some examples and walked him through the first basics. It took a long time just to get him to do that but eventually it happened so I told him to go sit and color it. For a bit he perked up a little. I heard the kid next to him say his fish fin looked like a nacho...just like that Julius went back to defeated. He traced an eye and gave up. I once again went over and encouraged him to go get some different colors and finish. At this point he's an hour behind everyone else and I didn't want him to not finish and feel worse. So again Julius perks up and walks over to the girls table to get some extra colors out of a GIANT bag of pastels. He had a smile for a minute.  One lil girl made some crack and I corrected her. Julius gave me a "thank you" look until the girl made another crack of which I only heard part. Within a second he set down the bag, stepped away from the table, put his head down and walked away....right past me...right out the door. 

In the meantime the class turned to utter chaos. By the time I got to the door he was gone. Geoff was already outside in the hallway with other kids. He said Julius went to the bathroom. So I told him to go check on him...as I knew he was hiding. Julius refused to come out. I went back into class to try to get it under control and after a few minutes I stepped out into the hall again to find Julius slowly walking toward me. I took this opportunity to have a chat. I asked him if he was ready to come back and he said no. He was getting upset and holding back tears. I gave him the "You gotta stand up for yourself and prove them wrong. You can do it! Don't listen to them!" talk. He just broke down. The tears started flowing hard and I swear my heart sank to my toes. I felt sooooooo bad for him. In the middle of this two of the boys (the same that barely escaped being kicked out at the end of class) came out. At this point I was so mad at them for giving Julius a hard time I totally barked at them to go back in the class. Last thing Julius needed was them seeing him crying. I gave Julius a hug and let him cry for a bit before offering to him to go to the office or just not come back to class. He took me up on it. I walked him to the office and the site coordinator saw me. I had to give her the nod not to come over. Thankfully she understood me and allowed him to hang out in the hallway. So Julius sat there on the floor and I had to go back to class.

I checked on him a few times here and there. He was still very upset when I asked him if he wanted to come back. He said no. Fair enough. So next time I went to check on him I asked if he wanted me to bring his work into the hall for him. He said yes. SMALL VICTORY FOR ME! He stopped crying and started working on it...it made me grin. Within a few minutes he came back into class to return the supplies and get ready to go. As soon as he came back in he got quiet again, pulled his hoodie over his eyes and stood behind me while I wrote up the others students who I had kicked out. The bell rang and the kids left. When Geoff and I cleaned up and were ready to leave I noticed Julius was still leaving the school at the back of the group of loud kids. Hoodie up, walking slow, staring at the ground. Poor kid. Before I turned to walk to my car I yelled to him that I'd see him next time. He looked up surprised but promised he'd come back to the next class. Needless to say he's my favorite kid. (BTW, YES, teachers have favorites. Doesn't mean we don't care about the others but certain ones stand out. They aren't "our" children so we can have favorites!)

I was exhausted from the drama but more then anything I felt really horrible for Julius. I think its b/c I don't know why he's like that or if I can even help. Is he just insecure and in need of a boost? He is truly depressed? Is he one of the unfortunate kids that gets ignored at home or worse yet gets his ass kicked? Does he have a learning disability? It sucks b/c if me giving him that extra attention could help I'd obviously give it as I have to other students in the past. This is different though...I'm not sure if its just that need for someone that cares or if its something thats much deeper and/or requiring more serious attention. The site coordinator told me a bit about him in other classes which makes me wonder more then normal. I guess for now I'll just pay attention and see how he acts and if he changes at all. This is the frustrating part of teaching...the part where you see something but you can't really do anything about it. Oh well....I'll have to wait and see. One day at a time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

And it starts.....now!

Photos: 3/18/09

I started this blog awhile back and have yet to post. I've been busy redoing my studio. It is now near completion and I will post pictures soon. Other then that, I haven't done any new personal art to post about. Life has been busy and chaotic and I just haven't had much energy. Regardless, I've felt guilty about this just sitting here empty. Now that changes. I'm on  the upswing. 

The biggest change of late is being back in the classroom. I recently got back into teaching after-school programs with the Community Arts Partnership at CCS. Teaching is something I really enjoy and plan to continue doing...perhaps to the point of returning to CCS to obtain an ArtEd degree. I am making many HUGE changes in my life both personally, professionally and artistically. Part of those changes include holding myself responsible to doing the things I want to do instead  of taking the "oh man, I wish I had time....." approach.  If CCS taught me nothing else....it taught me I have plenty of time, its the priorities that need adjusting. Along with my personal art related "stuff" I've decided to make posts about teaching and the overall experience since art is what I teach. 

Adventures In Teaching:  Casimir Pulaski - Part 1

My first day back to teaching is at a school called Pulaski. Its on the east side of Detroit near State Fair. The school holds grades K-8 and our classes are every Wednesday from 3-6pm. We have rotating classes of kids from 3rd grade to 7th. In getting  back into the swing of things I was lucky enough to get the support teacher role. In the CAP program there are two artists to every classroom...one lead and one support. While we are equals...the lead is generally the instructor that runs the overall flow of the lessons. Having  been in both support and lead positions...its nice to break back in without the added stress of being a lead and having to do lesson plans, etc. The Pulaski class is Arts & Crafts based. I am teaching with an instructor whom I've known since I first trained to get into the CAP program, Geoff Gillespie.

Teaching has many interesting adventures, especially in the Detroit School system. However I will save my comments on the school system for another day. In the one day at Pulaski thus far things ran pretty smoothly. We only had one "scuffle" that luckily was taken care of prior to coming to blows. Luckily it came at days end and was minor. The first lesson for the kids was one on abstraction. We had the kids start with pencil and watercolor paper. Each traced their own hands in multiples all over the page. Following that they outlined the pencil with sharpie to create the dark lines that would teach them about separation and layers in art. Once this was done we gave them watercolors and encouraged them to paint however they wanted. The lesson showed them that something that once was very familiar can easily turn into a piece on form and shape. It can become something completely new!

Above (since blogger sucks at letting you format pics into the design of the post) are some photos I took during both classes. Overall their work was very good. I was impressed with their choice of color. Many of them used complimentary colors and upon being asked why they chose those colors the response was "I dunno...they just look good together. They go together." It was interesting. I gave them some impromptu tidbits on primary and secondary colors and how they can make any color they want. Much to my surprise one of the younger students schooled me on Picasso out of nowhere. I was blown away that a third grader knew so much on the subject when many of the older kids had no idea who Picasso was. It gave me an instant perma-grin. Just as I was smiling ear to ear and talking to Geoff about it the student's parent walked in. She seemed very proud that her little girl impressed the teacher. Needless to say she is excited to have her child in the program and that makes the child more excited to be there to learn. Coming from many very "difficult" schools...it was a great surprise and relief to finally be in a school where at least some parents are positive role models and helpful instead of hurtful to what we are trying to accomplish.