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Thursday, March 11, 2004
4:02 PM      

Retro-fitted Caddy


Sadly, Spalding
Gray's body was found in the East River. It didn't sound good when he was first reported missing a couple of months ago. He'd tried suicide before, and it looks like this time he just stepped off the Staten Island Ferry into the icy water. Mercifully, hypothermia would probably have taken him very quickly. I think drowning is a particularly horrible way to die.

Upon hearing the news, I started remembering his monologues, and his enormous talent. He could make you see things vividly with just words. I was even more disappointed that I'd missed his last show at Lincoln Center a couple of years ago. Then I thought about how those thoughts were all about what he did for me. I wonder how his family is dealing with it. I wonder if finding the remains really brings closure.


Getting attention and selling stuff on 8th Street

My kinda t-shirt


Happily, I'm Proven Wrong
I've printed more than 20 sheets of 8.5 x 11 and 3 sheets of 13 x 19 on the 2200 since I replaced the light magenta cartridge. At that time, I'd gotten a message telling me that I could only print 4 more images like the previous one before I ran out of black ink. I figured all the other inks weren't far behind. So far, I haven't had to replace anything else. Now the cost per print is starting to look more like $2.50 than $4.00. I like those numbers much better.

I'm having a blast working with print. A number of my prints have benefited from selective adjustments – I've been making masked selections to apply adjustment layers with. The masks can be reworked as needed, allowing me to “paint” the adjustments into place, and the layer-based adjustments aren't permanent; I can tweak the settings as much as I like.

I'd never painted a mask in the channels palette before, but I certainly will be doing that a lot in the future. I've often found quick masks to be a little iffy as a selection tool. It's probably because you're working in translucent red over a colored background, and you don't always get a good color contrast. In the channels palette, you're painting over a gray scale image, so it's all clear and distinct. Why would you care? Consider the possibility of having a situation where you want one edge of your selection to be razor-sharp, while another has complex feathering. A carefully constructed mask is the best way to get something like that.


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Monday, March 08, 2004
1:49 PM      

Loch Ness was getting overrun with paparazzi,
and there's more opportunity in America


Learning about consumables
I used up my first light magenta ink cartridge yesterday. The utility application says I have about 3 more prints' worth of black. It looks like I have a little less light black and light cyan, but usage depends on the color balance of the print, and I suspect black will run out first. Including botched prints, I've used about 20 sheets of 8-1/2 x 11 and 2 sheets of 13 x 19. Most of the prints were at 1440 dpi, but I don't know how much that affects ink usage.

At that rate of consumption, I understand why most of Epson's premium photo papers come packaged in lots of 20 sheets – you're likely to use up all your ink before you reach 40 sheets. An ink cartridge bundle goes for roughly $70, bringing the total cost for 20 8-1/2 x 11 prints to about $80, or $4.00 a print. With more experience, I figure my numbers will get a little more precise, and I may even find some ways to shave those costs a little.

I'll keep that in mind when I look at output services, and when I make any prints for people.


I joined a drawing class
last week. I can remember deciding that I couldn't draw in 5th grade art class. I tried to copy a statuette, and the proportions came out horribly. The whole thing was just wrong. At the time, I couldn't really appreciate that some of the details were good, and that I actually had an eye for contours. It wasn't the first time I'd had those proportion problems, but that statuette was the final proof of my ineptitude.

I became fascinated with mechanical drawing and model building – systems that allowed me to rely on tools and pre-built elements to produce a respectable result. Over the years, I played with all kinds of t-squares, protractors, and applications like MacDraw and MacDraft once the Mac came along. The results were mechanical at best, and certainly not what I would call artistically nuanced.

About 8 years ago, I picked up “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and started doing the exercises. I know that, because I dated the entries in my sketchbook from back then. I stopped and started several times over the next couple of years, until I got the point: My drawing had improved enough to prove to me that I was capable of drawing well, I just needed practice, and perhaps the right kind of instruction.

So, I signed up for a course at the New York Studio School. Just walking into the original site of the Whitney Museum is interesting in its own right, but the class is exceptional. My instructor is engaging and interested in the work that we're doing. It's clear that he wants to pull the best out of us.

My first encounter with him was in the midst of about my sixth sketch. He quietly said, “find the center first,...” and he went on to explain how I'd be able to get the proportions and the structure of the drawing faster and more accurately that way. He did some doodles on my page to demonstrate. At some point he said “some of this won't make any sense right now,...” and he was right.

But, I was hooked, and by just crudely applying what he'd said about finding the center and sighting my measurements, my drawings got better that night. Several times during the class, he mentioned the Linea Alba, and said it was a very important line. I expected it to be an art term, but it turns out to be an anatomical reference. While I liked anatomy and biology in high school, I didn't see how studying skeletal structure and musculature would help me draw any better. Now, I think those “anatomy for artsits” books will make a bit more sense to me.

He said “the drawing is changing you,” and encouraged us to make a mess, as we are all engaged in developing our “plastic consciousness.” That night, I started to look at the model in three dimensions, observing the movement of ribs, hips, shoulders, and arms. I started looking for axes and relative positions, and thought a little less about lines per se. I became aware of the rhythm of my drawing.

To be continued...

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