Red Tide

Beachcombing last week held some interesting, if sad, finds. Though not officially announced by Florida authorities, red tide has been making an impact throughout Florida's coastal waters in the last few weeks (perhaps longer). Red tide is an algal bloom thought to be caused at least some of the time by human activities, I suppose this to mean dumping of waste water high in nitrogen and other nutrients into our water systems. This feeds a population explosion of algae, some species of which contain potent neurotoxins, which can cause mass deaths of fish and other wildlife. In really serious blooms it can affects humans as well, usually on a respiratory level, or through shellfish consumption. Because of this problem coupled with a few big storms, dead fish littered the high tide mark. Before I became I aware of this news, I thought it very odd that birds and crabs seemed largely uninterested, whether they were fully satiated or knew there to be something dangerous about the feast I do not know.
I found myself taking close shots of their gaping mouths, so alien and so vulnerable.


Last week was spent at St. Augustine Beach with my aunts and grandparents. It's the off season which means the beach is nearly deserted and comfortably cool, yet still perfect for swimming. Unfortunately I nursed a cold all week and didn't spend much time drawing as I usually do, but played in the sand with little cocinas and took lots of photos which I'll share more of this week while I figure out my studio life and hopefully a Halloween costume.

Photography is a new medium for me, something I have never studied or pushed until I bought my little point and shoot camera and began blogging. It seems appropriate that most of my images are oriented on tiny details of the world as without contacts, I own nine inches of perfect vision and then a progressively blurrier world. The photos above are another way I see, which could be a frightening way to live but make for beautiful images, yes?

My adult sculpture class at the museum ended Sunday, and I think I left happy students, as a few asked about the next sculpture class with plans to take it. It always makes me so satisfied when I have such an enthusiastic class, so often it is one of the first things they have made in clay since gradeschool, if even then. I inserted a little plaster mold making demo in the last two classes and a few were very excited about the possibilities of handbuilding with plaster which I did with Bone Mother and Daughters. I'd love to offer a course on that, though I don't know if the museum would welcome it as it's so very messy. . . have to mull on it.


Air Force

Taken at 8th Air Force Museum near Shreveport, Louisiana.

look! a tiny pressed mattress.
*edit 11/09*The bomb count so chilling, I still can't get over it a month after taking these photos. Even so I find the repetition of the missiles oddly beautiful the white ones are so similar to Bone Mother's shape it's frightening.



Though I know it happens thousands of time everyday airplane flight always seems miraculous, and I love nearly everything about it. Going through goofy security procedures, engaging in people watching, language and accent discernment, napping uncomfortably in plane seats, (though admittedly I hate airport food), waiting on the tarmac, all for that moment of lift when a huge can of metal becomes airborne and the world below drops away to toy village, then ant farm, then abstract surface marked with patches of developed land, squiggles of forest and river, and cities shaped like twinkling stars exploding ever outwards. Sometimes all of it disappears beneath a world of clouds, which comes to resemble traveling on another planet of white, grey, blues, tinged with pink. Then as the plane lands, subtle textures of topography become more apparent: the forests separate into areas of closely space green lines of cultivated pines and irregularly colored wild trees, new suburbs with their shiny cookie cutter homes abut old farmland, the bare prints of old farm houses and barns remain and their driveways truncate to nowhere. Old property lines are marked by old growth sometimes cut in two by newer roads. Reading the land this way is seeing the layers upon layers of history, so little is left unmarked by us. Someday I continually promise myself, I will do a series based on the designs found in aerial photography.

The reason for flight? Last week Tommy, my brother-in-law and I flew to Louisiana to visit with their older brother before his deployment to Iraq and then drove to Texas to visit Catlin and Alicia for the first time since his return from Iraq. Both visits were very good and far too short. Much roughhousing and teasing
occurred during the week because what else do you do but joke and laugh and play and upon goodbye bid each other to take care?

Pictures to come.


Twenty and Counting (and how to fix a linocut)

I am alive, I promise. What have I been up to you ask? Lino printing for one. In case you aren't familiar with the term, a linocut is a relief print made with a piece of old school linoleum tile that has an image carved into the surface with a linocutter, inked with a roller and then printed on paper. One of the particularly nice things about linoprints besides the fact that they look a bit like woodcuts is that you don't need a press to print it.
My little bird print has been in limbo for sometime now, awaiting it's fate, unfinished and unprinted. Part of the problem was some overenthusiastic carving, and a few areas needed filling in, so after a period of incubation and a bit of experimentation, I discovered a way to repair it with Bondo (a putty filler for car dents).

How to repair a linoblock:
warning: Bondo is nasty toxic so if you try it yourself, please do it outside and upwind of the fumes, then leave the piece outdoors till it sets up.
1. Mix the Bondo according to the directions on the can.
2. Just fill in the holes with the Bondo and leave a little above the surface. Let set for a couple of hours.
3. Once it feels hard, shave the surface with a razor blade, sand it smooth with 600 grit sandpaper.
4. Carve back into areas as you wish. Voila. . . print saved. I haven't tried this over large open areas, but for smaller patches it works just fine.

Unfortunately it has been a very long time since I've made lino prints so I am in the process of relearning all the little printing tricks, my pile of imperfect prints is twenty and growing, though I am getting closer. It feels especially nice to be in the studio working on tying up loose ends, I am ready to move on yet feel the need to address the ghosts of past projects and gather information on possible destinations.


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