guess who is going to summer school?

june 18 2013

I feel that I have about a two-week window where I can go back and do a few art projects (a self-imposed summer school) before all my efforts will go into preparing for the installation. Since I’m dreading the install part…maybe because I have to pack up my studio (whose crazy idea was that???)…I’m looking for ways to postpone that stage.

I plan to do some rubbings (frottage), a botanical drawing class on tree bark, of course, and some sketching of the waterfowl down at the park.

Spent time this past week getting the postcards ready for the show.(Thanks Ai and Doug) Yes, plural! Doug McCulloh and I had a photo shoot at Fairmount Park a couple of months ago. Doug, an internationally shown photographer is the lead adviser on my project. I was thrilled when he said he would oversee my 52-week sabbatical and elated when he agreed to take a few photos for the show. The camera sounded like a machine gun….click, click, click, click yet he only showed me three pictures… they were all magnificent.

So come September, be watching for some tree inspired postcards with information on “52.” Be sure to mark your calendars for the opening reception on Oct 18th.

Feeling eager and anxious all the time…sue


52 days left to prepare for the opening of “52”

august 9 2013

This is what 52 days looks like…YIKES!!!

This is the first thing I see every morning so it really gets me moving. I’m noticing that I am getting up earlier and earlier and the list is getting longer and longer!

Just when I was really getting into being an artist…time out for the event planning part of the exhibit…invitation postcards, programming, installation, caterer…hundreds of details and deadlines!! I know I’m starting to feel the pressure as I cried twice this week. Fortunately. way more going right than wrong. Another week on the details and then I hope to get back to some art making.

Fairmount Park still feeds my soul daily…

Appreciating all your encouraging words…see you in October!

All is good…All of the time…sue

no, no, no…don’t trim my trees!!!!


july 21 2013 (10 weeks to go)

As I walked up to Lake Evans at Fairmount Park last Monday morning, I heard a lot of noise, saw the trucks on Dexter St (that trees 26 though 52 line.) I was just about ready to walk the opposite way to avoid the noise (wasn’t making for a tranquil walk) when I realized…THEY WERE TRIMMING MY TREES!!!! Talk about upsetting a tranquil walk.

I ran over and started the interrogation….they were raising the tree’s canopy so that trucks could drive under the branches and on the lake side to improve the view. I am not assured…even the word “arborist” in their company name didn’t help. I took pictures so they would know they were being watched and I called the parks superintendent (I’m sure he is sorry he ever gave me his direct #)

They had trimmed about 15 trees (#20 thru #35) by the time I arrived. I decided to inspect their work when I saw it…Tree 22 had a BIG healthy beautiful limb cut off!!

Unfortunately for these poor guys, I have lived quite intimately with these trees for the past 42 weeks, taking thousands of pictures. Tree 22 had this particularly wonderful limb that framed the lake and I had taken dozens of pictures of that view a few weeks earlier.

So, I was sick to see that they had cut that beautiful branch.

I think my involvement helped temper their trimming prowess. This work has to be done and overall I think they did a good job. But we all know horror story of tree trimming gone wrong. Today I walked all 52 trees …I noticed most of the cuts but none of you would notice a thing! :)

all is good…all of the time…sue


prints are signed and ready to be framed…only 12 weeks to go!!!!!

july 14 2013

This is what I wake up to everyday… “ROCK” countdown system. It used to seem like there were endless amounts of rocks but NOW this visual is freakin’ me out. Only 77 rocks (days) left until the show needs to be hung. The exhibit will be ready for the Oct 3rd Artswalk…the official opening will be Fri, Oct 18th.

This weekend I selected, inspected and signed the 52 prints for the “TREE” show in the Powell Gallery. Once again, something I thought would take an hour took four! Now I need to switch gears and start working on the “What I did with my 52 weeks” portion of the show that will be in the adjoining DeVean Gallery.

Trivia time…printmaking tip for my printmaking buds…

My mentor, Kathy DeAtley, doesn’t like to wear gloves when printmaking…I do! She told me that would be a problem because you needed your ungloved finger to help clean the ink off the edge of the plates. So I compromised and wore gloves but cut the finger off on my right index finger.

When i was done inking the plates I would take off my gloves before printing and it would look like I had just voted in Iraq.

I got tired of washing my finger before I could print so I decided to put the cut-off finger to good use. I think I saved 3-4 minutes a print x’s 182 prints = 9-12 hours saved by only having to wash my hands once a day…when I was done at the end of the day.

I still haven’t totally regrouped from my marathon printing (22 days)… I think I’m postponing figuring out just how much I have left to do…:)

All is good…all of the time…sue


still standing…barely!!!!!!!

july 7 2013 (85 days to go)

meet Kathy DeAtley, my mentor artist for the printmaking portion of my project. Taken on Day 1 while we were still smiling :)

I am thrilled to announce that I finished printing TREE 52 on July 4th.

On the 5th, I reviewed all the prints and decided to reprinted the first nine trees!!

I celebrated today by having, with my morning coffee, one of the cookies (froze a few for special occasions ) from my October 2012 show, “a love affair” that was made to announce my 2013 show…”52″ ..too tired for much more than this

As much as I was ready to be done, I looked at it as a good problem…it meant that I felt that my prints improved with experience. Did the redos on Fri and Sat…all that is left for the prints to be ready to exhibit is to sign and frame!!!

I don’t know what I expected but not 22 straight 10-12 hour days. I think I was ready for a 2-3 week project but maybe not with the intensity of time and effort….and DRAMA.

Here’s the nitty-gitty behind-the-scenes stuff… 

Day 1 – 4 had a lot of technical difficulties that I mentioned in the previous post…but as the technical issues went away physical drama took over…

back brace

Around Day 5 my back spasmed and I worked very uncomfortably for a few days. Then I broke my glasses on Day 8, with no time to shop for new frames so I wore two-year old glasses. Hope the trees look okay because I was inspecting them with less than perfect vision. :)

taping lasted five minutes

Day 12 starts with achy body and localized tingling in my back….computer DR says possible shingles but I  outsmarted (I hope) that curveball by having gotten a shingles shot three weeks earlier. I added a daily 30 minute nap to my schedule. DAY 15 the 106 DEGREE WEATHER ARRIVES. I love my studio but it is all windows on the afternoon sun side of the house…also the side of our 100 year-old home without insulation. Zee would come up to check on me and

hard to believe that is my foot

exclaim “why don’t you have the air conditioner on?!”…it was on!! By Day 18 my feet had had it and gave into swelling up big time!!

My pill cocktail, to start each day, consisted of my vitamins, motrin and a cold tab. I am a very fit person but this kicked my butt…IT WAS LIKE GROUNDHOG DAY…TEARING, INKING & PRINTING 182 TIMES!!




Hey, I’m not complaining, I  just thought you might enjoy reading about some of the non-art challenges. The good news is that the “trees” are done, I don’t have shingles and that my ankles are back!

All is good…all of the time…xo…sue

PS I can’t thank Kathy DeAtley enough…I LEARNED SO MUCH FROM HER. Kathy is so nice that I was afraid she wouldn’t push me…I was wrong about that. When she came to inspect my work she was nice but honest and because of that I improved.

being an artist is hard…

june 23, 2013 (99 days to go)

Being a pretend artist (see previous blog) was a lot easier than trying to become the real deal. I have spent the last 10 days in my studio printing the “52 Trees” portion  of my exhibit at the Riverside Art Museum in October, The first four days were full of trial and ERROR and lots of mentoring from Kathy DeAtley. I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH!!!

 I have spent the week on  my own with Kathy coming back this weekend to review my work and move me to a more knowledgeable level on proper mixing of ink, wiping the plates (you don’t want to over or under wipe) and pressure strategies on the press. 15 trees done…37 more to go.  I averaged two trees a day and now need to move at a much faster rate to finish by the 4th of July…my new deadline.

The process is much slower than I ever imagined. Yes, I’ve made solar etching before, in a class, but I never timed myself. It takes me about 40 minutes a print from start to finish. I’m making 3 to 4 prints per tree…approx 180 prints. So I have about 90 hours of studio time left over the next 10 days.

I am so please with my learning progress…I told Zee that I was really starting to feel like an artist.

All is good …all of the time…sue

PS Did you note that I have less than 100 days left…OMG!!!

did I say I was a printmaker???

june 16 2013 (106 days to go)

The printing phase of my project has begun…

where the printing will occur

guest bath takeover where the paper is soaked

My studio is now set up to do some serious printing. The press has been adapted to handle a bigger project. I have taken over the adjoining guest bedroom and bath so that I would have the space to set up for tearing, soaking, inking, printing, drying and storing.

guest bedroom takeover where the prints will dry

To answer my question…Did I say I was a printmaker?…Yes, I have referred to myself as a printmaker but the reality … I was a pretend, a spoiled, an anything goes printmaker. I worked in studios and classes that were set up…supplies were provided and at monothons at RAM they ran the press and cleaned up after me. 

where the plates are inked

My instructor at RCC, Denise Kraemer, put an end to the spoiled part as we did all our own set-up and clean-up and she tried to stop my …anything goes attitude. She told me in a jokingly serious way that if I took her class again I had to start printing on larger paper and that I could only run my pieces through the press a max of three times (not 10!)

This project is a much more precise form of printing than I have done in the past so this is going to be a somewhat painful process but I am excited about the growth I will have as a printmaker.

Day One of printing was an 11 hour day! My mentor artist for the printmaking phase, Kathy DeAtley, is spending the first few days with me  working through the subtleties of how to properly ink the plates and then removing the right amount of ink, templating the bedpress to get properly aligned and then figuring out just the right amount of pressure to use when running it through the press.

my small but mighty press

We worked out a lot of set-up issues….a couple more left to resolve. It is a slow process with a much lower success rate than I would like. Kathy has assured me that it will be a faster more accurate process as time goes on. I think I might have underestimated how long the printing was going to take. My goal was to be done by the first of July. I will keep you posted.

All is good…all of the time (though I must admit some anxiety has crept into my world! :) )

Thank you for following …I appreciate the interest and cheerleading…sue

125 days to go…close to the four month mark…

may 28, 2013

However I look at it …another five weeks just disappeared…and 2/3 of my year is over!!! I am busy, all of the time, doing or thinking about art and the project … reading, watching art videos, visiting museums and studios, making art, walking the park and documenting my activities…. but the “to do” list never seems to get any shorter?!!

I spent a few days shadowing artist/ printmaker Jesus Cruz…watching him carve  linocut plates at his office @ Starbuck’s on Arlington and then over to Division 9 for a printing demonstration. Jesus is a precise and prolific carver….amazing to watch! I love the process and I’m working on a couple of pieces.

  I took a mosaic class from Cathy Maxwell. Cathy and Greg Maxwell created the spectacular mosaic GIANT ORANGE (now at Riverside Plaza down by Chico’s) They were commissioned to make a second ORANGE for our sister city, Sendai. As a mixed media artist, mosaic seems like a natural extension for the art I am interested in making. I wanted something practical… a lazy Susan for the front porch…I’m tired of all the good appetizers being out of reach!! :)  I see some rocks in this creation…imagine that! 

my piece in the RAM permanent collection

In about three weeks I will start printing the “52 Trees” portion of this project. Spent four hours over the weekend with Kathy DeAtley, my mentor artist for this phase. Kathy is a master printer, having worked for some of the largest print shops in LA earlier in her career. Kathy ran the press at the three Monothons (printmaking fundraisers) that I participated in at the Riverside Art Museum (RAM). One of my monothon pieces was selected for the permanent collection at RAM.

We reviewed a checklist to make sure I had all the supplies… tested to be sure the press adaptations I made were correct…discussed how I needed to rearrange my studio and extra bedroom (the shower in the guest bath will also be in play) We’re preparing for as many as 250 prints to come off my press. This is a big project  and has me anxious…I have printed very little in my home studio…almost all my printing has been in classes. I originally thought I was going to print this project somewhere else where the studio was set-up and on a bigger press but Kathy insisted that I print this in my studio. The upside is that after this project I will be a confident printmaker in my own studio.

 This is the time of the year when there are a lot of baby birds so every day I usually wander the entire park seeing how many I can find. The survival rate seems to be better than usual…I’m thinking because the raccoons got pretty well wiped out last year by disease. On Mother’s Day I counted 25 babies. Fairmount Park still delights me everyday!

All is good…all of the time…sue

PS Opening night reception…Friday, Oct 18th

i am a terrible blogger!

april 21, 2013

Let’s just put it out there…I am a terrible blogger. My goal, with this blog, was to keep you informed but not to go overboard with too many updates. With recent comments like…”am I missing your updates?” …”I haven’t read anything lately”…”what are you doing?” I realized that I was posting on facebook (because it is a lot quicker) but neglecting my blog followers.  So, I promise to do a better job of keeping in touch here.

making the solar plate

I did disappeared in March, spending over 90 hours working on the 52 favorite tree portion of my show “52” in October. Took over 1000 pictures, downloaded into folders, made selections, took more pictures, cut 104 solar plates, made 104 solar plates….tested the plate…remade the rejects!! It was quite an undertaking but I’m on schedule!!! Phase two…the printing…will happen in June.

testing the plate

A BIG thanks to Jan Harvey and Marian Semic for their help during this part of the project.   I spent five long days in Jan’s incredible studio making my solar plates…Jan is the regional solar plate expert…her expertise and unflappable patience kept me calm and focused.

April 1st was the 1/2 way point …psychologically it feels really different… like the time is just slipping away now. My countdown system (pictured below) is starting to cause me some real angst. :) I scheduled a lot of administrative projects for April…finding sponsors for the exhibit, website changes, mailing list updates and museum research on Fairmount Park…trying not to leave too many details to the end. Lots of moving parts on this monster project!

 I’m also spending time with Jesus Cruz learning more about making linocuts…more to come on that. If you are ever in Starbucks across from St Catherine’s, check to see if Jesus is in his office (the big table) carving his plates. He has an amazing technique and work ethic and I hope to learn a lot from him.

I am walking, walking, walking…always walking and I found the first babies ducks of the season a couple of days ago.

All is good…all of the time…sue

PS Be sure to mark your calendars…opening night for “52” is Friday, October 18th!

a broken camera, jury duty, rain and spring’s arrival…..

 march 7 2013

During this year off some of my days and months are loosely scheduled and others have some very specific deadlines. Right now I am on a strict schedule… with lots of obstacles occurring.

I have been waiting for the trees at Fairmount Park to lose their foliage before I photograph them for the “senior project” portion of my sabbatical (that will show in the DeVean Gallery at the Riverside Art Museum) The foliage has been dropping off with the help of the heavy winds and rain…the time is just right to get the photos I need before the spring growth.

Not going to be that easy…my trusty camera (that is with me at all times and used so much that all the settings on the dial have worn off)… broke!!! Thank goodness for the internet …found the exact model at a reasonable price. It works and I’m ready to go, again. Then the rain comes back…can’t wait until after the rains because I’ve scheduled studio time to make my solar plates. On top of that I’ve got a jury duty summons boxing me in. So yesterday I decided to get out early and spend the entire day taking the pictures I needed…I took almost 800!

pondering my project…

The picture above is me, once again, pondering my lunacy at calling the show “52”… based on the Powell Gallery showing what I did with my 52 weeks off and the DeVean Gallery exhibiting a printmaking*** show of my 52 favorite trees at Fairmount Park. I think I’m standing there wishing I had called the show “12” …what I did with my 12 months off/ a show on my 12 favorite trees! :)

I really didn’t think through that even a portion of the process that only takes as little as five to ten minutes per tree (downloading, photo selection, making transparency) turns into a 4 to 8 hour project! It is a good thing I love these trees… even more so after my ultra intimate day yesterday surveying every inch of each tree.

*** I’ve talked a lot about photographs yet I say that the show will be a printmaking exhibit. For my nonartist friends, I have decided to use the printmaking form of solar etching. You start with a photograph or art piece…from that you make a transparency…a solar plate is made off the transparency from a light box and the sun. From the resulting plate you make your prints.

Five months gone by…seven to go. I’m still very excited…learning so much…mainly, how much I don’t know!

All is good…all of the time…sue