George Saunders' Rising Fish

George Saunders recently spoke for the Literary Arts series at Portland's Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Justin Hocking and I were in attendance. I was there to document what I could. however I could, on behalf of Literary Arts; Hocking because he, even after attending the craft discussion at the LitArts HQ earlier in the day, still had not had nearly enough Saunders time.

Literary Arts recorded the talk and will release a podcast in November. My notes were exhaustive, semi-legible, and barely scratched the surface. I've reconstructed what I could in the following images. 

Saunders Oct2017 Dramatic Machine.jpg
Saunders Oct2017 Interrogate it.jpg
Saunders Oct2017 Curtained Room.jpg
Saunders 0ct2017 Hemingway mountain.jpg
Saunders w:c Oct 2018.jpg

 

 

Portrait

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The youngest has, for months, been saying she will model for me. I draw her frequently, but always in action. Last night I took her up on the offer. Here the action is, "I am keeping still and steady so make damn sure you're paying attention to all the relationships between the light, my hair, the glasses, my expression and gaze; get it all and get it good because sitting still isn't quite so easy as it looks." 

The Horse Printer

The second scariest thing I've ever worked on. I'm sensitive and this story just terrified me. 

Which is probably a good reason to listen to it. But not if you're really sensitive about horses and dystopias (like me). 

The Horse Printer

 

Birds of America

The Patreon gave me an excuse to draw birds today. The dipper is stolen straight from JJ Audubon. The rest are a mix of memory and field guide reference. I've drawn each of these birds from life or taxidermy before, but who is to say on which page, in which notebook. 

 

Bushtit

Bushtit

Rocky Mountain Chickadee

Rocky Mountain Chickadee

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker

Shagpoke (GBH)

Shagpoke (GBH)

American Dipper

American Dipper

A Time Lapse and a Plug

I'd love to go back and draw this two-platform tree house as it progresses. For now here is a drawing of the creator discussing it. 

And this is also to say, I've built a Patreon to encourage me to do even more documentary drawing, and to document more of the working process as time lapse and video. Here is a link to the Patreon

 

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Don't worry, there's a bridge to the platform.  

Gary As Max, 1 and 2

I've been shipping my blue book tiles at least since 2003 (did I ship any of the botanicals in 2001? I don't recall), so: hundreds, safely. The only damage or loss incurred was one tiny, easily repairable edge nick. This summer, however, the USPS finally lost one on its way to a client in Brooklyn. Fortunately, it was insured and so when I, after hours on the phone and online, determined the tile was truly lost and not just slow to arrive, I went back into the studio and painted a second. This one, to the client's relief and to my relief, actually made it all the way. 

I can  argue in either direction as to which I prefer. 

Gary as Max (1), acrylic on sanded, stitched, sealed book, 5.25" x 4.25" x .5"

Gary as Max (1), acrylic on sanded, stitched, sealed book, 5.25" x 4.25" x .5"

Gary As Max (2), acrylic on sanded, stitched, sealed book, 5.25" x 4.25" x .5"

Gary As Max (2), acrylic on sanded, stitched, sealed book, 5.25" x 4.25" x .5"

Wrong Era

Was gonna send the kid for beer because the kickstarter was wrapping up successfully (thank you!) but she talked me into going for my own beer. #trust #beer #vaccines

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Head/expression study for Nancy Washington

Julia Stoops wrote a novel about people trying to change shit. I'm illustrating it. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its goals (!!!), but folks can still get in on rewards (like the zine) until 9pm PST tonight. I'll keep posting these studies as fast as I draw them today.

 

Nancy Washington, Parts per Million

Nancy Washington, Parts per Million

What would you take photos of?

Another favorite exchange from the Parts per Million manuscript. If I take this one from rough to final, I'll need to be certain of the dome-light and steering wheel of the '85  Oldsmobile Toronado as well as this Toro's wi-fi-sweeping pringles can (which may or may not be visible behind Deirdre).

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Jen and Deirdre and Fetzer

Parts per Million

Author Julia Stoops handed me the galley of her new novel, Parts per Million, and asked if I would illustrate it. 

Of course I'm going to illustrate it! 

Check out the Kickstarter for those illustrations here.

Portland, Oregon, August 22, 2003, Parts per Million

Portland, Oregon, August 22, 2003, Parts per Million

This Is Not Chapman Square

I can't tell you everything you need to know about the rally against the nazis  Sunday, June 5, 2017 in downtown Portland, but let's start by saying everybody was there. And the PPB seemed to want everyone, young and old, non-violent and otherwise, in their kettle of flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullet-head shots. This guy thought, according to the police p.a., he could keep protesting nazis from his corner at the Portland building. He was mistaken.

This is where I tucked tail and ran home, so, chronologically, it's my last piece from Saturday. I'll post earlier items as I get them transcribed.

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https://medium.com/@gregoryrobertmckelvey/ted-wheeler-the-portland-police-bureau-and-white-supremacists-all-teamed-up-to-assault-the-people-66fcf8fb7670

Transformative

I wrote down the quotes from Lara Rose, Chelsea McCann and Jill Arnholt because each one marked, for me, an important part that of their lecture about truly integrating art with landscape design. Out of context  they may sound a little like TED talk platitudes; in context, they are key structures of a process that allows the creation of public spaces people actually use and enjoy. It certainly makes me wonder how my research, practice, obsessions might have a stronger impact on the built environment. 

After the lecture at Walker Macy, I had a side chat with a designer from US Fish and Wildlife named Matt Hasti. He has concept of rotating access into the natural areas of public places and engaging the public in their cyclicle rehabilitation. This too is a note worth keeping, worth sharing. 

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For Fun

Walidah Imarisha's fantastic Angels With Dirty Faces won the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction this week. The first time I tried to read it, my middle daughter ran off with it instead. I finally finished last night. Here is a drawing from December noting a conversation between daughter and aunt. I really wish the conversation had gone on from here, but it didn't and that's probably why I drew it. 

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Angels With Dirty Faces? What's that about? 

Painting on Hot Bronze (because it will last longer)

In late January, I was invited out to a fabrication shop in North Plains, Oregon and asked if I wanted a job painting 230 silicon bronze panels with diluted acrylic paint and a blowtorch. I was not going to say no to this. 

Two weeks after completing the job, I have finally stopped waking up at 3am with my torch hand cramped into an unbreakable claw.

The Sellwood Bridge Gateway Stratum public art project was designed by Mikyoung Kim of Boston. Oversight was by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Fabrication was by sculptors Jim Schmidt and Sam Nagmay of Art & Design Works. I was called in by Robert Krueger, the consulting art conservator for the project. 

The shop isn't really in North Plains itself, but up in the Coast Range foothills surrounded by doug-firs and Schmidt's big sculptures. My commute back home to St Johns took me further into the hills and then down Logie Trail. 

For all the things at the shop that wanted drawing (gas-fridge-fish-smoker, fresh clam shucking, lots of blowtorch action) there was far more bronze that needed painting, but I still got about a dozen scribble starts in my notebook to finish later. Here are the ones I managed to finish. 

Schmidt explains something or other to Brady and Scott

Schmidt explains something or other to Brady and Scott

While I was there working on Stratum, Art & Design Works had another project being finished up: a sculptural video installation designed by Jim Blashfield for a site in Seattle and being machined by fellow named Scott, not one of the usual shop crew, but totally friendly. Nagmay, Schmidt and their fuzzy machinist wunderkind, Brady, also kept a flow of personal projects, material experiments, and small, but critical, public art repairs moving through the shop. I kept ear protection handy.

Scott talks metal. Schmidt solves something or other, again. 

Scott talks metal. Schmidt solves something or other, again. 

Scott Hammers

Scott Hammers

Nagmay works on a repair to Joan of Arc's flag.

Nagmay works on a repair to Joan of Arc's flag.

The Stratum is 23 stainless steel towers gently twisting along the east approach to the new Sellwood Bridge. The towers themselves were patina'd by Nagmay with crisp, harmonic stripes in a narrow range of red, purple, ochre. The bronze panels were to be attached to the top and middle of the towers. Nagmay gave the panels a warm ferric patina as an undertone, then they were rinsed and sent over to my station (the best view of my station is in another, more personal, post). 

Nagmay torches a panel before applying the patina. 

Nagmay torches a panel before applying the patina. 

My task was to create somewhat organically striping strata in warm ochre and a green turquoise, not far off what you'd get with a copper patina, but a little more to the blue. The stripes would be close to a pattern Nagmay had created with a cupric patina, while not pretending to not be paint. The panel colors needed to play against the oxidized towers, the river, the sky the hills. And they needed to be lightfast and durable. 

Nagmay and Schmidt wax a panel (usually a solo job, but they were checking something). 

Nagmay and Schmidt wax a panel (usually a solo job, but they were checking something). 

I worked with a very limited palette of Golden Fluid acrylics and drastically diluted the paint so it could go on in several thin, hot layers. The panels were heated with a torch and the temperature maintained as pass after pass was made with loaded bristle or ox hair brushes. As it cooled, a coat of medium was put on to separate the color from the varnish. 

We created test panels, then sample panels and sent these to Boston for approval. Once given, we began with the single-color lower panels that could be installed without a lift, and then did the upper panels.

The shop filled up with panels. Wooden trusses on saw horses held them waist-high leaving narrow aisles to walk through. They were varnished, waxed and safely stored until installation. 

Installation was completed this past weekend during a two-day sun-break. 

Nagmay and Brady screw in the panels (yes, painting the screws was fun too). Schmidt facilitates, (because Schmidt always facilitates and you just don't know how awesome that is until you've worked with someone who really facilitates and then, hoh boy).

Nagmay and Brady screw in the panels (yes, painting the screws was fun too). Schmidt facilitates, (because Schmidt always facilitates and you just don't know how awesome that is until you've worked with someone who really facilitates and then, hoh boy).

Nagmay heat polishes the wax. 

Nagmay heat polishes the wax. 

Brady and Nagmay screw in another panel. The background on either side of the road is going to change drastically the next couple years as the lot occupied by the strip club and boat yard are built over. 

Brady and Nagmay screw in another panel. The background on either side of the road is going to change drastically the next couple years as the lot occupied by the strip club and boat yard are built over. 

Ice Cube Tray Rowboat

One evening up Mason Hill, I came out of the fabrication shop to see the sky mimicking the stripes I'd been painting on bronze all day. The Ice Cube Tray Row Boat itself was built by Jim Schmidt

Ice Cube Tray Row Boat

Ice Cube Tray Row Boat

Golden Retriever

Here is the confluence of the Columbia and the Willamette, as viewed from timberland on the ridge NW of the two cities.  

Industrial Landscape with Golden Retriever, oil on panel, 12" x 16"  

Industrial Landscape with Golden Retriever, oil on panel, 12" x 16"

 

detail

detail