Friday, 29 May 2015

Drawing Exercises

In the second half of the semester in drawing the body we went through many exercises leading up to drawing the clothed figure. I have posted some below. We started creating a small scale three dimensional skeleton with fully functional joints to understand the structure within the body. We then Built a full size fully functional joint to understand more intricately how they worked. Next we moved on to drawing the skeleton and then drawing the musculature system. We then explored the body through feeling by closing our eyes and drawing aspects of ourselves by using only touch to gather information. Lastly we focused on fabric and how it drapes over the body. The idea was to build up an understanding of the human body layer by layer.

Skewer and Tape Skeleton with Fully Functional Joints

Skewer and Tape Fully Functional Elbow Joint

Drawing Of Nose Using Only Touch

Drawing Of Neck Using Only Touch

Full Size Skeleton

Full Size Musculature

Fabric Still Life

Self Portrait Focusing on Fabric

Printmaking Finals and Tests

Here is a collection of some of my prints from this semester. There are a few test prints as well as my finals for both halves of the semester. Assignment 1 was to make 3 prints the dealt with either cotton, wood, or oil in its natural habitat. One print needed to be image based, one texture based, and one needed text. I chose wood and decided to use the cross section of the Ponga (or silver tree fern) as my subject matter. My prints were woodcuts with mono print backgrounds. My texture print represented the Ponga when alive, my Image represented the Ponga dead, And my text print represents the Ponga's rebirth or the spores creating new life. 

In assignment 2 we had to use the material we chose, wood for me, and make three prints based on how humans have interacted with this material. I decided to have a transportation theme to tie my prints together. For my image print i chose to do a drypoint of a ship, for my texture I focused at the textures of a weathered railroad bridge, and for my text I chose to make a penny farthing. The whip was printed in a long rectangle to represent that ships were exploring vast uncharted territories. The Railroad was a taller narrower rectangle showing that it still explored vast open land but that all of it was charted. And the penny farthing is square because it mostly was used for relatively short distances and in well developed areas. The three shapes though different are equal in area. They are also displayed in chronological order. There are some color tests and then below those are my final three prints. 

Feather Print Test

Feather Print Test #2

Assignment 1 Final Prints (Texture, Image, Text)

Color Fade Test Print Ship

Color Fade Test Print Railroad

Color Fade Test Print Penny Farthing

Ghost Print Background Test Print

Assignment 2 Final Image Print

Assignment 2 Final Texture Print

Assignment 2 Final Text Print

Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Chance Encounter Returning from the Hospital, Rugby, A Powerful Storm, The Mac Wizard Strikes Again, A Wild Fistfight and an Earthquake!

Hello again everyone! The last two weeks have flown by and it is starting to hit me that my time here is beginning to grow short, which is a sad feeling. My workload has picked up in these last weeks and my last day of classes is only 8 days away. I was talking to my friend Justin and we agreed that the time on the south island felt like two of the longest weeks of our lives but in an incredibly positive way. We were experiencing and doing so much, which had each day feeling full. Each moment was saturated with beauty and incredibly vivid expressions of life. I have been back for over a month but it feels like only a week or two. My guess is because there is routine, familiar places and experiences and even though it feels like I haven’t done much the truth of the matter is I have still done quite a bit in the last few weeks.

A Chance Encounter
Today 05/05/15 I went to the hospital where I was quickly seen and told my hand was healing exactly how it should be and that all was well. That however is not exciting part of this story. On my way back from Newtown I walked around Countdown and took a shortcut to avoid the main road by turning down a little residential back street full of small houses. I passed little yards with small feijoa trees with little feijoas bobbing in the wind. I passed the first block and decided to cross over the street I turned and looked to see only a lone cyclist riding up the road. He was on an old red mountain bike, wearing a black helmet with a red and gray sporty looking jacket. He was peddling quite hard and seemed to be struggling to keep the bike moving. He passed about one meter in front of me and turned and looked me dead in the face… It was Bret McKenzie. My eyes widened and my heart skipped a beat with excitement. He road up and turned at the next street. I followed, my eyes searching each driveway in hopes that I might be able to say hello. I got to the end of the little street and turned back onto the main road. I searched in the distance for a red bike and then ahead I saw him reemerge from a corner dairy and mount his steed once more before disappearing over the crest of the next hill. This is my first true celebrity sighting and it happened to be one of the few celebrities that I would actually be excited to see. I only wish he had been walking so that I could have said hello. Perhaps the future has this in store but for now I am thrilled to have seen Bret in his natural habitat.

Rugby Game
I was lucky enough to experience my first rugby game a few weekends ago! Tean (the study abroad network) provided tickets in the second row to a wellington hurricanes game. The atmosphere was alive and the game was wildly exciting. The players run out and immediately start playing. It is a running clock and there are almost no dead balls. It is constant action for 80 minutes separated by a 10-minute half time. I wont go into detail but Wellington won by a try with the crusaders knocking on their doorstep as time expired. This experience has me wishing rugby were a bigger sport in the US!

Paquiao Mayweather Fight
The next day was the Manny Paquiao Floyd Mayweather fight. A few friends and I went to a nearby sports bar to watch. We got there early and had some food while the opening fights took place. As we sat and watched the fights a silver balloon slowly floated into the room hovering perfectly in space only two meters from the floor. It seemed to be meandering and checking everything out. It felt incredibly surreal watching this silver balloon float through a wooden sports bar, between bar stools and tables effortlessly moving with seemingly no breeze or anything to propel it. After a minute or so it very slowly began its way up to the apex of the wooden rafters. The whole experience felt otherworldly. About midway through the second fight the bar began to fill with people. When it was time for the main event there were hundreds of people packed all around us cheering wildly for Paquiao. About halfway through the fight the balloon decided to gently float above the massive screen. It then gracefully moved directly in front of the projection causing violent boos from the crowd. It then bobbed off to the side shifting the crowd’s reaction to cheers before floating back in front of the screen as though playing with the crowd trying to bring people into the physical moment. It then hovered up and disappeared back into the rafters. Much to the chagrin of the crowd Mayweather stayed undefeated by unanimous decision. The fight wasn’t particularly memorable but this balloon has stayed in my mind. It snapped me out of the illusion of entertainment and back into a stark appreciation of life and the magic it has to offer.

The Mac Wizard Strikes Again
A few days ago a friend of mine tried to sign on to Netflix on my computer and it froze for a very long time. I force rebooted it and was met with a blinking question mark on an off white screen. This didn’t seem to like the best sign. The next day I decided to pay the Mac Wizard another visit. He clicked around for a second and then with a disheartened look told me that this usually means the hard drive has moved on to the big apple store in the sky. He decided to take it apart and check. And to his surprise and my relief my hard drive was in perfect condition, but the cable that connected it to my logic board was broken and apple’s estimate to replace this $25 part was … drummrolll… $532. But have no fear the wizard had yet another trick up his sleeve. I purchased an external hard drive case and he put my hard drive in it and showed me how to boot my computer through an external drive. So I am good to go at least until I make it back to the states!

A Night of Inspiration
I had been working for hours and needed to get out of the cube and let my body move so I decided to walk down to the waterfront. The night was wild and stormy with an electricity in the air. The wind funneled through the empty streets giving my body something to push against as I walked. When I got to the waterfront I sat against a street lamp on a 5 or 6-meter wall above the main walkway with the bay directly in front of me. It is an amazing feeling being almost completely alone in such a large city. The night was incredibly alive. The water was a deep inky black with choppy waves sweeping across the bay before forcefully crashing onto the rocks, launching water high into the air. Every few moments I could hear something that felt directionless and haunting. It sounded as though hundreds of giants where exhaling in unison. The sound would grow louder seeming to come from all directions the trees around me would start to whip violently around excitedly adding their loud whispers to the wild cacophony. Then in an instant I would be struck by blast of cold enlivening wind. These gusts would come quickly and unexpectedly from any direction and were so powerful that I had to cling to the lamppost for support so as not to be cast from my perch. Each rush of wind perfectly encapsulated both the power and energy of fear and inspiration. The trees in front of me would at times bend completely sideways as though they were bows being drawn by a hunter. They would stay flexed for what seemed like an eternity creating a moment of stillness in the madness before releasing their stored energy and pushing through the gusts. The clouds above were a deep ominous gray and moved at a blistering speed and with powerful purpose. Every now and then a patch of sky could be seen with a few stars piercing through before the next cloud would devour it. Every few minutes it would rain for 15 seconds or so before the cloud blew over. When the rain came the raindrops would appear to dance in slow motion, hovering above my head like little amorphous vibrating gems illuminated by the radiant silvery white light cast from the lamp above me. With each far off whisper growing louder I could feel my body tensing and my heart rate quickening in anticipation, and as each squall engulfed me it brought a wild smile to my face and had me feeling profoundly alive!

Surreal Fist Fight
Just a couple of nights ago I went out with a few friends to a nearby bar called the Southern Cross. This bar has an incredible atmosphere. When you first enter it has a coffee shop feel, with small tables that invite intimate conversations. Just beyond, there is a beautiful bar with a hardwood dance floor behind and pool tables off to the side. Behind that there are massive windows and glass doors that lead out to the patio where there are padded U-shaped bench seats that line the exterior, each with dozens of colorful Chinese lanterns hanging from the tin roof awnings above. In the middle there is a small bar with Christmas lights above, surrounded by a brick patio with tables and chairs. There is also a freestanding chimney with an elevated fireplace at waist level. On this night we pulled a table right up to the fireplace and looked out over the whimsical patio sipping our tasty beers and watching a group play giant Jenga. We sat soaking up the lovely vibes and the warmth from the fire when a beer bottle came skidding across the bricks past our table. We saw bouncers break up what seemed to be a small fight and then everything went back to the chill amazing vibe and no one seemed to think anything of it. As we sat enjoying each others company “Oh What A Night” by the Four Seasons ( came on adding to the fun feeling of the night. As the chorus kicked in we saw a small group of people form in front of the bar about 8 meters in front of us. Then as though in slow motion 25 to 35 men and women all flooded this group and everyone began throwing unwieldy haymakers at seemingly anyone around them. Everyone was punching everyone. We sat calmly watching as a bar tender tried to pull two apart before getting nailed in the face with a powerful blow. Another man was bleeding from his eye and had his shirt ripped off. A team of bouncers rushed in ripping people apart while punches continued to rain down from all directions. All the while “what a lady what a night” floated down through the crisp night air over the beautiful dappled light cast by the Christmas lights. After a few minutes of this the bouncers finally managed to separated everyone. The din returned to a calm chatter and all was peaceful once more. We didn’t see anybody removed from the bar and there was almost no mention of it afterword. Only minutes later it felt as though we had dreamt the whole thing. The only thing that had me believing it did in fact happen was the large bag of ice the bartender held to his face.  This was one of the most surreal things I have ever seen. It truly felt like a movie where incredible violence takes place in slow motion and is juxtaposed with fun music and beautiful lighting. We all sat in disbelief chatting by the fire until closing.

I felt my first earthquake! I was in my flat on the seventh floor when suddenly the walls started to move like slightly undercooked noodles wiggling in a light breeze. It felt as though I was tipsy and couldn’t focus on my surroundings. It was less shaky than I expected and more like a slow s curve wobble. It lasted for maybe 5 to 10 seconds and then tapered off so slowly that it was hard to tell when it was actually over. It left me grinning as it was something I have always wanted to experience.

All right I think that does it for my last few weeks. I am going to sign off for now but before I go I have attached a few images, thank you for reading!

Sculpture at Waterfront Taken On One of My Night Walks
Sculpture at Waterfront Taken On One of My Night Walks

Sunset from My Living Room Window

Sunset from My Living Room Window

Sunday, 3 May 2015

X-Rays, The Mac Wizard, Xmas Light Fish and Life Lessons From A Baby

 Hello again all! I have been back for a few weeks now and am settling back into city and school life wonderfully. Its amazing how quickly time flies by when back in a familiar area with a schedule. I feel like this last two weeks have only been a few days although a lot has happened. When I was in the south island each day felt full and the time seemed to be far longer than two weeks, in a great way. Now days often blur together and fly by. I only have 4 more weeks of school left now, which means I only have 4 of each of my classes remaining, that in and of itself is a completely crazy feeling.

So what has been up in my world over the last couple of weeks?

X-Mas Light Fish and Mirror Bay
The second night back in Wellington I was lucky enough to go for a walk with my wonderful friend Maggie. We decided to head down to the waterfront and when we arrived we were blown away by how calm it was (I realize that was interesting phrasing). It was a dark night and no one was at the waterfront. The water in windy Wellington bay was unlike I had ever seen it before, motionless. It was glassy still giving the sailboats in the harbor a perfect reflection to the tip of the mast as though placed upon a giant inky black mirror. It was completely silent, which added to the eerie beauty of the situation. It was often hard to speak, as even a statement of awe would diminish the very thing that helped create the feeling of wonder. We continued along the water until we found ourselves at the end of the Clyde Quay Warf peninsula, which is a long apartment building that juts out into the water and separates the marina from the open bay. We stood at the end looking out on the water when something caught my eye. Below us in the deep glassy greenish water there appeared to be thousands of little flashing lights. The mystery drew our attention and the world around melted away bringing only these lights into focus. With time we realized it was a massive school if tiny silver fish darting around in a wonderful dance. As they would turn their silvery sides would reflect the lights from behind us creating the illusion of flashing lights beneath the water. We watched transfixed by this gift. After some time being tickled with glee and reminded that there is always beauty if I just stop and take a moment, we decided to continue on towards Oriental Bay. We walked along another marina with the boats perfectly reflected in the water below. We paused to listen to flute music coming from the absolute other side of the large bay, hundreds of meters away. The water was so still that the sound flew across its surface all the way to us a from a musician our eyes could not even see due to distance. We continued on to the beautiful oriental bay where we sat and chatted for a long time watching the incredible fountain carry shifting light up to 16 meters above the waters surface. Every now and then a huge barge or cargo ship would come into the bay creating perfectly even glassy waves that would distort and bend the colorful reflections from the fountain and nearby streetlights creating a mesmerizing scene. The waves would float across the bay shifting to match the contour of the beach before disappearing with a soft crisp wave crash. It was a still night that felt as though it was holding me and welcoming me back to the city, a gentle shift from the serenity of nature back to the beauty of the man made wild.

The Mac Wizard
After only a couple days back my computer started acting very strange. It stopped connecting to any wifi networks and stopped reading memory sticks and external hard drives. I took it to the I.T. department at Massey and they managed to get my Internet working but only in the Massey library. I called up my Internet provider and they did a ton of troubleshooting with me over 3 calls totaling 6 and a half hours. Still nothing worked. So next I called an apple help line in Australia and spent another 5 hours over 3 calls troubleshooting with them but still no luck. I went back to the Massey I.T. department and after a few meetings they finally understood I had a real problem. This led to another meeting where the man helping me decided it was time to pull out the big guns. He led me through a tiny door that opened up into a massive room with 30 or more I.T. guys all typing away. As I entered the typing slowed and heads turned. Eyes peered over screens to check out the new person who had just entered their lair. I was led to the back corner of the room where I could see one solitary man sitting with his back to me. He sat with stacks of macbooks to his left and a few massive monitors to his right. This was he, the man the other I.T. guys I had spoken with referred to as the Mac Wizard. He introduced himself as Ken and then ran through many tests. He determined that it was not a hardware issue. It was magic watching Ken work. He effortlessly glided through my system in ways I didn’t know possible, digging out corrupt files as he searched for the root problem. Ken whipped through my system leaving nothing but organized clean files in his wake. He finally determined that my hard drive would need to be completely cleared. He took a complete backup of my computer on his, then wiped my hard drive clean, reinstalled a fresh version of my operating system that he had and then reuploaded all of my documents. This only took two days. So after nearly 12 hours of phone calls, 5 IT meetings and much googling on my part, Ken fixed everything in just over a day. And it was completely free. So much gratitude! And Ken certainly lives up to his title as the mac wizard.

I injured my right thumb almost a month and a half ago heroically helping a friend. What was I doing you ask? Something not for the faint of heart or weak willed. It was a dark night in Wellington with the wind howling past my 7th story window, when my flatmate came to me saying she needed someone with incredible strength to help her and thought perhaps I might be of service. I agreed to give it my all. She then handed me the impossible… a jar of pasta sauce that up until that point was deemed unopenable. I wrestled with it for 20, nay, 40 seconds and then felt a little tweak in my thumb followed by a pain. I didn’t think much of it but over time the pain grew stronger. I assumed all would be well so I went to the south island and continued on my daily life but the pain didn’t subside. After returning I went to the doctor and got a few x-rays. Nothing broken but there is more space than usual between a couple of the bones where my thumb meets my hand. So the next step is to see a hand specialist. The amazing thing is all of this is free except for the $25 x-ray. Its not too bad but figured I might as well get it looked at and take advantage of this amazing health insurance. I will keep you updated on how it is going. Oh and if you are curious I totally opened that jar.

Coffee Shop Baby
I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop typing away on one of my blog posts about the south island when I felt a calm presence watching me. I looked up from my computer and was met with striking deep sapphire eyes calmly relaxing into mine. These eyes were fully present and belonged to an adorable little face that peaked over his mothers shoulder while stood speaking with a friend. These little eyes stared unapologetically into my soul. I felt connected and deeply seen. We continued looking into each other with the only change being a slight smile creeping onto our faces. After a few minutes his mother was finished and started walking out the door. The little face smiled took a last look and then, with a slow blink turned to see where he was headed. This experience was stunning on many levels, most of which words cannot adequately convey. It was a wonderful reminder that we are born with the innate ability to connect deeply and that the fear of vulnerability is not naturally within us but in fact a learned trait. Thank you coffee shop baby I hope that skill of connection remains natural for you as you continue your beautiful life. I feel deeply touched to have seen you and shared a moment of our lives.

Little surprise
Upon returning from the south island I had a couple little surprises in the succulents that live on my windowsill. There were two clover plants in different pots that had grown entirely while I was away, each bursting many leaves (Photo 1). It was a great surprise, as I love clover and am always inspired by the natural world. I feel like I have new friends that fold up each night and sleep next to me and then wake up with me each morning, opening to soak in the suns rays. One day it was particularly windy outside and one of the clover plants was in front of my open window while the other was safe from the winds power. The one in front of the open window folded up in broad daylight to protect itself from the wind while the other stayed completely open. WHAT! How cool is that? NATURE IS AMAZING!

The last noteworthy experience I will speak about was printing in the studio a couple days ago (photos in printmaking post). It was a public holiday so I had the entire huge printmaking studio to myself. I spent 5 hours playing, exploring and learning a new technique with my music filling the space helping facilitate a wonderful creative vibe. Outside there was a storm raging. Rain was falling sideways and the wind was so violent, trees bent horizontal. The only other time I have heard wind like this was during a hurricane. The more the wind raged the more energy I seemed to get. It was inspiring and helped create my own special creative bubble while also letting me feed off of the wild energy.

All right I am going to sign off for now! I hope you have enjoyed the stories from my past two weeks. I will write again soon about my first Rugby game, some thefts and hopefully other amazing adventures. I wish you all the best! Love to you all.


Photo 1 - Surprise Clover

First Collagraph and Drypoint Prints

I have been enjoying all of my classes but printmaking is securing a special place in my heart. With each new technique I learn I find myself getting more excited at the idea of continued exploration in this medium. Here are a few examples of two new techniques I started to learn in the last two weeks.

The first technique I learned was collagraph. In collagraph the plate is inked filling the low parts of the plate. The surface is then whipped clean to either leave only the color of the paper or it can be inked any other color and rubbed off to create subtle tones. The paper is soaked to loosen the fibers and make it more pliable and then it is placed on top of the plate. As it is run through the press the mats pres the malleable paper into the low parts of the plate absorbing the ink and embossing the paper. The ink is oil based so that paper can be resoaked to allow for the layering of techniques. My first collagraph was simply to start to gain an understanding of how the plate held ink so we were given random text to work with. We cut through the first layer of a thick cardboard material almost like a softer MDF. Photo 1 is the exploration of techniques. The center of the Q is glued sand to create texture. The bottom red area is ripped a layer deep except for the lettering and the rip line absorbs ink in an interesting way. There are scratches with my etching tool just above the red area. I don’t particularly like this print but it was incredibly helpful in understanding the technique.

Photo 2 was my first attempt at creating a plate. This is a print of my friend Maggie from a photo I took at the Tongoriro Crossing. All of the red and black was carved out and peeled away to create depth and therefore hold ink. The blue was lightly ripped away in an attempt to create a more ethereal cloud look. The light yellow tones were added and whipped almost clean just to add accents. 

Photo 3 was my second attempt and is a print of my friend Miranda here all the dark tones were simply cut away and then inked with different colors. Collagrphs hold a lot of ink so to get the desired range sometimes I would have to do a ton of ghost prints and lightly reapply the surface colors. This was my 3rd ghost print and you can see how dark it still is.

The next technique I learned was drypoint. Photos 4 and 5 are examples of my first attempt at drypoint. For this technique you scratch tiny lines in a metal or plastic plate and then go through the same inking and printing process as Collagraph. These don’t hold nearly as much ink and are usually only good for one print before needing to be re inked. The tiger below was scratched into a piece of plastic. The darker lines are deeper scratches. I then inked the plate and whipped the surface almost clean. I went around with a q-tip and cleaned certain areas entirely to create white highlights, like below the eyes, soaked the paper and printed it.

Photo 1 - Collagraph Test

Photo 2 - Collagraph of Maggie

Photo 3 - Collagraph of Miranda

Photo 4 - Drypoint Tiger

Photo 5 - Drypoint Tiger 2nd Inking With Added Colors