Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Oops - IFJM becomes Hatching Explorations

I wanted to participate in Roz Stendahl's International Fake Journal Month. If you aren't familiar with IFJM - the idea is to describe to yourself an alternate persona and to journal every day in April as that person. The point, in part, is to side step your internal critic, also to improve or expand in some area. There is a lot of detail at the link. I tore my paper into signatures, planning to do as many as I could and then bind the book at the end of the month. On the first of April I was busy and it slipped my mind. But on the 3rd I started drawing. My plan was to explore hatching, get more content into my drawings, and to include more text on my pages. I didn't have an identity as a different person, but thought one would occur to me as I went along. As the month went by, I wanted to draw in my journal, didn't really think as someone else, did all kinds of hatching experiments. The journal became Hatching Explorations. I guess the persona was me, so it's not really a Fake Journal project. I'm showing a part of my journal. I did include many failures and experiments and some doodley pages. I believe they are important to the process. At the end of this post I will evaluate the project. Images below will enlarge.

Beginning - I was just fooling around, looking at hatching styles, testing pens.

Some inspiration - Mark H. Adams is on Flickr, he posts his work and a lot of photos of himself. Trying to imitate someone else is a good way to learn - almost nothing is as easy as it looks.

Laura Hernandez is on the Sktchy app. I am trying to draw in the style (sort of) of people whose hatching I admire. I'm not showing all those pages - they aren't very interesting. I also looked at Henrik Drescher's drawings and an outsider artist named Foma Jaremtschuk.

Two sketches of Orville from the Sktchy app.

Two sketches of my Dad - from photos.

My Mom on the left and me - from an old photo a friend took. I am mostly doing family members, it's part of a long term possible project.

Two more from photos on Sktchy. I particularly like the one on the right - the wavy lines work well here, he was sitting in a car in the rain when he took the photo. I tried wavy lines again later on a photo of my dad, but it looked like a serious skin condition.

A ballpoint pen experiment. I do like this in many ways.

On the left the wavey lines combined with straight lines are not successful. I do like the one on the right - drawn from an old family photo. I wanted some kind of idiosyncratic hatching. But then I had doubts about it.

My dad again on the left, and at last - a live model! Jim taking a nap.

At this point I am feeling a lot of anxiety over some of the drawings - are they too mannered? Is this what I want? I decide I am over thinking things and do a sketch of a PeeWee Herman doll (from Sktchy) just for fun. Have Fun! Really, it's not that serious.

A very quick sketch, this guy had such a charming face. Again from Sktchy.

And back to the more mannered style of hatching. Outlining the shadow areas sometimes seems too artificial, sometimes I like it very much.

This one struck me as awful when I finished it, but now I do like the eye area. I often end up with a chain link fence effect on chins. I need to monitor myself carefully on chins and noses. Danger Zones!

Back to emulating someone else - trying to imitate Laura Hernandez (from Sktchy) on the left. Jim, my son and I were vacationing on the coast for a few days and maybe I was more relaxed. Which also explains the salt shaker and pine cone on the right - while I had two potential live models, they were getting touchy about me taking photos, I didn't want to press my luck by trying to draw them. It's okay, they are both supportive, and I do understand how tiresome it is to have someone scrutinizing you a lot.

I try the slow build-up of lines again. The lighting was beautiful in this photo, from Sktchy. But I realize I'm not going to spend hours on a sketch. I am too impatient for that. Still I like the lines and love drawing with a pen. So I need a compromise.

Me again - from an old photo. Nearing the end of the month and wondering what I have learned from all this.

My wrap up: I didn't draw with another person's profile. I just started practicing hatching, trying out various approaches. I did realize I can improve with daily practice over the course of a month. I was impressed that I ended up with 31 two page spreads. I was able to stick with this for a month because I was really enjoying what I was doing. I also was surprised at how much progress I made in a month. It pays to chip away at things. I don't pick things up quickly and don't feel I have much natural ability. So there is always a learning curve. But time spent does pay off.

My goals were to improve hatching, find a style I like and incorporate content. I certainly did learn more about hatching. And about my preferences. I do like Andrew Parrish's hatching where he combines outlining with some hatch marks. And I admire Laura Hernandez's hatching. Andrew's is pretty quick, but can look too mannered in my hand. Maybe I can improve that. Laura's looks classical but takes a lot more time. Maybe that could be loosened up some to go faster. Going forward I will try more hatching and try combining hatching with ink washes. I want to use a technique that will work in an artist's book - something that can stand up to some page turning and handling. I also want to work on adding some content, something that didn't happen in April.

Here are some things I already knew about myself, and things I learned in the last month: In general I don't respond well to a regimen dictated by some outside source - either prompts or something like "draw a face every day." But somehow this project worked for me - maybe because I was trying to not judge what I was doing. And not showing many of the drawings to people. A few did go on Sktchy. However I do find it's best for me to keep things private until they are done. I believe one should keep mistakes in sketchbooks. And allow plenty of mistakes to happen. Also doodles, fooling around, all kinds of random things are good - some interesting things come out of them. I will certainly do some kind of "fake" journal again next year, although I didn't really work inside the guidelines this year. Maybe next year that will happen.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Defining Zymoglyphic

People often ask Jim what makes an object suitable for the Zymoglyphic Museum? I don't have a good handle on it myself. About a week ago we were out walking and I found a piece-of-wood-rotten-root-thing that he liked and kept to use in his museum. I often hand him stuff I find, hoping it will meet with his approval. I think about 10% of my finds are accepted. When I handed him the rotten wood and he accepted it, I felt victorious. So I decided I need to document the successes. And maybe some of the failures.

We just came back from a few days in Rockaway Beach. There had been a storm before we arrived so there was a lot of stuff at the high tide line. Below you can see what I found on the beach that Jim thought he might use in the museum - I was doing unusually well for some reason.
There were mole crabs all over the beach, in various states of decay. These were interesting because they still have their digging parts attached.

This is possibly a piece of bamboo. The harder it is to tell what it is, the better Jim likes it.

I think this one was accepted because of it's interesting texture. The piece of bark in Jim's left hand was found by Jim.

This one is very twisty and ambiguous in size. I believe it has already been assembled into something.

I don't remember anything about this.

This chunk of wood was selected because it's potentially a stand - things with holes in them are useful that way. I would have brought this home for myself if Jim didn't take it.

Another with interesting texture.

The appeal of this one mystifies me - it looks like just another chunk of driftwood to me.

There was a large log on the beach with a beautiful pattern. I was amazed when Jim reached for his camera to record it. I had to take a photo. He almost never reaches for his camera.

This is the log texture that Jim couldn't resist.

And finally an end-of-the-day shot. Happy treasure hunting to you all!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

IFJM hatching experiments

Here's a sketch I did in my "other" (not the one intended for IFJM) sketchbook, just fooling around one day. It grew and grew and I like it more and more. It isn't a finished product but it is going in the direction I want to go in. This is part of my International Fake Journal Month exploration of hatching. Comments are welcome of course. This is not intended to be a realistic portrait. It was done from a photo of my dad when he was a little boy, I neglected to include hair, so it's hard to tell the age. I am getting away from caring if I get a realistic image. Although a part of me still notices whether it's a likeness or not. Another part of me is bored with trying to achieve perfection and realism. The content matters more. Done on Mohawk Superfine text, with a Noodler Creaper pen and Lexington Grey ink. Also a grey squeeze brush pen. The paper isn't really strong enough. All in all I like the image very much.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


I debated whether or not to post some of these next drawings - I am doing them from the Sketchy app. There is no real "content," it's just practice drawing. Some are part of my International Fake Journal Month project, which has morphed into me practicing hatching with different pens. However, here is one, done in ball point on Arches 90 lb watercolor paper. I don't totally like ball point. The pros are - you can get very light lines, to fairly dark ones. The ability to build up slowly and to get delicate areas works well for me. Of course you can always find a ballpoint pen around, we all have dozens in our drawers. They work nicely on most cheap papers, anything fairly smooth seems good. They don't bleed through the paper. The cons - I am a lefty and tend to smudge things that I drag my hand over. I smudge ballpoint ink a lot if I'm not careful. Pen and ink is nice because it usually dries very fast. As do Posca markers, brush pen and of course things like watercolors. I am not sure how well the ballpoint will scan and print. I don't know that it's good enough for an artist's book because most inks in ballpoint pens are not light fast. Mostly I try to restrict myself to materials I could use in an artist's book.

I have to add - It's spring here. The sky was blue today and we had a high of 70. Portland is so beautiful in the spring. I pulled weeds, fertilized raspberries and rhubarb and generally enjoyed being outside. I love the snow in winter (we don't get much) and don't even mind the grey days and rain. In a month I'll be overwhelmed by the weeds and tired of the warmer weather, but for now the burst of green, spring blooms and warmer temperatures are giving me a real mood boost.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Send Godzilla after that virus!

I just took a Textures online class with Roz Stendahl. It was so fun, And it has enlivened my drawing practice. The textured backgrounds call to me - "come over here, make a mark, it doesn't matter if it's perfect, lets have some fun." This one is fluid acrylics, splattered on, spray from a mouth atomizer and some washi tape. The mouth atomizer is fantastic. I love the spray and the mess. I want to start writing a little bit every day, just something about my day or my state of mind. I need to start thinking about leaving a place for text.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Dream in Color

I’m on a train with other people. We all have these colors in big puddles - we’re trying to keep them separate. We're flying into the sky on the train. At first we are jubilant - we have color and are flying. But then the areas of color get bigger and bigger. I realize we can’t control them. They will all join together and take over everything. People start to fall into the clouds. I jump off the train. I fall through the sky. A giant boulder gets closer and closer - then I hit it - splat. And am reborn. The colors are free. I wake.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is it like to be married to the Zymoglyphic Museum?

Jim tells me “what does your wife/Judy/Mrs. Stewart think about the Zymoglyphic Museum?” is in his top 10 most frequently asked questions. Here is an effort to explain, in mere words, what the museum means to me.

By the way - I am Judy/Jude/Judith Hoffman - not Mrs. Stewart. Nothing wrong with the Stewarts, I love them dearly. But when I divorced my first husband I decided if I remarried I would not take my husband’s name again. It’s anachronistic in my opinion.

In 2011 I made a pinhole film camera called the Zymo 127, took photos, and made an artist’s book titled Spirits Under Glass to house the photos. Spirits Under Glass and the Zymo 127 now reside in the Zymoglyphic Museum.

When I completed the Zymo 127 project I wrote:

“The Zymoglyphic Museum
We all know, at least in theory, that life is not static. Change occurs constantly and the world is new again and again. The Zymoglyphic Museum is the perfect example of this. Its displays are constantly evolving. The museum staff doesn't try to fight this trend, instead they embrace it. Many of the displays contain objects that are rusty, or made of dirt or decaying objects. There is no effort to stabilize the displays. Things decay as time passes. Little pools of rust or dirt fall around the base of some of the objects and become as much a part of the museum as the original object. Dust, cobwebs and blown-in leaves accumulate.

When it's not open for visitors, the Zymoglyphic Museum is a dark and shadowy place. Light comes in a single window and illuminates a jumble of mysterious objects waiting to be placed in their display cases. With their interior lights off, the dioramas are dark windows, with shadowy figures behind. (img274lookingtowardwindow.psd) or kachina photo?

Over the years the museum has taken on its own personality, just as each person does. It is made of some deep thoughts, some random junk and some accumulated stuff that may or may not be valuable. It is a place to meditate on life and death. The exhibits are not about "Xenophora" for example, but about how life progresses. It's wonders and mysteries, how we change over the years, becoming both wiser and a little crusty, and how even the lowliest insect or a decayed leaf can be beautiful and mysterious.”

My take on it now: I like it very much - it’s magical and mysterious, dreamy and ugly/beautiful. I don’t mind the dead animals or bones. My major objection for years was that I have an allergy to dust and mold. Some times of the year my reaction can be pretty bad. When we lived in San Mateo there were fewer displays. The dioramas and a few free-standing figures were housed in Jim’s study, a spare bedroom. When I learned of my allergies, I persuaded him to get a garden shed to house the museum. I felt bad about it. Although he agreed, he seemed to feel rejected. Things did work out well in the end. As the museum space increased the number of displays increased. For years it was Jim's main weekend project. Unfortunately over the years more and more random stuff accumulated in the museum prep area in our attached garage, hence the need for a large detached garage here in Portland.

I am a student of the Zymoglyphic way, which is an intuitive thing. I may never truly get it. I know it helps if things are weird, decaying or unidentifiable. Still I often pick up things when we are out walking and show them to Jim just to have him put them back. There is an undefined criteria each object must meet.

It is true that when we met I had boxes marked “skulls” on my shelves of art materials. (Rabbit skulls) Also some mummified mice and other strange things I had been attracted to. Of course they all joined the museum collection long ago.

I must also confess to some envy - Jim set up shop, started telling people about the museum and they started coming. Word spreads, it has become more and more popular. We have been in Portland 3 1/2 years and he seems to average 100 visitors a month. I would love to put my books somewhere and have that kind of audience. Of course I am also very happy for him, and proud of his success. The museum is a one-of-a-kind place that needs to be seen. And you can call me Mrs. Zymoglyphic if you want to.