Thursday, May 28, 2009

Loving Farmers Markets

I have just been in love with the wonderful Spring weather we are having in Portland recently. The weekends and weekdays are beautiful, just alike.

In Portland, with Spring comes fabulous farmers markets. Everywhere. Every. Where.

Last week, I went to the downtown farmers market with my friend Kimberly from work.



We spent our lunch hour perusing the stands, eating world-famous tamales...



and buying plants. I bought a Hens & Chicks succulent and Kimberly bought a catnip plant for her kitty, Mr. Bigpants.



I also bought a GIANT pumpkin and chocolate chip cookie for my sweetie since he was stuck in his cubicle all day.

These farmers markets are so interesting and holistic. I feel very organic at these kinds of events. One with nature.

During the weekend these markets pop up all over the place. There was one a few miles from our house, so Jason and I went on our own little adventure Saturday. This one was at the City Park in Beaverton. It's the same park that we went to for "Pooches on the Green" in March with Clancy.

There were so many kids playing in the fountain.



There were tons of people and booths.



They even had a wonderful band called "Back Porch Revival" playing throughout the day. The instruments were absolutely gorgeous. After every song they did a sort of musical chairs with the instruments and they ended up all playing each others'. What amazing musicians!



We got some pickled asparagus, BBQ sandwiches, and a Japanese Maple (I am obsessed with these lately).

All in all, it was a fantastic excursion and I can't wait to go again! Maybe this weekend if I'm a lucky girl ;-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Loving Spring

Oh what a glorious weekend we had here in Portland! The sun was out and the temperature reached up in to the upper 80s!

It's amazing that just a few short (well, actually they felt pretty long) months ago, I was writing about historical snow fall and having to wear everything in my closet at once to keep warm.

But now. Now is so wonderful! It feels so good.

It's one of those things, where you don't want to turn on the A/C even though you can. Instead you just enjoy having the windows open and sticking to the furniture because you've been couped up in the house all winter and NEED fresh air.

Today I actually took my lunch down to the waterfront and sat in the park while I ate and read a book.



It was so nice to feel the sun on my face and to watch people enjoying the weather.



The flowers are simply exploding around here. It almost feels like a fireworks display that's prolonged over several days. Here are a few pictures of the "Portland Bloom."





You can see all of my Spring pictures on flickr in the "Spring is all around Me" set.

Tonight we are off to the Tom Robbins, "B is for Beer" book signing at the Bagdad Theater and Pub. We are very excited because 1) it's at a bar/theater, 2) you get a copy of the book at the door, and 3) Tom Robbins is my absolute favorite contemporary writer and we get to have drinks with him!

Hope you are all enjoying as lovely a Spring as we are!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Audio Art

You may have noticed that my hobbies primarily lie in the visual arts, such as painting and photography and I've shown many examples on this blog.

Well, Jason's preferred mode of artistic expression is through sound -- audio experiments. He thoroughly enjoys mixing, manipulating and mashing up audio pieces. And he does it really well.

He's got that natural ear for weird stuff. When we first met, his audio compilations were excellent music mixed with static, squealling, icebergs cracking and loops that made me a bit on the insane side, but he was experimenting and hearing everything in everything. That's how he got to where he is now.

People have been asking what is JaSar's Podcast? Since the audio arena is Jason's domain, I deferred to him to answer this question. Here's what he has to say.

These audio shows, although different in theme, content and feel, are all pretty much constructed the same way.

I select the material, such as audio bits from television, radio, personal recordings, movie dialogue, scores, music (live and recorded), readings from chosen text (others as well as mine), to elicit a change in perception through a sort of disruption of the normal routine -- with great music and quality material carefully chosen.

Application and placement is where it gets tricky for me, but it is also where the little happy accidents take place. I usually have an idea of a starting point with a solid grasp of what will be the thread or feel, which ends up changing through the progression of the show. Like things tend to do.

There I get into a groove which then clues me into what will be the next bit of material to mix in.

All of the shows posted up to now were produced and engineered at the www.killradio.org, station in Los Angeles, California on the corner of Beverly and Vermont.

Killradio provided a perfect environment for free expression and decent equipment. It was old and worn out, but that’s when you get really creative and use the static and popping sounds coming from the connections or the speakers.

I use a variety of equipment to achieve the desired effect. There were two turntables, four tape decks, two recordable cd player/burners, a dvd player, a line into a separate computer and 4 mics. We would bring instruments of our own, extra portable mp3 players and my digital recorder with conversations, thoughts and environment recordings from the week prior to the show.

The gathering stage.

We would feed all of this into two Mackie boards where we could mix it down and even create endless loops. Sometimes Sarah and I would do specialty shows, such as The Cleetus and Adell Show in 5 parts. We will create characters, perform readings and sometimes have a gathering of musicians and artists of all types to come join in.

My real education in music/audio really began with producing shows on killradio. I started at kill in early 2001 and did a show called The Groove Jet through 2002, and then in 2006 did a show called The Next Step through 2007. Good times.

Now that we live in Portland, Oregon (and don't have access to a studio), we have begun accumulating our own equipment and will soon have brand new shows to post. We'll be sure to specify which shows are produced in our home studio or were done at the killradio station.

Now that you kow how I started doing podcasts and why I love it. I'll leave you with this...

You can, as the listener, choose to tune in here and there as you vibrate through a couple hours of your day with great music or you can listen closely to find the ideas that punch through those walls and get into your brain.

It's up to you.

JaSar's Podcast

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Multiplicity

In January of 2009, I decided to open an Etsy shop and put all of my crafts up for sale. As you can see in the side bar, I have different items in the shop such as pet clothes, novelty furniture, paintings, and random vintage literature items.

Well, this created an artistic dilemma that never occurred to me -- can I really part with my originals?

Of course, the pet clothes are easy enough to part with because I have a pattern and can make the exact same thing whenever I want to. The furniture is easy too because, I mean, heck what am I going to do with all of it? Right now it's all just stacked in my crafty room waiting to be purchased so I'll have space to make more. And we only posted the vintage literature pieces that we're okay with letting go, so that's not really an issue.

But the paintings. What about the paintings? I, myself, could never replicate any of my oil paintings because they all just happened. I stood in front of a blank canvas with an idea of colors and maybe an image in my head. Then I put paint to brush and brush to canvas and let it roll.



Sometimes I start out with a sketch if I have a discreet image that I want to create, but mostly I just paint.



Many times I start to paint one thing and then it changes one... or ten times. Sometimes I just paint over the whole thing and start over, so some of the paintings have paintings underneath.

So I'm pretty sure that I can't replicate them, nor am I really interested in trying. Once it's out -- it's out and I can't go back to it.

This leads to the dilemma -- to sell or not to sell the original paintings. When I started the shop I put the originals for sale, but the first time someone showed interest in buying one, I freaked out a little. I though of it like selling a part of my body or soul -- something that I could never get back or make another one of. Also, in our vision of JaSar we have an art gallery in the playhouse. I would love to be the first artist to have a display there and if I don't have my "body of work" then I wouldn't be able to.

Then the most wonderful thing happened. Well, let me back up just a minute. I had some postcards of my painting "Big City Lights" made by Vista Print. This is the painting that most people seem to like so I thought it would be a good one to start with. The postcards were my first attempt at professionally reproducing my artwork. Vista Print is notoriously cheap and the investment was minimal -- and it showed in the end. The postcards were okay for a first try, but still a little disappointing.

Since I now have A LOT of these postcards, I send them out with other cards and as little "Hello" notes. We put one in with all of our Christmas cards, but I didn't really get much feedback. I didn't expect much either, as the quality was poor and the color was off.

Then the most wonderful thing happened. My Aunt received one of these postcards and wrote to me that she really enjoyed it and would like a larger poster size print if possible. I was ecstatic! I thought, here is my chance to experiment with Giclee printing! I had been reading about the process and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

I contacted a local printer who does Giclee prints on canvas with stretchers. I brought the original to his studio and dropped it off. This painting is 36x24 so it's pretty big. He scanned it on his mega-huge scanner and sent a proof to me. It was FABULOUS! I approved the proof and it went to print. Within 4 days I was picking up the original AND an exact replica!



As a print and web production specialist (my day job), I was totally fascinated. The colors where spot on! Also, the printer added a black border around the outside edges of the canvas where the original was only partially splatter painted. This gave the print a very clean look. I mean you can hardly tell the difference between the original and the print! The outside edges and the actual oil paint clumps on the original are the only way to distinguish them.

Once I had the print, I had to come up with a way to ship it to my Aunt (who still thinks she's getting a crappy Vista Print poster). So Jason and I went out to our cardboard box mountain in the garage and reappropriated a few. This was SO difficult. I'm glad my dad's an engineer and some of that rubbed off on me, because making boxes is HARD! We wanted one that could be reused if the painting needed to be transported, so we decided on a cake box style where there is a top half that slides down over the bottom half. Plus, we didn't want someone hacking at the box to get it open and slice the print, so that design seemed reasonable.

Two days and about 10 hours of labor later, we had the box ready.



We padded it with these lace window curtains we had (random leftovers from who-knows-what) and packing paper (like butcher paper). We covered the entire box in packing tape so that if the box was rained on, it wouldn't go through and ruin the print.



We were serious box makers/packers for a couple of days there. You can see more pictures of the process in our Multiplicity set on flickr. Who would ever think making a box would be so difficult?

Now with the print boxed up and protected in all ways imaginable, even supplied with picture hanging hardware, it was time to send it off.

We shipped it UPS because we wanted to be able to track it and it wasn't that expensive. We waited the 3-7 days for it to get to Wisconsin from Portland. And when my Aunt received it this was her reaction:
Sarah and Jason,
I cannot tell you how humbled I am to have received the original instead of a poster. It is absolutely stunning and I love you dearly for doing this for me. I hung it right away, and was fascinated by how it seemed to change during sundown. At times it seems so intense, and then ethereal. Your impressionist-VanGogh like flair is very obvious, which is ironic, as he is my favorite and so is impressionism. However, your 'flair' is very modernistic. Thank you again from 'all of my heart.'

Of course I let her know that is was actually a print, but a print that looked almost BETTER than the original.

I was so excited that I had found a method of replication that produced a print that rivalled the original. Now my dilemma of whether or not to sell the originals is a non-issue.

I have listed the paintings in the shop as Giclee prints on canvas of original oil paintings. This way I can keep the originals for my some-day-wish of having a gallery showing or exhibit somewhere, but I can still share my art with others. I haven't actually sold any prints yet, but that's okay. I'm sure the experience that I gained by going through this process will change that. Maybe not soon, but someday.

And that's good enough for me :-)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Seeing ART

Walking to work in the rain last week.

Passing by the bank's flower bed, stopping to understand life through nature.





Seeing perfect yellow tulips with tall wispy leans and curves -- advancing and receding.



Being dragged down by the flood but bearing the burden with grace and beauty.

Gently bending and bowing under the weight of heavy droplets on shoulders, almost touching the ground -- low as low gets -- still maintaining kindness and courage.



Knowing its necessity for life, relinquishing to the leveling rain.

Nearly wiggling with excitement to feel it's life growing and releasing into our shared environment.

Exuding wisdom.



Beginning to see the imitation of life through nature. Heightening awareness and illusions becoming allusions.

Walking to to work the next day.

Desiring to see will overturn adversity. Wanting real beauty to supersede expected normalcy.



Witnessing the hand of time. Beauty gone without a trace and replaced.

Wondering if real beauty exists only to be overlooked or unrecognized. Art representing the confusion of life.

Making weary of expecting or anticipating, yet knowing it's a package deal.



Thinking this account counts the moment immortalized -- frozen in time.

Art.



Believing that the brief moments of realization and clarity are justification for enduring.

Hoping that impressions left are our reasons to write, paint, create.

Knowing that art is touching peoples' lives.