Month: January 2018

KID DESIGNER & THE POWER OF A PAPER VOLTRON

I once made my own toy, when I was a kid. I did so in order to participate in an adventure I knew others were experiencing. — Money was tight when I was a kid…at least for a period of time, long enough to prevent me from obtaining one of the most coveted toys on the market at that point: Voltron. There were three versions of this mechanized force for good—gladiator, warrior, and lion—and I eventually owned the first two. But before that blessing was bestowed upon my young imagination, I owned none. And during that period of none, the version I wanted most was the Deluxe Lion Set. We can all relate to being a kid who doesn’t get what they want. Especially when others in your neighborhood had what you wanted. That’s how my Voltron period began. But instead of focusing on the problem, I committed to a solution: I made the toy I couldn’t have. “Let me tell you that my level of patience as a kid was apparently, and significantly, more …

FOOTSTEPS & TIME TRAVEL

time travel in white snow records a fresh journey footprints, a story While looking out of my studio window last week, I noticed a few tracks of footprints snaking across my driveway and side yard, after a light but fresh overnight snowfall. I didn’t see imprints from boots or loafers but instead, paths…decisions…time, by the moment. Someone was there. They had a place to go, or someone to greet, or maybe just needed to eat. And they were probably thinking about something, although the subject of that thought is now lost to the ages. But it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they had a story. © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

A FRENCH PRESS, STUDY #6

I don’t draw what’s in front of me. I draw what I see. My style has been sculpted through careful study and exploration, and it found its momentum with a simple approach: perspective. The definition of the word perspective is, in part, concerned with “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.” (Merriam-Webster, s.v. “perspective,” accessed January 21, 2018, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perspective.) Relative importance. That’s how I see the components of a subject I’m drawing. I blur my mental focus—only paying attention to what jumps out at me, as the most critical elements to the function or form—in order to draw not what’s in front of me, but instead what I see. What my mind sees. Clearly, my artwork above is not a French press in its entirety. That’s because to me, a French press wouldn’t be a French press without the plunger and filter assembly. Everything else is merely a support system. To me, anyway. SUBJECT: An original abstract drawing of a French press DIMENSIONS: 7.75″ x 9.75″ MATERIALS: Black drawing pens on 90 lb. Strathmore …

SPILLING THE BEANS—012018

A fresh blend of news, about photography. I recently wrote a piece about black and white as an artistic palette, and how my passion for that palette developed during my now-finished digital photography days. Finished…that’s a word that carries a lot of weight. It leaves no room for doubt—its terms are absolute—and it implies closure. Finished, as in “my photography days are done.” Or so I thought. — The issue that caused me to part ways with digital photography was simple: perfection. The work I created with my iPhone was nearly flawless (granted, it’s the best point-and-shoot camera on the market). And when I tried to degrade the image, in the camera, it looked sloppy. That’s what caused me to leave digital photography, I think. But recently, and as a result of all the drawing that I’ve been doing, I found myself once again drawn (pun intended) to photography, which was shocking. So, dear readers, let me reminisce a bit before I dive into my latest epiphany. AROUND 11 YEARS AGO, I shot with a Polaroid …

THE BRILLIANCE OF BLACK & WHITE

Black and white is brilliant. Not when it comes to interacting with people, but instead as a visual palette for art. That’s because black and white dismisses distraction. It discards the surface to explore the depths. It banishes the jewel-toned “SQUIRREL!” factor I like to call “color.” Let me say, in no uncertain terms, that I’ve never enjoyed working with color. I’ll grant you that as a writer, I don’t struggle with color. But when I began my work as an artist—especially during my days as a graphic designer and fine art photographer—color was a challenge. What’s interesting is that it took a second, albeit brief, immersion into digital fine art photography for me to finally toss color aside and explore the limitations of black and white. And what I found was not restrictive: it was liberating. The contrast. The simplicity. The powerful visual effect. It was all incredibly exciting! I felt as if I’d found the true underpinning of my work; my artistic destiny, if you will. Granted, my photography days are done, but …

An Extension of Waves and Time | Joe Blend | A 2-oz. Read

AN EXTENSION OF WAVES & TIME

life, priceless purpose monuments to moments remind us always love each breath The artwork below was made using a black Sharpie marker, a Ranger white opaque pen, a Precise V5 Rolling Ball extra fine black pen, and a sheet of paper from a Moleskine journal. The piece was then copied in black and white using an HP copier. The artwork and haiku are inspired by “Beyond Waves & the Notion of Time,” my journal post about the importance of the journey. © 2018 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.

BEYOND WAVES & THE NOTION OF TIME

I’m a 44-year-old adult who doesn’t know how to swim. Naturally, I’ve never had a desire to surf. But that didn’t stop me from watching Under An Arctic Sky, a documentary about arctic surfing that’s directed by photographer Chris Burkard. It was, generally speaking, an interesting documentary. And I’ll grant you I was somewhat surprised by my curiosity toward this film, at the outset. However, it was the last 10 minutes or so that produced the real gem for me: the notion of the journey as being more important than the product of the journey. That concept gave me a good reason to reflect because, as someone who is creative on a professional level, I find it too easy to focus on the outcome…that final product, an anticipated portfolio piece, a new “thing” to share. The problem with that perspective is simple: it neglects the journey. In a journey, the substance isn’t found at the end: it lives in each of the moments experienced within. And those experiences—an engaging conversation, a magnificent view, or even the next phase of …

Joe Blend | A 2-oz. read

A BARISTA & HIS JOURNAL

Allow me, dear readers, to introduce myself. I’m Joe Blend, a craftsman of writing and art who observes life through steaming coffee and an energized imagination. And now that my 2-oz. read is in full speed, I want to share a little background information about myself and why I write the blog. — My online journal (a 2-oz. read, so to speak) collects my observations and packages them into small servings that have both an artistic form and a practical function. Although my work employs anything from prose and poetry to markers, an antique typewriter, and collage, the inspiration is always the same: curiosity and creativity, with a caffeinated kick! My experience includes 16 years as a writer and content developer in corporate, nonprofit, and freelance environments, alongside work in the field of graphic design. However, sharing an array of formal details about my expertise is not my style, so I invite you to visit my About page for a more casual narrative that’s still chock-full of rich information. If you’re new to my 2-oz. …

JOLLY MISTAKES & THE MAGIC OF THE UNEXPECTED

Sometimes, a mistake can be positive. In the world of creativity, that scenario is called a happy accident. And it’s never expected. But believe me, dear readers, an errant mark or failed experiment—perhaps due to a jittery hand or lapse in judgment—can serve as the catalyst for a transformation worthy of Hogwarts. Granted, a happy accident is always followed by a panicked pause in breathing…a hair-raising experience, for sure. But eventually, an unforeseen flub can reveal fresh inspiration or if lucky, an elevated level of creativity. Embrace a mistake. Because a happy accident can, in fact, make an artist…well, happy. — EXAMPLE / The drawing below is an example of a happy accident. When I started, it was meant to be a negative-space illustration of a coffee cup. However, when I realized I’d done nothing more than surround the shape of a cup with Sharpie ink, I became discouraged. But within the depths of that failure came inspiration. I decided to add steam with a white-ink pen, along with an outline of the cup in black …

SPILLING THE BEANS—010518

A fresh blend of news, about my upcoming book. Throughout my career as a writer and artist, I maintained a fascination with journals and handmade art. It’s been an unquenchable thirst, a dangling carrot just out of reach, and in some ways, a thorn in my side. That’s because I’ve never been able to figure out how to write a purchasable book that represents the best of what journals and handmade art have to offer. Until now. It’s a top secret project…sort of…but I can reveal a few things: it’s a book of original and previously unpublished haiku; it will not be mass produced (i.e. it will be one of a kind); and there will be a variety of treatments applied to the poetry. The book is still in progress but my plan is to complete it by Spring 2018 and make it available for purchase shortly thereafter. Alas, I’ve said too much already…at least for the time being! So, stay tuned for more updates as the full-reveal date inches closer… Images and writing © 2018 …

CARL SAGAN & THE BILLIONS OF IDEAS NOT YET DISCOVERED

‘Tis a wondrous experience to listen to the soundtrack for Close Encounters of the Third Kind at 5:45 a.m. As it plays in the background, the windows—still dark panes of glass at that hour—beg one to ponder the vastness of the heavens. Each twinkling gem is an explosive ball of energy, but collectively they sit quietly like a connect-the-dots drawing waiting to live. But people have, in fact, connected the dots. They called their masterpieces Scorpio, Leo, Orion, et al., and without so much as incorporating, into the nomenclature, a nod to the fact that each of those dots—outside our perspective from Earth—are physically too far away from each other to form even the semblance of a horribly planned neighborhood. That fact, by itself, is telling. Yet there they are, together, in the night sky…personages bound by imagination and sheer will. Now consider creativity and all its artistic forms. Art—for personal or professional needs, from any discipline—doesn’t exist until it’s created. Constellations and art. Creativity. Sheer will…and imagination. Carl Sagan, with his billions and billions of …