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Welcome to the Cooper studio, Jefferson, Iowa.


We've been through a bad phase lately.  Please allow me to share; and honestly, it's not THAT bad.


The scene:  Husband and I in the car, driving somewhere, and one of us would look at the other of us and ask "did you check the coffee pot?"  As in:  did it get turned off, or left on?


Somehow we have adopted the assumption that an empty coffee pot left turned on when nobody is home to watch it--well, it's probably going to burn the house down, right?


Yes, I know OSHA makes everybody put safety controls on everything nowadays, BUT aren't all coffee pots made in China now?  And I don't think OSHA gets to mess with them all that much, so net result:  we always turn around and go back to check. 


But, we're doing better recently.  I started unplugging the coffee pot.  Somehow that's easier to remember than turning off a switch.  Dios mio.


Similiarly, If my husband was a painter and we worked side by side on the same canvas, we'd probably be headed to an exhibit and one of us would have to question the other of us "did you check the values?"


Seasoned artists are pretty much a group of squinty eyed value-checkers (thanks Painter's Keys) all the way through the progression of a painting.  And yet that finish line appears and you think "two more brush strokes, and SIGN IT".  Blame it on the rush, the exultation of the finish.  But, that's when somebody needs to holler "did you check the values?"  What?  Again??  Yup.  And now I'm speaking for/to those of us who paint in color.  Technicolor.  Uber color.  Because we've all been told, and don't we know it:  color can be tricky that way.


Rise above that trickiness.  Grab your camera.  Photo that big old color coated canvas.  Load it into your happy computer and use your photo program to turn it to black and white. 


Could be the squinty eye trick worked great this time and all's well.  But every now and then, you get a little "hunh" happening, as in "whoa, didn't see that one coming".  So much easier to fix it before you get the varnish on--or heaven help us--before it's hanging some place important and the omission suddenly hits you and you are mortified by it.  :)


Check the coffee pot, save the house.  Check the values, save the painting.  Analogies flow rich at the Cooper studio this morning, eh?  Thanks for stopping by


Later, Cooper

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Comment by Linnea Lahlum on October 13, 2011 at 9:14am

I could not get out of the door without a checklist. I have one posted inside the garage for loading the display in the van. I have a standard “indoors” checklist I pull out when packing everything else, that covers replenishing consumables like tissue and bags, plus personal packing.  I photocopy this, keep a stack inside a cabinet, then pull one out to use for each show.


When I did a lot of drawings, I learned to turn the piece upside down, and lots of things like composition imbalances, will just jump out at you. As far as values are concerned, I also learned to go over the piece a few times, making a mental check if all values are covered, on a point scale from 1 (being white) to 10 (being black).  I might not always choose to have values of 1 or 10, but checking for them, helps me to establish the rest of them. I like a lot of contrast, so most of mine will. If a piece is going to be reproduced, the values become even more important. I think flattening out is a problem. My drawings were reproduced in half tone for publication. If I didn’t push the contrast at times, they came out without enough.

Comment by Connie Mettler on October 11, 2011 at 10:11am
Check list, a great idea! When we were traveling to do shows my husband had a check list on his desk that he went over right before we headed out to a show to make sure everything was in the van. Then a check list next to the door, specifically for me, that he made to make sure I had all my equipment. The list is still there (haven't done a show in 5 years) because it slows me down when multitasking.
Comment by Leslie K. Hyde on October 11, 2011 at 9:47am
I am in complete understanding of the "coffee pot" issue!  I am so paranoid of fire I unplug EVERYTHING that is not needed.  I also keep a checklist by my door to reduce the time taken to double check myself!  Now if I can get over that feeling as I drag myself out of the house  at what appears the middle of the night ....did I check the list? 
Comment by karen cooper on October 11, 2011 at 8:35am
ah yes, the garage door.  Fits right into that story line  :)
Comment by geri a. wegner on October 11, 2011 at 12:12am
I can identify with the beginning of your post--I have an abnormal sense of anxiety about the garage door.  I don't think I have backtracked more than 2 miles to check it but I can't even count the number of times we have gone back just to ease my mind.
Comment by karen cooper on October 10, 2011 at 6:55pm

Hi Barbara,

Thanks for reading!  And my coffee maker--it's only about a year old, so your auto-turn-off thought is quite likely on target.  But when I factor in our 100 year old house (yes, a lovely little craftsman bungalow) with electrical wiring not as old as the house, but old enough, I err on the side of positive  :)

And for coffee makers in general, as often as they break and need replaced, why would we assume that the auto shut-off would work any better, or last any longer, than the rest of it? 

And values:  every book I've ever read by a pro-in-the-know says the rest of us fall down on values more than anything else.

Comment by Barbara Westlake-Kenny on October 10, 2011 at 1:27pm
Good advice about checking the values on the computer. But I can't help but mention that most modern coffeemakers these days turn themselves off after a certain amount of time. Is your coffeemaker old?

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