Top Nine of 2019

The top nine Benz and Chang posts as ranked by “likes” on Instagram. This is a fun thing to see, and it makes me happy. There are usually surprises.

Here are quick notes about each. All were completed in 2018 to unless noted, and can be viewed in full in the 2018 website galleries, here and here.

Top Left – “Nothing New Under the Sun, 1911” Was the post for my 2018 Portland Open Studios announcement. The painting itself is from 2016, and is currently, apparently, the Benz and Chang painting to beat. Sold.

Top Center – “Shadow Life, 1908” – One of my favorites from 2018. Still available at Guardino Gallery.

Top Right – “The World Will Always Welcome Lovers, 1918” – My entry for the Guardino Gallery Day of the Dead Show. This painting makes me happy. Sold.

Middle Left – “Lucian Freud as Photographed by John Deakin for Francis Bacon, 1964” Painting from 2015, that I posted in 2018 to announce something or other. I love this one, too, and so wasn’t surprised to see it in the Top Nine. Sold.

Center – “Tiger Behind The Door, 1929” A surprise, as some people seem to love this painting, and others not so much. I feel kind of the same way about it, although it has a special place in my heart for the spooky and shadow. Available at Guardino Gallery.

Middle Right – “Go Lightly, Go Darkly, 1930” Not surprised to find it here as it (and its partner painting) sold immediately in the 2018 Little Things Show.

Bottom Left – “The Conversation, 1909” Spooky painting. I really love this painting and might revisit the subject someday in a larger piece. Sold.

Bottom Center – “Heartbeats, 1932” I love this painting and was kind of sad when it sold. I need to do more like it. Sold.

Bottom Right – “Starlings, 1929” While I was working on this painting, it fought me tooth and nail, and put up such a terrible struggle that I still kind of resent it, even though I do admit to liking it. Sold.

Thanks for coming along and being a part of Benz & Chang in 2018. See you in 2019!

I Made Black Walnut Ink!

I made my own black walnut ink!

I get asked about the ink I use a lot, and it seemed inevitable that I would end up making my own ink sooner or later. The walnut ink I have been using up until now was from Monograph Bookwerks on NE Alberta, and was made by them.

The most comprehensive recipe and information I’ve found about how to make walnut ink is from this post on a web forum dedicated to fountain pen enthusiasts. The post was written by a user named Fiberdrunk. Homemade Black Walnut Ink . Although I think this tells you all you need to know, I would recommend reading the entire forum thread as there is more interesting info in it, here and there.

To summarize, walnuts fall out of the tree encased in a husk, which makes them a little smaller than a tennis ball. You take the husks from the collected walnuts (the shell and the nut itself are not necessary) and let them rot until they turn black. Add distilled water, boil them, and then cook them down until you get the desired darkness of ink. Then you strain out the solids and add alcohol (10%) or whole cloves to keep down the mold, and voila! You have ink.

For the super-interested, there is also an interesting forum post on the lightfastness of walnut ink, where a user devised a way to test it, here. Walnut Ink Lightfast Test This same person documented their walnut ink making process here: How to Make Black Walnut Ink.

I’m going to keep my source of black walnuts as my own secret for now. I got get mine from a public place. If you want to know, drop me a line and I’ll tell you how I found them. All you need is a black walnut tree. The walnuts start falling in September.

The bottle in the picture at the top of this page is the entirety of my first batch, which was made from four or five walnut husks. Pictured here is the makings for batch two. If you visited my studio during the 2018 Portland Open Studios tour, then you probably saw this batch in the process of rotting away in a stew pot.

That’s it! Anybody out there made your own? Or have stories about walnuts to share?

Benz and Chang 2018

Today I received a package of 100 D ring picture hangers that I ordered, and it made me think about progress, because it meant that I had gone through the 100 D ring hangers that I had ordered in 2015. I do my own framing, so between September 2015 and now, I’ve put hanging hardware on the back of at least fifty paintings.

I started the what I call “the Benz and Chang paintings” in late 2013. In actuality, it was some fast and splotchy walnut ink drawings that I completed in two hours at a SHARE arts event, but that was where it started. I used some walnut ink and fell in love with it.

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I had in 2017.

  • Main gallery show at Guardino Gallery with Tamae Frame
  • Main gallery show at RiverSea Gallery with the amazing and wonderful Jill McVarish
  • Self-published my own catalog
  • Appeared with Jill McVarish in a show catalog (Night at the Haunted Big Top) produced by RiverSea Gallery
  • Joined the following group shows:
    • Mayhem and Magic at RiverSea Gallery
    • Day of the Dead at Guardino
    • Chris Haberman’s Big 500 Show
    • Catch the Moon at RiverSea Gallery.
  • Benz and Chang paid for a gallery and museum trip to NYC
  • Participated in #Inktober on Instagram and sold a third of my drawings

From the groups shows, the “Catch the Moon” show at RiverSea was particularly sweet to me because Jeannine Grafton, the Gallery Director at RiverSea, said that the show was about how she started her gallery with the goal of catching the moon. She wanted to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a show about how she felt that she had caught it, and more.

As things are coming together for 2018 (and 2019), I’m looking forward and I can’t believe it’s been four and a half years since I started this journey. Part of me feels a little superstitious about counting the years, and I’m knocking on wood as I write this. I hope to have many more years working on Benz and Chang paintings.

Blackfish Gallery Fishbowl Project

Benz and Chang will be showing three new paintings in one of the “Fishbowl Project” windows at Blackfish Gallery. This is a window outside the gallery that Blackfish uses to host the work of guest artists.

Since they are in a window on the street, the paintings will be up and viewable 24 hours a day, seven days a week from October 31 to November 27, 2016.

Blackfish Gallery hours are 11 – 5, Tuesday through Saturday. They are located at 420 NW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97209