Nice News! The Advent Calendar has gotten two sets into the 3x3 International Illustration Show. The Goose, The Puffin, The Booby, The Shriner, and the Watch Goose will be printed in the book while the other 5 (Jaybird, Oriole, Robin, Little Decorator, Cardinal) will join them on the web as well. Twenty Five Days of Christmas and 10 get recognized is a gift and a blessing. Thanks to the judges and Charles Hively for this wonderful opportunity to share my work. Another fun reason to look forward to the Christmas Season!
"Imagine if someone like John Lennon or Bob Marley, Sid Vicious, Picasso, whomever, were doing their work, and some corporation, some CEO, some branding entity was saying to you, 'Well, you can do that, but you've got to remove this aspect of your work.' There would no longer be that purity anymore."
"Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you're generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don't make."
You know, on a rare occasion this boob makes good sense.
Off to meetings and projects. More later.
The past few days have been days granted by heaven. The weather perfection, with high blue skies, rolling puffy clouds, a breeze and not too hot nor humid. Shady and I have driven to the lake each evening at Golden Hour (that amazing moment in the summer when the sun touches everything and turns it to gold)...taking my favorite back routes--and soaking in the fields of cut grass and grain, the bundles and bales of gold, the clean cows--clustering under a grove of trees to savor the rich grass. By the time we arrive, we are on the verge of pink time...when the sky is streaked with watercolor pink, red, and orange...as the temperature drops, the sound is gone...and the birds have tucked their beaks into their wings to sleep.
Day two. Don't know if I like this JB (thought I adore him)...more tomorrow as one a day keeps the illustration crazy away.
Shady and I just got back from looking at our hellebore, our adorable little snowdrops and to see if the cherry trees have buds still on them (that the deer have not gnawed off). We need to put netting over all the hosta, the few peonies left, and the sedum as it kept the deer from ravaging the plants… so be it. I would like big fat hosta, and plump peony blossoms on my tree peony. The ground is unthawing—with the grass all puckery and spongy. As lovely as the warmer weather is, it still is early.
I may buy a few more cherry trees today from Millers . 3 or 4 more sours…and one or two sweets. This year is the year of the sweet cherry. I have been (and continue to be) possessed by sour cherries, but the sweet are amazing here…as big as equine eyes…and really a robust flavor. What a week cherry week will be this year!
Had a fascinating time listening to the budget work our Village Board was working on last night. It was important to attend, to hear things that maybe we can engage in with the Farmers Market. There is a community yard sale in mid May, and maybe we should offer space for $10. rental or less, so that folks can bring their things to the park to make it more “community”. Maybe we could get some music, promote the vendors and drive some excitement. We will need some cool shopping bags to sell…and after doing a ton of research, the chico bag still seems like the best option, but I am still checking around. I want the bag to be portable, nylon (as its washable and continues to look good) unlike the cotton ones which are heavy, get ratty looking and just doesnt have a cool factor. Also a bumper sticker. What do you think of ” Carnivore, Herbivore, Localvore. More for ‘Vores”—maybe even use the phrase on the totebag too…versus the logotype. We also need to find a way to drive more to the bottom line so as to make the village investment zero out— Grants, things to sell…more money via rentals etc.
The fruits and veggies continue apace. You will see more…The new tools are fabulous.
We saw “Inception” last night to Alex’s delight. It was good, but not the work of art that Alex and Erich claim it to be…but I guess as I am “not the audience” as Erich tells me, it doesnt matter what I think. Alex has been talking about this incessantly since the viewing—smiling and talking…delightedly. We had dinner at Maxi’s late and turned back home for a late night.
Today is a beautiful day…all the heat and humidity washed out to clear and clean. We have the team working on the pumphouse restoration. Nigel is back to making beautiful with the yard. Kitty is working in the makeup factory in the Masonic Temple (for real). Alex is off playing golf as he has dishes later. Chet the Lawnmower man has come and gone…so the green stuff has been groomed and is gorgeous.
I was googling those wonderful cut out pages (from my SCORE at Sauders) and discovered that they are called either Victorian or German Scrap. The metallic version of Victorian or German Scrap is called Dresden Scrap, Dresden Foil or Dresden Foil Scrap. My mother has taken elements of Dresden Scrap and turned them into pins. There is other Dresden scrap that are these elaborate, paper candy cups or frames for pictures. High end party goods and high end scrap for scrapbooks or for valentines or for me, to scan and party with. Some of the holiday stuff (the big paper santas) I have seen iced to the top of gingerbread cookies or the little hearts attached to candy or gingerbread for valentines day. Linked to all of this old fashioned holiday stuff from Germany (like my favorite Erzegebirge stuff), paper mache eggs and holiday decorations figure into this mix as well. I remember our buying them as a kid , I think at Mr. Marioni’s store on Walnut Street in Pittsburgh along with old things my mother and grandmothers had—combined with funny old fashioned postcards and other ephemera they would toss between the families. I guess this is where my craziness comes from.
Here are some resources: Victorian Scrapworks>> Blumchen & Company>> AlphaStamps>> Your ATCstore>> Collage Closet>> There are lovely things to work with. Inspiring ephemera to collage, scan or use in fun ways. I am cooking on this idea.
I didnt go to the festival yesterday. Just too much. So, there was a swim, a nap, some cooking (note: whenever they suggest or put “optional” in a recipe, use it), and a bit of reading and thinking (lots of that). The Grassroots experience is, for me, very provocative from the music standpoint, but the sheer energy from the people, the community, the connections and connections to be made from that moment, and the opportunities have my head spinning off my body. It is still a brew of ideas with a few coming more to the fore (which I am pricing or planning) and others I will patiently wait for them to form. Kitty and Alex are on overdrive (coming in around 3 a.m. with Rob and Bruce). We will have our morning recap with the pound of bacon ends I need to put on the griddle before they come down. Maybe pancakes?
I just wanted to weigh in before more coffee, bacon and thoughts. You will hear the ideas as they form, and you know I want your ideas and input before I launch blindly forward. There is the festival today with the beloved Chokers, The Thins, Donna the Buffalo and more. Rob is thrilled about Toivo in the Cabaret (or as Bruce calls it, the Cabernet).
[Totally off topic, but to my delight, the Hartford MFA blog that I conceived of, do some of the writing, all of the architecture and maintain (as a gift to the program) has been recognized by Learn-o-Rama as one of the “Top 50 Blogs by Masters Students”. This stuff does work…just keep it focused and interesting enough that even you, the creator want to visit, More here>>]
Grassroots eve. Tburg’s alternative Christmas! The music is ramping up. The tents are being pitched. The crowd at Gimme! Coffee has some new faces. Rabbit Run is filling up with the future campers patiently waiting in line to get in. Rob is mustering the teen forces to work more. They limply complain but follow. New friends await. For Rob, the thrill of working with an onsite sawyer—creating slabs of wood to spec. It was like heaven to get what you want, when you want it, accurately. Old technology is wonderful.
And Rob performed magic at the end of the workday by buying the ultimate deal ($9. for a box of 30 iced cream sandwiches at the Byrne) and tossing them to the workers, moms, kids. The candy man! He was thrilled to delight the crowd in such a simple way.
So the riches abound. The Tburg Farmers Market has music, then the Rongo with the Zydeco Trail Riders. After that, Preston Frank down on the Commons. And then, the All American Helldrivers at Barangus to close out the night. Ramped and amped.
I will be shooting pictures all weekend. That is my fun project.
The rooster is a new approach with illustrator brushes and big thick markers. QUUUUIIICCCK. Will be doing some more animals just to learn this approach. Maybe a chinese zodiac? Lots of animals there.
Rob visited wonderful Joe Seppi, owner of Pioneer Printing in Interlaken, and a lead type, letterpress afficianado. I am so taken with Joe’s work (and prices) that I am seriously thinking of doing a single letterpress holiday card. Elegant and many of my illustrations will work for that type of thing. Same for Valentine. I bought a stack of Cranes cards with matching envelopes that he could imprint the address/and the card. Come to think of it, if I do that, I could have them set up type for the message and change it out and offer it to my friend with just a slug change. Could be soooo easy. There’s a thought.
Doing a little more validation searching for my big client. Interesting 4 hour meeting yesterday. I managed to chop up our content and detail it with sketches to drag the monster consulting firm to better understanding the thinking we need to see. This consultant is treating this work topically not fully understanding or searching for the scope of the work and making uneducated dictates ie ” you may not use red”. Huh? Why not? Maybe we need to find the right red? Right?
Whoa. I am sounding like a fogey.
As you know, I have been working on pictures of St. Nicholas, Krampus, and reading and enjoying all the fru fru around the legends and tales of these characters. I was looking at Paul O. Zelinsky's Hansel and Gretel, and musing over the tremendously beautiful wooden/printed advent calendars I saw at Gillinghams. And bingo bango bam! I thought...25 days, 25 treats> why don't I post my holiday visual musings as an advent calendar! Why the heck not? So, today of days,(albeit three days into December), I start this journey with you. And, as a plus, I get you going to the new home (as of January 1) of the Rongovian Academy of Fine Arts.
Might have an interesting food related product branding and packaging on the horizon. Need to write a proposal to the nice guy I spoke to on the phone. Plain speaking with some excitement around building a brand, a new product that is excellent in a very established niche. Expectations to sell at Walmart and Amazon. Now that I am writing this, I think I will propose doing this project for a percentage versus fees. There may be more here than what meets the eye. Hmmmm.
We had a trashy t.v. night last night from watching one of our all time favorite eighties movies: Sixteen Candles...with all of us (including Alex) sighing and laughing along with Mollie Ringwald and Michael Anthony Hall. And, quizzing each other on what ever happened to a lot of the actors in this movie who never were seen again...? Do you know? Then, after Alex went to dreamland, the night owl and I watched a movie about extreme plastic surgery from people that needed it to get through their day to people with body alteration (putting metal horns on their heads) to transgender changes. Whooweeee. Made the illustration a nice place to intellectually rest.
I'm multitasking these days. Last week, I opened a Squarespace.com account to migrate my blog from Blogspot to a more flexible format that I can grab the entire blog over...and have it in a more controlled way. So, I am messing around with this site--learning all the new tricks, the WYSIWYG tools...and without being the Dreamweaver queen. I learned how to migrate my tweets last night along with one by one, moving my links over. Take a look>> a work in progress but something that I will move to on January first. Blogspot has been great and I highly recommend it to someone who wants to fiddle with a blog with no commitments--but I feel now I need to better grab ahold of my content (1750 entries), my images and maybe fuse it with my illustration and graphic work. I work better in a simple format that I can control--but that I can keep fresh and interesting. Erich had heard about Squarespace from his tech podcasts (which I should do as well)--and it was praise all around. I must admit, with the easy interface (very intuitive), married with a strong tutorial/support section and an affordable price all makes Squarespace very appealing.
I met with my friend today about his enterprise we spoke about yesterday. He had quite a few viable names with a few I want to hug...they are so great. He highly recommended the Small Farmer's Journalas a philosophical place to go re localvore culture, local farming and the integrated life/farm/animals/cycle and stream. He also recommended I read some books from Wendell Berry particularly The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1977; Avon Books, 1978; Sierra Club, 1986; and the more poetic, Jayber Crow. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2000. Seems like I have my work cut out.
Big news. The portrait I did of Jiri Harcuba for the Masters of Studio Glass Show at the Corning Museum of Glass just got accepted into Illustration 52 (a juried competition sponsored by the Society of Illustrators, NY).I am delighted. This is the third year (last year was the Willow head from the Memento Mori work, the year previously, was the Chicken Chokers Poster). To be honest, I was fretting a bit on this one. My friend, the very talented and smart, Lori Ann Levy Holm emailed me earlier this week that she got a piece in the 52 and had gotten the phone call. I didnt get any call...and was being calm about some years you get in, some years you don't. Despite the fact that my head was rationalizing it, and integrating it into the push forward, to keep going, to keep working...my heart was reluctantly following. But, yesterday around 3 p.m. the call came, and they happily told me the great news. Hurray!
Kitty is plugging away on the college stuff. Alex is out with friends and Rob is asleep. I have a cranberry sauce done, potatoes cooked and an apple tart finished and cooling. Gloria is back from California and we will have an early Thanksgiving with the family tonight.
Alex just called. He missed the bus in Ithaca, and could I please come down to pick him up. I guess I have no choice.
There is music in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument; for there is music wherever there is harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres.
Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682)
Religio Medici. Part ii. Sect. ix.
Paul Z. asked me if this teufel was Krampus which prompted an immediate wiki search to find out that yes, this guy could be Krampus. Wiki says:
Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas in various regions of the world during the Christmas season. The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by an incubus demon accompanying Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts as an anti–Saint Nicholas, who, instead of giving gifts to good children, gives warnings and punishments to the bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching by Krampus, especially of young females.
Modern Krampus costumes consist of Larve (wooden masks), sheep's skin, and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, and many younger adults in rural communities compete in the Krampus events.
In Oberstdorf, in the southwestern alpine part of Bavaria, the tradition of der Wilde Mann ("the wild man") is kept alive. He is like Krampus (except the horns), is dressed in fur, and frightens children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells, but is not an assistant of Saint Nicholas.
Been coloring in a bunch of stuff. Not quite there on all fronts, but moving there. It has been a wild week with Erich being out and the workload (normally running both of us quite ragged--) was on my shoulders. So, its been a bit harried. We are just two-- Alex and me today with Rob and Kitty down in Philadelphia for an interview at Tyler School of Art and the portfolio showing. Kitty, Rob and I worked on her portfolio yesterday--collecting scans and uploading them to a site Kitty was designing on Wix.com. Wix is pretty cool as it is pretty intuitive and has a bunch of flash./animation that you can upload your images/content to. Plus, its free. Kitty took to it easily--and was in business in no time. After a bit of tweaking, she got the bones of the design up--and it will go live this week to upload with the Common App. Next step, all sorts of essays for Hartford, Tyler and Hampshire. Oy.
All of us went to Mt. Saviour Monastary to hear my father in law speak on the design of the monastary and the dynamics surrounding that. He did a great job--and it was good for Kitty and Alex to see him in this context. Alex was struck by Ron's love and passion for architecture and was impatient to be charged up about something/anything. As you all know, sometimes passion is something that comes on slowly, about things that you least expect to be passionate about. Or, you find as you peck away persistently at something that you may just need to do, you find passion in the pecking or even passion in what is being pecked. Passion can be unexpected--and those things that you find that you love can be of the moment or for the span of your life--changing and growing as you do. Ron was eloquent and spoke from the heart--it was a family moment for all.
Alex and i had some good car time--with his telling me about things on his mind, issues, people --his likes and dislikes often with more passion than what even he thought he had. It was good to spend time together syncing our heads--and having him open up to me more than he usually does. Now there is homework on his side and present wrapping for Christmas on mine. So much to do before Thanksgiving--work/presents/cards and kids. Early to bed tonight. Much excitement in store tomorrow including work in powerpoint (yikes).
The trip to Newark and then on to Florham Park was uneventful. Smooth sailing via Continental and picked up at the International drop off by an wonderful driver I have had before. John, or Johnnie as he calls himself, is an engaging person who is passionate about a hobby he, his grandfather, his great great had, coonhunting. Johnnie breeds, trains and runs a pair of coonhounds, bringing in sixty pelts a season and proudly trading them for a fur coat for his wife. He loves doing that...picking up the phone, calling the furrier in the Catskills (who is also the grandson of the furrier his dad did business with) and telling him that he and his wife would be up to make the trade. His pride in the closet of fur coats his wife has was palpable...and his love of his dogs and their world made the trip so quick it was remarkable. John's dogs are from the dogs his father and grandfather had. He told me all about flea and tick prevention, their food, and the way he handles them "I have soft hands". He told me about the relationships he has with farmers in the New Jersey countryside that allow him to work his dogs in their fields ""They"[the raccoons] love corn fields"--and how those relationships are generational as well. He was going to swap dogs with a friend of his from Maryland--taking his puppy and leaving his younger dogs to teach them. He prides himself in his soft approach--playing with the dog evolving to training and learning. He believes that six weeks with a puppy can move its behavior from being disinterested to really wanting to go out and tree the raccoon. It was great getting a dose of him. I love talking to drivers, its always a rich slice.
The meeting and my overnight was at the Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center. The hotel is very nice, very comfortable and accomodating. However, the conference part of the deal was GREAT. First off, they have a floor or two of conference rooms. Each room is equipped perfectly with plenty of supplies, water etc. No drippy water pitchers, no overdo of anything. There was plenty of electric for the powerbooks that were snapped open. The coffee "thing" which generally is to the side of the conference room (often really looking bad,messy and stinky) was set up outside in a central coffee station that had everything you would want in appropriate (no passionflowers or cut fruit decorations), business style. No mess, no fuss. Then, at lunch, instead of the clattering teacart carrying stacks of plastic buffet boxes of messy sandwiches no one wants with huge slice and bake cookies no one should eat...with more stinky drinks and coffee...we were ushered downstairs to a generous dining room with tablecloths and service to help ourselves to an enormous, high quality, buffet with everything from perfect greenbeans, to soup, to the big dinner to tidbits for lunch. Everything was beautiful and accomodating with the service being on the mark and receeding. They even had compostable paper and plasticware for lunch. Again, knowing the needs of business and delivering it. And with all this lovely treatment, the meeting went smoothly and was effective.
The purpose of the meeting was to talk about the document review process--with many of the big marketing and communications managers/directors, some doctors and lawyers, writers and administrators all working to hammer out a better process. It was a bit frustrating as a corner of the room kept on focusing on how understaffed they were and how they couldnt do their work owning this process--and were unable to get their heads out of now and into "what if" which was unfortunate. If I had any criticisms, it was that they were not managed bettter to keep the tone of the meeting from kvetching to actual dreaming. Ah well.... this is why I like being on my own.
Then back to the airport, sharing a ride with a really great guy, an australian who runs the marketing and sales for a very cool little esoteric lab that develops very high end tests-- one current splash is the H1N1 virus test that is a boost to my client's bottom line. He was insightful, funny and poor guy, tired as he had taken the red eye to get to this meeting in New Jersey and was off to Ohio for a meeting the next day. Its for guys like that that these business style services and kind treatment at the airport helps to move him forward. Had an uneventful time at the airport...reading my library of books on the now established Kindle (and downloaded Dante's Inferno for FREE as its one of those classics that are free)--with a quick ride home to Ithaca sitting with a guy who is involved in textbook publishing. It was a fun chat to make the time go faster!.
Erich is home with the flu, so it's just me today.
Lots to do...but first, coffee and the scanner!