Butterfly Flash, Norman Collins aka Sailor JerryIt has been mega fly time at the lake. When we get to the house in the evening, there they all are, clustered at the windows banging to be let out, or dead in groups on tabletops, corners and the floor. It is weird doings and I cannot fathom why this moment for the flies to gather here, chez moi. It most definitely could be something agricultural—as the Luckystone is near open fields and vineyards. But why now and why in general?

“Good work isn’t cheap. Cheap work isn’t good.” Sailor Jerry

I have been trying to learn about Norman Collins, tattooist going by the moniker, Sailor Jerry. The interweaving of Sailor Jerry’s life, art, local and the rise and legalization of tattooing is taking me on a wild ride from blogs to websites to tattoo shops. The history is intriguing as is the source of the imagery—but to me Norman Collins steady and sure hand, his drawing rocks my world. This untrained guy—a sailor, musician, poet and tattooist, was remarkable when it comes to simplifying an image, making a limited palette work, and then sheer good design skills. A rose is a confident series of lines that is complemented with solid color leaving the highlights white without blend or gradation. However, as in the woman’s head I posted yesterday, look at the deliberate use of gradient/tone around her eyes to really take something simple and really sex it up. The eye gradient makes the tattoo. His interest and relationships with master Japanese tattoo artists peeks through his work. One can see bits of Utimaro and the brevity of line and tone work right there in his flash .

I am also surprised to find out that tattooing became legal in 1997. Look at the mad popularity that expanded after that date. Hmmm.

more musing later.


The Cestello Annunciation Sandro Botticelli 1489-90, tempera on panel, 150 x 156 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, FlorencTurbo Junior (one of the grey cats) is perched next to me, a grey gumdrop, surveying the front yard for something to chase and catch. He is so vigilant that I hope a little something comes out from under the house to give him a little thrill. Shady is curled up, a comma, on the floor taking in the breezes while we spend a little time between the drop off and return to Taughannock for Alex to preseason with the team. We are waiting to give the others a little more time to sleep before I shuffle them off to Trumansburg for the day. It is such a beautiful, cool morning—that I am grabbing as much of this as I can before I go to the command central to start directing and doing.

The hostas are in bloom, so Turbo and I are revelling in the cloud of pure scent that is coming our way. I imagine this high lily fragrance is one that might have accompanied the angels in annunciation scenes as a similar flower was presented to the young and naive Mary. Always with a beautiful palette, lots of gold and splash and the winsome, asexual angel—having to deliver the news (might not be the best to an unmarried, young woman) that yes indeedy, Miss Mary was going to have a baby. The lily was kind of the peace offering, the sweetener, the holy FTD arrangement to soften the blow. I hope it did the trick. I know I would not have been charmed. Confused and furious…more like it. I love thinking about an alternative Renaissance Annunication image (maybe in the Botticelli style as it is so stylish and the color so very pretty) of the announcement to Mary and what the real emotions and response was versus little Miss Placid just taking the news. I love the idea of the “what the f*ck!” fury that is more the reality. Mary shaking her fist at the heavens? Mary crying her heart out? Mary rushing the horrified angel—grabbing his arms and shaking him fiercely? No little antiseptic, prissy litttle ” thank you very much” but a full bore Italian response. Declarations of how this is not to be her fate! Calling down pain and injury to the messenger? Hurling herself to the floor to beat it with her fists—raging and fuming? Whoa. Talk about the Renaissance graphic novel. Its this sort of situation that makes me wish I was more comfortable painting than using graphic tools.

I have been honored to be asked to sit on the Trumansburg Farmers’ Market board. I had my first meeting last night which I throughly enjoyed as the women are all very bright, very articulate and represent different facets of local food so the conversation was interesting, educational and much of it actionable. The Market is a young one—but developed and managed by an exceptional manager, Deirdre Cunningham who is stepping down from her position after the season ends so we will need to find a new manager to take this nascent project to the next step. We have a lot to be thankful for. Deirdre (and the Board and Village Board) have really moved the needle on this amazing addition to the community. I mean, within the two years—the community built a market structure and then a charming bandstand in the middle of it. It has gone from a quiet little event to a place that people go to eat, to shop, to meet. There is local music every week and sometimes a performer who juggles and plays the banjo for the littles. All of this change and positive growth needs to be brokered, managed, promoted and organized. This is no small task that I would hope we do not take for granted….but we do as it just magically happens without understanding the sheer brawn and brains it takes to make it seem so seamless. What an amazing place this has become. I hope I can be helpful to maintain and move it forward.

So today I will put up a Farmers Market page on Facebook and create a flier for the new position and get rolling in the doing. I think there is a lot to do, to say, to design, to direct as a member of the board that I can be helpful with—and with the new time that is mine from the Hangar— this should not be an imposition. Should be fun getting to know these new and smart people too.

More soup in the pot for today’s lunch fest. Carrot. The recycled soup from yesterday was devoured with many of the team going back for seconds and thirds. I added some frozen veggies and the whole thing was looking good—so I added a small bag of frozen shrimp to take it to another level. If only I had a bit more fresh corn. Ah well. Cheaper than lunchmeat and chips. So much better. I do not think the carrot soup will delight as much. I can only hope. Bean soup for tomorrow as I have white beans soaking in the pot part of my wonderful pressure cooker as we speak. And I will get a ham hock when I pick up cat food for the cat empire this p.m.

Loving the Green Men pictures. Not ready to give them up. I have got a little mojo going—and so I will ride it out. I want to clip a few leaf clusters from “Professor Wells”, our English Oak here at the Luckystone for reference. I should get some other oak leaves too as acorns are on my mind—and want to see where this could go. This tree is so named as it was planted by the family to recognize the Luckystone’s former owner and it was penned in on a landscape map that came with the house. This curious little diagram drawn in pencil and filled in with watercolor all of the trees, plantings, former gardens and beds that the Fitchen and Wells family contributed to the environment here. We really should take it out of the frame and point out which trees died, which came down in the big storm and how we have reconfigured things to our liking (very little change).

That’s it for now. Things are to our liking with very little change (or at least today). Time to go forth and be productive.

(did I mention that I am loving my Kensington iPad keyboard? I am!)

signs of fall

Green Man 12, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink.The hosta have their huge white trumpets pointing to the sky, fragrant and rich, ready to beckon autumn. We always have them for Alex’s birthday—just on the front end of school starting.It is hard to imagine that summer is on the downside—and that change is in the air—back to school, back to college, finding colleges, finding programs, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day weekends all in eyeshot. I really just want to freeze this time of cool breezes, dramatic clouds on the horizon, the purple/paines grey and pink evenings, and the mesmerizing sleep we all are granted in our lakeside bower. Doesn’t get much better than this.

It is a quieter week on the work front. My client is taking her well deserved holiday so we have a bit of space to finish up some loose ends. I hope I can break through some of the more rigid things and have projects moving again. It would be great.

The freezer jam I made from some of the peaches we picked is half done (home team say yum yum)…and I made another dose last night. Quick and so easy…and all about the fruit. Next step, no sugar and maybe some fresh lemon peel…or peaches and raspberries? Oy. More raspberries concurrent with the Hector National Forest Saturday drop offs for Alex to do Cross Country training….He needs a pick up and delivery…so I can pick in the three hours in between. Divine!

I started a poster for the Library anniversary and surprisingly, I think the vector is too staid for the event, so I am going to draw this one. Needs to be more whimsical and illustrative. A portrait is not the right family/fun message I think they are looking for. I have 2 vector portraits on board too…so I have a bit of everything.`

Summer lull

Green Man 10, Q. Cassetti 2011, pen and ink.Yesterday was a day of shuttling and shopping, cooking and floating, revelations and quiet. Rob went sailing with our friend Peter and our friend John on the prettiest little wooden sailboat on Cayuga Lake.

I took Kitty into her job by noon with a stop at the fabric store to buy fake fur to make  hats out of. We looked and touched pretty much everything in the store, ending up with a yard of tone on tone spotty cheetah type stuff that she was delighted with. I then did a little grocery shopping (for the crowd of 10 for lunch everyday) coming home to marinate chicken, brown a big hunk of beef for spaghetti sauce, and a mamouth pork butt into the crockpot for pulled pork (the crew loves it, its cheap and in the crockpot, not a lot of heat is generate). After all of that, I glanced at Alex and Jacob looking glum and uninspired, so I suggested I take them to Jacob’s favorite music store to see what there was to be seen. I dropped them off, and ran to TJMaxx for wrapping paper and thises and thats. Then, my phone rang and it was time to pickup the boys. With more time to kill prior to picking up Kitty, we went to the new Trader Ks to find some really great things for the boys. We took a long and neighborhoody drive down the hill to gather our girl and go to the lake for swimming. But that changed as Kitty went off to the last Blue Stockings game (one of our rollerderby teams) and Jacob and E. stayed chez camp for music and such.

So, Alex, Shady, Rob and I were lakeside and talked about how maybe Alex would like to spend a year (maybe Rotary) abroad to experience all of that. Bless him! He finally heard me…! How great would that be? and what a great calibration for him out of high school and into a world that loves him and that he can grow and expand in. This is so so great. He would so love it. Now, to  make it happen.

Today, we had a quiet morning with coffee and swimming.  Once Rob started to mow the lawn, Kitty and I went to pick peaches and raspberries. I have about 3 quarts of raspberries in the freeze with many many more planned (seeing the abundance of green berries ready to go in 10 days or so). The peaches were sublime with soft fruit on the ground with tremendously happy bees scavanging for the sweetness to take home to the hive. Maybe some bees and fruit need to become integrated into the greenman project.

a beautiful Monday in June

Lake blooming Peony, Q . Cassetti, 2011Kitty and Rob blew out of here early for a meeting in Utica and a “quick swing” to Croghan Island Mills to pick up a pair of doors we have had made for the back breezeway. Croghan Mills is a water powered mill that does beautiful millwork albeit not the closest…its an enterprise worthy of supporting.North Country Public Radio did a story on this mill>>

We had a busy day yesterday with lawnmowing and trumpet vine/tree pruning at the lake. My single peony of the season uneaten by the deer was there, waxy and lovely…bidding me to take its likeness. The lake was beautiful and balmy.  The trees are all filling out. The tulip poplar blossoms are there all cream and orange…such a striking and primordial flower. It was great just doing chores in such a blissful surround.

Then off to buy shoes for Rob as he is getting ready for a trip to NYC for work and then off for a longer engagement. His shoes were shot, so we had great results at Fontanas!  He is ready to start counting the underwear and socks, lining up the teeshirts and getting his phone charger.

Alex’s Concert at the Presbyterian Church with the Community Chorus along with the Swamp College Brass Quartet was very nice and nicely crowded. The voice lessons are paying off. Alex is finally opening his mouth and doing a bit more projection. He is coming on strong with all of his music enterprises and interest. It is wonderful to see him opening up and the happiness that surround it.

Our Sweet Land CSA starts this Friday! How exciting!



"No sweat....chillin'"

Detail of front gate at the Luckystone Lodge, Q. Cassetti 2011I wrote (or is it “texted”? ) that to our girl while we were texting and it dawned on me that yes, there was sweat and no, I was not chillin’, but melting. However, the true meaning was that it wasnt a big deal to wait and I was content to wait. Plenty to talk about, think about and do. The experience at the Brattleboro Dawn Dance was beyond her hopes—having a great time, making new friends, figuring out that maybe she is as fabulous as we tell her she is…and buoyed by the confidence that travelling by yourself brings. Our dancing princess is swinging on top of the world. And she is home to folky central.

Waiting and talking to her, I decided to really, really listen to one of her new favorite contra groups. So, I downloaded the new “Flying Tent” CD from the group, Perpetual e-Motion. Wow! Dance music, driving beat, but certainly no old time thing. Good working music. Gets the steam up. Lots of influences…but amazing just as its two guys who have a strong series of references that they meld with a danceable, callable beat…and who make a living being a contradance band.

I am being buffetted by a pair of fans to prevent the Q. puddle from occurring (like yesterday). I cannot even imagine what the top of my head looks like..but hey,that is insignificant compared to body heat.

I am wrapping some small projects up and am on the diving board for a few more. Today there is a field trip to the liquor store (!) as I have the distinct pleasure of having the opportunity to work on a related project and then there is another idea in the works that is related to the same that I am meeting with friends about. So, ideas abound.

Need to get the Luckystone First Year Award in the mail to Hartford (University of Hartford, Hartford Art School’s Low Residency MFA in Illustration). I am giving the first years the same as the past two years, large moleskine sketchbooks to commemorate their getting through the first two weeks of the program, launched into the swirl of change and growth that the program can give you. It is a cheap way to give back, and honestly, after my first two weeks of Syracuse, it would have been a confidence booster that you can get through it… Yes, for some, its a snap. But for those of us who are not overly confident (and in my case lost as it was a brave new world that I wasn’t sure I could cut)—a gentle, and friendly nudge and wink would have been welcome. The books are wrapped and beribboned. Now, all I have to do is write a little something friendly.

Its nine. Time to commence. Stay cool… I’ll be chillin’.


Static Uniform, Q. Cassetti, 2011Things are sticky hot and its not even 11 this  morning. The newscasters were proud to tell us that it was going to 90˚ today so the fans will be whirring, shoes off, and little prayers to the computer gods that the machines don’t fry in the heat. I have been experiencing some glitches so I am not too certain that my little prayers have been heard.

Yesterday was tranquility base. Truly. I read. Made lunch and dinner and then took a monster nap. Truly a vacation day….and well received. If only I could do this for 3 or 4 more days, the strands of gluey spaghetti that constitutes my thinking and thoughts would become streamlined and elegant, giving me spaces to put new ideas, thoughts, pictures. But the ole biological hard drive had a day to cool down but not a total reboot.

We got into the water (knees deep) with poor hairy black Shady Grove (who is getting a new haircut from Mandy (who is back with us!!))—hot and panting. We made her do a little paddling around and she had a big drink of the lake water and immediately settled down.  I was entranced (and finished)The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases—a fast and engaging read about the amazing problem solving skills of three particular, eccentric and brilliant people (an artist, a profiler and a polygrapher/manager) who through wit, intuition and deduction…and seeing what truly is there, to resolve cold murder cases that have frustrated generations of police and FBI agents. This tight knit group of friends founded the Vidocq Society, (from their page):

“An unusual, exclusive crime-solving organization that meets monthly at the Union League of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad St., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Members of The Vidocq Society honor Eugène François Vidocq, the brilliant 18th century French detective who served the Sûreté, by applying their collective forensic skills and experience to “cold case” homicides and unsolved deaths. At Vidocq meetings Vidocq Society Members (V.S.M.’s) evaluate, investigate, refocus, revivify and solve the unsolved deaths officially brought to them.”

to address these cases with the best in the business. Hot lunch and cold cases…pro bono and as a way to bring the best minds together to unravel puzzles that they all have a passion and profession to solve. Not too heavy, but really good and a book you do not want to put down. True crime rocks.

This week is a short one…so I need to make this quick. More, I hope, later.

Three's the charm

Angel, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalI wrote two entries yesterday. I lost two entries yesterday…so I am trying again and hoping that this entry will not get lost or go down the digital black hole that yesterday’s efforts so happily did. Sorry for the grousing.

Sunday’s trip to Cheryl Shaefer’s yarn sale was better than I could have even anticipated. It was totally in the Central New York experience of fruit stands and vegetable tables in the front yard. The garage and a side bay of the garage were open on Cheryl’s property, with a little “canning room” sized niche starting the grand tour of skeins upon skeins of colored, hand dyed fibers suspended from nails, and often 6-8 skeins deep. There was every gleaming color—some brights, some drabs—painted in gradients and blends, some complementary colors, some not—all the promise of scarves and jackets, socks and baby sweaters. There were two bays of all these fibers, all this future. Kitty and I frolicked in the wool, in the color, in the wonderful hand of the silk mixes, the mohair, the lovely washable superwash merino—trying to pick the skeins we wanted to do projects with. Kitty quickly settled on a bright bundle which when knit (as its almost halfway done) becomes a red fabric with colored flecks. I picked a range of sock wools (which is a wonderful thing I love) and a hank of “Elaine” in olive and khaki for a scarf that I may stripe with another, cooler green. When we went to check out, Cheryl, her husband and her design director were there with happy patter and editorial on the colors and skeins we had selected. There was a little basket filled with little folded pieces of paper. We were instructed to take one…which we did, unveiling our discount (55%) which made the shopping even more exciting. A younger member of the Schaefer clan was selling lemonade and brownies which the boys happily bought and devoured while we girls frittered away the time.

There is a possibility of doing a little branding work with Schaefer (which is something I have been thinking about for quite some time) as a trade, which could be very cool. I am meeting with them Thursday to see what happens. Interesting how things just sort of happen.

The hosta here at the lake are huge and full and fragrant. We have the front of the house planted (original plantings) solid with these yellow green plants which around this time of the year, pop open these enormous flowers, white easter lily sized blooms, which emit the most glorious, waxy scent in the spirit of lilies and gardenias. At dinner, in the cool humidity of the day, we are gifted this lovely smell, which only comes at this time, in this place for which I am always delighted and amazed. It is that time of the season.

Alex has started Cross Country training. He is all over it and able, this year, to articulate why it is he loves this. It is the running against oneself, but also it is the comraderie of his teammates…the spirit of individual by himself and individual as part of the larger group. Kitty is winding down. We get her to Hampshire by the first of September. She just got her classes and dorm assignments—so we will call with questions today to see if we are missing anything. Kitty is interestingly putting a lot of her people issues to rest in anticipation of the new future. I do not know if this is conscious, but it is fascinating to see her preparing for the next chapter in such a mature way. She is resolving old conflicts, talking to folks that have made her nuts, and setting her old relationships on new paths for the future. Now, (this is her mother speaking) if only she could focus on packing. But she will…just not much in advance of the move.

I am working as Alexander Girard these days. I made an angel yesterday in the spirit of the Nativity poster—but it became mine as I gave it a fraktur face and changed the hands/body a bit. I am fascinated with his approach and how he is very decorative but deliberate in his placement of frivolity. He lives in the world of negative and positive which is comfortable for me too…so I really need to let that go a bit. Girard also worked in a “making icons” way of work where each image was more of a single “potato” and not so much a storytelling process. It is more “here’s an angel, here’s a series of sunfaces, here’s aheart” driven by his love of type and folk art. Interestingly, his three dimensional work (his people, his nativity) is more narrative, but personally, I think he treated each figure the same iconic way—but allowing for the viewer/owner of these figures to make narratives by the placement and use of these forms. Girard got down to the basic design elements of color, type, form. He revelled in them that the simplest use was often his final resolution (ie the colored planes for Braniff). And in that pure use of these design elements, the sheer confidence in saying that it was okay for a plane to be lavender, it was an entirely appropriate and successful solution. So Girard’s charge to me today, is to go forth, be simple and bold, and love what you do and what you depict.  And so it goes.

Today is clean up and make plans. Alex works. Kitty doesnt. Radio the Ape, a band comprised of Kitty and Alex’s friends play at the Rongo as a farewell concert. Rob has a village board meeting. And I have time for me….I think Alexander Girard and I have a date.

Summer at hand.

“A Joker and His Wife”. This 18th-century lubok is a copy of a German popular print.A cool, perfect day at the lake. I started late, but within a hour I had several small plants begging for mercy and others looking quite trim and manicured. More tomorrow. The Osage Orange, otherwise known to us as the Monkey Brain Tree, is lethal with its sharp new green thorns ready to scratch and gouge. And the arctic willow, randomly sends out hundreds of long, new wands, making the plant look quite hairy and unelegant. The trumpet vine (which really is manifested more like a tree) was sending vertical shooters into the grass…wild in its prolific desire to grow and reproduce. I brought 2 of the six tree peonies I bought from Song Sparrow up here and have been giving them sun and water and they are delighting in being here. Transplanting is soon. The first tree peony I put in has flourished and I am hoping for three as the blooms are so otherworldly, having three bushes might permit me to pick one for a vase inside. Or at least, that is my hope.

Alex has just gone to his job (dishwasher/busser at the Rongovian Embassy). Kitty and Rob are shuttling. I am back from grocerystoring…and have 4 logs of pizza dough in the fridge to bake off tonight (King Arthur Baking Companion bible recipe). Seems like we might be overrun with friends of Kitty and Alex tomorrow for dock jumping, bonfire making and the like. I think the extra packages of hot dogs and the pizza shells might come in handy tomorrow. Let me check on the drinks and tea situation. My hope is to clip some more tomorrow, and draw a bit. I am fusing Lubok and Bees with some various ideas I want to try out.

It is remarkable not having a graduate school summer this year. The long thread of sunny evenings and open time to “mess about” is so remarkable that I am a bit taken back by the luxury. No deadlines, no late nights and raw nerves from the lack of sleep and some of the idiotic high jinx of our classmates, no shows to hang, no papers to write…just a lovely unbroken summer with Grassroots in the middle and Hampshire at the very end. There is berry picking and music, friends and quiet…something I havent had since 2005. Rob has a week at Sagamore this September that I might tag along on…as my break from reality and of course, there is the hope of a few days at Art Basel Miami in December..But, we will see.

I need to go and check on a few things. I am steeling myself for a dunk in the lake later this p.m. whether I want to or not. A dunk in the lake guarantees wonderful dreams.

Saturday a.m.

A week later and the brain is still pretty constricted. I mean, I haven't relaxed though I must admit, its better than last week....at least I am not falling asleep in meetings.

Things are getting pretty busy at the office. Got a mess of projects for end of day Monday, first thing Tuesday--a few icons (possibly for iPhone use...this will be my second!) and three or four looksees at a website homepage that the IT folks get 3 months for and I get a day to design. Is there something out of balance here? Submitted a bunch of stuff to the Crane Studio folks...and found that as I was working on this submission and toggling between my work and what they have in the current line, that they are limiting themselves to categories that are almost anachonistic as calling cards (which I have!?) and seating charts. People or at least the broad new class of new rich, do not really do these things. But, as Rob points up, within the context of Steuben, Crane and Co. are likely to continue on down that road until the old ladies die, and their grandchildren take up the social moires of a moment in time not known to them or they will change. I would hope that Crane Studio (much like Studio Steuben...a concept often tossed around at the luxury crystal company prior to their sale to Shottenstein) might not keep the same categories, but think more about how the wealthy want to communicate with paper goods...and deliver an excellent product.

I need to gather my sketchbook for noodling the Monday work in while I wait for R to get haircuts and eyes adjusted. Kitty is riding with a friend. Alex is playing golf and maybe the Ithaca Farmers Market and a swim for me.

More later

Al baby

Been thinking and looking at caricature work recently. You all know of my love of Pablo Lopato's work and that of Steve Brodner. However, the Aubrey Beardsley of caricature work is Al Hirschfield. His penmanship is exquisite, flowing and perfectly brief. He is calligraphic but spare in his linear decisions. His work is predominantly black and white, but when he leans into color, it adds to the illustration but with the linear bones being so strong--color becomes a detail and not a driver of the picture. I have been looking at these and other guys to see how they abstract a face and yet maintain a likeness that the viewer says "hey, that's...". Granted, many of Hirschfield's and Lopato's imagery are of pop stars and celebrities. Brodner takes on political characters in addition to the star studded icons we all know and identify with. All of these illustrators have created a series of character shorthand marks and treatments. This is my first step with Gary Kelley and CF Payne during their week of "work on your own project or work on a fictional character portrait". I want to learn the clues and start distilling and developing that same personal character shorthand to begin to attempt to develop images like these artists. I think I am closer to where Lopato is...but the fluid line works for me too. Maybe a merger of spirit?

I have been exhausted and slept all afternoon yesterday. Surprisingly, I am thinking clearer and not feeling as scrambled as I had been previously. I need to stop running myself down as much...and take the time, go to bed early and push for sleep. Sleep seems to make straight all those tangled ends, and permit day dreaming and thought that fatigue seems to surpress.

Shady is learning to be a frisbee dog. She is vigilant by the chipmunk hole--waiting, hoping and sniffing for their emergence. Alex is asleep on the porch. Kitty is off making things. Birdfeeders are full and the annuals are blooming.


Slow going today. Yesterday we were in Ithaca doing what Kitty and Alex and I adore...shopping for toilets. It is wonderful comedy...from the flushing of buckets of golf balls, to more "technical" aspects of the toilet (ie bowl shape to height). The amazing thing about toilets as objects is that they are slip cast ceramic units (3, the tank, the bottom and the tank top)....kind of a big sculpture...that in itself is impressive. Sad part is that they could be so much more fun with decals etc. etc. but it must be a tiny cost bump that people are not willing to pay for...or at least at Home Depot. We also shopped at the local craft store (bursting with scrapbooking stuff for Father's Day and Graduation (from Kindergarten, HS and College) for paper for me and findings for K as she is hot on wire jewelry theses days. We rolled back into Tburg and I spent the better half of printing and assembling my thesis paper copies (which I am just this close to completing). A few more hours and a trip to Staples for binding and I will be done. The prints came Friday and they are great! Big, bold, high saturation. As good or better than anticipated.

I am working on a sketch of PT Barnum in a very inspired by Circus posters manner. Barnum is being portrayed in my picture as being a whiteface clown--with circus inspired lettering for his name...as if its a poster promoting him. All taken from clues from the research. What I like about this is that a midtone grey or greyblue can draw the face, the creases and shaping, and then having the opportunity to go in with a color (using my new and exclusive filter, multiply) to sock in the red/ face paint so the man still reads through the decoration. He will have a ruff...either tight or loose (the Barnum Posters show loose)--I would really like to do the work just with the computer as it would be faster...But I will puzzle over it with trace and see what happens. This is due Wednesday and I have a good chance of making this deadline.

I would like to do this project in three ways...one line and tone, one calligraphic> just black, red and tan...and the third, really simplified down (much like the Czech clowns). But, I have time for one...so one it is.

We are chez lake. It has decided to give us a bit of a respite from the rain...though we are wearing jackets and layers as it is decidedly cool. All the pruning is adding up--as the trees and vines in their newly tamed state are nice and shapey. The deer do not eat the hosta here (unlike at the Headquarters...where I am going to get out the great guns (read, Irish Spring Soap) and go after those buggers. The work done to the back of the house where we had frozen pipe tragedies is wrapping up...So, onward. It is nice being here as this is the signal that summer has begun. Tonight is the Summer Solstice. Hopefully, the clouds will clear and we will be able to enjoy the longest day --admiring the sun. One can hope?

Kitty is busy making an origami menagerie. Alex and Rob are visiting and I am writing you and thinking about my picture...I just finished figuring out how to put a password on our wireless network to shut off the wireless hogs that encroach on our hospitality in the summer. Remember last summer and my rage/rants. (and more)Problem> solution...And maybe they will not be sitting in our yard with their notebooks doing their email. If they want a signal, they can buy it themselves...or surf off of someone else....You know, just re reading the raging from last summer really is whipping me up. But, nothing to get whipped up about...the giant firewall has been erected...and the antics of the handwringing when we unplugged the airport before we left the house everyday or the sheer in your face about our network being down has been eliminated. If there had been a conversation about paying for parts of the month, there may have been another solution. But hey....Our smart other neighbors did the same thing... Password please!

Reallly should wrap it up. Any suggestions on summer reading. Somehow I need to think about "literature" and all I can imagine is mental candy.

At the lake, wrapping it up to get Rob on the road for his manager on duty stint today. Alex is working on a portrait project. Kitty has a friend over and they are hard at work looking for fossils on the beach. They found me a perfect luckystone for my big award in July. The smaller prize doesnt get them. And, the prizes look great. I hope they are well received. Its the thought that counts.

Here is my thinking. Everyone in the program comes in as an individual and leaves as an individual. Each journey is personal and the path(s) chosen aid in what each student receives. There is no wrong journey or path. And, if the journey changes, so be it...but its important that the effort put in poses questions, prompts answers and results. What draws these individuals together is the desire to change, the ability to communicate visually, and the interest in seeing, learning, growing. The ability to draw, to tell a visual tale or to evoke a feeling, a response from another person is key. To that, we are all moving forward--those of us graduating--forward, changed, changing,with a misnamed degree. There should be nothing about terminus in this terminus degree. It should all about opening the doors for change, evolution, self enlightenment. Those who were new last year are moving and transitioning from the firsties to graduates. The firsties are experiencing all that we firsties have been through: insecurity, lack of confidence, a challenge to all you know, believe in. The cards have been thrown in the air...and goodness knows if you can ever get them back in the box the same way ever again (read,this is why you are paying the money). Hopefully by the time you graduate, you will realize the cards aren't necessary, there is no order and is it really important?

Need to get the stuff ordered prior to departure. The little tree peony I planted by the back door is blooming (a beautiful clear yellow) as are the iris. When our big tree came crashing down two years ago, it cleared the way for some amazing little saplings to grow and have the light they wer deprived of. We have a very spiky/thorny tree with these heavenly clusters of flowers that smell almost like jasmine. The flowers are white with red necks and a blaze of an acid yellow in the middle. As it is cool and humid, the scent projects and has wrapped us in an otherworldly place. The bird feeders are filled to the brim with "Ithaca Blend" from Agway. We have a few pilated woodpeckers who think this new mix worth the trip.

The wonderbus awaits packing.

Natural History pranks.

Look at the scrollie ribbons on this thing...with the details interspersed from coffin to scythe. Flipped image/detail... And the hourglass (from the tombstones) winged (which some are) along with the more realistic skull, but gynormous shinbones that cross beneath/behind it. Ohhh, look at the skeletal hand holding something in the right and left corners. Sensational.

Up at the lake for the night and today. Rob is hoeing out Professor Wells' tool shed separating old chemicals and poisons from newer ones, metal and wood parts. Professor Wells was a professor of paleogeology at Cornell. He was a great collector of crap, a great maker of do-dads out of iron, and had a certain aesthetic which we lovingly refer to as "Wellsian". More of his touch gone....A- M E N. 

Rob discovered a nest of little robins which he showed us. These babies were quite remarkable as it was almost cartoonish where there was absolutely no visible bodies to these birds-- just these golden radiant suns (five of them) that were their beaks that if anything moved, they would immediately open--with a view down their throats. These yellow circles with views down their necks look like targets to drop the food into. No question what was going on there. If we didnt move it all, the little suns went away, and we saw tiny little brown and black heads, with eensy black beaks...all seemingly unrelated to the radiant suns. Freakish.

The trillium have opened as have the daffodils. We have forsythia with the lilacs being hard buds. Kitty filled all five bird feeders and two suet boxes so we should have wonderful birds flocking for our amusement and their pleasure. Just sited--3 male goldfinches, a female goldfinch and a thrush. Kitty found a skeleton and is bleaching it--wondering and watching, proclaiming its for her nascent Natural History collection. We have a single raccoon tail in the driveway independent of a pile of fur puffs under the trumpet vine. And I found two tiny bright blue crab claws (lake crabs>?) that are added to this collection. Kitty figured if RISD could have a natural history collection, why couldnt she? I am on board with this as it will give me permission to purchase moth earred taxidermy and know it has a welcome home. A Jackalope? What next?

true love

The weekend became a blur. We dusted and cleaned on Saturday at the Luckystone. The place was covered in that fine gritty plaster dust due to spackle (yay) and general construction dust (yay--new furnace, new pass through water heater, new filter system all in place in the newly configured former closet now energy center) and new vents. So a bit topsy turvy. I remembered the savior of our moving into the Camp House and the zillions of years of mites, motes and dust-- the ultimate dust buster, the Hoover Floor Mate machine. The name does not express how wonderful this thing is.. First it is a dry vaccum (if thats what you want) but the transcendent part is that it can be a wet floor scubber combined with the vaccum...so you can pull all the dust up, then run a quick wash and pull up all the scungy water along with it. Two or three passes on a room on a warm day ( it went up to 93˚ on Saturday and HUMID) and you have it covered. Plus, they make all sorts of megamixes with Lysol or Old English which actually does a bit more. So, I took a spin at the first floor floors and Alex, so inspired, took on the second floor. Lots of top mopping, and dusting. R. sorted all the copper that came out of the walls and organized all the materials (go,stay, reuse, to the dump) along with no end of other projects that he automatically and continually did. Saturday p.m. We took the kids to Shortstop for the promised Suicide Sandwiches (a hometeam favorite of the favorites, the ultimate of bribes)--and we sat outside watching these sandwiches be sucked down (can you say floor mate?) in rapid order. Kids then had time on the commons (Kitty and a friend to go to the basement of Trader Ks (a consignment store) for prom dress shopping, and Alex and friend to buy vinyl records). Rob and I went off to Home Depot for cleaning supplies and boring parental purchases. I bought a small quantity of groceries at Wegmans while R. got a haircut.

Then, to pick up the kids, we went inside Blue Bird Antiques, my new favorite antique place. The owner has a pechant for exactly the same things I adore. The odder the better. She had ton of masonic posters, framed prints, medaillions, necklaces, and these teaching scrolls (one I had to buy). This scroll is covered in symbols from the all seeing eye, to Hirams Temple, to a picture of George Washington with his apron on. There was the slipper and the sword next to angels coming down a diagonal latter from heavenly clouds. Wigged and wonderful....and now MINE> There is a bunch of Chinese propeganda posters, indian common art (and figures), wonderful photographs of Native Americans, great frames (for work) at a good price. It is not give away cheap, but the stuff is terrific and the edit that happens in the buying is wonderful. Cannot say enough about what an inspiration this place is. Illustration reference out the ears!

Sunday was spent by some organizing and others (me) cooking for the organizers and writing. I am within an eyeshot of completing the thesis work. I hadnt thought about the writing, but as I have 14 pieces versus the minimum of 6, that would increase the work section by almost 2.5x--thus the time. I find the writing very revelatory as it is forcing me to think chronologically and actually surface some of the unconscious stuff that normally isn't peered at. So, on the way. May make the May 1 deadline (certainly going to try)--and then after that, I will amend the illustrations per the SF contact, and redo the Double Happiness as it has a kernel of an idea, but isnt there quite yet.

Must go. Have a special education committee meeting I am committed to attend at 9. This week looks doable (I hope) with not too many specials to keep me from finishing projects and hopefully starting new ones.

>> For more on the Suicide Sandwich, please reference "Tasty-Ass Sandwiches of the Ivy League: The Hot Truck Triple Suicide" by Nick Summers

Saturday start.

Had a great talk with the wonderful Murray and he pointed up that silhouettes were of value sending me to a site of an artist, Diana Bryan who uses the form amusingly and of course, to the one of the kings of styles, Mr. John Alcorn (example shown above). What a delight! So, encouraged, I am going to bop around a bit on this and see if anything comes off the pen.

Am still horsing around with the fu dog. It was missing something, so I output the illustration and starting working right on top of the output. From that, it actually happened versus the sometimes frittery thing that happens with trace (albeit, other great things happen with trace...so no malice or ill will there). I will post the mid step for you to see...but a bit more twiddling with it...laying some short gradients in the corners and behind the point of the heart (at top) and maybe a bit of tone behind the heart. Might look at some vector rays in black just to see what happens...But putting this image in a background grounds the image and from the silhoutte image I formerly had (and liked and could have stopped with), this image has gone another place with the whomping up of the background. You can tell me what you think, okay?

Went to the Flax sale yesterday afternoon. Its sort of a rite of spring--women stripped down to bathing suits or tank tops and running shorts, tearing off their top layers and diving into boxes fiilled to the top with linen clothing. The ladies manning the show, wearing bright tees and facemasks due to the heavy linen residue, pushing shopping carts of tried on clothes, back to the bins, separating this type from that--and watching a new batch of box divers, grab and try on the garments as they are returned. There were garment resellers, ebayers who had piles, literally piles 48" tall that they were developing in sizes, each shirt/dress/pants/etc. gently laid one on top of the other... Thousands of dollars worth of new clothing which they could easily double. The prices are good. Normally a Flax shirt can go for around $80. At the sale, they are $25.-$30. so you can see why the frenzy is so exciting. And, you can also see why Flax is the "look of Ithaca"--which is terrific as the ithaca ladies have great alternative style and put this look to the test with a mix and match that is not "country club". I was very restrained and bought a few things... figured I would push the old stuff to use...and be discriminating this year (which is hard...but the right thing to do).

We are off to the Luckystone for spring cleaning, getting rid of the plaster dust, the litter and mess that happened with the great pipe freeze. Gotta go. Kinder are here needing to be packed into the car before we lose momentum.

cold day on the plateau

Busy. Had all sorts of fun last night at the Rongovian Embassy celebrating with the fun Rongovians complete with the Rongotron, great dancing with The Destination, costumed individuals and a ton of people I love to chat it up with. My goodness, we are so lucky to have such a nice community of people. There were spangly hats, tuxedos, people wrapped in flags and even a guy that looked sort of like a cross between a shaman and someone from Bladerunner. Too cool for this school.

This morning, R. was out and on the road by 5:30 a.m. to get to the plane to go to NYC for the Winter Antiques Show set up for the Museum of Glass. The Museum is the featured institution for this event--and thus the trip and presence by R. So, it was early up and going. Did a bit of dinner shopping as I knew my private and personal time was to be spent in the afternoon with the insurance assessor looking at the possible damage at the Luckystone which was very interesting and action oriented which was very solid for me. It is something we can sequentially act upon to get results versus the big old head scratch that I have been experiencing. I also have an evening meeting of the Moms with kids in the school play. So, frozen food is in order.

Lots of business stuff with the creation of the 1040s, the writing of the W9s etc. More fun than you can shake a stick at. Also, I feel pretty great as I was worrying about the ethics of a project I was going to work on--and resigned the project before it even happened as it conflicted with my thinking and honestly, my sleep. So, I feel a mile high as in all things, "do the right thing". Plus, I may be able to do a good turn for friends of mine.

Working on a valentine with a prod from a primative indian tiger. Round teeth, curly tongue and hindu inspired valentine. Lots of yellows and corals/ pale blue and white. A delicate palette might be fun to do. I was also thinking of getting back into the derivative palettes we worked with this summer. Perhaps a Vermeer colorway for an indian picture?

a patchwork of disconnected pieces

Giant Planet, 2007 Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (PIA08358) Photograph courtesy of NASA/JPL/SSI/Cornell

From the Johnson Museum website:
Spectacular Saturn: Images from the Cassini-Huygens MissionSeptember 20–January 4

This exhibit displays over fifty images of the planet Saturn, its rings, and its satellites. This selection, by Cornell members of the Cassini project, was made from almost two hundred thousand images that have been transmitted to Earth since the Cassini spacecraft arrived at Saturn in 2004. It also includes a few images taken by Huygens, a companion lander that parachuted through the dense atmosphere to the surface of Saturn’s intriguing moon, Titan. The stunningly beautiful images were chosen to emphasize the dynamic nature of the system and the interactions of moons and rings, as well as to explore Titan and Enceladus, two satellites with environments that might be hospitable to life. A spacecraft model will also be on view as well as historical books about Saturn from the Kroch Rare and Manuscript Collection.

A façade projection of images from Saturn will be seen on the east side of the Museum from sunset until 11:00 p.m. between October 2 to 26.

We saw this show along with a lovely collection of Surimono images collected by the Becker family at the Johnson Museum at Cornell prior to our going to see a movie, changed from proclaimed to "happy go lucky". These Saturn images were remarkable...so much so that it really raises the bar for our friends the science fiction illustrators as now so much that had to be imagined, reconstructed or modelled is now reality in these images. It was a small collection of photographs produced by a collaboration of people and groups from NASA, to the leadership of Steve Squires (Mars Rover Project) and his team, to University Photography to sit at Cornell to raise our sights and imaginations. The images were very fine, not a lot of pixelation which portrayed Saturn's rings in some with detail and measurements in the captions that really made me take a step back. Additionally there were images of some of Saturn's moons, images of methane and the methane cycle (which K clearly detailled for me>> methane moving in a cycle much the way we have water>> gas> liquid> solid and then gas again...). If you are near the Johnson, it is worth the trip.

Totoya Hokkei
Japanese, 1780–1850
Kintoki Exorcising a Demon at the New Year, ca. 1820s
Woodblock print
Collection of Gloria and Horace Becker
Colored in the Year’s New Light:
Japanese Surimono from the Becker Collection
November 8–January 4

This collection of prints from a NYS family was prompted by a show in recent past of different Surinomo prints. I have the book of the the former show and was very excited and pleased that the Johnson Museum considered another show furthering our understanding and interest in this very specific area of Japanese prints.

These Surinomo woodcuts were amazing in their sheer size and technical prowess. These Surinomo images were produced and collected in the mid 1700s-- with many of them being about 8" x 8" in size. With the affordability and size, you can imagine the popularity they had with topics ranging from food, to religion, to everyday scenes, landscapes--the range. These small images twinkle with strong design (of course, silly, they are Japanese prints!), the somber but lively palette, the fine-ness of the line and gradients pulled with a woodcut, and the use of blind embossing as another color/texture to take these prints beyond the expected. I had seen images from this show as photographs before, but this change in the architecture of the paper, this quiet detail to put emphasis in an image, to add hair to a seemingly white dog, to enrich the pattern and drawing of water is the reason to see the show. This caught me off guard to my delight. According to their registrar (who had late Thanksgiving with us), in a few weeks, those images on display will be changed out of their frames and a new set of around 100 images will also be shown. Another reason to go back.

One of my favorite things at the Johnson is their works on paper section which often has current work of emerging artists. That's where the real jolt comes beside the wonderful video installations that they sometimes have. The is the stuff that you can just gulp down without rhyme or reason, without history or sociology,just imbibe and integrate. There were quite a few thoughtful images from big linoleum cuts (36"x 48") to digital output with added/glued detail. I am so happy that giclees were happily at home with these other print media as, for me, it justifies it as a fine media/ fine image making approach. My favorite image was a black and white ink drawing from Laylah Ali "...the exhibition will include a recent ink drawing by Buffalo native Laylah Ali, part of her ongoing Typology series, in which she examines the many ways identity is manifested while referencing issues of race, class, gender, and power." I first saw Ali's work at Art Basel Miami last year and flipped. Her imagery is strong, her messages extrodinary and her decorative approach speaks to this novice. Need to learn more about this fine artist. PBS did a documentary (and their usual great job of writing bios/ getting sidebar information) on her as part of their Art 21 series.

Its snow raining. Everyone is working on their own thing from eating and movie watching to planning for the week. I am predictably blogging by the stove (on minime) with hope to whale a bit more on my paper and get back to some drawings...We need to get back to Tburg from the grey lake to pack Rob, do laundry and unload the pile of leftovers we will chug through this week to K and A's disappointment. Turkey may not look so good after three days! I am roasting turkey carcasses with a chop of celery, carrots, onions and a few soft turnips which smells pretty great and then will boil with water to make a very nice rich stock. The roasting is key.

More later. Maybe a picture?