Sunday redux

I apologize for being so silent. It just been too much with the work at hand (endless variations on a similar thing to finally get to the end, plus new stuff with 2-3 hour turn arounds that can really be trying). It really is quite a bit to stay on top of that pony, blog and just get the day to day resolved. I will try to be more communicative this week.
Yesterday (and I will post the pictures later) we visited Durand's Forge, the blacksmith shop and world of Durand Van Doren, an amazing artist, clever and funny person, generous host and remarkable blacksmith. He works outside of Mecklenburg in a few small buildings heated by big woodstoves, with his work, his collections, his inspirations all nailed to the wall or arranged in little story telling vignettes that depict an active brain, a wit and humor that goes with the work. He showed us gates and benches he had done on commission along with enormous groups of chandeliers and lighting for Cornell and other big institutions. But he also had a wrought iron Kissing Booth and Good Luck Bench (made from horseshoes)... There was a lovely named dog house for his little confident Jack Russell, Mick--along with all sorts of personal totems posted on the wall around Mick's abode. Duran had mini forges in the yard to the back of the shop where he teaches blacksmithing...all sorts of machines made of this and that to create small approachable forges. He had a pot of beef stew going on one of them...and kindly offered us this hospitality along with his stories and ideas. He had all sorts of fruit trees (which Kitty identified confidently, thanks to the kindness of Ian and Jackie Merwin's tutorial)) and a real live chestnut (not horse) tree with it's nuts standing proud in the spiky shells.

Durand is a man of many talents. He is a big Trumansburg Rotarian..a giver and there at the chicken barbeques, the golf events, the races, the meetings. He always gives when people need things for auctions and raffles. He also is one of the refs at our only Pro Sport in Ithaca, rollerderby with the SufferJets. He is a remarkable artist--and his world at the studio invites you into his thinking, ideas, and life. If you have a chance, or just an hour, I highly recommend you visit Durand next weekend during the second weekend of Ithaca Art Trail.

We then, visited friends in the Cayutaville area. They have recently built a studio/ house compound--with lovely porches springing off each level to overlook a spectacular valley (which yesterday with the Fall colors was dumbfoundingly beautiful). Their work space was great, and their living space, equally so...with vibrant color on the wall--unexpectedly wonderful, and the beautiful cabinetry and woodwork creating a very happy place to spend all your days. They have a wonderful, happy garden with an enclosure as happy as the parsley framed walkways, energetic nasturtium, a pineapple sage...all poetry...abutting the most perfect chicken coop with tailored black chickens happily chasing each other down one end of their run and back again. Shady Grove was with her best dog girlfriend...and enchanted by the chickens. She didnt know what to make of them. We were so honored to have a chance to visit these lovely kind people in their paradise as well. And, on such a beautiful day--with the evening sky moving from blue to purple with red edges in the sky, to shimmering gold trees. Breathtaking.

And to cap it off, we went to see Julie and Julia at Cinemopolis. Bliss..and a gumdrop to finish a wonderful day of seeing and meeting, color and light, ideas and brilliant work. What a blessing we have .

Day Two: Week One

Long first day. Nice discussion about thesis--the expectations, the schedule, the citations and writing style, what is central and what is secondary. It was significantly better than the other institution as it is so focused on content, process and and clarity. No messiness at Hartford. There was a nice selection of papers to read and absorb from last year for us to look at. A good range of work, a good consistency of papers and strong, strong work. I am freaked out..but under control...I just need to focus on the work. We had a long day with Dennis Nolan and Bunny Carter who opened their conversation with their illustration lineage back to Howard Pyle, with Dennis showing off and going further back (as Bunny joked, that Dennis could trace his lineage back to the cave painters--and you know, he might be able to do that!). We all showed our six images with a great selection of projects with solid work all around. Everyone worked very hard to have stuff to show. I showed my pix and though the content and idea is good, and the general pictures are okay--the frames all need to go and I need to open up my head and see where it goes to...which, is fine by me. More work to me means better work. It took the better part of the morning and afternoon to go through all 20 student's work. Bunny and Dennis gave tremendous input with an ability to push each one of us...some more than others to improve. Tonight we need to pick one of the images and produce 50 thumbnails investigating composition and point of view. Scanned in for first thing tomorrow. I need to move on this.

Jim Carson was as usual interesting and fresh with the Business of Illustration. Nancy Stahl was inspiring in her work, her clear methodology and her breadth of projects. Don't have much time to chat now...the fifty await. Our day starts at 7:45 a.m. and that isnt far away.

moving forward

R and A jetted off to Miami for a few days of business (with A tagging along). A. just called from the rented Saturn saying they had just landed and they were off to Hollywood Beach for a dip and I am sure a snack or two to fill out that skinny frame. Very exciting. R was sporting his cuban hat. A was in full skater rig with white flip flops. R has an event with Celebrity Cruise Lines (because of the glass shops that are being built on the next generation of ships, The Solstice Class, will be staffed by CMoG glassmakers). First boat launches in November (R mused that maybe I could spend the week for Hartford sleeping on the ship! How princessy and wrong!--but I love it). So, I am free to work until midnight every night in prep for Hartford. Yay. Total exhaustion!

The boys went to Watkins Glen to see the Indy races yesterday. Lots of boy excitement hanging out with friends, watching the television and the race at the same time. Lots of chest thumping, beer drinking and fun in general. To A. it almost is as much fun as golf.

Lucy and Shady are guarding the front steps (there is a clan of groundhogs that live under the front steps) and somehow they feel that if they both bark at them, they will manage the groundhog crisis at hand. Little that they know is that we probably have around 60 of them on the property and also, if one gave them a run for their money--only one of them would know what to do. Shady is too much of a "lover, not a fighter". Lucy would rip it's head off. Bets are on...and if someone bags a few, there might be a steak in it for them. I have hired endless exterminators and mountain men to no maybe the dogs will do it. Its wild to watch Shady be so interested in the prey. She is really trying to be a dog these days! Chasing rabbits, chasing groundhogs, rolling in dead fish, eating disgusting things (particularly deercicles) and stealing sticks of butter from the counter.

I got the first sketches for Hartford done. May keep slugging on it as there are some ideas I started blue lining. Client called with a 16 pp pub due by the end of the week. Slugging away on the AR for Cornell with hopes to get this out by end of the week to the printer.

Tim and Amanda are pressure washing the roof of the carriage house. Tons of flakes of silver paint litter the ground. More later.


I took some pictures of bugs and bees in amongst the sweet peas that grown with the day lilies. It was great. The wild flax has popped as has our yucca plant which is mainly yucka until the week it holds forth in showy bridal finery. It has been a clear day with mild temperatures and low humidity. We had to buy a brand new pair of scare eyes for the dock. The plastic owl has worked thus far, keeping the pooping by the seagulls to a minimum. But one of the gulls has gotten the pooping begins again. They hate, really hate the scare eyes..So we are golden. Bought five big astilbes for the Camp House as the deer hate these along with the robust patch of monarda we have going that will need to be split and moved around next year. All good.

Am mulling the children's book. I was doing a ton of research yesterday (have a grid going of the things that could be represented for each color along with quotes, proverbs etc.) and surprisingly, the more I did of the search, the more this idea needed ia twist. It also needed a name. It was hard to name it as it was so bland...It was going stale before I even started to draw. What was it? Hmmm. Then I remembered that Rossetti poem and the whole thing popped into place.I am going the merge the Christina Rosetti poem "What is Pink?" with spreads representing the color she introduces (essentially her poem references pink and is the first spread --then the next spread references a la specimen box, tons of other stuff she missed about pink). Pink, red, yellow, green, red, purple, blue. Then, I am going to render the layouts 3-4 ways--first one vector a la portfolio, second is vector reduced palette a la Chokers, third is Memento mori line/ink technique, and final is no holds barred line work..lots of detail. The layouts will change the various sizes of the designs, will push me with these techniques which I feel I need and work within a format that will be interesting to see what happens. Maybe this could be blown into the thesis. Now I am pumped as it is a tangible project that I get to push myself with technique while designing for the technique in the appropriate shape/size. I think we are to have layouts for the Lewin's to review next July, but maybe I can have one iteration by November? Its worth the shot. I think I can get some traction on this.

I discovered in my research, something that would help to gel the "Dancing Queen" Marie Antoinette picture. I remembered the painting of the young (8 yrs old or so) MA dancing stiffly with her little brother and thought that might be a nice inspiration...or a silhouette or something. So, I googled Marie Antoinette Dancing and up came something better--Dance notation on dance sets of the time. Combine that with some learning from Harry Clarke could be cool. Fun.

juicy tidbit

Imagine this (from

Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, paper mill owners, were trying to float bags made of paper and fabric. When the brothers held a flame near the opening at the bottom, the bag (called a balon) expanded with hot air and floated upward. The Montgolfier brothers built a larger paper-lined silk balloon and demonstrated it on June 4, 1783, in the marketplace at Annonay. Their balloon (called a Montgolfiere) lifted 6,562 feet into the air.

First Passengers
On September 19, 1783, in Versailles, a Montgolfiere hot air balloon carrying a sheep, a rooster, and a duck flew for eight minutes in front of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the French court.

I see a picture. Do YOU? Whoopie!

On Marie Antoinette:

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely there never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like a morning star full of life and splendor and joy. Oh, what a revolution....Little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fall upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look which threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded...."
–Edmund Burke, October 1793

A bit on the Bourbon family.

The Imperial Nobility of France
The nobility (French: la noblesse) in France, in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, had specific legal and financial rights, and prerogatives. The first official list of these prerogatives was established relatively late, under Louis XI of France after 1440 and includes:

* exemption from paying the taille (except for non-noble lands they might possess in some regions of France),

* the right to hunt,

* the right to wear a sword and have a coat of arms,

* the right (in principle) to possess a fief or seigneurie.

*Certain ecclesiastic, civic, and military positions were reserved for nobles. At the same time, certain activities were required of nobles.

These included:

* honneur et fidélité (honor and faithfulness) such as military service (the "impôt du sang" or "blood tax")

* concilium et auxilium (counsel and assistance to the king)

Other activities could cause dérogeance, or loss of one's nobility. So were most commercial and manual activities strictly prohibited, although nobles could profit from their lands through mines and forges. Other than in isolated cases, serfdom ceased to exist in France by the 15th century. In Early Modern France, nobles nevertheless maintained a great number of seigneurial privileges over the free peasants that worked lands under their control. These included:

* cens (tax): Vassals were required to pay an annual tax on lands they leased or held (the "cens" was often more symbolic than useful),

* champart (work): to work the noble's private domain, to give the lord a portion of their harvest,

* banalités (small charges): to use the lord's mills, ovens, or wine press at a cost.

Nobles also maintained certain judicial rights over their vassals, although with the rise of the modern state many of these privileges had passed to state control, leaving rural nobility only local police functions and judicial control over violation of their seigneurial rights.

More on the link. Kind of points out the world MA lived in...and the expectations that were seconds from going out of control while she was dancing, feeding her livestock and living her wholesome life.

Hotter than the blazes

Did some research on shoes of Marie Antoinette's time. The french were celebrated for their fabric shoes...sometimes sumptious fabrics or even fur with these high heels that were called "french heels" or "louis heels". The Bata Museum in Toronto had some notes on it...and other historic clothing/fashion sites. So, the above is a th.mbnail of the thinking....for the Dream Project. Cinderella's glass slippers were a fabrication from the reality--she had fur (to be specific squirrel) shoes. But her heels had to be french heels--I like this pursuit as it allows me to touch on all sorts of fairy tale stuff like Cinderella or the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Girls with a thing for shoes.

Blistering here. A former client called to let me know that they were declaring a state of emergency and letting the kids out of school by noon. I wish they would do the same here. I am fearful for brownouts and the fritziness that the computers get in this environment...often in the beginning of August. The new water wand is going to get a workout today as are the box fans.

At the House of Health today. Tried the elliptical...and will continue to try it....along with the quick stroll uphill that the treadmill provides. Off to Pennsylvania tomorrow to talk with the same folks from two weeks ago to flesh out what is needed, where, when , how much. And back Wednesday a.m.

Lots to ready today.
more later (I hope)>>