More miracles

Portrait in progress, step one, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5

I have two portraits to do by the end of September. I got a crack at one of them yesterday and delighted in creating the silhouette and beginning to digitally cut the highlights out of that shape. I hope the mid tones and darks will go in today. I am always, without a doubt, nervous when I square up the paper and start these thing—asking myself if I can do it this time…as I rarely have much confidence in the reference combined with shaky personal confidence. Just picking up the pen, taking a deep breath and then the focused chipping away often checking every decision takes the time. When I have a half dozen highlights in, I know this is going to work or not….and my optimism can rise. Its a nice charge to drive the work forward. Then, I give myself a little permission to go a bit rogue with some manufactured highlights and shadows. I am optimistic I can give my client a pair of portraits that will work complete with working a hand with a smoking pipe into one of them as the pipe was so iconic with this particular artist.

Have you heard about Wacom’s newest offering, the Inkling? I discovered this wonder yesterday and currently I am transfixed and cannot wait until mid September. The Inkling is essentially, a ballpoint pen that records your hand drawing and transfers that work to digital. You use their pen, and your own notebook. I am wondering how it translates your drawing to make it better than a high res scan. Its too cool…but now that I think about it…unless it saves it to vectors or layers or provides me more than a scan, I am trying to figure out whether this is more of a toy than a real work tool. Maybe if there is a chance today, I will do a little reading on this.


“Finally this fantastic pen interface technology has made it to where it belongs, Wacom Inkling Smart Pen. The Inkling Smart Pen is a 2 part device that transfers handwriting strokes to a digital format. The technology is quite clever and extremely energy efficient which is what gives it such great potential. The base unit uses 2 microphones that give it the sound version of stereoscopic ‘vision’, allowing it to hear where the pen is moving.The pen emits a completely inaudible pulse helping the base unit track location and pen pressure. The datagrams on these coordinates are tiny allowing for cheap storage of many pages. The pen is normal sized thanks to only needing to make its silent ping while the base unit listens and records. Other competitors in the space require a hot-dog sized pen to hold all the electronics. Some of those require special paper as well, where none is needed by the Inkling.

The touch of a button on the base tells the device to start using storing the pen strokes in a different ‘page’ and it can store dozens if not hundreds of pages. An internal battery in the base is recharged by USB and the pen only needs inexpensive watch batteries. This technology has been hopping from company to company for some time now, A-open and IOGear to name a few. Both have products based on this technology but no one does pens like Wacom. We’re looking forward to see how much they’ve improved upon it while unfortunately upping the prior incarnation’s MSRP. Wacoms plan to release the Inkling Smart Pen at $199 later this year. Being able to import directly into Illustrator is probably worth double that for any serious artists.”

OH MY. v e c t o r

I wonder if one will be enough!

It was study hall yesterday at the office. It just dawned on Alex that maybe, just maybe he needed to get to work on the paper he has due next week for his environmental science class. This has a lot of research and processing of information which my son thought he could dash off….NOT. So, I made him sit with me all day to work on this paper. Unfortunately, he is busy counting words versus focusing on truly delivering on the paper’s content and requirements. I think I am going to throw the role of the heavy to Rob as I am making him sit and focus. I hope there is more we will learn about Alex from the testing we will be starting in a week or so. He just focuses on the oddest things and doesn’t really understand where he should be tracking. If I can talk him through, sometimes it hits. Sometimes he is there with me. More study hall today.

I have a meeting in a few and need to get the already foley-ed tomato sauce on the stove to simmer for a few hours to get the water out. I am a sauce making machine. I feel like there may be a few more pots out there. Loving it.

My portait of Margaret Drabble in The New Yorker this week!

Portrait of Margaret Drabble for The New Yorker, Q. Cassetti, 2011I have been quiet on this…and now I can tell you! I got a note a few Fridays ago, asking me to do a portrait for an article by Joyce Carol Oates (!!). They included reference and the portrait I had done of Kitty and that is where we started. I submitted sketches by Monday and then finished work was due Thursday (all within the same week).

Advent Day 8: Santa Too

Santa Doll 2, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink from the second Advent Calendar project.Working on some aircraft graphics that just doesnt seem to want to go away. Also have some retouching to do around the  work that needs to be printed for the Society of Illustrators Show. That has to happen today. 

Looking at Edward Hicks pix for some lions, some peaceable kingdom ideas. Love his work. Odd, but love. Am also reading a bit on the spiritual illustrations/ pictures from the Shakers. Simple line illustrations. Very symbolic and lyrical line work. I have a new book from a show put on by the Drawing Institute and the Hammer Museum in LA. The Hammer always surprises… and really puts on shows that delight me….and I am sure others. The show catalog is lovely, well written and has a pile of these very rare documents—

I have to go. Am coughing up a storm and need to get some stuff out.

Advent Day 7: Santa Box

Santa Doll, Q. Cassetti,2010, sharpies from the second Advent calendar projectNice little Yearbook class today. There was editing, cover designing and we planned a fun event for the last day of school prior to vacation. We are having the tacky Holiday sweater/ hat contest with a prize (a free yearbook). Lots of energy there. Plus, we just got the link to get into the Entourage site so we can get the templates, the training, the tools to do the book.

More lacy line drawings this week for the Advent Calendar. I am spurred on by Russian Nesting Dolls and the chops from the Lubok looksee that I have been studying. Santa to the left is a nesting doll too… decorative and happy. I have another one in the works and then maybe some shining baby pix along with something having to do with the bad hats.

A week and counting to the Holiday choral event. Kitty and Mandy will be home to help decorate…so we need to get the trees up this weekend and plan what goes where. Its all got to be done before next Friday as the gig starts at 7 so we will need to be prepared to roll into it. Piano tuner coming on Tuesday. Maybe I should get some candycanes?

I found that Ludgates is selling the perfect turkeys…so I will make a call for one today. So, that has been figured out (yeah!). Now its time to make the cakes, freeze the side dishes, make some gravy and have a holiday in the freezer before the day. It is so easy to make a feast that way. I think chocolate layer cake? and maybe a derby pie? Stuffing just like Thanksgiving with sausage, mushrooms and parsley. What about cocktail food?

Communication Arts is due January 7th (the illustration show…I am going to enter the design one too). Need to call Picture Salon to find out what is doing re the Society of Illustrators output….need it as the first show for Illustration 53 opens January 7th. So, I gotta book.

Monday Morning.

Love Birds, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalYesterday was the posterchild for summer. Perfect day. Cloudless, warm but not overly so. We got into the brisk water twice. We did little things ( laundry  for me, lawn for Rob) and then relaxed on the porch until it was time to visit neighbors at the blow out party next door. We took Shady on a leash (as having her stay at home has her howling and crying with sadness that we have left her). And, as you know, having a dog at a picnic makes you a dog magnet. Having the magnetic dog attracts dog lovers, little chldren who want to poke your dog in the eye (which Shady is good with), and others. We were approached by  a nice lady from New Jersey who was staying at the Bed and Breakfast the party was thrown at…and it turns out after talking about her dogs, the West Highland Terrier breed, and her kids, that her husband works for Estee Lauder and we then got in the way back machine to find out that he works still with people I had worked with prior to moving up here. It was really fun…and kind of blew Kitty and Alex’s mind to see how we got from here to there.

Must go as I have a drive in front of me for a doctor’s appointment. More, hopefully later.

What to do today?

Suburbia. Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalWow. Wow. Wow. The quiet afternoon yesterday stopped the minute we went to the Parade! (I will have pictures, but first I need to charge the batteries and find the connection cord before I can get them to you). First off, the Fireman’s Parade is the Trumansburg Parade. It’s the one! We have always gone to the Memorial Day event, and it is much quieter and respectful than the blow-out we saw yesterday. There was our high school band (very good this year). There was a Dairy Princess and her court float (along with a large tipping carton of milk spilling between the ladies). There were the singers and military tableau vivant from Freedom Village. Grassroots was represented by the adorable green and yellow caboose being pulled by a large John Deere tractor. Speaking of tractors, there were antique tractors and antique fire equipment, pumpers and the like. Speaking of fire equipment and companies, the whole of central New York: Odessa, Waverly, Endfield, Tburg (of course), Romulus, Ovid, Mecklenburg, Interlaken and more. The pride of Central New York, proudly walking in front of us. The Fire Commissioner couldn’t stop smlling. It was amazing and delightful. Ambulances, baton twirlers, little children and convoys of tow trucks for cars to trucks. There were teams of horses pulling carts and carriages, and civil war historic reenactment folks in costume sitting on the back of trucks.

The whole procession took us from 228 to the Fair Grounds where there was food galore, a fireman’s picnic, rides and fun…with the foremost fun being the minivan demolition derby, the roll car event and the “Krazy Train” monster truck that jumps over trashed cars (with teeth painted on the front!). Kitty and I left the Commisioner to pay our $6. a head to watch the Krazy Train and all the colorful people and things around us. When that big wheeled monster truck came speeding up to the three demo cars and flew into the air, bouncing like a big ball with Kitty screaming with laughter, face pink with hilarity. I took a ton of pictures of the rides, the prime examples of folk painting and lettering and throughly enjoyed the evening of smoke and flames, flipping cars, and people eating gigantic bowls of greasy chili fries, blinking lights, color and laughter of the fairgoers.

More later. Peter D. just came off his beautiful boat and bacon is begging to be cooked.

Painting with scissors

Hemlock Grove, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink“painting with scissors.” Matisse said, “Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.” 

Nice, fun search on Matisse yesterday. Taschen (Henri Matisse: Cut-Outs - Drawing with Scissors (2 Volumes Splip case) ) has a lovely new book just on the cutouts that looks wonderful. Its too new to get used, and its $125. a casebound set, so I will wait. It was fun to pull images and immerse myself in the bright palette and free expression Matisse used. An old high school friend mentioned Matisse’s methodology with his cut outs (gouaches decoupes). And yes, as he aged this was his process (from

“With the aid of his assistants, Matisse invented a systematic approach to the technique of his cut outs.. First, his studio assistants brushed Linel gouaches on sheets of white paper.

Once dry a stockpile  of colored paper were available to Matisse at any given time. He often quite spontaneously cut out elements and placed them into compositions. As the play between consciously sought-for and the fortuitously-arrived at effects worked into their balances the projects moved toward completion. In the meantime many of them were posted about the studio walls.

The Linel gouaches were employed because they “directly corresponded to commercial printers ink colors” (Cowart 17) and would reproduce perfectly. The cut-outs pulsate with energy. The bright, vibrant Linel colors, deep and Light Japanese Green, vert Emeraude (Imitation veridian), Deep Cadmium Yellow, Deep Cadmium Red, Deep Persian Red, Persian Violet, and Yellow Ochre (Cowart 274), keep leaping in front of our eyes.”

The holiday card project is benefitting from the search. Additionally, I am pressing the new proposed color palette into use to see if it works or needs a bit of amendment. I need to go find human body engravings for the next image. I am hoping the NYPL (New York Public Library) Digital Library might have something to work with. If not, maybe a trip to Cornell’s Mann Library? First the simple desktop stuff…we’ll see. Its coming on nicely.

Eli and John are cranking on the rebuilding/ restoration of our pumphouse in the side quadrangle. Nigel is attacking a new swathe of grass to liberate the property further. I have pizza dough in the cold fridge for our lunch (its now between 8 and 10 folks daily—so creativity is a bit more necessary). Though it will be hot, I think I will make a pizza rustica for the crowd tonight…and tomorrow’s lunch.

I am deep into the second book of the trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl that Played with Fire.This heat has to stop…but reading this fun book keep the synapses jumping.  And the fans are helping too. The weekend and the promised break in the heat is welcome. More later.