New Year, new day.

Sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2012We are back from a lengthened trip to take Kitty back to Hampshire for Jan Term. We swung by Mass Moca with a treat (staying at The Porches Inn) complete with a little sleep, a lot of art and some swimming in the pool and hot tubbing outside in the cold New England air. We had a great time with Kitty and Alex— lots of talking, laughing and really enjoying being in each other’s company. Alex regaled us with his impromptu interpretation of the the horrible books they read in middle school… causing us practically to wreck the car with his funny insights and focus. Kitty wanted to talk about how she is changing/growing and how that could fit into her education and what she is discovering that she may want. What an evolution from the girl we looked at colleges with.

We drove down to Hampshire on Monday on the most spectacular road…taking in the sights of the Mohawk Trail….the mountains, the valleys, the hairpin turns, the goofy souvenir stands (selling moccasins!) (the best being one with an enormous polychromed native american chief to beckon you in for a treat). It was great just getting a dose of new terrain, new places—without having a definite deadline against it. All of my “vacation time” (and Robs) have been involved in looking at colleges, going on college tours and going to and from college as part of the shuttle bus. It was nice to have this as an option (along with our mini trip to Miami) just to change the channels. Would love a week of that. Love.

I kind of hit the wall with teenaged and college aged boys late last week. It started with one of them eating all the homemade breadcrumbs for Christmas eve prep for dinner and climaxed with eight guys lurking around my kitchen all day eating anything within eyeshot and then leaving all their detrius…moving on to more and more and more. I was overwhelmed after working and confronting this wall of masticating men…I immediately became dehumorized and needed to shut down. Unfortunately, with all of this pre Christmas, post Christmas gathering of the “Bros”, it took the quiet time we normally have together and tossed it out the window. I gotta make some plans to make sure this doesnt happen at such volume next December. I can appreciate the need to gather, to eat, to bro-it-up….but starting at 11 a.m. and then finishing at 3 a.m. with heaps of sleeping men for days…is just a bit overwhelming. Yes, I did approve this all…but it then took on a momentum I didnt anticipate.

We have the ACT done. We have the Hampshire application done. We have interviews at Hampshire and Landmark scheduled. We will have the Landmark application done this week. Alex is commited to change with Landmark and wants to sharpen up his skills to let him succeed in a four year program and is articulating why he is looing forward to Landmark and then the next chapter once he has gotten his chops sharpened up. He is a remarkable person…so self aware. He is a solid, centered person that I adore and want the best for.

The New Year has clicked into that of 2012. So much happening from a few graduations, a few weddings, a prom(!), travel for us and the kids (together and separate), and change galore. I do not feel that happy anticipation of the year ahead…and need to get my head there. I want a creative shot…and something I can run with… I hope the New Year will inspire that. 

and now the day begins. Work waits.

Lovely Fall Back

Here I am at the ultimate chic Maguire VW to have my car get a check up and lo and behold, there is this lovely computer room, free snacks, teevee, nice chairs, windows and not a cigarette butt in site. How remarkable. I am so impressed, I want to have my car serviced weekly. Maguire really is impressive.  No greasy vinyl chairs tucked between the humming soda machine and a stand ash tray with the battering ram sounds coming from the garage and the endless chat of the owner of the shop on the phone. Now its the car spa…blonde wood, free iced cream and teevee. Glorious.  And the folks are really really nice too. And, with the time I thought I would be dawdling, I can dawdle a bit with you.

I seem to be able to get through my lists these days—taking on more new stuff and being able to get through it without having to do nine or ten iterations on something really simple (like a two color mouse pad that was the recent project of note). We are getting the lineup of a lot of people who want to make their year-end bonuses by finally figuring out they need to get things done that they hadn’t thought about until now, and they need them figured out, designed and produced by December 1 so as to print and distribute by January 1. Screamers. And many of these folks are not our focus customers, so its a bit disconcerting as I really want to say no to quite a few of them as I do not want to have to work Thanksgiving and the day after on someone else’s lack of planning. Urg. Enough of my complaining.

Alex posted some music to the web yesterday—mashups that he created with some audio scrap and work of a rapper online. He is smiling and happy as he is getting some great response (including the rapper who saw a post on YouTube—and was psyched by the work). I need to get Reason, a software package for him for the holiday (along with their software that really allows you to untangle the layers of sound and pluck out snippets to work with. It is great to see him delight and have motivation around something he is getting recognition for. He is talking about how easy these mashups are and how he is done with it. So, both Rob and I are pushing for a body of work so he has an hour of original work to play with the incentive being an exclusive DJAQ (his DJ name) party/event. There is some interest in that…and if its so easy, 75 new mashups should be in the works. If John Thompson told me I would not be an illustrator until I did 500 illustrations, I would say the same around audio mashups. Then we can move on…But recognition for his work and the sheer joy in having others enjoy our work is something I want him to have more of. We all can relate to that (particularly those of us who blog and post our work). I hope there is more of this in the future.

I must admit, I love fall back as much as spring forward. I love the velvety darkness in the evening and being in our snuggly house with the woodstove fired up in the evening with tea and company. It is such marvelous sleeping weather, I am feeling much sunnier and revv’d up. Now, the sixty degree weather and chrome yellow leaves on the trees cannot hurt things either. But we have had a glorious fall—perfection—that to have it extend a bit further into November is something I do not take for granted.

Rob is working late tonight. Leah, Alex and I are going to pick up our two pig shares (1/2 pig each) to our delight. I think there might be some bacon for dinner. Yes!

And then more mailing list correction, amendments and changes.

Game changer

Fatline Experiment, Q. Cassetti, 2011What a day yesterday was! Exhausting and quite startling.Lots of information delivered that is going to take some time to process, fully grasp and be able to act on it. It was amazingly stressful (second time) but after a nights sleep, it seems more tangible. We have lots of new work to do…for the betterment and improvement of the quality of learning for our boy.

It is good to be back to the nine to five (the eight to eight…but who is counting) with Shady and the Cats, and potential to make meatballs after work tonight. 

I have a bunch of project refinements for today. Have some printing to do for the Library project. There are a ton of little hangie things…that I would like to get resolved.  Fat line work continues….we will see.

It is the world’s loss that Steve Jobs (1955-2011) has left us….richer for his insight, ideas, imagination and drive to make personal computing personal, entertaining more personal, and our lives, more interconnected through his tools that he has left us. How many people can single handedly change the culture in so few years as Steve Jobs, providing leadership and money to take the risks, to take on the culture bred in the industrial age, and transform it to the information age? How many leaders embrace design as a way of doing business versus the flourish or cherry on top the way Jobs has with Apple and Pixar— moving creative people to be equal to that of the business boys, and money folks. Steve Jobs “got it” and through modelling this risky, “why not”, brash behavior, changed our world for the better. It is rare when an individual can be cited for this truly paradigm shift. Steve Jobs was one who we can point to—and say that he was someone who really made a difference. He made the world a brighter, bigger community—linking us all, changing our way of doing things…connecting us electronically. He shrank distances and grouped people. He changed what communications mean…and how we communicate. He established the new global village.

Heaven is richer with him amongst the angels. Wireless….! RIP.

little chrysalis

Kitty and Robbie at the Haunt, July, 2011, Q. CassettiWell, the new year according to the Empire of Q. started this morning with a Shaggin’ Wagon dead battery—key in, no results. But, Alex got to school on time, empty bookbag, gym clothes, a check for lunch and his favorite greasy breakfast (at school). Mr. K from AAA came before 9. to give me a jump and I did a bit of driving over to Peach Orchard on Seneca Lake to get some peaches to peel and freeze, to make a cobbler, and to make more peach/ginger jam (freezer jam).

We got off around noon on Sunday to get to Amherst around 6. We stopped at Kitty’s new abode and ran into a bunch of her friends. So, we left her to catch up and did a little tootling around with Alex to see what was new and where we might have dinner (Mission Cantina, a new Mexican place on West Street—just steps from Hampshire). We then got Kitty and a friend and had a nice dinner watching Alex reel from the great music they were playing on the overhead combined with a double love of fresh fish tacos that he consumed happily (in hindsight, we should have ordered him two plates…he loved them soooo much). Then, off to the hotel for sleeping before a big day on Sunday of moving Kitty in, going to Target to get stuff to make her life a bit more liveable and then back home in the afternoon.

It sure felt like the brave new world. Kitty was ready to shoo us out the door when we  started getting in her space trying to help but making her crazy. I am the queen of noodlers, so I fear I made her the craziest. So, going to the store to buy olive oil, honey and peaches, fresh tomatoes and bread got me out of her space but alllowing me to show the love as the pseudo italian housewife I am. She is in an onward and upward mode versus the poor little lonely girl we left—a girl filled with fear and trepidation. We left  a far more confident young women this year with more of a grasp on what she is about, what she loves, where she is pointed. Her work this summer along with living in the house of the Lost Boys give her a boost that was happily unexpected—along with the mental and emotional sorting that coming home often initiates. After she showed us all around to the wonderful round room in the center of her Greenwich mod to the other mod with the cutest little student run library—I feel that this year our little chrysalis  may begin to notice her wings this year with new friends and acquaintances, new opportunities and studies, new learning around how to live on your own and with friends, and the raft of other things that just happen in college. I am not sulking and mooning over my little girl albeit she is on my mind as we had such a treasured time this summer. She is back with her tribe—with a desire to learn more about fashion, clothing, sewing, decorative arts and fashion.

So, it really wasnt much of a weekend….but the beginning of the new year for all. Rob is off to Miami later this week/ back Saturday—so I will be handling the XC breakfast solo. which is no biggie. I will be making little Granola/yogurt and fruit parfaits (so peeling and prepping the fruit will happen Friday night (more peach use). I am going to do a Tuesday pick up at the CSA now that school is back in session. Oh my.

Alex is back to running full time. We have so much to do with him!


Running at it.

Green Man 18, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkIt is the beginning of week two—without the major computer in full function. So, I am making due with the powerbook and hoping after Baka picks up the tower of power, I can be fully operational by the end of the week. They are taking it off with them—to run diagnostics—but there might be some hard drive issues that the nice guy on the phone alluded to. Jeez. But, in the tradition of trying to make things work better, I am going to get into a quarterly review of our network, the cpus, back ups etc. with a professional (Baka) and see if we can smooth things out so the guano doesnt hit the fan as amazingly as it does when my system goes south. I find this all so tedious and tortured, I hope I can get into thinking more of my network and digital tools when they are happy and healthy, versus just on the verge of death on a regular basis. Why is it that the most obvious things never seem obvious to me?

We had a quiet day yesterday. I made some tomato sauce from scratch and a gigantic pot of Recycled soup. Bruce came over and we talked about the up and coming CMU Fest this coming weekend— trying to figure out who is coming and where we are going to put them to sleep. I put up a FB event just to plumb for engagement—and we will see if we can rouse the troops this way. We will see.

Kitty is off to her job. Alex is hanging out with Ellie. The boys are off the Unitarian Church $.10 sale. I have a publication to layout—and get some files going on some promotional materials. I am revelling in a new sketchbook (Moleskine A4 watercolor/bound on the top). The blacks are so darned luscious, I could lick the page. So so cool It could only be better if the paper was hotpress with no texture whatsoever. But, hey…its bound, and I cannot be that picky.

I really must go.


Green Man 10,, Q. Cassetti, 2011,pen and inkI  feel like I might just get there. I am working away on a project that is all about the details—the illustration details that have to be able to be reduced down to a very very small size. I have been wrestling with this— working big, reducing smaller, looking at positive approaches, then reversed approaches. I think I have finally clicked my brain into where this needs to go—and I feel that I might be able to square away the changes on this project today. Then on to amending the fun distillery project which has grown some legs, and is ready for phase two work.  I  have two new black and white (and greys) portraits due by the end of September-so the decks need to be cleared before getting into that  and a few other things.

Green men continue as the pen moves. I need to do an illustration of an owl (with book and or a birthday cake) for the Ulysses Philomathic Library’s  bicentenial party in October. Heather Christ Hallagan is busy making a chic and fun event, so helping out with a poster is the least I can do. The only request from the board was to have an owl and to make sure it is “cheerful”  I love it…cheerful!  I think I can do that…not sure, but I can try.

Wiki How actually has an article on how to be cheerful. Only seven simple steps! And here are some simple tips to be cheerful:

  • Don’t be negative, cynical, or deceitful.
  • Always be sure to smile. It’ll make everyone around you feel good!
  • Get out of the house. Sometimes being alone is good but loneliness can consume you. Take a bike ride in the sun or ask a friend out for coffee.
  • Say hi to people, not just the same people every day but let others know that your willing to be friends with everyone.
  • Listen to your mind some of the time, and your heart all of the time.

I had a client once who was the queen of requesting cheerfulness as part of anything we would do for her (in addition to her desire for us to use red as it too, is cheery and helps create that cheerful condition). This cheerful request was as confounding to me as requests from clients for things to be “unique” or even better’ “creative”. I guess this charge for cheeriness means that they would not be receptive to something black and white with the content including death references or the german wonderfisch. Onward to trying to be cute. Now there’s a challenge!

 We are having a crew of our fellow CMU alumni at the end of the month. Could be as many as 20 that we need to entertain, feed and house (as many as we can budge up to make room for). So, I need to think about things I can make in advance for breakfast (freeze a few coffee cakes? cook sausage for strata and freeze? prep some dips? make some  peach freezer jam from Sunday’s gleanings?). I am twitchy about beds and towels, pillows and blankets—but we have our new and wonderful cots that will help to move the needle.

It is a nice rainy day for work. Rob is home normal time. Kitty and Alex are home. Jacob and E. are back from their performance last night. Maybe Mr. Houseworth will get the water issue taken care of so we can lake tonight.  Even in the rain, it is a delight.

Delighted! Selected for American Illustration 30

Selected: American Illustration 30, Q. CassettiThis is a bigger deal than I had thought. This is what American Illustration 30 says about the competition:

Congratulations! Your work has been Selected to appear in the American Illustration 30 annual. On behalf of the entire jury, we thank you for your submission and support of American Illustration.
This year’s distinguished jury included Nicholas Blechman, The New York Times Book Review; Rachael Cole, Schwartz & Wade Books; Michael Ian Kaye, Mother New York; Todd Oldham, Todd Oldham Studio; D.W. Pine III, TIME; David Saylor, Scholastic Inc. and Dean Sebring, Worth.
From more than 7,000 pictures entered by over 1,100 illustrators, magazines, agencies, publishers and schools, the jury selected, by a majority vote or better, only 316 images to appear in the book and represent the best pictures from 2010. AI30 will be printed in full color and distributed worldwide in hardcover immediately after The Party, November 10, 2011 - our annual book launch event that brings the creative community together to celebrate the winners.

Delighted to say the least! and love the selection. You just never know!


Flippity Flop 2, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink on moleskineLooks like Spring is peeking out. The sun is shining and bouncing off the snow. Shady is passed out on the floor. Mei Mei is sitting on my windowsill surveying the scene outside. Mr. White continues to be quiet and in hiding. I hope he mellows out. He still keeps picking fights with Mr. Grumpy…and now that he only has one operative eye, its is a lost cause.I wish he would figure that out.

Got my printing back from The brochures were a tad hot (colorwise) but not bad, and for $78. it is better than anything that Kinkos can do. Business cards were the same. However, quick turn around….and prices that are good. Plus, guess where my boxes shipped from? Rochester! So nearby and neighborly. Right? Minimum quantities are 500…but for a cheap mailing?

Need to get the ad for Illustration Directory done as well as the magazine cover I have on the horizon. Gotta finalize the Hangar stuff (they are running behind) along with a few other projects. Looks like a pretty open day….can get a mess done.

I had my hair changed yesterday. I have been evolving to grey. My wonderful Demetra decided I needed to do it boldly, so she created some bold platinum stripes in the grey…and its kind of Cruella Deville but white…cool. Demetra mentioned that the hipsters are coming into the salon to get their hair dyed grey! So…its not so bad segue-ing into that aging thing.


Happy Holstein, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Working along on this cow for a potential client. Keeping it to a black, a midtone and white as this will be printed in a limited palette for packaging… I poked it in this frame to bring to you all, but the Art Director has other plans for this. I originally started this at 400% of the size—and as I began to get into it, I found I was losing detail and then, duh…I realized that the work should be done close to 100% to be able to realize the detail…which even at this size might be too fine… and so it goes.

I was on the boards designing yesterday from 10 a.m. until 7. We had dinner at Dorothy’s Music Room to try out the new venue. The music was good. The food was good and the drink selection was good and the pours generous. It is a quieter place…a bit less “scary” seems to be attracting a slightly older group. There were people dancing to the group.  It is a place that one can talk over the music. It is not the Pourhouse, but a more grown up place that has a place here in Tburg.

Tonight is the Superbowl. I will be making pizzas out of garlic bread, putting some shrimp out and making a salad for Alex, his german friends, Bruce, and Rob. Poor Alex, exhausted from the track meet and the dance at the school, was anticipating eating granola for breakfast prior to the ski bus…to find out that we were totally out of this cereal and bread. So, I will be baking another batch of granola for the week ahead.

I am going to tweak this cow for the next half hour before putting it away for today.  There are the valentines to stuff (finalize) so I can have them assessed for postage  and finalize the labelling. And then, I need to ship the projects out to the foks that had me hopping for the past few days.

Sunday cake

Atkins Farms Harvest Cake from a photo, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalHi. I took the picture of this cake while we were at Atkins Farms the last time we were visiting Kitty in Amherst. As you know, I am a big fan of the smart Atkins Farms and the team with the pastry bags rock. So instead of giving you a retouched photo, I figured I would monkey with it in photoshop and see if I could make something more “illustrative” happen. Who knows, but it puts me in mind of Thanksgiving and the plannign I will need to put in place to make that all happen. I woke up this morning planning what I could freeze, make ahead and or not make. I pulled up Epicurious on my fabulous iPad and discovered that it will make shopping lists and do almost everything but cook the dinner. We are having tutti cassetti (6) plus five. There may be a few more. I know we are having turkey. I am thinking no mashed but roasted…and maybe a wild rice and mushroom stuffing. An onion pie? There is a pumpkin cake with chevre frosting? A salad. And maybe some whole wheat knots from earlier this year. Rob and I are doing a round trip to Amherst on Wednesday to pick up Kitty. So planning is in order to pull this little event off in style and without the crazy amount of stress on Thanksgiving day. Yes, I like the cooking…but the pressure of getting it ALL done is not my favorite. So, today I am making turkey stock (for the gravy etc.) in the oven. Epicurious sez turkey wings…and so I got them. And now we have the bones roasting as we speak.

Deadlines personal and professional this week. Personal (assessment of Christmas being top of list, and planning the weekends etc. for the next two months).Professional (finalize image searches for all my projects). The Pourhouse closes on Thursday. There is a remarkable opening at Cinemopolis of a documentary made my local guys and their transformation of a regular guy “Frank” through a raw diet, support and a regime change. One of the filmmakers and Frank will be there after the screening. I hope we will not have the endless meeting, but you never know. Would also like to get the Hangar finalized (3 more posters). Then that would be off my back. I also have Taughannock/Triathlon on the roster too (thinking to go Alexander Girard).

Am learning something about (a bookmarking, social site) and how it works. Its cool as it will stream this blog, stream twitter/facebook etc. Its a different slice of how to network. The spur was from the Moleskine site and the options to feed your uploads. Hmmm.

late afternoon

More holiday fun. Am a bit worried about getting these done in time for Thanksgiving. It going to be a push…so I have been running full bore at this. This cat looks okay in black and grey…but odd in brown and orange which was the initial approach. Ah well.

Rob got home safe and sound late last night after the election t.v. gorge of CNN and the like with the amazingly vacuous conversations and discussions, the emptyheaded approach to lots and lots of moving graphics, countdown clocks, slider bars with percentages, and the horse betting approach to who won the race the moment the polls closed with around 2% of the votes in. I was dumbfounded that this carnival with women in brilliant red jackets and lipsticks, other less brilliant but more opinionated looking as if they were missing a few nights sleep. Then, the pompous know it all talk from the tea-partiers, from the new leader of the House and its business as usual. I wish to heaven we could get out of our own way and really see, and solve the problems at hand versus continuing the circle dance that keeps happening in Washington. Its all anticipating and guessing. It was all talking heads with all sorts of know it all schmarty pants crap. I find it amusing but highly irritating as the real issues are glossed over, one more time. Oy.

Tonight we have the top seven xc runners for a carbofest (pasta with pesto, bread, salad…maybe some sort of baked thing if I can get my booty in gear to do that). Rob brought goodies back for the boys from the fab Rockmount Ranch store— so maybe a fashion show from Alex and Rob for them to decide which shirt they want to keep.

Gotta go. New projects popping up as we speak. oy.

Bright Skies

Dear Deer, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digital.It has been cold and rainy…a bit dreary. But here we are, on a Friday afternoon, and there is a beautiful, high blue sky with Maxfield Parrish clouds rising out of the brilliance. Can make a girl giddy.

I am going to morph back to being ink girl again. I am not charged up by this graphic stuff. I am intellectually, but emotionally, its not grabbing me between the ears…and after posting the Home Sweet Home image, I got all shivery about how much I love this technique and need to take it further. I am a bit concerned about the shows coming up for the next year. I have not been cranking the vector portraits recently, so my handful of show hopefuls are more limited as I have been stretching out a bit more as a decorative illustrator, and not as  the vector Queen that I have been in the past. I should get my eye back into that— freshening up my viewpoint, and building that book back up. Granted, I have some new images for the Hangar that could be submitted, but frankly, I am a bit concerned about not getting into the shows with the more diverse body of recent work. I did get some of the advent calendar work in American Illustration (a decorative approach) that was the hint that the Memento Mori work could take off (the willow skull got in American Illustration and Society of Illustrators (along with the traveling show to universities). So I should have some hope that the decorative stuff may possibly get recognition as well. It comes out of the same head and out of the same hand. Different technique..but still me. We’ll see.

Phone is ringing with new work. Some paying. A lot not paying. I got a wild bundle of “due immediately” work from the theatre (a quarter page, a small poster, a large poster, two banners, a playbill cover) and I whomped it out yesterday. Not much time to pfutz the details..but its all done and at an okay level. Another rushmo was a package for some flourbased mixes (a canister layout) that will link to the bread bakery in a way…so the need for a levelset was there. Albeit is was very quick—I am pleased with the general direction that is going too. And! Two pieces for Cornell is happening. And, a brand new something for Ithaca College too. Bizzzy me.

Alex is wild with school, training and hanging with the bros. There is a cookout/tailgate party post training today associated with the soccer game. Rob and Bruce are knocking off early to go to Watkins Glen for the antique/ vintage cars. Kitty news from Facebook reads:

Kitty Cassetti: dancing modern was absolutely intense. A semester filled with Kabuki, Ballet and Indian Dance are in the near future. I’m so excited!”

Kitty Cassetti The professor is this adorable little old lady who kind of threw us into the class first thing. It was pretty marvelous.

So, she is good…and loving it. Already has read a play for Theatre class. I need to go work on relaying out a brochure (miscommunication from the client). Ah well.

More 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.

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.

Tuesday: Looking towards the weekend

Sweetness Alight, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and inkTuesday started early. I got double thumped by the cats around four a.m.—impatient for cookies and attention.We then had to get rolling early to get Kitty and a friend to Corning with Rob for the day—to see the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, The Corning Museum of Glass and the fun on Market Street. Alex has a new job (self elected) at the Rongovian Embassy to the US on Main Street here is sunny Trumansburg. Dishwashing. He called me to say he was washing a pile of dishes and will be working until 6 p.m. Hard work, hard lessons…but all good because I am not jamming it at him. He has brought it on through his own motivation. I am thrilled.

Alex and I are going to learn how to smoke meat this summer. We bought a smoker from Josh Ozersky (now and food writer for TIME) and tried it once. But Alex is anxious to perfect his bro-meister skills…which may incorporate barbeque and smoking to the mix of bro skills. The Urban Dictionary defines a “bro” as:

“An alpha male idiot. This is the derogatory sense of the word (common usage in the western US): white, 16-25 years old, inarticulate, belligerent, talks about nothing but chicks and beer, drives a jacked up truck that’s plastered with stickers, has rich dad that owns a dealership or construction business and constantly tells this to chicks at parties, is into extreme sports that might be fun to do but are uncool to claim (wakeboarding, dirt biking, lacrosse), identifies excessively with brand names, spends a female amount of money on clothes and obsesses over his appearance to a degree that is not socially acceptable for a heterosexual male.”

The MFA program at Hartford is beginning to ramp up. You can see the work of the incoming students here>> I am also collecting the Texas contact period illustrations from the current students (classes of 2010, 2011) and this is where we are>> Take a look. Pretty exciting.

We have three screenwriters in the back room meeting. I am friends with one of the guys who was looking for a place to have a 3-4 hour meeting (not at the coffee shop) so I said “come here” as we have chairs and tables and coffee too. So we have people busy chatting about interesting things that we get snippets as we go in for tea.

Work to do.

Bright morning

Between nectar and the sun, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and inkSummer beckons. We are on the verge of that slow time. A week or so longer of scheduled tests, time with friends, and finally graduation. Kitty has a few things to do…and then there is outside work to begin with Nigel. I have a mountain to attack of work, planning and getting my act in gear for the summer and finally prep for next fall. Lots of little things that add up that perhaps I can chip away in the next few days to reduce the pile.

I did something wild yesterday. I ordered some new software. I ordered Manga Studio, a software program that focuses on inking, drawing, tones, bubbles that are the tools for manga and comic drawings. I also have the only book, a “dummies’ guide to this software. I hope there is a link to a pdf guide too.This tone component and the brushes are what intrigues me that painter doesn’t provide. Nor does illustrator…where there are work arounds, but not the tool for that sort of thing. If it doesn’t work out, ah well…but it may give me some alternative approaches to the current and future work. We’ll see.

The bees evolve. I am thinking about the isolated queens and how she spends her life. I am thinking about how historical houses accomodated bee hives into the exterior walls of their houses, or nested into the walls surrounding the compound. Bee keeping was predominantly was women’s work—knit into the cooking, care of the family, gardens and house and home keeping. The queen is the center of her hive—focused on her job of creating the future of her community through her continual egg laying. She is tended by nurses and attendants who create the honeycombs, who tend to the larvae and who develop and feed the future queen(s).

I have a yearbook recap and discussion today. I woke up this morning with the process and thinking figured out. It is about story telling through pictures using examples (the Rick Smolen books, Elliot Erwitt, some of the Black Star photographers, Annie Leibowitz ) of how others do this. The yearbook is all about photo journalism…creating dynamic content that can go into a very simple shell, format that will allow good images cropped well….and that is the purpose. Everyone knows about picture taking. Everyone cannot take a good picture because they haven’t thought about it.

On to the work.

Morning thoughts

Hive in My Heart, Q. Cassetti, 2010, mixed mediaLast night we had a rocking thunderstorm. I am happy for it as everything was beginning to dry up…the thick thatches of grass,  my little apple trees, the monster monarda that has taken over a part of the yard (thrilled about that). In that vein, I treated myself to a few more tree peonies to plant this fall—as this plant is so much of a thrill when they flower in an outrageous way, a better than Disney explosion and then settle down and become a pretty leafy bush for the other 51 weeks of the year. Our herbaceous peonies are starting to open…and the deer have not devoured them unlike half the hosta I have. Urg.

I have recolored some of the bee work and found that a bit of image editing (in this case adding, in yesterdays case, subracting) have helped the pictures. I am on the Zydeco piece and am redrawing it (having rediscovered my love for the Pitt Pen…particularly the jumbo one). Am musing about a style I was beginning to work with during the week of Ted and Betsy Lewin at Hartford and may do a small body of work using this to gain a bit more confidence and familiarity before coming back to the bees.  I used it once on a job for a client…and they loved it…so an alternative (can you do a portrait, an animal, a type combo, a this a that ) might be nice to have. I find that these sidebar explorations are deriving somewhat from the discipline instilled in me from high school and college training with Arnold Bank, a mentor and extraordinary teacher and calligrapher. He  taught visual people to think, but to develop their hand skills and eye with those skills through a prescribed series of requirements when one was learning a particular “hand” or hand lettering style. In order to master these hands. one had to do a small, medium and large flat piece working in text, headline and caption sizes using the plain letters and some embellished. Additionally, one had to do a small book (hand lettering at least four pages of text). I find that sort of slop over…(can I do a portrait? can I do an animal? Can I do something with type) that same approach to forge confidence in that particular “hand” or style of illustration. The more I tune what I do within the context of a body of work (at least 6 pieces), I can move to the next project or idea. This training from Hartford for the final thesis was such a valuable experience.

Ithaca Festival is today as is the Senior Dessert (no dinner so I am Providing) Dance. Alex is going with one of Kittys friends. Kitty is taking an old friend, Thea.  And another couple makes up our party. Must go.

TED Happiness

"George Washington" So-called 'fraktur' drawing. Done by Pennsylvania German artists in a style reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscript art. The name, "fraktur", actually means "fractured writing" and is a reference to the pointedness of Gothic German script. The painter who created this portrait of Washington is not known by name; art historians refer to him as the "Washington-Sussel Artist" because his work was first studied by a collector of that name. Ink,watercolor on paper, H 20, W 16 cm Independence National Historical Park, INDE 2678Spring morning with a cold start.

Some of my poor daffodils are lying on the ground frozen in place, though the grape hyacinths and frittilaria seem to flourish in the frosty bite. I socked the two hellebore I just bought right next to the one that was a legacy plant. The new hellebore are a blue green on one side, and  a ruby/ivory color on the other. I was surprised at the depth and heartiness of the roots on these plants and am excited already for next spring and these beauties' debut Chez Camp.

Our little birthday celebration was very nice. All the food was consumed and the menu turned out to be paced so easily, that we actually had time to relax a bit prior to showtime. It seemed everyone had a nice time and hung out after the dinner to continue the various conversations that were in place from geneology, local food, real estate, education, learning approaches.  Now, we can get on the business of work and living until Friday's after school play event and Saturday's cast party that I am on for.

Did I talk and point you all to one of my new favorite inspirations? Probably not. As we have been watching TV (we just got one and we watch it tout en famille these days) and can get a link to YouTube, we have been watching various presentations that are made at the TED conference. Are you familiar with TED? Here's what TED says about TED;

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK, TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Program, the new TEDx community program, this year's TEDIndia Conference and the annual TED Prize.

The annual conferences in Long Beach and Oxford bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

These are riveting, brief and thoughtful presentations that can really jar your thinking and perceptions. I have learned so much from these talks which we have right in our living room.  I encourage you to go and seek TED out. Anyway, the TED talks are on the TED site but also on YouTube.  My most recent, "Oh my Goodness" moment was with Temple Grandin's talk, "The world needs all kinds of minds"

What was startling and inspiring was Grandin talking about visual learners which I truly am. No wonder math never worked for me. Grandin is remarkable in her straight-forward, Mid-Western, matter of factness---talking about different learners, different people, the odd ones that are often in a group--explaining their oddity (and the wonderfulness of different people's approach to learning and information). Her speech is now something I deliver to all my friends and particularly to those that will hear in in my involvement with the Committee for Special Education (CPSE) at school. I wish I could tell you the story of one of my experiences but it's inappropriate to go there. However, it has helped me to get beyond the stigmas of autism, and all the other isms as everyone learns...and may learn differently from the methodology that is in place for the "norm" at school. And who is to say that the "norm" is right. I am thankful that my crash and burn in algebra was replaced with art history and mythology as this is a place that fueled my fire and was additive for my life. I thank goodness that Chemistry wasn't pushed down my throat, but extra English and Latin.

The day begins. My phone is ringing.

Bee Maidens

Queen Bee, Q. Cassetti, 2010. pen and inkIt really is Spring. The daffodils (at least the ones that have not been eaten by the deer) ar 4" tall and the little clusters of snowdrops are up and blooming. There are some lovely spongey masses of moss dotting the side yard with long thick tendrils that once Chad the Lawnmover man starts his annual clipping will go by the wayside. I love touring the spaces--no leaves to obscure the view--so as to better figure out which limbs go away, which view is obscured, the raspberries that are beautiful and pink canes that bite you all summer can go away. Once much of this stuff is cleared out, then the lawnmower landscape changer can do its job and we begin to tame this wilderness. Kitty says the Turkey vultures are back. I have seen bluebirds and jays along with heard the hammering of the woodpeckers. Soon there will be peepers, the happy little singers in the night time. Everything seems possible today.

I meet with the team from the Hangar today about the posters and some ideas I have for them to polish up their image a teensy bit...and how I can help them get there. I hope if there is time today, I will have a chance to hammer a bit more on my friend's project as I would really like to lift that off the ground. And, free myself up from the land of the I can read and draw more about the bees.

From Andrew Gough's Arcadia website article The Bee: Bewildered: The title Melissaios - or Bee-man, has a feminine counterpart in Mediterranean cultures called Melissa, of which Hilda Ransome informs us; “The title Melissa, the Bee, is a very ancient one; it constantly occurs in Greek Myths, meaning sometimes a priestess, sometimes a nymph.” This is an important observation, for the tradition of dancing Bee goddesses appears to have been preserved in a form of Bee maidens known as Melissa’s – or nymphs, and Greek deities such as Rhea and Demeter were widely known to have held the title. Additionally, the Greeks frequently referred to ‘Bee-Souls’ and bestowed the title of ‘Melissa’ on unborn souls. The 3rd century Greek philosopher and mathematician Porphyry of Tyre believed that souls arrived on earth in the form of Bees, having descended from the moon goddess Artemis, and that they were lured to terrestrial life by the promise of earthly delights, such as honey. Ironically, honey was also a symbol of death and was frequently used as an offering to the gods. The dualistic quality of honey is no coincidence, as the nectar and its maker – the Bee, appear to represent the very cycle of existence. One could say that as the Bee returns to its hive, so the Melissa returns to its god in the afterlife; the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning.

Love this stuff. Uncovered a bunch of intereresting things on bee skep, their history, their shape. So more to share with you. Walk in the sunlight today.