Sugar Coated Advent 2012: Day One

Sugar Coated Advent 2012, Day One, Q. Cassetti 2012Well, its that time of year…and as I have been silent and bumbling around all year trying like hell to get a groove on, keeping on trying, keeping on reading, keeping on waiting to no result. However, after stuffing myself with Kawaii, decoden, Japanese Yokai tales, and making these tiny little  pins that have gone from little studies to outright psychodelia that are being sold now in soon to be two retail establishments— I am now ready to plunge back into the world of letting my illustration push me around a bit. I am pleased to say, that I have found my groove and it is in this candy coated advent calendar journey we will be taking together this month.

I must admit that the original intent of this project was to focus strictly on gingerbread houses—but as I have been working with this concept, I am finding it morphing into something else which I am just going to go with. We will keep the candy keep the pattern, keep the holiday themes but I am going to see where it goes.. There will be gingerbread houses and fantasy. There will be gingerbread men and ladies—but why limit it as the palette can become tedious and germanically tedious/ponderous. I hit a patch yesterday that had me silently squealing with delight and am in a race to find more time to whale on it. Lets just say, 25 days to jump start next year! Yippee!


Advent Day Twelve, 2011

Advent Day Twelve, Q. Cassetti 2011, pen and inkJust back from taking Jacob back to the amazing, truly amazing CCFL (Community College of the Finger Lakes). Finger Lakes is in Canandaigua—and is in construction —with new, great big buildings—a new performance space and a series of apartment buildings for the students. From talking with Jacob, they seem to be missing a bit with the social piece for the students. The classes and the level of instruction Jacob is getting sounds amazing. He is studying music, private jazz guitar classes, a writing/music class, a comedy analysis class, and bio and chemistry.  He is looking forward to moving to Genesseo. I am glad to have put my eyes on CCFL as its an impressive facility. I wonder if they have illustration? Any reason to drive on scenic route 20, to take in the fields, the farms, the livestock and the stacked piles of cabbages is worth considering. I just adore Rt. 20.  A treat.

We had Jacob for the weekend with a big friend night Friday (musicians) and big friend night Saturday (3 Alex(c)s, 1 Jacob and 1 Joseph) with food for many, breakfast for a crowd and endless dishes. We hung out with the youngers, did some cooking and prepping. Alex had the ACT on Saturday…brutal might be the right word to capture how it was. Food and sleep helped that a bit.

Jacob joins us this Friday as part of the here, not here and back here winter break. Kitty will be here Monday/Tuesday next week. Her play is done, and I am sure she is busy wrapping up the semester, her projects and work. It really moves too quickly this time of year.

Both boys are out this evening with practices and meetings so I can catch up with work, with wrapping, with addressing. Tons to do and the time closes in.

Bright and Shiny

Cool,clear and beautiful today. Alex was up early to prep for his Physics examination. Kitty and Thea were up bright and early to get on the bus to get to Ithaca to watch a friend give his final presentation of a project. I got the trash and recycling to the curb—trying to make some sense of the trash room which was essentially “trashed”. Its nice to have that done.

I wanted to share this interesting link with you….which you may be interested in (or not) but I think its cool, kind of a celebration of our digital age, the digital cottage from whence the digital cottage industries happen. To wheel this back a bit, I love where the world is these days. One can, if inspired, start a business, sell stuff online, and create a job, a business, create a salary without having to pander to “The Man” and all that entails. So, the paradigm of going out to “get a job” may become more staying put, and creating a niche for yourself. Etsy is a model for that…but anyone with a website can/could be in business. One step further, anyone with a computer can be a small manufacturer. What with the amazing stuff that is created for scrapbooking, one can do limited edition vinyl, paper, plastic laser cutting combined with the lovely Epson printers (large scale) that can print paper, fabric, material etc. Laser cutters like Cricut, The Silhouette, or the Klik-n-Kut (CNC cutters)  that work with standard purchases along with VECTOR Graphics (hello! this is my world!!). Companies like Spoonflower allow us the opportunity to create patterns and custom fabrics for ourselves and for sale. Klic-N Print allows you to print on ribbons, stickers. There are all sorts of inexpensive on-demand and conventional printers out there online that I cannot say enough about. And there is this new site I have discovered, Ponoko, part of the “personal factory movement”. This is what Ponoko says to explain the business they are in:

Welcome to the world’s easiest making system.

Ponoko is an online marketplace for everyone to click to make real things.

It’s where creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers meet to make (almost) anything.

We kicked off at TechCrunch40 at the end of 2007 with a vision to reinvent how goods are designed, made and distributed worldwide.

The core of this vision is the trade in product designs – kinda like the trade in music (iTunes), photos (Flickr), movies (YouTube) and software apps (iPhone) before us.

We host tens of thousands of user generated product designs, ready to be customized and made into real things with the click of a mouse.

But hosting designs is only a part of the puzzle. Importantly, we also provide the world’s first digital making system that means these product designs can be priced instantly online and made locally, as close to the point of consumption as possible.

It means goods can be made in the greenest way. Making on demand reduces warehousing and wastage. Plus, making locally emphasizes digital transportation of goods instead of the traditional shipping of physical products.

Check it out. Isnt it great we have so much within a mouseclick away? Think of all you could do and make.

On the Fringes

Fringe Tree in Bloom, Q. Cassetti, 2011Another beautiful spring summer day. Today we prep for Rob travelling, Alex for a concert and Kitty for Kitty. I am talking to you before getting whisked off to be number one companion. We have shoes to buy, laundry to do, and a community chorus concert at the Presbyterian Church at 7:30 p.m.

I have a feeling we may have a lot of music in the house this summer with Alex getting all charged up about playing jazz from a very positive music session with a very calm, smart and together friend yesterday. He came home ON FIRE.

LOVED seeing that.

As you can see, the allium is going to seed. Our fragrant Fringe Tree (which is always a second from dying…as the older part of the tree is open and the woodpeckers have started in on it) is renewed, with a new tree springing from the base. Our neighbors all have glorious herbacious peonies. We have none. Guess why! The damned DEER. Target practice starts today. I am having a hard time deciding which weapon we will be practicing with…but lethal is the watchword. The Deerisaurus hate monarda…and that plant is flourishing. Guess that is my choice. All else they eat despite the “deer proof” designation. Stupid us.

We saw the MacGillicuddies who were great with Farmer Thor vocalizing to tunes such as “80 Dead Chickens”, and I think, “Kill the Possum”. Thor was very cute and having fun, spreading the energy to all of us. Rumor has it that the rub board player was his brother who had the same beamishness…loving being up front with the happy crowd. High energy. Lots of dancers. The bar was pleasantly crowded. A good night was had by all (even me!). I actually met some new people (fun!) and had a nice exchange. Did I say I love Trumansburg enough today?

I am busy drawing away, smudging ink all over pages to some success…not a ton. But as you know, I am warming up. Not everything can rock the house as much as I try.


Luscious Linoleum

flippity flop 3, in grisaille, Q. Cassetti, 2011

So working on the technique of these things. The bolder the lines, I find it getting harder to make them interesting in color, but the grisaille works (at least for me). I could color this. These images are different than the memento mori images, using techniques from the Home Sweet Home body of work last year around this time. As always, color stumps me, so doing it is pushing the old girl along to see if the images evolve and snap more with the color than just plain black and white which is my “go to” and safe place. The original line drawing (bottom) is where I started, took it to color (I’ll post, but am not thrilled with it), back to reworking in greys (top). The image is drawn in my moleskine (A4), with sharpie pens, and new copic brush pen (nice).  Original sketch done in verithin photoblue pencil. Verysharp please. Then, I scan it in, retouch the half and then flop. Then I make another one, (negative) on another field…and cut and paste between the two. Pretty crafty…all we need is the virtual gluestick.

I am pondering….”Is it better to get an undergraduate degree in art/visual art from a liberal arts school if you know you want art? or is it better to go to a for real Art School?”. I have landed on the side of get the liberal arts education and draw like no one’s business. Learn to write. Learn some skills directly related to art, but also develop interests that are the sources for content, for inspiration, for further learning. Learn to learn. Get the spark. Focus happens for us all…why cramp your style by focusing down so quickly? Why get stuck in a groove too quickly. You might create a hybrid that can change you and or the world. You could find content in DNA and it can inform your art, your films, your stories.  You never know. Mark Zuckerberg did not go to school to create Facebook. He learned to learn….and with the climate today with what a job, what work is— who knows if you can learn how to be something when the terraine is shifting in such wonderful and interesting ways. What with Etsy and the money one can make at short pops during the year…making a living is not limited to a nine to five at a Fortune 100 with your “work/life/balance” defined, and your personality questioned insofar as wheither you are good or bad. There is so much out there in this wide world, focusing down is safe insofar as the “job”, but isnt your time on this plain so, so much more?

I need to get on the ball and look at summer programs for the babies. It would be great to find something for Mr. Boy that might be related to photography or something else. Kitty, art. Maybe Illustration Academy (did you know its not in Florida anymore?). Here is what they say:

“The Illustration Academy’s 2011 summer program will be held in one location, Kansas City, MO. The Illustration Academy is now operating as a Special Program within The Art Department’s (TAD) Illustration Major. The 2011 Illustration Academy will be held in the TAD studios (Pods) that have been developed to accommodate the immersion component of TAD.

The Illustration Academy will begin June 12th and run through July 8th. The same stellar professionals will make up The Illustration Academy Faculty. It is a major advantage to have the Academy in our own space once again. We are presently speaking with a major convention hotel about housing for the Academy students and instructors. “

I have sauce bubbling away while two testosterone filled juniors bellow and moan over this shoot em up game they are playing on the t.v. There was drum music for about an hour and now we have breaktime with chocolate milk and gunplay. Alex had the school play practice today. Skiing (in the rain?) tomorrow.

Rob and I came back from trolling the big box stores for bathroom light fixtures and sinks. We were amazed by the sheet flooring that is out today that mimic the real thing wonderfully amazingly. I have a hankering for a deep brown parquet…which is really, really convincing though the cork was pretty spectacular too. We are finishing up Kitty’s bathroom and the yellow bathroom (one of the original 3) is having all the acid yellow tile ripped off the walls (this is an amazing acid yellow as nothing “went with it”—-we tested colors galore to a big bad yuck) and the dropped ceiling trashed. It is quite spectacular. All the fixures stay (except the cheap vanity) and we are looking at linoleum as we really do not want to have to shim all the plumbing  to raise it for tile (as well as the thresholds and the contact with the tub). So, its a refit…and this luscious, believable, chocolate parquet would make it a stage set for glamour. We are thinking of moving one of the chandeliers (the house came with three yucky ones) into the space as we have the headroom…and it would be great. Only problem as I can see it, is that one chandelier is just not enough. Three? Five? At different heights? Now we are talking.

Mardi Gras illustrations fill my thin skull. I think I need to move towards doing a few.


Advent Calendar Day 20: You never know

Holiday Cookie, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpies, from the Second Advent Calendar ProjecdFunny how things happen. I posted a collection of these “pretty and creepy” drawings to Behance, the social networking site for artists/illustrators/photographers/ graphic designers just to see what the reaction would be. Turns out, I was notified that this little set was featured today (meaning, it is culled out of the mix and highlighted which has happened twice before for me). What happens is a lot of traffic is generated, nice comments (particularly in the Russian artists noticing that some of these illos feature the Russian Nesting Doll idea) and thats that. More traffic and more response than I ever got for my $700 on the iSpot. And candidly, more actionable response (two jobs already). Interestingly, I got an email this a.m. from an art director in Dubai interested in my quoting on a job from them (from the Behance exposure)….So, hip hip hurray! and if you are an illustrator and not on Behance, I highly recommend it. It’s free and you never know who or what will strike people’s fancy.

I guess this line stuff has some legs too. Didnt think it would…as it isn’t as bold/strong as the other line work with the tiger teeth….but it seems to strike a chord with some. We will see what happens.

Got the holiday cards in the mail this a.m. I have a meeting with the Hangar Team this a.m. and then back to see what we can do about this car and the financing.

Kitty is free, so I plan on her doing a little office work for me (to make some mooohla). Mandy, David B and John, Rob are all here. So I need to add some water to the soup pot and see what kind of left overs I can dump in the crock pot for lunch for the team.

Rob is off to have his foot xrayed. I hope that they can make him feel a bit better. He is hobbling around and it doesnt look very comfortable.  More later.

Let the Sunshine In

Phoenix rising from the flames, Q. Cassetti, digitalRefinement coming on with this bird. Not finished yet. Some of the shapes are not working…and need a bit of the retouching white out and some reshaping. Rob thinks he looks cranky. Cranky works for me. Rising from the flames takes determination and crankiness. So there.

More birds planned for this project. Only, instead of them being the whimsical birds, they will be fauxcuts like this. Getting my reference for the trip next week so as to focus on the Hangar illos. I hope this can gel. It would be great to nail this stuff early.

The back hallway sketch (placing windows in place, working with the open area) is getting interesting and real. I will cut in a picture so you can see what is happening on the construction front. I have been cooking down pork in a crockpot to make pulled pork (which is absolutely the easiest, nicest way to slow cook the meat…and to that, cheaper than cold cuts for the crowd I am feeding everyday. We have David and John and their new team member and wonderfully interesting Henry. There isBack porch redux. Q. Cassetti, 2010 Bruce and Erich and sometimes a few more depending on who is on site to work on the project. So, fast, hot lunches are my expertise. I will make a gigantic pot of soup and have it drained by the end of lunch. With it getting colder, the hot things will be more and more important. Note the new roof. and the pulled back dimensions. Also, you can see the rubble and the gigunda dumpster (second one) to just clear out the crap that has been bolted on, taped to and retrofitted to this hallway which,, now we are back to the original dimensions and roofline, we are getting tons of light in the first floor of the house. The Cave has gone. Let there be light…and there was light (after a big hot lunch of pulled pork).

Henry is interested in all sorts of things…permaculture in particular. There is a permaculture expert here in the Tburg environs who takes on apprentices to teach them about permaculture practices, and putting those practices into use. Wikipedia describes Permaculture in a clear way that even weak minds can grasp (like mine):

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies.

Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another. Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.

The first recorded modern practice of permaculture as a systematic method was by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer in the 1960s, but the method was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.

The word permaculture is described by Mollison as a portmanteau of permanent agriculture, and permanent culture.

The intent is that, by training individuals in a core set of design principles, those individuals can design their own environments and build increasingly self-sufficient human settlements — ones that reduce society’s reliance on industrial systems of production and distribution that Mollison identified as fundamentally and systematically destroying Earth’s ecosystems.

While originating as an agro-ecological design theory, permaculture has developed a large international following. This “permaculture community” continues to expand on the original ideas, integrating a range of ideas of alternative culture, through a network of publications, permaculture gardens, intentional communities, training programs, and internet forums. In this way, permaculture has become a form of architecture of nature and ecology as well as an informal institution of alternative social ideals.

Here is the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute >>

Certainly something to think about.

Mid week review

Bird Collection, Q. Cassetti,2010, digitalCoffee brewing. Sauce on the stove too. Broccoli soup simmering—getting ready for the big whizzzz before serving to the crew today. I finally went to the store to stock up, so the lack of bread, bananas and other basics is no longer. I cooked and chopped and cooked some more last night so today I can work and not get itchy around 11:45 trying to figure out what I am going to scratch together for the team. I am on it.

The back of the house is totally open. It is impressive what the light is doing to the rooms—and the intimacy the space has when returned to the slimmer hallway. Feels more personal and less like the back space (which when we bought this house was covered in avocado carpet squares saturated with cat  urine) was storage or the promise of another room. Again, thankfully, this work was topical, so cheap in/easy out. And the dumpster continues to fill. More noise, but happy noise as the change is great and will really take the downstairs of this big barn to another place.  

Alex is running at Taughannock State Park. I hope, for his sake, the really cranked up workout is not on the roster for today. That little gem is running to the top of the waterfall, around the rim trail and back down several times. This little process has a -zilla on the end of the name…and I cannot remember it. I do not think its pukezilla…but for me it is… or trashedzilla? Poor devil. But, he signed up for it.

The Demo Derby was very successful. The boys loved it and took great pictures. Bruce cozied up to a few of the drivers and made a deeper connection than I am want to do. More from the fair today (Horse Pulls). I hope the weather clears a bit this week. Overcast for a few days…and frankly, I would like the end of summer to be a bit more brilliant.

NPR had a good critique of the book, The Great Silence: Britain from the Shadow of the First World War to the Dawn of the Jazz Age by Juliet Nicolson along with others. From the review, Tina Brown (editor- ini chief) of Daily Beast) details:

In The Great Silence, Nicolson uses anecdotes, diaries and letters to create portraits of 35 people living in England after the armistice. Her characters range from “under-chauffeurs and below-stairs people” to “royalty, as well as famous writers and artists,” Brown says. And in Brown’s eyes, Nicolson’s bottom-up approach to history is what makes her book so affecting.

“What we don’t think about is the devastating trauma of what it was like when one in seven young men in England had died,” she says. And certainly the incidents from Nicolson’s book that Brown recounts are harrowing.

“She describes scenes like, for instance, riding the bus, and suddenly some woman would just break into wild tears as something had reminded her of her son, or her brother or somebody in her family,” the editor says. “Or she would talk about men walking the streets of London wearing these strange, eerie tin masks because their faces had been shot away.”

One surgeon, Howard Gillies — himself a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Great War — was so affected by the tin-masked men that he worked to develop a revolutionary plastic surgery technique. Nicolson devotes a chapter of her book to describing his work.

All of Brown’s “survival” picks are about displaying character in the face of stress. Howard Schultz, for example, succeeded because of his uncommon audacity and vision. America’s 20-somethings may be foundering because most of them “haven’t really faced up to the stresses [that] people like Schultz are writing about yet,” Brown says.

And the survivors of the conflict once called the War to End All Wars faced the ultimate test: trying to readjust after a horrific, unimaginable trauma. As Brown puts it: “You do have to admire these people who returned under such terrifying circumstances and simply had to pick up and carry on.”

Imagine. Imagine the tin masks, the tears, the losses of families, of communities, of life. This is beyond my understanding. And to that,  this book has been added to my list of things to read. It’s on my kindle now.

More later.

Ping Ping

Bird Bundle (sketch), Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalRaining like crazy yesterday. Tree debris everywhere from the big blows we had last night. It was remarkable. Alex was busy with music and friends. Kitty packed. Rob was busy planning rennovations, demolition and the finalizing the woodstove wall in the kitchen. The team is demoing the downstairs old bathroom and the back walkway. So the ping ping ping of hammers and the great heaving into dumpsters is the topline sound  today.

Its cold out. Wool undershirts are being worn happily by yours truly. Scarves are appealing again.

Seems the the man from Countywide Appliances needs to be chez Luckystone this afternoon to install the new compressor for the fridge. Finally. Its been a summer of planning around the status of the bags of ice in the ice chest at the lake…with our planning, more often than not, not being highly successful. Will take my sketchbook and see what comes off the pencils. I am enjoying these graphic illustrations and the pencil drawings in advance make the vector work so quick and clean…and gives me the time to work on the curves being better and honestly, with pencil on paper, allows me to plan the work to make it go more smoothly. Liking the process. Liking the results. Like the fluidity. Now, I need to continue to work like Mr. Girard in strips. And, I need to work on some more figures like him. Maybe work on the hands too.

Publications and illustrations await for this week. We will see what happens.

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.

Slow Saturday

Northern Lights, Q. Cassetti, 2010, pen and ink/ digitalJust back from Sauders, the Mennonite grocery store in Seneca Falls. It was a beautiful drive with clouds and little peeks of blue sky with gold light casting shadows on the snowy fields and painting the trees dark purple and brown. Beautiful. We bought a cartful of groceries with a lot of flour, butter and the basics. I picked up a package of John Martin Scrapple for my mother-in-law who loves it along with frozen blackberries, dried parsley, teensy potatoes (called creamers) and much more.

They had dried mushrooms (my new add to the mise en place) but Greenstars are better and believe it, cheaper. Mushrooms add so much to any saucy thing--adding so much weight and dimension to the flavor of a sauce. It is amazing, much like the leek, the shift/or add of an ingredient can make so much of a difference.

We have eggplants for Kitty and Alex's favorite eggplant along with all sorts of spices, nuts and add ins. What with the time I have at home, the bottles and cans for cooking have been replaced by single pieces of paper and plastic bags. The whole quantity of our household trash has reduced to a trickle...and the composting and recyclables a bit more weighted.

I have flour for the week. I am making a new recipe in The King Arthur Book--not the Pain Levain, but the Whole Wheat Sourdough which is a bit more complicated (but thats not saying a lot).

I am thinking of calling the Society of Illustrators in New York to find out what it would take to create a digital (maybe even taking it to vector) award for the Student's Show. I would like to do a $1000 prize (max $1500) as this is the place to encourage growth and staying on track. It would have meant the world to me when I was in school, but prizes were not given. I am also thinking of prizes for the first years and a single prize for the second years at Hartford Art School's MFA in illustration. Illustration keeps giving and giving to me, I would like to encourage this small community of lovely people through giving to students who may need applause and praise for excellence and effort. Put this on the list of things to do.

Must go for now. There is some reference to search....for more of these home sweet home pictures. I am developing things and feel I am on the front end of this...

Off to Target later this afternoon for shopping with Alex. Maybe dinner at The Nines...!

one of those days

It has been as if the weather has been asking us forgiveness during the long and mild fall. It was positively balmy for this time of the year--with a cool morning with frost dulling the green grass down to a yellow sage color to the clear skies and warm days that have framed up this fall. Not much rain, not much cold. And here we are, almost at Thanksgiving and the fear of the long winter has not set in. Thankfully. We had some storms put on the remaining windows here in the big house. We also had the chimney sweep here to clean our little engine, our little skinny Jodel stove--to find that it now smokes. Rob took it apart from the bottom end to find nothing blocking the air (no mouse nests, birds nests, chipmunks, or stray skunks nesting in the stove)...but smoking none the less. So Mel, the small man who sweeps is coming again to troubleshoot the stove. I am getting the snows put on the car along with an early annual check, oil change and check the pings and knocks. Gotta get ready as Vermont looms for our Thanksgiving treat. We are off to visit my brother and tribe in Woodstock--and our entire clan is thrilled with the aspect of a scene change.

My office is generally a big mess. Thats the way I like it...and now with the holidays almost upon us, the gift wrap, present piles have taken the entropy to an entirely different place. I am thrilled with my new collection of reusable shopping bags with matching gift wrap that Walmart offered. I am thrilled as I have gotten through the stock paper and ribbons that I have held onto for the year. I am chugging through the collection of presents I have accumulated, and am making lists of those things that need to be bought or considered. My holiday cards have come from the printer as have the envelopes. Hopefully, tomorrow, I can review the labels and refine the list so that we can get into the whole holiday mailing thing (along with doing the same thing for valentines day as my valentines cards have delivered too!) next week...and have it done by 12/1. I really need to get the bulk of this work done before 12/1 as the holidays bite into the month, and just as the dessert fork hits the plate on Thanksgiving day, we need to be done for the December holidays as there are only so many days, so many evenings and an ocean's amount of work due by January 1 as many budgets tail out by that time. So, from a work standpoint, its clear the decks and get ready for the onslaught.

The home team need a break.Everyone is complaining about homework, about the kids at the High School etc. The sooner the musical and ski club can begin, the better. We are having both of the younger's wisdom teeth pulled out after Christmas, so...the holiday is going to be before the teeth and after teeth. Poor devils. But, on the good side, at least this will be done before everyone goes to college.

Trying to make plans to take the tribe to Art Basel Miami the first week of December. Need to make the schedule and $$ work with the frequent flier miles. More later.


Bought six feet of italian subs for boys and boys and boys working on moving wood, organizing all the antiquities in the barn. So all of that, a bucket of potato salad, a huge bag of cookies (by the pound Voortmans), grapes and "the big ones" cans of Red Bull and "the purple drink". Fueled em up. Lots of laughs. The work got done.

Got the book in front of the Johnson people. They were pleased with the layouts and how they fit. We talked schedules, paper, printing, high res/ lo res images. It is going to be wild between now and mid September. Greased Wheels. Need to get the papers for Hartford done...and the sketch for Vin so I can run these all at one time. Yikes!

The poor powerbook is gasping for space. Am backing this baby up to the terrabit hard drive...and hoping to dump a bunch of files and stuff to give this little computer a bit of air.

Gotta go. Going to make dinner...featuring this lovely rice from Mark Bittman's Quick Recipes. I add artichoke hearts and double the recipe. It's really good...and with fresh tomatoes on the side and something on the grill and a great bread thing from Ithaca Bakery. We will be ready to roll.

Cheers. Tomorrow is Friday!

gotta run!

Work happening under the stairs. A new bathroom off the front hall! Dust, dust and more dust! but soon, a new bathroom which will be very nice and very elegant as the current one (the remodelling of the former owners in the mid seventies on a tiny budget--yuck) is ready to go away and become part of the back concourse. But, my eyes are itchy and the floor is dusty...and spring cannot come soon enough so as to have the doors open when this sort of thing is happening.

Grinding out this old time thing. We have it in a place it can hold while I am out with the Hartford Illos Group with Mentor Murray and the hardest working gal in the Illos biz, Carol. We are off to Dallas/Fort Worth to see rodeos and line dancing along with James Tennison, Ray Mel Cornelious, Gary Myrick, Dorit Rabinovitch, Jack Unruh, Phil Boatright, Don Punchatz, Real and Muff Musgrave, Bart Forbes, Jose Cruz and more. I leave on Sunday and come back the following Saturday to snow and the Cast Party for Working chez us. So, it should be a busy one--but fun as I will have a preview of all the interesting folks I will be spending two weeks this summer with (in addition to the new group coming in "year one" with me. I am puzzling over clothes as right now I have multiple layers, my new wool boots and no end to things to wrap around my neck, head etc. And they are not doing that in Texas.

gotta go. Am running late today.

quick note

Off for a morning at Cornell to talk about the Baker Annual Report and a freebie, graphics for a Triathlon being held at Taughannock State Park this summer. I smell an illustration for that--do you?

Its a crisp, clear morning with promises of winter storms, sleet and snow later today. I know it sounds crazy, but we need it. Snow, that is. The herd of deer that lives on our property need it...and we would like a water filled summer like we have had recently--versus the parched, needle sharp, brown grass we sometimes get around the beginning of August. So, please, a bit of water.

Woodstove got another workout last night. R. brought a basket of wood in from the stock we have outside (from the trees we have had cut down before they would fall down)--and arranged it all to look as if Martha Stewart and her minions had gotten a job here. I peered nearsightedly at the basket and was shocked (as was R) to see that one of the logs wasnt a was a part of a deer leg...complete with the hoof and fur. Shady and her girlfriends must have been saving a deercicle for a snack along with the walnut logs...just for "later". I let out a hoot--R did a doubletake and the hoof found itself out in the woods in an instant. Good thing it didnt make it into the stove...Imagine! Not a good way to break in the little black cricket on the hearth.

We are having a benefit with the local Democrats on February 10th to raise money for the up and coming local elections. I am thinking little plastic donkeys and marzipan in red white and blue. Maybe streamers and red white and blue sprayed carnations What do you think? Tasteful enough?

More later>>


I know, I know. You are tired about hearing this--but did I extol the virtues of Dr. Martin's Black Star Matte Ink recently? It is amazing. Lays down matte and thick...and is just pure sex as it is luscious and rich and....well. I am in love over and over with this ink and the cheap brushes (only the best) to help me work through my issues with my mortality in my monteval all media field sketch books (another find!). I am slugging away with pictures of spirits and had a mini epiphany. As I was looking at the images in Graven--I noticed that the planes of the wings are really just big ole shapes with some linear detail worked in to say "feathers" or "nose and eyes". I figure I should do the same thing. Big planes and maybe create the line work on trace...scan it in and reverse it out of the image. Fast and good. Plus, gives me a chance to work bigger, bolder, and god forbid..more graphic...which, honestly, I have been shying from as it is too easy to do. Cheap trick, I guess. But, is part of the progression of images and imagery. I was thinking about how this work is furthered beyond manifesting it in other forms (like embroidery, glass etc.)--How does one develop the sketches beyond what is there? Deal with more fears? Like, how do I get over being afraid of color? Or should I embrace my fear of color and stick with more black and white as this pool is something I like to swim in? Is it medium? Technique? Or should I embrace my fear of the same way? Should I forget all of that and deal with content (which is really interesting) and take a dozen images further--really developing them...running parallel with developing product/fabric/patterns/? Or should I work on a body of images that progress with some sort of personal story? I need to think. And more importantly, I need to keep the work coming.

Two new projects flew in through the window yesterday. Quickies. But..hey. Keeps us busy. The Steuben project has been moved up--and will be shown to someone tomorrow beginning the chain of presentations to sell the job. Am keeping my fingers crossed on this one. Feels like another working Sunday this weekend with the work and the short deadlines--

Got the work to Society of Illustrators LA. Need to get the Print and CA work figured out and done too. Deadlines are more than a month away...but I am likely to flake on this and it would be nice to get something in.

Purple sky this morning has blown through to give us cold, blue skies and an amazing whippy wind which is taking limbs and trees down. Promising a bit of snow...but not much.

Fired up the cricket (Jotul 620) for the second time last night. A gem. I am pleased we have this little woodstove as it will take the sting out of the future new kitchen (which in this 1848 house was the original kitchen...complete with a deep fireplace with iron firebacks, original cranes and iron cooking devices). Our existing kitchen is a 1940s remodel of the old servant's dining room and pantry. It serves as the family entrance of the house now...a crossroads that I happen to cook out of (on an old, early 1950s electric stove that looks like a car and works like a has convinced me that I don't mind working on an electric stove ), kids do their homework...etc. The current kitchen is going to be converted back into a space that doubles as an entry and passage along with a pantry for the future new (old) kitchen. Plans are afoot for us to get a wood cookstove (as an add...not as the sole cooking tool) for this new passage to provide heat, to cook on and if needed to work as a water heater as a nice add to the house and as a fallback for all of us should we lose power (which really does happen). I like the idea and the challenge of learning to cook on a woodstove...seems somehow cool...even if its soup. I like the added heating option. And the emergency thing I love too. There are too many people (and some of them older) who need support...and this will be a big help. Now, all I need to do is convince the boss that I also want a series of Honda generators...that might take some doing.

But, girls can dream can't they?

chattering teeth.

Well. Another week begins. Had a great time in the blueness of the Pool of Dilemmas. My muse recommends that I develop the psychotic ideas that spring from the experiences of the Pool of Dilemmas into a graphic novel, per se. I don't know about this-- but think about it as I review old friends and new ones on a daily basis. Perhaps in the CF Payne and wonderful Gary Kelly class at Hartford in 2009. Imagine.I LOVE these guys...tons of talent, even more personality and opinion, gallons of thoughts about illustration. Each one, concentrated illustration bliss. Combined? Yowza. One thing about Mr. Murray. He does some key-razy mix and matching that results in great things for the students (and to be honest, for the teachers too).Murray has this amazing sense of putting chocolate and peanut butter together and making something even better. Its a veritable third sense for him. I am psyched to get a semi-full dose of that versus the self serving BS that the last 18 mos of the orange school provided. Back to Kelley and Payne. Maybe they can help me on some spreads of the Pool of Dilemma. The Naked girl. The pink girl. Women in red caps. Men in caps. Mr. Hip Hugger. and all the other personalities that evolve and develop on a daily basis. Its amazing I get laps in...for all the fun that is there.

The new cricket, the black legged, tiny Jotul stove (Jotul F 602 CB) delivered today. Sweetness. It takes a limited number (say one) of shortie logs...and can crank it up with relatively no problem. My muse is listening (as we speak) to UTube-ulation on Jotul tiny stoves..the wheres and whatfores. It is going to be great. The fantasy side porch is winding down. The capitals were delivered and installed today to our delight.

Steuben job in the last stages. They were so taken by the progress, they moved the meeting from the fourth to the 31st...So finalizing on a little book that I proposed along with the glass designs (maybe letterpress). Need to call around to test feasibility.

Cold knuckles

Working day with the radiator off. Thank goodness R ran off to the lake cottage for the random electric oil heaters that took the brrrrr....out of the air. It was a hat, 2 scarves, snowboots kind of day in the studio. Busy working out the shell, the sunface and moving towards closure for this phase of the project. There are sketches for the other 7 ideas on the table. Wednesday is the due date on that. Poking along. Everyone seems happy (I might almost say VERY) with the progress, my nailing deadlines etc. Now nailing a cheap fee is another thing. Ouch!

K and A. were on the ski slopes today. Great skiing. Lots of friends wanting to do the same things K and A wanted to do.

R and I talked about the next phase of development of the Camp House (back walkway space--definition, redesign and repurposing). R has some terrific ideas that need to be embellished upon and taken to the next level. We also need to get to more bathrooms and maybe a new kitchen too. However, tomorrow a teensy single log type woodstove will be installed in the old kitchen (in the big, iron backed fireplace with a big mantle and even all the cranes and hooks that might have been used in 1848. The little woodstove will be great. We had put a coal stove in the same place. However, if you are not familiar with coal..this stuff needs to burn at an amazingly hot temperature--so hot that I often feared we would burn down the building. Wood is not that "" as coal. It is far more predictable and manageable (at least for this girl) than the mega burn, mega nuclear fuel that coal is.

This time of the year I covet storm windows and doors, hot radiators and heat in general. Its beautiful to have natural air conditioning (in August)--but people laugh at my get up with the hats and scarves. You might too (if you saw me!). That's why blogging is so darned beautiful--as you can imagine me as the 5'10", blonde with perfect eyesight and teeth...and not the scary, harridan that writes and the cold.

Jane Austen awaits...! (I hope you have dialed into this elucidating elucidation with our 1800 galpal?).

Tomorrow. The Pool of Dilemmas awaits (although I am not sure with the hats and you think goggles will go with that?). Miami is looking sweet for April.