Catching up on a week

Quick scan of a piece in process. There is quite a bit of calligraphic illustration and lettering in the world of Fraktur. So, picking up my pen and pretending I am a calligrapher, this lion inspired piece is a beginning. I like what is happening with the line work. But, I wont bore you today with my blabbing on about my love of Fraktur...and what I keep learning. But, its not going away for a while, so not to worry.

I got a notice from Creative Quarterly 17 to find out that I got 3 of my one hour portraits and 3 valentines into the next publication. One of the portraits is a "Merit Winner" and the others all runners up...which according to Peg N. may get into the publication along with a posting on the internet. Creative Quarterly 15 posts the pieces I got into the its pretty nice and exciting. My Society of Illustrators LA submissions are in (09/30 is the close date)--and I am joining this group to support their existence along with some of the nice benefits they offer. Additionally, Jim O'Brien, a former SU and Hartford student (now, co alumni) is shepherding a nice show on digital art that he has invited me to be in --with sequential work on how we build our digital images. I am also pleased to say that I have two pieces in a digital article in The Artist's Magazine, written by my fellow student at Hartford, Ursula Roma.

Am rather worn out from the week. Monday we travelled in the a.m. to get to a tour/info session at Arcadia University in Glenside (a few stops in the suburbs of Philadelphia). Lovely campus, great programs, SMALLLLL, beautiful facilities, global focus (particularly study abroad) but very student focused. Nothing is impossible. Kitty was enchanted. And Oh, did I mention their Castle? The campus centers around a real castle built by a sugar baron who was exiled from Philadelphia--and became Arcadia when Beaver College (in W. PA burned down and moved to this new location). Nice and focused students. We spent the night on Penns Landing with the trip home (on Alex's birthday) planned for a brief a.m. on South Street and then home... However, it never works out quite that way. We had cheesesteaks for a 10:30 a.m.. breakfast (to Alex's delight....we somehow have created this odd tradition when we are on the road to have odd things (If we want to) for breakfast like sushi or now, cheesesteaks.) And, no one seems to think its odd. Matter of fact, I think this is part of the fun of being on the road. The day was perfect and we jumped in the car--doing a bit of rubbernecking down Market Street and then up Broad. Rob managed to find Temple and wind our way in front of a brand new building with lots of interesting, engaged students perched on the grass enjoying the day. No signage...but we found the new Tyler School of Art...and then, we found our way inside the building...the tour, and from no clear winner...Temple's Tyler School of Art spoke to all of us from the amazing energy in this new facility, to the amazing core curriculum to the actual rooms, studios, facilities. It was all about immersing yourself in art, in craft, in drawing and the pursuit of an idea and making it. We are all stunned and enchanted. Top of the list, and the hot truck directly outside the front door sells crepe "just like in France, Mom" as our excited, soon to be applicant, exclaimed!

We got home to Tburg around 8 with pizza and iced cream cake from Byrne Dairy for the birthday boy. We had a birthday brunch for him today for his grandparents and next Saturday we host " Sausage Fest 2009" for the XC boys (with sausage, kubb, doo ball and the like. We also have teeshirts coming to celebrate the event to A's pleasure. He has been a saint...and is truly a wonderful guy. He fully understands his sister (and his mom) and has been a levelset for all of us. He is now playing golf post Brunch...versus the study hall that Kitty and I have going here at the lake. Rob is working this p.m. as manager on duty at CMoG. We always have at least one bump into a holiday weekend...with the MOD job.

Wednesday, it was up and early again with a 2 hr drive to meet the kind and generous Chad Grohman and his colleague, Bob Dorsey at RIT to have Kitty get a gander at the Medical Illustration and Illustration programs. RIT reminded both Rob and me of our time at CMU with all sorts of disciplines all comingled in this interesting building. RIT is on the list--not at the top like Tyler...but def there. Chad and Bob were wonderful...showing us everyting and spending really great time with Kitty looking at her work and giving her good insight and inspiration. I think she has taking a lot in in the last week...and we are seeing change and evolution as we progress. Should be an interesting school year we are pushing into.

Thursday and Friday blew by--with a lot of office work and jobs. And now we are into the weekend at the lake--with chores yesterday to our brunch today. Nothing now...(phew) so I may give myself a break and read something.

More later. My head doesnt quite want to stay upright.

a jewel

This is a likeness of Boston based artist,Eilen Jewell, a wonderful musician who we in Trumansburg love as she comes regularly to the Rongo and Grassroots Festival. I started with the highlights...cutting them out of a form for the head and found as I started layering more tone on top of the original-that I was losing the monumental aspect of this person. So, I figured in my less than 2 hour requirement, that this would be the way to go with this image. I may take it further to see what happens. Maybe.

We have gotten a ton of rain today. Everything has gone from crispy to green...and lush. Kitty and Alex are not having exams today, so maybe a movie in the afternoon. R. is working late--so correcting the thesis will be in order. I am a bit anxious about the output getting here...and making sure it looks right. Want to get this thesis work out of the way--and done. These shortie portraits are a goad to keep moving. Also,looking forward to my work with Jean and Nancy. Would like a minute to get that sketched and figured out. Maybe this weekend.

Gotta go.


Cold here at the lake. The picture to the left is of the Luckystone at Sheldrake thanks to the satellite imagery found on the web.The wisteria is robust because I cut it within an inch of it's life (hoping maybe to stall it's persistant accumulation and acquisition of real estate--winding it's stems and tendrils through and about any fence, upright, or object that is within it's grasping reach. The trillium have gone from white to pink. The end of the daffodils are in sight with the floridly fragrant narcissus coming on soon. We have multiheaded narcissus chez Camp (purchased from Van Engelen) from the annual "lets put 400 bulbs in" program. These multiheaded ones are extrodinarily fragrant especially paired with these tiny white "doubles"that we have as well. I picked a bunch of them and pinned them to my jacket the other day for a bonus that it is spring. Def. more narcissus when I order the blockbuster mixes this year for fall.

I think I am going to order pencils for graduation favors this summer. Perhaps six pencils with a quote about illustration with a red and black ribbon for each place setting. My treat...but I think it would be nice. I have the one Luckystone Prize in my office, ready to prep. The other is still in fabrication, but coming along. I have my big experimental piece of output coming (36" x 48") on stretchers coming for review this week. And, Busy Beaver say the buttons are shipping as we speak. Peter H. is getting my paper to edit...and then pending the design changes to the few illustrations (and a few more I might do), I will be done. Or maybe I will be done and do the few later to add.

We do have the Tuttle/Stahl prep which is a portrait of a Connecticut person (historical or otherwise). Initially, Travis, the wine drinking, Xantac taking chimp was my first "go to"--but instead of going rogue on this project--I will keep tight. So, its going to be on Olivia Langdon Clemens, wife of Mark Twain and local figure at Hartford and here in Elmira. Mark Twain said about his beloved Livy:

"I never wrote a serious word until after I married Mrs. Clemens. She is solely responsible - to her should go the credit - for any influence my subsequent work should exert. After my marriage, she edited everything I wrote"

Elmira College has a center for Mark Twain Studies. I plan on calling this week to see if there is any good primary source material to work with. If not, I like the picture to the left as it shows Olivia simply...not all glam that other pictures capture. This is the girl that Samuel Clemens fell in love with. I plan on integrating a profile/silhouette of Clemens into the image (something I have wanted to fiddle with) to say that she lives behind or within this profile despite her being the engine behind Mark Twain's work.

Look what I found, a note from Twain to Thomas Nast, premiere caricaturist and recognized illustrator of the time:

To Th. Nast, in Morristown, N. J.:
Hartford, Nov. 1872.

Nast, you more than any other man have won a prodigious victory for Grant--I mean, rather, for civilization and progress. Those pictures were simply marvelous, and if any man in the land has a right to hold his head up and be honestly proud of his share in this year's vast events that man is unquestionably yourself. We all do sincerely honor you, and are proud of you.

This note has currency today with the work of Barry Blitt and the witty Mr. Brodner. Nice that people were so courteous in sending notes to each other....recognizing those moments that change people and the world.

More on Livy. Hope to find some elicidating quotes or ideas. My work is going to be a poster about a fictitious play or reading of letters to and from Mark Twain and his depict their relationship and partnership...and how she is the one who is highlighted, not the larger than life celebrity she was married to.

Rob is measuring. Kitty is doing puzzles and I am going to order pencils and ribbons.
More later!

Friday: Art Basel Miami

Yesterday was filled with art, head spinning art, design, cool stuff and books. It had friends--old and new, friends we bumped into and just being friends (Q&R). It was, as mostly, a perfect Miami day with sun, a bit of humidity and clouds, but few. We started at the Convention Center to be there when the doors opened by noon--and we could only do about 2 and a half hours before both of our heads were buzzing, and eyes ringing. I did a solid five hours last year by myself--where I was going deep, taking notes about everything and not having as social and pleasant as it was with R. It was more like work--looking, seeking, comparing for ideas, approaches and confirmation with the death stuff I was on. It was also my November school get away as I was neither at Hartford or Syracuse. This year, stimulation is not as craved as I have plenty from all I was there to scoop up bits, see some trends, exclaim over the funny, profane or amazing. That was my goal. So, what did we see that was great:

Sparkles. They are everywhere. Applied to 2D stuff. Sequinned and rhinestoned 3 D stuff (I think triggered by Damien Hirst's Diamond encrusted skull)--from antlers, to strings of glittery glimmer to, diamond studded teeth in mink encased in lucite...Everywhere. Somehow signalling the end of the fat times--or maybe just the exclamation point before the fog of recession settles in.

Antlers: Everywhere.

symbols of consumption: Chanel double Cs, golden guns, exotic animal prints, gold plate everything. Very Paris Hilton, or Phat in the styling. I find it repulsive and not funny, but I think some think its funny. I think it is sadly telling about our culture.

Artists I saw and Loved:

R. Crumb drawings of Aline. Funny but somehow poingnant out of the R. Crumb spinning tale graphic novel approached.

Alex Cerveny's watercolors and small paintings using beautiful gradients, a consistent thin warm red border around his works. Lots of floating heads, twisting people and imagery that reflected a real understanding of medieval manuscripts. He used type on his images, sometimes creating halos with words. Beautiful florals. He is represented by Casa Triangulo, Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Alice Neels's painting of James Hunter Black Draftee, 1965 was startling and beautiful. Neel masterfully, and simply sketched the whole seated figure on a light neutral field and then went about painting the face boldly. This piece was breathtaking.

Steven Conroy's work shown through the Marleborough Gallery stopped me dead. His painting of JKIII, 2008 was a strong, simple portrait that was commanding in the confidence Conroy shows in the way he handles his paint--socking in the big stuff and then boldly using a dark line to delineate areas. Felt very Leindecker in its huge scale, simple blocking and tackling, memorable. I need to see more of Conroy's painting as it is masterful and was a teaching image for me.

Big year for Botero in numerous galleries. There was a lovely sculpture of a man astride a horse in a stone that sparked making the sculpture look as if the equestrian and horse were carved crisply out of a block of sugar. Since his work he did on Guantanemo that we saw a few falls back at the Marleborough Gallery, I found I loved him for his work and his thinking. Prior to that, I loved him for his approach, style and sweetness. He is back to sweetness with many new images being chubby acrobats, women riding horses in the circus, clowns (Comedia Del'Arte inspired versus "bring in the clowns" clowns). Very inspired by the work of Picasso. What was intriguing beyond the paintings which are looser...are his simple line drawings he tinted lightly with watercolor. I took notes. I can do this. And it looked good...snapped up some relatively ordinary drawings.

Russian artist, Stas Volyazlovsky's Magic Mirror was drawn on tea stained fabric> some of them looking like old runners with lace on the end, drawn with black and blue ballpoints. The style was very informed by russian tattoos or even street art. Volyazlovsky parodied religious and political theme weaving crowns, and symbols for the devil in with portraits of George Bush and Hitler, linking the Oscars with the Oskars--marrying western and eastern language and type forms....amazing.

Kehinde Wiley's portrait of Luis Carlos Neves Reis Study II,2008--oil wash on paper was outstanding. His portrait was bold, big (head must have easily been 18" tall) with flat fabric patterns behind and in front. Chad G. would have loved.

Greyson Perry's Map to Nowhere at the Paragon Press is a showstopper. It is a big engraving (pieced together), an edition of 15 with all sorts of religious, anatomical, political, geographic symbology with wonderful hand lettering saying the funniest and sobering things all together chock full of meanings and messages that only viewing it can accomplish.

Book Notes:
Taschen was there. These are keepers by Taschen:
Illustration Now (people to research later>>Ben Goss, Olaf Hajek, Christoph Nieman, Jordin Isip, Jody Hewgill, Melinda Beck, Craig Frazier)
Graphic Design Now
Wiener Werstatte
Guidelines for Online Success

Visionaire was there. Visionnaire does art projects with artists. To see more>>

Art Metro was there with books on Matt Leines (of Juxtapoz fame) for one. Also hade a series of books written by Hans Ulricch Obrist on artists (R Crumb interview for one.)

Art a tremendous resource.

Then we went back to Design Miami and walked the Design Miami Pavillion. I need to take a moment and talk about the real hit of the show, the lighting. There is this very intense highly focused lighting that is the rage. I went into a gallery with a bunch of Hans Arp drawings and small paintings and the talk in the room after the gasps was not about the art, but the framing projectors used and the intensity of the light used. Same in the Design Miami Pavillion that featured an opulent Audi with these impressive lights focused on it. Made 3 D seem dull.

There was a ton to see at Design Miami--actually surprisingly refreshing from the din and sheer volume of art from the Convention Center. Standouts were books, a splashy single chandelier that changed color from Swarovski--very Las Vegas, very Celebrity Cruises--and in the context of a big white space, kind of funny and sweet in the showgirl brazeness it has.

designer: Studio Job
manufacturer: Studio Job, The Netherlands
marquetry in natural Indian Rosewood with iconography in dyed African Koto, Pama, Tulipwood, Ash, Bird's Eye Maple, Aningeria, Madrona Burl, Birch and Red Gum
exclusive to Moss produced in a limited edition of 6 pieces

However, I almost passed out from the "Bavaria" collection of work Murray Moss had on show from Studio Job. It was the battlecry for all of us decorative illustrators waiting for new things to do! Marquetry on simple benches, tables, cabinets, mirrors using imagery near and dear to the members of Studio Job, the dutch life of farming. Symmetry, color, flat tones, a sweet story that any grown up or child would embrace. Among all the sophistry and chic, these whimsical illustrations were in your face, demanding (as with the Sheik of Chic) you pay attention, and while you are at it, be charmed. This collection of furniture came out of bigger farm based project called, "Farm". Now, could I live with this stuff? probably not. But, its a wonderful world that we can know that this sort of work is commissioned and sold to those who are as charmed as I am.

We had a nice sit and a drink in the HSBC lounge (for those with the right badges)--in an environment created by the Campana brothers, sort of a tiki chic thing with winding benches with rattan knit pillows and the Campanas loopy red chairs. There was a video extolling the Campanas and there as we were sipping or cool ones, strode the men themselves, the Campanas, celebs there to meet friends and have their pictures taken. We later saw the Campanas at Al-Sabah 's posing with the al Sabah himself. Al Sabah had moved some furniture as many of the pieces we saw on Friday were replaced with new ones...and he had lovely women in arab garb, more men in the same with plates of falafel, and inlaid boxes open with pieces of baklavah and other treats being offered about. More gigantic pyramids of dates, and dishes of pistachios.

It was fun seeing Tim Dubitsky work on with the GlassLab team to create 2 tattoos three dimensionally (one a flaming heart with a dagger, the other a sword with a rose) that were truly tour de forces to create on site (from blowing to at bench flameworking) to putting a significant number of truly developed forms onto one piece without thermal shock. Impressive. And, the pieces were remarkable too. This all ended around 9:30.

We strolled down the street (amazingly developed since last year this time) walking by Genius Jones (a great kids store) and no end to kitchen supply, tile supply, furniture and gallery shops to Pacific Time, a restaurant you need to pencil in for dinner the next time you come to Miami. Chef and owner, Jonathan Eismann is married to an old friend of the Cassettis so we needed to go and support the team and see this wonderous place. Pacific Time was a buzz--every table filled, all ages, sizes and shapes...turning tables and taking another seating even at ten. We had fish and wonderful sides of eggplant and another of swiss chard which made me consider being a vegan might not be the hardest thing to do. The real deal is to do as our knowlegable neighbors did which was to have the "whole shebang"-- one of every "small plate" offering that have to share for the table. Watching this go down was like really getting a visual and smell based review of the menu. From what I saw and sniffed...everything was beautiful, imaginative and distinct not to mention amazing.

Must go, the day is getting away from me.

Chilly, blue sky day.

R up at 4 a.m. to get a plane to Philadelphia to connect with one to get him to Miami as start of Art Basel Miami. He is back in NYC on Wednesday for a meeting and then back to Miami for the remainder of the week. The first half of the week has the Vernissage, an event practiced by the Europeans which wiki frames up this way:

A vernissage (varnishing, from French), also known as a preview, private view or simply opening, is the start of an art exhibition. Guests may be served canapés and wine as they discuss with artists and others the works in the exhibition. Critics and press may also be present, or invited to separate private viewings.

At official exhibitions, such as the Royal Academy summer exhibition, artists, in the past, would give a finishing touch to their works by varnishing them (J M W Turner was known for making significant changes to works on varnishing day while his fellow academicians were simply varnishing). The custom of patrons and the élite of visiting the academies during the varnishing day prior to the formal opening of the exhibition gave rise to the tradition of celebrating the completion of an art work or a series of art works with friends and sponsors. Nowadays, for commercial shows it is an opportunity to market the works on sale to buyers and critics.

There also is a comparable ceremonial ending of art exhibitions, called finissage. Larger art exhibitions also may have such an event at half time of the exhibition (midissage).

This vernissage is the culmination of some of the work the Hot Glass team at the GlassLab will be producing with the designers they have invited to work with them. Should be great. Vernissage is something that the Museum of Glass introduces as part of their programming with their hot glass outposts. Every time is wonderful, interesting and often pressworthy.

So, I am a bit tired getting up early. There are things to do here, reservations to be made, money to be gotten, appointments to be made. I shot images of K last night which I plan on using instead of a classmate for the NYC or work with a photo project from Hartford. I want a portrait of K and one of A and this is the opportunity to do it. I will check with mentor Murray to get clearance on that. I have a picture of my dog that has gotten published. Maybe this year its my kids? I have always felt that I couldnt do their portraits and have shied away from it. But I think with the black and white chops I have gotten with the vector work, this is something that is possible and quite possibly nice. If I could get one/both done for Christmas, what a present that would be.

No news from the Society of Illustrators on whether I got into the 51st show. Friends have heard if they havent gotten in...but I haven't heard if I have. I wonder if I should call or wait and let the busy people at the Society catch up? Nothing from Illustration West either. I just got certificates from last year's show last they may be running a bit slow on this one. January and February are another rash of entries. I will post.

Getting the snows put on the Wonderbus. The rain/snow/ice/slush fun that we had yesterday makes me very nervous. Thus this shoe change for the car. Too scary without the right traction.

gotta go. work awaits. I have to plan out a few weeks of a photoshoot in order to communicate it to 3 photographers to quote by mid week/next. Lots of chutes and ladders and trap doors that need to get sync'ed.

No turkey today.

a selection from Laylah Ali

"I’m thinking about formal portraits, but the portraiture that I’m thinking of when I’m making these encompasses a much bigger range than I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking of them as distinct individuals who exist or who have existed. The idea is for the distinctness of that individual to come through and to speak in some way about a narrative that is not readily apparent. So something about the way the person is dressed or their setting or the weathering of their face tells you a story. The look in their eyes speaks of something larger. Think of society portraiture in the late 1800s, like a [John Singer] Sargent painting. He commissioned portraits of very wealthy individuals and you’re looking at the individual as much as you are at their dress, what they’re holding, what the setting is—the whole picture. With really amazing portraits, the painting of them also plays a role. The quality of paint and something about the eyes, those sorts of artistic decisions become an active part of really good portraits.

The idea of portraiture is a kind of storytelling—a distilled storytelling. I am interested in distilled narratives so the idea of trying to tell a story or hint at something larger than the individual—through the individual—became interesting to me. It’s new for me to do this and I’m not sure where it’s going to go from here. I think this is the first step at looking at these individual characters and blowing them up large. I’ve had individual figures before in my work, but they have been more distant, more distant, more deep into the picture." Laylah Ali from Art 21, PBS

I forgot the kibble

It was a whirl until I put my head down on the soft pillow and started to fade last night. Kitty and I bought Thanksgiving, Day after Thanksgiving Thanksgiving and the baby shower food all in one swoop on Saturday afternoon (and, of course, forgot the kibble for the kittens).We shopped and shopped from the traditional stuff like potatoes to our favorite things in the Indian Food section like Swad Coriander Chutney (always buy 3 jars as it is the basis of all things good) and Indian garlic (finely chopped, no bitter aftertaste, smooth as butter), to the household stuff we always forget (like the kibble!).

Two grey cats were not happy. Not at all. Didn't even pretend to put a brave face on it. Lots of angry tail switching and sidelong glances. Lots of showing me the claws they were planning to sink into my leg when I least expected it. No kibble. No excuses.

We unloaded our goodies and then started in on organizing and wrapping Christmas. We have the cards ordered for the business and personal, and my hope is to have Christmas figured out and shopped for by the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, so I can get the boxes in the mail by the first week of December. And, I think this is achieveable. I have a a lunch scheduled with some of K's senior friends so we can start a tradition of having lunch over the holidays when eveyone goes back to school and comes home. Its important to establish these things early, so everyone (except the planner) thinks this is the most natural thing in the world. I have discovered that if you do something more than twice, it becomes a tradition which is either pooh poohed or adored. I am hoping this will work. So we wrapped and wrapped and listened to a book on tape of the new Phenom, Twilight, a total piece of idotic trash. I mean, if you want good girl trash, this is not it...its mall literature...with not much story and characters I personally do not care a whisker about. I mean...I do not get it. Trash and not the good kind. I do not think I can spend a minute more listening to this stuff. However, this unleashed a real comedy commentary from K. who rolled her eyes, translated and then overlaid her own emo track on top of this stuff, so it made the time speed by.

We had the baby shower. Girls, Boys, children, littlelittles. Very nice--for everyone. It was worth the effort as it was fun and I think the new growing family liked it too.

This week is a short week with the kids out Wednesday, and my taking Wed. p.m. off. I would like some time to draw beyond the doodles on the top of the stove while K and A eat their breakfast. I got to the House of Health today and elliptical beckoned. Not too cruel, and I didnt fall off...So we are up on that.

There was a line that went down the block by the local Methodist Church this morning with people lined up with wagons, carts and cars filling them with food they got from the folding tables set up in the parking lot of potatoes, yams, turkeys, iced carrot cakes and the like. We are talking topped off many tables will be groaning from the food which made me pause and thank goodness for the local food bank that we have in Central New York. The folks in line needed the help. The Food Bank is a group I really believe in as they help those in need in a very respectful, generous way. They help out at the schools, providing filled backpacks with food and snacks for kids in need who might not eat over the weekends. They supplement those who are in a place that this makes the difference. They take produce grown at the Cornell farms and process it/sort it to go to those in the area. So the Ag school helps too. I did a little volunteer work for them and feel that if there is any charity needing an arm up today, tomorrow and particularly in the near term future, it is the foodbank. We should all give a bit and help out. It is direct aid..and as necessary as air for any human being. So often we give to those charities that effect education, quality of life, the environment--and I feel they all have value. But to see those who are extremely needy getting a bit of help...for me, it transcends all else.

Must go and do something with the rest of the day. Time's a ticking.

Know Exhibition

"Know" featured at this year's Gen Art Vanguard Fair is going to happen real soon. Mark Murphy, Murphy Fine Art Editions is working hard to post information prior to the show dates of December 4th through the 7th. Syracuse Alumni, Don Kilpatrick is one of the artists in this show. To find out more, here it is from Mark Murphy's Scribble 08 Blog>>

> Image is Don Kilpatrick's entry for the Know show.

Stocking up

Leo and Diane Dillon

Well, thanks to Joe Ciardello and others, I ordered up a stack of Arches 140 Hot Press and a fist of tubes of watercolor (per the palette recommended by the ever amazing painter, Dennis Nolan). I was stunned and drooling after I had a chance to hold Ciardello's beautiful illustrations--with the paper being luscious and had great hand...a great surface that takes the ink. I also loved his hand ripped/deckled edges that I think could be part of my illustration... taking the hand drawn thing further making it toothier. I had to get choice. I also got some watercolor frisket as well as I adore the little graphic characters that the Dillons use...and the graphic illustration from the Illustration House (at left) that really got me charged up to try this approach. I love the simplicity and whimsey of this image and how all the parts are really working. Breathlessly inspiring.

Doug Andersen nipped at my heels suggesting scratchboard and watercolors, hand tinting prints etc and you know, I am going to take the challenge along with scratchboard (and a technique that Chad Grohman is going to explain to me having to do with a fake woodcut approach). I also dialed up a holiday card with various inserts for this year versus stacks of prints for everyone. Probably prints for clients...but not the entire list as the supplies are not cheap and I want to say hi to a lot of people. So, the list gets parsed--the Hi list and the print/gift list. More letters the better...but with a little thinking around them. Plus, the postage is pricy on the big change is in order. And, appropriate too given the state of the state of the state.

Speaking of inspiring--this image is a knockout from the Dillons. I love how Will Bradley it is...the line work, the sheer texture of the plants below (along with the demon who is hidden), and then the simple figures who draw your eye. I am very taken with this, the color, the composition, and the linear forest (remember this Q.) used to build the image and set an environment for the story. Lots to see here.

Rob was so kind while we were in Fort Lauderdale, pulling off the street and allowing me to scramble around the car to take snapshots of the wonderful plants and palms that spring up in every patch of dirt in front of everything. So, I have great resources along with my new used books from Alibris on Indian Painting. Am getting charged up again.

Gotta go, work awaits.

Day Four: HAS: NYC

Yesterday was chock a block--and for me, all in, the most thought provoking time during our encampment in New York. We started the day with Zina Saunders, who is an electric person, filled with passion, intelligence, wit and artistry. She lives her life weaving her thoughts, her amazing perceptions and insights with her art with a seeming endless fount of energy and spirit. Can you imagine, I was blown off my cotton-pickin' chair and found her speech riveting, inspirational, and insightful.

I have a new hero in my pantheon of heros.

Zina stood up, and in her upfront, no frills way, detailed how she came to illustration through her father, the late, Norman Saunders, known for his pulp and sci-fi illustration. Zina was influenced by her father to get into the business and still paints in details and concepts that are homage to his work and humor (a nice example was in the Calamity Sarah picture she shows on Drawger, Sarah Palin is holding the reins of the bucking bronco between her teeth--referencing Zina's memory of the delight her father had in western movies when the cowboy was riding a horse, guns a blazin' with the reins of the horse in his teeth. This, Norman Saunders declared, was something the cowboy would only do once as he would no longer have any teeth after the first go round). And, as Zina has herself, made a career of illustration--doing everything from licensing jobs (books about Sponge Bob, Blues Clues and Dora the Explorer), she has transcended illustration and has fused it with her curiosity of life, the people she lives with in that small town called Manhattan, her energy and her passion to grow and develop completely as a person, an artist and a spirit.

She is a witty and opinionated person who not only says laugh out loud funny stuff, but she uses her lithe and willowy person to accentuate and to some degree, illustrate the commentary, her tales, her insights. She is a complete package with her public speaking. She also is not afraid to teach and share, talking about her transition from a pure traditional media person to all digital with the making of custom brushes, and her desire to paint just as she had before in a new environment, using healthier materials abut with the same vision, same brain and same hands as she had in the more conventional methods. Zina takes up challenges whether it be the white lie to a client that yes indeed, she had done thus and so type of work in thus and so type of media to the current challenge laid down by Nancy Stahl on the Drawger site, challenging the women to do political work. This, Zina Saunders picked up with a zeal that manifested itself in the most amazing collection of images about John McCain and Caribou Barbie--their relationship and all the funny juxtapositions that occurred_ during the short campaign. Zina really found a groove with this--allowing her room to joke and yet bring her formidable talent and skills as an illustrator to deliver the goods. You should really check it out She would often, during this time, get up at three in the morning to create her illustration (she is fast) and have a low res jpg in the mailboxes of the major papers by early morning before the editors even had their coffee. From this resulted phone calls and requests for high res jpgs of the same files...and she was off to the races. She got in front of being tweaked and pinched by the art directors due to the freshness of the art..the Now-ness...and in so doing, created a wonderful body of work which should spin all sorts of other projects.

This entrepeneurial spirit manifested in this political work stemmed from her independent work on the unknown New York and on a women bicycle messenger from Zimbabwe. Zina independently started making pictures of the men who had these wonderful hybrid bikes she used to admire growing up on 104th Street. These vehicles are remarkable, strange, contraptions which, it turns out has a following, a club of people who make and ride them. Zina got friendly with one guy, did an illustration of him a week later and then presented him with the work. One picture a week, a new guy, a new bike--burgeoning to a collection of images that include people that raise bees in the city, raise racing pigeons etc. Wonderful people with passion gave to Zina and she, in turn, gave back to them, and to us, enriching her vision and ours, of the world, of Manhattan. And, this work has been picked up and once again, her passion and vision has driven a body of work which has had a payout for all of us.

Something to remember and think about.

We had Joe Ciardello speak about his work, his engagement in fusing his interest in music with that of illustration. His work is beautiful and inspiring in his use of line and color--muscular despite it's seeming delicacy. He works on a hot press watercolor paper I need to get my hands on as it took the water and paint beautifully. He too, is developing personal work which is becoming paying work with his aspirations for the near future being around some personal publishing work much like Zina's new book from Blurb of the McCain Palin project, The Party's Over.

We had Cheryl Phelps come and talk about licensing, her quick chat about it (you can have her coach you), the complexities of the deal and contracts, how to "find the bachelors", how do develop a portfolio with templates for the market segment you want to focus your illustrations for, and the ways to get your work out there from tradeshows, publications, advertising etc. With her matter of fact discussion, her depth of knowledge and her gentle humor, it was very exciting and for me, a definite opportunity as I know about markets and market driven work, the bodies of work I currently do, throw off illustrations and patterns, and I know how to present ideas in a format to sell. I know how to comp a product. I know production methods. I know how to put a tradeshow together. I can sell. And, aligned with my desire to create alternative cash streams that can spin the green stuff, this fits in perfectly. So, def on the trip to Surtex..and more.

We then went down to the Illustration House to see the work and hear Walt Reed and his son Roger tell us about the work, the up and coming auction and their insights about the work and artists they represent. I had a chance to spend a little time with Walt to ask him about how he got into this business that he virtually created. Walt is an illustrator, who, while he was in Westport, CT was part of the illustration whirl,meeing with friends, going to parties, mixing with some of the phenomenal talent that filled the editorial and magazine pages of the time. He said that at the time, at one of the Westport Art Club meetings one of the members stood up and informed the group that they should all go home and destroy their archives of work as their families would be taxed on the work (as a part of their estates) at a very high level. And many illustrators took his word immediately. Walt had been (as many illustrators do today) swapped illustrations with his friends so he offered to take the pictures off these worried illustrators at that time. From that moment, he was in the business. It moved from Connecticut to New York in several locations to the place they are today on 25th Street. Walt and Roger were part of the unfolding of the Rockwell forgery that was in the press in the last year or so and were the people to inform the family of it's illegitimacy. After he told the family, the family went looking for original and as the story unfolded, they found it hidden in the attic (if my mind serves me, it was hidden because of a divorce or some other split in the family). When asked where illustration was going, and what was going to be in his gallery in ten years, Walt seemed unsure. He mourns the moment of painting--seemingly not recognizing digital media as an option. I find it curious as illustration, as it was practiced in the 50s through the 80s really does not exist in the same places. It is purchased and infused into other aspects of our lives. It is not dead. Illustration doesn't sell Cream of Wheat in an idealized way any more...but to my pleasure, Washington Mutual and their heavy advertising (with illustration) in the New Yorker points to something happening--maybe for novelty or maybe for the illlustrative context of the publication. Maybe what is old will become the chicness of pinhole cameras (Bill K. cited the interest at Pratt), and turntables (like Mr.A's interest in that and "vinyl"). Who knows? The greening of the wold makes used and old, new and fab. We can hope...but not wait.

my roommates from Left to Right:
Jackie Decker, Lori Ann Levy Holm, Linda Tajirian all looking at Grey's Anatomy on TV.
Lotsa laughs with this crew.

HAS: Day Two: NYC/ Brooklyn

We used hopstop to figure out how to get over to the Pratt Institute neighborhood for a day with Ted and Betsy Lewin and the photographer, Bill Kontzias. We were cycled through in groups of 9--with a walk through Pratt, time with Bill with a brief, very brief overview of shooting images and how it relates to art and illustrations, and time with Ted Lewin and Murray doing a series of quick shots using different lighting with classmates as models (with hats). I was reluctant about this and the travel but it turned out to be a wonderful experience on a perfect fall day with the subway being really nice, clean and nonthreatening these days (and I was thanking my stars with my subway time when we lived here to take the fear away). The Lewins were charming and hospitable, opening their beautiful brownstone to us from their basement aparment for Bill K to present his slides to tromping through their house to the tippy top to Ted's studio for the shoot. Betsy took us to Pratt, which was impressive, beautiful, clean and very happy to see their show at the library and then some little side trips to see sculpture she loves, the Italian Courtyard, and the amazing steam plant (can you say the home of steam punk...very "Brazil" with turbines all shiny and red, all sorts of iluminated dials and meters, a wall of some pretty scary, frankensteiny switches all on two levels with a catwalk above which a stupendous, golden light fixture which sang with praise for electricity and power.

Bill Kontzias, a photographer and teacher at Pratt, took us through the development of the use of the camera from camera obsura to the current camera we use today--showing it's influence in art and evolving into illustration. His insights were wonderful and made many of us sad that he couldn't spend more time with us going through the development of the image, the storytelling, the light. His wisdom and knowledge really resonated with me. I love it that he stated the the Lens does the drawing and the light does the painting of the image. He spoke so briefly about the types of shadows on a face...from the butterfly under the nose to something called a loop light, which was used to great artistry in the Mona Lisa--which shifts the shadow from the butterfly shape off to the left or right, and in so doing, focuses the light on the eyes, softens the cheeks, really adds to drawing the face. He waxed eloquently on how Michelangelo really "got it" relative to lighting and perspective which Konzias linked in many of his examples through to the same concepts with Thomas Eakins rowers and the medical class images. He showed us some pretty mind blowing perspective studies that Eakins did (beyond art...) along with pointing out the contour and edge lighting that took Eakins paintings beyond that of normal photographs. He showed us original Eakins study shots, which in their own rights were modern, elegant and for me, more relaxed and "real" than Eakins beautiful but stiff representations of people. One could live in the space that his photos rendered..but maybe not so much in the painting. Kontzias also cited that a camera is a a tool for photographers and illustrators--and that tool was something that could see beyond that the artist could percieve at the time. Just hearing this took the stigma out from working from and with photography. Its been done since whats all this about cheating and stuff. What a head job was done on me in school. Once again, its the final picture that matters.

It was fun working with Ted and Murray working with a bouncecard and a single source light with a gel on it. Some examples are posted for fun. We had a nice lunch at a Thai restaurant with all 36 or us broken into tables which the nice staff took in stride as we kind of overwhelmed the place...It was really good, affordable and got us charged to get back on the subway to get back to town. We are sitting here in our room with our feet up...talking away, checking mail and seeing what is up. Some of the group are going to see a show, some to the Society for sketching and the two of us who are happy for a bit of nonteam, quiet time.

More later.

HAS: Day One: NYC

Great speakers at the Society, Steve Brodner and Leo and Diane Dillon. The Society looks terrific under the new direction of an old business associate, Anelle Miller who has cleaned the place up, put flowers and decor in the right place, who transformed the womens room into a nice place versus a bad bar and grill restroom. The place seems spotless, with show graphics, illustrations hung straight, and plumb, and with the staff def chop chop. She has transformed the place and really deserves kudos for the hard work in making the society more of a snappy place (the worn holes in the shredded carpet were gone. Yhe big room we were in was comfortable, big and well suited for our lectures in the morning and the crit in the afternoon.

Steve Brodner was as always, salient, smart and insightful. I throughly enjoyed his insight about the recent events. His work is extrodinary, transcending Thomas Nast--with wit and bite that really communicates not only in his print work but now the new "Naked Campaign" videos he has done with the New Yorker Magazine. What really worked for me was his talking about the idea of creating a niche, your own job and then backing into it. He had decided that he was going to take this approach and it has worked from assignments covering political campaigns, to this new venture with the New Yorker. He is entrepenurial in his work--getting it out through the print and electronic media--thinking and learning as he goes. He also shared his approach to work/teaching:
1. Read for Essence
2. Sketch
3. Form a Sentence > establish his metaphor
--whats my statement
--think about staging hierarchy
4. Composition
5. Finish

Every pictures needs to mean something. "There are no casual notes in Mozart." He also is pretty fluid in his use of media from drawing with a paintbrush to pen and ink, to watercolor and so one. His influenced are mainly Steadmann("angst"), and Hirshfield ("elegance"). Brodner is a thought leader beyond his niche. We are lucky to have him walking this planet.

I am so jazzed by Leo and Diane Dillon. I have always loved their work...but what makes them tick, their philosophy and interplay is amazing. They learned to work together out of their competitive nature. The fought and fought until they came up with a working method where one person would work on a sketch and pass it to the other and back and forth until it is realized. Then a tight pencil needs to happen, then a color comp and then a final. The Dillons have three artists in their family> Leo, Diane and then, the third artist, The Dillons. In taking away the ego, the me--as Leo said "You've given yourself away if your style is yourself". Once they have given that up, the media, the rendering, the sheer pride in the final image and it's pristine quality takes a far more significant role. So, we saw woodcuts, we saw crewel work, stained glass windows, wooden panels, paint on acetate, pastels, airbrush. One image more striking than the next with a surprise for me in the woodcuts (one inspired by Will Bradley that really called to me) and in the new children's book on Jazz (very graphic, referencing Tom Purvis to some degree, Milton Avery etc.)that pushes me to try more graphic things too. I know I can do this, I have just held off going there. They also had a body of work centered around crythosethia..making objects up out of other objects. They also are prime great layout guys from not denying gutters in their pictures, to changing borders throughout the book to changing an element like flowers throughout the publication. T hey also like to like mini stories within a children's book with wordless stories that little children can "read" along with the parents. They are the pair I hope to focus on my paper.

Must go to check email> Its been great. I showed my mentor my work...I need to keep going.. need to try hots and cools> and keep making pictures to see where it goes.

Hopefully, we will have indian food tonight with the gals and a few invited boyfriends.


Its been a whirl since Halloween what with the pumpkins, the lumieres, the overbuying of candy (always afraid to run out) and the this kid is doing this, that kid is doing that...with the week ahead's expectations and deadlines (as expected) expanding and changing that it made this poor girl's head expand and expand and expand. I am finally deflated and can talk again. We have been going getting this person here, that person there, and the chores in we approach the new work week with at least an attempt at trying to stay on keel. R goes to Miami for 3 days. I get out of here Sunday for 10 days...and have as usual, a road block of work with more piled on top (..."here is a website we need immediately, our objectives and raises are all built on the success of the job...")with all sorts of guilt and agendas built upon the brick (or lack thereof) in the thinking. So, I work weekends and nights to get this done when they have had ( lemme think...eleven months! to get this accomplished. Sorry to be so sour, its just that I hate the pressure combined with Christmas crap that still seems to be recycling. Oh, and did I mention, we might have guests? I hope we can move that needle as I do not have the time for them. I am planning on the time R is out of the house to work until midnight to get the work done. The logo (we cannot miss a month, so we need it a month earlier), a new publication, the website "how boutsomething Retro ?" (can anyone out there in the Real World tell me what Retro means...I know what it means to me, which is def. WRONG)??

Need to put my head down. Getting cranky. Have been dreaming about illustration (which is the magic these programs give you..the ability to go into pre- REM thinking about lines and weight, sketching pictures in your head, progressions, ideas, influences...a really wonderful pink cloud to float on when this real stuff gets, well...

too real.

The photograph bought on eBay by Zeke Schein, who believes it depicts Robert Johnson, left, and fellow bluesman Johnny Shines. © 2007 Claud Johnson.
ps. Read the new Vanity Fair's article on Robert Johnson, the inspiration of the book by Gary Kelley, Black Cat Bone and book, Me + the Devil by Scott Bakal. It's an interesting tale of the acquisition of an image from ebay that is thought to be the third recognized image of Johnson. There is a lot of history and his story to make Kelley's and Bakal's work resonate with history, music and the grounding that Johnson provided to today's musicians. Take a look.

IF: Vacant [gaze]

Memento Mori moment: October 31, 2008:

Everyone Tarrou set eyes on had that vacant gaze, and was visibly suffering from the complete break with all that life had meant to him. And since they could not be thinking of their death all the time, they thought of nothing... “For really to think about someone means thinking about that person every minute of the day, without letting one’s thoughts be diverted by anything; by meals, by a fly that settles on someone’s cheek, by household duties, or by a sudden itch somewhere. But there are always flies and itches. That’s why life is difficult to live.”

Albert Camus (1913–1960)
Algerian-born French journalist, writer.
Tarrou, in The Plague,
part 4, ch. 5, p. 197, trans. by Stuart Gilbert
Penguin Modern Classics (1948).


When stuck, change channels. Use trace or change from bluepencil and ink to a trusty 3B pencil and a pink pearl. To confirm this sketch technique, I bought a can of Aqua net as I have $1.99 into the deal. The 3B is so friendly and gorgeous. It really doesnt like to be too sharp, slightly rounded but it will give you nice solids pretty quickly. Its a fast tool that if you don't watch it, it will fly off your page. it also does stuff that the fabulous Mr. Noodlers will not do beyond its expediency, it will chew up paper and do layouts that are rough and get the ideas going. So, I think this new/ old pal will be in this fist for a few days until I snap out of it...or maybe it even becomes part of the mix.

It's funny, this changeover, that is, from making digital pictures to making real live Q pictures that then is monkeyed in the computer (erased, colored). It is harder. My head hurts. It isn't as fluid, nor am I more confident in this arena. The design is harder, more critical. Overlaps and levels of interest are important. The relationships of objects have to have tension and work together. Much, much more complexity. Maybe more interest too? However, I am learning about levels of finish that I want to take things to. After spending around five hours on the newest Garden of Eden redo this weekend...taking the inked drawing into photoshop and erasing like crazy all the unfinished hangy things, sharpening up points, essentially drawing with the eraser and toggling to the brush if I miss. The piece still looks handdrawn, but its cleaner and sharper. My classmates and Mentor can tell me otherwise...wheither the level of finish is enough--but this is taking the work further in having to resolve the details.

Resolved the costs associated with Hartford and have a better idea of where we are next summer. So, going into 2009 knowing what better to expect than the open ended financial aspect of the program feeling like I am on a slippery slope without anything to hang on to. Phew.

Need to resolve a few preliminary things to talk with my clients about tomorrow. Road warrior day tomorrow. Up at 4 a.m, to the airport by 5:30 a.m. Plane takes off at 6:30 a.m. and at Newark by 7:55 a.m. To the office by 9 a.m. Meetings et cetera until 4:30 p.m. and home by 10. Taking Mini Me to try it out along with a sketchbook to force me back to paper on a logotype I am working on. If the ole 3B comes out, I probably can get someplace faster than pushing the vectors around. Then, I can get back into the vectors and churn out 4-6 presentable ideas by Wednesday. We will see.

Halloween is Friday. No candy yet. Gotta get on that.

More later>>

A Corner of the Garden

Snow. Freaking snow projected for today/tonight. At least two inches here. Over towards Cooperstown, the Central New York locus for snow, there are 10 inches planned with many of the schools in that area, calling a snow day for today! So, snow on the halloween pumpkin. The saddest picture for me are the little children in their special sparkly costumes that often they have to zip snow jackets on top of accompanied by rubber boots versus light little slippers. Really, the only costumes should be made to make the littles look like stuffed animals (with plush material) so a down coat could be stuffed inside...and a little tiger with boots is cute versus Cinderella in snow treads. Have to get the candy and cat litter. No, we do not give out cat litter. We fill lunchbags with an inch of cat litter and put candles in them (making a country lumiere) and have fifty of them line our front walk. Normally we have tons of carved pumpkins but time is short this year so four will have to do. We play spooky music and if the weather is nice, we have drinks and drinks to offer (this year we have a ton of left over cheese and crackers too) so the grownups often come and visit a bit before they go on their way. Its really fun and very Tburg. Many of our neighbors are convivial like this too, so its an open house throughout town.

Little visit to the House of Health today. Worth it. Lots of folks there--the black and red lady, the energetic lady who is one of the water walkers and the persistent lady who spends tons of time on the elliptical by the window where she camps out with food, drink, towels. She is totally set up. I enjoyed my time and feel stretched and more flexible.

Trying to get the numbers and charges from Hartford straight. Spent some time with their IT folks and managed to get all the email addresses, logins, and passwords straight. I know where to go for the finances and where to go for the email etc. Our faculty doesnt use Blackboard--they use OIL Paint instead. Speaking of computers, the MINI ME showed up on the front porch. It is a PC which makes it hard but its a SWEETHEART. I got the black one...not the pink, bronze or light blue one...but it is a real computer, has MSword (urg) and I can download mozilla and a itunes for travel. Its about as big as a National Geographic and about 2.5 x as thick. Lightweight and will do the email without a problem. It already has the wireless card integrated into the package so its pretty close to plug and play despite its right and left clickness I need to get used to. So, instead of writing blog entries on my phone (which I have done and will continue to do) I will be able to use a complete keyboard and not have to parse the blab that comes out of my mouth.

I was up early and thought about Adam and Eve and how Eve was derived from Adam. Adam's rib, Adam derivative...I also thought about how in Christian symbols, Adam is represented in Crucifixion scenes by a skull or partial skull at the foot of the cross. This depiction represented Adams fall from grace (as it is said) or fall into grace (I say) in his acquisition of knowledge. Why is it that knowledge is a sin? Yes, Adam and Eve did not do as they were told in 1)touching the tree of knowledge of good and evil and 2) eating the fruit of the said tree. To plead their case, if they were pure--God commanded them not to do these things and they readily accepted. They didn't even know they could choose. They could say no. They could have an opinion. They could act independently from their creator and maybe, jailer? Beyond the encouragement by the snake,what spurred them to act? They made the choice to disobey--and out of this disobedience they became more godlike in their ability to choose and their acquisition of knowledge of good and evil. I guess that is why they were locked out of the Garden to keep them away from the Tree of Life which would have given them immortality. I love it that Eve came from Adam's rib. Eve and Adam's dna must have been the same. How did God manifest this change. The book tells us that Adam took a nap, and the procedure to make Eve happened. Were there stitches? Did poor Adam hurt? Was it like looking in a mirror? If they were as uninformed (or simple) prior to their gaining knowledge, was it like my pets TJ and Mei Mei regarding each other, tolerating each other, coming up with ways to co-exist? I don't understand why knowledge was a bad thing for these elementary beings?

rainy day

Rainy like crazy here. Poor A. had a cross country event in Marathon which turns out to be the same (miserable weather as last year)--with A pushing hard during his XC event with the end being heroic (tossing cookies) with the steady,cold weather. I am setting them up and knocking them down-- with hard work on Friday and then continuing today with prints of images for my clients, polishing up images for Hartford, contract writing and basic writing assignments.

K cleaned her closets today with the payout being invited to a party tonight. R and our guest are off to see Eilen Jewell at Castaways and last night, Toivo at Felicias. I was working.

I was a wild girl yesterday and after thinking about all the hopping around that I am going to be doing, I bought a $300 mini laptop (pc) with a 8.5" screen (ACER from New Egg) for the internet-ability. I love my iPhone, but beyond the prefunctory "I have your email messages", the communications gets a bit tough. And, I figured for 2 lbs. and the inexpensive price I could download word and pdf reader, I could at least have a blogging machine for you all, and a place to really better see the files I need to see and not feel guilty that I am not taking my 17" Powerbook. It has a 6 hour battery, some power and the only downside is that it get a bit hot on the lap (as does my wonderful Apple powerbook). We will see. Amazon and New Egg customers raved about this product. We will see! I will be able to walk all over NYC with this in the bag and a camera versus the camera, the backpack etc. with the rigamarole on planes etc. It is too much.

Started working on some figures for Adam and Eve. I know the two illustration conventions I need to know. One, women do not have big honking noses or bottom lips. There is a shorthand to drawing women. The other is that things that move away from trunks (bodies, trees) taper. Hands taper from arms, feet taper from legs, snakes taper. Need to proceed and amend accordingly. Think mirrored images. Think flat. Have done two eden pix for Vin. Have started some figures to just begin. Wow. do I have work to do.

I have, unfortunately been looking at Leger for figures and he doesnt work in the illustration conventions for his figures. Big noses that have lines on either sides. Bottom and top lips. Muscles and not shy with big, massive hands. I also have been looking at Hicks (as you know) and the wonderful Hirshfield with his wacky naive figures with short foreheads and stiff bodies.

Need to get going as A has outdoors club which starts early (another early a.m.--the whole weekend early a.m. for the past month both Sat and Sun). Need to think about Christmas now. Cards, more cards and starting to wrap what I have. Urg. It is December 1 before we know it.