It's never easy. I spent yesterday foodling around with the new computer and how to efficiently get it going, fonts loaded, life continuing with relatively little fuss. However, small things change--like the type of fire wire that is accomodated and the whole porting of files over wheither it be from Time Capsule or from a hard drive back up which I had as well. But, not to complain, if its not hard--then the sweetness of having a fully operational setup is not as sweet. More to come today--but I feel its with only one hand tied behind my back, not both. And the promise of sweetness is at hand. Can you say FAST. I will be able to get back to full crankage...really throwing the work out...and big files too!

I recolored the fu dog to my delight (ready for Picture Salon). Double Happiness is having some tweaks and the Octopus redraw, this weekend. I hope this afternoon I can do one or both...or sock in Peter Hoover's good edits and have the paper finished. I need to finish something and move on. Then, Livy waits in the wings. I am glad the other work from Chris Payne and Gary Kelley hasn't sailed over the transom yet as I want to have the wits needed for their project. I need to be freed up to think about these projects. Am getting fired up about the portraits.

We had a soaking rain last night (that's what Chet, the Lawnmower man proclaims we need regularly). Its a dark grey morning with lovely humidity and the grass is velvety in its lush green-ness. We are on to herbaceous peonies along with all of the garden's iris are blowing out. The hosta that were given to me as a present from our painter have expanded exponentially as always. I do not know what Timmy fed these things, but he brought me 3 plants originally that I split before spading them in. Last year, I split them again--and quite honestly, I could split them into threes right now and have plants that are plenty big and robust at the end of the season. But, I think I will wait and see how huge they become.

Alex is here glowering at me. Gotta go and pour the orange juice!

on fire

They shouldn't have let me get on the bus. Absolutely shouldn't. They should have kept me locked in the car with my black dog, with both our noses up against the window, waiting for the good people to come back and drive us around and then back to our house and the room where we work, the room we eat in and the room we sleep in. But they were not so smart.

So, I got on the bus to New York with team Hartford. And now, a week later, I cannot breathe. I am on fire. First off, I am loving my little doodles at breakfast in watercolor. The sheer loveliness of the paint, how it blends--how opaque I can get it, how thin I can get it. Right now, I am working on a dumb little picture of pretzels, swirls of mustard, hearts and mossy green dots (sounds like a wrapping paper for either Germans or beer drinkers or both) just to try out different colors in these new Maimeri Blu paints (which are as advertised, extrodinary...pigment in a pan format)--just need to get a tube of white gouache to complete the bill. I am loving them so much, they may just go to Miami for the fun of it. I could do these doodles all day long. Instead, I write and try to keep my head down and get the work done as these tempting diversions beckon. I am loving my ladies with butterflies. They need to be taken to the next level. I need to do at least eight more for the body of work. I need to print them out and color them/tint them per My Mentor's suggestion (which I try to try). Then, just out of the blue, I decided to work on K's portrait which I have been posting the progress. I am loving what is happening, the color, the look and feel, the graphic quality and simplicity. I am aiming for three (at least) by San francisco...and then there will be a mini body of work to look at. Really have a chance to flex my muscles.

Work awaits. The day has been short and everyone has been having fire drills with the emergency jobs. Urg.

making a list

All ancillary, move aside. Its Christmas insanity today along with prep for my trip and then a healthy dose of redo work (rescaling the holiday card for a client for the Chairman's exclusive 250 piece order) and a RFQ (Request for Quotation) on a big, wiggly photography project that we need to get funds for, but no one has wrapped their head around it. We will need to get this RFQ out tomorrow so as to have numbers early (Mon) next week so as to be able to roll that into a big budget request by Wednesday. Didn't I say it was the end of the year? So, no House of Health as I need the time for laundry,dishes, writing schedules, getting money and working. No rest for the wicked.

Did I mention how much I love Facebook? I joined Facebook for the same reasons I joined MySpace (and promptly quit MySpace)--to see how it works, to see the tone and feel to better understand and monitor my kids, the world they are living in, the attitudes and talk amongst the friends etc. And, because of that, I love Facebook as much as they do, have a better appreciation of what and how they are communicating and catching up with people I had lost touch with. I am jealous of my kids as the friends they have now, will continue to be friends with the ability to always catch up, snippets of chat, the hi howyadoin' being something easy and fun with community sites like Facebook, cellphones and the computer, email and gmail and snail mail. And to be honest, there is a lot of stupid talk amongst that set, but least they are talking, writing and reading (which is all good). Now, why do I love Facebook?

Well, I can do all the same things my kids can do--meet new people (or people you kind of met, and now you have a friendly jokey relationship), look at people's pictures etc, and actually use the chat function to talk live with pals like I did with the illustrious, illustrator and all round nice guy, Don Kilpatrick, Syracuse MA Illustration alumni (a class ahead of me). Don, as usual, was full of bounce and wasn't going to get a chance to see his piece in the KNOW show that Mark Murphy was sponsoring at Art Basel Miami in one of the satellite shows. (Note: if we get there, take a snap for Don). He is working very hard with teaching in Michigan but says the climate of the Big Three (Car companies) not doing well really makes the environment quite tough, quite tough indeed that the tenor and tone is hard at this time.

Well, the tribe is here. David Burke and John Whiting are opening up the door from the old historic kitchen into the current (1940) kitchen which was formerly the servant's dining room. We are opening the area to make way for a new kitchen which right now has the lovely hot cricket, the tiny woodstove that packs a punch that will help both rooms stay warm/warmer. There are projects to do, stains to touch, suitcases to empty, letters to write. More later.


Its that time of the year, the day before the day before a holiday. Always that moment, that day when the corporate world explodes/implodes and we are there with open phone lines, sharp pencils and multitaskability to help them all to get out of the office for their breaks which sometimes manifests itself in my not having a very happy holiday (read working). We are holding steady. Eleventh hour, we need to see this, then, now...and then...A bit of hair ripping. But, I am typing this while the postscript files are saved out.

Had a mind bending conversation (all positive) with mentor Murray. He got on the phone and had all sorts of ideas, input and excitement around the image that was posted last Friday ("IF: [Homer's] Opinion).He was so encouraging, so positive, so delighted with this piece--suggesting I get paints out and tint output on watercolor paper. It was such a blast of postivity, my hair hasn't flattened out yet...and I am a bit stunned...trying to get some time tomorrow to output the image and play with color a bit..He wants a bit more of this...and I have been working on the Genesis stuff with a whale that is moving it sounds like parallel universes with genesis and fluffy ladies. I have the genesis corrections from NYC (eliminating the goofy white lines that separate the tree from the background, the owl from the background and shifting the background color) and now I need to go here too. No problem. Every step Murray pulls me forward--and the work improves and I keep learning. I keep taking in the conventions as I look and listen to this wonderful educator, kind man and incisive art director and guide. My hubbie is pretty good at this too. But I fight R. I am not allowed to fight Murray (I have almost given up--what will he do?) and each and every thing has value to me. I suggested Dennis Nolan's palette and he suggested John Alcorn's palette. So, Alcorn it is. We will see what happens.

I have been looking at Leo and Diane Dillon's Bradley, Will Bradley, William Morris and Walter Crane. There are some other conventions that come out about illustrating--the ones Murray has pointed up are, to refresh myself:

> women have light and delicate features. minimize or eliminate shadows.
> women have light mouths--do not draw the bottom lip, but suggest it with the shadow under the lip.
> all elements that move away from a trunk or a torso taper (read, arms/legs or branches or octopus tentacles even flower stems...its a good one)
> new understandings:
--sometimes women have tiny, bitsy hands and feet.
--sometimes the figures are almost graphic shapes with the background and foliage doing all the business with the detail insanity. The sheer relief of the plain figure is remarkable and becomes the first thing the eye sees.
--edit while you draw. More is less.
--keep the pen moving and if you worry, photoshop also can erase and edit..
--think dark and light with the page patterning with figures and foliage.
--faces are always almost calligraphic in simplicity. No need to whale on it. Brief for male faces, scanty with women.

Gotta go. Some postscript files are crying.

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.

A Pearl

My mentor, Murray, took me aside to reassure me that it was okay to be a decorative illustrator, after all he was. Join the club. When I was busy comparing myself to the sea of some of the most excellent non-flat people, he suggested I look at the work of John Alcorn (1935-1992). As usual, these little, well conceived kernels, as pearls amongst pigs, are chock full of information and learning that this smart man never has to teach...he just needs to point. And if a pig, decides to pick up the pearls and see what's there, it can be elucidating and sometimes a spur to change and grow. So, this pig amongst the pearls, quickly googled Alcorn while in Hartford and was knocked off her stool...but making a note to re look at this later.

This morning was the later. This Alcorn! This is an obsessive decorator. Little scenes on little paper doll stages. This is a man that is flat, lives in his own style, and creates images that sometimes, just sometimes are (god forbid) SPOTS! And though the work is old, its as fresh as it came off his sharp pen.

Wow. He can do so much, so many styles, forceful strong design, a conscious approach to his word so type does not seem imposed but graceful. Here is the wikipedia entry on him>>He was one of the Pushpin Studio guys, doing a lot of illustration in publishing for Rizzoli, Montadori, Longanesi & Co and in children's books. He is a designer's illustrator and a designing illustrator with a sensitivity and understanding of graphic design that may have come from his training at Cooper Union. His son, Stephen Alcorn, also a highly accomplished illustrator in his biography of his father says:

Alcorn's power and charm as illustrator is so pervasive that it often threatens to eclipse his identity as designer and problem solver. It is his immaculate sense of concept and message that gives his pictorial solutions a sense of absolute inevitability.

This totally resonates with me. Decorate or problem solve. Or both. And look at the skill Alcorn does it. Like a pirouette on point, he makes it look so easy. Its not.

Stephen Alcorn gives us another gift by posting 300 images John Alcorn presented in a slide lecture given at the Puck Building in New York City in the Fall of 1991. The presentation is called Evolution by Design, and it is a luscious group of images that inspire, provoke and prod me in my progression towards an identity as a decorative illustrator. He, like the Provensens, have me in their grip.

More to come on him in the future. Alcorn is key.

>John Alcorn's obituary in the New York Times>>

Pink Sky

It's early. The pink tinged sky hangs over the silver lake...too cold to swim, but a confection to admire and think about.

Today is Wednesday. Middle of the week...but miles to go before the next Wednesday. More on the work front. Whaled on some newsletter mastheads that need to be produced three ways and elegant enough to carry the entire pub as it will be cut and paste layout by a marketing person...and not a designer. Will need to write some specs around copy, color and type size/weight, application. At least if we write and submit the controls, all they will need to do is distribute and hope all follow them. This sort of rogue publication "design" is a bit frightening, but it seems no one cares about something actually functioning and communicating, it is more tactical-- just getting it out regardless of content, message, and how that is portrayed. Man, am I sounding like an old fogey.

On the fun front, I have a picture to do for Ornamentapalooza, a November event at the Museum of Glass centered around..yes, holiday ornaments. Linear illustration, using their two color approach: black and chrome yellow (the 2300 degrees signature colors)which I have used for years. There is another card to do having to do with the inaugural cruise with Celebrity but the focus is unclear. I am not sure they want a Cassandra knock off...but hey. We'll see.

I am waiting for the tsunami book. I am also waiting to see if I have priced myself out of a job...but it's got to be soon as their deadline is the first week of September for a 300 pp. pub.And then a week or two of revisions and done. I quake in fear...either way. It's too much, too fast, schedule free( they dont believe in schedules or thumbnailing the entire pub.). How can we keep our arms around what we have and what we don't?

Here's something nice: blogs!

Some of my new best friends and classmates at the University of Hartford are now bloggers. Paul Z. who I admire tremendously from his work to this salient observations and understanding. He bursts with animation and laughs as does his work which always has a wonderful twist that makes one bellow aloud in it's expression. He is a big personality with big work to match. His Dogbabies project captures this spirit and promises to really be something quite significant. I love his painting and the wit he brings to that. It should be a fun year to see what happens with Paul and his work. I cannot wait! Paul is doing a lovely blog>> /">zillustration studio news. Paul gives us an entry every day and has surprised me with his MFA Student Profiles...where he highlights students from the Hartford program. First he did Chad Grohman and then me!I was thinking of doing a similar thing, but you know, his are so nice I think Paul has got the baton on this one.

Speaking of Chad Grohman, Chad started a blog remarking:
"I was inspired by my classmates in the Harford MFA program to start this blog. Ill be posting mostly images rather than writing. Some photos, but mostly images that I wouldn't put on my portfolio site that are off-style. I should say, not illustrator created, because its the same style mostly. Photoshop images, paintings, collateral, etc. Much of this will be about my time at Hartford and around the country."
And, he is...>> Check out the totally sweet picture of Obama (I think for the Obama Call for Entries). Man.

Linda Tajirian is a fellow graphic designer who has joined the Hartford program. Linda is also a graduate of the Hartford Art School, so she knows her way around professionally and when we all need help in Avon/Farmington/ West Hartford. Linda is fearless and created some really imaginative and quite interesting drawings around the topic of knitting during our July encampment at HAS. She too, was moved by this time we all had together and started her blog: Life's Journey Part 5 " The MFA She is giving us a sneak peak into her reference for the Vin Di Fate project. Should be a good one!

Jime Grabowski writes in her Nightlanding blog about her experiences, her work and thinking around the MFA experience. Her MFA Encounters page links to people and places she admires, has been taught by or has visited. Great list.

I am not sure if that is it...but it's all I could unearth for the moment.Take a look at all these interesting illustrators are showing and telling us. I am learning a lot. Plus, its a nice amusement during coffee breaks, if you have them.

More later.

Cold again today. Rain. More rain. Quite an electrical storm over on Seneca Lake last night providing entertainment during our nice dinner at the Stonecat Cafe. It was amusing as we ran into friends who are full of fun and had the cutest, blonde corgi waiting for them in the car. Corgis are quite compelling. Shady Grove could have a new friend who is a corgi? or a pug? Better corgi I think. They have big dog spirit in a smaller package without the social stigma that pugs have. Although pugs are compelling too? No reason to rush.

Had a little drawing vacation yesterday afternoon. The wind was blowing and it was promising rain in the low 70s. But we were chided and hastened by R to swim before we cannot do so any more. It was darned cold--sending my core temperament into the freeze mode, but did that water trick of stunning us into sleep. Am rolling on the monkeys. I figure if I whale on them for around two weeks, I will begin to get a little decorative mojo going. I will post some sketches as I go. I've got some linear ones, and some blocky ones inspired by Animal Farm, by Alice and Martin Provensen.


Well. The thing to do when Apple releases a product is to go to an Apple Store. My gripe from yesterday has been assuaged as the scene with the big white apple is so polar opposite to the monkeys at the death star company as night is to day. We showed up at the Syracuse Apple store. They had a bouncer at the front directing who got in, who didn't--keeping the level of nuttiness in the store to a minimum. I got a really cool sales person, Heather, with great hair, cool glasses and great eyebrows to walk me through my new acquisition, a 16GB iPhone, which, I must admit am in the process of falling totally and uncontrollably in love with. The whole Apple thing was great from the cleanly designed turquoise tee shirts with tiny little iphones under the person's chin, to the whole matter of fact way of selling...making even the most inept feel not so handicapped with just thumbs. Everything was on the level, and I am on my way to picking through what I need, making my email work etc. And on the way to Hartford we went!

After 4 hrs from the Carousel Mall in Syracuse we arrived via a lovely drive from the Mass Pike to a verdant Avon with a beautiful Residence Inn (no dormitory here!) filled with some of my most favorite people in the world. We are wiped and walking in the door, and there is Mike Wimmer looking handsome and fresh, ready to take on the world. I go into the lobby and there are Carol and Murray. It's okay....we can go home now. Then, unloading the minivan of a zillion black bags, and there is our newly wed, Catharine Anne Blake, looking ten years younger, happy and relaxed--amazed that July was here and her thesis was done. We settle into our room, trying to figure out how to make the internet work--and R figures it out. A. is laughing at me--teasing me about my close in or long glasses which is cute. As an aside, A. acted as a dj our entire trip--and we listened to old Beatles, Boston, The Police, Pet Sounds (the Beach Boys) and Tommy. It was really great. Our boy has great taste. I even liked the Paul McCartney stuff which, I must admit, I hated in the past. And, to be on the up and up, I loved.

As an aside. I was taken to the corner of the coffee room by Murray and Carol where they presented me with an unbelievable gift: an original woodcut from Evaline Ness and a finished drawing from Lorraine Fox. The Ness piece is striking-- particularly so as it has all the glitches and white out to make it perfect for the press. It is in her Girl and the Goatherd hand--which as you know, I think totally rocks. The other piece by Lorraine Fox is a heraldic picture with rearing lions and a steaming pudding/pie. I am assuming it has to do with "sing a song of six pence" but I could be off my is elegant in it's simplicity and use of a single grey tone. Note--try this. I am so, so touched. Now all I need is for Mr. Tinkelman to tell us some stories about these ladies (ladies who did not do pictures of babies or puppies to make their mark) and the world will be complete.

We all ended up having dinner--an enormous table of people: Carol and Murray, Ron Mazellen, Jim O'Brien, Mike Wimmer, Yong Chen, Randy Elliot (a member of the incoming class , a friend of the wonderful Richard Williams), Ron Spears, Paul Zdepski, David LaBrozzi,--with A, R and me. Very jolly. Lots of loud talk, good ideas... It points up what was so sorely misssing for me at SU--the entire community of souls. We were a lean community....more of a chat group. What with this robustness...there isn't anything we can't do.

tomorrow starts early.

Day One: Huntington Beach

Woke up in one place and went to bed in paradise. It was a long day travelling yesterday--with delays in NYC and a puking kid in the row in front of us, spewing onto K.'s brand new shop coat. However, the JetBlue experience was wonderful, timely and what with endless TV, I spent the time prepping for Southern California by watching non-stop Orange County Housewives complete with their endless facelifts, drunken escapades, blonde confidence, heaving bosoms, lives and behaviors modelled on total fantasy and wild, emulating children. I pity all the husbands and boyfriends for their perfidy and falsehoods. It was delightful. And, totally alien to this country mouse from her frosty plateau. Totally holiday fun!

We rolled into Long Beach--strolling into the sunshine--down the ramp into perfection. We rented a really nice Saturn. Bags were quick and we were on our way to the Huntington Beach Hyatt, which, before I go any further, is amazing. It is a rambling big, resort hotel with a heated pool outside and a multitude of little hot tubs sprinkled around the property all facing the water. Birds of Paradise, Clematis (planted in red and white stripes), and a big koi pond along with huge, terra cotta pots with plants are all over the place. There is a holiday image we will post tomorrow as it is so perfect for the 25th. There is a lovely bridge that takes you to Huntington Beach (which we walked down) which, in the early evening, people make these big bonfires to cook and sit by. Bonfires and Southern California makes one pause--but its just me. I'll get over it. The passagiata by the beach was remarkable...with the sunset and all the outside activity that seemed very calm and "safe" compared to the nuttiness that happens on Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

We arrived at the crossroads of surf and skate frenzy with Johns Surf and the Hurley store. A. and K went wild. Tons of their look, long boards, longer boards and longest boards along with surf boards and gear. Tons of stripes, graphics with a sprayed texture added in, more sticker than you know what to do with, colorways are all brown/black/beige and rusty, and more brands than you know what to do with. The big surprise for me was the "Obey" line of skateware by none other than our old pal, Shepherd Fairey. Teeshirts and hoodies using his poster imagery --and of course, the Andre the Giant/ Obey the Giant star. I hope to snap some shots to better understand what he is doing. It feels as if the art is driving the skate stuff...and some throw ins (like black jeans etc.) Aunty Baby proclaimed rightfully, that all the stuff in those stores were made "right here"--and if you go to certain taco establishments, the stars of these businesses will be found there. We hope to get an eyeball of that. As we strolled, there were more and more skate and surf stores along with these cute, blimpy bikes that are stretched out and very comfy looking. Lots of funny surf and skate related holiday stuff (iie a fake Christmas tree decorated with cruising board wheels) or bright red feather wreathes decorated with logo stuff from the industry. Great. Eyepopping. We settled on dinner at a mesquite/mexican place where we all dove into big plates of mexican food...getting us ready for a mexican breakfast this coming morning.

And there will be lots, tons, of picture taking today. I guarantee there will be some money spent today.

New Career: Spiritualist?

We were talking this morning about my first gleanings on the spiritualist world. I have done a little work and reading on
--but the new discovery, The Temple of Truth (unbelievable name, isn't it) makes me quake. Lilydale is a little community near the Chautauqua Institution in way Western New York, known for it's spiritualist community...and spiritual hotspots that mediums use to have easier access to those they communicate with. The hotels, to date, warn that seances are inappropriate and forbidden in the lobbies. Here's what they say about themselves (

Since it was established in 1879, Lily Dale has been the world's largest center for spiritual development and the practice of the Spiritualist religion. For nearly 130 years, Lily Dale has offered a world-renowned summer program of lectures, workshops and other activities featuring best-selling authors, leaders in academic and scientific research into psychic phenomena, as well as the world's most powerful mediums, teachers and healers. Lily Dale is widely known as a place where knowledge and enlightenment converge in ways that deepen faith and heighten awareness. The energy of the universal life force can be felt, experienced and developed here in this serene 19th century lakeside community surrounded by towering, old-growth forest.

The heart of the Lily Dale year is our summer season, from late June through the first Sunday in September, when tens of thousands of visitors attend the wide array of programs offered on the grounds. A full schedule of workshops and seminars is highlighted by special events featuring some of the leading names in spirituality. Daily and weekly activities, mediumship demonstrations, healing services, evening entertainment, and a variety of attractions throughout the grounds will make your visit to Lily Dale uplifting and renewing. Accommodations at either of our historic hotels, campgrounds, or in one of several private guest homes make taking in all that Lily Dale has to offer relaxing and even more enjoyable.

But your spiritual journey needn't end with the summer season. There are an increasing number of opportunities offered off season in Lily Dale through the Church of the Living Spirit and the Lily Dale Spiritualist Church, as well as through the growing network of Spiritualist churches, schools and camps throughout the United States and Canada.

On spiritual healing at Lily Dale, From Abundance Magazine, the writer,Mindy Sommers recounts their experience at the "Inspiration Stump":

Inspiration Stump, one of Lily Dale's most famous landmarks, is where registered mediums (and nervous mediums-in-training) "give back to spirit" by offering free readings to those visitors assembled. Inspiration Stump is actually a huge tree stump in the middle of a dense forest at the end of a long and narrow footpath. After you walk for about a quarter mile, the forest opens up to a clearing where there are dozens of benches assembled, facing the five or six foot wide stump. Medium after medium stands or paces in front of the stump, getting impressions from those assembled, and when one is to receive a message, they will say, "May I speak to you?" or "Can spirit speak with you?" Most of the mediums are female, but the one who embarrassed my husband out of his private reverie was male. "Sir, may spirit speak with you?" We were sitting all the way in the back, and Glen was jerked out of his daydreaming but managed to answer "yes" in a strong voice. For some reason, everybody turned to look at him, which was unusual. The medium's staccato bursts of information were unusual, too. His rhythm had changed. He spoke louder and more strongly, and was more specific with Glen than he had been with the others he had read. It came like machine-gun fire. "A death of someone from your past is near, you will be asked to speak at his funeral." Bang. "You are a preacher, or could have been one if you chose, and you have a preacher in your family." Bang. "You are a landlord." Bang. "You will go to Fort Lauderdale." Bang. Glen's father was a preacher. We have rented an apartment in our home. I can't vouch for the other stuff, not yet anyway. But the man's change in tone and force struck us both, as did his specific references. Glen, who usually walks around with a slightly cynical smile, was shaken a bit.

a sample of automatic writing the caption reading "Copy of original automatic writing from Jesus

So in the spirit of Memento Mori, automatic writing and the thinking around remembering death, remembering our mortality...I think this sidebar into spiritualism might be a nice rich add to this mix as it is dealing with death in an interesting way--as the mediums are the thin scrim between those living and those on the spiritual plane--acting as the voice and hands of those that have passed on. And, to that, reinterpreting death to those that believe, proving in a way, that life continues beyond the grave, giving comfort and better health to the living. Also, to my labyrinthine thinking, the link to the NYState burn out zone amazingness, that time of spiritual fervor, consciousness of individuals, and the emergent religions and cults stemming from eccentric and amazing personalities that lead people to follow and believe. Lets recall Joseph Smith and his magic seer stone (the stone he placed in a hat with some of the golden plates within which he placed his face to read the plates); The fervor of Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Fredrick Douglas; the sacred passions of Mr Humphries and the Oneida Community; of course, the Fox Sisters and the establishment of commerce, growth and expansionism with the construction of the Erie Canal and all the smaller connecting canals and lakes that made this wilderness accessible to all creating a link to the sea via the Hudson River. Remember, Samuel Clemens spent summers here, and the world came to Trumansburg and Sheldrake for their health and rest on boats and trains...bringing culture to the locals.I havent really overlapped the dates, by to my thinking, this truly was an amazing time. Rich and wierd.

The shakers were inspired by the rapping that the Fox sisters translated--and participated in that. A group of Shakers established a community on Sodus Bay (outside of Rochester) in the 1820s--so they could have been influenced. According to the page, there was a period of time that is termed " A Manifestation of Spirit presence" among the
Shakers from 1837-1847:

"Their visions never came from any active, religious thought, nor from any prayerful anxiety of the mind. Neither was it from any educational lessons by which pious teachers were [4] trying to make little angels of them before the proper time. Visions were not the order of the day any more than were the spirit rappings before the appearance of the Fox children.

The origin of spiritualism with this family was through the medium of obscure and simple rappings and were as foreign to the mind as were the visions among the children of the several Communities. The whole affair, of both parties, at first seemed very childish and hardly worth the serious attention of more mature age. But the intelligent taps that were heard by the little Fox girls have made themselves heard throughout the whole earth, and thousands of believers in spiritualism have been blest through this simple medium."

"...These little girls were moved with singular [57] operations, as shaking, dancing and whirling. Sometimes they were prostrated upon the floor and would remain in an unconscious state for several hours. At other times they would be conversing with unseen friends whom they frequently designated by name."

From these trances and spiritual manifestations came the inspiration for music (many of their hymns) and automatic drawings (think the wonderful tree of life illustration that is signature Shaker).

More links to the life beyond. As we think about remembering our death, should we be thinking (or at least illustrating regardless of what we think) about communicating with those beyond. Who-whee...

More later>>

Cowardly Lion

This program is, for me, a training up, a freshening up and as in the Wizard of Oz, the token that celebrates knowledge that is already there. The Lion, when asked what he would like as an award, he quipped, "Courage". He already had it, but when presented the token Medal celebrating his Courage--he understood the gift and could move forward with the knowledge and confidence in his courage. Like the lion, we too, are realizing something that has always been there...twisted and turned for us by the teachers, the professionals and the travel. I plan on wearing my badge of honor with pleasure. The next step will be more than the confidence in being able to create an image...

Whitney Sherman was great. Really great. I loved the fast paced projects that forced everyone out of their respective corners. Every CD was good, every multiple panel job was good. She is very prepared and organized, very articulate and not shy to share every and anything she had/ knows to the students. She is constantly thinking and working, focusing on her students and the projects. She is extremely realistic about the world of illustrations with her focus on non-direct illustration related jobs and projects. She is also not spreading the good news about the life one can make in the world of editorial and book jacket cover illustration. She is focused on personal branding, entrepreneurial behavior, spinning your work into another dimension(ie "this Monkeypus is a great character, why don't you make a stuffed animal of it?"). Good thinking during this time. The industry needs to change it's thinking before it is eliminated. If we can turn our sights, there is plenty of work out there. Whitney is a beacon for change, careful thinking and study, and a positive force for students of all ages and experiences. She was SU's graduation present to ME.

Illustration West 46
Society of Illustrators Los Angeles

Deadline: September 17, 2007
(Terry Brown recommends)

The Society of Illustrators Annual Show
Submissions due October 1, 2007
(paperwork not distributed yet)

More later on ICON

One down, one rushing

We all got the CDs to the crit by 10 this morning. After a little talk etc.until 11, we were then assigned this project: Create an eight paneled, accordian folded book (either 6" x9" or 7.5" x7.5" formats) that are autobiographical. We were to interview each other and then after the art history time, we had the afternoon to essentially draw and noodle and doodle to then construct these pages. All due by eleven tomorrow a.m. Its late here. I need to sleep. I have done around 6 of these things (mainly rendered in the ever wonderful Dr Martins Black Star Matte on weighty trace(dreamy)--and then worked on in illustrator/photoshop. I will talk a little about Whitney's coaching and words of wisdom tomorrow.

eyes shut, wonder bread, pen on the end of a stick

Poor Terry Brown was on for early (7am) and it took a good 2 hours to get the digital projector to function properly--so the schedule slid around a bit to accomodate this change in schedule. Terry was very interesting--but oriented his discussion of illustration history around topics versus around trends/styles/timing/inspirations. We clipped through Winslow Homer all the way up to the work for Filmore West in less than an hour or so...around topics. I was glad I had the early grounding from Murray or my head would have been spinning. We watched 3 videos during the noon session (one created for one of the ICON conferences from SOI, another a promotional piece to develop funding for a possible full film on the history of illustration and the final a little clip of a video on NC Wyeth with reminiscences from his elderly children interspersed with family photos, paintings and stories. What a sad ending for Wyeth (he was very depressed and was in a car that stalled on a railroad track with his young grandchild (some say child via his daughter in law), Newell--and they both were killed. I missed the p.m. to get in front of the Whitney homework for 12 of us with only 2 scanners in the computer lab.

We all showed our slide shows to Whitney and the class. Very telling. The better the illustrator, the shorter and more to the point the slideshow. The longer the show, the more tentative, less developed illustrator. Makes sense. Just a surprise that was the way it all worked out. The show and tell took the better part of 3 hours to get through. After the slides, we were given the first assignment:

--take 4-5 pieces of wonderbread and make letterforms out of them (see entry above).
then xerox them.

--study the words: bread, eye, edge,stick. Close your eyes and draw the outside silhouette of the letterforms and the counters--or draw the letters (outside and then counters). Draw the words a few times. Xerox the words...creatively--blowing things up, finding interesting lines.

--tape a sharpie to the end of a long, wooden dowel. Pin paper to the wall. Holding the dowel at the end, write lines of copy on the paper. Xerox creatively--moving the paper on the xerox machine--creating new forms, stretching the image, folding the image etc.

Tonight we are to create scans (300dpi) 8.5"x11" of these letter studies and produce a burned CD for Whitney for tomorrow. We will be working on another in class assignment tomorrow.It was not quick going with the sleepy scanners we have...but its done. This work isnt completed.I will loop you in as we progress. Tomorrow pictures of the show.

I thought this was pretty fun. I was def. in the minority. Folks were actually mad about this work. Wasn't painting. Was something new...and Whitney through her words and books she shared with us is into the building and illustrating with letterforms. I am totally there. I am looking forward to tomorrow...I cannot vouch for my classmates.

She is very organized and succinct...and handed us a bibiliography sheet along with links she finds valuable. Some good ones:

Ed Ruscha: They call her Styrene, Phaidon Press, NY, 200.

Rothenstein, Julian & Gooding, Mel, More Alphabets and other Signs, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA 2003

Whitney was very interesting on her involvement in ICON, the trials of figuring out, planning and organizing this big event...and how sometimes,all the planning in the world sometimes does not guarantee success. The plan is for people to engage in the sessions, mix with others and have a chance to learn more about illustration and the services surrounding the practice.

Its late. Wonderbread on the brain. Hotter than you know what here. More later.