Painting with scissors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?


Big predictions for a dump of the white stuff. Back from the back and forth in the Pool of Dilemmas. I was wishing for a semi empty crowded pressure and it was as I hoped. The older ladies were in the hotter therapy pool, hopping and lifting weights, jumping and following the directions of a chipper chippy with a white baseball cap and a positive, happy manner.

30 days hath September,
April, June and November,
All the rest have 31,
Excepting February alone.
Which only has but 28 days clear
And 29 in each leap year

Ordered a bunch of used books from Alibris written by the talented and interesting husband and wife team, Peter and Iona Opie--experts in children's literature, poetry, nursery rhymes etc. So, I got a range of old books from a dictionery of superstitions, nursery rhymes, classic fairy tales and the Oxford book of Narrative Verses (and none of these books were more than $3. a pop). I love the Opies and have collected their books over the course of my life--and love their view..the historical, the contextural and the collections of text they hand off gently to the reader. I was looking at one last night in prep for the possible children's book we may be doing at Hartford. It was nice to dig into this stuff. It's very happy and fun...though surprisingly, there is more dark stuff and/or more sexually based stuff out there. I am also going to surface some of the fairy tale books, Robin McKinley books and greek mythology as well (Pandora could be an option)--

Oh, Mary Mack Mack Mack
all dressed in black black black
with silver buttons buttons buttons
all down her back back back
She asked her mother mother mother
for fifty cents cents cents
to see an elephant elephant elephant
jump over the fence fence fence
He jumped so high high high
he reached the sky sky sky
and didn't come back back back
til the fourth of July

So, per my Mentor, I have tabled MM for a see what we could see.

More later--my silver buttons need to be fastened, and an artist statement crafted.

White out

Have I praised the wisdom, wit and teaching of the Business of Illustration guru, Jim Carson? I am so thrilled I am re-upping with him at Hartford as his class alone, has been worth the price of admission. I just had a wibbly wobbly with a client who might be wanting to fiddle with an illustration I have done, and because of my class with Jim, I have the confidence (and language) to stand up for my rights, what surrounds those rights and what I plan to do. Prior to my new life as an illustrator, I would have fumed and whined and not been, I would have given away the store. Now, like the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow, I have a cerficate that affirms that I know something...and it has given my the push I need to move forward positively.

Snowing steadily--hasn't ceased since early this morning. I think it might mount up. Shady Grove is delighted. She loves snow more than anything...and sets about making snow angels, digging up pinecones and overall leaping and frolicing in the whiteness. A is home with the stomach/head thing. K. has been going full force with the fetal pig project. R had a successful day in NYC getting everything done despite the early shuttle home (schedule moved due to the predicted bad weather).

Need to get down to business. Had 3 hours at the school to be the parent rep for the Committee for Special Education (thought it was an hour...but it wasn't). As usual, it was educational and fascinating to peer into that silo of life...and hope there was something we did would help these kids learn and build their lives into something that gives them happiness. These are all good kids that just learn differently and have different abilities. My heart is lightened with these meetings as I know we can help.

More later>>

Tully burger?

Is Tully the home of the local favorite, the Tully Burger? A Tully Burger is essentially a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese--a dressed burger as the New Yorkers say. We will never know...but the Tully Invitational Race was skies, low humidity, good loud music, and tons and tons of running kids. A. came in 10th and got a golden teeshirt and a pink ribbon. Once again. Not top 5 but for the first season and his third week into it...not too bad. Form looked good. Attitude was good. The girls are all over him. Do you think he might think this is a good thing. It's the teenage version of a cocktail party--where they all mingle, eat, chat and mix it up. I think it is actually on par or could be better than the socializing and party that the ski bus and skiing provides. Either way...who thought you could have so much fun with a sport and have cute girls cheering you on and hanging on you every broken sentence. Let the good times keep coming.

The Tully-ites were wonderful selling really good pizza to the kids, and had a huge, farm style crate on piece of wood to keep it off the ground for everyone to help themselves to the local specialty of the week, macintosh apples...all cold,crisp and wet...We each had one to our delight. Heaven. The school was beautiful with a brand new everything from greenhouse and track to the lineup of perfect schoolbuses K exclaimed over.

The drive over was okay..but the drive back was filled with all sorts of fun. First, outside of Homer NY is a wonderful barbeque call Bobs. It's an open air operation offering pulled pork, barbequed brisket or the NYS classic, halfs and whole chickens. No fried food. Just a good slaw, some beans (I don't get it), salt potatoes (another local favorite) with a load of pie offerings (sweet potatoe, raspberry, blueberry, fresh peach, and the "creams" (you can guess)). We sat outside at picnic tables and took in the perfection of the mowed grass, the mulched to the nines trees and these engineered plantings. It was the best of Central New York. It is a must! They close at the end of October and open in make your plans soon or pencil it in for next spring...Worth it if you are in the area.

Then, on through Homer, which was beautiful with a wonderful Main Street with truly perfect and magnificent houses with the best of the lot being over the top Victorians that have been maintained and restored to perfection. Then on to Cortland and a drive through SUNY Cortland which is a very pretty campus on top of a hill...Everything seemed very spit and polish, very maintained and clean. Seemed very, very, nice. Put SUNY Cortland on the college list (either to pursue for teaching or sending kids as an option).

We then went on to discover a place that somehow exists near a black hole. Freeville, NY or if K. had her way with the naming, it would be Free(k)ville. R. claimed it was a trip to recognize an early birthday. Whatever it was, it was wonderfully wierd. Once you near the town of Freeville, the fields get very tidy and maintained. Lots of horses. Beautiful buildings, old--but with good paint on them etc. with worlds on them like "Massachusetts" or "Cabinet Shop" and you are in the world of the George Junior Republic. Impressive facilities and scale. Money is being poured into it. In the spirit of the former millenium, read a bit of what George Junior is all about>>. It emerges and one is submerged in an almost antique feeling of community and then, you turn the corner and its vanished. But wait, there's more. Around the Corner was a stark, handlettered sign announcing another millenial community, the Temple of Truth, a spiritualist and healing community. I will put images up tomorrow just to show you what's what. It is very odd--lots of small single room, wooden structures clustered together with an odd fountain constructed of brick with an afro spray of water. There was an old 1970s style, brown bus shelter in the middle, off the single lane road that had signs designating qualified/certified healers and spirituals as the only pros that could practice on the grounds. There is a tiny building designated as the gift shop and another tiny building for rest rooms. K. likened the whole feeling and look of the place to a movie she saw on nudist colonies. Succinct. That's our girl. I am imagining a Sunday at 11:30 in the summer with the tiny church filled with seeing and healing, the gift shop rockin and people sitting on the linear benches not looking at each other, but out at the passing parade. Wierd city.. or do I just need to say Free(k)ville? Need to learn more.

One blog entry on Freeville:
There are several communities of Spiritualist mediums in the US. In NY (where I am from) there are two of them, Freeville and Lily Dale. (These are small communities...Freeville is 2 blocks long and 2 blocks wide, with maybe 20 houses, Lily Dale is 8 blocks long and 4 blocks wide with maybe 200 houses.) There are about a dozen mediums who live in Freeville and about 3 dozen in Lily Dale. In addition, there are hundreds of other working mediums who are spread out from one end of NY to the other. Most bigger cities have one or more Spiritualist churches (Buffalo, NYC, Rochester, Syracuse). I know that there are similar set ups in Ohio and Florida. (from

From the National Spiritualist Association of Churches the Temple of Truth is affiliated with--their description of what their mission/vision/values are:

NSAC …The object of this Society is to effect a complete organization of the Spiritualists of the United States of America into one general association … for the advancement of those purposes, undertakings and enterprises germane to the study of the phenomena, the promotion of the Science, and the promulgation of the Philosophy and Religion of Spiritualism.

Spiritualism is the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World.

Spiritualism is founded upon a Declaration of Principles, nine in number, received from the Spirit World by means of mediumship. They provide a firm and tangible foundation on which to base the knowledge of Spiritualism.

Here is the history (abbreviated) by the NSAC ( Fascinating--that the Fox sisters were first.
Read on, dear readers. This is more "live from the burn-out zone"...

Then on the mundane:to Staples to buy stuff for the Ithaca Art Trail, and get Rob a haircut by the best barbers in Ithaca (Pesco in the Chinese Dollar Store Plaza, next to the Salvation Army Thrift Store).

We are back. I am sorting through the piles in my office to figure out what goes, what stays, what is stored, what is shelved. You get the idea. Working through the pile. Need to call Picture Salon to get some status on my cards. Holiday cards are all printed and boxed (thanks to the sleeves and boxes I got for this sort of thing from Clear Bag>>see list). Lulu book goes out early next week.

Rob put forth an amazing idea for the Betsy and Ted Lewin Book for UH next year. Need to incubate the idea...Its a winner.

Got my diploma in the mail yesterday from SU. I guess I done matriculated. And, it's finally paid for too!

I will upload the pix a little later!

(picture above is of the famous Fox sisters--downloaded from Wiki entry on spiritualism)..

Syracuse: Day Two

Continued with Gary Kelley who is a true inspiration, someone we view as the best teacher we have had with Syracuse. He is articulate and teaches while he critiques and works with the students to move the concepts ahead--beyond where they might not have gone. He is tireless in his own work--trying new things, thinking new thoughts, seeking out inspiration that takes him further in his work. He is straightforward but respectful and kind about others and their own work. I love the way he integrates his thinking and direct inspiration to the history of art. He directly references Matisse,the cubists, Picasso (who he views are truly a giant based on his ability to design-how every single line that Picasso places is understood, and designed), jazz and music/ musicians.

We are working on the topic of blue. Lots of good ideas. I am constantly stunned by a classmate who always pushes back and tells our professsor she will not move on the idea, direction etc.--essentially, missing the opporunity to grow and expand. And, she is rude. Inappropriately so. And no on takes her aside and suggests she shift her perspective. I was working on pictures of Krishna "blue boy",Blue Bayou, Bluebird of Happiness (blue valentine) and Blue Devil (depression). After working with Gary, I am working on Blue Devil--essentially, a monkey on the back of the person who is depressed. It's going to be a blue to black/grey image. I found some good images including some vintage photographs of men (inspired by Gary's work)--to work with. Today, around noon, we have to present scaled up drawings. I am fighting a little with this and feel a bit "out there" about it...but todays a new day--and I am sure that with help, I can get where I want to go.

I had to track down Syracuse management to collect "the orange folder"--essentially a listing of classes with paperwork that we needed to fill out to make sure we got our degrees and credits versus dealing with the tangle many of our recent alumni stuggled with to get his transcript. We had to remind our leader about this form and that form so that the credits register etc...which he is good with...but we all need to be little herding dogs, nipping his heels to make sure all continues to run right.

I had my thesis review. It was, in general, fine. Lots of good questions, lots of questions that made me think--but questioned whether there is art in my work, questioned the value of my work, critiquing the work entirely differently from the "pat on the shoulder" critiques that are handed out during the entire two years. The thesis defense was acceptable, but totally out of context-- and to me, no problem, but to those who are not used to this sort of thing, could be crushing. I am a bit depressed over the thesis--not elated, not celebratory but quesioning whether I can do this thing...(which in my heart of hearts, I can)--but it was sobering. I am a bit sad/sorry that there was no exchange like this earlier on--to prepare me/us, but if the meaningful aspect of "art" (which from lessons from David Tatham, is pretty much as defined by the artist) in the illustration--to give us a better context for this final discussion. The woman on my panel has an agenda and something to prove. It was supposed to be my moment, and it felt like it was hers.

Moving forward.
More later.


Just did the paperwork to apply to the University of Hartford's ISDP MFA program (Hartford Art School). The check is in the mail (along with a little chat about this and that...and the basics on who you are, where you live and what have you done with your life). This is pretty exciting business. I will start summer 2008, graduate 2009 with another thesis and more focused time on all this illustration stuff complete with the Tinkelmans and team. Am pretty psyched.**

I guess this means my head is moving elsewhere. Syracuse feels almost done. The work is completed, the paper is coming back marked up...All we need is to finish the two hot weeks and the "defense"--and we can get a transcript and go. No need to worry about the alumni association chasing us down.

**- If you are considering Hartford and want to get more information than the website provides, contact Carol Tinkelman directly (her phone ## is on the MFA site). She will be able to flesh out the program more than the existing web stuff will provide.

Psyche was the gal Cupid fell in love with. She became the goddess represented by butterflies...