Promises of Blustery

Promises of blustery weather today. High winds, cold. I guess winter has arrived. It is a beautiful morning with Maxfield Parrish skies, and branches reaching heavenward. Shady and I both have sniffles. I have a headache, and cannot vouch for my dog. So, that is where we are.

We have Bruce here--full of ideas, conversations and insights. He is a great guest and we always love having him. Mandy is due here in a week or so for a month's stay and possibly doing a bit of work for us which could be fabulous. So, its a full house this holiday which makes me pleased as I can cook the way I know how, for thousands, and know that it will be consumed. As much as I am really going to hear about it, we are having turkey again tonight with the lovely opportunity of stock, tomorrow.

I finished another pink wreath (much like the one posted yesterday) and refined the green and patterned one I first posted. I am stringing the beads for the next one, all white and yellow as the theme I am building the strands on--so by the end of the weekend, I should have a half dozen to give as presents. Should be nice. These are presents I hadn't counted on having, so I can give them freely as there is no plan around them. I cannot let this wreath making cut into my advent calendar picture making which, until now, it hasn't. Just need to stay disciplined on that. But, I am seriously thinking of the whole Etsy thing and may set up a business that I will have Kitty and Alex work as the fulfillment office for. There seems to be interest and momentum, and it could be a good lesson in "if you can't find a job that works for you, make a job up" thinking that I believe in. Plus, you can run a fulfillment business in front of the television which makes the work oh so much more entertaining.

I am reading Twitter tweets, blogs and Facebook notations that my Hartford friends are really feeling the pinch these days. The combination of papers, theme project and the looming thesis can be intense but doable if one sticks to a rigor of getting one thing done and moving to the next. I think this pressure is a good thing as it is training to continue to multitask post graduate and helps (along with the pure exercise of writing) you to define what is important. Specifically, what is important to you....and to use your time wisely so as to get to the meat of what makes you tick. My feeling in the graduate school scenario, the pain is what forces growth. But then again, isn't that how we push forward in life?

I need a push to start reading Dante. It seems that Dante is one of those authors that people who go to prestigious schools read in their teenagedom. I have not cracked it open and will. I was totally inspired by a show we saw at Mass MOCA with an artist doing their extrodinary dioramas/ vignettes of people in everyday lives interpreeted from Dante quotes. There was such a lovely richness to the language and the ideas that I am taken with the bits I have read and want to continue with it. I just need to get the steam up from the less than smart books I am reading, to move to this classic. I dont know if there is a cuddliness that is needed in the late hours in Dante's work--so I will need to start it with the early morning coffee and gauge how I am going to attack it.

Onward to felt balls, ink pens, credit cards and the concept of "Smokin' Hot".

back in the saddle.

Stephen Huneck
Lend a Helping Hand
Image size: 6" x 7"
Paper size: 8 1/2" x 11"

So, I have been thinking about a lot of stuff. First off, a name for a friend's new business. He has been giving it a lot of thought and has some possibilities--but after having a dose of Vermont and the naming that goes on there, I think this could go further. I am intrigued by the name/word "Vermont" and how that has come to mean pure, good, wholesome, farm grown--excellent, though reading the labels might dissuade you from buying the entire package. However it really works. There is Vermont Butter and Cheese, Vermont Smoke and Cure. There is Vermont Maple Syrup (with no other brand than that). Vermont Cheddar and Vermont Cheese (though Cabot Creamery might be the big owner there). Ben and Jerry's is identified with Vermont. You get the Idea. I was tickled to see that there is a Vermont Mystic Pie Company who is using Stephen Huneck to design and illustrate their packages for pie. The look is distinct and frankly very "Vermont". That is one train of thought. What makes Vermont, Vermonty? What is it about Vermont that embues all of this expectation and promise for pure excellence? Do we even have glimmers of that here?

Then there is the approach with getting a bigger name, a wider reach. What I mean is that if my friend is going to make one thing, but possibly blow that channel out a bit, or have other offerings that complement the product he is focusing on, how do we name that entity that has all that the word "Vermont" offers, and yet keeps it broad enough to embrace more. "Vermont" interestingly is a place, a location, a specificity that adds the novel "localvore" connotation as it is to those who can buy those Vermont brands,something desired, something special. So, place is part of the equation, a locality, a pinpointable place. Could that place be even more local? A farm? a street? a town, a village? a hamlet? That resonates for me as the place is the source, the lodestone from which all this goodness, this thinking, this approach comes from...Of course, it comes from the people, but the product is an outflow from the place. So, a place name makes sense with a describing word that situates it like farm, street, ville or burg, hill or river, stream or bend. That can help our name.

That's the thinking now.

Rob is off to Cooperstown and back for an interesting board meeting. Kitty is nursing a sore throat and Alex is nose to the grindstone. I am looking at my list of dos and redos and know that things are going to crank up. Ahhh. More holiday shopping online as today is Cyber Monday? and we all must spend all of our holiday money online as fast as we can. And did I mention holiday cards! Yikes.

Monday first Monday in November.

Working a bit on the Star poster. Its a hand holding the star (which up until now, they have not done one like this)--with some little flying spirit effigies in the background. Not sure on the coloration, and may put a little banner with the word "Onward" or something along that line in the layout. I am planning on a tone on tone thing in the background/some floral insanity hopefully. But, this is the beginning (as you can see the star is still being worked on.

Yesterday afternoon, I generated dinner for the week: a pot of chili, 2 pans of lasagne, a shepherds pie (with leftover mashed potatoes from last week and the left over browned meat for the chili), along with roasting 4 chicken carcasses with leeks,carrots, celery and leftover parsley stems for stock. It was a cooking afternoon of cranking. I feel like the cook has been here and all I need to do is pop it in the oven and not have to scratch my head and wonder what I was going to serve up. It was a great exercise in opening up boxes and bags to also see what weathered the constant summer infestation of "flour" bugs. I just hate them...but, those bugs force one to review, compost and or devour quickly all flour related food as they have the ability to dig into any vessel (except for mylar sealed packages).

It was deadline on top of deadline today. So much so that I worried about it from around 3 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. without any real solution other than to call the client and ask her to help us prioritize the emergencies that were heaped upon each other. That drove a lot of sanity for us...and surprisingly, we got through quite a bit of the work that was there. Tomorrow, I feel I can catch up and get back to zero/ or at least a levelset I can handle. I laid out 2 dozen slides from scratch, amended a logotype for the Museum, reviewed a bunch of stuff, reconfigured final art for a tradeshow exhibit skin, and began a layout for a tradeshow "abstract" paper. Numerous emails and confirmations along with a few scheduled calls. Yikes.

And, now I need to worry about tomorrow. Also, need to worry about Christmas, cards and the whole shebang around that. And, did I mention the taxes due in January? It just keeps coming. Bring it on... I will try, try very hard, to be ready!

Sunday doings

More Lubok from trolling the web. Inspiring stuff.

It's kind of been an "attack the piles" day. I processed a half bushel of apples into lovely pink applesauce last night. I turned left over rice into a nice rice pudding. The applesauce became part of the "Joy of Cooking" amazing applesauce cake. A selection from the fridge and new stuff became a meatloaf. I took the waiting pile of chicken bones and roasted them with onions, celery, carrots and leeks. Now I have those roasties in a pot on the top of the stove being rendered into stock. Rob made a calendar of things on the roster from now until Xmas. I itch with all the to dos. Two loads of laundry processed. All the white socks that have never been matched are now going to the trash. We have new bags for Sally's boutique (The Army). I need to make up a guest bed for friends of my inlaws (they are really entertaining). I have started a Christmas list to get in front of the purchasing and presents. This can get overwhelming if I don't get on it and have everything wrapped and ready by no later than Thanksgiving. I have started--but just.

I bought the card for valentines and need to do the art (psprint was having a good sale on folded cards this week...uncoated stock) and need to get the fun extra ordered too (a temporary tattoo!). Also should get a reorder of my buttons for fun (and for halloween?). This week. No kidding. The button folks, Busy Beaver, have glow in the dark buttons which are fun. I should figure out something to do with them.

Just finished Dan Brown's newest version of the DaVinci Code. Same premise, same Langdon, new "cult or crazy" , same female smartypants that is close to the "truth" or is the truth. Nice protagonist who loves tattoos and is an "illustrated man". I would say he is the big reason to read the book..just to hear about his masonic inspired symbols/illustrations all over his body/head etc. Other than that, read the DaVinci Code one more time. Am also chipping away at thises and thats in Fraktur...

Gotta go and keep the pots boiling. Sorry for this report of domesticity, but even the best of us need to succumb to these exercises.

field work

Relatively quiet day yesterday with a bit of small fireworks at five from the client. Nothing impossible, just hard as I always feel like the branding junkyard dog telling the client who owns this mark and identity that they cannot do certain things. Definitely feel like the odd man out regularly...and then, taking a breath and saying okay...though I have expressed "the line" on brand, their brand, their guidelines..which gets me through that. Generally, there is a ton of work arounds and clean ups around these unconsidered rule breaking. But hey. Thats what i get paid for.

Maddie (my short term intern), Kitty and I went blueberry picking around 6 last evening. It was a glorious evening with breezes and clear skies. We went to Loses Blueberry Patch (signed with some great handlettered arrows), driving down a dirt lane by a pair of goats sitting on top of their goat house, and a golden grain field surrounding us until we got to the blueberry patch. The bushes were glorious and filled with ripe berries (and all levels of berries getting to ripe from pea green to olive green, from pale pink to a brilliant fuscia, to all shades of blue to a shiny purple plum color). It was perfect. We got some small buckets and communed with the laden bushes (rare for me as I always time it that we go at the end of the season and have to glean the dregs). You could just run your hand through the branches with the bucket poised underneath and the berries dropped happily. After a half an hour, we had between the three of us, picked 17 pounds of berreis ($1.65 a pound). So, we are happily eating, freezing and dreaming blueberries. Kitty was musing over children's books and how she would use a blueberry and its transition from a hard green sphere to a ripe shiny berry as a way to express Beauty in Beauty in the Beast. I thought that was an interesting insight. Maddie and Kitty and I talked about food, food in countries they have visited and our plans for our cache.

Maddie is busily registering/copywriting my illustration. It appears to be easier than it seems as images we have used for the website work (note to self, keep a folder on the desktop of images going on the blog or web for future posting). We have also mounted pdf files of images (Memento Mori, my thesis) as a way of capturing images in their entirety. Something to think about.

My classmates from Hartford are settling back into their lives and are talking on Facebook about their work and plans. We graduates are laying back a bit...trying to shift into the new chapter. To be honest, I am having a bit of a traction problem as i cannot really get it going right now. I want to draw and do stuff, but I am a bit stuck in the mud. But, as the program has pointed up, this stall is part of the process. Time and marination is in place.

I just was called about a winelabel for three very sweet (read very popular wines) that are marketed under the Banana Belt name. The Banana Belt is a swathe of Seneca Lake that has a very distinct climate zone "tropical" thanks to the geography of how the land interfaces with the lake. As you know, lakes are a real moderating force whenit comes to weather and climate...with the steady temperature controlled by the the very deep waters and it's temperature of the lake. Takes a lot to make it hot, takes a lot to cool it down. This is a lake that never freezes given the depth. So, back to Banana Belt. Its a pretty cute label as we speak...but Banana Belt reads first without a clear nod to red/white/pink WINE. Love the monkey that is on it...and maybe as the future client suggested, we look at fruit crate art (and my words, put a monkey with a wineglass--not a chimp like Travis from Connecticut, the lawnmower driving, chardonnay drinking, pill popping, hot tubbing monkey)--with a bit of a lakeview in the background? I have been noodling this and we will see. Could be a fun one.

Today I work on a logotype for the Museum of Glass--and do some mom stuff (kid's doctor appointment). Maybe a swim in the divine lake this evening. We did that before dinner last night to all of our pleasure. This is really summer.

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.

en route

Murray and Carol called from San Francisco to tell me that Murray will be featured for the next week in Leif Peng's wonderful blog, Today's Inspiration. Peng does a remarkable job talking about the history of illustration focusing but not limited to the illustration of the 1940s-1980s. Peng has a very lively personal collection of ephemera and posts wonderful Flickr sets on the illustrators he covers in addition to the insightful writing he provides us. So, take a look. We will see the decorative Murray peeking out at us this week to all of our delight.

I was packing and unpacking. Taking things out of my bag and replacing it with something different. Taking out the giant sketch book and just putting a regular one in place. Do I have my cell phone plug? Do I have a zip drive? Did I burn the CD of my NYC project? Did I write the requisite weekly checques and gather up bus fare for K?

Now, I am sitting having a quiet moment before getting myself primed to get on the second leg of my flight to SF. In the packing and unpacking, the wandering around and looking at stuff, I cracked open my two Memento Mori books and read a bit of the narrative that I wrote here on the blog while I was thinking on the topics of my reading and sketching. What struck me the most was that I am developing a big project style with images and writing that are often insightful and interesting (particularly when I am not sitting on top of the topic). The process almost demands writing to help me sort out my thoughts conceptually or remember approaches as I go through the work. It was telling that on one of the spreads--I was reflecting that I needed to better understand mirroring images within the context of developing frames and borders. I had forgotten that...and now, here I am...working that out. One feeds the other. I need to remember that...and when copy is needed on the picture, to go back to the source as there might be something more succinct or fresh to help to focus the work that is already written. Bring on the white out and editing pencil!

Murray is going to give me direction on these heads. The nose and mouth I have, he it must be the scary eyes. Keep it light, open, feminine. I have been sketching on Punch on the flights and he is developing with his traditional big nose and big chin. He is a wicked boy...There was a wonderful reference shot that someone posted from a photograph taken of a wooden Punch from the Henry Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA. There is a leery, edgy thing that this Punch has (along with a mask) that has me intrigued. And Judy is such a simple housewife (maybe a bit of a nag) that Punch whollops with his big scary stick. The alligator gets it, the baby gets it, the cops get it, clowns get it. That's Punch, the guy with the whippin stick. I just peered up at the TV while writing this, and CNN was reporting on James Brown...speaking of Punch and his stick...JB was a bit of a Punch himself, whapping his wife with a telephone. Interesting where the world goes.


Notes before I start

Redrew the octopus valentine three times. I think I have it now. As R. keeps saying, that's what separates the work...strong design combined with everything else..and you know, the more you dog it, the better, tighter, more thoughtful the work becomes even if its just a bunch of simple lines. I think I may have something more scannable today so that the octopus can go to SF too. I will have a round dozen valentines and three looks at portraits for our contact period. I can keep working on the valentines post SF-- as I have a bunch more i want to do--but with the dozen, we could winnow it down to six and be done. Or even winnow it down to 4 and do two more and be done so I can work on other things like animals, the Garden of Eden, a series on superstitions, a series on monkeys, some chicken studies, finishing the Marie Antoinette line drawings and making a set from them...(that's an idea). I was looking at the Margaret Wise Brown Golden Book at Borders yesterday and thought about Easter and Spring pictures. Eggs give you a lot, and the animal quotient is there...Easter is a happy image time (except when you draw Friday and Saturday's religious pictures....then it gets good in a whole different way!). That fusion is an interesting idea.

Its rainy and deeply misty here. I dont understand it, but the last ski bus is today and though the weather isnt there--the teen beat decided that this was a fine thing to do...if anything just to hang out with their friends and drink tea all day. Fine with me, more time for studyhall.

Kitty got the other toe worked on yesterday with a treatment that may eliminate her need to have surgery on her foot for these toenail issues in the future. It wasn't as rugged yesterday--and she had greater spirits and bounce afterwards. I am happy we are on it immediately as her pain and internalizing has been sad during this time with these toes. I love it we can get resolution versus every three months coming back for more work, and more work, and more work though we love the doctor.

Spring is beckoning though I cannot get caught in the thrall. We always have snow into April...though things are unthawing a bit. The wonderbus is no longer a salt cake and the sedum are doing what I adore most, poking their little buds above ground to say "soon, soon". I am blessed the deer havent found them yet. Maybe all those grasses I got on sale in Corning will come up? and how about those rose bushes we put in? Maybe a posy or two? And the tree peonies continue to grow and bloom. So much to look forward to.