Little Gems, Q. Cassetti, 2013, Trumansburg, NY, Adobe Illustrator CC

Little Gems, Q. Cassetti, 2013, Trumansburg, NY, Adobe Illustrator CC

Wow. So study hall at the Luckystone manifested rest and quiet for the both of us...with a nice dinner and a newly jiggered website/ blog/ portfolio for me with the hope of opening another retail outlet via this site on the near  horizon. I was so "off" Squarespace. I was feeling limited by the template and its lack of flexibility that I think this added to my malaise about writing to all of you. But, after a little searching around, I was able to change my template to a far more flexible tool, and with a little alteration here, and there, I am closer to what makes me happy--and will be a better tool to communicate with.  So, please be patient and you will have a little Q. store to shop, and a list of my favorite, most interesting and thought provoking resources I use (and will share) on the web.

Today I have an interview with an independent writer about my Valentines thesis which should be interesting. I have jotted down a few bullet points to make me sound a bit sharper than I am...and tried to recall the reason for Valentines for me. It boils down to a basic Q.Dna thing. I love symbols. Symbols are pictures chock filled with meaning...often related to tales, folk legends, and events. Those symbols are generally visual with some sort of ceremony, food and ideas that build a community (in the know) around them. My pictures are more often symbolic as are my logotypes. Even letterforms are symbolic. I came to this originally through the holidays and annual events which then morphed to an obsession with Christian symbology (art nerding out at museums and churches trying to find the most obtuse and odd symbols in murals, paintings and sculpture)> I am always on the lookout for symbols, for meaning and for faces. Just seems to poke out of everything I do.



monkeying around

click for enlargement>>

Click for another year>> I am now a year older today. We are going to the State Theater to see They Might Be Giants (a fluke,really, as I bought the tickets without registering the date). So, that is the fanfare.

The monkey keeps evolving for the wine project. His head is still evolving, but you can see something happening. I may do a little abstracted guy too.. who knows.

Holiday card was approved yesterday. Need to do brand new accurate art for it. The cool thing about this card is that it pushed me into learning a bit about Live Paint (one of the whizbang tools that are part of Adobe Illustrator). Like the negative snot that I am, I wrote it off like many of the "wild and crazy" filters that make your image seem oh so "digital". Turns out, its a great tool, a good time saver and allows lots of changing, lots of variation (to offer to clients) and gives you another work around to cutting and pasting shapes. Divine. I think I may change my name to reflect this conversion to align with Live Trace, Live Paint, Live Wire... at least when it comes to these new tricky helpers. And, I would not have even thought of it if I hadn't been in the presence of Jean Tuttle and Nancy Stahl who do not write off filters and new tools-- but try them and embrace them. I need to grow up and be cool like them....

Speaking of Jean>> Chad Grohman wrote a mini article/interview with Jean and posted it here!

Cracked open one of my Fraktur books yesterday to read a bit on the religious symbols that the author speculated on . It really isnt clear about the imagery in Fraktur whether it reflects a tradition (predominantly German) of religious art and symbols...or whether the imagery just is...and stands alone. Being a gorpy person who loves symbols, I of course, want to believe that this stuff is chock full of meaning, meaning inside of meaning, layer upon layer often not even understood by the artist/illustrator / scrivener--but because of the deep history and visual memory of these things-- they are embued with so much more. The author reminded his reader of the powwowing and folk cures and of the superstitions and beliefs of these people which we do know...and rolled his assumption that this stuff means stuff based on that as the foundation of that understanding and knowledge. I can make that leap of faith too. Not scientific-- but my gut says yes. I need to learn more about the Ephrata community as they are (to my thinking) the thought center for this type of American work. Their beliefs, their leader and his writings should illuminate this.

Sorry this is so fractured today...but thats kind of whats going on here. Hopefully, more least visuals.

Flower and Seed of Life

These are not words I'm making up,
these are the actual words that were used in ancient times
to describe this. I think they called it the Flower of Life
because it looks like a flower and because it [represents]
the laws and proportions for everything alive and even not alive;
everything that's manifested.

Drunvalo Melchizedek,
speaking in a video of a presentation on the Flower of Life.

The Flower of Life is the modern name given to a geometrical figure composed of multiple evenly spaced, overlapping circles, that are arranged so that they form a flower-like pattern with
a sixfold symmetry like a hexagon. The center of each circle is on the circumference of six surrounding circles of the same diameter.

It is considered by some to be a symbol of sacred geometry, said to contain ancient, religious value depicting the fundamental forms of space and time. In this sense, it is a visual expression of the connections life weaves through all sentient beings, believed to contain a type of Akashic Record of basic information of all living things.

There are many spiritual beliefs associated with the Flower of Life; for example, depictions of the five Platonic Solids are found within the symbol of Metatron's Cube, which may be derived from the Flower of Life pattern. These platonic solids are geometrical forms which are said to act as a template from which all life springs.

Another notable example of that which may be derived from the Flower of Life is the Tree of Life. This has been an important symbol of sacred geometry for many people from various religious backgrounds. Particularly, the teachings of the Kabbalah have dealt intricately with the Tree of Life.

According to Drunvalo Melchizedek, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the stages which construct the Seed of Life are said to represent the seven days of Creation, in which Elohim (God/concept of divinity) created life...

Using the symbols of the Seed of Life and the Flower of Life for a holiday card (requested colors in the terracotta/ antique palette)has had me running for the tutorials on live color--which confirmed what I knew, added to the skillset I am developing and giving me confidence to just hack my way through this web of imagery. The simpler mandala is the Seed of Life (not shown), the image in the rope border (created as a pattern brush!) is the Flower of Life. I have been popping through various colorations, line weights and a few other illustrator tricks to get some images together ( I had committed to 6 designs within a week...and the time has become shortened).

Gotta go as deadlines are looming. It was 46˚ this morning...and not surprisingly, a bright red leaf was on my welcome mat coming home from dropping Kitty and Alex off.


I hate it when that dry little cough that hides in the back of your throat wakes up before you do...and then you are startled awake coughing and shaken. My head is splitting and sniffling. I guess it's Spring! Yeah for everything except for the malaise that comes from the coating of light green pollen that clings to everything. It is particularly noticeable on the car--but I think a claritin and some tea might help turn the tide. I hope.

I am working on a series of pared back images (trying to keep it to three colors) with an example of the work above. This is tough going...but challenging much like Scrabulous (if you like Scrabble...this is an elegant rendering of it).It is a bit of an exercise...but the image I just did of a buffalo is pretty good. What is interesting is that the process is changing for me. I work with a photograph and then dump the photo and start really looking at the shapes, at the solids and how the image is broken up. Then, I will redesign the shapes, cut into the big flat areas (as I am finding that the big areas unless intentional can be tedious and need to be broken up to keep the image interesting). I am outputting the image midway and working on top of it quickly with black and white gouache to take the image further. Then, I will freehand those ideas on the existing file--and if need be, do that again. I am intrigued by brush creation in Illustrator. I am making them and modifying them to keep a hand drawn look but cut a bit of the time I am spending on these images. It is really simple...and lets see what happens. This adding and subtracting--the cutting and the patching is very interesting and good training. I shouldn't say this as it is skill building. The Memento Mori black and white drawings were good training for this next step.

I am doing these simple (hopefully going simpler) images as they are strong and could morph to visuals for logos or symbols. I have done complex color images that are photographic....its how do you do that and translate the images without going geometric. Thus the little progression to get my eye "in" and technique further refined.

More later.


Was feeling a bit rough around the edges yesterday and spent it horizontal. I apologize for no entry--but maybe you wouldn't have wanted one as the cranky level was pretty high. It is frigid here. I have all the studio doors closed and actually turned up (!!) the heat...and honestly, I think the bunnyfur hat with flaps over my earphones is going to have to happen. And the fingerless gloves. It is hugely embarrassing looking..but hey. Its me and the home team and Erich. They have seen it all.

Living in a big old house is always teaching you something. Today's thought is, if you are fantasizing that the folks in 1848 were spending their winters wearing muslin frocks you have another thing coming. This is a big brick house. Should have some insulative qualities. Underline should. Our heating system transcends anything they had. We have brand new storm windows and caulking. We have storm doors and weather breaks. And...there are never too many layers of fleece, hats, scarves. Brr.

Was fascinated to learn about the Sacred Heart which was in the stained glass at the Catholic church along with emblazoned on the plaster statue of Jesus. I always thought it was Latin/Spanish and it isn't. Wiki clarifies:

The Sacred Heart is a religious devotion to Jesus' physical heart as the representation of the divine love for humanity.

This devotion is predominantly used in the Roman Catholic Church and also used in the Anglican Church, particularly among Anglo-Catholics. It also stresses the central Christian concept of loving and adoring Jesus. The origin of this devotion in its modern form is derived from a French Catholic nun Marguerite Marie Alacoque, who said she learned the devotion from Jesus in visions.

The Sacred Heart is often depicted in Christian art as a flaming heart shining with divine light, pierced by the lance-wound, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and bleeding. Sometimes the image is over Jesus' body with his wounded hands pointing at the heart. The wounds and crown of thorns allude to the manner of Jesus' death, while the fire represents love.

I am going to draw a bunch. It is going to fold into Memento Mori. I just need to figure it out. --Love works. Divine love for humanity works. Works outside of the catholic tradition. Actually, Love for Humanity is needed always and forever. However, how are my thoughts of the puritans going to bump up against the papist tradition? Can the baroque coexist with the spartan? Can a tradition that shuns imagery (puritans) bump up against one of the centers/inspiration for imagery and representations? Maybe a little black ink can smudge in the grey areas? What do you think? I don't have any idea. Just like the stuff.

The whole catholic service was so theatrical. So about symbols and explaining with sound, smells and words, those abstractions that one cannot entirely fathom or grasp. Those sounds and smells and words are clues to the ephemeral, spiritual and not understandable. Those are the clues that confirm to those with faith that the transition has happened from one state to the other, confirmation of the tenets of their belief, confirmation of the spiritual. 

I grew up in the Presbyterian church devoid of embellishment in faith. However, the detail added by the architecture, windows and even the vestments transcended that of this simple catholic service. There was far more theatre, but it focused on the works of man and not the bigger picture--those of God. I mean, there was more attention brought to the offering being collected and brought to the altar than that of communion...with 12 deacons of the church dressed in wool cutaways complete with grey pocket squares, who would collect money in sterling silver dishes and walk in six pairs of men, pretty much in lockstep to lay it upon a sacred spot, the place where the sacrement was prepared was pretty obscene. And while the moneychangers were collecting in the temple, the extrordinarily robust pipe organ with pipes in the front of the church and in the back would groan and trumpet, swell and then restrain , incidental music that was either hard to follow or too big for the room...drawing attention to itself versus pushing for an understanding or reflection from the congregation. Phooey. If you like that kind of community, its perfect for you. For me, it doesn't move the needle towards a better relationship with a bigger idea and power. Its more about the coffee break and pagentry.

But isn''t this what most people expect?