More miracles

Portrait in progress, step one, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5

I have two portraits to do by the end of September. I got a crack at one of them yesterday and delighted in creating the silhouette and beginning to digitally cut the highlights out of that shape. I hope the mid tones and darks will go in today. I am always, without a doubt, nervous when I square up the paper and start these thing—asking myself if I can do it this time…as I rarely have much confidence in the reference combined with shaky personal confidence. Just picking up the pen, taking a deep breath and then the focused chipping away often checking every decision takes the time. When I have a half dozen highlights in, I know this is going to work or not….and my optimism can rise. Its a nice charge to drive the work forward. Then, I give myself a little permission to go a bit rogue with some manufactured highlights and shadows. I am optimistic I can give my client a pair of portraits that will work complete with working a hand with a smoking pipe into one of them as the pipe was so iconic with this particular artist.

Have you heard about Wacom’s newest offering, the Inkling? I discovered this wonder yesterday and currently I am transfixed and cannot wait until mid September. The Inkling is essentially, a ballpoint pen that records your hand drawing and transfers that work to digital. You use their pen, and your own notebook. I am wondering how it translates your drawing to make it better than a high res scan. Its too cool…but now that I think about it…unless it saves it to vectors or layers or provides me more than a scan, I am trying to figure out whether this is more of a toy than a real work tool. Maybe if there is a chance today, I will do a little reading on this.


“Finally this fantastic pen interface technology has made it to where it belongs, Wacom Inkling Smart Pen. The Inkling Smart Pen is a 2 part device that transfers handwriting strokes to a digital format. The technology is quite clever and extremely energy efficient which is what gives it such great potential. The base unit uses 2 microphones that give it the sound version of stereoscopic ‘vision’, allowing it to hear where the pen is moving.The pen emits a completely inaudible pulse helping the base unit track location and pen pressure. The datagrams on these coordinates are tiny allowing for cheap storage of many pages. The pen is normal sized thanks to only needing to make its silent ping while the base unit listens and records. Other competitors in the space require a hot-dog sized pen to hold all the electronics. Some of those require special paper as well, where none is needed by the Inkling.

The touch of a button on the base tells the device to start using storing the pen strokes in a different ‘page’ and it can store dozens if not hundreds of pages. An internal battery in the base is recharged by USB and the pen only needs inexpensive watch batteries. This technology has been hopping from company to company for some time now, A-open and IOGear to name a few. Both have products based on this technology but no one does pens like Wacom. We’re looking forward to see how much they’ve improved upon it while unfortunately upping the prior incarnation’s MSRP. Wacoms plan to release the Inkling Smart Pen at $199 later this year. Being able to import directly into Illustrator is probably worth double that for any serious artists.”

OH MY. v e c t o r

I wonder if one will be enough!

It was study hall yesterday at the office. It just dawned on Alex that maybe, just maybe he needed to get to work on the paper he has due next week for his environmental science class. This has a lot of research and processing of information which my son thought he could dash off….NOT. So, I made him sit with me all day to work on this paper. Unfortunately, he is busy counting words versus focusing on truly delivering on the paper’s content and requirements. I think I am going to throw the role of the heavy to Rob as I am making him sit and focus. I hope there is more we will learn about Alex from the testing we will be starting in a week or so. He just focuses on the oddest things and doesn’t really understand where he should be tracking. If I can talk him through, sometimes it hits. Sometimes he is there with me. More study hall today.

I have a meeting in a few and need to get the already foley-ed tomato sauce on the stove to simmer for a few hours to get the water out. I am a sauce making machine. I feel like there may be a few more pots out there. Loving it.

the power of new technology

Green Man 14, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkAs you know, I love stuff…any kind of stuff is fine by me. I love technology—cameras, computers, its all fun. And my favorite go to for technology is my wonderful IPad (given to me by my brother and husband) which has filled in the gaps, has provided me a vehicle to watch movies, read books (and not clutter my side table with paperbacks that I do not want anyone to know I read), recipes on demand, a drawing tablet and now thanks to Kennsington, a little mini, bluetooth keyboard that allows me to write you this verbal meandering on a more regularized basis. Yes, I tried with the iPad hunt and peck keyboard—but it just didn’t get me writing as fast as I normally do with a keyboard—and thus stopping or slowing down the stream of stupidity I write. And, with this keyboard, it makes writing on the iPad app for Squarespace totally pleasant, so travel combined with the opportunity to share immediately is going to increase. Hurray for small moves! Hurray for bluetooth (which I am beginning to understand and get the hang of) ! And hurray for slightly more seamless, offsite communications! Love this world we live in! Right?

I have been enjoying Dribbble. This is a microbloggy type of site that one is invited to participate in—if you are a visual person. You are given so many shots (I think its 24 per month, with no rollover)—to post a 400 x 300 pixel image of work you are working on—and then folks can comment, like or heart. Once can post visual responses—and it is a nice back and forth. One can have followers etc. (common with the Empire of Tweets), and Facebook. It is exclusively a visual site. Its nice as you can tweet the images posted…and if you have it set up to have your tweets fed to different parts of cyberspace (Facebook, Behance, LinkedIn, Tumblr and so on), those post immediately, so more mileage for every post and every click you make. Does all this effort to thread these sites together through tweets and RSS feeds really manifest more work, more attention, more recognition, more anything? I do not know—but time is valuable, and the question is—and I think I already know the answer, is there a right solution for this?

Seems to me, uneducated and naive in this cyber world of “getting out there”, there is no clear answer. The web is for everyone…and you can tailor your experience to those things that interest you…and only you. It is one of those wonderful spaces that you can be totally self absorbed—and pursue your likes and loves—regardless of anyone else. And, you can do this privately on a global stage. Just as your experience with the web is personal, so is the promotion, the tagging, the blogs, microblogs, social sites, promotional sites all need to reflect you, your interests and what your pocketbook can support. It can get expensive if you filter advertising and private sites into the mix. But again, this is personal choice—and with the DIY headset I am understanding…everything goes.

That is why an approach of fearless trying—and linking, and spending the time to knit it together to create a cohesive image is important to me. Good chance it might not be the same for you..but then again, this is MY web experience…at least for now. My rule of thumb is that you never know anything unless you try it…so sticking my toe in the electronic pond and seeing where the ripples end up is my approach. You never know…and interesting people and projects have come my way just my putting my work on threads and seeing how far and wide they go. India is one of the bigger countries that sends people to my work via google. And I am in China and Estonia. Go figure. I guess the work speaks to this aesthetic and audience. What is next?

It is a silver-gray morning at the lake. The water is the color and form of mercury with a subtle deliineation between water and sky…all misty and moisty. The crickets living in the wisteria are having an audio party, chirping away. Last night, I made up a pot of more freezer jam: sweet cherries, blueberries, and nectarines with lemon and just slid the 4 robust jars of it into the freezer. What fun this freezer jam is. Next stop: ginger peach. I think that sounds divine.

It is looking like fall. Its cooler and thus, I want to cook a bit more. Lovely Alex regaled us with his love of Thanksgiving—particularly that of last Thanksgiving—from the food (in detail) to the guests (he loved it) to the relaxing and quiet of the day. I had totally forgotten that last Thanksgving was premade holiday that I made mostly in advance (gravy, stuffing, breads, desserts, cranberries, side dishes) and froze—unthawing the day before—pop the bird in…and away we go. Definitely the way to go….and I am getting my lists ready to be in advance this year. That really, really worked out—and the food was only a few weeks old in the freeze, so it was just fine. Plus, it pushed us to have turkey before Thanksgiving for the bones to make buckets of stock that the whole of Thanksgiving hangs off of. Gloria will be with us this year which should make the family scene more lively for all.

The week beckons. Kitty and Rob go to NYC tomorrow. Alex starts preseason training today. I have commitments all week. And we are squeezing Sausage Fest into the mix on Saturday. I mean, preseason isn’t preseason without the annual “skinny boys| big sausages” event. Yes, we have the teeshirts. Yes, we have the guest list. All we need is the sausage. Done. I also raised my hand (as a senior’s mom) to provide breakfast for 28 on September 10th for the cross-country boys and girls just to keep my end up. Now, what to make….? And back we go to providing pounds of apples and bagels, writing checks, and showing up to events. The bittersweet thing is that this is the last year. Now that I have really gotten the hang of being a mom—the merry go round will slow to stop. And I will get a new role with this training. The good thing is that Alex is delighted that the end is in sight. No hesitation, no maudlin shows….plunging ahead. Love this boy.

More green men. I am getting the hang of them.

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.

working away in the clouds

Just got a pile of stuff out to Creative Quarterly, a wonderful, well designed publication by Charles Hively that really speaks actively to the design, communications, marketing and illustration world. There is a great aesthetic of strong, good design that has a sense of humor and fun...not totally bent pinkie perfection--swiss /academic design, but with the right balance of smart, humorous, witty work. Charles also creates and publishes 3x3 which has a similar sensibility exclusively for illustration. I think he is developing a publication that takes on Communication Arts and transcends all the others (Print, How, etc.). So, we wait and see on this one. The 3x3 show I got into at least gets mentions from my friends etc. that they saw my work unlike the other shows where a stunning silence happens from friends, clients etc. 3x3 is soon too...hopefully there will be some time to enter a bunch of the valentines a group...hmmm.

I am on the illustrations with a slightly different headset than Memento Mori (which I was reviewing this a.m. for Creative Quarterly). The Memento Mori work was inked in, scanned and that was it. No sketches. No rework. Just plain guts on the page...And what I have now is the let it fly--ink on paper which I might do more than once! Then its scanned in with other bits and pieces that are assembled in photoshop in a higher than usual dpi (either 400 or 500 dpi) to size. Then, I erase and patch the black and white prior to even thinking about color. Color is a whole other thing... I am using non photo blue pencil for sketching and my new friend, the pentel fine line whiteout pen (acquired in LA! at Famima, that cute japanese store). So, in the tradition of logo design technique we learned in school (draw on paper, get a piece of glass and put it on top of the sketch, paint negative and positive with plakat--back and forth).

Now I am back to that approach, only with my pictures. The tiger is being recolored and doctored...with a redraw of some clouds and some consideration of texture/activity at the bottom of the page. The more I doll it up, the more it doesnt help the image. To take clues from indian art, a flat color in the background isnt a problem, nor are flat color borders are good too. Totally work either flat and flat, or flat with thin patterned borders. So, need to go back in with that in mind.

Bizzy Buzz Buzz

The bees (above) were photographed at the lovely farm wedding we attended a few weekends past. I was charmed with the hive surrounded by queen anne's lace and grasses along with the actual bees--flying towards their home, ignoring us and happy to amongst themselves. I am a bee lover from way back...I love the way they look, the simplicity of keeping bees, and the symbolic aspect of bees. Napoleon represented himself with a bee as did royals. The bee is used by the mormons as a representative of their productivity and community with one of Brigham Young's houses called the Beehive. A member of the Freemasons in Mill Valley wrote a wonderful paper on bees and what they mean here>> Dig this:
"...the emblem of the bee hive is found in an Irish expose called The Early Masonic Catechisms printed in 1724:

"A bee has in all Ages and Nations been the Grand Hierogliphick of Masonry, because it excells all other living Creatures in the Contrivance and Commodiousness of its Habitation or combe; … nay Masonry or Building seems to be of the very Essence or Nature of the Bee, for her Building not the ordinary Way of all other living Creatures, is the Generative Cause which produces the Young ones. (you know I suppose that Bees are of Neither Sex.)

For this Reason the Kings of France both Pagans and Christians, always Eminent Free-Masons, carried three Bees for their Arms.

What Modern Masons call a Lodge was for the above Reasons by Antiquity call'd a HIVE of Free-Masons, and for the same Reasons when a Dissention happens in a Lodge the going off and forming another Lodge is to this Day call'd SWARMING. (wording and spelling of 1724)" (Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols, p. 73)

I was at our local Farmers Market and found the Bee man, Mr. Waid from Interlaken who had big beeswax pillar candles and bee pollen for sale. Of course, I had to buy it...and spent some time talking bees with him. He and his wife told me that they rent their bees to farmers for $70. Mr. Waid puts them in his truck (?moving the hive?) and takes them gently down the road. Unloads them and allows them to help pollinate the farmer's field and then, brings them back to his place. Then they exolled the virtues and values of bee pollen when you ingest it...preventing or mollifying allergens in the air. Local pollen and honey> Local bees> Local environment that we are part of . Nice understandable cycle that makes sense to me. Anything to reduce the need for seldane or any of the other magic drugs that are almost necessary on the shoulder seasons.

So, bees are deep, cool and beautiful. Hold that thought for some pictures.

I am very pleased to have gotten 12 pieces out to the Society of Illustrators LA show yesterday. It takes a bit of time to get the files all right and tight. I had a nice chat with Alice from SILA who was helpful in explaining work arounds in getting the files to them for the show. Its a bit hinky with their new tool, but the thought and intent is good. It will be better, I am sure, next year. But hey you guys, if you are entering, the last day is September 19th....and we should know who is in, and who isn't by Thanksgiving! SOI NYC is coming up too, so the SILA prep will get you ready for the New York show.

Murray pulled me out of the mud yesterday...pointing, nudging and guiding. He was talking about the topic of Adam and Eve/Garden of Eden saying that this here was something to get my teeth into. He thought the monkeys needed a rest. He suggested I look at Today's Inspiration for the new writing and images of Jan Balet.

Jan Balet from Today's Inspiration

Also to read up on Doris Lee, her husband Arnold Blanch, Milton Avery and others who really set the stage for some of the storybookartists such as the Provensens. There is a lovely exhibit of Doris Lee's work at the D. Wigmore Fine Art site>> Okay, Murray--I am beginning to see it...

Doris Lee (1905-1983)
Woman in a Garden
20 x 29 7/8 inches, gouache and watercolor on board, signed lower right

I got off the phone feeling the rock off my shoulders and fired up to learn about these artists and two, to get going on some pictures to do with the Garden Story. I am shifting gears and will present this as a slick cover for a children's religious magazine..or myths and legends thing. Murray suggested (as I will chase this for my thesis) that this become a children's book. As usual, I was negative, but after a night's sleep and a bit of thinking...this is probably a good idea. I think I do not worry about making is super sweet...just in doing a bang up job. Maybe R. can help me with the simplifying of the story. This is great. Simply great. I can draw this stuff for a year, no problem.

We also talked about drawing and the computer. My thinking is that the computer freezes an illustrator because making perfect curves and flat shapes has a draw for an artist as the appeal for perfect is alluring. I have been sucked in by this. However in losing the drawn line, the quirkiness of the hand of the illustrator, the errors and wobbles, the life is gone from the drawing and becomes perfect shapes, logotypes without a soul. I think if I can come up with a working method paralleling the Ron Mazellen approach, where the computer helps to refine, becomes a method of hastening the mid steps and becoming invisable in the final product this shold be my goal. I know in the vector approach I started at Syracuse, there is the intent to have the work look like screenprints and actually reduced the process down to working in vectors and the pathfinder tools to hasten the process along. Only flat color (like screen prints) reduced palette (the now thinking) and shape reduction...breaking it out like circus posters or prints...that the imprint of the computer was diminished. Now the challenge is to do the same with the hand drawn image. I think there are some tricks here....

Gotta go. Like I said the other day, there may be a trip to Aurora today! I'll take my picture machine! More later.