A summer moment

Monarda, Q. Cassetti, 2011Cool this morning. The full moon illuminated the night such that morning segued without much fanfare. We had a peaceful evening at the lake talking about fashion and how one transitions their look. Kitty is all over this with interest both from Jacob and Alex. The weekend stretches in front of us— with a pickup from Sweet Land, maybe some raspberry picking and grocery shopping. Some may start on GrassRoots projects, I may party with my pens. Summer full bore.

I am musing over my friends at the Hartford Art School and where they are this week. For those new students, they are dying. The dream project is pushing them all out of their corners, their safe zones, to a place of challenging discomfort. This clever punishment is devised by some pretty amazing educators to get folks off their illustration tookies and into the fray. It is hard work but accomplishes the creation of a class group, shoves everyone to accept change and personal growth, and gives everyone a common day one. But ooh. Ouch right now.

Then there are the confident second year students. They have time with the program. They have friends. They have work. They think they are on track for their thesis. The world is theirs. School is one fat slice of wonderful.

Then there are the third years. They have been dragged through a keyhole backwards. The thesis, the papers, the illustration, the travel, the ancillary papers have all added up. These students want to savor the last crumbs from the slice of wonderful but are distracted with all the to dos to finish. It is a complex time of trying to grab it all,  and yet not being able to really embrace it the way you could during the summer of the second years. It is a bittersweet time during the first week. The second week for me was ” get me out of here…!” It is a tremendous thing, these MFA students are doing for themselves. They are opening themselves up to change, to evolve, to self discovery, to learning. Nothing wrong with that!

Tonight, Amelia and Leah, my friends are singing with Mary Lorson to open for EmmyLou Harris at Greek Peak. This was a spur of the moment thing and I am  so excited for them to get this exposure and chance to sing to a new and different audience. Very cool.

The GrassRoots machine is beginning to whirrrr. Projects are beginning. Tents are arriving. The buzz is in the air.  More later.

I got an F

I am getting somewhere with these Stooges....and was thrilled when I posted it to my facebook just to get a reaction that Pablo Lopato (impetus for this new twist) weighed in and said "Nice!". That means, keep going.

Gary Kelley talked about how he developed his books..the thinking, the research, the design that the illustrator engages in the process with the art director having a point of view and placing the type. Very interesting from the standpoint of the designer and from the look of the books...the engagement of the designer. Gary loves the relationship so it works for him. This is a dream situation for Gary as he views it not as the big CaChing! but more that this is another opportunity to do what he loves and develop a complete body of work, essentially, a portfolio to get his work out there. What I love about Gary is that illustration is magic for him. He loves to see the idea bloom into the image from the conception through to the final with every step a juicy morsel to be savored, stressed over and adored. I can so relate to his more art oriented approach--looking for colors and shapes--and allowing measured risks to happen as the color evolves and the design builds off the bones of the sketch. Remarkable and quite inspiring. Gary's two new books, one from Hyperion on Eleanor Roosevelt which pretties her up a bit, but is as compelling visually with the nicely designed images and spreads to the not for little people book on Paganini and his deal with the devil (mirroring his extrodinary book on Robert Johnson done with singular and stunning monoprints). Both worth buying even if its for grown ups.

Gary's vision, his joy in his work, the so called, simple paring down to color and shape is very motivating to me--his artistic ambition to constantly be amused, charmed, inspired, driven by the work of other artists and have it change and effect his work and direction is a gift upon the closure of this chapter to me. Somehow these last weeks are so poignant and so distilling to make the time fly but at the same time stand still when you hear the truths that are being imparted.

C F Payne loves what he does from the abstracting and stretching of the head to the making/doing of his work--but it is somehow less spiritual and brawnier than that of Gary Kelley. Chris is working on a "celebrity" book with Steve Martin--and it seems to be a happy marriage (we hope for this). Everyone worked on their own projects from portraits in either pastel and/or the multiplexed C Payne technique or on thesis work or in my case-- doing some intellectual stretching trying to simplify and abstract heads.

I had my thesis review today. It was Murray Tinkelman, Doug Andersen, Bill Thompson and to my delight, Bunny Carter. They wanted me to recount a bit of what the paper speaks to--and then to talk about my time at Hartford. Bunny was very nice and very positive about the work, where it could go and that the thing I will need to worry about/focus on are more bodies of work like this or like Memento Mori that will drive the style. Murray projected that in the right time (like the sixties) I would have been asked to join the Pushpin Studio (wow...!). Bunny projected that this work was going to get out there--and get published--and that the thing I will need to worry about when I have imitators, was to keep in front of it. Wow. Imagine. Do you think? And, she also said that she was proud of me as a women doing this...and from a goddess of illustration history and a keen observer of people, I am tearing up from that. Now, I just have to dog it to see where we go.

So, I have the F.
The Terminus F. I want to hug the world, hug myself and cry a little bit.

quick now!

New logo for the Stonecat Cafe...now calling themselves outside the cafe as Stonecat.
Am working on some inexpensive labelling (designed specifically for black and white printer home technology with khaki/kraft paper as an accent. They are coming out with some very original sausages created by genius Scott Signori along with some very imaginative other food carry out, take home or give to...from the region. Scott and Jess were very brave to ask me to help them with the sausages...and I took the ball a bit further than they had brought to me...and they are kindly letting me pursue this creative approach. Its looking very good and fresh...Now, I need to slug away on their website layout.

Kubb: The local game of champions
Kubb (pronounced /kʉb/ in Swedish or /kub/ in Gutnish) is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them.

Kubb can be simply described as a combination of bowling and horseshoes. Today's version originated on Gotland island, Sweden.

Rules vary from country to country and from region to region, but the ultimate object of the game is to knock the "King" over, before your opponent does. This, combined with the fact that there is a certain level of strategy that can be used by players, has led some players and kubb fans to nickname the game "Viking Chess." However, unlike chess, if a player or team knocks over the king before achieving their objectives, that player/team immediately loses the game. Some games have been known to last for hours.

The game can be played on a variety of surfaces such as sand, concrete, grass, or even ice.

Kubb is a good game for children (under supervision), although in such cases, the 8-meter pitch length (specified in some instructions), ought to be shortened.

Also, Just did the Kubb Collective mark. Here it is on a bunch of things at Zazzle. The Kubb Collective is a group of fun people here in the Tburg area that gather regardless of weather to play competitive Kubb--with people paying in per game and the proceeds given to charity.

I am a bit frustrated (but without frustration, growth will not happen) with my portrait project at Hartford. I am not going to get into it...but as soon as something is finalized, I will post. Urg.

The thesis is at Staples today for binding. Done.

We are getting amazing rain (looks like hail!) with lightening and a downpour. Should disconnect. More later.


Portrait a day. The guy is Jeb Puryear, musical royalty in the Ithaca/Tburg area.Jeb is one of the moving forces behind the Trumansburg Grassroots Festival and one of the leads for the band, Donna the Buffalo. Rob and I were talking this morning about who he would like to see me work on as this portrait a day(if I can keep up with it) project progresses. Liza from last night needs some tweaks (Rob had opinions I do not disagree with--to move that illo further). This is an interesting process as it takes 2 hrs. to do versus the fancier, more in depth portraits that take around 25 hrs. to do (far more detail, far more granular). Faster, more shorthand in these images may be the trick to learn. Faster I need to work, the quicker I can get to the final.

Hartford schedules and information came last night to my delight. Wow. Too soon. I will need to spend some time in the next few days on the printed thesis. Peter Hoover did a magnificent job of editing. I am so lucky.

Kitty is taking exams. Alex is prepping. Rob has 8 at the lake for an offsite that Barbara Bold catered. I have work and a pot of stock on the stove. My shoes are coming this week as are the biggie outputs!.

More later when I have time.

promises...of rain.

Little Richard for you today. Instead of buying baby music for my children, I bought them tapes of Little Richard....and they loved it. So, I guess this picture could be a bow to a childhood delight! I really enjoyed the doing of this...editing the shadows to do different things, taking the cues from Little Richard's eyes and making them little sharp suns. I was going to do more on the mouth/teeth/tongue but you know, with his hair and signature pencil moustache, thats all you need to identify him. So...lesson, Get the signature stuff and be selective about the other details. Focus on that. The squiggles of color was fun...need to be more deliberate about that.

Yesterday was a quiet day with many of the hometeam catching up on sleep and syncing with the rest of the world. I potted up some annuals, bought a hanging basket from Brownies and made some lunch/dinner. Chatted with R. about my octopus picture which I just dont seem to be getting much energy to finish. He has given me permission (I guess I needed it) to move forward with the knowledge that I can redo it...but that my heart is somewhere else...(read these quicky portraits I am doing). Peter Hoover got me my paper finalized...So, I need to tweak and print this week.

Chet the lawnmower man is here getting the lawn taken care of before our next downpour. We need the rain as everything was verging on brown/burn out...so a big dose of rain to plump everything up before July would be great. It has been unseasonably cool (down comforters in the night)--so the spring has lasted a bit longer with the peonies and iris being weeks instead of the days in the hot weather.


Geisha coming on. Almost done. Working on a Diana Ross distill for Jean and Nancy Stahl...with the distill to see where I can take this image. Tracing on the computer pretty fast...and its beginning to look like the first step. Its fun though. I think the summer of portraits is really great. It will be a good idea to see where this can go.

I was googling Pablo Lopato and ran into a Communications Arts Magazine brief interview with him. He cited his inspirations, which for me, has become a primary interest as it gives me a window on the work...what did the illustrator see/glean/gain from his inspiration's work. Lopato referenced this interesting Argentinian cubist, Emilio PettorutiWiki says:

"Emilio Pettoruti was an Argentine painter, who caused a scandal with his avant-garde cubist exhibition in 1924 in Buenos Aires. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Buenos Aires was a city full of artistic development. Pettoruti's career was thriving during the 1920s when "Argentina witnessed a decade of dynamic artistic activity; it was an era of euphoria, a time when the definition of modernity was developed."[1] Previously, he had been awarded, in 1912, a traveling scholarship to Italy, where he met the Futurist artists, and also exhibited at Herwarth Walden's "Der Sturm Gallery" in Berlin. In Paris, he met Juan Gris, who influenced him to paint in a cubist style. While Pettoruti was influenced by cubism, futurism, constructivism, and abstraction, he did not claim to paint in any of those styles in particular. Exhibiting all over Europe and Argentina, Emilio Pettoruti is remembered as one of the most influential artists in Argentina in the 20th century for his unique style and vision."

I love this.  Mr. Lopato lives in a world I know nothing about...Nothing. There are a rich vein of illustrators and artists from South America that we know nothing of. I want to chase down his other influences and see what there is so see. I love the color and the more obvious cubism that Pettoruci shows...breaking the image down to basics but keeping it a bit more decorative than Juan Gris and Braque (poor, drab Braque). Picasso keeps his humor in his cubist work...using shape and line in a way that I would like to better understand. Hmmm.

Gotta go. There are 17 packages of postcards going to my Hartford class for promotional cards for our show and 3 boxes to go filled with programs and pencils. Wrapping this up. Now, I wonder where my output is? Peter H. is almost done with the lovely editing he is doing to the masterwork paper (not)...and very sweet about how fun it has been to do!  And, need to get on fixing the octopus. Have put a bit of time into it...but have been lured by the siren of our geisha girl and now Diana Ross. Bad Girls!

cool day

Continuing work on the Utamaro inspired illustrator in SF. Like what's happening. Sent a note off to CF Payne about the portrait project to get some guidance and thought. It dawned on me that the Jean Tuttle/ Nancy Stahl project was boring me to death...not jazzy enough so maybe I will do a portrait of Diana Ross (from Connecticut) and push it a bit a la Risko/ and the South American Pablo Lobato. Feeling better about this. Boredom really sticks you in neutral.

I am fiddling with our little dharma pal. funnzies. Not much to look at yet.

Cooked down a mess of chicken bones from my new favorite from the grocery store, antibiotic free, natural chickens (rotisserie style) without the terrible quicky mart seasoning and stink. Its quite delicious and it is prime for making this great new thai chicken salad that the home team have been loving (even demanding!) in this month's Martha Stewart Good Eats magazine (the small magazine at the grocery store). One of my favorite magazines cause the recipes are dumb, quick and delicious... Back to the bones, I made wonderful stock from these bones before (the best this year), so I am def. in the recycling mode with these small chickens. This robust stock may come from a robust quantity of bones. So, remind me, but next winter I am for certain going to buy the box of backs and bones they sell for $10. at the Regional Access.

The Van Engelen catalog came yesterday. With this cool humid weather, it is obvious to think about piles of bulbs--affordable piles of bulbs, more more and more. They had 250 daffodils for $74, all excellent quality, with a ton of choices from iris, peonies, frittilaria, allium. You hear me talking about these things...This is the place to buy them. Paired with teen labor...1000 daffs are going in this fall. More frittilaria maximus and allium gigantium. Do you see a trend? Maximus and Gigantium.

Its been very cool here. Maybe teen girl squad (my Wednesday teen employees) will fold things for Hartford and then outside to prune more twigs and sticks, and kill all privet. More later

picture above is work in progress...(click to see bigger)

At the lake, wrapping it up to get Rob on the road for his manager on duty stint today. Alex is working on a portrait project. Kitty has a friend over and they are hard at work looking for fossils on the beach. They found me a perfect luckystone for my big award in July. The smaller prize doesnt get them. And, the prizes look great. I hope they are well received. Its the thought that counts.

Here is my thinking. Everyone in the program comes in as an individual and leaves as an individual. Each journey is personal and the path(s) chosen aid in what each student receives. There is no wrong journey or path. And, if the journey changes, so be it...but its important that the effort put in poses questions, prompts answers and results. What draws these individuals together is the desire to change, the ability to communicate visually, and the interest in seeing, learning, growing. The ability to draw, to tell a visual tale or to evoke a feeling, a response from another person is key. To that, we are all moving forward--those of us graduating--forward, changed, changing,with a misnamed degree. There should be nothing about terminus in this terminus degree. It should all about opening the doors for change, evolution, self enlightenment. Those who were new last year are moving and transitioning from the firsties to graduates. The firsties are experiencing all that we firsties have been through: insecurity, lack of confidence, a challenge to all you know, believe in. The cards have been thrown in the air...and goodness knows if you can ever get them back in the box the same way ever again (read,this is why you are paying the money). Hopefully by the time you graduate, you will realize the cards aren't necessary, there is no order and is it really important?

Need to get the stuff ordered prior to departure. The little tree peony I planted by the back door is blooming (a beautiful clear yellow) as are the iris. When our big tree came crashing down two years ago, it cleared the way for some amazing little saplings to grow and have the light they wer deprived of. We have a very spiky/thorny tree with these heavenly clusters of flowers that smell almost like jasmine. The flowers are white with red necks and a blaze of an acid yellow in the middle. As it is cool and humid, the scent projects and has wrapped us in an otherworldly place. The bird feeders are filled to the brim with "Ithaca Blend" from Agway. We have a few pilated woodpeckers who think this new mix worth the trip.

The wonderbus awaits packing.

Quiet before the Maelstrom

Early up this morning to get Kitty to round two, SATS. Urg. Next weekend, ACT and the following week or so tests, regents, APs. She will be a testing machine. We dropped by the farmers market on the way home (Ithaca) to admire the pink and warm red poppies, the fluffy iris and the new plants beginning to blow out. We will pick her up around noon and rush off to WinLee (our local asian grocery store) for rice noodles and Pad Thai fixins. I am on an asian cooking jag because I have never done it and found this week that its quite simple, quite plentiful yielding leftovers for those who work here and for gigantic 15 year old golf playing, track running guys. There is never enough food for them. I stocked up at the Regional Access with a case of Pesto (another 15 yr. old staple...forget peanut butter! We only eat Pesto and cheese!). They have a little broken case section at the Regional they refer to as the "bodega." I bought some lovely olive oil and some cans of curry as this is another crowd pleaser with the youth--particularly when we eat at Thai restaurants which is a new love with the home team. So, Winlee to flesh out the mis en place for asian cooking.

I took some pictures of poppies and iris along with greenery for another vector valentine I want to do using really tight, self shot reference...Sweetsy with flowers and birds and butterflies. I think this has legs and I think it might be fun to do. Am getting some headshots for my CF Payne/Gary Kelley portrait(s) done in a very distilled, graphic character manner. Flat color, some detail...proportions stretched. Thoreau is number one guy. Poe and Twain...need 3 more. Library of Congress has a digital library (specifically portraits) as does the New York Public Library which has an impressive volume of digitized images. With the NYPL, there is a bit of a trick in the downloading and saving.

Finished the tortured waterfall project. Kitty proclaims it better than last year. I proclaim it done. Done! So more time for portraits, heads, Olivia Langdon and the like (even more asian pictures like the promised sleeping pig!). It is a bit over a month before Camp at Hartford, so getting the ship in order is appropriate.

Rob has the Glass Arts Society Annual Conference (GAS) in Corning this next week. He will be working long days (with music and festivities, demonstrations and lectures). GAS comes to Corning every 10 years--so it has in our lives become a milestone. Last time, Kitty and Alex were 5 and 7. Now look. Its always fun and if you are around here, worth the less than $300. conference fee to get the full bore. Many of the glass biggies are there (along with students and the biggies in the making). Often there will be shows of work, work created on site, huge neon and kinetic glass on the Brisco Bridge. The Horseflies will be playing the closing party along with a new Jim Reidy band.

I need to make my asian food list before we jump in the car to get into Ithaca.

Tburg Farmers Markets on Wednesdays!

Tburg Farmers Market opened last night with great festivity with Mayor Marty doing the honors, drawings and give aways, and all the beauty of the food, the friendly farmers, the freerange this, and grassfed that. Locavore Central. I love this new locavore name as it works for the way I want to shop, cook and live. I guess there are a bunch of us as we were swarming. We got there late and missed the baskets of strawberries...but the new garlic with their long green ends draping over all of our arms were snapped up for .75 a robust bundle. We also bought hot italian sausage from a nice smiley lady who has two kids under two, and the organic meat business blossoming. Simply Red was selling pulled pork. A few wineries were doing tastings and the honey man, wellll... you know how I feel about him! We are so lucky with the local farmers, the new CSA farmers who have moved to Tburg (Community Supported Agriculture), the Amish, the individuals in agriculture and food. And we often have little tables become big booths who then leave us for fame. We are blessed. Then there are "the creative sorts" who sell jewels, crazy stuff made out of used teeshirts (the baby clothes are to die for), ceramicists, natural cosmetics folks. No shortage of things to spend your money on. More hometown pride. Its a wonderful thing every Wednesday to know that this sort of communal thing is happening. I need to force myself out of my lair to get with the people. It's always fun.

Peter Hoover is doing the round two on my paper. Commas in the right place--verbs and active words galvanizing the text. And, he will ask "is this necessary" and the answer resoundingly is always "NO!"

work in process

I was messing with Double Happiness--and seeing if color helped/hurt. Dunno. Its pretty rubber. While I was solving the world's problems last night(read, I woke up at 3 and my brain clicked on superdrive)I was thinking about illustration, taxes, business, and getting Kitty through this college gambit.There is just so much personal stuff that time will help to resolve, but having the bones of planning and thinking put in place is necessary so that the home team can get what they need out of the experience. Bones. Hmm.

I created about 10 bodies of work--all but doing it. Was thinking about the CF Payne and Gary Kelley project (week one at Hartford this July) which is sort of open as it can be working on your personal work (thesis or otherwise) or a portrait of a literary figure. I am thinking that I bend it a bit (and check with Chris today) and work either on the body of work (Holbein inspired pictures of local friends/kids) or to take a few heads and work with them wearing my Picasso/Braque/Juan Gris hat....with a nod to this great illustrator I admire, Pablo Lobato. I love his charactures and would love to see if I can do a distill like this with my logo/symbol design background. I think it would work? Do you? I am sort of charged up to pursue a decorative approach to portraits...and I am leaning this way and with Chris Payne who is noted for his ability to stretch a face...it might be great. As I write this and look at Pablo's work fresh...I am definitely going to do this. Now, the literary figure...could be Twain because I have been reading about him and have a nice little pile of images to work with. Could be Ben Franklin? Could think about someone more dramatic though...literary literary literary.... I like Dante. But not photos. Back to Twain...you get a bookish, cuter Einstein. Reading about Twain, I find out that he was well over 10 yrs. older than his wife--meeting her after striking a friendship with her brother Charles who was on the "Quaker City" cruise to Europe to do his "grand tour". Twain is a really wonderful writer with wit, snap and a tremendous amount of edgy "tude" that the sweetness of his public writing doesn't communicate.

Finished the first round of edits to the thesis. Will meet with Peter, my editor within the next day or so for the second comb through soon. New waterfall on board today. Haircut too!

dull Jack

Its been a long few days. I am busy plugging Peter's edits into my paper which is not much of a party. But it is good for me (like spinach). I am learning some new things, and it is all moving towards finish. One more round of edits...redraw of octopus...and I will be done! I am feeling a bit liberated, but not free yet. Still waiting for my imprinted pencils and stretched output (all but the octopus again), and my decorated shoes. It is a bit of the "Jack is a dull boy" for me as its been so focused and heads down.

I am struggling with another illustration of the local tall waterfall...If you don't get the reference right, the waterfall looks like a mass of ugly vertical stripes. So, I changed the reference and tried redrawing from that. Shot more reference this morning and hopefully it will work. Higher point of view and the water was not as frothy/swishy...more linear. The light was relatively flat which worked better to give me obvious highlights and shadows. As an aside, Shady accompanied me on my shoots. She was intrigued by the birds and critters at Taughannock--and with my encouraging her to jump up on a low wall...she jumped (this doggy girl must truly have springs in her back legs) a good six feet up on a much higher wall to begin to trek on something with a furry tail and a fondness for trees (anything for squirrels).

A week more of school. There are concerts, tests, and all sorts of closing out including SATs and ACTs. Wow...And we have to have the "distance team" party I promised to Alex that we would do before everyone separates before summer.
I called Cayuga Nature Center and am signing Kitty and Alex up for 2 full days of volunteering. There are tons of projects to do...and I dont want 5 full unscheduled days of teenagerdom this summer. Unscheduled means me driving the bus to the mall etc. and work not getting done. Yikes. The golf course is not a 9-5 x 5 days a week activity.

Need to go make some dinner. Maybe tonight will be another musical exploration into the diversity of Bob Dylan (Alex's new passion and Rob''s old fondness). You never know.


Just got back from the last LPGA 2300˚ event at the Corning Museum of Glass. They must have had 4000 people there...two bands with the big draw being a fab jazz group "Room Full of Blues". The Voices show was open as was retail with people eating, drinking, dancing and shopping. Ran into some friends who had lost their positions and were interested in talking about the new paths they are on. I know this--that when you are walking in the forest, you need to see the sun occasionally to know that there is a world out there with interested people there to support you. I know that these friends are feeling lonely--so I hope I was helpful and encouraging in their new, unplanned trip.

Kitty and I trolled retail--catching up with some of the folks we know that work there. I bought a green beaded necklace. Kitty bought a bejeweled "Hello Kitty" style bauble. There were loads of temptations the foremost being the shoes with toes that turn up totally covered in beads and sequins. Apple green and magenta, gold and ruby, all opal-ie white or tones of black and brown. This sort of glamor for a pittance, $19.95. But somehow we just couldnt rationalize this wonder.

My tree peony burst it's garlic headed sized blossom...thus the picture. We are getting into lilac and peony season. The iris by the house (clear yellow and some that are purple...more the tailored siberian style versus the frill) are opening with their sharp spikes. The hosta have totally doubled in size...so there may be a bit of moving with them. Monarda, otherwise known as Bee Balm, the source of beramot (the zing that makes Earl Grey tea--Earl Grey), is a plant our dear deer detest. They are flourishing. And our fringe tree keeps living despite the woodpeckers who peck away the paint we seal the wood with. I sent some of the teens outside with clippers to start pruning the brown hanging branches/ dead and not additive. So, things are looking cleaner, and more taken care of.

I have my thesis paper out to be edited with a real live editor. Man, Why didnt I learn about this earlier? Peter Hoover is a new friend and a Trumansburg Rennaissance man. He is at this iteration in his career, a retiring editor (from Big Red). He has asked me wonderful, and insightful questions. He has put his eye on the flow and format--and I know that the time spent with him will take my ramblings to a whole other place. Learn about Peter's interest in music>>--Here's an excerpt from John Hoffman's remarkable writing about Peter's field recordings...

It was the summer of 1959 and a young Peter Hoover, having flunked out of Harvard the summer before, was volunteering at the Library of Congress, transcribing inventory information of aluminum disc recordings made in 1937 of Crockett Ward’s Bog Trotters, from Ballard Branch, Virginia (the original Bog Trotters, consisting of Davey Crockett Ward and his neighbor Alec Dunford on fiddles, Fields Ward, Crockett's son, playing guitar and singing, and Crockett's brother Wade Ward often playing the banjo). . Not bad work if you can get it. It seems the young Mr. Hoover had gotten interested in the traditional music of the southern Appalachian Mountain region over the past couple of years and he was driven to immerse himself in all aspects of this musical genre. In between working as a janitor at a local private school to pay the rent, the 20-year old was hanging around the archive listening to numerous field recordings and engaging in conversations about the music with the director, Rae Korson. Peter was spending the summer developing a list of favorite old-time music performers as he hatched a plan that would take him on a journey throughout the southern Appalachia region in search of these old-time musicians. Not long after, in the fall of ’59, Peter drove out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania having borrowed his parents 1955 Rambler sedan, his Revere recorder in tow, heading straight for Hillsville, Virginia and the homes of Glen Smith, Wade Ward, and Charlie Higgins. Over the course of the next five years, Peter would make these summer journeys an annual affair. During this time, Peter recorded musicians in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. After five years, Peter had recorded more than sixty players and singers, all documented on fifty reel-to-reel recordings, copies of which are now deposited in the Library of Congress and the Archives of Traditional Music at Indiana University in Bloomington.

And this is just the beginning with Peter. I am sure you are going to hear more about him as we go further. He is an inspiration to me...and we have many common interests and old friends (and for me mentors). Lets just say...he has his fingers in many pies...and now he has his big brain, sharp pencil, gentle persona and generous spirit touching my paper. How lucky am I?

Work awaits. We have 50 high schoolers coming for an evening party. Its a purchased party...meaning we are having subs, chips, strawberries, little chocolates and drinks. There will be frisbees and water pistols--music and dancing...and then it will conclude. I have the compostable paper plates and cups and forks/spoons. Alex is making plans for a party for the "distance runners" and others to cook sausages and "hang". Sounds great he is putting this forth because now we can act on it.

Weekend is pretty open. I hope to touch up the thesis drawings. The big output is coming early next week...and I will decide at that point to print them on my printer with 3 centerpiece biggies (and frame them with an off the shelf frame with acrylic from Dick Blick or output stretched in a smaller size). I am looking forward to a bit of peace.

Its a quarter to seven

...and it's still remarkably light and beautiful outside. Frost this a.m. but hope that we will get a bit more heat this week.

A bit lost right now. Need to get some traction on something to think about. I am still musing over valentines...not for this thesis...but 2 to 3 of them done vector using the pix I took at the Cornell Plantations of these blown out peonies and song birds (mooshing them together). I will use very delicate colors and make a confab (a la the Papillon Dog picture I did). Another, inspired by the mighty hands and arms shown in heraldry, holding a bouquet aloft with clouds behind them and a rosy heart with bugs.. Could be beautiful. Nonetheless, I am twisting in the wind as I need a new topic and the gears are not whirring. Should I engage in the pursuit of growing and gardening in prep for the holiday card for one of my clients. If I lean into that, the early September "OMG" might be ameliorated? Or masonic inspired images? or a Floradora doodle yi day? or finishing up the three spreads from the Lewin book? or even just complete the set of portraits I want to do of Alex, the Bialke triplets, the Oros triplets and Laura V. I just need to mop up the changes on this thesis and not do any more work specific to the paper etc.

My buttons came today. Postcards in a few days. New computer delivered...So, I have that to spend a day to boot up...

Contacted Elmira's Twain Center who sent me some images but really referenced UC Berkley's collection of letters, papers and objects surrounding Mark Twain and maybe images. I sent them a note this morning with a nice and prompt note with a link to their images of Twain in the California Digital Library. I have just downloaded a few images so I have a choice. A friend from SU recommended an old friend of his who is a Twain expert at Cornell to contact. I think I have got the images. I ordered a used copy of the "Love Letters of Mark Twain" to read. I really just need to layout this baby and see what goes. Also, need to create some textures for brushes (maybe some drawn ones? and some clips from etchings? or old photos). Need to get rolling before Chris Payne/ Gary Kelley's assignments hit. There will be work there too.

Dentist just called. We need to get Kitty and Alex to the oral surgeons as there might be the great taking out of wisdom teeth this summer. Like everything else, this has changed since my time...where they get the teeth when they are very small and nubby...eliminating all the pain, digging and awfulness that happens as one gets older. I was a bit shocked by the call...but as I settle into it, best to get these things behind us.

dinner on the horizon. Just a question of what..? Any ideas?

Heads up.

I am posting my teensy sketches from the awards ceremony last night. These things can go on and on, but if I have a notebook in my lap and a juicy pen, the time passes quite pleasantly. The awards ceremony was nice as the kids that you thought would be on a rail back and forth to the stage last night were not rewarded so intensely. Wider range of kids..good choices. It makes me nuts that the hometeam is lackadaisical about the work, grades etc. They have decided that mediocre is fine...and as much as I harp on it...they refuse to acknowledge this. Both Rob and I work hard...and they have seen it since coming home from the hospital--so I don't understand why they do not even connect us with work. Or, maybe they do and this is there little pushback. We get it..and forget you. OY OY OY> They are making choices they will rue. But they are making them.

The goofy heads are evolving from the Flora model. The lady heads are using the Murray nose and bottom lip conventions--with a little promise for later. Am finishing up the thesis paper (checking, rewriting, renumbering) and plan to have this done by the end of the week to get out to the editors. Am fixing Fu dog by redrawing the type and adding some texture. Somehow the color is not printing right. I have cleaned the epson...maybe saving it as a jpg and printing that might help.I hate this aspect of the work that there is voodoo around printing, the humidity, the day of the week, the mood of the paper, the age and amount of ink... OY.

I am finally making little noodly steps out of the mire of work. No gym until I can see the boundaries and borders, edges and light. Right at it from 8 am until 7 or so each day. Ten minute lunches...Firing away. I feel good as I have been able to keep all the balls moving with uploads, amendments, new designs. I am lucky to have such thoughtful customers too.

Need to get some grown up paperwork done today. We have some deadlines that are definitely accomplishable, but an extra layer to the work. My prizes for Hartford are here. Need to find a ribbon to gussy them up with (along with my buttons? or maybe Hartford Buttons! Could do that...one more of those. But could.

Mish mash mozzarella

This is the raw double happiness that I am going to edit with color/lines/tones.
I was looking at Chinese export china and want to better understand how the color worked--its a multiple series of weights of the same blue. Sometimes the grounds are a tinted grey green. Plus, the Chinese export illustrations and landscapes are divine. There could be some traction around a body of work generated from this adoration of these china patterns. I have always loved this blue and white pattern(s) and buy it whenever possible. I had a little stash of saucers and bowls that I brought home from San Francisco to feed this fire. So, this picture (with the double happiness symbol from Chinatown) speaks to these acquisitions...and the valentine theme.

Had a nice chat with Murray so that I can further describe the 80/20 rule in my thesis. He, as always, nailed it with good analogies and language. I wish I could be so smart and succinct. I got a great series of notes and feedback from Doug at Hartford which I can put into action. So, left foot, right foot. I am forward moving....I ordered my prizes to give out on graduation day (Luckystone Prizes). I don't think I can find the volume of luckystones to tie to each present...but we have some time and Kitty (with her eagle eyes) to comb the Luckystone beach for them. I am quietly pretty pleased with these prizes...and though small, they will, I hope, have some meaning.

I have "I love Fu", and the soon to be done" Double Happiness" for the San Francisco pictures. I am researching pigs as I still want to do the sleeping pig picture... I was also thinking of doing some silhouettes of the Chinese zodiac symbols (a la John Alcorn)--for the talk too. The sleeping pig might be vector...?~ Something to look forward to...

Ordered some great stuff from the Regional Access (local wholesaler to local restaurants that we locals can buy from). Alex is eating like a nut these days...devouring fresh mozzarella as if we have the mozzarella bush out back. So a big mozz is coming our way along with big containers of pesto and parm. to keep his engines stoked. The wonderful lady who took my order pointed up a great deal they have on natural (sold at GreenStar) chicken thighs (less than $2. a pound). She also told me about this 40 lb box of chicken ribs (perfect for soup she raved) . The entire box for $10.

Today was a mountain of small stuff. I am Sir Edmund Hillary standing on top of my tiny summit!

Back on track

Finished up the first round on the paper and got to Murray and Doug. Murray called yesterday around noon very positive about the content, the work and the actual paper. He was very complimentary and kind...which makes me proud. Also, a bit hesitant as it now has to be better in the final. I guess I will hear from Doug at some point. After that, I will hire an editor and then refine. The work needs to be refined (some redrawn). And, there is one valentine on the desk that is to go into the final. Time to polish and finish. This is why there has been a lull in my writing my daily drivel to you....too much going on in this arena and work(!). Bizeee...

Speaking of Murray, his work and words are featured this week on Leif Peng's very interesting and expansive blog, Today's Inspiration. I highly recommend Murray's entries as it portrays what illustration studios were and how talent was brought along and emerged from this system. When I started as a designer at Corning Glass Works, we had an illustration studio in town that did line drawings and gouache paintings of Corningware, Pyrex and the consumer products for their catalogs and sell sheets. These poor devils had illustration jobs, but not the more glamourous jobs the Cooper Studio and even Pushpin had for their artists. But there was work for renderers, inkers, painters even in Corning, New York. Now the concept of an illustration studio seems inconcievable except in the case of illustration based companies such as Hallmark and American Greeting Cards. I also recommend the entries on Murray for a peek into the risks he took as a brash, young man with tremendous talent and occasionally not the most perfect timing. I love the illustrations from the baseball player and the wacky machine (the early version of the man machines he did for U&lc), the armidillo, the wonderful wolverine and the wealth of whimsical pen and ink work he did. It is a real shot in the arm for me...a gift to keep going and to not pick fights...Murray is an inspiration with his work, his persona, his gift as an educator and mentor and a friend. And, bless Carol for letting him do what he had to do to become this person we know and adore.

Zina Saunders, wonderful illustrator, insightful writer and all round high energy person noted the Peng entry on her page on the Drawger site. She also included an illustration she has done in a woodcut style that is fabulous. This artist never stops.... Wonderful work, wonderful writing and very interesting and wonderful comments on her page. Take a look.

I am hot on little people drawings. I loved Murray's baseball player for the spirit of the little man the simple face, the feeling. I was looking (and I admit, reading Roald Dahl's Matilda) at Quentin Blake's illustrations and was prompted to take all of the examples (BFG, Esiotrot, The Witches)off the bookshelf to see his work. Blake also has a very cute and amusing website that presents illustration content in a very happy, nontraditional way (categorically) and uses an almost "cloudlike" table of contents with flash animation to enliven and make the site sparkle as much as Blake does. His writing and storytelling is wonderful. And, Blake shares pictures of his studio, his house, his life that adds to the humanizing the legend. Love his pencil neck children along with the imperious, ogre like grown ups often with bad facial hair and warts. Now that I am looking at little people--I am going to have to plunge in. I have a birthday card to design for a client...and illustration definitely is in order.

Now that the valentine piece is coming along, time to design some heart patterns for end pages and section transitions. I am mulling over whether I do a perfect bound publication with Lulu or whether it is wire-o from Lulu. Though the perfect bound is pretty, the requirement of the paper is no printing on the backs. I think that wire-o might suit that better. Plus, they have a few nice color options that could be good. Need to order fu dog buttons (and a few more as there is no limit to the numbers of images to include in the order) and a postcard or two. Nothing over the top. Also need to get some sample output done on canvas and on maple plywood. The wood could be great with black printing on it...24" x 36" panels. But big canvas ones could be good....I should get a sample of each and see which works.

The image at the top is from my work on Avian Flu. I have been a bit wired (read neurotic) about the new Swine Flu (which is now PC to refer to as H1N1). Swine is better than avian for me because at least the vaccines are not incubated in pigs...just eggs. Plus, if you knew the annual flu statistics that we all do not even miss a beat on, 30,000 people die annually from the the "regular" flu. But, the full on pandemic is not someone wants to go through--and I have taken it to a mental image of a Bruegal-esque moment of death and destruction, catherine wheels and fog, a barren landscape of sorrow. Bird headed doctors (the plague masks were bird beaks that had a scented cloth in the beak to stave off the stench of the dying), carts of corpses rattling down Camp Street. Nothing is impossible in the world that grips me at three in the morning (won't life be great once menepause is over?) What is in this head transcends a school closing and please wash your hands and cover your mouth precautions. I am happy though that the family of man...globally, are behaving consciously and responsibly to maybe make this a quiet emergency versus a global trauma. There may be some pig pictures coming to the fore....

New web concepts we need to talk about later: Issuu, Squarespace
New vendors: Justbuttons

And I have a new wonderful surprise I am not spilling until I try them.... I am THRILLED to be so witty!

More later, my friends.