Onion love, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5Brilliant cool spring day today. We are back to semi-normalacy as the weather is acting like it should this time of the year. I am looking over at the back forty, blown away by the sheer green of everything. Both Alex and I are feeling that Spring surge of getting our creative mojo back—and we are both relishing it. What is it about the change in season that always flicks a switch and away you go (creatively). I always respond to the change in light…the longer days, the brighter time…but maybe its just that its the change. I find myself doing the same thing when its longer nights and darker days just as instead of opening up, the delight is the hunkering down.

I must admit, that this fruit and veggie thing is still going…and I am loving the response I am getting to this much more graphic work than I normally do. I am thnking more colorfields, simpler, more graphic… As you can see from this work, there is very little shading/ tiger toothing— but more solid shapes intersecting solid shapes, and it still comes off as believeable. Plus, this work is distinctly my own. I don’t  have reference around me from Alexander Girard, the Provensens, Matisse, Milton Avery to goad me into being true to the graphic aspect of this work…it just is flowing. And, I am drawing these things on paper—not using blue line to make the original drawing something that becomes central to the illustratration, but parker pen on bond paper. I am designing these things prior to picking up the wacom pen to see what can happen. And, though they are designed, they always evolve, like magic when I am working them out in illustrator.  So, I cannot wait to get the pen moving to see how the image will resolve itself during the rendering process. I know it’s simple,  but it delights me to no end to see how the head and hand unconsiously resolves these things, and the bodily me just moves the hand and eyes…and drinks in the image.

New thing I am delighted in: Craftsy.

Thanks to Laura Nelkin, local knitter, beader, teacher, world celebrity, and really on the cusp of internet cool, I discovered Craftsy as Laura is doing a class on knitting with beads. What is Craftsy? It is s site you can sign up for online classes and workshops from knitting to giftwrapping, to even illustration and tailoring. The classes are longer than the workshops, but there are videos, access to the professionals, and patterns to learn a technique (like the fancy knitting I want to learn like Entrelac) to soapmaking to sugar flowers. It is very much in the mode of Lynda.com (for those of us obsessed with our computer applications) but friendlier, shorter and more can do. What a great idea—craft classes you can take at home on your own time. One could plan a crafts vacation for a day or so and go wild making lip gloss and crocheted baby hats (take a look at this one…the crocodile stitch floral baby hat>>). Not that any of us have a ton of free time, but a rainy Sunday afternoon and Craftsy could be trouble (if you get my meaning!).

Gotta go. The day awaits as does Yearbook.

Go with the flow

Hairhopper, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink.Did I mention that I have figured out how to make a really decent vegetable stock? Probably not. But I did!

You know how the vegetable stock at the store is kind of weak—not really very flavorful and loaded with salt? That was my impression of what the starting point was. But, thanks to the bounty of root vegetables, the frozen chopped leeks and organic (read majorly flavorful) celery—filling a large roasting pan to the top. I did a big roast last weekend, and then after around 3 hours at 300˚ with lovely crispy brownness—in it went into the big stock pot with water to cover and cook down for another 2 hrs at a simmer. I emptied out all the bits and ends of parsley, of wilted red peppers and the scroungy bottom of the vegetable bin and dumped that all in the pot too (that might be the secret). And voila! Brown deliciousness. Plus, all the soup detrius goes right into the compost bin, so nothing goes in the garbage. Yay and double yay.

Talk about fascinating, I went to Sweet Land CSA yesterday to collect my share. Of course everything was gorgeous—-and there was the centerpiece for many of us, the KALE. Funny thing though was the kale was in a pile of snow in the totes they keep all the produce in. As I was digging through the snow to garner some to take home, my neighbor was happily anticipating how sweet the kale is this time of the year and that to her thinking the snow is what does the trick. Who would have guessed?

In the spirit of new things (Kale being the newest obsession), I have started the Tofu initiative. I like tofu, when I have it out. I like tofu when others make it…but there somehow was fear involved with my giving it a try. No more! This winter launches the tofu initiative, where yours truly will buy tofu, read recipes, and then cook with it…pushing it on the poor souls (read the boys) who then will be forced to eat it and provide feedback. I have been quizzing everyone on how they cook with tofu and yesterday was the first foray.  First off, there is the pressing. Tofu is predominantly water. So, in order to really have a go at something that can compete with meat on a plate, the tofu needs to stand up and not a be a wiggly form. So, one cuts slices (not too thin, not too fat), puts it between towels, and puts weights on it to drain it (much like eggplant). Then I marinated it (ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a teensy bit of sesame oil in the blender to immulsify) for a day. Then onto a greased cookie sheet for around an hour at 300˚ and it was ready to go. I served it with fresh sauteed spinach (from Sweetland)—and you know, it was good. Worth doing again good. And so it begins.

As you can see, the hair obsessed hairhoppers continue. This approach is really fast—and the less I think about them, the nicer and less uptight they are. I like the way this one has Klimt hair, where it flattens out at the top and takes a life of its own, really not related to the head in any way. I am trying to stay discipilined and not get in and over noodle it with shading etc. I like the purity. I am also trying to remember all that Mentor Murray (Tinkelman) would say about women’s noses, and mouths…and I think it is working.  I am also being entertained with seeing how much of the page I can fill with hair…and head and stuff. There is  a ton more here. Again, who knows if it has any other reason than entertainment, but at least that is being provided.

I am getting some traction on a project that frankly, I was dreading (fearing) doing. This dread and stupidity is in my head as I got rolling on it yesterday afternoon and have been enjoying the work, the process and the design. Today I have some spot illustrations I will need to do for part of this project, so it will sing. Enough of putting things off…they get worse when you postpone as my head takes over. Stupid me.

I see my farmers today to see where they want to take their image/symbol. Should be interesting to see what works/doesnt. I have a few more farmers circling…so I will need to get this finished up.

An inch of snow is promised today. Rob is one of the ringmasters at 2300˚ tonight at the Corning Museum of Glass. Ann Gant will be drawing with fire which should be amazing. Alex is practicing at school (prince in training). He is suffering a bit at getting his lines, getting his songs, and the general start up of learning all t his stuff. He fumed a bit a me yesterday (which was good) as he needed to get it off his chest. I am always intrigued to see what ticks him off, and how he deals with it. He is so solid and centered…and young, that the pressure of many things and wanting to be perfect right out of the gate is the prime sweet spot. It can only get easier as he goes.

New Week

Fruit of the Field, Q. Cassetti, 2011, vector, Adobe Illustrator CS5Got the big pub work last evening—to be on the Art Directors desk first thing this morning. I took the image through the paces re composition and crop and looked at color or black and white. I hope its okay….and if its not, I will certainly find out (soon!). Plugging away on all the other stuff on our roster. Tons. Phone calls to make, people to talk to, projects to complete. If I just keep chipping, chipping….maybe I will at least keep the pile from growing too high.

We went off to Felicia’s last night to hear Amy and Ward Puryear in Double E. The music was great! and there were people dancing, chatting and drinking the delectibles that the Felicia Tribe dreams up and delivers. Nice crowd—particularly for a Sunday night. Then off to hear a swing band at Maxis with Alex and Rob. So, despite there was work yesterday, we had a little outing to at least suggest we were weekending.

The phone is about to ring with a scheduled call…so I need to go.


Allium alora, Q. Cassetti 2011, vector, Adobe Illustrator CS5I saw the first robin of Spring this morning. I think we need to declare that Winter is done (though they are predicting snow today!).

The last few days were a blur albeit fun as I got a chance to put a face to a name with many of my virtual clients that I have worked for for years. So, that was great. The Branding session was exciting, informative and we played games like Jeopardy (done successfully with powerpoint slides), bingo and lots of worksheets. Of course the travel part of things was tedious with deadlines that were tight, traffic nuts and long waits on the runway. However, all in all, it was a fast few days filled with all sorts of interesting people, places and things.

Key New York/ New Jersey fashion observations: Long, long blond hair on older women….We saw lots of blondes with big hair streaming golden waves down to the middle of their back or longer. High Bodice Ripper Fashion complete with  the requisite scary high heels, and tight tight black suits with fluffy blouses underneath. It’s kind of a porn star vision of looking professional. I find it hilarious to see the numbers of these middle aged Barbies at the airport, posing and preening. Another fashion thing that is very encouraging….at least for me. It appears that the corporate culture has swung back to a less intense look at meetings…the requisite business suits— all spit and polish—seems to have swung back to a more formalized business casual.  And for me, as a “creative” I felt, for the first time in my life, felt comfortable in my own skin, looking as a “creative” versus having to blend in. I figure as long as I am viable and “cool”, so be it. I was inspired by the other creatives in the room and the way they presented themselves. Big personal move forward.

Its mop up time today. Time to get stuff moving and out of here.

Honor the Radish

Honor the Radish, Q. Cassetti,2011, vector, Adobe Illustrator CS5Yesterday was publications incorporated. Today is publications incorporated. I finished up a big pub yesterday and amended the mini annual report that I cranked on Sunday. Today I have a brochure to layout based on an idea from the client…but no copy yet. They want it printed by May 1….so its a speed job too.

Erich and I are going on the road for a day—to get trained on a new branding initiative which should be fun, fast and informative.  Rob will be back from the Museum gathering in Buffalo which from the short chat I had with him yesterday, seems like it was fun.

I am vectorizing and pretending I am a Provensen. I really need to crack open one of the Provensen books so I can be a stepchild or great niece once removed. Love the cookbooks they did…and Animal Fair. Or I can be the stepniece of Mary Blair? These veggies are fun. I am thinking of eggplants and tomatoes, peas and basil leaves. They become so homey and comfy—and can be relatively abbreviated  as we all know what they are. I created a “corn brush” and probably make another one with tapering kernels from the top to the bottom so I can brush a corn cob for fun. CS5 has all sorts of nice adds with the width adjuster to rules/lines, the add/subtract feature and all the wonderful ways to select, create libraries and color.

OMG: I was just looking out the window. It’s snowing.

I give up.