Head down.

Coming Soon: Farmer Ground Flour MixesComps in the hands of the master who will be showing them this week at a food show. Farmer Ground is coming out with some great organic mixes: Buttermilk Pancakes, Buckwheat Pancakes, Cornbread and Muffin Mix, Bran Muffin Mix, Ginger-bread Cake and Cookie Mix. These are packaged in nice, neat canisters that keep the flour and ingredients fresher. Fresh, organic and delicious.

Speaking of fresh, organic and delicious… freerange, happy bird for the holidays—I ordered my turkey for Thanksgiving today from The Regional Access. So, I have put the money down and have pencilled in the pick up prior to that special Thursday in November. Now what to cook beyond this. And, who is sitting at my table too? I would love to have a big group. Its so much more lively and fun. Plus, as its Kitty home from college, it would be fun to have people she loves and adores too to enrich the time. And extras? Do you think that something with Farmer Ground Cornmeal or Grits might peek into the mix? Can I do something with leeks and polenta with a little elegant cheese? Hmmm.

Speaking of food…I used a Martha Stewart Food recipe as a starting point to riff on using beets, potatoes, tarragon and onions (roasted) and then cooked cooked cooked into a pink soup. It was good. Pretty good…and a little something hefty needs to be added. But we all politely ate it for lunch. More successful was the beet salad that everyone is chowing on and going back for seconds. So from all white lunches to today, all pink all day!

Had a terrific chat and am highly motivated by talking with the local letterpress printer. His prices are good and he loves the same things I do (crappy paper or really elegant all cotton cream paper, we love letterpress and foil stamping and the works). We are going to work on a postcard printed on a kraft paper stock (black and grey on kraft)…and his price is great. So, need to get the valentines prepped as well as a “family” holiday card for friends and wider family group. Need to roll on that….

Cranked a ton of design work today too. Got new numbers on possibly refinancing our house. Going rate these days is 3.5% and we could lower our payment and by refinancing, also save a ton of money over the life of the loan. I hate applying for these things, but at least we can get our hands on the paperwork quickly…So need to talk to R about pursuing it or not.

See the progression on the Hangar Posters>>--

Work in progress. I think I may assign new colors to them as a way to show variation. I like what is happening with the 39 Steps sketches. And, I like what is happening with the Squarespace gallery function. Its great that you can have an overview of the illustrations and then get the close up with the slideshow feature. Nice...and so easy you don't even need to think about it. Next group of images will be for the farm. Am psyched about it--and feel good that I can knock down this work. I may be helping a friend with another logotype (illustration) of a cat and am looking forward to it.

I finally got the Network Blogs app in Facebook to pull my blog through. I had it figured out with the former location, but somehow missed the details on this one. Let's see if this will work this time. Yesterday's nutcracker assembly illustration surprisingly feels very Alexander Girard. Rob was so cute and said all I needed was some gnarly slab serif Egyptian font to really get it in the zone...and he (as usual) is always right. Will keep going here. Like what's happening. I have a couple of pictures on the top of my pile I plan on finishing today...and then, of course, you will see them. I am also getting ready to get back into the Genesis work. Fired up...

Another thing to get excited about is The New Yorker Contest, The 2010 Eustace Tilley Contest. . Here are some examples of last year's winners. The prize is that you are posted on The New Yorker website...and get your work judged and curated by Françoise Mouly, art director of this esteemed publication. All art must be uploaded by January 18th/midnight. I think I might try my hand at this one. Could be fun and I have the weekend on the horizon. Wouldnt that be fun to get into that little show? I think so. I hope so.

I entered this interesting Canadian show--The Applied Arts 2010 Photography and Illustration Awards, which has a very broad series of categories for illustration beyond the few that the US shows offer. It was the easiest online entry ever (only took a half an hour). And now we wait and see. Print Regional's Show is due at the end of the month--so that is on the horizon too.

Just got back from having a dreamy time at the Shure Save. Bought some real live bread flour from King Arthur in anticipation of the weekend and warm woodstoves this evening. Pizza, I think. Also bought some gluten to help the heavy stuff (Farmers Ground Flour from Greenstar). No more brick bread unless I am planning on building an environmentally friendly house that doubles as birdfood. There's a thought.

Wednesday morning

I am moving the columns around as my Blackberry Tester (Rob) said that the Blackberry was not happy with the content on the right. Thus the shift of the content to the left. We will see how that goes. If you have any input, please let me know.

Am still working on the Hangar pieces. Seems so slow. But at least its left foot/right foot and we are making some progress.

We got a bunch of pieces in from the Mexico and India markets for my client and the work is very hodge podge lodge...so we are gearing up to redesign the work to more accurately say, "now this, is what is acceptable". It's often a problem, when put in an oversight role, to know how critical and pointed one gets with other people's work. But, with the broad horizon of "does this suit the entire company?", "does this represent the company appropriately?", or "does this say Fortune 100?" --then the gloves can come off. Only big problem comes from most of this graphic work is done by inhouse designers in these countries--so combined with a defined skill set and vision, and our lack of market understanding and cultural context, communications can suffer. So we redo entire programs just to show that simplicity is possible, encourage a cleaner, less junked up piece (deleting bad color fields, tacky fonts, cheesy stock art, and the omnipresent proliferation of the tagline of the day. And so it goes.

Ordered my two prints for Picture Salon yesterday. Love how simple the process is, and how nice the work looks on canvas--without glass or acrylic deadening the color. Plus, easier to ship etc. I should have them in two weeks.

Going a bit deeper yesterday in the land of folk art around religious themes, I learned that this Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) area of Germany that bounds the Czech Republic is responsible for more than Christmas Pyramids, Smokers, Nutcrackers, Angels, and Easter bunnies in wood. There is another decoration that exclusively comes from this area called Schwibbogen. Schwibbogen are decorative candle holders that were originally made in black metal and have grown to being made of wood depicting historical or religious themes. Since WW2, they have grown in popularity--and now incorporate all sorts of imagery from landscpes, skylines even to advertising. Interestingly, the first ones incorporated the Erzgebirge angel and miner (Bergmann) which the candlestick holder also depict in wooden figurines. Seems like a miner and an angel are in the mix for later this week or so. Am looking at these metal shapes of trees and loving them.

Wikipedia takes this one step further>>

"The most famous design was created by Paula Jordan in 1937 for a show in Schwarzenberg. It depicted the 3 main sources of income of the people in the region in the 18th and 19th century. Thus the Schwibbogen showed apart from some traditional symbols; 2 miners, 1 wood carver, a bobbin lace maker, a Christmas Tree, 2 miner's hammers, 2 crossed swords, and an angel. It holds 7 candles. Contrary to popular belief the candle holder was always associated with Christmas. The light symbolizes the longing of the miners who didn't see the daylight in winter for weeks sometimes due to their long working hours below the surface. Over time the designs changed. Especially in the last few decades after the World War II the Schwibbogen has reached not only a new popularity, but has changed a lot in its looks. Now it is typically made out of wood which depicts historical or religious scenes. But there are even landscapes, skylines, advertisements ... there is almost no limit to the possibilities. What remains is the link to Christmas traditions. Especially in the Ore Mountains the windows of the houses in villages and towns feature a lit candle arc - usually with the traditional designs or at least local scenes. The town of Seiffen is particularly noted for its production of Schwibbogen in its craft shops, usually wooden arcs now."

Long John and the Tights play at the Pourhouse tonight. I think we will take a break and go to listen to them. Should be fun. Snow is falling and the work continues.

Saturday catch up

Big news. The portrait I did of Jiri Harcuba for the Masters of Studio Glass Show at the Corning Museum of Glass just got accepted into Illustration 52 (a juried competition sponsored by the Society of Illustrators, NY).I am delighted. This is the third year (last year was the Willow head from the Memento Mori work, the year previously, was the Chicken Chokers Poster). To be honest, I was fretting a bit on this one. My friend, the very talented and smart, Lori Ann Levy Holm emailed me earlier this week that she got a piece in the 52 and had gotten the phone call. I didnt get any call...and was being calm about some years you get in, some years you don't. Despite the fact that my head was rationalizing it, and integrating it into the push forward, to keep going, to keep working...my heart was reluctantly following. But, yesterday around 3 p.m. the call came, and they happily told me the great news. Hurray!

Kitty is plugging away on the college stuff. Alex is out with friends and Rob is asleep. I have a cranberry sauce done, potatoes cooked and an apple tart finished and cooling. Gloria is back from California and we will have an early Thanksgiving with the family tonight.

Alex just called. He missed the bus in Ithaca, and could I please come down to pick him up. I guess I have no choice.

More later.

practicing with the devil

Paul Z. asked me if this teufel was Krampus which prompted an immediate wiki search to find out that yes, this guy could be Krampus. Wiki says:

Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas in various regions of the world during the Christmas season. The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions, Krampus is represented by an incubus demon accompanying Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts as an anti–Saint Nicholas, who, instead of giving gifts to good children, gives warnings and punishments to the bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas the tradition also includes birching by Krampus, especially of young females.
Modern Krampus costumes consist of Larve (wooden masks), sheep's skin, and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, and many younger adults in rural communities compete in the Krampus events.
In Oberstdorf, in the southwestern alpine part of Bavaria, the tradition of der Wilde Mann ("the wild man") is kept alive. He is like Krampus (except the horns), is dressed in fur, and frightens children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells, but is not an assistant of Saint Nicholas.