Eve Song

Today is the day before the future. Tomorrow, a new year filled with change, new opportunities, a new spring, a new summer, a new autumn and then the winter, just like today--begins again. It is snowing this morning in a steady stream of the white stuff that sticks. Somehow it seems right--a quiet day with the beautiful pearly grey sky, muted warm grey trees and the thread of snow building up around us. Of course, my mommy head is filled with "is there enough milk in the house?" and "what to eat if we are stuck"--but the girl inside me thrills to the cuddly day with pictures and tea, lazy reading and the radiant, hot wood stove.

This angel suggests the hope and light in the New Year for all of us. She is the brightness in the dark. The warm center that I hope for all of you. May your new Year radiate with love, friends, new ideas and opportunities in health, happiness and joy.

I am crazily obsessed with wooden nutcrackers and angels. I had forgotten the angels I bought a few years back--and the nutcrackers were something we bought one of each year to add to the collection which a very young, old fashioned boy, Alexander, thought was just fine. In getting back to all the holiday tchotchkes, I am humored to find a thread of love...those wooden, German holiday decorations that I have not until now, realized has a place in my heart. They are so stiff and frightening that I am charmed by their unfriendliness and have started drawing them. I am also possessed by rocking horses, tin soldiers etc. these days and feel that I may let this thread go a bit before I bang into something else. It seems a bit after the fact, but as in my musings above, they are just around the corner for 2010.

Work on amending the Hangar work continues. I am working on perking up the Man of LaMancha (adding more eye detail and a windmill). Completed the Spelling Bee changes and helped Penelope. I added her love interest (Odysseus in army gear)...and added a texture of army camo to the background which surprisingly looks like peeling paint. As an aside, I had the best time researching the Army Uniform to find out the pros and cons of the new uniforms along with something tremendous, a whole deep dive on camo patterns. More on that later. Time is wasting...so more later...Hopefully before the New Year!

Thinking of Resolutions

The patients are one day more in the sickroom...or at least thats how it feels right now. They have been nursing their aching jaws with "popcorn bags" which I quizzed the nurse about. Essentially they are any dried bean or popcorn in a beanbag kind of thing. You tie them off and then microwave them for around 2 minutes to create this lasting heat that is not too much. We had some old red toe/heel socks that I made a set out of the toe/foot part and dang, if it didnt look like Ms. Martha Stewart came in to make them! But, these bags of beans work and thats all that matters. There they are, the patients with two beanbags pressed to their chins...Kitty rigs her bags in a teatowel and wraps the whole thing around her head like some scary Dickens character. What a scene.

Rob and Mandy with Jamie, the electrician extrodinaire, turned the kitchen around...moving counters, stoves etc. and it really works so much better.

Goodness knows what this team is on for today.

I got a $26. check from Zazzle for some teeshirts and shoe sales. It's not like I am going to make a fortune with this online stuff...but hey,at least Zazzle is yielding something. Bagstab--zip. I may sell prints on Etsy and or the felt balls I have coming from Nepal. We will see.

I need to start researching summer canoe opportunities for Alex in January as well as starting the Financial thing for Kitty. Yikes. Expertise in something that is beyond my comprehension right now.

As of January 1st, I will be posting only on the new squarespace page for the Rongovian Academy of Fine Arts. I am committing to Squarespace as it gives me a bit more control and they have the gallery features which are very nice and works for my illustration and design work (see the Atelier Section). So, for resolutions, I resolve to migrate to Squarespace, try out Etsy and continue to pursue new avenues in illustration, art and graphic design. Something new should happen out of that resove? Eh?

Wow! A week later

Wow! A week later and here I am. Time just seemed to take over--and somehow getting in here to write a bit seemed something difficult to do. The week held Christmas, Christmas Eve and oral surgery for both Kitty and Alex (two complete sets of Wisdom Teeth). As you can imagine--it was filled with holiday activity, cooking, nursing and for me, a bit of reading. So, its been pleasant, productive and quiet. I guess this is something we have all needed--having to wind down a bit-- and focus on ourselves as a group.

Amanda and Sonata are here for a month. Amanda is terrific and got engaged for Christmas. She has a beautiful ring of entwined twigs (in white gold) with yellow diamonds that is just perfect for her...and she is delighted in her situation. Sonata, her red heeler dog, is as cute and vocal as usual and has been herding us. I guess we have behaved properly as she has calmed down and follows her older sister Shady, peacefully. Amanda, Rob and the electrician extrordinaire, Jamie Z. are rewiring parts of the kitchen to allow us to begin to rearrange things to accomodate the wood cookstove that we have in the barn that is awaiting installation. So the stove is moving as is half of the cabinetry. The floor has a chunk of the 1940s linoleum cut out of it, so a chunk will be put in to make sure the locals do not trip. And so it goes.

Kitty and Alex were troopers with the teeth-- all four wisdoms each--with laughing gas and the whole works. It was ice packs and popcicles yesterday until dinner when they lapped down big bowls of cheese grits to their contentment. I mad a few hot packs (dried beans in tube socks) and microwaved them up for the heat treatment today. They seem much more chipper and game...and the medications have definitely worn off. So, they are back in more action today--and I predict before tomorrow, we will see even more gains.

Chad G., one of my friends and illustration inspirations, turned me on to Glossom yesterday. Glossom is another design/illustration/fashion etc. social site. I took a little time to put some work on Glossom--and we will see what happens. Behance has been a good place to post work and with Chad's positive input about Glossom, I hope it will be the same. I got the fun british project from Behance--so maybe something with Glossom...it really comes down to how many electronic fires you want to start and feed. I have this blog (my fave), Facebook which I have linked to Twitter, Linked in which is also linked to Twitter, Little Chimp, Behance, Figdig (which Chad has ditched and maybe I will too), and now Glossom. I also have a website and representation on the Society of Illustrators LA page as well. So, exposurewise, I have a few irons in the fire, but nothing that has yielded much but a happy "I'm out here" with not much payout. We will see. Vital few is important. The big question is which ones are the vital few?

Gotta get some work done on the Hangar Posters. I know this is immediate and I have a window of time to get them done. Some are overhauls (major) some tweaks...but January 1st in the offing along with FASFA work for Kitty and Financial aid forms for the schools she is most serious about. Yikes.

Tuesday before Christmas

I was perusing my visitors and discovered someone visited my site from the Looky Blog. I noted the author pointed up a link I had to a wonderful Finnish illustrator, Sanna Annukka. Looky's author has a site that is chock full of beautiful, gaphic illustrators that prompts this graphic design/illustrator to scratch her head and think that maybe a foray down this channel for a while might be amusing and fun. Looky's auther pointed up another inspired Finn, Sanna Paananen, whose's whok is whos work is shown above. Love the clean color, the inspired/retro shapes and the sheer design of this illustraton. The blog Grain Edit, has a page on Paananen>>. And, Paananen is represented by a truly inspired rep, Pekka>>. Sanna Mander's work at Pekka is also a kick in the pants. Love it.

So, wheels turning--I need to direct my thinking to fixing a fashion designers image, the logotype for an artisan bakery and finishing up the Hangar work. What with these exciting Finns, I might not be able to do anything today but cruise the internet and pretend I am one of them. My Tribe!

Lunch at the Heights today with the home team. Maybe Erich will figure out how to do more with this Squarespace page (Link Within)as well as moving more copy on to the top of the page. I am going to post live graphic work as well as the live illustration work to depict the work in progress. I think that will be a good exercise for myself.

Gentile da Fabriano, Adoration of the Magi, (detail), 1423 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) Andrea Mantegna, Adoration of the Magi, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Magi: From Wikipedia"

"Magi (Latin plural of magus, ancient Greek magos, Persian "مغ", English singular 'magian', 'mage', 'magus', 'magusian', 'magusaean') is a term, used since at least the 4th century BCE, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which was – in the main – the ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. The meaning prior to Hellenistic period is uncertain.

Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, Greek mágos "magian"/Magician was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs, the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean" "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic. Among the skeptical thinkers of the period, the term 'magian' acquired a negative connotation and was associated with tricksters and conjurers. This pejorative meaning survives in the words "magic" and "magician".

In English, the term "magi" is most commonly used in reference to the Gospel of Matthew's "wise men from the East", or "three wise men" (though that number does not actually appear in Matthew's account, and various sources placed the number anywhere between two and twelve).[citation needed] The plural "magi" entered the English language around 1200, in reference to the Biblical magi of Matthew 2:1. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic."

"In Christian tradition

Conventional post-12th century depiction of the Biblical magi (Adoração dos Magos by Vicente Gil). Balthasar, the youngest magian, bears frankincense and represents Africa. To the left stands Caspar, middle-aged, bearing gold and representing Asia. On his knees is Melchior, oldest, bearing myrrh and representing Europe.

Christian tradition states that magians visited the infant Jesus shortly after his birth. This tradition originates from the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-2:12). The twelve verses describe how certain magians from the east were notified of the birth of a king in Judea by the appearance of a star. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, they visited King Herod to determine the location of where the king of the Jews had been born. Herod, disturbed, told them that he had not heard of the child, but informed them of a prophecy that the baby Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. He then asked the magians to inform him when they find the infant so that Herod may also worship him. Guided by the Star of Bethlehem, the wise men found the baby Jesus in a house in Bethlehem, worshiped him, and presented him with "gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." (2.11) In a dream they are warned not to return to Herod, and therefore return to their homes by taking another route. Since its composition in the late 1st century, numerous apocryphal stories have embellished the gospel's account.

The gospel's mágoi (Greek) or magūšāyā (Aramaic) is typically translated as "wizard", a meaning that is also found in the commentaries of St. Justin, Origen, St. Augustine and St. Jerome. The term appears in both Old- and New Testament with the meaning of "Magicians" (Acts of the Apostles 8:9; 13:6, 8, and the Septuagint of Daniel 1:20; 2:2, 2:10, 2:27; 4:4; 5:7, 5:11, 5:15). This is, however, "not the common interpretation".[8]

In Esoteric Christianity, one who is skilled, profound, or a master of the esoteric or a magical art is titled a 'magus' or 'mage' (as opposed to an adept, who is skilled but not a master).[9] The title is rare and is really only used in a historical context.

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used the title of "Magus" to refer to the second-highest level of attainment in their degree system. This system, with associated titles, would later be adopted by Aleister Crowley for his occult order A∴A∴, wherein the title "Magus" designated the highest attainable grade of magic (Moses, Buddha, and Lao Tzu being some examples of those who attained this grade). To be a Magi means to journey to give gifts."

Yankee Swap

Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.

We are on for the yankee swap tonight. We have 20 confirmed yeses and 29 confirmed maybes. There are invitations outstanding, but this world of teenagers--one needs to stay flexible. So, I am keeping my head on straight, not worrying about enough food etc. What will be will be. If the RSVPs are casual, so can my hostessing be the same. Kitty and friend, Emily, dipped pretzels in chocolate. We have mini pizza bagels and chips from the regional. Gorp and cookies--also thanks to Kitty, Alex and Emily. No tree yet, but the chandelier is decorated lavishly and we have my wreaths and our marshmallow wreaths nailed to the wall. So, there is a general air of festivity despite no tree. And if the trial music sampled by Alex promises to be the play list (Biggie)--then, that's all we need. I

t was an up and back to Rochester yesterday. Big news was the amazing thing that UV ink on uncoated paper does. It sits up off the paper and one can get a more solid hit than before. Plus, with the uv inks, they are heated and set before they come off the press (much like web) so the offsetting cannot happen along with other gems of problems that happen with wet ink. I am on this right now. Additionally, they have this new method of printing a heavy (seems like a varnish) that sits off the page dimensionally, sort of a poor man's thermography that could be very interesting to investigate. As usual, I love working with the folks at Cohber. They never slack off with the active problem solving and energy they bring to the printed work. I hope I have more to send their way. They are a really great partner. The drive up was beautiful and wintery with the blues and lilacs in the landscape. The drive back was in the dark, so I got a dose of the confabulous lighting displays in Waterloo and Romulus. All in all, very pleasant way to finish up the week.

While at Cohber, I did some research on the three kings. You know, they were never cited in the Bible. Wise men, yes. Kings No. However, the Kings are celebrated nonetheless--particularly during Ephiphany (January 6) when many cultures eat variations of the King Cake and celebrate their quest to see the child. Wikipedia on the Magi says:

Magi (Latin plural of magus, ancient Greek magos, Persian "مغ", English singular 'magian', 'mage', 'magus', 'magusian', 'magusaean') is a term, used since at least the 4th century BCE, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which was – in the main – the ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. The meaning prior to Hellenistic period is uncertain. Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, Greek mágos "magian"/Magician was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs, the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean" "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic. Among the skeptical thinkers of the period, the term 'magian' acquired a negative connotation and was associated with tricksters and conjurers. This pejorative meaning survives in the words "magic" and "magician". In English, the term "magi" is most commonly used in reference to the Gospel of Matthew's "wise men from the East", or "three wise men" (though that number does not actually appear in Matthew's account, and various sources placed the number anywhere between two and twelve).[citation needed] The plural "magi" entered the English language around 1200, in reference to the Biblical magi of Matthew 2:1. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic.

Wiki on the Three Kings gets into some detail>> Excerpted from the Wikipedia Three Kings page are some of the traditions that tickled my fancy:

* Holidays celebrating the arrival of the Magi traditionally recognise a sharp distinction between the date of their arrival and the date of Jesus' birth. Matthew's introduction of the Magi gives the reader no reason to believe that they were present on the night of the birth, instead stating that they arrived at some point after Jesus had been born, and the Magi are described as leading Herod to assume that Jesus is up to one year old.

* Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the last of the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these Spanish-speaking areas, the three kings (Sp. "los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos") receive wish letters from children and magically bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Caspar), Asia (Melchior) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus with his reindeer, they visit everyone in one night. In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi, it is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.

* Spanish cities organize cabalgatas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. The cavalcade of the three kings in Alcoi claims to be the oldest in the world; the participants who portray the kings and pages walk through the crowd, giving presents to the children directly

* A tradition in most of Central Europe involves writing the initials of the three kings' names above the main door of the home to confer blessings on the occupants for the New Year. For example, 20 + C + M + B + 08. The initials may also represent "Christus mansionem benedicat" (Christ bless this house). In Catholic parts of Germany and in Austria, this is done by so called Sternsinger (star singers), children, dressed up as the Magi, carrying the star. In exchange for writing the initials, they collect money for charity projects in the third world.

* In France and Belgium, the holiday is celebrated with a special tradition: within a family, a cake is shared, which contains a small figure of baby Jesus, known as the broad bean. Whoever gets the "bean" is "crowned" king for the remainder of the holiday and wears a cardboard crown purchased with the cake. The practice is known as tirer les Rois: drawing the Kings. A queen is sometimes also chosen.

* This tradition also exists in Spain, but with one small variant; the cake, in this case actually a ring-shaped pastry or Roscón de Reyes, is most commonly bought, not baked, and it contains a small figurine of a baby Jesus and a dry broad bean. The one who gets the figurine is crowned, but whoever gets the bean has to pay the value of the cake to the person who originally bought it.

* In Mexico they have the same ring-shaped cake Rosca de Reyes (Kings Bagel or Thread), it contains figurines of the baby Jesus. The figurine of the baby Jesus is typically hidden inside the cake. Whoever gets a figurine is supposed to take the figurine to the local church and buy tamales for the Candelaria feast on February the second, which is the feast of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

* In Puerto Rico children cut grass or greenery on January 5th and put it in a box under their bed. The grass is for the camels. Children receive gifts on January 6, which is called Epiphany, and is traditionally the day in which the Magi arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. Christmas starts in December and ends in January after Epiphany.

* In New Orleans, Louisiana, parts of south Texas, and surrounding regions, a similar ring-shaped cake known as a "King Cake" traditionally becomes available in bakeries from the Epiphany through Mardi Gras. The baby Jesus is represented by a small, plastic doll inserted into the cake from underneath, and the person who gets the slice with the figurine is expected to buy or bake the next King Cake. There is wide variation among the types of pastry that can be called a King Cake, but most feature baked cinnamon-flavored twisted dough, thin frosting, with additional sugar on top in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, green, and purple. To prevent accidental injury or choking, the plastic doll is frequently not hidden in the cake at the bakery, but instead included in the packaging for optional use. Mardi Gras-style beads and doubloons may be included as well.

So in some worlds from Advent to Easter is just one party of cakes and celebration. From what we know here, we entirely miss the opportunity to eat cake and revel. But, as you can see, there are pictures from now until January 6th at least. Post Advent calendar?

IF: Undone

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)

In this busy holiday time, consider these words from Ms. Stowe. Sometimes these deeds or words can be treasured beyond physical gifts--invaluable as it adds to the richness of our journey.

May the joy and happiness of the season be for you and yours. May you have health and prosperity in the new year.

best wishes, Q.

For more holiday illustrations, see my changing advent calendar>>

A break in the clouds

There was a bit of flurry this morning. I got out and about to the Regional Access to pick up the mini bagels and pesto for the home team. I love that place. Lots of choices...and their little bottega of goodies (today there was Ganache from Sharffen Berger, Chestnuts, big elegant cans of extra virgin olive oil). The whole charm of buying these treats in this off the beaten track place is terrific. I am thrilling to non mainstream shopping with a delight in Green Star, the Amish and of course, the regional. We are so lucky to have these choices. Bruce has gone home after a week of working at the Museum of Glass on a project. We have others coming in this weekend--so we will keep the flow of friends, family and others to keep the spare bed warm and clean. I am off to Rochester tomorrow for a pressrun and am on my hands and knees praying that it will not snow for my journey. Rob is out for the evening...so I will rouse the littles before going off early--to see a sheet early. The pressrun is small (6M pieces). So, I may be able to see a form or two before hopping home in the p.m. Kitty is having a friend or two for the party and party prep...dipping pretzels, decorating the space etc. Should be very holiday. Big concert tonight from 7-9:30 with the entire High School and Middle School bands and choral groups singing. I would like to listen to A. and not go...but I think he is just making noise. More later>

William Fiennes on The Cholmondeley Ladies (British School, c.1600 –1610): My ruff was a sort of amphitheatre of lace and bone that screened off large sectors of the world: I could only see what lay ahead, as if I were a language with no past or present tenses. The artist (I never learned his name) kept stepping away, frowning as he looked from me and my sister to his version of us on the wide board and back again, as if confused by the quantity of women in the room, our original doubling now redoubled in his painting. All this time my boy was quiet and still, even as I wished for him to shout or scream and so be the disruption of which I was myself no longer capable. I thought about the little gasp he’d given that morning when he saw our church’s spire narrowing above him into the blue, and of how, when they used both hands to pull the cords of my corset tighter, my maids were like mariners rigging a ship, hoisting the sails: it helped to think of some part of myself unfurling even as the servants hemmed me in. I’d noticed, as they arranged us against the pillows, her necklace, intricate with pendants, and been grateful for my simple carcanet of garnets and pearls. I felt the weight of my child in my hands and the cool lightness of metals and stones on my bare skin. I heard my sister breathing. We would wait a long time for men to give the word and release us to our separate chambers. — The Cholmondeley Ladies was presented anonymously in 1955 and is on display at Tate Britain. From the the Summer 2009 Microtate>>

The Cholmondeley Ladies

The Cholmondeley Ladies
circa 1600-10
Oil on wood support:
886 x 1723 mm frame:
1074 x 1914 x 100 mm painting Presented anonymously 1955 T00069
Tate Britain, London

According to the inscription (bottom left), this painting shows ‘Two Ladies of the Cholmondeley Family, Who were born the same day, Married the same day, And brought to Bed [gave birth] the same day’. To mark this dynastic event, they are formally presented in bed, their babies wrapped in scarlet fabric. Identical at a superficial glance, the lace, jewellery and eye colours of the ladies and infants are in fact carefully differentiated. The format echoes tomb sculpture of the period. The ladies, whose precise identities are unclear, were probably painted by an artist based in Chester, near the Cholmondeley estates.

I adore this picture. Adore. Look at the stiff twins in their paperdolly poses. I guess, honestly, I love this primitive stuff (note Ammi Phillips this summer>>) and want to wallow in it. I actually was thinking about this picture when it came to the first Mary and the little baby, Jesus picture I made yesterday and wanted to refresh what I had imagined I remembered. And, after tweaking around on the web, found that this image is so significantly better than I remembered.

I was also looking at lovely byzantine Madonnas and fell back into Giotto and his gloriously flat and yet sculpted nativities. For as almost medieval as Giotto's stagesetty nativity is--with the odd perspectives and almost rubberstampy angels, the emotion and pathos that is expressed in the face of the Virgin is stunning. I love the flat, but this pop and glimmer of humanity in the hero of this picture takes Giotto out of the Middle Ages and plops him up front and center as very fresh and new...even today.

I think this adoration I have for these very flat people is going to manifest itself into a body of work-- I just need to draw, watch and wait. Something will bubble up. I think this knowledge of the idea bubbling up is one of the greatest gifts that my time at the Hartford Art School provided. I used to be stunned by the idea of artists waiting for "inspiration" to hit them. Doesnt seem to jive with the way I work. My belief follows Andrew Carnegie's motto of "My heart is in the work". I have to put my heart and energies on the doing (which I love) and the planning around an image. Staying on tract, staying focused and generating work. Some of it inspired. Some of it rote. But the continual motion of the pen or pencil on the paper or on the tablet drives the work unconsciously forward. At least, that is what it does for me. And the physical process of hand on pen on paper sometimes engages the brain which, when entertained and happy, engages the subconscious to begin to spin on other things. And from the hand driving the brain, and the brain driving the subconscious, new ideas emerge and from that a new direction. The minute the hand stops, everything else does too.

Holiday and illustration musings aside...we have snow. I am going to Rochester on a pressrun Friday and will need to compact the week a bit. Am planning food etc. for Saturdays Yankee Swap. Iced Cream Sandwiches are sounding perfect...Maybe roll them in a little crushed candycane?


Just beginning to brighten

It's just beginning to brighten. This is the time of the year that we have velvety dark mornings and nights and despite my growing to love this non bright time, the aspect of the Winter Solstice being on the horizon is reassuring. The deep darkness which falls around four thin the afternoon and doesn't brighten until well after eight in the morning used to be that pall that descended bringing sleep and quiet and short, short days. It doesn't feel that abrupt now. Maybe its the aspect that there is an end to all of this and that the brilliance of spring and summer will happen again, not very soon, but happen. The Easter feeling of rebirth and renewal is born in this time. Those ancestors who created the holidays in December really knew what they were doing.

More tilework in the post today. Am going to work on some nativity related illustration snapshots for a bit as a break from the wicked ones (Krampus etc.). I haven't even begun to fiddle with candy and presents and trees, so there is plenty to draw between now and when I morph over to another idea. Hansel and Gretel might be a good transition as they are filled with all the same, just a witch instead of Krampus, but same good/bad polarity--same evil grown-up working their ways on the youngers and the same kinky stuff (the witch is getting ready to eat Hansel, accompanied by the presence of irresponsible parents who had to dump their kids in a forest to make ends meet. Happy Tale! Happy concepts to make a child frightened and biddable. Yikes! As much as I adore this scary stuff, it really isn't the right message to grow strong, thoughtful, helpful and confident members of society. It really creates a very distinct boogey man ethos which builds on a strict environment of obedience and silence. Not exactly where I want to be to grow up. But the visuals, are a giant YIPPEE!

Speaking of the holidays, we have invited over 70 kids for a Yankee Swap Holiday party. I must say, this is going to be a homerun. I have just recently gotten into putting the feelers out for old fashioned things to throw out to the youngers as a novelty and something to gather around. And to my delight (though not a surprise as this crew likes cards and board games, they sing and dance when they gather) it is fun. So, we are asking for everyone to bring something they have received and wrap it up for our game. My brother attended a Yankee Swap and someone went home with a piece of taxidermy (a mounted Bear's butt) which I think speaks to how far out there some stuff is. There is a number drawn, and whoever gets the number is allowed to pick first. They unwrap their present and sit down. Number two does the same but can keep their present or exchange it with number one...and so on. As you go further and further into this, the range of things to swap for gets wider and wider until the first person is then allowed to swap with anyone in the room. And its done. We are also going to number the cups on the bottom and have a drawing or two of those numbers too (to give a good reason for everyone to hold onto their cups until the end). I am sure that candy or something from the present box (maybe zip drives) will factor into this equation. I ordered pizza bagels from the Regional Access along with some chips. Kitty and friends will chocolate dip some pretzel sticks. And maybe we will have some candy canes as well. I am thinking some sort of punch is in order too. Just need to research it.

I whaled on the work yesterday and got a ton done. Did some research on Draft Mules for an illustration as well as that of finches. So, maybe a day of vector work? That would be fun!

More later.

Where did the day go?

What a day! Productive! Wow. Moved a ton of little niddles off the desk, finalized, saved and sent to the printer. It really feels like everyone is trying to wrap things up. I may have time to really dig into the gratis stuff (illustration for some posters and for a few logotypes!) Yay! I may have a pressrun early next week in Rochester-- a three color job on uncoated paper that I keep being warned that it will not look like a job printed on coated paper. I am on the edge of saying that I have been around the block a few times and know this stuff...but its their job and I have to let them do it--that is, warning me that the final will be softer than the proofs. There are bills that need to get out--and POs that need to happen--so its pedal to the metal and then a quick stop. Shreeeeeekkkk!

Was messing around with quarter page pictures and tiles of that...and putting them together in a bunch of ways--thinking about overlaps, about frames and the like.I have a bee in my bonnet to put this stuff down. Am thinking about the Three Kings, and a Mary/baby J. picture.

We have Bruce for a day or so more. Its been very pleasant and familial with him around as we have known him forever, and he seems to love Trumansburg, Ithaca, and the entire hometeam. He settles in well and brings his own oatmeal in a box when he visits. Plus, for Alex and Kitty, he brings a new point of view from the other old farts (number one old person speaking).

Am mesmerized by "The Lovely Bones" on the Kindle. I wasn't expecting to be enchanted, but am but at the same time, terrorized.

Ordered a list of yummies from the Regional Access from a palette load of pesto for Boy Wonder, some frozen pizza bagels and chips for our holiday party for friends of the youngers, and some chocolate to make into truffles with Kitty. Man, I love that operation. I was perusing the list of things offered--thinking of all the things I could do with the cheese, bread and bones available.

More Later>


This is the beginning of my little drawings on Zwarte Piet, a Dutch companion of St. Nicholas. Wikipedia neutrally describes him like this: "In the folklore and legends of the Netherlands and Flanders, Zwarte Piet ( pronunciation (help·info)) (meaning Black Pete) is a companion of Saint Nicholas (Dutch: Sinterklaas) whose yearly feast in the Netherlands is usually on the evening of 5 December (Sinterklaas-avond, that is St. Nicolas Eve) and 6 December in Flanders, when they distribute presents to all good children. The character of Zwarte Piet appears only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast, first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (in the Netherlands by steam boat, from Spain), and is mainly targeted at children, who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools etc. He is sometimes associated with Knecht Ruprecht, but in the Low Countries the tradition has not merged with Christmas." Der Spiegeltouches on the true feelings around Zwarte Piet and his roots in Dutch colonialism. Piet has been transformed into a socially incorrect character who is rendered in print, animation and martzipan much the way Americans portrayed the "happy"character of African heritage. It is wildly disconcerting as the tone and feel of this companion is so wrong--and the tradition does not reinforce understanding and a broader thinking populace by teaching children racial stereotypes and likening it to candy and presents. So, how to portray this character without the bojangles-ism that is in the popular media today? I am going to keep trying...and see what evolves.

But, in my search to better understand Piet, I ran across this wonderful blog "Kats-In-Klompen" an online journal of an American artist, Judith Nijholt Strong. Her illustrations, photographs and daily observations are witty, beautiful and a happy insight into how another person is spending their time on this spinning orb. Judith got into the whole portrayal of Zwarte Piet verbally and through some very elegant photographs of people, cakes, store windows etc. So take a look. Judith also has a very interesting widget on her blog (free, so it is likely to come on my blog too) the "Link Within" widget, which shows related posts with thumbnails on your post. Take a look at LinkWithin>>

Alex is off to an indoor track meet. Kitty is working on her portrait for Tyler. Rob and Bruce are visiting and I am getting my wits together. I have completed four wreaths (and just gave one away)--so there is more wreath making this weekend along with maybe a Christmas Tree and the getting out of ornaments. I do have some pictures to make too. Hmm....what to start?

Promises of Blustery

Promises of blustery weather today. High winds, cold. I guess winter has arrived. It is a beautiful morning with Maxfield Parrish skies, and branches reaching heavenward. Shady and I both have sniffles. I have a headache, and cannot vouch for my dog. So, that is where we are.

We have Bruce here--full of ideas, conversations and insights. He is a great guest and we always love having him. Mandy is due here in a week or so for a month's stay and possibly doing a bit of work for us which could be fabulous. So, its a full house this holiday which makes me pleased as I can cook the way I know how, for thousands, and know that it will be consumed. As much as I am really going to hear about it, we are having turkey again tonight with the lovely opportunity of stock, tomorrow.

I finished another pink wreath (much like the one posted yesterday) and refined the green and patterned one I first posted. I am stringing the beads for the next one, all white and yellow as the theme I am building the strands on--so by the end of the weekend, I should have a half dozen to give as presents. Should be nice. These are presents I hadn't counted on having, so I can give them freely as there is no plan around them. I cannot let this wreath making cut into my advent calendar picture making which, until now, it hasn't. Just need to stay disciplined on that. But, I am seriously thinking of the whole Etsy thing and may set up a business that I will have Kitty and Alex work as the fulfillment office for. There seems to be interest and momentum, and it could be a good lesson in "if you can't find a job that works for you, make a job up" thinking that I believe in. Plus, you can run a fulfillment business in front of the television which makes the work oh so much more entertaining.

I am reading Twitter tweets, blogs and Facebook notations that my Hartford friends are really feeling the pinch these days. The combination of papers, theme project and the looming thesis can be intense but doable if one sticks to a rigor of getting one thing done and moving to the next. I think this pressure is a good thing as it is training to continue to multitask post graduate and helps (along with the pure exercise of writing) you to define what is important. Specifically, what is important to you....and to use your time wisely so as to get to the meat of what makes you tick. My feeling in the graduate school scenario, the pain is what forces growth. But then again, isn't that how we push forward in life?

I need a push to start reading Dante. It seems that Dante is one of those authors that people who go to prestigious schools read in their teenagedom. I have not cracked it open and will. I was totally inspired by a show we saw at Mass MOCA with an artist doing their extrodinary dioramas/ vignettes of people in everyday lives interpreeted from Dante quotes. There was such a lovely richness to the language and the ideas that I am taken with the bits I have read and want to continue with it. I just need to get the steam up from the less than smart books I am reading, to move to this classic. I dont know if there is a cuddliness that is needed in the late hours in Dante's work--so I will need to start it with the early morning coffee and gauge how I am going to attack it.

Onward to felt balls, ink pens, credit cards and the concept of "Smokin' Hot".

Wintery Mix

Bruce rolled in here last night after we consumed vast quantities of leftovers and I started my second felt ball wreath. I have the technique nailed. Instead of sewing each ball individually, I have learned to string them and then whip stitch them into place. Quicker, less ponderous and same results. With that in mind, I am almost done with the third wreath at 9 a.m with details to refine, but that's it. So I hope to post(may even be this post) the picture of the second one to evince progress and evolution. We got a bit of snow last night, enough to postpone school for two hours to our delight. Kitty was trying hard for a snow day (wearing your pajamas inside out and flushing ice down the toilet) to no significant results. Heavy wet stuff is on the ground with promises of rain and more snow. It is beautiful, with the blue sky poking through the clouds. And the light this morning! It was absolutely brilliantly blue...a bright copenhagen blue radiating through the windows which stunned me. I love the odd and unexpected color palette that winter brings us. I have postcards to design today for CMoG and some big company stuff having to do with logistics and logo usage. Need to focus on this and the non-paying work. That is equally important, and equally challenging. More later as the day progresses>>

Trying out my iPhone before the changeover

I found out that I had a hair appointment before work started this morning. I had a really nice drive down to Ithaca and around the lake-- listening to classical music and letting my mind wander from illustration to graphic design to little side projects to cooking. I was musing over the book I am reading about the Hemmings at Monticello and the history of slavery. The author sets the stage by describing a conference she was attending about a new body of information that was presented about the slave trade and how the shipping/import of slaves happened. The author was stunned by the way the slaves, these people, we presented as a metric but not as individuals with names, history, place of origin. She was stunned by this revelation-- that these people were still, today, dehumanized by the sheer lack of information and identification. The Hemmings family is a slave family whose identity is interwoven since their arrival in the America colonies with that of the family of Thomas Jefferson's wife and then with Jefferson -- so there is written history, names, dates, locales, that can be linked with this family and the individuals associated with them. This should be an interesting foray for this winter.

Waiting for snow

I am learning more than I care to about the way one can lock oneself down from harassers. The aspect of being a sitting duck to other people's paranoia and rage is a frightening thing...and combining it with eh "holiday spirit" really makes uncomfortable mincemeat in the soul. There is no right or wrong in this situation but more reason and unreasonable, passionate and rational, or enraged and engaged. I am fearful in my own house....trying to protect myself and my own, against the sporadic rage of someone losing control. So, we have locked the doors, alerted everyone about the status, trying to change all points of communications. Now all we do is wait, assume a "calm" and "normal" demeanor, and hope that this blows over for today. Makes me so thankful that I have a wonderful husband, kind and funny kids and a situation that just keeps becoming more and more rich and positive. Not the spiraling selfishness and rage that my friend is subjected to.

Lots of little stuff on the desk for today. We plan to release a 48 pp book to the printer tomorrow with presstime tentatively scheduled for Christmas week. Totally makes sense...its always when you don't want it...but hey.

Am sewing my second wool ball wreath. It is turning out even nicer than the first--and what with the exclamations of joy in the waiting room at the dentist, I am seriously thinking of buying these balls and selling them on esty.com perhaps evolving it into a wreath pattern/kit. This is something I will need teenaged assistance with, but as I have the lead on this with the home team, it should be great. Need to assess the scene with Esty prior to launching headlong into this activity. Esty has been quite profitable (a salary and then some) for some local folks here in Tburg, and I am intrigued by the opportunities it offers. A friend of mine surfaced that he thought it was the new ebay. You know, I think he is on to something. If you are not familiar with Etsy.com give it a click>> Something to think about. I am having mini frissons of ideas on this one. Need to stop sewing these wreaths and get back into the advent calendar which I am enjoying as well. So much fun. Matter of fact, fun is where its at.