Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not much to say, still on vacation

Vacation continues.  I'm on page 500 or so of "Cryptonomicon" (that would be the thick Neal Stephenson book I was referring to a few days ago), have explained to at least 15 people individually and at tediously-for-me great length why I'm avoiding gluten or sugar, baked some killer breadsticks (which I didn't eat), biked again, ran around the lake, spent some time in the woods with my watercolor sketchbook, went to bed one night before it was properly dark out...

...and held a bananiera for THREE SECONDS!  That's a capoeira handstand, been practicing for months and it's coming slowly...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rainy woods

It's raining here, and I am feeling like I'm on vacation.  I was up early to work the breakfast shift this morning, but then biked back to my cabin and took a long nap for the rest of the morning, listening to the rain and enjoying a day truly OFF.  "Off" in a good way, that is.  Took a walk, made some sketches, wrote part of a letter, and started in on a very thick Neal Stephenson novel in the afternoon.  

Here's a photo of a bit of my mural (it's a whole hallway), plus the rainy woods.  The photo doesn't do justice to the contrast between the dark trunks and the absolutely vivid almost absinthe green of the leaves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Michigan adventure, part 1

I'm writing today from the dining hall at Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, a familiar place to some of you readers.  I was a student here while in college, then spent two summer working on a mural and in the kitchen, and now I've been coming here for my spring vacation for the last several years.  I'm kitchen staff while here, but it's really all about being in the woods and on the trails, making some art and reading books, and hanging out with cool environmentally-aware people.  I will post photos of the mural in the next few days, I can see it from where I'm sitting but do not have the camera handy. 

I arrived last night, after a very long day in the car.  The drive should take about 10 1/2 hours, including a straight shot through Canada.  I packed up Sadie (my mountain bike) and lots of art supplies along with my clothes and whatnot, and hit the road in shockingly good time at 8:06 AM.  All went very well until I realized that the book on CD I was listening to was putting me to sleep and so I stopped to take a nap at a rest area near London.  Refreshed, I put in some Brazilian lounge music, and cruised happily along until getting stuck in border traffic in Sarnia/Port Huron...two hours!  Somewhere around the "I've been in the car for 11 hours" point I started singing along with Emmylou Harris really loudly.  But all's well, I arrived around 8:45, with the sun still shining in these northern latitudes, and pulled into the driveway at Au Sable accompanied by a huge rush of nostalgia.

Places are very important to me, I become attached to the land and woods in places that I love.  That keeps me coming back here year and after year. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Throwing pots, part 2

Here's the end result of my "pot throwing" at Gary's studio a few weeks ago, three pretty blue bowls.  The first one is pretty lumpy, honestly, but ehhh who will notice....I'm very pleased with the results, and love love love the glazes.  Not ready to drop the illustration-and-notecards path in favor of a career in pottery, but I definitely look forward to getting my hands in some clay again soon.

I made an accidently super hot curry last night, an intriguing recipe which includes a few cups of strong Lapsang Souchong tea.  I followed the recipe....but "two fresh green chilis" was a bit much when those peppers are serranos, oops.  Next time I'll make it with perhaps one tiny jalepeno, and serve it in these bowls.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Matting and framing

Ok, so that last entry was not meant to sound cynical or any such negative thing, was just thoughts that came from a (real life) conversation I had with a friend outside Gimme yesterday regarding twitter.  I've been embracing the online virtual community these days.  So here's something more fun...a photo of an illustration in progress (part of the class I taught last month).

I am matting and framing today!  That means getting lots of rulers, pencils, scissors, tape, glass cleaner, etc out all over the kitchen loud music (my housemates can usually hear it through the wall and know that it means a framing day), fending off the cats so they don't shed on what I'm putting behind glass, and cups of tea. 

Virtual reality

I often wonder who reads all this stuff I write here?  What's up with the blogging and twitter movement?  It's kind of like reality TV, only real people's lives.  Then there's the Wii phenomenon, not actually playing the real sport with real people, but playing a virtual version.

Hmmm, I'm developing a theory here as I type...Perhaps our culture encourages us to be more and more isolated in our little universes (individual homes, cars, etc), although we're really kind of meant to be social creatures.  So since we get less and less time with real people, we make up for that with more and more time with virtual people, reading about their lives and feeling involved that way.  Feeling like you're participating in the world but not having to actually do so.  Or maybe I'm just making that up. 

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Quote from Annie D

"How can people think that artists seek a name?  A name, like a face, is something you have when you're not alone.  There is no such thing as an artist: there is only the world, lit or unlit as the light allows.  When the candle is burning, who looks at the wick?  When the candle is out, who needs it?  But the world without light is wasteland and chaos, and a life without sacrifice is abomination.

What can any artist set on fire but his world?..."

-Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Arty friends

This is just a cool photo, me and my arty friend Ben outside the art museum on our almost-famous trip to Syracuse with my other arty friend Gary (read more here, scroll down and look for the "Mod Squad" entries, which make my life sound sooo interesting) I appropriated the photo for my blog too 'cause I like it.

I was thinking the other day how glad I am to have artist friends.  At the farmers' market on Sunday, my booth was between Mike Rubenstein with his amazing abstract tiles and Jenny Pope with her incredible complicated reduction woodcuts, and I had a moment of sheer gratefulness for having a community of artists around me...inspiration, challenge, support, new ideas and approaches.  In celebration, here's one of Ben's paintings (just about life size):

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Hey, it's full-on spring now in Ithaca, no denying it.  There's birds checking out nesting sites under my porch again, and my housemates are planting potatoes and otherwise getting their SEVEN community garden plots underway.  

And asparagus is showing up at the farmers' market.  Yum, I heart asparagus.  Here's a painting I did this winter in celebration of this fine vegetable, and also as a practical demo painting for a class I was teaching, in watercolor and colored pencils.  (not a great scan though, sorry).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To do

Lit up the wood stove again this afternoon, after sitting in the cold stiff breeze winging off the lake most of the day down at the market.  I like Sunday evenings, a little reprieve before the regular week kicks in.  Perhaps you wonder just what we self-employed people do all day...possibly lay about, eating bon-bons and doting on my cats?  Let's dispel that illusion.  Here's a sampling from this week's to-do list:

1) fill two wholesale card orders
2) create a painting and design a custom thank-you card for a client
3) get some exercise!!!!
4) spend a day cutting mats and framing (including placing a frame order), update bin o' art for my market booth
5) fill out, choose images, and submit Artists' Market application
6) paperwork: banking, accounting, invoices, business-related emails, blog
7) finish folding cards I got back from the printer last week, and see if I need anything else printed this week
8) deal with vacuuming (yikes! this needs doing!), wash dishes, make food, etc
9) fun field trip to Syracuse with Gary and Ben!
10) design a new business card for me

Actually that's not too bad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Farmers' market

I realize I haven't posted a photo of my booth at the Ithaca Farmers' Market here it is.  Booth 84, please come see me (and get some cards for Mother's Day while you're at it) if you're in the neighborhood.  I'm here almost every Saturday until well into the dark cold days of December, and will be there on Sundays too, starting this month.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Throwing pots

Today I took a break from the current endless slog of freelance work (it's been a run of projects lately that have NOT been flowing) and headed over to Gary's studio to play with clay.  I haven't thrown anything on the wheel for a few years, and it was wonderfully calming and therapeutic...dare I say centering, harharhar...I think the bowls turned out alright.  Tomorrow I'll learn how to trim them.

You can read all about it, more photos included, on Gary's entertaining and inspiring blog, and check out his pottery too!  (remember that monster mug?)  He was making something really fun with elephants having tea-for-two while I was there.  And I got cookies!!!!  It's great having artist pals.

Side note: it always amuses me to use the phrase "throw some pots."  

Monday, May 4, 2009

Old tree dreaming

Here are two paintings I did last winter (not the winter that just ended, but the one before that).  They are portraits of trees I see often; the first one is on Freese Rd, and the root-y one is on the South Hill Recreation Way at the Burns Rd end.  The reason I'm posting them today is that I noticed in the last few weeks that both of these trees are now down.  

I named the first painting Old Tree Dreaming, because I could imagine this cool old tree whiling away the hours dreaming about being somewhere in the mountains.  This tree succumbed to apparent old age and fell down into the surrounding woods.  The other one (unimaginatively called Roots...hey, I'm an artist not a poet) was cut down, as it was presumably encroaching on the trail, plus it might have been dead anyway...I never looked up to see.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Real mail

I got some real mail this week, cards and letters and art from friends, written in their own handwriting and sent to my mailbox from their hand to mine.  It's such a pleasure to see something handwritten nestled in with all the stuff that goes straight to the recycling bin, a little nugget of gold amongst the dross, if you will forgive me a tired metaphor.  It shows that a friend was thinking of me, and sat down and spent the time to write.  A real letter is meant to be read slowly and savored.  

Understand that I am a big fan of text messaging and email too.  Who doesn't like some instant gratification and the fun and convenience of quick communication?  But I also appreciate the calm and thoughtful pace of real mail.  As an artist, I also love illustrating my letters, and sharing art and other wee treats that can be put in an envelope.  Sure, you can scan something and email it, but it's not the same.  Sometimes the old school has it right, and it would be sad if letter-writing went the way of typesetting and penmanship.

This really isn't just a shameless plug for my notecard business, although it makes me very happy when I think that my cards are being used for thoughtful communication.  I often wonder what mailboxes they'll end up in, what messages they'll carry...

Ha ha ha!  I just had the thought that my brother's business is real ale, and my business is real mail.  Must run in the family.