Friday, August 28, 2009

Beebalm and delphinium

I've been such a busy little bee these last two weeks.  Here's the Quaker wedding certificate from last week, in watercolor and pen on 300 lb hot press watercolor paper.  The couple was happy with it, whew!

Might be visiting Gary's studio this afternoon to pick up my eldest niece's pottery, and then might be visiting Nancy's gallery in Groton to see the new location and check on my cards...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It's morning, and I just had to toss Turtle the cat off the bed when he tried to steal my toast.  Gluten-free toast, not so exciting, but he seemed to be after the almond butter, the little weirdo.  There's a cool breeze coming in the window, the weather has turned beautiful after last weeks' heat.

Apologies for the dull technical tone of yesterday's blog entry, I know you're all reading this hoping for gossip and drama.  But sometimes this artist's life is full of dull things like font decisions.  Although sometimes it's full of things like...another trip to California in a few weeks!  Yes, going back to Yosemite, getting another dose of the beautiful high Sierras and the Left Coast.  Here are two more photos from my last trip, hopefully the marmot derriere will make up a little for yesterday's font lecture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Font snob

I'm deep in the land of graphic design this week, working on a newsletter for the Friends of Montezuma Wetlands folks.  Files and articles have been coming in madly all weekends, and I've been sorting them out into a hopefully attractive and informative format.  It has been enjoyable, haven't had a good solid design project in a while.  The looming deadline (publish or perish by Friday) is keeping me going too.

So I've been making choices about heading fonts and paragraph styles and colors palettes, which makes me reflect on how passionate people are about fonts.  No exception here, I get downright surly when clients request fonts which make me itch.  Font choice is important, it communicates a lot beyond the words the letters are spelling out.  Casual, formal, calligraphic, too trendy, too dated...and often the "trendy" quickly turns into the "dated"...

I'm a little snobby about fonts, I admit.  Don't like fonts that are too dense, or too overused.  I avoid Apple Chancery (have you ever tried to read a paragraph written in this font?), Comic Sans, and Tekton.  I once received an email written entirely in Comic Sans, and it did not bode well for that line of communication.  Papyrus used to be a favorite, but everyone and their aunt Jane uses it now.  Ditto on Tempus Sans.  

Right now I tend towards using nice interesting-yet-readable fonts for paragraphs, fond of Futura or Gill Sans for sans serif, or Georgia and Garamond for serif.  Skia is nice, so is Bernhard Modern.  I like space around my letters.  Headline fonts: Zapfino (but it will probably go the way of Papyrus in a year or so) and Herculanum and something odd I found online called Old Copperfield.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A path in the woods

A quick little drawing/painting on a scrap bit of 300 lb watercolor paper.  I think this might be a first sketch for an etching, have been thinking quite a bit about making new etchings lately.

I'm working on a Quaker wedding certificate, and was so happy to find that the paper I had in the files is 300 lb rather than 140 lb...nice and heavy and rich, perfect for this.  The couple requested delphiniums, lavender and bee balm.  I hope to finish it by the weekend.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Another busy week.  I'm enjoying a perfect summer peach for breakfast, and realizing that what will all my teenage nieces visiting and other busy family stuff, I haven't blogged in ages.  Also, the only thing I've painted lately is my toenails, and that was a while ago too.  BUT, let me tell you about all the good books I have bookmarks in right now!  I read a little every day, it's my favorite way to rewire my brain.

Bookmarks are in:

1) "The Ionian Mission" by Patrick O'Brian.  Love that guy, high seas Napoleonic wars British Navy adventures very funny, I usually have one going all the time (there are 21 of them in the series).

2) "Ahab's Wife" by Sena Jeter Naslund.  I loved this book when I first read it a few years ago, couldn't put it down, well written and involving more high seas adventure.  I'm enjoying it the second time around, but not as much....still recommend it though!

3) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" of course...see, I saw the latest movie last week and couldn't remember why it was ok in the end for Snape to kill Dumbledore, so I have to go back and read the next (and last) book to find out.

4) "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn.  WOW, what a book, about a family of carnival freaks and their attendant craziness.  The author must have had a very fun time writing this.  Not best for reading before sleep, because it just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

My friend Debra just handed me "Twilight" yesterday, so I guess I'll read that pop phenom once I get through a few of these.  How about you?  Let me know what you're reading, I'm always looking for new books...!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New prints!

Just added some new small archival prints to my collection!  There are 5 of them, these are the first two which I've posted on Etsy (the others will be there within the week).  These little giclee prints are 3 x 3 inches, printed with archival inks on watercolor paper, and signed by me.  They're awfully cute, if I do say so myself, and I'm pleased to say that they are selling well at the market and amongst my friends.  Check them out!  And now that vacation time is over for a while, I intend to tend my Etsy site and post more goodies on a regular basis.  Hey, if you order from there and mention this blog entry, I'll add a extra bonus gift!

Speaking of calendars, it's time to start planning the 2010 calendar.  Already.  And also time to think about new Christmas card designs, but I find that difficult to do when it's 80 degrees outside.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

Talk about the weather

ARGH!  When I strolled out to let the chickens out this morning, I saw that my poor little veggie garden was half-flattened by that big rain storm last night!  Tomatoes were toppled, the lone surviving sunflower was on its side, the nasturtiums were no longer perky...I didn't look any further, but it seems that the gigantic thyme plant is the only thing that survived.  A cautious glance towards the flower bed was fairly discouraging too.  The garden has already been hit hard by rabbits, chickens, a huge groundhog, and too much rain.  It's been an odd summer in Ithaca, mostly kind of chilly and rainy.  Oh wait, it's ITHACA...of course it's chilly and rainy!  I only have a tan this summer because I went to California.

Yesterday afternoon, around 2:30 which is almost closing time for the market, a huge storm came sweeping down the lake and directly into our pavilion.  Fortunately I saw it coming and got the vulnerable unpackaged cards put away and some of the more wobbly displays, and our esteemed market manager came by with a giant tarp to throw over the rest of my display.  It was pretty spectacular though, tons of water coming in sideways and vendors scrambling to get their wares under cover.

Otherwise, it continues busy here, and summer (such as it is) is flying by.  My nieces from Oregon are visiting for 2 weeks, and we're having a good time.  Getting blueberries in the freezer.  A lot of card orders have been coming in (hurrah!), and I have a couple of biggish freelance projects on tap.

Here's a photo from California, blue skies with puffy clouds to balance out Ithaca's low grey ceiling.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All the diamonds

All the diamonds in this world
that mean anything to me
are conjured up by wind and sunlight
sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbor town
lost the taste for being free
thank God He sent some gull-chased ship 
to carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
in reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in a sea of liquid jade
his ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
his ship comes shining

-Bruce Cockburn

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wee watercolor book

It's a whirlwind around here!  Haven't had a chance to turn around, let alone make a blog entry, since returning from Cali a week ago.  A week already?!?!  I really miss being there.  The Artists' Market was fun and successful, lovely down there on the Cayuga Lake waterfront in the evening, and tons of people turned out to shop and check out the art.  My canoe and I took another quick trip to the Adirondacks too, my annual college-friends-camping trip.  Beyond that, I'll just say it's been mad busy rather than give you a tedious list.  

BUT!  Here are some pages from my travel sketchbook from my Yosemite trip!  In the last few years I've discovered the pleasure of taking a wee sketchbook and watercolors along when traveling, and not trying too hard to make perfect complete paintings.  The latest incarnation of my travel kit contains a small Moleskine watercolor book (3x5 inches), a folding watercolor palette (holds colors from tubes), a small container for water, a nifty travel brush whose handle comes apart to make a very pleasing self-contained holder that protects the bristles, my favorite technical pencil, and a couple of brush-tip markers in shades of grey and brown.  These pages are views and trees from around Vogelsang.