Monday, March 29, 2010

The Taste of Tea

Monday morning, off to a good start...I wonder what this week has in store for me? A new catalytic converter, that's for sure. Keep your fingers crossed that it will be under warranty. Also several wedding announcements for happy people, since it IS springtime after all.

I think I am possibly the last person in the universe who doesn't have Netflix (I tend towards more geeky activities like reading and games of Scrabble with friends). However, I enjoy a good movie here and there, and re-watched one of my favorites last night. The Taste of Tea is spectacular in a quiet way, a real pleasure to watch and has just enough magical realism to keep you puzzled. It's Japanese, and therefore also beautiful. Highly recommended, if you trust my taste. Here's the opening scenes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One last look at winter

I'm trolling through a few years' worth of my photos looking for some good shots to use in a drawing class I'm teaching in a few days, and found this one from a skiing trip to the Adirondacks.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Outside, inside

I wish I had new paintings to show you today. Instead, I have a photo of a pile of tax calculations and some tired legs from a long walk in the woods.

This has been a beautiful week, full of early spring sunshine and burgeoning energy, and I have been OUTSIDE. I have also been INSIDE, working diligently if grudgingly on my taxes. I revel in self-employment, except for those few weeks in early spring when I deal with the paperwork that goes along with keeping my income legal.

So the administrative side of my art has taken the forefront this week, and it will probably continue like that until the farmers' market starts again on April 3rd. But I have some ideas in mind, and I'm gathering some materials from local woodshops and lumber sources for new paintings. I'm thinking about maps. I'm thinking about etchings. I'm also thinking about learning how to surf (more on that another time). I look forward to long days in the studio in the near future.

Thanks to everyone for the interesting responses to my rebuttal post from last week. A little controversy isn't such a bad thing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No clouds

The snows they melt the soonest when the winds begin to sing
and the swallow flies without a thought as long as it is spring...

Not a cloud in the sky this morning.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Got out the needlenose pliers this morning

Today I exercised my jewelry-making supplies and skills and collaborated with my arty friend Ben Marlan to make these necklace pendants. Actually, he did 98% of the work because those are his beautiful little paintings. I did the silver part. These will be available at either The Kitschen Sink or the Aurora Arts and Design Center very soon. More of them are in the works.

(pardon the blurry photo...have yet to figure out how to take close-ups of small objects with my camera)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

DO try this at home

I usually don't run the sort of blog that gives you recipes to read, but I'm going to share this one with you, loyal readers. Given my recent expedition to Thailand, and subsequent devouring of delicious food I did there, I've been trying to create some of that at home. A few trips to the Asian grocery store for exotic spices and obscure-to-the-western-world sauces, and a couple of recipes from my friend Debra, and I'm a little closer to the truth.

Gai Pad King (chicken stir-fried with ginger)

10 oz chicken breasts, cut small
4 tbsp oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
2 oz ginger, shredded (I used about a 3 inch piece of ginger root)
2 big red chilies, sliced (I used some high-test Sriracha garlic-chili sauce instead because the chili which I had on hand has actually gone all mushy)
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
2 oz green onions (scallions), cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce

Heat the oil, and fry the garlic until it's browned. Add onion and chicken, and stir-fry until the outside of the chicken turns white. Add ginger and stir-fry to combine. Add sauce ingredients and stir-fry again. Add chilis and chicken stock and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add green onions and stir-fry to combine. At this point your neighbors will start appearing and asking if there's enough for them too because it smells REALLY good.

This was quick and easy and very good. It helped to slice and chop all the ingredients early because the actual cooking time is fast. I did not have any green onions, so I threw in a handful of greens and the end of a huge sweet red pepper which was lingering in the fridge. Vegetarians could probably make this with tofu and/or mushrooms, but I really don't know enough about fish and oyster sauce to tell you what to substitute for them.

A lovely quiet night at home tonight, with leftovers of the above to be eaten by the woodstove, and "Three Cups of Tea" to start reading. We change the clocks tonight too, my favorite night of the year...the longer days are starting and nothing could make me happier.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Watercolor sketches

I am STILL dealing with post-journey details, such as scanning some pages from my little travel sketchbook and posting them here. Here are two scenes from Thailand. The top one was seeds I found along the trail, and I was pleased with how the stream turned out in the lower sketch. Watercolor is funny, sometimes you mix colors and then they flow and settle out in unexpected and cool ways all on their own.

Paperwork and cleaning day today. Sales tax is due shortly, and last year I missed the deadline by ONE DAY and suddenly owed a bunch of money. Not gonna let that happen again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Took a field trip to Syracuse a few days ago with my arty pals Gary and Ben, ostensibly to get some clay and glaze supplies and visit a gallery, but mainly I think to have an excuse to eat giant plates of food at the Dinosaur BBQ. Ben gave me a temporary Sharpie anchor tattoo so I'd fit in with the biker crowd. You can read more on Gary's blog (and I lifted the photo from there too).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A rebuttal

You never know what Google might turn up. Last night an online discussion was brought to my attention that asks the question "Why is every piece of so-called art "created" by Christi Sobel an uninspired unoriginal cliche cartoon?" You can read all about it here if the link still works. It's an interesting experience to find yourself and your work being discussed in a third-party sort of way.

My first thought was actually to be flattered. That sufficient people have seen my work and thought about it enough for someone to have developed a strong negative opinion is a perverse sort of praise. I don't mind critique, a bold dissenting voice can point out flaws that can be improved and push us to move forward and grow. I also appreciate the fact that not everyone is going to like my paintings, and that's totally fine...I don't like every piece of art I see either. Just to be clear, I'm not offended that my work is not to everyone's taste.

A point I can take from Glenda is that yes, I would like to spend more time developing my painting and growing in that direction. I'd like nothing better. Life gets in the way though, things like making enough money to eat and live and buy the occasional plane ticket is pretty important. Of course I'd rather paint than spend my time making bookmarks, but it's sure better and more true than taking on some job I don't care about just to make income (my housecleaning and waitressing days are a thing of the past). I wish I had the luxury to just paint. This is a constant and central struggle I have...and every graphic design job I take I am thankful for because it pays the rent, but it takes time away from growing my art. I sometimes feel stagnant in my growth as an artist because of the time-and-income issue. If you have any suggestions on how to find that balance I'd love to hear them.

However, I have a few replies for Josh and Glenda and company and their condescending armchair-observer comments regarding my work and how I choose to run my business. I am dedicated to being an artist, for me that means I support myself 100% with my creative output one way or another. I honor and prioritize and allow free reign to my creativity, and am insulted to be told that my potential is limited, my visions are shallow, and that I'm not a True Artist because part of what I do is sell my work as reproductions via my website. I have always disliked having my art referred to as "cute" (although I personally don't mind being thought of as youthful). It is also an insult to be told that I am not a professional but merely a "nice young woman who is making an honest go of it." I love giving the world accessible art, and hear positive comments every day how it speaks to people. Right now I love painting with shocking blue. I am also proud of my skills as a scientific illustrator, and feel that since I have learned how to paint realistically I can now choose to avoid realism when I wish to.

I don't really need to spend the energy defending myself any further. To counterpoint the negative juju, tonight I walked into the Chapter House to meet up with some arty friends before gallery night, and the man behind the bar greeted me with, "oh hey, my wife and I love your work! We just moved and and finally have a chance to put all of the paintings we have of yours up on the walls..."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In which I use a geeky Photoshop color space metaphor

Huh, awake before 7 AM again today. Will this trend last past the initial jetlag phase? It looks like someone converted the world to greyscale and clicked the "discard color information?" button here in Ithaca. I unpacked my Thai treasures over the weekend, and the beautiful crazy quilt embroidered blanket I brought home looks like a tropical bird, a welcome splash of RGB in my living room.

A nice XC ski expedition helped restore some energy yesterday. Otherwise, I'm slowly reintegrating into society and jumping right back into several graphic design projects. Here are the icons I designed for ISDSI's classes.