Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I spent most of today painting! Watercolors! Oh hurrah, actually being an artist instead of running the business of being an artist.

See, I thrive on deadlines, although I don't want to admit it. I'm putting up a show of botanical paintings at Brookton's Market on Friday, and of course want some new work to show. I also want to have a collection of 12 new paintings for my 2011 calendars and have set a deadline of getting those done and designed by October because many of the more future-thinking and organized people of my acquaintance have been asking for them already. So I'm buckling down with a couple of botanical subjects which will work for both. Here's a Phalaenopsis orchid, hot off the drawing table. I also worked on some quite perky green pears and started on a collection of hot peppers. This means, of course, that I will be framing these new pieces moments before they are due to go on the wall.

(Technical sidebar: my scanner does not do well with yellows and sap green...I had to adjust a lot in photoshop to make the colors not look hideous. That's why the white space looks all grey in this scan. It might be time for a business investment in a new scanner.)

Speaking of shows, I moved my larger pieces from the Kitschen Sink over to Just a Taste (an absolutely delicious tapas place) yesterday. Just a Taste is my favorite restaurant in Ithaca, hint hint...

Friday, August 27, 2010

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember the distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

(opening line of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Snapshot: wednesday afternoon inside my brain

So here I am with my computer, store-sitting at the new Ithacamade space down here on State St. Have you been in yet? It's right next to the State Diner and kind of tucked in with Mimi's Attic (a secondhand furniture store that always looks like the way you'd like your living room to look). We've only been open two or so weeks, this is my first time working here.

So I haven't blogged much lately, mostly because I've been doing a lot of graphic design work, which
a) means I'm spending far too much time on the computer, and
b) makes for dull blogging (unless you're keen on hearing my inner dialogue about font sizes and color palettes), even though I do really quite good work and have interesting clients.

So here's what else is on my mind right now:

1) I am HUNGRY, and going to go get a giant Super Basic burrito at Viva at 6:00. 35 minutes to go.
2) just ordered some new journals and boxes and such, the New Product ap is ticking away in the back of my mind because...
3) ...the Christmas season is right around the corner, when I lose all touch with reality in the process of getting my cards and other gifty whatnots out to the four corners of the universe during the big shopping frenzy that ironically celebrates one of the most sacred Christian holidays.
4) I would very much like to take a sabbatical next year.
5) Huh, I have two shows to hang next week...more about that later.
6) It's really quiet around my place in the mornings, now that Harold the rooster is gone to greener pastures.
7) I've been posting new things on Etsy every few days, working to make that a more interesting and active storefront.
8) REALLY need to find time to start the paintings for my new calendar!
9) let's get back to that burrito and sabbatical...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Looks like a sunset

Harold the rooster's days at my coop are numbered. I realized that he would be a menace in the winter...visions of him flying out the door at me with spurs extended velociraptor-style during the cold months when the chickens are cooped up all the time have been dancing in my head. Fortunately, Glenwood Farms, market friends who raise bison on the other side of town, actually need a rooster to defend their large hen flock. The exchange hasn't been scheduled, but it will be soon as I'm adopting four new hens next week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wee bits of practical art for your house

Time now for a little shameless self-promotion. I'm happy to present the latest experimental additions to the line of products out there with my artwork on them...ta-daaaaa! Coasters! These are available on my Etsy page and at the Ithacamade store in downtown Ithaca, or call me up and order a set. They are 4x4 inches, ceramic, and backed with cork. Beautifully printed by Loudeac Studio, in Newfield NY.

The top one is my illustration of a Western Meadowlark nest, and the lower is a painting I call September Evening.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Anyone going to New Caledonia, and need a botanical illustrator?

"Hey," I can hear some of you thinking, "this is supposed to be a blog about ART, right? What's up with all these recipes and photos of camping trips and quotes about peaches?"

In answer to that unspoken question (and to balance out all the graphic design I've been doing this week), here's something from the more traditional side of my repertoire. A dissection plate from a job a few years ago working for a really nice Cornell botanist who studies legumes, specifically from Madagascar. This is kind of an obscure renaissance-like skill I have, botanical dissection plates. With dissecting microscope and wee little tools for pulling the flowers apart, ruler, lots of sketches, transfer paper, and final work done with a crowquill flexible nip pen and bottle of ink. Very old school, very satisfying in a tedious geeky kind of way.

I would like more work like this. Preferably on an old school expedition into the jungle somewhere discovering new species...? Anyone...?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rat a TWO eeee

Remember the zucchini from a few entries ago? Well, that was just a harbinger of the bounty to come. August in NY means blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, greens, squash, peppers...in short, more produce at once than the average person can handle. My fridge was full to bursting a few days ago with gorgeous local organic produce (lucky me!). I tried to take a photo of it, but it didn't turn out so well...instead you'll have to look at my salad. Everything in that bowl (with the exception of the sunflower seeds) is from the market, or my garden, including the eggs.

I should be making art, but these days call for some time spent in the kitchen. I have blueberries and peaches in the freezer, plus some tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes for winter chili. I've made vast batches of pesto (just basil, garlic, sea salt, olive oil and walnuts...no dairy). Lunch today will be veggies with baba ganouj (roasted eggplant spread).

One of my favorite easy recipes for this time of year is ratatouille. All of the veggies and herbs that is calls for are ripe and plentiful right now. This recipe is basically from page 179 of the classic Moosewood cookbook.

olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 big round or 2 long thin eggplants, cubed
thyme (I have a HUGE thyme plant in the garden, yikes!)
2 zucchini (recipe calls for 1, but you gotta use 'em up), cubed
2 bell peppers
black pepper
3 large tomatoes, chopped (or a large can of them)
optional: black olives, parsley

Saute the garlic and onions for 5 minutes, add the eggplants, salt, and herbs and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Add tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, and cook for another 10-15 minutes. That's it. Makes a delicious summer stew.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Every time I eat a peach I think...

Shall I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers,
and walk along the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me...

(T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")

Thursday, August 5, 2010


It's exciting to see the lower end of State St (now Martin Luther King Jr St) turn into such a hip and trendy new neighborhood...what with Felicia's, Gimme, Mama Goose, Kitchen Theatre, etc. And now the latest addition will be Ithacamade, a cooperative venture of about 10 local artists and artisans, with a fun array of products and art for your browsing pleasure. Please come to Gallery Night, our big opening, if you're around....and then bring your out-of-town friends back so they can take home a little piece of Ithaca-ness. Members include Alice, Werner, and Natasha.

One exciting thing about this store opportunity is that I can work on some new products that I can't sell at the market. On the drawing board are some new designs for coasters and tiles, which I will keep you updated about.

My graphic design freelance work just picked up again, and combined with getting ready for this store to open and keeping up with market, I have not had two seconds to turn around. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Nutmeg of Consolation

Here's a short photo essay of my week at Forked Lake. Did I even get out my sketchbook? Oh nooooo...but I had a great time hanging out with some of my dearest friends, cooking over the fire, appreciating some solitude, getting a great tan, and reading a slightly cheesy novel. I spent a lot of time on the dock. All was peaceful except for the short-lived but drenching storm that blew down the lake and directly into our main site...we were clinging to tent poles and watching everything go to wrack and ruin around the picnic table. But the sun came out the next day and everything recovered. This was a good break in the summer, and now August looks busy.

Let me introduce you to my canoe. Her name is the Nutmeg of Consolation, with a nod to my literary hero Patrick O'Brian, and she's a 12 foot Old Town solo canoe. Glides beautifully and responsively through the water, and weighs all of about 33 pounds soaking wet. Easy for me to load on my car and lift out of the water. On this trip I had a pirate flag in the stern, and I enjoyed yelling things like "ahoy mateys" and "avast ye scurvey dogs" at my tolerant friends. I also figured out the mysterious circular stroke where you never lift the paddle out of the water.