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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shopping trip

Shopping with Lylah for the 8th-grade graduation dress reminded me of such occasions when I was that age. It can all seem so fraught with peril as one slinks into the dressing room with an armload of hangers, waiting to see what, if anything, works. And it's so easy at that age to blame yourself when things look dumb or don't fit.

Fortunately, we had a team of helper shoppers, and L's friend Frannie had an eye for what would look great. She insisted Lylah try on this orange dress with a wide white belt, even though it was stylistically quite different from what L tends to choose on her own. But it looked fab, and we got a little white short-sleeved cardigan to go with. I was stunned when the jewelry selection turned out to be a $5 pair of pearl stud earrings. So conservative. So girlie. So not the bohemian tendency that my little fashion bug has leaned toward her entire opinionated life. Dare I say she looks like a lady?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shrimp and jewelry

My friend Kim (right) and her friend Kelly (not pictured) got private jewelry lessons from Deborah (left) last night, and they all let me watch and sketch. Deborah has a fantastic way with beads, especially old stuff with lots of character. It was very intimidating, because not only is Deborah an artist, but so is Kim's husband. I felt like a little kid with a box of crayons playing in a room with the grownups. But that was fun, too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This and that

Well, so Spike came over last night. We ate a gluten-free dinner (yay for polenta and goat cheese! yay for vegetables! yay for tilapia!) and then we ... watched ... the ... Cleveland Cavaliers lose to the Orlando Magic in overtime.
I say this like watching sports is something I do all the time.
Not true.
Actually, I drew this pic (likeness quotient: 99.6 percent) of Spike during the first quarter. Would that it had been a larger drawing and lasted me the entire game.

By the way, sketchers, don't you love brown paper? If you haven't tried brown paper in a while, give it a go. Bring out that white pencil. Draw yerself a garlic or maybe a nice onion or a white flower. Or a pink flower. Draw on brown paper. It's fun.

Monday, May 25, 2009

This isn't my usual thing, I know, but last week when I was volunteering at the Medina Raptor Center, we got to talking about what it feels like when you're holding a bird or helping one out. There's a certain kind of serene bliss that can happen.

Anyway, Laura (who runs the joint) said, "Wouldn't it be nice to do a piece of art that conveyed that feeling?"

So this was my shot at it.
A purist would've been able to do it without the words. Heck, I would've been able to do it without the words if I'd really tried.
But I wanted to be a bit more direct here.

It reminds me (not necessarily in a good way) of these soft pastel-y greeting cards with inspirational sayings that used to be quite prevalent in the card aisles. I'm trying to overlook that.

Oh, and yes -- that's an owl in her hands. As long as I was going to draw a woman holding a bird, it seemed reasonable for the bird to be an owl.

By the way, if you are deeply invested in the a natural world, please do take a look at the raptor center web site. And if you're mesmerized by the view, and you have a few bucks to throw at the winged ones, the center -- a nonprofit entity that runs totally on volunteer power and gets no government hand-outs -- can always use an extra dime or two to help keep the freezers full of rodents.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New lessons every day

I drew a logo for the Carlo Wolff blog, and now have turned it over to people who understand the building of websites.
I think I did it right, but it looks small.

We'll see.

Carlo writes about books and music, to name a couple of topics. Get it? Disc-shaped objects in the background; book-shaped objects below. I say this because he wasn't so sure about that level of abstraction. Would people know they were discs? Would they see the books in them thar rectangles?

Sigh. Literalists...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strangers respond to sketchbooks

At my favorite bookstore bistro yesterday, I saw that one of the waitresses I know on sight had a new 'do. She immediately agreed to let me take a quick photo of her and her beautiful hair so I could play in my sketchbook.

As Lylah would say, "People are so nice."

Friday, May 22, 2009

30 seconds to a new pair of cankles!

Make no mistake: the current gladiator shoe trend (not to be confused with the gladiator shoe trend of the 70s) defines fashion victimization.
Take a perfectly attractive woman, slap on her a pair of shoes with lots of horizontal straps -- including some that cut her off RIGHT AT THE ANKLE, and -- voila! -- all of a sudden she has short, squat legs.
But she sees the style in all the fashion and celebrity magazines. It must be good, right?

Give me leg warmers.
Give me 8-foot-wide shoulder pads.
Give me skinny jeans and polo shirts, banana clips and scrunchies, menswear ties and mohawks, lip piercings, mousse overload and whatever else you have.

Just leave those glads on the tree lawn, baby. The are baaaad to the bunion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Play, play, play

I confess that it's hard for me to sit and watch people play instruments. I get fidgety. The problem arises whenever we go to hear these guys play jazz. I enjoy the music, but my eyes and hands need something to do. Trouble is, it's the same drawing every time. So this time I played a little.

Sometimes I just don't feel like trying, I feel like experimenting. On Sunday I felt like attacking the paper with color and creating a kind of abstract landscape.

I like that Katy plays in her sketchbook, just like her madre.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Four Hundred Words

Someone once told me that finding a feather was a mystical sign on the order of, say, an angel talking to you, if you hold with angels.
Days later, I was jogging and thinking about someone I loved who had moved to the Great Ski Slope in the Sky. I was wishing, as I used to, that I could have just one more visit, or at least know that he was still around in some form.
I looked down and found a feather.
I can’t swear that the feather was a sign. I only know that I experienced it as a sign.
I decided that whether something really was a sign or whether I chose to read it as a sign didn’t matter. Life would be more interesting if I occasionally noticed signs. It might not be more enlightening. I might not live it smarter or longer than if I chose to think that sometimes a feather is just a feather. But it would be richer to assume that the person I was thinking about sent me a feather to say, in essence, “Hello.” Which is what seemed, in my heart, to be happening.

Two days ago I heard a story concerning a zebra with one leg that had been virtually gnawed off by some predator, perhaps a lion. Despite its injury, the zebra looked content.
Yesterday I was in the city and slowly moved in on this fantastic, iridescent pigeon perched on one leg. He let me get very, very close, and I kept expecting a second leg to come down. Birds do that from time to time – hold up one leg. But when I was practically on top of him, I saw the other leg was gone. Still, the bird looked content.
Today at the raptor center, a man called in to ask what to do about a Canada goose in his yard that had been injured. Broken leg, it seemed. Useless.
Is the goose still eating, I wondered? It was. Hobbling and not swimming, what with the injury, but it was getting along. The other geese would gang up on it if it got too near. (Alas – geese.) But it was doing all right.
Three leg-challenged animals in three days strikes me as a feather on the sidewalk.
Three missing legs is the answer. Now all I have to do is figure out my question.


This is my daughter's friend, Laura.
Laura's a ball of fire. She comes over to our house quite frequently. She almost always asks if she can walk the dog. Then she takes Pearlie for a big, long, exhausting walk.
Occasionally she spontaneously cleans the kitchen. She has cleaned my daughter's room as well.

We love Laura.
We also love this drawing of her, if we do say so ourselves. It really captures her essential Lauraness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Favorite Things: Gayle's Miracles

Years ago, a couple of friends and I read a really helpful nutrition book called "Active Wellness" by a NYC nutritionist named Gayle Reichler. Thus did we come to know Gayle's Miracles
, the 30-calorie-a-piece chocolate truffle that Reichler invented and turned into a separate business. Speaking only for myself, Gayle's truffles taste better than actual truffles. The inside seems sinful, but it's concocted of a dried fruit mixture and thus isn't cloying like a typical chocolate truffle.

My guilty pleasure in indulging in these things isn't the calories, it's that every few months (at least before the recession) I have been known to buy them in bulk. That's right, I order THREE POUNDS OF CANDY at one time. Then I hide the bag for a while to give myself a headstart on my elder daughter, who loves them as much as I do.

I'll be blunt. One of my many neurotic fears is that the Gorant Co., which manufactures Gayle's Miracles, will decide to stop making them, and I will be sad. So please, try a little satchel of them will you? You can sometimes find them in card stores that sell Gorant chocolates, or you can bu them on line. I prefer the dark chocolate raspberry, but I believe my friend Evelyn digs the milk chocolate mint ones. Whatever. Just try them.

Snack time

When will I learn?
(Click on the picture if you'd like to read the text.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Favorite Things: Dory Kanter's Book "Art Escapes"

If Oprah can have favorite things, why can't I? Why can't you? No reason, I figure.

Thus begins the first installment of what I expect will be a repeating feature here.
Pen in Hand's latest, newest Favorite Thing is a book called "Art Escapes" by artist Dory Kanter. I passed it up once at the bookstore because I told myself I didn't need another how-to-do-sketchbooks book, since I've been doing them quite a while now. The second time I looked at it, I examined things more closely and saw that it was jam-packed with good ideas I didn't already employ.

If I told you how preoccupied I became with following Kanter's directions to make this sketchbook portfolio -- which included buying a new, larger Aqua Bee sketchbook -- you'd think I was nuts. Anyway, I took her general directions and then, of course, because I'm the embellishment queen, I embellished it.
The top image is one of the pages from Kanter's book. (Directions for making it are on the following page, which I'm not showing here.)
The second image from the top is my sketchbook drawing of my plan for my own portfolio. If you study it, you can see that I messed up the color plan.
The two photos are the finished portfolio, outside and inside. It has room for a sketchbook in one inside pocket and a plastic watercolor palette and a few extras in the other.
It is a thing of beauty.

But "Art Escapes" contains many more good ideas, including "one minute sketches," and, just as importantly, ideas for turning them into larger paintings; ways to work collage into your sketchbook; ideas for creating a title page for each book; and thoughts about a color palette that always works.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A few pages

All right, I admit: Scanning is better. New scanner to be hooked up today by a Trained Professional.
For now, I thought I'd post a few photos of the first pages of a new sketchbook. There are ghosts in the Blogger machine, so my watercolor landscape of rural Wayne County, Ohio, won't upload. But that's where we went on our road trip. Carlo watched and helped in a roof-raising.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A vague narrative emerges

It started with a line drawing here, in January, then proceeded (though who knew at the time) to This one, in February. The next thing I knew, I was adding those two things together along with Boy and Bear, in a collage project that looked "Strangely Familiar."

That should've been the end, right?
But no. Our drawing teacher then wisely suggested we make a painting from that collage. So behold the finished product. Isn't it interesting the way creative projects develop?

Also, if you've made it this far, does your brain make a story out of the elements on the page? I'd love to hear.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Behold: The future of America ...

In the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category ... I broke my scanner trying to feed it special paper on which I'd hoped to make one of my last projects better than it would be if done on regular printer paper. Not only did I break the printer, but the project itself stank. Stunk. Stinked.

So while we await the setup of a new printer, I thought I'd entertain you with this picture of one of the more amusing projects from my 3-dimensional design class: pimp knuckles with sod growing from them. You can't see the matching cane and bling necklace, also habitat for grass, but it was all very amusing.

Anyway, the semester is virtually over (I say virtually because there are a few last minute details to which to attend), and then it's on to the summer version of Getting Better At Art. The sketchbook will figure large, so please stop back soon. Thanks for being patient.