Saturday, November 29, 2008

IF: Balloon

"For me, the whole wheat pastas I've tasted have landed like lead balloons in my stomach"
Lydia's response to comments on her food blog, www.the

(BTW: She recommends Dreamfields digestible pasta...)

Friday, November 28, 2008

The first lines are the best

In college, an art professor once explained approaches to drawing and touted " a la prima or the first (lines) are the best." It's true...I usually end up preferring my initial sketches to the finished piece. By the time I've "cleaned up" the image, I've sometimes cleaned away the heart, spirit, and soul of the drawing.... These sketches, still in devlopment, for a folk portrait tribute (sort of) to Larry Downey, an ole time fiddler who passed away in 2001. I like the facial expression in the initial sketch, especially around the eyes, and mouth...he is older, wiser, and more likeable Larry. In the second, he is younger, inexperienced, and slicker...not as likeable somehow. It boils down to a just few lines and shapes, (nose) but they are critical. Maybe will try a looser Ciardielloesque approach with pen and ink with washes.....hmmmm

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts
are conscious of our treasures.
-Thornton Wilder

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks for Sveta and Her Handmade Art

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to supervise an artist residency at a museum where I was working as a teaching artist. The artist was Sveta (Svetlana) Gorbachova, an amazing artist and human being with whom I was privileged to work. Sveta was one of several artists from Borovichi, Russia whose art was part of an exhibit "Bridge to Borovichi". These dolls and clay sculptures, as well as her paintings, were part of the exhibit. Rick Marsi's photographs of Borovichi and its residents were also a major part of the exhibit and helped to place the art in context. The soft-bodied dolls, in traditional Russian clothing, are completely handmade by Sveta, even the crochet on the aprons--their hand painted facial features and expressions are exquisite. She even makes their traditional shoes! The clay animals (fish and bears mostly) are whimsical and rendered with simple patterns. It was magical watching her produce these simple beauties.
Sveta's other love is cats and simple rural scenes. She paints them mostly in gouache. I'll be posting these photos later.

Photo above is Svetlana Gorbachova and daughter Dunya From Page 196 - “Jackdaw Encounters” from Rick Marsi's, A Bridge to Borovichi: American Impressions of a Small Russian City 1990-2005...."Educated and articulate, Sveta embodies the struggle so many like her face in Russia. An art teacher, she makes less than $50 a month. I photographed her in her yard, wearing a sweater she had made, with her clothesline and garden behind her. Sveta’s house doesn’t have running water ."

Sveta makes so many beautiful things from so little...she continues to be an inspiration in my life and art...Thank you Sveta.
(To see more photos and read more about Rick's adventures go here.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

snow and linocuts

Snow, snow, snow. Time to think about holiday cards. These linocuts from 2006 and 07.
Hmmm...Just received a new carving material, Staedtler Mastercarve, a carving block that "cuts like butter". Will let you know how it goes...You can get them here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

All Things Small

I have a side file going of very small illustrations, business card size. I like using really tiny brushes and getting more subtle effect. Annie commented on one of my posts so I went to visit her site and her illustrations are so delicate and beautiful. I think it was here I found this link to Small, an online mag devoted to all things small. Another great link for children's books is Ida Pearle .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

IF: Pretend

NOT Mr. Potato Head. Rather, Mrs. Artichoke Head. This definitely falls into the category of "experiments". I cut an artichoke in half, printed it, and added a few facial features and well, let's just pretend....

More Chickens: Watercolor and Acrylic ink

More chickens. This time I used watercolor for the base painting and after it dried, I used white acrylic ink (FW Daler Rowney Acrylic Artists Ink from Pearl Paint) to bring back the whites. The price is about the same or better at Mister Art.

Illustration Sketchbook: Angry Chickens/Watercolor

Angry chickens. Thought I'd try an illustration inspired by Joe Ciardiello with the background washed in and dramtic lighting. This takes a little more courage and speed. I am struggling ( like the salmon swimming upstream) with assuming a new vegetarian's hard, but really, ultimately,...I think for me, plant-based is the way to go. (Ok, so..I still eat fish, so I don't know what category I am in really) Next in the sketchbook,...maybe...where's the beef? Recommended reading for anyone thinking of switching to a plant-based diet: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II.

Sketch: Little Green Heron

Going to Corson Mudd Hall at Cornell University to draw specimens...
This sketch from a natural history collection at a local museum.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

wine label design & illustration

Stocking up on wine for the holidays. Hardly an expert, I sometimes pick wine because of the label and hope that it's a good wine. Here is some wine label art that I found to add to my collection. It seems that illustrated labels for wine companies are " scarce as hen's teeth" as my mother used to say. But these really caught my eye.

About the "Cycles Gladiator"(2006 Merlot Central Coast)...the label reads..."The invention of the bicycle ushered in a new spirit of freedom during the late nineteenth century. The Golden Age of Cycling reached its pinnacle in 1895- that same year French printer G. Massias unveiled one of the great Parisian art posters advertising a fashionable new bicycle: "Cycles Gladiator". His mythological image of the winged bicycle captures the stylish grace, beauty, and unfettered freedom of our hillside vineyards. Let Cycles Gladiator whisk you away for the ride of your life."
(This was actually a really good wine!! and you can buy the poster here) Cycles Gladiator Wines Participate In Cycling

About "The Smoking Loon"( 2006 California Chardonnay)...the label reads ..."Besides his bein' kinda crazy, they called him the Smoking Loon cause he was so damn efficient," Jake began, stubbing out his cigar. "he'd take care of business an ' get in an' out before anybody seen him comin'...leavin no trace 'cept the lingering sound of his eerie, loon-like cackle. No one was really sure who he was or who he worked for, but when word got out somebody needed his services, the Smoking Loon just appeared on their doorstep, like outta thin air or somethin'." Here is another illustrated label on the Smoking Loon website that is humorous called "Plungerhead" by The Other Guys. Actually this company seems to have their sense of humor in their back pocket.

About "Toasted Head" (2006 California Chardonnay)...the label reads..." Aromas of vanilla spiced pear and nectarine are complemented by tropical fruit, and toasty oak notes. Rich and creamy in texture, with ample acidity and a long soft finish. The mystery and wry humor of the fire-breathing bear, along with serious winemaking captures the Toasted Head state of mind." There is even more explanation on their website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sketchbook Experiments

I was so inspired by the sketchbooks of Q.Cassetti and Chad Grohman that I am going to try to work on creating a book that is more dynamic, with more continuity in subject, composition and style. There's a novel idea:) Also I want to think more about the drawing and other applications it might work in... like linocuts, print gocco, pen and ink, silkscreen, digital. This was done in watercolor in a 5 1/2x 5 1/2 inch square sketchbook journal (opens to a 10 1/2 inch spread)that you can find here. It takes all dry media and light washes. They have fabric covers and come in an assortment of colors.
Will finally have my mac back tomorrow. It was out for repair for what seems like a hundred years ago....

Seed Wreath and SOI


I hung the new seed wreath I got at Lab of O giftshop. I guess just in time for the snow and hungry visitors. Here tufted titmouse (there were around 5 of them taking turns) and a woodpecker go at it.

Visited the Society of Illustrators in NYC last week and sat in with a group of students in the MFA program in Illustration at University of Hartford. Zina Saunders and Joe Ciardiello gave presentations. I'm a new fan of Zina's...she is one amazing illustrator. I especially love her series called Overlooked New York Her website is here. Joe has been on my list of favorites for a long time...never thought I would ever get to meet him and ask him questions about his process. His portraits in pen and ink and watercolor grace the covers of the NY Times Book Review and dozens of other publications. I especially like his musician series. I also finally got to meet Q. Cassetti and Chad Grohman who I have mentioned before (students in the MFA program) who were very encouraging ( and I got to peek at their sketchbooks)....and meeting Carol and Murray (Program directors) was like finally meeting a lost and very dear Aunt and Uncle. Thank You for this wonderful experience!! Now to work....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Posting will resume on Monday

Sorry, will not be posting until Sunday or Monday...have a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day: Guadalcanal Journal

A personal salute to my Dad, Sgt. James A. Donahue, (US Marine Corps, First Marine Division, H-2-1) . This is the initial entry in his WWII Guadalcanal journal found in a drawer after his death in 1998. He was 21 years old when he served. Visit the website to read more...
Thank you Dad and to all veterans today and always. Semper Fi.
August 7, 1942
To Hell and Back: A Guadalcanal Journal

The jungle is thick as hell. The Fifth Regiment landed first and marched to the airport. We went straight through and then cut over to block the escape of the Japs. It took three days to go six miles. Japs took off, left surplus first day, which was done away with.

The second day was murder. All along the way were discarded packs, rifles, mess gear and everything imaginable. The second night it rained like hell and the bugs were terrific. The Second Battalion (First Regiment) had reached the Lunga River...

The third day we came back. The Japs had beat us in their retreat. We took up beach defense positions. We have been bombed every day by airplanes, and a submarine shells us every now and then. Our foxholes are four-foot deep. We go out on night patrols and it's plenty rugged. We lay in the foxholes for 13 to 14 hours at a clip and keep firing at the Japs in the jungle. As yet, there is no air support. The mosquitoes are very bad at night. The ants and flies bother us continually. The planes strafed the beach today. A big naval battle ensued the second day we were here, which resulted in our ship, the Elliott, being sunk. All of our belongings were lost.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Field Trip to Lab of O

Drawing at Cornell Lab of Ornithology and CUMV (Cornell Museum of Vertebrates) today with fellow GNSI (Fingerlakes Chapter) members. Take a virtual tour here... a veritable treasure trove of natural history specimens here. It was a bit overwhelming...where to start?? Settled on a watercolor study of a pin-tailed widow (wydah) exotic bird commonly found in southern Africa named for it's mostly black plummage and really long tail used to attract a mate. I totally underestimated the length of his tail...think I just ran out of paper...Came up for air and lunch (yum) to go from Hope's Way Cafe & Catering. Ate our lunch in the lobby of Lab of O where you can sit and watch the squirrels, nuthatches, canada geese, black-capped chickadees....and a dozen more, or so, birds play and eat together around the feeders, through the enormous ceiling to floor glass windows. Snow was gently was quite beautiful.

Wild Birds Unlimited has a nice shop there and a big selection of books. Here is one I liked called "An Egg is Quiet" by award winning artist Sylvia Long. Looking forward already to our next visit.

Bird Day

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pastel Drawing: Owl

Speaking of wise....a quick pastel study I did of a great horned owl from a natural history collection at a local museum.

An interview with Lena Corwin on Etsy and directions for a lovely stenciled chest of drawers....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

IF: Wise

The theme over at Illustration Friday this week is "Wise". Illustration Friday is a weekly creative outlet/participatory art exhibit for illustrators and artists of all skill levels.

"He had that kind of old soul he was wiser than his years."


Friday, November 7, 2008

gouache sketch

More sketching in gouache in the the art of Matthew Woodson and Hope Gangloff at Art Department. Also see Virginia Johnson.
Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gouache (gwash)

Quick gouache illustration of more silly species to christen a new moleskin sketchbook. ( I was inspired by Chad Grohman) I like the horizontal format. Mural proportions if I use both sides when open. Birds on my mind. Going soon to Cornell's Lab of Ornithology to draw
real birds (actually they are preserved taxonomic specimens) with GNSI group for the whole day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

folk art and gouache

Back to some serious playing... A quick gouache illustration of a mythological animal pull toy based on a real folk art piece, metal cut out, by R.A. Miller, which I got at ginger young gallery
The gallery specializes in folk, outsider, visionary, and self-taught art from the Southern United States and is located in Chapel Hill, NC. Did I mention I love folk art?

A Sigh of Relief

It seems the world is shedding tears and uttering a huge sigh of relief....
Open thread for discussion at boing boing.
Image by Clayton Cubit

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ithaca, NY

Ithaca Starbucks display is now up through the end of November. Handmade paper hanging on the wall can definitely cozy up a room full of modern furniture. Amazing dinner at Fine Line bistro on State Street after. We loved the roasted beet salad, escolar, penne with leeks and rutabaga, and pomme frittes with malt vinegar) This newish place is a little on the 'less is more' side (aka portion control) but every bite is heaven! And the plate is artfully designed with balsamic glazes and pomegranate seeds. This week--drawing, drawing, drawing...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sorry for the leave of absence...having technical problems with photo access which I hope to have remedied by next week. Getting things ready for Ithaca display... Here's a few links for you. This link about art in a moleskin by Chad Grohman from q cassetti, another amazing artist. Great necklaces by Paraphernalia including new Alice in Wonderland, cats, birds....and this link for alice in wonderland read aloud with illustrations by John Tenniel and 10 other illustrators. Enjoy the weekend!