Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Work in Progress: Sketching Cats

Revisiting these two sketches I did a while ago. Will refine the drawings and plan color.
Sorry for the bad photos..click to enlarge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Joe Spoon

A gift from a good friend...spoon/ladle made by Joe Spoon.
I really love his work:) like calligraphy in metal.

IF: Poise

The little chef showed remarkable poise, gentleness and
determination during the competition.

This is a repost of an illo done last week, but couldn't help feeling that poise sort of "fit him".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring in bloom

It seems the smallest flowers are the bravest:)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yupo Paper

Craig Frazier animations at squarepig.tv. He describes it as discovering he could make his drawings breathe. Nice. More on Craig Frazier at Scamp (Irish Illustrators' Blog) Love his Drawords project!

Experimenting with yupo paper samples I got in the mail today. It is synthetic paper. It resists water, but some watercolor artists are using it. You can get it here . I think I'd like it better for drawing and pen and ink...has a real smooth vellum surface...read more about it here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kitchen Gardens

I love to cook. Two years ago I was itching for a kitchen garden. Just something small, nearby where I could harvest fresh herbs and salad stuff. I had only a narrow southern-exposed strip of earth that was home to some overgrown shrubs. So, I felt compelled to create something out of nothing. Last year I had cherry tomatoes, all varieties of small lettuces, basil, lavender, oregano, thyme (wonderful thyme!) A summer's worth of fresh salad convinced me it was worth the work. Johnny's Seeds were highly recommended to me. This year I will be harvesting my first garlic. It is a very small but satisfying space...a continual work in progress ( will be working on training roses up a trellis this year). The bluish colored stuff in the raised beds is "green sand" which will be worked into the soil and I'm schooling myself about composting. The biggest hurdle will be DEER!!
I was so happy to hear about the White House's new Kitchen Garden promoted over the years by Chez Panisse's Alice Waters. You can read her reaction to it here ( a reporter tracked her down in an orange grove). In addition, I admire her "Edible Schoolyard". She is cultivating a food-intelligent new generation. The woman just makes me smile:)
What would YOU plant?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

IF: Subtract

I really want to work on a series of simple portraits. This started as a traditional watercolor and then I used the cutout effect in Illustrator--but it subtracted an eye!

Portable Watercolor

Watercolor studies. A variation of the upside down house (Watercolor and gouache with non-toxic Gioconda soft pastel pencils.)This done on very portable spiral-bound Strathmore 400 Series Field Watercolor cold press sketchpad which alternates 140lb. wc paper with 60 lb sketch (15 sheets each) for on (and off) location studies. This is 10 x7. Also comes 11 x 14 and you can get here. For outdoors, this pairs nicely with Schmincke watercolor set although pricey it comes with brush, 12 colors and 2 palettes for mixing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish "Lucky" Shamrock (Oxalis acetosella)

Received this shamrock plant from a good friend! Hope it brings me good luck:) I once gave one to a friend who was gravely ill in the hospital, and he did get better:) He and his wife sent me photos year's later of how big it had grown. Go here for more history and legends about this lucky plant.

Previously out of print, but now thanks to BookSurge on Amazon, "Only the River Runs Free: Northern Ireland, The Women's War" is now available again! An amazing story... worth a read if you are at all interested in knowing more about "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Gave all new meaning to my Irish heritage:)

Favorite Irish music: Mary Black Collected. Song for Ireland and there's a lullaby on this CD called "Mo Ghile Mear". A close source tells me it was a song that Bobby Sands (One of the blanket men ( hunger strike in Brit prison 1981) sang to his fellow blanket men (their request) during the strike)....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Karin's Bowl

I just love Karin's bowl that I got at Christmastime. I've been waiting for Spring so I could use it this way. Forsythia and tulips from Wegmans, not my garden:). Her one-year old shop in Sweden is called Manos. And her style blog is here. Spring is really trying to come. More research today for the series "Fire in Pharsalia". Even the Fennimore Museum is getting ready to reopen April 1 after a long winter in Cooperstown, NY

Call for Artists for A Taste of the Sublime

Fenimore Art Museum is now accepting artist submissions for the second annual A Taste of the Sublime juried art invitational , to be held Saturday, August 8, 2009 on the museum's spacious grounds overlooking Otsego Lake.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Chickadee eggs found by the former curator of the Loomis Collection (natural history) at Roberson Museum, Floyd West and a note he left for his successor. I worked with Floyd for 10 years before leaving the museum. I was sad to hear that he had passed away in January. Some of my Kraslice egg collection ( the dye is scratched out of the egg with a sharp needle) and a specimen of winter grass from the garden.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

IF: Legendary Catkins

According to an old Polish legend, many springtimes ago a mother cat was crying at the bank of the river in which her kittens were drowning. The willows at the river's edge longed to help her, so they swept their long graceful branches into the waters to rescue the tiny kittens who had fallen into the river while chasing butterflies. The kittens gripped on tightly to their branches and were safely brought to shore. Each springtime since, goes the legend, the willow branches sprout tiny fur-like buds at their tips where the tiny kittens once clung.(http://www.moggies.co.uk/html/legends.html)

Forcing Forsythia and Tracking Down Terns

Tracked down some tern specimens for GNSI project at the Roberson Museum's Loomis Collection. Lots of specimens actually, adults with breeding plummage, juveniles, chicks, and eggs. Will be going back for longer drawing sessions. Had to try forcing some forsythia just to see blooms of something. Pussywillows in the garden are coming along.Found some snowdrops in the garden too:) Trying to get back up to speed with drawing and painting, etc since getting back from trip. What I am really thinking about is gardening though. Here is a good video about building a raised bed garden for small spaces. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twitter and the Twittering Machine

Twitter has given all new meaning to one of my favorite Paul Klee works of art, Twittering Machine. Like all of Klee's work, the titles are so important. Done in 1922, the work is a transfer drawing with oil, ink, and watercolor on paper on board with gouache, ink, and pencil. I just love how Klee used so many different media, exploiting them all and pushing them and the paper to its limits. But I doubt he ever imagined a social networking tool "for staying connected in real time" called Twitter. The MOMA in NY ( where it lives) has this to say about Twittering Machine:

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 127

The "twittering" in the title doubtless refers to the birds, while the "machine" is suggested by the hand crank. The two elements are, literally, a fusing of the natural with the industrial world. Each bird stands with beak open, poised as if to announce the moment when the misty cool blue of night gives way to the pink glow of dawn. The scene evokes an abbreviated pastoral—but the birds are shackled to their perch, which is in turn connected to the hand crank.

Upon closer inspection, however, an uneasy sensation of looming menace begins to manifest itself. Composed of a wiry, nervous line, these creatures bear a resemblance to birds only in their beaks and feathered silhouettes; they appear closer to deformations of nature. The hand crank conjures up the idea that this "machine" is a music box, where the birds function as bait to lure victims to the pit over which the machine hovers. We can imagine the fiendish cacophony made by the shrieking birds, their legs drawn thin and taut as they strain against the machine to which they are fused."

Now, I could make a lot of comparisons here between Twitter and the MOMA explanation of Klee's work, but what I am really thinking is, do I really want to join Twitter? Do I really want to be shackled to the perch of tweeting about what I am doing 24/7? I mean, who really cares? Isn't it just "bait to lure me to the pit over which the machine hovers"? I already feel fused with my computer just from work and blogging. Here are some one line comments I found left by folks who are trying to navigate the new world of Twitter: (I did not make these up)

How do I post a tweet?

testing twitter...

testing, testing

am i tweeting?

facebook is easier


More confusing than facebook.

How do you talk to whoever you want?

Still figuring this all out.

I feel old.

I feel old too.

I feel old too, but advance. Always advance!

Sorry, I still don't get it.

At this point, I am laughing so hard my sides hurt. All this and I have not even mentioned all the apps there are for Twitter like BigTweet, Chirp and Chitter for Ichat, Squawk, Twit, Twoot, and Twitterfox just to name a few ( I swear!) So at least I am not alone. Hey, maybe it's better to exploit the medium, push it to it's limits,..who knows what will come of it. So, I'm in. I joined Twitter,... but I feel old.

Here is a beginner's guide for those who want to "advance":)

San Francisco: Golden Gate Park and Fort Funston

Fort Funston has amazing views, ice plants everywhere and dramatic landscape (also a lot of professional dog walkers take their "clients" here)

Good Eats in San Francisco

I recommend The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero down by the bay. But make reservations well in advance if you can. Great food at a decent price. It's wildly popular and lines are seen regularly waiting to get in for lunch. From the website.."The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that showcases the abundance of produce as well as ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area." There is something for everyone there...really. Loved the Millenium, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant downtown, and the Front Porch in the Mission district is so cozy and fun, great menu, tin ceiling, bar and friendly atmosphere (we were even serenaded by musicians who travel up to SF from South America and ask for a small donation when they are done)..all this and winning chef Michael Law from New Orleans! In his own words...

"What drew me to food? The love of ingredients and the culture of cuisine.
The food and people are one in the same. Traveling and experiencing different cultures and their interpretations of cooking have always intrigued me. Food is fun. My philosophy is based on this principle: the cuisine should be simple, unpretentious and approachable. It should create a balance between old and new. And, cuisine should stay true to the food: to the people that grow it and raise it. A neighborhood restaurant like the front porch, should have those same qualities -- Stay close to the people and give 'em kick ass food."

More San Fran photos

Sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf, a view of Alcatraz, great fish at the Academy of Sciences, and a view of UC Berkley (tower)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Missing photos

I just want to apologize for missing photos on some of my older posts. They were accidentally deleted and I am working to correct.

Conservatory of Flowers & Ted the Titan

I was looking forward to going to the Conservatory of Flowers while in San Francisco, but unfortunately, it was closed the day we went to the park. The building is pretty impressive.
It opened to the public in 1879. In 1883 the boiler exploded and the main dome caught fire and was completely destroyed. Funds were donated to rebuild the dome and in 1906 it survived "the" earthquake intact. Actually this building has an amazing history which you can read quickly here. Most notably, in 2005, "Ted the Titan"(Amorphophallus titanum), a corpse flower (because of its smell), attracted more than 16,000 visitors while in bloom (huh?) Well, this floral mammoth is pretty amazing and you can see it here where apparently it bloomed at UC Davis Botanical Conservatory in 2003. There is even a time-lapsed movie of it blooming on the UC Davis website. If you go here there is a good explanation and history of the flower

Patterns in Nature: California Academy of Sciences

Nature is amazing.
Here are some more photos from the CAS.The California Academy of Sciences includes a Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium and Steinhart Aquarium all in one location. The back of this turtle is exquisitely patterned. The black widow spider is near the top of the jar (just threw this in for the "ick" factor). Watching the penguins swim in the water with all the light and shadow explains much of their hi contrast patterning. Dappled spots and stripes mimicking the shadows of tall grasses and trees is so clever. I wonder if Buckminster Fuller ever stared at a turtle shell like this and imagined his geodesic dome?