Friday, October 30, 2009

Photo Friday: Well Groomed

Above is a very unusual creature at the annual Maryland Renaissance festival that my cousin Allison and I found.  He was so bizarre and so into his character, that I just couldn't pass up the opportunity and ask to get a picture, and make Allison stand next to him, hee hee!   

Thursday, October 29, 2009

IF: Fast

Never come to my house and leave your food unattended, not even for a second. . . I'm just warning ya ahead of time.  Boris the cat is lurking around and he'll snatch your hamburger up and gobble it before you can blink!

And the more this seems to happen the funnier it gets, because you think we would learn our lesson after the gazillionth time.  My poor brother-in-law.  He is always bringing fast food over the house, and Boris has stolen it so many times.  And it's not just fast food he is after, he'll eat anything that's not cat food.  He'll even eat the wrapper it came in.  I have never in my life had a cat with an appetite quite like my Boris kitty.  I did find him outside and rescued him as a big kitten, and something makes me think that he was adopted by a pack of scavenging wild raccoons!  Despite his voracious appetite, he is quite the loving affectionate little snuggle bug.  So I guess we'll keep him.  :)        

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Inspire me Thursday: Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière

This week's IMT prompt is inspired by the French Neoclassical artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline, currently residing in the Louvre.  The task is to create a piece of art using the Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière image provided on the IMT site.

Curious of the history of this piece, I Wiki'ed. And the critics, naturally, were all over it.

In 2003, the art critic Jonathan Jones remarked of the painting:
The sexuality Ingres usually reserved for harem fantasies slips over into the real and respectable world in this charged portrait. His obviously intense visual relationship with his subject and his contentment to look, with a clinical waxy fetishism, at Mademoiselle Rivière's full lips, bared neck, long gloves and spectacularly serpentine boa, lend this picture drama."

A couple of things crossed my mind.
1. I would have never saw that.
2. How dare he view that poor young innocent girl as a piece of meat! 
3. What artist doesn't have an intense visual relationship with their subject?!!!   
4. Elongated neck.  Hmmm.  I'm really loving the work of Lori Earley.  Maybe I'll transform her in a similar style, exaggerating the artist's work with his critic's delusional comment.
5. (After beginning the photoshopping) Naaaa, changed my mind.  I'll just adjust the colors, add some depth in shadows and highlights, and correct some of the bits that bother me.  Hence the background I changed into a fancy boudoir and her slightly played-up makeup.

So that is my take!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Photo Friday: Autumn

Autumn makes me think of Halloween, and the carved pumpkin display my friend puts on every year that I never miss. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blooming Blog Award

Deborah Mori over at Life Without Novacaine surprised me the other day with this amazing little reward. . . thank you, I am so honored!  Deborah herself has inspired me endlessly, since the very beginnings of my blog.  Her life is like an open book, and she invites her readers to experience it with her through her fresh perspective and inspiring quotes.  Her illustrations are so whimsy and beautiful.  I love visiting and reading all of her posts and joining along in her journey.  Thank YOU Deborah, for inspiring me!

The rules upon accepting this award:
1.) Only one rule. Pass this award along to someone who motivated you, inspired you or enriched your artistic life with their creative gift. If you feel so inclined, you can create a short list of the things you love, your favorite muse, or your favorite childhood memories. The most important thing though is to award someone who has made your life better.

There are so many inspiring blogs out there, and if I wanted to, I could go on and on about all of the blogs I have come across that are so awe-inspiring.  Keeping this award sacred, I only chose 2.  

Two very important people who have supported me throughout it all, cheering on my accomplishments and checking on me when I haven't been posting.  Their artwork is amazing, and just as beautiful as the person that they are.  They have supported and encouraged my Etsy shop. They have sent me their creations in the mail, that I will forever cherish.  They are very dear true-blue blogger friends.  And blogging would not be the same without them! 

1.  Deborah Mori   
Yes, she awarded me this blooming blog award, and I am ritefully awarding it right back!
Perhaps the sweetest blogger around, and most productive!  Diana always continues to inspire me with her beautiful creations and artistic energy.  She is a faithful blogger friend who is always present, encouraging me along every step of the way.

Thank you both for making my life better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Inspire me Thursday: Wings

This is my angel, Carol.

Carol and I were gifted something very special by a mutual friend of ours, who all of the sudden was struck with the most beautiful genius idea.

But first, before I tell you about the gift, let me give you a little background.  Carol is no stranger to great loss, and neither am I.  We didn't fall to pieces completely, or at least we didn't stay there and wallow in our sadness.  Instead, we picked ourselves up, and changed our minds about the way we would deal.  And we both have a deeper appreciation for life because of it.  We tend not to take things so seriously, to be extra silly about life in general.  To never let anyone steal our sunshine metaphorically speaking.  But from time to time, we forget.  It's easy.

So this mutual friend of ours, "Bridgette", wanted to commission me to do a painting.  A gift for Carol who lost her Dad, knowing that I could sympathize.  It was to be of a painting of a butterfly (special to her and her Dad) with "Dado" worked into the design.  She contacted me right before I was about to leave for a trip overseas.  And coincidentally, Bridgette lives in New York City, and I happened to have a connecting flight at JFK with a very long layover.  We thought, PERFECT!  We could catch up on everything and talk about this painting and have a few drinks!  Well. . . my flight was delayed hour by hour until finally they canceled it due to bad weather.  So there Bridgette sat. . . ALL day long at JFK all by herself getting toasted, probably falling off the bar stool and apparently dancing on some trashcans or something, that silly girl.  When the idea struck her.

When I came back from my trip, a care package came in the mail with two cards, and a beautiful butterfly magnet.  Two separate packages were sent, one for Carol and one for myself with identical things inside.  I should add that Carol and I did not know each other, never met.  The first card read:

Miracles are everywhere. . . 
. . .simply awaiting that moment when we slow down, take a deep breath, and open, really open, our eyes.

Dear Cindy and Carol,

I am sending you both the same card all the way through.  The magnet is symbolic of Dado and Mom, (our parents).  I had commissioned Cindy to do a butterfly portrait incorporating "Dado" into the wing design.  But when I contacted Cindy to arrange the details, she was beginning a journey that involved crossed roads and missed encounters.  It was in some ways a quirky sort of miracle that manifested angels.  You see:  each of you to me shares a resonance with each other in your yearning.  You both have a wisdom that comes of grief and knowing you both live a legacy of the poignancy of loss, that honors the parent you accompanied on the journey away.  There are no words enough to explain this.  Only know I have assigned you as angels to each other and remain unknown and yet majestic, elusive yet inspiring as like butterflies of the spirit you are.


The second card was a musical card that played Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere over the Rainbow", and the butterfly magnet nested neatly inside.  It just worked, and that song will always be extra special to both Carol and I.  And we cried and cried with surprise and joy at the thought of this magnificent gift we were given.  Can you imagine getting a package in the mail like that?  That girl Bridgette is a genius I'm telling you!

So right away, Carol and I became friends on Facebook and chat with each other just about every day.  There have been lots of emails, talking about our parents and life in general.  We feel completely comfortable just opening up and bearing our soul.  We just clicked.  Instant friendship, like we've known each other forever.  We were completely humbled at the thought of this beautiful gift, and treat it so.  We are each other's angels.  To protect, guide, inspire, offer support and keep our minds light and happy.  To be a shoulder to cry on when we're not.  Thank you Carol, for being just that.  And thank you Bridgette, for the incredible gift!

Monday, October 19, 2009

IF: Frozen

Above is an illustration that I have done for work that convienently fits this week's Illustration Friday theme!  Honestly, I did this illustration last year, but tweaked it a bit.  It is going to be on 101.9 Lite FM's website for the holidays and on a sky banner in Arundel Mills mall in Maryland.  I imagine easy listening light music would go great with figure skating.  What do you think?

Photo Friday: is in the details

Happiness is in the details.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Robert Genn Letter: A list of mistakes

I'm sitting here at my computer illustrating a horse for an equestrian project and this Genn letter popped up in my inbox caught my attention.  I've been subscribing to Robert Genn's letters for years but lately have been neglecting to read most of them.  This is probably due to the fact that I haven't been painting, but oh is it calling me back.  At the moment, I'm doing a study of a J.W. Waterhouse to get warmed up for the next round.  I have never done a study outside of class, and I have to say it has been very rewarding.  It's fun to experience how one of your favorite artist mixes and applies color and to follow their brush strokes.  I think it will require one more sitting and then I will post!

But why this truly caught my attention was thinking of all the variables that go through my head while painting.  Or maybe it was because he said "I'm on your question like a fat kid is on a Smartie", hee hee!  But really, painting is unlike any other medium I work with.  Sometimes I see the image in the brush strokes and it just works.  The painting takes on a life of it's own.  Sometimes it's a well thought out plan.  I tend to want to work very tight, following a strict recipe and standards.  Sometimes the painting wants to be loose and I have to break all of my programed rules and simplify, maybe to see what I can learn from it and where it can go.  Creation by the manner of reduction as Robert said.  There really are no rules, nor should there be, unless you are just learning to paint.  

And so this leads me to the question, if you are still reading! Are you a recipe taker, or a recipe fighter?

Robert Genn's letter: 

Dear Cindy,

This morning, Michael Epp of Bowen Island, B.C., wrote: "'Just take away everything that doesn't look like a horse.' That's what the sculptors say. Which implies that as long as you avoid all the obvious mistakes, you'll end up with something good. By definition, perfection is merely an absence of error. Is there a list of mistakes for artists to avoid making?"

Thanks, Michael. Your note caught my attention because it had some wonderful assumptions. The horse concept is a vital one because it stresses creation by reduction, in other words the removal of material. This removal does not imply mistakes, but rather the vacuum created to disclose the horse in question. The other three prime suspects in your note are the words "good," "perfection," and "error." In the art game, all are subjective and mighty arbitrary. Nevertheless, I'm on your question like a fat kid on a Smartie.

Don't assume there is only one way. Don't assume that mistakes are a bad thing. Don't think for one minute that everyone agrees with what "good" is. Don't fall into the trap of thinking perfection is attainable or even desirable. Don't assume the existence of error. Art is not based on a catechism.

Art is something else. It is, for better or for worse, the bending of personal will. And while some artists may attempt standards such as academic standards, commercial standards or intellectual standards, there will always be significant creators who don't give a hoot about standards at all.

The main thing you need to think about is process. Your process. Individual decisions cannot be taken from some list. They are the result of your previous moves, including your errors. They are also the result of your noted winnings. This is how you-as-a-person becomes you-as-an-artist.

Funnily, in youth, we are often rigid. We tend to think there is some secret, some Holy Grail that will have great art appear on our easels. We may even dream that fame and fortune will arise from this correctness. As we grow older, we realize just how limiting were our earlier conceptions. Art is something else. Art is fluid, transmutable, open ended, never complete, and never perfect. Art is an event.

Best regards,


PS: "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." (Scott Adams)

Esoterica: There are two kinds of students--recipe takers and recipe fighters. The former listen to the instructor, try to get it "right," and often succeed in doing so. The latter strike out on their own, pay the price of rugged individualism, and fail often. In art, it's all about failure. In art, the journey outshines the destination. In art, mistakes are golden.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Photo Friday: Dawn

 The White House

The president awoke today receiving news that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Unlike his predecessors as CNN stated, he was selected for his "vision" and inspiring "hope" in much degenerate times.  This is the "dawn" of his call to action.     

CNN:  Obama accepts Nobel as 'call to action' President Obama said today he was "surprised and deeply humbled" to win the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments. But rather as an affirmation of American leadership.  I will accept this award as a call to action."

It's hard to believe I was just at the White House yesterday, on my very first tour ever.  My brother-in-law is a secret service agent at the White House, and has been coaxing us for years to come on a tour.  I worked in DC for 2 years, just a mile and a half away, and never went. 

Last month, my husband's favorite hockey team visited the White House, to be honored by the president for winning the Stanley Cup.  We got to shake some hands, get pictures and autographs, but never got to go inside.  The whole experience of meeting the team, even the great Mario Lemieux, seemed so unimportant as the history that surrounded me.  I could post pictures, but the experience was not moving at all.  The team did not seem happy to see their devoted fans dressed in jerseys with sharpies in hand waiting for them.  Anticipating to meet the president, they in their best suits looking like the millionaires they are, remained polite and did as requested of them.  Especially Mr. Lemieux, he took his time with everybody.

What was moving, was seeing the old sculptures along the way to the White House, of a time passed.  An old America with powdered wigged leaders on horseback thrusting swords.  Smells of the fragrant roses in the Kennedy garden, brought thoughts of his legacy of a not too distant past.  And the paintings, the incredible artwork documenting the history of the nation.  That I didn't get to see until yesterday.  I had to go back.  The White House was alive with the spirit of all that has come to pass through the magic of the artists that created them, capturing the souls of their subject.  No photograph can replicate that. 

Now is the time of great change coming to fruitation.  A leader in office who represents the kind of change that old America so desperately needed, full of positive hopes and aspirations.  I think the very idea of him and what he represents during times like these, a world faced with economic crisis, nuclear weapons and terror threats is the kind of charge we need to set things right.  So many people are already upset about his winning the Nobel prize so soon.  I can understand why, but I can also understand why it was given.  People are so quick to jump on the criticism bandwagon, and others are so plyable to listen and believe every word without searching their souls to believe it to be true.  I respect anyone who takes on the weight of the world and tries to change it for the better.  Not many people are so ready and willing to do that.  I wish for him to achive all the of the greatness, respect and admiration of his Nobel Peace Prize predessers.  How neat it is to be alive during this time in history to experience this.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."  -Gandhi

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Photo Friday: Fast Food

Miso Soup

I have pictures of your typical artery clogging fast food, and I've made a burger and fries and a chic-fil-a sandwich out of polymer clay.  Enough of that!  It's so rediculously bad for you.  Here is a picture of a very healthy soup that is quick to make called Miso soup, popular in Japanese cuisine.  This soup is a staple of the Macrobiotic diet, and I've been making it often for lunch.

The biggest challenge was finding some of the key ingredients.  All ingredients have been found at a local natural organic market, right in the same section.  Here's how to make it: 

  • A few pieces of Wakame (packaged and dried seaweed, follow re-hydrating instructions)
  • 2 tbs. Miso Paste
  • splash of Mirin to taste (rice wine)
  • Optional Dashi Grandules for added stock flavor (I omit, since it has fish in it)
  • 4 cups filtered water 
  • silken tofu cubes, diced small
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • handful of diced carrots
  • handful of diced celery
  • handful of snow peas
  • diced spring onions for garnish
1.  Soak wakame in fresh water until soft.  Set aside.

2.  Bring water to a boil in saucepan.  Add onion, carrots and celery, simmer for 7-10 minutes.  Add snow peas for the last minute of cooking.  I like to keep veggies slightly crisp in this soup. 

3.  Remove a few tablespoons of broth from the pot and mix well with miso paste.  Turn off the heat under the pot, and mix the miso in with soup.

4.  Cover the pot and let the soup sit for a few minutes to activate the enzymes in the miso.  Make sure the stove is turned off at this point because too much heat will destroy the enzymes.

5.  Remove the wakame from the soaking water.  Chop up into small pieces and add to the soup.

6. Sprinkle with diced spring onions when ready to serve. 

Another M logo - The Nightstand

The nightstand is a little section on the Mix site with one featured book.  I used my own nightstand for inspiration.  The only thing different is the lamp base.  I though it should be simple and less ornate than my current lamp, to emphasize more attention on the book.

So what's on your nightstand?  I'm currently reading the Golden Compass series a friend recommended.  So far so good!  Nothing like a good fiction.

New & improved Miss Information illo

"Our local girl without a clue needs your help!
Whether it’s finding that little black dress,
cooking a delicious meal for her boyfriend,
taking her trendy out-of-town friend to the hottest club,
or finding the perfect spa retreat,
Miss Information needs your suggestions and fast!"

Here is one of the projects I've done for Mix Magazine, a virtual magazine for one of the local radio stations I work for.  It will be featured in the next issue.  I needed to re-vamp her character to fit her personality, as she is constantly worried about all sorts of superficial things.  Relax Miss Info!  If you just go with the flow, you'll be a much happier chica.  And if the boyfriend doesn't like the dinner, he can cook next time, right? 
(click on the image for details.)