Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here is my newest version of my golden egg idea for the Icons and Altars show at the New Art Center.I like to rearrange them in different ways to create new dramas.
Here they are hanging on the wall after I finished attaching their hardware:
Now that I look at it, the singing lady really belongs at the top of the cluster.

Yesterday one of my students introduced me to the work of Natalie Hughes, an amazing illustrator out of the U.K. Her smiling hammerhead shark is almost too awesome.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Magic(ish) Egg

I made this golden egg for the Icons and Altars show at the New Art Center. I like the idea behind the piece, and how it fits into the theme of the show, but somehow it's execution fell a bit flat. It doesn't feel as magical as I hoped it would, and I won't feel good about submitting it as a representation of myself and my work. So I'm going to make something else for the show instead. Maybe a grouping of tiny golden eggs as opposed to the one big one. This particular egg is significantly larger than ones I've made in the past, and I think that maybe my eggs don't scale up well. It appears (paradoxically) that tininess is an even bigger factor in their appeal than I realized. ;)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Fast

I finished this illustration about two weeks ago. The text that goes with it is "First, Marcus tried flying very fast." Here's a better image on Flickr.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Illustration Friday: Frozen

This is my first time participating in illustration friday:) The word of the week is "frozen." View it in better color here on flickr.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whoooo Goes Where?

Playing around with my composition for this new painting I've started, There Were Owls All Around. I seldom settle on a title before a painting is complete, and never at such an early stage. But this one has been floating around in my head for a long time. It was such a relief to start it at last! You can always tell that I'm having fun in my studio when I've kicked off my shoes. :)

The latest issue of Uppercase has arrived! In my (admittedly humble) opinion, the magazine gets better and better with each new issue. I love this article on illustrator Olaf Hajek:
Let them eat cake! Mmmmm. Cake.

Artist Gennine Zlatkis is a new discovery for me. I found her gorgeous blog last week through this post on Heather Smith Jones' blog. (While you're visiting Heather, I highly recommend fawning over her pinhole bird leaf. Go ahead, fall on the floor in raptures. You're not alone.)
But getting back to Geninne, I just can't get over her divine studio space.
In her own words, she is "drawn to natural history museums, science labs and collector's spaces. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I always find peace in order (Uppercase Issue 3, p. 82)."

I've been thinking about natural history collections for the past few months, ever since I read the following passage in Middlemarch, (quite possibly my slowest novel-reading experience to date!): "Lydgate was more surprised at the openness of this talk than at its implied meaning–that the Vicar felt himself not altogether in the right vocation. The neat fitting-up of drawers and shelves, and the bookcase filled with expensive illustrated books on Natural History, made him think again of the winnings at cards and their destination (Oxford Press 1989, p.192).

When I was in graduate school at Tufts/The Museum School, I used to accidentally (I swear!) sneak in to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology to bask in it's strangeness, and draw all of the stuffed (stuffed as in taxidermy, not plush) animals. I went there about once a month and just walked right in the back door and up the service elevator without realizing that it wasn't the main entrance. I would meet the custodian in the elevator every single time I went there, and he would always wish me well, so it never occurred to me that I might be in the wrong place. And I used to think it was so generous of Harvard to open their museum to the public for free. Woops! I'm such an avid rule-follower that once I realized my mistake I stopped going there, since I couldn't afford the $10 entrance fee.

There are some ways in which the ideas behind, and aesthetics of these kinds of natural history museum and collector's spaces relate to parts of my own work. Someday, when I have my very own studio, I would love to be able to incorporate that sensibility into the workspace itself. Right now I share my studio with another artist, and my little bit of blank wall space is sacred, so there's really only room for those purely functional essentials. But someday.....!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This is Charles Maximus Horribilis: He lives over my husband's desk, and we point to him whenever either one of us is being unnecessarily cranky. I originally created him to serve two purposes: as an example for a watercolor class I was teaching at the time, and as gift to Charley, to pull him out of a bad mood. He's a sucker for anthropomorphic animals, particularly if they're looking petulant. Well, I posted Charles Maximus Horribilis today because he's the perfect illustration of my own mood last week. I was sick. I was too busy. And I was cranky. I didn't really make anything worth mentioning in the studio all week either since I spent all of my non-teaching time working to take decent pictures of my children's book illustrations. And while this activity is certainly a benign one, it left me feeling a bit creatively stifled. So away I go this morning to work on a new painting. I'm thinking about owls.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I dropped my newest egg series off at Three Graces on Saturday, along with the little life story fragments I made up for each character. Here are two of my latest favorites:
This one
goes with this egg:

and this one
goes with this egg:

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Eggs

I finished my newest series of eggs yesterday. With this series I've also added a little fragment of a life story that I've imagined for each character. I'm always thinking about the ways in which we capture memory and preserve little pieces of our lives in our photographs, journals, documents and other personal artifacts. I'm interested in the ways that these pieces of evidence become filtered by time and circumstance as they are passed down to future generations. When I look at an old photograph of a stranger I have so many questions: who was this person? What was she thinking at this exact moment? How did this marriage turn out? What were her dreams? What were his greatest virtues, her secret vices? What did her voice sound like? Who were his friends? Which child was the most difficult? I am mesmerized by these questions, and by the idea that each photograph is just one tiny trace of a whole life and an entire consciousness. There is so much that we can never know about this person, so much that is lost forever. And some day the same will be true of my own life. I know that this idea of our own impermanence is an uncomfortable one for a lot of people. But to me this idea is beautiful and peaceful–a call to live life vigorously, rigorously and right out loud. To seize every day, but not to take things too seriously. And it tickles me to think that maybe some day someone will look at my wedding pictures and ascribe all kinds of overly romanticized and scandalous narratives to them. ;) For my show in May I'm going to push these little narrative fragments even further, so that they become a critical piece of the installation.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

My mom grows stunning dahlias that are bigger than my head.

Waking up to post-dinner party dishes. Totally worth it!

And breakfast pie. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Eggs and Links Galore

I've been taking a much needed break from my book proposal to make more tiny eggs. A few of these are old ones that I was never quite happy with, and that I've taken some time to revamp. All of these are slated for the Teeny Tiny Art Vendor, a vending machine owned and operated by Kim at Three Graces Gallery in Portsmouth New Hampshire. The Decordova Museum is borrowing the TTAV for an event they are having, and my eggs will be available there. I love the Decordova, and I'm very thankful to Kim for giving me the opportunity to sneak my own work into the Museum. ;) The eggs will be packaged in little boxes, and will come with a tiny set of installation instructions (they hang on the wall like thumbtacks) and a caption that goes with the image. I spent a good portion of yesterday cracking myself up, coming up with these captions.

In her lovely book, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg (creator of Orangette) wrote a sentence that I love so much, and that fits my own situation so perfectly, that I would like to borrow it here. Molly writes, "When I wrote the essay that follows, the story of the night in the kitchen with the ginger cake, I'd been pickling myself for quite some time in a potent mix of Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, and Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (p. 71)." For my part, the captions I've written for each egg (see below) are clearly the result of the fact that I've been pickling myself for quite some time in a potent mix of Jane Austen (and anything loosely or remotely connected to or associated with Jane Austen), Masterpiece Theater Classics, and most recently, George Eliot.
With her penchant for gossip she was always great fun. And an unflinchingly terrible friend.

Her parents fully expected her to accept the Vicar's offer–a respectable match indeed! But she had other ideas.

Her parents were shocked to learn that their daughter had run off to Paris with the gardener. Nobody else was the least bit surprised.

Have you ever rediscovered something supremely awesome that you'd originally cast aside? I love it when this happens to me. It appeals to that romantic side of me that loves the movie Next Stop Wonderland, where the two main characters, seemingly meant for each other, continually just miss meeting. Well, my latest romance (of this sort) is with The Shins, specifically their 2001 album, Oh Inverted World. I bought it years and years ago, after hearing bits of it in the movie Garden State. But I never really listened to it all the way through, and I finally stowed it away in the dark depths of my cd collection. But I found it again recently and started listening to it. And listening to it again. And again and again and again. It's so amazing, I had no idea, and it's been right here the whole time.

This morning Charley discovered an online article that I swear was crafted by the gods specifically for his particular amusement. Many people are obsessed with bacon, so there's nothing uncanny going on there, but how many people do you know who are also obsessed with and endlessly entertained by skunks? As my husband would say, "Obese skunk plus bacon. Two great things that go great together." I've seen him reread the article about four times already.