Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Creative Interview

To get publicity going for the Hartford's Open Studio Weekend, the online magazine Connecticut Creative is doing interviews of the participating artists. I was lucky enough to be interviewed and you can see the article here.

Apart from the fact that they started dropping the extra "p" from my last name toward the end of the piece, I think it's a very nice article.

BTW - Open Studio Weekend will be November 14 & 15th. I'll be at the ArtSpace Building on 555 Asylum, but I don't know which floor yet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Newington Chalk Walk

Saturday, the town of Newington held their annual Waterfall Festival which features a Chalk Walk. In years past I have entered the competition. But even in my 30's, being on my hands and knees for hours did a number on my body. Just when I thought I'd had enough, they offered me a judging position.


This is the third year I have been one of the judges for the competition. I, and another artist, walk around with our clip boards* and rate the art on a scale from 1 - 5 in different categories, like subject matter, use of medium, overall impression.

Both of us felt that this piece was the strongest:
The artist (a young woman in high school, I think) used the chalk very well. She blended beautifully and there are dynamic lights and darks.

So many people rely on an under-painting of tempera paint and then they don't do much chalk work. It just plain annoys me, and the art is flat. One artist used glitter glue! GLITTER GLUE! Tacky. (Pun intended)

This is another piece that I really liked. But, being one of four landscapes doesn't help in the creativity department, so it didn't place. Sorry.

* The other judge is an extremely friendly woman who hides her clipboard and casually goes around and talks to all of the artists. She is soooo nice. I am the quiet, serious judge. My clipboard is right out there and I don't talk to anyone unless they speak to me. Then I'm nice. But I don't like to chat up people I'm judging. We're like good cop/bad cop.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

YAHOO! Amazon Ranking

It's gonna be a great day!

I woke up this morning and checked my Amazon status (not right away, mind you) and Wink! is #1 in our category and #45,052 in overall books.

45K might not seem that great, but to break in under 100K is AMAZING to me! On a good day Wink is 130, 140K. On a bad day 433K. But I have never seen it under a 100K.

Someone, somewhere bought a few!

I took a screen shot of it so I can remember it for all time - or until Wink breaks that record. I can dream!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Magoo Goes Orange

Yesterday evening, Magoo attended his karate graduation from yellow belt to orange belt. (Above) Here he is waiting as the instructor talked about what they were going to be doing.

(Below) It was a HUGE group of kids. I had no idea! When Magoo graduated from white to yellow, there were six kids in his graduation group. Mike counted thirty-six last night. As a result, it was harder for me to move around with my camera. I drew in a red arrow pointing to Magoo.

The kids did sit-ups and push-ups - Magoo is AWESOME at those. He's so strong and he takes great pride in them. Then they worked through some punches, kicks, and combinations. (Below) Magoo hits his horse stance and says "Hiya!"

At the end of a very long 65 minute ceremony, Magoo got his orange belt!!! His father and I are giddy with pride! (Well, Mike's not so much with the giddy, just proud.)

Here is a video of Magoo doing #2 Combination. The instructor had just spoken about strong, fierce faces during the moves. So Magoo is practicing his mean face. (Another kid gets in front of him in the middle, but Magoo will emerge again.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Skull Castle- An Easy Reader

A couple weeks ago our excellent neighbors gave us a hand-me-down castle.

Magoo is old enough to read early level "easy-readers" but we find the stories are too simple, "One dog ran fast. Two cats ran fast." or it's just subject matter that he's not interested in. So I decided to take a page from the army guy book project and make him a story using photographs for the illustrations and his first-grade word list in the text.

I came up with Skull Castle!

Here's a page after the King and Sir Blue discover that Skull Castle has been taking over by the evil King Rojo.

Yes, there's a battle. Magoo loves battles so there is definitely a wee bit of violence in the book. (No beheading though!) Just the average stuff 6-year-old boys would come up with on their own. Actually, it's probably tamer than what a 6-year-old boy would come up with on his own! But worry not, King Rojo is captured and the good people of King Azul end the day happily.

I'll show it to Magoo tonight and see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Couple More Pieces Finished

I was motivated to get a couple more items from the "in progress" pile to the "completed" pile because I had a visit from my German patron of the arts.

There is a lovely man from Germany who comes to Hartford about once a year. The last two visits, he has bought some of my art. And he the NICEST guy ever! (If you're reading this, U., thanks so much!)

Anyway, he sent me a note saying he was in town as asking what I had ready to see, so I finished up a few things and took them into my husband's office/a.k.a. my temporary gallery to show.

It was the kick in the pants I needed to finish the goldfish. (Above.) And Wink. (Below.)

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am putting the finishing touches on my commission job and am waiting for feedback for my current story project - so I'm back to work on material for the art show. I just completed Wink's Grandmother. I love the way glasses look - but MAN - I hate cutting those things. Xacto blade circles are hard!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two Top Model Sins

I'm still busy at work with projects that I can't really blog about - so, in an effort to keep things from getting stale, I'll post about my guilty pleasure TV show, America's Next Top Model.

It's episode 3 and the girls are still fresh, and I still can't remember their names. So I will refer to them as the nicknames that I have given them. First, let's talk about Bambi Eyes (above.) Bambi Eyes had a good week last week. The judges liked her photo and she was feeling all good about herself. BIG MISTAKE!

This week the girls had a surprise visit to the Wilhelmina Modelling Agency and poor Bambi Eyes froze in her interview. She mentioned that she'd done some musical theater and when the MAIN GUY asked her to sing something, she completely froze - couldn't think of a single song.

I felt so bad for the girl that I was shouting out songs from the couch. "Sing Memory from Cats. Sing something from Les Mis - they don't care!" But Bambi froze like a deer in headlights and they gave her the boot. Seriously - no one was expecting that. Her interview was so bad that the MAIN GUY at Wilhelmina couldn't ever see working with her. Ba-Bye.

Heather and I thought they'd boot the girl with the lazy eye. But no. Poor Bambi had to go.

And this is a girl who left a job as a cashier at Walmart. Can you imagine? You're at Walmart. You audition for Top Model. You make the final 32 girls and go to LA. You make the top 13 girls that go to the house. You rock your first photo shoot and them BOOM - you can't think of a song and you're gone. Rough.

Well, after all she committed one of the Top Model sins: Thou Shalt Not Be Uninteresting.

But things were back to normal soon enough. For their next photo shoot, the girls had to pose topless with a horse and a jockey. I won't go into this too much. The bottom two were Bianca - the angry girl with her head shaved who hates every piece of clothing and accessory the stylists put her in - and Gimpy Courtney - the girl with the broken foot.

They let Courtney go. You know why? Even though her photo last week was great. Even though she walked without her foot brace for the guy from Wilhelmina and impressed him. Even though she could smile with her eyes. Courtney got flustered during her photo shoot b/c Mr. Jay asked her to wear her foot brace. She doesn't like the foot brace. It messes with her mojo. She had a bad photo. But the real reason Gimpy was cut was that she committed the Big Mama of top Model Sins.

Thou Shalt Not Give Up (or Thou Shalt Know How Ding-Dong Lucky Though Art To Be Here And Give Your Blood and Sweat To Me)

At panel, poor Gimpy said, "I gave up."

You can take the worst photos, be in the worst mood, complain, be ungrateful - all of it, but if you have a moment when you get frustrated and just kinda don't care and you SAY SO - that's it. Game over. Tyra HATES YOU!

And it's OK if Tyra has silly little sketches and characters like Super Smeyes. It's OK if Tyra makes light of things - but the girls have to give blood. And the second you stop - you're gone.

So Good-bye to Bambi Eyes. You seemed like a sweet girl and I bet you could have grown. And good-bye to Gimpy. You seemed like you might have annoyed me in time, but I think they cut you too soon.

My current favorites are Laura the Cowgirl, Brittany (I have no nickname for Brittany. She's brunette now and had a lovely photo where she was laying across the top of the horse's back) and Over-Posey Ashley. (They had to use her test shot.)

Bianca has to GO!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's Going On

As we enter Magoo's third week of school and my third week of productivity, I am happy to say I am busy, busy. Unfortunately, not everything is blog worthy (or blog ready.)

I have been doing a lot of writing. I think posting about works-in-progress puts a bad mojo on them, so I never like to blog about my writing. Just know that I'm working hard on some fun stuff. Will it see the light of day? Dunno.

My current collage project is a commissioned work. I am creating a friend's house in a Christmas scene. Architecture is not always my favorite subject matter, but I have to say I am really liking how it's turning out.

I hope to finish another watercolor goldfish today or tomorrow and I need to get going on a Wink collage for the art show/card set.

So that's what I working on. As for leisure time, anyone catching any new shows? I just finished watching Season 2 of True Blood at my friend w/ HBO's house. I've started Glee, America's Next Top Model, and the Vampire Diaries.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Master Zutsu

I made the body of Master Zutsu last May when I wanted an iron-on for a shirt to wear to my reading in Virginia.

But I thought I'd work him into a background so I can present him at the November art show (Open Studio Weekend Nov. 14 & 15th in Hartford, folks.) I was already planning on doing one of Wink - because duh! But then I thought, Hey, why don't I make two more and then I can make a four-pack of cards. Wink cards would be super cute, right?

So I'll make Wink next. Then I think I'll do Grandmother, then Wink in his pink curtain outfit. That's my plan anyway. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Army Guys: The Story Begins

Last week, Magoo had his buddies O & G over. And whenever there are three wet boys that I don't want playing in my house around, I pull out the blocks and army guys. At first, they just built and played. Then I pulled out my camera - as I often do - to snap pictures for the blog. Magoo asked if I was making a book and I thought, "That's a good idea." I pulled out my older camera and schooled the boys on how to use it and let them take their own shots.

The next day, I uploaded the photos in the computer and printed a few choice ones up on blank white paper, leaving plenty of room for the story.

When O & G came back over, I pulled out the pages and some markers and let them have at it.

O, who is in second grade, really "got" the project. He looked at the picture and created appropriate text.
We have you surrounded. Ha! (I love kid spelling!)

Magoo, who is in first grade, had his own take on it.
Clearly, his army guys were speaking in a sophisticated code. "Can Aok!"

G, who is in Kindergarten, wins the style award. He tackled this project like it was art, using a variety of colors and sizes.
And it looks like they're speaking in binary code!

When they were all done, we put the pages in order, folded a piece of color paper over it, and Magoo stapled it together. The saga begins.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Big Waves

Sunday, we went down to Gramma's house and to the beach. It was WIN-DEE. Our chairs wouldn't even stay up unless there were people weighing them down. And there were WAVES. These weren't big waves if you surf - or if you live in California. But they were big waves for Niantic, CT and they were FUN!

It's always fun to see how Magoo is going to react to something. Ever since Coraline, he seems to be aware of a lot more danger in the world. He's especially skeptical of plants right now. "Is this one poisonous?" Thanks, whoever names poison ivy!

But ever since he learned to swim, he is Mr. Confident in the water. He was swimming like a champ in the choppy waves and wasn't even scared when they crashed over his head. He just came up for air, wiped his face off, and kept right on going.

He wanted to swim out to the raft, but we thought it was a little far for such rough water and no lifeguards on duty - so we stayed close to the shore and body surfed. The air was chilly. The water was warm. And we all had a really good time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Step-By-Step Goldfish

It's been awhile since I painted fish. I got a little burnt out on them. But I wanted to put some small pieces in the show - things under $100 - so I thought I'd paint a small (5" X 7") single goldfish. And to get me back into it - I thought I'd do a step-by-step because these are always fun - right?

I started with a background wash of light blue, sap green, and a darker Prussian blue. I also dropped some clean water on there and let the colors mix and mingle. I left most of the fish body unpainted, but I did paint over the fins and then lifted them out. It will give them a thin, transparent feel.

When that completely dried - like overnight dried - then I put some colors in the fish's body. I started with pinks and grays on the belly and then oranges and reds on the top. I put some violet under the eye to create a shadow. Then I let that dry for a few minutes.

I darkened my prussian blue above the fish to make that top fin pop. And I started to layer up some reds and oranges on the fish's body. See how dark the shadow under the eye is? That's because it is wet. It will dry lighter.

Then I had to darken the blue in the water around the back of the tail and beneath the body. I also painted in the eyes a bit and started removing small patches of color to look like scales. I darkened the base of the tail so it receded and started adding some color and definition to the fins.

As I began the finishing touches, I had to step back and see what was working and what wasn't. I thought the pink part under the fish's eye looked to jowly - so I darkened that a bit.
I worked on more details around the eyes and mouth. I thought the bottom scales were too big for the size of the fish so I painted a wash over them and added some smaller highlights in white gouache.

Then I spattered some paint drops, put my seal on, and signed my name.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some Pieces for the Show

Open Studio Weekend in Hartford is coming up. Like always, I wait until two months ahead of time to make new pieces. So, in addition to working on making books, I am working on making art. Here are a couple new additions:

Above: Wildroot, watercolor.
Below: Three Ballerinas, collage (This is a detail, it's too big for my scanner.)

I really hope someone who has a young ballerina in their life comes to my art show!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One Summer Afternoon

In the final week of summer vacation, Magoo and I found ourselves with time on our hands and nothing much to do. So we went for a bike ride to Elizabeth Park. I had been hoping to find giant sunflowers, but no. No sunflowers this year. They had plenty of other beautiful things, though.

The dahlias were gorgeous!

They have a lovely pond and there are koi in it, but it's too murky to see. So we just sat and watched fish heads for awhile.

Then we walked over to the other side of the pond where a lady had a sack of bread and every duck and goose in a five mile radius was there to greet her.

She kindly gave Magoo some bread to pass out. He loved that. I couldn't get a great shot because it was hard to navigate around all the birds and I really didn't want a cheesed-off goose nipping my ankles.

The flowers so pretty I took shot after shot. Magoo wasn't up for modeling though. This is his "Blue Steel."

So I let the poor boy off the hook and we came back home.