Monday, December 19, 2011

Hypothetical Backyard

This was not a commission from my sister.

It was not asked for.

But I am giving my opinion anyway!

She has a lovely, open backyard and her lawn is very well maintained due to the overzealous attention of the neighborhood lawn crew.

So it's maybe too open, in fact.

To that end, I have added the missing wall of fence.

Nothing's to scale, obviously. And, as I wrote in an earlier post, I don't believe that this garden could exist with all these various plants and things blooming. They wouldn't be blooming at the same time.

But it answers some of her hopes and wishes for her backyard as expressed over the years.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not Even a Little Christmassy

There's nothing about this that says 'holiday' unless, of course, you grew up on an antebellum plantation and had peacocks strutting around year round. According to Wikipedia, peacocks will eat rodents and snakes, so that's probably why people had them around.

Or maybe it's because they look so beautiful - that's why I plan on having a pet peacock on my imaginary farm someday, along with about 40 head of Mr. Cow, a miniature cow (hamster sized) that I hope science can make by the time I'm 70 and have time to tend my miniature livestock herd.

Another fun fact about peacocks: they will warn of tigers in the forest by calling. Do you know what a peacock's call sounds like? I don't. I'd heard a high trilling noise and cock my ear and say, "What was that ARGH!!! WHAT HAS MY NECK?!"

Drafting Joy!

Well, I was finally struck by what I want for my Xmas card this year. Here is the first draft for that:
At what resolution did I scan this? Are you ever saddened by your startling lack of skills in one or more areas? Like me with the computer? Frankly, I am surprised that I don't refer to the major search engine as "The Google". I have that, at least.

Commission for Lora F.

Awaiting your glitter decision, my dear.

Changes? Revisions?

Marker, micro roller pen on paper.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You were warned.

Or promised! You were warned or promised more Holiday Cheer, that is.  And here it is!

Bing Crosby is singing to me of the best way to say Merry Christmas on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas Day as I type this.

Just a little study about some of my favorite holiday memories, at least of the easily capturable things from Christmas. I would find it difficult to capture caroling with our 4-H club, or seeing the Dayton's Christmas exhibit, or my older sister ruining her lunch with a painfully hot dose of hot sauce at the Nanking Restaurant, for these are the events that holiday memories are made of.

Memory is faulty, but this is my best rendition of these objects that represent particular Christmases or many of them. I particularly like the idea of drawing objects since so many of them are just lost, and this is another way to record and remember events and places that are long since lost.

Since the script is very thin and maybe not legible, the objects are:
My grandparents' blue lights from the tree. Object lost.
- Great Grandma's Spicy Jello Salad. I don't care who you are, this is delicious. Would you like the recipe?
- Grandma and Grandpa's tree topper - this is not what it looked like, but how I remember it. Object lost.
- Dollhouse plate from my stocking, from a service of six. Object stored in dollhouse cabinet, right where the Dahls can get at them easily.
- A candle that smells of Christmas. It was bayberry and spice? It smelled wonderful, and it came out every year. Object lost.
- Treat bag from after the Christmas Pagaent. Oh, it was full of wonderful things! Object lost.
- The crazy Target lady. Maria Bamford is hilarious.
- The little light up Christmas tree. Ceramic, about four inches tall. There's one available at Vermont Country Store that sort of evokes it, but is much taller. Object still displayed yearly.
- The best Christmas outfit ever! Mom made my little sister and me matching outfits. They were shiny and had ballet slippers, and were easily our favorite outfits.

I hope that as you decorate the house and throw lights on the trees outside that you are able to step back and enjoy your own memories. There is sorrow in stepping back because lost times can never be relived. But as long as you aren't dead, you hold the power to create your own entirely new experiences, and that is the true power in looking back.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

I've officially moved into the holiday frame of mind, so that's probably going to be the theme of the blog for a month or two. You've been warned, if you're bah-humbuggy.

One of the very best things at the holidays is the little vignettes that pop up in homes and businesses. For the warm-hearted there is a mix of the old and the new, the coordinated and not so much, the beautiful and the so homely it must have a story behind it. For the cold-hearted (and businesses!) there is a theme, and, by god, it's all going to hew to that theme, dammit! For the super-consumer it's all new, and they're probably super psyched that they didn't spend that much on it.

I like to add little bits year by year, and since I have a small house it can all go up on the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to participate in the shopping drag race that day has become). My mother always put out lots of Christmas books among the decorations, so I'm building my collection slowly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Study: Aerial Farm Photography

Long before the days of satellites and GoogleEarth, there was awesome aerial farm photography. If my understanding of this one particular sort is correct, private firms would criss-cross an area and snap pictures at a low-ish, usually of the more photogenic views of the farm (focusing on the house rather than the animals' yards, for example) and then you could purchase prints of your spread. To store on the kitchen wall of the same. I love these now, because they kind of look like tilt-shift photography, but I loved these as a child. Loved.

Because it was always seemed like some black and white snap from twenty or more years ago and you'd ask where this barn had gone or what happened to that tree and the residents, or your parents who were the children of the residents thirty years ago, would tell you that that barn caught fire one dusty summer or that tree got some fungus and blew over in a real strong storm.

We have so very, very many ways to preserve memories now, which is wonderful, but something about the rarity of this old ephemera compared to the zillions of iPhone pictures makes them worth infinitely more. When you see these pictures you're either gazing at an ancestor's livelihood or in an antique shop wondering who grew up there and what became of them all.

Like the Spring Grove picture a few days ago, this is similarly inspired. It's a cobbling together of several farms I was familiar with as a child, a bit of imagination, and a whole lot of ignorance about farms, so it's missing the sense of occupancy that these pictures usually had.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Internet Time Thief

I bet it ate yours, too. C'mon. Admit it. You fell down that gadget rabbit hole and now, here you are, twenty minutes, an hour, two hours later. It is both so helpful and so damaging. There's so much I learn from Professor Internet and so little I retain from the same. I can remember some very unconnected and some very well-connected bits of learning from magazines, books, and teachers from twenty, twenty-five years ago.  Do you know what I remember from the internet? Not the locations of things I might like to buy someday. Not ways that I would like to decorate (although I just remember to revisit Peak of Chic and Habitually Chic and hope that a passing internet shadow, i.e., a link or a reference to another site, points the way to the rest). Not healthy and delicious vegetable and beef hotdishes I thought sounded good. 

I remember alarming tidbits of information. And there's the vague sense of there's a better way I should be doing everything. I lote the internet. (Love + Hate = lote.)

From the archives...

Totally unlike most of my work, and yet everything like it. Farm (because that is my natural default brain location, despite my never having lived in the country). Woman (because I always felt more confident drawing women rather than men. Something about the lips and hair; the fellas always looked... different...). Person being rather more wistful than the situation requires (if you loved Anne of Green Gables as much as I did and played countless games of "Orphanage" with your best friend, you would know that she's actually just as wistful as she should be.).

She's my girl and there's a nice wind rustling through the windbreak and the sky is more pink and yellow than it is blue and that sweet corn is going to be so good that maybe that's all she's going to have for supper. I don't know who took the picture, and I don't know who else is in the house. Maybe there'll be a hand or two of cards and a few bottles of beer and some popcorn. They'll probably hear the cows and the wind and plan for tomorrow. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Well, I intended to have a short illustrated story up in time for the observance of Corn Night, a Red Wing ritual that, when I read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery", kind of made me think I was growing up in an X-File-type creepy-town (although no one was ever stoned to death on Corn Night, to the best of my knowledge.  Still: an observed holiday that no one else seems to remember or recognize?). I choose to observe the holiday by eating candy corn.The short story fell by the wayside; I did this sketch quickly today.  Sorry for the crappy scan quality.  I will try to remember to hack it down and scan it again. 

If you think that the Queen's gown has been marred by the last-minute addition of a completely non-matching hooded sweatshirt, then you are clearly not from a cold-weather climate.  It's Halloween tradition to completely screw up whatever costume you were dressed in by topping it off with a sweatshirt or parka (and, yes, we did need parkas. Let's celebrate the 20th anniversary...).  This happened yearly.  Why did we never, ever think to incorporate a coat or some layering into our costumes?  Because our costumes were covered in jacket.  So the sweet folks answering their doors developed a sort of coat blindness: "Oh! You're that MC Rapper [in a jacket]! And you must be a nurse [dressed for surgery on the Tundra]! And where did your mother find a Saturday Night Fever leisure suit [with non-matching jacket]" 

Minnesotans are a special breed of people.

Does this look too suicide pact-y?  I was explicitly trying to avoid that.  Happy Halloween. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Botanical Quick Sketches

 I scanned these in black and white; they should probably have been scanned in color instead just to preserve some crispness of the lines. 

My high school art teacher once (was it many times?) had us do an exercise in which we were only given a specified period of time to capture the essence of whatever it was we were looking at, starting with five minutes, then two minutes, then one minute and then only thirty seconds.  (Or maybe I invented this memory?  I'm pretty sure that happened).  It was astonishing to see the different styles and that we all mostly captured the object well enough to tell what it was. (Pinecone? I surely remember drawing a pinecone because my parents have it on their wall right now.)

These floral sketches break and follow the rules: I took no more than 4:02 to draw any one of them (I used Lady Gaga's Just Dance as my timer, so to speak.  Actually, I was just really enjoying that song, so I had it on repeat...), but these are all from my imagination and not from three still lifes.  I'm not money, honey. (Which is a different Gaga reference.)

Angelique tulip, muscari, lilies
Bells of Ireland, begonia leaf, bleeding heart, zinnia, closed campanula

peony, peony bud, lily of the valley

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Completely Agree.

It is way too early to think about Christmas. Unless you prefer to get your shopping done in November, which I do, and you really like the Walton's Christmas and you like to listen to it year round, which I do, and you adore re-reading Martha Stewart Living magazines from Decembers past in July, which I do, then it's not too early to think about Christmas. However, I applaud Nordstrom for sticking to their seasonal guns (C'mon. What do those shoot? Egg nog? Tinsel? Ribbon? Sheet music for carols?) and not officially decorating until after Thanksgiving. 

For what it's worth, I do not decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, which is exactly as it should be if you celebrate the holiday.

Forgive the chewy lines and the failed experiment on the line "all lighted up." I wanted to experiment with negative space.  To that end this was painted entirely in green on a piece of red scrapbooking paper. 

You mean that was obvious? Dang. I thought I'd fool someone.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

From the Archives

This time from my dorm room rather than the laundry room, but this was inspired by Spring Garden Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.  I have been a displaced Minnesotan for a while, it seems.  Either that or I have a Dorothy-like problem with not recognizing the value of home until I'm no longer there.

I've been to two confirmations at Spring Garden and I have just the faintest recollection of it.  Heck, there may not even be a cemetary near the church, but I kind of think there is.  I also loved the aerial photographs of my grandparents' farms, a perspective which was woven into this half-remembered, half-imagined landscape.

Fall, 1999

From the Archives

Direct to you from Santa Ana Hall, fall of 1999.  Because what else do you do when your art class requirements include at least one drawing, sketch, or painting a day?  That's right - you take your laundry, markers and a sketchbook all the way to the basement.

There's not much to draw down there, though, at least not in the laundry room.  Which begs the question: I think there was a TV room with a foosball table, and possibly even a view of the mountains.  So why did I sit in the laundry room sketching the detergent?  I still love packaging enough that I might even start buying detergents and cleaners just to draw them.

And I know what detergent I was using twelve years ago.  Do you?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Color Orange

Like every other color, the color orange has its defenders and its detractors. I am mostly in the detractor camp. Orange is largely intolerable. It's such a bossy color, and doesn't play nicely with others. It is the color of hunting. It is the color of traffic cones and safety vests.  And, although it is luscious and beautiful in its lone natural setting, the fall forest, that orange is only a hop, skip, and a jump from the dead browns of early December, and by then, of course, you're in the thick of winter.

But when you consider that orange is part of the natural order of things, and that the cleansing warmth of spring and summer will come again (when I'll be hoping for cooler days).


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Inspiration: Black Narcissus

Have you ever seen Black Narcissus?  I've never read the Rumer Godden novel (although as a little girl I loved her stories about dolls), so I'm not sure if the movie was supposed to be as fearsome as it ended up being.  Black Narcissus is one of those stories that is somehow able to remind me of a time of fear in which I'm so afraid that I can feel the ground slipping out beneath me.  You wouldn't think a story about nuns would do that, but this movie is so very, very good.

Where I began with this and where it ended up, tugged along by the memory of Lotte Reiniger's Adventures of Prince Achmed, are two separate things.  A lot happens over time.

I'd like to pretend that you can see shades of two of my favorite artists, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu.

I am informed by my peanut gallery this looks like Pixar; that wasn't my intention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't we all feel better when we eat our vegetables? 

Feeling Fancy in the Jungle

I really like to read non-fiction.  I really like to read non-fiction, usually the more disaster-based the better (Krakatoa, the Black Death, the Dust Bowl...).  I think the last fiction book I read was O Pioneers by Willa Cather, which was only because I read it for the first time last summer and loved it so much that it needed revisiting.  So many fiction books are so disappointing; then, not only have you invested time, but you haven't learned anything.  Maybe I'm picking up the wrong non-fiction books?  Recently I re-read 1491, and while the dangers that lay in the "New World" were not the focus of the book, my mind wandered to how long I could have survived in the pre-Columbian Americas.  Bears, cougars, poisonous snakes, plants you don't recognize, people whose language you can't speak and whose customs are unknown to you, deserts, etc.  Maybe three days?  The challenges that the Native Americans faced and overcame as they adapted the world to suit them are spectacular, although they had 30,000 years, give or take. You know, Gilligan's Island was in syndication when I was a child, and they survived for at least three years that island, so you just never know. 

And so here a lady, unprepared for the jungle, though this isn't a hostile jungle in the least.

I highly recommend reading both of these books if you haven't already. 


Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Front Door

This isn't exactly my home anyway.  The nasturtiums and azaleas don't bloom at the same time, my bricks aren't this attractive shade of National Building Museum red, and the light fixture looks sort of like one approved by the Dark Sky Foundation that I would like to have instead of the faux Federal style lantern I do have.  But with an Artistic License you can drive whatever you want, and it can look however you want it to look.  Therein lies the beauty of the Artistic License.  And I took it.

Welcome to my art blog.  Check back about once a week for art, maybe a little more often if I get the time.  And I may just go on a Jane-style rant occasionally!