etsy

Noticing that time has passed

I finally broke down and got out my relief printmaking tools.  I was looking at the work I've done so far for running snail & rainbow and noticing a glaring omission in the lineup: a wood block print.  I only got to take one printmaking class in college, which is a great sadness to me, because if I had found the medium before second semester of senior year I would have most certainly taken another and another.  I want presses and rollers and cranks, buckets of chemicals and plates of metal and glass, and I want to know how to use all of them.  Even my painting professor thought that more printmaking would have been a good use of my time.

What he did not think was a good use of my time were my antics in the theatre department, dabbling in plays and entertaining the fantasy of becoming an actor.  He saw that my work in the art studio suffered horribly when I split my creative focus.  He had a point.  But aside from his point, painting was just never my medium.  I wanted it to be.  Desperately.  He was a brilliant teacher, and a brilliant artist.  His use of color made you want to live behind his eyes forever.  His world was vibrant, unexpected, beautiful.  My problem was not understanding the color theory, or what all the different little tubes of paint and gels did.  My problem was with the palette--it got so messy, and my brushes got so globby; it just wasn't how I think.  The teacher probably unfairly blamed theatre entirely for my ineptitude, when really I just couldn't organize myself the way I needed to do interpret what I was seeing.  Then one night, second semester of senior year, I was in the printmaking studio finishing up a project.  He was grading portfolios in the adjoining studio and popped his head in.  "Oh," he asserted, matter-of-factly, after having seen my woodblock prints, "you're a printmaker."

I don't know why I didn't touch my tools to a piece of wood for seven years.  Figuring that out doesn't warrant any of my energy, so suffice to say that I've started a piece, for children (or not), about the four seasons.  But I didn't want this bit of writing now to really be about that piece, since I don't want to give anything away yet.  What I really wanted to talk about was yesterday afternoon.

I've begun to wonder how people who live in more-or-less season-less climates--you know, like the tropics--keep track of how time has passed.  My entire internal clock is based upon how the light looks, the air feels and smells, and where I've spent the majority of my time.  Yesterday afternoon, on an unseasonably warm spring day, I took my daughter into the backyard, filled up her little wading pool, and brought my wood carving supplies outside.  She sat pouring water from one cup to another, and I carved my block of wood.  I was struck how similar this was to an early evening last summer, an evening when I finally figured out how to capture a moment of quietness in her waking hours.

The two early evenings have so many things in common: the out of doors, the water, the long shadows, the rarity of the occasion.  Yet they are so different.  I didn't sit there like I did last year, stunned at the advent of motherhood, blinking in the light.  I was able to do something for myself: carve out a few little bits of my woodblock.  It wasn't much, but it was everything.

Send something yellow :: {new postcards}

My love of yellow began one summer when we painted our white kitchen and I set up a drafting table in the corner.  I was 17, and it was the summer before my senior year in high school.  I sat at my table, gazing at the vibrant wall in front of me, and began painting a giant orange poppy in homage to Georgia O'Keefe.  Despite the fact that my mother thought that I was painting a giant tarantula, at first, everything that came out of my fingers, at that table, in front of that yellow wall, seemed good.  This was surprising to me, and mostly to my Very Harsh Inner Critic, who usually managed to turn my best opinions to sludge.  The only thing I could think was that the yellow wall was somehow helping me.  It is, after all, the color of Creativity herself.

In honor of this color, and in celebration of nature waking to spring sunshine, I've made some postcards of my favorite yellow things: sunshine, trumpets, daffodils, birds, bees, and béarnaise sauce.  As a side note, I should mention that the recipe on the béarnaise sauce card is the one tried, tested, and perfected by yours truly and that anyone receiving such a postcard might be glad to know that it's not just a pretty face...it's a real-live, functioning recipe.

Here are the yellow cards.  Next up will be a red postcard set, and since I have fewer favorite things that are red, I might need your help, in the comments section, about what your favorite red things are.




What we do when we don't know what to do :: {new poster and postcards}

 

My daughter just had her second birthday earlier this week.  It's unsettling to think how much she's accomplished in a year compared to how little I have.  Now I know, helping her accomplish all of those things was an accomplishment for both of us, as parents, but nonetheless, I stand humbled and reflect in wonderment at what she's managed to do.

 

I was aided in my self-reflection with two horrendous earaches that lasted the better part of a fortnight which rendered me almost completely deaf.  Actually, rather than say I was deaf, I would say that my hearing was inside out, so while I could not hear Heidi squeal with glee at her birthday cake, I could very much hear my own jaws chomping down on a huge slab of it (okay, two huge slabs).  I'm afraid I got a bit dramatic about the whole deafness thing, and plunged full-force into a Beethoven-like state where all I wanted to do was feverishly work.  I guess the big difference here, aside from the (obvious) real-vs.-temporary deafness, oh, and the genius factor, is that drawing doesn't require hearing at all, where music really, well, does.  
We're also approaching a precipice of uncertainty, with unemployment popping its ghastly face up from around the next bend, so all I can think to do is draw, draw, draw.  And, really, I guess that means I have made progress in the last year -- towards doing more of what I should be doing, and relying on it more to bolster me in times of distress and doubt.  Next on the chopping block is that crippling perfectionism.
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the finished alphabet poster of musical instruments:
An A to Z of Musical Instruments -- available in four color stories.
The next thing I'll be rolling out very soon are some postcards.  They're all about the color yellow and how much I love it right now.  (But of course, we'll do the rest of the rainbow as well!)  Here's a sneak peek:
What?  Béarnaise is yellow!  I'm sure you know someone who would appreciate this postcard.

 

 

 

The Frog Prince :: {Red Pasta Sauce}

I was the girl in high school who painstakingly crafted mix tapes, who got to school at 7am for string ensemble practice, and who never didn't have music playing in the background.  Favorites of mine in high school included pretty much anything from the 70's, thanks to the influence of the ganja-smoking art room crowd with whom I shared all of my time (unless I was in the music room).  We all ate lunch in the art room, too, using the batik wax-melting device to cook grilled cheese sandwiches.  Our art teacher knew we needed somewhere to be, and she didn't mind, as long as we cleaned the burnt on cheese off of the art supplies.  She let us play music, too.  We all took turns bringing our favorite albums.  As my parents' luck would have it, I was friends with the non-ganja-smoking minority group of the art room crew.  The most trouble we really got up to was rearranging people's lawn ornaments or planting cans of Campbell's Chunky Beef Soup around the town when it was below freezing, so the soup would expand and explode out of the can.  Chunky Beef was chosen because it looked the grossest, of course.  So we clean cut art-room folks listened the hazy 70's music and totally thought we had all been born in the wrong decade, man.  But we also listened to swing music and crooner stuff.  The nineties were actually a great time for that, and we wore wingtip shoes, took swing dancing lessons, and sang Frank Sinatra songs in the car as we cruised around with our cans of soup.

These great standard songs still have their appeal for me.  When I'm not sure what I'm in the mood to listen to, usually a little Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin does the trick.  So as it happened, as I was finishing "Fill My Heart with Song", I was listening some crooner playlist or other, and "You're Nobody til Somebody Loves You" came on.  The rest is history:

"You're Nobody 'til Somebody Love You" -- especially if you're the frog prince.


Red Pasta Sauce
Also known as: I finally figured out how to make a quick pasta sauce from cheap canned tomatoes (a staple in our house)!  This comes together so quickly, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your fridge right now.
This sauce starts with bacon, so we're already on our way to success.  Glaze the bottom of your preferred pan or pot with olive oil and place over medium-high heat.  Chop about six slices of bacon (or more or less to your taste) and one yellow onion. Add these to your pan, stirring sort of frequently to keep things from sticking.  While the bacon is rendering and the onions are softening and everything is smelling heavenly, grate one large or two small carrots and throw them in the pan with the bacon and onions.  Stir it all around and head back to your chopping board.  Finely chop about four garlic cloves and a small handful of oregano leaves.  Add them to the pan and cook everything together, making sure the garlic doesn't burn, for about two minutes.  Now throw in about three big soup spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar.  Scrape the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon as the vinegar cooks down, getting up all those delicious brown bits (they're called sucs (pronounced: soox) -- isn't that a great little word?).  Lower the heat to medium.  Open your big can of plum tomatoes, and pour some of the juice into the pan to keep things from burning while you attend to your tomatoes.  Take your immersion blender, if you have one, and wizz it around inside the can, making a chunky purée.  If you don't have an immersion blender, just break the tomatoes up with your hands.  The reason you don't buy purée outright is because they use the highest quality tomatoes from the harvest in the cans of whole tomatoes, and as you go down the line of canned-tomato-textures, the quality of tomato used gets poorer and poorer.  Pour your chunky puree in to the pan, stir everything around, season with a hefty pinch of salt, some cracked pepper or pepper flakes, and let the whole thing simmer for the amount of time it takes you to cook your pasta (around 10 minutes).  Check for seasoning, toss with pasta, and serve with lots of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on the side.
{Other things you could add to this sauce: capers, olives, anchovies (add the anchovies with the carrots), and adjust your salt accordingly -- you'll need less.}



More introductions

After a bit of silence on my end, I've got another creation for my Etsy store

I had the idea for this piece ages -- well, months -- ago, around the time I decided to open an online store and take matters into my own hands.  For a brief time (though the brevity of time paled to the intensity of it), I couldn't fall asleep at night because of all the ideas that would flash through my brain.  I couldn't start working on the ideas, though, because my head would be clouded with the next idea, and the next, and the next.  I wrote them all down; some in a book by my bed, some on my computer, some on scrap sheets that litter the refrigerator.  Eventually I had to stop myself from dreaming and start whittling away at the list.  That's always the hard part for me.  The ideas rush in like a geyser, but sitting down and making them exist on paper is like milking a rock.  I guess part of that is because I'm afraid I can't translate what's in my head onto the paper.  Sometimes it's because parts of the project still haven't been imagined.  Either way, when I told my husband that I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted "Fill my heart with song" to look like, he stared at me in that maddening way he does when I know he's about to say something I a) already know but have been trying to forget, or b) don't know, but should, and said, "Well then why haven't you drawn it yet?"  (This instance, I'm ashamed to say, falls under option b).  I scuffled off, muttering wordless sounds of bruised pride and humiliation, and set to work.  


This is, in fact, what a song-filled heart looks like (it also comes in black & white).  Get it here.

As luck would have it, this project flew out of my fingers with little to no sweat or tears.  And for once I was able to shut off the graphic design side of my brain that wants me to trouble shoot how this creature gets in and out of his suit.  I'm actually delighted that I have no idea what kind of creature this is, let alone how it gets its suit on and off.  Is it a flightless fairy?  Who knows -- these things I cannot put words to, and that's what makes them have a life of their own. 

Hello, world

I don't have a story tonight, or a recipe, or any of the usual things.  What I do have, for the first time ever, is an Etsy store.  I could go on for pages acknowledging people, thanking them for their patience and inspiration, but I'd rather just show you what I've got to offer so far.  The photos were taken by my amazing friend and cohort Lindsey Walters of Miscellaneous Media Photography.  Thanks to everyone past, present, and future who supports me doing this.  You know who you are.

And now.....Weather Mouse!