Sunday, April 29, 2012

Outside: dogwood blossoms

Last weekend I went into town to photograph the lilacs... and I ended up taking over 600 pictures in 2 days - most of which were dogwood blossoms, since that's what happened to be blooming at the time.

You can see some of the rest of them here at

Yes, I was a dogwood junkie for 2 rather cold days last weekend.  It was like 40˚F, and while I was wearing a shirt and a coat and gloves (and pants and shoes and socks, and a wrist watch and sunglasses) — I was also very cold.  I want that unseasonably warm weather that we had in the beginning of March to return. I'm tired of being cold...

We have dogwood bushes in the yard, but they're not the same thing.  They're mostly thin red sticks with weeny little flowers on them, when and if the flowers actually bloom.  Nothing like the splendor of the flowers on dogwood trees.  So, yes, if you were briefly awoken and saw the lady with the big sunglasses and the crazy hair standing on your lawn, well, that might have been me. Don't worry, I'm not a burglar or a terrorist, I'm just a dogwood junkie.

As I said I would, I went out last week and got a copy of Jack White's "Blunderbuss." And like a school girl I have pretty much played "Love Interruption" on repeat. I'll eventually get around to listening to the rest of the album, but these things must happen slowly & organically. I still haven't quite gotten around to listening to that Bob Dylan album from 2005... but someday I will unwrap it and pop the cd in the player.  Someday.

If you're not watching "Grimm," well, I don't know what to say. That show is awesome.  The dinner scene awkwardness between Nick and Monroe was a priceless and hilarious bit of acting. You can see part of it here. The full episode of "Leave It to Beavers" can be found on hulu.

Anyway, have a good week, oh, and awesomesauce — M&Ms FINALLY put the coconut ones in a big bag!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

my paper heart

Things tend to be relative, and unconnected or seemingly unconnected things can hold some amount of influence over other things... There's currently a story popping up on various sites that I frequent about a woman in New Zealand who drank a gallon of Coca Cola a day or something ridiculous like that. Evidently she ate very little and also smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and then died of a heart attack. You know, really, no sh**? *sarcasm* Duh, that's unhealthy.

At 32 years of age I'd love to know where my universal healthcare is. You know, like the stuff they have in England or Canada. I'm insured through my employer, but my insurance company for whatever reason would like to keep my premiums low by having me enroll in some (expletive deleted) non-specific diet plan... I mean why the (expletive deleted) would I not want to log onto the internet every day to have to report what I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on some random form compiled as statistics in some computation storage file somewhere on the internet.  *eye roll* 
Evidently keeping my premiums low involves wasting my time.

Regardless, a couple years ago I attempted this diet plan (expletive deleted), and well, 25 extra pounds later I can tell you that it didn't work. Funny thing, before I started "adjusting" the food I consumed — I had never gained weight that quickly. The form for the enrollment in the new year is due at the end of the month. I'm not wasting $20.00 + a day of fasting to do this crap again. I'll just wait for my universal healthcare and continue to feed the pyramid scheme that is insurance — considering my average of 2-4 doctor's visits a year (2 of which are almost always for some form of cold that I picked up at work).

Anyway, the one thing that my dentist (insurance actually worth buying) established years ago was that I drink too much pop. Yes, that's what we call it here: pop. Ironically, my carbonated beverage of choice is Classic Coke. I sure as hell don't drink a god damned gallon of it a day— you hear that, dead lady from NZ? But I also don't drink coffee, so it is my source of caffeine... when it's on sale. Otherwise, I will settle for Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, or A&W Cream Soda (which I was surprised to recently learn contains caffeine).

However, pop was eroding my tooth enamel, so my consumption needed to be curtailed.  And so, I became one of those people who drinks tea, at least while at work. I'm not sure calorie-wise it's healthier, but apparently it's non-acidic and otherwise not eroding my tooth enamel.
When it comes to tea I'm particularly fond of:
With the exception of the Red Raspberry Herb — I usually make them all with a dose of vanilla coffee creamer.  I like the Red Raspberry Herb with Torani Vanilla Syrup. Yes, I know: it's sugar.
 I accumulate 5 tea bags a week. And at some point it occurred to me that tea grounds were an art supply waiting to happen... because way back when - before people hated Nickleback - in the days of grunge music I was a teenager and I did this project for my AP art class that involved making worms out of polymer clay. Fast forward 15 years and I spend my spare time thinking about making artsy-craftsy stuff, and well, polymer clay worms entered back into the arena of possibilities... So, the tea grounds were how I was going to having feces-free dirt. In other words: tea grounds = simulated dirt.
 So, I have a supply of spent tea grounds. Yeah, no, those are not Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes, that is my canister full of tea grounds, in the event that anyone is poking around in my studio and thinks that I have some treats sitting around. And one day while I was catching up on episodes of American Horror Story and emptying out the dried-up used tea bags - I happened to notice the pattern on the tea bag filter papers.  And I thought "well, that's cool... I bet I could make something with those." And so, I saved a bunch of them and put them in a pile somewhere, and a couple months later I was probably supposed to be doing or thinking about doing something else and I came up with a project for my tea stained filter papers: paper hearts.
 I made a heart template, and then sat there on my breaks at work tracing hearts onto filter papers and cutting them out with tiny scissors...
The coloration on the filter paper really is created by the tea.  The dark pink color comes from the raspberry herb tea; as does that bluish color. I'm not precisely sure how or why - but when I put the raspberry herb tea bag into hot water it gives off this blue-purple cast first before curing as 'tea colored.' So, when I glued the hearts to the illustration board - initially the blue cast returned to the paper — although later on it subsided again...
I had to format my project into something stable and useable... I decided that 5X7 inch pieces of illustration board would do the trick. I actually considered a litany of things from painting to collage to assemblage, but ultimately settled on the simplicity of illustration board.  Of course, it's not pictured, but in order to get everything standardized — I made a template.  So, while every heart is unique in its own way — it's positioned the same on the illustration board.
 I decided to finish them with paraffin wax. I'm not precisely sure why, it just seemed like the thing to do.  In retrospect I suppose I could have just used varnish... but, well, I didn't.

Relatively speaking, this project began with a healthcare form and a blood glucose test... and relates to something completely different — my worm assemblages — which originated some fifteen years ago from my enjoyment of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and ceramics classes I happened to be taking in high school. Life and art random and relative like that.

Enjoy your weekend, but don't drink an entire gallon of Coke or smoke a pack of cigarettes in one day. I'd probably skip the cigs altogether (as a lifelong nonsmoker)... anyway, enjoy your weekend in responsible adult-like insurance company approved moderation!
; )

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

the pageantry of bad photos

If I was more ironic,  then, well, I'd be more ironic... or I might be content with these things because their flaws are an expression of character or something.
I wanted one of those macro shots of a magnolia petal on the ground, but well, it was windy and I was standing at the end of some stranger's driveway essentially photographing leaf litter, and well, that's always weird... I seem to have missed my shot. The cement is in focus though - I mean that little part at the top.
 Over-lit... I mean the "dirt" looks good, but then there's the other 90% of the picture.
 You would think I took this photo on Mars — based on the red glow. Nope, just my camera's aperture not agreeing with my lighting.
 This is certainly not glamorous, but it usually does the trick: natural light.
 ...except, of course, I was interrupting the construction.
...and then there's the wind. Yes, thanks, wind.
 This would have been the previous shot.
 I'm bringing back bad lighting, and 1980's Sears catalog floral bedding selection patterns...
...if I try it indoors I can make it look even worse.
It's a white card and a white envelope - no attempts at photography thus far have provided satisfactory results.
 The inane things that have nothing to do with the actual task at hand are always infinitely more entertaining - look, its lichen or moss or something!
Oh, yes, yes I did. I got a nice shot of some nice green lichen right after it rained, and it's got that macro blur on it... Of course, this isn't a picture of a greeting card, so, its not terribly useful, but at least it was a decent shot. Perhaps its time to put the camera down for a bit and wait for the answer to come to me like the solution to a mystery on House or something. Damn, I'm going to miss that show when its final season ends. And, yes, I had a little school girl crush on Chase...

I sat down and caught up on "The Big C" yesterday afternoon. Somehow since the season premiere I managed to miss an episode. It's a well performed & well written show, I recommend giving it a try.
And maybe later this week I'll muster up the ability to take some usable photos. Maybe.

Anyway, I thank you for enduring the pageantry of bad photos, I actually have a lot more, but, well, I think you get the point...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

ephemeral easter eggs

I caught up on the last 2 episodes of Grimm while I was sitting in the recliner and sketching... Oh, that David Giuntoli is such a hottie. Even if he was less handsome (or his eyes were a less sparkly blue) the show would still be fascinating. Sometimes early Sunday mornings are just like that.  Time to relax, enjoy capricious things, but really, just not think about anything and get lost in the moment.

I spent a lot of time taking less than spectacular photos this weekend... meh.
I spent a lot of time cooking last weekend... and then we had ham for 6 days.
Yes, that was Easter dinner. Ham, baked beans, homemade stuffing, wheat rolls, carrot cake, and the most important holiday dish: pink jello salad.
Every year I go out and buy a carton of eggs to boil and dye. I'm not sure why, I just do.  And I like my eggs in wild colors and abstract patterns, not unlike my paintings...
Well, the eggs have been eaten now, so their colorful shells are but a memory.

Anyway, it was a sleepless week and I feel like in spite of the amount of time that I spent not resting - that I got nothing done. Maybe this week will be better.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

eggs and bunnies

Have a Happy Easter this Sunday!

I'll be having my nondenominational ham, pink jello salad, mashed potatoes, and decadent carrot cake.  I was never big into carrot cake, but somehow this one really appeals to me, and well, it comes out of a box so when it comes to cooking, you know, it fits into my schedule of not spending more than an hour on a meal.

Easter is a time when I remember to put on rubber gloves when I dye hard-boiled eggs so that I don't have to walk around for four days with colored dye on my hands.  As someone who has been doing art my entire life - I have some embarrassingly stained hands and fingernails a lot of the time.  Being a hand model was never my destiny.
Anyhow, the eastern bluebirds are out there in the backyard building nests in the nest boxes.  They necessitate no dye.

A few weeks ago I bought my bunnies and my cadbury creme eggs and my reeses eggs, and those eggs with the coconut cream. Anyway, these disappeared for a couple years - but the penultimate Easter treat is actually the Cadbury chocolate creme egg.  Those are the greatest Easter candy EVER.

Yes, I love candy. I mean, it's not like it was a secret.

On a virtually unrelated note, I was sifting through my vast collection of CDs the other day and ran across my copy of Warren Zevon's "Wanted Dead or Alive." I love Warren Zevon's music, possibly more than I love those Cadbury chocolate creme eggs.  And I bought that album about 9 years ago, and remember listening to it as I was driving to work. One of my favorite songs is his cover of "Iko Iko." I'm often drawn to songs where I have no idea what the hell is being said. So, a lot of the initial appeal was probably the puzzle of figuring out the lyrics or wondering what they were until I finally remembered to google it.  Anyway, the song has its own history, which you can read here.  I'll just be here playing it on repeat until I need to go cook a ham.

Have a Happy Holiday!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

the cold, the bad, & the ugly...

Remember the last post about the magnolias? Yeah, well, they got their 2 days of blooming and then it was over... the cold front came in, so the thing is one "spectacular mess" now:
However, this week I finished a project I've been working on for a few weeks now, so in order to get some things set up I needed to take some photos of some of my creations... as it turns out, I have taken a lot of crappy product shots. And I have found that the easiest way to get photos that require the least effort and editing is to take them outside in atmospheric light. So, I put on my gloves...
And just because there's a formula or a routine for something doesn't mean they're all spectacular shots... As it turns out, I make things that are difficult to photograph...
 Yes, those are worms. Well, polymer clay worms. What? You're a little grossed out? Ah. Don't be.  That's nature's garbage disposal system right there.  Well, that and less than stellar photos.

Anyway, I make weird things. And you know, we've been to this well before. So, I was standing in Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago in the aisle with all the "wood" stuff, and I picked up these little plaques and laughed and thought "I could make something weird with these." So, I picked through them and bought the 8 that looked good and square.

I had to think about how I was going to execute this project, since I have a tendency to be a little messy.  So I decided the plaques needed to be stained first.  Now, I had also bought these wooden discs a couple weeks prior. They're basically the same thing I use for brooches, except round.  And I'm pretty sure I bought them to use for brooches, but this whole wormhole idea big-footed that.
 So, while my stain was setting, I made my worms.  And then, while finally watching "The Rum Diary" on my first new television in fifteen years - I spackled and primed my wood pieces and added the worms... of course, then I had to wait for that to dry — which is when a week's worth of watercolors began.
Once the spackle was dry, then I added the dirt — which is essentially a combination of acrylic paint with glue and tea grounds, a couple more layers of tea grounds, and an overcoat of a mixture of paint, glue, water, and gloss varnish... and then that has to dry.  And then I sanded the edges of my plaques and gave them another coat of stain... and then painted all the backs white... and then gave the plaques a coat of gloss varnish. So, I still need to take some pictures of them, but, essentially, they're finally done.

Anyway, this frigid weekend part of my photography plans were to change up the pictures for my "bad apples." This is an old shot... Yeah, so basically, I changed the background.
This bad apple is one of my favorites, since they look like they're having a little conversation.
So, the entire photo shoot usually takes place on the back porch.  Either I put a 13X19 inch print out of one of my photos down on the porch steps or I set up a drawing board with the print out across the arms of one of the chairs. Product photography is rarely glamorous.

Anyway, the magnolia is right there next to the porch, so when I was done shooting the worm-work, I took some shots of the magnolia and it's big mess of petals...

 Ironically, real live worms were hard at work.  Of course, since it was cold out, as soon as I picked up the thing they were hiding under, they squirmed their way back to shelter.  Nature is funny like that.

And then it rained. Rain & cold are real impediments to getting photos done and out of the way, so then the project had to move indoors, where between 2 camera let's just say there are less than stellar results...

So, maybe today it won't be too cold or rainy and I can get my shots done. Maybe.