Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Enigmas and Osbicks

Last month we saw a special exhibit called "Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey." Going to the exhibit was Susan's idea, not mine, of course. Once I got in there and started looking at his stuff I was very pleased -- a man with a sense of humor even darker than mine!

When we left I had to buy the book from the show and then make a tough decision as to which of his books to buy. I settled on Amphigorey Too and Susan has promised to put another one on my Christmas list for me. It's not hard to like someone who starts out a story like this:

An osbick bird flew down and sat
On Emblus Fingby's bowler hat.
It had not done so for a whim,
but meant to come and live with him.

Edward Gorey will be providing me with names for a lot of my clay pieces in the future. Speaking of the future, in November a 1965 Gorey book, The Recently Deflowered Girl: The Right Thing to Say on Every Dubious Occasion will be re-published. How can you resist a book with an opening description like this, "For more than half a century Miss Hyacinthe Phypps has been offering guidance on proper behavior..."?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Unadorned Beauty

Tonight is the PBS special on our national parks. Watch it. Then visit one of our national parks. Feel humble and small and amazed that there is still so much beauty to be seen in our world.

The pictures were taken a few years ago at the Grand Canyon (sunset), Bryce (deep canyon)and Zion National Parks.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Little Feet

A morning's work at the ceramics lab at school. The coffee cup (coffee is a mandatory art supply) gives you a gauge to the size of the little boots.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PodMen From My Turtle Pond

These PodMen should look familiar to you, you've seen them before. But now you get a chance to see the pods at the Turtle Pond where I collect them once they fall on the ground. You can actually buy pods like these at Michaels but I refuse to pay money for something I can pick up off the ground. I'm currently working on another PodMan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Turtle Pond

On Sundays my bike ride often takes me to the Turtle Pond on the University campus. It's sort of hidden away behind the Main Building and next to an old greenhouse. This is where I visit my turtle friends (they are shy and not too good at shooting the bull so we get along fine) and collect dried-up plant pods. At 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning I usually have the Pond to myself, especially when there was a football game the night before.

It's been a very long, hot summer this year and we're still considered to be in an "exceptional drought" condition, even though we finally got rain last week. The video below is definitely music to our ears and sounds much like the $39 white noise sound machine Susan bought.

Even the cactus plants are happy to have had some rain.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Little Feet

The baby shoes came from garage/estate sales. I'm working on making little ceramic feet in shoes, little feet that have walked a long hard road. In the past I've made little boot shoes (see below) but I'm hoping to have a whole body and head develop for these feet. If I'm lucky, once I get the feet right the rest will be easier. This is probably the opposite of people who work real hard on the face and head and then go for the rest of the body.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mr. Kleenex

It's the Walking Wounded at our house. I'm still on pain pills for the root canal work I had done (2 sessions with a crown going on in 2 weeks). Susan is suffering from a nasty cold that has slammed her in the nose (dripping), throat (sore) and chest (coughing a lot). She'd like to claim it as the flu but because she doesn't have a fever or aches she has to deal with the indignity of just having something ordinary. We know that if you do nothing to treat the common cold it will take 7 days to go away. If you go to the doctor and ask for something to treat it you will recover in a week.

Her sister suggested something called a netti pot which, after hearing the description, Susan shot down immediately as it sounded too much like waterboarding.

Instead, Susan just uses Mr. Kleenex. A LOT.
Late update, due to email questions: Find Mr. Kleenex (aka "Rudy") here (or probably lots of other places), Susan painted him for some forgotten reason.

In the interest of keeping this post art-related we've included a picture of me tearing apart our old air-conditioning unit that was replaced last month and a picture of one piece salvaged from it. More pictures of the cool parts to appear in the future (when the Blog Wrangler gets around to it). And just to go full circle, the cost of replacing a 2-ton air conditioning/heater unit will probably wind up being about the same as all the dental bills I'm amassing.

Late update: Click here to see Yours Truly on the local news last night. Hold your applause, please. Ignore the opening obtrusive commercial and watch for me at :35 and :59 into the clip.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


As I experience the joys of a root canal I am somehow reminded of one of my favorite artists, Philip Guston.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Incredible Talent: Kseniya Simonova

Thanks to Katie Kendrick for this YouTube video:

I'm amazed at how graceful her hands are, especially when she's using both hands at the same time. She may have done those same pictures a thousand times but when she throws the sand back down she's giving herself a new challenge each time. At first I was confused about the people in the audience crying but a little research gave me the info that she was depicting events about Germany conquering the Ukraine during WW II.

I never cease to be amazed at how creative people are all over the world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We Remember

On 09/11/2001 there were three attacks made on America, including the Pentagon, where we lost a family member. The memorial at the Pentagon was dedicated on 09/11/2008. As of this date, no memorial in Pennsylvania or New York City has been built.

The United States government did not pay for the building of the Pentagon Memorial. The Pentagon Memorial Fund was founded by family members of the 184 men, women and children lost at the Pentagon on 9/11. It is a non-profit, tax-deductible organization. The Fund was created to raise the private funds necessary to design, build and maintain the Pentagon Memorial.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Garden Goddesses

Evelyn, Martha and Doris have all gone off to the gallery. I was sad to see them go but sometimes you just have to stop having emotional attachments to your creations. And letting them go motivates me to create more.

That's Evelyn in the front. I wanted to name the piece Everett and tell you his expression would show you what it means to have to please two women at once. Susan is my Blog Wrangler and my photo-onto-computer person so she has power. I got "The Look" as she typed in "Evelyn". Not Everett.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Susan And The Doctor's Office (and Updates)

Susan speaks: It's been 16 months. I couldn't stall it any longer so I went. (Final score: Passed.) Doctor: "Slide down, please." ??? Excuse me, I'm paying -- you slide up.

Is this related in any way whatsoever to art? Yes. If I hadn't been so busy sketching I would have unrolled some of the exam table paper. Good paper. Free paper! What could they do if they found out I'd unrolled a lot of paper? Tell me to put it back? Next year, while I'm sitting there in that too-small paper dress. . . .

Update #1: The first and third pictures (front and back) of the Renner Books post are of Don's book (darker spine).

Update #2: Thanks for all the camera tips, both in Comments and in email. Unfortunately, most advice applied to SLR cameras and this is just a basic point-and-shoot camera, with a number of options just not possible -- for example, there are only two f-stops, both pre-set and unchangeable. The sensor is relatively small.

The distortion is called "barrel" effect or "pincushion" and it is fixable in Photoshop Elements 2.0 by using the Spherize and/or Pinch filter, which is how I tweaked the Renner book photos. Distort/Skew/Perspective actually can distort too much if you aren't careful. But none of the options do a perfect job and I hate to have to tweak every picture. The advice that seems to be working is this: Stand way back, as far as possible, from the object and zoom in to take the picture. A tripod is recommended. So instead of putting objects on a table and standing over them to take pictures, I'll be putting them on the floor. We'll see.

I have to keep reminding myself we bought the little point-and-shoot because I wanted just that: a little camera to snap quick pictures, no need to worry about a lens or any settings (although it does have a number of Scene options and ISO settings). And it was the best fit in my clumsy hands.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A New Squadron

Here's the latest squadron. Some of them have gone to the gallery and some didn't get invited. Some had disaster hit them in the kiln so they had to spend some time at the Ear Hospital before they got to go to the gallery.

I wasn't crazy about having to send them to the Ear Hospital but they kept talking to me! They kept insisting they could be fixed, so Dr. Don, assisted by Nurse E6000, performed restorative surgery

One especially nice piece, Pavel, had an Ear Hat. Susan kept saying, "He cannot go to the gallery, someone will pick him up and his Ear Hat will fall off and break." Of course I insisted it wouldn't be a problem. Of course I picked him up to go to the gallery and his Ear Hat fell off and broke. Susan felt sorry for him because he had to stay home so she found some brilliant ideas to spring out of his head, and he feels better now.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Renner Books

Susan and I took Lisa Renner's A Waxed and Painterly Book class at Art Unraveled. Any class Lisa teaches is a sure thing - she provides everything you need, runs the class at a fast pace and troubleshoots continually. We've both taken her classes before and we've yet to see her flummoxed by anything. It doesn't make any difference to me that I don't care about making a book, it's the creative environment Lisa sets up that makes the difference.

Susan and I sat next to each other in this class, not because we were insecure and are joined at the hip, but because we were sharing our wax block and had an extra heat gun at our table, just in case. We work well together by staying focused on our own work and then asking each other's advice. Susan's advice is always something concrete, as in "Trying using this piece of red", while my advice usually is "Hmmm. Needs.... something."

Our books look similar because we didn't bother to switch away from Lisa's offered face print and we both used the same stamps, which we didn't realize until we were almost finished. After all, it's the process, not the final product, that's important. Which book is Susan's and which book is mine? What do you think?

Susan speaks: I'm starting to hate my new camera. Yes, the resolution is better due to lots more mega-whatevers, but the camera gives excessive "barrel" distortion to any shots closer than 6', regardless of the setting (see photos above). Even Photoshop tweaking doesn't get rid of it all. Aaarrrgh!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Phoenix, Miscellaneous

This ceramic sculpture is by Sergie Isupov and we were fortunate enough to find time while we were in Phoenix to see an exhibit of his work. When I think of my work and of his work I am fully aware we are in different stratospheres in terms of technical ability. I can only dream.

It was the first week in August when we were in Phoenix and it was hot. Very hot. Oh, but it was dry heat. As if that matters.

At one rest stop on the way into Phoenix we encountered the vicious wildlife shown in the short video above. Susan followed this guy around with her camera, right up to the door of the men's room where he tried to hide. Obviously he wasn't too crazy about papparazzi. As usual, Susan talked to everyone there at the rest stop so that's how we found out this was a kangaroo rat, named that because he looks like a kangaroo when he hops away.