Monday, March 19, 2007

Don't wish me "Break a Leg"

Because I'm off to Reno to visit my mom and bro and go skiing.

I'll try to post from there, but in the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful week full of magic and delight and little adventures.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Chopping up Blocks


I just bought new block printing supplies today, and I'm very, very excited.

This is what I've been working on lately.


My Christmas cards started a fire. I've been working on various block prints this month, and this week, I made these, for assembly into cards:


and these:


I am so pleased with both of them and with the whole printing process. It's so different from painting, and I love it just as much, in a very different way.


I've been using thinned acrylic paint instead of inks, but today I went to Jerry's Artarama to get more rubber blocks and lino blocks to carve, and decided to try some water-soluble printing inks. This will be my first lino carving, too; I've been using Speedy-Stamp rubber sheets. I do believe the lino will be better for letters, as the rubber is so squishy that it smears the paint on smaller details (I think it would have been better if the paint were thinner, too). But the rubber is easier to carve away and I think the lino will be easier to carve into, so I expect to use them for different purposes.

I've been inspired lately by this book:

by Anne Desmet and Jim Anderson.

It's full of beautiful examples, many of which are simply stunning. It explains everything neatly and concisely, in a straightforward, matter-of-fact style, while not talking down to the reader (so many books these days assume the reader is either already an expert or in fifth grade) . And the authors make even the more complicated printing methods seem entirely possible and doable, and fun, to boot. Which is really why I like printing so much in the first place.

Monday, March 12, 2007

What We Didn't Know

What we didn't know, on Sunday morning, when we woke up:

That my husband, looking through the paper, would find this, tear it out and hand it to me:


That we would get ourselves dressed and out the door before noon on a Sunday, and take the checkbook with us, all very unorthodox behavior for us.


That we would dip into our savings once again, postponing the desk purchase in favor of another, more interactive piece of furniture.

That before we ate lunch, our living room would be totally rearranged.


That, finally, my stacks of sheet music would see daylight. Or lamplight, actually.

The open sheet music on the piano is the Moonlight Sonata, one of my three favorite pieces of music to play, although I can't actually play more than a page of the original composition, only a much simpler arrangement. Soon, soon. Now that I can practice.


My other two favorite pieces to play, incidentally, are Bach's "Prelude in C Major" from
The Well-Tempered Clavier(Some people seem to think that's just a finger exercise. Silly people.) and Aram Khachaturian's "Ivan Sings," from Adventures of Ivan, or Children's Album, Book 1. It's also referred to simply as "Andantino." You can hear a sample, if you go here - Russian Piano Music and the World of Childhood- and click on "listen" next to Track 13. (Took me forever to find that. Apparently, it's not that well-known or well-used, but it was my favorite thing to play when I was growing up and feeling melancholy).

I'm not a very good pianist -- perhaps I was an intermediate piano player once, but I haven't played regularly in many years, ever since I had to donate my upright grand because I moved to a fifth-floor walk-up. So I've probably reverted back to beginner status. I don't mind, though. Because playing the piano makes me so, so happy. I don't need to wow people.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I Can Fly!

Not really, although it is one of my dreams.

Actually, what I can do is spread my arms all the way out and not touch the table on the left or the bookcases on the right. That's a big deal in a room that's only nine feet wide. I'm 5'9", so that's almost six feet of furniture-less space (Did you know, your fingertip-to-fingertip distance is the same as your height? You're square, or circular, according to that Leonardo guy).

So here's a before picture:


As you can see, it was a bit of a mess. Now, I've tidied and left all the junk that wouldn't fit on the dining room table. Where it belongs.

And now:


In the process, I spent some good quality time with my books and made more fun discoveries. Like this:


I have no idea where that came from. That's my spare change tin. Usually I open it and find quarters, dimes, nickels. You know. American money. Since I live here, that's what's I find to be most practical. But yesterday, I opened up the tin, and that's what I saw. Five shillings.

Very strange.

It is fitting, however, since this is the outside of the coin tin:


Maybe it's a magic coin. Which would explain why I can't find my coin tin today, at all. It's not even in the pile on the dining room table. Clearly, it's been spirited away by whoever left the five shilling coin.

Yeah. I read a lot of fantasy novels.

Speaking of coins, Montana, Montana, where are you? I'm waiting...


More 80's Fashion

And if 80's stuff really is coming back, I can finally wear these earrings again:


Of course, I'm finally getting to the age where I don't really care what other people think as much as I care what I think; I try to wear what makes me happy -- which doesn't mean I don't care about fashion at all -- I take what I want but don't let it boss me around. Which, in translation, actually means that I am preparing to embarrass my yet-to-be-born children when they are teenagers.

But even so, some things seem so outré once they've passed out of fashion, particularly when they were overdone, and that's-so-cute has a tendency to be way overdone. So I put these earrings in my jewelry graveyard box about halfway through high school. Yet, long after I had thrown out all the other 80's earrings (including, if I remember correctly, a matching hamburger and basket of fries), I kept these. Why? I think it's the colors. Or the expression on the cat's face.

Now, I think it's time for me to be the trendsetter. Unless, of course, someone else has already re-started the big-quirky-silly-earring trend, and I am just totally unaware, which would be absolutely fitting, since I was unaware in the 80's, too. If not, join me. Go ahead and pull your own silly earrings out of your own jewelry graveyard and wear them proudly.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Totally Called That.

I rarely read fashion magazines any more, and I don't go clothes shopping often, but it's no secret that there are quite a few 80s styles back around. Belted sweaters, oversized purses, and teal-colored things. I even predicted a while back that we'd see side ponytails soon, and I did, the other day (on someone young enough to be my daughter, really, if I'd had a kid at 16, which means that girl wasn't even alive in the 80s) but that's nothing to brag about -- I figure anyone who watched Napoleon Dynamite could have called that one.


I've been joking for months that pretty soon, people would start pegging their pants again (a technique that I polished, although didn't perfect, in middle school). I did it myself one day to prove the point, but I love my boot-cut jeans, and they just don't peg well. Such a pity. I didn't get more than three steps away before they fell apart.

But never fear. Someone else will always be around to catch the fashion bouquet when I cannot.

My friend Laurie called me this week, delighted to tell me she had just seen someone with pegged jeans.

Yeah, I totally called that.

What next? Two neon t-shirts, with the sleeves rolled up? Huge scrunchy socks? Mile-high hair (I haven't even owned a curling iron in a decade, but I know my mom still has my hair crimper)?

I've reached a point in life where my personal style is fairly established, and I'm not sure that it meshes all that well with these old 80s trends, but if those painter's pants covered in paint splatters come back, I'm there. Then I wouldn't even have to change my clothes before going out in public.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

This, That and the Other

This dragon and this video are so cool. Via Paper Forest.

I would love to try it out myself, but, once again, the office is in disarray. I am rearranging the furniture. Again. How many ways can one rearrange furniture in a room that's only 9' by 9' and has one usable corner, you ask? As many times as necessary if one has a good sense of humor about the whole thing, I suppose. This time it's because I, sadly, must dispose of the cabinet I decoupaged with the sheet music for Beethoven's Ninth a few months ago. I'll be keeping the hutch portion in hopes of finding another use for it, but it seems that all that bleaching and sanding and painting I did to the base weren't enough to kill the mildew, just enough to hide it for a while. I've have to throw away a lot of the wood frames and miscellaneous things I had stored in there because they picked up the smell, which was just faint enough that it took me a while to notice it under the smell of fresh paint.

So I'm commandeering the bookcases that were in the kitchen and moving them into the office to store supplies and books. It makes sense, since most of my art books are out there, anyway. Now they can hang out in here with me, close at hand.


And what I do love about moving bookcases around is that I get to go through all my random and obscure books again.


Inspiration flows thick around here on days like this, even if my work table is buried under everything that was in the cabinet.


Did I mention that I have some random and obscure books?

I'm still a bit disappointed, though.

And yet that disappointment may be somewhat alleviated this weekend, if we go ahead with our plan of purchasing a new desk (the corner portion only for now). So it all might be worth it in the long run.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Eclectic, Just Like Me

My mom sent me a package this week with a wonderful and very colorful surprise in it: the quilt that had been on one of my grandmother's guest beds. It turns out the quilt was made by a friend of my Great-Aunt Faye, after whom I am named (middle name), and Mom thought the quilt and I would get along very well. Boy, do we ever. Thanks, Mom.





Just to clarify, that small fragment of blue and white striped fabric in the upper left-hand corner of this photo is our couch. Fits right in, doesn't it?