The Allure of Video Games

Turn off your mind, relax
and float down stream....

I thought I might return to the reality of daily life today. I am a little obsessed with Animal Crossing. I like to pick weeds, fish and pay off my mortgage. Just when I thought I might do something productive today, Maya popped her head out of the basement and said... "Daddy said 'Get the band together.'" Darrin hooked up the stereo to the Wii so we can really jam. I was still playing for about an hour after everyone else walked away. Ever since we heard that Rock Band was coming out with a Beatles version, the whole family was wishing for it. Maya was confident that Santa would bring it, because as she said "Santa likes when families do things together." Before I saw Rock Band, I thought it sounded quite ludicrous. Game controllers shaped like guitars? You press colored buttons and pretend you can play a musical instrument? It's actually quite a lot of fun! Singing and playing the drums aren't quite as feigned as guitar playing. I thought we would never own any video games. I have found that playing some games does take some mental focus and coordination. Still it's a little disturbing how many fill our house. And, of course we limit how much the kids play. I just need a little self-discipline. January is my time to start fresh. This week I am still indulging.


Happy Holidays!

Last week was a marathon of holiday preparation and even though I was exhausted, I enjoyed every minute of it. Now I am on vacation and just tying up a few last minute little things. My fabulous hubby gave me the Mommy time I needed today. He took both girls to my parents house and cleared the snow from their driveway. Maya and Ellie made this adorable snowman outside the window that Grandpa looks out from his comfy chair. Our first snow this year, just in time for Christmas!



Estimated cookie count as of yet = 320.

Cookie Continuum

Ellie chose to make rolled butter cookie Christmas trees for her class treat. The gingerbread decorating for the student council party went well. JuJu Bees make great little gumdrop looking decorations for gingerbread, but I felt bad giving them to kids. I don't think there is anything worse for teeth than JuJu Bees.

Last night I mixed up the 4th batch of gingerbread dough. Plus, pecan tassies and a double batch of fudgy brownie cups along with the rolled butter cookies means that I am on my 8th round of cookies so far. Last night as I was cleaning up the mess at 10pm I felt that this is an obsession more than a tradition.


Gingerbread Off and Running!

Here begins the cookie extravaganza. On Saturday we mixed up a double batch of gingerbread. Maya wanted to take a holiday treat to her class and all the teachers. I planned to make gingerbread for the Brownie Girl Scout party tonight. Decorating cookies doubles as a party project and a party treat! This is why I mixed up the third batch today before Girl Scouts for the Student Council Christmas party on Wednesday. Somewhere between Wednesday and Friday I will be baking ALL my favorite cookies to share with friends on Saturday night.


Let's shake it up a bit.
Christmas is coming and the little ones
want to see some snow!



Nablopomo - Endnotes

Well, it was fun while it lasted. I didn't quite make it through 30 days of art blogging, but I enjoyed the experience. I am happy to say I didn't fizzle out because life was "oh so hectic". I was busy enjoying the holiday - eating, drinking, relaxing, visiting with family. And, we had a house guest. I didn't really want to try and disappear into some remote part of the house to draw or paint something. Instead, I just enjoyed a glass of wine with Grandpa Bob.

I had hoped to develop some sort of consistent style in my work, which I did not. I didn't have a whole lot of time to create something everyday and most often the topic dictated the style of illustration.

Here are a few of my thoughts in retrospect.

Nov. 1: I have an irrational fear of mice. I am puzzled to see how some people react when they see a spider, bee, bug or creepy crawly thing. The screaming, flailing, jumping, running? None of those things faze me. However, that would be my exact reaction to seeing a mouse. In fact, I don't wear sandals in movie theaters because I think one might crawl across my foot.

Nov. 7: Painting nature makes me very happy. I was thrilled to have a topic to apply to a new painting.

Nov. 8: Conspiracy Theory. I have a few. I try not to dwell on them. I couldn't think of one of my own to illustrate so I Googled "conspiracy theory." My goodness. That was interesting. Apparently some people believe that the mark of the beast is imbedded in bar codes. I struggled with the drawing of the 7 headed beast so I collaged a barcode with a work of Albrecht Durer. I am not comfortable with the idea of using bits and pieces of other images in collage even though I am not reproducing this or selling it for profit. On a separate note, there is a website that will generate a barcode and this one in particular says "conspiracy" in barcode language.

Nov. 10: I admire primitive drawing styles of other people. If I drew in this style everyday I would become more comfortable with the imperfections. Or perhaps there would just be fewer imperfections.

Nov. 11: The topic was "The most interesting thing that happened to me today." Again, happy to loosely apply the topic to a nature painting. I am very excited about this one and in January plan on beginning a series of these in a larger format.

Nov. 12: A mono-print I created while in high school. The first day I did not create art for the day. I struggled with the topic "How has your life turned out differently than you imagined it would when you were in high school?" Either mine is not that different or I didn't really have any expectations. I thought I would have an art related job. I do. I thought I would probably get married and have a couple of kids. I do.

Nov. 13: The second day that I posted an older piece of work. I donated this piece to an online auction for The Peace Fund a few years ago. (Protect, Educate and Aid Children Everywhere) At the time I was really believing that I could create peace though the painting of mandalas and I have donated a few. I was happy to donate a painting and solicit all my friends to bid.

Nov 14.: "Five ways to lose a fight." Not easy to fit into a small quick illustration. You may not have recognized them: 1. Hitting below the belt 2. Running 3. Cowering 4. Crying 5. Surrender

Nov. 15: Re-posted an older work. I was thrilled to have created a haiku for this day. The only topic worth breaking my word fast for. I have thought about attempting to write a haiku for years, but never have. The traditional haiku pertains to nature and I have given so much thought to my deciduous paintings that the poetry quickly spilled from my mind.

Nov. 16: The present. Painting nature makes me happy.

Nov. 17: For the record I would prefer getting a peg leg before a hook! What artist would be willing to give up their right hand? or their left? For the sake of illustration I chose the hook. If this girl looks a little familiar I digitally worked over an old Illustration Friday piece. So much fun - I could get used to this type of work, but too much else going on right now. I need to focus on painting.

Nov. 20: This was so much fun to draw! I was a little uncomfortable because I am a freak about plagiarism. Again, I am not reproducing this or creating it for profit. It is very much meant to pay homage, but it is too similar to the original. I have not adapted it in anyway to make it my own. Anyone want to share your opinion on this topic of the fine line between homage and plagiarism?

Nov. 24: Still struggling with paying homage and plagiarizing. Eric Carle has a lovely blog himself and I found the coloring page on his website.

I guess I have not avoided rambling - just put it off til the end.

I'll probably take a little break from blogging until January with the exception of a few photos of cookies. You might as well check them out from last year, because as I realized then, they will look exactly the same!

Happy Holidays!



Deciduous grace

Letting go so easily

You will bloom again


Jacko's Demise

The following images are not for the faint-of-heart. Discretion is advised for sensitive blog-readers. If you want to have a Happy Halloween, you may not want to read further.

Jacko did not live to see Halloween. I feel foolish for having brought him in the house because I loved him so much. Comparable to inviting a snowman in for a cup of hot chocolate. Last Saturday was 'becca's Pumpkin Slaughter Party. I brought Jacko home and put him on the buffet. Illuminated periodically with a candle, the next couple of days he was looking just fine. With time he started to show some signs of mild dehydration. His ears were slightly shriveled. On Thursday night Maya noted that he did not look well. I assured her that he was fine and picked up the lid. He was not fine. Inside was a hairy mold that grew inches long overnight! I wish I could have filmed his demise with time-lapse photography. The first photo was taken Thursday night after I carefully transferred him to the front porch. The second photo was taken Friday morning, and the third, today - Halloween.

I have never carved a pumpkin before October 30. And I can't say my pumpkins ever looked like this a week after Halloween. My advice to anyone who carves one week before Halloween: do not bring your pumpkin inside the house! I have not heard of anyone else's pumpkins from the party contracting this disease.

Sad, but creepy, this does make for a fitting Halloween decoration. I'm thinking next year I may purposely repeat the process. Maybe carve a small pumpkin and put it in a large jar like an experiment of some mad scientist.

Also, next year I want to make shrunken heads out of apples with the girls. A few years ago 'becca and I were talking about shrunken heads at work. I said, "Oh yeah! Remember carving shrunken heads out of apples?!" She did not know what I was talking about. With the help of a little internet research, 'becca has enjoyed shrunken heads ever since.



It's time!

I thought about posting everyday in September, but didn't. I thought about posting everyday in October, but didn't. November is National Blog Posting Month. nablopomo. Sounds like a good time to make the commitment. 'becca invited me and some other friends (some people I know, some I do not) to participate in a group effort. A total of 10 people will each submit 3 topics. It could be anything: a word, a phrase, a paragraph long story problem. 'becca will gather the 30 topics and pick one out of a hat each day. All 10 participants will express their view on the topic. As 'becca says "seeing 10 different takes on a common subject will, undoubtedly, be fabulous." I plan to implement my "All Art - No Words" experiment at this time. I may not even title the post with the topic of the day. No words. Of course, I may not have much time to fuss over a piece of artwork. It could be quite minimal. A color. A line. A shape. I may sit down with the topic and wander far from it. It's a starting point. My intention is to post a little piece of art. Everyday. Happy nablopomo!


Pumpkin Love

Since Saturday I have...
~ Taken the girls down to the park for the best kept neighborhood tradition of pumpkin painting – sponsored by the garden club. ~ Gone to the Farmer's Market to buy pumpkins for carving. I was just about the last customer on the very last day at the end of the season. 3 pumpkins. One for me. One for Maya. One for Ellie. ~ Indulged in a pumpkin latte at Starbucks. ~ Baked mini-pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing. ~ Walked 7 blocks to 'becca's house carrying a 20 lb. pumpkin on my back and a 9x13 glass dish filled with mini-pumpkin cupcakes. (Got a ride home from April) ~ Carved my pumpkin at the Pumpkin Slaughter party. Great Fun! Pictured above. I named him Jacko. ~ Stopped by Butterfingers for an after-school-before-basketball snack. 2 iced butter cookies in the shape of pumpkins for the girls and a pumpkin cheesecake bar for me. I never even used to like pumpkin. I guess it's an acquired taste. And I've acquired it.

Also, I finished Ellie's poodle skirt this evening. I did not feel like fighting the sewing machine so I sewed it completely by hand. Cutting out the skirt and putting the waistband on took only about 45 minutes. The hem, the poodle and the leash took another 3 evenings. Luckily Maya loves the orange crayon costume so much that she is going to wear it again.

And! I decorated the Girl Scout Christmas tree at the Visitor's Bureau. But, I forgot my camera and cannot post a photo until the exhibit opens.



Because I love digging in the dirt so much, I thought putting 100 tulip bulbs in the ground would be quick, simple and effortless. It wasn't. Even though I was determined to have a completely lazy weekend, I felt I must seize the moment. A beautiful, sunny fall day after many cold and rainy days. Time is not always available. Not knowing where I would put them, the job lead to spontaneous transplants and some pruning. While digging I was flooded with inspiration for painting. Painting dirt. It sounds strange, I know. After cleanup my brain stormed an entire sketchbook page with words associated with underground. Everything from growing food to burying the dead.


Thank God!

I've never been so happy for Friday. A jam packed week of: school > work > basketball > Girl Scouts > dance > basketball > Girl Scouts > Book Fair. We could barely eat and get homework done. Yesterday felt the most insane. In hindsight it was not really. My favorite part of the day was a cold rainy hike at the nature preserve and digging worms to feed to the turtles at the visitor center. If that is what brought me the most joy - maybe I should be doing more of that?


Blogtoberfest... not.

This is me not blogging every day in October. I thought maybe I was ready for the challenge. I stumbled upon "Blogtoberfest" on the second of the month. By the fourth, I had lost my focus. While I still wonder why I try to blog at all, I find that it does make me conscious of where I put my energy (and don't put my energy).

Interestingly enough, before going to bed, Maya and I had a conversation about blogging and web design. I told her I should just give up blogging, learn web design, make art, and design a website for my art.

Her response: You're a graphic designer and you don't know web design?!

Me: I became a graphic designer before the internet was invented. [not really before the invention, but before it was widely used and before designers were called upon to make it look snazzy]

Maya: Man, you're old. And now you can't learn web design because you are too old?!

Me: No. I haven't learned web design because I spend my time going to 6th grade girls' basketball games and Girl Scout meetings. (The better part of my day today) So maybe I should just stop doing all your stuff with you and do my own thing?

Maya: Goodnight.

Me: Goodnight.


Watercolor and Latex

This 8x10 painting feels more like an exercise or a sketch. Getting warmed up for bigger projects. For reference I used a photograph from our trip to New Harmony - shot at the roofless church. Before attempting to mix a beautiful blue in acrylic, I remembered this "cloudless" Behr paint left over from Maya's room. If I could paint in latex paint, then perhaps when I'm in search of the perfect color or color scheme I could just go pick out my swatches and then have them mix up those little test jars for a couple of bucks. I'm thinking of painting this large on 2 canvases for my bedroom walls.

Maya made this fabulous banana cake from scratch, Ellie helped decorate it with some candy found in the pantry and my sister Maureen had a lovely dinner for me with the whole big family to celebrate my 41st birthday today. Yes 41. (In case you couldn't make out those candles.) I got another great message on my answering machine sung from the land of cheese. I still haven't deleted my birthday wishes from last year. I should just record that onto some other sort of media for a keepsake.



Today I started a painting.
It's the third of October
and I have posted 3 days in a row.
Maybe I could make it another 28 days?


Deluxe Accommodations

Here is Ellie's little house for little critters that I finished this summer. I wasn't going to post until I sewed the family and that happened today.

I experimented with the design of the house. Instead of the front side folding down - two halves pivot open. When I completed this I told the girls I wanted to be a doll house architect. Maya said, "You ARE a dollhouse architect."

Plenty of room for company.

Ellie found a floor that I had sewn completely, then had to toss aside because it wasn't the proper size for nesting one on top of the other. It was her idea to arrange it like so to create 3 rooms.

And for now, my fascination with creating hand-made toys has been satisfied. Although, Maya has been playing with these today and expressed that she has changed her mind and would also like a house of her own. She will probably have to wait until next spring as I have told Ellie she will have to wait for painted bedroom furniture until next spring. I am ready to paint. I am ready to paint paintings, that is - not closets, walls or furniture.