Saturday, December 23, 2006

Okay, finally

Have yourself a
Merry little Christmas ...

Finally shook off the 'Bah Humbugs' in time to embellish a stocking for J. Off for a few days to visit family, then back for Christmas Day, and off for a few more days to visit more family.

The season seems to get busier with more and more stuff every year. The bustle and noise of shopping, of Christmas morning with family - enjoy it all for the cheer and company it represents. But don't forget to take the time to be good to yourselves. Have an extra holiday cookie with a warm, quiet cuppa coffee/tea. (We'll get back to eating more heathily next week! >:) )

Have a Merry Christmas. See you in a bit.
xox, -w

Friday, December 22, 2006

from the Archives

This should get your attention:


Oh man, I heard that squeal of delight. Whether for the promise of cookies or more cartoons, it doesn't matter, huh?

I was trying to tidy up my living room (yeah, I should give up). I should've known better - there are more piles of old archived art stuff from the old place. So, I found more Christmas card art, a number of oversized newsprint pads with life drawing sketches, color theory gouache painting assignments and marker sketches from UCLA (pre-dating even Art Center. Holy cow! How is that possible? There was art before Art Center? OMG!), my application portfolio. What am I s'posed to do with this stuff? The good stuff, I'll keep, but I think a very good chunk of it, I can get rid of. When I get to it. This stuff is in amazingly good shape, for having survived at least two moves. This'll be good stuff to go through and scan or photograph and share, and I found a few things that still appeal to me that would be really nice to re-execute.

Anyway, this is from 1991.

Click this image for the full card

Looking back at this, what does this say?

My haircut is the same, I've had an enduring love for somewhat involved Christmas cookie baking, and manage to find myself in the company of men who love cookies?
I figure that's not really so bad, as far as constants in ones life.

But, you know, I really ought to - - and I've been really thinking about this - - update my logo.
Or something.

Mmmmmmyeah, I dunno.

Every so often in the past 15+ years, I'd go and do little thumbnails to try and update it to where I am in life, but never followed through with finished artwork to use on my stuff. I stopped using a logo completely, actually, I think, once I started design school. There was an instructor from my application portfolio preparation days, that said I should update it; a new logo would represent an evolution, a new state in life, something more far more [ahem] refined. The thought there was that the old logo was just kind of, what?, uneducated, or something. I'll add here that I was never quite crazy about this particular person and his outlook on life. I almost bagged the whole idea of studying design based on conversations with this person... so that should say something.

And lookit me now.

Yeah, my design stuff and my design portfolio, that's something different, and I have a specific format that seems to work well, tells a bit of a story in its reflection about my design work and outlook.

But to be honest, I never came up with anything that quite spoke so clearly to the spirit of what my doodley art was about.

What do you guys think?

What about Santa?

"Okay," she started, a bit pensive, "so, if you don't have a fireplace, and you don't have a chimney ..."
"Uh hum?"
Starting to worry a bit, "... then how is Santa supposed to get into your place?"
"Oh, well, I've been overlooked for years, I guess."
Biting her lip, a bit chagrined, "Oh..."


“Hey, these are good. They’re better than I thought they’d be.”
“What were you thinking they’d be?”
“Well, you know …”

… Since we were away for Thanksgiving, we finally thawed out the turkey and made a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed potatoes. I told J I could bring cranberry sauce, home made. He said “sure!”.

So, after dinner, he admitted he sort of shrugged initially at the idea of my making cranberries.

“So, you were just humoring me and my cranberries?”
“Um, well, cranberries aren’t usually the most exciting part of Thanksgiving dinner, after all”.
“Oh, I see … Well, you hadn’t had MY cranberries…”
“Well, no. Besides, you seemed pretty excited about making ‘em. So I figured …”
“… that you’d just humor me? Uh hum.”
“… that you wanted to contribute something …”
“Uh hum.”
"But, they’re really good. You know, like they add an unexpected "
"… ‘zest’ ?”
“Yeah. Zest.”

Yeah, there’s that whole bit of adding something new to ( = ‘messing with’) a traditional dinner, especially when what people normally eat is some jelly that comes out of a can. How exciting could cranberry sauce be, really?

… This same week, I started work on a new project and sent my resume to a colleague. He emails me back and comments, “Oh, wow. I didn’t know you were a designer, too. Hm, interesting. Very impressive.”

And I think, “Yup. One of those strangely well-kept secrets, I s’pose.”

Okay, so I’m not in the habit of smacking people over the head with my credentials. Designers are typically so cool, so flashy, so hip; I’m much more demure. When you’re that understated, you tend to run the risk of being mislabeled; at worst, overlooked, I guess. Most people aren’t sure what to expect until they take the time to stop and look.

You’re going to get on my case about not aggressively marketing myself. Well, you know, there are flashy design jobs that are really cool and hip, and the lead designer people, they’re looking for really assertive, flashy designers. I’m not looking for flashy designy work. My skill is creating really clever little design solutions for problems so damn pervasive that people just overlook and work around them. A lot of other designers don’t share my enthusiasm for my pet causes; no, they’re not glamorous, and they’re not for cool, young, hip people. The people stuck in the middle, who need that better solution, they just work around it...

I like to think there’s a zen moment of recognition, where people go, “Oh, hey …” associated with most of the work I do, and then you know this new solution really fits, doing its thing like it was meant to do it all along. It makes life better, without screaming out for attention. If the product is meant for you, you spend more time with it and really appreciate the little details, the attention. If you don’t use it, you’d give it no more than a cursory glance to begin with. [shrug

So where was I going with this?

Oh, well, you know cranberries. You slice ‘em up, lining up your cuts with the ridges from the can. Not so complicated, not so exciting.

Well, think again.

The cranberries I make, they’re fresh. And I add honey, so they’re sweet. And pears. And lemon juice and zest; that adds a real zing. You have to let them sit for a few days in the fridge to let all the flavors mix and soak in. These cranberries; they’re not going to just sit there passively on your palate - - they’re going to make you take notice. But, you have to take the time to get a serving, give them a chance. They’re yummy.

“I’m not going to win, no matter what else I say, huh?”
“No, that’s okay, honey.”
“But they’re good. What’s in ‘em?”
“Pears, lemon zest, honey ...”
“Mmm, honey ..”
“… and love.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Butterflies and flowers

Who says math is cold, stuffy and not a lot of fun?

Auto Show

Click to see all the photos

A few weeks ago, I went to the LA Auto show. I got entry on Media Day and into the Design Los Angeles conference, which, I have to say, was a pretty sweet perk for being an instructor back at design school. Normally, the show is a zoo; tons of people milling around, trying to get into cars and take pictures. You walk and walk and walk, get mashed into people, get separated from the rest of your group, and get really tired and hungry.

But Media Preview Day – now that’s another story!

See these photos? No people! Wow! Can this be right? I couldn’t believe it. What fun! Woo! Now that was cool.

The people in front of me trying to get photos? Professional media camera crews. You don’t feel bad waiting for them to finish up getting their shot, you know?

So I got to leisurely wander around (with my puny point-and-click goes-everywhere-with-me digital camera) and look at the shiny new batch of concept cars. I have to admit, I’m not as zealous a car fanatic as one might expect from an industrial designer, and so I’m far less methodical when I go to auto shows. I was a little pressed for time and chose not to linger too long around the trucks, larger SUV vehicles and exotic cars.

But, hey, the Mustangs.

Now, we’re talkin’ ... [Purrr]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cartooning circles

I’m finally enjoying another one of those long-awaited fully-caffeinated cups of coffee and some non-MaltoMeal breakfast. I can eat. I can almost smell. My kitchen is done and awaits all my gadgets. My Camry is all fixed up and purrs rather than rattles.

Oh man (another sip), life is good.

Gerald came by yesterday and dropped off a bunch of stuff from the old place. I was leery of what might have been left. Most of it came from my art room, so I discovered quite a few gems that finally made the move. My application portfolio to design school. Boxes of Epson color printing paper. Boxes of greeting card-sized envelopes. Odds and ends and final presentation boards from class projects.

In the pile was a large-sized binder portfolio. Flipping it open, I was amused to find a small sampling of graphic design and cartooning I’d done a really long time ago. Really long time ago. I’d do little jobs for friends, baby and “We’ve Moved” announcements, stuff like that. All before flickr, MySpace, digital cameras and Shutterfly.

I used the computer primarily for typesetting to go with my little ink cartoons. I’d get them photocopied onto card stock. For my Christmas cards, I’d add in color by hand (we’re talking about 120 cards here, people, not just a dozen), with watercolor pencils or sponged-on paint or rubber stamps. It was quite the production every year, and I did those for about 7 or 8 years, I’m guessing. When I find them, I’ll scan them and share. Since then, I’ve lost a bit of the motivation and time and inspiration to do those and have been sending photo greeting cards, which are so much quicker to produce.

A few of my old-time friends tell me they’ve kept all the cartoon cards and have missed my hand-painted greetings. And they tell me they hope: Maybe this year?

Anyway, I found this card in the portfolio last night and it made me smirk. Photocopied artwork with watercolor pencil added. This is from 1990. I’ve thought about all that’s happened since then: my mustang, the earthquake, mortgages, marriage, the dogs, my Tercel, Europe, skiing, endless DIY projects, design school, wakeboarding, divorce, running, painting.

Boy, it’s like a lifetime ago.

Things tend to come full-circle, though. A few weeks ago, I started doing thumbnails for little cartoon drawings in my moleskine sketchbook. Seems I have a really good dose of inspiration that’s gotten me kicking around a few ideas, personal, individual greeting cards for a few holidays and celebrations that are coming up. I don’t think it’ll work for (this) Christmas, although I guess you never know.

I doodle and doodle and think, “Hmm”.

And then the little peas showed up, and I found myself thinking, “Yeah...”

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happiness is

Peanut butter and Huckleberry jam! Mmmm.

So who was that whiny, cranky person that wandered through here last night? It’s like they were seriously under-caffeinated or hadn’t eaten normal food in days or something. Yeesh! [Shrug]

A note on Huckleberry:
We were driving through Big Sky Country, going way North (yeah, past Santa Barbara) this summer, and I started to see road signs for Huckleberry Ice Cream.
I perked up (just as you just did, Tony) and went “Huckleberry?”

J thought it was the promise of ice cream that did it.

You know those things from your childhood that you hear about but never get to experience first-hand? They’re familiar, but you just don’t quite understand. So, given this tidbit of huckleberry info (courtesy wikipedia) …

In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the huckleberry plant can be found in mid-alpine regions, often on the lower slopes of mountains. The plant grows best in damp, acidic soil. Under optimal conditions, huckleberries can be as much as 1.5-2 m high, and usually ripen in mid-to-late summer; later at higher elevations.

The Huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.

... How does a school in Hawaii (no state fruit) have a cheer that involves Huckleberries? I’m guessing there aren’t many indigenous huckleberry plants in the Aloha State.

Have I asked this already?

I think the cheer goes way, way back. I’m thinking, hoping, before the cartoon characters, at the very least. I can’t quite find the history on it.

Anyway, so there I was, in Montana, in the drizzly grey cold, swinging my feet back and forth (short legs), contentedly scarfing down huckleberry ice cream with my guy, idly thinking,

“Strawberry Shortcake,
Huckleberry Pie!

V - I - C - T - O - R - Y

Are we in it?
Well I guess … “

“Mmmmm. So this is Huckleberry. Mmmmm.”

Getting back to painting. Did some research on what huckleberries look like.

I found this online:
“Hawaii offers perhaps the most unique blend of culinary history and flavors of all the 50 states. Geography, people, history and evolving local tastes combine to create a cuisine that merits detailed study.”

'Merits Detailed Study'


Monday, December 11, 2006

I think it's done

If I were you, I’d be wondering.

Okay, I’ve been sick: stuffy/runny nose and some kind of stomach flu thing. I’m hoping to get better in time to enjoy all the smells and foods of the holidays, let me tell you! And, this cuts into my motivation to bake holiday cookies, too. Doh!

I haven't been drawing or painting! Double doh!
[weary sigh]

Every time I’ve gotten sick since May, to where I’m, you know, passed out on the couch, I’ve noticed that several things happen. Every time.

(1) My landlord calls to tell me he’s miraculously managed to get the next kitchen repair construction guy available, that day! Don’t I appreciate how hard it is to schedule these guys? I can’t possibly understand what an inconvenience it’s been for HIM, trying to schedule and coordinate all these people!
It's a long, long story, this bit with the kitchen.

I think to myself, “Uh, that inconvenient unfinished construction zone? I’ve been living in it, dude.


Since May.”

and ..

(2) Something goes wrong with my car that requires leaving it in the shop for the whole day. Or for even longer.

The painter guy was the nicest of the bunch - - apparently the world decided to save the best for last, thankfully. And he was done pretty quick. So when I unpack my stuff back onto the kitchen countertops this time, I'm not going to have that nagging wondering in the back of my head of when I'll need to pack it all back up to prepare for the next construction step. I just hate drywall dust all over my cooking stuff, you can't even imagine.

So, I'm looking forward to that cup of coffee that I’d been hoping to make earlier this morning - my first in about two weeks.

The frustrating part is that I’d scheduled a few hours this morning to sit down at the kitchen table to get into the nitty gritty of WORK that I finally felt perky enough to do since getting sick. I smirk at the irony that in exchange for getting that work done this morning before class, I was also going to get my stuff out to paint tonight. The acrylics and gouache and maybe the tube watercolors - - goodies that have been stashed away, also since about May. Guess it could all still happen, but you know, this is how the whole kitchen thing has been. Tentative starts and jolting stops. Again and again.

I know. In the grand scheme of things, these are all pretty insignificant blips.

Can I say it now?

I think it’s FINALLY done.

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to get bogged down in complaining? This is the holiday season after all. [Sigh]

Looking forward to being able to:
Have that cuppa coffee
Drive my own car (maybe later tomorrow? One can hope)
Smell, eat, and bake (in what order, I don't care)
Enjoy life without construction interruptions and with a little more comforting peace for myself
Draw and paint a little bit at my kitchen table

and put the postcards of Bellows Beach and all the other good stuff ...
back up on the Fridge Door.

Have you missed me? Ooo, I've missed you.