Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb10: Beautifully Different

I'm taking inspiration from a 31-day blogging challenge called reverb10, responding to writing prompts that are designed to allow bloggers to reflect on 2010 and to send out reverberations for 2011. You can find out more about it here.

Day 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

My name. The extra two 'E's (at the end). If you spell it out, you have to smile. If I'm in a hurry while I'm signing my name, sometimes an extra E sneaks in at the end, an extra loop-de-doop, free of charge.


Reverb10: Make

I'm taking inspiration from a 31-day blogging challenge called reverb10, responding to writing prompts that are designed to allow bloggers to reflect on 2010 and to send out reverberations for 2011. You can find out more about it here.

Day 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)


The last things I made were origami cranes. I cut squares out of pages from magazines, looking for nice big pretty pictures. Not that I have stacks of pages torn out of magazines with nice, big pretty pictures or anything.

Wikipedia says: The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise), and is said to live for a thousand years. In Japan, it is commonly said that folding 1000 paper origami cranes makes a person's wish come true. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family.

I haven't folded 1000 cranes this time around. Yet. I'm making them one or two at a time and sending them out into the wild.

I found some instructions here. The square base in step 6 is tricky, so I found an additional set of instructions for that part, here.

As for the part about something I want to make, but need to clear some time for, it may have something to do with stacks of pages torn out of magazines with nice, big pretty pictures, if, let's say, I had these stacks  ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Japanese Garden

Lantern facing the Dwelling
Southern California in mid-December. Yes, indeed.
Last week I visited The Japanese Garden at Van Nuys. It’s one of those spots that I’ve known about forever (20 years, let's say) and finally visited for the first time.

From their brochure:

Nestled in the heart of the busy San Fernando Valley is a peaceful oasis: Suiho-en, ‘Garden of Water and Fragrance.’  The exquisite design of The Japanese Garden leads us from a world of freeway traffic, pressures, and haste into a world of meditative calm, where it is possible to focus on and remember the very simple and beautiful both in nature and in our lives.

The uniqueness of this garden is that it is authentic in every detail. At the same time, every effort was made to make it compatible with the nearby contemporary Administration Building.

I’ll vouch for all of the above.


The Japanese Garden at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant, 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA.

A happy note: The Japanese Garden participates in the AHS reciprocal admissions program (as does: Descanso Gardens, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Los Angeles County Arboretum, San Diego Botanic Garden …)



See the whole Flickr set and enjoy all the warm 90deg mid-December yumminess here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To Draw is to See

Now available, just in time for gifting:
To Draw is to See: The Sketchbook of Norman J Schureman.

This sketchbook features over 100 of Norm Schureman's master drawings. It is an absolutely stunning collection that showcases his talents as a designer and teacher. From birds to dinosaurs and from tanks to insects, every page is an inspiring example of his legacy.

100% of the proceeds of this book go towards his two sons, Milo and Kian.

Click here to preview the book online.

Thanks to Fridolin Beisert, who lovingly made this idea a reality. ♥

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reverb10: Letting Go

I'm taking inspiration from a 31-day blogging challenge called reverb10, responding to writing prompts that are designed to allow bloggers to reflect on 2010 and to send out reverberations for 2011. You can find out more about it here.

Day 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I've let go of the sense of guilt I got over not posting to my blog so often.

I let go of people who complained about educators, with particularly unrelenting vitriol.

I let go of people who told me that art education only leads students astray and into unnecessary debt.

I let go of people who told me that pursuing an MFA is a complete and total waste of time.

I let go of a number of books via Yes, I gained a few more in exchange, but that's how swaps work, after all.

I let go of the insistence of people who said, “Stay! If you don't come back you'll never know!” I'm satisfied that I've had plenty and that I know well enough for myself.

My car, for its part, let go of a hubcap and  a radiator hose, somewhere along the 210 freeway, on my way to class, a few days after having had seriously $$$$ major work completed by the local dealership. I subsequently let go of my need to always go to the dealership for major work on my Camry.

I let go of the first new pair of running shoes (I was so excited!!) I've gotten in five years because they were really messing up my knees and ankles. Thanks to Run With Us in Pasadena for the help in getting me back into another pair and back to training.

I let go of email subscriptions where people always, always opened first with offers of workshops (free or for a fee).

I let go of grabbing paper napkins at school in favor of bringing a few fabric ones with me.

I let go of the idea that if one is told that they're so sensitive (!) that that's a bad thing and that one should try to be less so.

I let go of one of a pair of earrings that I've worn almost every day for 20 years, down the drain. I haven't yet let go of the sadness and sense of loss.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Reverb10: Writing

I'm taking inspiration from a 31-day blogging challenge called reverb10, responding to writing prompts that are designed to allow bloggers to reflect on 2010 and to send out reverberations for 2011. You can find out more about it here.

Day 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

What keeps me from transferring the lines in ink to digital prose?
What makes me hesitate, keeping me from clicking 'Publish'?
What keeps me from writing?
–  The whispers of doubt, imagined taunts, “You think you're a writer?”  Really, shouldn't that be enough?
–  The worry that the pain and weight of grief is too much to share.
–  Time. It takes so long to edit and craft and re-craft. The wordsmithing takes so terribly long.

What else? I mean, really? What doesn't contribute to your writing?
–  Wondering about water-miscible oil paints and reading up on them, comparing brands.
–  Same for field easels and thumb boxes and pochades.
–  Quilting and sewing projects that people post, pretty textures and patterns.
–  Lovely photos on Flickr
–  Lovely, haunting, inspiring, uplifting words

The internet.
I'm so inspired and engaged and connected and curious and investigative and …

… so distracted.

p.s. Special thanks to Debbie and Patti, whose posts have inspired me to sit for a good long while, away from the Internet, to write.

Reverb10: One Word

I'm taking inspiration from a 31-day blogging challenge called reverb10, responding to writing prompts that are designed to allow bloggers to reflect on 2010 and to send out reverberations for 2011. You can find out more about it here.

Day 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I read the posts every January: declare your intentions for the new year; declare your ONE WORD.
I usually get around to thinking and writing and setting my ONE WORD, oh, in February. It's usually a struggle to sustain focus on this ONE WORD through the whole year. This year was no different. One word for how I feel about that could be: Chagrin.

So, honestly, I wasn't going to even bother thinking about one word that sums up the year. But, in doing a few more day's worth of writing to the prompts and looking at the words that appeared, and reflecting on the many words that had come before, I've discovered, quite clearly the word for this year. Through it all, one word has emerged with a steady beat and rhythm, strong and unyielding.

One word, one name: Norm.

I've written about Norm, here.

For next year, the word/name/memory 'Norm' will continue, in spirit. I know this because I want 2011 to be Fierce (in the non-scary, non-angry, non-aggressive sort of way that I interpret the word). I'm also resurrecting a phrase from a few years back as well: Run fast and true.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sad, sad news

My Moos [sigh], they're very sad.

The Money-Plant … I had to throw it out. It developed some kind of condition that … Oh, it's just terrible.

The poor plant was rotting away from the inside, one stubby segment at a time. I don't know if the pot drained so slowly that the roots just turned to mush, or if the plant picked up some kind of weird germ. I'm hoping the former, since we kept the plant in our dining room, and I'm not keen on the idea that there are weird germs floating around there, so very close to our kitchen …  And my thumb is normally quite green, thank you very much.
It looked like there was no hope for the plant. I chucked it into the trash. The thought of taking a farewell photo of it was just too much for me to bear.

My dreams of it bringing good financial luck (I was hoping for ducats) are dashed. Woe is me.

The moos are homeless. Woe are them.

None of our remaining potted indoor plants are appropriate for them to live in; the pots are too small = not enough moo terrain, or the pots are way too big = too much uneven terrain and they'd get lost or buried. If I put them in with any of the plants outside, the neighbor's cats might steal them or, worse, eat them!

And besides, I haven't disinfected the moos yet; they might have germy-germies on them.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


... for the company of young, articulate, thoughtful designers, at the brink of setting out, ready to make their marks on the world

... for sunrises that insist on nothing less than my undivided attention

... for new running shoes, happy feet (and non-crunchy ankles and knees!!) and finally registering for the 5K

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getty Center

Earlier in the week before my birthday (way back in September), I also went to the Getty Center. It's one of my favorite places in L.A., after all. It's a bit of a drive, but it just means that I have more time to listen to Patti Digh's 'Life is a Verb' CDs.

I'll spare you the whole driving-there part.

If you haven't been to the Getty (along the 405): The gardens and architecture are stunning. The art collection is flat out mindboggling.

I was on a mission, though, since my favorite painting ever, Jean-Léon Gérôme's 'Pygmalion and Galatea' was on display. Click here to take a peek at the whole collection that was on display. The 'Pygmalion' painting is about third or fourth from the end.

There were rooms and rooms of paintings, reproductions and statues. I wasn't expecting that much work to be shown! I went speedwalking through the rooms - and through each new room, walking a little faster and with a steadily growing concern - trying to first find the 'Pygmalion' painting. I was a little panicked.

Wouldn't you know: This lovely painting was in the last room of the exhibit.


Maybe it was the relief of finally finding it; getting to see a painting in person that I've admired for so very long was ... well, it was quite the moment.

I recall doing a paper on Gérôme in high school. He caused a bit of a controversy and still does. In a time when artistic movements were emerging and gaining great strength and acclaim (oh, Impressionism, for example), Gérôme was a hold-out, continuing to paint in a very realistic style. Also, he was criticized (quite sharply) that he chose his subjects for commercial gain, not necessarily for artistic expression. You could compare this to a great new musical artist that is edgy and uniquely experimental in the beginning, that in his/her second and third albums seems to play it far more 'safe' to cater to a wider, more lucrative mainstream audience. Even today, to imagine Gérôme creating his art at the same time as the other Impressionist paintings in the Getty, you can clearly sense that his work was more than just a bit out of place.

All the same, the paintings were spectacular, technically bursting with aching realism, and full of theatrical gestures. Woo!

After swooning over 'Pygmalion and Galatea' for a nice long while, I walked back to the beginning of the exhibit and took everything in, in proper order.

Afterwards, I had a little bit of time to pass before heading back home, so I thought I'd sit in the garden, which is just gorgeous and well worth a trip to the Getty, all on its own. While I was sitting there, contemplating doing a painting, a tour group passed by. The docent commented about the problem that the garden designers had with deer.The local deer, they were concerned, would come through and nom their way through this huge, well-tended feast of blossoms and greens.

[I mean, heck, wouldn't you?]

And the museum couldn't do anything to actively 'harrass' or harm the deer to deter them.

So the garden designers planted huge drifts of society garlic, to deter the deer using the pungent smell of garlic. 'Huge' as in 'On a HUGELY OVERWHELMING scale'. I'd heard this before and had dismissed it without trying to decide if it would be an effective strategy or not. It's one of those things that makes you go, "Heh. Interesting", and you keep walking along. But that particularly fine day in September, while I was sitting among all those dainty purple blooms ...

... waiting for the tour group to clear away so I could take this shot...


... I almost KEELED over from the fumes. The memory of it all lingers, violently! I was woozy for days afterwards.

Be glad - very glad - there's no more Smell-o-Vision.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I've been hibernating. Yes, Fall might have finally arrived in Southern California (this summer was pretty mild, truth be told). J and I are still expecting one good blast of 90+ degree temperatures that will cause one more tremendous explosion of germinating spores, giving me one last bout with hayfever before it's all said and done. Ai.


Which involves fattening up:

After 6 weeks of searching not-as-obsessively-as-you're-imagining for a lone chocolate cupcake in celebration of my birthday, here we go! Finally! I was a bit disappointed that it didn't have chocolate frosting and sprinkles as well, until this fine cupcake rolled off its plate and onto my white shirt. The basically white oreo icing was just fine, thank you.
Okay, and, no, I'm not really fattening up.
And you're also thanking me for not posting a 'Large' sized photo of the cupcake, while we're at it. Go ahead and click it, I dare you! [drool].

and pondering:

Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab: Play Practice Learn

and gathering with friends:

Patti Digh's reading in San Diego and Jane LaFazio snapping a photo of Patti's watercolor paintings (Patti is taking Jane's online Sketchbook and Watercolor: Journal Style class).

and worrying about the MoneyPlant, which seems to be in some kind of distress, dropping its leaves ...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Money Tree, Part 2

Okay. Getting back to the money tree / plant:

I received this plant from a student who was moving to Texas and couldn't take all his plants with him.

I went to David's apartment and while waiting for him to answer the door, spied a large pot with a small toy car in it. Before I could comment about maybe the neighborhood kids should pick up after themselves, the door opened and I was overwhelmed with all the chaotic images of moving.
When I got past that, I thought, “WOW! All the plants!”
I peered at the many pots, shook hands/leaves with several plants and tried to decide which ones would fit in neatly back at home without disturbing the calm of our house.

[I know. You're scoffing at the thought: Tidiness at our house. Trust me, the BigBear is very tidy. The common areas of our house are very tidy. I don't think I've lived in a home that's this tidy as an adult. Even though I wish it were less chaotic, my office/studio is the one wee (ahem) bit of creative chaos amidst the order.
There is a difference, however, between tidy and clean, though. You can rest assured – neither of us really dusts.]

Okay, so shaking hands/leaves … I liked the money plant. I hope it will bring good (money) luck.
And peered in and saw a White cow.

I go, “David. Do all your plants have little special friends in their pots?”
And he goes, “Yes. I call them 'moo's”.
And, yes, there were plenty of cow moos and non-cow moos: more toy cars, bottle caps from unusually-named beers, marbles, unusually shaped rocks, lots of little mementos. I was impressed. That's something I'd do, but David had done it with even more carefree whimsy. Nice.
I decided to take the money plant and its moo, and two other plants.

One fine day, several weeks later, I was cleaning out some of the gravel and rocks and dried leaves from the money plant pot, spied something brown and decided that the offending brown bit of trash must go!

I poked at it, then yelped!
There, peering up at me was a brown cow. Where did the Brown Cow come from?!?

“Ha?! What? How now? Brown cow!”

See the brown cow?

Talk about camouflage. It took me three different tries to get a picture where you can actually see the brown cow against the potting soil.

So now, apparently, we have a herd. I poked even more, to make sure I wasn't missing any more stealth critters. I think we're good, at least for now.

When I water the plant, drenching it from the faucet, the white cow stays firmly planted, standing proud on high ground. The brown cow, for whatever reason, is far less sure-footed and goes floating around, bobbing helplessly until the flash flood subsides, usually coming to rest on its side. I have to check back in after the water's drained, and set him upright, just to make things right.

It's like I'm a gargantuan supreme being, causing floods and unleashing other kinds of havoc on my little plastic cow subjects. Bwa-ha-haha-Ha!

My Godzilla fantasies aren't long-lived, though.

Lucky for everyone.

Especially the Brown Cow.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A little back-and-forth

Me: I think I'll go to the gym tomorrow.
He: You should use more assertive language.
Me: [squinting] You should say, "That's great! Yes, you should (go to the gym tomorrow)".
He: Yes, I should.
Me: Pfeh.


He: Boy, today turned out great. The temperature was just perfect. Not too hot, not too cold. Just Perfect.
Me: (reciting) 'This porridge is too hot! Oh my! And this porridge is too cold! …'
He: … so I mixed them together and ate them both.
Me: Bahahaha!

Happy weekend, all! xox -w

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getty Villa

Since my birthday (the 13th) was on a Monday - - the first Monday of my Fall term, in fact - - we celebrated by going out the weekend before. J had never been to the Getty Villa, so we went there.

The Villa was closed in 1997 for renovations, which took quite some time.
J goes, "What do you mean, 'closed for quite some time'? How long can renovations take?"
Me: "Um, I think maybe 9 or 10 years. They moved the collection to the Getty Center."
Him: "Boy, maybe they weren't working very quickly."

All this construction skepticism faded away once we got there. The architecture is fantastic and lovely, and the gardens - like those at the Getty Center - are a joy to be in. You could spend more time wandering through the buildings and marveling at the details than actually looking (or poking, as the case might be) at the art.

We were deliberate in going through all the rooms, to make sure we didn't miss anything. The first room was the Family Forum. Normally we speed right through those - either too many screaming kids running around or just not quite engaging for people over the age of, let's say, 5. I was skeptical, ready to breeze through it.

I have to say that the Getty sure got it right, though.

From their website:

'Step into a scene from an ancient vase in the shadow-pose area, where you can transform yourself into an athlete, musician, or even a monster and act out your own original stories.
[We saw several groups of adults act out scenes with the props they had. What a hoot!]

Explore vase-painting techniques used by ancient craftsmen in the vase-decorating area, where you can rub patterns off designs inspired by ancient examples or draw on life-sized replicas of ancient vases.'

So they have dry erase markers and life-sized vases to draw on. Oh my. We plunked ourselves right down there on those teeny little chairs, not worrying about making all the precious antiquities in the other rooms wait (heck, they've been waiting a long time, being antiquities and all. Another 10 minutes wouldn't hurt) and drew:

Mine. Note that the guy stick figure has very hunky biceps. Yes, indeed.


He teaches calculus. Does it show?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Run, Wendee, run

I'm running again.
I know, you're thinking, "You run?".
Yes. Well, I used to. I'm getting back into it. I want to be able to eat my ice cream with reckless abandon.
Something like that...

I've added a training widget, in the right column.
You can keep closer tabs on my progress at RunWendeeRun

Nike RunHitWonder, 2005

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My art is in it!

Here's some exciting news:
My art is published!
I answered Patti Digh's call for art for her new book, “Four Word Self Help - Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives”, and my art is in it!

The publisher describes it as “Pithy, provocative, poignant advice on a variety of self-help topics—in four well-chosen words”.

Four words. Yes, even I can finish off these chapters.

And the art! What a treasure! This is no skinny collection where the cover boards are thicker than the actual body text of the book. There's plenty of these little four-word morsels to savor, with longer essays added throughout the mix.

You must get yourself a copy. Must.

My copy arrived and I tore the packaging open and flipped through the pages and went “Woo hoo!”.

J peered over at me, moseyed over to my side of the couch and flipped my hand so he could see the cover. He exclaimed, “Oh, that Patti D… DigHh person! D-, um, Dig-HH?”
Me: “No, 'Die'. Patti 'Die'.”
Him: “Oh, right. Okay.”
Me: (Losing patience and pointing very animatedly)
“Look! At! My! Painting!!”
Him: (eyes getting big) “Ooooooo.”

It's not so hard to imagine that scene, right? All the same, I insist that you reenact it yourself.

Once you have your very own copy of this lovely book in your hands, turn to page xi and let out a good “Woo hoo!” for me.
Woo Hoo!

With mayo and mustard

I once commented that this blog is actually about procrastination. Or maybe about starting lots of things that eventually go unfinished. There's an excited rush I get, thinking of all the possibilities –  all of them –  gathering up the supplies and just daydreaming about them being done.
I know I'm not alone in this.

So, I'm doing two things right now, to get more athletic activity into my days. Yes, two. How impulsive, huh? Somewhat paradoxically, these are meant to get me to settle into a more committed routine and to train for longer term events.

I'm doing Marianne Elliott's '30 Days of Yoga'. You answer questions in a survey about what you want from a yoga practice, what your body and soul need, and Marianne creates a video sequence for you to practice, yes, during the next 30 days. I'd been doing a very gentle form of yoga up to now, and the sequence I received has been a nice challenge. Marianne is supportive, in her videos and messages.
Sadly, I've only done the sequence twice, and another, from another instructor, once. My 30 Days of Yoga has been spotty, at best.
Marianne wrote in one of her weekly messages:
Bindu Wiles once said:

Often, beginnings and endings are easy. They are filled with a natural enthusiasm and volition where we move into things with lots of energy and ease, and complete things with a certain flare and celebration for what we’ve accomplished or gotten through.
Middles, not so much. Middles tend to be difficult and our enthusiasm naturally wanes. It’s easy to lose focus and make excuses and even completely drop the ball.

One of the things I do at school is prepare our graduates for on-campus interviews. The interviews are in a speed-dating format. The idea is to allow the students to meet as many recruiters as possible and they're given about 10 –  15 minutes with each company that participates in on-campus recruiting. I spend a good deal of time having the students present their projects in shorter, more abbreviated chunks to be better able to highlight their skills and accomplishments in that time. It's not about talking faster; it's about hitting all your key points while still showing your personality and your passion for design. You have about 10 minutes, then the recruiters all rotate one person over, and you do this over and over, until you've finally talked to everyone that's there. If there's a potential for a good match, a company will schedule a longer, more traditional interview with the student.

Before all the interviewing gets started, the students introduce themselves to the group. I find it interesting that many of the students are very confident talking about their work, but a bit flustered when they have to talk about themselves. So, in the weeks before graduation and interviews, we talk, one on one, and talk, and eventually very meaningful stories from their backgrounds emerge. One of the introductions from this term used this nice analogy about this particular student's interests:
I really like the end and the beginning: the inspiration and research and ideation, as well as the execution of an idea –  –  making it real and tangible. But, I think about the process as a sandwich. The beginning and end are like pieces of bread. It's all good, but the inside is also the meaty part; it's what makes the sandwich. So, while I love the start and end, I also enjoy working through the middle part of the process, because otherwise, really, I'm just eating two pieces of bread.
I thought:
“Wow, that's really thoughtful and almost poetic”, and then,
“Hey, wait a minute! I'd be good with just two pieces of bread!”

I find this idea of following through recurring through my week.

It's about trying to create new habits, shoehorning them in to an existing schedule of habits, or just replacing some of the old with the new. A Dagwood sandwich sounds great – you could have everything. But is that what we really need? The way I see it, I often create open-face sandwiches, one piece of bread with lots of ham and cheese, lettuce and tomato; Lots of starting but a struggle to finish.

Oh, for the want of that second slice of bread…
I'm just going to say this: I'm working on it.

The other thing I'm getting back into is running. I tried to find previous posts on running my 5k's and didn't find much. I have to say I've had spotty support for my running; but this time, I have even better motivation and a plan to share in my training and get a bit more encouragment. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Vacation

Lake Tahoe, near Incline Village, CA. August 2010

When you're at home, and you putter around, sleep in, watch TV that you normally don't, make eggs and bacon breakfasts and wander around outside, someone would likely call you lazy.

But, when you putter around, sleep in, watch TV that you normally don't, make eggs and bacon for breakfast and wander around outside looking for pine cones somewhere else, it's a good vacation.

We have to juggle two different, non-synchronized school schedules, so we got away for a few days a couple of weeks ago. Since then, school has started for J and I've just finished up summer term. We're back into the ebb and flow of the school year and vacation seems so long ago ...

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lake area, CA. August 2010
We did far less hiking than we normally do, but we drove around the Mammoth Lake and Lake Tahoe areas, stopping to nap, take photos and sketch. We hit our favorite eating spots in Lake Tahoe (the dinner buffet at Harrah's, the Nestle Cafe at Heavenly Village, and Orchid's Thai). We cooked up some halibut and found some really big pine cones to bring home. I didn't get bitten by any mosquitos. A pretty good vacation, all in all.

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lake area, CA. August 2010

North Lake Tahoe, Incline Village area. August 2010

My Big Bear ♥ at the Mono Lake Visitor's Center. August 2010.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Other fun things to draw


When I bought this plant, it was compact and the rosettes were packed so tightly that you couldn't see the branches. Now, the plant is tall and leggy. I don't remember drawing this plant before, when it was younger, but, boy, is it ever more interesting to draw now, eh?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thankful Friday

Thankful for...

-Great guest speakers for my class, Spencer Nikosey and Kevin Ou, who are doing incredibly fantastic things. We had a great time listening to Spencer and Kevin's stories and all my students got involved, asking questions. It's one thing for them to understand it's important to network and to not be afraid to ask for advice, but it's another thing for them to be excited about their own ideas and actually bounce them off guests and each other. The class was bubbling with excitement; lots of chatter even after class ended at 10pm.

– Taking a class, myself. I got to take Jane LaFazio's Quiltlet class at the Long Beach quilt show. Jane and I met at a sketchcrawl and I've been following her adventures ever since. She does fantastic work with the kids at Mundo Lindo, too. Do you see all that she does?! Jane's my hero. She also wins big points for referring to my guy as 'Hunky Jan', of course. We got to catch up over lunch; it was so good to see you, Jane! xox!

Jane LaFazio

– starting and finishing a quiltlet (a small quilt):

Wendee's quiltlet

It's so good to be able to start and finish things. Me and my ever-decreasing attention span. [sigh]
This was painted then quilted and embellished, about 5-1/2" square on uncoated artist canvas.

- Learning new, dangerous things. Jane goes, "Wendee! Have you seen Spoonflower fabric?!" and I'm thinking, "OMG! Yes! I know of it. I think it would be dangerous for me to actually see real samples... Noooo, don't pull out yours! Aaaaaack!".

I tried to hide my eyes, but Jane, she was just too fast.

Did I really need to know you can control the scale and repeat pattern of your own custom-printed fabric? Noooo. Did I really need to see Jane's fabulously cute apron with fabric printed with her own watercolor brush painting? I think not.

Dangerous, dangerous ideas that threaten the whole "Use it Up" campaign.

- Speaking of UIUtGIA, finding out that some of the UIUtGIA artwork has arrived where it was going.

This one went to my quilting buddy, Donna.

– One of my former students brought me stuff! You'd think that in an industry of people who design and manufacture stuff, that eventually someone would bring by stuff that they'd designed that was finally being sold, in real life, huh? I mean, I'd be excited to see my stuff in the stores ...

So I harrassed erm, relayed my dismay about this, in particular to the students who interned at Vans, because the shoe companies make loads of samples, and, heck, who wouldn't like a spiffy pair of new Vans shoes?

So after teaching for 4 years, one of my students delivered! Cool new shoes! Woot!


[I'm having issues with embedding Flickr images. Bear with me, people]

What a fun week. Have a great weekend all! :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why, yes, it *is* rocket science

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, in what seems a prior life, I worked on this, the RS-68 engine.

The last few times we've driven by the
Discovery Science Center (the one with the cube) in Santa Ana on the way down to Balboa Island, I'd see the banner for the Boeing Rocket Lab and think, "Oooooooooo". 

Note: I'm not a rocket geek. I can't recite rocket history and power rating numbers. Nope, sorry. I don't play with Estes rockets. I do, however, have a great sense of affection for my old rocket pals, support the idea of manned spaceflight, and really like all that fire and steam.

J had to go on a field trip and decided to check out the Discover Science Center. We dutifully checked out the exhibits on Grossology (The Impolite Science of the Human Body), the geology and earthquake exhibits (timely, as there had been one a few days before), the science of hockey, the TinkerToys, the dinosaurs.

"Gah!", I thought, as I got jostled by another little kid running around, "When are we going to get to the rocket engine part?!?"

There, in the cube ...
So, what's the deal with the cube? I had no idea. They didn't explain what the deal was with the cubeness of the cube, even, right there at the Science Center. You'd think they'd make a bigger deal of explaining about the cube, considering that it's SO BIG and it's what you see as you're zipping by on the freeway. And everybody identifies that science center as the one in Santa Ana with the cube. Or maybe I completely missed that placard. I finally checked online and uncovered that the cube is a solar Cube and produces energy for the Science Center.

Me: "Ohhhh".

From the Discovery Science Center website:
"There are three perfect 3D geometric shapes in nature: the sphere, the pyramid and the cube. [Me: and I've had to teach students to draw and shade them all]

Architecturally, the sphere has been built at Disneyworld and the pyramid has been built at the Louvre, the Luxor in Las Vegas and the California State University, Long Beach basketball arena.

The Cube has not been built before.

[I got to this point and thought, "Ever?! What about, oh, the Borg?! That's right, the Borg! Oh, that's in the future. Okay, never mind."]

Thus, Discovery Science Center architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Arquitectonica thought that The Cube would be the perfect icon for Orange County’s science center. The Board of Directors concurred and it was incorporated into the center’s plans."

We got to the cube and noticed it was leaking. They had caution cones around it: Mind your step. J says, "I wonder if it always leaks".

I peered through the perforated metal and went, "OOoooh, the rocket stuff is inside the cube". Hence the leakage.

The water-pressure propelled mini rocket display was cool and all, but it pales in comparison to the real thing as well as memories of real life-size Space Shuttle Main Engine tests.

Did you know the Space Shuttle program is coming to a close soon? Only two more Shuttle
launches, and then, what's next for U.S. manned spaceflight? What's next for all those rocket people?
:( When I was at Boeing, I remember them saying that the Shuttle program would end around 2010, and it seemed like a long ways off. Sort of how the year 2000 seemed like a long way off when I was in first grade. I could barely do the math; that was like 30 years away. Who could imagine? And yet, it happened. All of it happened, and here we are.

What's next up for U.S. manned spaceflight? If I were a real rocket geek, I'd know, huh? Thank goodness for the internet. J responded to my visible concern (he takes these things in stride - that I'd know about the end of the Shuttle program and was so concerned about manned spaceflight): "The U.S. would never stand for the idea of other countries launching astronauts while we weren't".

You think?

So there it was, that big ol' RS-68 engine. Wow. So cool.
J asks, "So, what kind of power do they get out of that?"

And all I could say was, "Gazillions, baby. Ga-zillions."

= = = Happy weekend, all! = = =

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another thing

20100714_MoneyTree Click to see this photo's flickr page
... that made it's way home with me based on its clear potential as an interesting and challenging drawing subject.

I was told by this plant's previous owner, a former student of mine, that it's a Money Plant. So, naturally, we remain hopeful that it's a bit of a good luck charm. I discovered that there's more to this little guy than one would expect.

That's photo and a story for another day ...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Twisty thoughts

20100707_BreadTab Click to see this photo's flickr page
I was toasting my toast, uh, bread the other morning, squinting at the bread bag tab. As with many things in life, I thought, "Ooh, I should save this and draw it".

Yes, this explains the many random things collected around here.

I figured I'd be drawing a nice, small, flat squarish tab: easy peasy. And then, squinting even more, I went, "Hey! What's with all these contortions?! All these extra little teeth! What?!".

When was the last time you looked at a bread bag tab, up close? When did closing up and securing a bag of bread become so serious and complex a task?

I've discovered that in matters of bread bag closing, when we get down to the last 4 or so pieces of bread, the tag disappears. Either it breaks, I'm guessing, or it flies off and disappears into the gap between the stove and the countertop, or someone else [ahem] is too impatient to twist the bag tightly enough to fit the bag through the hole of the tab. It's quite an art, holding the bag at its end with one hand, then giving the bread a good healthy twirl and watching the bag spin itself tightly enough so that you can wedge it all back into the little plastic tab. There are small flourishes in every day life, and for me, watching that bread bag twirling is one of them. 

So, after having to correct my drawing so that it more accurately reflects what I'm seeing and pondering it all, I'm guessing the tabs on the outsides are part of some continuous manufacturing. They seem like the little nubs left and right would fit and lock into place, side by side. I can imagine these being stamped out or being injection molded, by the gazillions. Ka-chung, ka-chung, ka-chung.

But those extra teeth in the actual cinching hole?

Life really has gotten to be quite a challenge, hasn't it, that we need just a little bit more tooth, to keep everything tied together, to protect what we have when there's just a little bit of ourselves left that we're trying to keep tidy, to keep things from falling out or drying up...

It's serious business, this little bread bag tab, and this life.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


20100626_Zentangle Click to see this photo's flickr page

When I saw my buddy Karen Blados's zentangle , I was instantly curious *and* inspired! After a quick internet search, this is what I discovered:

The Zentangle® art form and method was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle® is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at

From the website:

"What is Zentangle?

Zentangle is an easy to learn method of creating beautiful images from repetitive patterns. It is a fascinating new art form that is fun and relaxing. It increases focus and creativity. Zentangle provides artistic satisfaction and an increased sense of personal well being. Zentangle is enjoyed by a wide range of skills and ages and is used in many fields of interest.

We believe that life is an art form and that Zentangle is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life. Explore our web site and learn how you can use this wonderful and uplifting discovery."

There are lovely examples on their blog as well

I have to admit that I haven't taken a course or gone through the workbook and am just winging it after looking through the website. I love the idea of meditative doodling and it's been a very nice way to start the day. I'm a wee bit tempted to become a Certified Zentangle teacher or attend a Zentangle Master Class. [sigh]
See a few more that I've done at my Zentangle set .

After making it up as I went along, I found a Squidoo lens that explains how to make your own zentangle. Why don't you give it a try? ;-)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This ...

is what the 'Give It Away' part looks like.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All the colors of the rainbow

So, where was I?

I spent some time over the last few weeks thinking about my art supplies. I enjoy reading other artists' comments about materials, and particularly, the colors they use in their palettes. Since I recently taught a course that included color theory, I thought I'd try simplifying my backpack and carry a paint kit outfitted with just the three primaries. So I did test swatches of my reds, blues and yellows and came up with a combination that I carried with me for a few weeks. I kept a muted set in a smaller Altoids tin (on the left side of the painting below):

20100528_SketchStuff Click to see this photo's flickr page

This is what I learned:
–  I'm too impatient to mix up my greens and purples from these primaries. For the painting above, I didn't mix the greens. Oh, heck, no.
–  I like my colors; I really love the cool and warm and neutral versions of my primaries, and I like the different versions of secondary and tertiary colors too. Why did I ever think I could be happy with just three, muted primary colors?
–  I don't paint with orange. Like, ever.

Another thing I realized is that I don't squeeze enough paint out of the tubes, trying to not waste any of it. I end up having to squeegee out pigment from my barely-loaded brushes onto my pages, or end up with washed out colors after the paint has dried on my notebook pages. Lots of water, but just a little bit of pigment. Ugh.

So after not-too-much thinking, I decided to give those tubes all a good squeeze and go on a 'Use it up' campaign. Paint isn't going to do much good being conserved, languishing and drying out unused in tubes sitting in a bin next to the dryer. Squeeze as much life and color out of what you have!

Sounds good, huh?

I ran into a hiccup in this plan, when I finally realized that my honey-based paints were too goopy for me. I'm messy to begin with, yes?, and although I love how soft and buttery the M Graham watercolor paints are, I started to realize that many of them stayed moist enough to be a bit of a challenge for me just to store. I’d try to squeeze out a sample size from a tube and end up with stringy threads of paint (think: honey) leading from my palette, across my table and smeared on my fingers. The kicker, though, was when I realized that some colors actually absorb moisture from the air in humid environments and then they get even MORE runny. I discovered this over Christmas in Hawaii, a big puddle of cobalt green dripping from my paint kit. Egh.

I read through a few blogs of artists and read carefully the part that would have alerted me to this problem and tried a few more brands.

You're thinking, “Hey! Buying new paints?! How is that 'Using it Up'?!”

[I'm ignoring you]

So, I looked at color charts on my computer for a few more weeks, peered at other artists’ suggestions and loitered in front of the paint rack in the student store as if it were the frozen entrée aisle at the market, and slowly filled in my collection with Daniel Smith and Schmincke tubes that dry nicely in my travel paint kits so I can toss them into my backpack, and they re-wet nicely.

Yeesh, what an ordeal.

The good thing is that I'm set to go and have plenty of paint to go there with.

20100616_palette Click to see this photo's flickr page

I’m going to use up the honey-based paints, and the not-so lightfast paints as well. I was a little concerned about this – paints that will fade unusually quickly. The only nonpermanent expression of art that I could think of that seemed worthwhile was, well, food, but in this case, I figure: What the heck: Use it up.

I have papers and paints and want to go ahead and use them. If you’ve gotten this far, here’s the deal. I was going to post the ‘Use It Up’ (UIU) series and have people let me know if/which ones they wanted and send them (the little paintings, not the people) off to new, good homes. But, lying up late at night, I thought, what if people have stopped reading my blog to the point where no one will be watching for my UIU art? The horror!

[Do I over-think things much? Give me a sec to mull over that.]

So, whatever. This is what I’m going to do: I’m going to make art and send it off to people whose mailing addresses I have, that I owe some art to. And ask for people to let me know if they're interested. If I have a list, I figure I’ll feel more obligated to stick with this whole ‘Use It Up’ campaign, which, in my head, was more like ‘Use It Up, then Give it Away’, anyway. If you (you, in Canada and Scotland and Germany. Yes, you) want to help encourage this, email me your mailing address. wendeedesign [at] yahoo [dot] com.

I’m planning to give life and those tubes a nice healthy squeeze. Anyone game?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Summer!


Since the European football (soccer) leagues are through for the season and 'Dancing with the Stars' is done and the long semester is finally done it's like I finally have my sanity back. It's like I have it back, not that I actually do.  A new teaching gig and the constant preparation for two new (to me) classes expanded to take up all my time and (more critically) focus. Now that the semester is done, I'm spending less time worrying about coming up with assignments and grading them, and WAY less time commuting.

Just wanted to let you know I hadn't driven off the edge of the Earth (my commute was far enough that you'd think I had tried, though) and that I've really been wanting to get back to hiking, painting and writing. Happy summer, indeed!!

You didn't expect that we'd watch (English) football, did you?


Friday, April 02, 2010

Hugs and Kisses

"Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale."
- Anonymous quotation

Four years ago I met the nicest big Bear.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Remembering Norm

[Wherein we confirm that my choice in words sometimes has very little to do with what they actually mean to everyone else, but much more what they mean, apparently, just to me]

On Sunday, March 21, the first day of spring, my school lost one of its most beloved instructors, Norm Schureman. I received a message from one of my classmates, and by the time I’d called her back and returned to plug into the internet, there was already a message from the school president relaying the very sudden and tragic news and a flurry of posts on Facebook.

The past ten days have been hard for the school, for our department (I teach in the same department as Norm), and for our students. There’s been an outpouring of support in ways that no one could have quite imagined. There was an impromptu memorial service the very next evening. A physical memorial of student work grew to stretch almost the full length of the bridge walkway on campus, with sketches (copies as well as original work), cards, projects, notes and photos taped to the railing, throughout the week. There were flowers and candles, messages scrawled with chalk on the walkway, a six-pack of beer. Last Sunday, the school hosted a formal service and reception. We estimate that over a thousand people attended, some flying in from out-of-state, some from overseas. Hundreds more logged into the live webcast.

I’ve had people comment about mourning a colleague, that from the outpouring of emotion, the group must have been remarkably close. I forget sometimes, that there’s work that goes from 9 until 5. In school and in teaching, you learn quickly that interactions don’t work when classes end; the learning doesn’t stop at 5pm, or 10pm, or even after Friday, or ever. I’ve been lucky, a few times, also, to have worked with people that you genuinely … like. The faculty and staff in our department were best of friends; not just co-workers. It’s been sad and hard to continue on; it’s been hard to accept that this idea that Norm is gone.

For Norm’s service, our department chair asked for words, just descriptive words, that she could share. I’d been mulling over this for a while. What I would take from my experiences with Norm? My word, I decided, is ‘fierce’. J asked me, “Don’t you mean ‘fiesty’, perhaps?”. Norm was fiesty, indeed. But he was fierce.

Norm expected a lot from his students. In design, you communicate visually through sketches: you draw. A lot. In a school reknown for its design programs, you don’t just learn to draw, but you learn to draw like a fiend. We had drawing/sketching classes for at least three of our four years there. Compare this with the 1–1/2 to maybe 2 years of math I took when I studied engineering. Drawing is as fundamental as, say,  breathing. After we had learned to draw the basic shapes and could render them in appropriate materials, then we got Norm, and he taught us to draw dynamically, and passionately, with our own voices, confident and strong. He held the standard high. He was tough, but supportive and caring and always had us coming back for more. Did I mention Norm was tough? I admit that it took me a long, long time to warm up to his brand of tough love.

The other thing you learn in design is to think. You have to think broadly and quickly, without boundaries, then be able to assess your options and choose the best ones to go forward with. The other core classes Norm taught were Design Process and the beginning Product Design courses. He taught us to stretch, to follow through with our strongest ideas, then build them to make them real. We’d present our ideas and he’d pause, pull his glasses down the bridge of his nose and peer at us over those glasses, intensely, challenging us, without even saying a word. Everyone experienced that look; we all wanted to rise to meet the challenge; we all wanted that hearty smile and hug that affirmed for us that we’d done a great job. There is a lot of work you can go through to make yourself happy and satisfied with the final project for any given class. There are few other instructors, though, that we’d work so much harder to please and impress as Norm. We learned to think, all right.

So, Norm was imbedded in classes that are at the very core of what industrial designers do, the very heart of what you’d learn at school when you study industrial design. I imagine that he touched every student that’s gone through our department in the last 20 years. His father taught and continues to teach at Art Center. His nephew just graduated from the department, as well. His family truly is part of our larger, extended family.

What I came to observe and understand was Norm’s deep commitment. He was fierce, in his dedication to our school, to our department, and above all, to his students. That ‘Norm’ look? It was intense – it gave you a window into the fire that burned, yes, fiercely deep in him. And at our graduation shows - no one was prouder than Norm. His love for his family, his friends, of all of nature around him, of life itself – it was all deep, heartfelt and intense.

In looking up the definition, I suppose there are components of fierceness that are not so flattering in this instance: violent, aggressive, angry, menacingly wild, savage, hostile.

Okay, right. So, that is not what I had in mind.

I’d go with the option that reads “Extremely intense or ardent” except that, for me, it lacks a bravery and immediacy. The words feel a bit detached, a bit sterile. Even the modern slang entry “really good” is lacking.

For me, I have to ignore the definition I find on my screen and go with the definition I feel in my gut, the image that I see in my mind’s eye. The word ‘fierce’ works because it gives me a sense of spirit that Norm possessed, that he passed on to everyone around him, that now lives in all of us. We are all just a little bit more fierce in what we do because of what Norm gave us.

He gave us a lot.
And we sure do miss him, something fierce.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Locked and loaded

Someone wrote me and asked, “So are you updating this thing or not?!”.

I, um, decided to go on sabbatical. I found myself, somewhere along the way, going through my days, thinking of how I would narrate everything, put our adventures into words; what witty things I’d sprinkle in. I found myself a bit detached, like a third party looking in, when really I should be doing the living and hiking and painting of it all. It makes for good stories, but I want to enjoy what I have in the first-person and truly be the hero of my own story.

Another thing that happened is harder to explain. I understand that blogs and photos are all the heck open to the whole wide Internet. Even knowing that, I was surprised to realize is how unsettled I felt to think about the unkind people in my life, reading my words, peering into our lives, coming along with us on our vacations.

Yes. Unkind in ways that has someone excitedly say how damn good it is to hear that my relationship (at the time) sucked, because she was sick and tired of getting my Christmas cards and reading how lovely and hunkydory my life was in the Valley, and how good it was to hear that I’m actually horribly miserable like the rest of everyone else.

Yeah. I went, “Heh?”

Unkind in ways like a person gets invited to my (newly single again) 40th birthday party - - a small, quiet party with people I treasure - - and bellows, “Are there going to be any HOT chicks here?!”

Yeah, seriously.

Unkind in those kinds of ways. Not in ways like they lurk and don’t comment. That’s okay. That’s just being introverted. I know what that’s like.

Sure, once you press 'Publish', it’s all out there. It’s a strange thing to be talking to someone and then to realize that they know way more about you than you know about them (in that creepy sort of way), and you think, "Wow, it really is just all out there". I started to feel these people peering in from the outside, their eyes following me left and right, their warm breath fogging up the windows outside my house, watching my life for entertainment, but not cheering any of my adventures or any of the many, small, hard-fought victories. I’d be reminded of them every now and again, in real life: “Oh, hello”.

It was like you finally decide to clean your windows, then find smudged nose prints all over the place, at a height that you know you couldn’t have made yourself. It’s kind of a creepy, unclean feeling.

[I suppose it’s also like realizing that those racy pictures from your Las Vegas trip that you posted on Facebook are searchable by people at places you’re trying to get a job at, but not quite.
This is what I hear, at least.]

You’re going, “Oh, man! Those people SO do not matter!”.

Yeah, yeah.

So I’ve been working, you see, on loading up my rifle and scaring away the unkind people, cleaning my windows of the reminders of their grubby fingers and noses. I’ve come to a place, finally, where I’ve missed you more than I’m upset about being followed around by ghosts of unkind people.

I’ve missed my bloggy buddies, new and old.

You know the secret knock to get in. Don’t mind the Big Bear. And if you feel like it, yes, please do bring along your weapon of choice. xox

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chopped Off. Yep.

Crikey! I just climbed out from under my rock and realized I have not updated this since [gulp] last year... You would not believe that my hands were chopped off and I was waiting for bionic ones. See? I told you that you wouldn’t believe! I hope you still love me!

I am absolutely consumed with: an awfully big adventure, hoping you haven't found other blogs that wander around pensively, just generally being asleep, dreaming and chancing to my local police. My day seems to be packed from 4am to whenever. I am avoiding recapture. But who cares?

I send you kisses. I will make more of an effort to blog more often until the nice men in the white coats come back. Seriously! What do you mean you don't believe me?

---> Confused? This post courtesy of Lazy Blogger’s Post Generator. The last time I did this I think people were confused, too. Apparently I'm still avoiding recapture.

---> I'm very sloooowly poking at this blog, making changes. Sorry about the dust.