Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some preliminary drawings for the book Sunshine and Sugar. Paul gave me a gigantic Moleskin Watercolor book for Christmas. I'm itching to begin some finals in it. These are fun. Can't wait to get the words next to the pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

There's scraps of paper, twine and sparkly things piling up on my dining room table. Not a lot of time to chat but thought I'd share some pretty packaging I love to do. I stitch together ephemera scraps, tissue paper from last year, and what ever else is floating around. Just has to be recycled. Cleans out the paper bin too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Site for Smoke and Pickles

New Smoke and Pickles website design to be launched soon.

"I never eaten them but I know I won't like 'em"
-Levi Parker
"How will you know you don't like them unless you try them?"
-Alyn Carlson

A couple of weeks ago I posted some of the photos from the 5 month shoot Paul and I have been doing for our friends at Smoke and Pickles. We had a great time this past rainy weekend shooting the last 4 shots on Dan's front porch. One of them had to describe how roll your eyes delicious the S+P ribs are. With a little help from our diva in training talent, Levi, we were able to capture it. As most incredibly busy 6 year olds, he gave us a small window of opportunity to record his delight in devouring the famous ribs. He came on set announcing he'd never actually eaten the ribs but knew he wouldn't like 'em. After a few test shots, wardrobe primping, extra sauce styling on his fingers, Dan handed him a rib and we waited. It was the classic advertising moment of "Will he like it?" He looked it over carefully, sniffed it, took a huge bite and didn't stop eating till it was gone. Paul and I got the the left overs and reenacted the scene at home.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mini Garden Art

Some tiny metal sculptures by Jeff Borden planted in my desktop rock garden.
"The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep".
-Paul Strand
At the beginning of the weekend I spent some time in Providence on the west side and had a great time digging around Rocket to Mars. Found some great treasures, a Simplicity pattern from 1974 for cloth spats, a chair that matches my little Kofod-Larsen, but the find of finds, these little "doodles" by Jeff Borden. Jeff is in his 80's, was a product/toy designer in RI and is a neighbor of Rocket to Mars. These tiny one-two inch high metal sculptures were doodles he would work on as a toy designer when his hands weren't busy. By the looks of them, I would guess mid century. He comes in to Rocket from time to time covered in metal granola and dust, taking a break from his studio. In the last year or so four amazing artists in their 70's and 80's have come across my path who I'm gaga over. Charles Seliger, Walter Feldman, John Udvardy and now Mr. Borden. Very talented and passionate and prolific... still. I think I have grandpa crushes on all these man. And does this mean I truly am just starting my career as an artist? Another 30-40 years, easy? I like that.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November walk in the Dartmouth Massachusetts reserve. Photos- Paul Clancy
"If I had a hammer"
-Peter Seeger/ Mary Travers
Most mornings when I wake, before my eyes are open, there are puppies in my head. You know, the playful "me! me! no me!" ideas that arrive first thing. They bang into each other, chase each others tails and fight over me. This a.m. the list was - ceiling color for the new restaurant in Warren I'm working on, the window drafts in the studio, leaf raking, article for Yankee, and a package for my daughter in Sweden. Fast pups. That was the first 25 seconds. Paul's so good at slowly hatching in the am. I'm almost done with my day by 11:30 he's finally ready to start. So noon is a good time for us to walk, which we did yesterday in Destruction Brook Woods in Dartmouth. A protected reserve with well maintained color coded trails, some of which are named. My favorite being Happy Valley. Taking a walk there makes your life feel like a folk song for 45 minutes. I'm Happy Valley bound... Apparently there's a good cross section of the population here that want life to resemble Peter Paul and Mary. On one visit it's normal to see a middle aged jogger, a pack of urban boys with big low slung pants, 2 women on horseback, a family with 2 dogs and a couple in the their 80's decked out in orange hunting vests, for protection, not sport. Guess we all need it. The stopping and looking thing. Listening. Putting the puppies away. We found splashes of gold yesterday. They made us stop, really stop and look, leaving puppies way behind. The few remaining leafs were glowing lanterns in the bare trees. And the sunlight hitting treetops reflected in the streams were stained glass windows splashed on the ground. I always leave the paths thinking, oh yeah, right, this is vital to do every day. Getting outside. My chickens make me do it. Putting on the boots, filling the pail with fresh water, opening the coop door, smelling manure muffled by pine shavings, noticing the sky, stopping, really stopping, and feeling the warmth of the miracle egg in my hand. I got it. Happy Valley in my backyard.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"And it was at that age... poetry arrived in search of me"
I love this crazy beautiful/ugly hand kit blanket I got at Savers years ago. The relationship I have with it represents a calling of mine. The color thing. I have felt shame in loving the crafty grandma nightmare and haven't known why. The love part was about each square. Every one a very odd combination of colors, stripes that seem randomly put together but when you stop and look.. yikes. The combos take my breathe away. Such untraditional beauty. Black and seafoam green and orange and brown and lime. Did I mention grey and pink? So off the radar. Each square a tiny Sean Scully painting. The shame came when I step back and see a candidate for Stitchy McYarn Pants. It seems there is such shame in the obsessions we all get into. I felt so funny years ago at ad agencies spending sooo much time with my pantone book. I mean 4 days to find 3 colors for a brochure. It just would not leave me alone. I wasn't sated with color at my finger tips. Give me a daily bath in it. My color muse had arrived and wasn't going to let me go till I picked up a brush and started making my own paintings. We can get so panties in a bunch about making the money, becoming famous, accomplished but maybe we just have to allow the obsession to claim us. It's friday. I'm headed to my dear friend, Bruce Winn's pottery studio today. To play with clay. So fun to watch his gigantic hands make tiny teacups. Mud claimed him years ago.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"He had that curious love of green, which in individuals is always the sign of a subtle artistic temperament, and in nations is said to denote a laxity, if not a decadence of morals"
The other night I got to hang out with some of the fabulous and fierce woman of as220's print and design shops. Julia can make me laugh my butt off. She has a way of turning a conversation around? sideways? She threw out the question "Did the film Uncle Buck glorify suburban life and the nuclear family?" Got a hmmm... wha? response. But what followed- "How do we encapsulate this past decade?" Now this was at the very tail end of my Day of the Dead party, and the as220 chick click showed up fashionably late, but we were able to toss it around a bit. Of course it got me thinking about. Color. Some of you may be familiar with my color/politics theory. It's basically this- every wave of political atmosphere can be represented by a hue that explains it all and was frequently used in that decade. A few samples to consider- Turn of the Century- Queen Victoria's mourning kept everyone in check with corsets (Black) but a little ocd had to come out somewhere (Those crazy acid pastels) The 50's- Happy happy happy everything and we are happy (Red) The 60's- Play play play so hard with all of the new chemicals we find in nature and labs (psychedelic rainbow) The 80's- We are rich and little kings and queens that rule the world but not really (The soulless mauve of the Reagans, the fauve color) and then this last decade. Not sure I have a handle on it but I think it might be the color of fear (that baby poop yellow with black in it) All of this has to take in to consideration the scientific and industrial discoveries that got textiles, paint and plastic covering new ground. But I like to think about color being equal to emotion. And maybe that's why I'm heading toward this next decade with as much sun reflecting white I can put in my world. I may miss the baby poop a tiny bit. But then sometimes fear can motivate us to better things.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Yes! I have found the cure for cocklaphobia!"
-Alyn Carlson
I'm making a fresh batch of paper party hats for a little girl named Lucy. Finding some great stuff in the paper bins. She's turning six and that's the age that pink rules. So cute you just want to bite them. Is it because of the missing teeth? Eight is pretty good too. You know how everyone has an age in their mind they are eternally? Mine is eight. Got red sneakers that summer and I think that's why I can never have enough red shoes. Puts me on my bike, going down the big hill on Viceroy Road, trying not to stare at my new Keds. What my paper hats do to people has been fun to watch. Hats are tricky. Everyone says they look awful in hats. I would say 9 out of 10 people checking mine out, say that to me. Actors are the exception and will plop any hat on. But the average person needs a little coaxing. And they find the paper hats are a little more approachable. Paper hats are without question, not to be taken seriously. They aren't made of felt or fur or wool, stuff that's expensive or more enduring. Mine are ephemeral, come from what is headed for the recycling center. They give all the timid cocklaphobics permission to not take themselves seriously, either. To feel 6 or 7 or 8 again. A relief, don't you think? And all of my paper hats look great with red Keds.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"God has put a secret art into the forces of nature so as to enable it to fashion itself out of chaos into a perfect world system"
-Immanuel Kant, Universal Natural and the Theory of the Heavens
This is a painful one. Ever feel extreme gratitude and pain at the same time? While creating a link for my first posting of this blog, I learned Charles Seliger had died at the beginning of the month. He was 83. Self taught and the last living abstract expressionist from the original group that created the term. Just 17 when Peggy Guggenheim saw his talent and decided to show him. And as often happens to me, he was a person who came across my path at just the right time in my life to answer questions and confirm some things I was wrestling with. I found a book on his work about 6 years ago in NY, thought it was interesting, then put it back on the shelf for a future read. 4 years later, on a cold winter Sunday, on the couch with a fire and Paul, I opened it thinking I'd just take a look. But instead I got a little weak in the knees and even weepy discovering his life, his process and seeing his art. Small paintings that were packed with so much life, I quickly realized that's what he was actually painting. The stuff the makes life, life. Paintings that drew you in and said "Come close, no really close". I felt tiny and in awe. His work and story haunted me so much, I some how found the ovaries to track him down and call. His wife Lenore answered the phone. ME-"I'm a huge fan, blahblah, trying to make paintings, blahblah, self taught blahblah" Long silence. LENORE- "Well I think you're very brave. No one does this anymore. Just call people they admire. I used to when I was younger" Then we had a great chat about how they met and she passed my info along to Charles. He called me the next day and it was like having 70 compacted years of the study of art, poetry, history, music and the NY Public Library on the other end of the phone. Tempered with kindness and compassion. In the last year and a half we've exchanged some letters (his written in the tiniest cursive on very cottony paper) he's sent me a beautiful collection of catalogues from his past shows, and Paul and I got to meet he and Lenore at his last show at the Michael Rosenfeld gallery. He's taught me so much and will continue to be my teacher. I've learned I'm autodidactic, I'd been naturally using automatism when I paint, he got me feeling less guilty about my massive book collection, tiny is fierce and beautiful, and that the constant change or chaos in nature within us and outside of us, is what makes life deserve the name life. Like I said, sad and grateful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"We are family. I got all my sisters with me"
-Sister Sledge
My peeps. My clan. Seth Godin calls them tribes. Our family we join not because we were born into it but because we grow into it. In this clan the same things make us itchy, bitchy, smile and want to take action. But there are so many endless options now because of the internet. It's like you're in your favorite store but can only carry so much. I went to the New Bedford Antique Center on Sunday, just to cruise with Paul. I was dizzy in 3 minutes. Trying to keep my pocketbook healthy, I hadn't been in awhile. I got the gimmees so bad. I was overwhelmed, wanting to own so much. I could be so organized with all these great little cupboards and file cabinets. Make so many hats with all these pieces of ephemera. Meditate so comfortably in this chair. My muse was messing with me bad. Needed to put her in her place. Then my dear friend, Arley-Rose's obsession with the font Hobo came to mind. She's always snapping pictures of this crazy little font and posting them. You go on flickr and those tribes are everywhere. So with my little iphone I began to shoot what I found inspiring. I walked out with the same abundance of cash I walked in with but feeling really full with the treasures on my phone. And funny so much of it, related somehow, to a logo I've been struggling with. Got some clarity. One of my wonderful wise daughters once reminded me that in many cultures you eat only a handful of rice because that's what fits in your hand. There may be abundance but without the supa sized bowls we have, your hand serves as the bowl. It's in direct proportion with your stomach. Full and content. One tribe at a time. Now I just have to edit those photos.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Attracting and Saving Sunshine
"A day without sunshine, is like, you know, night".
-Steve Martin
It's here. The end of the summer and I'm saying good bye to walking out my studio door barefoot into my backyard. Summer has really just been 15 minutes long this year. I'm also saying good bye to two fabulous 3 month long projects. My Smoke and Pickles shoot with Dan George and The Dunn family's Mole Hollow Candles shoot. Two dream projects Paul and I have worked our tails off on. How did we get so lucky? Two companies that let us create beautiful photos of what they work hard at and infuse with love. Dan's project entailed jumping in to many of his catering events and on the sidelines capturing his incredible feasts. On non event weeks we got to trace his shopping path by shooting the small businesses that feed him- fisherman, cheese merchants, vegetable growers, and meat purveyors. The Dunn's make a candle that is hand crafted and just makes everything around it beautiful. Staging backyard picnics, a birthday party, a woodland wedding, then inviting some handsome friends to be our models gave us some shots that show off that magical candlelight. The thread through all of this was love. Love in how the products are made, the talented artists that helped, and love of the beautiful and capturing it. Winters can be dark and cold in the church but producing the websites to showcase these photos will be sunshine for me. Thanks for the vitamin C- Smoke and Pickles, Mole Hollow, Roanne Robbins, Cody Nowel, Roseberry Winn Pottery, Beehive Kitchenware, Milk and Honey Bazaar, Charlie, Peter, Alison, Sophie, Lydia, Hillary, Levi, Cameron, Laura, Ian, Abby, Christen and Marc.

Summer Shoots

Just the tip of the iceberg. These are snapshots of the body of work Paul has shot for Smoke+Pickles and Mole Hollow this summer. Stay posted for the new sites in the works now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Are You My Mother?
Last Sunday my two neighbors, Tanya and Bill, my housemate, Charlie, Paul and I built a chicken run for our chickens. We started with a flock of 23. We have 5 now. Coyotes. Do not get me started. My free ranging days are over. Back in March the chicks arrived from the post office just 48 hours old. They can survive fine without food and water for the the first few days after hatching. Opening that box and having the sweet little fluff balls ask "Are you my mother?" is powerful and humbling. Dip each tiny beak in water, feed and then set them under a heat lamp at 90-95 degrees. The frightening ordeal of traveling in that ventilated box for a few days can cause something called pasting. Yup, that means daily washing each chick's bum with warm water and q-tips. So there's a lotta love getting the chicken to adulthood. And giggles. As those personalities and sex traits emerge, pecking order and a rooster's first attempt at crowing on the tiniest scale is the best after dinner entertainment. And that's where I've been every night for the last few hanging out with the girls in their new run. Technically they aren't all girls, 3 hens and 2 roosters. But did you ever meet a rooster who couldn't use just being put in his place a little? Eggs are coming any day now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"I don't want reality, I want magic"
-Blanche DuBois from Street Car Named Desire
As always Tennessee William's characters can explain the meaning of life in one short line. When we get dead tired, weary and overwhelmed, all we want is a little sparkle. Some fairy dust, a whisper of an escape is sometimes all it takes. Hmmmm...white. I want it. Bad. I know, I know I'm always harping about color. Be brave, jump! Do it! Wear the pink and orange. Don't even look at the beige swatches the boyfriend feels comfortable in. But so much of what I crave right now is white. Beautiful empty white. Is it because I flipped my life upside down a few years ago? Reinvented myself in so many ways it's hard to count? I can go in so many different directions at once my to-do list makes my friends scream. Outloud. This church I live in has been a lab for some pretty crazy combos through the years and slowly but surely the light is leaking around each corner. Maybe because I have so much color in my art, my design, the relief of the white is what frames and settles it all. And white is never white. It's pearl, and chalk and kisses, blinks of pink and yellow and blue. Just makes me breathe bigger, deeper. Sigh. Magic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Some of my favorite things that bring and capture light. A wonderful sea creature I found recently with my little guy at New Bedford's Ocean Explorium, lovely white furniture from Apartment Therapy, my beloved Eva Zeisel, the watercolor paper in my studio in fall light, those bleached carved birdies in my choir loft, the sweet white rock chicken, fun Swedish beetles cups and saucers from Gustavberg, more yummy paper, and these 100% egyptian cotton blankets from Matouk.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

“World peace through better color”
-Alyn Carlson
That’s one of the things I put on my business cards and most people seem to get it. I’ve watched so many of my clients and friends walk into my studio or home and break out in a grin. They lovingly run their fingertips over colored pencils, hold a paint tube in an achy palm, and with their eyes caress swatches of color aid paper. They usually give me a happy glazed look and say something like “You must be so happy working with all this color.” Actually I am.

It was a rumble in my stomach for years. I took a 20 year break from making personal work and craved color so much it just started bubbling up in all my design. I found when I started a project the first thing I did was open the pantone swatch book and listen for direction. When the damm broke and I started making personal work again about 8 years ago, I floated around with an expression on my face similar to the Dalai Lama’s. So why do we walk around starving ourselves? Pick the softest palest taupe and avoid the sexy tomatoe bisque? Afraid? Of what?

One of my favorite rants on that subject is by David Batchelor in his slim little hot pink book, Chromophobia. The more western our thinking is, the more urban we get, the farther away from intense color we find ourselves. Is color vulgar, dirty, primitive? Why should we bother to even consider this right now with all this economic malaise? Shouldn’t we lay low and keep our heads down, no changes, stay as beige as possible, and make ourselves as quiet and small as we can?

Because color = joy. What I love and am moved by every day, abstract expressionist Charles Seliger’s Ways of Nature, my little spring green Roseberry Winn vase, and even my carved bakelite bangles, feed me. I know responsible austerity is wise right now but so is smiling every day.

Hey my demi god, Milton Glaser puts it so well “If you like Mozart and I like Mozart we really have something in common. So the likelihood of us killing each other has been diminished.”

Don’t you just love the color yellow?

Friday, September 25, 2009

As an actor, I find it helpful to do a little color study of the character I'm working on to help articulate who they are. My dear friend, director, and mentor, Pat Hegnauer got me started on this practice 10 years ago. We've collaborated often with these images, paired with her poetry. Here are a few I've created through the years- Stephanie from Tom Kepinski's Duet for One, Flora from Tennessee Williams 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Lady Ninjo from Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, Dull Gret from Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, Mrs. Malaprop from Sheridan's The Rivals, Pope Joan from Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, Constance from Shakespeare's King John, Sister Angelita from Ethan Phillips' Penguin Blues, and the fabulous Molly Bloom from James Joyce and Sheila Walshes' Molly and James.