I took the day off today

Not only was it my birthday (I’m officially 55, but as my doc assures me I can pass for 35, that’s what I’m doing.) but I had a blistering headache for much of the day. It was the first birthday I spent without either of my folks, and honestly it was kind of sad for me in spite of all the kind wishes and good things people were saying on my Live Journal. So I kept my head down and just let the day roll over me. I did have chocolate. That helped.

And now I’m having a ball over at Flickr, joining groups and uploading photos. What a wonderful place that is. The digital age is quite a boon to people who have been inhibited by the cost of conventional photography. Now we can take a chance, we can experiment.

So here are two of my experiments. The first is a chair I saw just sitting under a tree in Lincoln Square. It was posted on my LJ in answer to a friend’s photo of a chair floating down the Chicago river on an ice floe. The amazing peripatetic Chicago chair:

The Peripatetic Chicago Chair

The second is one of the sillier photos I’ve taken of my cat. He’s my special boy and he took care of me all day.

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A brand, spanking new meme

By an old friend over on Live Journal

Name some of your favorite artists. — Start with a hard one, why don’t you? Um… Sargent, O’Keefe, Chihuly (because I adore glass and organic shapes) Vermeer, Atget, Brassai, Whistler, Redon. I love “outsider” art, too. Oh… everyone!

Name some of your favorite songs/pieces of music to accompany creative endeavors. Which ones get your Muses to nudging you? — Mostly I just turn on the radio these days. I listen to the local classical or oldies stations.

Do you do crafts? Which ones? — Sometimes it seems like all of them, but I can pretty much break it down into fiber, light metals and paper. Within those areas, I’ll pretty much try anything.

What are your favorite art mediums? — Used to be pencil, which I still love, but now I’m branching out into acrylics, oil pastels… let’s just say mixed media. I also love working on the computer and in photography.

Which “speaks” to you more viscerally in black and white: a soft, delicately shaded pencil piece or stark, highly-contasted pen-and-ink? — I think a good, simple pen-and-ink will always catch hold of me more strongly, though perhaps that’s because I never got good at it.

Stippling or crosshatching? (And which took you longest to master?)– More crosshatching these days, though I haven’t actually mastered either.

Do you like to mix your media? — I ADORE mixing my media.

If you work in colored pencils, do you softly shade with a continuous pencil movement, or do you crosshatch? — I don’t often, and I will do both, depending on the subject.

Again, colored pencils: which kind(s) do you like? — Whatever I have stowed away in my pencil box. I’m not picky.

Do you collect art? What kind? — Some. And my taste is all over the place. I have very old watercolors and oils, surrealist paintings, photography, drawing, prints, contemporary paintings. The only thing I don’t actually collect is fan art, and even then I still have one Faddis.

Do you paint with oils? With acrylics? Gouache, tempera, watercolors? — No oils, I don’t have the patience. Acrylics and watercolor. Mostly acrylic these days.

Paints: favorite types/brands? — Schminke watercolors and Golden acrylics.

Do you use markers? Which are your favorites? — Only occasionally, and again, whatever is in my marker box is just fine.

Do you prefer to work opaquely or transparently? — I think I prefer transparent work because I can create depth of color with it, but I’ll do what needs doing, you know?

Have you ever used colorless blenders with marker/colored pencil? — Yes, with mixed results. This isn’t the same thing, but I like to layer colored pencil and regular graphite pencil.

Do you work in 3-D, i.e. sculpting or the like? Tell us more! — A little. I’d like to do more. I used to work in polyclay, but I lost interest in it. Now I’m moving into assemblage.

Favorite subject(s) to portray in a work of art? — I tend to draw faces rather obsessively. I like flowers and trees as well, and in my photography, macros are very important.

Are you a font/lettering/illumination/calligraphy addict? When you write text, is the rhythm/placement/appearance of text as important as the words and the idea you’re conveying? — Used to be. Whoever dies with the most fonts wins, nu? But these days I’m more aware that the job can usually be done without ten thousand fonts. What you say and the placement of the text is really a lot more important than agonizing over the exact right font.

Please honor us with an example of your work, if possible (or direct us to your webpage, if you feel comfortable doing so)! I have a few pieces up at Flickr (Account name: Dargie) and I put some ATCs up at the website I’m working on.

Add any arty-farty questions you’d like that you feel are glaringly absent from this meme. Spread it around if you feel inclined.

I’m adding two questions:

As opposed to your favorite artists, who are you greatest influences? — I’m in kind of a no-man’s land here with influences. When I was younger I’d have said the Pre-Raphaelites and a lot of children’s book illustrators. But as I’m moving into other areas in my art, I’m not quite sure who to cite just now. Recently, Michael de Meng has made a big impression on me as has Gregory Colbert, Mary Ellen Marks and a lot of folks who are working in more non-traditional areas. It’s anyone’s guess where I’ll end up.

Do you find that your craft work informs your art or vice-versa? Or does it work back and forth? — Back and forth for me. I find it less and less easy to differentiate between art and craft. I have my eye on Magliaro’s By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary ArtThe Use of Craft in Contemporary Art which seems to address this question to some degree. We shall see.

Cool meme.

Les promenades de Violette

Violette, of the inspiring La Cabane de Violette has created a journal to share her sources of inspiration. Les promenades de Violette begins today, in Versailles, at Le petit Trianon, with some delicious photos of architectural, decorative and fashion details, several of which have now found their way into my digital inspirations notebook.

There’s a (still small) photo album, and some lovely links. I can’t wait to see where Violette goes next.

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Ashes and Snow

I was pleased to see that Ullabenulla‘s links list contained a link to Ashes and Snow, and that she felt, as I and some of my friends feel, that it was the most beautiful photo exhibit she’d ever seen. I was even more pleased to find an article about the photographer, Gregory Colbert, while I was surfing this afternoon. It’s a short interview, and includes a gallery, but you’d be better off checking out the exhibition site.

“We live in species ghettoes. There used to be a diversity of species in places we lived, whereas now, we have very little interaction with other species. When we’re young there’s not that sense of being isolated from other species. Young children are able to speak with animals, and then they get banished.”

— Gregory Colbert, The Book LA.com

Where did you say that was??


One of the things I’ve loved to do in the past, but which has somewhat fallen by the wayside recently, is creating new worlds. This interest has its roots in two other favorite occupations, writing and creating postoids and other ephemera. There have been faux rock bands (Old Dead Guys,) an entire country inhabited by characters all created by me and my sister-friends, Fox and Willow. I’ve even started movements to bring a mountain chain to the midwest. (I hope to get that going again one of these days because I think we could use some elevation around here. I hope to get government funding.) But my favorite creation has to be Gekko, an imaginary country set in an imaginary world.

I’ve worked for years on Gekko, which accounts for the funky quality of some of the earliest pieces of ephemera. Many are fifteen to twenty years old, created before I understood anything about “lossy” compression of computer images. Some are virtually lost, though I keep the originals to remind myself of the ideas behind them. The postoid at the right is based on Donna Kato’s greyhound, Tiger, who accompanied her to work every day. Tiger was a wonderful dog who would show her affection for you by leaning heavily against your leg. I felt she deserved to be commemorated, so I created the “Kato’s Greyhound” stamp. Sadly, I didn’t have a photo of Tiger Chan to work with (Digital cameras and scanners were somewhat out of my price range in those years.) so I had to use clip art. That was, in fact, one of the major features of Gekko for me. I could immortalize anything I wanted, friends, occupations, obsessions, even food! It was a great way to indulge my innate facetiousness.

In the early 90s, I discovered that it wasn’t just me, that other people were creating their own detailed worlds. The work of Donald Evans was a revelation to me, and I was lucky to discover the long out-of-print The World of Donald Evans had recently been reprinted. Sadly, it’s OOP again, and only used copies are available. But for anyone who loves artistamps, this is one of the seminal books to own, IMO. For those of us who create with computers or even rubber stamps and collage, the sight of Evans’ meticulously hand drawn and colored stamps is nothing short of amazing. In his short life he created a remarkable body of work.

Nick Bantock is, of course, one of the most familiar world-builders. His Griffin and Sabine series created a huge interest in the art of collage, and the concept of world creation. He’s one of the co-authors of what is easily the funniest faux travel book ever written, Paris Out of Hand

Not all world-building — or to give it a more common name: geofiction — is as well-known as the above examples. Some people involved in geofic, are gamers, intimately involved in creating not only their own characters, but the truth of the world in which they play. The “Sim” games (many of which I have played obsessively.) and interactive worlds such as “World of Warcraft” or “Second Life” are all good examples of how world building can be used.

And some people, like me, create for the sheer pleasure of creating. You can find more information about geofiction at:

Wiki for Geofiction
The Open Directory Project
The Dutch Geofiction Association

There’s even a book: Dictionary of Imaginary Places

Lucky old me

I consider myself very fortunate to live in the same city that is home to American Science and Surplus I mean, really, how many places on the planet can boast a stock which includes shells, doilies, medical and dental tools, sprockets, robot parts, electrical parts, borosilicate flasks, ginormous macrame beads, Russian uniform buttons, and all manner of empty bottles? The website isn’t pretty but it gets the job done, and the prices cannot be beat.

Picking my jaw up off the floor…

On the strength of my love for Jenny Dowde’s Freeform Knitting and Crocheting I ordered her second book, Freeformations which arrived this afternoon. The jaw thing? Well the book is gorgeous, with lots of color photos of finished work as well as a lot of freeform components. But what really knocked me flat was discovering that she finds inspiration in three software programs that I’ve been using for the exact same purpose: Fractal Explorer, Gliftex and Repligator. I’d also add Apophysis to the list, if you’re really interested in the design possibilities in fractals.

The book is rich with instructions, too, from how to create the fragments shown, to how to create various projects. But beyond that, there appears to be a good amount of material that explores the concepts underlying freeform work, including a fairly comprehensive chapter on color and color relationships. I have to say that I’m very impressed with this book, and I’m really looking forward to sitting down with it, cup of hot tea nearby, and soaking it all in. If you’re remotely interested in the idea of freeforming, this is a great book.