Friday, December 16, 2011

Dinosaur Fantasy

            As every right-thinking six-year-old will tell you, dinosaurs are awesome.  (I'm a big fan of dinosaurs myself, and am especially fascinated by the evidence that has led to the discovery that many therapods were feathered.  Definitely cool stuff.  Too bad most dinosaur fiction is behind the times on this one, but oh well...)  It's certainly no surprise that dinosaurs should feature in many a fantasy or sci fi tale, from The Lost World by Doyle (1912) and The Land That Time Forgot by Burroughs (1918) to Jurassic Park by Crichton (1990).  Interacting with dinosaurs is high on any list of geek fantasies.  Here are a few dinosaur books we've enjoyed in our family.

    The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth - A farm boy discovers a large egg laid by one of his hens, and out hatches a triceratops.  How to take care of "Uncle Beazley," how to find him a home at the Smithsonian… and how to deal with politicians getting up to their usual political shenanigans are the challenges faced by our young hero.  This is a fun and funny tale, with the feel-good spirit of "Mr Smith Goes to Washington," combined with gentle satire of the foolishness of the powerful, and of course the fun of a giant dinosaur in 1950's New Hampshire.

    How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague - Perhaps this isn't really a fantasy book… but what else would you call it when parents everywhere try to enforce bedtime on children who are full-sized dinosaurs (and a couple other prehistoric reptiles)?  The funny rhyming text pairs wonderfully with the bright paintings full of clever details.  I knew we'd found a winner when two-and-a-half-year-old T commented that her fussing brother was "sort of like a corythosaurus."  (This book spawned an entire series, but I remain loyal to the original.)

    Captain Raptor and the Space Pirates by Patrick O'Brien and Kevin O'Malley  - This graphic novel is a masterful mash-up of all the cheesy old space adventure tropes with… dinosaurs, of course!  Our hero is a space-suited velociraptor, flying his trusty spaceship with his loyal dinosaurian crew.  It's an old tale made new and enjoyable, because who could resist Dinosaurs In Space?  Definitely not me or my nine-year-old son P!

    Dinotopia by James Gurney - Once again, it's the pictures that really make this book.  The concept is "Lost World"-ish: shipwreck survivors pitch up on an island where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have survived, and developed a society jointly with humans.  It takes the form of an explorer's journal, so although there is a certain unfolding of plot, it's really just an excuse to show all kinds of fun possibilities for such a dino-human civilization.  We get to see everything from dung collection to the loftiest ceremonial monuments, along with notes on Dinotopian writing, timekeeping, architecture, etc.  This book is most enjoyable for browsing.  Younger kids won't read it through, but they still love the pictures.

            Also worth mentioning are: 
    Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff - Okay, I never cared all that much for this one, but for a generation or more it was the book that introduced the fantasy of having a dinosaur for a friend.

    The Strictest School in the World by Howard Whitehouse - I've mentioned this book before (here) but since it features pterodactyls, I had to include it here.

    Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne - Again, not a book that inspires any passion in me (I find the whole series pretty insipid), but it is a good representative of many kids' first book about travelling to the time of the dinosaurs.  I do appreciate the attempt to get kids excited about non-fiction topics and about using their imaginations.

            I conclude with the traditional Dinotopian farewell: Breathe deep.  Seek peace.

    [Pictures: Uncle Beazley out for a walk, drawing by Mark Crilley, from The Enormous Egg, 2009;
    Tyrannosaurus Rex, painting by Mark Teague, from How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, 2000;
    Captain Raptor, painting by Patrick O'Brien, from Captain Raptor and the Space Pirates, 2007;
    Treetown, painting by James Gurney, from Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time, 1992.]
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Almost done!

    "Mason" ( see all proofs)
    © rebecca collins / artpaw.com



    Mason is shipping out later today, I enjoyed working on this pretty boy. The above sample is the one my client chose, and I love that colorful wooden background, I created it from an old door I shot in Italy this year.  I proofed Mason back on the 6th I think, sometimes folks need a little extra time to choose.  I really like the one she picked.

    As of today I think I can officially state that everyone that ordered by posted deadlines and approved one of their provided samples will have shipped. Yay! I have 2 clients to provide updates on and that will happen this weekend.  I have not really had a day off yet this month, but I will be taking one day off next week to get my own holiday shopping done. I am looking forward to that.

    4 more late orders to proof and I will be officially done with creating digital portraits for the month.Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tips For Shopping Art on-line and off


    This year I started my Christmas shopping very early for Dan and started buying on Etsy and also from one of our favorite print makers and painters. So many people are trying harder and harder to avoid Kmart and Target and instead support small business owners and independent artists.  With that said, many still wait till the very last minute to get on-line and shop and they also tend to expect factory style big-box service from smaller providers. This year I bought a small assortment of inexpensive stocking stuffers for Dan from Etsy, and if one item is late, I am not really going to loose sleep over it. Actually one gift item is taking forever, and it is totally my dumb... it is shipping from Malaysia after all. It is just a tiny little $4 item so no, I am not going to message the seller in a frenzy and ask for tracking ... it will arrive when it arrives.


    Here is my top 7 List For Shopping with Independent Artists:

    #1 Try to find local sales events where you can have the fun of meeting and talking with the artist in person.

    #2 When shopping on-line try to start early.

    • #3 Etsy Tip:  Check out their left hand menu at the bottom and under ways to shop choose "Shop Local", enter your zip code and buy from folks in your area ... your items will arrive quickly.


    #4 If you are buying just one important gift for your spouse or relative, be sure and buy with enough shipping time factored in ... when in doubt ask if you can purchase overnight or 2-day delivery. Once an item leaves the artist's studio they are not in control as to how fast it gets delivered.

    #5 If you are buying a lot of stuff on-line for people do yourself a favor and in order to stay organized print out an image of each item you buy. Just print the browser window and place it in a file folder.  Then if a package does go missing at the very least you can wrap that photo-image up in a comically over-sized box and tell your recipient that their gift is on its way.

    #6 There are tons of talented and organized artists out there that are hustling very hard right now to fill holiday orders for people. Remember that they are usually just one person handling shipping, e-mail, creating the product and so on ... cut them some slack and if they do not reply to an e-mail right away know that it is probably because they are either creating art, shipping art, or trying to collect payment for their art.

    #7 Pat yourself on the back and know that in addition to purchasing an original handmade item you are supporting the arts!

    Ok, last blog post from me until Friday when I hope to report that Art Paw's holiday shipping is done. I will not be answering the phone for 48 hours so leave a message. My blinders are on and I am in the home stretch .... going to get November clients shipped and all the late after posted deadline people proofed this week.Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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Carving Water

            Water is always tricky to portray in art, but at least paints, with their liquid texture, tranparancy, and ability to blend, seem like a natural medium for trying to capture water.  But relief block printing?  How do you portray something totally liquid and transparent by carving something totally hard and opaque?  My two most recent prints, which I finished carving during my last two shows, were (entirely by coincidence) both water scenes.  I tried slightly different techniques on each, and it got me
    curious to look around for some different examples of water portrayed in block prints.  As for mine, I don't think either is entirely successful, although I'm rather taken with the water in the Cormorant block, mostly just because it's a bit different from anything I've done before so it seems more interesting.
            So, here's a pretty straightforward depiction of a bay by Louis Moreau in 1910.  It's got lines in a wavy pattern, with just a bit more black to indicate dark reflections.  It looks watery enough, but it's very stylized.
            By contrast, here's a piece with remarkably photorealistic water.  Indeed, it's based on a photo of nothing but waves.  When the water is all there is in the entire piece, the artist (Vija Celmins) really has to get those details right because the viewer doesn't get any other visual cues.  This piece is all about copying those organic shapes exactly from a snapshot of nature.






            Here's some very serene water, depicted by… nothing.  For the most part the water isn't carved at all (or is carved entirely away, depending how you think about it), but you know it's there because of the scenery.  The absence of any wave lines gives the scene a feeling of deep peace.
            And here's the opposite: raging water… but once again pretty stylized.  I like the few white circles in amongst the lines that make up the waves.  This is done by Lynd Ward from one of his graphic novels.

            In terms of a really different technique, here's a cool example of one of the few ways in which hard wood comes out with a watery advantage.  This artist (Merlyn Chesterman) has used the grain of the wood for the texture of waves.  I love it!  It must be fun to search for wood with the right sort of grain lines, and then build the scene out of the grain that nature gives you.
            Lots of other pieces I've shown in other posts feature water, as do lots more of my own pieces.  After all, we do live in a watery world so water is bound to show up in a lot of art.  Keep your eyes open for all the different techniques printmakers use in the quest for the wateriest water!

    [Pictures:  Cormorants at the Old Pier, rubber block print by AEGN, 2011;
    A Quiet Place on the Journey, rubber block print by AEGN, 2011;
    Nice (Promenade des anglais), woodcut by Louis Moreau, 1910 (image from Pierre Alechinsky);
    Ocean Surface Woodcut 1992, woodcut by Vija Celmins, 1992 (image from the National Galleries of Scotland);
    Landscape, woodcut by Sigge Bergstrom, 1909;
    Illustration from God's Man, woodcut by Lynd Ward, 1929;
    Life Rock, Bear Rock, God's Finger, woodcut by Merlyn Chesterman (visit her web site here.);
    Piping plover, rubber block print by AEGN, 2008.]
    Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Miscellany


    My mother painted this portrait of me when I was twelve years old. It's the first one she ever painted, before she ever took an art class.


    This is the sight that greeted me when I went to get into bed last night.


    Molly, dancing on Thanksgiving.


    Sarah, on stilts.


    Spot, lounging on the deck.


    Christmas lights in our neighborhood.



    See those "fingers" of blue light on the left side of the tree? They made sparks flying down from the branches, like little fireworks... hard to describe, but it looked cool.

    Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lost and Found

    On our recent trip to Hawaii, I was wearing my only real (except for my engagement ring) piece of jewelry, a gold chain with a diamond pendant that I have had for years. It looked a lot like the photo, but it was yellow gold and the diamond was smaller.


    We had been putting my necklace, along with other things like cell phones and watches, in the room safe. One day when I came back to the room the maid had been there and our room had been cleaned. I went into the bathroom and on the counter, in the soap dish, I found the golden bale (the little part that holds the diamond). It was just the empty bale, no diamond and no chain. I couldn't imagine what had happened to the rest of the necklace.

    We called housekeeping to ask the maid how she had found the empty bale. She came to the room and showed us where she found the bale, but had seen no sign of the diamond or the chain. We were stumped; what had happened to the necklace? I began searching every inch of the room, looking under everything and all along the edges of the carpet. Of course there was no sign of the necklace in the safe, where I thought I had left it.

    While I was searching, there was a knock on the door. A very professional looking man introduced himself as the security manager. He asked me a lot of questions about where I kept the necklace and when I had last seen it. He wanted to see the box I kept the necklace in, and inspected the remaining contents of the safe. He was writing down everything I said on his notepad. He called the maid to join us in the room. She repeated what she had told us, how she found the empty bale laying on the floor. He had asked her to bring her vacuum and they proceeded to dump the contents out on the bathroom floor (It was a large bathroom). He went through the dust and dirt pretty thoroughly and found nothing unusual. They cleaned it up and left, saying they would be back.

    The security officer, the maid, and an assistant manager came to the room next. They said they were going to take the vacuum outside and search the contents more thoroughly outside where the light was better. I stayed in the room and waited, still searching through everything. A while later, there was another knock on the door. It was the security officer. He had the loose diamond in his hand! They had finally found it inside the vacuum cleaner. Amazing! Of course I was relieved and very thankful. We finally decided the necklace had been dropped or had fallen onto the floor and was run over by the vacuum.

    When we came home I had to have the diamond reset in the bale and buy a new chain. I am still amazed how they found the diamond in the vacuum cleaner. Wow. I was pretty lucky, I guess.Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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I adore Post It notes!

    Later today I plan to get out and catch some art sales. Right now I am working on project updates .... and it just dawned on me how much I love post it notes.  When an order comes in I place it on the calendar and place a post it note with a date on it and then with a magnet I  place it on the metal project board. If it ends up needing changes ... it gets another post it note... if it is pending payment ... another post it note.

     For awhile Whitman had a bad habit of pilfering them off my desk and chewing them up.... so I went to the kitchen and grabbed a little coffee mug to store them in.  I really like the hot pinks ones best.


    Below is a fun video on other less productive, yet more creative uses for post its.



    Source URL: http://artcatablogue.blogspot.com/
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