Eleven days off work gave me lots of time to do fun things. Honestly, I spent most of it in kitchen and you can see that in the patterns that developed here. It was all entirely unintentional. I draw the large shapes first and then fill it in with whatever comes to mind. It seems so obvious now but I didn’t even notice the food references until I was all done. It’s been over a year since I completed one of my drawings–it feels good to be back at it.
I usually start designing my holiday cards late summer/early fall. I’ve been preoccupied with other activities and decided to skip it this year.
One of my preoccupations has been learning linocut. Then I thought, maybe I can meld the two. I designed the snowflake below with pen and paper, then transferred the design with the infamous pencil shading technique. (See Method 4.)
Each print was made by hand, with varying levels of success, using only paper and inks I had on hand. The papers’ smoothness varied wildly. When the cards were finished, I used the linocut to print on recycled Amazon packing paper that will be used to wrap presents.
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. The view out the window above the sink is over my neighbor’s backyard, across the side street, and into the parklike property of the medical center.
I love the strong lines and balance created by the structures: the picket fence that surrounds the property, the large and low deck, and the red brick medical center. This time of year, the leaves are gone, leaving bare branches and squirrel nests.
At one time PInterest and Facebook were flooded with images and videos of bowling ball size ice balls. Fantastic patterns radiated from the center, and the colors were beautiful. The ice balls were made by filling water balloons, adding to each a couple drops of food coloring, and leaving them in freezing temperatures for several days. I had to try it.
When the weather turned colder here, I bought some balloons. Water balloons the size I wanted weren’t available so I just bought regular balloons. I also didn’t have any food coloring, so I skipped that, too. When the weather was well below freezing, I filled the balloons inside and carried them outside, setting them on the grass. A couple of days later the balloons began to tear and like an egg opening, an ice sculpture emerged.
I’ve done this several times now with smaller balloons, and with balloons of varying proportion. Sometimes concave bowls develop, other times solid spheres form.
Above are photos of some of my best results. In 2017 the bowls melted the same day. In 2015 they lasted a few days.
I start thinking about my holiday card around mid-summer. There are three stages to my process: design, engineering, production.
By September I’m usually already experimenting with paper and other materials. (If I don’t have a final design by early October I’m in trouble.) Once I have a design I like, I break it down into its most basic elements and record the size of each piece. Then, in almost assembly line fashion, each card is constructed.
I created my first card in 2001. Below are seven of the cards I’ve created since then. I don’t always remember to save one for myself, so there are quite a few missing.
The drawing is based on the cumulative children’s song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, also known as I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, and I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.
I know an old lady who swallowed a fly,
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
I guess she’ll die.
I know an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
I guess she’ll die.
She goes on to swallow a bird, cat, dog, goat, cow and horse.
At the bottom of this drawing you can see the old woman’s head tilted back, her mouth wide open and her tongue sticking out, waiting to accept her deadly feast. Her big nose is visible too but her eyes are outside the frame.
The large mass at the top is a horse’s head. Inside the horse’s head is an entire cow, set at an angle. Inside the cow is the goat. Inside the goat a dog, then a cat, bird and spider.
Like many people, I’ve always loved looking at maps. The idea of taking invisible elements like property lines and borders and having them appear defined both confuses and amuses me. I started my map study with the two places closest to my heart, Chatham and Highland, NY.
Advertising poster for 2015
I’ve enjoyed designing each year’s the Farm Film Fest poster since the first event in 2006. For the poster each year we use a picture as the focus, usually stock art. This year I wanted to do something different, I wanted to incorporate my graphic drawings with graphic design. The samples above was done entirely by hand. I didn’t trace or copy anything I didn’t think up or create. I did five or six other full iterations of this final poster before I knew I was done.
In early fall, 2012, the Columbia County Council on the Arts announced a juried show called Poets and Painters. Artists were asked to enter work that was inspired by poetry. The piece I submitted was inspired by an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Third Elegy.
Mother, you made him small, it was you who started him; in your sight he was new, over his new eyes you arched the friendly world and warded off the world that was alien. Ah, where are the years when you shielded him just by placing your slender form between him and the surging abyss? How much you hid from him then. The room that filled with suspicion at night: you made it harmless; and out of the refuge of your heart you mixed a more human space in with his night-space. And you set down the lamp, not in that darkness, but in your own nearer presence, and it glowed at him like a friend. There wasn’t a creak that your smile could not explain, as though you had long known just when the floor would do that… And he listened and was soothed. So powerful was your presence as you tenderly stood by the bed; his fate, tall and cloaked, retreated behind the wardrobe, and his restless future, delayed for a while, adapted to the folds of the curtain.
Look closely at the patten and you’ll see that the top half (the horizontal top half) and the bottom half are mirrored, only the shapes are filled in reversed. As daughters, we fight to be different from our mothers, yet as our life nears its completion, we find out how very similar we really are.