January 29, 2007

Homemade Greetings

Chubby round faces seem to be on my mind a lot lately. Could it because of this one? Yes, perhaps. In any case, February is a multi-birthday month around here, and I've resolved to not buy any commercial cards any more. If I can help it. Here is one I just made for Flora, soon to be a year wiser.

January 26, 2007

Foam Core + Wire Hangers + Hot Glue Gun = ?

Desk-side shelves! So my desk? Measures three feet by two, which is just not really enough space to put anything. To remedy that, I just whipped up (I think it must have taken something like 45 minutes) some shelves with pieces of foam core I found in my craft cabinet. They just happened to be of three varying sizes, so I ended up with that pleasing tiered effect. I anchored them to the wall with wire hanger wire: basically, I shaped 6 V's out of the wire and then bent the angle of each V up 90 degrees. Then I hot-glued the long V parts to the underside of each shelf (making sure the long parts span most the shelf depth for extra weight support), and hung the shelves from screws. Here is what the underside ended up looking like:

Oh, and you know how the glue gun tends to carry a label saying the glue is hot? Yeah. Turns out that's true.

January 23, 2007

Welcome to My Underground Lair

I hope you like your quasi-futuristic clothing... I designed it myself.

Remember this WIP? So this is aparently what I imagine a secret underground lair would contain in its various rooms.

It's always very important to stock up on Penny-Farthing bicycles, Erlenmeyer flasks, and test tubes of all sorts.

Also key is the closet-o-superhero/villain-outfits, for the extrapowered adventurer on the go.

Finally, remember to allow for a portal to the sky when including a rocketship.

Brand New Artist

Misha taught Lara how to use my colored pencils - and so we now have this beautiful drawing. I love those arched lines.

As I post this, I am laughing a little bit on the inside - you see, I really REALLY don't much care for abstract art. If I am being honest, for me true fine art (as opposed to decorative art, which has its place and requires talent but does not compare) ended somewhere at the end of the eighteenth century. My personal theory is that the Impressionists came along, looked at some Jean-Louis Davids ("Death of Marat," anyone?), and thought, "Well, there's no way I'm ever going to make that happen, so how about I just daub paint on a canvas randomly?" And so on with each new, less figurative, less time-consuming, less technique-intensive style. Once I walked into a museum to see a large white canvas with a black number 4 in the middle. The painting was titled "4." Really?

In college, a friend of mine tried to convince me otherwise, arguing basically that abstract art was an expression of process rather than product; in other words, that what was great about Jackson Pollock (don't get me started) was that you could see the movements of his body in his work and trace the flow of paint on the canvas. I'm still not buying it for adults, but what I love about those arched lines is their representation of the movement of Lara's little wrist. What arm gesture made those squared-off squiggles? I'll have to watch closer next time.

January 21, 2007

Stencils Aren't Just for Mommy!

They're for Daddy too. I love this picture of Misha and Lara. Usually all the photos we take are sort of still - or at least camera-aware - but there's so much movement in their bodies in this one that it's perfect for distilling into the stark black and white contours of stencils. Now the real question... what should I put this on?

January 16, 2007

All Bets Are Off

Have you ever heard of King Ludwig of Bavaria? He was this totally wacko king who bankrupted his country in the 19th century building extraordinary castles in the mountains - castles which were built in styles that hearkened back several centuries. It's as if you suddenly started building yourself a Baroque manse to go into your acre lot. When we visited my mom in Germany, we went to see the most famous of these castles, Neuschwanstein, a gorgeous almost toy-like structure that looks like a young girl's princess dreamscape. It's breathtakingly set amidst dramatic viewing points in mountain ridges (this bridge is one of them - it's where the first photo was shot from), but you are never quite free of the haunting thought of the wastefulness of building it while the country was dissolving.

In any case, several years later, when we moved to Philadelphia, Misha came home one day to announce that among the many, many murals that decorate the walls of this city, he had found one dedicated to King Ludwig. Really? King Ludwig? Here? But why? I didn't particularly believe him, and decided that he must have dreamt it, or mistaken something for the castle - especially since all Google searches proved useless. We had a semi-real bet going about it until yesterday. Randomly walking through a small back street on our way home, guess what we found on the corner of Juniper and Spruce?

So the bet is off, and I'll try to doubt Misha less again. It seems that this is a pub called Ludwig's Garten, with its own mural, not one produced by the city, which is probably why it doesn't show up on Google.

January 13, 2007


I used to love to paint with oils (like this, for instance). I say "used to" because ever since Lara was born there just is no way to accommodate the precariously balanced canvas+easel+brush+medium+turpentine+palette setup, let alone the lengthy painting time itself. So for a while, I didn't paint at all (watercolors are not even remotely a medium I understand), and ended up drawing. Or mostly not. But I think I might have stumbled on the great compromise that is acrylics. Minimal setup, no need for complex easels and things since the drying time is negligible - and, even better, the texture of acrylics which they are wet is as similar to oils as anything water-based could be. Very nice. This is the little starter set I bought myself at an art supply store (I have commitment issues to big tubes that aren't White or Black).

January 11, 2007


Here are a few previews of something I am right now working on. These little images are painted with acrylics on a canvas board, and they are tiny (the gift box one is about 1.5x1.5 inches)! And let me tell you something - you never know quite how obsessive-compulsive you really are until you start painting details on that scale and being absolutely determined to get every infinitessimally small piece just right. Now I've always had a touch of the old OCD - I pretty much think that anyone who makes things with their hands is somewhere on that spectrum - but painting in miniature with a #2 brush when you really need a #1 but were too cheap to buy the full size range in the store? That takes a special kind of relationship with repetitive movements. I apparently have that relationship. I would go so far as to call it love.

Honorable Mention!

Remember that wrapping paper from Hannukah this year? Well, it got an honorable mention in the Whiplash December contest (scroll down)! Yay!

January 10, 2007

Summer in January

My excitement at having cutely altered a piece of otherwise useless clothing is only marginally tempered by the fact that what I've made is intensely unseasonable. Because: summer=yay! While: winter=boo. With that in mind, I give you my old too-short shorts (seriously, I can't believe I ever wore these. Ah, the carefree leg exposure of college!) now made into a reasonably short frilly skirt. The ruffle is made out of some pinstripe fabric from a pair of pants sent to Misha by his grandmother who described them as "knockabout trousers." Neither of us are quite sure what knockabout trousers are, but now I can safely say that they have been knocked about into becoming parts of an apron, and part of this skirt. And there's plenty more knocking about where that came from!

January 6, 2007

Weekend Mornings

Lazy weekend mornings call for pancakes. Well, when I was growing up they actually called for omelets, baked potatoes, and lox (which not suprisingly remains one of my favorite meals ever) - but now times have changed and Lara is the one doing the growing.

This is what the table looks like from her perspective... before she actually gets to it of course. Daddy's lovingly formed pancake letters didn't last three seconds before being devoured.

Of course, no morning is complete without some creating. Lara has recently taken to turning our kitchen into various art installations. Here is one of tupperware. Am I wrong, or is there a real eye to the way they are scattered? Ah, modern art of dischord - it makes everything look intentional and non-chaotic.

January 4, 2007

Hiatus Ending

Sorry, everyone! We've been crazing busily. Or maybe busying crazily. Either way, I'll be back in a flash!