Friday, September 28, 2012
So, I'm still not done sharing photo projects from my summer beach trip. And this one might be my favorite collections photo so far: things found in the bungalow.
The bungalow is a small and simple house that's been in my family for 70 years. It's a treasure trove of memorabilia - there's not a lot of stuff, but the items that remain have stood the test of time throughout four generations of my family spending summers here.
There are games and cards, little jars full of screws and hardware, doohickeys for holding flowers in vases, and golf-club shaped swizzle sticks pilfered from country clubs. There are boxes of fishing tackle and buttons (doesn't everyone's grandparents have a button collection?) and guide books about seashells and birds and saltwater fish. There are ancient paper napkins imprinted with lobsters. Old golf balls. A recipe for clam chowder in my grandmother's handwriting. A wooden box shaped like a crab (with three pennies inside).
A few favorites...
And this wine coaster:
They speak the truth, right? Sadly, my favorite item from the bungalow seems to have disappeared. It was a little plaque that hung on the kitchen wall. It read "THE FOUR SADDEST WORDS THAT WERE EVER COMPOSED ARE THESE DISMAL SOUNDS THE BAR IS CLOSED." (Score! I just bought an identical one on Ebay!)
When I was searching for treasures in the bungalow, I came across a pile of pages from an old photo album. The familiar handwriting led me to believe it was my grandmother's, but after looking at the dates and inscriptions, I realized that the handwriting must have belonged to my great-grandmother. I couldn't identify most of the people in the photos (most of which were taken in the 1920s), but among the album pages, I found the passenger list from the S.S. Rotterdam - a Mediterranean cruise that my great-grandparents took in 1928. I'm assuming that a lot of the photos taken in exotic locations are from their cruise.
Check out the ports of call (Seriously, how adventurous were my great-grandparents?! This was 1928!):
There were also postcards from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to let her know that they had arrived in Athens and Cadiz. And an ancient postcard from the Dead Sea (which really doesn't look like such a fun vacation destination):
I absolutely adore this photo of men and their fish. I hope I'm related to at least one of these guys. Wouldn't this picture look amazing printed out poster-sized and framed?
And an old favorite - my dad and uncle, circa 1941:
So glad that my family of packrats held onto these treasures!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
In March, I had an idea for a new illustration, and asked the readers of my blog for input. I got some fantastic suggestions and your enthusiasm got me really excited about creating a large-scale piece of art.
In June, I started drawing Things That Are Awesome. I drew and drew and drew. I spent every day hunched over my studio table, sketching and inking, and at some points hating my life. I had grossly underestimated how long an illustration of this size and detail would take. It took weeks. Weeks and weeks of near all-nighters, cramped fingers, blurry vision, and questioning why I had undertaken such a task. Weeks of fitful sleep and waking myself up thinking of one more awesome thing that I couldn't fit on my illustration. But I forgot sasquatches! And pet rocks!
Weeks of tweeting my slow and strange progress:
I could've finished a dozen smaller pieces in the time I spent on this one illustration. But in the end, it was worth it. 194 awesome things covering 18x24 inches of awesomeness:
Artscape. It was one of my best-selling pieces at the show, and I was thrilled. People spent a lot of time studying this print, pointing things out to their friends, and laughing. They debated the awesomeness of chicken and waffles. Several people told me "You're right, everything on here is awesome." (Awesome!) One couple bought a print to hang in their baby's nursery. (Double awesome!)
In August, I listed Things That Are Awesome in my shop.
And now, it's September, and I'm finally sharing Things That Are Awesome on the blog. I finally framed it. I finally photographed it. Finally.
This piece was a labor of love and I couldn't have done it without the suggestions of my readers. The fact that this illustration was the result of community involvement made it a hundred times more awesome and kept me motivated to keep going when I was just about to go crazy from those long lonely hours in the studio. I wasn't able to include every suggestion I got (I ran out of room and some were too hard to draw!), but I'm happy that I included at least one awesome thing from every person who commented on my original post. So thank you all for the suggestions, encouragement, and support! And at the risk of turning this post into a cheesy motivational speech (Repeat after me: "I am awesome!") or a drinking game (Drink every time I write the word awesome! That was #16.), I'll say this: You are all awesome (#17) and there is a piece of each one of you in this illustration. I hope looking at it brightens your day and brings a smile to your face.
So hang this poster over your kitchen table, in your baby's room (though be warned, your baby's first words might end up being daiquiri, gin and tonic, or coconut rum), next to your favorite chair, or *record scratch* across from your toilet. I'm not kidding. This illustration needs to be gazed at and pondered...
(Wondering what all 194 awesome (#18) things are on the illustration? I've got them all listed in the item description in my Etsy shop.)
P.S. Remember when I asked for suggestions for this illustration and I promised one of the commenters would win a free print as a thank you? That winner is the fabulous and awesome (#19) Amy Estes! Amy suggested chocolate, bacon, flowers, the Eiffel tower, and my cat. (Sorry Amy, your cat isn't on here. But chocolate, bacon, and flowers are!) So send me your address, and I'll send you Things That Are Awesome. (#20)
P.P.S. And for the rest of you, have an awesome (#21) day. I hope it's filled with ukuleles, log cabins, homemade bread, bighorn sheep, and unicycles. :)
P.P.P.S. Awesome, awesome, awesome. (#22, 23, and 24. Drink! Drink! Drink!)
Monday, September 24, 2012
I love to read.
However, I often feel guilty taking the time to read, when my To Do list is overflowing with more important tasks.
I wish I read more than I do.
I have a hard time starting a new book. I recently heard this referred to as a Book Hangover: The inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world. Exactly!
I go through periods where I'll read several books in a week, followed by not touching a book for a couple months.
I once read eight books in one day.
There are 75 titles on my library wish list.
I have 73 sample books downloaded to iBooks.
There are 39 cookbooks on my Amazon wish list.I have a strange fascination with prison literature.
Before Larry and I were dating, he lent me two books: A Single Shot (which he described as the most depressing book he'd ever read) and Into the Wild. I read 75% of Into the Wild on a plane ride home from Vegas. I never read A Single Shot.
I have a hard time committing to a book over 500 pages. When I make it through a really long book, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment.
That being said, I have several ambitious tomes on my nightstand: Crime and Punishment and The Executioner's Song.
During the nine years we've been together, Larry and I have both read only three of the same books: The Road, The Book Thief, and Just Kids.
I read the most at the beach.
I read many different genres, but never science fiction, fantasy, or romance. Or anything about vampires.
Larry thinks the books I read are depressing.
I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird.
I love reading on my iPad. I also love reading paper books.
I usually don't read a popular book until several years after it was published.
I can't read more than one book at a time. Larry's always reading a couple simultaneously, which I think is weird and confusing.
I'm generally not a fan of short stories.
The book is always better than the movie.
As a child, I loved to read and spent my nights reading with a flashlight under my pillow. I was a night owl back then, too.
Sometimes I still stay up way too late engrossed in a good book. I don't need a flashlight anymore - the iPad is backlit.
My favorite books from my childhood were The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Gregory the Terrible Eater, It's Not Easy Being a Bunny, and The Trumpet of the Swan. There was also a book about a dog that dug and dug and dug (to the other side of the world) - Google says perhaps this book was The Digging-est Dog? But I can't be sure. I also loved all books by Roald Dahl.
My first chapter book was Charlotte's Web. My mother read a chapter to me each night when I was in kindergarten from a copy that was hers when she was a little girl. We both cried when Charlotte died.
When I was a kid, my mother took us to the library every week. We put our book selections in an L.L. Bean tote bag. I remember the day I was finally old enough to get my own library card - so exciting. But now? I haven't been inside a library in almost ten years. (But I still check out books electronically.)
When I was in second grade, my godmother gave me the first two Nancy Drew mysteries. I was hooked.
Also, in second grade, we read Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in school. There is a passage in this book when Ramona's mother serves tongue for dinner. I read this shortly after my own father brought home a tongue. I became a vegetarian for the next year.
Yes, I did read The Babysitters Club books. I knew they were crap, but I loved them.
In fourth grade, our class participated in the Book It! reading program sponsored by Pizza Hut. I loved reading the books, but I also loved the free pizzas and the awesome purple holographic buttons.
In eighth grade, I found a copy of The Catcher in the Rye on my parents' bookshelf. I remembered reading in Seventeen magazine (Yes. Sad, but true.) that many people named The Catcher in the Rye as the most influential book they'd ever read. I sat down to read it. I thought it was good, but not life-changing.
In high school, I stopped reading for pleasure and only read the books assigned in English class. Even then, I didn't read all of them. I loved American Lit. I hated European Lit.
Books I loved in high school: Ragtime, All The King's Men
Books I hated in high school: A Tale of Two Cities, 1984
Books I read the Cliff's Notes instead: Moby Dick, The Grapes of Wrath
I didn't read a single book for pleasure in college. The demands of my major (architecture) left no time for pleasure or hobbies or reading. Heck, I hardly even slept during those five years.
I don't understand reading a book more than once. There are so many books to read out there, why spend the time re-reading when you could use that time to read something new? Exceptions to this rule include Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. I plan to re-read them and hope that they haven't lost their magic.
I used to force myself to finish books I didn't like. Now, I remind myself that life is too short for boring books. There are plenty of good ones out there - why waste time reading something you don't like?
I couldn't finish On the Road. I thought it was boring, pointless, and made me want to punch both Sal Paradise and Jack Kerouac in the face.
I've only read the first Harry Potter. Maybe someday I'll read the others. Maybe I won't. There are dozens of other books higher up on my To Read list.
I've never read any Twilight books and I have no intention of ever reading them.
I've never read any Hunger Games books. Despite the fact that these books are of a genre that doesn't interest me, several friends who have great taste in books have recommended them. Maybe I'll read them.
I hate dust jackets.
I love browsing books at bookstores, but I never buy them there. They're cheaper on Amazon.
I still haven't finished my 2011 goal to read all of the Pulitzer fiction winners from the last decade. (To date, I've read 6 1/2 of them.)
My goal this year was to spend $0 on books to force myself to read the unread books on my shelves (library e-books are ok, too). So far, it's working.
I'm currently reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Another photography project from my trip to the Jersey Shore: photographing the patterns around Dad's beach bungalow. I've always been attracted to bold graphics and often use repeating patterns in my own artwork. The patterns at the bungalow are forever ingrained in my mind - the blue striped awning, the seafoam green bathroom tiles (with butterfly decals over the chipped spots), the 50 year old floral sofa fabric, the black and gold pineapple TV tray, and the woven rainbow beach chairs - even taken out of context, the collection of these patterns sum up the very essence of my grandparents' summer home.
Monday, September 17, 2012
This weekend was one that blurred the edges between summer and fall: sweaty hikes and chilly evenings, ice cream cones and roasted marshmallows, sundresses and cardigans, shades of watermelon and cranberry.
It had been a while since we threw squeezed the pups in the car and went out into the woods to mark our territory for a weekend adventure. The cooler temps meant that we could finally enjoy a hike without risking heat stroke for us or the dogs, so we headed out to explore Scott's Run Nature Preserve:
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Ever since we bought our house four years ago, I've planned to take some photo walks in my own town as a way to hone my photography skills and explore Falls Church (and Arlington and DC). It still hasn't happened, but when I was at the beach last month, I spent a lot of time taking walks with my camera and focusing on some fun photography projects.
The Belmar boardwalk is a great place for signs, so I decided my theme for this photo walk would be text. (It's also a great place for people-watching, but I don't have the cojones to photograph strangers on the boardwalk. That would be a fun project for a ballsy photographer though. I can see it now -"Photo Walk: Breast Implants." On second thought, that just might be a good way to get the attention of the authorities.) Since I'm big on collections lately, I love that when all the images are collaged together, the result is a visual overview of signage along the Jersey Shore.
A few signs up close:
And this, just because it made me laugh:
It was a really eye-opening experience to force myself to pay attention to all the little details that I typically walk/drive-by without notice, so I'm eager to finally take a photo walk here at home. There are actually worldwide photo walks - I've got an art market on the date of the next one, but it would be fun to do this with a group of photographers.