Friday, February 26, 2016

Naps Are Supposed to be Quiet: Current Escapism

Fuel: Retro Jauntiness from Helen Dardik and Swedish Ingela P. Arrhenius. I was initially sucked in because of melamine plates bearing their designs, order justified by the need to court good design taste in la Bebe. This wound up being a failed order* from a UK business -- lost international package -- and I sadly got a refund, while the items went out of stock.
Helen Dardik cups from the KidWho
Huset ("your house for modern scandinavian living") looked to be a good U.S. source for the aforementioned melamine plates, but then the dropdown selections are way less than the pictured selections, guh. Still fun browsing, including disturbing ragdolls.
*I have been having poor luck with online businesses these days -- I also got sucked into buying some baby clothes from using a Facebook discount on February 9th (most orders ship in 2-3 business days, haha!) When I contacted them last week, I was informed one item had gone into backorder -- did they notify me? No. But ok, I reset my patience meter. Supposedly available on the 22nd...and nothing. I wanted to love them. I was primed to love them. Seemingly nice, basic designs, in good, solid colors. But 26th and here's what I got: bupkis.
can't comment on veracity, but I do love Jon Stewart
Printmaker Alexis Snell, courtesy all my Instagram browsing while I wait for the Baby to go to sleep. Get a sense of her...sensibility through Pickled Ink; along with Poison and "Plan your outfit for every occasion," you'll see Lady Luck, from her playing card series... but you'll only learn from Instagram that Snell thought she was done with the series, only to realize she forgot the tens. Bahh.

Escapism: latecomer to Bletchley Circle -- can't quite get away from those serial killers! --but also here: former female codebreakers, now dealing with business-as-usual post-war. In the area? Go visit Bletchley Park!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Monsters and Sloths and Cumming, Oh My!

Just came from the kind of appointment where the specialist smoothly establishes his credentials: treats over 1,200 women, is on board of committee that sets the national standards. He knows I will give things serious thought, that is obvious. An appointment that refrains from uncovering anything new, but which somehow leaves one with renewed foreboding. I think of things I had buried in the background for the past few years. Dig your holes: Still there? Yup, Still there. Eh. As always: could be better, could be worse. Enough. Stop at a cafe, order yourself a precious brown sugar ginger latte, get on with it. And onto the better: Javier's text says the Baby has been asleep for over 70 minutes! Especially good, as she has lately unrolled an early morning wailing session, starting between 2-4 AM.

Also good:

1.) The basement picture book wall*  is bearing fruit in February! I stared at sketch for the design below within the context of its page neighbors, frustrated by how different our young hero looks in this one from his depiction in other pages. Visited this page, among others: sat on the bed by the layout wall, happy to see all my designs and aggravated by them. Drank tea, drank beer, and frowned up at them. I have drawn these characters numerous times, from different angles, but am I a cartoonist? Am I, actually, an illustrator? No. But somehow this recent ruminative period yielded another sketch which brought Quimby's face closer in spirit to himself. Close enough to give the okay to transfer the design on Feb. 8th. Now here we are at the test print stage!

Initial inking showed several letters needed tweaking. Paring down or shoring up with some ennsy wood scraps. Wood glue and tweezers are your friends.
Next up, I reworked an early page. For both, it's the moment in which our monster has found his next cake to snatch. Originally, I decided to show him roaring three times, his silhouette larger as the eyes scanned up the page; the repetition was meant to underscore that his dessert thieving ways have happened and are happening.

...But then I began to wonder whether young readers would be confused -- if there is one monster, why does he appear many times? And his outline looks like an older version of how I feel my monster looks. This page became a thorn in my side. So this week I tried out the sketch at right. I'm liking it -- I think it's cleaner, more effective. But when I mentioned it on Facebook, my (admittedly tiny number of) commenters opted for more monsters! rather than less. Hmm. Either way, it's taped in place on the wall.
And thirdly, next, next up for the carving block.Kind of classic-cartoony-villain-easily-gaining-access-to-the-homes-of-trusting-rubes. I feel happier with something to carve.

*all pages laid out in order, in their various states of completion, on a single wall, to sigh and grimace at.

2. Alan Cumming!
This Scottish jewel should appear on any what-is-good list, right, but by golly, this time he's on mine! Javier won allll the Valentine's Day couple points by capping off the classic chocolates-roses-dinner trio with a shocking text of tickets to Cumming's sold out cabaret evening in Detroit. WHAT. WHAT. WHAAAAAT. I didn't jump on our two-top. I didn't knock over water glasses or wine flights. But neighboring diners shot glances in our general direction; Javier was rightfully pleased with himself.
I ceased to track conversational threads for ohhh, a few minutes, but beamed at Javier to make up for this; the grinning may have looked a bit toothy, wolfish. Mildly unbalanced. New York Times review of the show. Saucy man.

3.Current escapism (sketching, carving): Dexter (season five), Sarah Water's Fingersmith, as narrated by Juanita McMahon <-- never heard of her, but she's great!

Life enhancement: Sloth Slept On, written & illus. by Francine Preston-Gannon -- a good, simple story of an unlikely escapee. I'm entirely taken by the illustrations: clean, bold, sharply defined, but each shape with wonderful texture. The type also a nice choice, as well as the paper -- matte, with a good weight. Altogether satisfying! Recommended for the younger set. Baby also drawn to it, from the first reading. But sadly not as much as the super simple board books from our doctor's office: Park. I am at the park. Flower. I smell a flower. Clouds. I see clouds from my swing. Rain. I feel rain, time to go!

The house is quiet, I am sleepy. Time to go!

Monday, February 1, 2016

February First Post, in Which we go to the Basement and Dress for the Ball

I'm officially going underground! This will be my last post. I am ceasing the Facebook silliness, no longer will I blip onto Instagram. Who cares how many likes, how many views, how many followers? My vague neglect of Flickr, pinterest, etsy will fall under the umbrella of online abstinence. My digital footprint won't gain shoe sizes. I will forsake the new, the current, and live off the grid!

...Or at least descend into the basement. Which, uh, still has wifi access, so I can lose myself in most recent newfound escapism (Dexter, season three*). I've never been an all-or-nothing gal. More of a "more -- and then probably a little more." Sanity bonus: intermittent crying arrives, as if through layers of cotton, as if it holds less relevance than it does on the main floor...** 

More importantly, I shifted my picture book project wall downstairs. For the past couple
earlier versions of "Cake Stealer"
Quimbies: all scared, all "off"
years, it resided on the dining room wall in a hodge podge fashion -- sketches that were proving most troublesome, sketches I wanted to think about, newly pulled prints to remind myself of progress. But just a handful, masking taped underneath, or between, properly framed artwork hanging on the walls. Occasionally one would peel off to float behind the radio shelves; last week La Bebe lunged for a low-lying sketch with her grabby hand -- to rip, perchance to suck. The wall used to have spurring power; but in the past six months, it has offered remonstrance more than anything else: this is what you won't finish/solve/get to.
Idea for first page (2011)

Will a more complete wall actually turn my project around? Not just on its own, surely. But! Now, when you walk downstairs to the basement, you see the spare bed before you. A lamp to its left gives off a friendly glow from atop its repurposed, mirrored, sewing trestle table, itself relegated from the the living room (safety concerns). On the wall, every page of the Cakeasaurus picture book is laid out, in order, in three rows of double page spreads. The number of finished prints is heartening. Looking at it I feel a sense of accomplishment not felt for a long time, despite a few out-of-favor designs, page order snafus and uninspired pages begging for replacement. I can see it better now. The issues remain, but it has gained a new order, and with it, a renewed confidence that it will ultimately come together. Plus, it feels den-like, in the basement, in Winter. A coziness, and a remove.

***...And Now a Message from the Ladies' International Glove Council ***

An in-house workspace and get-away is nothing without distractions, though, right? Or, rather, if you are looking for distractions, you will find them anywhere, no matter how streamlined your space. Opposite the Project Wall lay stuff. Lots and lots of stuff, most of which, gladly doesn't lure me in (other than with the urge to pare down). But those two bags down there in shadow, what's inside? Better have a look.

Inside each are bags within bags, so old the plastic is brittle; clear pieces flake off and catch the light. My Grandmother's gloves. I know I didn't claim all of them, but over 30 pairs are here, carefully partnered, nestled, the paler shades nevertheless yellowed with age. The variety is impressive: wrist length to opera length, sweet embroidered details, silk to cotton to leather, pearlescent buttons at the inner wrist, neutrals to deep plum and Easter parade pastels. And why should it be otherwise, for a shrewd businesswoman and gifted seamstress, who drew up her own patterns tailored to her measurements, turning out dresses and jackets with matching linings, from the most cutting edge synthetics of the day?

But the gloves, even more than the dresses -- most of which are long gone -- illustrate how different was the time within which she lived. Such dainty, feminine restraint! Notions of purity met by snobby classicism. There must be fashion parallels to today, though they escape me now. They hold a weird power, even as they are now.*** They beg to be tried on, after all this time without use.
opera glove, called "mousquetaire" due to button opening
peekaboo wrist detail. I forgot about these plum ones
barely visible, but ruched along the sides
a small selection

the palest moss green
these were crazy, almost bridal

this leather was so soft, so thin, each finger slightly thicker than an envelope

these felt especially intimate somehow

My favorite glove bag: crown and crossed gloves~!
followed by this one -- look closely: a glove draped over the earth

Not glove-related, but an added bonus.

Van Raalte apprently also made hosiery and lingerie as well, natural pairings. See below for billboard (Atlantic City) and great vintage ads:

Detailed like precious jewelry!

And this one, not Van Raalte, but found among the Google flowers:

Gallingly wonderful! 

*But I don't think I watched all of season two? It reminds me that I still have a taste for (conveniently justified) glossy violence, even with the more recent, more finely honed maternal sensitivities. I suppose if he was a serial killer of children I would be unable to deal. Another reminder: opening credits can be so phenomenal! One of the best! Up there with Six Feet Under. And what else? Movies more than tv, certainly.   
**Disclaimer: noooooo, I don't leave my child crying for hours on end, stop it. I speak of nap protesting and the odd hour or two when she is not under my care.  
***Ohoooo! Here we go! the start of a less-than-successful possession story! "The gloves did indeed hold power...power beyond what she ever imagined. But as Clarissa changed and a new world unfolded, the question remained: would she be able to control this power, or would it control her?"