Friday, March 27, 2009

Jayme McGowan

Okay, this was going to be a whole post about my thwarted and comical first foray into the world of professional massages (after plans had to be severely altered, Zion and I found ourselves at a dark, becurtained reflexology spa that had all the requisite ambiance of an opium den, plus a little Chopin. Does that make it a Chopium den?) but I find myself just wanting to talk art.

It's been a long time since I had any interest in working with the human figure, but lately I've been catching glimpses of 2 future art pieces, or maybe 2 series, with people. The first is of acrobats and bareback artists. The second is of flying people, in relation to birds, to flying machines and to flying dreams. Recently I happened upon this artist, Jayme McGowan, her etsy shop, and her blog, Roadside ProjectsShe's making me want to not only get back into using figures, but back into paper cutting as well. She has some wonderfully inspired circus folk pieces, and some lovely flying girls. Plus, she's my age which, when combined with her work and resume, is formidable. Check her out, I dare you not to be inspired.

The Merry Band of Revelers

Here's our little family portrait. Next time we'll go fully Victorian with pocket watches and corsets. It really was an awesome party, with the best folks around.

Please note that the heart on my shirt is replaced with the word "am."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sticky Notes, Succulents and One Very Happy Spidermonkey

I'm a pretty weird bird, and never more so than on my birthday - I love the attention, but hate to be the center of it, if that makes any sense. Every March 25th I walk a fine line between laughter and tears. But my friends make throwing a birthday party for me look easy. Check out some of my loot!
I thought I was attending a simple birthday dinner, but instead I was treated to a bunch of my favorite things, a donut cake, french dips, a smörgåsbord of potato chips. Not to mention sweet mix tapes and a houseful of some of my favorite people all wearing "I heart Claire" t shirts. Except instead of the word "Claire" insert a ridiculous windblown picture of my face. I'll post more pictures when I get my hands on them. For now, I'll just say I had a very happy birthday. So happy in fact, that I feel like I'm still having a happy birthday. Check out Amelia's post about it, it's quite a bit more eloquent than mine.

Thank you, Heidi. Thank you, Amelia. I love you. No, I lurve you.

Side note - How cool is it that spell check speaks Swedish? It's correction of "smorgasbord" kinda felt like a tardy b-day gift! I guess if I have any readers that aren't already aware, I just outed myself as the huge nerd that I am.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring has Sprung a Leak

So, it's been raining steadily since I posted about my ranunculus. I still haven't sketched a thing. I now have a small legion of sprouted snap peas that need transplanting, sweet pea sprouts starting to pop and therefore 2 trellises to construct. But I'm not in the mood for cold, soggy gardening. Instead I'm planting some small indoor terrariums.

The planting is just the beginning of this tangential project, it's just setting up the landscape. I have plans for some unnatural residents to move into these containers too. I'll post the results soon, but hopefully that'll be sometime after my peas are planted.

P.S. On our long drive home Sunday night Zion and I decided that someone needs to make a Twilight parody with Zombies. Groaning, gaping head wounds, torn pants and the student body just thinks they're emo.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Let the Right One In

If Ingmar Bergman had made Suspiria, or if Alfred Hitchcock had made Twilight, the results may have come close to this. It's implicit, subtle, hopeful and horrifying. The romance is lovely. The violence is as lovely as the romance.

Everyone who touched this film deserves applause. In particular I'd like to treat the entire sound department to a round of drinks. The silence and noise are exquisite. "Let the Right One In" has a few appropriately timed giggle-worthy genre moments, but the overall sense is not of fear or terror, but horror. And beauty.

It's probably not for everyone. Even Zion, who in the end thoroughly dug it, turned to me midway and asked, "Claire Bean, what the hell is this?" It's bloody, it's dark, it's uncomfortable. But it's also graceful and haunting. It gives me hope that the future of horror movies lies away from bloodied breast implants, that my son will grow up in a world with both excellent hysterical "B" movies and atmospheric character-driven "A" movies.

Thanks Amelia, for launching me on this journey many months ago, and thanks Ryan for finally providing the destination.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Domo Arigato

I've been racking my brain for the last week, trying to come up with something fun to make for the 1st birthday of my buddy, Aidan Bean. My go to handmade gift is always freezer paper stenciled shirts, so I was trying to think outside the Reynolds box. This afternoon I caved. I drew, cut and printed Mr. Roboto here in under an hour, leaving me to wonder why I was trying to avoid it. Freezer paper, my friend, I'll never take you for granted again. Thank you for this little robot which in turn inspired a whole thematic gift basket. Happy birthday Aidan!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Playing Favorites

I spent Beckett's nap out on my roof today. After endless days of laundry folding I was beginning to think my heart had been spirited away with a few single socks. But now with a little windburn on my cheeks and phantom dirt under my fingernails (I can feel it, but I can't see it) I feel a quickened beating in my chest, right where it belongs.

As in my aviary, where Miss Isabelle hold the lion's share of my affection, now too in my garden there's an individual I hold unequally dear. This little ranunculus. I'm enamored. I'm hoping to climb out onto the roof again during tomorrow's nap, weather permitting, this time with a sketchbook and pencil in lieu of an apron and trowel.

And speaking of weather, I'm hoping the promise of some new spring inspired artwork may entice my mom to stop her snowdance. If she continues on her current course, and my ranunculus suffers, she may end up with a tragic novel manuscript instead. Star crossed lover dies an icy, frostbitten pneumonic death in the arms of his new bride. Nobody needs to hear that story again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing

I'm a sucker for love stories and devour fictional accounts of love like it's my job. Last night I watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. I liked the book (which takes hardly more than standard feature film length to read,) I in no way dislike Kat Dennings, and I love Michael Cera. So why did this movie, of which I expected very little, deliver even less? It's simple. There was an inexcusable lack of chemistry between the characters. For crying out loud, it's a silly little romance flick, it doesn't require stunning special effects, or unexpected cinematography, or even a clever screenplay. The only imperative is that I buy into (or, better yet, personally experience) the butterflies. It's not a lot to ask. I just want to be made to believe that these two people like each other.

Poor Zion had to hear (more likely tune out) an epic tirade of the above abridged sentiments last night. I was still cranky about it this morning. Then this came in the mail. I'd like for art to imitate this slice of life. I want to see the movie for which this is the poster. It's cool, sexy, romantic and down to earth, much like the couple pictured. It's the Save the Date magnet for the upcoming nuptials of two remarkable people, Tyler and Gina. Their story is fraught with missed opportunities and comedic errors, long distance and Las Vegas, culminating with a Knight in Shining U-Haul rescue, a happy return to the Northwest and now a wedding. This picture instantly filled the romance vacuum left by Nick and Norah like a marshmallow in a bell jar.

Thanks for the magnet, guys. It literally made my day. Yours is the best love story I've read or seen all year. I can't wait till the wedding.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Best Friends

I suppose I'm of an age when the term "best friend" seems no longer appropriate. Especially since I've whittled down my social circle over the years to include only those people worthy of such a grand prepubescent title. There's no hierarchy within their ranks, it's just a platoon of people I adore above most others, and who just about guarantee good times.

Over the last 48 hours I've had some seriously awesome best friend contact. Antiquing, pen pal writing, birdwatching, texting, talking about unwritten novels and future Mongolian grill girlfriend dates. But today, the person who has held the title of "best friend" (and now also "Maid of Honor") for the longest, and the one person absent from this recent best friend-a-palooza, made it all complete with a little comment made in response to my owl troops. He posted this:

"It is in vain, Owl, to extenuate the matter. Owls may cry, "Peace! Peace!" -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears [what shall be heard for miles with our Owl ears] the clash of resounding arms! Our Owl brethren are already in the field [the field actually being the tree line of the field, perched on our Owl perches]! Why stand we here idle [even though that is as we Owls do]? What is it that Owls wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet [as plump mice], as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery [chains being a metaphor of the stitching on our enslaved felt Owl brothers and slavery being our poor Owl sisters carved from a tree stump]? Forbid it, Almighty Owl! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me Owlty, or give me death!"

Elliot - Pits, Maid of Honor, holder of the Sword of Omens, possessor of the secret voice of Voltron and best friend to Brewers one and all - I love you, owl phobia, red-car-philia and all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Speaking of Halloween

Last week I posted about some yarn I picked up and since have been working away with the cream mohair to make what I've been lovingly calling my "light bulb sweater." That, plus the sleeping bear, plus my ever growing impulse to sew has led me to revel in my last completed sewing project (no, I don't count the tool belt or the mushroom hat which, while instantly gratifying, hardly satisfied the pattern-maker in me.)
Last Halloween I went as a light bulb, with Zion the moth on my arm. I made a simple ruffle bottomed dress with rough edges that frayed like filaments as the night wore on, trimmed with simple cotton lace. Over that I wore a blouse from target on which I sketched and painted an Edison bulb, a light bulb and hardware necklace, a few hinges and bits at my wrists, a rusty outlet garter strapped to my leg, and of course a parasol.For Zion I made a back vest, found a black tie and drew the moth in gold on the combination. Plus I added bits of hardware, fingerless gloves, a newsboy hat and some steampunked-out welder's goggles.We looked like some post modern bride and groom, even more so when we were busted making out in a dark hallway. We were warm, comfortable, and felt less like costumed play actors and more like extensions of our own eccentric selves. I know this post is hardly seasonally appropriate, but it's going to take working diligently for the next 9 months to have any chance at topping Halloween 2008. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Sleeping Bear

I came across this yesterday over at Ohdeedoh, and was ready to drop upwards of a thousand dollars to get my hands on one. How amazing is that? It's a sleeping bag, specifically designed to tap into the pink plush-lined nightmare realm I'd guess. Actually, it was designed to create an experience in nature and in freedom from our "systemized culture and modern society." It's by Eiko Ishizawa. I particularly the love the intentional ambiguity of the role of the wearer. Are you an ancient hunter in bear skins? The bear itself? Are you its killer or its dinner?Turns out, it's not for sale yet, which begs the question, could I make something like this? The answer most likely is no, but as this is the time of year when I usually start planning my Halloween projects, this is a pretty great kick-off to costume sketching season.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Rallying the Troops

A little bird (a type of Thrush, to be specific) told me recently that my supreme owl loving status has been challenged. I just wanted to let any competitive librarians out there know that I accept the challenge and that I'm bringing back-up. However, it may not come to much of a duel, I may win this on one point alone. My son ADORES owls. Can the contender claim the same?P.S. Don't make me pull out the Christmas ornaments.

I have to admit, my mom may have us both beat, she did write an entire play about the "Obstreperous Wizards of Lore" or O.W.L.s, and my true avian passion lies with small brown birds - wrens, finches, bushtits being my favorites - but thanks for giving me an excuse to take these pictures, and thanks for a lovely dinner!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Dead Bird

I know I just posted a few hours ago, but I have to write about this. I picked it up from the library today. Certainly not for B, who just this morning was highly disturbed by Beatrix Potter's Mr. Jeremy Fisher eating a butterfly sandwich, but for myself. I've always loved the strangeness of Margaret Wise Brown's stories, and as a mother have come to depend on it for sanity in the saccharine world of picture books. This one is amazing. The words are so lovely, melancholy and reverent, innocent and a little horrifying. It reminds me that her's is the name that escapes the mind whenever I'm asked that age old question about dining with any person, living or dead.

"The children felt with
their fingers for the quick beat of the bird's
heart in its breast. But there was no heart
beating. That was how they knew it was dead."

I'd like to try my hand at a few illustrations to this story. I think it could lead somewhere wonderful.

Tia - this book has made my freezer feel unbearably empty. I find myself quite covetous of your teal wing.

Embarrassing Moments in Yarn Shopping #1

Having a nearly audible orgasm over these.The chunky one, is almost impossibly soft in addition to being my favorite color and the fine mohair one appeals to my love of all things diaphanous. Seriously, I would dress like a lightbulb 24/7 if I had a different lifestyle. Now, in order to lose the slight guilty feeling I've had since purchasing these, I'm going to force myself to actually finish a project instead of my current habit of passionately completing a third of a project, staring at it for a day, stashing it in the yarn basket, and promptly starting something new. It's fun, but not exactly fulfilling.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sweatshop Infirmary

After turning away would be surprise visitors this afternoon, I felt the mild anger I've had toward my recent GI woes build to fury, boil over into self loathing then simmer to a creative agitation. So, forgoing naps and bouts of the red couch camp out I've been on for the last 46 hours or so, I put these babies together. I was a staple gun wielding, foam cutting, fabric tearing dervish, and though my back is now threatening secession from the corporeal union, I feel almost human again.
To be perfectly honest, they're not actually "together" as ZB has the power drill at work, but they're darn close. If only you, dear reader, could see the number of to-do lists, spanning back about a year and a half, that included this project you'd question my ability to dress myself daily. The original idea came from ReadyMade magazine (I can't seem to find the link), but Martha has a version of it now too.

P.S. The leaf is not attached, the shot just needed some green.
P.P.S. The raccoon is not attached, the shot just needed some raccoon.