slightly wonky

Christmas is coming…and I’m getting fat…

Okay, just kidding.  Sort of.  I seem to be the only member of the family who is interested in making a wide variety of Christmas cookies and eating them.  Meanwhile, my son is still sloooowly making his way through his Halloween candy.  I kid you not.  He gets to have 2 pieces per day.  Is that bad?  Probably.  Anyway…his memory for what candy is in his plastic pumpkin is like a steel trap…I don’t dare throw out the candy or eat some, lest I be willing to bear the tsunami of vitriol that I’ll receive from him.  He’s definitely my kid.

a-20131220-03What are those, you may ask?  Well, I’m the over-achiever mommy who had to lovingly hand craft with a glue-gun these delightful gifts for my son’s kindergarten class.  Not only am I up to my eyeballs in Christmas nonsense…my son’s birthday is Christmas day, so I’m also managing birthday nonsense.  BTW…craft fur is pure evil…I may have a sort of mild case of “craft fur mesothelioma”, as a result.

In the true holiday spirit of giving, I bought myself this book recently:

a-201312202LOVE IT!  Not only are the Gee’s Bend quilts amazing…but the architectural photos and references are beautiful enough to satisfy this lapsed architect.  These quilts seriously put to shame all of the boring, traditional quilts and fabrics that are today’s norm.  I bask in their artistic and crafty glory.

So, I did manage to shovel my way out of the house to see some gorgeous art & fashion.  (No, I wasn’t looking at what’s stuck on our kitchen refrigerator or at my son’s mismatched/backwards outfits.)  I went to the MFA and the Peabody Essex Museum!!!

First…the Sargent show at the MFA:

a-20131220-06John S. Sargent, Alice Runnells James, 1921, watercolor

Oh. My. God.  Sargent’s watercolors are STUNNING.  Look at her hand!  Look at her face!  Look at the smushed pillow!  INCREDIBLE.  (Please remember that this photo looks like complete garbage in comparison to the actual painting.)  His watercolors are phenomenal.  Watercolor painting, for those of you who have never attempted to tame that wild beast, is VERY difficult.  It’s difficult because you’re trying to control pigmented water over the surface of paper…the pigment can settle in weird ways (if you’re incompetent, like me)…the colors are translucent, and thus every mark is indelible.  There is so much that is so amazing about these works.  With the most minimal of marks, he creates images that are luminous and, at a distance, appear nearly photographic.  In a way, his painting are simultaneously abstract and realistic.

a-20131220-07John S. Sargent, Venice: I Gesuati, 1909, watercolor

Can’t you just get a sense of the cloudy day in Venice?  Look at that doorway!

a-20131220-08John S. Sargent, Magnolias, 1908, watercolor

The shadows and dappled light on the water are gorgeous.  You can practically see this bough, weighed down with its enormous blooms, bobbing in the breeze.  MUST SEE.

Be warned…it might be crowded.  It was when I went.  I feel that when you are at a crowded exhibit, you need to be hyper-vigilant about your gallery etiquette.  For example…please don’t stand directly in front of a painting chit chatting with your friend about what so-and-so said the other day.  Go stand in the middle of the room and do that.  Better yet, go get a coffee.  Please don’t stand in front of a painting for more than, literally, sixty seconds.  Come back to it if you need more time…there are thirty other people who’d also like to see it before the museum closes.  Need I say more?

There was also an amazing photography exhibit:  She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World.  These images were gorgeous, albeit often disturbing.

a-20131220-04Rula Halawani, Untitled I from Negative Incusions Series, 2002, pigment print

This negative image is so frightening and intense.  These is something so eerie about the tone reversal…it does make it look like an electrified night scene.  I also can’t imagine how Halawani felt standing right there to take the picture.

a-20131220-05Rula Halawani, Untitled XIII from Negative Incusions Series, 2002, pigment print

Again…look how horrendous the subject matter is.  She looks in danger of being crushed by a falling chunk of concrete.  Was this her home?  Did she know the people who lived there?  So unbelievably sad.

SIGH.  And now…to lighten the mood…besides making myself a cup of tea and eating my 27th holiday cookie of the day, I’ll show you the exhibit: Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion at the Peabody Essex Museum.

a-20131220-09Issey Miake, Dress & Coat from Spring/Summer 1995

As a complete addict to Project Runway, I was GIDDY at the sight of all of this STUNNING couture.  I have also dabbled in sewing (i.e. struggling to sew a straight line), so my jaw dropped with so many of these fashions.

a-20131220-10Junya Wantanabe, Comme des Garcons, Autumn/Winter 2000

For some reason, I wish that they had chosen mannequins that were more “abstracted.”  Maybe that’s too “Sears” of me?  Who knows.  Look at that collar!!!  Even the skirt, so plain in comparison, is gorgeous.

a-20131220-11Tao Kurihara, Comme des Garcons, Spring/Summer 2010

Luckily, they did have some videos showing runway shows.  This was good, as you miss how the clothing moves if you only see it on a mannequin.  This dress would probably be pretty fantastic worn by some moody model stomping along.  It becomes less so when I imagine myself in it (especially after my 27th holiday cookie for the day…)  DRAMATIC SIGH.

Happy holidays to everyone!  I hope to make it to 2014 with my sanity intact…albeit in a larger clothing size…

Oh well.



Slightly irritating vs. uber inspiring…
December 28, 2012, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , ,

Well, I made it through the holidays with my sanity mostly intact.  WOO HOOOO!!!  Now, I just have to make it through this vacation week until January 2, when school resumes.  LORD HAVE MERCY.  I’m sure that there are some parents out there with easygoing children.  We’re not in that category.  I keep trying to remind myself how I’ll miss this age in a year, but this thought doesn’t really help much.  I just googled “child anger management.”  Yes, we’re at that point.  Did I mention that he’s only 5?  I have gray hairs already set aside for his teenage years.

It’s kind of ridiculous to be “at that point” when we JUST had Christmas and my son’s 5th birthday.  I know.  Toys won’t solve childhood angst…even this one:


Yes.  It’s hungry hungry hippos.  LOVE. IT.  Who’s world is not made more complete by this toy???? Apparently my son today at 5pm.  I think that’s kind of the bewitching hour for kids anyway…that’s why the world created SpongeBob and Happy Hour.

Did I mention that my son has told me repeatedly that my smooches on his cheek are “irritating his skin”?  Did I also mention that he walked into the kitchen the other day with his shoes, coat, and backpack on telling me that he was leaving?  I fear that my chances for “Mother Of The Year” are slipping through my fingers.  I quit my job as an architect to be a better mom.  Is it working?????  Based upon my recent parental “feedback”, I’d say “no”.  I’m just glad that my son doesn’t know how to dial a phone yet, or else DSS might be at my doorstep any minute now.

In order to cope with my child’s angst and anger, I’m reawakening my drug of choice:


Yes…those are  needles…but not the heroin kind.  That’s knitting.  For those of you that don’t knit…don’t start.  It can be horribly addictive, socially isolating, and can create episodes of both euphoria and despair.  Don’t even get me started on those crack dens called “knitting stores”.  How bad can it really be when the result is a handmade woolly garment, right?  Don’t be fooled.  Just say “no”.  The store employees are TOTAL ENABLERS.  This is the kind of stuff they think is a good idea:






Ohhhhkay.  NOW, I feel like “Mom Of The Year” in comparison to the parent of this poor child.  Yes, that’s a HAT with a KNIT BEARD attached to it.  No, I’m not kidding.  People make these…many people.  (None that you should get to know, though.)  No, I’m really not kidding.  I think that there should be a law against putting beard/hat combos on anyone who is not physically able to remove it IMMEDIATELY.  Poor thing.  Talk about irritating the skin…sheesh…I should show this to my son and perhaps he’ll consider himself lucky…

Besides not getting any artwork done, as it’s vacation/circus week here, I did manage (or rather, finagle) my way over to the South End to see the last day of a show at Carroll & Sons.  I felt that I deserved to do this, as I had been waiting at the Toyota dealership that morning for my 50K tune up for THREE AND A HALF HOURS.  You’d think with all of that time they could have cleaned out the explosion of crumbs on my son’s carseat…but I digress…

The show at Carroll & Sons was the work of Ambreen Butt.  The title of the show was, “Beyond the Ideas of Rightness or Wrongness There is a Field; I’ll Meet You There.”  I loved all of it, and I was so amazed at the breadth of her skill.  Here are some images from the show:


Ambreen Butt


Ambreen Butt


Ambreen Butt


Ambreen Butt


Ambreen Butt

So amazing, right?  The radiating reliefs of toes and fingers were AMAZING.  So beautiful, yet also a bit disturbing.  The row of portraits are a sublime transformation of one person into another…brilliant!  The huge collages which look like Persian rugs were astounding.  As I managed to see this show on its last day, I can’t suggest that you run out and see it yourself.  Take a look at the links to her website…she’s uber talented and I bask in her artistic virtuosity.  It seems that she can do anything from beautiful paintings to compelling collages, to phenomenal sculpture…sigh.  Super inspiring.  Definitely check out her website.

Well, 2012 has been crazy, to say the least.  I’m not even going to discuss the chaotic world news that puts me in a tailspin EVERY DAY whilst I masochistically tune in to NPR.  The horrors.  Next time, while I rock in the fetal position listening one of these harrowing stories, I’ll try to remember to bring my knitting.  I hope that over the past year this blog has provided you, dear reader, with moments of levity, artistic inspiration,  and an occasional, “WOW!  There are REALLY crazy people out there!!!!”  (I’ll forgive you if you include me as one of them.)

Happy Upcoming New Year’s Eve!  (the holiday liked only by people between the ages of 21 and 25…*YAWN*)

Ginger hell…ginger hell…
December 14, 2012, 10:12 am
Filed under: Drawing, travel | Tags: , , , , , ,

Why are the holidays always so exhausting?  I feel as if I’m at mile 20 of a marathon.  (Can I say that even if I don’t exercise / dislike sweating?)  Hmm.  Perhaps not.  I guess that my main stress is that my endless holiday errands are preventing me from getting any work done (I mean drawings, not housework).  Take, for example, yesterday…I had to mail a big package off to my nephews.  I took the gifts to UPS to see how much they would charge to send them.  $20 minimum to ship (as they weren’t packed yet) and an extra $14 if I wanted them to pack it.  WHAT????  That’s SO expensive!  So, I planned to pack it myself.  I asked them how much a cardboard box was.  They said $10.  WHAT????  Are you on crack?  For a piece of CARDBOARD????  Disgruntled, I walked out with my gifts.  So, I decided to go to Staples to get my packing supplies…$4 for a box (more sane) and $7 for packing peanuts (eco-friendly-corn-based, mind you, I could have had them for breakfast with some milk…).  THEN, I take my self-packed box over to the post office…and it turns out to be $25 to send it parcel post with signature required.

The moral of the story:  I should have just paid UPS $35 to send it.  I hardly saved any money, and I spent LOTS of time running around like an angry housewife (which I am).

I tried to get into the holiday spirit this week by making a gingerbread house FROM SCRATCH with my son.  It started off okay:


Everything was fine…until the pastry bag.

I’ve decided that several things are tools of the devil:

1.  pastry bags

2.  tinsel

3. packing tape that splits every time you try to peel it off the roll

Notice how they are all holiday related…it’s those three things have made my holiday season MUCH more distressing than is needed.  Anyhoo…the pasty bag.  The first time that you fill it…it’s sort of ok.  Yes, I managed to drop some icing, and YES, there was icing oozing out of the top of the bag as I was squeezing it…but those challenges pale in comparison to this: refilling the bag.  HOW ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH IS ONE SUPPOSED TO DO THAT????  Peeling apart the squished sides of the bag in order to attempt to shove in goopy icing, which is simultaneously falling off of the spatula, was a joke.  There was icing everywhere.  It was: a. in my hair, b. on the dishwasher, c. on the floor, d. on the UPPER kitchen cabinets, and e. partially on the gingerbread.  Mommy was trying not to have an aneurism.  Luckily, the house turned out fine:


Not bad, right?  Notice how the trees in front had no frosting.  Forget it.  I’d had it by then.  Notice also the odd lump of gingerbread in front of the left tree.  My son made that.  Apparently, it’s a ball.  It sort of looks like a present from a large rabbit, but I decided not to tell him that.  From reading all of my parenting books, I think that would have been “detrimental to his self esteem”.  Needless to say, I’m not eating that thing.

In a fit of desperation, I drove to Newport, Rhode Island on Wednesday.  That’s almost a two-hour drive EACH WAY.  Why, would I do such an inane thing when I’m so busy, you ask?  Because I had to SOMEHOW shoehorn in some “ME” time.  I drove there to see a drawing show.  Yes, “LocatingPLACE”, curated by Joseph Carroll, was at Salve Regina University. This show is only open until Dec. 19, so HURRY.

I have some images from the show.  Generally, I loved the work.  Some of it I had seen before, but that didn’t bother me one bit.  Here are some of the highlights:


Ali Osborn,0.002178&z=19&msid=108427223874472554307.00047edb154d25d12f46b,

2012, Graphite on paper, 30″ x 40″

Okay.  THAT is just plain brilliant.  This is an aerial view of the “Mall of America”…drawn in graphite.  This is a spectacular drawing.  I love how it looks like some kind of Beaux Arts rendering of an ancient Roman ruin…except that it’s a MALL.  So soooo brilliant.  I even love the title, which is the link to the view.  PLEASE look at his website here.  This was just a gorgeous drawing that I could have stared at ALL DAY.  (I only allowed myself 45 minutes in the gallery, however…I’m on a short leash here).



Carly Glovinski, Area 8, 2011, ink, graphite, colored pencil on paper, 11″ x 14″

Just look at that for a minute…it looks like an abstract work, almost like a small weaving, right?  Well, it’s not.  It’s an interpretation of a PHONE BOOK.  I love this.  How beautiful is that???  She’s brilliant.  She has a series of these, and they are sooo fascinating.  Glovinski captures so much with this drawing: abstraction…modernity…obsolescence…memory…humanity…

I bask in her artistic brilliance.



Nancy Murphy Spicer, Biking in Berlin 12, Biking in Berlin 13, Biking in Berlin 15,

2010, Flashe, gouache, collage on guidebook page, 8.25″ x 5.75″

This is a beautiful series created from painted/collaged guidebook pages.  Each one is so beautiful and delicate.  What you can’t see here, is that some of the colored forms appear to be not just collaged ONTO the paper behind, but they are actually SPLICED in.  So lovely.  These feel so architectural to me.  I think it’s because of the splicing.  Look at this lovely way that the exhibition was hung as well:


Nancy Murphy Spicer, Biking in Berlin 28, Biking in Berlin 44, Biking in Berlin 66Biking in Berlin 79,

2010, Flashe, gouache, collage on guidebook page, 8.25″ x 5.75″

Don’t you love that?  I thought that was really brilliant and compelling.



Andrea Sherrill Evans, Marker #2, 2012, Silverpoint and acrylic on prepared paper, 29 1/2″ x 33″]

This was gorgeous.  Not only have I seen her work before, but I actually met her once!  Her studio is in the South End, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon it.  I love the mix of delicate marks with the splotch of paint.  Her work is really delicate and beautiful. I’m sure that she’s getting tired of hearing the word “ethereal”, but too bad.  Her work is stunning and ethereal.



Raphael Griswold, Assignments (46 drawings from the series),

2008 and ongoing, Mixed media on paper, 9.75″ x 9.75″

There were several of these drawings laid out on a table.  Each one was colorful and with an amazing mix of media.  I love his sense of color and how he uses the disparate materials to create different textures or qualities.  He sometimes washed ink or watercolor over a resistant crayon or oil pastel texture, creating really beautiful effects.  I love that these are small and not fussy…with a great variety of color and marks.  His subject matter seemed to be the built environment in nature.  I wish that I could have seen more of them…beautiful!

Speaking of beautiful drawings (prepare yourself for a typical annoying segue…), check out the latest from my son:


LOOK HOW CUTE!!!  Those are space aliens.  I like how geometric they are.  I also like that he’s starting to write by himself.  Look at their legs especially…aren’t they great???  I wish that I could get him to stop drawing on the back of each drawing…this is another one:


Apparently, this is a mommy alien and her baby.  No, I didn’t reverse the image…my son just wrote “mommy” completely backwards.  Should I be concerned?  Hmm.  Is it dyslexia when someone turns an entire word backwards?  Hmm.  It may be several years before I give him my car keys.

I’m off to go dream about drawings and distress about dyslexia whilst I grouch my way over to Stop & Shop.

Stay sane…

(I’ll try and do the same.)

Christmas clart
December 7, 2012, 9:21 am
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , ,

Okay.  Because I’m a strange person, we have a “tradition” of getting a real Christmas tree one year, and then using my vintage fake tree another year.  This has not been without controversy.  My stepkids refuse to acknowledge my supercoolvintagealuminumsparkly tree as a “tree”.  I can’t remember what they call it, but “tree” is not permitted.

a-tree 2

Now, I ask you…is THAT really sooooo wrong???  Look how festive and BEDAZZLED it is!  (You know you want one.)

December is one of those months that I look forward to, and yet loathe.  The holiday nonsense…organizing my son’s birthday party…etc.  It’s enough to make my gray hairs breed with reckless abandon.  I keep yelling at them to “quit it!”, but to no avail.  Nobody listens to me around here anymore.  Perhaps it’s my nagging tone of voice, or my incessant whining?  Not sure…I’ll get back to you on that.  I SAID, “I’LL GET BACK TO YOU ON THAT.”

(aren’t you glad that you don’t live here???)

Despite my holiday angst, check out the favor bags that I started to make for said party:


Not bad, huh?  THIS is what I do instead of housework.  (Sorry, honey!)  Housework is tedious, mind-numbing and soul destroying.  Making tyrannosaurus favor bags is uplifting, rejuvenating, and fun.  BTW, my son asked “why roar?”  WHAT’S WRONG WITH ROAR?  He’s soooo nit-picky.  I expected an “ooh” and “ahh”, not a scowl.  When will I learn that the response that I hope from my son is never what I receive?  Sigh.  At least he hasn’t started criticizing my lack of housekeeping skills…

This post is not going to be long, as a dust bunny is tapping me on the shoulder and asking when I’m going to get off of the computer.  Sheesh!  They’re so pushy…

So I didn’t want to bore you with my domestic nonsense ramblings.  As a result, I’ve found a few artists that I think that you should check out.  I tried to find people who have a similar aesthetic to my own.  Why?  Because that’s how I learn things.  You didn’t think that I was going to draw smashed up pears forever did you?  (The correct answer is, “no, of COURSE not…only a moron would do THAT.”)  Hmm…maybe that’s not the answer I wanted.


Rebecca Clark

Isn’t that lovely?  Check out her work here.  I love her series on dry leaves.  Such beautiful forms.  It’s really great.

Here’s another person who works with graphite:


Shona Macdonald

Her work is pretty impressive all round.  Please check out her website.  She works in so many different media.  Really amazing breadth and quality of work.  I bask in her artistic virtuosity.  I also bask in her ability to make a beautiful drawing from piles of laundry.  I certainly have THAT subject matter at home!  It tends to look more like the messy piles rather than the neat stacks…go figure.  Maybe I’ll try to create a still life with my dust bunnies as a start…

In the meantime, you have a homework assignment of telling me about other FABULOUS artists that I should know.  I don’t see any at Stop & Shop, so I need others to guide me to MORE than just the cracker aisle, which I always seem to lose.

Check out here what those of us who don’t live in NYC are missing (besides a good bagel and just about everything):


Did you watch the video????  If not…YOU MUST.  I may set up something like this in our living room.  It will entertain as well as distract from the general disarray…a win-win!


(our living room floor’s perpetual state…)  See?  We have art is the suburbs!!!  Except we pronounce it “aht”, here in the Commonwealth…

Christmas cookies
December 24, 2010, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Fleeting thoughts... | Tags: , , , , , ,

My son, stepdaughter and I were making Christmas cookies with the Trader Joe’s sugar cookie kit.  This is actually the third batch that I’ve made with my son. SO GOOD!  I truly have to restrain myself from eating ALL of them.  Especially with a nice cup of coffee.  I highly recommend that you rush out now and buy all of these kits, plus all of the peppermint Jo-Joe’s.  Those are also amazing.  Don’t get me started on the chocolate covered ones.

This is a fun Christmas for me, as my son is turning three tomorrow!  Christmas has taken on a new meaning now that I’m a mom…and it’s his birthday.  I’m excited for him.  We bought him a couple of nice trucks, and I can’t wait to see his face when he opens the presents.  Beyond that, though, I feel lucky to have such a lovely family.  My husband has been slaving away in the basement, trying to “finish” it in order to have some more breathing room around here.  I think that he should win the “husband of the year” award, for all the work that he’s done on this project.  I am very grateful.  Actually, he should win “husband of the year” award, as he is the one that suggested I quit my job.  Our quality of life and parenting won out over our financial, and my career, needs.  It was very hard to do, but it has been very good for all of us.

I am also grateful to have three, very fun kids.  Sometimes a little TOO fun, and then I need to hide.  Otherwise, they have a great time together, and generally make me laugh.  My son regularly comes out with statements that are hilarious.  Like when my DH asked him to stay downstairs, instead of following me upstairs to the bathroom…my son barked at him, “DAD!  Don’t make things complicated!!!”  Seriously.  He’s two.  At least he hasn’t started rolling his eyes at us yet.  I’ll cry the day that he won’t let me hug and smooch him on the cheek.

Sigh.  I think that I actually love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day.  Is that terrible to say?

Have a lovely holiday!!!

Tree again!

So, in spite of the fact that I think that we have a very cute tree…not all of my family members will recognize it as a “tree”. Sheesh!  Don’t you think that it looks cute?  I’ll admit, it doesn’t have the “home-made” look…with ornaments made in kindergarten, etc.  I like those kind of trees too.  BUT, this tree has a certain exuberance, that I think makes it fun.  I mean, it’s like a mini fireworks display in our dining room!  Okay, I’m clearly biased.  Don’t worry…next year is the other tree’s turn…a real one.  Remind me to ask for a mini vac for Christmas.

this is how my son’s decorating went:

Progress images & tree debate…

Hello all!  I’ve been asked to try to provide progress images of what I’m up to.  Here’s a serigraph (screen print), that is in progress:

Here some images of my holiday cards…relief print:

And here is something in progress…tree ornaments!  This is a good segue to my next topic: tree debate!

Okay.  When I was growing up, our family would sometimes get a real tree at Christmas time…and sometimes not.  When we didn’t get a real tree, we used my mom’s FABULOUS silver aluminum tree.  I believe that she and a girlfriend bought the tree when they had a tiny apartment in Chicago.  Anyway, I loved that tree.  Much to my horror, she threw it out one year WITHOUT ASKING ME FIRST.  I know…get a life.  Whatever.  So, I’ve wanted one of those trees for ages.  I got a vintage one from ebay last year, and I was SO excited.  I think that my mom’s tree was better.., but this one is pretty cool.  Okay, so the debate is: the rest of my family is not fond of the idea of a fake tree, never mind a silver one.  So, I’m posting photos to get more opinions. Am I crazy, or is this thing kind of cool?  Be honest.  The first photo is just the plain tree…bare bones:

I know…it has a sort of Charlie Brown sparseness to it.  But wait!  What if I add some lights?

What if I go crazy, and add some PINK lights?  (as we had in my childhood…should explain a lot about me)

I know.  My husband is NOT going to go for this.  But whyyyyyyyy???  Isn’t it COOL?  No?  Hmm…okay, I also made some silly, pillow ornaments for the tree.  You may hate these as well, but give me your opinions on them:

And now, in the silver tree:

So, what do you think?  Creepy? Cute? Blah? Yucky?

I like them!  I know.  Mies van der Rohe would throw up.

My son, inspecting the tree:

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