Thursday, September 30, 2010

RISCA grants and the talents of others

I just finished my application for the RISCA Individual Project grant. In the process, I learned that my friend Christina Spangler is a wonderful writer, and I got to admire the work of three other artist friends.

Jinny Pearce makes stunning prints, as rich in meaning as in tonal variation.

Margaret Owen handles paint as if the rest of us are just missing out on one of human beings' natural endowments,

and Carie Chong makes installations that are all the more poignant for their elegance. How about that for a list of talented friends?

In the words of my friend Christina, charcoal and paint, growing and flowing, stumbling and overlapping, revealing the layering of lives operating on many levels, at varying speeds, through the lenses of those who have lived them, and who can best express them, female artists themselves.

The video clip is the grant proposal...

Monday, September 27, 2010

RISCA Grants, Émile in Orange

Slogging through through my proposal for a RISCA grant, and taking pictures of a cute baby...

I'm also listening to the wonderful music of my violinist friend, Ysanne Spaveck. You can listen to her music here.

And looking at the humorous paintings of the now defunct Royal Art Lodge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Caspar David Friedrich, Romanticism, Penrose, and the 5th Dimension

I am embarrassed to admit that I have been working on this painting since before Émile was born (sorry about that accent over the E-- I can't give it up yet!) For many painters this would be an insignificant amount of time, but I like to conceive and produce my paintings in about a week's time. This one is kind of an homage to Caspar David Friedrich.

A couple of words about the background. This is one possible solution to the shapes and rules set forth by Sir Arthur Penrose (and copyrighted by him, too. Here is a funny article on what happened when a toilet paper company used his design without permission.) I have a fond relationship with these tiles, or tessellations as some people call them, when a set of forms can fill space without gaps to infinity by following some basic rules. Penrose tiles have the distinguishing feature that they can tile space infinitely, but you can't predict their patterns. At least, not in this dimension (oooohh...)

In college, I had a class with a brilliant woman, Marjorie Senechal. She taught us discrete mathematics, and a class on tilings, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable classes. In addition, she looked strikingly like the white queen from Tenniel's illustrations for Through the Looking Glass.
Professor Senechal is a world expert on quasicrystals, and predicting semi-regular tilings. She wrote the book, which sits admired and misunderstood on my shelf, Quasicrystals and Geometry.
Quasicrystals are described as "periodic in a higher dimension," which I find pretty trippy stuff. What does this have to do with Penrose tiles? Well, apparently, if you bisect each side of the tiles, and connect the ones that are parrallel and share a tile, you end up with 5 sets of lines, which can then be stretched straight. Then, through a process called "abracadabra," you turn each of those sets into another dimension, and then, somehow, they are predictable. I don't get it, but I love the idea.

Penrose tiles are a rich symbol for me of all of the mathematics I studied, and loved, even when I wasn't always very good at it, or didn't understand it. I left it all behind when I started studying art more seriously. Maybe I will go back and get a phD in math when I'm an old woman...

I remember sitting on this bench in Amsterdam, covered with Penrose tiles! (photo by Javier Lopez.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birthdays, and baby no-nos

On my birthday, I had a hot shower. I know, you are just drooling with envy. When was the last time you had a hot shower?
Also, I relearned this simple lesson: don't kiss the sleeping baby, because you will wake him up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hippos, crocs, and thugs

We all know that MY daughter is the most perfect and inoffensive angel on the planet... and then her friend takes a candid photo of her...

Painted this croc on OSB wood for my daughter's friend's birthday, same day as mine. He said crocodiles were his favorite animals. An original choice-- first time I've heard it! And yes, those are Penrose tiles behind the painting.

My funny little hippo got included in another eponymous (what a thrill to use that word) treasury, called The Orange Hippo, curated by CicalTdesigns.

And in another treasury of "undiscovered shops" (meaning fewer than 20 sales), called Hippo Finds Pumpkin, curated by simplychiclily. Isn't that a wonderful idea, looking for undiscovered shops? A kind of treasure hunt.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hippos and Miros

For years my daughter's favorite animal was the hippopotamus (Greek for river horse.) After many youtube videos on the subject, particularly of Imani, the baby hippo, I have grown to like them, too.

Did you know that a group of hippopotamuses is called a bloat? Or that their closest living relatives are whales and porpoises? But hippos are so much meaner...

This hippo is featured on an Etsy treasury by Vonlenska Vintage.

And then I just have to share Lucy's Miro drawing. Once again, the five year old knocks my socks off!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Muddling through

I just saw the movie Greenberg, directed by Noah Baumbach. As with all of his films about late life bloomers and muddlers, (Kicking and Screaming, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Squid and the Whale) I found it immensely reassuring. I enjoy watching this middle aged character who has lost the path to adulthood, clashing with those who still have a legitimate claim on youth. It makes me feel less anxious about where I am in my own life.

Greta Gerwig, as Florence, was extremely sweet and delicate, but with a sense of herself that easily outweighs that of the title character.
The filming itself had some wonderful and surprising moments, particularly when the dog was involved. I don't often find such a subtle and droll sense of visual humor, or a fresh point of view (literally, not metaphorically).

When I get the chance to read, walking around outside with Émile, I've been traumatizing myself by reading Raising Cain. Do boys really attack each other that much for being even slightly feminine, or sensitive, or compassionate? Maybe we should move back to Berkeley, or to France, before Émile hits his preteen years... Next on my list is Reviving Ophelia, and I'm preparing myself for revisiting the past.

Here's another little painting of a horseshoe crab, a goodbye to Wellfleet on Cape Cod.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bee, bee, bumblebee

As with last time, I type one handed while holding a sleeping baby.
Little Émile has GERD (painful gastro stuff) so the studio is very hard to reach these days. But I made one, and even took photos!

I found this little bee
was in my garden, after a life of gathering pollen from all of the flowering bushes. I think it is a bumble bee, not a honey bee.

Interesting things about the bumble bee:

It is different from the honey bee in that it nests in the ground, and has a special hook for honey on it's hind legs. In most other ways, they are very similar.

The myth that bumble bees should be incapable of flight may have arisen because scientists weren't aware of the vortex the little creatures were able to create above their wings with each cycle of wing beats, much like is created by a helicopter.

The buzzing sound comes from the bee's muscles as they create the flying movement, not from the wings themselves.

We just said goodbye
to my aunt's place in Welfleet. Here is Lucy holding her brother at the cottage. And then Émile, looking very Norwegian...