Saturday, December 31, 2011

Writing and rewriting

I have been reading a lot of author interviews the last few days, looking for the fuel to build a new story out of a (month) old one. Three writers have been the most interesting: Ursula K. LeGuin, Patricia McKillip, and Mary Pope Osborne. The last of these is really touching--

I had a child come up once in a group of children — he sort of stood off to the side — and finally he leaned over and whispered in my ear and said, "Mrs. Osborne, you may not realize this, but I'm an author, too."
Ursula K LeGuin is immensely refreshing, with the authentic practicality she shares about life as a writer. She talks about having raised children, and the hard work needed to write. McKillip, for her part, describes creating towers of spiral bound notebooks, because she still writes everything out by hand.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cheetahs and Zombies

I must recommend Emile's favorite ASL music videos: Jonathan Coulton's RE: Your Brains and Portal, Still Alive.

Now on to something more serious: cheetah sketches. Which one is more alive?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Halloween, Harvest, Harps, and other H's

After a semester of statistics, I find myself about to be crushed by a backlog of fabulous kid photos. Here are a few of them. And some tomatoes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The end of NaNoWriMo

In this last month of hasty writing, I learned that 2k words per day leaves no time for studying statistics. I also learned that I know nothing about character and plot development.

And, by accident, I learned that there is something called "fanfic," and that is is peopled by Mary Sues. They both sound like something I want nothing to do with but by which I am completely fascinated. A Mary Sue is a kind of superhero, written as an alter ego of the author, but in an already created science fiction world. So a writer rights her most bad ass self into her favorite shows or books. I love this idea. No desire to read it, but the thought is riveting. I spent a while wallowing in this weird world, instead of writing or studying. Can't even call it research.

Less riveting is the novella I completed. I finished about 10k short of the 50k goal. Now to make it readable...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November's list

1. Baby obstruction is as effective as baby proofing, in things like rubber bands holding cupboard handles together.

2. Probability and Statistics can be an interesting thing to study, but does not leave much time for anything else.

3. Mole rats live in massive colonies, like ants, and all have almost identical DNA, as well as a queen/breeder.

4. Much of maintaining good sibling relationships has to do with concealment of evidence.

5. Fleischer Brothers animated  films are way more bizarre than anything contemporary I've seen.

6. Pregnant teens who dropped out of high school in the 70s could not get their GED before they were twenty.

7.  A collection of starlings is called a murmuration, as shown in this lovely video example.

8. My favorite Tom Waits quote about having kids from an interview with Terry Gross: "You [don't have to parent like everyone else.] You can roll your own."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poems that made me cry

I listened to Terry Gross' interview with Marie Howe, and I can't get over it. "...every poem has that silence deep in the center..." - Marie Howe

Lucy is very determined to play the harp, in spite of all of Laurent and my subtle (hopefully) attempts to expose it's awkwardness, and the benefits of its competitors. Then I remembered Joanna Newsom, with her crazed voice and the honesty and lack of preciousness with which she treats her cloying instrument. I have hope.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Still animating, though slightly snowed under with probability...

Random variables, predifferentiation, and nPr's without Terry Gross...
I need to deal with something a little more tangible for a while, so

I'm taking a little break to do some animation. Which looks better, fish one, or fish two?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Germs

The whole house is under bicrobial (or viral?) siege. Lucy is just starting to ask about playdates again, while the last of us, Laurent, falls. I am pulling a page from Amy Chua's book, though, and temporarily disavowing all playdates. It feels liberating.

The photos are from our visit to Brimfield, Massachusetts last weekend, to go apple picking with our friends Camille and Owen. After an impish photo shoot, courtesy of Camille, we noticed that all of the leaves to Lucy's left were actually poison ivy... After a serious scrub down, we seemed to have escaped.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Women and Infants

A little blipblurp of animation I made, showing a nursing mother and newborn baby.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I'm reading Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. I can't put it down. It probably says something grim about my personality that I find her way-over-the-top strictness with her two daughters completely hilarious.

At the same time, I just read the NYTimes article on character and success in, and after, school, called "What If the Secret to Success is Failure?" Now I have a 24 point questionnaire for Lucy and Emile to evaluate my success as a parent.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Brains to gold?

A couple of photos of the little people. Emile is in his natural habitat, and Lucy in hers.

School is treating Lucy well, I think. She isn't talking about it much, which, with loquacious Lucy, is unusual. But she seems happy, and doesn't usually hesitate to let us know when something doesn't suit her ("Maman, I don't like the way he laughed.")

For me, on the other hand, school is a challenge. There are two people in the class, aside from the professor, who follow perfectly everything that is going on, and make corrections in real time. I am not one of those two people. This makes me a little nervous, but I do enjoy playing with math again, even if I don't always get it.

I'm working on adding color to the music animation that I made. Made the straw gold. Next comes the goldfish.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yellow Duck

Summer is over, and Lucy is back in school. I miss her wild little self while she is away.

In the field of childhood, a lot of things don't make sense. For example, I have never seen a yellow duck, outside illustrations and children's toys. Eric Carle and Bill Martin's book is riveting for Emile, but it is not heavy on reality. Ducks are yellow, horses are blue, cats are purple. But then, how could that be worse for him than our having a black cat named Yellow? I suspect that learning his colors is going to take a while, especially as it is all confounded by hallucinogenic board books.

So, I am loosely planning for the writers month. On the site, they qualify that outlines are allowed:
Outlines and plot notes are very much encouraged, and can be started months ahead of the actual novel-writing adventure. Previously written prose, though, is punishable by death.

Maybe I will do that... But I have a math class that I will go and sample this afternoon, Introduction to Probability, at Rhode Island College, so we will see how much time I actually have.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Finally! Now to get my painting back from the shipping company, so I can send it good old US Post...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Southerners must be laughing...

We in Rhode Island are all about raiding Whole Foods in desperation for hurricane supplies. Heck, Laurent and I even cleaned up the garden a bit to minimize on the flying debris. He did more of the cleaning up outside, I will admit. Aside from the gutters, which I insisted on doing because I have fun being up on the roof.

I figured out that, if I want to do the NaNoWriMo, I need to write 3 pages per day in order to get to 50,000 words. So, do I go wild with that, or follow a structure? Both are tempting.

I just packed up one of my paintings to fly across the country to Corvalis, Oregon, for a show on mathematics in art, called Calculated Result - Mathematics in Art. A way cool show.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NoMo what?

Several years ago I heard about National Novel Writing Month, while listening to kqed in Oakland, California. I was busy finishing my MFA, or maybe I was already dealing with a demanding baby person, but I vowed that I would do it, 50,000 words in 30 days, someday. I think this might be the someday. I'm thinking of going ultra cheesey: romance. Hah! I am the least romantic person I know. I can't wait. I once dared to criticize my mother for writing romance novels (which she never published, probably through want of trying) saying she should write what she knew. She had the grace to think this was funny, coming from her adolescent daughter.

The NaNoWriMo fits right in with the theme of this month: confusion. I have to admit that I am going through a midlife crisis. I say a and not the, because it isn't my first, and probably not my last. Emile is toddling, and I feel a parallel need to explore, and solidify.

Should I
  • continue exploring my artwork, even though I am terrified of even the most harmless and kind gallery managers?
  • go back to school to study the teaching of mathematics, with the goal of mixing art and math in adult remedial education? Harvard Extension School and UC Berkeley both have interesting programs that might work. Smith College has a well funded post bacc that gives grants to the students, as well.
  • continue teaching English as a Second Language?
  • go into translation?
  • write romance novels?

You see how things are. Alas.

Anyway, please join me in the November fun of writing absolute novel-lengthed crap.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The usual slow reentry

Above is one of Lucy's cloud photos, which she took in the car on the way to a children's meditation class at Boston's Shambhala center. Appropriate, right?

Below is one of the few photos I took of our trip. I will have to raid the supply of family numbers to get more. The weather was blissfully mild in Cannes and the Alps, and even cold enough for a sweater in Paris. I can handle a summer like that.

I'm working on spicing up the animation for my friend Camille's song, but my Dell, which had pulled a temporary Lazarus before (although I guess it was temporary even for Lazarus himself) is now beyond the grave, and so I'm still working out the wrinkles in the animation process. Simple scans to video is not working out as easily as it did before, so I'm trying to figure that problem out.

The enneagram has came back onto my plate, as friends around me try to figure out where they fit in that system. My sister's assertion that I am a nine, not a five, has been gaining some credence as I compare my self view with reality.
Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them. (from )
Apparently, many nines like to believe they are fives. How unflattering for nines!

Lucy took this photo the night we left my sister's place in Brooklyn to come back home.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Before the trip

We are going to France this summer, and Laurent is spending every minute he can insuring that his plants will not go thirsty while we are gone. The raspberries were showing off for us before our departure, producing more in this first harvest than we got the first two years combined.

Émile, like Lucy, is apprenticing in dirt displacement.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Progress by the milliseconds

Summer in Rhode Island is pretty wonderful. It's hot, but not unbearable, and Laurent's garden is extremely bountiful this year. We swim in the neighbor's pool, then spend the rest of the evening eating the blueberries and raspberries, red and black, and snap peas and green beans...

I am finally nearing the end of the animation I am working on for my friend, Camille Collins Lovell, to accompany one of the songs she recently recorded. It is an experiment, and I am enjoying it. I'm still learning about creating animations that are instigated by sound, and have not perfected the art. I'm layering cutouts on cutouts. My friend Ean suggested that the fish need to change their behavior and size from time to time, so that is the next thing I'm working on.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts!

What Can I Say, version 5 from Julia Gandrud on Vimeo.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gracefully crabby

MySelvagedLife has curated a treasury that I want to linger on. It features my little horseshoe crab painting, and several other aquatic honeys that deceive me into thinking that the ocean is still a pristine and wild place place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Feeding the large, blue, fuzzy cat with the pititful eyes

I'm reading Feeding Your Demons, by Tsultrim Allione. It's about a beautiful Chöd practice of loving your difficulties in a selfless way, and taming them with generosity.

First, you envision your demon before you. This is the part I especially like. Then you are supposed to turn your body into whatever the demon needs, until it disappears. I like this part, too, but then the demon is no longer available to model for me, and I have to wait for the next one...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I made the koi, I like the koi, but I am not sure about them in this context, with this kind of hand drawn animation overlapping the cut out animation.
Any thoughts?

What Can I Say (goofing around version 2) from Julia Gandrud on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

So slow...

Working on animations can be very satisfying, in that I get to make many many drawings every day, but it can still feel like I am not getting anything done...
Right now I am working on making a video to go with my friend Camille's song, "What Can I Say." I'm not sure about my approach, but it's still play at this point.

I forgot to put up this lovely image of Laurent with Émile on Chris and Anne's boat. It really was lovely to see them like this.

What Can I Say (goofing around version) from Julia Gandrud on Vimeo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet politics

I've just been reading (on wikipedia, my favorite website, and this other random website) the fascinating and political history of stevia, the sweet leaf plant. Used for centuries, then banned by unknown people for unknown reasons with easily divined motivations... and then approved just as the Cargill and Coca-Cola companies are ready to introduce a new stevia based sweetener...A sugar substitute thriller. Do you suppose there were any gadget-y spies?

Definitely academy award material.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Emotional Illiteracy

Reading Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, by John Gottman, and thinking, "So that's why Lucy can't calm herself down after getting angry or sad... it's because of her idiot parents!

And speaking of emotional parenting mistakes, Laurent and I watched Kick Ass last night. I loved every minute of it. At least we aren't training Lucy to be an assassin...

If you are looking for more entertainment, I can't recommend the new Masterpiece Theatre's Sherlock highly enough. Humorous and well acted, with gorgeous anachronisms that stream back to Sir A. C. Doyle's time, gracefully overlayed with ultra contemporary technology.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Froggie went a crossing

When in doubt about what comes next, paint a frog, that's what I always say... If doubt persists, paint two.

And voila, proof that Lucy knows her way around two wheels.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Death of a Dell

My dear little old Dell Latitude is dead. It's like losing the use of my right hand...

My sister forwarded me an encouraging article on bilingualism, from the NYTimes. I am happy that our bicultural experiment has big fringe benefits!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lucy's got wheels

We spent a beautiful Memorial Day sailing on the boat belonging to our friends Chris and Anne. Chris took the beautiful picture of Émile, looking particularly sailorly, and me.

Lucy can start, go, and even stop on a two wheeler all by herself. She accomplished this a whole year before I did as a child, and I am incredibly impressed be her coordination, bravery, and determination. I can't wait to go on bike trips with her.

A friend, Jessica Gidal, sent me a link to this very beautiful animation music video, directed by Lucinda Schreiber and Yanni Kronenberg.

Firekites - AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying to work, distracted by admiration

I am trying to settle on a new project, or an old one, after my exciting weekend. Here are two artists I enjoyed while my muse looked for her ritalin:

The ever lovely Caroline Leaf:

and an artist who is new to me: Lydia Greer, in San Francisco. I am especially excited about these shadow films.

Monday, May 23, 2011

24 hours of animation, 18 hours of struggling to get it into the right codec...

What I discovered is that, even though they gave the theme only at the start of the 24 hours, there were more things I could have done to prepare. On the technical side, get the right software and the right cables ahead of time. On the artistic side, create the characters ahead of time, and give a few trial runs of the technique to be used.
Overall, this was really good fun. A million thank yous to Laurent, who took the kids to the zoo, into the garden, for naps...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

24 Hour Animation

I am pretending I am not a mother of two children, and giving in to 24 hours of (slightly stressful) play. An association in Belgium, Zorobabel (some sort of figure from the old testament, rebuilt the temple--I'm not sure what the significance is) is doing a 24 hour animation marathon.

It started an hour and 25 minutes ago. The theme is John Locke's question about honor among thieves. Loosely. I naturally thought of 6 year olds.

I am waiting for my laptop to open a bunch of files.

Tick, tick, tick...The above is one of Lucy's wonderful writings. I will leave you to decipher, as it's not to far from commonly accepted spellings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


When my painting teacher in my first year class made my friend, Claire Redmon McConnell, redo her portrait of an apple it was because she said the representation was larger than life sized, and no one wanted to look at objects larger than life sized. At the time my teacher, Martha Armstrong, said this, I thought it was arbitrary crankiness. I now realize that, while clearly an overstatement, there is some hint of sense. I still can't explain it, but I find that, in general, and soup cans aside, outsized representations of things, people, tend to fall on the bad side of my irrational aesthetic score card.

All of which is to say that I finked out, and the 24 by 48 inch otter has shrunk to 5 by 8 inches. I still don't know what I am going to put on that big canvas.

It really is a leap to go from rather small to rather large. And, as my friend Nick Kilmer cautioned, not always necessary. But I have this big canvas that I've carried around for ten years, and I feel I ought to use it. I feel like a coward for not using it.

But maybe I won't paint a really large mouse on it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I'm going through a really dry spot, time wise. Ten minute naps are just a touch frustrating.
I'm waiting for the paint to dry so that I can do another coat.
I found a very young artist with prints, drawings, and animations, whose work I really enjoyed (particularly the prints): Kathryn Marshall.
Graphic but painterly monoprints--perfect combination.

My friend Jinny introduced me to the art of Morris Graves and now I am looking for more. I'm feeling more inspired to move into a more symbiotic relationship with the paint and brush, less purely hierarchical (with me on top.) I have no control anywhere else, why cling to it in art? Oh, wait....

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Émile the otter

I'm working on a new painting for Émile. This is the sketch.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Flower

A rhinoceros can ferment food in it's stomach. Stampeding while intoxicated?

Other people like frogs, too

The Frogs... How could I not love this treasury? Curated by Universal Arts, and featuring my frog princess.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can Milarepa be in my painting?

Like many others, I too am inspired by Milarepa (1052-1135). How could anyone not be inspired by him? A one time mass murderer who changes, and reaches enlightenment in one lifetime? Wow. The patron saint of imperfect parents.

Do you think it's hubris to use a Tangka in one of my own paintings?
Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive - Milarepa

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Lucy and Émile have been enjoying the cherry tree, now that it's finally in full bloom. I keep hearing the Japanese song, Sakura, as I see the petals dusting our patio
(lyrics from wikipedia)
sakura sakura
noyama mo sato mo
mi-watasu kagiri
kasumi ka kumo ka
asahi ni niou
sakura sakura
Lucy's dress was her birthday gift from her parents, who compromised on princess dresses by buying from a seamstress on Etsy, Lover Dovers Clothing.

A few days ago I listened to the Terry Gross interview with the artist John Sarkin, who only became a professional artist after a stroke engendered his obsessive and continual need to create. Maybe I had a stroke at birth.

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." ~Albert Einstein