Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This feels really good.

This first round has been great. Now it gets scary, when I have to move on to round two.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

European Breakfast.

I love having bread, cheese, jam and coffee for breakfast. It cooled off here and it's breezy – so beautiful this morning. The squirrels are going bananas chasing each other all over the yard and the birds are flying around the feeder crunching on seeds. About to leave for the Randolph Street Antique Market. I don't have any money really, or anything I need to buy, but it's always fun to look.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oh, Peonies!

With the recent seasonal blooming of peonies, it seemed not a day went by where you didn't hear someone say, Oh! Look at the peonies! I love peonies! and gesture wildly with excitement. This always makes me think, Really? You do? Those? I finally just have to give up and admit the fact that I do not like peonies, and in fact, might proclaim them my least favorite flower. I realize this puts me in a very small minority among plant and flower admirers. Okay.

What's funny is, the whole week or two when I was realizing my true, unpopular feeling about the peony, I was given an opportunity to make a painting for someone, with the simple direction, Pink, Purple, Peonies. Uh, universe? Is this a joke?

I conveyed to the client that I could create something representational of the peony, but that it would definitely not be a painting of peonies. She said that's fine. So now I have photos of peonies occupying a wall in the studio and I'm studying them every day trying to envision where this thing's going to end up and I basically have no clue. I do find the pursuit to make something I love out of a subject and color direction I would never choose an interesting challenge.

The pics hanging in the garage are from Flickr search for peonies. I didn't get the links to credit them. The first image is by Ecritures.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Poem.

When I was digging through an old sketch book to find the Madonna article on summer heat, I flipped through some of the other pages and came across some funny "poems" I'd written about 10 years ago. Here's one one of them:

the last day of life
for anyone on a farm
makes everyone else

i think most
guitar players
feel the same

when they daydream
about the same thing
day after day
after day

tentacles on the
twitch and swell
and sway

under the current
we are all meant
to play.

I actually typed this out later and used it in a collage painting. After some consideration about what to do for an image, I decided that silly sketch above complimented the words. Sorta?

Waiting for Bob.

I keep being struck by images of people in New York. I love the summer outfits and energy. I'm excited I get to go visit. And I really enjoy this mirror set-up.

Image from menstyle.fr article on creative New Yorkers. This is girl keeps the blog Big Black Frames.

Monday, June 22, 2009

It finally feels like summer.

I really miss the "Ray of Light" Madonna. I still remember cruising around in my VW blaring this music. Whenever it's oppressively hot out I'm reminded of the piece in Rolling Stone I've saved since that album came out (1998!), because I remember totally agreeing with it. Here's an excerpt:

"... Actually I like the summer better than the winter. For one thing, I like the heat better than the cold – I still don't have air conditioning. I hate air conditioning. Because I don't want to be tricked. I want to know exactly how hot it is, and I'd rather just adapt to the heat, because that's what we're supposed to do..."

"... I think New York is the best place to be in the summer, even if the heat and humidity make everybody grouchy. It may be more civilized in California, because it always gets cool at night, but it's so boring to be there. It's always summer in LA, so no one appreciates it. When summertime comes to New York, everybody seems to be celebrating for three months; it feels like the city comes to life..."

I feel the same way about summer in Chicago, and I completely hate air conditioning. If it weren't for guests, I would never turn it on. I'd rather lay in bed sweating in my sleep than be under blankets with processed air pumping out the vents. I don't get the point of freezing all winter waiting for warm weather and then bundling up to tolerate being indoors when it's 90ยบ outside.

That's why when the heat and humidity finally hit this weekend, I just put on a tank dress and reveled in it. I love summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A follow-up to The Idea.

It's moving right along.

This image is an aerial view of a portion of my drive into work. A friend of mine once referred to this route as the "back" entrance to the city. The highway is flanked with a lot of cement, refinery silos, cargo freight, industrial holding tanks, rocks and parking lots. The south branch of the Chicago River to Lake Michigan adds another degree of "charm". It's not "pretty". This and a general perceived ugliness regarding this stretch of highway got me thinking about beauty.

In January I started another 5-day commute after about 4 1/2 years of basically a floating schedule. This meant once again enduring "traffic". This traffic is nothing like the reverse commute from Chicago to Wheeling, which I promised myself I'd never do again, but it can be taxing regardless, day after day. So, I am definitely met with odd stares when I mention that through the transition from cushy to rigid schedule, one of the perks is my morning commute. This 18 mile drive can easily take up to an hour.

I think that what throws most people, is that they imagine an hour of this:

Oddly, I almost never see this. To me the morning commute is an hour to myself where I can drink coffee, listen to news or music, and basically zone out looking at things from an odd perspective. This is how I happened to decide to explore a different approach to what beautiful really looks like to me.

The shapes, lines and colors in any given composition you frame can be so perfect. It has become a sort of pass time for me to pick an ordinary land-/factory-scape and remove it's reality to it's own raw qualities of tones, pattern and simplicity.

This is a project very much mentally in the works as Spring came and went, thus changing a lot of the "beauty" I was observing. Just light and weather makes everything different. It's a drag to see something every day changing and not be able to capture what that looks like besides what your memory determines you'll see. But hopefully these help the point?

At one point I was obsessed with splashes of yellow.

Most of these were snapped while I was at a stand-still in my car, which I much preferred to the alternative I suffered this weekend, grabbing the ones I've never been able to get but want. Taking pictures along an expressway at 7 am on a Sunday isn't quite the same as snapping shots in bumper to bumper traffic. I was surprised how terrifying it was to pull over and wander up and down a shoulder on this completely familiar stretch of road. It wasn't familiar at all, and in fact, up close, it was pretty creepy. It made me feel exhilarated in a terrified way, but basically creepy and pretty much scared to death a sharp, heavy metal object was about to fly up from under someone's tires and impale me, or else I'd just be run over.

An equally interesting reaction, throughout this process of trying to capture some of these city/landscapes for reference, is how angry people can be when you let 10 yards of traffic lane get between you and the parked car in front of you.

My most excellent example of this was the guy in the maroon Mercury Sable, who just about lost it that I wasn't creeping up behind the car in front of me that literally wasn't moving like all the rest of the cars in the row before me. He layed on the horn. This is shocking obviously, because of the noise naturally, but really it was because of his urgency for us to move our cars up six feet. I engaged moving forward, and gestured to the fact that he really wasn't missing any forward progress, and this guy went ballistic, honking and girating in his driver's seat. I laughed. I laughed even harder when, in another such gap, he sped around me and then got directly in front of me to not move any faster or any more forward than I was, now one car length behind him. But really what struck me at this point was his license plate, which read, HOTZ 19.

I guarantee this is all HOTZ could see. I also have a feeling the beauty along this industrial corridor is utterly lost on a lot more people than HOTZ. I guess I just hope not, because this isn't as pretty a view as another that you could see.

The Idea continues.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Rearrange.

**click to enlarge**

This is weird, but for right now it's suiting me. Plus, the visual perspective from the sofa is a really nice change of pace. I'm loving seeing stuff hanging in the kitchen and I'm also loving seeing the sides of flat frames on walls. I swear in person it doesn't feel as cramped as these photos look. It took a LOT of reworking, and it's really hard to see it all 'working' with placeholder furniture, but it's an effect and I think it will help push some more creative work that needs to be done.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So, tomorrow morning...

I will really go take those pictures. It's pouring down rain. Instead I am treating myself to some coffee and long overdue posts. Then I will transfer the studio from the spare room to the garage for the summer, in preparation for the post-photo portion of the idea, which I can't wait to get started on.

For now I'm digging out some of my home improvement and decorating ideas. This top image I have saved for a while, it's from the apartment of artist and photographer Jennie Lee via SF Girl by Bay. I love that blue chair. It's the original inspiration behind adding blue velvet to my navy blue-walled bedroom, which I'd love to do on a chair or drapes. The design of this chair would also fit perfectly. I love her studio, too.

Speaking of drapes, these caught my eye, also for my navy bedroom. I like the ceiling to gathering on the floor oversize of them. They may be a bit too much for my space, but in the right fabric, that navy room could pull them off. I also like those little disappearing ring attachments, and I like the noise I imagine they make against the metal rod when you pull them open or closed. I don't know though, because my windows don't go to the ceiling? Regardless I like the way they look. This image and the one below are from The Rug Company catalog found on A Bloomsbury Life.

I also really like the design and color of these chairs. They look so comfortable. Maybe living room? Man, I just had a radical living/dining room redesign flash.

Here's A Bloomsbury Life's actual living room. It's amazing. Her blog is so great because she lets you in to watch as she continues to play with her home and she's got incredible taste, style and personality. I kept this pic for the curtains, but my god, look at everything else going on in the room. It is spaces like this that make me really want to attempt to combine colors and patterns in surprising unity. These exact curtains could work in my living room if I had the courage and budget to go for it. I would have never considered that type of treatment, but I think that it could be nice in the room. The fabric was designed by Peter Dunham. Here's a close-up of the pattern from his store Hollywood at Home.

I love successful examples of groups of different sizes and colors of artwork and frames hanging together in unison. This is a great one. I also love those chairs. Sometimes I think I want them as my dining room set. Sometimes I want just one as an accent chair. They are beautiful and surprisingly comfortable. These two look like they are in incredible condition. I don't know where I grabbed this image, but it looks like a Domino. Ok, and I also am struck by the portrait of the twin girls by Diane Arbus every time I see it. See it in the back ground? See it up close. It gives me the chills for some reason.

This is a Domino shot on Storage from Automatism. When I tell people I'm looking for beveled-edge mirrors, this is a gorgeous, pretty elaborate version what I mean. They are on the small side. Sometimes they hang on chains. You can see a group example of them here. These are basically the opposite of easy to find? Right? That's been my experience anyway. For example I did not see even one mirror without a frame at the entire Kane County Flea Market last weekend. I'd say that's hard to find? As Michelle pointed out, while it can be disappointing, it also makes the challenge of searching for it the thrill of finding it that much more exciting. What I guess is a good idea is to have collections that are also a little easier to come across, so you're not wasting hours and hours searching with no reward. That pot up there with the mirror is pretty McCoy-esque if not the real thing. Pottery obviously can range from affordable to highly collectable, so it's something flexible that I'm having a bit of fun with lately. It's nice to always have something great to return home with... then dang! when you find that perfect sought-after piece. Below are some more botanicals with thin frames I'd like for the bathroom, and an amazing, totally impractical sofa. I think it's another room from Domino.

I'll wrap this up with a final Domino shot. I love this kitchen. Especially the color and style combinations. I love the table. I'd love to have a place to put such a table. It could work in the spare room as a workstation or desk, but what I like so much about it is that it's used here as table, when in fact, I think it's maybe even a drafting table? The lines and weight of the legs are fantastic.

It's still raining, Mozart's still playing, and the coffee pot just turned itself off.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And a little more about chickens.

A while ago I posted some aerial shots and hints of an idea brewing. For some time I've tried to execute this idea, but the weather won't cooperate. I think I just finally decided that the right light or not, I'm going to try and wrap up the photo portion of this thing tomorrow. Then I'll show you some pictures and tell you a little story.

Also today Katy let me know that her cousin's neighbors have chickens and they went to a Chicken Open House recently where they got to meet the birds. She's going to pass along some information. In the meantime, Katy googled 'chicken open house' and found the blog Beverly Chickens, who we believe is actually the cousin's neighbor in Massachusetts. I can't wait to read every word.

Image by Happy Menocal via All Stripes.

The Loot (Part 3).

We spent the better part of the last weekend before the party getting the yard ready. Instead of buying already potted arrangements and sticking the plastic pots in clay ones like I did last year, we picked the varieties for the arrangement. This is terribly fun at the beautiful Hinsdale Nurseries. I went in with one idea of what I thought I would get, and walked out none of it but the sweet potato vine.

We also hit HD and Menard's for some hostas, salvia, and supplies, as well as another local nursery before heading back for finals at Hinsdale again. This was when the garage hook ended up with it's adornment – this vine with purple flower clusters – and I have no idea what it's called? It twists in the wind and projects a really pretty shadow on the garage windows (later in the day). It also needs a lot of water, which it reminds me everyday as it sags. Surprisingly, purple was kind of the recurring color. It also ended up in the hanging basket by the front door.

Also addressed was the front which basically got no attention last year. I use the term "we" pretty lightly. My Mom did most of the work of potting plants before I even got up in the morning. But I did use some long and pointy scissor-y things to hack the evergreens into some kind of shape. I really trimmed it up off the ground and got a lot of dead branches removed. Then I raked up all the dead leaves and most of the mulch. I think I'm over mulch. Everyone uses it, but I think it's messy and annoying.

Here I added a white hydrangea variety (light green, far left) in front of the two mock orange? that have since bloomed and smell amazing. There's also a new hosta (far right front) and three new purple salvia/sage plants (two left, one right). Then my Mom went by and added the marigolds (complimentary color to the purple) for a little boarder and some contrast.

It's been almost two weeks and I haven't killed anything! I really can't believe how well the stuff from last year is doing and how much stuff spread out. The shasta daisies and black-eyed susan's have little buds all over and I can't wait for them to finally burst open.

Do you capitalize names of plants? Both ways look weird.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Laundry Basket.

I love this! I'm going to Kane County this weekend. I'm going to be on the lookout.

Image by Suziebeezie via SF Girl by Bay.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Loot (Part 2).

Earlier I mentioned we went to an antique pavilion place in Michigan where I got the frames and mirror for the bathroom. My Mom got me this pottery. A couple weeks ago at Dinner Club, Sara brought Michelle these neat green pots for her collection of McCoy pottery. Turns out, my Mom has a similar collection of about 30 or so pieces I never knew about. We picked up one for Michelle and I got these three white ones. These aren't all McCoy, but they are very similar in style. The round pedestal in back is a Haeger and the scalloped one is a Redwing.

What's cool about all three of these types of pottery is that it seems relatively inexpensive ($15-55 was the range I saw) and there are a ton of styles, colors, glazes and designs. So it's fun to look for them when you're otherwise just browsing. They are not all signed or stamped, but many are, so while you're picking them up you can start to learn more about a particular set (is it called a brand?). There is so much variety actually, I think they can work perfectly in any home, on display or in use, no matter what your style is. I haven't really dug too deeply into all this yet, but I find it interesting, so when I do I will share what I learn.

Kyle got me that paint-chipping-off-it perfectly frame behind them. This is it's temporary home. I will reshoot it once it's found it's companion and is settled in the right spot. It's great.

After I put that little jade plant from HD ($3) in one, I planted basil seeds in the McCoy planter. I don't know if these will grow or not. I feel like they need more sun. Only it hasn't been sunny so I can't tell if it will get some or how much. It's in a South-facing window? This is why it's called Attempts at Gardening instead of Gardening.

This third shot is actually a pretty true capture of the photograph my Mom picked up recently on a trip to DC. She was trying to tell me how from certain angles and in certain lighting, the fisherman disappears. I never really got what she was talking about. What looks like a black smudge at the bottom is actually a Vietnamese fisherman on water fog and sun that all runs together into one barely differentiated background. When you do get close, you can make out certain details and fine features on the fisherman and ripples in the water that are really cool. Unfortunately I can't make out the signature and I don't have any other way to credit the artist. I wasn't sure about this piece but it's growing on me quite quickly.

I haven't found the right light switch cover yet, so ignore that gross mess.

Sorry for the crappy flash photos too. The weather has been terrible.