Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Detailed drawing.

I've been trying to figure out how to get these drawings online. Via Flickr, it's kind of representing the real thing if you look at the large size image. I've done about 10 of these, different ones, and given them away as gifts. When I was a kid, we'd take these "long" road trips. My parents would keep me busy in the back seat, drawing. I would show them what I was doing, and my Dad would say, "Add a spider" or "Add a squirrel". I think that's where these adult drawings may have originated. All done freehand, not pre-meditated, with a blank sheet and a black pen.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Remember this book? It's title popped into my head today for some reason.

This is how I felt earlier. Fitting that I noticed it. Maybe it was the gas leak from the truck that blocked 3 out of 4 lanes of expressway, doubling the time I normally spend on my morning commute? Or perhaps it was the demolition going on in half our office, which is so bad it's actually comical. The blister I got when I walked to have a rubber stamp made, an order to be placed by the slowest employee in the universe? The endless construction and congestion at every turn along the way today? All the stuff it seems like I always have to do?

In an attempt to turn my frown upside down, I went for a run and long stretch at the practice fields, one of my favorite places to unwind when I remember it exists. Afterward, I decided to pick up my fave, Peanut Butter & Chocolate from Baskin Robbins and make one of my most loved salads for dinner. The combination below originally came from my sister-in-law Kathleen (UPDATE: via Danielle).


Chopped Romaine
Chopped Green Onion
Skinned, Seeded, Cubed Cucumber
Pitted, Chopped Dates
Chopped Avocado
Pistachio Nuts
Goat Cheese

Use however much of the above as you'd like, depending on your taste, number of servings, etc. I prefer a chopped salad, so that's how I make it.

Dressing: Mashed up avocado, olive oil, vinegar (I used pear), sugar. Sometimes I add red pepper flakes and fresh lime juice. Shake it up. Pour on. Enjoy.

Yay, Tuesday!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Loving Fishing.

I have fishing on my mind. Apparently also in my blood. These first photographs are of me, my grandfather, and father. To be honest, I never really cared too much for it, because as a kid it always felt like a lot of sitting around on a pier with nothing really happening and then you'd catch a bluegill or something that was about the size of a silver dollar. This was obviously way before I learned the lovely pleasure that is just sitting around, and quite a while before fishing clicked for me.

Several years ago my father invited our family to join him on one of his bi-, sometimes tri-annual guys trips to Canada. It's an 18-hour drive from Chicago to the Stormer Wilderness Lodge, just north of Red Lake, Ontario. This in itself might sound like a drag, but when you have the personalities of a bunch of fisherman and stops for breakfast, lunch, dinner, supplies, plus a stay at one rundown and mildew infested hotel along the way, it's all part of the fun. I also have an uncanny knack for passing out in moving vehicles, so unless we're at a stop, I can pretty much sleep the entire trip.

When we arrived, it was past dinnertime, but up there in July, the sun doesn't go down until well after 10 o'clock. I apprehensively layered up and went out on the water. Within minutes I had my first Northern Pike. The size of the fish, the fight to get it in the boat, and the excitement upon doing so, well, I was "hooked". I can't believe someone snapped this picture, you can see it on my face. And I absolutely love my dad in the foreground. That smirky smile is saying "she's in".

The whole week we're there, I have no trouble whatsoever waking up without an alarm and being up at the lodge for breakfast. Then we'd pack up the boats with gear and live bait and head out. Look what I'm wearing: Two button-down flannels, a wool sweater, a fleece and a Gore-tex shell. It's July. I'm a cold person by nature, so to some this is may be overkill. In fairness it does warm up during the day as long as there's sun. See? Here I am, clearly fishing.

The lake is large, so there is a lot to discover and learn to navigate. And if you follow my Dad around, who knows the sweet spots to hit, it's not impossible to catch over, no joke, 50 fish before shore lunch. At noon, the 20 or so people staying in cabins at the lodge meet up on a little beach. There, the guides fry up the fresh walleye that were caught that morning in an enormous cast iron skillet over an open fire, and serve it up with buttered bread, baked beans and potato or pasta salad. It's hands down the best fish I have ever eaten in my life.

After lunch, we'd head back out until dinner time. You might be thinking, that's over 9 hours of fishing every day? For 6 days? And like I said, the sun doesn't go down until way late, so a lot of guys go out after dinner, too, for a few more hours. Well, I call it after dinner to build up a fire and read. And I also call it if it's pouring even though I've got head to toe rain gear. I'm not crazy. But that whole week I never tire of being out on the water, with a pole in, ready to catch the next big one. If you've ever spent 10 minutes trying to land an enormous 30-inch walleye or pike, you know why. It's so exhilarating!

It's also great knowing, there's nothing else you can or should be doing. It's just this. And it's a good feeling looking around with not another boat or person in sight. Just trees. And wild life. We see moose, bears, bald eagles, beavers, otters, turtles, all just hanging out doing their thing. If you've never seen a moose in person, you should. It's my favorite animal to see in the wild. My brother is also a favorite animal to see in the wild.

I have since learned about and tried all kinds of fishing. Chartered boats off both coasts, catching flounder or these beautiful orange spiky things I've forgotten the name of, wearing waders or riding flat boats in rivers of the south or standing by ponds in Colorado fishing for trout. But for me, nothing beats floating in a boat in the middle of nowhere, watching bald eagles soar by, and suddenly feeling that bite on your line and reeling in a big walleye or pike.

Friday, July 24, 2009

This morning.

Before I left for Becker's, I went outside to water the plants and this guy just looked so happy in greeting me that it was like he was begging to have his photo taken. I felt obliged to return the favor.


It was all going so well. Michelle had done all the preliminary work of stripping layers of old wallpaper, priming once with latex-based primer, then again (dang!) with one that was oil-based. She painted the trim and ceiling of this tiny powder room with multiple coats. She picked the perfect pattern, it had arrived, and we were on to the last step.

The work station was all set up. We'd cut out the sheets and lined them up, had the plastic bins ready for dipping and the waiting period while the adhesive got tacky, all the tools in place. The paper looked amazing, and typical of Michelle, worked perfectly with her whole first floor. You can see in these backgrounds how well it agreed with the living and dining rooms, even though it was totally different. (I love, love those curtains below).

We put the first sheet up though, and as we were smoothing it out and positioning it gently, with our fingertips, the ink started to rub off. As we continued to carefully flatten it out, more would rub off. I decided maybe we'd gotten it too wet? even though my Mom and the directions said you could dunk the whole sheet. So we peeled the first one off and tried another. This time I just sort of pulled it through the water, letting the printed side stay mostly dry. I was being very careful with it, and used a super soft sponge to try and smooth it down in place. It worked better, but every time we touched it, it started to go again.

When we called the store to ask, they said the paper was defective. We peeled off the second sheet and brought it down there, along with the supplies we'd used, and it was confirmed. We didn't do anything wrong, it was the paper. BUMMER. Ordering more would not solve the problem. DRAG. So we spent a little while, found a good book that had about 4 or 5 options, and took it home to get a better look.

Obviously the sample below was creased, this was after it came down and was folded up to take to the store. But that crease had nothing to do with why the ink was coming off the edges, and is in fact a good representation of what was happening randomly around the whole sheet. That white at the top came off when we put the straight edge to to it to trim it along the wall and ceiling. Just from touching it.

Anyway, I'm bummed I don't have a newly papered powder room to share, but here's a tip: order samples. I will never get wallpaper without a sample first (I probably wouldn't anyway, but I'd be driven by the visual match more than the quality, which I now know to test ahead of hanging). Hopefully in a couple weeks we'll have the new stuff and I can revisit this project with some different results. Didn't work out this time, but totally fun and do-able.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Guerilla Art.

Noticed this one outside my building today. I love when people see something, have an idea, and follow through. I'm pretty sure whoever did this wasn't walking around with a cut out balloon drawing and an adhesive in their bag. I wonder how long the idea was there before the execution. I've been meaning to post some items from Keri Smith for a while. Too tired after a long, challenging day of mishaps and dinner guests to really get into some of her stuff or ideas now, but take a look at How to be a Guerilla Artist.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two new drawings.


* click to enlarge *

These are a sort of series of the fish. Same as the "Partridges" series. I make these using a chopstick I got in Japan almost 15 years ago. Same one of the two set I've been using ever since. The process is to dip the chopstick into a dish of India ink and put it to paper to do the drawings. I think this creates an interesting, un-preconceived line for each and every mark. There are "mistakes" in all of them, but like people, our inconsistencies make us unique, so I am going with that.


PS Every fish in the series (I've done about 20 of these) has a beginning and an end. Read: Nose, Eye and Tail Fin.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Painting today. I've been thinking a lot about fishing and I regret not getting to Canada this year. I'm going to force the issue with my Dad for 2010.

Sculpture by Alexander Calder (1898-1976).

Saturday, July 18, 2009


They're growing!* They even look like real jalapenos, and I haven't killed them. Also the shasta daisies are out of control.

*I actually have nothing to do with this. My neighbor gave me two plants and my mother actually potted them. All I do is water – but it's working...

The Cable House.

I love that just a block from Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago you can still see buildings like this. It's so beautiful, perfectly historic and the garden is amazing.

This is The Cable House designed by Cobb & Frost, built in 1886 for Ransom R. Cable, president of the Chicago, Rockford and Pacific Railroad.

For more images of the building, visit here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

This sweet pool photo was taken by one of my oldest friends, Tom Akira Nakasone. The home in Palm Springs was designed by architect E. Stewart Williams. So I guess I'm thinking about swimming even though I've decided to skip practice and watch Ben Buttons.

I know. I have been warned. I'll probably love it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Emmett Kerrigan.

I have not been spending as much time in front of the home computer as I did earlier in the year. When I rearranged the living room, the computer left it's post on the bed tray in my room for the table, and it hasn't gone back. Plus, it's finally kinda sorta nice out, and I have the strong need to spend every free moment I can outside.

Most nights when I get home I'm just watering plants and then sitting on the back deck until the sun goes down and the mosquitos come out. I have this feeling lately like all I want to do is nothing. Just sit. So doing just that watching the birds is a great way to end a day.

I had a weird past weekend full of plans. I was feeling mentally out of the game. I have been more internal and contemplative lately, quiet and alone. I am so happy that for the next two weekends I have both Saturday and Sunday crossed off on my calendar and "no plans" written where plans are supposed to go. This is both a huge relief and luxury, getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want. That basically means painting, laying out at the pool, napping, drinking white wine and grilling. I'm hoping to take Monday off, too, which means three lovely, glorious days of it.

These images are paintings by a local artist, Emmett Kerrigan. I bookmarked his page on the Linda Warren Gallery site a few years ago for the farm paintings, and recently happened back to take a look. There was only one farm left, but what struck me was what else he'd painted, which oddly resemble the landscapes of my own i55 project. I wonder if he had the same commute?

Monday, July 6, 2009

i55 or Concrete.

Calling anything The Idea seems pretty lame to me now, as in, it's the one and only idea, or it's some kind of grand idea I've had. I don't so much think this is any big spectacular project, it's just something that's been on my mind for so long that I'm finally doing. So I'm thinking of other ways to name this series.

I had a terrific day off drinking coffee and working this morning into early afternoon, then laying out and eating delicious snacks of cheese, grilled vegetables, bread and salami at Pannland. Yummy corn on the cob with salt and pepper for dinner. I can't get enough.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

First Thursday.

Tomorrow is the First Thursdays gallery event in Chicago. The participating galleries, concentrated in the River North and West Loop neighborhoods, keep their doors open from 5 – 7. Since my office is smack dab in the middle of the River North locations, I'm going to try and stop in a few.

One in particular has this very large landscape with a farm I want to check out. Another has some over-sized motion photographs of countrysides. It's funny, but I think it's intimidating to walk into these empty places randomly and alone in the middle of the day, so I never do it. I think this First Thursday is exactly the kind of atmosphere I need to get myself in there. (And maybe a free glass of wine!)