Monday, July 31, 2006

Illustration Friday: (He's Very) Clean

Forgive me, but what comes to my mind when I hear "clean" is,

"Is this your grandfather, then?"

"He's very clean, isn't he?"

(While I couldn't locate the exact clip this is taken from - it's at the very beginning! - I did find the train scene. "Have you seen Paul's grandfather?" "Yes, he's concealed about me person.")

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bad, bad, mama!

At church the priest was talking about the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, and what a phenomenon Jesus was. Sophia leans over and says quietly, "What's a phenomenon?'

I whispered back, "Pa ti pi ti pi."


I sang back, quietly, "Phenomenon, pa ti pi ti pi."

The hugest grin spread over her face, and while she listened while I told her what the word really meant, that didn't stop her from dancing every time the priest said "phenomenon." Which was, seriously, about 15 times.

Paul noticed, because although my kids dance frequently at mass, it's not usually during the homily, and asked what was going on. I whispered, "Phenomenon, pa ti pi ti pi." Pretty soon the other two were doing it too, and thankfully, the homily was over before they started dancing and singing.

Please, for crying out loud, tell me I am not the only person that would have occurred to?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Reference materials

I love, love, love to draw people. Inspired by Norman Rockwell, who drew from life as much as possible, I try to get my family to pose for me. If I need a hand, or a mouth, I turn to one of the many mirrors I have in my studio. (One, which I love, is an ornate affair with three panels, so it can stand up by itself. Whatever you're drawing is reflected from three angles, which instead of confusing me somehow makes me appreciate its three dimensions more.)

When all else fails, I have my highly prized backup materials: figure drawing reference books. All of mine come from either book sales or family member's attics - they are all from the 40's or therabouts and feature studies of human anatomy. (They also seem to feature a lot of naked women in high heels!) Proportions, ratios, and the insistence to draw, draw, draw are all outlined carefully. Also important is the attention to detail for bone and musculature structure - something that I think even in my figure drawing class we maybe spent two days on. I have one book that's only studies of hands. How cool is that?

Take a look on Ebay or your local library's book sale - or poke around in grandma's basement. I have about five of these books and they were all either free or about $1. And the value they give - for both reference and pure artistic enjoyment - is priceless.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dancing in the park

On Thursday nights, we get the kids in their jammies and walk to the park for their concert series. Paul had the camera on hand and managed to take this little video of us twirling around to the music.

Click here to watch the dancing.

Sophie is in white, Petey is the little blondie, Angela's in yellow with the binoculars, and I'm the tall one. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Color me happy

Color me VERY happy! I still have minor fixes to do here and there, but for all intents and purposes, I'm done with the redesign.

And the stories here (go, click on Italy, the second box) are finally told in the settings I always wanted them in.

(Insert large sigh of contentment here.)

What are you waiting for? Go, look at the new homepage, click around the site, come back here and tell me it's gorgeous! Go!

Art is more important than laundry.

I get asked all the time, "How the heck do you have any time for artwork?" "Where does this energy come from?"

The answer is that I learned long ago that I needed to prioritize.

For a little background, I am the mom of three kids, aged 3 and under. I have a day job. I paint a lot. After my twins were born 10 weeks early and spent 2+ months in the hospital while we were also taking care of their 1-year-old older sister at home, I had severe post-partum depression. (I actually hadn't come out of it from the birth of their sister, but that's neither here nor there.) In any case, I got a big dose of Reality and What's Important and What's Not.

I learned that at the end of the day, What Was Important to me as a person - not a mom, not a wife, not the cook/manager/whatever of the household, was that I had time to paint. I went from painting once a week - on a special "Art Night" when I had hours to myself to paint and my hubby would watch the baby - to a desperate need to paint every single day, so that I could say I had done something for myself that was not baby-related. Sometimes that was what got me through the day - knowing that I could paint in 10 hours, when everyone was asleep and between feedings/heart monitor checks/medicine doses. I could paint whatever I wanted and not show anything to anyone, if I didn't want to.

While the depression is thankfully gone, and the kids don't require the intensive care they did in the early days, that need to create every day hasn't left me. In our house - and I think I say this so much I'm going to frame it and hang it up - we say, "Art is More Important Than Laundry." If I have a kid-free hour, you will most likely see me stepping over the laundry basket (clean!) to get to my paints, pencils, computer. And I have the complete support of my family, which only makes it better.
"I learned, again and again, the lesson of creativity: the painting I make today, the drawing I do today, the poem I do today, is meant to save my life today."
~ Judy Collins, Singing Lessons, a book I totally and whole-heartedly recommend.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

three is a magic number

I'm reprising a favorite post (because I loved it so much, and because it has nothing to do with web pages or potty training)!

1. First, recommend to me:
* a movie:
* a book:
* a musical artist, song, or album:

2. Ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want.

3. Paste this into your journal, allowing your friends to ask you anything.

Who's first?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Sometimes doodles will surprise you. Nice surprises, mind you. Frustrated with the intricacies of coding and potty training three children at the same time, I plunked myself down and grabbed me some watercolours. And what popped out of my head had nothing to do with frustration at all - somewhere along the line that darn optimism shone through after all. See what can happen when you empty your mind and stick a pencil in your hand?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Think of where we'll be in a week

They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Between the @#()*&$^8 coding and beginning day 4 of No More Diapers During The Day, I'm getting mighty strong indeed. Trying to hold on to the little triumphs (fixing anoother nagging bit of code that was holding me up; all three kids doing something in their potties this morning that erupted into a joyful dance around the potties by all) is what's keeping me going.

As Paul said as I was having a frustrated little cry in the bathroom on Saturday - "They just started! Think of where we'll be in a week!" and that gives me so much strength. If I think of where we were just two summers ago - carrying the kids around with heart and lung monitors, medications, careful notes about everything they ingested and who spit up what - to THIS - these three joyful kids that love picking raspberries in the yard, running around like crazy, doing and getting things for themselves, helping each other and giving us sticky kisses. Two summers ago, in the depths of my depression, I couldn't even begin to imagine a summer like this. So - think of where we'll be in a week. In a month. By the end of the summer. I'm not trying to wish it away - trust me, I've waited far too long for this time and I'm going to hold on to every second of it. But I do look forward to it too.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Potty training to the third power

So here's a little more of what's going on right now: potty training three children, all at the same time. Not for the faint of heart. It's helping to keep my from getting too self-absorbed in my painting and reworking my portfolio - HA!

Training three kids is quite different from only one; you can't spend hours sitting in the bathroom with them being encouraging. I would never leave the bathroom otherwise. We suggest, we encourage, we spend 3 minutes in there unless they really want to stay there. We have 6 potties, all around the house, of varying shapes, colors, and sizes. We have lovely posters I drew for them, with stickers. They get (gasp) CANDY for their successes (my kids eat NO sugar - I knew I was saving this up for something!) The whole enterprise is quite a relaxed affair and will most likely take all summer. I wish it was over already, but it will happen when it happens.

We just ordered 18 pairs of cloth training pants at $70, which sounds like quite an expenditure until you think about how much we pay for diapers every week. (The cloth ones are more like undies, and when they're wet, there's no denying it.) And the fact that Pull Ups, which I utterly refuse to buy, come in tiny packs. And that my kids will treat them just like diapers anyway.

But it's more than that - dig this, which I just pulled up as proof for my brother - I'd already read all of this in a book recently.
Some doctors [from the American Pediatrics Association] say that the products are unnecessary and may even delay or prolong potty training. (In 1961, 90% of children were potty trained by age 2 1/2; by 1997, only 22% were.) Training pants give diaper makers the opportunity "to sell into the market two or three years longer than before...and triple the life cycle of that consumer," says Ryan Mathews, a consultant who follows retail trends. (read more)
My brother admitted that I had a point, but then pointed out that I should buy stock. :)

Some books we dig while potty-sitting:

Time to PEE! by Mo Willems (of Knuffle Bunny fame) It's quite silly. We checked it out for a month from the library, returned it, and then checked it out the same day because the kids couldn't bear to leave it there.

Once Upon a Potty (both versions, boy and girl)- I like it because it names all the body parts simply, although we use real words instead of "A pee-pee for making wee-wee."

Too Big for Diapers - what can I say? It's got Ernie and Bert in it. It's very short, so when you have to read it a bazillion times, you can do the versions we do: as if it's being read by a sheep (and you make the pee-er have to baa every time you turn the page; as if it's read by Beaker from the Muppet Show ("Me me me ME me me meemeee."); or sometimes Sophie sings it like an opera. Yes, we're inventive.

When this is all done, we are having a No More Diapers party. A Potty Party, if you will. Sometimes, when I'm changing yet another diaper because someone forgot to tell me they needed to go, I fantasize about what Martha Stewart would do on that theme. (Muahahahaha.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Illustration Friday: Sticky

"I sticky!" is a familiar phrase 'round our house.

I had to take a break from all this coding to paint something; the new portfolio is almost done, and I'm cleaning house with a vengeance. Things are going to look verrrrry different pretty soon, so go take a look around - lots of things are going bye-bye.