Friday, January 30, 2015

Klaus Pinchler's Dust

This one has been making the art blog rounds the last week or two, but I like it so much that I'm going to go ahead and jump on that bandwagon. Klaus Pinchler sweeps the floor at various public places and then takes photos of the dust piles that result. Turns out each place has it's own characteristic dust. Which, okay, is slightly grodey. But also so cool!

Above is the detritus from a tailor shop. Below we have, in order: a police station, army store, toy store, classroom, pet store, fine art photo gallery, subway station, furniture store, cafe, bedding store, and a general merchandise store.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Next Up in the Long-Running Poem Saga About the Spring of 2006 We Have This

May 24, 2006
I feel like I just go on and on and on

about the sky lately
but this morning’s
really can’t be skipped over
It was made up of
that extra vibrant yet hazy yellow sunlight
that falls in some places and not in others
like blond syrup
combined with ragged dark gray clouds like charcoal
all dark and light
and gray and yellow

And as I walked along
down the street
under all this glory
I saw one after another
in short succession
down on the sidewalk
one small gold star sticker
one perfect gray and white feather
and one burnt wooden kitchen match

image source is here

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

642 Skiddoo!

I had the honor of getting to write a guest post over on the Chronicle Books blog the other day, telling the wild and wonderful story of how the bestselling 642 brand first came to be (hint: we Chronicle-ites cooked it up ourselves). But even more of an honor than penning this particular post, about a subject near and dear to my heart, was the fact that the fine folks who run our blog decided to use some of my very own drawings from my very own copy of 642 Things to Draw to illustrate the post! I have filled in all 642 things in my book over a period of several years, mostly while sitting on phone calls. Most of these drawings are not very good at all (the seagull looks like a penguin, I've given David Bowie his Ziggy Stardust makeup mixed with his Labyrinth hair). And I've mentioned before how intimidating it can be to try and make drawings when you work with amazingly talented illustrators all day long. But in spite of all of that I do have a strange affection for these pictures I've made, and feel quite privileged that they are now out there in the world. And now here, too.

Photo credit goes to the divine Ms. Irene Kim. Those are not my hands.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Other Thing About Just Putting It Out There

I mentioned last week about how I'm trying to work more on a few of my own personal creative projects, evenings and weekends. Ok, so, great. Good for me. But whence the desire to share half-baked (or, let's be honest, more like about three-percent-baked) ideas and process stuff in a public forum, be that here on this site or over on my Instagram? Sure, yes, that's what I'm always telling my author/artists to do--engage with your audience! workshop ideas!--but, even though I have authored two books, I am nevertheless not a professional artist or writer. I do not have a bunch of excited fans champing at the bit to see the next thing I personally make. Like, at all.  But then a clever pal of mine made a very good point to me the other day: another reason to declare your intentions to the world is to keep yourself honest, to be held accountable. The world, or at least your pals in the world, will perhaps come back at some later date in time and say "Hey, whatever happened to that thing you were working on?" and if, by chance, your work on it has flagged, maybe that will be the nudge you need to get back to it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

SF Pals!

Some of our very best friends--on both the adult and child sides of the equation--recently moved from the east coast to San Francisco. We could not be more delighted with this turn of events.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin

I mostly refrain from re-posting content that my dear father has put up on his very fine blog Spencer Alley. I figure people who know us and care are already reading both of our sites so why duplicate. Indeed, I just checked, and apparently I've posted his lovely photography a handful of times, fashion imagery he's unearthed a couple of times, and his always-top-notch art finds a couple of times. I tell you this so you'll know that when I say I was so struck by a series of images he recently posted by the artist Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) that I felt the need to reblog them, you will understand that I really was quite struck indeed. I would have been hard pressed to explain why, exactly, these images zinged into my soul via my eyeballs quite so strongly, but there, too, my esteemed parent has helped me out. He describes Chardin's pictures as "silent" and "lucid." Yes and yes. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Continuing Poem Saga About the Spring of 2006 Continues Today on Poetry Thursday

May 23, 2006
Here’s something I’d almost forgotten

On Sunday
when it started pouring rain so hard
that it was a roar in the kitchen
I walked into the living room to see
I stood at the window
looking out into the street
and there was so much rain
that you could see the air full of it
and the street covered solid
in little rings where it was landing
and all of the outdoors lit
by that strangely bright dark gray glow of gloom
I doubt I would have realized
how luminous that dark gray air really is
if when I turned around
the room hadn’t seemed kind of dim by comparison
and if my eye hadn’t by chance happened to fall
on the pillow that sits on one of the green chairs
This pillow is mostly various shades of green
with a white grid of small uneven boxes
most of the boxes are green
some black and
this was the thing
a few are turquoise
Now I’m not even sure whether
prior to this I’d ever even noticed
that there was any blue in that print
but when I turned away from the bright gray window
those little boxes of blue jumped out at me
ping zing boom
right into my eyeballs
As if the blue boxes were lit up and glowing
and standing up off the surface an inch or two

image source is here

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It's the Little Things

Sometimes it's the big things that make me love being an editor at Chronicle Books--the amazing artists I get to work with, the bestsellers, all that jazz--but other times, it's the little things: All the nice holiday and birthday cards the people I work with have sent me lately. A cup of coffee and a clean desk. The quiet of the office first thing in the morning before everyone else arrives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Just Putting It Out There

Even as we speak I am developing a new attitude towards making things. It can be daunting, as a person who works with talented artists and writers all day long, to consider producing creative output of your own. But now, in the final year of my 30s, I think I may be on the verge of getting over that particular impediment. This is one piece of the much larger interior project that I mentioned in passing last week with regards to the divine Ms. Linda Rodin. About all of which much more will most certainly be revealed in this space before too long.

Above: paintings that Bill, Mabel, and I made yesterday.

Below: one of my pictures, finished with pen drawing on top of the paint.

Bike Rider

Even though the child has been riding her bike with training wheels up and down the sidewalk in front of her Grandma's house for the past ten months (as documented here), we engage in this occupation infrequently enough that it still blows my mind every time. Big kid! Zooming along! Where did the baby go?! Yep.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dead of Winter

My pal the lovely Ms. Tiffanie Turner has curated a show, currently hanging at Rare Device, called Dead of Winter, in which ten artists working in all different media explore themes of death, decay, and dormancy in nature. I hit the opening the other night and can report back that the show is quite fab. If you're here in San Francisco I do recommend checking it out--it's up through the rest of this month. Here are a few of my favorites from among the pieces on show:

Above, Tiffanie's own piece. She usually makes these incredibly vivacious huge paper flowers, but here she's started to explore what might happen as such a flower started to perish. A very exciting development in her work, imho.

Porcelain objects by Jo Boyer

Collage by Danielle Krysa

Wool, steel, and beading piece by Kathryn Clark

Collage by Alejandro Chavetta

Leaves made of hand-knit linen and hand-stitched tyvek by Sonya Philip

Thursday, January 15, 2015

And So Continues the Long-Running Poem Series About the Spring of 2006

May 22, 2006
One of those mornings where everything went kind of awry

I overslept
I couldn’t wash the stone mortar and pestle properly
too many interstices
(although the smell of the wet rock is rather divine
and reminds me of something forgotten from childhood
the blacktop of the schoolyard after rain maybe?)
and just as I’d finally finished the dishes
I turned around and found a bunch more I’d forgotten
The coffee was too cold and not sweet enough
The music was too quiet

But the sky was so gorgeous it made up for everything
Brilliant crystal blue after yesterday’s pouring rain
with big extra-solid-looking clouds
wool white with dark gray edges and underbellies
The kind of sparkle in the air
that can be neither ignored nor resisted
no matter how cranky you’ve been for the past day and a half
Not that it made me ecstatic or gleeful
but irresistibly elevated my mood by two notches

Image source is here

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Welcome to the Genre

Fifteen years ago I was in graduate school reading lots of Victorian novels. Ten years ago I was a married lady reading lots of literary fiction. Five years ago I was pregnant reading lots of murder mysteries. I sort of thought that last phase was a temporary thing that went along with being knocked up--you're hungry, you're tired, you're brain dead, you're eating two breakfasts and taking naps and reading genre fiction, right? And that sometime things would go back to "normal" and I'd eschew thrillers for more literary fare once more. And, yes, that might someday happen. But I am here to tell you: it hasn't happened yet. My birthday was the other day and I gave myself permission to buy whatever books I would like. The results are above: a comic memoir, a mystery, a graphic novel, and a YA novel. This is what I actually read. The reason I am now back to reading the number of books a year that I read before having a baby (or, more accurately, before returning to work after having a baby--maternity leave having been a great time to get reading done actually) is virtually 100 of the books I read now are both shorter, "easier," and more page-turn-y than the ones I read back then. And while I am not at all convinced that there is an actual difference in quality between 72 carefully chosen genre books and 72 literary books, there is certainly a difference in the number of reading hours it takes to complete them. All of which is to say...what exactly? I'm not sure. Except maybe that this is what I like to read right now and it is what I'm going to buy and read and I'm going to (try to) not feel bad about it. Welcome to the genre, people.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Linda Rodin

Lately I've been feeling inspired by the divine Ms. Linda Rodin. Not only is she a fashion icon of the first order, but she's also become something of a touchstone, for me, of certain audacious thoughts and endeavors I have brewing in my mind for the coming year, about which more anon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Book She Bought Mamma for her Bday

I took this photo, of Mabel showing off the super cool art/design book This Equals That she chose for me for my birthday present, just yesterday. It is by far one of the most successful images I've managed to produce so far with the new Impossible Project film I've been using for the last several months--and the only good photo I've managed to take indoors. Sticking her right next to the window with full light streaming in actually worked.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The North Carolina Museum of Art

The week before winter break we had to travel unexpectedly to North Carolina on a family matter. One day, while Bill took care of some business, Mabel and I visited the North Carolina Museum of Art. True to form, what we most enjoyed were the Contemporary sculpture and Modern painting.

Above one of Roxy Paine's wonderful trees

Massive wooden sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard

Motherwell, Giacometti

A quartet of very nice Albers

Kenneth Noland

Helen Frankenthaler (a word to the wise--if I ever visit a modern art museum and don't post a picture of a Frankenthaler, an Albers, or a Rothko, you'll know I've been body-snatched by aliens)

Mabel was particularly enamored of this Frank Stella piece, which it turns out Bill also remembers very fondly from his own childhood visits to this museum

Franz Kline

Gerhard Richter

One of Patrick Dougherty's awesome installations takes over a whole large wall in the museum cafe, and indeed seems to try to even exceed that space