Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Teahouse

Recently I had a class assignment to write a 3 page description about someplace I would want to visit. I wrote this piece about a lovely pond in Irvington, a place a love to walk my dog. It's my way of meditating in the morning, my walks in the woods with Paloma, my dog. I also had to create an illustration based on the writing so here's what I came up with.

           I briskly walk up the long gravel path, through the woods, that lead to the pond. Paloma, my old black lab mutt, always nearby, keeping pace with my steps, either leading ahead or trailing behind, distracted by the millions of incredible scents available to her now. As I reach the top of the hill, the sun miraculously peeks through, almost knowing we’ve arrived. I stop a moment and watch Paloma basque in the glow, silhouetted by the blinding rays that peek through the trees. The woods surrounding the pond are usually dense but the trees are becoming bare, allowing the sight of the golf coarse and a few neighboring homes to become visible. This pond is still hidden enough though, secluded from any roadways, making it a hidden gem.
            I walk along a smaller gravel path that encircles the pond. I glance towards the geese and ducks the make their homes there, examining the patterns their bodies make, as scattered shapes on the water’s surface. Eventually, I come to another small dirt path that leads to the small stone Teahouse. On a nearby stone there is a rock with a metal plaque. The plaque explains that the Teahouse was part of a large estate built in 1905. It was owned at one time by a family from Irvington NY and then later became the property of the village. When the village owned it many of the citizen’s volunteered time, money and resources to restore it back to it’s original splendor. At times I like to think about how this place might have been back in 1905. The women in their big dresses and perfect hair maybe even a parasol or two, me in my sneakers and old jeans.
            The main part of the Teahouse is slightly dark inside. Something about it feels so grand- its stature still seems to suit this place perfectly but I can see through the cracks and chipped pieces of rock that it is aged a bit now. The stone structure seems strong yet there are parts that are crumbling, concrete and wood planks used to reinforce the walls and ceiling. I can tell this small structure has withstood numerous storms over the years.  As I walk through I look towards the arched windows that let the outside in. I eventually reach an arched doorway that leads to a terrace. I walk out onto a long, wide terrace that jets out into the pond. I can feel the warm morning sun drenched on my face.            
            I look out from the terrace onto the pond and down at the geese. Their honking start and stop frequently, the sounds overlap with the other more subtle sounds on the pond, a few ducks and some other birds. It is clear the geese are communicating with one another, my mind races to the language they might be speaking- how they are yelling to each other about when they will take off. The drama intensifies, as they get closer to taking off. I can feel them getting ready as their honks get closer together, louder and more intense. Finally, the geese build momentum from the water’s surface and take off. Eventually they are up over the trees. In a few seconds they are past the pond and out of sight completely. I am grateful to have experienced this, to watch them take their place in the sky above.
             After the geese leave the pond I realize I must be heading back as well, but instead I linger just a bit longer on the terrace, trying to take in every bit of the warm sun on my face. I notice a man in a dark brown coat walking his dog in the distance. He seems to walk slowly. I might catch up with him on the way out but I don’t want to see anyone today, no conversations, not even if it is just “Hello”. I want to be alone in this space. I decide to stay on the terrace a bit longer, until he is no longer in sight. I notice that I can see the hill by the golf coarse. Usually its covered by the leaves on the trees but today it’s clearer. The sun is piercing through a section of branches, blurring and fragmenting the forms. I squint to try and make sense of these shapes but the sun is so strong that it seems to burn through that whole section of the hill.

            The pond is glassy now that the geese have left. Their bodies created different textures on the surface of the pond but now I can see the reflection of the horizon mirrored perfectly. Paloma is starting to dig as some rocks and weeds in the corner of the terrace so I decide that we should head back. I walk toward the entryway and out through the main section of the teahouse, down the small path that eventually leads me to the larger gravel path. As I head down the hill I think about how the Tea house was my temporary home for just a few minuets, a place to take refuge and a place to notice another world go by- another vantage point from up above.

            I walk briskly downhill with Paloma, my fateful companion of 14 years. The incline feels steep at times and I know even the dog has to take some steps slowly. I continue down toward the car and click open the doors with the remote button on the key. I look for my iphone to make sure it’s still in my pocket. I open the back door for the dog but she just sits there in front of the door looking at me and then looking at the seat in front of her, it’s clear she’s not sure about her own ability to jump up on the seat now that she’s old. I keep repeating “inside” over and over, eventually my voice gets louder. Minuets go by and finally she jumps up into the car. I pet her a few times and say “good girl”, feeling bad about rushing her.  I get in the drivers seat then roll down a window in the back for the dog, as I do so I can hear the last bit of geese honking in the distance, in the sky above. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Here's a few little things that's I've been working on for  character class.  It was great to see stuff come out that I didn't know was inside. A story emerged once I kept exploring this little guy. I always write my story first and then come up with characters after that. I never knew I could do the reverse, draw the characters first and let them tell me their story. Here's some sketches and a turn around as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Behind the scenes of my fashion book

Maja loves to direct me on how to draw my characters, among other things. Here she is drawing fashion girls at my desk. I'm almost done with the last dummy of my kid's fashion book. I'm chomping at the bit to go to finals, mostly so I can make the deadline! Thought I'd show my crazy, cluttered desk, lots of research.

Exploring digital media

I've been taking a class with Danny Pelavin at FIT. At first I was worried that I would not be able to explore digital media in a way the would work for me but over the past few weeks I've seen that is actually the opposite is true, it has pushed me to find new ways to explore this medium. Here's the first two pieces for the class. On the top is an illustration for story called "A Good Day for the Banana Fish" by Holden Caulfield. For the second assignment Danny instructed us to "use photography (photos from a photo shoot) as an inspiration for an illustration". Thanks to Diana Shoenbrun for the use of her photo...I'm posting that to show how the photo was used. It's cool to see how it was translated.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sketching at the golf course.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to draw at the Scarsdale Country Club. It was an event sponsored by FIT. I love to get out of the studio and draw but usually it just never happens, I'm too busy with "paying the bills" stuff or I find a million reasons not to. Being back in school has forced me to rethink that and get my drawing chops back in shape. Little by little I feel myself getting more confident with pen and ink. 

The Peculiar Zebra

I've been making some headway on some sample art for a manuscript I wrote a few years ago. "The Peculiar Zebra" is kind of a labor of love. It's message is about self acceptance even when you feel like you don't quite fit in. I showed my dummy and sample spreads to my rep and she had some really good feedback in general. She felt the story needed more work before she could show it to publishers. So I put it on the side for now. I still love this story and hope to one day revisit it. The feedback form friends (and my teacher Rudy G.) has really made me feel like I should continue with it. It's been very important for me to explore writing and illustrating stories that resonate deeply to me. Writing is a lot like drawing, you have to grab it when it presents it's self. Sometimes an idea can sit with me for a while but eventually, if it's really strong, it will get written. Sometimes I write a story and it's simple and fun, other times it's more poetic and spiritually driven. The Peculiar Zebra started out poetic but somehow feels like a bit of both now. Here's the samples I have so far...who knows what's next.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sue Monk Kidd

Another incredibly inspiring discussion on SS. "What we give our attention to becomes our God". Sue Monk Kidd discusses the how giving our full attention to something (like nature) is a form of meditation. She talks about the importance of the choices we make for these present moments, what we let into our worlds, what we surround ourselves with. "We become what we pay attention to". Some how this take a complex idea and boils it down to such a simply stated belief.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Louis Schwarzman's amazing work

This interview was so inspiring too...I've been thinking about it for days...trying to take all of it in...I think it will come out in some maybe ...who knows...

"Nobody ever sees me"...Amanda Palmer sees you.

I heard this on a podcast while was so profound. I loved it so much that I had to watch it today. Please, if you wonder why your making your art...please watch this. Making art is about connecting to others really...that's the long and short of it. Everything is about feeling deep, real connections.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MOCAA show

Here's a little promotion for the MOCCA show this weekend! It's at the 69th regiment Armory in NYC. I'll be there from 11-12 Sat and 3-5 on Sunday. The FIT Table #F32.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Manifesto

Uppercase had a call for entries on the theme of "Manifesto". I thought I'd give it a try. I tried to pull together some of my favorite, most inspiring thoughts...crammed them into a watercolor pattern and here's what I came up with. I put it up in my Society 6 shop too, incase anyone wants to purchase a print.

Oil painting

Here's a painting done for Martin Whitfooth's class. He's an awesome teacher...loved working with him, what a treat. I thought I'd show the process of the painting. From sketches to finish.
I have been fascinated with the idea of books as living things. Ideas seems to feed other ideas and words connect to other words. I'm going to try and do a poster with this at some point. My love of books seems to overflow into so many things these days.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Figure drawings

Posting a few figures done in ink wash. I did these back in December. It was the culmination on many months of trying to get back in shape with figure drawing. Thanks to Melanie Reim though, who saw me through some bad stuff but just kept pushing me. Of coarse I won't post the bad ones but believe me there were quite a few. The top image is a color experiment I tried today. I wanted to see if  I could get some texture in there...not sure I like it but it's worth trying out. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Elif Shafak

Check out this inspiring TED talk by Elif Shafak. It's for authors and all...just a great way to look at the world.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kids portraits

I was dropping Maja off at school the other day and saw these fantastic portraits up on the wall by a classroom. It's like Picasso said "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up". It humbles me to see the creative energy oozing out of kids. I feel like I spend my life refining my craft and sometimes in the refinement I loose the essence of what was there when I started. When I look a children's art I see that essence. There is a spirit of each person coming through in a simple, clear way. I love the idea of kids doing their own self portraits, it makes me think- Why not do a self portrait every year, just like we take a school picture? Who knows, it's never too late to start.
Sometimes I will study how I want my characters to look. Do I want big eyes, small noses, and so on. It's fun to experiment with features. When I look at these portraits I see the way children make choices. How they too are trying out new noses and eyes and playing with with all kind of proportions. 
These are just a few portraits. I'll post more soon.