Monday, August 27, 2007

On snake skin and living big

The signs of encroaching autumn have sent me into a bit of an activity frenzy, anxious to get out to see and do EVERYTHING before the weather (and more specifically, the weather-covered road) confines me to a smaller territory. I am restless. Unsettled. Twitchy. And it dawns on me that I must be in "snake skin mode" again.

You know what I mean. I feel the way I imagine a snake must feel as it prepares to shed its skin. The present skin is tight. Uncomfortable. Itchy. Irritating. And to make matters worse, even vision is compromised. I can't see where I'm going.

I am flat out cranky.

But it has happened often enough that I know the discomfort is just prelude to a newer, bigger, more flexible skin. I'm restless because I'm stretching and I'm outgrowing the present skin, and this can only be a good thing. It means I'm getting bigger. And I like to live big.

I think I probably need to clarify some personal semantics here, because for me there is a difference between living big and living large. To me "living large" is a condition: it implies a certain excess and a quest for things. But "living big" I think of as an attitude... of openness and expansiveness and curiosity. Living big implies a quest for experience and understanding.

So I like to live big. And if I've got to shed a little skin to get there, well... just don't poke a stick at me while I'm doing so.

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. " - Nelson Mandela

"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder." - Ralph W. Sockman

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is this thing on?

Or: Now for something completely different. I'm going to try to embed this video of my friend Tim and the rest of the Spydercam team at work on the movie Spiderman 3. I love this stuff, in part because I don't have the sort of 3-D mind required to visualize getting from Point A (cameras and wires and winches and software) to Point B (cool scene on film). And in part because I absolutely can NOT deal with heights.

OOOOH! I think I did it right! So while we're on the subject of Spydercam... check out their demo reel and stuff here.

Tim and I went to high school together. My grandmother adored him, and I vaguely remember she dutifully saved coffee cans for his "science projects." I can't imagine we ever told her he was stuffing them with powder and shooting tennis balls across the neighborhood.

Sunflower season

Flowers and I both turn our faces eastward in the early morning, watching for the fire-bright line cresting the piñon hills. Highway 291, just below home.

What a tangled web we weave....

And not just a cyberweb.

I woke this morning to find a nice email from Katherine Tyrrell over at Making a Mark, who has kindly highlighted both this blog and that of my friend and colleague Debby Kaspari. Making a Mark is chock-a-block with resources and connections for artists and art lovers, so do take a peek at what Katherine is up to.

This week I also enjoyed catching up with sculptor and friend Tsunéhiko Kuwabara, who keeps tabs on the critters in his Paris salad greens (among other things) at Blog Illustre.

A couple of days in Denver strengthened a few regional strands.... I visited with Grant Pound and Peggy Lawless of Colorado Art Ranch at the CultureHaus bash and later with catalyst, spark, and wasps-nest-stirrer Michael Mowry of, well, both those organizations and just about everything else to do with art in the Denver area. Wine and conversation with Michael always twangs a thread or two, and more often than not leaves my brain vibrating for days afterward. (Interpret that statement as you will.)

Traveling back out a once-familiar anchor line, I did manage a couple of hours at the Denver Zoo, breaking in a new sketchbook. Why is it that the pristine white pages and tightly-bound spine of a new book make drawing so difficult?

I wasn't much satisfied with the morning's zoo scribbles, so wandered across City Park(ing lot) to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. When I lived in Denver the museum and the zoo were my two favorite haunts, and despite the fact the institutions and I continue to evolve, it still feels a little like coming back to my center to walk through their gates with pencil-stuffed pockets.

Home again now... ready to weave some strands for the week ahead. There's a cool breeze through the open windows... Despite the fact our days still hover oppressively in the 90s, night temps have been falling into the low-to-mid 40s. Gonna have to think about outfitting my web in wool rather than silk before too much longer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the road yet again

In to the car, out of the car, in to the car, out of the car. Off to Denver tomorrow for a couple of days again... so only a little sketch made from Riverside Park in beautiful downtown Salida. But I'm hoping for another round of sneaking off to the zoo with a sketchbook....

At long last

Some projects just take a long time to get into the ground instead of off the ground. But this week I received photos of the long-awaited kiosk at Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area. (Illustrations by yours truly.) I've done quite a few interp signs this year... some illustration, some design, some writing, depending on the project.

Friday, August 17, 2007

From shrimp to dragons

I don't often get a chance to draw at zoos these days, since the closest one is two hours away, but I had a couple of hours to indulge my pencil and sketchbook this week. This particular sketchbook is 11" x 14", so it doesn't fit well in my scanner and leaves a lot of page tone... but you get the idea. Komodo dragon, spotted turtle, and some sort of groovy-but-unidentified shrimp.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

okay, okay

One more linocut before I go. And then I'm outta here. Really.

Snow shadows near Cottonwood Lake. (No, it hasn't snowed yet this year, this is from a previous season.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

On the road again (briefly)

Off to meetings and such out of town tomorrow... back in a couple days. I leave you with the blanketflower linocut until I return. Performed as a reduction in 5 colors, 6x9 inches. You can see the block part way through the process here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mishmash morning

Just one of those days, I guess.

As I walked this morning, my mind wandered down a half dozen paths... none of which I seem able to map at the present time. So... a visual checklist for when my brain and fingers conspire to create complete sentences.

We had another brief fog event this morning in the wake of more evening rain. There's a story to be told about a waterlogged bin of potting soil, but it's a stinker... literally...

By the time I got around the first lake, the fog seemed to be wandering in aimless blobs (kinda like me)... time elapsed between Photo One and Photo Two? Eh. 20 minutes, I'm guessing.

The story here is that the trees are starting to turn. Yet another example of incomplete childhood nature education, like "Monsoon = India": "Trees turn in the autumn, autumn starts in September."

Swallows. I have lots of thoughts about swallows. Some I've even articulated before. But not here. And certainly not today.

This here's a cliff swallow. (Photo by Tony Leukering.) Two, maybe three weeks ago the Spiral Drive bridge writhed with them. Today it was silent and still. Erroneous childhood nature knowledge #3: "Birds fly south for the winter, which means they leave in the autumn, which doesn't happen until September." (Tell that to the rufous hummingbirds, whose fall migration brings them through here starting in July. And the Bullock's orioles, which start to clear out about the same time.)

Once I got home I did manage to hold onto a train of thought long enough to put the last color down on the blanketflower lino this morning. I always like seeing the print rack full... makes me think I accomplished something. Maybe.

Oh, wait. Did I say train of thought? My friend Kevin just called. He's on his way to Chama to work on the train.

Chama. That's in New Mexico. I might go to New Mexico myself. Wait, wasn't I talking about walking? It would be a long walk to New Mexico. I wonder if their cliff swallows have left yet?

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's not just me...

Chas Clifton over at Nature Blog: Southern Rockies pointed me to his excellent post on the changing language of weather. Thank goodness I was not hallucinating (this time) about my grade school education. Chas learned the equation "monsoon = India," too.

Of course, we haven't had measurable rain here for 48 hours, and I've been sneezing for 47.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back from nowhere

It's official, sports fans: The aforementioned July monsoon brought us our wettest month since May 2001. (The start of a desperate drought that went on for a couple of years.) Almost 3.5 inches of precip for the month. For us, outrageous.

And speaking of outrageous, it's been about that length of time since I've checked in here. Still trying to tie up some contract-related loose ends, and who knows what else. Lest you think I'm all work and no... er.... work, here's proof-in-progress that a linocut will be forthcoming. I actually pulled a small black-and-white one last week, but I'm not convinced that it's going to see the light of day. Verdict is still out.

Anyway... this is the half-carved plate for a little image of blanketflowers. Three colors are down, this is the carve for the fourth, but I need to give the prints another day to dry before stacking more ink them. If I get TOO impatient, I'll have a mess on my hands.

In other news, stuff coming up:

"Winging It" show at Cultureclash Gallery in Salida opens this Saturday. Party 5-7. Be there.

"Starting a Nature Journal" booklet goes to press for Audubon Adventures end of next week. (Hoorah!) It's the first time I've been designer, illustrator, AND writer for a project for Audubon, so I'm pretty tickled about it. Usually I just get to draw the pictures and do some design work. :-)

Next week I've got a meeting with Rocky Mountain Land Library folks. Potential secret project getting some air during this meeting. Don't dare say more, but keep your fingers crossed.

Coming up August 17-18 in Our Fair City: The Going Green 100 and Expo. I'll be helping out at the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association table on Saturday and maybe hawking some sketchbooks while I'm at it.

The next Colorado Art Ranch Artposium will be September 7-9 in Durango, Colorado. The line-up looks great. I'm particularly enjoying reading keynote speaker Peter Turchi's book, "Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer." This is another one of those Be There events. It's going to be incredible.

I'm also pleased that Colorado Art Ranch has asked me to be the featured artist at their event in conjunction with the Land Trust Alliance in October. Details as they come available.

So, yeah. I'll be off the street for a while longer. Probably it's best that way.

Linocut in Progress: Let's wrap this up!

 Okay...  Remember that cartoon in which a couple of scientists stand at a chalk board filled with complex equations, at the bottom of which...