Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monsieur Giovanni "le Carotte"

carotte - top

So, true to my last post, I set about trying to design my own monkey. I wanted it to be equally 2-d, but wanted it to be different enough from the Cute Book monkey to feel more like "my own". Voila, experimental monkey #1, or as I shall more politely refer to him, Monsieur "le Carotte." The name, by the way, came from my boyfriend remarking (after I stuffed Giovanni head-first into his face while he was trying to sleep) that this one "looks like a carrot."

I'll admit, the skinny skinny arms and legs were, ahem, unintentional (hello seam allowance, Ms. floresita) but he is growing on me. He has a cute little belly, sits really well (standing is another matter) and his little arms are charmingly moveable. He is a bit more sock-monkeyish looking than I intended, and well, he does look like a carrot.

Monsieur le Carotte in repose

No matter. Allow me to share with you the history of my newest friend, Giovanni "le Carotte":

Giovanni's beginnings were as humble as his life was to be auspicious: born to loving, Italian-speaking parents in the Paris Zoo in the mid-1800's, he was often lulled to sleep by the sound of arias sung (quite eloquently) by his mother, Giuseppa. But it was as a young tot that the adventure of his life would truly begin, when after wandering too close to the cage bars he was unceremoniously plucked out of his home by an impish 2 year old in a pram. After esconcing him amidst her menagerie of stuffed toys, Giovanni found himself being wheeled out to freedom.

Once clear of the zoo's entrance gates he grabbed the tot's nose (which looked awfully fruit-like), the tot let loose an unholy squeal and the startled nanny jolted the pram sending little Giovanni flying. Scrambling into a nearby gutter, Giovanni quickly found himself to be the youngest member of Paris' underground monkey crime syndicate. Moving only at dusk and dawn, Paris zoo expatriates snatched foods and legumes from the local markets. Giovanni quickly earned the name "le Carotte" both for his fondness for the crunchy vegetable and his undeniable resemblance to the food.

Giovanni's spindly arms and legs made him especially agile when maneuvering door handles and window latches, and it was this fateful talent which landed him in the temporary apartments of his future lifelong companion, Edna N. Lemmering, a New England abolitionist. She just happened to be humming her favorite Verdi opera when a wide-eyed Giovanni stumbled out of her kitchen with an armful of carrots and an expression of sadness that only a monkey can muster. It was this friendship that would restore Giovanni to the company of his dear mother, and the trio made the journey to the States together early one Spring. For years afterward, it was whispered that at a certain New England opera house it was not uncommon to see monkeys. So Giovanni "le Carotte", once a hardened Paris vegetable thief, found himself finally in the company of a family he loved, and who loved him, carotte-top and all. The End.


Monday, August 27, 2007

anniversary monkeys

bride and groom monkeys

So, just when I thought I'd finally gotten all the monkeys out of my system... along came... the anniversary monkeys. Is monkey making a treatable addiction? If so, treatment will definitely be set back by all the "monkey enablers" in the household, like my boyfriend, his brother and girlfriend, and his sweet parents who are constantly giving me new monkey ideas... :)

In any case, there I was on Sunday morning, thinking of the elaborate dinner my boyfriend had planned for his parents, and feeling pretty empty-handed. So I whipped out my sketchbook, an old pair of slacks, and a beautiful white dress shirt I bought because I loved the fabric (but only wore once or twice). And, in 5 short hours, with the help of Pan's Labyrinth (such a gorgeous, sad, sad, movie) and a quiet room, I crafted up the anniversary monkeys.

It was a true testament to the moneys' cuteness that when I showed them to my boyfriend he broke out in giggles. I've never, ever heard him giggle. Not once. Ever. :)

special effects bridal photo

The parents loved the monkeys and showered the growing menagerie with sweet compliments. They brought up an idea a few people have brought up before, of selling the monkeys, which was flattering, but I wouldn't be able to sell these (I don't think) because they were crafted from a book pattern. But it did get me thinking that maybe I could draw my own design to sell? Hmmm... what do you think? Is a handmade monkey a sellable idea - and if so, what how much would you pay?

I just posted a fun Monkey Market Research Survey in my sidebar - tell me, what's the most you'd pay for a monkey! :) It might be a good way to work off my monkey-addiction! ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

more lunchtime painting

more lunchtime painting

Yesterday I had one of these odd moments I often have at lunchtime, when listening to music. I'd been stressed out with work thoughts and various things going on lately, but the minute I put on my headphones, it all disappeared. I realized I was incredibly happy, in a strange magical way, the minute I started listening to music. It didn't matter that the sky was gray (because it was gray, for about the 5th day in a row) or anything, really.

So I jotted down the little sketch above and filled it in with paint. And, again, that magical feeling the second my brush touched the paper - it was like the feeling of listening to music, only multiplied by 10. A little electric jolt of pure happiness and excitement, just for me, just in that moment alone...

I'd been feeling happy all rainy week because of a song I'd been listening to over and over again. Ever hear a song once or twice and feel kind of "eh" about it, only to re-discover it later and feel like you're hearing it for the first time? That's how I feel about this Jolie Holland song, which was on a "life soundtrack" swap I did last year on Flickr:

I'm floating with the birds
I'm talking to the weeds
look what you've done to me.

I'm still dressed up from the night before
silken hose and an old Parisian coat
and I feel like a queen at the bus stop on the street
look what you've done to me

It's a beautiful morning in the ghetto
finer than the day before
the ants are crawling over my pants as if to say
they know where the honey is...

It's a such a soft, subtle song that blended in so well with the rainy landscape and made me so happy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

further monkeying around...

monkey with a guitar

There's something about gray days that inspires me to create things... which may be why I've been so crafty since moving to NY. In any case, we've had a solid streak of gray days filled with rain, drizzle, and chilly breezes, which meant this weekend I cranked out 3 more monkeys. Granted, suspender monkey was almost finished the last time you saw him, but I added a few extra careful touches to his shorts, some tiny buttons, and striped suspenders:

monkey in suspenders

As if that was not enough I quickly popped out this light yellow-green monkey with pink face. She's the softest one yet, made from a well-worn cordurouy jacket that kept me cozy my first 2 years in NY. She's also extra wonky for some reason, with a crazily erratic head, but she still looks cute from certain angles:

so soft

Which brings me finally to.. guitar-playing monkey:

I used an old pair of my boyfriend's cordurouy pants for this guy, but after sewing him up he just had so much personality and looked incomplete. So I quickly whipped up a plush acoustic guitar, complete with a stripey guitar strap that buttons in the back.

This was all done Sunday night while waiting for the latest episode of Flight of the Conchords, of which I've become a full-blown fan. Last episode was hilarious - check it out on demand if you have cable. Here's a song from their site that might make you spit coffee (if you share my weird humor and fondness for toy pianos)... :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

brief paintings


I haven't painted in years. And granted, when I say I haven't painted in years it kinda gives the impression that it was something I did a lot, over a large period of time, then gave up. Really I only have 3 large-ish paintings, all in acrylic. I just was never a fan of painting. When I took art classes in high school (it was high school and college when I drew the most) my art teacher once commented that I have a linear style while another guy in my class had a "painterly" style. I didn't understand what she was talking about then, but I see it now. I had a kind of rigid way of drawing so it was hard for me to embrace painting.

I drew this in high school, and it's a good example of my non-painterly ways:
some time ago...

In any case, I dabbled a little in painting after college, including this acrylic painting of my abuelito, on watercolor paper:

It was terribly frustrating painting, I was clumsy, colors change and move, and yet I feel it freed me up to embrace a "messier style". By the way, my favorite memory of painting was going to a watercolor class with my sister, as a child. I was the youngest of a gazillion kids, with busy parents working full-time jobs, so I was often dragged just about anywhere in the name of babysitting. :) But I loved this painting class - the teacher lived in a rural area in a beautiful old house that smelled of flowers and spices, and it was electrifying sharing this creative time with my older sister. I painted a Dixie cup, which is still my greatest achievement, and I think my sister has it. :)

So yesterday, I bought some gouache paints at lunchtime, and filled in a sketch I'd started in turquoise pen in my moleskine:
lunch painting

It felt wonderful. Ever get that amazing feeling when you're creating something, or doing something for the first time? The sketch was based on a memory - I was thinking of one of my favorite places - libraries, and that rich, mysterious feeling of being surrounded by books. The clothes I remember from college, a little green shirt and black skirt I wore often to class, and burgundy penny loafers. And the words, "it's alright," were from a song I was listening to as I drew. But more than that it describes how I feel about libraries - as a child, no matter how I felt about the world, I could step into a library and feel "it's alright." I'm already itching to do more lunchtime paintings....

Monday, August 13, 2007

too many wips

monkey faces

Ever like to do 20 things at once? Apparently, I do, a lot! I was feeling overwhelmed by all the ideas I have floating around in my head lately, so I listed them out and came to at least 10 projects. That's not even counting older projects I have in the works!

So, as you see, I began another monkey this weekend, although he had been sitting in a bag, half sewn for over a week. He is almost done now, but his pants and suspenders are still "in progress." It's a bit embarrassing to be sporting butt-less pants, so I didn't show his entire face... :)

in progress

I also thought I'd show you these vintage doll-face buttons I found in Cape May last week.
let me put on my doll face

All week I'd been thinking "I really must snap a picture of those..." so there you go, planning photos to take is yet another work in progress!! :)

And just when I was totally overwhelmed, I found free cross-stitch patterns online:
cross-stitch obsession

Sigh. I love these geometric DMC patterns from the early 1900's, some are so gorgeous and look very Arts and Crafts or Art Nouveau. The blog is in French, but scroll down to see the gorgeous patterns. Sheesh. Wish me luck while I catch up on my 1 billion wips... :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

little drawings

these days

I recently bought a moleskine sketchbook, and I haven't stopped sketching in it - the quality of the paper is absolutely perfect (and this is from an abject paper snob) it's the perfect in-between texture that's good for pen and pencils. I started off my obsession by pasting little things in that inspired me - like these beautiful outfits...

lonely teardrops

I was listening to songs on the way to Cape May, which is where the lyrics come from. I love the feeling of being totally absorbed in my drawing or doodling, listening to music...

This was the first drawing I put in my moleskine just after I bought it:
dark city

I often think of New York at night. From my boyfriend's apartment, you can see building after building, as far as the eye can see. I like to watch the city from the window after midnight, when it quiets down and all the cabs disappear. Still, I would give anything to see more trees... :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

weekend in Cape May

the sea

Summers in New York city truly stink (both literally and figuratively, I kid you not) so we jumped at the chance to spend a long weekend in Cape May, New Jersey. I'd never heard of it before I went (like most places I've been to with my boyfriend), but it's this quiet little place on the beach that is filled with the most elaborate Victorian houses. I've seen historic districts in a few towns, but nothing like this - the colors and impeccable way the houses are maintained rivals anything I've ever seen:

     the Merry Widow like a cake

Every house was like a fairy tale house, or the doll houses I'd imagine as a child. I really loved this mysterious big white house (most were painted in bright colors), although my photo doesn't do this massive structure justice:

a white castle

I loved the "gingerbread house"-like details, especially these upper windows which reminded me of Hansel and Gretel:
a top window

I love places that are full of history, I like imagining how many different people have walked through the room I am standing in, or looked at the very same view. I like to think of the clothes they might have worn, and romanticize the whole riding in buggies thing (although I'm sure it was a very smelly affair). Cape May residents also have a thing for maintaining their gardens - there were gorgeous flowers everywhere we turned:

sampler in the antique store

Right before we left we hit the antique shops - something my boyfriend's parents were kind enough to humor me about. If I was alone, I know I'd look at every single thing there, but knowing I was on borrowed time I only looked at every other thing. :)

I found a couple of old samplers like this one, which inspired me to create a new Flickr group for samplers. Ha ha, I know, the last thing Flickr needs is another embroidery-related group, but do take a look if you're interested in samplers both new and old... Also, don't miss this charming dancing squash dish towel, complete with yellow crocheted edges and a messy back!

As usual, my favorite part of the trip was stalking birds and watching seagull shenanigans. I loved the big fake owls that do nothing to scare them away:

I pretty much did no swimming on this trip - ever since the tubing debacle I'm even less excited about the water. :) But there's something gorgeous about all beaches, particularly when I imagine women in white Edwardian dresses walking the same sand I walked in polka-dot flip flops. I have a lot of wonderful beach memories - as a kid we'd drive down to the Texas beach, get a camping permit, and sleep in (or on) our car. My favorite memory is waking up in the middle of the night, sticky, hot and itchy from the sand, but standing in complete awe of the ocean at midnight. It was dark, the moon shone on the water, making it silvery, and flying fish hopped up out of the waves, looking like they truly enjoyed their flight through the air. And so I leave you with the sea, and hope you have time to make memories like these...

last picture at the beach

Thursday, August 2, 2007

have monkey, will travel....

And now without further ado - we have a winner:
and the winner is....

Olga of Yo la Tejo! She very graciously offered up her home and felt bananas to Joaquin. As you can see the drawing was handled entirely by the monkeys, and although I'd like to assure you there was no "monkey business", alas, of that I cannot be sure. The monkeys were all quite taken with your comments, but I did notice Joaquin's eyes light up the minute he heard about the felt bananas. And I thought they shuffled the names up really well, but... you know monkeys and bananas... it's hard to tell.

In any case, some of you may be wondering about the elusive Joaquin P. Pickering, particularly why I have no shots of him alone, while there are pictures of Paisley, Alistaire, and Esteban.

Well, quite simply, Joaquin is more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it:


To tell the truth, he is pretty bossy about the whole picture-taking process and is forever throwing out comments like: how about more blue filter? As you can see, Joaquin loves working with vintage cameras - his favorite being the Duaflex. He's particularly interested in shooting the indigenous peoples of New York, taking a special interest in the employees of our local deli. He's also a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix, although he admits that being stopped constantly on the street by people saying "you look just like Joaquin" can be "tiresome." He's looking forward to his new home in sunny Austin, and contributing to the simian art scene there.

Here are the results of our final picture taking session or "proper headshots" as Joaquin called them:

Joaquin lomo Joaquin, circa 1895
monkey2 pensive Joaquin

And to all the people who responded to the monkey giveaway, thank you!!! I read and treasured each and every comment - I was amazed at all the little connections I found with each of you - with shows, bands, and movies (and unabashed love of Joaquin Phoenix). Again, I truly wish I had monkeys for all of you, but you never know when the rest of the monkeys may decide to travel next....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

and the winner is....

First of all - 38 comments?! I had no idea there were so many people reading this little blog, much less who wanted a monkey! How I wish I had 38 monkeys to give out!

We do have a winner.... and I'll keep you in suspense just a little longer! Just long enough to charge my camera and snap a pic of a certain lucky monkey tomorrow morning, who has decided to become a traveller....