Thursday, April 24, 2008

update on painting, drawing, and monkeying

lunchtime monkey painting

Here's a springtime monkey, painted in honor of the beautiful Spring weather in which I finally sat outside, drinking in the quiet and birdsongs and painted during my lunch hour. It's watercolor on paper, which I'm beginning to love more and more for capturing these fleeting little ideas that pop in my head during the day...

I know I've said this before, but the inside of my head is very messy. At any given time I have 100's of ideas floating around and at times it's hard to keep to just one thing. Nevertheless, I finally finished this little acrylic on canvas painting started so many moons ago (when it was still chilly outside):
monkey painting: il fait froid
He says: "il fait froid, mon amour" or "it is cold, my love." (I hope!) :) I added a little snow and struggled to paint the tiny letters with an eensy brush.

I did a lot practicing beforehand, but it was still rough:
day 23 of 365 Sketch: doodles
I really like the face in the middle left, by the way, even subsumed as she is by practice lettering... I recently started carrying around a mini notebook (only 4 x6 in.) and I've loved scrawling in a quick sketch or two while on the train. Over on the right are a snazzy pair of shoes I saw on a very dandy-ish gentleman who looked like he fell out of the Bloomingdales men's catalog...

day 22 of 365 Sketch: thoughts and shoes

And, lest I forget, over on the left, I was thinking of some sweet graffiti I saw in San Francisco a couple of years ago. How cute would that look embroidered? Or that little girl as a rag doll? Yet another of the kajillion ideas keeping my brain warm... :)

And finally, here's a little monkey in progress that I'm making for a friend:
little project in progress

My friend had very specific ideas for this monkey, so I'm doing an extra bit of planning to make sure she's perfect.... You can see the pins holding her in place since I haven't sewn anything down yet. I love how the brown fabric and felt make her look extra monkey-ish... Hope you all have a great weekend, and thanks for all your encouraging comments on my cross-processing and Brooklyn Botanic garden posts! :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

fake cross-processing in Photoshop

Let's face it - even with a good digital camera, photos rarely look great straight out of the camera. I always do a tiny bit of tweaking, adjusting levels and upping the contrast a tiny bit. But ever since I discovered Curves in Photoshop, I've gotten addicted to a little extra tweaking:


I love cross processed and expired film like the kind I see in the photos of my good Flickr friends Olivia, Mika, Julia, and the incomparable, mysterious Cristina. These women continue to be my inspiration #1 in trying to be better at taking photographs and it's such an honor to be able to see their work every day, what they love, and what inspires them. But since I'm too lazy to shoot and develop real film, I've been doing "fake cross-processing" in Photoshop and I'm amazed at the results. (tutorial here)

For instance here is the before and after of that cherry bud:
unprocessed processed

The shadows are so much deeper and the mood (to me) has changed entirely... Here's another:

Before and after:
the blossoms processed

The tones, the shadows, what is light and what is dark - everything changes with a few tweaks to Curves... And another:

Before and after:
bright white blossoms processed

And a last one, the tulips:


Before and after:
purplish processed

So what do you think? Are these changes very subtle to you, or do they change the whole mood of the photo for you? Are there any you don't like "after"? Sometimes I stare at these so long that it's hard to decide which I like better... :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

the blossoms

I love being outside in the Spring. But I'm picky. I don't count "being outside" as skulking around the dank New York streets, smelling the rank smells, running into cranky, stylish folks and double-wide strollers at high speed. I gotta have some green. Some flowers, too. Space to walk, fresh air to breathe. In short, I need a park. Enter our beautiful day at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden...

Each Spring, my favorite part of living in New York has been seeing the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:
bright white blossoms

I love this brief time each year in which everything is blooming and fresh and the light changes. It's an incredible transformation. The weather was perfect for our visit, very warm and sunny and a tiny bit cool, just enough to raise a goosebump or two on your forearm...

Le Carotte also seemed to enjoy the cherry blossoms...
le Carotte enjoys the cherry blossoms

Everything makes me feel wonder at this time - I love to touch, see, and smell everything...

And then, of course, there's the tulips:

I'd never seen tulips until I moved to New York, and they still inspire me with wonder. They're so bright and incredible, and such a rage of amazing colors...

That's about all for now, just enjoying the Spring. Also, I think I've gotten addicted to cross-processing using Curves in Photoshop, but that calls for a separate post. I'll show you some "before" and "after" shots and see what you think... Hope the Spring is treating you kindly... :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

things that make me happy, and resolutions

Yes, that really is just a cat washing it's paw... :)

Just a few days ago I was looking at a few tiny clips on my digital camera and smiling. I'd been too lazy to put them on YouTube and they seemed too short and jerky nto be interesting. I was thinking wouldn't it be nice to be able to just look at them whenever I felt like it and maybe be able to show them to a friend... Enter Flickr video, which magically appeared the very next day!

Okay, I'd be lying if I claimed these clips are of amazing value. Mostly they're blurry, jerky, and end abruptly. But I like the idea of being able to share tiny video tidbits whenever I feel like it. :) Just take a look at this chipper old man I saw at 42nd St, who was playing "Aya En el Rancho Grande" when I walked up. I love the shy way he hides behind his dancing dolls and really jams out on that keyboard...

If you don't hate me yet for wasting your time with some silly video, then also check out the fireworks from my boyfriend's apartment and a baby bird I call the chirper.

I did a tiny bit of sketching on Friday, inspired by a drawing in an architecture book..
day 20 of 365 Sketch: house sketch painted in

My favorite are the tiles on the roof which remind me of fish scales and the little cast-iron fence on the roof. I love the change in weather in New York because I actually take the time to stop, look up, and appreciate the wonder in each detailed building I pass. On a gray day little details seem to blend into the gray atmosphere and disappear - it takes a sunny day with sharp shadows to throw the city's beauty into real relief...

Have you been reading all the new posts at Feeling Stitchy? We have some awesome new bloggers and they put together some great stuff this week. Also, there's a running discussion over at Vintage Transfer Finds, maybe you can chime in there, too - the question is: do you find "Mammy" images offensive on embroidery transfers?

That's pretty much it for now, though I'm proud to say I finally started on one of my New Year's resolutions and started exercising yesterday. Allow me to introduce Exhibit A, below:
in the park
That was my rear view, 5 years ago. Early this year I tried that pair of jeans on again, and you guessed it, it looked like a jean's sausage casing and the squished contents were far from tasty to behold. My resolution is to fit in those jeans again and this time, without overhang. I'm gonna do it, people! I've been a sloth way too long, and sometime later this year I hope to have an Exhibit B to show you. :) Are you guys doing anything this year that is long overdue? I hope you all had great weekends and that we can all get our rears in gear (only in my case I mean that last part very literally)... :)

p.s. Royal Tenenbaums won! Rushmore came in 2nd, and too many of you don't know who Wes Anderson is - just watch Rushmore! You won't regret it, I promise. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

the first sunny spring day here

There may have been other days, but today felt like the first to me. In the parks, gardens were alive with the golden colors of daffodils and mini daffodils. Trees sprouted tiny blossoms that herald the coming of green. The sun is out, causing New Yorkers to don their most stylish sunglasses. But more than that is this feeling that the cold gray winter is almost, almost over.

I finished this girl in time to mail out:

As usual, choosing colors for even this small project was torturous for me - I'm thinking I should really take a color theory class - would that help?

After a few years of living in New York I begin to notice certain patterns - slowly I pick out forms of architecture I love:
a building I like

This type of building in particular is beautiful to me - it conjures up images of storybooks I read as a child, and inspires me to pick up a paintbrush...

That's about it for today - but keep your eye on Feeling Stitchy - I'll be posting an intro to our newest contributors tomorrow. Also, I've been remiss in not announcing that I'm super-honored to be a judge in the 2nd Annual Softie Awards - my category is "Embroidered to Death". Be sure to read the details and add your entries to the Flickr group! :)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

current stitching and a wee painting

sweater girl

So here's what I've been working on the past 2 nights (quite slowly). I recently read on Rachel's blog that her guilty pleasure while stitching is "Sex and the City" so I thought I'd reveal (very sheepishly) that I was watching "The Real Housewives of New York" while stitching this. I blame it on my boyfriend, who is a reality TV junkie, and rather than wrestle the remote from him every night I sometimes just put up with it. And enjoy it. And feel very guilty, indeed. :)

On Sunday I did a mini-painting (4 x 6 in.) on watercolor paper for my boyfriend, entitled "le Carotte retires to his study."

le Carotte retires to his study

He requested a pipe, smoking jacket, and that le Carotte be in his "study". It appears the monkey obsession is catching... :) My boyfriend is a tough client, let me tell you. He requested tweaks on the completed painting (which, after 6 hours of tweaking on my own, I ignored). But they were good suggestions, so rather than let them perish I will list them here:

  • Shouldn't le Carotte's bookcase have elegant, detailed wood carving?

  • The books are rather colorful. I think le Carotte prefers more muted, leather bindings.

  • As I recall, le Carotte has very prominent ears...

  • Shouldn't smoke be coming from le Carotte's pipe?

  • What color exactly is that tie he's wearing?

While I agree that these are all excellent points, since he is not a real client I am afforded the luxury of being able to say "zip it." :) Thanks everybody who responded to my favorite Wes Anderson movie poll! At this point it looks like Royal Tenenbaums is leading (by only 1 vote!) against Rushmore... Somebody loves Darjeeling and 5 of you don't know who Wes Anderson is - if that's the case I suggest "Rushmore".

I also thought I'd respond to a few of your comment/questions here - so Stacy, yeah I agree, Bottle Rocket was his first film so I can't be too hard on it. I'm sure I could never get James Caan for my first film - I did like a lot of it, I just can't say it's my favorite. And hi Ani! I'm with you on Jules et Jim - there's a part of me that really wants to be uppity and smart and love all the French New Wave but I just don't. I've tried watching Jules et Jim a few times and just couldn't appreciate it as much as some of Truffaut's other films. I do, absolutely love Jeanne Moreau in general, however. And Missy, yes, I've seen Bottle Rocket about 3,000 times - when I went to UT Austin it was on the dorm channel constantly.

And now, before I go, has anyone read this on Wee Wonderfuls? Or, the ridiculously negative comments Emily Martin got when she said that items made from her doll pattern should not be sold? Sheesh I do feel bad for them. Copyright is by no means a cut and dry affair in every case but when a designer specifies exactly what use is and is not allowed on their pattern, it really should be honored. And they shouldn't be attacked for making that request. That's my 2 cents.