Monday, November 28, 2011

if you want to hop on over to my "things to buy" page. . .

You'll find that I've added "Bostonia" notecards to my shop! A Christmas present for someone perhaps?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bostonia watercolor: the very long process post

ETA: Crap, I knew I forgot something. You can now purchase this painting as a print, laptop skin, iPhone skin, or iPhone case on Society6.

So here -- after about five days of work -- I present to you, the Bostonia watercolor process post! It is very long, which hopefully will convey to you how annoying the linework was to complete.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This is the first year my brother and sister-in-law are hosting Thanksgiving. My brother doesn't like turkey, so we're having prime rib.

Happy Thanksgiving, guys.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a fallish outfit

The truth is, I haven't been dressing up too much since I've been home, despite ample opportunity (movies, plays, excursions out to eat, etc.) I fear I have been afflicted by at-home-slackification, as well as overcast sky exhaustion.

Last night I felt silly so I put on heels for my own amusement. Et voilà, my first . . . er. . . fashion illustration!

a small preview of what I've been working on

Certainly not done yet . . . but the linework is almost finished.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lavender davender spavender

Loess Hills Lavender Farm

If you are in the Harrison County area and interested in buying singles or packs of my lavender cards (without shipping! whoo!), they will be available at the Loess Hills Lavender Farm Christmas Open House in two weeks. The Lavender Farm shop will be open on Sunday, December 4th, from 1 pm to 6 pm; Monday, December 5th, to Saturday, December 10th, from 11 am to 7 pm, and Sunday, December 11th, from 1 pm to 6 pm.

I personally will be probably be running over to grab some thick lavender lotion -- my almond lotion bar is almost gone, and my hands need some help.

view into the lavender valley

Saturday, November 19, 2011

questionable packing practices

At right: The box I received today from Blick Art Supplies.

At left: The half-pan of yellow Winsor-Newton watercolor that said box contained.


Friday, November 18, 2011

first two orders of cards shipped. also, Pegapup Christmas card ideas. also, pie. also, bread.


This is the second order. Actually I shipped my third order today but I didn't take a celebratory picture because it needed to be rush shipped.

Here we come to my Pegapup Christmas card (or holiday card if you like, as I don't really feel inclined to put writing on the inside) ideas. I have two. This is the first one.

If this looks like a card you would like to buy and send, please leave a comment to that effect on this post. They would be more expensive ($3.50 apiece, or 5 for $16) than my regular cards because of the cutting involved. In the next day or two I will also be posting my other Pegapup Christmas card idea.

new Society6 products

Hopefully I have a better blog post coming later today, but first:

I spent some time today resizing some of my Society6 artwork for the other product they sell -- i.e. laptop skins, iPhone skins, t-shirts, and hoodies. I'm hoping that in a couple days I'll have all of them reformatted.

I though two pieces in particular looked really nice -- the "My Dear" laptop skin and the "For the Heart-Hungry" iPhone skin. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a brief and serious diversion.

Please consider emailing or calling your Congressperson today to protest the IP-Protect Act and SOPA. They are ostensibly to protect copyright holders from piracy, but they give large-scale Internet censorship powers to the entertainment industry. 

I encourage you to watch the video with more information and use the easy form to call or email your representatives here or to sign the petition here.

Reasons I care:

1. This bill could be used to block access to social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, making it harder for new startups to publicize themselves and make new connections;
2. This bill would cost about $47 million to implement (and our government just has SO MUCH SPARE CASH LYING AROUND THAT COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE USED FOR MORE IMPORTANT THINGS /sarcasm);
3. This bill could be used to deal out major punishments (like jail time) for minor infractions of copyright law (like using a copyrighted song in the background of a Youtube video);
4. This bill helps create an atmosphere of fear and repression of ideas on the U.S. Internet. 

That is not good. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the recovered sketchbook! (MUCH CAPSLOCK ENSUES)

So. At this point I have told this story multiple times, because it's so unbelievable and awesome as to merit repeated enthusiasm. What happened is this: The first few days of the Fontainebleau program -- back in July -- were spent in Paris. We toured around with our instructors and TAs to design and architecturally significant locations and learned stuff about the history, urbanism, development, and (occasionally) the politics of Paris. We ate many sandwich-filled picnics and saw many glorious sites. We also had free evenings and a free afternoon with which to explore.

ALL OF THIS WAS GREAT, EXCEPT that the day before we were going to leave to go to Fontainebleau to start the project part of the program, I LOST MY SKETCHBOOK.


Understandably (I hope) I was PROFOUNDLY UPSET. I tore through the hostel looking for it; it had been in my bag up until that point and I had no idea where I had lost it.

I finally resigned myself to the fact that my glorious sketchbook was gone, bought another Moleskin, and grumpily went about my business.

FAST-FORWARD: Last Saturday my Grandma called me. "I got a piece of mail that I think is yours."

"What?" (This didn't really surprise me, as we have the same first name and last name.)

"Yeah, it's some kind of journal."

"Oh?" (This is me thinking a medical journal or similar magazine, so not too excited yet.)

"Yeah, it's full of sketches and stuff."

"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT." (Much screaming commenced. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration. BUT I WAS SCREAMING WITH GLEE INSIDE.)

So: Three months after the fact, the staff of the Musée de Cluny had spent 7.10 Euro (so $10-$11) to MAIL THE SKETCHBOOK I HAD LEFT IN THE MUSEUM BACK TO ME.

If it's any indication of how thrilled I was, I mailed my thank-you note today. I am never that timely.

To the punchline! I have decided to scan and upload the best (well, most of) the sketches from said notebook for your viewing pleasure! AND HERE THEY ARE.

This is Tofuku-ji, a temple known for its rock gardens in Kyoto. It was on the east bank of Kamo River (same as my apartment and place of work), but a few miles south.

Monday, November 14, 2011

you have noticed: NOTECARDS (also, PEGAPUP!)

You may have noticed the new button at the top of the blog -- Things you can buy. Well, currently, "things" means "notecards." I am now selling notecards with my art on the front, each printed on bright white matte heavy cardstock or Bristol board with a white envelope. They come in packs of five cards for $10 or eleven cards for $20, plus shipping. So far, I have a mixed Iowa watercolor pack, a mixed black-and-white travel sketches pack, a Purple Up Over the Hills pack (the painting I did at the Loess Hills Lavender Farm), a The Only Way Out Is Up pack (the painting I did lying on my back at the Gleason-Hubbell nature area), and a A Few Reflections on an Elegant Curve pack (the print I made with my drawing of one of the roofs at Yoshida shrine in Kyoto.)

I spent today cutting, folding, and assembling cards. (Somewhat relieved that I didn't give away all of my architecture tools.)

There's one more pack that appeared today -- the PEGAPUP pack.

What is Pegapup, you ask?

Pegapup is a little doggie with wings I drew a few nights ago before bed. More or less he came about by way of, "Gee, wouldn't Stubby look cute with wings?"

This gave birth to more Pegapup cartoons depicting the slightly glamorized life and times of Stubby the Frequently Sleepy Dog as his winged alter-ego.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

the desk

Currently the hub of my existence.

top view of my desk with watercolors, computer, and so on

Saturday, November 12, 2011

pumpkin roll recipe


(adapted from the skeleton of the cinnamon roll recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Baking book.)
1 CUP milk. I used skim, but whole is nice too.
Heat up the milk in the microwave (45 seconds - 1 minute). Add a dollop of sugar; stir until it dissolves. Sprinkle over the top:
7 TEASPOONS of dried yeast.
Let that sit until bubbly (10-20 minutes).
While the yeast is doing its thing, dump
1 12-oz CAN of pumpkin
in a bowl. Add
4 eggs
1/2 CUP of white sugar
1/2 CUP of brown sugar
4 TEASPOONS (give or take a bit, can add some more cinnamon) pumpkin pie spice
3/4 CUP butter, melted
STIR. Add yeast mixture. STIR MORE.
This is where it gets a bit tricky, because I always just add flour until it gets to be the right consistency — I don’t pay attention too much to how many cups. So, I would advise that you add AT LEAST 
7 CUPS of white flour. Mix/knead this into the dough, then start adding flour one cup at a time and keep kneading until the dough is firm but not stiff. I used about 10 cups eventually I think. 
Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise for 2-3 hours, until soft and puffy.
For the filling:
1/2 CUP butter, softened (22 seconds or so in the microwave and stir)
and… about. . . 1/2 CUP brown sugar?
Split the dough in half. Roll it into a large flat rectangle on your workspace, something like 20” x 12” (exact dimensions don’t matter, it just needs to be longer than it is wide and big and flat.) Spread 1/4 cup of the softened butter across the rectangle, then sprinkle with as much brown sugar as seems appropriate to you. I suspect I actually used about 1/2 cup for EACH half to make sure it was nice and evenly coated, but I’m not sure. Roll up the rectangle and cut into between 12-20 rolls, depending on big you like your rolls. Separate the rolls on the pan if you like crisp sides, and put them closer together if you like soft sides. Let them rise in the pan for another 20 minutes to an hour, ideally whilst the oven is heating up to 350 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes (this was just about perfect on all three pans I made.)
We put about 1/2 tablespoon of commercially ready dipping caramel on each one while it was hot; it melted down and made delicious sticky topping. If I come across a good recipe for soft caramel sauce, I’ll share it.
This recipe makes 24-40 rolls, depending on into how many pieces you cut each of the two long rolls you make.


Sorry, my life is not lending itself to long blog posts at the moment.

One thing that has been characteristic of my time at home: FALL FOOD.

I find the dreary weather and shortened days overwhelmingly depressing on occasion (though I do find the angled light, clarifying coldness, and spectacular leaves quite pleasant), which means I must DO SEASONAL BATTLE. And, given my personality, I do seasonal battle with a cutting board, a frying pan, a mixing bowl, and an oven. (That's a rather. . . incomplete list.)

I've been baking and cooking quite a bit, and while I didn't photograph either the squash spice bread or the squash foccacia (best way to get rid of a vegetable you hate: bake it into bread), many of my other experiments I have indeed captured digitally.

Firstly we have the staple of my existence: the noodle boodle. This is a soothing reminder of independent days in Kyoto, as well as on of the only ways in which I regularly and willingly consume vegetables. (Cough.) The recipe is some variation on: one onion, chopped; one glove of garlic, chopped; one slice of ginger, chopped; carrots, julienned; and some mixture of whatever else we have -- mushrooms, celery, cabbage, sometimes chicken or pork. This is fried until the onions are brown; I add a plastic cup of water and probably a quarter-cup of Kikkoman teriyaki sauce, a package of ramen and seasoning, and cook for 5-10 minutes until all is pleasantly mushy. Usually at this point I crack an egg over the whole business and stir so that it cooks up in little sweet bits.

One thing I have decided is this: If I'm going to be home for a while, I'm going to be home -- which means I want to enjoy being Iowa, specifically, as a place apart from other places, with its own specific place-things and charms and also FOODS. I have used this as a justification to buy local foods such as this GOAT CHEESE from the Honey Creek Creamery. It had (because I ATE IT ALL) cranberries and horseradish. It was delicious.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

last paint day of the year


Yesterday, we went to one of the regular paint day attendees' house near Crescent. She lives on top of a hill with a good view across a lot of rolling fields, a little church in the distance, and some timber backing the property. Perhaps more unusually for southwestern Iowa, she has a small Hindu temple on her property, which unfortunately for us was still in the process of being re-shingled when we were there.

After touring around a bit, I decided I was cold and preferred to paint inside with her rather companionable Maltese. (Sadly I discovered I was unable to scratch her tummy and paint at the same time -- apparently my motor coordination is not quite as advanced as I had thought.) There were a number of floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and dining room, but they framed views of: 1. the timber 2. a field 3. another field. Which are all pleasant, but also all things I have already painted in the last two months. SO. She also had a number of interesting objects and sculptures scattered about, so I sat down in front of a large tile wall sculpture of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, and started drawing.

For once I actually kept track of my progress -- largely because this is one of the more intensive paintings I've done of late; the drawing itself took me about two hours, and the painting another two or three.