Sunday, October 30, 2005


City Wide Sunday again. Many books got signed. Here friends Susan and Jessica momentarily distracted by the camera as they wait for me to make drawings in their new copy of One Riddle One Answer.


Sunday afternoon in swing. The room was less full then this only for a few brief moments all day. It was a good year for City Wide, people came out in droves. The key for keeping them around: dill havarti cheese.

still hanging

We opened at noon on Saturday, here at noon on Sunday I still haven't finished setting up. Book Museum is done, but more paintings arrive to be hung. I spend a lot of time on the ladder. My mom takes over as documentarian.

a room of one's own

New Haven City Wide Open Studios alternative space 2005: Olin Metals Factory. CWOS has become an important annual event for me in the 4 years I've been doing it. I usually make some good money, but I also inevitably make new connections with people who become great supporters, mentors and friends.

This year I volunteered to be a site coordinator so I could be more involved with the organization, and also so I could score a sweet space. I got this lovely little room to myself, which gave me the opportunity to turn it into a mystical chamber of fairy-tale-esque ambiance. Sort of!

Photo: Friday, mad rush to get everything hung. A very bare space that needs to turn into a gallery and book museum within a few hours. I've brought in my mom and worked her butt off. She thinks to take a picture of the space in progress. Here I'm working on the Book Museum, a 21 foot time line of the progression of a book, or at least the illustration part, from first tiny doodles to final painting. Ambitious.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

puppet progress

Two student puppeteers surrounded by an army of puppets, and Charle- magne, at an early rehearsal of Master Peter at Wesleyan University on Friday night. These are the smaller puppets of the puppet show within a puppet show. Outside the picture are the life sized puppets looking on.

It's so good to finally see these characters starting to take life on stage.

Friday, October 21, 2005

our town

A view from my porch of a news truck in our troubled neighborhood, through the plants and Tibetan prayer flags I always keep here.

This morning I gave an interview with News Channel 8 about the massive police raid in my neighborhood last night. My street was blocked at both ends, I walked home through a sea of police, ambulances and DEA.

Our house is directly opposite the entrance of an infamous dead end street. I've never felt in any physical danger here, and I know many of these people personally. But now my downstairs tenant is shaken from hearing gun shots, which is one thing we've never had before. The news crew told me it was the police shooting my next door neighbor's dog 5 times in their living room while the kids were in the house.


The donkey head for Sancho is still slowly progressing layer by layer. This was him last night at the costume shop, with a new foam neck and wet celluclay ears. He'll get a paperclay skin next.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Amidst these pursuits of multiple wild geese, I attempt to maintain a career as an illustrator. This is not easy when jobs scheduled months in advance get moved, canceled, and added to while I'm under contract to several companies at once. No amount of planning can ward off all-night painting marathons now and then.

A spot of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, for a classical cd insert. Makes a good self-portrait for this particular moment.

Monday, October 17, 2005

doll club

On Saturday my doll club, Original Doll Artisans of Connecticut, went to speak and show our dolls to another doll club, the New London Doll Club, at the Groton Public Library. Our doll club makes dolls, their doll club collects them.

The best thing about this was hearing my fellow ODACT sisters talk about their work and why they make the kinds of dolls they do. This group has really made me consider why I've always tended toward floppy, moveable dolls; while they for the most part all make posed dolls with beautiful set gestures that stand on their own. I've made two of these since I joined the group, and found my instincts fighting it all the way.

It finally occured to me that for years I've been making puppets without knowing it. Seeing as I grew up in my grandfather's puppet theater, and made and played with puppets through my childhood, kind of makes a lot of sense. Amazing the things we don't notice about ourselves that are as clear as day.

The photo: the lovely ladies of the New London doll club taking a serious look at our dolls. The most enthusiastic and critical viewers of our art form. I was nervous.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

the metal factory

Ah, the mysterious smells and bio hazard signs of an old abandoned New Haven building. It's October, and City Wide Open Studios season again. Last year I was stuck in a tidy little school, far too appropriate for my work. I prefer decay and grime and lab equiptment to juxtapose against my fairy tale paintings.

This year 300 of us will be exhibiting all kinds of visual and performance art at the gigantic Olin Metals Factory building off Dixwell Avenue. It's terrificly run down and full of contraptions. October 29-30, food and festivities will be there too. This will be my fourth (!) year with City Wide, my first year as a site coordinator.

At the factory, fellow coordinator and incredible artist whose work graces my own house, Tony Baloney.

Monday, October 10, 2005

lost horses return

Being a freelance illustrator, overnight FedEx shipping is a large part of my life. In 10 years of making original art full time for companies all over the country I got very accustomed to the idea that paint drying in my studio one day could be in California 24 hours later.

Then an overnight package FedExed to my agent in Boston went missing. It contained 1/8 of the paintings for Magic Hoofbeats I had just completed, and the cover art for The Water Gift that was to be shown at Society of Illustrators in NYC.

There were weeks of agony as I scrambled to finish the rest of Magic Hoofbeats which was late, and navigate FedEx's astonishingly poor customer service phone ring. The lost art was months of work, and work I'd been unusually happy with. I couldn't fathom repainting it all. A month went by, FedEx admitted the loss, said they'de done a "hub sweep" search at its last known location (Stamford, CT), and they were giving up.

Very luckily, I'd made scans on my little home scanner at a mere 300dpi. Unbelievably Barefoot Books was able to fix them up to print quality and use them in the book. If you look at the Lone Boy story, it's a little fuzzier then the rest, but utterly miraculous considering the source.

I kept imagining that eventually Tom Hanks would show up at my door with the package and a story about a plane crash and a deserted island. But a couple of years have passed and no Tom Hanks.

Now Peaceable Kingdom, a delightful company I've had the pleasure to work with on greeting cards for several years, has taken one of the same scans and made an edited version of the painting for a large poster that's coming out in January. It's not the original, but my wild horses have come back in a form I'm very pleased with. This is one of three posters with PK that will be my first large editions.

winter doll

The beginnings of a doll. ODACT is taking over the front window of a Westport store for the holidays, I need something large to contribute. This head, an experiment in sculpy over apoxy, has been kicking around the studio for a year, too heavy for the cloth body it was intended for. The new body is a 2 foot core of chicken wire under newspapermache.

As usual with my dolls, she is evolving between other projects, one step at a time without an overall plan. Next I'll probably add layers of batting and felt to the torso and arms before finishing with an air-dry clay. Costuming will be fun at this scale. I was expecting her to be the Snow Queen, but not sure she's going to comply.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

spirit horses

I've run out of batteries for my camera, so I have no picture to put in my blog. It's all been puppets, puppets, doll, puppets, paintings, and more puppets for the most part.

But here's a Robert Bly poem my friend Lois sent me.

Every breath taken in by the man
who loves, and the woman who loves,
goes to fill the water tank
where the spirit horses drink.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Glass in the park

My friend Bob pointed out that Philip Glass (far right) was a fellow audience member at the Tompkins Square Circus Amok show. I love Philip Glass, so I took his picture. He looks confused by what he's seeing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

fire hooper

When I saw Maria, the beautiful circus and fire artist dancing with her fire hoop the first night of WildFire, I was entranced. I never imagined I'd care to take up a hula hoop but this was a whole different kind of hooping I've never seen before.

I took Maria's beginner class the next day. The hoops we used were huge and heavy, 12 feet of 1 inch irrigation tubing in a ring. This gained me a lot of bruising, but the heavier hoop is oddly far easier to keep going on any part of your body then the usual light toy hula hoops.

So now I've got straight up hoops in the making, and all the supplies to turn them fiery once I'm up to speed. In the meantime I paint pictures.

fire toys

These were the collective communal toys we had full time access to play with at WildFire last week. Fire staffs, fire poi, fire hoops, fire fans, fire clubs, fire fingers, fire whips, fire darts, fire devil sticks! This was too much for me to take. Not only did I get no rest over a weekend I'd hoped would be relaxing, it also renewed my awareness of how easily distracted I am by new pretty things, a trait that has kept me a jack-of-all / master-of-none sort of person.

Of course all these fire dancing disciplines inform each other. Poi has given me a new feeling for staff, and staff has helped me get my brain around poi. And for me all of them are about overcoming fear and developing an intimate relationship with this beautiful wild element that is so inspiring. But it would be nice to focus on one thing and become proficient at it. I imagine that would come with some amount of relief as well. It's exhausting being in love with everything everywhere all the time.