Saturday, February 25, 2006


Lately my heroes are people who did really stupid things and lost big time because of it. Timothy Treadwell is one, subject of the movie Grizzly Man. He spent 14 years in the Alaskan wilderness making a nuisance of himself around grizzly bears, living in an exceedingly stupid proximity to them, doing stupid things like swimming with them and petting them. In the end he got himself and his girlfriend eaten for it.

He probably wasn't really doing anybody any good by being out there, not the bears, definitely not his girlfriend. But I can't help but love this man for the extreme lengths he went to to make his life meaningful. He didn't sit in his room waiting for life to prove itself to him. He went out and created a life, and extraordinary one that gave him a purpose for being on the earth. And for however stupid and crazy he was, it's pretty damn amazing that he lived with grizzly bears for 13 years. No one can deny the guy had a pair of brass ones.

And then there's Lindsey Jacobellis. She was the great hope for a US Olympic gold medal in snowboard cross, which I've never had an interest in before, but this race was fierce and exceptional to watch. In the final she'd pulled out far far ahead of the other women, she had the bottom of the field to herself, the gold was hers. After a quick look back to see her lead, she took the last jump and did what everyone says was so stupid: she pulled a method air, a freestyle trick, which she wiped out on, giving just enough time for the Swiss competitor to pass her and win. She still got the silver, but also a storm of accusations and ridicule.

She sticks to her story that it was a tactical maneuver, while the press says she got overconfident and was showing off. But I say it was pure enthusiasm that just took her over. She probably didn't even know it was coming, a burst of joy and excitement that twisted her into that celebratory move. And so she wiped out. And so she didn't add another gold to the US tally. But she clearly raced the best race, and she's clearly a person capable of great energy, risk and happiness. And I love her for that.

Seekers of an authentic life, people of great enthusiasm, people who did stupid things, people who lost a lot. These are my people. I hope they have no regrets.

far too early

I noticed a yellow plastic bag out my bedroom window this morning when I was getting dressed, (which can be a time consuming endeavour, often not knowing if my day will consist of painting in a cold attic, a professional meeting, ice skating, or all of those.) Living in Waste Haven, the capital of rampant wandering garbage, a plastic bag blowing into my back yard is nothing new. But I noticed this one for its elegant, American Beauty-esque entrance. I spotted it hovering high above the trees, and watched for quite a while as it slowly made its descent, catching lightly on a branch where it danced very delicately until freeing itself. It looked to blow over the fence into the neighbors yard, but instead floated down to another branch, then another, until it landed in my dormant shade garden, where my dog stopped to look at it with curiosity too.

It came with such theatrics that it seemed more like a message dropped from the sky then random trash. I went outside to find out what the writing on it was, and discovered much to my chagrin that it had landed on the daffodils which have already begun to come up.

The daffodil bulbs were the first thing I planted after buying this house. When I first saw them pushing up out of the leaves the next spring, I was overwhelmed with a feeling I'd not yet experienced- for the first time in my life this was my own land, my own soil, and these little plants were the first thing to come from it. They were completely and totally mine, they existed only because of me. I've since planted other bulbs, perennials, bushes, trees, but every year the daffodils come back and remind me of that first moment, for that they are dearest to me.

Now, they are so early. The unusually warm weather of the last weeks has tricked them into thinking it was fine to come out of their winter sleep. But the snow is coming back, the cold is returning, and the newborn reaching shoots of my lovely daffodils have naively exposed themselves, unaware of any peril. I've never had them come up so soon. Are daffodils hardy enough to survive late February?

I wondered about this as I picked up the plastic bag. It says: "It makes a difference where you shop. ShopRite. Partners in Caring. Stopping hunger starts with you!" A red heart made of two clasped hands.

I looked up to the sky wondering what spirit dropped such a message. There were only thick clouds, a small plane headed west, and a solitary northbound seagull.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

the whale

My favorite place to be in the world is any skating rink, but especially this one. The paradise of the Yale Whale: peaceful, sunny, quiet, warm, with ice like glass. The soaring architecture and old wooden seats remind me of the West Orange, New Jersey rink I grew up in. Here is the only place I can fly on my own volition. Feeling blades carve into ice sooths, balances, and thrills me no matter what kind of day I'm having.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


A sketch for a magazine cover that was rejected. This is stressing me out. Not just because the final is due in a week and I don't have an approval yet (this is bad), but I'm frustrated with not finding opportunities to work with the subjects I'm most interested in. I once thrived on the challenge of working within limitations, I'm not sure why I don't so much anymore. Maybe there's too much of my own stuff in my head, maybe my hands are tired and I've gotten cranky.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

blue pilot

Another fire/air collage-painting I'm working on. These personal pieces are a little more mood-revealing then my regular illustration work, which isn't something I necessarily want. Here I'm showing a futzy, murky scatteredness, which is what I was trying to escape by doing this painting. Sometimes I can transform my temperament through paint, but not always. I love the basic parts of this one, just more work needed to find the sum.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

a tale of two Lindas

The proof cover for the most recent book I illustrated, What Could be Better Than This, by Linda Ashman. Not sure of the publication date yet. A very different kind of book for me. I'm pretty pleased with the printing and design, they used metallic gold throughout, with an ornate border design around the illustrations. Some of the spreads are quite handsome. I just wish that ship on the cover hadn't sailed so far right, very annoying.

Friday, February 10, 2006


There's been a definite lull in the blog, though there's been no lack of blog-able events going on. I just keep forgetting my camera. (That and I think I blogged myself out on the road trip.)

January was a strange transitional month. I'm in between books, with What Could Be Better Than This in the proof stage, and the challenging Chiru struggling to get into some tangible form on paper. My doll group, ODACT, spent a day in downtown Westport making a display of our dolls in the window of Max's art store on the Post Road-- an impressive ecclectic show of a couple dozen dolls by 6 artists I recommend seeing if you're down that way. I tried a new experimental performance at the Children's Museum of Connecticut in New Haven where I drew the story of The Water Gift and the Pig of the Pig as actress Tory Church read along for 50 or so children and parents. I took a puppet workshop with Dan Hurlin at Wesleyan and was reminded how far I have to go as a puppeteer. Meg and I are planning the next Bad Art Night, and I'm researching material for an SCBWI New England conference workshop I'm giving in April. The next bunch of collage paintings got a good start but now languish on my desk as I sign books that need signing, deliver art that needs delivering, and read contracts and manuscripts that need reading and re-reading.

Drawing: something like an exquisite corpse collaboration between myself and my muse.