Wednesday, May 30, 2007

back to the drawing board

With my studio returned to working order, last week I finished the revised sketches and bound up the dummies for the book I was working on when I broke my hand. It was a daunting project to tackle, a 40 page picture book of unfamiliar subject matter that needed a full overhaul with a hand I'm still getting used to.

With the finger shorter and twisted I've been wondering if my hand position would have to adjust and make drawing full time painful. But it wasn't too bad, so far just a little discomfort and stiffness. And my drawings seem to be just as good.

It's a relief to see a full book up on my bulletin board, and a pile of scrap paper on my floor again.

Grace's party

Last weekend the Blue Rose Girls (sans Meghan) gathered in Boston for Grace's birthday/book party, and to see her off to San Antonio, Texas where Robert is participating in a pretty exciting clinical trial. A ton of people from all over the country turned out. It was a great night.

The Blue Roses: me, Anna, Alvina (behind), Libby (front), Grace, and Elaine.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


As my mum and I are building my new website (really!) I've been looking through photos to add to my bio page. I found this one taken several years ago at a party at the White House for the artists who made ornaments for the official Blue Room Christmas tree. Karl and I had the best time, despite our political tendencies which didn't neccessarily coincide with the current administration. I was determined to get this photo taken with our host, who was admirably charming and witty. I figured with Laura being the most famous children's librarian in the country all my children's book friends would be impressed by this picture no matter their politics. But now everyone I've asked tells me I shouldn't put this on my website, which bums me out. Thanks a lot, George. Your low approval ratings have ruined my picture! I'm glad I stole some White House embossed paper hand towels from the bathroom to make up for it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


This is my grandfather Dave. He was a Westinghouse electrical engineer during WWII, a puppeteer, cartoonist, and muralist. Unlike his serious father Francis, Dave was lighthearted, cheerful and juvenile, but just as quirky and eccentric. He handlettered everything in his house, and was always busy making or inventing something. He was rebellious, and refused to do anything the way everybody else did it. He loved Mexican art and visiting schools to teach art and puppetry. I am realizing how much I'm like him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


My unused Iron Angels uniform still stands in my dining room, like an exhibit in a dusty museum of curiosities. When I practice drawing in line at the grocery store, it's usually sketches of rollergirls. On the good suggestion of some ex teammates, I finally decide what to do with my cast.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Francis, painter of angels

A third trip to Vermont to resolve a string of car trouble brought quarry swimming and deeper digging into the family photos.

This is my great grandfather Francis, a Russian artist. He painted murals and portraits for dukes in Lithuania and Poland, then moved to America in 1901 to become a church muralist. Though he was hired to paint churches all over America, letters from his sons described how hard it became to get commisions during the depression. The family would drive from town to town looking for onion domes and making sales pitches to priests with rolled up canvases of painted angels. He tried to invent fake gold leaf to make gilding more affordable. He had to learn to paint with his left hand after he badly burned his right. He was hit by a car and fractured his skull making scaffold work impossible, so he made small religious paintings for funeral parlor calendars for a while.

His sons write about how peculiar and serious he was. He spoke 5 languages and considered painting to be a form of worship. He had a very very fine moustache. 

Seeing an image from my own life that seemed to mirror his got me considering again how much family history effects us, even from ancestors we've never met. How do these things happen? Here is Francis on scaffolding working on an arched niche in a church, probably in Pennsylvania. 

And my work space, on scaffolding working on an arched niche in a yoga studio on Connecticut. 

He painted a lot of angels, my specialty has seemed to become religious text books and fairies. The apple surely doesn't fall far. 

Monday, May 07, 2007


And photos of me with various horses, lots and lots of horses. From New Jersey riding academies, to our farm fjords, to the Vermont wagon train. I rode from Massachusettes to Canada in colonial dress. I was nuts.

I miss the horses.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


On the latest Vermont trip my mum and I looked through pictures and found these. I played the Polka Dot Pig in a kindergarten musical about a gingerbread boy. It's the first performance I can remember. Mum made the costume, and my line was "Oink oink, go home, oink oink, go home!" The gingerbread boy was some fool who kept getting into trouble despite warnings from farm animals.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."
Mum's vibrantly violet new plants and seedlings, and the Walker Farm greenhouse in Vermont.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

dancing goats

The post-show production is about as long as the pre-show production. After wrapping up in Atlantic City, we still had a lot of packing, sorting, and washing to do. Last weekend Karl and I drove all over Connecticut and Vermont to return equipment. Lucky for us, the weather was gorgeous, as were some of our stops. In Torrington we visited the beautiful rural homestead of one of our musicians, and I enjoyed very much his Nigerian dwarf goats, Chip and Blaze. If you push them sideways, they'll dance for you.

Spunky the dog not to be overshadowed.