Prints: Untitled (Chevron), 2014

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I usually don’t revisit artwork once it’s been retired. Last year, though, I was asked to reconsider and take another look at my Chevron print of 2012. While initially reluctant, I said yes (I’m apprehensive about delving too deeply back into the archive for fear of watering down—or extinguishing—that initial spark. I’m also inclined to keep pressing forward and letting the past speak for itself. There are so many ideas and so little time that I’d rather just work on something new). But, alas, I’m getting off-topic. In short, I’m grateful for the extra arm-twisting because it allowed me to see the work with fresh eyes and perhaps bring something new to the table. And lo and behold, inspiration struck.

The latest addition/edition from Fall 2014 was something that popped into my head fully formed: the chevron in green and gold. That was it. No fussing with swatches, no anguished sketching or scrutiny. It had to be be kelly green and metallic gold—right from the get-go. If pressed for some statement on inspiration, I’d say that these colors simply remind me of my hometown. That’s not a statement of longing (nor one of criticism, for that matter), it just is.  It’s an abstraction of things in the air in that place—an apt representation that just feels right.

Things We Like: Valentine’s Edition

The Cure - Wish

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we discuss an album that Elizabeth and I agreed on, oddly, early in our relationship. While there were other more relevant bands and albums that we obsessed and connected over at that time, The Cure was another band further down the list that we could check in the common interests “yes” column.

But while we enthusiastically agreed on Disintegration as masterpiece, we coolly agreed on Wish as a half-great/half-terrible mixed bag. Yet we each felt uneasy holding the latter opinion. Not only because most everyone loved or hated Wish completely, but because choosing a vague “maybe, sort of” left things in a weird, gray area at home: you weren’t ready to relegate the disc to the local used bin but you also didn’t want to display it too prominently in your rack of discs. I was especially sheepish about calling attention to an album that carried a pop hit as massive (and happy) as “Friday I’m in Love.”   

And yet these feelings of ambivalence still linger today. Talking about the record recently, I reflected that the collection of songs on Wish seem wholly uneven, the album an emotional roller coaster ride between happy and sad that dragged you up and down and back and forth with a complete disregard for continuity, pacing or structure. At least up until that point you could count on a Cure album as being completely up or completely down. But this one was all over the place. Liz even called some of the tracks boring, nothing more than incidental music.

So sad, because some of the tracks on there are excellent. For all the flack we’ve given Wish so far, there are some very strong contenders on there—“Open”, “From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea” and “End” among them. So yes, we gravitate toward the darker, angrier, moodier pieces. And, surprisingly, the album obliges with a handful of solid tracks in that vein. But taking those tracks meant also taking the shiny, happy tracks like “High” and “Doing the Unstuck”—some of their poppiest tracks to date. And at that time, without iTunes or a dubbed cassette to weed out the filler, you were stuck with the whole CD.

Now up until last week we each half-remembered Wish as vaguely, kind of half-good. So to dispel the myths and half-truths, we finally sat down and listened to Wish again in totality. We even made lists of our preferred tracks and regrouped to settle the score. And wouldn’t you know it? We were right. The record splits right down the middle: half happy, half sad. Or if you prefer, half good, half bad.

So to make it official, here’s our break down of how Wish stacks up:

The Cure Wish Breakdown

Prints: Pinwheel Outtake, 2014

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A botched print turned test print was ultimately layered with six colors and surprised us with the fabulous starburst in the center. Someone remarked that it reminded him of a stained glass window. Sure. Why not? The overprinted colors make it feel even more vibrant and complex. A truly happy accident this one was.

Things We Like: Paintings in the Arctic with Animals and Tall Ships

The wintery weather and a recent trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art had me looking back through the archives at some of my favorite polar scenes. These pictures painted in the 1800’s capture the spirit of adventure; of man’s exploration and dominance over nature, while also expressing its tenuous hold. Today’s world of digital devices and instantaneous connections makes it hard to imagine embarking on a tall ship for destinations unknown.

The first picture is my favorite. It has it all – tall ships, icebergs and an abundance of arctic animals watching the men on their well-coordinated fishing expedition. The narwhales, seals, walruses and polar bears take center stage, dwarfed by the tall ships and icebergs that hover nearby with domineering verticality.

polar scenes paintings

This second one caught my eye with its quirky charm. Displayed in a side gallery in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I was struck by the doll-like quality of the polar bear’s head, specifically his human looking eye gazing at the ships. The scale and flattening effect of the tonal range gives a sense of melancholy to the polar bear looming over his frozen perch while creating a sense of danger for the fragile looking ships in the distance.

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In my search for the two paintings above, I found this other Raleigh painting from the National Gallery’s collection. The sense of danger in this depiction of a menacing attack is heightened by the use of saturated color and a composition that focuses precisely on the polar bear’s massive claw. The ship in the background echoes the seal’s struggle for life as it approaches an iceberg.polar scenes paintings3

Baby Knits – Socks

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With a baby gift to make, I decided to stay on the knit socks roll. I started with a search of Ravelry’s pattern database and found a great simple (and free) pattern by Judy Kaethler called Cozy Little Toes. I like that this pattern was created and tested by a mom making socks for her baby. It includes sizing for 3 months & 6 months with very easy and complete directions to follow. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for quick baby gift. It took me two days to complete the set. I used a beautifully dyed sock yarn from Spartickes Dyes called Tootsie’s (inspired by the Nashville cultural landmark of the same name) on Will & Grace Sock base.

2014 – a year in Bookmarks

2014 is over, but the memory of books read over the year lives on in this series of bookmarks created for the Ladies & Literature Goodreads group as book discussion prizes. A lucky participant in each book discussion won a set of bookmarks for that book, but the lucky winners of the Annual reader competition will get the full set! Join us for this coming year’s discussions, the bookmarks will continue in 2015!

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