February 28, 2014

Journal page

Been playing in my journal. Snow days and I needed the splash of color. As always, click on images to view larger.

Started by applying gesso, and then covering my pages with book text. Applied a coat of clear gesso on top of that.

I have watched Donna's Inspiration Wednesday videos religiously. Like attending art church, only on Wednesdays instead of Sundays. While I am sad that she has stopped this project, she continues to provide inspiration with the wealth of videos she has shared. I decided to use one of her videos as inspiration.

The thing about creation, it takes you places you has no idea you were headed. I knew that I would have circles, alphabet stickers, and drips. 

I am always surprised how much of what is going on with me spills out onto my pages. The circles reminded me of the audiobook I was listening to at the time. The morning of that day, I had an incredibly tough run, and it took all my mental, physical, psychological, and emotional reserves to finish my training run. I did it. Hence my text: Believe You Can. 

As for my completed spread, you can tell that I was inspired by Donna, but the page is all me.

Mixed media.

P.S. As a happy accident, I find that I love the little pieces of the whole, and think they would make wonderful cards. Oh happy day.

February 27, 2014

Project Life 2013: Week 51

This is week 41, and I have only one more to go to be all caught up! Highlights this week included soaking up every bit of sun, surf, and sand before heading home to snow. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Journal paper by Melissa. Remembering word element by Katie. Travel word element by Rhonna.

February 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 02.26.14

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February 25, 2014

Journal page

While at Michael's recently, found that they were having a sale on small journals. Decided to try one, and as you can read in my notes, the paper is so thin that ink bleeds to the other side. Do not love it, but it has lots of pages that I could use in some way.

(Click in image to enlarge)

Pen and ink.

February 24, 2014

Recent Reads

16. Chicken with Plums
I am a fan of the author and loved her Persepolis books, so was looking forward to this really short (84 pages) graphic biography. 

The setting is Tehran in the late 1950s, and the main character is the author's great-uncle Nasser Ali Khan, a celebrated musician. The story starts with the discovery that his beloved tar is broken and the fruitless search to find a replacement. He just cannot play beautifully any more, and depressed he takes to his bed to await death. The story of this man and his loves, losses, and despair unfolds in flashbacks, and we spent the week at this death bed watching his family try to persuade him to live. 

I loved the art. It is expressive and the black and coloring adds the perfect moody setting. I did not however love the story telling. It did not feel intimate, even though the content certainly is. There is a barrier to falling into this story. Maybe because the author was not sharing her personal experience, but that of a relative. That distance shows. Rating: 2 stars.

17. A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book: 95 Inspiring Ideas for Photographing Your Friends, Your World, and Yourself
I am not sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand it is eye candy - so colorful and fun to flip through. On the other hand the writing is a little too juvenile and breathless for my taste. To be fair, the authors did warn me in the introduction that they couldn't help using all those exclamation points. They were that excited. Sigh.

This is not a technical photography book. You will not learn how to use you camera, but if you are completely new to photography, this does have some good ideas. The chapters are broken out as:

* Capture your favorite people
* Add backdrops and props
* Use beautiful lighting
* Get creative
* Get inspired
* Capture yourself
* Challenge yourself
* Show off your photos 

This was like flipping through a personal scrapbook, albeit with really good photos, and some text. I am not the right audience for this book, but is is a quick read with lots of color and sefies. Instagram on! Rating: 2 stars.

18. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I am a fan of the author and her work so am really conflicted about how to review this book. 

On the plus side, the message of the book and the research that backs up that message can be life changing. I have listened to various talks the author has done, including her TED talks, and whole heartedly agree with her thesis: "Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It's about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It's even dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there's far greater risk of feeling hurt." But it is worth it. There was a lot of nodding while I read and highlighted portions of this book.

On the other hand, I found the book repetitive and not well structured. It almost felt like the author was stretching the material out to book length, when maybe a long essay would have been more effective.

That being said, I do recommend getting acquainted with her important work. Rating: 3 stars.

February 22, 2014

Asian Youth Trade Outfits With Their Elders To Make Us Rethink Age Stereotypes In Fashion

Here is an interesting photo essay that I wanted to share with you. 

We often think of clothing and fashion as being part of a particular generation. I know I certainly do. This project that switched clothing between generations was eye opening. When switched, both generations look hip and wonderful. Love that.

February 21, 2014

Journal page

If you read my blog, you know how I much I love the Humans of New York site. It is not just the diversity of humanity that the photographer captures, but the tidbits of life stories that go along with the photos. Wonderful. Decided to do quick sketches of a couple of people who caught my eye.

(Click on image to view larger)

Pen on pages with acrylics wash.

February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 02.19.14

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February 18, 2014

Project Life 2013: Week 50

This is week 50, and I am still playing catch up. Only two more to go! Highlights this week included celebrating my sister's wedding in sunny Hikkaduwa. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Journal paper by Melissa and Suzy. 4x6 collage templates by Liz.

February 17, 2014

Recent Reads

13. The English Girl
This is book #13 in the Gabriel Allon series.

A beautiful (naturally!) young British woman vanishes on the island of Corsica, and the next thing you know Gabriel Allon (Mossad assassin and art restorer) on is on the case.

This is a fun page turner of a read. Lots of action, murder, mayhem and intrigue, though I did guess what was going on fairly early in the book and was waiting for the great reveal. At this point in the series, the Allon books are like a reunion with old friends involving whirlwind travel and lots of wine. Sure people die, but what's a vacation with friends in wonderful villas without a murder or two? Rating: 3 stars.

14. Collage Unleashed
I dip into art and craft books regularly to keep priming the well. This one is okay. Some interesting book binding ideas, but overall not my style of art. Rating: 2 stars.

15. Looking for Alaska
If you like young adult books set in a boarding school, you'll probably like this one too. The story is set in Alabama, and is told from the point of view of a nerdy sixteen year old boy who is obsessed with people's last words. There is all the usual teenage drama one would expect - love triangles, cool kids versus non-cool kids, getting wasted, pranks, etc. And in case you were wondering, this is not a road trip to Alaska story. Alaska is the name of a girl.

Things I thought the author did well include:
1. The book structure. The story is divided into two parts - days before and days after. Brilliant device. While reading you know something that the characters do not: there is a life changing event on the horizon. What is it? That question pulls you the reader along.

2. I liked that the kids are all readers and/or smart in some way. Loved the busting of the stereotype that kids who smoke, drink and are sexual are also losers who fail classes and drop out of school.

3.The exploration of religion and philosophy was deftly done, and I can see how that might blow the mind of a young person.

4. That blow job scene? Brilliant.

So why not a higher rating? I do think that being older than the target high school age group played a big part. While the author does not write in a condescending manner at all, it felt like it was written for kids. Also, I believe this is his first book, and it shows. You can see the potential though, and his newer work is what made me a fan in the first place. Rating: 3 stars.

February 13, 2014

Cinemascope: The Good Wife (Season 1 & 2)

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2009, the show is currently in its fifth season.

Plot line: Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state's attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm.

A confession: The first time I watched this series, I gave up after the first 3 episodes. Then I heard that it gets better. Much better. So I tried it again, and am so glad that I did. A show that revolves around smart women. Where men are the background scenery. Did I mention that it stars Julianna Margulis and Archie Panjabi? I am snacking on these episodes at an alarming rate. 

You can see the Season 1 trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a TV series worth watching.

February 12, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 02.12.14

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February 11, 2014

Project Life 2013: Week 49

This is week 49, and I am still playing catch up. But I'm not quitting. I plan to complete the project this month. Highlights this week included exploring other World Heritage sites in the highlands, and chillaxing on the beach. It is actually fun to work on this week while it is freezing up here in New England. Miss that sunshine. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Brad elements by Shabby Princess. Alphabet elements by Sarah. Journal paper by Jen. 4x6 collage templates by Liz.

February 10, 2014

Recent Reads

10. The Orphan Master's Son
My book club pick for this month won both the Pulitzer Prize and more importantly (for me), The Morning News Tournament of Books in 2013. Add to that it is a novel set in North Korea? Sold. 

Citizens! Let me first caution you that this is not an easy book to read. It will educate you about North Korea, and the depiction of torture and life under a dictator will make you squirm. Possibly even give you nightmares. You might kid yourself that you are reading a fantasy dystopian novel, but this is the DPRK.

Citizens! Let me also caution you that this novel will require work. It is written in a non-linear fashion, and is not a book to pick up when you think about a cozy afternoon read with a pot of tea and some scones. Might I also recommend reading this in three or four sittings. Do not sip from this book. You might not return.

Citizens! I think the most important key to unlocking this novel are the lines: For us, the story is more important than the person. If a man and his story are in conflict, it is the man who must change. The author is masterful. The narrator is not important - forget about your typical unreliable narrator notions - in this novel we have multiple narrators, some who are unnamed. 

Citizens! If like me you find yourself laughing out loud in the midst of the horror, remember that you are not alone. Yes it is jarring, but I applaud the skill with which the author weaves in satire and humor into the tapestry of the story.

Citizens! I would not say that I loved reading this book, but it will stick with me for a long time. It changed my mental models, educated me, and introduced me to a really skilled author. I cannot wait to read his back list. Rating: 5 stars.

11. My Friend Dahmer
This is a graphic biography about serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, as told by the author who was Dahmer's classmate. 

I wonder about the history of people who end up as serial killers, or psychopaths of some sort. Who were they as children? How much was nature versus nurture? What pushes a person over the edge where they go from hurting themselves to hurting other? Could it have been prevented?

This book sheds some light into Dahmer's early years, and I did feel for the lonely boy who was isolated, and abandoned, and friendless. Who wouldn't? Everyone reading this must ask the same question - where were the adults in his life? Is is possible for a kid to get so dang lost in the cracks? The sad answer is yes. 

While the art is really good, I found the narrative and writing weak. Maybe it was because the point of view is from a classmate/friend, who was really more of an acquaintance, but I expected more. Rating: 2 stars.

12. The Art of the Photograph: Essential Habits for Stronger Compositions
I am a huge fan of Art Wolfe. His photography capture a time and place and mood in a manner that resonates with me. 

Most photography books tend to focus on the technical details of photography: f-stops, shutter speeds, etc. and I've read my fair share of those. What I really liked about this book is that it is not about the technical details. Reading it is like attending a master class on the art of photography (hence the title ha!). Would recommend it to all amateur photographers. Rating: 4 stars.

February 6, 2014

Cinemascope: The Debt

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2010. Helen Mirren in a Mossad movie? Sold.

Plot line: 1965, three Mossad agents cross into East Berlin to apprehend a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, the secrets the agents share come back to haunt them.

That plot line summarizes one of my sweet spots when it comes to story lines. This movie has an incredible cast, and while not easy to watch, it asks more questions than it answers. Gave me lots to think about.

You can see the movie trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

February 5, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 02.05.14

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February 4, 2014

Journal page: Creation process

Have I mentioned how much I am loving playing in my larger journal?

While making my most recent page, I took photos at various steps along the way and made a little video showing you my process.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

It is really fun to not start with a blank page, and see where you end up.

Mixed media (Click to enlarge)

She looks sunburned! I'm going to have to work on mixing skin tone colors. The idea for this page came to me in a dream. I kid you not. Something about those green numbers on the bottom looked like grass. And I saw a girl and some buildings. Love how it turned out. 

February 3, 2014

Recent Reads

7. Shōgun
I like big books and I cannot lie. I finished this one a couple of days ago, and I've been lingering in the afterglow.

So here's the back story. This is one of Susan's fave books ever. One she has read multiple times, and every time I start a new book, I get the same question: are you reading Shogun? For years, decades even, the answer has been no. Why? I do not know. I could make up a story, but honestly, I think the right book finds you are the right time. Then last year, the Boston MFA had an exhibit on Samurai that amazed me. Next I heard that a TV mini-series is in the works for 2014. A trifecta! And just like that, I knew it was time to start Shogun.

This historical saga set in Japan during the 1500s is about the cultural clash of first contact, a time and place where local struggle for power intertwines with passion, religion, trade, betrayal, duty and war. This is the original Game of Thrones, and I wonder how much GRRM was influenced by it. It is huge in scope with many characters, and plot lines, and it takes all of its 1134 pages to tell it. And in my opinion, it could have been longer. 

I've been inhabiting feudal Japan for several weeks. I've learned much about the culture and attitudes, and have been highly entertained along the way. I've lived this story. What more can one ask of a book? I've added James Clavell to my book god pantheon that include Michener and Uris. And he has a backlist. I am one happy reader. Rating: 5 stars.

8. The Sandman: Endless Nights
This is book #12 in the Sandman graphic novel series. 

Blurb: Born at the beginning of time, Destiny, Death, Dream, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction are seven brothers and sisters who each lord over their respective realms. In this highly imaginative book that boasts a diverse styles of breathtaking art, these seven peculiar and powerful siblings each reveal more about their true being as they star in their own tales of curiosity and wonder.

I have loved most of this series, and this is a prequel of sorts. Seven short stories that dive deeper into the endless and why they are who they are. The creative imagination that is Neil Gaiman's mind is incredible, and the artists who interpret his words into art are fantastic, but I did not love this one. It felt fragmented, and there was a bit too much T&A for my taste. Not that I have anything against tasteful T&A, and if there is to be nudity, then both genders should be equally represented no? Rating: 3 stars.

9. Sailor Twain
I’m conflicted about this graphic novel. I really liked the charcoal artwork which wonderfully illustrates the gritty steamboat on the Hudson setting, however I found the characters and their motivations muddled and unclear. Rating: 3 stars.