Friday, April 30, 2010

Art of the Chop, Part II

Vintage Saab Sonett III in production form, below, and my proper notchback coupe version, above.

C H O P — The vintage burgundy Saab Sonett III above is one of my very simple chops, shown with the original press photo for comparison. In this rendering, I've left everything in the photo pretty much the same, with the exception of the car. I liked the background, and the '70s fashions on the couple, so I left them. You'll notice besides the roof, I've shortened the front overhang, pushing the front wheels forward about six inches in relation to the windshield. I've changed some of the trim slightly as well. The original is a fastback with a glass hatchback. I've made mine into a proper coupe, with a notchback roofline and a short trunklid, a bodystyle I prefer usually to hatches.

The second chop posted here, below, based on the new BMW 5 series GT hatchback, takes the chop a few steps further. I've made the chunky (fugly?) BMW into a svelte Buick sport sedan. Once again, I've kept the background the same, but have changed the car totally, including the lines, the color, the marque. I began publishing this blog with the Riviera chop, here, but now you can see the base photo I started with, Some of my chops go much further by changing the background etc, and I'll continue to post "The Art of the Chop" in future entries, but I think you can see the amount of Photoshop work that goes into these creations.

The BMW 5 GT, below, was changed into a mythical top-of-the-line Buick Riviera, above, in this chop. Click all images to enlarge

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Postwar Peace and Quiet

My mom, on the right, and an unidentified friend, enjoy some peace and quiet on the Connecticut shoreline, 1947.

C O L L E C T I O N — This photo, from a color slide dated 1947, shows my Mom and a friend of hers, enjoying life after more than five years of the second World War. My Mom graduated from nursing school in 1940, and worked in a hospital in New Haven during the war, many times finding former classmates among her severely wounded patients. This early postwar period of calm, and optimism towards the future, was much needed after that horrendous war time period of loss and destruction.

Optimism towards the future—what a novel idea. We could sure use some of that today—don't hold your breath waiting.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Don't See These Every Day

Jack-in-the-Pulpits—one of our wonderful native wildflowers. I've established approximately twenty of them in my shaded perennial garden.

G A R D E N I N G — I've always been fond of wildflowers, it was the way I was raised, lol. I grew up walking around the woods in Connecticut, with my Mom and aunt Hoohoo pointing out and identifying various indigenous wildflowers and plants. The woods around our homes were full of Columbine, Gentian, various ferns, Lady Slippers, Dutchman's Britches, Trout lilies etc. The one species that seemed 'rare' in our neck of the woods were Jack-in-the-Pulpits. We had a small area in Mulberry Point where there were a few, but they were always a very special sighting, and my mother never dared to try to establish them in our yard.

Fast forward to the present day, and the property around the house my apartment is in, is LOADED with Jacks. You can't go 2 feet in the shady, woodsy areas of the property without finding clumps of them. It's really incredible, there must be thousands. It's the first time I've realized there are at least two varieties also-the dark-striped variety I've posted photos of here, and a lighter pale green variety, which aren't blooming yet. I've successfully transplanted around 20 of them into my gardens where I can enjoy them and show them to friends. I think they're spectacular! Oddly enough, Jacks are just about the ONLY wildflowers I've found on this property. My mom would be so thrilled to see them!

In the fall, Jacks develop a seed pod, that looks for all the world like a small cluster of bright red grapes, adding a much-needed pop of color in the generally brown fall flower beds.

For more info on Jack-in-the-Pulpits, go here .

A great print from 1886 by Isaac Sprague showing the corm and the seed pod that develops by autumn.

Georgia O'Keefe immortalized Jacks in this ca 1930 painting. Photo found through Google Images.

My Two Lips

Rescued Tulips. This is probably the first time these bulbs have flowered in fifty years. I have no idea how they survived in the woods where I found them.

G A R D E N I N G — I found these Tulips in an old garden on the property 4-5 years ago. Well, I found the leaves of these plants 4-5 years ago. There is a large part of the property that has gone back to 'woods.' The last time the entire yard was cleared and allowed full sunlight was, most likely, at least fifty years ago. I recognized the tulip leaves and checked on them each spring, assuming that I had always missed the blooms. Under their canopy of trees however, I realized they never flowered. 

I have no idea how the bulbs survived so long in the ground without blooming. Tulips are not exactly the most hearty of perennials-in fact, I've found that between voles and chipmonks and our New England weather, most Tulips need to be replanted every couple of years go thrive. These bulbs must be a very sturdy old stock. I transplanted them last year, into my full-sun perennial garden, and voila! I have gorgeous Peppermint Tulips now. 

"Rescuing" plants is something I learned from my late mother. I can't tell you how many times we dug up fine old-stock perennials or rare wildflowers the night before bulldozers arrived to build new homes or stores. It almost became our trademark, with friends/neighbors actually telling us about old properties about to be razed and redeveloped so we could 'go in' and dig up the flowers first. Once they were established in our yard, we made a habit of dividing them and giving them to friends, to pay it forward, as it were.

Why Two Lips in the title? When I was a wee tyke, I thought these plants were called Two Lips, and I would STARE at the Tulips in our yard for hours on end, trying to see how anyone could see two lips on them, lol.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mystery in the Garden, Part 2

This hanging "bloom" is the first time my 'fake' daffodils have progressed beyond the 'airbud' stage. Not sure how it will develop further, if it will at all. Click to see in detail.

G A R D E N I N G — A couple of weeks ago, I posted about some 'fake' daffodils I had found in the woods around my house, original post here. I transplanted about a dozen of them 3 years ago into one of my perennial gardens, but have never seen them bloom. They bud quite easily, and in great number—I have about 100 buds right now—but they never progress past the buds. I've planted some in the full sun, which has proven to be the wrong place for them-they don't even bud in the sun. The ones in my partial shade garden, like the area I found them in the woods, seems to be what they like. But the buds dry out and turn brown before they open, and then the leaves disappear later in the season like every other type of daffodil. I've found two more patches of them in the woods, and none of them seem to progress past the airbud stage either. I'm really perplexed, and excited at this point, to see that one bud has broken open and this hanging proto-flower has appeared. I've not found anything like these plants researching online. I'll keep y'all posted as to the next stage!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is the World Ready for a Lincoln Hatchback?

Lincoln Cross Star—historical Lincoln styling trait, suicide doors, reinterpreted on a compact all-wheel drive hatchback. In 20 years, I think this might be considered a large car. Click to see larger.

C H O P — This small Lincoln's base photo was a Citroën concept car from this past show season. Just about the only part left from the original is the license plate though. I left the wider european plate as an indication perhaps of where this car could first be sold. The small rear doors, or access hatches as Saturn called those on it's Ion coupe, would only open if the front doors were opened first. 

This car could have use of Ford's smooth and powerful new Ecoboost engines, perhaps a 4 cylinder with approximately 225hp, and weight could be kept as low as possible with expensive carbon fibers and alloys, allowed at the price point a small Lincoln could be sold for. 

The "Cross" part of the name comes from a new lightweight crossover platform with all-wheel drive and a slightly raised driving position. This luxurious small car would be capable of 40 mpg, with perhaps a hybrid option for close to 50mpg city.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some Photoshop Ditties from the Past, Destined to be Parts of the Future

Photoshop collages destined to be parts of my 'analog' collages on wood. Step-by-step, piece-by-piece, I gather materials for the next series. Click on each image to see in detail, and there are LOTS of details, lol.

D I G I T A L   W O R K — At night, I work on scanning personal photographs, negatives, printed pieces. I spend a lot of time going through my 'stuff' and finding suitable pieces for scanning. I play with the scans in photoshop, seeing which ones to combine, figuring out what I'm trying to 'say' with them. Many times I'll print them out, and then find a place for them in my pieces on wood, creating 'analog' collages from digital work.

These are a few of my older photoshopped pieces, some of which have been used on wood, and some of which WILL be used in my next series. Even though they are destined to be part of larger pieces, I think these photoshopped 'ditties' also stand on their own. I have approximately 500GB of artwork stored on hard drives, waiting to be used, and who-knows-how-much still to be scanned and played with. I may have spent the first 45 years of my life working on my education, my career in publishing, my nightclub/bar 'career' at night, and gathering the raw materials I use now, but for the past 6-7 years, I've been working on leaving behind a legacy of personal art—with whatever time I have left.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

6:08 pm. Must be DISCO time!

Every afternoon for the past few weeks, between 5:45 and 6:15 pm, the vintage diamond and crystal necklaces and earrings I have hanging on my ceiling fan in the livingroom, spring to life when the sun enters the west window. Suddenly the room is filled with little floating dots of all colors, spinning and twisting, doing their best impression of a Disco Ball. I love it! I've been playing one old disco anthem each day, until the sun's angle is wrong, or the trees are in the way or whatever variable will get in the way. For a few minutes each afternoon this spring, I'm at Greg's Blue Dot or Probe or Studio One in Los Angeles, 12 West or Limelight or Pyramid or Mars Needs Men, or any number of Manhattan clubs I frequented back in the day. I'm missing my friends from those days, especially Andy. Who would have thought that I would be the one that made it through the plague-ridden 80s and 90s? It's not right.

The disco song of the day today is the still-sultry Runaway Love, by Linda Clifford—for everyone that isn't here to enjoy it today.

Depression-era Dreams

Depression-era charcoal drawing done on a brown paper bag, incorporated into piece, Hoohoo's Dream, 24 x 24 inches on plywood.

O N   W O O D — This piece utilizes one of my late aunt Hoohoo's drawings. It was charcoal on a brown paper bag-done during the early 30s, the worst of the Depression. Imagine a mother trying to encourage her young artist's talents, and having to cut up shopping bags for her to draw on. Hoohoo's Dream shows a colonial house on a pond, with a couple of boats floating on it, one full size and one 'lake sailer' toy boat—a large schooner just like the lake toy I found in the family's belongings decades later. Surrounded by pine trees and on a hill, it's very evocative of the Connecticut shoreline where I still live. I've also used a school photo of Hoohoo at around the same age as she was when she did this drawing. The paper bag was as brittle as the ash on the end of a cigarette, and would have turned to dust if I hadn't used it in this piece. I've also used dried leaves, just as brittle and fragile as the drawing itself, and something Hoohoo taught me to appreciate.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Orange-Glo You Won't See on an Infomercial

This gorgeous orange glass vase was given to me last week by Mary, one of my sisters in all but name. . . The sun was making it absolutely glow yesterday afternoon. Click twice for HD, lol.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Localcolour—Yard Close-ups

Snapshots taken yesterday walking around our new fenced-in veggie garden, The Ponderosa, lol. Click on each image to enlarge. Click again for HD : )

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sometimes Obvious Works Best

My Country 'Tis of Thee, 27 x 16 inches on three joined pine boards.

O N   W O O D — This painting features an intricately constructed background of multiple width bands of color. Each piece of pine has at least 1,000 separately painted stripes in a mix of colors and variations-the rainbows of thoughts and ideas and experiences that make our country great. Overlaying this is a decaying superstructure of fifty squares, in red, white, blue and black. The squares are placed in approximately the position those colors would be on our flag—the black portions signifying the complete absense of humanity, the complete breakdown of the grid we live under. The black also symbolizes the government's inability to deal with the haters in this country, those that would vote away the rights of minorities, such as NOM, Focus on the Family, etc. Symbolism not too hard to discern in this one, lol.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17th, 1964-Cognoscenti Know This Date!

2009 Mustang meets 1964 Barracuda in this Mustang Glassback. I couldn't let the 46th anniversary of the Mustang's introduction to pass without posting at least one Mustang chop.

C H O P — April 17th, 1964 is, of course, the day the first Ford Mustang was introduced. Forty six years ago today, I was almost 7 years old, and this was my first 'half-year' model introduction! The Mustang was introduced as a 1964 1/2, blowing my little mind, as I was just getting the hang of a 1962 versus 1963 Ford taillights, and the way Chevy differentiated model lines with it's side trim in 1960 (hint: the chrome "rocket" changed sizes). To now have a HALF YEAR car was an interesting development, lol. It certainly sped up my Second Grade knowledge of fractions.

Though I've never owned a Mustang, and my family never did either when I was growing up, I've always had a soft spot for them. Part of it is the name I guess, Mustang is just so damn evocative. Whether you're a little girl dreaming of black stallions, a little boy dreaming of the wild west's Appaloosas or Pintos, or a Dad hoping the Derby pays off this year, lol, horses have a special place in an American's minds. Second would have to be the styling. Even in what purists call the Dark Days of the Mustang II, there has never been an ugly Mustang, in my opinion of course. I would put up a bright red/black '74 Mustang II Mach 1, (with it's 2.8 liter V6!) up against any small mid seventies car built worldwide style-wise. 

The '71-'73 model years produced the gorgeous flatback bodystyle as well as the notchback with flying buttressed C pillars. The '68 fastback gave us the iconic Bullitt chase scene. The mid '80s Fox-bodied Mustang helped bring back the convertible bodystyle to the masses, as well as the Loony Tunes fun of a powerful V8 hooked to a simple rear wheel drive chassis. Mid nineties restyles brought retro design cues and increased sales, as well as more and more sophisticated features and drivetrains. This year engine horsepower ranges from  305 in the new V6, to 550 in the supercharged V8.

Five years to the day after the original Mustang came out, Ford released the Maverick, on April 17, 1969 as an early 1970 model, not repeating the 1/2 year model year of the Mustang.

A couple of 'blue sky' Mustangs including my favored notchback bodystyle—chopped from the 2005 concept cars.

This is Ground Control to Major Tom . . . Pointalicious Pontiac Prototypes

2011 Pontiac Ventura, stillborn midsize four door "coupe" from GM's er, um,  Excitement Division. Click all photos to enlarge.
2011 Pontiac Tempest, would have been replacement for slow-selling G6 Coupe.
2011 Star Chief luxury sedan, larger G8 platform with 400hp, awd and hybrid option.

C H O P S — Oh, what might have been from Pontiac, GM's grand old division that was given it's pink slip last year. These chops were done when there was still a little bit of hope for Pontiac to make the cut, and have a long future. It didn't. It won't.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."—Margaret Atwood

Dirt speckles these daffodil blooms after a brief rain shower this morning. Click each photo twice to see the cool effect in detail, almost like tiny chocolate chips on fondant-covered sugar cookies.

"Garden fairies come at dawn, Bless the flowers then they're gone." —Anonymous

My vintage garden gnome with copper glaze. 

"The land of fairy, where nobody gets old and godly and grave, where nobody gets old and crafty and wise, where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue." 
— W I L L I A M  B U T L E R  Y E A T S 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Violets Aren't Blue . . .

Growing African Violets is one of my hobbies. This is my "Forest of Violets," six plants I transplanted together a couple of years ago. 

One plant just burst into this incredible group of blossoms.

Lipsticks du Jours

My rarely flowering Lipstick plant,  Aeschynanthus parvifoliusis in bloom right now. You can't even look at the red and maroon flowers without them falling off. With only 6-8 blooms per year from this 8 year old plant, I've been known to place detached blooms in tiny glass vases, extending their lives by a couple of weeks. These plants come in many varieties—mine is from the late (and lamented) Fonicello's Garden Center in Guilford, closed four or five years ago after more than fifty years in business. Lipstick plants are related to African Violets. I also grow those, which you can see at the bottom of the photo

My 'Forest of Violets' is just visible in this photo. I've planted 6 African Violets together in one large composite container. I'm not sure if it's an old Wives Tale or not, but I've always found that African Violets do much better in plastic pots than terra cotta ones. This particular pot is a 'new' composite material, which I've painted with a copper glaze and a floral motif. I've never planted more than one violet per pot before, but after more than a year together, all six violets are not only growing and flowering, they're thriving, throwing off a few babies in the process. I'll shoot some pics of the thriving community soon.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mystery in the Garden

Transplanted in the garden for the third year now, these mystery perennials are now established. They seem to be daffodils in every way—from bulbs to foliage to their timing—yet the buds never open. The 'air buds' grow with absolutely nothing inside of them. You can see through the thin green membranes when the sun is behind them, revealing no baby blooms growing inside. 

G A R D E N I N G — There's an area of the yard that is going back to nature. It doesn't seem to have been incorporated into the mowed area since the 1950s at the latest. It runs alongside the train tracks and is heavily wooded now. There are hundreds of Jack-in-the-Pulpits in the spring, and clumps of naturalized day lilies that send up great foliage. They never bloom once the full 'forest canopy' appears in June cutting off their sun when they need it to send up buds. This area also has a large clump of daffodils—which don't bloom either—but I think for a completely different reason than the day lilies lack of blooms.

I found a group of these seemingly normal daffodils 3 years ago. The naturalized area of foliage is about 6 feet by 6 feet to this day, much like we had at the Leete's Island home in areas of the yard. Everything about them seemed to be normal for daffodils, so naturally, me being me, I transplanted a good dozen of them three years ago into a new perennial garden I was putting in. Having never seem them bloom in their original location, I was more than anxious to see which variety they would reveal themselves to be.

The first year in the transplanted garden, lots of foliage no buds. I didn't think to check the original clump, but without much sun, I'd never seen them bloom. The second year, again, lots of foliage but lots of buds this time—all which amounted to nothing. No blooms ever opened, the buds just hung out on the stems for a couple of weeks and then deteriorated before they opened. Cutting open a few of these 'buds' revealed no baby flowers inside. I checked the original clump and they all had the same 'airbuds.' 

This is the third year in their news space. Again, healthy foliage, several dozen buds, no emerging flowers. I really think I've found an archaic form of daffodil bulbs, perhaps never having developed the showy flowers of today's daffies. I'm going to do some research and see if I can find out exactly what the mystery growing in my garden really is!

"Airbuds" showing up right on time on my mystery perennials. Daffy daffies or forgotten earlier form?