Sunday, October 31, 2010

And Now a Word from King George V

One of the cooler mementos of the Great War, or World War I as it has become known, is this letter written by King George V, and given to more than a million soldiers in April 1918. The letter was printed by lithography most likely, simulating the King's handwriting, and is printed on actual royal stationery. I'm sure my grandfather was quite tickled to receive this, as he saved it and brought it back after the war. The scan above is large enough to easily read if you click on it, but here's the text anyway:

Soldiers of the United States, the people of the British Isles welcome you on your way to take your stand beside the Armies of many nations now fighting in the Old World the great battle for human freedom.

The Allies will gain new heart and spirit in your company. I wish that I could shake the hand of each one of you and bid you Godspeed on your mission.

George R.I.

How great is this? It's polite, it's to the point, it's as personal as something like this could be, it's heartfelt, it's something you would never see done today by any leader. Whomever wrote it in today's world would find it used as "opposition research" and you'd be hard-pressed to find any national leader actually willing to take responsibility for anything.

In doing a bit of research for this post, it seems this letter was given to each soldier in a matching envelope, which I don't seem to have, but you know what I'm going to say: It's probably around here somewhere!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I thought the Nasturtiums were done for the year, but the past week of quite-warm Indian Summer has given me more blossoms. The backyard is graced with a bright orange variety, as the purple  Tradescanthia is finishing up its annual cycle. The fallen leaves compliment the edible orange flower, right?

Meanwhile, on my front porch, this lighter yellow/orange Nasturtium bloomed today amid the Dusty Miller . There is something so appealing about a tender annual that refuses to give up until the very last second of the season. I suppose there is something to be said about its human caretaker that concentrates so much on the lifecycle of his flowers, too!

Better Early then Never

Two views of my Thanksgiving cactus in bloom: from above on the porch, left, and sitting in it's Southeast window indoors, right.

Moving indoors from its summer sojourn in the shade garden, my Thanksgiving Cactus is blooming early. When I brought it in last week, I could see many buds on it, and the better light and warmer temperatures in my apartment have brought out the blooms. Usually it blooms a bit later, closer to Thanksgiving, but I'll take flowers any time of the year. This is one of the newer ones, I believe my mother bought it in the mid 1970s. The other cactuses (or cacti-I remember from last summer's post!) are the rounded leave version, which I call Christmas cactuses. Three of them are still only showing leaves, but one of the small ones I started last year from my dying 114 year old plant, is starting to show teeny-tiny buds. I guess that one will be early too. The plants absolutely loved their new position in the shade garden, on top of a white wrought-iron planter, as opposed to sitting on my porch behind the Azaleas where the chipmonks would dig in their pots every so often. The leaves of these plants have never looked greener or healthier, a great sign since I lost my oldest one last winter.

The Glories of the Audubon Birdhouse

All of the groups of morning glories seem to be thriving in the cooler autumn weather, They keep throwing out hundreds of buds, their leaves are clean and green and free of the powder mildew prevalent on most of the annuals and perennials, and the blooms stay open for most of the day. The wild rose bushes growing in the background, fading more each day, are more than thirty feet high and reaching for the tops of the trees. Once their leaves drop, the remaining vines and thorns take on a very Snow White and the Enchanted Forest appearance.

B O N U S   P H O T O  : )

I know I've posted several photos of this group of glories, cosmos and red geranium, but they constantly draw my eye when I'm outside. In this photo, all of their stems just seem to melt away, leaving the flowers dancing on their own. Soon enough I'll be shooting snowdrifts and the ice floes on the shores of the Sound.

Your Daily Dueling Dahlias

The yellow/peach dahlia now consists of a group of three blossoms. They're all at different stages of their coloring  and look really great together. Click on the images to see them full size.

The solitary white dahlia is just about fully opened. This variety reminds me of those 1960s drawings created by tracing ovals over and over and over again, creating an almost atom-like assemblage. Notice the green of the lawn and background forest is slowing changing to browns and faded golds and oranges as the leaves begin to drop and disappear from the canopy above. There's a frost tonight for the entire state of the Connecticut except for the immediate shoreline, so I'm lucky once again, but it will be any day now. What a season though, and I'm thrilled I've been able to share it this year with more than the few people who actually step foot on Pink Garden's grounds!

New Addition to the Menagerie

A friend of mine gave me this antique chair the other day. She owned it for more than 20 years, and never got around to repairing the seat. It was given to her by her ex in-laws, so that may have something to do with it, lol. When I get to work on it, I'll most likely use steel wool to burnish the wooden arms, slats and legs, and perhaps give it a light coat of natural stain and a matte polyurethane topcoat. I'll leave the original painting on the back intact, patina as I've mentioned before, is quite welcome in my collection. For the seat, I'll probably cut a piece of plywood and then cover it with a nicely padded and upholstered seat cushion in a solid color raw silk fabric. I don't really like to go into fabric stores with much of a game plan though, I like to leave it up to karma and allow my eye to be drawn to the perfect choice at that moment. Isn't the design of this chair beautiful? The backrest is not only curved in plan view (when looking from above), but it's also convex giving a wonderful soft highlight towards the top. It's stored in the newly-organized attic until I can get to it, but looks completely at home up there.

Since I started working in the attic, I've been keeping an arrangement or two of fresh flowers up there. This one has cosmos and perilla, the dark purple foliage. It's sitting on a small two-drawer side table which was handmade by a friend of my father's in the early 1960s. It hasn't lived the comfy life for the past couple of decades, always seeming to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and has received a few ill-conceived paint treatments. It's very high on my list of restoration projects however, and should be back to its original maple finish at some point this winter. Acting as a backdrop is my painting, "Modern Life No. 2" which I created on new mahogany boards in 2007.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Not the "Way Forward" I Suppose

A fancifully filtered chop from two years ago, my reborn rear-wheel drive Pinto II. With the Pinto name pretty much sullied forever, this was my attempt at supporting the little filly. I was actually involved in a car accident in 1977 in a Pinto Runabout hatchback. We were in the middle of a 5-6 car chain-reaction accident driving home from college for Thanksgiving. We were hit in the front and the back. I was sitting in the back seat and no one in the car was injured and the car did NOT blow up. In fact, we were all pretty impressed with the strength and apparent safety of the car.

• An NPR Q&A about Ford's Way Forward campaign from 2006.
• Zip forward to 2010 and this plan is apparently working.

Early Artistic Influences, Part XLVI

Test Your Talent, ca 1964

Bambi or the Boxer?

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — Does anyone remember the "Learn to Draw" ads in the back of 1960s magazines? My aunt Hoohoo sat me in her lap in the early-to-mid 1960s, opened up the TV Guide to the ad in the back of the book, and showed me how to follow the lines in the published drawings in the ad, and create my own drawings on a small pad. She did the deer because I loved the story Bambi, and she did the Boxer because she loved dogs. She drew them in just a minute or two, and then went on to show me how to draw birds, and houses, and trees... all from her own creative mind, and I lapped up every minute of it. I truly believe I would not be an artist today if it wasn't for Hoohoo. I gave her drawings I made for the rest of her life and she always reacted like she was Auric Goldfinger and I had given her a new bar of gold, lol. 

• Here's a link to the original Boxer ad, dated 1970, but that's several years after Hoohoo did this one. I suppose it ran in publications for many years.

Set 'em Up, Knock 'em Down

Well that's one way to knock the pins down! I could have used an interactive bowling ball back in the day!

This is a humorous handpainted wooded dish depicting an angry bowling ball knocking down some pins. This always hung in my dad's workshop area. As he worked on restoring a chair, or painting some piece of furniture for someone, the little 8-12 year old mini-me would sit on a stool next to him watching him work, and staring at all the things he had on the walls. This dish amused me because it was handpainted, and it made the bowling ball into a little creature. Both concepts fascinated me! I thought it was cool someone would paint a dish, and I thought it was cool that they put eyes on the ball. I would lie in my bed at night thinking about stuff like this, lol! 

As Promised . . .

1934 Packard V12 LeBaron Speedster, Danbury Mint

Looking a little worse for the wear, I found the 1:24 diecast scale model '34 Packard today. It's missing a bumper (which is probably tucked around here somewhere), some little trim pieces, and the tires are cracking where I  painted the whitewalls black—I've never really been a fan of wide whites. The bright red paint is fine, the pseudo-leather interior is a bit cracked, but the absolutely classic lines are as flawless as they were when LeBaron and Packard created the real car in the throws of the Depression. Click on the image, as always, to see it much larger.

It's sitting on top of some of my antique books, dating back to the early 1800s, also with badly cracking leather on their bindings. There are several Edison phonograph records, cylinder records dating back to the very early 1900s—these are the "rough" ones. I have a small suitcase with about 75 pristine cylinders in it, but I like to look at them so I leave these well-used ones out. Everything is situated on the top shelf of the secretary in the photo in the post below. Eagle-eyed readers will notice a cute novelty dog toy at the top right. He's a bit lopsided these days, but if you press down on the square wooden base, depressing the round button on the bottom, the dog will go limp at every joint and fall over. When you release the base, and the button is free to come back out, the little doggie stands back up straight again. I have no idea why this item was created, but can you imagine a small child today being happy to "play" with something that isn't interactive or have an electronic keyboard and monitor, lol?

• Here's a link to the exact scale model, in pristine condition. I've had mine for 20 years at least, and actually prefer mine now that it's achieved a patina, lol.

• Here's a link to a page of '34 Packard V12s. Scroll down a bit for a bright red LeBaron speedster like my model. It might be the exact car the mint studied for the model, but in these photos it's displayed with steel disc wheels I don't believe I've seen before on a Packard of that vintage.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Studebakers and Packard Front and Center

Considering my recent contest entry, I thought it would be good karma to place a few of my Studebaker and Packard scale models in my late-18th century secretary, a place of prominence in my life. There is a small (1:43) 1953 Packard Caribbean convertible in lavender to the left. Next to it are two representations of the 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk, a 1:24 and a 1:87, Matchbox-sized. I also have a beautiful 1934 Packard speedster in bright red from one of the mints, but can't quite put my finger on it right now, lol. You know I'll be in the attic looking for it tomorrow!

Photo-pourri. So Far, No Frost!

Impromptu Autumn arrangement of Burning Bush (Euonymous alatus) stems, large ferns and some vines from around the place. I wrapped all of these around a short (3 ft) tree trunk near the side driveway. The veggie garden is in the background and with the cosmos, morning glories, zinnias and dahlias still blooming, this group of brightly colored foliage adds just the right seasonal touch.

A dark orange zinnia blooms despite the cool nights and daytime rain drops. 

The newest dahlia to bloom is this solid white variety. While not completely opened up yet, I think this pure white bloom is one of my favorites. For some reason, I missed pinching this plant earlier in the season, which makes them branch out rather than putting all the growth into getting taller, but there are still a few buds on it. Here's hoping they have the time to bloom!

In another part of the yard, along the property line in the backyard, bordering a shallow stream and Madison Land Trust acreage, this small, solitary cosmos surprised me today. I planted several cosmos here in the spring, but the deer kept eating them. I gave up on them in July, moved them from around this tree to the cutting garden inside with the vegetables, but I apparently missed transplanting this one. Lo and behold today, in between rain showers, I walked back here and was duly rewarded! The plant is only 18 inches high and has more horizontal growth than vertical, but the flower is still beautiful.

A second yellow/peach dahlia is blooming. The first one faces due East, looking inside the fenced in vegetable garden (mostly empty now!) and this second one faces due West. They're the same height, but have their backs to each other. I'm amused daily at my dahlias coloring and growth patterns.

The "regular" cosmos, close to 8-feet tall, swing and sway with the slightest breeze. They really resemble lavender/pink butterflies when you sit and watch them. As tall and substantial as the stems are, the frilly leaves and almost-weightless flowers are constantly in motion. It's really something to behold, or I need to get a real life, lol.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Feature (Well, an Easier to Find Feature!)

I've created a new link on the right of the blog page titled, "My Photoshopped Cars (Chops)," just below my short bio-profile. It's basically a link to the Chops link in the Labels list, but with the new title and placement, I think it might be easier to find for my viewers/friends that come here to see my cars/chops. Perhaps at some point in the future, I'll create a second blog just for my cars, but for now, I think the new placement will be a boon to some readers. If you're interested in a certain make/model, you can still scroll down the Labels column and find the links there.

A Little Surprise in a 1953 How-To Book

One of the early postwar magazines in my collection is this delightful "how-to" book on building your own garage published by Popular Mechanics in 1953. The cover art is rendered in that colorful "commercial art" style that was prevalent in the late 1940s and '50s, somewhat reminiscent of Norman Rockwell. The cover art is signed "Korta," and in about, oh, 2 seconds of Googling, I found his bio. Robert Korta was head illustrator for Popular Mechanics for many years before becoming a freelancer. You've got to love "the Google!"

The surprise mentioned in the title? After several chapters on various types of garages—wooden frame, cinder block, and brick—is this chapter on building a bomb shelter, "What about an A-Bomb Shelter?" It really took be aback, although the timing of the book, 1953, places it squarely in the Cold War and McCarthy's "Communist around every corner" period. I remember a few homes in our neighborhood that had their own bomb shelters, and they were available to us in the event we needed it. I've always wondered what happened to those subterranean structures, but the original families have all died or moved away, and I'm not the type to knock on doors and ask strangers about their properties. The tone of the artwork is oddly light-hearted, with a bomb dropping out of the sky that looks like it could be stamped "ACME" on the side as in the Roadrunner cartoons. But then again, this was Popular Mechanics, not The New York Times.

The second spread of the bomb shelter chapter includes helpful sidebars such as which supplies needed to be kept at the ready in a shelter, distances from ground zero that would cause death and destruction and possible safety and a list of "things to do" when the bomb siren sounds. 

I've scanned three sidebars and grouped them together here for easier reading. The list of supplies reminds me of the "duct tape and plastic window shields" we were told about after 9/11. Check out number 10 in the list on the left: "If you are within 1/2 mile of burst, and are still alive..." Yowsah!

B L O G   N O T E — I finally have several days ahead of me without any work scheduled for my publisher and no gardening or watering to do, so I'll be working on new art. I'll be sanding and cutting wood, painting and everything else that I do for my pieces. I've been working on new pieces hit-and-miss for a couple of months, but I'm now going to get serious about it for a few weeks. I'll still put up a new post, probably every day, but I might not be "on" here to answer comments as much as I usually do.  I tend to work 20 hour days when I'm creating, and don't get near my Macs with my paint-splattered hands and clothes. Wish me luck, lol!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One of My Early Artistic/Automotive Influences

Page 15 of a 16 page Corvette brochure from the 1965 model year, a Glen Green roadster with the optional fiberglass and glass roof. 

M Y   C O L L E C T I O N — I've owned this 1965 Corvette brochure since it was brand new (and I was 8 years old). This was my favorite photo in the entire piece for several reasons. First was the color—Glen Green is an almost perfect shade of green in my opinion, not too dark, not too light, not too yellow, and not too blue. I also loved the accessory hardtop this convertible is equipped with. While the Corvette Stingray fastback coupe was always (and still is) a head-turner, a tours de force of design really, and the Corvette soft top was an icon as far back as the earliest '53 models in Polo White with red interiors, this optional hardtop had all the class of the European sports cars of the time. It lightened the look of the car, and gave it a pert notchback look, my favored coupe profile then and now.Those roofs must have been fairly rare as well, as I can only remember seeing a handful of roadsters equipped with them ever. Another thing the mesmerized me about this photo was the setting. The ornate black wrought-iron gate fronting the limestone estate, and the well-dressed couple really spoke to me more than a racing scene or a gritty garage scene would have. Lastly, the reflections of the tree branches on the car motivated me to learn how to do that with my [then] magic markers and colored pencils. They taught me to look for shadows in every day life, and to try to add them to my drawings whenever I could. This photo really influenced my early decision in life that I wanted to design cars and render them in a way that other people would feel what I felt looking at this timeless green beauty.

Of course, life had other plans . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

National Contest Entry-My Reborn Packard

I've recently entered a design contest with the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana with my Packard Twin Six Club Coupe. Eagle-eyed and elephant-memoried readers will see that I updated the background and typography a bit for this entry from the original chop I did a few years ago. I was never thrilled with the way I rendered those pieces the first time, and this was an excellent opportunity to rectify the situation for "the record." 

The Studebaker-Packard Corporation was formed when Packard bought Studebaker in the mid 1950s, and this contest is for a design for either a new Studebaker or Packard. The winners of the contest will be announced November 11 at the opening reception for a show by The League of Retired Automotive Designers (scroll to the bottom of the link for information on this cool group). The contest was open to anyone with a vision for Studebaker or Packard. It was a whirlwind decision last week—if I'd had more time to think about it I probably wouldn't have done it, insecurities and all that, but I'm glad I did—I'll fill in the details in a few weeks. I'm not an actual car designer of course, and I don't even play one on TV, lol, but it's a great feeling to know that some really historically influential greats in the field of car design will be seeing my Packard. That's winning for me, right there—all I've ever really hoped for.

As an aside, the Studebaker logo, above, designed by Raymond Loewy's group in the late 1930s, has the best "S" in all of "Typeland." My readers know how much of a font fan I am, font connoisseur really, and that I pay really close attention to all of the typography in my book designs and my car art. This "Lazy S" is perfection, and the rest of the logo, the red "button" and the simple all-caps for the rest of the name, fully supports the design in every way. I would have retired after this had I had designed it!

I Give This Set a Two in Danceability

This is an RCA Victor "smart set" from the early 1950s from what I can tell. The original three records are missing, but oddly enough, it's filled with 10 brand new RCA Victor 45s of light-opera and popular music, in cellophane and sleeves. I'm sure if I look around enough, I'll find the correct records, but for years I've just really enjoyed the box cover art and crude-but-effective typography. 

I've found a re-recorded CD online with these songs, and also earlier versions on 78 records, and the same set of 45s. As usual, this online listing is not mine, I don't sell my stuff, lol.

The playlist:
• The Eyes of Texas • Alma Mater • Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech • Anchors Aweigh • On Wisconsin • Victory March.

Not exactly Boogie Woogie dance music, or "Stairway to Heaven," THE prom song of all time for Boomers, lol.

Color Studies: Handmade Woolen Objects

An impromptu photoshoot of hand-knit, crocheted, and woven pillows, sweaters and a table runner, resulted in these fun images full of color, texture, and depth. I will probably print these out "letter" size and cut them up to use in my paintings and assemblages. These items were created by my grandmother, aunt, mother and father. The ladies knit and crocheted, and my Dad had a small Morgan Inkle Loom, and made belts, scarves, tablerunners, pocketbooks and the like. Regular casey/artandcolour readers will remember I've photographed wool afghans before, and used them in collages.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fireplace Mantels and Moldings Saved

Circa 1856 fireplace surrounds, mantels and moldings have been saved in my friend's house project. They will be completely stripped, repaired as needed and used in the house once again. The entire floorplan of the house will be changed, including moving existing chimneys, so the handcarved surrounds had to be removed for the time being anyway. They are just leaned against the walls for now. The house underwent extensive remodeling in the 1930s and the 1980s, so original details were unfortunately scarce, but these original pieces will really add to the house when it's completed. The first post about this home restoration is here.

Not Bad for Late October

Though the cutting garden is looking fairly ratty these days, a combination of cold, but not frosty, nights, and the inevitable powder mildew common now, I'm still able to gather a decent bouquet. Having fresh flowers inside a house lifts my spirits. Try as I did, I couldn't keep a falling leaf from entering the shot, lol. I must have brushed 4-5 away for six photos, and this one crept in anyway. "It's our turn, now" the leaves seem to be saying to the flowers.

An Owl-O-Ween Evening

An injured and rehabilitated Barred Owl gives me the staredown as he wonders how the heck he flew all the way back to the Middle Ages.

I attended an evening to celebrate "A Place Called Hope," a local center specializing in the rescue and care of native raptors and corvids. It took place at the Nature Center at the state beach in town, under a glorious orange full moon. Children were encouraged to wear Halloween costumes as did the volunteers explaining the birds they brought and the work they do for them. There were five outdoor "stations" with four types of native owls, and a really cool "pet" crow named Crowe. There was a "bone" box for little kids to check out, and refreshments with a holiday theme. Each station had one person with a different owl, explaining a little about its species as well as the individual bird's plight. Most of the rehabilitated raptors are freed after they're well, but quite a few can never again live safely in the wild, and hence the need for a shelter for them. 

This place does great work and is completely volunteer and depends on donations. Most of the birds present tonight had been struck by cars of all things, and were the ones that cannot be released due to their permanent injuries. That didn't stop them from mugging for the cameras, and generally being the cutest birds of prey I've ever seen up close. Two of the varieties, full grown, were no larger than your average Robin or Cardinal. I didn't realize that there were owls that small. They also had pre-recorded "songs" and calls of the owls, a nice touch.

For more information on "A Place Called Hope," click this link and then click on "residents" to see images of their owls, crows and ravens a bit more clearly than my night shot above.

 I have to thank Mary for asking me to go with her, I just never seem to know what's going on beyond my yard and it was really a fascinating event.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Very Cool, If Subtle, Flower Photo

The limited depth of field in this photo is what gives it a mystical appearance, at least to me. I had my camera set on "close up" view, meaning anything within two feet would be in focus, but beyond that, the background would be a bit blurry. Usually I use this for my extreme close ups of flowers. I was shooting this brand new-to-bloom white dahlia bud as the subject. Only the stem, leaves and the bud itself were within the range of focus though, meaning 90% of the rest of the photo is a bit blurred. Add in the bright sun and my camera's limited usage in lighting conditions like that, and you get this very 3D looking image, tightly focused on the small bud, stem and leaves, but with the rest of the photo fading away an in an almost impressionist type of way. The blurry pink cosmos play with the rest of the out of focus background to create this ethereal garden shot. The angled horizon line, determined by the strong right angle with the cedar post at the lower right, adds to this image's coolness factor. This is one of my favorite photos from the past summer and fall, so far!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And the Beat Goes On. Annuals Continue!

Dark orange zinnia has cool yellow filaments in its center.

Large, pale cosmos, dipped down to eye level for this shot.

Newest dahlia to open continues to change daily. It's almost a full sphere now, in 3D.

Green tomatoes continue to mature in the lessening daylight hours.

Medium orange variety of zinnia has light yellow edges on each petal. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"V" is for, Umm, Victory? In October 1941?

Two friends of my mother's, photo date-stamped October 1941 on the back. This was the autumn before Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. We weren't at war yet, but is that a V for Victory, anyway? Was there another early forties connotation of the V? 

This seems to be a '31 Model A phaeton, a very used jalopy ten years later. Notice the roof isn't just down, it's missing. Great proportions for this open 4 door car, just about perfect considering the wheelbase and market the A was sold in. The famed flathead V8 would make its debut in the '32 Ford, but this '31 would have had a 4 cylinder, 200 cubic inch 4 cylinder, with 40 hp on tap. Here's a cool site with the technical specs for a '31 A Phaeton Deluxe.

The Phaeton above is missing the sidemounted spares that most seem to have these days. A quick Google search shows at least 9:1 in favor of the side spares. I'm guessing they were an option, as I don't see any wheel wells for them in this photo and you can see a rear mounted spare tire if you look carefully. Either that, or perhaps this is a Standard Phaeton, not a Deluxe Phaeton?

"At Ease, Soldier," circa 1955.

Lighthearted hijinks during a peace-time afternoon in the U.S. Army, Germany, ca 1955. One soldier "polishes" my Dad's shoes, while the other one cools him down with a fan. I suspect it was coffee break time, that's one of my Dad's homemade Thermoses in the background, and it looks like he's got his hand on a Cup o'Joe. They could have been reacting to my Dad's cigarette holder... 

This would have been the Motor Pool office at the base in Stuttgart. I like the tone and subtext of this moment in time among co-workers that enjoyed each other's company. I also like the pure graphicness of the scene, the dark diamond-shaped items on the wall, the well-pressed uniforms, the bit of period typography on the wall at the left and the honest, most likely homespun, young faces.

Geraniums & Granite Steps

After "failing to thrive" throughout the summer, this pink geranium has finally started to blossom. The three repetitive sets  of flowers caught my eye, natch, as did the geometric nature of the ancient hewn granite boulders, which serve as steps today. This grouping reminds me of a flag of sorts, perhaps Pink Gardens' pennant...