Friday, December 30, 2011

December Morning Shadows

Stark early morning winter shadows pattern this 19th century portrait of one of my great-great-granduncles. Click on the image to enlarge—it's cool the way the shadows frame his eyes (I think you need to click twice these days to see it full size, or perhaps click on "open in new window." Blogger keeps changing their image formats). The original frame and matting are quite damaged from an almost 100-year stay in my family home's attic. I've restored the frame and matting of the portrait of his father, but I like the originality of this one. I think it's just as important to see an antique in original condition, as it is to see one in perfectly restored condition.

B T W :
Off topic from this family portrait, but still in the area of history, one of casey/artandcolour's readers, and fellow blogger, Steve Prestegard, has written a wonderful blogpost on the historical accomplishments of Cadillac. Besides doing a yeoman's job of research in both text and photos, Steve was kind enough to use several of my "what if" Cadillacs. Please click over to Steve's blog—I guarantee you'll learn something about Cadillac you didn't know. I did, and after a lifetime of studying the history cars, that's not really all that easy if I do say so myself!
  • While Riding in my Cadillac, at the Presteblog, click here.

Preview: The Town I Grew Up In

And in which my family lived for more than 200 years

Yesterday I was taken to lunch by a friend in Guilford, the town I grew up in, settled in 1639. It's next door to where I live now, but I rarely walk or ride my bike the 8-9 miles to get there. It's an absolutely gorgeous, classic New England town. I forget how much I miss it until I go there. Madison is pretty, and it's a really nice town—I'm so fortunate to live here—but the center doesn't really have the historical look and feel that Guilford does. Guilford's center is an 11-acre town green, one of the largest in New England. Homes, churches and retail stores border it, and it's a protected historical center. I say "preview" in the headline because I was there only long enough to snap these quick photos. I plan on spending a few hours there next week and I'll take much more detailed and interesting photos then!

The First Congregational church is on the right in the photo above. I have a very small piece of the steeple my mother collected after the devastating 1938 hurricane. Each September, Guilford has a 3-day country fair, and my family and I usually sat on the steps of that church for the parade each year.

The stone Episcopal church is in the center of this photo. The Town Hall is the brick building on the left.

Private homes line the Green, along with restaurants, retail shops and churches.

Looking for all the world like the church it once was, the white building in the center of the photo once housed a playhouse, too. I'm not sure what it is today. I'll find out for the next post!
  • Guilford's Chamber of Commerce website, here.
  • The Wiki on Guilford, here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fabulous Cheese & Soap Arrive at Pink Gardens!

Last week, in time for Christmas, a fabulous gift package arrived from Sharon Springs, New York. Readers that watch the "Green" Network on cable, might be familiar with that town—it's the home of the Fabulous Beekman Boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge! Their restored farmhouse, er, mansion, is called the Beekman Mansion, after the original owners of the property, and the guys have created a brand, Beekman 1802, to market their own farm products and  locally produced merchandise. In my package was their main product, a wheel of "Blaak" goat cheese, named for the fabulous ash-covered rind which is, indeed, black in color (and is edible!). Also in this gift package were two bars of goat milk soap and their most recent book, The Bucolic Plague. The packaging is tasteful in the extreme, with perfectly hand-tied string bows and recycled papers. The typesetting on the cards is beautifully done as well, with a combination of striking cuts of Futura and an old-style numeral, which I believe is Garamond. 

Photographed above with a simple colonial pewter candlestick and another Christmas gift, a pair of hand-knit socks. The socks were a gift from a friend of my mother's named Betsy, and I have several pairs of her knitted wool socks which I wear almost every day. The Beekman 1802 gift package was a gift of, shall we say, a dear Phantom friend of mine, lol.

 Seen a little closer, I think the socks match the aesthetic of the Beekman items, lol.

The wrapped wheel of Blaak goat cheese. I've since opened it, and it is absolutely delicious! It is a dry goat cheese, not the spreadable type, and the rind has a subtle flavor of its own. I'm going to be enjoying this cheese for a long time to come!

The two bars of goat's milk soap came in this cotton bag printed with the Beekman logo, each wrapped in the same sort of recycled paper and perfectly-tied string bow as the cheese. Josh is a graphic designer and advertising executive, and his experience and taste are evident in every aspect of the Beekman 1802 experience.

I absolutely adore my hand knitted socks, and as I wrote above, wear them almost every day. This makes pair number seven I believe! I think they would make a great addition to any Beekman 1802 gift package, don't you?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Keeping Watch for More than Fifty Years

Though she no longer sits at the top of a Christmas tree for two weeks every year, this German angel has been keeping watch in my family since the mid 1950s. I leave her out year-round, and she now adorns the cone-shaped metal "horn" of my Edison Gem cylinder record player. She keeps company with the seated china-doll to the right, dating to the 1890s. That little vintage doll wears a non-original red and navy blue cotton dress sewn by my grandmother in the 1920s. She updated the aging doll for a new generation of little girl to play with—my mother. In the upper left is a gold and white 1:24 scale 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk, and a lavender 1:43 1953 Packard Caribbean convertible with a broken windshield. The little turquoise plastic jewelry container is an early 1950s piece and holds a few period pearl rings. I love having little boxes and containers everywhere, with beautiful little things in them to explore and become reacquainted with every so often! Just peeking into the photograph at the lower left, is a gray and red 1:24 Duesenberg SSJ supershort wheelbase LaGrande roadster, a scale model of Clark Gable's famous sports car of the Thirties.

Have a great day today, however you spend it and with whomever you spend it with! I think I can smell my scallion pancakes and shrimp egg foo yung already, lol! I may have more photos to post later in the day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Randomness This Morning of the Eve

My friend Mary stopped by the other day with this gorgeous stem of orchids. This variety, 'though I can't remember the name, is my favorite. I love the pale chartreuse and deep maroon color combination, and the stems and flowers are so large and hearty looking!

I loved the choice of wrapping and ribbon, too.

This palm plant is really doing well since I brought it in for the winter. It's actually doing better than it did this summer outside. I think I might leave it in next year. It seems to be trying to play my piano, which is the wooden structure hidden at the bottom, lol. You can just make out a book of Mozart sitting on it and the red and gold silk runner on top of it under the flag. Other vintage items include children's games, top left, and of course, the hand painted GULF GAS sign from the 1950s.

Three dishes of an appetizer I made up the other day wait for the oven to preheat. I mixed equal parts ground chicken and ground unsalted sunflower seeds. I added a few herbs, spices as well as a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, a little cheese and an egg to hold the mixture all together. I formed them into these mini meatballs, and baked them in a 375° oven. After turning them halfway through the baking process, and rolling them around a bit, they were left in the shape of a small meatball and were very light and tasty. I served them with a very simple peanut sate dipping sauce—basically unsalted peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, 5-spice powder, rice vinegar and water cooked until smooth and of a "dip" consistency.

This is part of a "lawn" I created this week for the 2-year old daughter of a friend or mine's Calico Critters dollhouse. I started with a new Ikea occasional table, and added felt, paper and polyurethane to create this garden path and flower borders. This photo just proves that I can't take a photo anywhere inside and not have a scale model car, or an unfinished piece of art in it. At the top you can see one of my new pieces, one of what I call cardboard "quilts." I've made 35 new cardboard quilted bases, in several sizes, and am working on them with bits and pieces of preprinted paper meant for craftbooking. All of the patterned paper reminds me of those huge books of wallpaper the local paintstore had when I was a child, books I spent hours perusing with my aunt Hoohoo, for just the right color and pattern for whatever room "we" were redecorating at the time. On the right is a 1:18 version of the 2005 Mustang prototype in silver with a red interior and black glass roof. You can also see three painted rocks behind it. I painted those when I was about 8 years old. They're white river rocks I picked up on a family vacation in Vermont. I've also painted other furniture and toys for children, or grandchildren, of friends.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Front Page News

Front Page! My commissioned rendering of Acura's upcoming NSX sportscar was featured on the front page of Detroit's Automotive News last week. Due to be shown at the Detroit International Auto Show in a couple of weeks, I worked with an editor at the newspaper to render this V6, hybrid, mid-engined sportscar from his recollection of a press briefing. It was a great experience. I first wrote about it all, here. I'm especially amused by the rainbow-colored advertisement below my illustration!

Closeup of the illustration and my bold faced photo credit!
  • My work is also featured this week in the Autoextremist's Year End Review, a great honor, as always! Along with my work for Automobile magazine earlier this year, it's been a fun year, and the first year in which my car renderings have been seen in print.

'Tis the Season

Just one of my candid shots from a walk near the beach the other day. Without realizing it at the time, I was shooting a lot of "scenics" that day, this shot really reminds me of family Christmases of the past. My mother always decorated with pine boughs and cones, nestling them into flower boxes outside, and along shelves and cabinets and tables inside, She also had a little glass vase with a tight-fitting lid, with pine needles and cones in it. When you opened the glass cover, the smell of pine wafted out. I still have it, and there is still a very faint scent if you open it. I'll probably open it up on Christmas morning and give a little shout out to all of those that aren't here anymore, but linger in my memories.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice 2011!

2011's Winter Solstice occurs just after midnight tonight, 12:35 EST, but I'm not sure if that means today is the shortest or tomorrow, lol. At any rate, the days will VERY soon become longer. YES! I know Winter hasn't even begun yet, but I know now that Spring is just 8-12 weeks away, a time I can start walking around outside and see which of the perennials have made it through the winter and which didn't. 

Illustrated here is my chop of the now-defunct Pontiac Solstice, a very eye-catching little convertible roadster. I decided a couple of years ago to create this sedan with a full roof and the name "Winter Solstice" just seemed perfect for it. Stonehenge in the background welcoming the winter sun. I might have posted this very illustration for LAST year's Winter Solstice. With these short days I find myself with less and less inspiration! I'm sure that will turn around soon, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"… Mr. DeerMille, I'm ready for my close-up." *

Frequent visitors at Pink Gardens, a family of white tail deer stop by almost every afternoon foraging for leaves and nuts and berries. Their "posse" consists of mom and three offspring. 

The young ones are almost the size of adults now—this is one of the youngsters daring me to take her photo! As usual in my life, I took the dare.

Showing her eponymous white tail as she bolts off to join her siblings.

* With all due respect to one of the greatest movies of all time, Sunset Boulevard, with Gloria Swanson and William Holden. I really hope this 1950 classic is never remade!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prints in the Sand, Great and Small

The other day while I was walking on the beach, I noticed "human" footprints weren't the only ones in the sand. There were thousands of little "clawprints" from seagulls and other water birds. The more I looked at them, the more they started looking like cave paintings to me... Long December afternoon shadows create lunar landscapes in some of the photos. Some of the little bird footprints also seem to create peace signs, letters of the alphabet and Egyptian hieroglyphics!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shadows and Angles: Catch 'em While You Can

Sometimes finding art in your home just requires looking up—right now. Shadows cast by window frames and a pot of rosemary sitting next to a geranium, create a wonderful abstract on these white walls. Mirrors and a door frame add anchoring angles to the "frame"area of this shot, holding the ephemeral shadows in place. The highlights of the glass soar right off the top of the photo lending a temporary openness to this interior wall. In two minutes, it was all gone as the sun moved behind trees and clouds and curtains.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

FloralColour on a Dreary December Day

I have probably posted these Photoshopped floral images before, but it's a dull, dreary, December day, and I wanted to see some color. The photos I've been taking lately are dull and dreary, too. I think it's time to brighten up the joint a bit. These images are digital "quilts" made from flowers I've grown or have been given, art pieces I've created, and fabrics and homemade afghans I've scanned.  Enjoy, even if it's for the second time!

Bonus Photo
This is the "final" photoshop digital quilt, created by combining the individual images created above. I've done several pieces like this and used pieces of them in my physical hang-on-a-wall art pieces.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Automotive News Calls Me

Typical front page of the Automotive News, a Detroit-based newspaper and website.

Shameless Self-Promotion Part 99—Late last week I was contacted by an editor of the Automotive News, a Crain publication. He had seen my cars at Peter De Lorenzo's Autoextremist, an "inside Detroit" website known to my loyal readers for often featuring my cars. The AN editor wondered if I could do a rendering for their next issue, a quick turnaround of a few days. He had been to a press briefing of a new car but was not allowed to take photos. I would be working from his memory. While working on a print resolution rendering like this would be always stresses me out a bit—my car art is really my hobby and a way to relax—I said yes. I can't say what the car is, I can't show the piece on my blog until after the upcoming North American International Auto Show at Detroit's Cobo Hall in January, but I'll post a link to their website when it appears there after the print edition. 

While it was a flurry of "chopping" while I was getting it just right, with my typical late nights, it was a really good experience. The editor was very cool to work with in emails, the car came out really well, and it's always nice to have my work recognized by people in the publishing, and automotive, worlds. This makes the second print publication to use my car art this year—Automobile featured three pieces of mine in their June issue.

2011, for me, is going to go down as one of those "Best of times, Worst of times" years, lol. I'm not sure what to wish for in 2012!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70 Years Ago: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

This photo, taken by my father, is dated 1943, so it's a couple of years after Pearl Harbor, but it shows just how young the brave American soldiers that fought in the war, really were. This is below decks, in the engine room of a destroyer. 

December 7th, 2011—Today is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the beginning of the United States' involvement in World War Two. According to news reports, it's the last time the Pearl Harbor's survivors' group will meet on the island. There just aren't that many of these heroic Americans left, and those that are still with us, are well into their 80s and 90s, making the trip just too much for them. It's up to the rest of us now to remember this day which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt characterized as, "... a day that will live in infamy."

The text from FDR's December 8th, 1941 speech:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Though it sounds so small when you think of the sacrifices made by millions of people around the world, I give my profound thanks to all those brave men and women that fought for the free world all those decades ago.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Without Leaves . . .

Without leaves on the trees, this huge wasps' nest was revealed. It's high up in this tree, but is probably eighteen-inches from top to bottom. Growing up, my aunt Hoohoo had a paper wasp nest like this and used it as a decoration in one of her guest rooms. I have no idea how she retrieved it originally, and made sure it was empty, but it was a fascinating conversation piece.

Without leaves, the Winterberry's namesakes are revealed.

Without leaves on the bushes above, this vintage galvanized pail is revealed in the woods. I don't know why someone would leave a bucket behind, or why it would stay here for decades. But I left it where I photographed it.

Without leaves, well most of 'em, the twisted trunks of age-old vines are revealed. Pink Gardens' woods are full of these living twists and turns. Literally.

Without leaves, these trees are cleanly reflected symmetrically in the swamp waters below.

B T W :
Longtime, loyal reader, Artichoke Annie, wrote the following poem for this post. She added it to the comments section, but I think it's a great addition to the post itself. Thank you, Annie!

Without Leaves …
… without leaves I'm able to move about freely,
… I miss however the rustling sound usually made when i'm on the go
… I once scurried about in front of your lens unseen
… but now my nakedness is in full view and I must find some small space
… just a small space to provide a cover until Spring
… away from the eyes of those special ones that see us when we are without leaves
—Artichoke Annie, December 4. 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter Light Arrives

Although the official starting date for winter is a few weeks away, I've noticed that the annual winter "lighting" has arrived. The sun is now lower in the sky at all times, hardly illuminating the backyard clothes line in the afternoon. Without leaves on the trees, more light reaches into the thickets and without the filtering of the tree canopy, shadows are harsher. Trees around Pink Gardens' yard were full of this winter light, yesterday. These stormy skies blew over without a drop of rain or wind, but I appreciated their depth of coloring and texture for these photos.

This huge Sycamore tree's whitish bark gleams in the afternoon sun, perfectly silhouetted in front of the gloomy skies.

A closer view of the top photo. The trees in the background were brightly lit at the same time the tree in front was shaded by the clouds.

A longer view of the Sycamore tree, above. It's the tallest tree in the yard, by far.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TownColour—Decorating With Cabbages?

Trending for perhaps ten years now, these ornamental cabbages have become as much a New England fall tradition as "hairdo" mums, pots of tiny peppers, pumpkins and gourds.

"Planted" in hay and straw, these pumpkins and crysanthemums bring some color to a downtown sidewalk.

This variety is much frillier than the others in this post.

This brass bell is more than one hundred years old, and sits in a prominent window of the downtown volunteer fire department.

Looking almost rose-like, this cabbage is sittin' pretty!

A strictly ornamental bicycle outside of a downtown boutique specializing in French imports.

This clump of swamp roots and moss combine to make a perfect little home for the gnomes and fairies of Pink Gardens' yard. This must be the entrance to their fabulous miniature world!

Bonus Photos:
One of my "holiday" cactuses, this bright pure pink variety, is blooming this week. While it's technically a Christmas cactus, this plant bloomed for Thanksgiving. My actual Thanksgiving cactus doesn't have a single bud on it yet, lol. My three other cactuses, which range from salmon to fuschia to red, lack buds, too. I guess there's no rushing Mother Nature!