August 2007 Archives

Go big or go home

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Tomorrow is my first day of classes, and I'm really excited for both: Medieval Art in the morning and Chinese Landscape Painting in the afternoon. I've had and loved both professors before (I TA'd for the Medieval one last fall and had him in Venice and I took the summer Asian Art class I loved so much with the other), so I'm genuinely looking forward to it.

I'm also really stoked about the subject matter. My painting lately has transitioned into an adaptation ofSumi-e, and I'm planning some really large-scale pieces for my thesis show.

The gallery I'll have my show in has one wall that is a little larger than 29 feet, and somehow in my head that translated to "Oh, so I'll make a 5-foot by 25-foot piece for that wall." As I continued examining the measurements, I kept saying "Well I can either do two 5-ft square pieces... or a 15-foot wide one, hmm," and I went on like this for quite a while before I realized that these pieces are going to be huge. And that... is a very exciting thought. Working on paper makes all kinds of things possible.

I have never really worked large - the biggest my oil paintings got was 5-ft square, and despite having what should have been ample studio space for working enormous these past two years, I didn't get larger than 30″x40″ (well, okay there were a few 2-ft by 4-ft pieces but they came out disastrous). All summer I was working on this same sized or smaller paper, but it felt constrained, and I kept promising myself that once I got back to NY, I'd get the huge 5- and 6-ft wide rolls I dreamed of and go as long as I wanted (some of these rolls are 33 feet or more). The connection to the history of scroll painting and various Asian arts is deep-seated in the medium itself, so it's only natural that as I got seduced by the way the ink and water flowed, I wanted to go bigger and bigger with it.

And now I can. Mwuhahaha.

The only challenges will be:

a) finding enough space in our very overcrowded apartment to work on such large pieces

b) protecting said pieces from cat paws, dirt, boyfriend, food & self while they dry

c) rolling and transporting said pieces without damaging them

d) figuring out how to attractively and safely hang said pieces in a gallery so they'll stay up for a week and not come down rent asunder at the opening

Easy as pie, right?

Tomorrow after class I'm stopping by the store to pick up a selection of papers to see which ones I like best, then once I've determined that, I'm ordering some big ass rolls.

Oh also I have these two papers from Venice that I have to finish, which have been occupying my every waking hour the past little bit. The research itself is coming along great (and I have exciting art nerdistry to ramble on about on another occasion), but it is as always intensely time-consuming. Of course, it wouldn't be grad school without the stress and exhilaration of impossible deadlines... and man I wish I wasn't being completely serious when I said that.


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E-Harmony commercial:  blah blah blah, 29 dimensions of compatibility...

Eric: 29 dimensions?! Wow. Take that, string theory!

Good news, I think

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Dear Internet, we have some catching up to do.

I passed Preview.

What's that? Oh I didn't tell you? Yeah, I had to do Preview again this morning.

I had about two days' notice while I was supposed to be emptying out my studio, so very late last night with an extraordinary amount of help from Eric, I hung some ink pieces I'd done in Venice and hoped for the best.

And, strangely, I guess they liked them. Or they're just tired of making me feel bad. Whatever.

Now I simply must hang a show (and rewrite my thesis statement to include stuff about ink) and I'm done with my MFA. Whoa.

The bad thing is that this show is set for October 1st, in the one gallery I really didn't want it in (Pratt Studios). But, I just have to hang some pieces and stand around and have a party and I'm done, so there's something pretty great to be said for all that.

Also, I don't have to take a lot of classes this semester, so I'm almost half-time. I thought this would be advantageous for toiling away on a whole new body of thesis work, but seeing as I'll be done one month into school, I think it'll more likely translate into time to swim at the fitness center I recently joined. And learning French. Oh, and researching that other thesis I gotta write.

Mostly, the end is in sight and that's basically wonderful. I don't know why I'm having a hard time mustering up a bunch of woohoo's, but you get the idea. I think I had this idea that for thesis, I'd actually learn to paint, and I'd have this sweeping revelation that would manifest in a brilliant show. If I'm going to do that, I think it'll have to happen very quickly, since I would like my thesis show to be all new work.

Oh and have I mentioned that in the next five weeks, I was planning several out-of-town trips? And that at present, there is not even sufficient room to walk in my apartment, let alone spread out and make paintings?

This should be a lot of fun.

Was that a waaa-mbulance?

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Sorry for whining. Sorry for being self-indulgent and stupid, yet again.

I've been a lousy person lately, and I'm trying to figure out how to change that. I'm going to see if I can keep from driving away any more loved ones in the process.

If posting is sporadic, please be patient.

Screw painting

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Right, so I've gotten this email essentially saying I have until August 24th to get all my stuff out of my studio or it will be immediately thrown away on my behalf. This doesn't really come as a surprise because we're not guaranteed a studio past four consecutive semesters, and even though every student I know who's stayed on an extra semester to complete thesis was able to keep their studio (because every semester there are always extra studios sitting empty), of course this doesn't apply to me.

Again, not surprised, and not even disappointed... it's kind of just what I've come to expect from my school experience. The truth is, I've been putting off scheduling another preview because I still feel I'm not ready for thesis, and were it not for the fact that I'm so deep in debt and quite literally only have that stupid exhibition between myself and the MFA, I would drop the painting degree and only major in art history.

Since returning from Italy, I've been massively dismayed because I have no desire to paint. It's no longer a question of thinking I can't paint or I'm not good enough. I just really don't want to. I've got nothing to say, and nothing that compels me to make images. I've been getting further away from representation because lately my only interest has been in the materials, and I can't even be bothered to cohere them into abstract forms.

The process isn't interesting, the end results aren't satisfying, and everything about painting or making art feels like a chore. To put it in perspective, I get more out of doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom than spending the same amount of time painting.

I don't know if it's an issue of having lost my faith in it or what, but I'm afraid I no longer believe that painting is a worthwhile pursuit. I can recall times when painting was the most important thing in the world to me, something I stayed up all night to do feverishly. Now those times seem ridiculous and trite, as absurd a fantasy as when I wrote horrible poetry or dicked around with photographic self-portraiture or warbled tone-deaf songs in the shower and fancied I'd like to be a rock-star, poet, and photographer someday. Hell I used to even like acting.

I guess my point is that maybe someone can make a painting that's worthwhile, but mostly I think the lot of us are, as my least favorite professor identified us, "a bunch of trust fund babies enjoying their time at someone else's expense" or "those whose realities haven't caught up with their bank accounts yet."

So I dunno. While I was still in Venice, I felt like I'd regained my love of painting again and was all set to knock out a great thesis and seriously pursue a career as a painter. I can't say quite what changed in the past two weeks, what it is about coming back home to New York that made me change my mind and decide that it is all a delusional fantasy and a waste of time and money (though I have my ideas).

I guess the question now is... should I even bother trying to figure out how to put a studio's worth of stuff into this already over-crowded apartment and pretend I'm going to take my thesis seriously this fall, or should I just start writing the Craigslist ad immediately?

Our kind of love

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In our apartment, we have the curtains and blinds hung so that we can always see the sky, an important thing for both of us.

This morning at 5:47, Eric woke me up to show me the huge storm going on outside. He wanted to make sure I didn't miss it, and I'm glad for that because it was truly spectacular.

As I fell back asleep, I just felt so immensely understood.


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Sometimes when I walk outside, I'm startled that the streets are all paved and there is nary a gondolier or tourist in sight. It's surprisingly difficult to adjust back to life in the states, and Brooklyn isn't making it easy on me.

This weekend I went down to my parents' for my mother's birthday party and have extended my stay to enjoy the company, the nature, and the quiet calm of a place I can walk outside barefoot. Yesterday I went sailing with my parents and enjoyed a round of bellinis and bagels for breakfast. In the afternoon, I stretched out on a blanket in the grass, read a book, and fell asleep under a perfect blue sky. The mild sunburn was worth it.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm still processing everything that's happened in the past two months, both literally (over 2000 photos, yknow?) and figuratively, trying to make sense of how happy I was to be dislocated and how in turn New York feels so very strange to me. I'll try to articulate what I mean soon, but for now, I'm still enjoying the breeze and the cool dark of the night coming through my window.

While I'm here, I should probably draw I think.

Good things and dying plants

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Happy Birthday (yesterday) to my amazing, beautiful, talented, funny, kind, feisty, charming, brilliant, wonderful Mom!

It is a genuine privilege to have someone so incredible as both a mother and a friend.

Next, I am currently accepting nominations for Girlfriend of the Year (and/or Hanseler of All Time), having made barbecued chicken and Monterey Jack cheese sandwiches for lunch today, using homemade barbecue sauce.
They were more than a little delicious.

I am not, however, expecting any Gardener of the Year awards anytime soon. My poor window boxes have seriously languished in my absence.

In the box of stereotypical arrangement, we may bid farewell to parsley, sage, and thyme, as only the rosemary has survived. It is doing well, though, so I expect it will continue to thrive.

In box #2, we have double the life retention, losing only dill and tarragon, but with the oregano going strong and the chives hanging in there. (Also, what's up with the oregano flowering? Is that okay?)

I almost want to cry looking at this very dead lavender because it used to give such a nice smell to the apartment. Also I may have already researched recipes for lavender soap and body lotion and found a pattern to knit lavender sachets for Christmas gifts so umm, booo. Is it completely irrational that I'm inclined to keep watering it anyway and see if something happens? I mean I know that once dead, the plant's cell DNA can't be resuscitated and coaxed back to life with water, but my hopes of reanimation are just too strong to resist sometimes.

The catnip barely survives in its broken cat mug. To be honest, I'm surprised it has grown at all, seeing as Iggy knocked the whole situation over as soon as the seeds sprouted, but if it continues staying alive, I'll transfer it to a larger pot.

The basil is doing alright, but kind of dry and yellow in places and nowhere near the huge crop I'd hoped for by this time. I'm going to try thinning it some to see if I can't get a batch of pesto by the end of the month.

I can't even bring myself to photograph the pot of dirt that was my watercress. Seriously, let's just forget I ever had watercress growing and throw out all notions of delicious watercress sandwiches right now.

In non-edible plants, I continue to bring the curse of death as well. The little tropical plant is alive and green but suffering very wilty stems. I've aggressively watered and staked it up somewhat with a dowel, and I have hopes that it will become more turgid soon. (Also, what do you mean you don't keep three-year-old Zagat's with your cookbooks? I thought everyone did.)

I will say though, that even my intrepid Jade plant is feeling the wrath of the summer heat and looking more than a bit sorry lately. Whatever it is that I do (or don't do) to kill plants, I must be doing (or not doing) a lot lately, so I'm going to have a little romp around the internet and see what I can come up with. Also, since I'm going to my parents' house this weekend, I already have a list for replacements from the garden center, and I plan to add an aloe plant into this mix. Should it turn out that I can only raise succulents, then so be it, but I will have plants live, damn it.

The other day I had the fairly ridiculous idea to set up the fish tank again. Since, yknow, killing plants isn't enough for me these days.

Turning Eric into Hansel

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This evening while we were eating dinner Eric turned to me and asked very solemnly "Sweetie, are you trying to fatten me up so you can eat me?"

See, I got a subscription to Everyday Food, enticed by their free apron offer, and I've been getting a lot of use out of it. Also I love the apron, so I couldn't be happier.

First I used the Fresh Cherry Tart recipe, but substituted spiced pears on top. The graham cracker crust was absolutely perfect, and Eric has requested that I make him pans and pans of graham cracker crust in the future. To prepare the pears, I peeled and sliced them, then heated them with about a tablespoon of sugar-free apricot preserves, a bit of water, nutmeg, and some sugar. I simmered them for a long time until all the water had evaporated and I was left with very soft pears in a slightly caramelized syrup, which was fantastic.

Combined with the creamy flavors and the delicious crust, this dessert was a real winner.

For lunch today, I made this fantastic salad combining spinach, couscous, scallions, chopped pistachios, and a white wine vinaigrette. We both really loved it, and I thought it was a terribly clever way to wolf down so much spinach.

Aside, is there anything so beautiful as pistachios? I love every part of them and find them to be one of nature's more perfect creations.

Also scallions, quite lovely. I was entranced with ingredients today.

For dinner tonight, we made Maryland Crab Cakes, adapting the recipe slightly. I wasn't wild about these, in part because we used imitation crab meat and because I've been spoiled with the world's most perfect crab cake recipe by my mom, but it was nice to try something new. We also made Corn and Scallion salad, a very simple but out of this world side. Quite tasty.

Lastly, another dessert. Yesterday Eric and I shared a strawberry aloe juice that we absolutely loved, so it occurred to me to modify a recipe for kiwi-raspberry Pavlova to use aloe and strawberries. Conceptually, I have never fully understood the Pavlova, so I thought it couldn't hurt to make one and see what the fuss is about.

While the meringue shell baked, I stared at the aloe as yet another item in the "What was I thinking?" category of my life. It may not seem it in this photo, but the aloe leaf I bought was about two and a half feet long and quite daunting. That little white square is the price sticker.

I dissected it in sections after much Googling to try to figure out how to extract the clear gooey part without the yellow bitters (which are evidently quite the laxative and probably not a good addition to an otherwise innocuous Pavlova).

Luckily, it wasn't too difficult to figure out once I recalled my years of watching my brother and father fillet fish. That the aloe was transparent made my knife skills much easier to monitor, and I was pretty pleased that I got such clean aloe slices.

I cut it into bite-size pieces, tossed it with some sugar and lime juice, and popped it in the fridge. I also hulled and sliced the strawberries, gave them a similar preparation, and let everything chill.

Assembling the Pavlova was effortless. Eric made some whipped cream (I almost just said "whipped up some whipped cream", heh), then we arranged the strawberries and much-reduced aloe pieces on top (the aloe just like, leeched all its juice out into the bowl, so we made some homemade strawberry-aloe juice and loved it).

Cutting the Pavlova was near impossible, which is why you don't get a photo of an individual slice here. Despite its messy presentation, the taste was fantastic, and the meringue was delicious. The textures of the aloe and strawberry were playful and exciting and were well-balanced with the smooth cream. However as a whole, I didn't think this dessert really coalesced into something truly inspiring... it was more a collection of delicious things piled together, which has always been my impression of Pavlovas.

Nevertheless, now I can say that I made a Strawberry Aloe Pavlova, and that's kind of fun. Also now I have a really good meringue recipe.

So once again Martha Stewart reigns supreme. Eric and I are going to start working out any day now, so as to offset this glut of deliciosity. Or I may cook him too. I expect he'd be delicious roasted.

Mr Pants went to the cat spa (vet) yesterday, and his little head is fine. At least the outside of it, that is.

(I like how in his carrier, he looks like he's in a wicker kitty jail and he's all "Hey, help a buddy out!". Despite Iggy's best investigative efforts, he couldn't find a way to spring him loose.)

She said the bump is nothing to worry about, that there is almost no blood supply to it (which is where seeming nothings become dangerous), and as she poked and squeezed at it (of course I watched), nothing came out.

As far as the shower situation, she thinks it is a way to bring his digestive issues to our attention. Based on our descriptions of consistencies and tendencies, she thinks the dry food we've been feeding him is causing constipation, inflamed bowels, and/or a touch of colitis with intestinal bleeding. My poor sausage! Of course, I am instantly sympathetic, and so when she suggested we switch him to wet food, I did so immediately.

The trouble is, they're not having it. Both kitties are just plain pissed off, and even though I tried to soften the blow by feeding them sliced turkey (and eventually caved and mixed some crunchies into the wet food), they keep giving derisive looks at their bowls and glaring at me. I really hate being the bad guy, but we gotta get my buddy's health together. Super fun times.

Yesterday I almost lost my mind and came home with another kitty too. They have an adoption center set up near the waiting area, and of course Eric and I have to say hi and play with all the kitties. I keep falling in love with this all-black adult male named Elijah (even more so when Eric pronounced the "j" like an "h" as in "Baja" or "jalapeño"), who's been there since we took our guys for check-ups in the spring. He has soft green soulful eyes, and I kept thinking he really needs a good home, so I went to pet him through his cage and he scratched my finger and drew a bunch of blood. Though I could probably forgive him for that (cause yeah, I'd be cranky in a cage too), it did bring me to my senses. However, if anyone is looking to adopt a cat, I'd really encourage you to stop by and check their kitties out.

(Also, I really am planning to put up some Italy photos and stories soon. I'm not going to do what I did with Costa Rica, making you wait a year and still never doing it. The thing is, I have all these grandiose plans for a whole website of travel photos, and the more complicated I keep making it, the less likely I am to actually do it. Also, I have to go make sure my studio is okay and that all my stuff hasn't been thrown out already, then I have to beg to keep it longer than I'm entitled, and also I have all these bills to catch up on? So yeah, coming soon. Seriously.)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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