Monday, April 29, 2013

Things I'm Digging

The Paris Time Capsule Apartment

Have you seen this? It has been circulating on the interwebs for a while. An undisturbed Paris apartment left abandoned on the eve of WW2.

Unfortunately I can't copy/share the photos, so go check it out-- the images are stunning. What a rich source for ideas!

Monkey Head Press, the work of artist Marc Girouard

His prints are fab -- I especially like his woodcuts. Check out his Drunk Author series, including Drunk Author Playing Cards  (Poe, Kerouac, Vonnegut) for that hard-to-buy-for author on your list.

Vintage Ads for Libraries and Reading

These never get old. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Clockwork creatures

I've had the best time drawing the arthropods and invertebrates from my most recent manuscript.

 Clock fly. I love their creepy little forelegs. Ugh.

My process is to draw them free-hand in pencil, then go back in with waterproof pen. If it's an insect, it's probably from my collection. For some of the sea creatures I had to use creative-commons photos as source material.

 Clock crab

Then I added watercolor. It was a little harrowing at first because I've never used watercolor before. It's so different from oil painting, but I think the effect works well with these drawings. I should probably add watercolor and then the ink, so the detail is more crisp.

These are in a 10 x 12 inch sketchbook. I haven't scanned them yet, so these are photos.

I think my favorites are the beetles-- but beetles are my favorite insects, so that makes sense.

 Clockbee- with open panel showing inner workings. This is the first one I made, and I can totally tell.

 Clockwasp. I like how the watercolor allows me to show the wings more clearly. In the manuscript these are larger than human size and used as the Queen's guard. Just imagine those spindly legs wrapping around your arm and squeezing hard. It even gives me the willies.

I'm not sure this would work mechanically-- I mean, clockwork wings would be incredibly heavy... but I wanted to fill that space with gears. Perhaps they're made of super-light super-thin material? I want to try this again with the normal damselfly wing pattern.

 Clockwork mantis. Such a great insect. It's no wonder so many people are fascinated with mantises.

The sea slug or nudibranch. I envision this as almost a Nautilus-like underwater attack vehicle. 

 The stag beetle. By this point I'm starting to show the gears as kind of curved on the edges so they make the surface look three-dimensional, not flat. I think this is my fave.

The clock weevil. I love weevils. I know they're often crop pests, but I just can't help it!

Do you make maps or sketches to envision elements of your writing?

Which of these do you think can be most improved? I think the bee, damselfly, and crab are the weakest, but I'd love feedback before I set pen to paper again.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Advice for LIFE

Nothing beats my neighborhood cupcake shop NORA and it doesn't hurt that it's right next to the delectable pizza bar Krust.

Nora has several of these signs outside, and I couldn't resist taking a photo and sharing it for my Kindness Project Post:

Now, go make every moment count.

Posting today also at The Kindness Project. Happy weekend!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Dig Reading... I really do

I am way behind on updating for the I Dig Reading Challenge.

In November and December I read
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben
Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibottson
Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
and Boomerang with Michael Lewis.

From January to March I read
Chaste by Angela Felsted
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Truth About Faking by Leigh Talbert Moore
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Touch by Jus Accardo
Gone, Girl by Gillian Flynn
Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Madeia Sharif
Blood Fugue by E.J. Wesley
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, and
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

During this time I sent a small donation to some of the groups I worked with in Kenya and I supported a former student in the Walk to End Genocide, a project of Jewish World Watch.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What I'm Digging

So many things are mesmerizing me these days, not least of which is SPRING-- which I'm going to go out on a limb and say really has come to Connecticut. Here are a few more of the things I'm loving right now.

Thrift Shop
Yes, I know it has been around for months. Yes, we have to listen to the G version because we have kids. Still, we are loving it.

THRIFT SHOP (G rated Radio Edit Clean version) - MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS FEAT. WANZ from Garrett Wesley Gibbons on Vimeo.

Not least of which because it is a way of life for this family. Exhibit A- W's awesome hat (for a while he would not take that thing off).

Gravity Falls
Watch this with a kid you love. Or simply watch it by yourself. I promise you will not regret it.

Enjoy hilariously spooky adventures with middle graders Dipper and Mabel. Our family can hardly wait for the next episode. It is so cleverly written and I adore the voice actors (including the uber talented Kristen Schaal from Flight of the Conchords and John Ritter's son Jason Ritter)

I feel like I have fallen into a rabbit hole at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
This group is digitizing and sharing books that feature biodiversity information. Many have an open creative commons license because of their early publication dates.
My favorite collection by far is that of Notable Women in Natural History.

Here's the cover of How to Know the Butterflies by John Henry Comstock and Anna Botsford Comstock

These are drawings and prints from Seaside Studies in Natural History by Elizabeth C. Agassiz and Alexander Agassiz.

What have you been digging lately? 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Kindness Project: Kindness to the Earth

I'm posting here today as well as at The Kindness Project Blog.

As a professor of environmental policy I'm kind of into the earth-- it's my thing.

It may be a little depressing to hear about the Monsanto Protection Act, the worst winter in years for honeybees, or that farmers are feeding CANDY to cows because of the high cost of corn. That last one really makes me feel sick.

But, there is hope.

Here are things you CAN do to be a little kinder to the earth.

If you love seafood and sushi, but can't remember whether salmon should be eaten farmed or wild, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch page. You can print out a handy pocket guide to buying seafood or if you're tech savvy get the app.

Visit the National Geographic site to calculate your water footprint. Or The Nature Conservancy site to calculate your carbon footprint.  Knowledge is power.

EWG's Skin Deep site will allow you to explore what is REALLY in the products you put on your body-- see how, for example, baby bubble baths on the market compare to each other.

The Good Guide allows you to compare items to see how they rate in terms of three criteria: health, environment,  and societal impact. You can browse items as varied as dog food, cell phones, or household cleaners.

Have you tried any of these sites?

What do you do to show kindness to the earth?