Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hit your Target: a New Use for Cellophane Tape

Stephanie wears glasses. When she shoots her recurve bow, she puts a piece of cellophane tape over one of the lenses. This helps her from getting double vision. Stephanie is a world-class archer. Placed 5th in the Olympic trials.

Did you know there are only 2 women on the U.S. Women's Archery Team? Steph was 5th at the Olympic Trials (if I'm wrong don't shoot me - literally). Sorry girl! Did you further know that Columbia University in NYC is the only college with an archery team? Who do they compete against! (club teams) So sad. So much for encouraging my kids to be good at a cushy sport so they can get an easy college athletic scholarship.

Stephanie uses a recurve bow. A fancier and more expensive version of the one I learned on at Camp Awana. A compound bow has the pulleys and everything - easier to pull . She can use whatever she wants as long as she isn't pointing at me. I don't think she would miss. Watch for her at the 2016 Olympics. Go Stephanie - beat those boyz!

I'd look a lot better if my sunglasses weren't "picked up". (whaaaa good bye polarized lenses)

Strange Fruit Explained

Hey all - I couldn't get the photo of "Strange Fruit" to load in my last post - but here is their weird coolness.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Clash of the Titans

We had a blast at Millennium Park a couple weeks ago. I'm posting this now as the video takes forever to upload and I haven't had time to do it. I intended to edit it but alas - you get the full length version!

After seeing the performing group "Strange Fruit" at Millennium Park - we enjoyed playing in the "face fountain" (I love that you can do this in Chicago - it's even expected- we wore our suits down there). We were ushered out of the Chase Promenade early in the afternoon about 3:30 as the park was being used for a Private Function. The city was hosting Olympic athletes and dignitaries in an effort to gain rank in becoming the site for the 2016 Olympic games. There were demos and mats on the Great Lawn so my girls and I checked it out! There were two, extremely sweaty wrestlers from Northwestern's team (yo, Mike, your coach accidentally packed up my nice, polarized sunglasses!). Indi and I had fun wrestling. We spoke to an archer, gymnasts that are short for their age and a Judo champion.

My oldest chickened out on the judo demo but I was all for it! It was a blast. It was my first Judo lesson ever. Don, my instructor, is a former Olympian from 1988. I thought it only appropriate that I introduce myself before I drape my leg over his. I got to "throw" him. Then he had to go otherwise I'd have done it again! He didn't offer much resistance - nonetheless - easy can be fun too. I felt like going home and donning the Japanese flag bandana style ala Karata Kid.

All these demos on the lawn made me hungry for more. So now I am a HUGE supporter of the Olympics in Chicago! It's really exciting and fun!

Stay tuned, you'll meet Stephanie Miller, world-class archer! She puts scotch tape on one lens of her glasses when she aims. So cool! Wax on, wax off

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I have two very vivacious, smart and outgoing daughters, albeit very different. My 2 year old, is especially athletic and tests her physical boundaries all the time. She's not fearless, just very curious - there's a difference. I was able to capture one of my favorite things that the kids do - Make a homemade obstacle course and jump off of the couch! Somewhere #2 picked up using the word "cannonball!" The same cannonball one would yell when making a huge splash into a pool.

My oldest (5) is super smart and crafty. She is the mastermind and engineer behind said obstacle course. This time around she insisted a broom be placed in the course. I have yet to determine the reason or function of the broom. It makes sense in her head.

The way I see it, #1 will solve world problems and #2will be the test pilot making sure they work. What a pair! BTW, they are also gorgeous.

I love these girls and am so blessed to have them. "CANONBALL!"

Plein Air Painting Workshop Day 3

Above in descending order: Beck w/ Errol Jacobson, Beck w/ Pablo DeLeon, Scott Tallman Powers @ Beck's easel.

Today I headed back to Bunker Hill woods to finish up the painting workshop I've been involved with this weekend. What a beautiful day! I painted in the woods the entire day. I, actually, was less creeped out by all the spiders, spider webs, spiders crawling on me - and my painting, etc. I think I gained a little on my life span just from being outdoors among green life! I found a tadpole nest - *ew* - I had to climb over it to get behind two mammoth trees I used as cover so I could pee in the woods. Oh, puh lease, I was literally a half mile from a bathroom.

I didn't have a great painting day but worked hard and clunked along. I think of the analogy of muscle building. For those of you who don't know, one builds muscle not during the workout but afterwards, during rest. It's a process of tearing down and rebuilding. So today, painting-wise, I was in the "rebuilding stage". It's the process not the product, right?

I had a great experience, met new artists and tackled some difficult subjects. Seriously folks, it's difficult to paint the woods and a muddy green river. Everything is effing green How do you represent it realistically yet still make it interesting? I found a few excellent subjects but had trouble transferring it to paint. In time.

Two snaps up to Scott who delved into my watercolor to show me a few tips. I'm proud of him for not being an oil painter snob! He totally went to town, mixing my watercolor paint furiously. He made me laugh when he'd wipe the brush on a paper towel. It's an oil painter thing to wipe off your brush (oh and I learned why - cleanliness is key - get ANYTHING in white oil paint and it's no longer white - what a pain in booty).
One of the crazy highlights of the day came when I went to my enormous tree to pee. As I was walking back I heard the voice of my friend and fellow painter, Pam Gibson, from across the river. She said "hey, get out of my composition!" She was kidding of course. So I decided it would be fun to give her some "figure drawing" to contend with. Let's just say, she saw the moon! Errol was working near me again today - and said "you'll embarrass me if you do that". I told him to close his eyes. I think he looked anyway.

Here is documentation of Scott working in watercolor - bet you didn't know that huh? We'll I'm breaking the story here, today. Thanks Scott! :-)

You may want to know what the big deal is between watercolor and oil painters. For starters, the process of painting is different. In watercolor, the painter has to establish and then plan for her brightest and lightest colors. Overall, a good painter chooses their lightest lights, darkest darks and strongest color before painting. So both mediums do the same there. But oils painters reverse the process - they establish darks first and paint that. Light oil paint can be painted atop of dark colors. This is NOT the case in watercolors. Transparent watercolorists don't use white or black paints. There are other ways around it. The white of the paper acts as our whites. If you lose them up the whole project is lost. There are minimal ways to reclaim that white space (sanding, and *gasp* God forbid, white paint). There is a trade off of effects and finishes. Overall I find watercolor waaaaaaay more fun than oils so far. Watercolor is faster, cleaner and brighter. This isn't a hard and fast rule, of course. Both mediums, in the hands of a good painter, will be great. But as a young Mom with kids, I prefer having non toxic watercolors around as opposed to turpenoid and hard to remove oil paints. If you want to disagree with me, get your own blog ;-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meet Errol (cool name!)

Errol Jacobson, plein air painter, artist, friendly guy and billiads master (pool actually) was the very first plein air painter I'd ever met. I was at Millenium Park last Labor Day with the Kids enjoying a free Ralph's World Concert. When we had lunch in the shaded grass, I saw Errol painting "Cloudgate". After the kids ogled what he was doing I got a few common questions answered (I asked specifically - are you a plein air painter - uncommon). I went back and asked him a few more questions and he mentioned he was part of a group and gave me his card. I started painting a few weeks from then. Thanks Errol for not being a snob or too busy not to be bothered! You rock. Well, Errol is still painting and better than ever. I own one of his paintings of Lincoln Square, where I live. It's a gem.

I was painting on the same side of the road as he was today and thought you'd all enjoy meeting him!

Plein Air Workshop Day 2

Today we headed out to Bunker Hill Forest Preserve (part of Caldwell Woods). There was a LOT of green (grass, trees, shrubs, etc). In the AM we hung around a picnic shelter with our easels and worked on some abstract designs. Trying to establish "shapes" rather than something real. I painted in oils for this exercise as it was, pretty much, moving paint around as my friend Nancy Albrecht would say. Here is some of my video diary.

In the afternoon we put our abstract shape painting abilities into practice and did some real plein air painting. For this I brought out my good buddy - watercolors. How I've missed them. I was feeling lost and completely incompetent when I began the afternoon. I almost said "screw it!" - but how can I expect to grow if I give up. So I swallowed whatever fear was trying to get hold of me and dove in! It took only a few minutes for me to get into a groove and relax. My painting was 'eh" but the point was to think of everything as abstract shapes - and not a tree or a river, etc. This is harder than you think - plants and trees - all have leaves and a million little pieces to distract you. Resisting the urge to paint them all bit by bit is a challenge to the plein air painter. So this abstraction exercise was a good one for me. Everyone should try painting - at least once in their lives. It's a butt kicker. You'll learn a lot about yourself.

The day was beautiful - skies looked ominous at times but then the sun would come out and make you worried about sunscreen. Here's my video report for the AM.

Plein Air Painting Workshop

While my family continues their summer trip to Michigan I am participating in Plein Air Painting workshop with Scott Tallman Powers. I decided to create a video report for your viewing pleasure. Just my "final thoughts" after an entire (9am to 4pm) day of painting outdoors.

BTW, the other plein air painters are excellent painters and artists. It was great to be in a workshop with them hence my video sarcasm (when will I learn that sarcasm is never a good ice break! ugh). I will report each day of this 3 day workshop - if I survive!!

I usually paint in watercolor paint (which I LOVE). My fellow painters have been encouraging me to begin painting in oils (the dark side - it's an artsy joke). So I dove in this weekend with much trepidation and fear of being pulled into tedium.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mountain climber

Ais can now climb out of her pack n Play - much to my surprise and to be honest, enjoyment. Go girl. I hope she will use her new found skill in life - grab it by the horns, throw her leg over it and get the hay outta there!
While enjoying a much needed summer break at the beaches in southwestern Michigan (Harbor Country) I had a unique experience. My 2 year old, Ais, was put down for a nap in her pack n play. Her grandpa was "watching her" - hanging out while she napped. He heard her talking to herself and laughing and all the fun stuff toddlers do to amuse themselves. He didn't enter her room for fear of getting her worked up. When I came home (from the beach) he mentioned that she didn't sleep and "got into my purse". When I looked at her - her lips and the surrounding skin were COVERED in 12 hour lipstick. Hmmm.
Upon inspection of my room , Ais went thru my purse alright. She smeared my red, 12 hour lipstick all over her face (which remained there for a day), ate 12 pieces of gum (I know this because she wadded up each wrapper and put in an empty rigid tote that resembles a trash can *god bless her for this*) The tampons were unwrapped, the credit cards strewn about the room. The cash remained in it's original place - somehow.
Oh, but there's more - somehow she got to the top of that highboy dresser. She grabbed a ziploc bag full of baby medicine, thermometer, etc. She wrangled open a foil-backed Baby Tylenol and ate it (I could tell because it was covered in slobber). Evidence shows she attempted to eat another but gave up the fight. She threw thermometer covers all over the bedroom. A TV was sitting on a low stand. There was a 4 inch corner of the stand available for her little feet to climb. That has to be the only way she could reach the ziploc. What a determined little stinker.
She's OK, I had to laugh and be thankful for such a vivacious little chica. Couldn't find my camera when this happened but hope you enjoy the story.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer is Finally here!

Have any of you Midwesterners caught some of the grand weather we've been having? There have been some nice rainstorms following hot, muggy summer afternoons. Collision of pressure systems and storms! Lightening!

It's been the kind of weather where you're outside all day. Then the wind starts to blow progressively harder and harder. You don't mind because it feels good and fresh (as an urban dweller I forget the freshness of fresh air - but like farts from a pretty girl - you know it when you smell it). I encourage my kids to play in the rain with me (I know it sounds like forced poetic drivel -but it's true). Why be afraid of getting wet? Nothing like splashing in bare feet, getting dirty and gritty calves from said splashing and then trying remove wet clingy clothes. Remember that! Photo above was taken over my neighbor's house, across the street!
I'll be a better blog soon, I promise -