Monday, April 26, 2010

Grouchy Leah and the Beastie Wild Things

Sometimes, being an adult really sucks. When it sucks to be an adult, I wear my bat hat and turn into a child. Then I can officially pout.

The Beastie Wild Things come over to say hello.
"Why are you pouting?" Says one.
"Yeah, cheer up!" Says the other.

"I'll lick your face until you giggle!" Says the Little Gray Beastie Wild Thing.
The Little Red Beastie Wild Thing hunts around to be sure that no Grouchy Humbugs are lurking.

Yay! Now I'm happy again. Pouting isn't any fun. Let's play instead.

"Let the Wild Rumpus begin!"

Photos by Justin

Inspired by Where the Wild Things Are: an AMAZING children's book by Maurice Sendak (which was, unfortunately, revamped and turned into a crappy movie... but I'm happy now, so there's no time to gripe over that).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the artsy egg escape

It's finally feeling like spring around here. The plants (and weeds) are returning with vigor, and I have no shivering regrets when I forget to grab a sweater before heading out the door.

I have only a few weeks left this semester, although that doesn't mean much as a graduate student. The research goes on... and on.... and on and on. (This is, however, my last semester of classes- I have finally met the credit requirements- woohoo!) Sometimes I really enjoy what I'm doing. Sometimes, I wonder if this is really what I want. I'm not really sure what else I'd rather do though. Carry on...

I am pretty good about maintaining a social life and staying involved in other things, but I really want to focus more energy on art. This blog is forcing me to realize how much I miss it. I haven't done much in the way of studio art for a long time; a painting here and there, perhaps, but that's about it. Photography has been a wonderful outlet for me, but I'm itchin' to get my hands dirty again on a regular basis.

I just started a project that involves an egg shell. That's a new one for me! Three-dimensional work has never been my strength, but who cares? Maybe I needed eggs for inspiration all along. This piece of egg-art will be a bit like a diorama (but hopefully not in a painful, kindergarten way).

I hope that some messy art projects will help me through days of window-less lab time during the summer.

I continue to enjoy all of the clever and artful things that I see on other blogs, and am inspired to invest my creative energy like so many of you. Thank you, as always, for sharing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

laundry confessions

"It's better to have loved and lost than to have to do forty pounds of laundry a week." ~Dr. Laurence J. Peter

This is true.

I am here to admit, though, that I rather like doing laundry. This goes against certain feminist movements, but is it so wrong? Can domestic chores be calming, centering, zen-like? Certainly not all. I'll never enjoy washing dishes. Ew. However, there is something so satisfying about pulling warm garments out of the dryer, fluffy and flowery, and then sorting and folding it all into nice little piles that are eventually tucked away into drawers and onto closet shelves. Ah. 

"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry." ~E.B. White

I find far more joy in other things, but at least I can find a little pleasure in one of life's necessary chores...

Can you find my "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" sock? Jeez, I'm weird. I'm sorry for exposing you to my laundry pile (at least it's clean!).

My mom is probably panicking right now: "Oh no, the child is turning into her grandma!" Have no fear: I do not assign value my days according to the number of loads done. It's just nice to not to cringe at all things domestic. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I sought the garden

A splendid midsummer shone over England: skies so pure, suns so radiant as were then seen in long succession, seldom favor, ever singly, our wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days had come from the South, like a flock of glorious passenger-birds, and lighted to rest them on the cliffs of Albion.

It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four: 'Day its fervid fires has wasted,' and dew fell cool on plain and scorching summit.

The east had its own charm of fine deep blue, and its own modest gem, a rising and solitary star: soon it would boast the moon...

Jane Eyre, Chapter XXIII

 This isn't quite how I picture Jane's world, but for me, this little series of photos from the archives capture (somewhat) the mood of that fine summer eve. I love this chapter. *sigh*


On another note, for any of you out there who enjoy being read to (which I sometimes do), there is an excellent version of Jane Eyre read by Lucy Scott. I think she does a wonderful job of bringing Jane's spirit to life, and her Rochester is spot on. Let Jane Eyre fill your ears!

Monday, April 12, 2010

But what had befallen the night?

"And what ailed the chestnut-tree? It writhed and groaned; while wind roared in the laurel walk and came sweeping over us." Jane Eyre, chapter XXIII

I can't claim that this print was inspired by Jane Eyre. I made this etched copper intaglio print 10 years ago as an art student in college. Still, it seems fitting.

"I perceive these pictures were done by one hand: was that hand yours?"
"Where did you get your copies?"
"Out of my head."
"That head I see now on your shoulders?"
"Yes sir."
"Has it other furniture of the same kind within?"
"I should think that it may have: I should hope-better." Chapter XIII

I hope so, too.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

a very belly weekend

This weekend, the amazing Rachel Brice came to town to teach a tribal fusion bellydance workshop. I participated in the 2-hour class on Friday. She also taught 4-hour classes on Saturday and Sunday, but I figured my brain would just turn to mush if I tried to do it all. The workshop was great - a little tight in terms of space, but certainly worth it. Rachel is a great teacher, and she reads her students well. She is delightful to watch, even when she's demonstrating just a snippet of choreography or going over technique. The description may be clichéd, but it is hard to describe her movement as anything other than serpentine. It's fascinating. Go watch a video on You Tube. She doesn't disappoint!

Rachel Brice performed at the Sly Tymey Show on Saturday night. I was particularly excited to go to the show because it also featured Clan Tynker, a local circus family. They are amazing! I want to be the 6th Tynker..... still working out the details there.... hmmm. Anyway, they are talented, comedic, engaging, and absolutely awesome. I can't wait to see them again!

On Friday night after the short workshop, there was a hafla that included performances and live music for anyone who cared to get up and dance. It is great to watch all of the talent that lives in your own town. I performed with Bastet as part of her student troupe, Jewels of the Gutter. Good times. I love dancing around in my tribal belt- wheeee! As fun as performing can be, though, I definitely prefer to sit back and admire the talent of others.

Hooping has become pretty popular as of late, so hoops were available for the crowd on Friday night. I decided to buy a hoop from a local hooper on Saturday night after the show. It is pretty sweet! It's decorated with colored electrical tape and pages out of an old book. It has a larger diameter and greater weight than the little plastic hula hoops I played with as a kid. This actually makes hooping easier (counter-intuitive, I know). I'll let you know if I manage to pull off any fancy tricks ;)

Check out these links....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Brontë-Along? Yes please!

Could I have timed my Jane Eyre obsession any better? For weeks now, I have been drooling over the BBC film (2006 version with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson.... uh, yummy?) and rereading the book, thinking that I was alone in my dreamy little Brontë world. So wrong! I started a blog just this week.... and discovered that the lovely ladies at eggplantia were hosting a hoppin' Jane Eyre party: The Brontë-Along! Count me in.

Do I have to watch the movie again? Well, if you insist...

As far as the crafty bit goes: I have a mixed media idea in my head.... but I can't promise realization any time soon. For now, I will focus on some Brontë/Jane Eyre-inspired photography, and my dear copy of the book.

I love my copy of Jane Eyre. My mom found it for me once upon a time. I don't know how old it is since the page with the printing information has long since fallen out of the book. I do know that it was printed in Chicago, and I like the decorations printed on the inside cover in green ink:

I secretly (well, not any more!) enjoy the fact that I share a name with a character in the book:

Leah delivers candles so well.

Read on, fellow Brontë lovers!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

my little world of belly dance

Belly dancing is a rollicking good time. It's as much of a mental workout as it is a belly workout! I dabbled in ballet, jazz, and modern for years (I loooove to dance - wheeee!), but I always like to try new things. Another graduate student in my department has been belly dancing and teaching for years; her stage name is Bastet, and she is amazing. Well, hello opportunity! I have been taking classes from Bastet for about two years now, and I've been lucky enough to perform with her and other talented dancers in the area.

I really enjoy how Bastet fuses other styles with belly dance technique. It suits my love of dabbling. It tickles my brain. I also love to see what other dancers bring to the table. The same choreography looks a little different on everybody, and I think that's a good thing. Last October, Bastet organized Mile High Riot!, which was a steampunk circus show that included dance, acrobatics, and magic acts. Soooo much fun. Maybe the Riot will return this summer.... we shall see!

At some point in the future, I would like to try African dance. I tried a class once and really got into it. It just feels so natural and liberating. And, now that I've had a taste of the "circus", I want to learn how to do aerial silk acrobatics, à la Cirque du Soleil. Awwwe yeeeeah. How cool is that? A circus school (yes, there are such awesome things!!) is about an hour away from me. As soon as I find a personal sponsor (I can dream, right?), I'm all over it!

Bastet and Mile High Riot! can be found here:
And the photography? The talented Justin Dodd is responsible for that: ...and there's more on his Flickr sites: and

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

inspired to read, paint, and occasionally rant

Confession: I enjoy blogging more than I thought I would.

Okay, okay, it's only day 4.... but I am finding blogs that belong to intriguing and talented individuals who are unknowingly prodding my creative side and giving me new things to think about. Lovely.

I bought some new paints and block-printing inks today (so satisfying), and I'm sorting through some old files; the latter isn't exactly artistic, but the creative process for me is often benefited by the cleaning/organizing/making a space for art process.


On another note, I picked up a new book today: Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler. Originally, I intended to start another "classic", but I just can't shake this particular infatuation with my dear Jane just yet. I've heard good things about this novel, and hope that I find it an enjoyable read. It's a short little paperback, and I expect to finish it quickly.

And speaking of paperbacks... which leads me to hardcovers and bindings in general.... why can't I find reprints of classic literature pieces in simple hardcovers? Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are such rich, timeless stories. Shouldn't they be bound likewise? I need to seek out some old copies. Yellow pages and small tears don't trouble me; in fact, that adds to the beauty. I just want something that feels right. It doesn't matter in the long run- it's about the story, after all. Still, slick paperbacks of old favorites feel like beautiful works of art in cheap frames.

Enough ranting for now... Jane beckons!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

skies upon skies

I admire the work of others far more than I do my own. Still, I am entitled to a few personal favorites, and I am quite pleased with this one. I based this sunset on a series of pics I snapped while driving through the flat (and usually boring) part of eastern Colorado, before the Rockies affront you with their splendor. The clouds and colors were spectacular; I had never seen anything like it. I really liked the contrast of the bold and pulsing sky against  the simple landscape of power lines and farm houses.

Behind this painting is another sky painting. That one just didn't work for me. I grumbled over my efforts for about a year before I decided to just paint over it with something different- something that really grabbed me. I do this a lot, actually. This sunset isn't going anywhere, I assure you... but if the paint is ever scraped from my canvases one day, many other paintings will be found (oooh, mysterious...).

I have a two new paintings underway right now- another landscape, and an abstract (diptych) for my brother. I am thinking about veering away from my painting "style" (if I have such a thing) and trying something new. I'm fumbling around with what I want to achieve still, so I'll spare the audience from the internal ramblings (as if any of this isn't rambling.... um....), but I'm excited to experiment with some new ideas, and maybe new media, too. It will certainly be influenced by recent literature obsessions.... ahem....

Now, back to lab analyses and all that science stuff.... at least until the sun sets. ;)

Monday, April 5, 2010

paints and palette knives

My mixing skills are a bit rusty, but I finally achieved "the" blue of the wintry sky for the painting I started yesterday afternoon. I really enjoy painting skies, and I take great liberties with them. When I was little, I put a lot of time and effort into making my drawings and paintings look "just right", and very realistic (or at least to the extent that I was capable). Now I don't have the patience or the desire to do that. This change coincided, I think, with the budding of my interest in photography when I was about 18. After that, I figured that if I wanted an image to be realistic, I could just snap a picture. When a blank canvas is stretched before me, I let my imagination go, and my fingers (and brushes) fly.

Sometimes I worry that I have let my technical skills slip. What if my fondness for realism rekindles? Could I still produce what I might see before me? I don't know. But I love how kinetic my paintings have become. I enjoy the experience more, I think, than I used to. For now, I will embrace the abstract and unusual features that develop with my brush, and pore over the earthly details exposed by my camera.

 photo by jpdodd

Jane Eyre and I

.... and it begins again, another period piece infatuation. I know 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Sense and Sensibility' forwards and backwards, and have flirted with many others (beyond Austen). I recently revisited Jane Eyre... and she and I are having a grand time. I read the book in high school and it didn't leave much of an impression; in fact, I couldn't remember anything about it. This time (10+ years later), she and Mr. Rochester decided to make a little nest in my brain where they will forever reside. I LOVE the story. And I LOVE Rochester (move over, Darcy... the bad boy wins). I then discovered the BBC version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens - phenomenal - and you know the rest. The book and film will keep me occupied for a while, but then... what next??

Illustration from second edition of 'Jane Eyre'. Image downloaded at Wikimedia Commons.