Thursday, December 12, 2013

Magnolias and Mosaics

Recently, my boyfriend Chris and I took our first mosaic class with Yakov and Angele Hanansen at Unicorn Art Studio. The two have been doing large scale mosaics for over 30 years, and were kind, insightful, and extremely knowledgeable teachers. Both Chris and I have become addicted and can't wait to do more!

This piece was based on a drawing I did this spring (above) at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens when the magnolia trees were in full bloom, dropping their thick, fleshy petals onto the newly sprouting grass. Behind them, hillsides of daffodils glittered in the distance. It felt like a big quilt of different patterns, colors, and textures. I then turned that drawing into the design for the mosaic, below.

The process of translating a drawing into hundreds of cut pieces of stained glass is extremely meditative.

It forced my mind to think in new ways about drawing, because in a mosaic, everything must be considered. The color, size, shape, and direction of every piece and pattern is important. Intention is everything.

I had a lot of fun creating different patterns, and layering and weaving different marks and colors throughout the image.

Finally, the act of grouting was a very nerve-wracking, but exciting, and transformational experience. After working on putting the pieces together for many, many hours over 2 months, you have to smear the dark grout over all of your hard work. Then you wipe it off and see how everything has been transformed by filling in the gaps. I was surprised by how much the image changed!

Above is a little video I put together of all of the progress shots, showing the growth of the mosaic.


And now, finally, it is home, hanging proudly in our living room. I can't wait to start the next one!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Charles W. Morgan: The Main Topmast: Part 2

For the second part of my day at Mystic Seaport, we were able to see the crew pull the Charles W. Morgan out into the river and turn her 180 degrees towards the shipyard. Quentin Snediker, director of the restoration, offered us the chance to ride in one of the small boats in the river for the operation, so my friend and fellow Dalvero Academy member, Jennifer Kiamzon, and I jumped at the chance and hopped in. Other Academy members were onboard the Morgan itself or perched on top of some nearby scaffolding.

Seeing the enormous ship from the water was such an exhilarating experience! The tiny boats like the one we were in rotated around the Morgan like a school of little fish around a giant whale. The little one in the drawing above had a powerful motor, and hooked itself onto her bow and began pulling the Morgan into the river.

We drifted peacefully away from the whaleship as the other boats pushed and pulled her massive heft into the river. Suddenly we heard Quentin shout the name of our boat over the walkie-talkie and the driver gunned the engine and headed for the Morgan's hull.

Before we knew it Jen and I were flailing back as Paul, aboard our boat, leapt over us and braced himself against the hull of the Morgan as our boat rammed into her side.

We peered up at the towering masts as Quentin surveyed the boats over the side of the Morgan and shouted orders to push and rotate her into place.

We moved away, and then rushed in several times for Paul to leap forward and press against the boat.

As the Morgan finished her rotation, the boats dispersed and we headed back to dock.

She now faces in towards the shipyard with her monumental prow jutting out over the dock.

For a couple of landlubbers it was an amazing experience! Peering up at her towering masts from the water made me imagine what it must have been like for the sailors in the whaleboats on the hunt, seeing much this same view as they prepared for a grueling, cruel chase in the open ocean. One behemoth looming above them, and another diving beneath.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Charles W. Morgan: Main Topmast: Part 1

This weekend I had the opportunity to go back to Mystic Seaport and see them adding a taller part to the middle mast, known as the main topmast, to the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. All three lower masts were in when we arrived, and they were preparing to attach the extension with an enormous crane.

The crew began prepping the rig.


Quentin Snediker (front left) oversaw the production as the crew worked and the crane loomed overhead.

A tall spindly ladder was hooked onto the crane and swung around onto the Morgan so that Alex, one of the key crew-members for this installation, could climb up to the very top of the lower mast to perform the installation.

This is not a job for those afraid of heights.

A block of concrete bricks was hauled onto the ship as ballast to help stop the Morgan from listing.

Alex climbed to the top of the mast and secured the necessary ropes before they brought the top portion of the mast to install.

The crew on the ground hooked the mast onto the crane.

The crane swung the topmast, as big as a tree, over our heads and above the Morgan.

Perched atop the mast, Alex and Matt guided the topmast into its locking position and began securing the two together.

The top of the mast now has two "spreaders" which look like outstretched arms. 

With each new addition, the Morgan becomes more and more stately and grand. After she was lowered into the water at the launch in July, the ship felt a little short and squat, with less of the immense impact she had out of the water. But as she grows taller and taller with each new piece, you get closer to seeing how impressive she will be with her full rigging and sails.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I get to ride in a small boat in the river as the crew actually moves the enormous whaleship!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grandfather Gandhi

This past year I was able to do the illustrations for an upcoming children's book called Grandfather Gandhi (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster), written by Mohandas Gandhi's grandson, Arun Gandhi, and YA author Bethany Hegedus. It was a wonderful experience and it is so exciting that the book will be out this March.

Arun speaks to the choir.

I was able to finally meet Arun Gandhi this past weekend at an event for the Keystone State Boychoir in Philadelphia, where I donated a print from the book for a fundraiser and Mr. Gandhi was their guest of honor.

The choir is made up of students of diverse economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds and offers dedicated members a chance to travel all over the world and experience new cultures through their gift of singing. This December, a group of 60 of the boys will be traveling to India to learn about the culture and about Gandhi, as well as to perform. The talented group sang many songs, including a Muslim hymn sung in Urdu, an Indian raga, and Arun's grandfather's favorite hymn, Lead, Kindly Light.

Arun translated the significance of the Namaste gesture and greeting in India as "I bow to the divine spirit within you."

Arun listening to the choir.

It was beautiful to see how all of the kids in the choir really responded to having Mr. Gandhi there, and how he was also humble, gracious, and very touched by their appreciation. It is not his direct lineage from someone great, but his own inspiring efforts to live by his grandfather's teachings as an individual, that make him worth listening to. He cautioned against people simply revering his grandfather without remembering to turn his teachings into practice. Arun's lineage gives him this platform to live by example and sow the seeds of those teachings in himself and a new generation of young minds.

It is a similar lesson to one offered in the book, Grandfather Gandhi, in that one does not have to be perfect to do great things. In the book, Arun wonders how he, with all his anger and imperfections, could ever live up to his revered grandfather. But Gandhi teaches Arun that everyone, even the now legendary peace activist himself, experiences anger. It is what a person does with that anger that counts. I thought this was a beautiful lesson to pass on to the kids, who are just starting out and are learning to allow themselves to dream of what great things they might be able to do one day.

Arun, his grandfather Gandhi, and his sister Ela.

It was a wonderful experience, and I am very appreciative to Julia Rasch, Steve Fisher, Martha Platt, Arun Gandhi, and everyone else for welcoming me and inviting me to be a part of the weekend with a great group of boys. I'll be posting more about the book as its release date gets closer!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New York Dog House Mural - Meet the Artist

I'm very happy to announce that a restaurant/bar New York Dog House in Astoria that I painted a 3-wall mural for earlier in the year has just opened for business! I had a great time working on such a large scale and getting to experiment with the industrial of the restaurant in the textural paint and design. The mural is called "Astoria Swing" and is a jazz-inspired vision of the dynamic and vibrant industrial landscape of Astoria and the elevated subway tracks of the N-Q line.

NY Dog House is hosting a "Meet the Artist" event on Friday, October 18th starting at 6:00 pm. I'll be there, as well as some delicious food and great drinks, so I hope to see you all there! Also on display are some of my reportage drawings from around New York City with originals and prints available for purchase.

Preparatory drawing for the mural.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Colorado Flood Relief Fundraiser

I am a Colorado native, and I happened to be back in my home state for my brother's wedding while the unbelievable flooding was happening near the mountains. While we experienced only heavy rain in my neighborhood, up in 15 other counties the damage was crippling. 8 people were killed, hundreds were missing, 19,000 homes were damaged, and over 1,500 were completely destroyed. It's going to take a long time, and a lot of help for people to get their lives back on track.

To help in any small way I can, I am going to be selling prints for the next 2 weeks (through October 20) with proceeds going to the American Red Cross disaster relief in Colorado. The selection of prints includes 3 drawings/paintings of the beautiful Colorado landscape done in Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park, two of the hardest hit areas of the floods. The final selection is a drawing for an ongoing project on the history and future of the settling of Colorado and the west. This image is available in its full, panoramic format, as well as in three smaller sections.

All prints are signed and printed on gallery quality rag paper with archival inks, ready for mounting and framing. Price of print includes cost of printing materials and shipping, with the entirety of the rest being donated to the Red Cross. I will wait until the fundraiser has ended and send one large check. Payment through Paypal to
Please e-mail me with your selection AND your shipping address, and send the donation through Paypal. (E-mail me with any questions as well)

"The Flatirons"
8.5 x 11 - $35
11 x 17 - $60

"Purple Mountain Majesty"
8.5 x 11 - $35

"Rocky Mountain Sunset"
8.5 x 11 - $35

"The West"
9 x 44 - $180

"The West: Settlers"
8.5 x 11 - $35
17 x 11 - $60

"The West: Collision"
8.5 x 11 - $35
17 x 11 - $60

"The West: Beginning"
8.5 x 11 - $35
17 x 11 - $60

 Please let me know if you have any questions!