seven year anniversary

Granddaughter at work, painting.

On November 30, today, I’ve been retired for seven years. Small problems, inevitable new problems, and obsolescence have me considering using fairly dear savings for a new 16″ Macbook Pro. It looks really good, but do I need it?

Digital work is a lot of fun, sometimes I get to help friends, but looking at this little person lose herself in paint I get a different perspective. Thanks, granddaughter.

Late edit: I originally decided to go with the top picture, but every time I opened the page, I missed seeing the second photo. So here it is:

Granddaughter at work, drawing.

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rubbish bin

A dozen old sketches.

What do I do with piles of sketches? In books, in folders, laying loose. When I moved to Bellefonte six years ago, I cleared out what I thought was most of it, but I keep turning up more. flickr does an interesting job of aggregating the stuff- sizing the images I uploaded so they fit in even rows. The elm tree looks the smallest here in this screen grab from flickr. It is the largest illustration of the bunch: maybe eight inches tall. The pepsi truck is a small doodle. For me, though, the arbitrary size doesn’t matter. The cluster of images is satisfying and I didn’t have to code each one. I think that’s the answer I need- easy enough, an adequate reminder (remember Onion Head?), and I can dump all the paper.

I’ve been struggling with the implications of this. I’ve already decided to work for me, so images serve a personal purpose. Life notes, maybe? I just found a pile of matted images- some pencil wash and some pen and ink. They’re all far too precious in their mats and need to be stripped bare.


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Harriet Tubman

Colorized photo from L O C.

The iconic wild bronco statue.

The Library of Congress just received a photograph of Harriet Tubman. Since her biopic is coming out, it’s appearing in a few places on the internet. Since it comes with no restrictions and the Library provides a large TIFF download (seriously large, 160 megs) I had to grab it so I could stare into her eyes. Colorizing things like this is fun. I’ll have to give it a try with Afinity, too. Please, download the original so you can look into those eyes at almost life size.

I didn’t spend as much time as I could’ve researching appropriate colors, but the wall covering is from the period. I feel her over my shoulder, telling me that she’d never wear those colors, and the shirt was a beautiful union blue. Let’s go across the street for a glass of wine and we’ll talk about it, I’d respond.

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blew it

Graphical map of Boise State.

This was a tough one. It started a year ago with an old friend asking if I’d be interested in contract work. Likely as much an attempt to throw me a bone as use grant money. The needs started with a decision tree, but that felt wrong to me. At the time, I couldn’t say exactly what was wrong, but considering the possibilities, the approach felt out-dated. We got to the point you see here, had a verbal confirmation that we’re on the right track, then nothing. Lost work, lost friendship, lost opportunity.

Boise State has a federal registration for the color blue applied to turf. It’s trademarked. First installed in 1986, the turf in their stadium is recognized nationally as that of Boise State. Documents should have a dominant color of blue or orange. Boise blue and Boise orange.
Kid with a broncos shirt riding a skateboard.
In a lot of respects, the branding is similar to Penn State’s. I can comply. Graphics, though, should clarify and clearly, this doesn’t. Off the top of my head I tried a stream of suggestions- publish your phone number. Publish your email address. Let people feel that they’re talking with someone. Give help a personality. All good, but really- who would want to deal with that? Even if calls and emails reached a team or committee, it might be overwhelming. Though I seriously doubt it.

So what would help? If the conversation would have continued, if there’d been face to face discussion, I’m sure it would have come out: What’s needed is simple.
The iconic wild bronco statue. A free, introductory course called Intro to Careers in Public Health with lots of video interviews of graduates working in different fields and locations around Boise. Give people a badge if they complete the online introduction. Deciding on a career path is complex enough to require more than a graphic or chart. Exploring the online course could give potential students a low impact feel for how online courses work.

What they said they wanted.
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old drawings for the Bellefonte balloon story

A friend visited recently and asked for some of the cards I had printed with balloon sketches on them. I’m just about out- it was only an experiment to see how they’d print. So I could be more up-to-date, I had to take out my sketchbook to show him some of the more recent (five years old) images. I realized I’d never digitized these images, so I grabbed the iPad and shot them for this post. They seem to be about actual size on my monitor. If you’re from Bellefonte, you might recognize them. A historical note: image #7 — what I’d call the old balloon factory — has been drastically changed for the Bellefonte Waterfront Project. I decided to put others that have been in my blog before here as well. The story is about a young girl in Bellefonte who discovers her great grandfather’s sketchbook and wonders if the images were, well, true. The sketches are from his sketchbook and the two color plates are style experiments. They start to tell the girl’s story.The simple tale is about her imagination and vision growing until she can see the balloons too.

Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
Pen and ink sketch of balloons over Bellefonte.
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A baked Alaska, missing a slice.

I figured her mom would have a real cake with candles and singing. I wanted to do something different so I did an alaska. It’s been years, but it’s all pretty standard technique. Genoise in the morning, simple syrup, apricot glaze, and cherry syrup later that day. I compiled everything with three kinds of ice cream just before bed. For the meringue, I did a Swiss meringue- started over simmering water to dissolve the sugar, finished in the stand mixer. The result is firm, creamy, and very stable. I fired it up just before she got here.

So the impact was less than I’d hoped. She liked the candles, liked how it looked, but wasn’t too thrilled eating it. She didn’t even want to taste the left-over cherry syrup. Maybe left-over cake will be a hit?

Nah. Wont even try it.

Did I tell you it was Swiss meringue?

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Half my age

Second birthday card for 2019.

Well, this was kind of the birthday card. This year the kid was half my age- I’m 66. I did the card, had it printed, gave it to her, and everything was good. My granddaughter, however, seemed a bit “uncomfortable.” When I showed her the digital version, she was visibly uncomfortable, then said, “I should be wearing my unicorn costume.”

You see, the original card had everyone in a unicorn suit for Hailey’s graduation. Hailey, in the original even though she actually owned a unicorn costume, was in a cap and gown. A graduate of the Bellefonte High School Pre-School. Ah well. It made its historical point. This card, though, is the Hailey approved version. At least, I think so. It hasn’t been printed yet.

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lincoln in the park

An experiment. The event will be real!

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Digital drawing of a spaceship and dark sky.
Party on the Moon

It’s always a treat to have a conversation with my granddaughter. We got gas at the local market and decided to go in for a couple of pastries. When we finished pumping, someone claimed the last parking space. I suggested driving around the block but she was a little concerned we’d miss an opportunity. I pulled off the lot and sat on a side street where we could see the cars. The guy who grabbed the last space was back out quickly and I drifted forward.

When he didn’t start backing out, I braked and said, “oh come on, buddy.”

The kid said, “He’s probably on his phone, grampop.”

Perfect observation. And relaxed, too; which I wasn’t.

Later we were stopped at a light. Through the front window we could see a camper parked under some evergreens. She said, “There’s a trailer.”

I said, “Yeah I see it. It has a plastic sheet over it. Maybe it has a hole in the roof.”

“I think they covered it just to keep bits of nature from falling on it and making it dirty.”

Parked under pine trees. Yeah, I bet you’re right. And you think about parties on the moon.

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pictures on a wall

Shortly after my granddaughter started spending time with me at 6½ weeks, I put cartoon drawings of her toys on the wall so she’d have something fun and familiar to look at. Her verbal skills grew rapidly and her toys changed, too. Now, at 4½ years, and way past Tinky Winky and Dipsy, she agreed to take most of the old drawings down and put up new ones. (She didn’t want to part with Sophey or Pout-Pout Fish, so they moved to a different wall.) She wants to fill another wall in the kitchen, too. Since her arrival, I’d hung framed pictures that her mother drew on wainscotting in the kitchen- all just two feet up- right about toddling height. Now we covered the wall above the wainscotting with her pictures and she wants to cover another wall with zoo animals. I’m loving it.

First she challenged me to draw the Nittany lion. We drew head to head, with her version winning in the end. The next afternoon she drew a regular lion. I called it an African lion but she said no- it’s a Pennsylvania lion. That’s when she arrived at the ‘zoo animal’ theme. Her elephant blew mine away, and she insisted it was an elephant, not a heffalump. She drew others without challenging me: a fantastic giraffe, a monkey “with some leaves to hold on to”, a tiger. All fun stuff, and all hanging in the kitchen.

And really, no presentation is complete without a signed self portrait of the artist as a young girl. In teddy bear pajamas. And Minnie the Mouse slippers.

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