old cover experiment

Young girl in a field by apartment buildings, tieing a kite to a bucket that has a cat in it, wearing flight goggles.

This, along with several sheets of vellum, just tumbled out of a pile of old papers. After 30 years, I had forgotten all about it.

Back before I started at the university, I’d left the restaurant to try to make it as a commercial artist. I bought a list of different businesses that purchased illustrations.

For one outlet, I thought I could come up with a cover for Jack and Jill Magazine. My daughter, getting ready to test fly a doubting pet cat seemed ideal. Especially in a unique setting like our apartment complex.

This was an experiment to see if the idea would work and how I could do it. It never got past this initial attempt. I think I started part time work at the university about this time. Now, I can see so much wrong with it. I know I could “fix” it digitally, but it makes me smile just like this.

Plate 13

Warren and his sister looking at books in the Millheim library.

Warren looked at me and raised his eyebrows, “630s?”

“Books in a library are kept in order by general subject and given numbers that the library adds to the book spine. See? These shelves here are, well, these shelves are all fiction. That’s by author. Over there starts the 100s. We can go from there.”

As it turned out, the library had a shelf of beekeeping books. Warren pulled out a few that looked useful to him and I grabbed one to look at to stay busy. We found seats and I sat in a comfortable little arm chair. Warren found a small couch and spread his books around him. After reading for a bit, I looked up and Hailey had joined Warren on the couch. She was reading her new unicorn book, but lost interest when she saw Warren’s focus. She pressed up against him and read along, jotting down things that she saw Warren jot down. They made a warm picture. Their devotion to each other was so obvious. Warren wanted to learn and the tad was determined to help. They kept at it for a while, even conferring in whispers. I only caught a word or two when their excitement made them ignore the library’s rules of silence.

Then I must’ve drifted off. I realized I had when Warren asked if I was learning much. Glad I had my head down and an open book on my lap. I said, “This is fascinating Warren. I see you have a helper- are the two of you learning anything?”

Old slides

I came across a sheet of old slides, mostly of much older pastels. I taped them to a window and photographed them. The onion and tomato image was recovered from my parent’s house after my mom died; drawn in 1976. Over the winter it’s easy to plop something from the fridge onto my drawing table and use it to ‘keep my tools sharp’. I should be doing more of it.

A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.
A brown egg in a rocks glass.

poster fair

In the early 2000s I did an annual workshop on preparing graduate and undergraduate poster fair posters. I ran it for over five years and eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t find the time. And I thought a move to digital presentations was inevitable. I kept the material in my Penn State web space and even twenty years later I received requests from all over the world for the information. When Penn State closed the personal server and hence, all its web sites, I thought the need was finally gone. Over the past year, though, I’ve received several requests for larger versions of the poster. Apparently, the main image has been used and credited in other websites, and the link it provided is now broken. So here it is again:

The image above—a poster about making posters—links to a much larger version. The original website is now in my space, too davidstong.com/postershow. I removed links in the guide and on the site that went to other postershow help pages- they were all dead.

Plate 12

The Coach eating a sandwich by the library statue.

I’m not sure about some of this. Seeing it here helps me step back, assess and adjust.

The library wasn’t quite open when I got there, so I ate the breakfast the café had packed. When I looked up. Warren was walking towards me. I felt a wave of relief; he was laughing and talking with his sister. She was laughing, too.

“Good morning, coach.” They both said at the same time.

“Good morning. Great to see you both. Ready to dig into some books?” Don’t even mention baseball. Or yesterday. Or crying.

Color Plate 11

Toads having muffins in their kitchen, with their adopted son, the ball player.

Well that was lucky. I had no real desire to see what kind of creatures were making that noise in the barn. The ballplayer’s dad was at the table looking at a big basket of muffins. Mom sat a mug across the table from him.

“Good morning, sir.” Good start, anyway. “Your son is a remarkable ball player.”

“He’s pretty remarkable at everything he tries. Thankfully he’s trying to help his family just now.”

“Is that why he has a job at the Inn?” I asked. I figured I’d jump right to it.

“Pretty much. It wouldn’t be what we’d chose if things were different. But they are what they are.” I would have asked a little more but the ballplayer came in with his little sister. They were a real team, the little one idolizing the big brother.

Rough, plate 10

Mouse winding up on the pitcher's mound, ready to hurl to a young frog batter while a cricket waits to fetch.

I picked up a ball and gave it a gentle, underhand toss right into the zone. She held the bat out, letting the ball hit it and bounce back to me. “That isn’t the way you teach pitching, is it, coach?”

She took her stance again, looked me right in the eye. I didn’t want to embarrass either of us with another soft pitch, so I wound up and let one fly towards an inside corner. It wasn’t my fastest pitch, but it had some pepper on it. She dropped her left shoulder a bit, started to crouch, then swung. There was a crack, and something flew by my left ear.

“Coach, we only have two balls. You have to catch them, or we’ll spend all our time in the woods looking for them.” I picked up the second ball and she took her stance. Her eyes didn’t leave mine. I took a few steps back so I’d have more time to react. This was a tough player. My eyes locked on hers. I wound up, then curved one over the outside rear corner. Or, at least, that’s where it was heading when she smacked it. It came back right in the same place as the last one, but I managed to get a glove up. It cracked into the glove. She was aiming her hit so I could catch it. I’ll be darn!

Mouse color plate 9

A young frog in a pink tee shirt probes a honey cell in a comb inside a bee hive.

“Careful, coach,” Hailey warned me, then came past me to grab a bundle of wooden slats. She unrolled it between the combs so it would provide a solid footing for me. “And this is the brace,” she said as she picked up a metal pole that I hadn’t seen. “Help me push this comb a bit,” she said as we both leaned on the same comb. It gave easily, swinging on some sort of pivot up at the top. The little tad dropped one end of the pole between a floor rod and the comb then let the comb swing back to rest against it. “That should make it easier!”

“Thanks! You really know what you’re doing in here don’t you?” She was ahead of me again. I hung back to watch. She picked up a long metal tube with a hose coming off one end. “Is that the ‘extractor’ your dad mentioned?”

“Yeah. We don’t have to pull anything into the tank. Just a little into the tube… like this.” She turned to the comb and found a spot to plunge the tube into. It seemed to sink in easily. Hailey smiled and pulled up a handle on top of a canister that I now saw the hose was attached to. Just that quick she pulled the tube back out and took a small tool of some sort and pushed the wax back in place. “Hold out a finger.”