Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Examining the creative process - 2012 Adult Mids logo

Look, it's Evan Lysachek and Alissa Czisny... really.

I'm looking proudly at the end result of a several month process creating a logo for US Figure Skating and the competition we are hosting in March, Adult Midwestern Sectionals.

The process started in late July/early August when our bid was approved. We discussed how we wanted to represent ourselves and the club to make us unique from other cities.

I was completing my painting for ArtPrize and the thought was capitalizing on Grand Rapids' reputation as an arts destination. We have the Meijer Gardens, the GRAM, and the UICA, not to mention Kendall College of Arts and Design, Aquinas and Calvin.

Excited about my co-chair's enthusiasm for the idea, I explored famous artists for inspiration. I wanted to spoof Warhol's Marilyn quad with a depiction of Dick Button, but without permission to use Dick's face and no connection to him and Grand Rapids, that idea was killed.

A cartoon panel a la Lichtenstein was also in my sketchbook, the idea that I would create 5 panels: one for the event and one for each discipline. Response was lukewarm and even though it was a great idea, the task of creating so much for one logo was rather overwhelming.

Several other ideas were batted around until I came back to Alexander Calder. In Grand Rapids, you always come back to Calder. We are the home of La Grand Vitesse, the nation's first publicly fund work of art. The co-chairs perked up with this idea, and so I began to explore the world of Calder and his art.

I looked at his paintings, sculptures, mobiles and jewelry. I sketched twisty skates, twistier skaters. I experimented with his 70s groovy suns and bendy figures. Every time, I came back to his whimsical mobiles.

I played around with shapes and forms, attempting to have skates dangle from one of his geometric wonders. It looked.. tacky. Frustrated, I stared at a few mobiles for inspiration and let my pencil to its work. One of his swoops looked like a body in arch. Bet that could be shaped into a layback.

Not satisfied with one form, I wanted a second. Since the layback is accepted as a feminine form, I wanted one that could be id'ed as masculine, so I looked at male skater pictures and it came down to Braden Overett's camel spin (perfect!) and Evan Lysachek's (Olympic champ!) bullet sit spin. Evan's sit seemed to compliment the Calderesque forms I was experimenting with.

I doodled and sketched to get the arches just right, and it was at a Basic Skills competition I judged up north, in between events, that I finally got it just right.

From there, I drew the logo in Adobe Illustrator and constructed the artwork based on US Figure Skating specifications. Being my second logo (!), I knew to do some things, but needed to send it to USFSA for tweaks. The final tweak was a register mark last night and I got approval today.

In math and the sciences, it's important to "show your work" so you can pinpoint where your calculations went awry. As a artist, it's also, in retrospect, fascinating to see an idea evolve.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Someone To Watch Over Will

Why wouldn't you want to watch me?

Seems we go through this once a year, a babysitter crisis. We now need to have someone in place in a week.

Dave suggested craigslist, but the seediness of their personal ads, horror stories of creepers and homicidal maniacs put me off. Great place if you want to sell baby stuff, not so much when you are looking for care for your baby.

So I hit and and I'm relieved to report we have 5 potential situations and will be interviewing 4. The 5th is a daycare in-home that is on the way to the rink and the bank, but not work and will be a last resort.

So in order to choose the best possible care provider, I'm reviewing the applicants as carefully as if I were the boss/hiring manager/human resources of a company, and well, I guess I really am.

To protect the applicant's privacy, I won't reveal much about them here, but of the four, one is too good to be true, two are very promising and the fourth has at least been prompt and humorous in her responses which is a good thing. It may be hard to choose between them.

The whole thing has been exhausting and stressful though. We really loved having Patty as a member of the household and we are going to miss her, but when opportunity knocks, you have to respond. I'm still fighting the feeling of rejection, and have to remember business is business. And for the other girls, I remember being a babysitter and moving on to regular employment. I think it's just the nature of the position.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Typing Out Loud: The Devastating View from Both Sides of the Coin

There was a horrible incident last week here in Grand Rapids, and although it didn't affect me directly, people I knew were involved.

Three men dead, leaving children fatherless and wives widows.

It's hard to know what to type, thus this monthly installment of TOL.

From the point of view of the law-abiding, I'm startled and horrified at the sudden and blood-thirsty death suffered at the hands of these criminals. The officer was attempting to prevent an incident from escalating where civilians and more were hurt.

A family relative was one of the first on the scene to identify the officer who was killed. Words cannot adequately describe the nightmare that enused.

The typical anger swelled inside me at the viciousness, selfishness and destructiveness of the criminals who committed these acts.

Then I found out who one of the criminals was, and my anger combined with a sense of sadness, frustration and loss.

He was the stepson of a former co-worker. I knew him when he was just a little boy, a cute kid that would make funny faces, give me hugs, and earn a piece of candy or gum. I haven't seen him in 20 years, since I graduated from college and moved on from that job.

Watching his dad's press conference, a man I didn't like then, was heartbreaking. It takes guts to stand in front of the press and law officers and offer a public apology on behalf of your deceased son and denounce his actions. His shame was plain to see.

I don't forgive or condone his actions, and given the violence of his actions and potential to hurt many more, his punishment was justifiable. Oh, but don't you wish at moments like these for a time machine? Even as a fringe player in his life, I wish I could go back 20 years and use my thin shred of influence to show him a different path.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cue the Beastie Boys, cuz "she's crafty!"

Ribbons and scissors and bows, oh my!

It's October 16, so Christmas is only... well, there's actually plenty of time. Still, that has not stopped me from getting started on crafting for the holidays.

First project I'm working on is converting some tasseled perfume bottles into pendants.

What's awesome is the bottle tops already have holes drilled into them where the tassels were threaded. I unhooked the tassels and threaded split rings through and reattached the tassels to the rings. The gold tops match the gold rings perfectly.

Next, I'm using embroidery floss as the lanyard. Cutting the line to 36", I turned the floss into a simple necklace and am using a doubled sheet bend knot to secure the string. I will make the knot solid with a dip in clear nail polish.

I will package the necklaces with droppers so the recipients can fill the bottle with their favorite scent.

So three simple perfume flasks have been re purposed as fantabulous necklaces.

What's up next? More necklaces! I purchased five artisan glass over sized buttons. Playing with some line, I *think* I have figured out how to make these into pendants, which will result in five more necklaces. Or else I can play around with stringing them flat into one layered looking choker-style.

There's also playing around on Pinterest for craft ideas. My thoughts were to create things as gifts coming from Will. Good to know I can do something with those empty wine bottles...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Art Matters - Barefoot in the Park

For someone that loves the arts, I'm woefully uneducated in the theater department - plays, musicals, operas and the like. If asked to go, I'm right there, but I don't actively seek it out. I don't know why, because I fell in love with the play Barefoot in the Park when it was broadcast on HBO back in 1980. To this day, after countless performances of Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, Fiddler on the Roof (a teeth grinding endurance test for me), Carmen and Romeo and Juliets, Barefoot stands atop the list as my favorite.

The story is impulsive Corie marries uptight Paul, and they kick-start their honeymoon in a tiny 5th floor walk-up apartment. Paul is pessimistic, cautious and in a perpetual state of "what's next!?" Corie is flighty, funny, optimistic and ready for whatever is next.

What works for me in the play is how obviously in love Paul and Corie are. No matter how flighty Corie's plans are and how exasperated Paul is with her, she wants to make it work for him and he wants to amuse his wife's flights of fancy.

As a tween in a perpetual state of unrequited crush, dreaming of my own little love nest, this play was romantic and fun. I identified with Corie's attempts to make her little apartment a home. I hoped to have a Paul who would stick with me no matter how crazy I was.

I grew older, got married and have had upteen apartments and houses. I saw BITP performed by Kentwood High School in 2009 at a time when we were making do with what we had and needed a reminder that we were in it together. A few details of the play had been updated to reflect modern times, but the heart remained the same. As an adult, I identified with Corie's pluck, Paul's grounded nature, and the wish to have a Paul who would stick with me no matter what.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October Playlist - way back in the ohs!

Countin' em down with Casey

I love countdowns, always have. So when VH1 put together their top 100 songs of the aughts, I was excited to see how their list shook out. And of course build my own based on their results. I was surprised at how much I agree with, but the complexion of my list changes a bit with my substitution/addition list below.

Onto the countdown!
OutKast "Hey Ya!" (2 on VH1) - funky, fun, crazy.

Justin Timberlake "SexyBack" (6) - I would have had this #1.

Kanye West & Jamie Foxx "Gold digger" (7) - rawk.

50 Cent "In Da Club" (10) - hey shorty, it's yer birthday.

Gnarls Barkley "Crazy" (14) - sounded brand new and 30 years old.

Beyonce "Single Ladies" (16) - cannot be denied.

Britney Spears "Toxic" (20) - don't judge me.

Alicia Keys "Fallin'" (22) - should have been higher.

Missy Elliott "Git Yer Freak On" (24)

Usher "Yeah" (27) - Yeah!

Gwen Stefani "Hollaback Girl" (30) - B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Amy Winehouse "Rehab" (31) - I'm not out lighting candles for her, but what a loss.

Eve and Gwen "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" (45) - slinky.

Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow "Picture" (46) - awesome.

Snoop Dog "Drop It Like It's Hot" (66) - I will never forget being in the security office at the department store I worked for and seeing the staff inwardly grooving while appearing professional.

Colbie Callait "Bubbly" (71) - reminds me of Philo

Jet "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" (72) - reminds me of the Synchro St. Louis girls.

Chamillionaire "Ridin" (74) - song about drugs that is too much fun to be about drugs.

Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah" (78) - nothing is sweeter (or more awkward) than when a boy writes a song for a girl.

Lil Jon "Get Low" (80) - ok!

Macy Gray "I Try" (85) - just a singalong belt-it song. Love the hair.

Flo Rida "Low" (92) - yeesh, this middle-aged white girl called him Florida way too long. Doesn't mean I can't appreciate.

OK GO "Here It Goes Again" (93) - thanks to Molly for giving me the inside scoop on the band before they hit it big, but this video was just awesome.

The Replacements
Black Eyed Peas charted at #12 with "I Gotta Feeling". I'd take that out and put in "Hey Mama" or "Let's Get it Started."

U2 charted with "Beautiful Day" (15). My sub: "Elevation."

Christina Aguleria charted with "Beautiful" (18). I substitute "Candyman."

P!nk scored with "Get the Party Started" (23). Wow - great song, but she improved the quality of her work with every record after that. Pick one.

Nelly shows up with "Hot in Here" (25). I cannot deny "Country Grammar" having lived in STL at the time.

White Stripes chart with "Seven Nation Army" (26). I say IN ADDITION you put "Fell in Love with a Girl" on there.

Lady Gaga "Bad Romance" (49) - roma- oh- la- la. IN ADDITION I add her with Beyonce for "Telephone."

Shakira shows up with "Hips Don't Lie" (52). Give me "Objection Tango" any day.

I know Norah Jones "Don't Know Why" (54) put her on the map, but I love "Been Thinking About You."

Nelly Furtado "Promiscuous" (73) but I prefer "Like a Bird" and "Maneater".

Bruce Springsteen "The Rising" (81) I know, Academy Award and all that, but give me "Girls in Their Summer Clothes."

Daughtery "It's Not Over" (94). I'm opting in another American Idol, David Cook, with "Billie Jean" and "Come Back to Me."

Pussycat Dolls "Don't Cha" (96). C'mon ladies, get classy! I'll do it for you with "Jai Ho!"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

MyArtPrize 11

Everyone's a critic, including myself. I mean no disrespect to those that are currently in the top 10, there are a few I agree with, but in the limited amount of ArtPrize I've seen, here's how my top 10 + 1, in no particular order, shakes out.
Laura Alexander, Tempest II - no disagreements there, and where I placed my vote.
Lew Tilma, Grizzlies on the Grand
Ji Lee, Pieces of Mind
Stephen Klapp, Castled Void
Robert Landry, JOY
Was and Eckstrom, Ghost of a Dream
Rino Pizzi, The Mona Lisa Project
Michelle Jennings, Tiffany Peacock
Joe Mangrum, Cross Pollination
Lauren Taylor, The Stories We Tell

And finally, a long standing, stale joke I tell every time People Magazine's 50 most beautiful people issue comes out, I say I'm #51. Well, for ArtPrize, I come in at number 11. Hey -- it's my list.