Q: Quandary

Q_quandry

Q is for quandary. Where to next? How do I get there? The signs are not clear. What to do?

Things have been a bit unsettled in nancyland of late. Not in a bad way, but in a way that hasn’t necessarily been conducive to working on the Sea Rise pavilion project, or the miniature protea kit, or posting … anything. So it goes. (Thank you Kurt Vonnegut, for that all-expressive phrase.)

Slow progress — and regress — on the studio reorg, but the end *is* in sight.

reorg_030718

Got the bookcases installed along the half-wall upstairs, and the reference library culled and organized. There’s happy Scarlett in her old-cashmere-sweater lined new-location fleece bed.

mama_goats_030718

One of my favorite places on Earth is Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, perfectly located halfway between Santa Cruz and Pacifica. On a meandering birthday drive home, we of course stopped there to check in with the mamas and babies. These are some of the very pregnant mamas in the loafing barn, waiting to give birth.

K-2SO_plant

K-2SO is fully functional — with articulated thumbs! — and has begun work at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.

painting_with_maddie

Spent a recent morning painting and drawing with Maddie, who just turned five years old. If you’re looking for artistic inspiration and to question and push your boundaries, I highly recommend the company of a child.

hardware

Or you could just go to the hardware store.

 

 

 

O: Organization Orchestration

reorg__00_022318

O is for Organization. Lack thereof in these photos, because I am completely reorganizing my studio and office. Moving everything off and out of every cubby, shelf, drawer, bin and pile. Going through everything, purging non-essentials. Beginning to make new piles and groups of like things, so I can see what’s what. Sorting bits and bobs back into their storage boxes. Making sure I maintain a walkway through the chaos.

reorg_01_022318

O is for Other Side. This is the left side of the room. I’m pulling my reference library out of the two bookcases (partially visible left foreground) and moving them out of the studio into three new bookcases, dusting, sorting and divesting as I lug them upstairs. This frees up lots of shelf space for things used more frequently. (Fortunately, I have a separate space where all the wood cutting and sawdust-generating tools live, a wee shop on the back of the garage. It means a lot of back and forthing, but computers and sawdust don’t do well together.)

reorg_02_022318

O is for Ongoing, OMG. The disarray is total, the only clear spaces being my main workstation (not very visible behind the bookcases), and the emptying shelves. This is a challenging project, but it will be so good when it’s done :)

G: Gray, Gray + Green

G_gray

G is for the grays of a winter storm.
Sharp Park Beach, looking south to Mori and Pedro points.

G_gray_green

G + G, for the warm grays and bright-eyed greens of a handsome cat.
Napoleon, overseeing the Sea House Warming Hut build.

 

Funk, ABChallenge, Mudroom

shifty_eyes

I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk recently. It feels like Scarlett looks.

(Even though what she’s really signaling here is, “If I don’t make eye contact with you, you can’t see that I’m up here again, biting on the lead blade of the scythe and chewing the potted palms.)

My symptoms of creative funk include seeing everything I do as crap, simultaneous restlessness and fatigue, dropping things on the floor even more than usual, and a sense of dullness.

kelli_05

In a creative funk, even though many wonderful things continue to occur, like finding surprise! beautiful flowers on the doorstep, like magic… well, actually, unexpected kindness does wonders for boosting spirits.

I know to keep breathing through a funk, not push too hard, to listen. Go for walks. Take naps. Soon, I’ll issue the funk an invitation to tea.

A_apple

I decided some arbitrary and not-too-difficult challenge practice might help, so I started ABChallenge: Take or draw a picture representing every letter of the alphabet, in order from A to Z. Nothing stupid like every day, but don’t be lazy. Why not do it with me? Then we’ll have something to talk about.

mudroom_012118

I finished the mudroom in the Sea Rise Pavilion remodel, meant to be a shrine for the pieces from Charlene’s Legacy that Keli gifted me us. Here it is the late night of completion, with cruddy lighting.

mudroom_012118-3

As seen from the interior.

mudroom_012218

And through the open back door in the fresh light of morning.

Funk slumps happen to us all, I think. What do you do when you find yourself in one?

Humble Lighting, Cats

kitchen_lighting_01_123017

I got my lighting order from Evan Design: replacement chip LEDs for the under shelf, and five 3mm LEDs for the pot lights (3/16-inch brushed aluminum eyelets) in the ceiling. Look at how warm the “warm white” is!

kitchen_lighting_123017

And gah! Look at what a tangle the backside is. There’s five chip LEDs (the tiny red and green magnet wires) and five 3mm LEDs, wired to two 3V battery holder/switches. I’m posting this in all humility and baby steps learning. I *will* get better at wire stripping and making elegant connections. Because how I love learning new things?! Even though I cringe at being clumsy and awkward doing so.

Scarlett_123017

Speaking of elegant connections… I went to post this at my main workstation, but found Scarlett snugged in my chair (and absorbing the under desk Dyson heater warmth). Of course I could not disturb her, so I retreated to the couch with my laptop.

Albie_laundry_123017

And there was Albie, snugged into a fresh, warm load of laundry waiting to be folded. So now I’m arrayed on the other end of the couch, with laptop, phone, sketchbook, freshly sharpened Blackwing pencil, two reference books, a baggie of lighting components, and a glass of wine, all amid the piles of half-folded laundry. Same as it ever was,

Skiff, Brackets

skiff_building

Scarlett has grown into a far more helpful studio cat. Here she continues the weathering process on the underside of the Sea House Pavilion Squat roof, while I work on building a wee skiff.

skiff_box

I eBayed this circa 1989 Midwest Products skiff model. I love this kit for many reasons: The superior 36-page construction manual and a full-size plan. Each of the 117 steps has a little checkbox next to it, to track one’s progress. And shipbuilding vocabulary: inwales, cleats, chafing plank, stem and false stem, strongback, painter, breasthook, skeg, knee and quarter knee, transom, fairing.

Here is step 109, Inwales:

skiff_building2

Even with the apprentice skill level 1 rating, there was still plenty of late night swearing, especially setting up the framing. I realized very early on how glad I was that the finished model would be heavily weathered.

skiff_weathered

Making the oars was possibly my favorite part. They’re built from dowels and stripwood, whittled and sanded into final shape. (Still have to varnish the second one.)

brackets_00

The outdoor shower is old Reutter Porcelain, tragically discontinued. One of my all time favorite pieces!

At some point, the Sea House Pavilion was retrofitted with sturdy brackets, much like the foundation of the SH Warming Hut.

brackets_parts

This time, made much easier by cutting the components on the Cricut machine. I used the scoring tool to mark angle folds and placement of the bolts, which are two dots thick. (Note to self: hmmmm, maybe make available to sell? Have good metallic cardstock by Neenah. Am thinking of drawing contemporary and or retro wrought iron patterns, too?)

scarlett_092117

Recently, most of my building has been in the quiet of late night. Scarlett keeps me company on the studio thinking couch. Good kitty.

 

Studio Cat, It Has Begun

studio_cat

I’m going to lead with this pic of Scarlett, lest you think she only haunts my endeavors. Here she is at the control center of Brian’s studio, enjoying the warmth of electronic musical components, and inexplicably enduring loud sounds and buzzing. Purple and contented.

dismantled_081117

Last night, we had freak thunder and lightening storms, which drove all cats inside. I had dismantled the Sea House Pavilion build earlier, in preparation for the remodel. What better way to begin aging and distressing the various parts than to allow wet cats to regain their composures lounging about the structures? The roof cradle was their favorite for grooming (not pictured), and I can only hope a natural, organic weathering effect is underway.

base_091217

I used pliers and my fingers to yank all the cut silk and preserved moss foliage off the base. It was a major effort, and took a couple of goes. The whole build was constructed in three detachable parts: base, pavilion, roof. I also removed the back arched brick wall remains. Not sure if I’ll re-incorporate it into the new structure — sea level rise does take its toll. I remember it was part of the backstory of the Sea House Pavilion, and I do love combining old and new. That sense of place, the evocation of those who came before us, even as we go about our contemporary lives. We’ll see what happens.

 

Rousseau, Painted Paper, Collage

R_magazine

A few weeks ago I came across this spread in the April 2017 issue of House Beautiful. It’s a wall mural inspired by the imaginary jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau. Designed by Laurel Canyon homeowner Molly Luetkemyer, it was painted by LA artist Jeff Robinson.

I was instantly smitten, and thought a miniature version could be the perfect third wall for the MMS+S set. Since I am currently very keen on repurposing and/or drawing from my considerable hoard stockpile of materials and supplies, I grabbed a peaked MDF wall from — um, actually I no longer remember what build it was from.

Years ago, I dabbled in some cut painted paper collage paintings, inspired by Eric Carle. I love this method of illustration. For this 1:12 wall, I plan on using hand- and machine-cut painted papers augmented with markers.

R_background00

Here is the wall (MDF, 12 x 17 inches) with the preliminary foundation background painted in acrylics. I’ve been studying Rousseau’s jungle paintings, and making note of elements I want to include: light to dark background gradations; sky, moon/sun, jungle; exaggerated plant details; simple two-tone object shading. In Luetkemyer’s inspiration mural, she says the plants are based on California’s landscape, and I plan to do the same. What an awesome opportunity to draw all my favorite plants and flowers: yucca, ficus, succulents, sansevieria; gorgeous orange and red mystery fruit; outrageous florid orange and yellow flowers.

R_greens_stripes

Using 14 x 11-inch medium-weight drawing paper and acrylic paint, I’ve begun making my papers, starting with the greens.

R_greens01

R_greens02

And then some warms:

R_warms01

R_reds01.jpg

It’s getting late, and I’ve run out of room on my drying rack, so my helper cat and I are calling it a night.

rousseau_scarlett

Nancyland’s August (or Fogust, as we say here in the Bay Area) home page splash image is made from two of the above painted papers, layered using the magical “Lighten” blending mode in Photoshop.
The lyric snippet is from Grouplove’s “Colours”, a song Maddie and I both enjoy singing along to when it comes on the radio :)
Lyric snippet update: The National’s “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”. Listening to on repeat.