Tuesday, January 23, 2007

glasses | gecko

Last week I came across an interesting drawing exercise at Mithi's Creative Journey (via Suzanne over at AN [OPEN] SKETCHBOOK) and knew I had to try it out.

The point of the exercise is to recognize the importance of drawing as a medium for working out ideas - visualizing forms which, through a process of editing / refining, become more removed from their intial source material. Basically you start out with two objects (I used my glasses and a ceramic gecko) and work on a series of drawings, using formal methods and combining elements to end with a final four.

This is my set:
First 16 quick line drawings of my glasses and then another 16 of a ceramic gecko:

Next, 64 quick drawings based on the original 16 - using the formal methods of exaggerating, distorting, simplifying, enlarging, reducing, repeating, rotating, combining, cross-referencing, and layering. Glasses first, gecko second:

Next use the formal methods again to make a single set of 32 new drawings, combining the glasses and gecko drawings:

Refine again to 16:

This time, paying more attention to layout, negative spaces, blocking out spaces, etc., reduce to 8:

and FINALLY refine and reduce to four final "complete" drawings:

It was really fun watching the transition from those initial simple drawings to the final four. Highly recommended!

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Monday, January 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by Opiliones.

When's the last time you had this much fun?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

it's the lens baby

Originally uploaded by Opiliones.

There I was, minding my own business, when I looked outside and saw a package from Lensbabies sitting on my front porch - an unexpected birthday surprise from my sisters!

Lensbabies are selective focus SLR camera lenses. They're small and bendy and give you a "sweet spot" surrounded by graduated blur. You can move the sweet spot to any part of your photo by bending the lens, creating some very cool effects in the process.

I took it out for a test drive yesterday at the Gasparilla Children's Parade in Tampa and all I can say is WOO HOO!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

the intellectual life

I love cruising the bookshelves at antique stores and book fairs, keeping an eye out for interesting titles. That's how I found the Tall Girl's Handbook and, another favorite, "The Intellectual Life" which consists of a series of letters that "consider the possibilities of a satisfactory intellectual life under various conditions of ordinary human existence" written by Philip Gilbert Hamerton in 1879.

Some choice selections from the Table of Contents (organized according to addressee) show just how various the conditions of human existence were at the time:
  • To A Muscular Christian

  • To A Moralist Who Had Said That There Was A Want of Moral Fibre In The Intellectual, Especially In Poets And Artists

  • To A Moralist Who Said That Intellectual Culture Was Not Conducive To Sexual Morality

  • To A Country Gentleman Who Regretted That His Son Had The Tendencies Of A Dilettant

  • To A Young Gentleman Who Had Firmly Resolved Never To Wear Anything But A Grey Coat

  • To A Young Gentleman Of Intellectual Tastes, Who, Without Having As Yet Any Particular Lady In View, Had Expressed, In A General Way, His Determination To Get Married

  • To A Young Man Of The Middle Class, Well Educated, Who Complained That It Was Difficult For Him To Live Agreeably With His Mother, A Person Of Somewhat Authoritative Disposition, But Uneducated

  • To A Young Etonian Who Thought Of Becoming A Cotton-Spinner

Suttonhoo and I almost came to blows in our quest for said intellectual education at the Printers Row Book Fair in Chicago a couple of years ago ;) BTW, if you're interested, you can find copies of The "Intellectual Life" at Amazon but it will cost you from $95 for a first edition to $195 for an early reprint. FYI, I got my first edition in mint condition for a steal at $20.

Monday, January 15, 2007

random thoughts for the tall girl

  • Nothing looks handsomer to average people than a tall person standing up straight, as if he or she came from a race of gods.

  • Just because you can't be little in physique, like your cute neighbor down the street, don't be little in spirit. Get over any tendency towards the "I didn't ask to be born" attitude. Neither did any other living being, human or otherwise, ask to be born. Shakespeare didn't ask to be born. Jack the Ripper didn't ask to be born. Neither did the Siamese twins, nor the village idiot.

  • Dress, as nearly as you can, like other people. You will hear short friends tell you that you ought, for instance, to wear nubby tweeds, bulky fabrics, capes, or enormous hats. Don't listen to them, for they are in error. If capes and pictures hats are currently in style, well and good. If not, why be out of style just because you're tall? You will look freakish and doubly conspicuous.

  • Never worry about looking awkward and peculiar on the dance floor. You can look grotesque only if you are grotesque.

  • The trouble with women is men. And the trouble with tall women is-small men.

  • Whether your husband be tall or not, he is likely to be above average in intelligence. He married you, didn't he? The fact that you are not the typical "little woman" of conventional jokes did not bother him. He cannot be narrow and stupid, afraid to be conspicuous, always wondering what other people will think.

  • If you are looking for a job or contemplating a vocation you may as well face this fact from the beginning: one career that is forever closed to you is a life of crime. It's no use thinking you can escape the FBI or pick a pocket and slip off unnoticed in the crowd. Even dark glasses are no disguise.

and last but not least
  • No one but a masochist would be glad he had to suffer. No tall woman will tell you truthfully that she was glad to have had her particular handicap. But the mature ones will say truthfully that they no longer mind it as they used to. In many cases they will admit that it has been, if not a blessing in disguise, certainly not the worst thing that could have happened to them.
More insights from "The Tall Girl's Handbook" by Gwen Davenport, published by Doubleday and Company, Inc. in 1959.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

high society and the tall girl

More wisdom from Gwen Davenport's 1959 "The Tall Girl's Handbook" (hereinafter referred to as TGH)- from Chapter Seven, "High Society" under the heading "The World Around Us":
There are dozens of such ever-present petty annoyances, inconveniences, discomforts, and irritants that have to be put up with in the course of spending a life in an environment scaled to creatures of smaller size. On the other hand, there are almost no known advantages to being extremely tall.

Let us first take up the subject of these advantages, such as they are. They number exactly five.

1. We can see over the heads of the crowd at parades, which comes in very handy whenever there is a parade - that is, providing you like parades and have no objections to crowds.

2. Conversely, we can be easily located in the crowd by paraders. This advantage also holds good when meeting someone in any crowded place of rendezvous like a railroad station, a hotel lobby during convention week, or a football stadium after a game.

3. We can breathe with relative freedom in crowded elevators - a minor enough convenience most of the time, but beyond price should a crowded elevator get stuck for any appreciable length of time between floors.

4. We can reach things on high shelves. (Oh, good!)

5. We are in less danger than small women of being the victims of criminal assault, not nearly so likely as they to be attacked or robbed, either in broad daylight or in some alleyway on a dark night.This is true not only because of our inevitable conspicuousness, but because smaller people have a mistaken idea that tall ones are automatically stronger, more powerful, and more muscular. This is of course not true, but it is a misconception greatly to our advantage as possible victims of thuggery.

It will be clear to everyone that these privileges, although undeniably advantages, offer very little real help in getting through the average day. On the other hand, consider the constant, daily, wearing away of the disposition, the continual erosion of the nerves, going on all the time in the form of dozens of petty annoyances.

I'm just glad I wasn't growing up in the 1950s because it sounds like being a tall girl back then meant you were a freak of nature, offering nothing but heartache save those exactly five lackluster advantages. Ms. Davenport goes on to list some of the petty annoyances ending with this gem - a true classic and important information to know:

...and if ever the whole business is too much and we should decide to drink ourselves to death, it's going to take a lot more alcohol to do the job, our blood streams being just so much longer.


Friday, January 12, 2007

advice for tall girls

Where it is desirable for all girls to have neat, clean clothes and shining hair, and to bathe daily, for you it is mandatory. Because everything about you is noticeable, it just has to be right when noticed. There is no charm in disarray on a grand scale.

From "The Tall Girl's Handbook" by Gwen Davenport, published by Doubleday and Company, Inc. in 1959.

I guess I need to be a little more careful when I go out in public. Yesterday morning one of my neighbors said I looked like the unibomber when she saw my dogwalking attire of baggy gray sweatpants, my husband's oversided gray windbreaker and a dark "Life is Good" ball cap covering my unwashed hair.