Every year growing up my aunt sent Christmas presents to be opened under our tree. She was good at sending us thoughtful gifts every year, wrapped neatly and with precise bows. When I was in the 9th grade she sent me a small box that contained a marvel of engineering: a Windsor & Newton portable watercolor set. My aunt was a watercolor artist, and when she heard I was interested in going to art school, she sent me as many supplies as possible. I wasn’t interested in being a watercolor artist but I did use watercolor as part of my process, and the fact that she was a working professional was inspirational to me (and probably helped convince my Dad that paying for art college was not a waste of time). She passed this week after a short illness; she was in her 90s. She raised two boys and multiple grandchildren and remained a working artist up until she died; I have her watercolor of Finley as a baby on our mantle.
This kit is pretty incredible; it’s a small box a little larger than a pack of cigarettes. It folds open into a well of sixteen colors and three mixing trays, holds a reservoir of water and a cup, and contains an incredibly versatile collapsible brush. I used it through the art program at high school, took it with me to college, and used it through years of illustration freelance work. It’s currently tucked into my drawing bag, waiting for post-pandemic figure drawing studio to commence. It was invaluable for years, I think of her whenever I open it, and I treasure it. Thanks, Aunt Lois.
We’ve recorded Finley’s growth on one of the kitchen moldings since she was a little over a year old and could stand on her own two feet. We’ve been pretty consistent in measuring her height every couple of months since then, but now that she’s a surly tween wandering around the house wiping dirty hands on every available surface, some of the dates carefully pencilled on the wall have been smudging off.
Aware that this record might not be around much longer, I busted out a tape measure last night and put each of the legible marks into a spreadsheet. Then I converted the fractions to decimals and plotted it into a graph. Here’s what we recorded and when:
This basically just backs up what we’ve known all along: she generally has a growth spurt sometime between November and January. Sometimes there’s another one in the summer, but as this data shows it’s not as pronounced. And look at the jump in the middle of age 7 and right after!
I spent the last week crashing on a report layout for WRI, which took a lot of late nights and some weekend work. It’s called The State of Climate Action and it takes a deep look at five different economic sectors to see how the world is doing to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. It’s been a long time since I’ve laid out a longform print document and the process was further complicated because I’m laying it out with a new workflow so that it can be published digitally. That part hasn’t really started yet because the report was rushed and we haven’t had the time to fully build out the online report, but I’m hoping to get that done next week.
So there’s been a lot of unrest at MICA (My alma mater) over the last year; there have been multiple allegations of sexual and racial harassment aimed at full-time faculty by the students for years that have not been addressed (some of these teachers I remember, and I don’t doubt the allegations for a minute.) Yesterday a majority of the full-time faculty voted no confidence in the current school administration, including the President, Provost, and COO. In a letter to the Board of Trustees, the group complains of “…poor communication on part of leadership; a lack of financial transparency; excessive workload demands; and unilateral, non-inclusive decision-making practices that neglect the expertise of faculty.”
Notably missing is any mention of harassment or discrimination, which is troubling.
“Hello Pia, I’ve read about your story in the papers. You sound like a badass,” he wrote. “I am an artist from the UK and I’ve made some work about the migrant crisis, obviously I can’t keep the money. Could you use it to buy a new boat or something? Please let me know. Well done. Banksy.”
The UK artist Banksy bought a 90-foot former French customs vessel and gave it to a group rescuing migrants coming to Europe. On Thursday they rescued 89 people.
Here’s an interview with Robert Williams, painter, hot rod aficionado, and magazine owner, about the history of his ’32 Ford, working for Big Daddy Roth, and the future of car culture.
In my final year at MICA, he was featured in an exhibit at the school with a who’s who of other hot rod, lowbrow, and other custom culture artists. I remember seeing this car on the floor of our gallery (I recognize this shot from that show). I spent hours at the gallery staring at his paintings; his expressive brushstrokes and wild colors leapt off the canvas. I’m glad to see he’s still kicking.
This is awesome. Artist Alexandra Bell re-edits and rearranges the front page of the New York Times to highlight subtle—and often blatant racism:
Seeing what she did with their front-page reporting on the Virginia white nationalist rally is just stunning. And looking closer at how they’re reporting smaller stories is equally disturbing; a simple article about a man in Tulsa accused of murder is revealed to be plainly xenophobic.
Good art looks pretty. Great art makes you think. I’m definitely going to be looking closer at how things are reported both visually and narratively from now on, because of this work.
And the New York Times should hire this woman on as managing editor today.
The installation folks showed up on Friday morning and put in two counters in the bathroom that match the seat and ledge in the shower, and it looks fantastic so far. We chose white round undermount bowls for the sinks, and due to some scheduling mixups we didn’t have the faucets purchased, so we’re looking at those and they’ll come back out next week to drill the holes. Then it should be a not-so-simple matter of setting up the drains (I’m not looking forward to that bit of under-counter gymnastics) and hooking up the water supply, and we’ll be able to use everything in there.
Finley and I took a drive into Baltimore to hit the MICA Bookstore for some art supplies in the afternoon. She was making linoleum cuts in art class at at school and decided she wanted to make a T-shirt design of her own, so we needed to find clean linoleum to work with. I figured I’d look and see what kind of scratchboard supplies they still carried, as it’s been forever since I’ve picked up the pen and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I miss it, and whether I could get similar results from an iPad Pro. The store is in a building directly across the street from my first Baltimore apartment, and I told Finley that my roommate and I used to throw frisbee in the parking lot (and under passing buses on Mt. Royal Avenue) out in front of it.
We found her supplies quickly and then split up to check out the rest of the store. I found scratchboard in the back, manufactured by a different company (I used to use Essdee exclusively, this is made by Ampersand), picked up some new nibs, and then found Finn a pin in the student goods section. Then I took her on a quick tour of the neighborhood and showed her some of my old apartments.
At home we set up a craft work area at the dining room table and she worked on her design for the rest of the afternoon while I tested out the scratchboard. I wasn’t going to overthink things so I just transferred a picture of the truck and started working with it, and found that I really like it. It has a good feel—the last few sheets of Essdee I used had a harder surface, harder to work with, and didn’t make clean marks. This cut cleanly and felt good under the nib, and after a lot of initial hesitation (oh, I remember that feeling clearly) I started to work out what I was doing and lost myself in the image. We broke for dinner after a test print of her design, and when we were done I pulled out my silkscreen inks and we printed her design on a blank shirt, then ran off several Scout shirts for Brian. (Linda, I still owe you several shirts).
I sold my old compressor on Saturday afternoon, and made back 75% of the money I spent on the new one. While we were out for some supplies in the morning I picked up fittings, hose, and a water filter, and installed them while I was waiting for the guy to show up. It’s going to take some serious reorganization, but when I’m done I think the garage will be much easier to use.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge for the last two weeks after watching It: Chapter Two, which involved reading the book over again and listening to a companion podcast that discusses the book by section. It was one of his books I enjoyed the most, and it’s been decades since I read it last. There’s so much I appreciate about his style of storytelling, and apart from the problematic section toward the end, the story is as good as I remember. Listening to the podcast was a fun way to dive deeper and think about stuff I hadn’t considered when I was reading it (the perfect introvert’s book club, really).
The movie was better than the reviews would have made us believe; I don’t know who was complaining about the length or the lack of scares, but I could have stood for another half hour (or honestly, if they’d blown this out to a 6- or 8-episode Netflix series, which would have captured all of the detail better). The casting was spot-on, except, I think, for James MacAvoy, who I like, but wasn’t Bill Denbrough in my mind.