Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Slice of Saturday

Cleaned the downstairs all morning... got tired before I could even crack the second floor. Sigh.

Did dishes while the pups danced around impatiently. They KNOW it is Saturday, and time for an outing of some sort-!

Loaded them up and headed to the A-F Trail. Beautiful, cold and crisp: Had a nice hike, although the trail was icy and we did a bit of "ice skating" at the beginning...

Trespassed onto some farmer's property for a change of pace; marked some territory and caught and ate a mouse (on leash- again!!!) (that being, of course, Clifford- not me and Lucy):

Then visited Petco and checked out the really expensive toys....

.... and the little mouse-ish beasties, safe behind glass.

Went to the local animal shelter's Meet and Greet, and bought some raffle tix and a new magnet for the Scion....

Visited the mall to check out yarn at Joann's (horrible selection), and tents at Bass Pro (horrible prices and horrible taxidermy animals around the store). Pups "guarded" the car and got Salami treats upon my return...

.... and back to the house where I did laundry and gessoed two batches of MDF, while the pups snored away on the loveseat and dog bed.

Saturday night will entail sketching out some more drawings for prints - warning, I am on a landscape kick!- watching reruns of ANTM, and teaching myself InDesign (for work) on Another exciting weekend at the Zalewski house, LOL!

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

So I have some amazingly awesome news, and it's probably only amazingly awesome to me but I'm going to post it anyway. YESTERDAY, FRIDAY FEBRUARY 27 I PAID MY *VERY LAST* STUDENT LOAN PAYMENT FOR MY BACHELORS! That's right, my frick-fracking B.A. is finally, finally, finally paid off. Nine and a half years with that mother weighing me down, and fwwwap! Done!

I have been dabbling with the thought of now going for my master's in library science. The idea of another loan... more school work... an uncertain future... kind of makes me nauseous, though. What if I do all that work and I hate it? What if I'm beyond that "my brain is a sponge" phase and book-learning is too hard for me? What if a master's gets me nowhere after paying all that money??? What the hell do I want to do with my life anyway?

Sometimes the choices and decisions in life are so difficult, I wish I could just eat Xanax and sleep the months away, not having to worry about - or deal with- anything in the world. But I guess I'll have to wait until I'm admitted to the Psych ward before I get to do that.

In the meantime, I guess I'm just going to savor being down one debt. Now all I have is a car payment (3 more years) and 26 more years of a mortgage. Wee-haw.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do You Twitter?

Last week, for work, I went to a seminar on social networking. Of course there are several social networking avenues I'm familiar with -Blogger, Facebook, Wordpress- and others I wasn't as familiar with - Twitter, LinkedIn. Some I had never heard of, like Yelp. Others were more video-gamish- World of Warcraft, Second Life.

Anyway, I decided to sign up for Twitter to give it a try and have been having fun with it. Twitter is what they call "micro-blogging" - one sentence blog posts. It was easy to embed my "tweets" right on my blog- they are under my info on the right. It's kind of fun to just type out my random thoughts without the pressure of having to write a real coherant and pictured blog post. :o)

Anyway... that's all the poop that's fit to scoop today.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Special Delivery!

There is nothing more exciting than coming home to a package on the doorstoop... especially if it is a package of art stuff! :o)

The Lama Li Lhotka paper I ordered from Dick Blick arrived... woo hoo! The colors surprised me a bit. They looked much more... pastel-y.... on the website. I guess the color settings on my monitor must be off. In real life, they are very rich and vibrant. I love the tiny, tiny plant fibers embedded in the pulp- not enough to compete with a woodcut, but enough to give the paper character. I can't wait to use it!
I have to give Dick Blick kudos, too. I am VERY finicky when it comes to the condition of my printmaking paper. Any wrinkles, bumped edges, cracks... I don't like that at all! And it's very hard to find sheet paper that isn't wrinkled or cracked in some way. Or a corner isn't wrinkled up. I hate that. My Lama Li paper arrived in superb condition... flat, no cracks, no wrinkles. Thank you DB!

Compulsory shot of the pups after work today. Mid 2o's with a bit of a stiff wind- too cold for walkies. They got a tuna fish dinner to compensate for the lack of a neighborhood stroll.

Next package on the docket to arrive is my Hosho, Kitaka and Mulberry paper from Graphic Chemical. Tomorrow maybe?


Snow Geese

This morning on the way to work, I saw the most amazing sight... the sky was full of snow geese. The brilliant blue of the sky, the flashing white geese with their black tipped wings... awesome. I have seen many a flock of Canadian Geese around here, but Snow Geese are few and far between (at least for me)- I almost crashed the car pulling over to take pictures. Thank God I had my camera in my pocketbook!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Okay, I Finally Updated my Store...

After the Christmas run, I've finally (finally!) updated my Etsy store. Greyhound woodcuts, a landscape or two, and my first pug woodcut- all listed. CLICK HERE to visit! :o)

Clifford and his "Little Buddy", Part 2

Sometimes I hit paydirt at my parents' house and come home with awesome pictures of Cliff and Amos playing. Today was the day... I got some doozies! LOL!

Clifford and his "Little Buddy"

My parents' pug Amos is totally infatuated with Cliff....

Monkey in the Middle

Lucy, Amos (one of my parents' pugs) and Clifford.

Easy Amos, She Doesn't Like You Very Much...

The Girl Still Gots It

...And the Cottontail Rabbit Goes Down in a Ball of Flames

I've been going gangbusters this week with my woodcuts. Things have been GREAT. Creativity pumping. Three different pieces going at once, and all progressing smoothly! Then, of course, reality hits and I f*ck things up. Excuse the french, I'm still feeling a bit perturbed over this-!

I was so happy with my Eastern cottontail print. It took FOREVER to carve all the snow shadows and brambles, but I did it.

I loved the way the first reduction came out. The shadows on the snow looked awesome!

Second reduction... okay. Things still coming together. The gray is workable. One more reduction... getting closer... how exciting-!

And then last night I do the last reduction and... Everything goes to hell! What the in the world happened? It just came out horrible. I was so mad at myself I could have drank a whole can of turpentine. I mean, I was just FUMING. I worked on this P.O.S. for a week! A WEEK. How things can go from so good to so bad so fast??

Of course with the f*ck-up of this print comes a whole emotional breakdown. I think I ground my front teeth down a millimeter or so last night, just sitting there staring at horror at this final print, stewing and grinding my jaws. A rabbit in the brambles, how stupid! My art is so vapid and boring! It has no VISION! I have no talent! I can't pick colors worth a damn! Everything comes out wrong! I might as well just give up art once and for all!
After a good nights sleep I am feeling a bit better but still mad I messed this up so... badly.

I hate it when prints go wrong. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I don't know if I have the heart to start this sucker all over again... :o(

Crows, Field Mice, and Holy Crap Clifford Really is a Hunting Dog!

Yesterday temps soared up into the mid 30's, so after a nice amble around the neighborhood with Lucy, Cliff and I packed up the cross country skis and drove out to Howland Island, a northern part of the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. We always get to the island via the Savannah side- there is also access in Port Byron but that involves walking over a huge steel bridge with wide grating- too wide for dog paws. Anyway, the little land bridge that gave access to the Savannah end of the island was flooded. How annoying! I was sooo looking forward to skiing the island. After briefly hemming and hawing, I decided that heck, why not bushwack? Cliff and I would just ski along the flooded river and see where it lead us. I don't know if this is *technically* allowed in the Refuge, but after driving all the way out there I hated to turn around and head back without SOME sort of trek. And the Refuge does allow hunting during hunting season, and I'm sure the hunters don't stay on the trails. Anyways... with that in mind, off we went.

The snow wasn't very deep but it was very wet and heavy and stuck to my skiis a bit. And I've never had to break trail before... even in 3-4 inches it was TOUGH. My hip sockets were killing me LOL. But despite that, we had a wonderful time. You can see the ridge we followed in the picture above... to the left of the cattails & brush was a frozen marsh, then there was a slight hump of land, and then the overflowed river on our right. We skied (skii'd??) all the way to that distant forest edge and then turned left and skiid up the forest edge a bit before being cut off by another flooded area and had to turn around.

Crows followed us the whole way...

And along the far edge of the forest, I think... THINK!!... we saw an eagle's nest!! It was huge. The bottom of the tree it was sitting in was banded with metal (you can see it in the picture below). I wish I had binoculars with me. They probably wouldn't band the tree if it was a squirrel nest, right?

Besides the crows and an empty maybe-eagle's nest, the only other wildlife/wildish sightings we had were... FIELD MICE. OMG, they were everywhere and not afraid of us at all. Cliff seemed oblivious but as we went along I marvelled at their bravery. I mean, they would dart around on the snow not 3 feet from us. Two huge predators. When I stopped for breaks, some would run right over my skiis! They would scurry beside us for a foot or two before disappearing into the snow! *What* were they thinking?

Turning around to head back, and mice are running in my sitz marks right towards us. I snapped a picture of one daredevil (red arrow is pointing at him) who came running up maybe 8 feet in front of Cliff before diving into a hole. Are there not a lot of predators around to instill fear in these guys? I felt like the Pied Piper. Clifford, bless his heart, didn't seem to notice them at all. While he occassionally stopped for a sniff, his eyes were constantly skimming the horizon, not the snow around his feet.

Alas, Cliff finally got to meet a mouse. We had stopped for a break on the way back- the sun was pounding down on us, it felt like it was 100 degrees out, and I just needed to catch my breath. At this point I wasn't surprised when I saw a mouse pop out of the snow next to my boot, scurry between my legs but then he ran up between Clifford's back legs and jumped over his paw before disappearing in the snow. It was hysterical! I swung my camera around and aimed it at Cliff's paws, hoping the mouse would come out again and I could get a picture of it sitting under Cliff. Well the mouse came out again all right- popped out of the snow between his legs and ran right up to his mouth. I'm sorry for the picture, but I had to post it... I mean, the mouse practically jumped onto his tongue. Maybe it was suicidal.

I felt incredibly bad for the poor mouse and guilty that I had stopped to try to get a picture of him between Cliff's feet. He was a beautiful little creature- I had to examine him to make sure he was dead before we moved on. I didn't want him to suffer if he was still alive. Although I gave Cliff time to eat him if he wanted, he wasn't interested at all so we left his little body on top of the snow for a fox or hawk. I can't be mad at Cliff; he did what a dog - especially a hound- is supposed to do. Sorry, Little Mouse.

Hmmm. On a lighter note... we saw this strange track on our way back to the Scion. What the heck could have made it? The snow was a bit blown over to see a good paw impression, but the indentations were pretty big. A skunk? Porqupine? But they are low... wouldn't you see impressions of their underbelly on the snow too?

Anyway, that was our afternoon at Howland Island (or rather, *along* Howland Island). We did have a super time, despite the Mouse Incident. Once the mosquitos come out in another month or so, Howland Island will be a Death Trap (unless you like getting swarmed and risking West Nile) so we probably won't be back until next winter. Maybe the field mice will smarten up before then LOL.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hey, how 'bout that?

One of my greyhound woodcuts made it into an Etsy Treasury last week! Yay! Many thanks to Caelestis who included me- wow, I'm honored.
Not only that, but last week Amie Roman also mentioned me as one of her favorite blogs to read- Amie is an amazing printmaker from the Pacific Coast... check out her Etsy store here.
Thank you ladies for the support- I really appreciate the shout outs! :o)

First Ladies- First Proof

Here is the first proof of "First Ladies." Most definitely the background needs to be cleaned up a little, but I think it is basically done!

I went on a spending spree (thanks, credit card!) and bought a crapload of Asian papers to experiment with. From Dick Blick I got Lami Li Lokta from Nepal (in Lagoon blue, Spring green, Natural and Sunshine) and from Graphic Chemical I bought Kitakata (light green), Mulberry (white) and Hosho (white). I'm thinking this print will look great on one of the colorful Lami Li papers!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stare Down.


Lucy and Clifford just could not believe the "huge dogs" in the pasture. Either that or the smell of frozen cow patties had them mesmerized....

The Business End of Art Making...

I am spending my lunch break at work eating bad a really REALLY bad Thai TV dinner and trying to get all my art accounting - expenses/income/sales taxes I paid over the year/etc - together in order to visit the accountant. I am simply wretched at this. I wait until the end of the year (read: when I can't wait any longer for my tax refund) and then scramble like a madwoman trying to get everything together. My OWN personal taxes are fine- all the paperwork I need comes in the mail. It's the "Jennifer Zalewski Fine Art" part that kicked my butt last year and is in the process of kicking it again this year. There is so much to get together: The pile of receipts for art materials I've bought over the past year (read: spent 2 hours last weekend looking on all the shelves, the mail bin, my purse, my "to-file-pile" for receipts, they are all over the freaking house!), dug up the receipts from my Etsy sales (read: some are already printed out and in my binder but the rest I am printing from Etsy right now and trying to fill in the gaps because I apparently can't keep up on the simplest bookkeeping), etc. etc. etc. There's adding and summarizing to be done (cue the violins), state tax forms that I filled out, sent in and have copies of somewhere-? I cannot keep all this straight!

The sad part of this is that one of my minors in college was "business management" and I got really good grades in all but one of those classes, and the one bad class I can totally attribute to Senior Slacking Disorder, not difficulty or inability to understand the concepts. I guess applying Book Learnin' to Real Life can be sometimes tougher than thought.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Loki & the First Ladies- Woodcut

A few weeks ago I mentioned the woodcut I was "hatching" (ha ha) based on the playdates my friend Sarah's pet rabbit and hens have together. Well after a bunch of sketches and noodles, I finally have it designed and on a block of MDF.

(And yes, that is an Andes Candies wrapper - I am guilty! LOL. I remember my Grandma Zalewski always had Andes candies for the grandkids at her house. I hated them because of the minty-ness but hey, sugar is sugar and I always ate sugar that was offered to me ROFL. And then years later -she passed away in 1989- I got a box of Andes for Christmas and have been steadily eating them ever since.)
Anyway... This is going to be a one-color woodcut. I'm thinking of calling it "The First Ladies" or something similar since Sarah and her dh Josh named all the hens after President's wives. :o) And I am going to order some thinner & beautiful Japanese or Nepali papers to print this on- perhaps Kitakata or colored Lama Li? Or maybe take a day trip to NYC and pick up some papers down there?

It feels really good to be back to Woodcuts after my etching class. Etching was so fun, but mentally taxing. There is SO MUCH to remember. So many steps with the acids, etches, de-greasing, etc. I love the linear quality of the etchings though so I'm looking into trying plate lithography and might pick up a pack of plates when I special order my paper. (Speaking of etching- I will hopefully have my prints this week. Since you print etching on wet paper, the paper curls when it dries and so all my prints are at the shop getting "straightened." I'll pick them up later this week I think).

Can't wait to see how this one turns out... and meanwhile, back to my Cottontail woodcut (*finally* carved out all the white areas for the first reduction- now have to cut paper) and I have another woodcut ready to go - a landscape from Cliff and my travel to Heiberg Forest last week. And greyhounds? Yes! I'm in the sketching stage of a greyhound print too. This one will be bigger than my press allows so I will be hand-printing this using the back of a wooden spoon - my "poor man's brayer" LOL.

I don't know why but I am just teaming (or is it "teeming"?) with creativity & ideas and can't get them down fast enough. No complaining about that. :o) More to come.... now, off to make dinner. I really need to start eating better so my Food Challenge this week is to have green veggies at EVERY meal, including breakfast. That will be a challenge! I would rather eat sugar and carbs LOL!. And then... PREMIERE OF AMAZING RACE, WOO HOO! Of to the races... :o)


Hiking Montezuma

The snow is almost gone (for now, LOL). What's left is crusty on top and soft underneath... hard for walking when you get to those snowy patches. But the ground is mostly clear, the sun has been shining and the skies have been blue, so yesterday afternoon the pups and I headed out to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

We first headed up to Savannah, to the north section of the refuge. There we parked and decided to follow the Malone Creekside trail. We've never been to this part of the refuge so it was really exciting... unfortunately, the trail flooded out after about a quarter mile, so we had to turn around. Probably for the best. The trail was covered with that snow that you fall through a second or 2 after stepping on it (the crust breaks) which is really annoying. Cliff didn't mind it, but Lucy (who is a bit wobbly in the back-end) and I were getting impatient.

Lucy was a champ. I'm so proud that she can still go for -and enjoy- a good hike! We walked at her pace (which caused Cliff a bit of impatience- oh well) and the trail I picked for the day was short and flat, but still. It's GOOD to get those older doggies out and about! :o)

We headed south towards the main section of the refuge and stopped at several viewing spots where, as usual, I failed to see a bald eagle. I don't get it. EVERYONE sees eagles at Montezuma except me-! LOL! I thought I saw some eagles in their nests last year, but they turned out to be osprey. No osprey this time and no eagles either.

From the South Spring Pool we took a back path that headed to join the Esker Brook trail system. Less snow than at the Malone trail and better walking. The trail was .8 miles each way- perfect for Lucy. Some muddy patches, but no flooding. Both dogs enjoyed it and I did too.

We didn't drive the main preserve, but Rt. 89 has some great views of the swamp and I did pull over and take some pics of a Great Blue Heron who was resting:

Animals we saw that afternoon: the Great Blue Heron, 3 flocks of Canadian Geese, a few sea gulls (unsure of variety), those brown sparrows, an English setter and a few people.

I will have to go back up to the Malone trail when it dries out a bit. It looked like a neat area.
View over the Montezuma swamps from the tower on the Tschache Pool: