Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good grief, good grillin'

In the winter months, helped along by the holidays... ones thoughts and free time turn to cooking, baking and packing on the pounds. This year is no exception, especially since I have yet to activate the three month gym membership won last month at the Siskiyou Film Festivals' silent auction, to work my extra baggage off.
My latest food creation addiction revolves around Italian panini sandwiches. Panini's are essentially grilled bread filled with meats and cheeses - originated in the sidewalk cafes of Italy. Its the perfect winter weather easy breezy gourmet treat. I found a fantastic cookbook and together with my Cuisinart grill press we are happily on the road to some serious weight gain. Grilled cheese sandwiches were a staple of my childhood and I must say, Panini's have elevated this to a whole new level.
The cookbook I bought has some great recipes to try, Turkey with Brie & Apples, Turkey Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grilled Salmon with Chipotle Aoli, or for a morning delight, Eggs & Bacon Breakfast Sandwich. My grill is a small unit but have been wanting to upgrade to a newer Cuisinart model which I will link to on (free shipping) along with the cookbook.
See you at the gym folks!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My Muse, myself...

"Be like the bird that pausing in her flight a while, on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her - and yet sings, knowing that she has wings."
-Victor Hugo

I am working on a new job, one of those jobs that I'd like to think I wished into my creative life. Ever thankful for assignments that my clients' desire to reflect another era, sort of like the wine label for The Train Depot, this one goes back even another decade or two.
My Muse must have brokered this job, there was minimal direction....the email said - Santa Rosa restaurant, roaring twenties theme, flapper with cigarette holder, elegant, older clientele.
These days in California there is no smoking in restaurants or bars so I wonder if one of my favorite facets of the artwork will be cut.
I am always interested to see if the selected artwork is the first design worked up, or the last. Here is the last of the six designs submitted ....and my personal favorite.
Stay tuned for updates and further musings.

A walk on the wild side

Yesterday was a teeny tiny glimpse of the season idling patiently ahead, a single day and window of sunshine wedged between a wall of rain and windy weather that has been dominating the Pacific Northwest and my mood swings. Dave talked me off a job I have been blissfully working on for a few days and we hit the road for the Illinois Valley to check out the spectacular wildflowers. Packing some snacks and the dogs, it was not lost on either of us that the last time we hiked Little Falls two years ago we were accompanied by our beloved duo we have since lost to cancer. Not a lot of time for reminiscing between keeping Peppers frantic barking and Maggies ear splitting yipping from spoiling our fun. We descended the rocks to an isolated slice of shoreline to crash and bake while the dogs played on the waters edge. I took photos of the multitude of flora blooming from every nook and cranny and we marveled at the erratically raging river. March Madness indeed...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This past week I attended a free marketing class offered through RCC, our local community college. Thanks in part to the SBA (Small Business Administration) and private funding, it was very well attended by a wide range of individuals and impressively presented. The random diversity of local businesses and entrepreneurs was remarkable, 3 piece suits to flannel shirts, local Realtors to eclectic gardening tool inventors...and the age range of folks attending was striking too. Having worked in the advertising industry for years, PR and marketing is one of the key elements I have focused on to bring in new business for myself both as an illustrator and graphic designer as well as for my clients. What I learned in the class was not altogether surprising, one of the most extraordinary and impressive statistics in marketing centered around the social networking phenomena, and if you have missed the boat in this department its time to climb on board. Twitter and Facebook are the two most effective tools for generating FREE advertising. The class facilitator along with a slide show relayed a fascinating example of the way a new business can accumulate a "fan base" via FaceBook before their product even hits the market. I wrote in a previous blog post at the beginning of the week that I was considering setting up a page to do Digital Facebook Portraits after doing one for my new website that I am working on, and it is up. I sent out invitations yesterday and so far twenty friends have accepted ...and I will continue to blog about my headway... no pun intended, in addition I have set up a Facebook page for Joe Coble, architectural watercolor artist, and client, take a look at his amazing work.
Social networking, a riveting reason to make some assemblage art and blog about it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Goin' Green

Tomorrow is St. Patty's Day and we are cresting the middle of March. My heart sighs with delight at the weeping willow trees pushing green outside my window. The first of our local trees to start natures' parade into April, they are the real deal and a sure sign Spring is almost here.
There will be a lot of surreal green surfacing tomorrow, green beer, green potatoes and green hair color. Chicago actually colored the river last year with a green dye that made me question their sanity. Maybe there are no fish in that waterway, but ya' gotta wonder who is at the helm in the windy city making those kind of wonky decisions.
Following close behind, and with another nod to going green, EarthDay 2010. I just finished up a minor revision to last years' artwork created for hard to believe the year has flown by soo fast.
Think Green y'all!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The old days, dust bunnies and the new Me

There was a time in my illustrious career when finding a job meant making an appointment and just showing a portfolio. Competition was not as fierce, and thinking back on my simplistic strategy, I would decide who I wanted to work for, (I usually aimed high) got an interview, regardless of an opening or not, showed my work and left with a position. Such was the case when I left the National Lampoon and went on to work for Time Warner, and years later landing on the West Coast- went to work for the prestigious design firm, Landor Associates, a full time freelance gig that lasted nearly five years.
Looking back, I was so fortunate to have the paid education I did, putting in those years in those two places of employment provided me an opportunity for hands on training, first in publishing and then corporate branding accounts, that I still benefit from today.
Things have changed radically, these days my portfolio has been collecting dust bunnies, and instead of cleaning it off, I am redoing my website and rethinking my creative strategic plan. I am optimistic in a whole new way about the challenges ahead, and still feel blessed to work with some incredibly talented individuals I learn from on a daily basis. This weekend I did an illustration of myself for my website Biography link instead of using the same tired photograph or taking a new one, and I'm thinking Facebook and blog portraits may be a fun new avenue of employment opportunities to pursue.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Driving Rain and Good Intentions

"The Road to hell is paved with good intentions"
Outside the wind is howling and the tops of the fir trees are blowing around with the kind of ferocity that coupled with the wild driving rain and overly saturated earth can bring these beauties crashing to the ground. A few years ago that is exactly what happened. A giant evergreen fell, breaking fifteen feet up the trunk. Had it come out of the ground like the other giant did two days later, by the roots, it would have been an unwanted guest in my kitchen and an insurance claim.
It was providence or something similar that Dave was working on re-roofing the fiberglass patio inches from its landing spot when I walked outside and asked him to help me carry a mattress into the house for my Brother who was arriving the next day from the East Coast. Walking back from the barn we heard a gigantic groan and looked up to actually witness the massive beast fall with a thundering aftershock, the top just grazing the roof of my house. Amazing grace on multiple levels, Mark arrived 24 hours later and fired up Mr. Chain Saw, my renter had all the firewood needed to stay warm for the next few months, and no collateral damage other than my worry meter needle shattered the glass ceiling and is still hovering overhead on mornings like this.

In other unrelated news just read, Carl Rove is releasing a memoir this week, Courage and Consequence, in which he has defended President Bush, saying that history would look favourably on the president's two terms. At times referred to as W's brain, he has even come out today and said he is proud of waterboarding suspected terrorists. His attempt to put a positive spin on torture is only surpassed by his defense of other atrocious actions including going to war despite the lack of weapons of mass destruction, a move whose consequence has contributed to pushing our national debt out of control and resulted in the financial mess the country is in, and yet he described the achievements of the Bush administration as "impressive, durable and significant". I think that I will stop here on this soapbox, politics are not a topic I feel the need to cover in my blog unless it means I can use one of my very favorite cartoons turning yellow on my fridge. And yes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Along with the rain, the daffodils blooming and daylight savings two days away, I'm wishing you all a good weekend.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Here, there and everywhere

"Can you give me an idea of how long it takes to drop in another font? Is it like on a standard computer where you just highlight it and it drops it in so you can try different ones? If it takes hours I don't want to play with it any longer but if it is seconds like on my computer I would like to try something else."

Here in Southern Oregon, there seems to be an unlimited amount of employment opportunities for transportation and road workers. I'm reminded of this watching this mornings' news and footage of a rock slide on 199, the two lane to the coast. Multiple dump trucks working overtime to clear the path, projected to require days and over 200 loads until cleared. Scores of men in hard hats and day glo vests pushing around rocks and dirt with big boy toys and collecting fat checks. I'm thinking I'm in the wrong profession. Creative opportunities here are as scarce as hens teeth and appreciation for something well designed is practically non existent. Every job seems to come with either a silver lining or a workshop I didn't sign up for. Been working on a logo for two months now, once again I went overboard to please the client submitting rounds of designs, font modifications, client directed revisions and add a daughter in Sweden, a marketing professional that apparently needs to review my work as well, and I bet you have guessed which one this is.
In 1996 when I moved to this area from San Francisco, my friend and mentor Adam Brevius was heading to Southern California to work for Disney. He had attended college in Eugene, Oregon and wisely suggested I reconsider my plan to move to this area. He warned me, that this area was spectacularly devoid of creative positions and said that if down the line I wanted a job at least consider somewhere North of here. At the time I had multiple ongoing clients, three newsletters I did illustrations for and royalties from stock illustration sales. I was married and the novelty of moving to the country and living the rural life on 'the farm' with a computer to connect me to the "real world" thrilled me. Twelve years later, divorced, managing a high maintenance property on my own, and looking for a job, I can say yes Adam you were right.
I love living in Southern Oregon, the beauty of the area is only surpassed by my need for creatively satisfying work. It may be that this will be a silver lining after all because I think if nothing else I will start looking in earnest for a job back in the Bay Area where clients don't think design decisions take seconds and Logo designs shouldn't cost more than a hundred dollars.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Anonymity and its Virtues

I have been negligent with my blog, an entire month has flown by without a single post, not that I haven't attempted one. I can't get past my lack of inspiration, further motivated and matched by the weather. I really should not be whining about the weather, not that I'm whining. Outside of the Pacific Northwest, its been a Winter Wonderland, but here in this neck of the woods where that is normal... outside of ...'Theres no such thing as Normal- other than a setting on a dryer', we have had either spring temps or days of pouring rain and only a glimpse of snow back in the very beginning of December. My trusty snow shovel, which my Brother packed with him when he drove cross county a few years ago in the winter has shoveled and flung nothing but dog doo for months.

I have been working this month on a couple design jobs and getting over the disappointment of one, being denied a refinance by B of A, and two not getting a PT job I really wanted and tried like crazy to get. Life goes on, disappointments and all. The silver lining, no one has missed me, two people following my blog three counting my Brother, anonymity does have its virtues... the silver lining to the crazy weather: buds on the lilac bushes, birds singing in the morning and I guess one can post about nothing at all after all.