So yesterday, I arrived at my hotel (nice big room, in a strange triangular shape, with exposed brick walls) at around 3:30. After making sure I could find the institute, I wandered the city for a couple of hours. I don't think I've ever been here in winter - just summer and fall. It was actually much warmer than I expected (3oC, but by the water there was a bitter wind). Climbing all the hills made me feel out of shape. It was interesting to see areas of town which overflow with tourists in the summer, empty after about 5 pm. Carnivale is over, so, it's past the winter tourist blitz too. In fact, my friend arrived early at the restaurant and before I could reply to her text, she had found me (since there were so few people around). I had a lovely dinner with my friends and their 5 year old son. It's wonderful to have friends in various cities (especially when one can arrange to meet on short notice). Coincidentally, I knew two of the scientists at the defense today too.
In August, one could barely walk along these streets. It's funny to see them empty.
Today was pretty exhausting; thinking in French, at a high, technical level, all day is really tiring. Not only that, but the scientists spoke different sorts of French (from France, Quebec, Switzerland). They were all very nice and complimented me on my French, but it was sort of funny as people tried to work out how bilingual I am. I was so tired afterwards, that I decided to come to the airport early. It wasn't obvious what I could do with an hour or an hour and a half, with all my bags, and wearing a suit (so I didn't want to tramp through the snow). Then, I left my hat in the cab, but I was able to retrieve it, but finding my cab in line at arrivals. (Luckily for me, this is not a large airport). Also: thumbs up for free wifi at the airport! So I can blog quietly, until they assign my flight a gate.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
11th in the Western Zodiac series is Virgo. Only have one left to make!
The silver stars and silhouette of Virgo are illustrated in this handmade block print. The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter, who is the mother of Persephone and often shown like this with a palm frond and a sheath of wheat. Parts of the constellations of Bootes, Libra, Corvus and Crater and the dashed line of the ecliptic are also shown. If you imagined all celestial bodies we see in the night sky as mapped onto a sphere (the Celestial Sphere) around our Earth, the ecliptic would be the line you would draw to map the apparent path of the Sun through the various constellations. The word Virgo and symbol ♍ appear at the top of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in silver-on-blue or blue-on-silver as appropriate. There are a few bright galaxies or star clusters shown as circles. I printed an edition of ten prints, 10 inches by 7.5 inches (25.4 cm by 19 cm) on lovely, deep blue, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with silk fibres.
The BBC has managed to film a tigress with her cubs, in the wild, for the first time. How? Indian elephant videographers. I'm not even kidding. Apparently, not even tigers bother full grown elephants, and evidently, they can get quite close and get good footage. Somewhere, human videographers are nervous.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
There's a mosaic artist, Natalie, the Fragmentalist, on the Toronto Etsy Street Team who recently took over our Toronto Etsy Street Team interview series (checkout the incredibly expanding list on the sidebar for interviews local Etsy sellers). I can see what attracted her to the job - she's got a talent for it! She invited me to do an interview on her own blog, which she posted today. It was a really interesting process - her questions made me think about how art and science coexist and interact in my mind, and this strange role of geophysicist-printmaker which I've chosen for myself. Check out the interview here for yourself.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
I'm making a custom cat portrait for a customer in Japan. She runs a cat rescue with her husband, because Yokohama doesn't have shelters for strays. This is the lovely Papico, her permanent pet, rather than one of the cats for whom they hope to find new homes.
Meanwhile here in Toronto, we're in the midst of the largest snowfall in five years. The media are having a field day with it, of course, riffing on the fact that this is the meeting of two 'cowboy' weather systems, from Alberta and Texas respectively. Though, really, this is Canada in February and supposed to happen; it's been the lack of snow in recent years which is the real anomaly. It started last night. I shovelled at 6 pm. RJH shoveled at 8 pm. Then this morning, RJH shovelled at 7:30 and by 7:35, I could see a centimeter already on the recently cleared steps. I went out there this afternoon and shovelled again. I'm sure it will need more shovelling by the time he gets home. It is very quiet, despite being a busy street. There are more entrepid pedestrians out there than cars.
I need to make Papico into a pillow, but I am out of stuffing. I've decided that it is entirely reasonable not to try to get a 25 pound bag of stuffing on a day like today. It's an unwieldy sort of item to wrangle on public transit on the best of days.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
This Sunday, February 10th is the Chinese New Year and we will be entering the Year of the Snake!
Come join me, Torontonians, for the Year of the Snake Printmaking Show Opening at PROOF Gallery in the Distillery District, 2 - 5 pm. You can see my linocut and all sorts of snake prints using traditional printmaking techniques from artists all over the world!
Just for you, I have a special discount for tickets to the Spring One of a Kind show! If you follow the link you can get in for only $11 ($1 off the usual on-line price and $3 off the regular adult entry at the door).
Get your discounted tickets right here!
In other OOAK news, I have submitted my final payment and signed my contract. It's all official now. I've been working on my online profile too. I'll be sure to share it with you soon!
Monday, February 4, 2013
The silver stars and silhouette of Libra the scales are illustrated in this handmade block print. If you imagined all celestial bodies we see in the night sky as mapped onto a sphere (the Celestial Sphere) around our Earth, the ecliptic would be the line you would draw to map the apparent path of the Sun through the various constellations. The ecliptic appears as the dashed line across the print. The word Libra and symbol ♎ appear at the top of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in silver-on-blue or blue-on-silver as appropriate. Parts of the Scorpius, Hydra and Serpens Caput constellations are visible surrounding Libra. I printed an edition of 15 prints, 9 inches by 7 inches (22.9 cm by 17.8 cm) on lovely, deep blue, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with silk fibres.
I'm down to two Zodiac constellations. I carved all the animals (or composite creatures) first, the this one (inanimate object) and left the people for last. As RJH is always saying, there is no such thing as a generic person. I managed Aquarius, but considering the underlying myth, to figure out how to make a specific water bearer. I hope this approach works for Virgo and Gemini too.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
The linocut print shows the Boar and its Chinese character. It is in black water-based ink on Japanese kozo paper (8.5 inches by 12.5 inches or 21.7 cm by 32 cm) made to celebrate the Year of the Boar.
This is the second linocut I've made on this theme. Since the 12th creature in the Chinese Zodiac can be interpreted as either pig or boar, I've made a linocut to celebrate both. I was inspired by a customer buying a collection of Chinese Zodiac prints for the respective years of birth of her family. Her son wanted something more fearsome than my pig. Finding reference material for wild boars was a real challenge! I enlisted RJH. Most photos I found of boars were either cute, or dead (next to proud hunters). Boar piglets are possibly even cuter than domesticated piglets. I wanted fearsome, and live. I tried googling 'fearsome boar' and mainly found videos of tigers hunting boar. Also, there are a number of subspecies, and I wanted to find something which could be found in Asia, rather than say, a razorback in the southern US. RJH suggested that they are in fact quite fearsome, and people simply did not stop to take photos. I protested that there are fearsome photos of tigers and great white sharks and he rebutted with talk of open spaces, telephoto lenses and a sort of elusiveness to difficulty to demand argument. He compared it to wolverines. We all know there are wolverines out there, but frankly, you don't want to meet one, and they don't want to meet us... thus there are not that many photos of them out there.
I hope this boar is sufficiently fearsome to appeal to a young man... I think the snarl and tusks help.
Groundhog votes are in: Shubenacadie Sam: shadow; Wiarton Willie: no shadow; Punxsutawney Phil no shadow, minouette's linocut thermochromic groundhog print: shadow. I bet my print is more accurate than some of those celebrity rodents. False positives (which would occur if it's above 30C or 86 F on February 2nd in Toronto) are unlikely. Happy Groundhog Day!