Monday, October 14, 2013

BFA holder, bad with art.

So there was this little illustration about how to look at art floating around tumblr, and I... reblogged, and got a little carried away. Enough writing on it that I figured moving it over here would be okay. It's sort of a rant/brain-dump. Cheers.

Confession: I'm kinda the worst at looking at art. Thank goodness for art history class helping me some. I feel like I could probably use to take some AH course yearly to keep it in perspective. 
But, I am usually most interested in the how first; and second maaaaybe the why. And almost exclusively most interested in functional pieces. Things that solve. Maybe everything solves, but maybe I'm not interested in what it's solving. Context is super helpful.

I feel really weird when I'm referred to as an artist. I guess I probably make some art, but I'm certainly not comfortable putting that title after my name. I don't think I'm trying to make statements. Maybe I am, and I just don't know it yet (as was suggested to me in the only "fine" arts printmaking elective class I ever took, where I constantly struggled through critiques [note: I typically LOVE crits] because I didn't have much to say about what I was making, and I was constantly lacking a 'why'.  Learning a new technique/process/medium was plenty for me.   ).

I like making things, and making things work. Physical involvement in the making is a definite plus. I have experience in making things aesthetically pleasing. Often enough, making it pretty isn't the right answer though.

In a somewhat recent discussion with an engineer friend, I felt like how he was describing his process and projects felt more on par with what I do than how what I do is typically perceived*.

Giving me open-ended free reign is pretty much the opposite of asking me to solve a problem. I even like the part about finding out what the actual thing that needs solving is.  What's not working? What could be better? What needs help? Where is clarity lacking? How can this communicate more effectively? How will people use this? Or will they at all? What have people been using up until now for this? What limits and/or constraints are in places? What guidelines exist?
Wow, this turned in to a brain-dump/rant. Hm. 

BFA holder, bad with art. 

*obviously, he uses all sorts of math & other magical engineering things that I know little about, but at the same time I use lots of weird designer-y things that are not super common knowledge. Talking about the overall scope of things rather than the execution details. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fourteen days in... August daily project recap

I DID SO WELL. For like, a week...


And, then I started getting caught up on finished perfection. Not wanting to half-ass things. Well, I still don't want to half-ass things, but I think I've got to make a few modifications to my rules. For all of the days that aren't represented above (I'm looking at you, August 9, 10, 11, 12) I do have some starts/sketches that just aren't complete. So for yesterday, I decided to keep it small and simple. The colors are fancy because of lighting and phone camera, which I then inversed, and that's kinda what I got. Keeping it small is a good idea for me as I can't get as burnt out on coloring in when I've got a structure I like, but I want the finishing to be tight. Simple, well, I guess I mean less overthinking/planning. So far I've got a few favorites, and some I'd totally already revisit, so why not just dive in and do all quickly rather than work on finishing up something that I'd already re-do? As a daily thing, I don't think I had the intent of putting more than an hour per day in to it. Hopefully much less. I think I can get as much out of producing something every day as producing something finished feeling on some to most days. Let's make. 

Everything, a little less. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Where this is all going.

You know that song that you can’t hear without recalling a particular moment/feeling/memory EVERY time?

I’ve collected a playlist worth of those songs. And I’m in process of writing about the moment/feeling/memory that each song conjures.
Rules to follow.

In the meantime, August has turned in to a fun-a-day sort of month, and following in the ambition of Mike, I’m committing to doing some one thing every day for August.
Aug. 1 : Great Expectations

Since I’ve been dabbling with hand-lettering lately, and most often of song lyrics, to make the jump to lettering out a line of lyrics daily was a logical one. And with this writing project as the driving force, I’ve already got a playlist full of songs that mean something to me as fodder. 
I’m committing to the crazy. For a month at least. I’m pushing to try other materials and styles of letters (honestly I’ve begun to default to a very narrow range).

I don’t know where this is going and what will happen, but I do ask that you all keep me accountable, push me, comment, “like", tell me why you hate it, tell me why it’s working, throw some feedback at me, and whatever else.

You in?

Follow along on instagram & my tumblr blog, that's where the daily updates will be happening! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taking and giving and giving back

I've been asking some ridiculous things lately. Making outrageous requests, if you will. My thoughts on asking are that when you ask, you don't have an expected answer. Maybe a hopeful one, but not expected, so it doesn't hurt to ask, worst case you're in the same spot that you started in, and at least you won't wonder what if you had asked. I partially credit this TED talk that, among other points, encourages making use of your weak ties.

Everyone has been so awesome lately, and pretty much everything I've been asking for I've gotten in some degree. (Numerous helpers with my basement flooding including getting the water out and offering me hot showers while the water heater was out of commission, being offered places to stay out of town (with excessive hospitality), dog sitting while I was gone, borrowing of equipment, giving/sending me excellent mixes, and so on.)

So it's my turn.
In the past week I've signed up for a couple volunteering opportunities at upcoming events, one this weekend and one in August. I'm really excited to be a little part of a bigger machine and give back a bit to lots of people at once, even though it's really just little stuff in the big picture. I'm not exactly saving the world by passing out water to runners or pouring beer for festival-goers, but if I can put a smile on their faces, that works for me.

I've also had this big Gratitude Postcard project on my mind's back burner for literally years (I'm pretty sure I discussed it with Katie soon after meeting her at The Fest 9), and I think this is my push to start it going. It's going to be different than originally thought (current lack of letterpress access and all), but I think it'll be better this way, a lot more personal. I also think I'm not going to figure it out completely ahead of time. Start anywhere, right?

Friday, July 5, 2013

When I dip, you dip, we dip

I was invited to a barbecue and fireworks party by friends, and I asked if I could bring anything. The consensus was that something pre-meal would be best, as the main & dessert were pretty well covered. Chips, dips, whatever. So I snagged a party size bag of tortilla chips, and figured I'd make some guac. But alas, looking for avocados the day I needed them left that option out (ripe ones nowhere to be found).  I had one ripe avocado at home already, and had snagged a bunch of produce at the Public Market over the weekend, fully intending to make some gazpacho (as I had fully been intending to do for maybe at least a month running). Yeah, that still hasn't happened.

What I did make, however, was two chip-dippables, that both went over well: Black Bean Avocado Hummus, and Mango Basil Nectarine Salsa. The hummus was G-O-N-E before fireworks, and there was just a small bit of salsa left at the end of the night. I'm recording these vague recipes here for future prosperity, especially as I'd like to make the salsa again. They're both pretty food-processor intensive, but could probably happen with whatever blending apparatus you have handy. Disclaimer: I'm not a usual recipe-writer, so I apologize that this is more past-tense, first-person narrative than recipes tend to be, but I think you'll get the idea. And, of course please let me know if you have any questions or feel there could be some clarification in any of the below. And the photos, I'm sorry. I didn't think they were going to go anywhere other than Instagram.

Black Bean Avocado Hummus

Not enough avocados for guacamole, but not letting that stop me. 

  • 1 Can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can Wegmans Caribbean Black Beans, mostly drained
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut in to some pieces
  • ~1tsp-1Tbs minced /~1 clove Garlic, to taste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice
Basically, blend all that in your food processor until desired consistency. I didn't have any tahini on hand so I skipped it, but I'm sure you could add it in and it would be good! I considered adding some sesame oil instead, and then forgot.

I started with the garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in the food processor, then added the black beans slowly as I wasn't sure how much black bean I'd want in there. It ended up being the whole can. After I'd gotten the bean mixture to a pretty smooth texture, I added in the avocado pieces, and processed some more. This came out super tasty. I would even consider perhaps adding more avocado, but I was out. Next round I'll give it a try. I scooped out this hummus, put it in a container, and stuck it in the freezer to cool it down quickly. Not that it was hot, but most of the components were at room temperature at the start.


Mango Basil Nectarine Salsa

I really wanted to get some basil + nectarine flavors together. 

And I also had most produce needed for salsa.
  • 1 med-large sweet (vidalia, mayan, etc) onion (mostly processed but maybe 1/4 of it left chunky)
  • 2 jalepeño peppers, processed to oblivion
  • 4 tomatoes (2.5 diced-ish, 1.5 processed to oblivion, too)
  • ~1tsp-1Tbs minced /~1 clove Garlic, to taste
  • 2 nectarines (sliced thin, or diced)
  • handful of fresh basil leaves, pulsed
  • 1 mango, diced
I started this one out quartering the onion, and throwing 3 of those quarters in to the food processor. Processed until pretty small, but not quite pureed. The last quarter diced by hand, and all of this thrown in to a bowl after done with. Next up, I cut off the tops of the jalepeños, removed the seeds, and processed them until they were pretty small as well, then transferred the now pepper sludge to the bowl as well. Tomatoes next, diced up about 2.5 medium tomatoes, and the last 1.5 I thew in to the food processor and processed until it was saucy. I think at this point, I put the spoonful of diced garlic into my receiving bowl, stirred that all up, gave it a taste test, and moved forward. 
For the nectarines, I cut them in to wedges, changed the processor to have the slicing blade, and fed the slices through the chute at the top to get dainty slices. I suppose you could just dice up the nectarines as well. Next, I put the usual processing blade back in, grabbed a handful of fresh basil, processed that until small, and added to the bowl again. I gave the mixed up bowl a taste test, and (of course) decided it could use more sweet, as it was leaning towards very spicy. Thankfully, I had a couple mangos on hand, diced up one mango, added it to the bowl, stirred, and was quite pleased with the balance of flavors at that point. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Half way there. This is my year, for sure.

This year I'll try to only listen to myself. (Start this going as your blog-reading soundtrack, ok? Ok, good talk.)

So suddenly it's July, and 2013 which has only recently become habit is halfway over (you know, writing down '13 on things instead of '12). I started this year off with some sort of ambitious game plan to be a bit more purposeful in my moments. I put together a list which turned in to a spreadsheet of goals or resolutions, and I was inputting updates to that chart for the first three months of the year. I took April off from a lot of things that were becoming time sucks for me, and I guess one casualty was updating this blog, as well as updating that list/chart. It's still there. I did take a look the other week and update where I'd gotten with some things. The real goal wasn't to do everything 100% of the time, but to do pieces when they made sense and not get let down by breaking a streak and then knowing I'd never be at 100%. I have formed some habits, and made some real progress in some places. Some things are laughable. You can do anything but you can't do everything. I certainly can't do everything.

Back in Orientation Assistant training (2004? 2005?), we had one big session that was focused on our strengths, the thinking being that if everyone played up what they were awesome at, we wouldn't need to worry about where we might fall short and how to make up for that. I'm usually intrigued and amused by any sort of personality test, and this one seemed somewhat more legit than most, or at least appeared that way. It spit back my five main strengths, which I'd agree make sense for me for sure (perhaps some change in almost ten years?).

My five themes were as follows: Includer, Strategic, Input, Woo (Winning Others Over), & Connectedness. I've got the write-ups & descriptions of these all handy if anyone wants to read further. The perhaps more interesting part of this training, however, was when we discussed these themes, about ourselves and the interplay of these themes. How, me with a big Strategic badge could approach a situation incredibly different than one of the others in the room, though we both were championing strategy. It was eye opening in little ways, I found myself getting thoroughly upset (about how others would approach situations I guess?), and then realizing that that's what this was about, really digging in and feeling out the different approaches and seeing that there's no one best way.

Back to goals. Some have gone well. Like these.
  • cook 3+ dinners/week [Well, maybe not three every week but certainly not going out three nights per week for dinner. Sometimes it's cooking and remixing, or just lots of planning.]
  • run semi-regularly [been going 4x per week since February, that totally counts]
  • run a 5k [I've ran 2! April 28 at 31:23 & June 8 at 28:54. Longer races coming up soon soon too. I'm hooked.]
  • lose about 15 more pounds [I'm at about 10 less than January now, works for me]
  • KEEP OFF the above 15 lbs and the 20 lbs lost in 2012. [Doin' it.]
  • stay more hydrated [Totally have been. Strategy!]
  • Gauge my ears bigger (0?) [I'm at a 4 now, I might just stick here but it's a step up from the 6!]
  • Open a ‘hidden’ emergency account that I really do not touch [Yup, did it.]
  • explore! try new stores, new routes, etc. [All over the place. Less ruts, more explore.]
  • install CS6 (what have I been waiting for? :I ) [Did it. Love it.]
  • learn more about letters (general) [This has been more practicing and observing rather than traditional study, but I think it counts since I've been thinking about letters a lot]
  • organize my twitter in to lists to be more useful (friends/design/ROC/etc.) [Yeah I made some lists! Those of you who I bother most often are probably on one of them. Still in progress sorting further though]
  • be more social (at least 1 purely social encounter per week, whether over beer/coffee, or phone/skype/hangouts) [Maybe not every week, but I've had some great ones lately]
  • Visit Nashville - and sister&bro-in-law&pups [Did it!]
  • Cleveland visit [Did it very slightly on the way back from Nashville, so that counts a bit. Planning to be back for WMC fest in August]
  • paint my dining room [Done in February, much thanks to my folks for coming up for a couple days to help get that done!]
  • SAVE things less -- use as soon as makes sense to, and replenish when needed [Yes, totally. Been especially better at working through my cabinets eating weird things that I bought once, or just kind of making dinner happen out of whatever is there]

And then there's all those others that maybe I'm doing ok with, or maybe I'm not doing anything at all with. It's ok. I've got the above to show for the first half of 2013, and I can't wait to see what's next. Focusing on the strengths, you know?

I feel like I used a lot of qualifying language in this post. Yup.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Taking April Off... Week 1 Recap

One week in, this is how I'm doing on my Taking April Off... #spendingdiet and better allotment of my time as all outlined previously. I'm thinking that maybe I should have started with a month of just tracking every dollar to see where it went before jumping in to this. Too late now! I did not do amazing this past week, but not too horrible I guess either. Come on Laura, get it together!
(I'm taking applications for budget cheerleaders & accountability buddies... comment below?)


  • $5 — beer out with an old friend that was visiting
  • $50 donation for my Pinups for Pitbulls calendar model application. I'd had this in my queue to do for weeks, and with the deadline approaching, I had to get my application in. Hey, at least it's going toward a good cause. (This is not counting toward that running total since the only reason it happened this week was because of lots of procrastination on my part.) 
  • Stayed up late. 1AM? No good. 


  • ~$9 for a chicken soulvaki (food+tip) at a diner when my groupon dinner plans got squashed by not finding the place after supposedly driving by twice, and not feeling comfortable enough in that area at that time of night to park and wander. 
  • Consequence of staying up late was not running before work, which left my homework run til after work. After the run, showering, and then being so starved for dinner led to the above haste and plan fail. Yep.
  • Skipped going to either of two shows I was interested in, one in Buffalo, one in Syracuse. Never committed to either, wanted to go to both, and realizing that no matter what I'd be disappointed from missing one, why not miss both and be disappointed anyway? I hate my logic sometimes, but at least I didn't spend a couple hours in the car on a weeknight. 


  • Planned dinner ahead of time went well. Though, pretty exhausted after my run & shower. I guess I can't do as much on run days now as I was doing before. Perhaps hitting the 3 mile mark is my ceiling for being functional afterward. 


  • Somehow dinner tv programming still happened, and that was bad for my time budget. Though dinner of leftover Easter ham went well.
    And then of course after that I start feeling like I'm having an allergic reaction and start popping allegra, taking puffs of albuterol and feeling like crap. I spent the rest of the night on the couch until bedtime. These allergy effects need to stop. Glad I'm seeing my allergist soon.


  • $2.25 for a coffee. Running early and trying to start the day off with treating my self a bit. Plus, no need to be the one person doing the dishes/making the coffee at the office EVERY day this week. 


  • Bagel breakfast sandwich & a coffee at Balsam Bagels. Too good, I could eat there every day. ~$7
  • Genesee Brewhouse tasting flight: $2. Decided to walk across the bridge at High Falls before the game, and the flight was kind of a no-brainer.
  • Red Wings Baseball game — The season opener, I'd planned on going to this for months. I bought a special pack of tickets that give me a discount on the price by buying a bunch together. So, I didn't buy the ticket that day, it happened a couple weeks ago. Got a fried dough & a turkey crepe and a hot chocolate, ~ $ 17 ? Kept it under $20!
  • Poster show at 1975. One night only. Old friend in town with this poster tour. Another friend in town that I don't see too often either. Or two. Really hard to skip seeing folks I see maybe once a year because of the spending diet & time diet. And I maybe bought a Tara McPherson poster. $60. Which now looking at her site, this ish isn't available until May! Winning? EDIT: Probably meant last May.
    Current room below, and new poster on right. They're going to be on opposite walls, staring at each other while I sleep. Creepy? It was too good of a fit to pass up. 
  • Dinner with same friends from the poster show at Pomodoro. $17 including tip. I feel like I'm back in college, getting just a water with dinner.
  • Everything Saturday took longer than it could/should have. Totally wiped me out, and I didn't even get to everything I was supposed to. Bleh.
Art for my room... the Gaslight zombie girl is getting a friend!


  • ~$4 for a  Belgian Waffle Latte at Equal Grounds. Needed that after training with the foster and before I plunged in to a huge day of getting stuff done. 
  • $8 for 2 drinks at Lux... went for a meeting, stayed for a hot cider and chat with a few seldom-seen friends.
  • ~$5.50 for a burger at Five Guys. Did a quick grocery run and hadn't had dinner so...

Week 1 Total $ spent on non-essentials: $136.75 (+$50 donation for P4P)

Eeek. If you don't include the TM poster, $76.75... which is ok! But, the TM poster happened. I also need to de-grossify my french press so I don't blow so much on coffee this week. So, for the next three weeks, I've got what's in my wallet + $40 left to take from the ATM to keep on track.

Can I do it? 
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