Friday, February 13, 2009

Inspiration, motivation, procrastination

painting by Joe Sorren

Part One

I was looking through the blog Artfulife this week and happily clicked through her link to Joe Sorren's web site. I really enjoyed seeing his latest paintings. They are so refined and quiet. I love the progression from his older work. I haven't looked at his paintings in a long time, but I was happily reminded of a conversation I haven't thought about in a long time.

Some time in the mid-90s I was given one of the best art school assignments ever. You had to give a presentation on one of your favorite illustrators. This may sound bland enough—a glorified book report—except that you had to contact the illustrator directly. This was way before the widespread use of email, so this meant calling the person up on the phone. I was painfully shy then, so I was horrified. But I loved Joe Sorren's paintings and knew that he was the one I had to call. I did. I called him up in Flagstaff, Arizona and he was the nicest, most encouraging fellow ever. I'm sure I asked all kinds of mundane things, but he heard me out and asked me thoughtful questions in return. He sent me samples by FedEx to include in my report and asked me to send him a few samples of my work. I have to smile when I think about it—I can't imagine what I sent.

The one question I remember asking him was: Do you think you have to live in NYC to make it as an illustrator? Now here I was calling a successful guy working out of a little hippy town in AZ—why would I ask that? Of course, he said no and gave me some very good reasons. I moved to NYC anyway and went to art school. I am now 3 1/2 years gone from there and am just now finding a place where I am able to make some art here and there — certainly not making a living from it, but still finding the time and inspiration to do it. I think there are a lot of factors involved that I may write about in this space (hence the part one subtitle above), but for now, I just wanted to reflect on a fond memory of a conversation with Joe Sorren and ponder what I might ask him nowadays.

The painting above was from one of the samples he sent — I found it in my "inspiration book" from that period. It is so much fun to look through it again after so long.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

As seen on …

It's so easy to become just completely overwhelmed by all of the blogs, pictures and terrific content out there in the world. So it's particularly reassuring and gives my ego a little boost when I find out that my pictures are in fact making their way out into the world and being seen despite the sheer quantity of rabbit holes one can stumble down. I was reminded of this by two different occasions this week.

1. Kuma Sakuzo was nice enough to include the print above from my Etsy shop in her treasury selection. She's chosen a lovely cheerful collection of balloons. Here is a screenshot of it:
2. Last week Off the Hooks featured my squirrel postcard on her craftyash blog.

This makes me very happy and I thank them both!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From the sketchbook

Here are some of the strange scenes and flower-type things have been showing up in my sketchbooks lately. Not sure what will come of them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pad Thai at home

I've never made pad thai at home, but I love it. So after the trip to the Asian market last week, I had all the ingredients and knew it was time. We've had rice noodles sitting in the back of the cabinet for months and I decided to use the recipe on the back of the bag:

Pad Thai
7 oz rice stick noodles
1 Tb Tamarind paste (this was hard to find, but it was in the refrigerated section at Huaxing)
1 tsp brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. small shrimp (I used much more: 1 lb med)
3 scallions, sliced
4 oz. firm tofu, rinsed, drained and choppped
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 Tb fish sauce
1 c bean sprouts
1 tsp crushed chili pepper
2 Tb roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
lime wedges to garnish

1. Soak noodles in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain. (I was worried they weren't soft enough at this point, but they soften more over the heat)
2. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 c hot water with tamarind. Let stand, then push through sieve and discard solids. Stir in brown sugar.
3. Heat half oil in large skillet. Stir fry garlic for a few seconds, then add shrimp, scallions and tofu and cook 3 minutes.
4. Add eggs and cook 30 seconds or until well incorporated. Add noodles, tamarind, remaining oil and fish sauce. Cook about 5 minutes, then add bean sprouts and chili pepper.
5. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges and serve.

Delicious! The flavor was terrific with just the right amount of heat. I think next time I will increase liquids a little bit (not oil), to have a little more of a sauce. Try it!