Monday, December 20, 2010

Just Finished: The Dangerous World of Butterflies

I just finished reading The Dangerous World of Butterfies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors and Conservationists by Peter Luafer last week, after hauling it around in my purse for over a month. I heard about it when I saw Jon Stewart interview the author on the Daily Show. It sounded like a really interesting book about a rather unusual topic. Needless to say, I learned a lot about butterflies! I don't know that I came away enlightened from the experience, but I did pick up some random butterfly facts, including the existence of a butterfly-phobia website and some of the inside world of endangered butterfly smuggling. I think the book would have benefitted a lot from photos throughout, even if they were in black and white. I had a hard time imagining what they looked like, and the author's descriptions weren't all that captivating. Overall, though, I enjoyed learning more about such amazing and beautiful creatures!


I just watched this short documentary this weekend. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Godfry Reggio with music by Philip Glass, Koyaanisqatsi is a really unusual and beautiful film. There are no words – just the music and the images, and yet it is very powerful and sends clear messages. It starts off a little slow, but then the music really picks up and carries you into the scenes that are taking place. It's also really fascinating to see what life was like in 1982, when the filming was done –how things have changed and how many things are the same.

You can see the full video here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Year in Ideas

Not only is the New York Time's Annual Year in Ideas awesome, the interactive design for this year's page is amazing. I love how they have organized the information. It's fun and playful, but still informative and serious. The Year in Ideas always makes me think about all the possibilities for discovery and thought that are out there.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Art in History

The New York Times has a very interesting article in it today, Visualizing Slavery by Susan Schulten. I found the article to be particularly interesting in the way in which the author incorporated art and how it 1) can influence history; in this case it's the new type of map making and 2) how paintings are vital to learning about history. I also love the programming the Times is using in this piece. You can see highlighted parts of the map with notes, and the painting zooms for you as you move your curser over it.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I was just listening to This American Life podcast, which was on the topic of poultry. It was pretty entertaining. My favorite segment was the part about a photographer who takes portraits of chickens. I looked her up after I finished listening to the segment and I think her work is really great! Her name is Tamara Staples and she now has a book out that features her chicken photos called The Fairest Foul. I think it's a really innovative and unique look at the world of chickens –creatures that have been breed and are now sustained purely for human purposes. I'm looking forward to checking out the book sometime soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In the Works

I'm working on some oil paintings for an upcoming show I'm doing with my brother! I've decided to make the works all nature themed, because that's what I love to paint the most. This has been the first time I've been painting in oil since graduating from college! I forgot how much I love it . . . it's mostly the feel of the smooth paint moving with my brush against the canvas. Nothing like it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I'm so excited I just got invited to join this new image collection site called Pinterest. It's awesome! You have different "pin boards" where you post different collections of images you find on the web. My pages is:

Friday, November 5, 2010


I didn't see this movie, but I love this version of Everyday by Rogue Wave:

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Oh Fall! I had forgotten how spectacular the fall leaves can be. I saw great shocks of crimson, orange, gold and everything in between as I drove around my town these past few days. I felt the leaves crunch beneath my feet and smelled that crisp fall air. Winter is almost here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Whistle While We Work

Step 5: The finished product!

Step 4: I start painting the building, paying particular attention to the glass window, as it is the focal point of the painting.

Step 3: I begin with the sky, followed by the trees. In order to maintain the vibrance of the leaves I prefer to paint the green first, followed by painting around them with the colors for the building.

Step 2: The pencil transfer drawing, which I then paint over with just water to prepare the paper and set the graphite

Step 1: I create the final drawing on a piece of copy paper. I then cover the back of the drawing with graphite, tape it to the watercolor paper, and trace over the drawing to transfer it.

I just finished this piece for Skidmore College and I took some photos while I was working on it so I could share a little about my process of watercolor painting. Of course, every painting is different - but this is the basic workflow pattern.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One in 8 Million

One in 8 Million, a multimedia piece done by the New York Times is an amazing collection of stories told with audio and photography that portray everyday New Yorkers that often lead lives that are far from typical. I followed this series carefully for a long time and I really enjoyed it. All the photos are fantastic, as well as the audio. The series recently won an Emmy award. In my opinion, it is a perfect way to tell the story of the millions of so very different people who all come together to make New York the great city that it is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Penguin Classics

I love, love, love the design of these books! They are the new Penguin Classics hardcover series, and the cases are so beautiful. I want a collection of them for my bookshelf just so that I can look at their spines. I want to get the ones that I haven't read, but I like all of them! The Odssey cover is particularly beautiful, and it's clever how each pattern relates to the contents of the book. Each cover is cloth with a matte stamping over it. Penguin made a really smart choice in doing this series. They're affordable too! Only $13.50 each on Amazon. The designer for the covers is Coralie Bickford-Smith. What a great opportunity to get to work on this series.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just Finished: Outliers

I just finished reading Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. This is his third book, and I have read both of his earlier ones: Blink and The Tipping Point. They all have been on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks and weeks. The Tipping Point was actually one of the very first non-fiction books that I read for fun, and I loved it! It opened up the world of non-fiction reading for me, and now that's mostly what I read. Outliers is basically a more focused look at one of the points he brings up in one of his earlier books, which is that people who are outstanding in one way or another are not that way purely because of their own doing –it is a result of the circumstances in which they happen to be surrounded by. I partially agree with the point he makes, but I think you could make a pretty strong argument against it as well. Overall it was fairly enlightening –but not quite as astounding as his first two. Below are some of the quotes that stood out to me:

"Knowledge of a boy's IQ is of little help if you are faced with a formful of clever boys."
"The relationship between success and IQ works only up to a point. Once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points does not seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage."

"No one who can rise before dawn three hundred sixty days a year fails to make his family rich." [Chinese proverb]

" 'The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,' writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin. 'In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.' "


Recently I've been missing horses more than usual. I spent most of my life up until about three years ago, when I graduated college, being around horses on a pretty regular basis. I think if someone told me I had to choose between having a dog or having a horse, I would choose a horse (if only they cost the same). There is a lot of terrible horse photography out there, but there is also a lot of incredible stuff too. I like the photography that does something a little different, and shows the horse in a way that reveals something unusual about it. Above are some of my favorites, click on the numbers below to see the artist's websites and more work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


In the process of moving from a fairly large space to a much smaller one, I am beginning to discover the advantages of simplicity. It's so easy to accumulate more and more material possessions in the culture we live in which demands that we buy, buy, and then buy some more. I find that it is actually a struggle to fight the consumerist tide and not buy everything I want. I thought this piece on was particularly poignent which I came across around the same time I was searching the Container Store's website for –you guessed it– containers to store my baking supplies in. Only in America would there be a store that is entirely devoted to organizing and storing our stuff.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mmmm, PIE

Oh. MY. It's my dad's blackberry pie! I desperately wish I was at home right now to eat this. Mmmm . . . sweat delicious home made pie. No one can make pie like my dad, and he doesn't even make his own crust! (Shhh, it's a secret). I don't know the recipe exactly (and he probably can't even tell you), but I would guess it's pretty close to this:

Blackberry Pie

2 9" frozen Oronoque Orchards pie crusts
4 cups fresh blackberries
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2) Remove both pie crusts from freezer, turn one upside down on a cutting board
3) Combine berries, flour, sugar and lemon juice. Spoon into pie shell, and dot with butter.
4) Gently loosen the 2nd pie crust from aluminum and cut into 3/4 inch strips.
Create a lattice for the crust if desired.
5) Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
Continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes, or until browned.
6) Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let the Rain Come Down

Normally I would be upset with 3 whole days of rain, or maybe it's been 4 by now? In any case, I think it's made my week. Not only has it been rainy, but deliciously cool. I have even been able to wear jeans! for the first time in months! This is cause for celebration! Fall is on the way! I saw this picture it reminded me of the past few days.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh look, it's my dream room. I'm pretty sure this is almost exactly the way I've been imagining my own library/studio for some day in the future. I'll have to keep this in mind.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It's that time again . . . time to move. I was just staring out my windows watching the rain and I realized that very soon this will no longer be my view. It surprises me how fast the time has gone. I've lived in this apartment for just about 2 1/2 years! That's longer than I've lived any where else besides the house I grew up in. As much as I'm looking forward to my new apartment and leaving all the problems of this one behind, it will always hold the title of "My First New York Apartment". If I had it my way I would just take my whole room here and put it in another apartment. I love it so much . . . and yet it's time to go.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Christina's World

Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth (1948) is one of my favorite paintings. I think of it most after I've spent time at home because for some reason it reminds me of myself, and the place I grew up. Although the painting has a rather forlorn feeling, it also seems wistful to me. I imagine that she is looking towards the house dreaming and wishing for something.
Many of Andrew Wyeth's paintings have this same feeling of isolation, which sometimes makes me sad. But I love the textures he develops in his paintings and I have especially admired how he captures trees. Each one has a distinct personality and he brings it out with what seems like extreme detail. I look to his work as a source of inspiration.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Finished: Made In America

I just recently finished reading this book, Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, by Bill Bryson, and it was really great! I was a little skeptical at first, but once I got into it I was continually surprised by the information he presents. Bryson is a fantastic non-fiction writer, in that his style is very engaging and humorous. The book is organized cronologically and by category, so it was more of a history of america than just a book about language. Below are a few of the excerpts I found most interesting/entertaining:

In reference to the Pilgrims: "It would be difficult to imagine a group of people more ill-suited to a life in the wilderness. They packed as if they had misunderstood the purpose of the trip. They found room for sundials and candle snuffers, a drum, a trumpet, and a complete history of Turkey. One William Mullins packed 126 pairs of shoes and thirteen pairs of boots. Yet they failed to bring a single cow or horse, plow or fishing line. . . They were in short, dangerously unprepared for the rigors ahead, and they demonstrated their incompetence in the most dramatic possible way: by dying in droves."

"Even on the great National Road, pride of the American highway system, builders were permitted to leave stumps up to fifteen inches high—slightly under knee height. Imagine, if you will, bouncing day after day over rocks, fallen branches, and tree stumps in an unsprung carriage and you may get some notion of the ardors of a long-distance trip in nineteenth-century America."

"Nonetheless, the McDonald's formula has clearly worked. In an average year, all but 4 percent of American consumers will visit a McDonald's at least once . . . McDonald's buys more beef and potatoes and trains more people than any other organization, the U.S. Army included."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maybe I should think about getting some new business cards. This is pretty spiffy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

State Fairs

Speaking of cows, now is right about the time that everyone should get themselves to a state fair. Not that I have been to one recently myself, but, I was cleaning out my old National Geographics and I came across one my favorite articles, "Take in the State Fair with Garrison Keillor". I was laughing out loud when I read this. Here is a favorite excerpt from The Ten Chief Joys of the State Fair:

" 3. To mingle, merge, mill, jostle gently, and flock together with throngs, swarms, mobs and multitudes of persons slight or hefty, punky or preppy, young or ancient, wandering through the hubbub and amplified razzmatazz and raw neon and clouds of wiener steam in search of some elusive thing, nobody is sure exactly what."

My personal memories of the county fair include giant wads of cotton candy dissolving in my mouth, the slightly anxious but joyful feeling while swinging at the top of the ferris wheel, and, of course, winning first place in my horse back riding class.

The photos from this story by Joel Sartore were recently in Communication Arts magazine, and they are pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Also, Garrison Keillor may be one of my heros. I have listened to many of his stories about Lake Wobegon on NPR. They are so captivating and hilarious.

Now go find yourself a state fair, or at least a corn dog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Who doesn't love flying?

While I do love to travel . . . it does have its down sides. This piece by Christoph Niemann is pretty hilarious. My transatlantic flights go pretty much the same, except with a little more anger directed at the crying baby.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pamela Zagarenski

I would like to introduce one of my favorite illustrators, Pamela Zagarenski. She happens to be from my home town, and I first met her and saw her work a few years ago –and I have been in awe ever since. The sense of whimsy and dream-like quality to her work is something I wish I could achieve in my own. I particularly like the multi-media aspect of her work; the text she places in most of her pieces is always fantastic. Someday when I have a lot of money I'm going to buy one of her original large paintings and hang it somewhere in my house. But in the mean time, I'll just have to enjoy the images she shares online and in books.
She has also published a number of children's books with Scholastic. You can see them here. I admire that she is able to be successful while sticking with hand made art. I hope I can do the same.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thinking of the Planet

A beautiful image, isn't it? I would think so too, If I didn't know that it was in fact an aerial photograph of the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to an endless slew of environmental disasters. There's so much I could say on this topic, but I'd rather let the professionals do the writing. I only hope that there is a way for humanity to put aside greed and think of everything nature has given us, and everything it still might have to offer –if we let it.

The above photo is from a fantastic New York Times photo essay on the BP oil spill. Of course our constant thirst for oil does more than just ruin the ocean . . it is ruining the planet. I thought this Op-Ed piece in the NYT was particularly poignant.

Even Smash Mouth knew what was going on back in 1999:

It's a cool place and they say it gets colder
You're bundled up now but wait 'til you get older
But the meteor men beg to differ
Judging by the hole in the satellite picture
The ice we skate is getting pretty thin
The waters getting warm so you might as well swim

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


In the spirit of yesterday's post I thought I would include some more of my favorite sea images. I love the ocean and the mystery of it.

The first image here is taken by Morris Rosenfeld, an amazing nautical photographer.
I recently became even more amazed by whales after I read the book The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea, by Philip Hoare. He follows the life of Herman Melville, and along the way tells an incredible story about whales and the history of the whaling industry. He even talks about sea monsters! Here is a quote I particularly like:

"Cities and civilizations rise and fall, but the sea is always the sea. 'We do not associate the idea of antiquity with the ocean, nor wonder how it looked a thousand years ago, as we do of land, for it was equally wild and unfathomable always,' wrote the philosopher, Henry David Thoreau. 'The ocean is a wilderness reaching around the globe, wilder than a Bengal jungle, and fuller of monsters, washing the very wharves of our cities and the gardens of our sea-side residences.'
The sea is the greatest unknown, the last true wilderness, reaching over three-quarters of the earth. Its smallest organisms sustain us, providing every other breath of oxygen that we take. Its tides and shores determine our movements and our borders more than any treaty or government. Yet as we fly over its expanses, we think of it –if we think of it at all– merely as a distance to be overcome."


Seeing as today is Wednesday, and I did have a request for humor, I thought –of course– pirates! Because who doesn't like pirates, really? Ok, maybe you don't like pirates if you're Peter Pan, but that's besides the point.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I took this photo a few months ago with my new little point-and-shoot camera which I now carry everywhere with me. There are so many things to entertain the eye in New York! I can't stop from trying to capture it.

Location: 6th Ave & 59th Street, at Central Park

An Update

So I have spent some time "revamping" my blog, which has been an on again, off again, pursuit for a little while. However, this time I intend to stick to it and actually add new posts on a regular basis. I can't say that there is a particular theme, except it is composed of the things I see and think about that I find the most engaging and I'd like to share with someone other than myself.


Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sandpit

I LOVE this video, mostly because it's about New York, but I love the sound track too. I think the ending quote is really beautiful:

"Rivers of light flowing home again, a flicker and it's gone."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baz Lurman Video

I'm pretty sure every piece of advice in this video should be taken seriously, and followed daily.

New York City = Public Art

I have been searching to find this paragraph since I read it in September. Finally! Success.

"New York is a city of artists — and a city of art. It is, of course, a city of museums, but also a place where the buildings themselves form a kind of collage-installation, where traveling on the subway daily can feel like a performance piece, where many exploit their bodies as veritable canvases for tattoos and makeup and costume.

A walk through many New York neighborhoods can easily become a gallery tour of found art: graffiti murals, sidewalk sculptures of discarded furniture; the rainbow of umbrellas during a rainstorm. But there are also more purposeful, carefully curated public art displays on the city’s streets — and its sidewalks, and in its parks and playgrounds."

MARILYNN K. YEE / New York Times, July 21, 2009