Friday, December 28, 2012

Pumpkins in December?

Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore Bristol, Vellum

It has been far too long since I posted a new drawing, but rest assured that all is well. I've just been working on some "Do-not-open-before-Christmas" holiday projects that couldn't be posted, or surprises would have spoiled. Now that the holiday crush is behind us, I'm re-charged (I'm hoping it's not just a sugar high) and resolved to get back to more regular drawing —and posting!

This pumpkin drawing was commissioned by a lovely woman, the aunt of one of my close friends. My friend had recently given her a framed print of my artichoke cross-section drawing, chosen because her aunt lives in Half Moon Bay, a coastal town north of here (and south of San Francisco). Half Moon Bay, besides being famous for its pumpkins (it hosts a huge Pumpkin Festival each October) is also known for growing artichokes and other vegetables. I'm tickled that she asked for a pumpkin drawing as well as one of Brussels sprouts on their stalk. (The latter has a short season, and since I almost always draw from real "models", I'd better get that one done soon!)

In case you're wondering, I chose to draw this "bird's-eye-view" since it is a companion piece to this one:

Here are a couple of work-in-progress shots:

I hope that you are enjoying some relaxing post-holiday time as well. Next up for visits! (And maybe one last slice of cranberry bread...)

And one last important note: Thank you for all of the supportive comments, emails, and good ol' positive thoughts that you sent my way after my recent post about Parkinson's Disease. Your kind words mean more than you know.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Anniversaries and anticipation

My little blog is two years old today!  
(Well, technically, it was two years old on Saturday, 
but a few sick days last week threw me off a bit.)

It's a happy accident that my blogging anniversary is December 1, as it's one of my favorite days of the year. You see, I have a passion for advent calendars. Childhood memories of the anticipation of Christmas surely fuel my obsession.  But there's something about finding each little numbered paper door and revealing its surprise underneath that still excites me. Like anyone who's a little obsessive/compulsive about something, I have a few rules regarding what constitutes, for me, the perfect advent calendar:

1. It should  be made out of paper. I'm not a huge fan of the fancy wooden ones, or any that get re-used every year. It just seems more special to be used only once, an ephemeral thing, so that each year holds new surprises.

2. It should have little doors or windows to open. That seems like a given, I know. But there are a plethora of clever, craftsy ones in a clothesline or wall-hanging style that use things like little bags or stockings, but they're not for me.. give me a perforated paper door.

3. You should have to hunt for each door just a bit. Another reason to look askance at the ones I mentioned in #2: No hunting = no fun.

4. The doors should be integrated into the image, not just randomly cut into it it. Villages and houses, that have windows and doors that open, are just right. Or anything where you're opening an object to reveal what's underneath...not just a scene with 24 perforated doors cut into it. Which leads me to a related item:

5. The revealed image should relate to the cover image, but change it slightly. You open a window and see the people inside that room doing holiday things, you open the stable gate to see a pony, you move a knot on a tree to reveal a squirrel inside.

6. The backing paper should let light through. While we often hang ours on a wall, or set it on a table, I like them best hung on a window where the sunlight illuminates the openings...another childhood memory.

7. The door for the 24th should be biggest and reveal a special image. None of this stuff where 24 is the same size as 1. Furthermore, there should be no door for the's all about the anticipation; on the 25th, you're already there.

So, there you have my preferences, but I'll admit that I also enjoy a few non-conforming ones: I love my little Victoran numbers that  I've shown at the top of the post. I also have a real affinity for the Playmobil advent calendars. We bought them almost every year as my kids grew up. But to me, the best part was that the parent got to prepare and fill it ahead of time, folding up the little paper boxes and  putting each piece of the scene inside. They've recently gone to a pre-filled style that you don't get to assemble yourself, and which shows all of the pieces on the back, which ruins the surprise a bit. But they're always quite charming; the one for this year includes a couple of hedgehogs!)

I'l leave you with a photo of my kitchen wall from a few years ago when I decided to display some of my calendars from years past (I keep them all):

How about you? Are you an advent calendar person? Do you have a favorite?