In other news, Kato learned how to crawl yesterday. He has been threatening to do so for some time, demonstrating strength and proficiency in both arms and legs but failing to enact the necessary coordination to convince both upper- and lower-body systems to work in concert.
As is the case with so many things in life, the motivating factor seemed to be desire. He was lying on the kitchen floor looking longingly across the expanse of floor at Iggy’s shiny bowl. Something in him seemed to click, and moments later, he had slithered his way over to the bowl and was gumming it with the sort of enthusiasm that only a 7-month infant can muster.
We were proud knowing that he had reached this important milestone (and a bit worried knowing that whatever funky ailments of the mouth Iggy might possess have now been passed along to Kato).
Strange though it may seem, the point of this post is not that Kato learned to crawl. No! Emboldened by his first major discovery of the day, he proceeded to imagine even broader horizons. Within moments, he had slithered his way onto the back of Alden’s plastic car and proceeded to take it for a spin around the kitchen.
One trembles to contemplate what he will learn today. I’m hiding the keys to the actual car. I noticed he was peering at it longingly.
Just discovered a new exquisite-corpse-style book put together by 100 artists – it’s called “The Exquisite Book” and looks beautiful.
Illustrations here are by Mike Perry (totally hipster, if hipster weren’t a bad word these days), Camilla Engman (one of my very favorite illustrators) and Lab Partners (another collaborative team who does inspired work).
Make sure to check out the Previews & Process link, which is just full of awesome behind-the-scenes design mystery, which is my favorite stuff to see in art. I was once at a museum with a non-artist friend and got all giddy about an unfinished painting where you could see the different pencil sketches below the paint on the canvas. And my friend was like, “Why would they hang this in a museum? It’s not even finished.” So, if you’re that friend, maybe you don’t need to bother clicking on the link.
If only we could convince Chronicle to throw such a budget at us. We could be great. (Great like Alexander the Great, not great like the Great Depression.)
Discovered via Design Sponge.
For months and months we have been keeping the lid on an exciting piece of news, but now the hour is at hand. We have just been given leave to announce our involvement in an incredibly interesting project (or so we believe).
Our friend Joshua Wolf Shenk (above), non-fiction writer, essayist, and author of the award-winning Lincoln’s Melancholy, has lately turned his focus to examining creative pairs, asking specifically:
What makes creative relationships work? How do two people — who may be perfectly capable and talented on their own — explode into innovation, discovery, and brilliance when working together?
In attempting to answer these questions, Josh has been taking a close look at a wide range of creative pairs—from John Lennon and Paul McCartney to Conan O’Brien and his producer Jeff Ross to Watson and Crick to the Car Talk guys—while exploring various archetypes of creative collaboration. He has been focusing on well-known and unarguably accomplished or important pairs…with one notable exception.
In order to take a close look at collaboration in action, Josh has decided to put on his lab coat and use Robbi and me as guinea pigs in a quasi-scientific “study” of creative collaboration. Over the past six months or so, he has been subjecting us to a variety of tests and evaluations, from psychological surveys to a session with a psychotherapist to an on-site analysis of the barn by a feng shui master, all in attempting to get at the heart of what makes us tick and our collaboration work.
The first public presentation of Josh’s thinking on this front will be published on Slate next Tuesday (September 7), and additional articles will be published weekly thereafter. A series of pieces on Robbi and me will appear in the last week of September.
In the mean time, if this project interests you, please join the Creative Pairs Facebook group, which Josh hopes will be a clearinghouse for discussion about creative collaboration. Building on the writing and thinking he has been doing for the Slate series, Josh plans to write a book on this subject, and he is very interested in drawing on a wide community of ideas and perspectives as he continues his research.
This is your opportunity to redeem social media by using it for communications of substance, depth, and potential for elevating human understanding!
This is your chance to rub elbows with an award-winning author!
This is your chance to find out once and for all what makes Robbi draw such unusual things! (That’s why I’m signing up, anyway).
We will have much more to say on this front in the days ahead, but we wanted to let you know about the project and encourage you to join Josh’s group. He is an incredibly thoughtful guy with a bunch of incredibly thoughtful friends, and we imagine the resulting discussion will be fascinating.
So be sure not to sign up if you’re not into that sort of thing.
I realize I haven’t said a peep about it before, but next month (or, later this week) some of my art will be on display at the Chestertown Arts League. I will be part of a four-person show titled “Four Under Forty.” Thankfully, I still qualify. The show will go up today, and is opening on Friday, September 3. Reception is from 5-8pm. I will be there, with a new haircut and pretty clean clothes on. Not to be missed, if you happen to be in Chestertown on Friday evening. I will be sharing the walls with Emily Kalwaitis, Angela Ranzoni, and Joe Karlik. Angela did a nice write-up of us all on her blog, see here.
I am including some of my illustration work in the show, but felt a little bad that I didn’t want to sell any of it (Matthew and I are counting on the originals from Idiots’Books being worth enough to retire on in 400 years), so also wanted to include some more “fine art” pieces. I know, I know, we can go into a whole thing about “fine art” and “illustration” and “craft” and “whatever” but I’m not going to do that here. Because, this is all a lead-up to the fact that I’m going to be GIVING AWAY SOME FREE ART ANY MINUTE NOW.
But read on.
I have recently been doing some simple line drawings on this pastel paper I ordered online. It’s called “velour” paper, which makes it sound like grandma’s track suit. And, well, I hated it when I first got it. But drawing on it with ink does wonderful things because of how absorbent it is (just like grandma’s track suit). I really love the simplicity.
Without further ado, for all you auction bidders and non-bidders out there (I’m offering free art this week instead of the auction, because why would you bid on something when you could have something else for free?), here’s the piece that you could have for free, if you leave a comment that is clever or witty or in some other way makes me want to send it to you:
and a close-up:
I know in these giveaways I’m supposed to be all fair and even-handed and random, but I say what the hell. Make these people work for their free stuff. (To be fair, I will say that if you don’t feel that you are clever or witty, being extremely unctuous will surely catch my attention). But before you start sharpening your grovelling skills, I have a couple disclaimers:
1. Part of the reason I am giving this one away is because I tried to mount it and it got some wrinkles in it. You can’t see them in the photo here, and unless you’re looking you can’t really see them in real life. But they are there, and they make me sad.
2. The color in these photos don’t really match what it looks like. It’s a greeny blue. Closer to the top pic than the bottom one.
3. These photos don’t really give you a good idea of what they feel like, texturally. They’re pretty yummy.
This is one of the very first ones I did. Though I like it a lot, I think I got better as I started figuring things out. This is a later favorite (not for free):
And this one is the most similar to the monochromatic ones that I will hang in the show (also not for free):
Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the ones that are hanging, so you’ll just have to come see them in person (though surely I will blog about the opening when the time comes).
So – all that said, post a comment here and enter to win. And if you’re lucky, everyone will hate these track-suity inky washy simple line studies and you will make out like a bandit. I will announce the winner next Monday, so you have a whole week to figure out what my Achilles heel is (hint: think ice cream).
Once again it is time to humble myself and reveal the immeasurable gulf between the world as it is and my ability to render it with pen and paper. As is the custom, Robbi sent me the names of four people and I did my best to coax them forth onto the page. You fine people submitted your guesses, and the following is the verdict.
Pretty much all of you correctly identified Ronald McDonald, but thankfully the imaginative among you salted the apparently self-evident with a handful of colorful answers that bring just enough intrigue to balance out the boredom. As follows: Ronald of the McDonald family, Ronald Mackey Ro, Mickey D, ’ol Ronald McDonald, Ronald McDonald, aka, the boogeyman, Ronald McDonald Creepster, and Ronald McDonald, but he looks scary, like he’s about to kill somebody.
Notable incorrect guesses included Pennywise the Clown (from “IT”), and Heath Ledger from the Dark Knight.
As for my second attempt:
Every guesser correctly identified the subject of this drawing as an African American man, and all but a handful recognized him as Spike Lee. A few incorrect guesses included Reverend Jesse Jackson, Cornell West, Martin Luther King, Henry Louis Gates, Morgan Freeman, Malcom X, and “Blackmatthew.”
Wait just a moment: Blackmatthew?
I feel compelled to say something here, to make a joke or contribute some commentary, but I am rendered stunned and silent. So I turn to Robbi to see if she is as baffled as I am. Her response, “Hmm…it kind of does look like you.”
And there you have it: me and Spike Lee, separated at birth. Clearly I should be making films instead of making books with Robbi.
And now for my third subject:
In keeping with my inability to draw people of the female persuasion, this drawing yielded the widest range of errant guesses. Although I’m heartened that about half of you correctly identified Angelina Jolie, there were a litany of wrong answers, many of which seemed to fall into the category of generally loathsome or troubled women.
For example, wrong answers included Janice Dickinson, Trashy Sarah Palin without her glasses on, Paris Hilton, Elvira, Jennifer Coolidge, Kiera Knightly, Shania Twain, Pamela Anderson, the blond girl from the B-52s, LaToya Jackson, Lindsay Lohan, a Real Housewife, and One of the Other Million Rich Sass.
Apologies to Shania, who is neither loathsome nor troubled as far as I know. And if you are confused about this “Rich Sass” business, you are not alone. I’m eager to hear what that means, if anyone knows.
Continuing the loathsome/troubled theme, one guesser, who must count him or herself among the therapist profession, suggested, “hmmm…mullet, crazy eyes, stripper outfit: My 3:00 patient?”
One of you who correctly identified Ms. Jolie qualified the guess by adding, “with an uneven boob job.” I must admit that I have so far proven terrible at rendering the female bust—especially when the subject in question is particularly blessed in this department. Along these lines, my very favorite guess in all of Matthew Draws V, though wrong, is “Amy Winehouse having a good hair day but a bad boob day.” Second place goes to “Lopsided boob behive hairdo lady.”
And that brings us to number four:
I am flattered that 100 percent of you correctly identified this fellow as former president Bill Clinton, though this did not keep some of you from indulging in colorful guessing. Thanks to those of you who blessed us with the following: Slick Willie!, Mr. Lewinsky, Hill’s Bill (in perkier, chubbier days), Someone who did not have sex with Monica Lewinsy, Good Old Bill That Horny Goat Clinton, and Sir Red Faced Drinkin’ Fatty Number 42.
Perhaps one of these will be inscribed upon his tomb.
All in all, I must conclude that Robbi needs to offer a stiffer challenge. Given my poor art skills, there were altogether too many correct answers. I think that she has been lobbing me softballs, and I hereby submit that it’s time for me to graduate to the fast pitch league. Not because I think my skill demands it, but because it would make for a more interesting contest.
Keep in mind that if you long to see my depiction of your favorite celebrity, you are welcome to email me. I’m happy to take requests.
Even if that request is that I never try to draw another buxom woman.
Once again, I’m late in announcing the week’s auction, Crumpets with the Queen, but at least you have the weekend to contemplate Robbi’s latest composition, visualizing it on your various walls, seeing in your mind’s eye how it might look atop the piano, nestled between those portraits of Nana and Uncle Horace.
If art is a reflection of life, than we can only assume that Robbi had a rough week, or at least a strange one. Perhaps you are thinking that this illustration is some sort of metaphor: the queen representing the tyranny of the ruling classes and the polar bear the common man rising up to take a stand. Perhaps, perhaps. But I don’t think so. In Robbi’s mind, a queen is but a tasty snack and a polar bear but a hungry carnivore. It’s the penguin that intrigues me. I cannot tell if he’s embarrassed, surprised, or amused, and frankly, I’m not sure it really matters.
What’s true is that this illustration is a telling depiction of my life with Robbi. It reminds me that should always try to make sure that she is well fed whenever we sit down for a cup of tea.
Click here to bid, and enjoy your weekend.
So we recently sent out Volume 27: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon. You can see some of the mayhem here. We just received an email from a husband and wife subscriber team showing us how they chose to display this admittedly rather unwieldy oversized poster, including the following explanation:
Attached is a picture of how we properly, we think, displayed the Francis Bacon poster.
Corner weights clockwise from bottom right:
Siguanaba – The mythical Salvadoran temptress who appears as a beautiful woman to tempt men and when the male succumbs she changes into an old hag and beats them unmercifully with her hard pointy tits.
The Mayan precursor of wack a mole, we think.
A Filipino lady nut cracker with perky breasts.
The missing author.
I have to admit, not including John Grisham in the web of authors was a major oversight. I also have to admit, the Siguanaba is my new personal hero.
Yesterday was a banner day here at the barn. After much consideration, Matthew and I decided that Alden and Kato have become so independent that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to give them a bit of a coming-of-age gift. Just a little something to let them know, “we trust you. We believe you can make your own decisions and that you can handle your independence in a mature and level-headed way.”
So we bought them a new car.
Or, should I say, we received one in the mail full of toner.
Alden got to take the first spin. She was thrilled. She said it handled well, had good pick-up, and the dashboard was classy but not too obtrusive. She especially liked admiring how she looked in her new ride.
True to form, she didn’t fuss, didn’t whine, when it was Kato’s turn to try it out. We knew she could handle this responsibility with class. Kato first just sat in it, enjoying that new car smell.
Then he turned it on.
“This baby can sing!” he exclaimed. He took it for a spin around the kitchen. Then down the hall into Alden’s room. It was when he got on the carpet that things started to go wrong. “This thing’s got no power!” he yelled. “What is this, a slant-four?! Where’s my four-wheel drive?!! What kind of guy do you think I am?!!! I can’t drive this piece of sh**!!!”
We took the keys away. We put the toner back inside. We put it in a cupboard for another day, in the distant future, when his highness proves he can handle the responsibility without the macho attitude.
So, a couple weekends ago we had a fantastic trip to the area known as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania”. It’s quite beautiful there.
See? The plan was part of a grand surprise for Matthew’s dad John’s 65th birthday. His wife Judy had planned a surprise trip back to PA, where John and Matthew had spent many a vacation together as youngsters. Everything was all hush-hush and mum’s-the-word and John didn’t even know he was going anywhere until 5 in the morning when Judy woke him up out of a sound sleep and said, “Hey! Get up lazy bones! We’re going to the airport!” Or, at least, that’s the way she tells it. We were in on the plan, and had given John a series of fake-outs saying we were driving down to a book show in Georgia (GEORGIA!) that weekend, so that’s where he thought we were headed. We were all very excited for another vacation (seems we’ve been doing a lot of these lately…).
However, before we left, we had to deal with the Volume 27 mailing. For those of you who aren’t subscribers, Volume 27 is an oversized poster that condenses 4 walls and a ceiling’s worth of mural into one piece of paper. Mad genius, I say! Or just plain mad.
We’d been putting off the mailing for many reasons, not the least of which was a lack of willingness to unleash all those mailing tubes in our house.
That’s only 1/5 of them, by the way. Also (I believe I have mentioned this before) Matthew has a tendency to act like a complete lunatic when we put together mailings, presumably to keep himself from poking his own eyes out in unbridled boredom. This was an equally important deterrent for me. So, when it came down to it, I made him leave the house with the kids and I rolled and packaged them all. It saved us all some agony. So if you have any complaints about how your poster was rolled, please contact me directly. If Matthew finds out how many of you are dissatisfied, he’ll insist on helping next time.
Once they were all packaged, we still had to put stamps on them and sort them into domestic and international and home delivery piles for each of the subcategories – expiring, soon to expire, and not expiring anytime soon. We had so many different piles that we had to enlist some free child labor to help us out.
She proved surprisingly capable. I’m working on teaching her how to use a stapler, though. In preparation for SPX, we are going to need to make a boatload more books.
Once that was completed (not even in the wee hours!) we were free to head north. Along the way, we saw lots of rain:
lots of power lines:
and a surprising number of cold, wet chickens:
Our arrival was a great surprise for John, who had been secretly moping in the grey gloom when we got there. Kato celebrated the reunion by learning how to sit up.
Alden chose, instead, to attack John with a pillow.
She is truly inscrutable.
There were too many highlights to go into too much detail. But we all had a pretty great time. Except for Kato, apparently, who couldn’t even summon a little bit of a smile for the family photo.
He’s usually such a sweet little guy, so rarely anything but smiley, that I was a little worried. I asked around, seeing if anyone had noticed the sudden change in his demeanor. Judy suggested it might have something to do with what she discovered John feeding him earlier:
Not the baby food…
Apparently he downed 4 full shakers before he was satisfied. You just can’t trust grandpas. They will just give give give without question.
We did some hiking, though Kato’s attitude did not improve.
“Turkey Path?” he said. “That sounds like it would be good with some salt!”
A highlight I cannot leave out was going out to dinner at a local dive. Quite local. Quite divey. When John went to scope out the place (after having been turned away at a less-local, less divey sort of place that was full) he passed a guy in the bar playing pool who was yelling at his cueball not to “f**ing go into that goddamn pocket, you f**ing c**sucker!” We thought it was the perfect sort of place to bring our newer, saltier baby boy. He could learn so much.
But the other draw was that this place is known for its prime rib. And prime is right. The four of us ladies ordered the “King” size to share.
The picture is so blurry because Matthew couldn’t hold still so furiously was he shaking with envy. He had ordered a calzone, the foolish, foolish man. The piece of meat was literally 6 inches thick. And dee-li-ciousssss.
Heading out to leave early the next morning, Matthew managed to get us impossibly wedged between a rock and a log in the tippy edge of the steeply sloping driveway. He tried to imply that it was because of the added weight that resulted from my bulking up on the King cut the night before, but I think it had more to do with his imperfect driving skills. At any rate, we were hopelessly stuck. No amount of gravel under the front tire would pull us out.
I know this doesn’t look bad, but what you can’t see is the precarious 5 foot drop to the immediate right of the car. We were too distressed to take any more pictures. The day was saved by some local dudes who saw us, climbed out of their truck, did a little pushing to no avail, and returned 10 minutes later with a bigger truck and a chain. We owe them our lives.
We tried to give them some money to buy themselves, say, a King cut of prime rib, but they refused. This is the sort of out-of-the-goodness-of-the-heart that one finds in the back woods of Pennsylvania. Thank you, guys.
And so ended our trip to Pennsylvania. In spite of the rain, we managed to have a really great time. There’s nothing better than just lounging around with the folks.
Unless, of course, it’s beating them into submission.
Once again, I have forgotten to post on last week’s auction until the day that it ends. For those of you seeking to own a piece of Robbi at her most dark and scribbly, I give you Bird Eat Bird.
You know the drill. Click here to bid. I’ll try to be more prompt in posting about the auction that will go up later today. For now, here’s some great art (in one man’s opinion) real cheap.