Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Enamoured with GarageBand

While in Vegas, I've snagged a few moments to learn Garageband to create my first podcast. It's an amazing program that takes very little effort to create a professional sounding product. Think I'll add an English accent -that makes any stupid thing I say sound brilliant.

Here's a short piece I think I'll use as my Intro for future podcasts. Please let me know what you think -I'm absolutely astounded as it only took me 5 attempts!!

ECStewart Intro

PS. I'm finding that when I turn on/off my studio sign that this piece does not play; I dunno if it's on my end or if you're experiencing this, too. I apologize if you are and as a workaround, you'll probably want to close your browser and relaunch. Quite annoying.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vegas: Day 2 - ACRE, O, Bellagio, & Richard MacDonald

We spent a few more hours walking the ACRE show this morning and visiting with gracious artists. Walking shows to determine investment worthiness is imperative to one's business. Our observations cement our 'walk before each show' mantra due to an unlucky mix of a young show and bad economy, it's going to be awhile before this West Coast show gains momentum.

Unfortunately, we saw artists huddled in mass because there were very few buyers walking the show. It was 11am before one artist had her first visitor: us. I did my best to alert them that we were visiting artists and to ignore us the moment a buyer walked in; that happened very few times.

I have to say, the Bellagio is probably my favorite place to hang. It's got the water show at the fountains, the botanical garden: a sanctuary of fantastical displays & sculptures amidst a haven of flowers and butterfly garden; the lobby shrouded in Chihuly glass, and currently, an exhibition homage to Cirque by Richard MacDonald that precedes Cirque du Soleil's theatre.

We scored tix to Cirque's "O" and enjoyed a rather inexpensive dinner at Noodles. O was good and now I find myself in the afflicted condition to compare all Cirque shows. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why the obsession with all the brides and the show didn't have that seamless transition from one act to another as Quidam. It was enjoyable, but the critics exclaim that if you see only one Cirque show in Vegas, it should be O -I disagree. Thus far, I think it should be KA or if you're an open minded adult: Zumanity. Now that's a cool show. Swimming in champagne glasses is absolutely amazing. Quidam is my all time favorite.

Preceding the theater, is Richard MacDonald's current installation. Because O finished at 3:30am Raleigh time, I couldn't get photos of his fabulous sculptures. Forgive me, you'll have to head to the artist Web site to get a better glimpse. The photography of his work is better than what I could have captured: low lighting, didn't have my Canon, and an obnoxious cattle call of people pushing to get out. I couldn't wait to get to bed.

Bellagio Botanical Garden

Quiet Thought for the Day: I realized today that Vegas is to me what IHop is to Lewis Black: No matter how bad I think I look, I can always find someone who is dressed worse. You can find the IHOP audio snippet here (Alert: Foul Language).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ACRE, Carnevino, & KA

The first day we walked ACRE for a few hours to get the feel of the venue.

The accepted artists into ACRE were incredibly talented. Although fabulous, we did see quite a bit of 'sameness' within select categories: metal, jewelry, fiber, wood, which can be good and bad. Additionally, we met some new friends who hailed from the West side of the states and were incredibly generous with their information; I happen to believe that separates East Coast and West Coast artists.

I've always been eager to share my thoughts with friends and colleagues about how I see their work progressing -many times it's in a direction that never occurred to them. Lately, I've decided to just hold my tongue with the suggestions, since folks on this side aren't quite as eager to hear my thoughts as I am to solicit them -perhaps I'm just a closet Californian. It was refreshing to have folks coming out into the aisles to touch my Bacchus book asking me if I had considered alternate ways of designing it or asking about potential partnerships -nice! Their generosity took me by surprise every time.

Keeping an open mind is important for a creative. No matter how ideas come to you, taking or receiving a fresh approach to one's challenge is always educational. I may never agree with their ideas, but I know the path of creativity is to volley potential nuggets back and forth until the best idea is generated.

Took the monorail (every city should have one!) from the Hilton to Harrahs. Walked over to the Venetian, past 3 guys slapping tickets on their hands to gain attention to the passerbys -an act itself.

After sauntering thru the Venetian Piazzo & Canal, we picked up our reserved tickets to Cirque's KA. Man I love a good Cirque show.

Dinner at Carnevino, a Mario Batali restaurant was no disappointment. Andrew enjoyed the NYStrip with an excellent rub and I managed to score some Pacific Halibut.

Both excellent venues for an evening in Vegas.

And still... no desire to gamble.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Marriage Byline

Have you ever, ever created a marriage byline? It didn't occur to us to create one until tonight.

We've returned to Las Vegas this week to walk a couple of tradeshows: ACRE and Interop.

Looking for dinner at 9 o'clock at night (6pm East Coast time) within our hotel, the prices of oh, just about everything, blind sighted me. As we were shuffling from one restaurant to another looking for a decent bite, I noticed that all restaurants were competitively priced and Andrew lamented, "Ya know, we should decide when we're going to have a nice meal." I asked him to define "nice" as we stood in front of each menu that wouldn't let the average person walk out of anything less than $30/per. Eventually, we found sandwiches and a bottle of wine at a gift shop for ~$45; this allowed us to escape the pillaging of our wallets of $70, for which we were grateful.

I'm such a Scot when it comes to buying food. Ugh.

Andrew's the font of useless knowledge and fortunately, he's got enough sense of humor to put up with me. We really do enjoy each other's sarcasm -tonight was no different.

We happily returned to the room and flipped on the tele. I'm attempting to balance the little open plastic container that hosts my chicken caesar wrap precariously sitting on the hotel vinyl folder while perched on the white on white duvet pillow topped bed. Out of no where Andrew exclaims, "Oh look! It's Ed Bernstein!"

Immediately I think, "Oh crap, I should know this" as I look up and try to identify the person on the flat panel. My mind races as I try to match his face like a scene on CSI to any one stored in my personal visual database. Nada. I got nuthin. Then I realize it's a local attorney looking for accident victims.


First night in the entertainment capital of the world and suddenly it hit me like casino pit boss: I'm about to byline our marriage.

Our Marriage
Wait! Wait! I should know this!


Priority + Crunch Time = No Cell Phone

I'm a walking Murphy's Law, there's no doubt about it.

It never fails. Whenever I decide I need to drastically cull my projects -and in my case, before we head out of town- I get 11th hour calls to work on something completely new.

I don't have a rule book I live by, but the past few months and the past few trips, I have started to create one.

Rule 1:
Staple the damn passport to your sternum.

Rule 2:
Staple the mobile to the passport that's stapled to your sternum.

Rule 3: Stop ALL work by noon the previous day before travel; this allows one to get household chores done; this also includes packing.

So, Jim, if you're reading this: STOP TRYING TO CALL MY MOBILE! It's at home attached to my Bacchus purse.

Also, Jim, please send me an email (I am at least connected that way) so that I can send you Andrew's mobile number.

I feel so naked.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Persistence & A Laff Outloud Moment

Being the introvert, a sometime single focused design-a-holic that I am, I probably miss more windows of opportunity because there are days when I just don't 'want to sell.' It's tiring for an artist who's filled with visual and suddenly have to switch gears to conversational strategy. Infrequent blog updates not withstanding.

Over the river and thru the woods, I read aloud the Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Dan Pink to Andrew as we drove to the outlaw's house this past weekend. The book was well reviewed by Tom Peters so Andrew promptly snagged it from Amazon.

Johnny Bunko was a quick read, well, it would have been if I were reading it silently to myself. Just how do you read a comic book replete with visuals to the driver of the car, anyway? The book is geared toward young graduates, but Mr. Peters found it useful for all folk in every stage of their careers; I'd have to agree. Because I'm such a sap, I teared up over one tiny part -perhaps I'm just tired. Er, perhaps, I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Regardless, there are 6 major points each person must understand for oneself and number 4 resonated with me: Persistence. In spite of the economic downfall, I continue to persevere by tirelessly designing by both day and night.

Now, the professional planets were aligned for me the past few days. I received some encouraging news: looks like I'll be partnering with a prominent vendor with whom I've been working over the past few years on some exclusive Christmas products. They love my animals, so I need to get crackin' on cats, dogs, and holiday motifs. Yeaaa!!!!!!!!

How cool is that?

Core77 has posted this note in honor of term paper season. Follow the link to read colorful answers to student researchers inquiries: What psychological skills are needed to be a (good) designer?

Dog Breed: Yorkie Revisited

In addition to pushing my style into work that most people can appreciate (and purchase), I am also attempting to identify which backgrounds are most resonate with my customers.

This Yorkie is featured on the classic arts & crafts background. I just love the champagne background, so rich. I think he'd look great on a woven afghan.

What are your thoughts? Oh, how I love Mr. Frank Wright.

Here's the Art Nouveau Yorkie for comparison.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dog Breed: The Chow, Homage to Paw Paw

My second installation of the Dog Beautiful series and a timely homage to Paw Paw, Martha Stewart's beloved late pet: the chow-chow.

Update: If you follow my posts, you know that I'm not above modifying them. Today is not any different because I've been reworking (again!) the chow dog. Tell me which one you like better!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celebrate Tax Day: Free Shipping

We're all a bit weary from preparing our taxes and need a little relief where ever we can get it. So! I've decided that in light of the little money we may or may not be getting back from the government, that you deserve a treat: free shipping -until June 1st (on select items).

Please give me a few days to go back into the pages and modify the code to give you that free shipping option. Otherwise, I will refund the money to you should you decide you need something now.

A Heads Up: I will be away from the studio from Thursday, April 24 - Wednesday, April 30th. Please be patient as it's only me attending every function of the studio, coding and shipping are just a part of it. Thanks!

Studio News: Ladies Night -Again!!

Between TAXES and SURTEX, I've been a bit busy creating new lines for manufacturers.

During our recent trip to the local wine merchant, I've been invited back to return to their next quarter Ladies Night!! Woo-hoo!

The Brief Scoop:
Wednesday, May 21:
Ladies Night at the Raleigh Wine Merchant.
Tastings from select wineries as well as substantial discounts on wine. Oh, and I'll be there with my art featuring... what else? Wine! A trunkshow with a few surprises, too, so you locals might just want to stop by.

I'll let you know more the closer we get.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Luxe Suede Journals: New Color Combos

Wow! After the past few local shows, I can see that folks are enamoured with our journals! And that's a good thang. I wish we could make them as fast as they're selling, alas, we're doing what we can by finding materials and encouraging folks like you to pre-order when available.

Here's what we've got to date:

I'll take a photo soon of the unsewn books that we've got stashed away to let you know what additional color combination we might have. Because we've got travel plans late April & May, I don't foresee a time when we'll be able to go shopping for more leather & suede. Translation: If you want these for 'Mom's Day', don't delay.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Local Event: SCPA Open House

If you're local to Raleigh, I'll be part of Second Chance Pet Adoptions Open House tomorrow.

Second Chance has moved into a bigger facility that houses most, if not all their kitties, and you'll be able to see the all the wonderful dogs and cats ready for adoption.

If you're already brimming with pets, bring yourselves by anyway to meet with training professionals, grooming professionals, and massage therapists to learn how to treat your fuzzy family members special. Additionally, they will have microchip program, food, drink, games, and special events for kids.

Oh, Andrew and I will be revealing some goodies from the CalligraphyPets collections. While I donate to Second Chance thru-out the year, I will be donating a portion of my sales proceeds made tomorrow directly to the agency. I may even have a raffle!!

Please stop by and say hello.

Update: Despite the inclement weather, the open house brought a few people in to see the myriad of pets available for adoption and the new facility. I noticed many many tabbies available, two even looked like our Bacchus and Cheshire. Quietly, I said to the Bacchus doppleganger, "Don't get fat! Please for the love of all good pets, don't get fat!" I doubt he'll listen.

Studio News: Introducing Dog Breed Series!

After many enthusiasts hounding me for dog breed-specific art, I am embarking down a new path: Dog Breeds!!

This Original Scotch Terrier, the Yorkie, is the first of many dogs I will be illustrating this season.

It's going to take a long while to complete the hundreds of breeds out there, so please be patient. To understand the popularity of the breeds, I decided initially, it would be best to start with the 2007 top 10 dogs and continue from there. Please let me know your thoughts and opinions and I'll take them into consideration as I render each pup.

Monday, April 07, 2008

An Ode to Madam

Madam's a breast cancer survivor; she's also in surgery today.

Having been cancer free for ~10 years, we learned a few weeks ago that Madam has had a recurrence of cancer yet again in her second breast. After the minute discovery, she made a decision that it was not worth having just a lumpectomy.

Good for her, I say. I do my best to determine what I might do in any grave situation -prior to event- so that I can rely on my clear judgment to carry me through any adversities. Personally, I believe I would probably have both of them removed simultaneously so that I wouldn't have to go thru all of the adjustments that she's had to endure: new bras, a new boob, another new boob because she melted hers on the stove, a new bra fitting because she lost weight, and yet another new boob.

There's also the bowl we have to loan her because she forgot her 'boob box' during her weekend visit -she's got to place her 'girl' in the bowl to rest!

Last Fall, Madam made the suggestion that when we created the suede/leather journals, that we find pink for Breast Cancer Awareness; I thought that was a fine idea. Andrew and I also thought it was a fine idea to bring one to her as a gift. Also, after having a few glasses of wine, we came up with the hilarious idea of having a photo shoot that includes her topless with the Bacchus book -she was definitely in agreement.

This is my Ode to Madam and the transformation she continues.

The juxtaposition of the the grunge texture behind Madam is about decay and the darkness of cancer that surrounds her. The lotus is a Chinese symbol for health that is found both in the painterly foreground as well as the calligraphic borders both top and bottom.

MAC Update: For those of you watching my MAC frustrations, I think my episode last week was due to a glitch in Photoshop. After reinstalling the app, I was able to get Madam's piece done without incident. Today, my MAC memory has arrived, so my favorite husband can feel vindicated by his MAC recommendation.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Studio News: Spring Ads

For the past week, I've been pulling out my hair (not sure whether it's gray or not at this point) due to my new MAC; my new Photoshop wants to crash unexpectedly. I'm confused, annoyed, and turning the air blue. I've got a deadline!!!

I had a number of files open earlier this week (same day, same hour) that were several Meg, Gigabytes even and didn't have a problem. Suddenly, I can't modify one file to save my life.

Finally, I gave up.

Folks have been telling me how much better off I'm going to be when it comes to MAC vs PC. Pftsth! I cannot concur... not yet anyway.

This is the ad that I managed to get out the door at the 11th hour. Think I'll turn it into a postcard and send to manufacturers, too.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring Treats: Studio Surprise

When we got a few hours of sunshine, I dashed out to take photos of Spring time growth in our neighborhood. These beautiful specimens will serve as inspiration for my ever growing flower series I'm creating.

What's your favorite flower? You may be entitled to a studio surprise!!

Azalea Fest

Last week, I thought I was plagued with a nasty head cold, turns out it was allergies. I've never been susceptible, but never say never, right? I was hanging out in stasis all week, never getting any better or worse, but I thought it best to stay away from the gym and friends just to be safe.

Over the weekend, Raleigh was endowed with rain and because the pollen has been wetted, I can breathe clearly now! Yay!

I'm sorry I didn't do too much communicating the past few days. Between creating a new flower series, composing a new ad for an industry pub, I get into those 'introvert' and 'single minded' focus.

Meanwhile, thought I would treat you to our private Azalea Fest right here in our own yard.