Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

meet some of my neighbors

One of my favorite things about living in the Netherlands is that there are so many birds! Back home I was quite the novice birdie, with my 2 feeders and little "who's at my feeder?" book. Unfortunately we don't have any suitable bird friendly spots in our teeny tiny itsy bitsy patio, so I like to walk over to the water by the house and check out the scene.

Of course I have been really enjoying spring, because there are SO many babies! They're everywhere and I've found that I have to go and count them every day or two just to see who's left, because it seems like they are preyed upon by the sea gulls and local cats. At first I was sort of gutted at the realization, but really, if you're going to enjoy observing nature, then you have to accept these things.

I think it's really cute though how when the babies first hatch they stay so close to their mother, and within a week they're zipping all over the place, exploring and chasing mosquitoes. occasionally there will be one who is a bit too brave and it goes off exploring and doesn't realize that everyone else has moved on. Once it's realized, the baby will begin chirping loudly and swimming at full speed towards them to catch up. Yes, I realize that I am a complete geek.

Anyway, this is one of the "families" that I've been visiting. They're a lot bigger now.


Recently I discovered that there was a terrace on the top floor of V & D here in Leiden. There's a little place where you can get some nibbles or coffee and enjoy a very pretty (and perhaps the highest in the area) view of the city center. At times it can feel like you're experiencing a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", but in this case the gulls are more interested in your food than they are in killing you.

how was your weekend?

My hell weekend is over, but a new week complete with new assignments begins tomorrow.

It should say an apple a week, because I have to submit one for each week of my illustration course. This is my week 3 design.

The 3 page illustration:

In all honesty, these are no where near finished. I think most people who know me are aware of the fact that I am not pleased with my courses, and a primary issue that I have is the rushed time line placed on us to do assignments. I would rather create portfolio quality work and unfortunately I had to submit this as is. I'm going to change the layout of the text before I add this to my portfolio, which I will be using to apply to SCAD next month.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

so, what are you doing this weekend?

I'm going to be sitting on my green desk chair for the next two days illustrating this children's book for an assignment. It's nearly 3:00 am and I have just finished the first of 3 required illustrations. This is a first draft. I think I should have just scribbled something out like the rest of the class, but I get so caught up in little details. This took me 6 hours and I still have to do the moon and fix the text and some bunny details. That bunny took me 5 of the 6 hours to make! He's cute, so I'm okay with it. If you click on the images you can see them with better quality.

Friday, April 24, 2009

taking care of business

I think we can all say that at one time or another we've been out and about and realize...I really have to go to the bathroom.

There's nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar city wandering the streets with a desperate look in your eye, only to be told "The restroom is for patrons only" or "It's out of order", and if you always rely on Starbucks, you've come to realize that so does everyone else, which is why Starbucks also serves as a homeless person washing up station.

While the primary point is to find a working, available restroom, it is certainly a bonus when the restroom is clean and you can breathe while you're in there. It also helps immensely if the essential items are available, such as toilet paper and hand soap.

Well, the days of pee pee misery may be closing to and end for some. If you live in the US of A, program this number into your mobile's address book: 415-350-2290 under the name "MizPee". The next time you're caught in this predicament, send a text message to the number with your city and state and according to the site, "MizPee finds the closest, cleanest toilet and gives you entertaining reading material once you get there."

You read that right kids! You even get reading material. Even better... it's entitled, "The Toilet Paper"

Alternatively, you can use your mobile browser and go to www.mizpee.com. You input your locale and MizPee gives you a list of options.

For each toilet you are given the following information:
  • Business or building name
  • Street address
  • Distance from your location
  • Average cleanliness rating from previous users
    (5 = very clean; 1 = yuck)
  • Cost and/or purchase requirements, e.g. is this toilet for customers only?
  • Handicap access: Yes or No
  • Diaper-changing station: Yes or No
  • User comments
I don't know if I would read half of those details. I'd want to know how far I had to go to get there, and depending on how dire the situation was, I'd try not to go to anyplace with a "yuck" status.

I don't have an internet browser on my mobile, so I haven't tried this... if you live in Europe, I'd be interested to see if it works so try it out and let me know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

feeling deflated

Today, I was heading over to some cheap-o shop in town to buy a bike pump (cuz I'm a cheap-o). I unlocked my bike and checked my tires to find that my front tire definitely has a leak, because in 4 days it has gone pretty much flat. I went to the shop anyway and bought the pump, and on my way home I stopped at a bicycle shop to ask how much it would cost to replace both tubes/tires and I was quotes 30 euros! OK, so call me cheap, (and I won't argue) but I spent 60 euros on the bike, so 30 seems like a lot!?

I know the Dutchies are professionals with their bikes, but I am not even close. I barely know how to operate the silly tire valves... and that little doo-hickie electric generator? Well I had the bike for over 2 months before someone showed me how to adjust it and make it work. I've since forgotten, so I don't ride it at night. Anyway, back in NYC I took my oma to the bike shop and it took them 3 hours to get the back tire off when they told me it would take 20 minutes. After watching 3 bike shop employees struggling with the back tire for well over an hour, I am doubtful that I am capable of doing it on my own.

So- what's a girl to do? I guess I pay the 30 euros... boo.

the daily

concept designs

Concept designs for a mid to low price range wine being sold at local restaurants in California - emphasizing the 21 to 35 age group who dine and drink casually. This is the first round and they will change significantly in the coming weeks.


3 sided table topper

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

putting one foot in front of the other

So I've made some small progress in my running habits this month. Previously I was running a 3 mile loop and I was struggling a bit with it. I don't know if it was the route itself, or my lack of enthusiasm, or what. I joined an expat group here in my town and posted in the forums to see if anyone would be interested in running with me in the evenings. I managed to get a handful of positive responses and so we'll be having our inaugural run this evening.

I did also hear from a woman who is a bit of a long distance runner. I think I immediately knew that I could not manage running with her, but she shared her long and short loop routes with me, and both happen to run right past my house. So about 3 weeks ago I decided to give it a shot and ran the short loop, which is 5 miles. I finished it in just over an hour and felt thrilled with myself for doing it, and without really struggling. So I haven't went back to my old route since then, and with tonight's run of just over 5 miles, I'm beginning to feel like this is something that I could really start to enjoy as a hobby.

Where am I going with this? heh. Well I've decided to sign up for a 10k in May.
I realize it's not a huge distance but I'm pleased that I'm already to a point where running a 5k would seem like too small a challenge. I have 24 days to run and condition myself and I'm really excited about it.

oh, the responsibility of it all....

I haven't written in the blog spot for over a week. I have a ton of material saved in my "drafts", but I just haven't felt like posting.

In news, last weekend I finally rode up to Lisse to check out the tulips. It was a nice trip, although I did it with a large group of people and frankly, at times it was a bit chaotic with people stopping without warning to take photos and blocking the bike paths. It made me think of the situation on the Brooklyn Bridge. There's a pedestrian lane and a biking lane, but with so many tourists who don't know or care about that line running up the middle, the bikers end up being really aggressive and tourists are left running around flailing their arms as if they've been swimming and someone yells "shark!" This scene wasn't nearly AS dramatic, but it had some potential. I just rode more towards the front of the group to avoid such cases and eventually most of those people were left to their maps and photos and a smaller, more laid back group managed to cruise the rest of the trip with relative ease, and no photo stops.

We did stop at one point to wait for people at a small castle and were able to check out some sort of Renaissance themed "battle", a random yet fun find, and on our way back, we stopped at the grocery store for some wine and went out to a pretty island park in Warmond to have a few drinks and chat before heading home.

Overall, out of 10, I give the day a 6.

Photos to follow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


sometimes kids are cute

Thursday, April 9, 2009

hot or not?

I'm totally down with innovation and I wholly support people who take the incentive to come up with crafty inventions that make life easier, however, I'm not sure if Toastabags are more convenient or if they simply enable people to be even more lazy than they already are (and waste more paper in the process). Functionally speaking, I wonder if a standard toaster slot will even accommodate 2 slices of bread with cheese and tomatoes. That's just my immediate reaction, but I'm curious to know what you think.

They come in "twin packs" and there are 3 different styles; lite, gold, and black which range from $2.90 to $7.30. I have no idea what the difference is, but that seems far from cheap. What do you think? Would you buy Toastabags?

defining moments

Once I made 3 mix CD's for this guy that I had a crush on. I designed the cover art too. I gave them to him while we were in his car and instead of putting one on, he put them on his back seat and we listened to the radio. I asked him months later if he liked them and he said he never listened to them. I didn't talk to him after that. jerk.


inner workings

colors alive



guess where I am...

no where especially special, but take a guess

museek make-a me happeh

It's the season of new album releases, so I tried my luck yesterday and was able to get a few newbies, some not-so-newbies, and some oldies but goodies. The goal for the day is to give all or most of these a good listen to whilst I do my work. I'm not very good at writing album reviews, but if anything seems fantastic I'll make mention of it.
I'm taking recommendations too, so please let me know if there's something new out that I should be hearing!

Von Bondies - Love, Hate And Then There's You
Casiotone For the Painfully Alone - Vs. Children
Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

Robots In Disguise - We're In the Music Biz
PJ Harvey & John Parish - A Woman A Man Walked By
Fischerspooner - Entertainment
Rupa and the April Fishes - eXtraOrdinary Rendition
Port O' Brien - All We Could Do Was Sing
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
Wavves - Wavves
John Maus - Love is Real
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Bwyd Time
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - The Doldrums

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Amsterdam won't separate plastic waste

Tuesday 07 April 2009

Amsterdam city council is refusing to cooperate with government plans to collect plastic waste separately, the Parool reported on Monday afternoon.

Environment minister Jacqueline Cramer wants to introduce separate plastics collection from January 1, 2010. But Amsterdam says it plans to continue incinerating plastic waste because that is better for the environment.

The city council will present a report on the environmental effect of separating plastic waste later this year, the paper says.

In addition, the city council says that experiments in smaller local authority areas show few people are actually prepared to separate their waste.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2 thumbs down

About 3 weeks ago I was having dinner with my roommate and we started talking about animation. I'm not an animation snob, an animation know-it-all, an anime freak-o, none of the above. I like what I like, and I don't really try to take it any further than that. So, I came up with some films that I wanted to show for "Cartoon Week" that would be interesting as a story, visually and artistically interesting, or at least entertaining to an adult audience. So far, it's been pretty solid. We've watched some Family Guy episodes, Wall-e, Persepolis, Les Triplettes de Belleville, and some Animation Show clips. I'm pleased that feedback from the 2 roomies has been 2 thumbs up.

There's still some others in the line up, Tim Burton's short, Vincent, The Flying Pig (hopefully), an episode of Ren & Stimpy, an episode of Wallace & Grommit, Akira, and a few other options.which I've forgotten just now.

Tonight, on a fluke last minute decision, we decided to veer from the film itinerary (which happens when you're dealing with torrents, and slow downloads) and watch a film that we had already downloaded... Monsters vs. Aliens. This film was released in theatres in the US just last week I believe, so the copy wasn't 100%, but, regardless, it could have been perfect and it still would have been terrible. No exaggeration, this is one of the most terrible animation films that I have ever seen. Ever. I watched it to the end out of a sense of responsibility and also because I wanted something magical to happen and for the movie to suddenly change into a masterpiece. That never happened. Now it's over and instead of sending a copy to my parents, I'm deleting it.

'Tis a shame.

sketches of march

I've been trying to get into the habit of drawing more and thinking in terms of being an artist as well as a graphic designer. The way I see it is that anyone can learn how to use Photoshop or design a web site, but if you can work in multimedia, I think you have more to offer in the the job market.

That's not the only reason that I want to draw more. When I was younger it was all I did and thought about. Somewhere along the line I lost that drive. Like a writer or a musician, art is a form of expression. I'm wondering what I've been doing to relieve myself of the many different emotions and life experiences that I've had over the years since I stopped. Drinking wine is my best guess :)

a hang up

In my various wanderings across design sites I've noticed this trend, and despite the fact that seeing a dress placed in an image catches me off guard a bit, it does have some sort of quality that is visually interesting. Some of these images remind me of clothing catalogues, and so to see them in interior design magazines seems a bit odd. Retailers like Anthropologie sell clothing, furniture, and home goods and their catalogues and feature very similar ideals. Interior styling has gone into some exciting directions though, and I can appreciate how the period the dress is from, the color, the fabric, all of the little details help to enhance the environment that has been set before you, and in some cases they add a certain richness that might otherwise be missing. Styling is really not unlike traditional art, where the space that you work in is your canvas, and you rely on color and texture to set the tone, which is similar to any other art form if you think about it.

circa 1980-ish

When I was little, my mother and I lived for a brief time on a small farm in New Jersey. My memories of this period are just flashes. We had geese, which were used to make down filled comforters and pillows. There were owls living in the barn. I had 3 cats, a big grey one, an orange tabby and a grey tabby. Our house didn't have heat, and we had to burn wood in a stove when it was cold. I remember that my mom had a lot of antique furniture and she used to sew on an old Singer sewing table. There were plants everywhere, and I remember specifically that there were ferns and spider plants hanging in the windows. We had this really old claw foot bathtub that she painted black and I used to love taking bubble baths in it.
I have no idea how long we lived there, but I like to remember that time in my life.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I think this has been the most complicated tutorial that I've done in terms of the amount of steps and work involved in each separate component of the design. It wasn't as frustrating as the castle tutorial. Maybe that's because I've been working in Photoshop over the past several weeks in school... although, I did have to use my "call a friend" option for this one as well. I'm okay with that though because that's what friends are for! After that brief stumbling block (somewhere around step 14) I cruised through the rest of the lesson with relative ease.

The best learning part of this tutorial- adjustment layers and layer masks. Usually if I were making changes to a layer, I would just click on image>adjustment>and choose whatever adjustment I want, but with an adjustment layer, I can create a new layer above the original and make the changes, and because the adjustment layer is also a mask, I can then go in with a black paint brush and remove areas of the new effect that I don't want, showing the layer below though selectively. If I don't want the adjustment layer anymore down the line, I just delete it, and I'm not compromising anything in my work.

The most challenging parts- using the clone stamp and spot healing tools to expand the sky and the brush tool to create the swirl between the woman and the bird. I am not very competent with any of those, so getting used to the way that they work was quite a task. I think I spent the most of my time on those 2 areas of this entire project.

I chose to change some of the details based on my own aesthetic preferences and I'm pleased with the final result for sure. There were quite a few images used to create this scene, and below are a few of them, followed by the finished result.

Overall I think this is a fabulous tutorial for people who are comfortable with the basic skills required to use PS because you already understand layers and masks. The repetition involved here really helps to drive home the value of what you're doing so that you will be able to actually go ahead and use them in your own projects. You can find this tutorial along with the required images at psd tuts and the creator of the tutorial is a freelance graphic designer named Constantin Potorac. You can visit his personal site here.




finished example

my version

You can click on the bottom two images to see them in greater detail


koyaansiqatsi is one of those films that you can watch over and over and each time find yourself lost deep in thought and contemplation over its meaning. The fact is that it does have one, but it is as fluid and open to interpretation as a poem. I can't possibly impress my own ideas of the film upon you, however, I think you should watch it and if it is interesting to you and leaves you wanting to discuss your feelings, then I think you should watch it again at some point, because you will most likely see it differently, and understand details that you missed the first time. Additionally, if you read about the film after seeing it, you begin to understand the significance of the locations and the reason that they appear in the film. koyaanisqatsi took 3 years to shoot and 3 years to collaborate the film shots with Phillip Glass, the composer. It is truly a masterpiece in every way.


I don't know too much about this performance but it's just so pretty to watch. It was choreographed by Cleo Mack for the DanceNOW NYC festival.

don't we all...

I was looking for a funny picture for my friend and I found this. I immediately loved it and wanted to see where it came from, and more importantly, where can I find more. Unfortunately, the blog hasn't been used since 2007 and there are no other drawings.
Let this one live on... I'm glad to have found it.