Monday, December 03, 2007

Duke University has chosen me to speak at their Fannie Mitchell Career Conference in late January! I'll tell the weird story of my convoluted career path and answer questions from students/profs/alum, and I may even get to reunite with some friends who live nearby...

The song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," is in my head right now. My Christmas spirit is overflowing, and that is very handy, since I have 15 holiday parties to go to (a number that continues to rise) in the next 22 days.

I have also become a high-tea fanatic. I think I have gone to afternoon tea (British style) 5 times within the last three months. In the process, I have discovered Jose Gaspar's hidden treasure: Sophia's Tea Room. (Located just off Henderson, a block before Henderson becomes Manhattan.) She home-cooks the scones and desserts and makes the finger sandwiches herself. I adore those scones, and the curried egg salad sandwiches and the pumpkin cheesecake!!

I also joined a local branch of the Red Cross Angels, and have kept busy with the Junior League, which has been fun. In fact, volunteer work for Junior League led me to show a couple of my portraits at Tampa's Mayfair Design Showhouse for a couple of weeks in November.

C'est tout.

Photo from Duke archives.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I was in the Tampa Tribune! Well, it's taken me a week to find a spare moment to mention it, but, yes, I was on the cover page of the business section plus most of page 3! The photos that accompany the tangible paper version aren't accessible online, but you'll get the gist of it:

Thanks to Dave Simanoff, a.k.a. Hero of Journalism, a.k.a. The Daily Dave, for the wonderful article!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It occurs to me that, in the course of blogging, I have compared:

(1) God to an artist, and
(2) artists to magicians, superheroes, and Tom Hanks.

I am either full of myself, or I just like to use my art as a metaphor to understand the inexplicable. Or both.

But there are greater questions at issue here.

I.e., does this mean that Tom Hanks is God?

Just a thought.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It turns out that Tampa Tribune writer Dave Simanoff attended the "Brazen Careerist" book-signing at Inkwood Books as well, and he heard me speak. He called me this week and asked if he could come to my studio and interview me for a story. It's mainly because I used to be an attorney.

See now, I knew going to law school would be good for something at some point....

Oh how I hated law.

Back when I worked at a law firm, and had to make the daily 7:30 am trek to my car, I seemed to share identical work hours with a girl who lived nearby, and we often waved to each other in that morning routine.

On the way to work one day, this acquaintance told me she worked in adoption, and she named the office: a corporate-looking place, located only two blocks away, that I'd passed every single day, for months.

Adoption. I immediately thought of, what else, pet adoption. A complete contrast to my own un-cuddly job. I said, with total sincerity: "How nice it must be, to work with animals."

Her eyes popped, her brows lowered, her mouth pursed. She glared at me. "I work,' she said cuttingly, "with CHILDREN!"

She stormed off before I could explain. And then she moved away. I love children. I do, really. Oh well... This is why I have to drink coffee in the morning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Met Penelope Trunk! And she is the friendliest "antisocial" blogger-turned-book-author you'll ever meet.

Look her up here:

I stumbled upon her blog about two weeks ago. Then, Monday, my friend Jenn pointed out that Penelope was visiting Tampa within a few hours for a book signing.

A number of people have complained about the fact that Penelope, who has ultimately achieved success by offering financial and career-related advice, has herself experienced plenty of difficulty in those very areas on her way up. I think her honesty is refreshing and inspiring, and I love her counter-intuitive (yet well-researched) advice. Just a few of my favorite items from Penelope Trunk:

You can put a number on happiness. It's a $40,000 annual salary.    (?!?!)

Perfectionism is completely at odds with achieving perfection.

Exercise boosts your IQ.

Also, she's funny. For more, you want to visit her website or blog, or buy her book!

What else can I tell you?

Well, I am really loving a new painting I've done in pastel.

This is a portrait of a house, rather than a person, but I feel like this house has all the personality of a human being.

I love how the trees' shadows work their way over everything. It unites every part of the picture.

And the composition pleases me, with its zigzagging lines drawing the eye all over the page. I can't wait to paint more homescapes!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I know Blue Man Group has been around for years, but I just saw it again recently, and was reminded: this show is brilliant conceptual art. It covers sooo many ideas, and with such an entertaining delivery. People obsess over race, over black, white, yellow, etc, so let's make these people blue. No such thing as blue people? Fine, they can be aliens, or whatever you like, so long as you have no preconceived ideas of what it means to be blue.... So thought-provoking... What is art? What makes a thing valuable? What does it mean to be creative/productive? What does it mean to be a consumer? How are we all connected? Then there's the fascinating element of how people change behavior in the midst of large groups. Mob mentality, but used in a good way, to open minds rather than to close them. All of this, plus it looks and sounds and feels like a party. Actually, it feels like you are five years old, at a phenomenal birthday party.

I saw the show about a week ago in Orlando. I had seen the show before, but was excited to see it again, because this time around I knew one of the performers! Richard Cravens, whom you can find here, is a Blue Man now! It was great to say hello to him at the end and get him to make one of his rare breaks from character to say hello back. He also shook my hand and left me with a blue-paint-y palm. But no worries, I'm familiar with having paint on my hands. :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New Wonderful TV Interview - Channel 10 (CBS) this time! Reporter David Leonard interviewed me. David is a one-man-band, performing the roles of camera-man, lighting manager, director, story-writer, etc, all at once, and I was seriously impressed by his professionalism! The video and story came out yesterday, so here's the link, and you can see for yourself:

I love it!! He even interviewed my mom!! Warm fuzzy feelings :)

And I am just really glad and grateful that David saw a story in me, a story that could potentially interest and inspire other people.

What's the story? I hope you'll check out the news channel's report. In short, I made a rather unconventional leap from a safe, professional path, into the wilds of the great artistic unknown. Lots of time and money were invested into moving me through Duke, the University of Florida, and the Florida Bar. And the idea of disappointing my parents and family... weighed on me, to say the least.
But ultimately, they respected the fact that I could not define financial reward alone as "success," and would not feel real happiness until I at least made a go at following my dreams. I had to prove I had the ability to back up my dreams. And that's where the hard work came in. If this inspires anyone, I am happy.

Come to think of it, David has a job that's similar to mine: telling people's stories. I bet I would enjoy being that sort of reporter! This gives me an idea... I'd love to do a new kind of portrait: one that is not only visual, but includes a written component, a written snapshot of the person's life. A bit of biography. And this could be in the form of paper or CD, which could be stored in a slot that is cut into the frame. Or the words could be written on the back of the frame itself, or on the back of the canvas... Hmmm, food for thought.

Also, I joined the Junior League of Tampa this week. Really looking forward to the next year...

Comic strip: Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Magic! Abracadabra! Presto-chango! More on that topic in a minute, but first a few updates:

On the news front, I am excited to have met Jackie Silver, who has a fascinating website about the secrets of "Aging Backwards"; one look at her testifies to her expertise: She has a recurring spot on NBC's Tampa morning show, Daytime, and she is talking to their producer about possibly having me on as a guest at some point. Yay! I love these opportunities!

I'm also set to have an ad and a brief editorial come out in the "New and Notable" section of Tampa Bay Illustrated's April issue. I tried to sneak in a bit of an engagement announcement for my sister there. Dr. Katie Gres is now engaged to the very wonderful Steven Gold! But they didn't publish that part...

My good friend Jim Kennedy loved his portrait of his daughter Bridget and the family treasure, Bing (see below)!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Speaking of the movies, I saw "The Illusionist" recently.

I enjoyed the puzzles of "The Illusionist," and I won't spoil any surprises for you. I will say I wonder if anyone else saw foreshadowing in Eisenheim's (Edward Norton's) trick where he shows Sophie (Jessica Biel) her mirror image? And I love Paul Giamatti in every role he disappears into. All of the magic tricks had me fascinated and confused, and I loved watching the writer's commentary and finding out some of the magician's secrets.

Here's where we get to the aforementioned main topic of my post!

The audience in a movie theater is not so different from the old-time audience for a magician. The actors are magicians, transforming into characters. And the plot of the story is itself the best trick. Some viewers (the Biel character sort of viewer) might get enormous enjoyment out of watching passively, with a complete suspension of disbelief. The Giamatti-type viewer might be working hard to figure out the plot ahead of the movie's conclusion, and loving both the thrill of solving the mystery and the delight of being mystified. The crown-prince (Rufus Sewell) type would sneer condescendingly at a movie for the transparency of its illusions, would feel personally insulted by any "unsolvable" aspect of a movie, and would therefore never watch any movie with any genuine delight.

I've said before, in my biography on my website, that I feel a sort of magic in the art that I create. In the completion of a painting, there's a certain moment when the pigment and the composition come together, ready to burst off the page, and I feel like doing a happy dance around my easel, thumping my chest and raising my hands to the sky. Picture something like Tom Hanks on "Cast Away," exulting, "I have made FIRE!! Look what I have created!!" I hope none of my viewers are the prince/Sewell type.

And I love that one of the super "powers" on NBC's "Heroes" belongs to a magically prophetic artist. The Isaac Mendez character (Santiago Cabrera) seems to fall under a spell, into a trance, with a milky-white glaze over his eyes, and the art that results seems to come not from him, but through him, as if he is a channel for the electricity of an all-knowing intelligence. He falls out of the spell and is astonished at his future-predicting creation.

Ha! If I could have any super power, I think I'd prefer the ability to fly... :D