Monday, October 31, 2011

new work: give and take

This is from a new narrative-type piece I have been working on, Give and Take. I have actually been making a lot of new work lately and am really thrilled about all of it. I had a good critique tonight which is always nice. I've been reading The Artist's Way ('s a 12-week book but I am taking it at my own, much slower pace) at the suggestion of Erika who writes the blog A Tiny Rocket. Reading this book and doing some of the activities in it have been helping with my "artist's block" which I definitely felt all summer. I don't want to jinx it by saying too much, but right now I have more ideas than I have time to make! Definitely a good thing. More updates on the new work soon...this is just one of many.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

super secret salsa recipe

After buying cilantro at the last farmers' market the other day (another reminder that winter is coming...), I decided to whip up some of my "secret salsa." While not actually a secret, I just like to call all of the recipes I write myself my "secret recipes" to make them sound more official. This salsa can be made without cilantro, but it adds a flavor I really love. As an alternative when it's not available, try 1-2 tsp. of ground coriander (cilantro seeds).

1 can fire roasted tomatoes, or 2-3 ripe tomatoes, roasted in the oven
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you want a mild salsa, try 1/2 pepper)*
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp lime juice
small handful cilantro leaves (about 1/4 cup or a little less)
dash of salt only if your tomatoes had no salt added

Put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the spices to your preference.

*if you're looking for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce at the supermarket, check the Mexican food aisle and look for a small can--I transfer these to a resealable container and keep them refrigerated since I only use them one at a time

This is my base recipe. Sometimes I play with add-ins, such as:
- peaches or pineapple
- black beans
- corn
- avocado
- onion (use less than you think you need--the onion flavor gets really potent)

The chipotle pepper and roasted tomatoes give this salsa a rich, smokey flavor, and the cilantro adds a fresh aftertaste. If you've never had chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I highly recommend them! They taste sort of like what you might imagine a spicy, Mexican barbecue sauce to be.

Friday, October 28, 2011

it's getting cold(er)

The swiss chard is still thriving...

...while the tomatoes are slowly dying. 36 degrees this morning. Cold.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the vicious squirrel strikes again

The squirrel strikes again...stealing a ripe tomato, taking a bite, and displaying it on a fence post for me to see.

The damage was kind of gross. (It's rainy today, by the way, so that's not all squirrel slobber.)

I also heard a loud noise on the back steps and looked out to see this...the last of my giant zinnias toppled over. Although it's rainy today, it's certainly not very windy or stormy...I think the squirrel did it under the guise of bad weather. At any rate, they are completely severed, so that's the last of them.

I still have my thumbelina zinnias although as you can see they have almost run their course.

I'm really sad that winter is almost here, and that this squirrel is ruining my last precious few moments in the garden.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

mail from me, mail from you

I love sending and receiving snail mail! I have not been so good about sending it over the past year for some reason, but I would really like to start back up again. I especially love sending holiday cards to my relatives as a way to stay in touch. A few days ago, I received these goodies in the mail from my friend Elizabeth who guest posted here last week!

It included three collage drawings, a Holga photograph, stickers (I love stickers!), and a note. I am still putting together a few things to send to her in return...I want my package to be as exciting!
Corey also received mail from Elizabeth on the same day...he ordered her chapbook! It is excellent and comes with some goodies inside, like the little sea drawings you see here. Get yours today, she is almost out!

saying goodbye to the tomatoes

Today I made this picture for a local autumn-leaf themed photo contest. My arrangement of the leaves was inspired by an "art experiment" I recently took part in for one of my fellow grad students. I decided to do tomato leaves because I figured that everyone else in the contest would send in pretty pictures of orange and red and yellow leaves (and I also figured there would not be many staged photos like this). This fall for me has been much more centered around my garden (although I appreciate the changing leaves too). Last year I did not get to enjoy my garden in fall, because I moved away from it at the beginning of September. This is my first time to have fall tomatoes, and I wanted to show the transformation of the tomato leaves. I am feeling a resistance to let the garden die, as that means winter is on its way, and I just don't feel quite ready for snow and cold yet.

Monday, October 24, 2011

one year later

This weekend, I went to the Circleville Pumpkin Show with Corey and Brittney. We had fun reliving last year's visit, when grad school had just started. All of the vendors looked exactly the same, and were in exactly the same places at the fair, so going back felt like revisiting a memory from last year...but it was different at the same time. Isn't it that way with a lot of things? One year later, so much is the same, and so much is different.

I took all of my Pumpkin Show pictures with my trusty 35 mm Canon, so you'll have to wait until I pick them up at the lab to see them (probably Wednesday--I have night classes today and tomorrow) for today I'll leave you with a few fall pictures I took with my Holga last year.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ohio's oldest festival...the circleville pumpkin show

In a town about half an hour away, the oldest festival in Ohio takes place...The Circleville Pumpkin Show! It's like a fair that is completely pumpkin-themed. Pumpkin pie eating contests, a prize for the largest pumpkin, a Miss Pumpkin Show, a parade full of dogs and people dressed as pumpkins (among other things), and every pumpkin-flavored food you can think of...even some things you wouldn't be able to dream up on your own, like pumpkin sloppy joes and pumpkin tacos.

These pictures are from last year's Pumpkin Show, but we're going back today to check out this year's festival!

Did I mention the official mascot is a Pumpkin Man who goes around the fair on roller blades?

And school is canceled for all of the local children for days due to the Pumpkin Show!

The largest pumpkin pie in the world was in that bakery! There was a pretty long wait to see it though, so we didn't go in.

I only wish I had a photo of the town's water tower...which is shaped like a pumpkin!

More photos after today's adventure...

Friday, October 21, 2011

baking vegan brownies

I love baking, but when I get busy, I always revert to my standby recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I have it memorized and I always keep the ingredients on hand, so it's easy to whip up in a actually only takes me about 10 minutes from the time I start to the minute they go in the oven!

But this week I wanted to make something sweet and was tired of cookies. I was going to make this brownie recipe which is my go-to vegan brownie recipe. I don't have it memorized like the cookies but I've made it a number of times. If you make this recipe, you won't be disappointed. It's very good.

However, as much as I like making something delicious quickly with a recipe I trust, I also like stepping out on a limb and trying new ones. So I looked up "vegan brownies" on Pinterest (which I love for finding recipes!) and found this recipe: Gooey Vegan Brownies.

I can appreciate a recipe with the word "gooey" in the title. When I was in elementary school, every year we had a back-to-school picnic at a local park, and one game that was always there was the cake walk. I played it every year and only won once! But I still remember the dessert I won: ooey gooey butter bars. Sounds like a heart attack, doesn't it? The bars came with a recipe card, which my mom let me recreate once before declaring there was simply too much butter in them to make again! Googling that exact recipe title now confirms that what my mom told me was true.

But gooey vegan brownies have no butter in them. They are not the most wholesome thing you will ever eat--as most brownies are not--but I believe in having a few sweet treats here and there. They turned out amazing and as you can see I didn't even get a proper picture of them but instead had to photograph the last one left in the pan! Oops. I have a tip if you want your brownies to be soft and fudgey: don't wait until the middle is done. The recipe says a toothpick will come out clean in the middle but for me they never do. I just take them out of the oven at the time the recipe says they will be done, and let them set up for at least an hour. There are no eggs since these are vegan, so you don't have to worry about that. I added 1 Tbsp ground flax to the recipe to ensure that they wouldn't fall apart, but I don't know if that was necessary. However, they held up well.

These are the best vegan brownies I've made. I would dare say you would not even realize they were vegan if I didn't tell you!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

custom keepsake garden art

I've been working on several of these custom garden illustrations as of late! They are so fun to make. I love doodling food, so it's definitely right up my alley. If you're reading and see yours, it should be arriving in your mailbox any day now! If you're reading and wish you saw yours, it's the perfect thing to get yourself as a little pick-me-up for when the first frost arrives soon (or has already arrived? you poor thing!) or for a holiday gift for that special gardener or vegetable-lover in your life. You can do so here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the meditative qualities of film processing

One of my favorite methods of relaxation...or maybe I should say film processing. You have to slow down for it, and really pay attention to the materials and the clock, or you'll mess up your film. It's also gratifying to get all the way from shooting the photograph to having the negatives in your hands without going to a professional lab. This weekend I spent some time processing film and making black and white enlargements. I know a lot of people see it as outdated these days, but I wouldn't recommend any other way of learning photography.

p.s. Check out that hazardous old crossword puzzle and lots of film backing paper (found in medium format film). Looks super hazardous to me!

Monday, October 17, 2011

new studio space

Tiny peeks into my new studio space. More to come... Loving the big windows, bright white walls, white furniture, and colorful, mostly vintage decorations, supplies, and props! I just got some clothes hangers for my rack of backdrops and costumes, so that will be better organized soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

guest post: make a stop action video using collage

photo by elizabeth ashley arnold

Today I have a special guest post by an artist I went to undergraduate school with, Elizabeth Arnold, aka NEon Glittery! You can check out her website here, and even purchase her chapbook nEonsense here. In this post she is going to teach you how to make a stop motion video using the art of collage:

How to make a stop motion movie documenting the process of making a mosaic paper collage. This can be however short or long you want it to be. This is an investment of time.

1. Find a picture you would like to work from. I created my own from my film pictures. Here: ( fish / lights )

2. Gather magazines, a glue stick, scissors, and a square piece of cardboard, matteboard or cardstock or anything you have that will suffice. You will also need a digital camera and a computer to upload it to.

3. Cut shapes out according to color from your picture. Arrange the shapes where you want them to resemble your picture.

4. Set up and mark a specific spot where you will place and photograph your collage each time you add a new piece. You must put it in the exact spot every time for this to work. Set up your camera to where the view of your collage in its marked off spot is in the frame. Your camera must remain stationary so that all you have to do is press the button. This will keep your photograph placement of your collage process consistent.

5. Set your blank collage in its marked off spot take a photograph of it. Glue your first piece on. As you glue each piece at a time, set your collage in your marked off spot, photograph it. You will do this as many times as you have pieces. I probably did mine 50 times at least, but it's worth it I promise. So to reiterate, you glue a piece of magazine clipping to your collage, set it in your marked off spot, photograph it and repeat. You can also just leave it in the spot without moving it and photograph it that way. I had my camera on my work desk facing my collage spot on the piano.

6th: After you have completed your collage (and photographed it each time) upload your photos to your computer in one album in the order you took them. You can scan through them so see how it will look. Make them into a video and watch as your collage builds itself through stop motion magic.

This is my first attempt at a stop motion collage. I used iMovie, but you could use any video editing software. I was commissioned to create a choice video for the New Zealand band Wet Wings. I would suggest using a 1-1.5 second gap between photos.

Wet Wings - Stockholm from elizabeth ashley arnold on Vimeo.

Thank you so much for sharing your process, Elizabeth! I am going to work on my own stop action collage and post it later this week, so stay tuned. Try it yourself and/or check out Elizabeth's other videos, website, and chapbook!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

the vicious squirrel returns & fall tomatoes

The wrath of the vicious squirrel continues...this weekend he took out his anger on my little Travelocity garden gnome. The chard and lettuce seeds took a hit as well.

On the bright side, look at these beautiful fall tomatoes! Okay, I posed them outside in the grass for good light and color, but let me tell you a secret...I picked them when they were still green and ripened them in a brown paper grocery sack to keep them safe from the squirrels! Tomatoes ripened on the vine have a slightly better flavor but these are still delicious, and by the sad remains of a few I let turn red on the vine, I did the right thing. I have another bag ripening now and should have a few more before the frost hits.

I am sad to see a cold but relaxing weekend end. A few things I did:

- Indian food
- Catch Me if You Can
- art openings
- tomato sandwiches
- lots of coffee (to stay warm!)
- and chili (for the same reason!)