How I spent my summer :)
Although I haven’t written here for the whole summer – that doesn’t mean that nothing was going on. Quite the opposite :) By the way - do you know that in Russia summer season lasts exactly three months: June, July and August, starting on June 1st and ending on August 31st? I know that in the US it’s a bit different and is defined by equinoxes – but I cannot do anything, it’s already in my subconscious. I just remember walking on the street with my parents or sometimes grandparents, me – a cute 5-year old, memorizing seasons. Since then I know this – summer: June, July, August; fall: September, October, November; winter: December, January, February; spring: March, April, May. As you probably understand – it is quite difficult (if at all possible) for me to defy that knowledge. So – I believe you that your summer starts on June 21st and I am cool with that (I am not even starting to talk about the summer of people living on Southern Hemisphere, that’s a total mind-bender!) – but my summer, as usual, started on June 1st and ended on August 31st.
Therefore, now I can tell you what happened during my summer. First of all – my son has graduated from high school! And that, of course, was a huge event! What else? I haven’t had a long vacation, but we went out of the city as much as possible. We’ve been to Rhode Island and Cape Cod, and New Hampshire. For the city activities - we have watched 4th of July fireworks from canoe on the Charles River! That was soooo cool and beautiful!!! We have also sailed through New York city on the actual sailboat!!!! Our short vacation we’ve spent in the area of the highest and lowest tides - New Brunswick in Canada. And the tides difference IS indeed impressive!!!
As for my art - in the beginning of the summer I was looking online at Rhode Island School of Design and had a sudden realization that it’s not THAT far from my home. Only one-hour drive. I knew that’s it’s the coolest art school around but was under the impression that it’s too far and I won’t be able to get there. As you know (or maybe you don’t) - I don’t have a lot of official art education, and I make my living from biology. I’d be glad if my art would be not only my passion but my major occupation in life. For that apparently I need some sort of a degree or whatnot. So - this summer I have made a serious and potentially life changing decision - to receive a certificate from RISD. What type of certificate to choose was also a tough choice for me - after weeks of thinking and hesitations I have chosen Graphic Design as a specialization. So now I am a certificate program student at RISD!!! During the summer I have taken two classes - Color theory and Illustration. They were great, I’ve learned a lot and after color theory I have a good amount of nice art. Taking two classes at the same time was a bit tough and, considering that fall classes are mostly longer, I decided to take one class in the fall - and it’s drawing I. It’s required for a certificate, and although I am not a beginner in drawing, I am sure it will be a good class for me anyway. There is always something left to learn, and the teacher is good!
The last day of my summer I was painting foxes on the wall of my baby nephew’s room (he hadn’t been born yet then, but he is born now :) Considering my statue it was not only fun but also a bit extreme activity :D I had to put a cooler on two chairs and climb on that interesting construction to reach some (or most of) areas. But it was well worth it!!!! I have never painted on the walls before - and I have totally enjoyed it!!!
For those of you whose summer hasn’t ended yet - please enjoy the last days of it :))) And after that - have fun in the fall! I am already enjoying it and it’s wonderful!!!!
Well, anyway, at least for me it's true - I have skydived. We (me and my husband) did it when we were 19. That was back in Russia. Our first child was 3 months old then (yes, we were teenage parents). We left him with my in laws - and mother-in-law was not happy - she was claiming us irresponsible parents asking who would care for our son if we break our legs (not to mention necks!) But she couldn't stop us. As apparently - at least for me - it was in my blood (genes). And you cannot argue with that.
We were kind of irresponsible I have to agree - but we have chosen the safest (and the cheapest, and I'm afraid that - not safety - was the main decision-making factor) type of skydiving - 800 meters jump, pretty robust, simple and predictable parachute - the prototypes for those were used in WWII and even scared first-time jumpers in the middle of the war scene were usually able to use it correctly. For example the probability for it to not open is pretty low as the main parachute's cover is attached to the plane by the hook - so when you jump out it's pulled out from backpack automatically. The only thing you need not to forget is to pull the ring - but this ring doesn't open the main parachute (as I thought) - it doesn't let the safety parachute to open. If you forget to pull the ring you just descend dangling between two parachutes in an awkward position and cannot land gracefully. We had a serious training for a whole day. They did prepare us for a lot of situations - strong winds, electrical wires, lake landing etc. The day was perfect - there was practically no wind so the jumps went smoothly anyway. I was really curious if I would be able to step into the sky by myself - but the trainer didn't give me the possibility to check - when I was in the door frame I found out why everybody was jumping out without hesitation - he was pushing everybody :D
About 1 minute in flight and only several seconds of free fall - that was it, but it was a beautiful experience! And I would like to do it again - with a more sophisticated parachute this time. Moreover - the thing that attracts me a lot is a wing suit. If you don't know what it is - go to YouTube. Looks so much fun! But I am a bit responsible after all and I will wait until both my kids are grown enough before (and if) I try this one :D
And the problem with Hashimoto's is that it's not really being treated, you just take the pill of synthetic hormone each day, but nobody tries to cure it. This pill makes your blood tests kind of normal but you often still feel not ideal, and actually sometimes even crappy. There is also a constant problem maintaining optimal weight even if you eat well and exercise. Being not only an artist but also a biologist I am constantly screening the internet for possible solutions, checking ideas in scientific publications and after some reading and consideration I found that despite my skepticism gluten-free diet could be useful for me (of all people!). I did come up with a plan. As a scientist I realize that I don't have a control (second version of me), and I also decided to mix two experiments in one - I am not only avoiding gluten but also trying intermittent fasting (skipping breakfast and lunch two days a week). I do feel much better and I did loose some weight. The weight loss is reeeeally slow and the lost number is not that big yet but people did say that it seems to them that I am loosing weight. And my clothes look better on me which is a good sign. Well - the goal is to be that "hipster" for two more months and see what happens! Sorry for a kind of medical post - I actually feel not like a hipster but a bit like an old lady sharing exciting stories about her health :D But I thought - maybe it will be useful for somebody?
Well, I told you it works!
Last Monday I was not sure that the spring is actually here, but I was diligently performing my magic (see the previous post) and it worked!
On Thursday night we've heard them - the spring peepers. They are tiny frogs who spend winter under old leaves and sticks and as soon as the night temperature becomes bearable they go to the nearest swamp and start a concert! They are tiny but really loud, and their music is wonderful :) If you hear them - that's it! The winter is over!
Today it was snowing in the morning. But don't worry! Spring peepers are pretty hardy animals and it's going to be just fine :)
Spring is almost here
This binge flower painting and drawing thing - it doesn't happen to me that often. But it's such a nice thing to do - the flowers are so beautiful, soft and delicate, and I can swear that my grandmother - the wonderful textile artist and frequent flower painter - is smiling to me from the skies while I am working on the next petal, pistil or stem...
Art and science
The problem with being organized is that you lose spontaneity and the problem with being spontaneous is that you lose organization skills. When you try to equilibrate science and art you need to switch your brain from one mode to another all the time which is extremely difficult. You need to make some sort of a schedule to get everything done and then - at some set time you have a couple of hours and you say to your brain - forget about your organization skills, rationality and smartness, switch to a totally different, shady, shaky and not defined state and create. On command. And… just don't forget you have two hours to do it. Does it sound easy? That's how I operate :)
Katerina also drew an octopus (but she is in different age group, so it would be in a different set of images), then she couldn't stop and drew another fish when everybody left. She was enjoying it so much that I got jealous and also drew a fish :) So now you have a bunch of pictures to look at :)
Here is the link to Facebook album
We played a Word game. How to play? Easy :) You shuffle some (prepared) words and choose two without looking. When you get your two words you need to think about the ideas of how to combine those two words – don’t choose the first idea, write down 4-5 of them, and then choose (now you can choose the first one if you still like it most). And then – draw!
You would be surprised – but sometimes real illustrators use very similar process to find an idea for the illustration! I mean not the game (who knows, maybe that as well) – but writing down different ideas, brainstorming them with other people and choosing the best one!
Chimeras from last Thursday
This Thursday we were again playng, and developing imagination.
Participants needed to create a chimera from two existing animals. Chimera (from Greek mythology) is an animal composed of parts of more than one animal.
We had some photo-references which people could use. That was a lot of fun! Check out the results in the photo-gallery. Our chimeras are awesome :))))
Check out the Facebook album if you are curious about all the chimera's names:
This Sunday's Taster class was intended to be for children 11 to 14 years old. But this is a dead season in Boston - everyone is on vacation - so I could get only two children of required age to participate. But my friend called and asked if she could come with her 8 year old son and my husband also decided to join :) So we had a mixed-age group, which worked out great!
The class was about drawing an animal and I have chosen quite an unusual animal - an aardvark. They are African ant-eaters, "earth pigs" (translation from Afrikaans) and pretty amazing animals. Google them - you will enjoy what you see!
For the first part of the class the participants were drawing aardvarks from the photo-references, then they draw couple of animals from imagination (on the photos below they are all mixed). On the pictures you might see some skeletons - that's because we had a photo-reference of aardvark's skeleton as well (to understand how it moves and how the legs are positioned).
So, after the students got used to drawing aardvarks they were assigned to draw or paint aardvark in the media of their choice. We had colored marker, black marker, gouache, colored pencils and oil pastels used on white paper, white carton, carton covered with gesso, and black paper. Check out the results! They are beautiful!