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January 31, 2007


I finally got my student critiques from last semester. Nothing totally devastating (how is that possible?) but something quite funny. One of my students wrote this and this only:

"She expects too much."

I love that. It is the best most hilarious critique someone could give. I think I'd like for that to be on my tombstone. No better way to realize your low standards than to blame other people for wanting you to be better. I certainly wasn't asking anyone to do calculus. Or long division. Or, even, basic addition. I guess it's nobody's fault that art is so vague and subjective. It's hard to even know what "too much" is.

Posted by ribbu at 05:49 PM

January 30, 2007

Being Lectured At

Went to an interesting talk the other day by Josh Shenk, the author of Lincoln's Melancholy and the new director of the Lit House at WC. Before the talk I had to sit there surrounded by buzzing coeds and find something to get lost in - so I did a little doodle (a drawing doodle, not that other kind of doodle)

and observed the amazing effects of light on a venetian blind. Dazzling.

I just had those pics, so I thought I'd post them.
They were actually done/taken the same day as all the snow, as was this one

of my happy hubby. It might be my favoritest picture of him ever (only one chin!). The light was just all whacky that day, and it did nice things, to venetian blinds and to my man. If you took away the beard, the crazy hair, the glasses and the classy imac, you might be able to see why I fell for him.

Then again, maybe not.

Posted by ribbu at 01:03 AM

January 28, 2007

I am The Star!

So today I was preparing for my class, looking for something, I can't remember what, when it pulled up an image from someone's mySpace account. On the page was a link to this, and, being a quiz, I couldn't resist (I used to spend some amount of time at work doing those tickle quizzes - my celebrity look-alike was some random asian and if I were a dog, I'd be a cocker spaniel and all that - ). So I took the quiz, and guess what?


no, I mean, I'M THE STAR!

You are The Star
Hope, expectation, Bright promises.
The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

A chinese one, no less!

So then I made matthew take it.
And guess what?

He's a chinese star too! I mean, what are the odds?

So, take the test. Maybe we're all stars. THE Stars.

The funny thing is, I just was looking for "tarot quizzes" to find out where I had taken that test, and one of them was on tickle. It had a little flash animation where you shuffle the cards until you're ready and then you pick three of them, one for your past, one for your present, and one for your future. Then they blitz you with about a million weight-loss ads, then it shows you your present card and tells you that you need to spend $7 to see the past and future. So, forget that. Tickle's gotten way more scalp-happy since I last visited. Well - anyway... guess what my "present" card was?


That's ME!
I'm THE STAR!!!!

Posted by ribbu at 10:32 PM | Comments (7)

Snow Days

Well, hot damn! It is finally winter! Now - everyone around here seems to hate the snow, but I figure if it's going to be cold as Nunavut, we may as well get some frickin snow. And snow it did.

Okay, well, that photo makes it look like it was a hurricane of a snowstorm here. Untrue. It was falling in those nice big white dollops, but quietly, gently, and without all that flash-induced frenzy. Same picture sans flash:

Having taken a couple of wiggly-jiggly photos sans flash, I decided it was high time to figure out how to set the shutter speed manually on my digital point-and-shoot. Well, I finally figured it out, though it only had a few options for shutter speed. I set it to the lowest and went crazy. A view up the street from bob and seiko's (I like how cottagy it makes our town look):

And then some streetlamp shadows while we took the dog for a walk. You wouldn't believe how many versions of these I took with my wobbly cold hands. These came out the best, and even though they aren't great pix, they totally remind me of that Sky Masterson song from Guys and Dolls. I can snap my fingers and pretend my man's a gamblin' fool.

Posted by ribbu at 12:55 AM

January 17, 2007


Recently (well, in the past year or so), we were very excited to discover the Carl Heavy Duty Rotary Paper Trimmer. It's the best thing ever (and can be bought for cheaper elsewhere, but I can't remember where). It has saved us much pain and anguish, and probably papercuts too. Matthew has probably waxed poetic about it already over at theBarnstorming, but I thought I should give it some props here too. We are so glad to have met Carl.

But, we have even more exciting (and more recent) news: we have (more) recently become familiar and friendly with Carl's weighty, hefty, tall and wide sister Carly. She is one big momma.

Carly is great for many reasons beyond her girth - she is great because she can trim endpapers without having to fold them, she can cut through covers without having to bend them, she can be fitted with the scoring wheel while Carl cuts so that we can multi-task and save ourselves from switching back and forth between the scoring wheel and the cutting wheel on the same machine, which is painfully complicated and requires the removal of three screws (if you consider removing three screws painfully complicated...). We love Carly. We love Carl. Our family continues to grow.

Oscar, of course, is not happy about this broader distribution of love and attention. He threw down his toys and lay down on the floor wailing in protest.

He was clever enough to tuck himself right up against the chair so that Matthew wouldn't step on him between caressing Carly and patting Carl on the back.

I have to say, I'm not too pleased myself with this broader distribution of love and attention. In his blind adoration of Carly and Carl, Matthew accidentally put his pants on me instead of on himself.


I'm sparing you the accompanying picture of him, sans pants. It's not a pretty sight.

Posted by ribbu at 06:08 PM

Man Joe Rises

Okay. So, I've discovered a way to time travel.
Here it is:

So, like a week ago, I was still working on getting the wall painting done. In fact, I was really just starting. The problem was this: I had to actually figure out how I was going to illustrate Volume IV before putting it up on the wall. And, in order to figure out how to illustrate Volume IV, I had to figure out how it was going to play out on the wall. One of them Catch-22-type-dealies (incidentally, I am quite fond of Catch-22, partly because it was an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question that I just totally pulled out of my you-know-where and stunned my otherwise insanely superior opponents with). So, after figuring out where things were going to go (walls), I had to figure out what they would look like (book) then put them (book) back on the walls (walls). It was all very circular, and I finally got straight what it was I was working on, when, and where.

Once that was all figured out, I had to print everything out life-size to transfer to the walls. Matthew had kindly made me a 3D model out of matboard which I was going to use to sketch everything out on. However, after a few jostles to my desk while I was tracing something else, the whole thing collapsed in a pathetic heap, and then he accidentally used a bunch of parts of it to make a drilling jig until all that was left when I tried to put it all back together again was the ceiling. So, I ended out laying it out on the computer which worked a lot better. Sorry, Matthew.

So once the printouts were done, we had to transfer them onto the walls and ceiling. The longest and most complicated piece was a long panorama meant to run the length of the ceiling. We got it all taped together and made sure it fit before taping it up on the ceiling.

After that, we left Kate alone with some chalk and a pencil for 6 hours while we went home and ate crumpets. When we came back, the transfer was done. How's that for a prize-winning intern?

In order to know where the individual spot illustrations would go, I had to map out the writing. We didn't bother with transfering it, partly because that would take WAY too long and partly because it would be too messy to clean up and partly because I wasn't going to try to reproduce a serifed font on the wall, because that's just crazy talk.

Then, it was time to start painting. I believe this is actually the following day, though. Basically (not to give everything away) the book is fairly monochromatic. So we just needed to fill in most of the objects with grey, which we did first. Kate had realized after an hour or so of neck-cracking labor that a stool would be a most helpful accessory. That's what we pay the interns for - groundbreaking ideas.

Once the greys were filled in, I sent Kate home and painted in the black linework. This actually took a couple of days. The first night (Tuesday?) I felt like I was getting close to being done, but my hand cramped up and I couldn't hold the brush anymore without getting all twitchy and palsied. It was pretty ugly. So at 5:30 am I had to stop, even though in all other respects I was ready to finish it off. But the next day (Wednesday) I got it done - in the end, my favorite part of the whole deal was the skyline dripping from the ceiling down the front wall:

So as not to repeat ourselves, I will refer you to thebarnstorming for all the in-between bits. Head on over there, and you'll get the added bonus of seeing me shake my groove thing.

At any rate, the next night (Wednesday) I pulled another all-nighter and painted in the text. For the text, I used my real, nice gouache, instead of the elementary school-grade stuff I had gotten for the rest of it. Ooh, did it go on nicely! I wish I had used it for the rest of it, but it probably would have ended up being kind of expensive. The best part was how I was just about to start a new sentence (about at the 5 page mark in the book) and had a bad feeling that I had skipped something. In all my immaculate planning and laying out of the words on the computer, I had somehow managed to skip a whole page. So I had to improvise and cram it in the best I could, otherwise it would loop the whole rest of the text around so that it didn't end in the right place. WELL. If you're especially attentive, come to the show and look at the wall and try to figure out the spot where the text goes all crazy back and forth in a weird little clump - that's where it all happened. But I think I faked it pretty well. So, if you do figure it out, write in, and if you're right, I'll send you a prize. I might even send you a prize if you're wrong. In the end, it was 8am and I was pretty much done.

Thursday we were busy in book-making mode. Now that I had laid all of Volume IV out, we had to actually produce them. Matthew and Kate did an incredible superhuman job getting them all printed and trimmed and bound. They were pretty much working non-stop, while I ate some more crumpets. At around 3 in the morning, Kate started to wonder when we were planning on eating dinner and going to bed.

Friday I had to finish up a few things on our display - Matthew made a mock oversized book for Man Joe to rise up out of. I had to add in the words and attach the previously floating, legless Man Joe to the decapitated legs that were in the oversized book.

It was way fun. We were hoping people wouldn't touch and move the book around, but we both absentmindedly did both, even though we knew that there was nothing extra in the book (as in, no other pictures, blank pages, nothing, nichts, nada). Huh. There must be a psychological study in there somewhere.

At any rate, all of the art pieces were finally done. The question was, how many softcover regular books should we expect to sell? We had no idea. So, Matthew being the "positive thinker" insisted that we make an exhorbitant number of books. Which we did. Into the wee hours of Friday night.

We had been asked to give a gallery talk (along with the 12 other artists) - the challenge was thus to keep it short, but still make sure we got across what we were all about. We spent a lot of time agonizing about what it is we do and why (artists are supposed to have some sort of purpose, where nobody asks such things of writers/bookmakers. I guess because it is supposed to be self-evident with a book...). We're not really sure what we're all about, but we had a lot of ideas that made us sound halfway legit. After staying up late cutting, trimming, stapling and taping, we insisted that Kate stay up for another 20 minutes to help us practice our speech. She was gracious, but essentially told us to stop babbling on for so long.

It was excellent advice.

Okay. Time travel's done. It's now today again, and right now again. Time for bed. Good night!

Posted by ribbu at 01:31 AM | Comments (1)

January 16, 2007

Dream What??

Oh, ps, by the way -
am I the only one who thinks that Dreamgirls was a whole lot of schlock that went on and on and on and jeez louise thank god Beyonce is easy on the eyes because I could not stand that stupid "we are a family like a big tree growing out wide out in the sky" hokeyness for another second? That movie seemed like it lasted for like 6 hours. I went with mom and dad because dad had seen an interview on Oprah about it (and he's a long-standing eddie murphy fan) and since then he's been all "Beyonce this" and "Beyonce that" which was weird and hilarious and worth taking him to the movie for. However, we all agreed that it was crippling to sit through, and though whatserface American Idol girl had a great voice and was cute and could do that whoa-whoaaah-whoaaaaah-whoaaaAAAAHHH thing all over the place with her voice, there was hardly a story there to hold onto and MAN were there some terrible lyrics. Mom's only comment was, "wow, that's neat how people can look so different with different wigs on." I hope she's not getting any ideas...


Posted by ribbu at 01:39 AM | Comments (1)

January 15, 2007

Exit the Whirlwind


It is now two days after the Next Generation opening, and my head has finally stopped spinning. It has been a crazy couple of weeks, and I've been neglecting everything for the sake of getting things done for the show. Everything and everyone. Sorry, you.

I really wish that I had been more attentive to blogging so that I could give you a really in-depth checklist of all the things I have recently accomplished. Because, really, it's a rare time of high production for me. Instead, I didn't keep any record at all of what I was doing, but do have a checklist that matthew was kind enough to print out for me when he was having a nervous breakdown because I didn't seem to be accomplishing much of anything:

Granted, some of these things were things for him to do, but basically, there was a lot. For both of us to do.

First off, final work needed to be delivered to the gallery by Jan. 7, which was a Sunday. The illustrations from 10,000 Stories had been framed, as had the portraits from Facial Features (thanks to Jenny An and the folks at the Finishing Touch):

They looked really good. I mean, not to toot my own horn or anything, but damn. I would totally buy them, if I couldn't make them myself. Actually, it really is the framing that makes them look so good. And I might end up having to buy those, since they didn't all sell (spoiler, sorry!).

However, framed illustrations aside, I was woefully behind as far as getting work in to the gallery by Sunday. The truth of the matter is that my prints were still drying on Sunday morning. How that ended up happening, I have no idea. Once I actually started printing, it was hard to figure why I had waited so long. Matthew insists that I was really really busy doing other things, but I don't really know what they were. I try to take comfort in the idea that if I hadn't waited so long, they would have come out totally differently, and I really actually liked how they came out, so don't mess with they way things happen to work. Next time (if there is a next time) I swear I will not be doing this kind of crap at the last minute. (Hm, where have I heard that before?)

Anyway, luckily for me, Carla had given us a key so that I could access the gallery to start painting the mural on Monday. She wasn't there on Sunday and would be checking in till Monday. So, my frames came in on Friday (I ordered them through the ever spectacular Metroframe.com who, incidentally, also happen to have the finest customer service on the planet. And nice wooden frames to boot) and rather than try to frame things at the barn (con cat hair, dog hair, and dust bunnies) we just took everything up to the gallery on Sunday night and framed them there.

Kate helped trim the backboards, tack on the prints, and clean off the plexi:

What can I say - it totally sucks to be an intern.

I just kind of patted things once they were all finished and said, "Good job. Whew! I'm tired."

This is the biggest one we framed:

Bigger than I am! (Ok, I know, not so remarkable, but still!) (- and, another spoiler, this one sold! Yeehaw! To a nice couple who introduced themselves and were way ecstatic about having it, which is what made me most happy. I didn't dance for joy right in front of them, but I did go outside and jump up and down for a minute after they left).

Altogether, it made a nice little nook-o-Robbi once they were hung:

(there's actually a fourth one which you can't see here, which is my favorite of the four, but oh well. I'll try to get another picture of it up some other time.)

Oh, here's a picture of it:

I just like all that red. And ochre. You know how much I like red. Did you know how much I like ochre?
LOTS. (especially with red)
Now you know. File it away, but please don't purchase me any clothes in that color scheme. It's not nearly as yummy as a fashion statement.

Ok. Well, I was going to give you the whole rundown in one shot, but it's already gotten way longwinded, so I'll save the next installment for tomorrow. My new plan is to have a schedule, and, like, do things according to it. That's a wild idea, isn't it?

So, tomorrow's schedule goes something like this:
1. walk the dog
2. work on syllabus
3. walk the dog and the neighbor's dog
4. work on syllabus
5. oh, eat. maybe eat should be 1.
6. and, by now, eat again.
7. write another blog entry.
8. work on syllabus.
9. print out more man joes.
10. oh, right, eat again.
11. sleep?

some schedule. It seems to need a little more fine-tuning. Maybe that will be number 12.

12. fine tune lame-ass schedule.
13. good night!

Posted by ribbu at 06:24 PM

January 03, 2007


Just came up with Resolution #7, after downing two fistfuls of gummy bears in a fit of late afternoon doldrums: No more sugar. No more candy, chocolate, pie, cookies, ice cream.

HA! That one's a joke too. I'll feel better about those gummy bears sitting in there after I have some sugar-frosted "yogurt-burst" cheerios. Sugar loves company. And, didn't I just say that 5 resolutions is more than enough?

Posted by ribbu at 02:46 PM | Comments (3)

New Years Revolutions

Okay. So I'm a few days late. But I'm thinking up some resolutions as I toast my Eggo waffles this morning, because that's the sort of thing one does in the new year.

Resolution #1: Eat my waffles as soon as they come out of the toaster.
I know - you think I'm joking. I'm not. I cannot seem to remember that my food is ready when it is ready, I get distracted, and then three hours later I find my waffles in the toaster when I go to put more waffles in the toaster. Matthew needs to constantly remind me to fetch my prepared foods. This goes for tea and hot chocolate as well. And, case in point, the toaster dinged at "seem to remember" and I still haven't gotten them yet. So much for Resolution #1. (ok ok, I'm going now!)


Ok. I'm back. Mm, waffles are much tastier when they're not all crusty and hard. Resolution #1, accomplished!

Resolution #2: Whatever happened to that drawing-a-day deal? Shouldn't I get back to that? Yes, I should. And I will. This year?

Resolution #3: Continue to start a literary revolution. Or, at least, a book revolution. It might not, in the end count, prove "literary", but it will be stacks of paper stapled, glued or tied together.

Resolution #4: More fine art (my own). It's a fine way to not have to think. I know illustration is seen as the smaller, dumber stepsister of fine art, but for me it's a really taxing endeavor (especially with the idiots'books ... there's no harder mental challenge (for me, anyway) than making sense of matthew's words) compared to the clay monoprints. Making prints is a nice way to just zone out for 5-7 hours at a time. Don't tell the galleries.

Resolution #5: What happened to Netflix? Movie night? So much goddamn productivity going on around here, I haven't had time to relax except for the enforced christmas/family stuff. Get a grip! Didn't I retire for God's sake?! It's really not working out like it was supposed to. ("For which I should be eternally grateful," I say, to stave off the Gods of Jinx).

Resolution #6: Stop procrastinating.

That last one was a joke, because, see, that's what I'm doing right now. And who needs more than 5 resolutions per [solar? terrestrial?] revolution anyway?

Posted by ribbu at 10:04 AM