Monday, December 21, 2009

A Happy New Year!

This is my older son (now 30!) as Santa at age 6 or 7. We created an "All I want for Christmas card" using one of a series of photographs my husband, the photographer James Cowlin shot of Jeremiah hamming it up for the camera.

An ongoing New Year's Resolution of mine has been to sort out a trunk full of random photos and get them organized. Yes, over the years, I made both of the boys a series of scrapbooks, all labeled and in order. Then there are the literally hundreds of photos, masses of them, all out of order and in a major muddle.

After our move to Oracle, I dedicated one whole table in my studio to my photo sorting venture. Every once in a while, I take a stab at organizing. I suspect that I do nothing but make things worse in these attempts. For one thing, I can never remember what my strategy was the last time I got into the organizing mood. So I end up undoing what I did before. At least I think that's what happens. Either that, or the photographs are reproducing in their piles.

Anyway, I ran across a contact sheet of the Jeremiah Santa series and couldn't resist putting a few into my blog.

Next year, maybe I'll unearth Mathew's Santa photos from the pile and you'll see them on my blog. Or just maybe, the pile will be gone and I'll go directly to a neatly filed box and put my hands right on what I'm looking for.

Stay posted. And meanwhile, I hope you'll enjoy the holidays. And have a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Road Signs along US Route 89

One of my ongoing projects is a collaboration with my husband, the photographer James Cowlin. He got fascinated by US Route 89 about 10 years ago, when he realized that it goes through some of the most beautiful countryside in the United States. The road traverses 1300 miles, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. He has spent years photographing along the road, developing a comprehensive website, and working to promote an appreciation for the lesser known places between the big cities and national parks along the way.

Because we've spent so much time traveling along this road, it stands to reason that my artwork has become something of a reflection of this long highway. I've spent most of my adult life along 89, married, birthed and raised two children, worked, gone to school, taught school, and made my art practically right smack on top of US Route 89.

When I was teaching Visual Literacy, a kind of hybrid Graphic Design class, I got fascinated with signs and symbols. Road signs are the ubiquitous symbols we all see every day. We don't ignore them, because they are important to our safety, but I'm guessing I've spent more time than most ruminating about road signs.

How is it that a simple silhouette can convey so much information? Who creates these symbols? How are they tested?

I'm sure a bit of research would give me the answers, but I prefer to marvel at the signs and to wonder. What's the story behind the momma bear ushering her baby to safety across the road? Do I detect a gentleness in her gesture?

Is the symbol maker aware of the implications of this curvy arrow. Imagine the many trips with small children. This is truly the sign of impending disaster. Just be sure to have the barf bags handy.

And here we have the intrepid firefighter. A bit difficult to see (above) but I love his determined posture and the dignity with which he wears his firefighter hat.

Here's the farmer on his tractor, slowing travel to a snails pace. It's a great chance to admire the fields with their neat rows of plants, before safely passing this machine. Note the jaunty brim on the farmers hat. I can almost image his satisfaction as he causes a minor traffic jam in the middle of nowhere.

The ultimate symbol, the US Route 89 road sign.

Sometimes I like to take a break from my serious paintings. I like boxes. I like road signs. So what you see are a series of boxes with road signs. I plan to make lots more, as I encounter charming signs during our travels.

If you find these irresistible, you can buy them on our website. Just head to our online store.