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Matisse Up Close

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At the beginning of February, in between snowstorms, we took our twins to New York City for the first time. It was a day filled with firsts… First MetroNorth train ride. First taxi ride. And first trip to the Museum of Modern Art, one of my favorite destinations. We went specifically to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs because, despite only being six years old, my kids know them well. read on

Nothing is original. Or everything is?

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originalTo judge a piece of creative work on a degree of originality is like judging a pancake on how far you can throw it. Just a few days ago from the time of writing this post, Marvin Gaye’s family won a lawsuit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams on the claim that the duo copied Gaye’s song “Got to Give it Up” in their 2013 hit single, “Blurred Lines.” Now, I am certainly not one to defend this song on its musical merits or contribution to society, but to say it’s a copy of Gaye’s 1977 track, well, that’s a bit of a stretch. Ideas come from everywhere. Did Betsy Ross sue Jasper Johns for painting the American flag? Do apple farmers have a stake in Steve Jobs’ empire? Many people like to say that nothing is original, but as a creative optimist, I say everything is.

In my opinion, the best creative work is that which uses its environment and its influences and re-contextualizes them or repurposes them, in a new way. How can you possibly evoke a feeling from your audience if you’re not allowed to reference something they have felt before? Even if the melody of “Blurred Lines is more than just similar to that of “Got to Give it Up,” that melody was never paired with those lyrics, made with those instruments, sung by those people, in that moment. The departure from the original is what makes this case controversial, so on the legal spectrum, the border between forgery and inspiration is definitely a fine line, or should I say, blurred.

The Casual Internet

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Gone are the days of mundane computer dialogue. Since the dawn of the world wide web, the language on the internet has slowly but surely transitioned from suits to flannel, from fine wine to craft beer, from Mozart to Lil Wayne. Once upon a time, we were faced with webpages that spoke to us with perfect manners. Now, the word choice on websites is more creative, outlandish, and informal. Here, Tumblr even abbreviates “little” to “li’l” and replaces the traditional “OK” button with an amusing “Oh, fine” button. Is this shift in terminology a reflection of the need for more creative approaches in web design in order to stand out amongst the increasing number of identical websites? Or is it a way to make technology more amicable and consequently more…human? Are we now accepting the fact that we are treating our phones and computers like they are humans themselves? In denial of our dependence on the internet for personal connection, I am pushing for the former.

Irving Harper 2.0

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This past weekend, we went on an art adventure to the Rye Arts Center to see the Irving Harper paper sculptures in person (See my previous post about Harper and his work). The exhibit contains only a small fraction of the work he created, but it was a great cross-section of it and awe-inspiring. The patience and meticulousness he put into these pieces is unreal. Hundreds and hundreds of teeny, tiny pieces of paper assembled into amazing abstracts, animals, faces and figures. And, most mind boggling to me, he NEVER sketched anything out before he began. They really must have been therapeutic for him to make. read on

Creative Uses For Beer

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Courtesy of Simon on Flickr

Courtesy of Simon on Flickr

At Taylor Design, many of us have a (healthy) love of beer. There’s nothing quite like a really, really tasty beer after working a long, stressful day. Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, I’m sure many will have some leftover beer from the festivities. Here are some ways to put it to good use:

Braise Meat
You can substitute beer for wine when braising your meats. It adds a nice beer-y flavor that I personally really love. This is my wife’s favorite way to cook brats as well for a quick easy meal.

Steam Seafood
Again, instead of steaming with plain water, substitute in a nice beer. It really adds to the seafood flavor.

Make Ice Cream (yes, seriously)

Kill Slugs
Believe it or not, if you have a slug problem in your garden, you can put out a dish/cup of leftover beer and trap slugs in it. Slugs are attracted to the beer, climb into it and drown. Give it a try.

Polish Pots
No doubt there will be many pots and pans that need to be cleaned after Thanksgiving. Beer’s natural acidity will put a shine nice shine in them. Just pour it in, let it sit, then wipe off the rust/residue.

Polish Gold
In the same vein as polishing pots, you can also polish your gold jewelry with beer.
Again, let it sit, then rinse and wipe it off.

Field Trip, Part 2

Crayola Experience

As a last hurrah before embarking on their public school education, my husband and I took our kids to the Crayola Experience in Easton, Pennsylvania. When I discovered this place existed, I did a little dance of joy—crayons are one of my favorite things! Who doesn’t love a brand-spanking new box of Crayola Crayons, especially one with the sharpener built in?! All those colors to choose from in a box of 64 or 96. Their fantastic names emblazoned on their wrappers. And, that waxy clay smell. It may be better than the smell of a freshly printed book! Crayons were my first art supply, as they were for my kids, and I’m sure most future artists.

read on

Field Trip

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While on vacation in Western Massachusetts, my kids and I made our second (hopefully annual) trip to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. The world renowned artist and author (of children’s books like The Grouchy Ladybug, The Hungry Caterpillar, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?) founded the museum in 2002 along with his wife Barbara to “inspire a love of art and reading through picture books.” The only museum of its kind in the US, it “collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world.” The museum includes a collection of more than 10,000 picture book illustrations, galleries, an amazing art studio where everyone can be Eric Carle for a little while, a theater, two libraries, a wallet-depleting book store, and numerous educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and school kids. read on

Two Jobs

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In March of 2009, I suddenly had two full time jobs. One, I’d had for 10+ years as an art director at Taylor Design. The other, in a brand-spanking new line of work: being a Parent. No matter how prepared you think you might be for parenthood, you aren’t. There is quite a learning curve to this field and it goes on for a really long time. And I got a double-dose crash course by having twins. read on

Design for Kids

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GO

The cover design features a big red stop sign with the word “GO.” Hmmmm, something cool is going on here. What’s cool is that legendary graphic designer Chip Kidd has written a book to teach graphic design to kids. At 150 pages, Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design teaches readers the principles of form, color, content, typography, and design history. More importantly, he shows young readers how design informs the ways we make decisions, such as choosing products in a supermarket. Kidd is also the author of two novels, The Cheese Monkeys and The Learners, as well as the graphic novel Batman: Death by Design. Enjoy boys and girls.

The Obscure History of the @ Symbol

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Over the past two decades, that little “a” with a circle curling around it, often referred to as the “monkey tail” by the Dutch and the “snail” by the Italians, has grown from being an obscure accounting symbol into one that is used daily by millions of people on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. Thanks to email addresses and Twitter, @ has become a key symbol of the modern electronic revolution. Have you ever wondered where the symbol originated? read on

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