Cardamon apricot bread

Cardamon apricot bread, originally uploaded by pejnolan.
Cardamon apricot bread
Here's the recipe!


Please accept this holiday blessing to you:

"May you and your loved ones find peace, love, and joy this Christmas day.
May your new year bring prosperity and be filled with treasured moments."

with love,

from the Nolan Family


Sunset through the prairie grasses, Shabbona Lake State Park
Have you ever had a moment in your life that was just right, exactly the way it is supposed to be? The colors are brighter, the air is fresher and the entire world seems awesome in every sense of the word? this past Saturday was one of these days for me.
Osage Oranges (Hedge Apples) racing down the creek waters
Al, Elinor and I walked at Shabbona Lake State Park. We entertained ourselves by having Osage Orange races in the creek. We threw some of the hedge apples into the trees and one stuck in a forked branch. We cracked off some ice from the shore, threw it onto the frozen bay and watched as the ice broke apart into gleaming diamond shards which skated over to the grasses on the other side. The sound was amazing.
Clear ice of Shabbona Lake
I dearly paid for these precious hours of walking, though. It took me about 3 days to start feeling like myself again. I was so tired, my muscles were sore and I was just plain worn out. Was it worth it? Oh, yeah, it was plenty worth it!

This week has been incredibly busy at work. There are quite a few very interesting projects to work on from website design to creating icons for a certification DVD to creating Point of Purchase designs for a national company. The quarterly magazine I design also went out this week. I think I have 17 jobs in progress! Yowza! It keeps me hoppin' but doesn't leave much time for printmaking at night.

I have been working steadily on the large woodblock. I've been working on it for 3 months straight, trying to fit in 5 minutes here and there. I can't wait until it is finished! This is going to be my "showpiece" for 2012.

I friend from high school asked me to design a private wine label for her and her husband. She wasn't sure of the approach she wanted, so I tried going very formal. In the end, it didn't match her vision, but I like it despite this. She has some cool plans that will call for a custom illustration and due to scheduling, I won't be able to get to it until after the holidays. The ideas will be rolling around in my mind, giving me time to digest the concept a bit before starting.
Chateau Fiasco Riesling Concept Label, 2011©
In this first design I created a woodblock print look in Photoshop using layers including a wood board texture, watercolor brushes, and paths for masking off colorblocks. It turned out pretty good! It is a whole lot faster (and cleaner) to create woodblock prints in Photoshop, but I wouldn't be left with anything tangible using that technique.

Another friend requested a custom Christmas card. I've created one for her the last few years and it is always fun, but this year it was EXCEPTIONALLY fun. Her idea was to have a comic book design.
Custom Christmas Card for 2011
Christmas is just around the corner. I'll be doing my shopping tomorrow. At 2pm, they are playing "It's A Wonderful Life" at the Egyptian Theatre. Paul and I are going! I've always wanted to see it in a theater. I've promised I would purchase the popcorn. Plus, if we bring a non-perishable food item, we will receive a $2 discount on tickets!

Sunday I thought it might be nice to make some gingerbread men and have hot cider while we decorate the tree. There hasn't been a real snow yet. Maybe there will be snow for Christmas?!


Artist: Arthur Wesley Dow

"Art is a creation of beauty."
~Arthur Wesley Dow
"I am a life-long explorer of art.
I am always learning about art and other cultures"
~Arthur Wesley Dow

I promised Mark Pascale during the portfolio review at Spudnik Press, that I would research Arthur Wesley Dow and I am glad I did. He seems like a kindred spirit.
Arthur Wesley Dow

He was born on April 6, 1857 in Ipswich, Massachusetts. He was not born wealthy, but due to his talent in art he received some early training under the tutelage of Anna K. Freeland, a historical and portrait painter of Worchester, Mass.; then under James M. Stone, a painter from Boston, Mass.. But if he wanted a career as an artist, he needed to study abroad in Paris. This was true for many of the people of his generation.

If he wanted to become a master painter, he needed to study the masters. So in 1884 he left the United States for France just 1 year after his marriage to Minnie Pearson. For 5 years he studied with Gustave B. Oulanger and Jules Lefebre while at the Academie Julian in Brittany at Pont Aven.

He returned home with three choices: 1. become a commissioned portrait painter who is dependent on the generosity of wealthy patrons, 2. produce, show, exhibit and sell his work or 3. teach. He chose #2 and #3 and wholeheartedly threw himself into teaching all the while producing and marketing his own artwork.
Raven, 1902. Arthur Wesley Dow. American Art Museum.
In 1889 he discovered Japanese Ukiyo-e and the printmaker Katsushika Hokusai (who is famous for his tsunami print entitled, "Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa."). This changed everything. Here was a new aesthetic to learn. He went to Ernest Fenollosa at the Bostom Museum of Art. Fenollosa was the foremost Japanese art scholar at the time. Eventually, Dow served as the assistant curator of Japanese art at the Boston Museum. Together these two studied the look and feel of Japanese art and came up with four classifications: Line, Form, Color, and Notan. Notan is a Japanese term which means the use of light and dark or positive and negative space. Dow wrote his new curriculum for art education in a book entitled Notan and Color.

The principles were further explained in his book from ten years later in 1899, Composition: A Series of Exercises Selected from a New System of Art Education. This revolutionary book and others he wrote changed the way art and art theory was taught from that point forward.(…and many of them are on my Christmas list this year!)

In 1891 he opened the Ipswich School of Art in a house that was once owned by Ralph Walso Emmerson. The school ran for just 2 months every summer with over 200 students attending annually. This fits in with the Arts and Crafts Movement of that time with its emphasis on art colonies, workshops and arts education. The school closed in 1907.

During the Spring, Summer and Fall; Dow taught full-time at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. He taught there for 8 years (1895–1903). Afterwards, he became the director of the Fine Arts Department at the Teacher's College at Columbia University where he served until his death on December 13, 1922.

He taught Georgia O'Keefe, Charles Sheeler, Charles Martin, two of the Overbeck Sisters , and the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony.

Rain in May
The Derelict (The Lost Boat)

I think I was asked to look at this artist because he using the same block for multiple editions, with each edition portraying a different aspect or mood of the subject through the use of color.

He also has a love for the natural world which is evident not only in his subject matter, but in his color palette and writings. He appreciated the elegance of design that was based on nature, but he never replicated it. He laid the stylistic foundations for the Arts and Crafts Movement.

He does not use a keyblock and seldom used "outlines" perferring large swaths of color. His use of light and reflection is used to create compositions that sing.

Although I am studying him for his woodblock prints, he was also a painter, photographer, sculpture, potter, designer educator and student. He believed that all  artistic disciplines are of equal value and that fine art and craft were one in the same.

Wouldn't you know it? I missed a show of his work in Chicago at the Terra Museum back in 2010. RATS! I really want to learn more about his philosophy and how it relates to modern constructs of art education. Looks like my Christmas list is getting longer! lol.


Cantor Arts Center, Staford University
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Ipswitch Museum
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Progression of "Chick at the Sandwich Fair print"
Created using Aquacolor on Kozoshi washi.
I'm considering making another edition with the outlines only on the chick and no metal grate beneath it's feet. Even in the lighter colors, the background is too distracting. Also, I need to remove the flourish at the corner of the eye. Overall, I like the piece, but is just needs more work.