Thursday, January 24, 2019

Nike driving a chariot - incredible ancient gold jewelry piece

So since I published the last post about the jewelry I used as models for the bling on my Aphrodite coloring page at www.etsy.com/shop/Jennysartycoloring, I've been getting a lot of notices from Pinterest about ancient jewelry. That's fun, but I got one today that just blew me away. This is a picture of an earring identified as Greek, Northern Greek, Late Classical or Early Hellenistic Period, about 350–325 B.C. It's in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. This unbelievably stunning work is not quite 2 inches high. Take a look.

Nike driving a chariot

This is an EARRING, for Pete's sake, that's more complicated than some bronze statuary. And more beautiful than some I've seen, too. Right now I'm still trying to get my jaw up off the floor.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ancient Grecian Jewelry: Bracelets and necklaces and rings, oh my!

Designing my latest adult coloring page, "Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty," involved researching ancient Greek jewelry. (For those who didn't read their Edith Hamilton in high school, Aphrodite is an ancient Greek and Roman deity.) Being a goddess of beauty, among other things, of course she'd need a lot of bling. The finished design is at www.etsy.com/shop/Jennysartycoloring.

So I fired up Google Images and found a treasure trove of jewelry that is stunningly, breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful. The workmanship on them is beyond all belief; the gold is so cunningly wrought, the gems so spectacular, the iconography powerful, dramatic, and arresting. I had to stop and just stare in awe before I could even download any of the images.

Out of all the baubles I found, I gave my Aphrodite earrings, a necklace, two bracelets, and a finger ring. The snake bracelet on her upper arm is from the Hellenistic period of the late 4th to 3rd century BCE. Many versions of it exist, but all consist of one or two serpents with a "Herakles knot" between two semi-coiled snakes. Many examples have a jewel on top of the knot; this particular piece was sold by Christies auction house in 2005 for $52,000.

Her other jewelry isn't showing up on Google Images the way they did when I first found them; who knows why? But I have all these pictures saved on my hard drive.


I had to simplify everything a bit so it would fit into a picture which is only 8.5 by 11 inches in total. In the case of the finger ring, I had to simplify a lot - I ended up with just a simple circular jewel on a band, nothing like the elaborate, gaudy confection shown in the lower right of the picture above. Makes me wonder if you could even bend your finger if you were wearing that monster. All the ancient jewels are what is called "cabochon" style - that's a gem that's just polished, but not cut. Faceted jewelry didn't exist until sometime in the Middle Ages. But I drew facets on Aphrodite's ring jewel so people would understand what it was supposed to be.

If you want to see more of this rad ancient jewelry, search for it on Google Images or visit Pinterest and search on "ancient jewelry." You will be amazed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Blog of a healer

My brother-in-law, Harvey Caine, is a licensed massage therapist and certified counselor in Washington State. He also does guided meditation and grounding. Rather than trying to explain what he does second-hand, I'll just post these links to his Website at http://spokanehealing.com. and his blog at spokanehealing.com/blog/. I can testify personally that he's a really nice guy too!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Learning colored pencil technique

I used my Crayola coloring pencils to draw geometric shapes with shading, just to learn the ins and outs of colored pencils as a drawing medium. I enjoyed the feel of the pencil as it skidded lightly over the rough paper and bit into it more deeply as I increased the pressure to make a color darker. I looked at the page by chance about two weeks later. It was about halfway done, with just the two left columns and the top square in the third from left column done. I don’t remember why I stopped there, probably to eat or sleep. But I felt a need to fill the rest of the page with more squares and circles.

So I made a bunch more squares, one at a time, but of course since two weeks had gone by my aesthetic had evolved away from what I’d created previously. I consciously forced myself to put in some more 3D circles, in the rightmost column. I realized when it was done I’d made a picture, not just a practicing of technique. What strikes me about it right now is how easy it is to make just pure shapes and color combinations, with no attempt to include any kind of content. Too easy, my conscience says, a picture must be about something! Even abstract surrealism is about Some Thing. This work, which I call “Let me count the ways,” - all the ways I can draw circles and squares, that is – was fun to do. But I’m not ready to completely give up objectivism yet.

Non-objectivism (Pollock, de Koonig, Newman, et.al,) had its heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s, mostly on the East Coast, but one notices that there isn’t much of it around anymore. I suspect it is really a dead end. I don’t feel very surrealistic anymore but I’m not going to do photorealism either. So about the only path left is abstraction, but I’m finding that difficult. Can’t seem to distinguish it from cartooning. Check back with me in a couple weeks and I’ll let you know where I am artistically. In the meantime, back to designing coloring pages.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Stephanie Plum, a woman after my own heart

How many of you who, like me, are fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum murder mystery/comedy novels, are also women? Probably a majority, I bet. Stephanie is a Bond Enforcement Agent, or, as most would say, bounty hunter. This is a job that calls for quick reflexes, killer instinct, and skill with firearms. Unfortunately, Stephanie has none of these. But as her boyfriend Joe Morelli often tells her, “It’s better to be lucky than smart.”

I’m kind of like Stephanie that way. Like when I was a Web designer, when bosses would ask me to create something I didn’t know how to code, I’d just gulp and say “Sure.” Then I’d desperately Google tutorials and cobble together something that worked, sort of. There was always somebody out there on an obscure Website offering a clever piece of code that did the trick.

Similarly, Stephanie stumbles through dangerous assignments that often almost get her killed. Her sidekick Lula, who considers the greatest things in life fried chicken, Spandex, and the importance of correctly accessorizing, is occasionally helpful. But the great thing about Lula is that she’s never needy. In fact, her soaring self-esteem could be a model for any of us to follow. And when she is helpful, she’s spectacular. In my current read, “Takedown Twenty,” Lula rescues Stephanie and her grandma from rapidly-hardening cement by calling the police, the fire department, and both of Stephanie’s badass studmuffins, Morelli and Ranger.

Hardcore feminists would say that Stephanie needs intensive mentoring in being strong, independent, and take-charge, preferably with attitude. Softcore, i.e., realistic, feminists like me acknowledge we need men, or more accurately, one or two good ones. Not to validate us, to fix the dryer vent or chase away bad guys trying to kill us. Also, we should all be so lucky as to have problems like Stephanie’s with her love life: whether to settle down with comfortable, reliable Morelli or yield to lust and go with noncommital but smokin’ hot Ranger.

Like most of us, Stephanie Plum is doing the best she can with what she’s got. Despite her shortcomings, she usually figures out who the killer is and manages, even if accidentally, to bring him or her to justice. This gives me hope; if she can do that, maybe I can continue indefinitely tapdancing on the edge of the abyss.

I often fantasize about what a great movie the latest Evanovich movie would make. There was one released in 2012, “One for the Money,” starring Katherine Heigl. (Trailer at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1598828/videogallery.) I’d love to see "Takedown Twenty" as a film, but time marches on, especially for movie actors. If it were filmed in 2019, I’d cast Oscar Isaac as Ranger. I surmise he could invest the work “Babe” with as much promise as the novels’ character does. For Stephanie, I’d go with Margot Robie of “Suicide Squad.” For Morelli? Anyone but Ryan Reynolds. I don’t mean to diss him, but his eyelashes are just too long for that role. And there’s only one who could do justice to Lula: Leslie Jones.

So, Janet Evanovich, how about it? Are you/are you about to be in talks with a Hollywood producer? If you’d like to answer me directly, my Facebook page is facebook.com/jenny.mcdermott.39. (I’ve tried to find pages for jenny.mcdermott.38, .37, with no success.) Or if you like adult coloring, drop in to my fan page at facebook.com/jennysartycoloringpages. Ciao.




Sunday, September 23, 2018

Artsy adult coloring pages: seashells and ocean life

So, there are lots of adult coloring books out there. Supermarkets even put them in the checkout lane impulse-buy section. For my first venture into designing them, I've published 5 seashell-themed designs on Etsy. Why seashells? First, I like them; I've been collecting them for years. Second, when I researched the competition on Amazon, I saw lots of designs of various types, but very few ocean life themes. So I'm hoping those who have had enough animals, people, flowers, butterflies, and fairies might like a change.

To make the designs, I photographed specimens from my own collection and also downloaded some pictures of seashells from Google images. Then I opened them in Photoshop and used the Bezier tool to outline them. It was laborious, painstaking work. Of course I had to use some artistic license in transforming them into line art; many shells have subtle gradients of color over much of their surfaces. Remembering how Chinese jade carvers translated soft-form things like clouds into solid waves and tiers, I made the sections work as line or just left them out. I think I succeeded with most, but there are a few unfinished images that still have me stumped.

While I worked on preliminary designs I talked to people who like to color, about their preferences. Some love complex designs, the more detailed the better, while others want simple images that will be relaxing for them to fill with color. So I did one design which is just two columns of the plainest shells, and another which is slightly more complicated and features a big seahorse in the middle.

Next I have to finish coloring one of my own designs so I can publish it online for everyone to see how gorgeous the finished product can be. To check out my designs, go to www.etsy.com/shop/Jennysartycoloring.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Digital Oldtimers: Oral Histories from the Early Years of Computing

These are oral histories from the early days of computing. The interviewees are, with one exception, personal friends of mine. They have some fascinating stories to tell, stories which will enrich the understanding of the field for students of both history and computer science.

Trailer of Digital Oldtimers Interviews
Brief clips of six interviewees describing their experiences in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Women in Computing
Video of three women describing their experiences in computer programming and computer programmer recruiting in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.

What is art, and what do you care anyway?

YES, damnit, it IS SO art!

The other night I struggled with a moral dilemma. An ad for legaleriste.com came through my Facebook feed - this is a company that ...