Countdown to All Hallow’s Eve

Every painting tells a story

Working in an art museum allows me to plumb the depths of the collection in a way that would be difficult, if not impractical, for most visitors. While we certainly encourage visitors to pursue their own academic interests arising from what they’ve seen (the Barnes’ art library is free and open to the public during business hours), sometimes the artwork Dr. Barnes collected is fascinating for the stories behind it, rather than the work’s formal qualities. Such is the case with a painting that can be seen in Gallery 23, by Tilly Losch. It’s a fun story to tell, and I’ve chosen to turn it into a Prezi presentation which you can view below. 

This is a rough draft— the real story is so much more detailed than appropriate for a short Prezi— and I haven’t yet drawn up the bibliography which I intend to do, but art geeks should get a kick out of this. 

Best watched in full screen mode. Advance at your own pace by using your keyboard’s arrow keys, or the onscreen arrows. 

Gates of Hell

Detail of Auguste Rodin's Gates of HellA detail shot of the massive Gates of Hell, by Auguste Rodin, at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.


Plumbing Thingies

Plumbing thingie (2013, Atlantic City) Plumbing thingie (2013, Atlantic City)

Self Portrait (Atlantic City)

Self Portrait (Atlantic City), 2013.

Reinstallation of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais

The reinstallation of Rodin's Burghers of Calais
Continue reading

Burghers of Calais

The Burghers of Calais by A. Rodin

One of the benefits of working right next door to Philadelphia’s Rodin Museum, is that I can take a nice walk through the gardens surrounding the museum at lunch or in the early morning before work. The Rodin Museum has been closed for renovations since September, but it should be opening up again soon. Recently, this cast of Auguste Rodin’s Burghers of Calais appeared on the East Terrace. It was always meant to be sited outside, but previously was on display in the gallery.

Rodin's Burghers of Calais, on a flatbed truckSee the sculpture re-installed several months after this post was written here.


Sculpture by Louise Nevelson at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo © 2012 J. Thomson

Snackaby Reusable Snack Bags (Review/Interview)


Snackaby reusable sandwich and snack bags

Snackabies reusable sandwich and snack bags were created by two moms as an alternative to disposable plastic bags. Available on Etsy.

If you’re anything like me, you feel a twinge of guilt every time you reach into that little box for another plastic zipper snack bag. And I usually justify using yet another new plastic bag by telling myself that I’ll rinse it out and reuse it. Even though I hate rinsing and drying them, and I probably only do it less than 10% of the time.  I really do want to do what I can to live a greener life. But the low cost of those little yellow boxes of convenience mean that almost every day I’m adding another piece of plastic to the waste stream that ends in a landfill. But not anymore… Read on for my review of the Snackaby Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags, and the story of how their creators have more in mind than how to keep your apple slices from browning. Continue reading

Update on all my projects… Whew!

Ever since I lost my job working as a manager/barista at a neighborhood coffeehouse about two and a half months ago, I have been firing on all cylinders creatively. I have SO many projects going! I typically sleep only 5 or 6 hours a day (if that) and the rest of the time I’m at my desk or in the studio working on something. It’s been stressful, not making ends meet, and not being able to find a job elsewhere… but that job I had didn’t even cover my basic expenses either, and it took ALL of my energy, and most of my time too. There was rarely anything left over for doing creative work. So, it’s not a complete loss.

And I’ve been thinking, if I can’t find a job that will support my modest lifestyle, I guess I’ll just have to create one! That’s my entrepreneurial spirit talking there. Sometimes I have to beat him back into his dark corner.
Original painting with modified version for Zazzle Aside from writing the book about Zazzle, which has no guaranteed payoff, and will be quite some time before I see a cent, if ever. Aside from that, I’ve been Zazzling like crazy (as always, since that’s an important source of income, and now my ONLY source of income). I’ve also been learning about publishing through both the traditional publishing houses, and self publishing via Blurb, Lulu or CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing wing). Not only that, but I’ve been trying to create some small artworks that will be affordable for people to buy. I usually like to make the most of it by scanning the artwork and using it for a Zazzle design, and if its really good, also using it as an example in my How-To Zazzle book. My latest one received a coveted Today’s Best Award from Zazzle. Oh, and did I mention creating fabric designs for Spoonflower? Yeah, I’ve had my days full.

And now it looks like I’ll be helping out at the Encaustics Workshops this fall at Nichols-Berg Gallery in Chestnut Hill. The owners and instructors are friends of mine, and I asked if I could work for them in trade for attending the classes. Not only did they say yes, but they want me to work additional hours in the gallery. Which is great, because it gets me out of my studio and into the real world. But it also takes me out of my studio in a bad way too. Lately there have been times when I don’t leave my studio for a week or more, so it’s good to get out once in a while though.

I’m hoping the encaustics workshops will get me back into working with wax. I haven’t painted in encaustics in years, although I still have all the tools & materials. And I just got some new PanPastels from ColorFin that I’m anxious to try combining with encaustics. I’m sure this will change my work for Zazzle, too. Because I can see creating a lot of great backgrounds and elements to use in designs on Zazzle. It’s something I don’t see a lot of there, and anything that sets my work apart from the others is good.

Back to publishing: I now have three books available on Blurb (my Cape Cod Light portfolio, and two funny calendars that should appeal to a gay audience—one is a 2012 calendar + journal, and the other is the same thing but in a 16-month version you can use now), but just today I published a play there for a friend of mine who wrote it. It’s a hilarious send-up of Sunset Boulevard, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and a host of others, called Look What Happened To Pixie De Costa! and it’s by my long-time friend Bruce R. Coleman. (I’m doing another one for him next week, too.) I did it as a favor to him, but also as a proof-of-concept, since it’s conceivable that I could start a business publishing things like that for artists, playwrights, and other creative folk. I’ve certainly learned enough about it to do it. I just wish money weren’t so tight, and I would be able to make it really professional by setting myself up with a publisher’s account so I could register my own ISBN’s. I know you can buy them through services like CreateSpace, but then they are listed as the publisher, not me. I think it costs about $125 to buy an ISBN (if you get them one at a time, and not in a block of numbers), so it’s not that much dough. But I have to wait until I have some secure source of income coming in.

Speaking of which, I do have an application out right now, and if I got the job, it would be really, really good for me. I’m totally qualified for it, without being overqualified. So keep your fingers crossed. The deadline was yesterday, and I haven’t heard anything, but I’m hoping. However, I’ve been down that road so many times in the past two years, I should know better than to get my hopes up.

Well, thanks for reading! I’ll keep you posted on this blog with updates on all of these various projects.