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Hello, I'm Rachael.

I am primarily a painter and paper doll maker and friendly multi-tasker/ troublemaker in Upstate New York.I've been keeping this little blog since 2004, I think. And there is hopefully a value in reading these words, looking at these pictures, clearly I find joy in writing 'em up and sending 'em out, even if I don't always have the time. I try to blog every once in a while but mostly I try to write a real letter every day (this year that is), draw and paint, sew, and instigate other people's creative endeavors.
Leave me a comment (I'm more likely to communicate directly than in the comments), ask me a question, do your best to share what you have to say, OK? Thanks



Links to places you'll maybe like if you...

Have a drawing problem like I do
  • Look at other people's sketchbooksat artists sketchbooks online

    Sew your own goofy clothes with little to no formal training?
  • Burdastyle at it's best is a super resource laden facebook for sewists...I'm balduffington here
  • The Slapdash Sewist shares her sewing adventures and inspires
  • Gertie's Guide for Better Sewing gives the best of the vintage and retro tips

    Are a working artist
  • NYFA has very very helpful resources

    are anywhere near Rochester NY interested in any of these things
  • This is the Rochester Sketchcrawl...

    And finally here are some of my friends
  • Genine draws joyfully as the world around her spins
  • Mark is just making stuff


    I'll be adding more links here but I have to find a few minutes in which I'll do that. Soonish, I bet.

  • If you want to be updated on this weblog Enter your email here:



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    Wednesday, September 22, 2010
    on eldertopia and drawing dad (confirmed bleeding hearts)

    I drew my dad yesterday as he drank his first ever fancy pumpkin latte and as we talked. It's one of the better drawings of my father, captures both his features and maybe a bit of personality (and if the picture is a little fuzzy it's maybe because we both share a bit of the shaky picture syndrome).

    He was in town to go to a lecture with me. See my dad is an omsbudsman at a nursing home in his city. For a couple of years he's been excited about the ideas of Dr. William Thomas. Now, really, after hearing him speak, I understand why.

    And besides, he thankfully doesn't keep his ideas to himself. Some places to start(as I am) learning more about these ridiculously smart ideas...
  • Eden Alternative website
  • An NPR story about Green Houses
  • Changing Aging

    My sketchbook notes are a bit jumbled but pretty I think.



    After spending the day with my father and the evening listening to a Dr. Thomas' passionate plea for more compassionate attitudes towards the elderly, I am more impassioned and excited about the possibilities for change. But then, I'm just another liberal hoping we can care more about each other, consume less, and connect more...

    Cue the picture dad took in the conservatory.


    thanks again for listening and thank you Dad for everything!

    Rachael
  • Posted at 09:12 pm by balduffington
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    Monday, September 20, 2010
    an almost full moon leads to Goya (not always but tonight)

    Hanging up in the vast sky tonight is the most beautiful strikingly moon, a floating pockmarked glowing white mystery in the sky. Oh I'm no Sandburg and this is no harvest moon...

    See, I thought it was full but actually it's only almost full. September 23rd, it'll be full. And usually we don't even look up. My picture doesn't quite do it justice, nor does this related studio scrap.





    Something about the bright white basketball in the the deep navy blue ever expanding upstairs brought me straight back to 1799, to a series of etchings by a great Spanish printmaker.

    I just discovered that all 80 images in Francisco De Goya's Los Caprichos series are online through the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan. . Big pictures, plate information and lots of odd details, rich compositions, and disturbances. A review like this one (by Kraig Cavanaugh from a show in San Diego a year or so ago) puts the series in context a little and the MET's good old Timeline of Art History essay tells much more of the story.


    I'll do my best not to go mad staring at the moon or raving about Goya, but I just had to share. Thanks again for listening...

    take care,
    Rachael

    Posted at 10:05 pm by balduffington
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    Sunday, September 19, 2010
    summing up (and spending my earnings already)

    After all the chitter chat about getting ready for market, I feel obliged (even if tired) to report on what was a wonderful day...Let's see...Art shows are about getting up squirrelly early thinking about details (for me it was wondering if I'd packed enough or if my sign would look fun and funky) and so I left the house before 8 am even.

    So, as my friend Colleen (visual merchandiser extraordinaire and the talented artist behind my new favorite necklace and all that can be found at hintery ) and I set up the display (see Erin's picture below) a lovely woman with a big silly stuffed animal thing came out of nowhere and fully appreciated a certain doll. Leon. She was flummoxed though because she did not have any money on her (had just bought the stuffed creature) and had to 'rush home to make cookies". I offered a trade and sure enough, hours later she returned with absolutely delicious kitchen sink cookies . Cookies, I tell ya! That's why I make art...



    As you can tell from the photo (another fabulous Erin photo-- she made herself very helpful), I always had a couple of cool kids in my booth -- mostly because I made a 'make your own doll' activity with some of my spare parts/scraps. It was inspiring to see the dolls these kids made (zombies and turtles and very fashionable girls). I'm telling you that kids love hole punches, brads and scissors...just trust me on that...

    Another inspiration can be glimpsed in this picture. I'll explain.



    My next door neighbor was the very talented stained glass artist Jackie Shertz. Jackie is Deaf and I am not ASL trained (time to fix that) so normally we might have trouble communicating. But this year the Artist Row did a great thing to welcome Rochester's large Deaf community by providing lots of interpreters, and just making it easier for Deaf artists and purchasers. I learned more about the imagery of hands and eyes by communicating with Jackie and got such a kick out of watching all the signing, smiling, connecting happening in her booth and all over the market.

    I usually spend my earrings as soon as they come in and this was no exception. Before she could leave town and to make good on my promise/threat I bought a lovely green skirt with a great diagonal hemline from Kate M.

    And then I hopped on the interweb and ordered a small boat load of clearance fabrics in autumnal tones from fabric dot com. With my paper doll show out of the way, and with only one fabulous green skirt to wear as the seasons change, I'm going to sewing myself silly...

    Thanks to all that stopped by and to all who read this here short report. I'm out...

    take care,
    Rachael

    Posted at 06:42 pm by balduffington
    Comments (1)  

    Saturday, September 18, 2010
    Drawing (beginning and continuing)

    Whatcha drawing?

    Flies.

    Thanks mom. That's the drawing joke I like best. Only I don't consider drawing a joke, it's a crucial skill/habit/way of living that informs my everyday and generally makes me happier.

    I'm often meeting people who want to draw and it's my profession to help people learn to make art, so I'm really excited about this New York Times opinionator series about drawing...seems good solid advice to start and honestly, you can learn to draw.
  • Phantom Skill (drawing at the Opinionator )
  • Also I heartily reccommend Roz's blog for drawing enthusiam and also good drawing...she's wonderful...

    I can learn to draw better. Or so I believe. That's why I keep practicing in my sketchbook. Below are a couple recent sketches from this current book...


    This was a sketch before we last went camping...


    And these are my notes from a great talk by John Kastner and Nanette Nocon about their book What's Up With Yuk?

    And not to creep you out, but here's what my dolls look like in plastic. Dolly (that's her name) grew angel wings or something...

    She and me will be at market tommorrow! I'm freakishly excited...must go draw to quell my excitement...

    take care,
    Rachael
  • Posted at 01:50 pm by balduffington
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    Thursday, September 16, 2010
    Paper Dolls hanging from the sky and other art adventures



    So, I am sitting here at this computer looking at the 6 drafts of entries I never posted from the past few months and feeling a mix of guilt (abandoned blogger's guilt is nothing new, right, a little lame even for me) and realization. I have spent the past few months working on projects more personal than public, more transitory and tentative than solid. It takes a real something to say to get me to bliggity blog it...

    How about my first really rewarding art project in the form of dozens of paper dolls at the public market...

    I'll explain. Here in Rochester, the Public Market is a wonderful farmer's market/ public marketplace and once a year they designate a Sunday for Artist's Row . For the past three years, I've had a booth, or rather, a stall. This year I'm in 58. Some innovative, funny, smart, truly talented and hardworking artists will surround me on every side. They have about 160 vendors this year and the Friends of the Public Market (the non-profit who puts the show on) do all sorts of great things for artists. Not only are the booth fees very low, but there is set-up help and all sorts of small kindnesses. Artist's Row is Sunday September 19 from 10 to 4 (well, I have to get their early to set up all the dolls!)... Come by if you can!

    Another small kindness/ insight into making...another art adventure rescued from one of those dead-in-the-water draft entries...

    This year I had the pleasure of participating in a Self-Portrait project designed to see what Rochester looks like, it's called Art Drop . My self portrait is on the fence in front of the Memorial Art Gallery (disclosure, I happily work there) until it comes down (don't think they've decided that yet but I think it's probably soon). The very talented photographer Will Yurman interviewed me and 5 other artists about our portraits in very cool little videos there...

    I'll try, once this little excitement subsides to be better about regularly speaking up in this blog. You're reading it after all, and I care what you think...

    best,
    Rachael


    Posted at 10:30 am by balduffington
    Comments (2)  

    Monday, April 12, 2010
    Gust...painting again

    Wind picks up and the next thing I know, I am painting. Since the middle of last week I have been keeping watercolors in my car, on the back porch, and in my purse. I have stacks of paper cut up and ready and I just restocked paper towels and scotchtape.
    There are only pockets of time to sneak in work on the small fries I'm making. Some for 6 x 6, some for my own silly reasons, others for old friends.
    There's a big difference between fitting watercolor painting into my busy life, and way back when I had a little studio and time to make messes turn into successful paintings. I think this is making me more deliberate as a painter. Here's what happened when I tried to translate this old missing painting into a new image.


    Tuesday Afternoon , watercolor and ink on paper, maybe 1999

    and now,

    Gust , watercolor and ink on paper 13.5 tall x 12.5 long, April 2010

    I deliberately changed a lot. I had to. I see the world a lot differently now. Feels like it's good change; I think I see more.

    Makes me wonder about the paintings (or poems, or songs, or ...) you make now and how they're different from the ones you made then. Show and tell?

    take care,
    Rachael

    Posted at 05:15 pm by balduffington
    Comments (1)  

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010
    wisdom about writing and drawing birds (written while holding and cancelling)

    I hate to be on hold. I am on hold. So far it's been an hour and 12 minutes. I am trying to talk to a major internet company with a name that sounds like a cowboy noise, trying to cancel a very old website and a slightly newer website. Web identities I no longer need since I have this blog and the evil network that is facebook. But the good thing about holding and cancelling, is that I can also share about writing and drawing. I learned a couple two, three things last Saturday, see. This blog (unlike the old website or the slightly newer one) is at least easy enough to write and upload a little wisdom while I hold.

    Simply, last Saturday (March 27, 2010) was magic for me. I was one of only a few attendees at a great workshop the novelist Ann Patchett gave at Writers and Books. Since I always draw when I take notes, she looked just a (very) little like this:



    But it wasn't how she looked (beautiful even if tired from three days of book talking and gracious people meeting), I was most struck by what she said. Wisdom for writers from the "despot of Ann Patchett-ville" then:
  • Ann says she reads what she has written before she goes forward, she folds the new writing in "like eggwhites"
  • Ann says it's important to forgive yourself if you cannot write every day, or write X number of words a day. She told us that she is a slow writer and committed to finishing the projects she starts...
    And she managed from what I can tell (unscientific analysis) to inspire us all. I left the workshop and went straight to the nearest computer where I unearthed the writing project I had abandoned last year. I forgave myself and started folding in eggwhites. Thank you, Ann Patchett. I do now intend to "dance with thems that brought me" (her striking phrase for finishing the big projects)...It is indeed one of the reasons I have blogged less, because I am now writing more...I don't need to decide if it's good writing. Ms. Patchett advises against judging the book before it is finished. And I don't even know if what I'm writing is a book, I only know it's a story I need to write.

    But I only wrote for a few hours, and then I ran off to draw.


    And then there was the drawing. That same day six of us gathered at the Rochester Public Library downtown to draw at a Sketchcrawl. We got restless in the quiet library, though, and soon ventured to a nearby park. For me, it was all buds and birds. Genine has already posted some sketches so here's a little bird.

    Oh, and I just hung-up. I will hold again tomorrow I guess, but now I've got some writing and drawing, and oh yes, some sewing to do...

    best,
    Rachael
  • Posted at 08:43 pm by balduffington
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    Sunday, March 07, 2010
    drawing suggestions for March for Rochester...

    I looked up and realized. There's a lot going in the month of March in Rochester, NY if you happen to be someone who likes to draw and wander around the city. The sun has come out and the snow is very busy melting. I will simply be trying to catch as much of it (art, sun, post-winter socialization) as I can... here goes with what I knows...

  • Thursday March 11, itinerant artist Jim Mott has a show opening at St. John Fisher college and will give a talk about itmore information here
  • Saturday March 20 The Creative Workshop, the art school at the Memorial Art Gallery, will have a free/fun Open House from 11:30 to 4:30. There's going to be a little of everything- from painting to pottery to drawing, sewing and jewelry. I'm biased because I plan the event, but I'm also reminded by all of the teachers and students and visitors how much they love the Open Houses. And it'll be the last time to see this show.
  • Sunday March 21
  • Thursday March 24 Novelist Ann Patchett will be in town to speak. All of Rochester is s'posed to be reading Bel Canto, so the talks should all geared towards the general public-- I find engaging writers on stages to be ridiculuously fun to draw...
  • and then on Saturday March 27 Rochester Sketchcrawl will be meeting to draw at the Rundel Library downtown at 2pm to draw. Panorama by Will Yurman for the Democrat & Chronicle, he's got many more of them and they're all really cool. Rochester Sketchcrawl BlogMost up-to-date info will be on our blog (thanks to Genine!)

    Should all be awesome, off to sharpen my pencils...and begin!
  • Posted at 08:26 am by balduffington
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    Wednesday, February 03, 2010
    Rochester NY has a little new sweet meat... and these shoes have strings...

    It's good to hang out with smart curators because they know where good painters are. I found myself at the Hungerford building today discovering the work of the collective known as Sweet Meat.

    They clearly worked their individual and collective tails off to put together the fantastic experience that is sweet meat. Should you be here in upstate, cold state, seemingly sometingly feeling art-less Ro-cha-cha, I heartily encourage you to get out Friday night to see it because they'll be taking the whole thing down. They'll remove the paintings and the meathooks and the big bulldog and the fireplace and the...

    see what I mean? here's your chance:

    SWEET MEAT CO. - EXTRAVAGANZA! closing reception
    Friday Feb 5, 2010
    6-9pm
    The Hungerford Bldg.
    1115 E. Main St.
    Rochester, NY


    All the good shows full of collective energy are up and then they're down. On that, see this rad little roadtrip blog Mark made about the show and teaching he co-conspiratated on... I am very proud to have been a party.

    And I'm pleased as punch that the artists are making their own shows happen. One sweet meat at a time...

    onward and upward!
    Rachael

    Posted at 06:30 pm by balduffington
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    Tuesday, February 02, 2010
    one a day

    Letters. I've been writing them. Since about December 27th or so, I have been writing a letter a day to an old or new friend. Often filled with random flotsam and jetsom, mundane details, and hopefully at least an ounce of joy, these letters are my whole hearted effort to regain the connections I used to have to magic people all over the country. Also, they keep me out of trouble. And the joy of these letters is that...

  • they've brought me back to the daily routine of writing something worth reading.
  • they've reminded me that I have old friends who are experts on the size of lemurs, community heroes in Sackville, New Brunswick, and fantastic people as well as artists.
  • they've further connected me with new friends who are modern day itinerant artists, people who made me smile every time I went through MARTA when I lived in Atlanta, and just wonderful people I met randomly.

    Not to ruin the surprise, but today's Letter of the Day is to this artist. We used to play show and tell at the art library, each of us opening our sketchbooks and smiling at what the other had drawn. Now I suppose a letter can share about the same thing...

    take care,
    Rachael

  • Posted at 07:52 pm by balduffington
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