new website, new Playground

This Playground is about to make a move! For the past week I’ve been completely immersed in the process of moving my site into another theme, which was, I must say a monumental task. By trial, ridiculous amounts of error, and hours spent in support forums with computer techies, I’ve learned so much about programming and site design. This really wasn’t my intention, but I think it may have been a happy accident. My new perspective on site design (from the inside out) combined with This Playground’s new look, has led to so many new ideas. Stay tuned! Coming soon!


i’ll wait in the car : free books for you

Do you like to read books? Do you like to look at hand-colored photographs? Are you crazy for dogs? Do you like to win things? Well guess what?

A few years ago, my collection of hand-colored photographs of dogs waiting in cars was published by Sellers Publishing. This was a project that all told, took ten years: From the first photograph created in 1996, that made me want to make more:

to years and years of lingering in parking lots with my camera, watching dogs in their unheralded role as guardians-of-the-vehicle

and eyes-to-the-horizon companions.

I’m giving away two signed books, and all you have to do is leave a comment. In a week, two readers will be selected and two copies of I’ll Wait in the Car will be shipped out into the world. 

If you win, you can keep it on your nightstand, read it to your children, re-gift it for the upcoming holidays, or do what I did:

Cut up the pages and use them as an invitation for graffiti.

puzzles : deconstruction…reconstruction

One of my favorite things to do with students is making puzzles. Not only are they designing their own game, but they are experiencing the process of creating something which is then deconstructed in order to be reconstructed. For this puzzle, I decided, for the first time with this group, to use watercolor resist. When I passed out the squares of 4 ply board, one child said, I’m going to make a rainbow. Without responding out loud, the other children immediately began drawing rainbows.

Watercolor resist was new for them, and they loved it. How can anyone not?

The child working on the painting below decided she was not quite happy with the dolphin she had drawn, so she got a new piece of board and created another painting. (Even though I thought the first one was fabulous, I didn’t say so. This young girl always has a strong sense of direction, and a clear vision for what she wants from her work.)

Below are the four completed paintings. (The painting in the lower right was completed by the girl in the photo above. She was pleased with her second attempt.) One by one, I sat with each child to cut up their board, counting the pieces as I cut, and making sure to vary the shapes.

In this photograph one of the children is nearly finished putting her puzzle together. This was not an easy process for her, but she did not give up. With a little help from the girl next to her, she managed to put it all together.

The puzzle below, with it’s repeated pattern of black marks, was very confusing. But when I asked the young artist to remember where she had painted the red circle (the sun), she was able to jump right in and complete it.

Each child was then given a clear plastic box (stacks of which I have from another project) to cover with Sharpie-drawn designs. The puzzle pieces were then easily stored in a custom-designed container. Who needs to buy puzzles?

one image, once a year

I knew that November was near, and I had realized that day by day, it had become colder and colder. But I still wasn’t prepared to open my back door to this morning’s snowfall. I think of the obvious (getting out scarves and gloves and coats), but I also think about something that I only think about in the cold month of November: my once-a-year holiday card.

For about 20 years, I’ve sent out a few hundred cards to friends, family, and collectors, with an image I’ve created for the holiday season or for the new year. While I can usually count on a few weeks of total frustration, feeling that I don’t have any ideas that interest me, somehow it always gets resolved. In truth, it’s one of my favorite creative challenges of the year. I take the holiday card seriously because I’m creating and printing one image only, not a series.

I think I might have an idea for this year, and this one, like many, became clear when I was hiking with my friend Pat. (Hiking and yoga and swimming are great creative idea generators.) Hopefully I’ll post this year’s card in a couple of months, but in the meantime, I thought that today, on this snow day, I’d share a small selection of my cards from past years. There is of course a direct reflection in the cards of the arc of my personal photographic work: the use of children’s drawings, negative imagery, and throughout all of the years, hand-colored imagery.

{ 2002 }

{ 2003 }

{ 2004 }

{ 2006 }

{ 2007 }

{ 2009 }

at the stedelijk museum

This past summer I was fortunate to spend a few weeks in the Netherlands, and one of the highlights of my trip was the morning I spent with my family in the Temporary Stedelijk Museum’s workshop. Skip the Van Gogh Museum (unless you go at the very last hour of the day when 500 other people aren’t trying to look at the same painting as you) and walk next door to the undiscovered Stedelijk. Not only will you see the brilliant Karel Appel murals, painted in the 1950’s, but you (and your children) will be able to make your own work.

A generous selection of the art supplies of your dreams awaits and is presented in the quintessentially thoughtful Dutch way. If you’d like, you can choose, as we did, to make a poster

which might be added to the series of fabulous posters-by-visitors that are on the wall at the back of the space.

Here is my husband’s poster:

And here is the poster created by my son:

invitation for graffiti

A few months ago I “wallpapered” a room at the Starrett Children’s Center with white paper as an borderless canvas for children to draw on. This was the second experience I had papering a room for these particular kids. But this time, I added small photographs from the pages of one of my books,  I’ll Wait in the Car.

So much happened in this small room. But for the most part, it wasn’t what I had expected. The marks made by the children in response or relation to my photographs were much less literal or narrative than they were abstract and energetic. Lots of “frames” were made. And lots of meandering lines were drawn that seemed to connect the photographs and/or the dogs. So much happens when you change the rules of the game. In this case, the environment was electrified when it became clear that writing on the walls and writing on or around someone else’s art was encouraged and permitted.

the germination of fotoplay

Most projects actually incubate for a long time. Days, weeks, decades. This is true of my fotoplay book. While it became a clear collection of pages and chapters this past spring, I’ve been swimming around in this work for at least ten years, since the time I created my Percent-for-Art commissions.  The source of inspiration then was the same as it is now: children’s drawings. To create my work, I visited elementary school classrooms and asked kids to draw for me. Sometimes I presented a wish-list (cars, boats, animals…) and other times I simply began with one of my photographs as a prompt for a setting. Either way, I always left the room with a load of treasure:

When incorporating the childrens’ work into my own, I added color and tone, shadows and light. I played with scale and gesture. My interest was to create depth and dimension, while bringing the two realms – hand-drawn imagery and photographic imagery – closer and closer together…