Monday, February 26, 2007

Try Not To Pee

(But if you do HAVE to, do it as quickly as possible. That was my motto to myself during Sven's visit, that was how much I didn't want to waste so much as a minute of this rich and valuable time.)


A big raucous thank you to Sven Bonnichsen. His visit was so special for several reasons. There was a certain short hand to the time together, a certain harmony and comfort, that made the experience splendid, invaluable, and meaningful for me. But then again, that's Sven.

After talking together on many interesting subjects, we both focused on showing and telling the things that are not as translatable through the computer, things that come to life in person, the color and textures, how things feel. For example, I learned that Sven's Dad and Jimmy pupps from The Great Escape that he brought with him are a complete blast to animate, good Lord. I could not tell by looking at photos or the short, but brother, were they a pleasure to work with! "Down and Dirty"? my tuchkus, they moved like silk! This clip isn't at all good or about anything other than hooking up the web cam via Firewire to Sven's laptop and start feeling up the pupps.


Webster Runs Amok on Vimeo Just messin'. (I had promised to try something with Webster.)

During our visit, we talked honestly about each of our strengths and weak points in this medium. For my part, the most comfortable area for me in all of this is in the details, set dressing, prop construction and finishing, textures, realistic faux finishes, rich costuming, fabrics, sewing, painting, a little building, anything, the more intricate it is the better. I feel my weakest point was obviously in animating, as I have done next to none at this point. I had in mind that after my main set was finished I'd start in on developing my chops with animated "preparation exercises" in order to have better command a puppet's performance. But after Sven's visit I think I should not wait, and want to simultaneously begin to exercise these skills while I build the set, say, one day a week? I was also kind of waiting for the next great camera breakthrough. You know the one, where you get the resolution and clarity of a digital still camera that flows flawlessly with a great framegrabber like Framethief and plugs directly into a portable Mac moniter? But while waiting, I am now happy to dive in with the Honorary Strider Stop Motion Patrol Unibrain Webcam of Joy and my second hand Nikon Coolpix 950 with the broken battery hatch latch held up snug with a rubber band.

To put me on track, Sven generously wanted to accomplish teaching me voice syncing while he was here. He walked me patiently through the entire process of adding dialog to animation, something I would have aptly avoided for YEARS!!! on my own. But everything is possible with Sven around. His clear and positive nature makes even the most daunting task seem doable! I learned how cool Garageband is and the input and distortion filters there, how to make a Papagayo dope sheet based on that sound file and then how to use that to animate the mouth of my puppets, how to use Quicktime Pro to export that into different formats and frame rates. Loved it!


It's About Damn Time You Learned How To Do The Sound! on VimeoShelley first learning sound and not caring about any other aspect of this little clip with Dad and Jimmy (and Toby!). Voice talent, Sven Bonnichsen.

I'll give Sven first dibs on describing what type of mini workshop we did for his exploration. I had such a blast and will show my cool results later!

It's Svensday!!!


Sven and Toby (!, Hi Gretchin!) were welcomed into Halfland for a visit today!

Just a quick note to let you know who the very special guest was in Halfland today, Sven Bonnichsen!!!

He is the nicest person I ever met.

He is a fabulous person both online, and now I know, in person too.

We talked animation non-stop since he arrived about noon and he just turned in for the night at 2 am!

We animated!

He taught me how to add dialog to animation! (it's fantastically fun and easy now that he could show me how!!!)


We ate, we chatted, we took photos, we played show and tell (he brought friends!), Sventastic!

More details a coming tomorrow!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Going to the Wall


Click on the image for a larger view

Today I removed the masking tape from the wooden timbers. The joint compound was still uncured and soft like paper clay. I would say my plan worked, and didn't. Some areas came out perfectly (the far right close up shows an area that worked how I wanted, on the right), others were still too uneven and cracked (as seen in the close up, on its top half). I took a scalpel to the still malleable plaster to trim and neaten up the edges. I took one wall down and was happy to see that it came away cleanly from the uprights next to it.

Overall, I think this will work. I think the next step is to recover the wood, which got distressed by the tape pulling away, by the way. Not a problem as I like the added texture and can wash it again with more stain.) Again, recover the wood slats, this time on just the face of it, and then add an additional layer to the walls of either plaster slurry or more joint compound. After that, I can begin tinting the walls in ocher upon deeper ocher acrylic washes. Woo.

Next steps: For the interior wall surfaces, I think I'll have to dismantle the panels and turn them around to get at them! And I'm still mentally sorting out the addendum landscape set construction and how on earth I'll add a roof!

Pssst: I collected all my already made Halfland goodies and props for a show and tell and tidied up the workshop for a certain secret special super surprise guest at Halfland Ranch this weekend!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

But Wait, There's More!

(click image to enlarge.)

Plain hard wood timbers on the cotage exterior were tinted with diluted burnt umber acrylic and liquid beeswax to a nice brown. Then a stronger mixture of burnt umber, gloss medium, and a gorgeous Alizarin crimson hue from Nova Color was washed onto that. It was the perfect color for Rana's cottage whose palette is solely warm tones of wine and ochers. After that had dried, I took the plunge and covered all the wood with masking tape hoping it would protect the perfectly finished wood while a new layer of joint compound was applied to the outer walls. The idea is to raise the surface of the walls to be flush with the wooden lathing strips.


Thanks for hanging in with me, all's back to well now. And I'm happy to report I made FOUR medium-sized acts which brings me practically up to date! What isn't shown above is the whole cottage plastered anew. I meant to make just a test patch of it somewhere to determine whether my plan would work, but in for a penny in for a pound, I covered the whole place in white. Tomorrow, if it's dry, I'll carefully remove the masking tape and see how it worked. I used some of the compound to even out flaws in the construction, especially where the wall panels meet. These areas are going to have to remain tough enough to keep their shape but forgiving enough to come apart where needed. We'll see. Pictures forth coming.

ART BONUS:
This paper lotus is my second attempt. Funny thing, whilst I was still down with my middlesbesmerchment, I had to make a couple of timely cards for friends. I took the super cool paper pop-up lotus flower pattern from Russian designer, Tatyana Stolyarova, and proceeded to watercolor textured art paper, cut out the patterns, and assemble them. The thing was that I was so "out of it" from my condition and the (non-narcotic but still wonky-making) pain meds that the first one came out looking as though I were inebriated while I tried to make it. I did my best but I was noticeably impaired. (Oh, we gave that first one to our friend with an apology for my crafting under the influence.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Miss Kitty Sez...

Hi Y'all, This week in the long-ass history of Halflandian progress, was the best yet. It felt great to take at least a small step daily and begin to see some real headway made finally. Oh, so good. I feel like a horse that's been kept in a barn for years and now feels the exhilaration of running free and fast. I FULLY intend to keep this up.

Tonight I feel the feelings in my (lower) gut that says, "it's time to lay down" for a day or two. But if somehow I'm able to keep the pains away tomorrow I'll still make my small acts here. Otherwise, I relent to nature's ways (head bows low) and will see you happily on the other side of things in a day or two.

Thank you for visiting and reading as I go along.

May you find joy in what you do.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Minny Hill"


(I wish I could run the old "Benny Hill" sound track for you here.)

Today I set up a little set base test with built up newspaper bumps on a box. On top of that I taped down strips of; 1/8" square hardware cloth, perforated plastic rain gutter, aluminum rain gutter mesh, and plaster bandage. I made up two small batches of the Rockite portland/gypsym extra strength anchoring cement (gray) and plain plaster of paris (white) as a topping.

The idea is to see if any of these materials will create a hard shell surface, in conjuction with layers of papier mache, that will be strong and secure enough for fairly heavy hardware tiedowns for puppetry animation.

The results and more cRaZy antics tomorrow!

Whoops, Got Woody


It's been a big day here in Halfland. I wasn't planning to, but I took some thin wood strips and cut them down to size and hot glued them on the raspberry plastered walls. It took 6 hours to complete this step on all sides of the cottage. It really started making it look house-y and I'm very happy with the results. I added the wooden uprights to each wall corner as well and added a loft/shelf on the inside. I stuffed bits of newspaper into any gaps between the current plaster and the new wood, such as around the eyebrow-shaped window frames.

The next stage will be to stain the wood with a transparent wash of the right diluted acrylic colors. Then I'll use my new highly operational contractor's masking tape to cover the wood when dry. Then I bust out the tub of joint compound and slather it over the walls, filling in the plaster surface until it is about even with the new wood surface. Once dry, I remove the tape, et voila! Walls.

Shaping up around here! Take care.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Armed to the Teeth


Today's act was to go out and get some Halfland set building stuff:

• (3) 2' x 4' panels of 1/8" peg board for use as additional set base tops.
• (4) 2-1/2" rolling caster wheels (on sale, 1/2 price) 'cause I want to build a camera dolly. I know, there are smoother ways. If it's no good, they won't waste as I can use them to shift set bases or something.
• Another bundle of cedar wood shims to stain and cut into roof shingles.
• Loads of wood screws to construct set bases out of scrap lumber (Say hello to a trip to Bergamot Station, the best dumpster diving in LA.)
• Pack of large corner iron brackets for constructing set bases from above mentioned scrap lumber
• Teensy wittle 6/32" wingnut/bolt/hex nuts for lightweight character tiedowns.
• Lots of small steel corner brackets to secure the set flats to the table tops.
• (1) tub o' pre-mixed joint compound with which to slather onto cottage walls as final coat before aging (the walls not me).
• (1) box of (rather pricey) "Rockite" dry anchoring cement (supposedly crazy mofo strong stuff, stronger than concrete, permanent, yada ya) to sample how it might serve as walkway strengthener coupled with...
• (1) $1.49 curve-able perforated plastic rain gutter guard (at that price it's worth a try).
• (1) quart of pre-mixed FlexAll© to paint on tree branches (it's expensive so I buy it in small quantities so I don't get sticker shock) BUT it is perfection for this use. It is as durable as cement yet will not crack as the small twigs move and flex. I'm going to try tinting this batch tree brown to see how it looks rather than painting after the fact.
• Another roll of my sculpy sculpity friend Mr. Aluminum rain gutter guard (mind in da gutta I guess)
• A larger width roll of thinny thin painter's masking paper, for those hard to mache tree areas.
• Coupla fresh phillips bits for all the motorized fastenin' I'll be doin'.
• Last, but dearest to me, a Contractor's 4-pack of High Adhesion, 1.5" wide, 3M, Scotch brand MASKING "eat me" TAPE!!! (I actually bought these, they were not taken from a Contractor minding his own business!)

Scoping out the OSH HARDWARE I had me some set solution idees. One was to use the large amount of 1/8" squares hardware cloth I have in house already to laminate with perhaps plaster or the spiffy Rockite pourable expansion cement deal for the set construction. I shall sample and report with a little animation test, non?

This brings me to my penultimate point of the day (there was one earlier?) I realized in the store, seeing all manor of cool stuff, that all my life, and still to this day, I have tried to spend nothing on my art/project supplies. I have done without most proper tools or even some basic ones as a matter of operating. I've never had a lot of money (relative to those in this culture) and have always felt like a cheater for buying myself supplies or equipment, asking myself how little I could get away with or what do I already have I could use instead? I never thought much about it. The mindset was always just in place. I don't know how I'll raise up the gumption to order good film lighting units, or my choice of animation camera, or order big dusty bags of UltraCal for all the molds, or yards of green screen fabric for the background, etc. I am more comfortable with making things with inexpensive or nearly free materials like newspaper and starch, rather than more costly gear used in nearby Hollywood. A plus side of this is that I have found a certain financial limitation is actually a force in and of itself for creativity to somehow emerge. Often having no such limits robs that marvelous mechanism of its necessity. The down side is feeling limited by not having a comparative abundance of stuff.

Which brings me to my final point of the day. It's important for me to declare in this journal of the project that part of its approach carries some philosophy within its construction. Part of it is the idea of using what we have at out disposal for our projects, not exceeding our monetary budget, networking, scrounging, finding, making it happen with whatever we have available at the time. That goes for cameras, graphic accelerators, hard drives, and other equipment too. I firmly believe that everybodys creativity need not be shut off due to any outside limitations.

Leni Riefenstahl is one of my favorite filmmakers. I became red faced while reading her memoirs several years ago at her defeated assertion that she was no longer allowed to create her films after the war (it's a long story.) No producer/studio would back any of her projects ever again after WWII. But as I read her tale, during the earliest days of digital cameras and Mac editing software, etc., I lamented over missing what wondrous things she, and those also gifted with a capacity for greatness, might have made with access to these new affordable tools. No one, talented or not-as-much (doesn't matter to me what level) need wait for studio funding any longer or ever again in order to make whatever they see fit.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stream of Consciousness


Still unfinished Rana stand-in comes out on the porch to see what the flash photography's about. I put digital water to indicate the general location of where the water will run.

Ugly photos but I gotta just show what's happening not just what represents. Today I took plastic tubs I had on hand and topped them with scrap lumber to block out the surrounding landscape from the cottage's front porch down to the stream's edge a few steps away. I roughed in a stairway path with cardboard boxes. I will need to make larger landscape patches for the left side of the hill and another for the right as well. I'll need to find higher bases to build those on, maybe something with lockable wheels, eh?

My plan is to papier maché these smaller set pieces, as the main centerpiece will be, but then strengthen the actual animation pathway the characters will walk across for tiedowns, before dressing the whole area with dirt, sand, rocks, moss, etc. There was a perfect material for doing that that a craftperson, Mari Tobata, used on Micheal and Julie's prop team. It was similar to plaster bandages, except smoother and made of highly toxic fiberglass type material instead. She frickin had to use ACETONE!!! to soak the dried sheets in to soften them enough to apply to the rounded shapes of the sculpts. After air drying, and adding 2-3 layers, these masks and other elements were drillable and hard as nails. That won't do in my home/shop so I'll have to come up with a no-tox idea.

Tomorrow I'm out for large quantities of masking tape, brackets, hardware, lots more paper, joint compound, FlexAll©. I feel a set coming on!

Take care!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sawing Logs While Himself Is Sawing Logs

...only a few feet away. I'm not even kidding! We just got home a while ago from an all day design/project meeting with our friend/client. Hims went to bed (after checking his blog comments, of course) for an early appointment tomorrow. I wanted to stay up to make my small act on Halfland. I thought fleshing out the porch further would be a good choice. I grabbed the largest, straight branches I had and started cutting them down with my pull saw to the right height. I had to be as quiet as possible, sawing gingerly in the dark, because we live in an open plan place with no rooms and my bench vise is located only about 10 feet away from the bed! Maybe that's where that old "saw" came from?!

For those wondering about how big the tree and house are, I measured tonight from the "ground" level outside the tree set to the top branches and it comes in at about 6' tall! The cottage is about 4' across at the widest point, with the tree's canopy about that. I've got about a 2' perimeter of hill landscape surrounding the tree/cottage set as that is all the space that's left on the doors and saw horses set up.

I'm going to need more landscape though, at least a 5' portion to make up the land from the bottom of the porch down to the "stream" nearby. I figure I can build a little stream side set that can be pushed up next to the cottage/tree set when Rana (half goat woman) greets Kyra (half fish woman) from the cottage door and then walks down to collect her from the stream in a rain barrel. I'll also need a few side sets to make up the yards around the cottage, where the clothes line is hung and the chicken painter is painting and the fences run with an arbor gate on the way up the hill to the house. I'm thinking of taking several plastic milk crates, topping them with plywood bases, and dressing them as landscape that meshes into the edges of the table top set. That really helped to write that out! That's just what I'll do. yay.

I'm hoping that after the set is built, a way to make the set location look as though it is a part of a complete nature background will come to my mind? Hanging a giant green screen above, behind, and below everything? I have no idea right now. One thing at a time. Heck, when I started this film there was no Internet!! Now look!! Plenty of online cinemas to screen it!!, digital cameras to shoot it!!, free editing software to craft it!!, supportive friends with the same interests to share it!!, on and on. If I wait long enough, maybe Halfland will make itself?!

Kidding. I want to do it! I know you are enjoying doing your projects too.

Night!
Pix Mãnana

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Varanda Rights


Today's little act was to continue filling in areas that needed it on the tree with newspaper clumps and duct tape (used up all the masking tape in the house) (seen as silver patches above.) A bigger step was that I finally blocked out the location of the cottage's porch in cardboard. I taped down large cardboard panels as armature bases that will be used to form hills on the East side landscape of the house.

To see things better, I threw together the quick digital image above of the snapshot of today's act along with a modified gazebo roof and a few other spare dressings added to help me start sorting out the roof design and construction. I also gave a lot of thought to how to join the wall panel seams when the cottage is assembled. I decided on stained wooden timber at the joins (attached to one side of one wall in each pair, also digitally sketched above.) would be a good way to go. There will be more plastering on all the walls, and more timber added in the Tudor (wattle and daub) style so the wood will seem to be more part of the home's consctruction at that point.

Making progress on the tree has really helped me to see my way through my construction confusion of how to build the set. It's thrilling for me to realize that I know how I can do this, because not so long ago it was all just a hazy, abstract vision.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Keep Moving


...because if you don't, I'm gonna Papier Maché you where you stand! I'm so into this new technique, it's wonderful (looks around at what else in here could possibly be mache'd.) I papered over the inside tree and the newly tweaked outside. The only reason I stopped, under protest, was to make dinner for hungry persons and to work on "Mein Kompfs" (the design comps for my new print project) which, thanks to a late night discovery session last night of unique folding solutions, is now rolling along... gotta keep moving there too.

In other news: For those who love paper art, pop-ups, automata, and the like, like we do, you might like to know about a wide-ranging paper lovers' site, Paper Forest, belonging to the gifted artist/illustrator Jaime Zollars. Everything one could wish to explore about paper art and news can be found in her comprehensive sidebar and reportage. She graciously invited me to contribute occasional posts to her site to keep things, well... moving and crackling with paper action. Today I made my maiden guest post.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fast and Furious

Today I tried out the thinner kraft paper on the other side of landscape behind the cottage. It worked better than I imagined. This painter's masking paper, about $1.99 for a generous length of a 12" wide roll, was the perfect material. I sopped liquid starch onto paper towel-sized lengths and then wrung each sheet out like a sponge, opened it up flat and then laid it down over clumps of newspaper that had been hot glued down onto cardboard. I'll put the fan on the area overnight to speed the drying before further layers. I plan on putting down many layers of mache before painting the finalized surface with FlexAll© flexible cement.

It was hugely quicker to cover the large landscape area than it would have been doing it in small strips that the denser carpenter's paper would have required. This thinner paper remained as strong as fabric when wet with starch and allowed for a lot of manipulation without tearing. It molded to the tree shapes like butter, something that the heavier brown paper could not do. I think a mixture of the two weights, in alternating layers, would be the ideal method of making the set's hard-shell while keeping its sculpture shape articulate.

I also added a little bulk in spots to branches on the house side of the tree.

...The furious part of this post is what's going to happen when Himself gets home from work to find this is all I've done today--even as that *print design deadline* is approaching, still, and yet again. (argh. Please help me think of a good, fun solution for this project in your mind's eye!)

Thank you!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Today I added newsprint and 3M's excellent masking tape to places that seemed to call for refinement on the outside of the tree. I had a brainstorm this morning of using thinner kraft paper in more layers, in larger pieces over some of the hilly landscape by drenching the paper like a washcloth into liquid starch and draping it over the crumpled newspaper ground layout... I also added some chalk coloration to Yanu, the Moth Man's, deer prop and... ruined it. However, undaunted, I went to my (what must be a fairly well stocked and organized) art supplies and pulled the box marked "Flocking" materials! I plan to paint on more thin glue and dust the creature again with polyester fibers to re-work the little fellow's markings where the color doesn't look good and where the current layer was rubbed off.

MORE ACTUAL NOTES FROM HALFLAND: A. This image, found only recently, is the closest illustration in total to my vision for the cottage interior. What's spot on about it is the coziness, the fireplace with kettle, the bed in an alcove (notice how it matches the gypsy wagon feel again. B. This is a beautiful, bucolic mural in a fancy mansion that I will be emulating for the view surrounding the cottage. C.This is another great period door that I'll be copying for it's hardware and construction for the inside of the cottage. D. This image shows the feeling in the kitchen area, lots of jars and food left out, functional and inviting. E. This shows the inside of the Tudor-style bay window seat in the cottage, perfect for curling up to take a warm nap. F. This shows what I intend for finishing the landscape outside the cottage, having sod and mosses coming up through, in and around the tree root's toes.


In an incredible demonstration of "attunement", Halfland Explorer, Ben, suggested in the comments that the Writing Mouse might have a little balcony on his Chalet. He imagined it filled with mini ink bottles, quills, and paper scrolls! Completely adorable ideas. Thanks to Ben! I couldn't resist putting the mouse puppet, in his rice-sized, wire-rim glasses, with his feather quill pen and his first scroll on the unfinished house set.

Goodnight to you!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Actually


Feeling better, thank you all for the good thoughts.

Yesterday, yay, I was able to paper the first coat on the outside of the tree like I had been wanting to do. It too couldn't be rushed and required me to move on auto pilot patiently in order to get the amount I wanted done, including the writing Mouse's Chalet. (see above left) Another coat of thick brown paper after further adding of crumpled newsprint and tubing to spots on plan for tomorrow. After the uniformity of paper color is applied all over the armature little things that need further finesse will always show up. That see saw might go back and forth a bit before I slather on the FlexAll© to cement the structure permanently.

Today's small act was to apply masking tape to the wire (gutter guard) mesh forming the inside cottage roots (seen before and after above to show better the process of the tree being constructed.)

I'm also thinking ahead to the roof and other home details for the cottage getting more and more excited as what to do to actually build the place comes into focus for me. None of which could happen without my actually working on the project as, I see it. I was typing with Hila about how places we want to visit in our mind can often be most exciting--until the moment we actually get there. I'm thinking that's true with our creative projects as well.

We've all acknowledged that thinking of a setting, character, or prop, for a film, heck, thinking of the film itself, is by far easier than to set about actually making what we had imagined. For me, the approach of taking just small steps each day toward the actual building of these things is my way "IN" to actually making these ideas actual.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Pause in the Action

I feel slightly punky. Still working on my paper design too. Hoping to feel well enough to make some mache action tomorrow.

In the meantime, a pretty cool detective story unfolded in yesterday's Plum Crazy comments below.

Lots of love.

UPDATE: It's Monday night and I now feel like a sheet of gelatin dissolving in warm water, and NOT in a good way. So strongly sleepy all day and still so weak I'm unnerved by it. I'm trusting that the cause is exertion in dance class yesterday (why is a 44 year old absurdly attempting such rigors?) after staying up until 2 am and/or dehydration, both of which I'm trying to remedy slowly. I couldn't come up with genius paper designs for today so we moved the meeting to next week. I'll go at it again tomorrow, after my hopefully being able to sit upright and think for more than a 2 minute spate.

ART BONUS TODAY: My big achievement of the day was finishing a belated birthday card for a friend, part of which looks like this...The other part of it I can show after she receives it--in France. I used a new notion for me of quilting a real person's photo transferred onto fabric. I love the results and will be doing more of this!

But still, I'm jonesing hard for my 1/2L. small act, it's been 3 days. All I did on it today was tape up what was placed with my new roll of extremely cooperative (!) masking tape purchased yesterday whilst out. I am determined to make an even bigger move tomorrow even if I have to make it crawling.

Do take good care of you.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Plum Root Crazy


I dun gone plum rut' crazy, folks! I couldn't hep myself and started adding even more foam root structure to the tree today. It needed some root augmentation after all the expansion in the canopy. I also jerry-built the sole indoor branch with a nail and hole rig so that I can remove it when I'm working on the interior. Plug n' play. I also added more crumpled newspaper to spots on the upper branches, shaping as I went, and fixed a few more metal mesh roots to the indoor and opposite outdoor wall. All of the above will be covered in a coat of strong brown kraft paper, or two, and be very strong and solid.

I have to say, I really enjoy sculpting giant trees out of mesh, newspaper and masking tape. Who knew?!

The other thing I learned today was that taking photos all around the set to document the process had an added benefit of revealing things that need improving that I don't "see" or notice in person. Something else to keep in mind to do, on purpose, with projects.

Two New Art Quotes Today:

"Most people don't recognize opportunity when it comes, because it's usually dressed in overalls and looks a lot like work." --Thomas Edison

"Art should make you interested in life, not in art." --Michael Winter

Nanoact

Revved up the glue gun and added another foam root to a spot on the outside and positioned another indoors out of the wonderful gutter mesh. That will have to do for today, not because I don't (desperately) want to do more. It's just that I have to focus attention to some patented clever paper too.

Art Bonus Today: Downstairs Clare and I began a new series of art experiments this morning based on the wonderful book The Soul's Palette: Drawing on Art's Transformative Power And, as the blurbs explain it, "Making art may be as important to your physical and spiritual health as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, or meditation... Experience the healing that flows from the joy of creation." It was fun to wet some brushes and play together.
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