Archive for the ‘Odds & Ends’ Category

Words of Art: A Children’s Book Fair & Literacy Family Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I fully intended to write all sorts of descriptive and explanatory posts prior to each of the various book talks, signings, and  events i had the past couple of months and yet here we are – down to the last event of the year and i am only now posting the first announcement.

And this is not really even the actual announcement. This is more of a place saver. Think of this as just an introductory tease.  A trailer if you will. A little something to spur your interest and hopefully arouse your curiosity for additional information.

And – basically – because i really just wanted to put a different picture on my blog.

I will be joining other local authors and illustrators at the Cummer Museum, in Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday, November 17, to share crafts and activities, introduce our books, and  talk to children and families about our love of stories and art and words.  I fully intend to write in more detail between now and then (or such is my optimistic hope), but in the interim…

Children. Books. Art. Words. Museum. Galleries. Gardens. Music. Activities. Food. Local authors & illustrators. And a beautiful view of the river. Really – what more needs to be said!




I Must Get Back To The Blog Again…

Monday, September 24th, 2012

… To the empty screen and the type.  (with apologies to John Masefield’s “Sea-Fever”).


But – really – it has been far, far too long since i posted anything.  That, of course, was not my intention when i first added a blog to my web site.  Back then i was a pretty voracious chronicler of whatever whim and whimsy came my way and wanted to share every thought and observation.  But i am also easily distracted by shiny objects – SQUIRREL!!! – and definitely at the mercy of the Creative Writing Muse, who has long been absent.

Of course the other (probably bigger) reason i’ve been away from the blog is the fact that i am a technological dinosaur and only know how to do a very few things on the computer. If some new skill is required, or a troubleshooting problem develops, i am at the mercy of the Cyborg, Cylon, Droid, Cybermen, Borg, and Dahlek Powers That Be (who, as those familiar with nefarious artificial intelligence know, tend to enjoy frakking things up – when they aren’t trying to take over the world or enslave humankind). When the Nestene Consciousness takes over, i am out of my league, and wouldn’t you know – my Sonic Screwdriver is in the shop.  My particular techno-glitch was being unable to download an illustration to my last post (even tho i had managed to do it quite easily several times before) and i didn’t know what to do or how to fix it.  Fortunately my computer savvy daughter happened to be home at the time and made  the necessary adjustments.  The crops (or, in this case, illustration) was saved and downloaded.  But she is not always here.  And i was afraid to try again on my own, just in case i couldn’t get art on the page (because what is an art blog after all without art!?!).

In my defense i was also pretty busy – finishing the illustrations for my newest book, “Solar System Forecast” (just released this month), that were supposed to be done last December but took until January to complete. Then i had to wrap up all the other projects that were put on hold while i struggled with the solar weather pictures (“Solar System Forecast” is about weather on other planets). And next thing you know, i had another book to illustrate (“Balloon Trees”, about how balloons are made.  It comes out in 2013) that took up the Summer, followed by a big rush sea turtle poster project that took up the first couple weeks of September.  Nine months passed in a frenzied blur and only recently have i emerged from under the debris, cleared my drawing table, and now suddenly have a renewed interest in writing.

And there has  been (and still is) soooooo much to write about.  I want to explain all the Who’s Who and What’s What in the art of “Meet the Planets” (the blog series i fully expected to start back in January) which, in turn, makes for a lovely segue into the trials and tribulations (and interesting background stories) of illustrating a book about space weather.  And after that i would like to describe “Balloon Trees”  – hopefully before the thing is published and on the shelves (but i’m not making any promises).  I also have several Book Talks, Library Visits, a Book Signing, and a big Presentation (with the terrific author, Marianne Berkes) for the FRA and FAME conferences coming up this Fall that i want to describe.  At length.  In minute detail.

So this is the start.  And if my Bluetooth keyboard will stop losing it’s connection to my computer, and the Creative Writing Muse hangs around for a little while, and i can get future illustrations to attach, and i don’t get distracted by – SQUIRREL!!! – just maybe i’ll get some of these stories finished.  We can only hope.  Fasten your seatbelts – it’s gonna be a bumpy write.

A Tale of Two Web Sites (or one web site with two names) & Replies To A Few Blog Questions

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Where to begin…

Okay, i guess the very first thing i need to reiterate is – I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WEB SITES (well, i don’t know anything about a lot of subjects, but that’s another entry).  As i have said, countless times, i am a complete dinosaur when it comes to computers and anything that remotely resembles the field of technology.  I still use a cell phone that ONLY makes and receives calls (technically it has a few games, but i never play them). My original 22 year old microwave continues to reheat leftovers in the kitchen.  I still have the turntable i used in college (and trust me, that was ages ago).  And when my time comes – they will have to pry a real printed book from my cold, dead fingers.  So, all that being said, when it was suggested i needed to have a web site – as a means of showing my work and generating more income – i was understandably reluctant.  I believe i swore, stomped my feet and pouted. There was probably crying involved.

I didn’t even know where to start ( and everyone i knew, who had web sites, said some friend of a friend designed theirs so they didn’t know anything about the process either).  Time dragged along but eventually, thru a series of cosmic forces, random events, coincidences and fate i was introduced to some folks who DID know about the care and feeding of web site technology and thru some magical, alchemic process known only to them, my web site was born.  And it was good.

And all was well for the next two years or so.  The site ran itself and i just called my Web Wizard to make whatever changes and up-dates were needed.  I never did any hands-on work to the site myself (i don’t do my own brain surgery after all – that’s what Sorcerers and Alchemists are for) and so i never had to know the technical, behind-the-scenes stuff that makes these things work.  You know – all those binary code, zeros and ones, algorithms.  Ah, but such is the hubris that legends (and special effects-ladened mythology-based film remakes) are made of. “Release the Krakken!”

One fateful day, my Web Guy Superhero did not respond to the bat signal.  The red phone went unanswered.  The green lantern grew dim.  The Fortress of Solitude was padlocked. All i heard was the sound of crickets, and the theme from JAWS.  In other words – my tech guy was gone.  Sucked into a vortex or the Witness Protection Program along with all the access information to my web site.  Oops!  That can’t be good.  Needless to say i felt like a bigger doofus than usual, but i hadn’t known enough to know what i needed to know – if you know what i mean – so i never realized there was some important information i should have had from the start … and now there was no way to get it (cos when super heros disappear they’re very hard to contact).   All seemed hopeless and i went thru all the stages of loss  (pause now for the angsty bridge part of the story to let the tension build)…

… Then, suddenly , like Gandalf and Eomer spilling over the crest to save Helms Deep (oo, oo – or that cool scene where Pippin lights the beacon at Gondor and all the bonfires start igniting to summon the Rohirrim of Edoras) there was hope!  A new hope as it were, in the form of another Jedi Master Web Wizard who – with his team of Justice League tekkies, side-kicks, companions, and Padawans – wielded their collective creative powers (broomsticks carrying buckets may also have been involved) and saved my former web site from oblivion.  The only casualty of the War of the Web being the original name of the place – “Laurie Klein Art” was no more.  But what’s in a name? A site by any other name would still look as neat wouldn’t it?  Certainly be a lot cheaper than starting over from scratch that’s for sure.

So out of the ashes (place reference to the Order of the Phoenix and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite here) a new and improved web site emerged. “We can make it better than it was before” (couldn’t resist a nod to the Six Million Dollar Man). Laurie Klein Arts (just add an “s”) Dot Com was born – again. Or reborn. A little older and a bit wiser.  Spiffed up, polished off, and once again open for the business of sharing the art and illustrations, books, murals, and occasional irreverent commentary of Laurie Allen Klein.

And to those very nice folks who have posted comments asking for advice concerning WYSIWYG editors, manual codes with HTML, server information, or protecting original pieces from being stolen, downloaded, infringed or plagiarized – i have not been ignoring you… i just don’t know the answers (as i believe this little tale clearly demonstrates).  Even now, i still “rely on the kindness of strangers” (Streetcar Named Desire) and i still don’t know enough to know what i need to know… but i’m getting there.  And you are all more than welcome to join me on the ride.

So – Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night (All About Eve).  Hold onto your butts (Jurassic Park).  And – Everybody, remember where we parked (Star Trek IV: The Journey Home).

I Am the Very Model of a Muddled Minor Artisan (with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

So i was adding up our receipts yesterday for tax purposes (rather then writing cover letters or hunting for prospective portfolio promotion and work opportunities, which i probably should have been doing – given the nature of this entry, but i so much prefer doing work rather than looking for it) and i was dismayed to discover – upon tabulating my W2 and freelance invoices – that i hadn’t made nearly as much money last year as i thought i had.  And trust me, i didn’t think i’d made all that much to begin with.

My regular, steady-income, wages didn’t particularly surprise me (tho in my dreams i did imagine the total annual salary to have been a tad higher) but on top of that i had also painted three murals, illustrated a new children’s book, worked for a couple local graphic designers,  made a few speaking engagements, had some book signings, and introduced my first, brand new web site last year – so i just assumed all that would have contributed significantly to the coffers.  Sadly, not so much.  Math doesn’t lie and when i eventually factor in all my out-going expenses (an activity too depressing to contemplate because i already have a rough idea of the figure) i’ll probably barely have broken even.  My first reaction was stunned pain, followed by that tightening of the throat and burning of the eyes that suggest tears at any moment, and then i realized – with not a little embarrassment – Oh My God… I Am A Stereotype!  The quintessential Starving Artist (sans the “starving” part).  All i need now is a seedy garret, a paint-splattered smock,  a ratty beret, and a manic, half-crazed, wine-fueled demeanor and the image would be complete (i’d add a mustache, but that obviously takes the analogy too far, tho i suppose i could include a Kahlo brow).  I have been doing this  – art/drawing –  professionally, in some form or another, for 31 years and still i’m barely making a living at it.

I was pretty upset about my financial revelation all night despite my husband’s well-meaning attempts to cheer me up (“You don’t have to work you know, I’ll never let you down” and “Well you know artists never make money ’til after they’re dead”) and i’m obviously still attempting to work through my own little personal “Seldon Crisis” today [NOTE: Seldon Crisis, from Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” books] thus the turn to writing, my own little self-help therapy session, the place i go to vent and exorcise all my emotional demons and creative angst.  Sure, i probably should have hopped up this morning and started making those Cold Calls i’ve been putting off (since last year!!) which might generate some income, or started on the penguin canvas i have to paint,  which will – but my brain wouldn’t stop buzzing with all the conflicting thoughts about what it is i do, coupled with the inevitable self-flagellating anxiety that i’m a dismal failure, and the fact that i so easily seem to typify the Artist cliche.

The computer called and while, ordinarily, i would have banged out a private journal entry articulating all my disappointment, fears, and navel-gazing analysis it dawned on me that the Blog might be just as good a place for some rambling free expression.  It is supposed to be – after all – the place where i describe the psychological gymnastics (the mental masturbation if you will) of my art process so what better venue to describe a typical emotional, self-doubt meltdown.  Rather than a story inside the illustration, we’ll have a story inside the illustrator.

A Portrait of the Artist (w/Tali, Jedi robe, Time Lord seal, and dolphin tattoo)

A Portrait of the Artist (w/Tali, Jedi robe, Time Lord seal, oroborus, and dolphin tattoo)

I guess the immediate issue is the age-old conflict between Art and Commerce.  Art for art’s sake vs art for income.  Pleasing yourself and being true to your Creative Muse while still paying the bills.  Part of me sincerely pictures myself living simply, that garret actually holds some appeal, BUT i’d also like it to be relatively free of vermin, large enough to work and live comfortably in, filled with all my books and my collection of Star Wars and Dr. Who toys, be in a charming little eclectic neighborhood, decorated with tastefully quirky flea market finds, and possessing the prerequisite  satellite TV and wifi Internet access.  And i want to be able to travel.  And see our daughter safely though college and comfortably on her own independent path.  And… and… and….  it’s the “ands” that get me every time.

AND… tho i have only just scratched the surface of my internal musing i realize the morning has slipped away (as so often happens when i start pecking away at the computer.  I’ve been writing, and deleting, for hours) and i’m rambling.  Somewhere in here i lost the initial train of thought and realized there is such a labyrinth of concepts and ideas still to explore it would be better served to turn this into a series of entries so i’ll bring this particular chapter to a close before i complete lose whatever audience has stumbled in (with my profound appreciation by the way, if you’ve slogged all the way to this point).  The writing did it’s trick and i feel tons better – plus my Short Attention Span Theater tendencies have kicked in – as, to be honest, has guilt about not working.  As Stephen DeStaerbler said (or wrote, i found the quote in a book) – “Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.”  Time to make the donuts!

A Test of (Introduction to) Laurie’s Eclectic Blogcast System

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

It works!  I think.

Okay, this fumbly-bumbly jumble of words, overly-long run-on sentences, and parenthetical asides is actually a test of the new blog feature on my web site.  If all goes well it will also be the first official posting (because we might as well all explore this brave new world together).  That’s not to say there won’t be some tweaking and editing and alterations before the final, official publication but this will certainly (hopefully) be the gist.

And why a blog one might ask?  Particularly since not so very long ago i never entertained the notion.  Of course not so very long ago (end of last year in fact) i never entertained the notion of a web site either, so i guess this is just the next natural progression step along the process.  Basically, even tho i work drawing pictures i am fascinated by the written word.  I love to read and i absolutely adore books (which probably explains why i always wanted to be an illustrator) and in my spare time, when i don’t have a book handy, i like to write.  While some folks knit or play golf or fashion little animals out of pipe cleaners for relaxation, i enjoy writing.  Letters, journal entries, lengthy diatribes about art and philosophy (why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings – that sort of thing) on the computer or in my trusty 3-ring binder, i love the look and feel of words.  Ah, but i digress (which, warning to the casual reader – i do frequently)… i was attempting to explain about the blog.

Basically it started out simply to be a little additional feature of the web site where Someone (have i mentioned i have an AMAZING team of web wizards and computer geniuses who do all this work for me because i am a complete dinosaur when it comes to modern technology??) could post up-coming book signing events, new art projects, and related links and articles about said projects & events.  Then it was suggested that if i had a blog i could do it myself, with the added benefit of having a little place where i could wax poetically about my work, or art in general, because just about everything i ever draw has a story behind it – which i will tell at the drop of a hat.

Either the illustration itself has visual elements that need explaining, or there is an emotional backstory about the project where i came unglued, burst into tears, and drove everyone around me completely insane whining how things weren’t working out.  With the blog i can have the best of all possible worlds combining basic News & Events information AND writing!  Sharing  all that psychological, creative artist-angst, baggage with the world (or at least those poor souls who inadvertently stumble onto the site looking for the other Laurie Klein of which, apparently there are several).

So with that explanation (and cautionary warning) aside allow me to publish this puppy and see if i did it correctly.  Whether i did, or didn’t, eventually we’ll work the bugs out (my computer friends are the most patient understanding folks in the world – either that or when i call i simply sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Waa, waa,waa,waa” and i’m mistaking their glazed look with sympathetic understanding).  So to those unsung heroes – Mark, Cass, Shaun, & Bill, who designed, built, maintain, and otherwise take care of all this (and send me bills) i dedicate this – my very first blog entry, on my still very new web site –  to you.  Thanks for everything, i truly sincerely could never do it without you!

So, as The Doctor [who] would say…  Allons-y!