Friday, November 30, 2012

Transamerica 2012 West to East

#1 Alameda, California- I painted this one as a test, as Casey drove my car around the block over and over to get the hang of it before the trip.

#2 Salt Lake City, Utah
#3 Salt Lake City, Utah- I always want to go over things in ink and on this one I indulged myself. Casey thought it looked unfinished, so I didn't do it on the rest.
#4 Three days in Yellowstone, WY. Yellowstone was hard to paint. The one that turned out the best was at Painter's Point, where you can see and paint the falls. I used water from the Grand Prismatic spring for these three.
 #5 Yellowstone, WY
 #6 Yellowtone, WY
 #7 Yellowstone, WY
Then my road trip ended but I had half the postcards left!
 #8 Washington, DC
 Here is a blurry photo of the Washington Monument stamp visiting the Washington Monument. I took some even blurrier photos of a penny visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
 #9 Mount Rainier, MD- this is the view from my window, but it is also what my apartment building looks like. We live in one of three nearly identical developments. When we were brand new here, I spent half an hour driving around them, unable to find our cross streets.
#11 MD- This is the flag of Maryland. It's different from the others, since I had to get it in the mail right away for a friend who is traveling. (I addressed and labeled all the postcards before I started, and he was number 11 and I decided I didn't want to do them out of order.) 

I am a good painter! A good oil painter. I worked in watercolors this trip because they are portable, they don't smell, the brushes can be cleaned in water, and the paintings dry right away. I missed my oil paints soooo many times while I was working on these. I think I am a little better at watercolors than these postcards show, because I was working outside in the sun and everything, and tried to get everything in a mailbox in the state where it was painted. One thing I didn't realize is that watercolor paper has to be stretched wet on a board, or it will curl. I think I had a pad of watercolor paper once that was already treated, so I thought only very lightweight paper curls up when it dries.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

JET Application In!

I finally got my JET application filled out and printed and signed and tripled! Exciting! I hand-delivered it to the embassy, which was so fun. It's a huge and kind of rococo building with vaguely Japanese grounds. I'd never been to the Japanese Embassy because their events are held at the Cultural Center in a different part of town. Walking Embassy Row is like seeing an architecture parade. Some of the embassies are only the width of a row house, even for big countries. My favorite thing was the super casual Indian Embassy with diplomats' bikes out front. Casey's favorite was seeing the twin of his great old Volvo with diplomat plates. 

The application calls for a number of supporting documents that have to be requested from school, physician, and references, and the year's guidelines are only released a month before they are due (and the exact release date is not revealed in advance) so it was a lot of effort to get everything in order. I was so grateful to my reference letter writers that I wanted to make them something intricate and time consuming like cut paper. Except, I didn't want to look like I spent longer on the notes than they did on the letters, so I made pop ups. 

 DC->;Tokyo, with "thanks" in between. I haven't done pop ups recently so I used a technique I saw online and I ordered The Paper Architect from the library.
My little inked watercolors came out pretty nice. I spent all this time cutting and painting and working out the placement and then I pressed the card closed triumphantly (b/c pop up) and it was blank. I hadn't planned anything for the front. I didn't want to spend any more time fiddling with paper scraps and glue, so I did the Japanese flag in watercolor+salt. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NSA Cryptologic Museum

One amazing thing about being unemployed in DC is that when I get interested in something, there's a museum of it and plenty of free time to go. This weekend Casey and I went to the National Cryptologic Museum in Maryland. The museum is free and it has pretty limited hours. The collection is pretty good, but has a lot of replicas and the plaques are a bit hard to parse. It's best to approach it in a credulous way, but I'm pedantic at the best of times and in a museum full of ciphers and puzzles and analysis, I was just dissecting everything. I overheard the docents talking about that a lot.

Some fun things were: a chart of hobo signs, enciphering machines from the 16thc on, military issue personal equipment, and a pair of WWII German Enigma machines that are usable.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Not having plans on a Thursday is comfortable and I can hang out alone in my room happily, but not having plans on a Saturday is a bit sad. I feel I should make more of an effort, get out of the house. To me, Thanksgiving feels like a Thursday.

Other days, I am sad to be 3,000 miles from family but on Thanksgiving, I will be relieved to be excused from eating all sorts of amazing creations in front of seriously a lot of people. I have a little bit of food anxiety all the time, and Thanksgiving features:
-not eating all day to preserve my appetite
-only food available is labor intensive and not to my taste
-I am supposed to be extra doubly grateful for the food.

I have been privately relishing the prospect of macaroni and cheese for one, but when the time came to buy the mac and cheese and I told my boyfriend my plans, he was sad. Thanksgiving is like a Saturday to him. I feel a bit cheated of my guilt-free, solitary Thanksgiving but I will do what I can to make him feel like part of a community. We checked in with his East Coast relatives and they are in Europe or on the West Coast. So... now what? Do we drive 600+ miles to Georgia or Indiana? I am calling around to local soup kitchens but so far they are all full up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stamp Carving, Hiding

I decided that the reason I haven't been out to plant my Gallaudet letterbox is my stamp is too junky. It actually was the best I could do with a used x-acto with no handle, but I am a sculptor and I make good things. 

 This stamp is based on the motif all over the gorgeous gothic revival buildings. It's simple but I focused on my line weights and took my time.
I spent nearly as long camouflaging the mini box. I have green nail polish, but it is glittery, so I made this urban disguise from pink, translucent white, and black. The usual way to hide these is with a zip-tie. One side stays on the zip tie permanently and can't get misplaced, and the other side can carry the stamp and logbook away someplace private.

Even though the box and stamp are so small, the scroll logbook is around 2"x40".