My dog Chloe and I volunteer at one of SF's branch libraries a couple of Saturday mornings a month during story time. Marcie the librarian always selects a few books for the hour, and generally they're about animals. (Fact: kids who want to read to and with a dog tend to love books about dogs & other animals! 🐶) A book we read and that I liked so much I bought a copy for myself is The Wolf, the Duck & the Mouse by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen. The story is perfectly and imaginatively absurd, and the illustrations are both fun to look at and a great complement to the text. On one of my favorite spreads, the mouse stands with a pot on his head, clutching a hockey stick, and proclaims, "Tonight we ride to defend our home." It makes me laugh every time!
After seeing Little Women, all I could think about afterwards was the costume design (by Jacqueline Durran) and production design (by Jess Gonchor). It's an absolutely luscious movie to watch. All of the details felt real — like I could reach through the screen and touch the beautiful fabrics — and the rich colors of the interiors were a gorgeous backdrop for the costumes. Afterwards, I read that each character had her own color palette, which I wish I had been astute enough to notice while I was watching!
Three different friends within a two-week period recommended that I listen to the Dolly Parton's America podcast. Although I grew up in Virginia, I was never a country music fan — neither the twang or tropes of the genre appealed to me. But who doesn't love Dolly Parton? And that's really the point of this podcast. In the first episode, the host Jad Abumrad explains his personal connection to both Tennessee and Dolly along with the inspiration for the podcast. It's an insightful and fascinating in-depth look at and conversation with a woman and artist who's spanned decades with talent, humor, intelligence, and sass.
This is my first post in what's going to be a new category for my blog called "Follow." It's going to be all about cool artists on Instagram and is my take on #followfriday (which I haven't actually seen on Instagram in a while). 🎨📸✏️📚❤️ *** For sure one of my favorite things about Instagram is being able to see the work of lots of artists, and one of the first artists I happily found was Samantha Dion Baker. She is an illustrator and designer living in Brooklyn and has become known for her daily sketch journal, which is a combination of watercolor sketches and hand lettering. I adooooore her style — if I could pick up a paintbrush and magically have it look like her work, it would be a dream come true! 😁She has a great class on Skillshare, a book, an Etsy shop, and participates in lots of cool events around NYC.
Try independent bookstores first, but it is on Amazon.
Out of all of the self-help, self-growth, self-improvement, self-whatever books I've read this year, none have impacted me as much as this one. The author defines the difference between a change (it is "situational; it is the external event that is taking place") and a transition (the "inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about"). Therefore, what we think of as an ending is really the next beginning. Radical! Reading this book helped reframe my perspective on the recent changes and more long-standing transitions I've been experiencing — I feel a lot less lost and more settled in my continuing uncertainty.
For much of my adult life, I have wished that I could find a mentor — someone slightly older who has also forged her own path and who could report back and provide guidance to someone a few steps behind. Last year, I read about the theory of a "mentor from afar," who can be a stranger but whose story or career has meaning for your own life. Lisa Congdon is one of my "mentors from afar." I love that she is a self-taught artist who didn't begin her career until she was 40, that she works in different mediums, that she writes and speaks and teaches and does all the things. In this conversation with Jonathan Fields, Lisa talks about how it's all a process and that when you're a growing, creative person, the process keeps evolving. It was a good reminder that I'll never really have it all figured out, so all I need to worry about are today's small steps.
Tiffany Haddish promised her fellow comedians that when she found fame, she'd help shine the spotlight on them too, and that's exactly what this series does. Each comedian's episode is about 15 or so minutes and is intercut with scenes of the women reconnecting backstage and short interviews with them individually. Although, I didn't plan on a binge, I downed the whole series in one sitting. Some of the comedians are stronger than others — Flame Monroe and Aida Rodriguez are stand-outs — but their collective story is full of grit and determination and women supporting women.
My main takeaway from this talk is that I need to just DO the things I think & dream about. Bridget Watson Payne is an editor at Chronicle Books here in SF; she is also an author, a mom, an artist, and a retail store owner. Although she begins and ends her talk speaking about the impact of her mother's death and how that has compromised her ability to get as much done, Bridget is a force of creativity! I had missed the live version of this talk and am so glad that CreativeMornings shared the video — I was incredibly inspired by how Bridget simply goes and does and makes and creates. ⭐️
There were times while reading this book (and the three others in the series), that I found myself grinning. It's a charming mystery set in the Regency period (my fave — it's the time period when Jane Austen was writing) with a shy spinster as the main character. She comes upon a murder, finds her voice, solves a mystery, and flirts with a duke along the way. Absolute sparkling joy in book form.
Having spent most of this last year in a place of uncertainty with my career and what exactly I want to do next, I am drawn to articles, books, and advice on how to get through times like these. Although this article is about the design process and the Constructivist method of learning ("we are natural learners, constantly processing the world in order to create our own understanding"), it is also true for times of uncertainty. You research and plan as best you can, but then you always encounter a period of time where you're not certain how the future will unfold. As a designer, I've been part of this creative process my entire career — now I see how I can use this as a framework of understanding to apply to my career as a whole.