Archive | December, 2012

Norwegian, Dutch Scientists Investigate Rudolph’s Nose

18 Dec

Why is Rudolph’s nose so bright? Scientists from Norway and The Netherlands have released a study  that shines a light on this important Yuletide  mystery.

“Rudolph’s nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, comprises a highly dense microcirculation, and is anatomically and physiologically adapted for reindeer to carry out their flying duties for SantaClaus,” the paper observes.

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200K Works of U. K. Art Online

14 Dec

Britain has digitized and posted its entire collection of publicly owned paintings–more than 200,000 works of art, some of it centuries old–at a site called Your Paintings: U. K.

A sample is this fine portrait of the British naturalist Gerald Durrell by British artist Ken Howard:

 

Gerald Durrell (1925–1995) 1980, by Ken Howard. <p>Gerald “Gerry” Malcolm Durrell, OBE was a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist, author and television presenter. For this portrait he sat in The Flat at Les Augrès Manor, which is in the heart of the wildlife park of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey. He is pictured in front of his collection of animal sculptures, carvings and ceramics.

Some Older Work: Kid’s Portraits

14 Dec

"Justin, Second Grade." Oil on canvas. Copyright 2012 by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

“Justin, Age 7.” Oil on canvas. Copyright 2012 by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

"Boy at the Zoo," Detail. Guache and colored ink on illustration board. Copyright 2012, by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

“Boy at the Zoo”, Detail of a larger work, guache and waterproof ink on illustration board. Copyright 2012 by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

Another New Listing: Hawaiian Cymbidium

13 Dec

Original Oil Pastel Painting, Oil Pastel on Canvas, Hawaiian Pink Ginger, Hawaiian Art, Hawaiian Decor, Tropical Art

Copyright S. K. Cole, 2012. All rights reserved. Oil on stretched canvas. 11″ x 14″.  Available here.

New Listing: Strawberry Pincushion, Still Life

12 Dec

A new listing at my Etsy shop. This is a still life of an old-fashioned strawberry pincushion, just like your mother or grandmother once had! It is rendered in water-mixable oil paints on gallery-wrapped canvas.

Original Oil Painting, Pink Strawberry Pincushion, Sewing Art, Home Decor, Sewing Decor, Pink Art, Oiriginal Oil Painting

“Strawberry Pink Pincushion”. Oil on canvas. Copyright 2012, by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

I also have the original version of this painting listed at my shop, which is done in watercolor/colored pencil on 140 lb. cold-pressed Arches watercolor paper. Either one would make a nice wall decoration for a sewing room or a very girly bedroom or home office.

Pink Pincushion Original Watercolor/Pencil, Pink Original Painting, Strawberry Pincushion, Sewing Art

“Strawberry Pink Pincushion,” watercolor and colored pencil on cold-press 140 lb. watercolor paper. Copyright 2o12, by S. K. Cole. All rights reserved.

 

Some More Christmas Memories

7 Dec

From my other book, Western Waste, here is an excerpt from a chapter about the first office Christmas Party I attended as an official member of the journalism community (for the shipping industry.)

Wildly exaggerated, of course:

I invited Ian Stein to be my date at my first West Coast Weekly Shipper Christmas Party. I was a little hesitant about inviting Ian at first.

“I, uh, feel the need to explain to you about something,” I’d told him. “The people I work with—well, some of them are—let’s just say, a little, unusual.” I left it at that.

The party was scheduled for a Friday evening at one of the smaller ballrooms at the Palace Hotel, so it was a convenient walk for all of us from work.

I planned to wear the blue suede cocktail dress again. And Derek said he planned to wear a garment he called the Simkins Transport Publishing Group’s Communal Tuxedo.

There was a story about that tuxedo. There was almost always a story behind everything that happened to Derek, and if there wasn’t, he’d invent one.

Derek had flown in from an international London conference about air cargo transportation only a couple of days before the Christmas Party was scheduled to take place. As he had prepared to leave for London, he had lobbied Alan O’Fallon aggressively in an attempt to get Simkins to buy him a custom-fitted tuxedo.

He needed the tux for a formal reception in London, which was also being attended by a member of the Royal Family. At first, Alan was reluctant to authorize the purchase of the tuxedo for Derek.

He was a true Simkins man through and through; in other words, he was as cheap as a dime-store throw rug. “It’s a needless expense, Derek, for a one-time shot. I just can’t justify it,” Alan had rasped.

“Well, I am not buying my own tuxedo,” Derek had replied. “I’ll just have to shake hands with the horse-faced princess wearing a standard business suit.”

“Would that really be so bad?”

“Alan,” Derek had replied, measured and patient, as if talking to a child. “We all saw those charming photos in the last Simkins Group Annual Report of Lord Kevvy shaking hands with the Queen and playing polo with Prince Philip. Now how would it look if a representative of His Lordship showed up in plain and unremarkable mufti at a swanky event attended by the Queen’s daughter? Lord Kevvy would lambaste us all if he knew about it.”

In the end, Derek got his way, but only after a concession to Alan’s sense of company thrift.

“Ah, ah, ah, well, Derek, you do have a good point about Lord Kevvy and the Royal Family,” Alan had replied, wavering. “The thing is, the tuxedo would be worn by you, but it would belong to the company, not to you personally. You must understand, other people in the company would need to have use of the suit if they required it. Yes, that is it, the suit must be made communal and available to all Simkins Transport Group executives to wear at any time.”

“Yes, indeed, Alan,” Derek had agreed solemnly, looking down at Alan from the full height of his six-foot-three, 295-pound frame. “I henceforth agree that anyone from Simkins who wears a men’s Size 42 Long will have use of the suit.”

And so Derek had got his tuxedo.

When it was time for the Christmas Party, I changed into the blue suede cocktail dress in the ladies’ room at 562 Mission, and Derek went to the men’s room to change into the Communal Tuxedo. Then we walked over to the Palace with Tracey and Dal.

I’d done my best, with a needle and thread, to anchor the shoulder pads to the inside of my dress. With the shoulder-pads under control, I thought I looked pretty good.

“I’m gonna have the first dance with you, Liz,” Dal said admiringly, and I blushed.

“I can’t dance in this thing. It’s too tight,” I said.  I was feeling happy and giddy. Even the winos made me smile as we passed them on our way; they almost looked festive in the holiday atmosphere. I hummed some lines from Zappa’s Wonderful Wino as we trudged by Henry’s.

The two winos we called Ebony and Ivory shouted out their approval from the sidewalk.

“Blonde chick in blue, how ‘bout a kiss?” screamed Ivory. “I gotta Chapstick stick with yur name on it! Yur lips a lil’ wrinkly, and ya look cold.”

“Yeah Liz,” teased Dal. “He gotta Chapstick stick with your name on it.”

“Oh shuddup, Dal,” I laughed. “ ‘Chapstick stick’ is redundant terminology by the way. And those are my homeboys, Ebony and Ivory. Have some respect.”

“Well you can dance with them then.”

“Fat chance.”

# # #

Some Christmas Memories

6 Dec

Since the season is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d post some excerpts about Christmas memories from my second book, Foleytown:

Every year, my mother made a large, gooey pastry she called a “Christmas Cake,” which tasted similar to cinnamon rolls, and then there were the inevitable fruit cakes that we acquired from relatives and neighbors.

Unlike most other families, we actually ate those fruitcakes, even though nobody liked them. We felt obligated to eat them, out of politeness and respect for our neighbors.

We also kept an Advent Wreath–usually the result of some humble art project from elementary school–and we displayed a nativity set on our mantelpiece throughout the holiday season.

As the youngest child, I got the honor of arranging our nativity display, which I thought was a pretty big deal, even though our set wasn’t anything to write home about.

It consisted entirely of cheap, mass-produced plaster figurines, purchased a few items a time at the local dime store. The figures were garish, with little chips in the plaster here and there, but I cherished them all lovingly—the Three Kings, the camel, the Holy Family, the single cow and the three sheep, the wandering shepherd, the donkey, and the  blonde-haired angel with Shirley Temple curls crowned by a gilt-painted halo.

There was one glaringly obvious flaw in our nativity set-up, aside from the cheap, shabby way it looked. It was not logistically correct.

“There aren’t enough camels here,” I noted to my mother one year, while arranging the figures on the mantelpiece in what I hoped was an artful and clever way. “Three Kings and only one camel. How did they make it all the way to Bethlehem with just one camel?”

“Well, camels are big, Lizzie; they can carry a lot of things and people.”

I tried to set all Three Kings on top of our camel to verify her claim, but it didn’t work at all.  For one thing, our Three Kings could not really fit astride the beast, not the least because their little plaster legs were molded together in a single, solid block.

“We need two more camels,” I told my mother.  Privately, I thought that even if the Three Kings had proper legs and feet, instead of stuck-together plaster blocks, they wouldn’t all fit on the back of just one camel.

“I’ll look into getting two more camels,” my mother replied, distractedly. Our local dime store was on Plumas Street in downtown Ulloa City, and it stocked plenty of those cheap, mass-produced figures at Christmastime. Despite her promise, though, she never actually got around to supplying our Three Kings with adequate transportation; that was just one of life’s little disappointments down home in the imaginary but very real place I like to call Foleytown.

Still trying to reason the Three Kings dilemma all the way through, I finally concluded that one King rode the camel, while the other two were unfortunately doomed to walk beside it.

“Maybe they traded turns riding the camel every once in a while, to be fair,” I reasoned childishly.  “That would be the Christian thing to do.”  I worried about things like that when I was small; I worried about whether or not plaster figurines were warm and comfortable in their little fantasy world of display.

It was a rather unique world view, I realize now.