Saturday, January 31, 2009

photo: mt. tamalpais

The reason I post this photo is because the last post, Mt. Baker, reveals the origins of my drive to ride.

This is me on Mt. Tamalpais, during a motorcycle trip to San Fransisco, where Markus and I lounged around for a few days. My leathers were purchased second hand at a leather shop that, sadly, is no longer with us. They had crazy pink, baby blue, red, and orange leathers. Mine are beautiful maritime blue, and sturdy. A woman had them custom made in the sixties, and they fit me perfectly.

sketchbook: mt. baker

This watercolor sketch was done on a motorcycle trip up to the Mt. Baker area a few years ago. It was May, and below the snowy mountainsides, a lush, spring green.

Markus forgot a precious camera at a view point. He discovered this when we got home. Miraculously, I tracked it down. He planned to ride back up to Mt. Baker where the camera had been dropped off at the ranger station. He admitted to the ride being less fun with extra weight (me) on the back. I understood. He went without me.

The following week, I signed up for the D.O.T. Motorcycle Safety and Training course, and became certified to ride anything, which is good, because my first motorcycle was an awful bear of a machine. But I rode it places. Like California.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

beauty everywhere

This is the truth. I've been seriously ill with a life-threatening bacterial infection since August. I've finally beat it, and am getting better. Better means that I can take a 15 minute walk. Better means that I don't sleep fifteen hours a day, but wake up in the morning, and try to live my life like I knew it. Everything is the same, except me.

I'm just not going to continue posting without being honest about where I am in my life. I have been struggling, but I've become much more adept in love, forgiveness and patience. There is grace in the darkest illness, and I still see beauty everywhere. Everywhere.

Monday, January 26, 2009

floaties and waterwings

It's cold today. Brrr, freezing cold. Ice fills the birdbath. Our fountain still streams through a hole kept clear by running water. It's a good day to remember summer. Hence, floaties and waterwings, as modeled here by these lovely dogs. These rough sketches are from a work in progress (a picture book!).

1) This is an American Eskimo dog, fully furry!. He wears a floatie, though he doesn't need it. He needs a swim. It's summer, remember? And this boy is panting hot.

2) If anyone needs waterwings, it's this heavy, short-legged American Bulldog.

3) What about this French Bulldog, who is also short-legged, though not so stout? Of course the American is heavier than the French. Good thing they don't have to share. Bull? Dog? Share? I don't think so.

4) A Cardigan Welsh Corgie is ready to go, swim goggles carried carefully in her mouth. She certainly wouldn't want to scratch the lenses! Dear me!

5) Lastly, we have three Pekingese in a floatie, looking up. See their happy paws hanging out? A birds eye view!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

dragon tamer

This is the first drawing of mine my parents framed. On the bottom right corner, it says: Karen, age three. It also gives the date, but that information is on a need to know basis only.

When I look at this drawing, yellow with age, I can't help but look for insight into my childhood. What does this drawing say about me when I was three? A small girl leads her dragon with a leash. Both are bedecked with flowers. Inside the big dragon, a littler creature rides. Where is my family? Is that little girl me, or am I the dragon?

I just received this picture from my mom and dad, who are getting rid of things. I am glad to have it. It connects me with my beginnings. This drawing documents my origins as an artist, and dragon tamer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

sunny day, chasing the cats away...

In answer to a question posted by my friend Jamie, yes! Goggles are available for bike rides in the dog basket, but not for swimming. Who needs goggles when swimming dog paddle?* As soon as dogs learn how to do the crawl, or butterfly, swim goggles will most likely become a high priority for the dog goggle manufacturing industry. Until then, keep up with the swimming lessons.

This particular pair of goggles are called Doggles. They are worn here by my girl Lulu. During the photo shoot, Lulu tried to get the Doggles OFF (she's not that into accessories). I would distract her from her bedoggled dismay with another doggy num-num, and she would reward me by posing again. She is such a good girl, like it or not.

*Answer: nobody.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the solution to all my problems

Puppies! Awww, aren't they adorable? These are my puppies, Maximo (with the wiener) and Lulu (without). If I'm sad — snuggling with, walking outside with, riding around on my bike with — my dogs make me feel better. In my book, Dog is love.

Using TiltShiftMaker, a hot tip from Kim Baker, this photo became a mock miniature. The technique works best on photos that have a significant depth of field. Photos with less depth, like mine, become dreamy. See fantastic examples here, and make your own here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

notebook: headshots

One thing I will do with this blog is share my more casual drawings. I bring a little notebook with me wherever I go. It's so small (three by five when shut) that I have no excuse not to have it with me. And yes, it does wait for me outside the sauna in my gym bag.

So, whenever I have the urge to write or draw, I'm prepared. These are life drawings from my notebook: headshots.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

hummingbirds in january

Why do I find it so miraculous that we have hummingbirds in January?

Maybe because their colors are so spring, and summery, unlike the chickadees, wrens, and nuthatches who wear winter colors all year.

Maybe it's because they seem so delicately slender, unlike the round bodies of the above mentioned birds, who puff up their feathers against the cold while perching on the lilac outside my studio window.

Or maybe I find hummingbirds miraculous because they are miraculous.

Today I heard a hummingbird calling me. Come outside! It's beautiful! It's January! It sounded like this: tchew tchew tchew tchew tchew! tchew tchew tchew tchew tchew! tchew tchew tchew tchew tchew! *

Ruby Throated Hummingbird call from Field Guide to the Birds of North America. [illustration copyright: karen ann chalupnik 2009]

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a blog is born

I was hanging out in cyberspace, minding my own business, when I was pulled into the blogosphere, and found it fascinating. I had no intention of becoming a blogger myself, being content to stay a satellite. So, you can imagine my surprise while I witnessed my own blog rise up, and form itself, from a thin, colorless coating of braindust. Truly! I wouldn't believe it myself if I didn't see it happen. And here it is:

i, chihuahua

Welcome to the blogosphere!