Looking out the window...




heres something nice and cheery, sat at the computer all day ..determined to get something good art wise out of the day. funny i didnt get anything i liked till near midnight, I did like 500 sketches but i hadnt rendered anything in awhile so i kept getting frustrated. So i diverted back to my usual technique instead of the new approaches. mission accomplished. maybe a new postcard?

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

As I have been at home with Eliana this last week before returning to work, I have had the chance to just sit and marvel at some of my favorite things about her.

I love how she makes all sorts of little facial expressions and "sings" in her sleep.

I love it that when she wakes up in the morning she makes little grunts to get my attention.

I love how when I go to get her out of her bassinet in the morning and sing "Good Morning
Beautiful" to her, her big blue eyes light up and she smiles.

I love how when she finishes nursing she lays there half zonked out and smiles with full contentment.

I love how she became really excited the first time we showed her the mobile we bought for her crib.

I love how she is so intrigued by the back of Jacques the Peacock's feathers.

I love how she's such a snuggler... especially after she eats in the middle of the night.

I love how when she snuggles, she wiggles around until she finds the perfect spot.

I love how she is so good about letting me give her Zantac three times a day and never fusses about it.

I love how when she wakes up from a nap she extends her arms like Superman, arches her back, purses her lips, and does the biggest stretch. She is a GREAT stretcher!

I love how when she seems confused about something, she raises her hand while extending one finger (as if to flag down a server in a restaurant). So cute.

I love how she tries to talk to me with her little sounds.

I love how she gets excited when we sing "Them Bones" along with her Baby Einstein CD.

I love how she is so curious... you can watch her eyes wander and almost see the little wheels in her mind turning.

I love how she laughs at all the little quirky made up songs we sing her.

I love that the hair on the top of her head sticks straight up, regardless of how much we brush it.
I love how she tracks along with the books Spencer reads her at bedtime.

There are so many more... but I have loved just getting to know her and having the chance to be with her. Heading back to work on Tuesday will definitely be hard; but thankfully it's just for a few weeks until I get to be with her for a while this summer. And hey... maybe we'll win the lottery and I can be home with her for good ;-) I would really covet your prayers for all three of us during this transition.

Fertig-- that's German for finished!


So it already past midnight so its a new day, but on Thursday at 4:03 pm, I finished Becoming Isaac. Finished is really a generous word in this case. I know I still have lots to edit and review and rewrite, but I made my goal to have this portion done by the weekend. For the last three weeks, I have been writing nearly non-stop--12-14 hours a day with only Sundays off. It has been weeks since I have been to bed before midnight. I am tired, but I made it. Viva Niederbipp. YOu're going to love it!

Sketching in the neighborhood







i find when i sketch with pencil my drawings can get too tight too quickly. i put too much labor into them and they lose the energy. so i elected to draw with a nice fluid pen which gives some really energetic lines. Not being able to correct mistakes forces you to draw with more confidence. works great.

Pomp and Circumstance

This post is all about my amazing husband, and a huge accomplishment for him over the past three years. I am amazed and the strength and integrity with which God equipped him to balance all that he has had on his plate. I am so proud of him!!

In the fall of 2007, Spencer began his Master's degree in Educational Leadership. His program was set up as a partnership between our school district and a local university, and consisted of about thirteen teachers aspiring to become school administrators. Little did Spencer know how much life he'd live over the next three years as he embarked on his journey.

Just as Spencer began his program on top of teaching full time, we found out I was pregnant for the first time. Ironically, it was Labor Day that we learned the good news :) Three months later, we found ourselves sitting in an exam room hearing the sonographer whisper, "I am so sorry... but I can't find a heartbeat." As she held back her tears, mine came pouring forth.

Five months into his program, Spencer and I again learned that I was expecting... again to sit in an exam room three months later to hear the words every parent dreads: "I am sorry, but there are some serious concerns about your baby's development. I'll need to go get the doctor." Spencer wasn't supposed to be at that ultrasound that day; I had just asked for one for some added reassurance, as I felt like something just wasn't right with my pregnancy. He came anyway, and I am so thankful he did... because the day that unfolded included a CVS test and a meeting with a genetic counselor at which we were told that our sweet Isaac had complications that, barring a miracle, were incompatible with life.

And so began the journey with our sweet son... the journey through which God has so faithfully carried us. All the while, Spencer was left to balance a full time job, a part-time graduate program, and a wife who was pregnant with a baby that we had been told was going to die. Looking back, I am continually amazed at the grace of God and how He sustained Spencer through such a difficult season for both of us.

In the second year of his program, Spencer endured the birth, and death of his son... our sweet Isaac. He somehow managed to still go to work, complete his papers for his program, and take care of me. While he and I grieved very differently, we both grieved and continue to grieve... and we both were left to pick up the pieces of dreams for our son that had been shattered. Spencer did it with so much courage and strength. He pressed on because he had to; but he did it with excellence because he cared to, and because God was faithful in giving him the strength to do so.

During this last year of his program, Spencer still had classes to attend; but he also had a 280 hour internship to complete. To say it was time consuming would be an understatement. Thankfully, he was able to get a lot of his work out of the way so that he was able to fully experience the joy of welcoming Eliana to our family this past March.

This past weekend, Spencer graduated with his Master's and received his diploma... and he did it with a 4.0. I am amazed at the strength, the perseverance, and the quality of character with which the Lord has equipped him. I am so proud of him, and am so proud to be his wife.

Enjoy a few pictures from this wonderful day...










The cohort members, glad to be finished!!


Out to celebrate Maryland style... steamed crabs!!

Last Costco Booksigning Until Fall, Tomorrow at Bountiful Costco


That's right, tomorrow is my last book signing at Costco until probably September or October. I'll be there from noon to six.To be honest, I am not very upset about it. The universe seems to be telling me this is okay. I had two singings last week and ended up leaving early from each one because they were so abissmally slow. I signed on 9 books at Lehi in three hours. This is really strange because Lehi has been one of my better stores where I am accustomed to signing 50-70 books every time I sign. I dont know what to say other than that the economy is weak and people usually buy less books in the summer than the winter.

I am glad this will give me a chance to finish the third book, the writing portion of which should be done by Wednesday! I also need to make pottery. My shelves are empty after the Mother's Day Sale and I have the Utah Arts Festival coming up in a month. I need a break somewhere here, but I am already feeling the winds blow and the ideas I have had for another book are coming quickly. As always, it is coming at a very inconvenient time.

I am really enjoying this third book. I feel like it has come faster and is better than the others in depth and truth. I feel like I have been taught by the universe and I am grateful for the opportunity I will so have to share it with you. I have some fun ideas for the layout of this book too. I appreciate so many of you who are emailing and calling, encouraging me to hurry up. I promise I am moving as fast as I can. If I can make some good progress tonight, I should be able to finish tomorrow night. Then edits, and minor rewrites, copy edits, layout and design and whatever else is necessary. I am tired, but I am motivated to finish. Cheers. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow. The books should be in Costco until the first week in June.

Review of the hit theatrical nature doc, "OCEANS"

The era of nature documentaries being shown in major mainstream theaters is upon us. First "EARTH", now "OCEANS". I guess in this time of environmental peril, these films are sent as a message, to remind us that our planet...exists.


"Oceans. Remember those? Those are cool."


It's kind of like those commercials for generic commodities like BEEF and MILK. Oh yeahhh...I forgot about those!


"Beef. It's what's for dinner."
"Milk. It does the body good."
"Cheese. It's like milk, but firmer."
"Rice. It goes under your chicken."
"Beans. These are food."
"Flour. You can make other food with it."




OCEANS is directed by Jacques Cluzaud. Did you know Jacques is not actually a name, but the French word for "oceanographer"? Google it. It is narrated by Pierce Brosnan doing an impression of Patrick Stewart doing tons of drugs. Seriously, the narration is so woozy and uninformative I'm pretty sure Pierce just got in the recording booth, smoked a pound of hash, then watched the movie for the first time and recorded whatever loopy lunacy came out of his mouth. You might think people seeing a nature documentary in a multiplex would get impatient with all the education and start demanding some boobs and explosions, but my friends and I actually found ourselves LONGING for some dull marine biology exposition, because Pierce offers us almost nothing in the way of information about all the crazy shit he's showing us on the screen. For example:


We're following a fish through the sea, watching it from behind as it swims about. Pierce is talking about the ocean being a story...that sometimes has surprise twists! Suddenly, TWO FUCKING LEGS pop out of the back end of the fish, paddle for a moment, then slip back inside the fish.


Tell us what the fish is called? Why it has fucking legs? Show it walking?


Nope. Cut to next scene. Moving on.


Same goes for a stunning shot of a diver swimming next to a MONSTROUS jellyfish that's about the size of a minivan.


What's that thing? Why is it so big? What does it do? Is it the biggest jellyfish in the world? Does it eat planets?


Nope. Cut to next scene.


When Pierce does decide to comment on the freaky stuff we're looking at, he does so in cryptic haikus that end with him trailing off into a deep, druggy slumber.


Example: We're looking at the most fucked up fish ever, a thing with a bulbous, wrinkled forehead and a gnarled, protruding chin that makes you think that if this thing isn't called a Popeye fish, we need new scientists. Pierce educates us with the following riddle:


"One sign of the ocean's health is that it is home to such very old fish."
[shot of the fish's crazy face]
"To wear such a mask of wisdom, one must be around a very long tiiiiimmmeeee...snorrrrree..."


Other choice lines:


[shot of the arctic ocean]
"If dragons really existed, here is where you would find the narwhal.....[long pause, so long you think he's finished]..............THE UNICORN OF THE SEA!"




"The blue fin tuna can make some SERIOUS TIME."  (I think he means it's fast?)


"As far as the eye can see, north, south, east, west.....the ocean smiles at the sky...."


And the closing line, so deep it must have been dredged up from the Marianas trench:


"Perhaps the question we should ask is not 'what is the ocean'......but rather.....'who are we?"




All that being said, the movie does have some incredible underwater footage, showing some images I have literally never seen before, like a Blue Whale puffed up like a balloon while feeding on krill, and some absolutely alien creatures that were completely new to me, despite me being a pretty gigantic nerd. But it really would have been nice to actually LEARN SOMETHING about these creatures. All I took away from this film, educationally, was that the Great White Shark's fearsome jowls may actually just be a smiiiiilllleeeee...snorrre....



















Life in Pictures

We've had a busy few weeks here in our house. Between going out of town for Mother's Day weekend, Eliana's baby dedication the following weekend, and Spencer graduating with his Master's this weekend... well, I've been work out :) So to catch you up on what's been happening, here are a few pictures!

Mother's Day at my mom's house on the eastern shore of Maryland... love the view from her back porch!




Me, Eliana, and my Mom!!


Eliana's baby dedication at church. She slept through the whole thing!


A few pictures back home afterwards...








For my birthday back in March, Spencer had gotten me tickets to see Sugarland in concert! So that same evening, some good friends came and took care of Eliana, while we got to go out for a really fun date night. Our seats were GREAT!!




And finally, the many faces of Eliana. Just a few pictures of our sweet Ellie while she and I were hanging out at home yesterday. I can't believe she is 11 weeks old already!!















Cars and a few tricks i learned





I know i have been away for some time...hopefully all of my followers are still with me. In my time away from the blog i've learned a few things which i would like to share with anyone who is still reading. Recently i have been doing a lot of story board work, i don't have a long history of story boarding so i am relatively new to the process. What makes a great storyboard, a panel specifically , is translating the most information as possible wit the least amount of clutter. A mood, as well as a great sense of depth and movement are all a necessity. It is hard to capture all three effectively, and those who can, have some real talent. If you sometimes struggle getting your drawings to be as dynamic as storyboards, a good way to practice is by taking a camera and looking through the view finder. This helps you to see just how perspective can add to the composition in a frame. Especially storyboarding for animation and motion pictures, creating your artwork from a lense's point of view as opposed to a standing human, changes the artwork entirely. it is an incredibly useful trick, as well as finding photos and drawing over the top of them. This helps to understand scale and placement, then gradually you can do it on your own, but seeing just how small things in the distance really are, and how large foreground items can be really helps your understanding of depth. Once you've got a handle on scale and perspective, make sure to apply the classic squash and stretch animation techniques to what you've got. Then you will really be on your way, just don't be afraid to push it farther than you normally would! Willingness to experiment with different angles has been somewhat of a challenge for me in the past but lately i cant get enough. Stay tuned for some storyboards and some new work, mostly revolving around developing my drawing skills.

Storyboardin..yo

refirement

Anxious, excited, tired, energized, filled with anticipation and hope. This is how I signed some correspondence today. This valediction reflects a life that is filled with activities, responsibilities, relationships, and challenges. In the midst of whining about how crazy things are right now I pause to give thanks for a busy life filled with significant work.
When I retired three years ago I would jokingly refer to this chapter of my life as "refirement". A refiring of purpose, direction, and energies. I realize now how fortunate I am to have significant and meaningful work to do in my 65th year of life.
The month of June will be be filled with opportunities to celebrate and succeed at the work I have been called. I begin the month in Rochester, NY at the Annual Upstate New York Synod Assembly. We have been planning six months for this event and I have been working closely with musician friend, Jim, to design the worship experiences at the assembly. Today the final draft of the worship booklet is finished and will be going to the printers soon. I have been supported by the other members of the planning team and others in this work. I am also preparing to present the keynote Bible Study at the opening of the assembly. This is a wonderful opportunity to share my passion for scripture in a creative and challenging manner. The added bonus is that not only is John attending with me but he will also be sharing his musical gifts in both worship and the Bible Study.
On the 12th of June; Mary, John, and I will fly to Cincinatti where I will rent a car and drive us to Eastern Iowa to visit her family. We will return to Cincinatti on the 17th where I will officiate at Keith and Jessica's wedding that weekend. We will return home on the 20th for one day before departing for Atlanta on the 22nd. John is a winner of Moe's Southwest Grill "Be A Dead Ringer" contest and we will fly down for his photo shoot and return the next day.
The day after that we will gather as a family to celebrate our granddaughter, Kaylyn's, graduation from high school. Another wedding on Saturday, the 26th, then off to Senior High Camp Week on Schroon Lake on Sunday. Whew!
We used to joke that I would still be serving on staff at Senior High Camp when I was 65 years old, well, it is not a joke. So now you can see why I sign my correspondence; anxious, excited, tired, energized, filled with anticipation and hope.

I've Got Some Good News And Some Bad News


So, the good news is that I have made some great progress with the book in the last week and I hope to be done writing by the end of this week!

The bad news is that I just got off the phone with my distributor with the news that Costco is yanking my books about June 1st. I am writing you all to tell you this so if you want to pick up copies at the costco price, you have two weeks to do it. Apparently, sales have been slower and so they have decided to let it go. I am not sure what that means long term. My distributor believes they can get book 3 into Costco by September. I was shooting to have it done by the end of July, but things rarely work out the way we plan. I am still shooting for July to have my book done, but you may have to come to my studio to pick it up until we can work it back in. If you have book clubs that are reading the books in the coming months, let them know that now would be a great time to buy it from the shelves at Costco. The books will still be available from Deseret Book, Barnes and Noble and other book sellers, including Amazon.com

I am trying to figure out how I feel. Disappointed. Tired. Overworked and underpaid. Feeling like in the long run, this may be in a good thing as it is offering me the incentive to go out and find an agent to represent me so I can find a big publisher in New York. It will definately free up some time for me to make pottery and be with my family, but I am nevertheless, disappointed.

The Story of the third book has really taken on some incredible dimensions lately. I am excited about the things I am learning and the way I am growing along the way. I feel like the universe is open and dumping all sorts of things down the shoot and into my heart.


So, life goes on. I am excited for what lies ahead--that great unknown that keeps me humble. Cheers, Ben

disco based humour






















I did this for a local 'zine called 'Chicken Scratch' :)

I drew it in photoshop with my mouse and inked it in real life with a brush.

Align Center

Reviews of Hit Films

I have a blog so I figured I might as well become a film critic. Here are my reviews of some recent Hit Films.





IRON MAN 2

I saw Iron Man 2 with some friends and later we went to a pizza place and got pizzas. I heard Robert Downey Jr. is a good actor. I liked the parts with Iron Man.








AVATAR

I saw this on DVD yesterday. I was eating salad with chop sticks so I had to be looking down at my plate a lot so I wouldn't drop salad all over, so I missed the beginning of the movie. Some people say Avatar is a rip off of Fern Gully, Dances With Wolves, and Pocahontas, but I haven't seen any of those movies so it was cool. I liked the part with the blue people.





ROBIN HOOD

This is a remake of a Disney movie from when I was a kid, except in that one all the people were animals for some reason. This one was more realistic and had a lot more battles and stuff, but the girl wasn't as hot as the fox girl in the Disney one. Some people think this movie is overlong, convoluted, and underwhelming, but I don't know what those words mean so it was cool. I liked the part where Robin Hood shot arrows.



.

Stomach Flu is not fun.


Yeah, so I was scheduled to sign today at the Orem Costco, but I won't be there because of the stomach flu. I'll be hanging around my bathroom instead, and trying to write where I can. Sorry to anyone who was planning to drop by. I will have to catch you another time. Cheers, Ben

(Happy?) Mother's Day

For the past couple of years, Mother's Day has been difficult for me. Last year, I remember all of the moms in church being asked to stand. And I did... knees trembling and tears streaming down my face, as the only physical evidence of my motherhood existed in the six inch scar left from my c-section, and not in the face of a sweet little boy named Isaac. But I was still a mother, and I was proud to stand that day because doing so dignified my son.

I remember the Mother's Day before that... Just six months after losing our first baby to a miscarriage at 13 weeks, and already pregnant with Isaac, who were told was not going to live. And even then, I was already a mother.

This year, the joy of having little Ellie here and celebrating Mother's Day like any other mom fills my heart abundantly... but it still collides with the heartache of missing my son. My precious daughter will grace me with her big blue eyes and adorable smile...and I am so grateful for that. But I still long for my strawberry blond haired little boy who would be 19 months now, and no doubt would be "helping" his daddy make me a yummy breakfast in bed.

If you've been there, you know. You know that it is all of your children who define your motherhood; and that's where the joy and sadness collide.

While for many, this Mother's Day is a day of great celebration... Celebrating your mother, other mother figures in your life, and perhaps your own motherhood. For others, today is a day of missing... Missing your own mom, or missing your little ones who make you a mom.

I would encourage you to not only celebrate Mother's Day in the way you typically would, but to reach out to someone you know who may be hurting... Someone whose loss may be intensified. In a recent blog post, Molly Piper calls it "brokenhearted love." I encourage you to read what she has to say, and then extend that kind of love to someone you know. I know it will mean the world to them.

The One-Panel Critics: Dan Clowes's Wilson

Speaking of Dan Clowes and his new book...

I enjoyed Wilson, which I read on the day of its release. It's got an unusual pace. It's constructed of single-page comic strips, some of which are separated by years of intervening time, and some of which happen indefinite hours or moments apart. Assembling these disjunct moments in the narrative is a big part of reading and understanding Wilson.

But one page, and really one panel in particular, stood out to me on a personal level.

Maybe it's because I've been reading with great interest James Sturm's column for Slate about quitting the internet cold turkey, or maybe it's because I'm becoming increasingly self-conscious about the time I spend consuming rather than producing in front of this little screen.

But when Wilson—misanthropic enough to puncture any social piety, but also repugnant enough that we can't follow him in all of his criticisms—surfs the internet ...



Well, this one put a dagger of ice through my withered heart.

And then I decided to blog about it.

Even taking the panel out of context, you can see the stasis in Wilson's posture, the gravity bending his pipecleaner arms and his hunched-over back. From this angle, you can see how hopelessly small the Powerbook is, and how clownish his features (and his feet) have become.

Taking the panel in its context, we see Wilson almost totally static, with small changes of hand position from panel to panel. Wilson's not a very active character, but this sequence embodies the combination of inertia and disdain that characterizes so much of our online universe. (By hating things, and merely rejecting them, we never have to reflect on ourselves or to change.)

Here are the third and fourth panels from this sequence, so you can see what I mean.




Mike and I have been talking about doing a series of "one-panel critics" posts. Maybe there will be another such post shortly.

If wishes were fishes...


... then I wouldnt have to worry about making a living to support my book habits.

I have been working on pottery and welding and cleaning for the past few days instead of writing which makes me crazy. I need to make pottery to pay for my book writing habits, but I have to write to keep my brain from exploding. It's a tough place to be. I wish I could buy myself more time. I have a studio open house this weekend.

Announcing !

Wild Rooster Artworks Annual Mother's Day Open House and Sale

May 7th and 8th 9am-5pm

1150 E 800 South

Salt Lake City, Utah

Behind the house in the studio.

After sending out 1500 postcards, my mom called to ask if I forgot that my youngest brother is getting married on the 7th ... so I won't be here much of the day on Friday, but I will be around all day on Saturday. My friend will be playing shop for me on Friday after 11. I think my brain cells are suffering for all the stress.

So, after this weekend, I am seriously getting back in the saddle and getting some serious writing done. I promise! Maybe I'll see you on Saturday. I have a plethora of really great new pots and garden art. Plus, it is worth coming just to see the new mosaic on the gazebo behind my home. I hope to see you soon. VIVA NIEDERBIPP!