Friday, July 31, 2009

Grab Those Beads & Go!

Some days the world calls and the beads must follow. Maybe you are planning an end of the summer trip, taking classes at a great bead event like Bead Fest or perhaps you are planning on joining me for Bead Cruise in 2010.
With airlines upping their fees for extra baggage and weight, it may no longer be the best idea to bring every bead along for the trip. Below I have created a list of essentials to take on your trip. But first, you need a place to put those beads right? Check out these cute portable storage ideas. The one above holds your tools and a small bead board along with a few essentials. The one below is just too sweet for words, great for packing some of your favorite beads for the trip. Both of these are from Creative Options.

Beading Essentials for Creating on the Go
*Wire cutters & scissors
*Beading blanket or small bead board
*Stringing material - this may be needle & thread, beading wire & crimps or different gauges of wire
*Findings - bring a small selection of your favorite clasps, earwires, jumprings, headpins. (Make them ahead of time if you create your own.)
*Beads - I like to pick out a few coordinating beads or bring a project in progress.
*Class supplies - if you are taking a class, I recommend purchasing a kit from the instructor. It will make it easier for packing - they bring it to the class for you! If a special tool is required, make sure to bring it. Some items on the list are essential to your success in the class and don't assume you can share or pick one up at the event, that may not be the case!
Not essential, but handy:
*An OTT lite is good for those who need extra light, they are portable - remember to bring an extension cord.
*Bead stoppers or tape
*Bead magazine - something to read while on the plane or for a quick fix of inspiration.
*Camera and sketchbook - no doubt your trip will be inspiring, capture images, textures or colors that inspire.
A word about what beads to bring:
Aside from items you need for a class, you may want to think ahead of ideas for a project. Challenge yourself to create from a limited color palette or selection of beads. You may be surprised how creative you get when you limit your choices.
Check with your airline to see what tools can go in your carry-on luggage. Most allow pliers that are 5" or shorter. Hammers and such will need to go in your checked baggage.

Ray Prohaska: "the more he fished, the more he painted."

A Ray Prohaska illustration recognized for an Award of Merit by the New York Art Directors Club, 1947...

... and another, from a decade later.

I asked Ray's son, Tony, if his dad felt obliged to experiment with new styles during the 50's, to keep up with changing trends.
Tony replied, "I think the Art Directors kind of dictated that (the style thing)."

"I remember Ray saying, in the late fifties and sixties, that all they wanted was Bob Peak. He also refered to some of that loose later style as the "it's raining all the time", style. "

In spite of that (and from what we've seen, Ray did enjoy experimenting with style now and then) he seems to have still found a certain amount of work from the magazines for his more tradititional approach, even in the late 50's-to-early sixties.
The pieces above and below are from 1959 and 1962, respectively.

As well, Tony writes, "as the business declined in the sixties, two clients that he found were the AMA Journal, and Standard Oil's house organ.., he did a few covers for each one as I remember, and they were good."

Tony writes, "I'd probably be right in saying that Ray felt that he, Ray, and Wally Morgan (another old guy that my father was great friends with), were the best draftsmen around....Ray used the term draftsmen alot, to connote drawing." That's a statement that makes me wonder, in conjunction with Ray's somewhat frustrated sounding comment about all art directors wanting Bob Peak and the "rainy day" look, if he didn't feel somewhat demoralized by the decline of the illustration business as it had been until around 1960.

But in his biography of his father at, Tony describes a far happier situation:

"When not illustrating, he was busy painting portraits, until, that is, he discovered the East End of Long Island. Then the sea began to demand his attention, and he began to divide his time between painting and fishing. At first his paintings were realistic, rock pools and the driftwood and skate eggs that line the shore, but they became more abstract, more rhythmic, and more involved in the action of fishing. And the more he fished, the more he painted."

And this final bit, from one of our correspondences: "... he had a pretty content old age, as far as it went."

* Tony Prohaska has put together an extensive website devoted to his dad's life, where you can read a very thorough biography and see many more examples of the artist's work. Go to The Art of Ray Prohaska for more.

* My Ray Prohaska Flickr set.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Watergate Complex

Watergate ComplexThe Watergate complex is an office-apartment-hotel complex built in 1967 in northwest Washington, D.C.

A photo of the Watergate Complex taken from a DC-9-80 inbound to Washington National Airport on January 8, 2006.
The Watergate is bounded on the north by Virginia Avenue, on the east by New Hampshire Avenue, on the south by F Street, and on the west by the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. It is in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood overlooking the Potomac River, adjacent to the Kennedy Center

This image has been released into the public domain by its author, Indutiomarus. This applies worldwide.

In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: Indutiomarus grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

Ray Prohaska: Art Reps & Art Directors

Ray Prohaska was represented by Lester Rossin Associates - the same studio that represented David Stone Martin. Though Rossin had quite a few high profile artists (including Ray) in his 'stable', almost every Lester Rossin ad I've seen from the early 50's features Martin's art ( as in the example below).

In 1956 Ray Prohaska received an Award of Merit for the piece below from the New York Art Directors Club. (Tony Prohaska writes, "I remember posing for one of the kids on the jetty.")

That year, Ray's illustration was at last featured in the top spot of a Lester Rossin group ad in the back pages of the '56 Art Director's Annual.

Tony had a summer job one year at Rossin's studio. He describes what it was like:

"Lets see...Rossin's was one floor... a receptionist, and maybe six people in the bull pen, including one very good letterer, another guy who did airbrush, and several people who did layouts, spots, and retouching. I think there were either three or four salesmen, maybe more, but I don't remember... and Rossin did sales too. I was in the production department, and did deliveries, mattes, wrapping packages, that kind of stuff. There were two of us gofers and a production manager, named Charlie Stubbs. My fellow gofer was Fred Travelena, who became a well known comedian, and died just a couple of weeks ago."

"I'm not sure if Ray ever had an other full time agent in N.Y., beside Rossin. He thought that all agents were crooks, but that you had to find a crook that wasn't too bad. Rossin occassionally would have one of his in-house studio people do a fake Ray Prohaska. I found that out when I worked that summer job for Rossin. Ray said he knew about it, figured it wasn't out of control."

"He was friends with a guy who'd been an agent and who moved out to Amagansett around the time we did, named Jim Perkins."

Looking over James Perkins' and Lester Rossin's artist lists, we can see some of the biggest names in the New York illustration scene of the day - and see also how close knit the entire community of graphic arts professionals were, socially and professionally.

But did Ray get all his jobs by way of his rep, or did he also take his portfolio around to show to art directors?

Tony writes, "He did get quite a few jobs direct, without Rossin, but I suppose he'd pay him anyway, I'm not sure. Also, his relationship with J. Walter Thompson was an old one, and he kept that up, went up to their offices quite a bit. I think he felt that he was treated o.k. by [Saturday Evening Post AD] Frank Kilker..."

"I'd have to say that one of his favorite jobs was a job he did for Frank Zachery, who was then at Holiday, I'm sure you know of him... it was an illustration of an African scene. He loved Frank. Frank rented the house next door to us one summer, and after that, rented down at the beach every year for several years."

"In general though, art directors were the bane of his existence, and we were under strict orders not to tell them he was fishing, or they'd think he wasn't busy."

"You had to be busy or you were dead, was how he put it."

* Tony Prohaska has put together an extensive website devoted to his dad's life, where you can read a very thorough biography and see many more examples of the artist's work. Go to The Art of Ray Prohaska for more.

* My Ray Prohaska Flickr set.

Bead Scoop - Roman Glass Beads

I first discovered Roman glass during the Bead Cruise 2 years ago. It was featured in a jewelry line in the gift shop on the ship and I was smitten. But it was out of my budget at the time. I do remember going back down to the shop to swoon over it a few times before the cruise ended.

So when I spotted a necklace in the latest issue of BeadStyle magazine I was clicking my mouse faster than you can say ancient artifact!

"This ancient Roman glass was found in the Nimroz province of Afghanistan. The beads are between 900 & 1200 years old, and were excavated in 2006. Glass has not been produced in this area for 900 years."

Happy Mango Beads has a lovely selection of these beads in a few different price points. Oh how I need them!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Historia Naturalis Palmarum

The Natural History of Palm Trees

Attalea - Cocos - Sabal species

Borassus flabelliformis

Acrocomia sclerocarpa

Areca nibung

Astrocaryum species

Palm species

Palm species sections

Palm species sections a

Bactris longipos + Cocos botryophora

Ceratolobus glaucescens

Copernica ceifera

Daemonorops melanochaetes

Thrinax brasiliensis

Zalacca wallichiana

Desmoncus polyacanthos

Elaeis melanococca

Livistona humilis

Livistona humilis (fruit + seeds)

Sagus taedigera

Eugeisona tristis

Eugeisona tristis (detail)

palm symmetry

Plectocomia khasiyana

"The author of over 150 botanical titles, including the great flora of Brazil, Karl Friedrich Philipp von Martius also wrote the still-definitive three-volume treatise on the palm family, one of the first plant monographs. He developed his life-long fascination with palms during an expedition through Brazil [map] from 1817 to 1820, and he worked nearly 30 years to prepare this grand summation, including palms found only as fossils." [source]

All three volumes of 'Historia Naturalis Palmarum' are available at the Botanicus website from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. This lavishly illustrated series included systematic descriptions of all known species in the palm family (Arecaceae). The illustrations were produced by Martius himself and Ferdinand Bauer (among others).

You can get an idea of how enormous the available jp2 image files of each chromolithograph are by clicking on those couple of illustration details towards the end of the sampling above. [each image file is about 3Mb and converts to ~20Mb jpeg files] Mouse over the images - taken from all three volumes - for the botanical names (in most cases).

On the road...

We hopped in our car yesterday
& drove three hours to the beautiful
San Miguel de Allende
in the State of Guanajuato.
We saw this blooming tree full of white storks
that reminded me of my "Peacock Tree" piece.
Stayed at a little downtown hotel with a wonderful view
of the main square's pink neo-Gothic church.
But the best part was spending time with family.
We're back home now, full of inspiration.

Ray Prohaska and Friends, Part 2

Tony Prohaska writes, "Ray was a member of the Society of Illustrators from the time he moved permanently from Chicago to New York, sometime after the ‘29 Crash. Through the S.I., Ray became friends with all the illustrators in N.Y. at the time, but his particular favorite, almost a father figure, was Arthur William Brown. Ray and Carolyn were constant companions with “Brownie” . He was a frequent visitor in the early day’s of their life in Amagansett."

"Their particular friends in those days included Al Dorne and his wife Edna, Bob and Aggie Fawcett, ……and I’ll think of the others as I go along."

"Al Dorne though, would not go below 14th St. Carolyn said she thought it had something to do with not going out of his father’s precinct. Supposedly, his father was a cop."

"Ray was also friends with many of the artists at the 10th Street Studios, where he kept a studio. (They had an apartment across the street, where I lived as an infant.) Ray became buddies at 10th Street with John Alan Maxwell. Ray liked to drink and chase women... [and] was accused by Johnny’s wife of leading him astray."

When I found this ad it occurred to me that Tony's dad might have pressed some of his illustrator friends into service to pose for the reference photos. Tony replied, "I'm pretty sure the young man on the left was a local kid,"

"... but he may have also used a professional model or two, or even as you say, one of his friends, for one or more of the older guys..."

"The guy with the pencil moustache looks like Johnny Maxwell."

Then I found the scan below of a Ray Prohaska original, from a 1950 story for the Saturday Evening Post on the Heritage Auctions website. I had to ask Tony... did he pose for this piece?

He replied, "Yeah, the posing. I hated it. Seemed like I was doing it all the time. I sort of felt that every one of his jobs had a kid who just happened to be my age. He had big, old fashioned lights, including one that was like a theater light. It was..., "hold still, just one more.." and then, another roll... and of course there was sitting on some stranger's lap, male or female.., balancing on one foot to look like I was running, of course there were telephone books as props..."

"No, there were no other illustrators that used me, ....other than after I was grown, when I did a few posing jobs for Al Moore, (a teriffic guy!) who had the studio across the hall from the one that Ray inherited from Brownie, at 33W. 67th. (I eventually got him kicked out of there for a couple of parties I gave... and some rowdy visitors, to put it mildly)."

"That boy with the dog was both me and my friend Mickey Miller... He just turned 67 and is a commercial fisherman."

Tony adds, "My parents were great friends with Leonard Starr. My father and I modeled for two of his characters, circus performers... my character was Tony Abbott. For years afterwards my friends called me 'The Boy Cartoon'."

* Tony Prohaska has put together an extensive website devoted to his dad's life, where you can read a very thorough biography and see many more examples of the artist's work. Go to The Art of Ray Prohaska for more.

* Thanks to Heritage Auctions for permission to use the scan of Ray Prohaska's original art above.

* My Ray Prohaska Flickr set.