Monday, September 30, 2013


An open call to artists went out: create a portrait of the founder of the School of Visual Arts MFA Fine Arts program and recently retired chair, David L. Shirey. Organized by SVA alums at the studio/art space that they run and named after the man himself, The Shirey will be showing the work in their exhibition simply titled David on October 18th, 2013. 

I sent in my ink on paper version (pictured above) last week. When I was thinking about how I might want to portray the man, the myth, the legend, I knew that his eyes should be most prominent, as they are one of the first things you notice about him. They are a bright, piercing, other-worldly blue. Like, there is no way this blue exists in real human eyeballs on this earth. He is also super broad and muscular because he works out constantly. Like, he knows people at his local gym so they lock him in at night when they're done cleaning up so he can continue his grueling regime well past midnight. Oh yeah, did I mention he's also in his 80s? And while his physical fitness is important to him, and he often wears obscenely tight shirts to show it off, there is always a side of Shirey that remains hidden, buttoned up. He is extremely private and incredibly smart and he has a wonderful way of making you feel like you're the most important and interesting person in the room when he talks to you. I had the privilege of working with him at SVA for two years after I was a student in the program and I am so very grateful for the opportunity he gave me and for the chance I got to know him better. 

Go see this group exhibition at The Shirey located at 47 Thames Street in Brooklyn, NY on Friday, October 18th, 2013 from 7 pm-11 pm. While you're there, take pictures of everyone's work and send them to me. Then hoist a light beer (his favorite) to the man who brought us all together. 

- Cathleen   

Friday, September 27, 2013

Oh, Hipsters.

"I'm wearing plaid ironically."

Some things never change. Not least, everyone's love of laughing about hipsters. No matter where you happen to fall on the hipster spectrum, they're always funny. Actually, hipsters laughing at hipster jokes gets a little meta. 
Which everyone knows is the essence of hipsterism.

"No, I'm just rolling up my sleeves and pants because it's hot outside."

And although I don't think this is exactly what the artist intended, Leo Caillard's photographs of classical statues dressed as hipsters seems to cement the idea that hipsters have always been around. 
Somebody has to be on the cutting edge, right?

"I was totally Christian before it was cool."

But I feel like the biggest take-away from this series is that you'll never be as cool as Jesus in chambray. But keep trying. 
Just don't look like you're trying.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Mama Care Package

When I was just home from the hospital and friends started coming over to see us and meet the new baby, we received so many thoughtful presents. One of the best things people brought was definitely FOOD. There is something so meaningful about the gift of sustenance, made with love to give you strength in those first few days, something easy that you can just put in your tired face when your hands are too full of squirmy baby to do much beyond microwave. 

Through the miracle of Facebook, I recently reconnected with someone I worked with YEARS ago who now happens to live near me in NC and just had a baby herself, so I felt it was time I returned the favor that so many others helpfully granted me. Last night I whipped up a big batch of Lasagna Soup to bring over to her today (the very same that I made in advance of Graham's arrival), with all parts labeled for easy assembly and reheating. I also got her a couple bars of nice chocolate as well as a book for her baby because chocolate and books always make the best gifts. 

I can't wait to see her again and meet little baby Juniper for the first time! 

- Cathleen 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Artwork of the Week: The Clasp

The Clasp by Tim Lahan

Last week was not as bad as I feared it would be. Don't get me wrong—there were plenty of moments that tested my mettle, but I did it. I ran necessary errands, I took morning walks, I kept us both fed, and I single-handedly bathed a little twisting mister five days in a row without (too many) tears or life-threatening incident. There's also this hyper-vigilance that sets in when you become the main person responsible for keeping your child alive. The 24-hour high alert state is exhausting. I know women everywhere do this kind of thing on their own all the time, and I deeply admire them. I only had a handful of days to get through, and I probably shouldn't be surprised that I did just fine, but I am. Still, I feel incredibly lucky to have the partner and the support that I do, and these last few days made me appreciate him all the more. The best part of my week was definitely when Micky came back. 

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Wishlist

With every season change, I lament the state of my wardrobe. To be honest, I have abused it. I've had four babies in three different seasons so sizing is just a nightmare, not to mention style changes which affect me pretty hard since I tend to latch onto a trend only to realize later that it totally doesn't suit me. At all.

So I perennially vow to streamline my purchases and only buy looks that are classic and versatile. Then I get my heart set on something that doesn't fit that category and I get derailed all over again. 

Enter this year's nominee:
J.Crew Pixie jodhpur pants

I know that to most people J.Crew is not exactly the cutting edge of trendiness, but when your fashion sense is shaky, at best, J.Crew shines like a beacon of hope. (It simultaneously causes your wallet to burst into flames as well.)

And these pants just kill me. I love the navy with the black leather. Only one problem though: they WON'T go on sale. I've been watching and waiting but no luck.

But don't worry friends, I will own these. Even if it is the only article of clothing that I buy this fall. And I might regret it next fall when they don't fit or I don't like them anymore (doubtful) but I'm not going to think about it too much.

I hope your weekend is full of crisp air, falling leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes. And a kick-arse new pair of pants. 

Happy Friday!

P.S. I'd take those black heels in a hot minute, too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Twelve Days of Twelve Nights

Twelve Days of Twelve Nights by Félix de la Concha
installation of 12 oil on canvas works of 28 × 23 cm

Micky's out of town on business for four nights this week. Yes, only 4 and not 12. But still. Our bed and our days are going to feel awfully empty while he's away. 
(Dear robbers and home invaders: this is not an open invitation to stop by.)

- Cathleen  

[Image courtesy of Open Museum]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Terrarium Anatomy

There was a definite and wonderful chill in the air this weekend. Whenever fall comes blowing in, I always get this feeling of excitement over new possibilities. With all of the years I've spent either as a student, taking ad hoc classes post-grad, or working in a school with my internal clock long set to the semester cycle, fall will forever signify fresh starts and renewal for me. (Suck it, spring.) And since we only got a yard a month ago and I missed the chance to sow anything into the ground this year, I think I'm gonna need to plant something inside instead. I found this informative drawing on Tamworth Lyceum's website along with detailed instructions on how to build a terrarium. I think I might go dig up some moss from our backyard this week and get started on one of my own. But if I don't end up getting around to it, I could always order this cute print instead.

Terrarium Diagram print, 5 x 7"

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Color Confusion and Josef Albers

Homage to the Square: Blue and Green, 1950

Ahhh, color. A rainbow display of almost anything is enough to induce a purchase on my part. Unfortunately, I get stymied when I try to select just one or two colors from that dazzling array. Color pairing tends to send me into a panic of insecurity. Heck, I can’t even handle color recognition: I just discovered that my (most recent) favorite color fuschia is actually magenta (or is it the other way around?) and that I can’t tell the difference between light orange, peach, and pink.

Homage to the Square: Blue, White, Grey, 1951

Homage to the Square, 1959

Trying to sort out my color issues lately has made me appreciate those people that are gifted with color even more. Enter: my love for Josef Albers. I was introduced to his work in college when my senior studio class went to visit an exhibit of his at the Dallas Museum of Art. His color theory work was incredible and I still carry those images in my head. I was blown away by how one color might appear  completely different depending on the color it was paired with.

Homage to the Square, 1967

Homage to the Square, 1969

So, on this slightly less than colorful morning, I thought I’d share some of Mr. Albers’ incredible work with you.

Homage to the Square, Guarded, 1952

I hope your day ends up being full of color. And slightly symmetrical.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


One of mine. I try to keep the baby shots to a minimum, 
but it's HARD, you guys! 

I'm a pretty visual person, so I appreciate Instagram in that it shows me what's going on in my friends' (or friends of friends of friends') lives with the economy of one photo and a short caption. Because many of the feeds I follow are helmed by bloggers that I read regularly (so they feel like virtual friends!), I've been thinking a lot about how this has become a tool people can use to reinforce their brand and aesthetic. I subscribe to 130 different feeds now, and the ones I like the most have a genuine yet casual feel to them, a visual diary if you will. Behind-the-scenes type photos that give a glimpse into the private lives of people I don't actually know AND the people I do actually know, cuz the voyeur in me always likes to see the nitty-gritty of my IRL friends' days too. Here are a few that have brightened my feed lately and are definitely worth following:

jasonpolan - Illustrator Jason Polan posts his spare and clever drawings mostly. 
Particularly good ones come from his weekly Taco Bell Drawing Club.    

ohhappyday - The personal feed of blogger/fun-planner/entrepreneur/mom Jordan Ferney
Always impressed by how she keeps her kids' toys in check. 

white_lightning - Elizabeth S. Olson, Art Director of Bon Appetit magazine. 
Literal and figurative tastemaker.

lisacongdon - Artist and illustrator Lisa Congdon chronicles her daily happenings 
and sketchbook pages. Her recent honeymoon to Paris looked GORGEOUS. 

Her #getwise2013 series is always teaching me something new in a neat papercut way.

janiewoodbridge - Janie Woodbridge, whom I happen to know PERSONALLY, 
is a textile designer with a keen eye for pattern in nature and beauty in the everyday.  

ericlundquist - Eric Lundquist (another IRL friend) has a great #mirrorgram series going. 
Plus some other stuff that constantly has me going "I really like this one!" 

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I Can Be Art Teacher Barbie via Amazon

As you may have already noticed, Grace has been a bit quiet on the blog as of late. She recently started a full-time teaching job at a new school (get it, girl!), and so, has understandably decided to take a little break from Swings & Arrows while she gets her bearings. Grace may pop back in occasionally to regale us with one of her trademark finds and treasures, but never fear! Swings & Arrows will carry on in her absence. Alissa and I will continue to keep the blog light burning until she returns.

- Cathleen

Monday, September 9, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Breath

Breath by Wincenty Dunikowski-Duniko, 1976

I haven't yet seen my warm breath hanging in the chill outside, but it feels like fall and it's crisp air are right around the corner. I can't wait to pull on a light jacket and hear the crunch of brown brittle leaves underfoot. This photograph reminds me of cooler things to come. 

You can see more of the artist's work on

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 6, 2013

I’d Really Like to Eat a Child

I’d say that I spend a significant portion of my day reading books to my small people and it can get a little repetitive. The requests don’t vary too much from day to day and attempts to change things up are not always received well. (I do understand that 
repetition is really important for little growing minds, but STILL.)

So, new children’s literature that is interesting for my children and enjoyable for me falls squarely into the 
“Blessing from Heaven” category.

Here are my two current hilarious favorites:

“I’d Really Like to Eat a Child” is by the French author Sylviane Donnio about a little crocodile named Achilles who decides that he’s sick of bananas and wants to eat a child. The ending is fantastic and truly French in its lack of a pat resolution.

"This is Not My Hat” by Jon Klassen was a given to us by a friend and we read it almost every day. The protagonist is a small fish that has stolen a hat and he tells of his plans to keep it. The illustrations that accompany the narration are perfect and the ambiguous ending is a moral lesson in and of itself.

I seriously recommend these books. They have both become staples of our reading day even though we don’t own “I’d Really Like to Eat a Child” (we constantly have it on loan from the library). Check them out and add a little dark humor to your day.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

PS For the record, I’d really like to have a son named Achilles.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Finds and Treasures

I am in complete awe of this amazing handmade Heirloom Lion Blanket that is sold by Romawinkle on Etsy. 
I'd totally consider having another baby just to have this blanket ;)

- Grace

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Hannahk Infinity Earring
$208 via Una

14k Gold Circle Ring
$295 via Scoutmob

Variscite Impression Jasper Stone 14k Gold Earrings

I'm really loving this oblong shape in jewelry. 
Too bad dangly earrings and chunky rings are so attractive to baby hands, however. 
[P.S. I don't know why I'm even looking. 
I've worn the same pair of earrings for...oh, 8 solid months now.]

- Cathleen

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dog Days

Poor Nelson he's been eating his dog food and drinking water out of some of my mixing bowls for the  past 10 months. I have not been able to find a dog bowl that I like enough. I don't want to go with plastic or metal since it will be out all the time I want something that looks nice. Here are some bowls I've found while digging around on the internet.

A cute water bowl from Frontgate. Has a food dish counterpart. 

A simple stoneware bowl from Williams Sonoma. 

A vintage dog dish found on eBay. 

A odd pair found on google images of a Blue Willow set. 

So readers, help me out! What do you like? Have you seen anything online or in person that would fit the bill?

- Grace

Monday, September 2, 2013

Artwork of the Week: Porch

Alex Katz, Porch, 1958
oil on masonite, 28 x 28"

Happy Labor Day! Hope you are relaxing, wherever it might be. Did I tell you guys we have a screened in back porch? I plan on putting my feet up out there for at least some portion of the day. With a cool drink in hand. Ahhh yes. 

This beautiful pastel-y painting by Alex Katz is one I'd never seen before. The artist is mostly known for his striking, monochromatic portraits of friends and family, but this early work of his depicts a calm, pleasant light-filled space that I would love to spend some time in today. 

- Cathleen

[Image via]

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