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Monday, April 05, 2010 7:22 AM

illustration friday: Dip



My son loves food, my daughters love amigurumi, and we all love to eat. What started out as a doodle turned into a coloring page. I can honestly say that not all kids eat all of these foods, but I would say they eat all but 3 (different for each kid... Peter's not fond of beets, Sophie doesn't do tomatoes, Angela won't touch mushrooms). And of course, all of them work well with (or in) dip in one form or another!

There is a precedent for faces on fruit at our house.... remember this?



That pear still cracks me up.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010 1:05 PM

now with a side order of cute



Allow me to present Sophie's lunch! This proved to be such a hit at school yesterday that she has requested the same lunch for the next two days as well. Some of the girls at her table didn't want her to eat it because it was too cute! I forgot to show her little bottle of water... My goal is for her to have healthy lunches, but if we can get in an extra helping of cute then so much the better. It's amazing what a few strokes of pencil or a fun shape of food can do to make lunches more appealing. :)

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010 10:47 AM

now we are six



Peter and Angela turn six today! We were not originally supposed to have all three children's birthdays in the same week, but the twins had other plans. Instead of being born in May, they came 10 weeks early and spent months in the NICU. It is certainly not an experience I would ever wish on anybody but you'd have to agree they're well worth it all.

Angela is fiery, dramatic, mercurial, angelic. She makes Sophie look calm. Angela is the one who goes through 5 outfits in a day, some of them bathing suits, some involving complicated scarves, or requiring face paint. She would probably be happiest if she could wear nothing at all and takes off her socks the instant she doesn't need to wear them anymore. She's the girl who sings into the microphone, who gets up and dances, and who I am pretty sure is going to end up on a stage one day. She is the girly-girl in our house. The other night my mom and dad brought her a shirt that had a pony on it, in sequins, and you have never heard such gushing. "OH! How I love it! It's so sparkly! I'll wear it on my birthday with this scarf! OH! How did you KNOW I would LOVE THIS SO MUCH!" She's turning into a great reader, and just yesterday learned to tie a bow. (We're going to demonstrate to the class tomorrow.) And she really enjoys drawing faces and tries so hard to get in lots of detail. I'm rather impressed with her artwork and I love that she does her own thing - her sister and brother don't draw like her at all! And she writes me notes - when she's sorry for something she's done, or just because. I cherish them.

Peter is adorable. He has just taught himself to whistle and spends every spare moment practicing it. He has a very good sense of rhythm for such a little boy and is always tapping out the beat, pretending to drum, or trying to beatbox. And that's when there's not even any music on! He loves a cappella music, especially the Bobs. My favorite Peter thing is how he dances when he thinks nobody is paying attention - he has soul, this kid. I'll put on Stevie Wonder, or maybe some 80's music with a loud electronic beat and then occupy myself with some task so the attention's not on Peter (but I watch him out of the corner of my eye). Then the shoulders start shaking and the hips are next and then he's into some cool spin or dance steps. I just love it. He's such a foodie - loves to eat, loves to try new things, and even had my dad's pasta con sarde and asked for seconds. He's also turning out to be quite good at art - the more meticulous, the better! He loves to copy pictures of machinery or draw complicated landscapes. I also call Peter "Eddie Haskell" - he is so incredibly complimentary that sometimes it's just funny. I predict that Peter is going to have the phone ringing off the hook when he hits puberty.

Peter and Angela, my favorite surprises. I love you with all of my heart and I'm so proud of you. You make our family complete.

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Monday, March 01, 2010 9:32 AM

green eggs and cookies

Tomorrow is Dr. Seuss's birthday and also Read Across America day. These are the cookies I made for Peter's class - unfortunately, they looked much more egg-like before they went into the oven than when they came out.

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss poem or book? I have a soft spot for "Too Many Daves."

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Friday, February 26, 2010 7:50 AM

Sophie is Seven


Miss Sophia Grace and Lambey

I just can't believe Sophie is seven today! I wrote once that Sophie for me embodies the quote about your heart living outside your body. There is something just so indefinably special about Sophie. She's kind, generous, loving, and has a quick and quirky sense of humor. She always has a twinkle in her eye and I think that, combined with her long hair and permanent semi-wink because of her eyelid surgeries, make her seem like she's part fairy. She's bright, inquisitive, and quick to have flashes of temper or to run up and kiss you. One of the things I love most about her is her absolute belief in herself. She likes what she likes, and she doesn't give two hoots what anyone else thinks. Right now, she is enamored with Norway, especially the city of Hammerfest, which lays claim to being the northernmost town in the world. She draws the flag, she studies the globe, she gets out Paul's iPod to check what time the sun will rise and set there today. She loves drawing and writing her own books, and has a back story for each character she draws (we call those pictures "the cast of thousands"). Lately she's been reading "So You Want to be President" every night before she goes to sleep. She's kind of brilliant, and as next year is the year kids get tested at her school for advanced classes we've been concentrating on cleaning up her messy printing and on how to take tests (i.e., reading directions before jumping right in, reading all the answers before you jump right in, etc). So far, she's wanted to be an astronaut, an author, a composer, a baker, a filmmaker, a doctor, and a "traveller" so she can see the world. I am so enjoying watching her grow up and her take on the world.

We love you, Sophie! God bless you on your birthday and always.

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Friday, February 12, 2010 6:52 AM

Happy Valentine's Day!

All you need is love, love. It's easy!


(Note the Norwegian house slippers on Sophie!)

As promised.... the annual Nazzaro family valentine! For reference, Sophie is 6 and the twins are 5. Waaaay back in the day, I used to have to do three separate photo shoots and photoshop them all together so that I could have just ONE picture where those babies were all even looking in the right direction. At least they've stopped eating the hearts. How fun are these going to be when they're in high school?

Watch them grow up....


(2009)


(2008)


(2007)


(2006)


(2005)

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010 8:04 AM

believe



This weekend our elementary school had their fundraiser - a play written by, directed by, starring, choreographed by (you get the picture) the parents. It is THE social event of the year, and everyone involved looked like they were having the time of their lives. And what did I contribute?

The logo design, of course!

These are the roughs I did initially to get a feel for what everyone wanted... it was clear that it was going to be a logotype, but with a little extra something. The one we went with was an homage to "Slumdog Millionaire" using the broken type, lowercase letters, and uneven baseline. (The plot echoes some of the movie, so there was a reason for it.)



Is that your final logo?



It brought back good memories from high school of seeing people wearing the shirts in the play - although I've been also seeing them around town, on kids at school, even at church. Trust me, it's not the design, it's the message.



The cast in their believe shirts while singing "Don't Stop Believing" (of course).



Paul lent his considerable talents to the pit band! Here he is warming up while Angela (fluffy head in front) looks on.

One of the coolest things was that at the finale - again, in homage to Slumdog Millionaire, the entire cast, including the teachers and principal, and all the students in the audience - got up and did the "Jai Ho" dance from the end of the movie. It was just fabulous. The kids practiced it at the end of classes, and even at a Girl Scout meeting!



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Friday, January 29, 2010 7:35 AM

kids helping kids (and you can too)

I've been busy this week making art to help the children of Haiti. No, not the new painting... my very talented brother-in-law Marc asked if I'd help design a CD for a benefit fundraiser for the Children of Haiti this Sunday in New York. Of course I said heck yes!

The benefit is called Kids Helping Kids. It's a family show, and looks like it's going to be loads of fun! The CDs will be available at the show at The Bowery Poetry Club on Sunday afternoon, January 31. If you are in the area and want to go, it certainly looks as though A Splendid Time Is Guaranteed For All. Check out all the acts and more details here.

Of course, me being me, I couldn't make just one version of the cover.... here's the one they chose, followed by the other two covers. I'm curious to know: which cover would make you most likely to buy it and donate money to kids in need?





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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2:41 PM

Last chance to see my watercolors at the library

There are only a few days left to get to the Westfield Memorial Library and see some fairies up close and personal! I'll be taking down all the artwork this weekend to let some other lucky artist hang her work up.

For those of you not in the area, the lovely people at the library graciously recorded a short movie so you can pretend you're there, having a walkthrough. Grab a book and settle in a comfy chair for the full effect.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010 7:21 AM

a giraffe (and a half, to make you laugh)



Continuing the reveal of finished Christmas paintings, Angela's giraffe and baby. Eating leaves, as per her art direction, she was very firm on that.





I've enjoyed painting giraffes in the past... check out this one and this one (both on paper bags, for some reason).

(Throwing this into the Illustration Friday queue as well for "Wilderness". Hi i-Fri-ers!)

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Monday, January 11, 2010 8:29 AM

it's like lightning



I've been super-remiss on posting the in-progress paintings as I went along, but once it got to crunch time, I had to just paint as much as I could, whenever I could. You know how it is.

If Lambey was my favorite painting, this was my least favorite. I'm pleased with the way it came out in the end, but getting there was like pulling teeth.

For some reason, doing Samus was pretty easy - maybe because body armor is more forgiving to paint than a car? There were smaller bits? I'm not sure why, because I figured since they were both computer-generated colorful metallic surfaces I should be able to do a car pretty easily. But no. Maybe it was the extreme foreshortening, maybe it was the fact that Samus's armor was fragmented and Lighting has long stretches of shiny red, or that Samus is pretty un-charismatic and not only does Lightning scream "look at me!" every boy under the age of 7 knows everything about him already.

I think that once I started to add a little texture here and there - the tires, the end of the car, the lights - it started to come together. What matters is that Peter loves it, and that's the only part of it I really care about.

Mr. McQueen, are you ready for your closeup?




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Wednesday, January 06, 2010 9:14 PM

Lambey



I'm finally getting to post all the paintings I did as Christmas presents! (As opposed to last year, where I forgot to scan in any of them until after they were wrapped and I had to settle for snapshots of the happy recipients.) This is hands-down, my favorite of all the Christmas paintings.... Sophie's Lambey.

Anyone who knows Sophie knows that Lambey goes pretty much wherever she goes, except to school. :) He's been stuffed and re-stuffed, loved until his yellow gingham heart and embroidery have all worn away, and though his eyes are a flat black, he manages to keep a wise and patient look about him. When Sophie had surgery at 10 months, she came home and threw herself on Lambey and hugged him like mad, and that's how we knew for sure he was The One. When Sophie had surgery this past summer, Lambey got his own hospital bracelet and was allowed in the O.R. with her while she got anesthesia. Lambey is the real deal.

My challenges for Sophie's portrait of Lambey: well, first of all, it's Lambey. I had to get him just right. He doesn't officially have a mouth, but he has a very sweet expression all the same and I wanted to make sure I caught that. The dent under his nose could be a dent... or a tiny, sweet, smile.

I also was under time constraints - so this painting was completed, from original drawing to finished painting, in one day. A weekday, when I am ferrying kids around and have a regular day of work and make dinner and all that.... I still don't know how I pulled it off, but it's my favorite one so far.

The painting below is from 2005 (or possibly earlier?), when Sophie didn't have hair down to her waist and her big-girl two front teeth and a backpack full of books for first grade yet.

But she did have Lambey.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009 10:39 AM

adorable ornaments to make on a snowy day



Yesterday, while the weather outside was frightful, I finished up my ornaments for my CCD class (which of course, got snowed out! But of course, if I hadn't made them, we would have gotten 2 inches). The Nativity ornaments were for my class of Kindergartners and the Angels are for Paul's class of 1st grade girls.



I was inspired for the Nativity ornaments by a craft my twins had made in Mrs. Messina's class last year. They were so simple and so lovely, and I felt like they really captured the essence of what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. The kids painted everything themselves, which made it so much sweeter. These both would be fun to do with kids, letting them personalize and get as creative as they want.

You could paint these any way you like, and if I had more time I would have gotten way more detailed with them (arms on the angels, a star at the top of the "barn", maybe some glitter.... though I did add glitter to baby Jesus. He deserves some glitter!



How to make Nativity ornaments:

Use the hacksaw to trim the legs of Mary and Joseph to height. You can see in the picture at the top that Mary's are cut almost all the way, and Joseph's are slightly longer. You don't want to make them too long or you won't be able to make the top of the triangle close. Baby Jesus is made from cutting one of Mary's discarded pieces of wood in half. Use the sandpaper to smooth all rough edges. Paint all pieces as desired.



When dry, hot glue a bundle of spanish moss to the center of the large popsicle stick, and then add more hot glue and Baby Jesus. Glue Mary and Joseph to either side, making sure first that the other popsicle sticks will be able to meet at the top to make a triangle. Glue both sides of the other sticks to form the triangle, holding them until they set. Turn the triangle upside down to glue the top together. Tie a loop with your twine or ribbon, and personalize. You're done!

How to make Angel ornaments:

Paint a face and hair on your doll pin. When dry, get out your gold paint and paint on a halo and a band around the neck.



For the wings: cut both ends off a large popsicle stick on an angle, so that they form a heart when placed on top of each other. Paint both sides gold. (I also think these would look lovely painted a deep red, or in rainbow colors, or sprayed silver, or... you know. Have fun with it!)

Cut your doily into quarters, and then cut a semi-circle shape out of the top of the pie shape. Put hot glue all around the neck of the doll pin, and place the center of the doily piece in the front under the face. Press and glue all around (doily will overlap in back).

To glue on wings: lay wings on table. Add glue. Press twine/ribbon loop to hang ornament, and then quickly press back of angel on top. Hold until it sets, then let dry flat until it cools.

Merry Christmas!

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Thursday, December 10, 2009 4:07 PM

christmas present work in progress: lightning

Beginning of Peter's present. Very rough drawing, but it'll come to life once I can start splashing that paint around.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009 6:18 PM

christmas present: samus is done!



That's Miss Samus if you're nasty.



What really surprised me was that full-on body armor is actually easier to draw - and paint - than Cinderella's dress. My guess is that simple is harder. That and I didn't feel right about throwing a heap of glitter on this one.

Up next: Lightning McQueen gets his turn and we'll see how well a car translates in watercolour.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009 9:32 AM

leafy art

On the day I made my leafy hat illo, the kids were creating some leaf fairies of their own:



Note the copy of Faerie-ality open for inspiration.



Sophie's fairy.





Angela's fairy. There were two others, one with a flying "V" leaf guitar.



Peter's leafy friend.

Now, looking at these photos, would you even know that there was a two-and-a-half-hour complete off-the-wall temper tantrum going on before this? I was so upset from the aftermath that I couldn't even make dinner and we had to order out. This was an act of trying to make peace after the storm...

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Sunday, November 22, 2009 1:26 PM

bad joke of the day....

How did black eyed peas get their name?

Leave your answers below in the comments, I'll tell you the answer tomorrow!

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Friday, November 13, 2009 8:26 AM

40 years of awesome music

Rolling Stone has a great article highlighting some of the fantastic guest stars that have performed on Sesame Street over the years. A standout performance from my fave, Stevie Wonder:



Check out that kid rocking out in the beginning!

A couple of my favorites that weren't on there: James Taylor serenading Oscar with "Whenever I See Your Grouchy Face" and Feist's "1-2-3-4". But they did include Johnny Trash, so that's all good.

Need some more Stevie on Sesame Street? Crank this up:

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009 8:12 PM

something

Yesterday, in the car, I was playing Abbey Road when Angela started contributing her own lyrics.

Something in the way she moves... Is like a pony in the water...

We all laughed a bunch, but Angela doesn't know how lucky she was to sing that because she's been driving me up the proverbial wall for the past few days and I've needed something positive to think about. I've mentioned before how nothing that works with the other kids works with her, and we're up against another one of those difficult phases where her prime goal seems to be to make everyone's lives miserable and to do it all with an evil grin. I have to get to the bottom of this, but for right now, I'm just so glad to have an evening with my paints, Glee, and a bag of potato chips.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009 3:28 PM

amigurumi, part two, or, birthday lessons



Looking back over the summer, it's amazing how little I painted and how much I crocheted! I posted earlier about amigurumi and the bunnies I made for the new babies in our circle of friends. This post is about the second wave - my birthday presents. Not presents I got on my birthday, but the presents I gave to my family, on my birthday.

Let me explain.

One of my favorite illustrators is Tomie dePaola, not only for his gorgeous linework, luminous palette, and sense of humor, but also because of how his life and his art are so intertwined. If you are a fan, you know all about his family and heritage because so much of his work contains bits of his life; from his grandparents in "Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs" (I cry every time I read that book), the 26 Fairmount Avenue books, his own love of art and how it was nurtured as a child in "The Art Lesson", and his love of God in countless books, "The Clown of God" being one of my favorites. (And don't even get me started on Strega Nona. She rocks!)

I've been really enjoying Tomie's website where he shows new work but also reminisces about pretty much anything that strikes his fancy. I was struck by this story in particular, where it's his mother's birthday but she begins the tradition of giving to others to celebrate her special day.

"With that simple but magnificent gesture of giving all of us presents on her birthday, Flossie taught us the depth of the old cliché, "It is more blessed to give, than to receive." As the years went by, the real fun of each of our birthdays was not what we would GET, but what WE would GIVE."

The following are the presents I made for my kids for my birthday this summer:



For Peter, a turtle with a rainbow shell.



For Sophie, a finger puppet mushroom.



For Angela, a family of baby birds in a nest....



who went with this mama bird (already made).

Sophie loved her mushroom, but when she saw those baby birds, she just couldn't keep her hands off the tiniest one, and kept trying to sneak it out of the nest and take off with it! So I had to make her another bird, one she called "the teeniest bird of all." And that's the wee bird next to Angela's foot in the top photo.

Patterns for pretty much everything:
* Tiny Turtle
* Baby Birds in a Nest/Teeniest bird of all
* Mama Bird
* Happy Little Mushroom finger puppet

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Saturday, November 07, 2009 8:24 PM

napkin/art



Doodled while playing with the kids. Some faces from a "Famous Composers" workbook, because naturally, my kids know their Bach from their Beethoven and their Grieg from their Gershwin. I can't recall exactly, but I am pretty sure that lower right was Beethoven, I think bottom left is Clara Schumann, and big head guy in the middle might be Bach. All those wigs start to look the same after a while.

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