Archives for category: Uncategorized

Picture of my sister Hilary and I in 1972! Taken by the photographer Dorka Raynor.


My grandmother Nancy was born in 1901 and designed packaging for the cosmetic industry in Chicago. The president of a big cosmetic company told her the only difference between his makeup and drug store makeup was packaging and perfume, so after that she bought her makeup at the drug store. Abolene was a favorite face cream and they still sell it for next to nothing in huge jars at drugstores.

My grandmother used to save her favorite invitations in a shoebox. Here is one she gave to me: “Having Some Birds Over for Cocktails.” Because her generation lived through Prohibition, they really loved their cocktails!

Dinga's Invitation023

I came upon some old notebooks from my MAT Program (Master of Arts Teaching). Some of these ideas still strike a chord and are inspiring me 28 years later. I find myself still in love with collage, bright colors and texture. Here is a project based on color and collage and relief…playing around with homes.

umbra-postcardimg076 umbra-postcardimg077

Here is a project on printmaking from clay dipped into ink and stamped on construction paper.


Here is rice paper printed with golden hearts stamped out of potato prints. I also did this potato print project my Junior year at RISD with Mr. Ponbriand in Opera Visual and Mixed Media Class. Rice paper is too expensive to work with in a public school but could be fun in a one-on-one class.

Note book Notes030

Here are a few cardboard prints, inked up with red and black ink of city scenes; one is on white paper and the other on newsprint. I like newsprint, but it has a short shelf life and starts to yellow quickly. As you can see, even the white paper ages and yellows too.

umbra-postcardimg069   umbra-postcardimg070

Here are a couple of small collages with a little Reynolds Wrap; the tin foil is crunched up for texture, it looks expensive but it’s not. I would love to learn how to work with gold or silver leaf some day.

umbra-postcardimg073   umbra-postcardimg072

Here is a papermaking sample from the MAT program. Papermaking is fun, but I never did it in the classroom. It’s a huge undertaking and really best with smaller groups.


Here is the cover of a Notebook from 1988 from classes on Children’s Books, Graphics and Computer Graphics. Technology has changed so much. I did not end up taking advanced classes in Computer Graphics, but after watching Mad Men, it looks like it could have been a fun industry.

Note book Notes028

Here are a couple of computer illustrations from 1988 from a class; it looks like Etch a Sketch, it’s so primitive!

Note book Notes054 

Note book Notes053

Here are a couple of images from a notebook I worked in while teaching in Faistenau bei Salzburg, Austria.  This was the only time in my life besides childhood where someone did my laundry and cooking, and cleaned my room. I stayed in a hotel room when I taught at an International School in Austria.

umbra-postcardimg096  umbra-postcardimg089

A postcard from Faistenau:

umbra-postcardimg092 - Version 3

Preschool Images:

Note book Notes055  Note book Notes037Note book Notes046  Note book Notes039

IMG_0173 - Version 3This summer, we traveled to the South Side of Chicago and visited the Historic Pullman Village, created by the engineer and industrialist George Pullman. In the early 1880s, Pullman devised this ideal community and, with the help of an architect, landscape designer and builders, crafted one of the first planned industrial communities in the U.S. It was honored, in 1896, as the “World’s Most Perfect Town.”


A resident’s profession determined the quality of the building he lived in:
linesmen occupied humble spaces, while executives and master craftsmen had much more elaborate living arrangements.

Everyone rented their homes from Pullman — even the Sleeping Cars, built at the factory where a brutal strike erupted in 1894. Pullman had refused to pay his workers enough money during the depression of 1893, while still expecting full rent payments from them (go figure: arrogance or stupidity?). Fun fact: the character of Mr. Potter, “The Richest Man in Bedford Falls” from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life was based on Pullman (who was not quite a well-liked boss.)

IMG_0083I came to Chicago 30 years ago with my mother; the Hotel Florence was still open and served Victorian style meals. Stores still dotted the neighborhood then, in the early 1980s, but the village has since fallen into disrepair.  I’m fascinated by visual decay as it relates to images and photographs and there is plenty of that in Pullman Village. The factory was burnt down in 1996 by a homeless man, and current residents in the community are trying their best to repair and maintain the building. There is a push to make the factory and surrounding village a National Historic Park.

IMG_0089 - Version 3

There was even some talk that President Obama might have his Presidential Library here, but I think it would take a major effort to get this place up and running. After living so long in New England, I realize we do a better job of historic preservation on the east coast, perhaps because we place a higher value on what is old and historic. “When buildings get old, we just tear them down,” said a person I spoke to in the Chicago IMG_0088Suburb of Highland Park. How sad…

We also visited the island of North Haven off the coast of Rockland, Maine: a place of rocky beaches and restaurants. Once you arrive, it’s as though time has stood still for 100 years. My brother’s summer house (which came from a Sears Catalog from the 1920s) is on the island. Despite its complicated culture and politics (and how expensive it is to get anything fixed), it remains a lovely and peaceful place to visit.

The Nebo Lodge, where we stayed, has fantastic cupcakes and pastries that they greet you with upon arrival; the lodge also rocks at night in the dining/bar — a tasteful and arty space, in an eclectic way, with mismatched

pvan silverware and antique napkins and wildflowers everywhere. I snapped a picture of an old car, keeping with my historical theme. It’s a Ford… I wonder if it’s a Model T?