Fat & Happy

Xmas Hi•Fivories
My wife, she knows me so well. This was one of my gifts.

Yes, it's the post-Christmas fallout. I ate so much yesterday I felt like I could nap for over a year. The holiday was a good one here, although, it wasn't truly Christmas without some drama thanks to a missed delivery by a certain package delivery service that incorporates brown into their identity logo. It was not a happy evening for Andrea & I on Christmas Eve when we realized that Ava's BIG GIFT - you know, the ONE she talked about for weeks; the one she would look at over and over in the Playmobil catalog, noting all the fine details; the one she made quite certain Santa hear when visiting him at the department store downtown a week ago; the one we had infused into our brains - wasn't going to be delivered that night. So, we did some last-minute thinking and came up with Plan B: I wrote out a letter from Santa saying that sometimes during the course of Christmas Eve, he's bound to lose a package or two, and Ava's Playmobil Hospital playset was one of the unfortunate ones that fell out of his sack. He had his best elves working on locating the present and when they find it, they'll deliver it right away. It seemed to work. Ava seemed happy even though she wasn't going to have the BIG GIFT on the BIG DAY. There were enough gifts to take her mind off of the situation, which was nice. Ezra, he was happy as long as he had his Star Wars Legos and Hot Wheels.

We are missing our family from back east, so it's been nice to have Andrea's brother from New York, Von, here to hang out with us during the holidays. The kids, they love Uncle Von.

Here's wishing you had a great and wonderful Christmas.


A Very Merry Christmas to You

I'm making this a yearly thing:

The First Noel

I've posted this for the past two Christmases, but again, I say it's worth posting again: The First Noel, a small Golden Book illustrated by the brilliant husband-wife team of Alice and Martin Provensen, 1959.

You can view the book in its entirety HERE.

The First Noel: pp. 5-6

The First Noel: pp. 15-16

The First Noel: pp. 17-18

The First Noel: pp. 21-22

The First Noel: back cover

Normally I don't scan an entire book, but I did so for this particular one because 1) it's not really that long, 2) the illustrations are amazing, and 3) the story.

This book was done during what I consider a highpoint of creativity for The Provensens. Around the same time, they illustrated the equally beautiful Homer's The Illiad and the Odyssey from 1956.

Merry Christmas!

(And a very Happy Birthday to bro-in-law Von!)


Hooray for Snow Days

hello little snowflake

Been laying low lately because of a freak snow storm that's pretty much paralyzed Portland and the Northwest. It's been a lot of fun. See for yourself:

If you can't view it here, you can always check out the YouTube version. Same thing, lesser quality.

Of course, this was about a week ago when it was all fun & games. Now that we've been hammered (pummeled?) with over 10 inches of snow, cabin fever has kicked into high gear. Fun!

the kids they were sorta excited


After it's all said and done, I'm happy to report a couple of firsts for myself: 1. First time shoveling snow. 2. First time experiencing a white Christmas (assuming that the snow will stick around for Thursday, and so far, all signs point to yes).

I've got some vintage ephemera scans to share with you all, but first I need to stir up a fire in the hearth. It's a good thing.


Another Shameless Etsy Plug

Christmas is upon us, so yes, that means another blogger plugging their Etsy shop, hawking various creative gifts. It's a terrible time to start up a shop, what with the economy in the cellar, but I'm hoping that there's someone out there who'll dig my stuff. Like, for instance, these two adorable girls:

The girls

And these cool guys:

Ready to go
See, right before I mail all the prints I like to line them up all pretty like and give 'em a nice long pep talk.

Looks good right there
Looks good right there, doesn't it? Of course it does. Imagine this without my hand, of course. And the plastic bag.


Besides The Ward-O-Matic Shop, there's also my wife's new Etsy shop, finally up & running: Hula 70. Lots of color and beautiful imagery. We print to order each and every image, so we're doing our best in getting each print out to everyone in time for Christmas. Last day for Christmas delivery is December 20th, just so you know. If you need a 2 day or next day shipping, contact us and we'll work with you on your order. We want you to be happy, just as you've made us happy in buying one of our prints.

We're eternally grateful for the nice start of our shops so far. Thank you thank you thank you.

Okay, that's it for the shameless plug. Proceed as usual.

At the Grass Hut

Grass Hut

As previously mentioned, I took the kids the following night after Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly show to the Grass Hut Art Market on Burnside. They had an opening for the Grass Hut Gang Show, with lots of color and talent. Both Ava & Ezra really enjoyed the experience. Here's some photos from the night:

Ava in the Wonder Wheel

Grass Hut Gang Show

Young art admirers

Grass Hut Gang Show

Watch the wheel in action!

At least Ava had a chance to take it for a spin. I was told that the Wonder Wheel broke later on in the evening. Silly drunk people ruin it for everyone.


Culture Jellying

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

It's not often when I get out (freelance turns you into a shut-in, I'm afraid), so it was nice to get out and enjoy some art this past Thursday. In fact, it was extra nice, since it was fellow animation-pal Joel Trussell and his Culture Jam Jelly show at the Grassy Knoll Gallery (same place where I had my b-boy show) here in Portland. The show is a stunner, with plenty of colorful bearded characters. Joel promised beforehand that not all of the show would consist of vikings, but honestly? I wouldn't mind. As long as they had that unmistakable JT touch, I'm there. Oh, and just so you know, there are girls in the mix, too. Sans beards. One interesting feature of the show that can't be missed: a wall covered with faux fur.

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show

To view the show online, as well as to purchase the artwork, click here.

To view the show in person, be sure to contact the gallery by going to Grassy Knoll's site.

I took some shots of the show opening, including the wall of fur: Joel Trussell's Culture Jelly Show Flickr set.

Another thing: you can nab yerself a limited edition show poster signed by Joel himself: Culture Jam Show Poster. Nice 2-color off set printing.


The following night I was able to get out (again!), this time with kids in tow to check out the Grass Hut Gang show at the incurably hip Grass Hut, on E. Burnside. The show featured some gloriously creative work by Bwana Spoons, Martin Ontiveros (whom I met), and APAK. The kids loved it, but I found it incredibly hard to keep their mitts off the merchandise. If you have cool robots on view, Ezra will want to take them down and play with them.

At least Ava got to experience the Wonder Wheel! That's a must if you visit the place. (Probably not a good idea if you've been drinking, tho. One girl almost bit the dust while spinning in that thing.)


Better Homes & Garden Sept. 1958

Better Homes & Gardens - Sept. 1958

Oh man, what a scrumptious cover. And I don't usually use such descriptive words when describing a magazine cover. Vintage modern mid-century architecture goodness, care of the incomparable Jan Balet (here and here). Architecture, characters, color, design, etc. All of it coming together quite harmoniously.

You know you want to view it larger. Of course you do.

UPDATE: Leif Peng today (Dec. 1st) has posted some more of Balet's work, along with a letter he's received from the artist himself. Also, Jan sent Leif a photo of when he was 85 in 1998. He's 95 now! Checkit:

Jan Balet Sends a Christmas Gift.


Post-Thanksgiving B-Boy Animation

Break Dance Stop Motion from ben wheatley on Vimeo.

Because we all need some dancing after the Big Feast. And it's stop-motion, too! Well, pixilation, actually. But still just as cool.

(Via Celebreak.net.)


Happy Thanksgiving & a Mystery Solved

Household November, 1962

I've been waiting to put this one up for an entire year. I found it among my vintage magazine collection right after Thanksgiving last year and was kicking myself for not finding it in time. But that's okay. The reasoning? The illustrator is listed as Lorraine Fox. Why am I happy about this? Because a reader of my blog got in touch with me in August of this year and told me that they found out that it was Ms. Fox who did the wonderful illustrations for that Better Homes & Garden Decorating Book I mentioned on The Ward-O-Matic way back in 2005. The same illustrations that I used for inspiration for that Victory Vintage wall in Decatur. One big illustrator mystery finally solved!

Big thanks to Ashlee for her eagle eye.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


40? Aww yeah

40? Aww yeah

Ah, words. They evade me. It's a monumental milestone, to reach 40, but right now I'm finding it hard to express exactly how I'm feeling. Should I, though? Just because I have a blog doesn't automatically mean that I'm to proclaim something profound, does it? I know that many out there do, and that's fine. There are times when I do open up and convey my innermost thoughts and feelings, and when that happens, it's cathartic in a way. Mostly a selfish thing. I get a sense of closure or accomplishment, possibly a nice pat on the back. Right now, though, I think I'm stuck on what to say because it's supposed to be such a big deal. It's expected of me.

Nah, no biggie. Really.

And that's how age has been for me all along. Not a big deal. Reaching 40 certainly is a big deal to many out there, but to me, it's just another number. What is it that they say? It's all in how you feel, right? Well, I don't feel 40. I feel 6 to 7 years younger, and that is no lie. The way I see it, I'm just getting started.

Just you wait, world. Just you wait.


Last chance for b-boy

b-boy, my solo art show lasts til the end of this month. If you'd like to purchase a painting, now is the time! And yeah, I know the economy is in the pits, but peoples still gots ta make a living. Here are a few more pieces:

Acrylic & ink on cardboard
41" x 38.5"

Acrylic, marker & gesso on linoleum
12" x 9.5"

Top rock 3
Top rock 3
Acrylic & ink on wood
10.5" x 21.75"

Freeze 1
Freeze 1
Acrylic & ink on wood
19" x 13"

In the meantime, check out this über-cool b-boy papercraft automon. (Thanks, for the heads up, Laura!) I'm seriously thinking about printing this up and building it:


Announcing The Ward-O-Matic Shop

The Ward-O-Matic Shop is now open! I finally got enough sense knocked into my head to start up a shop on Etsy selling prints & original artwork. It's a little barren right now, but I'll have more work up soon, including paintings and more prints. Maybe even sketchbooks.


The Retro Kid hits 2,000 Members

Playtime Watercolor set
The Retro Kid, the Flickr group that I started up in 2005, has hit a major milestone recently: we've reached 2,000 members! That's quite an accomplishment. Excitement is hardly the word for what I'm feeling now. I'm extremely proud of this group, checking it every day and searching the vast pool of artwork & illustration that's been submitted for inspiration. This couldn't have happened without my moderators, Glen and Julia, and especially the group's members. You all help make the internet a wonderful place for me. Thank you.

Games For Special Days 9

So, what is The Retro Kid? Glad you asked.

From the group's description:

We are interested in illustrated children's books from the mid-1940's through the mid-1960's, give or take a few years. As long as it has that cool, mid-century modern stylized look that was so popular during that time. Some of what I dig are books and anything illustrated by Mary Blair, JP Miller, The Provensen's, Art Seiden, Aurelius Battaglia, and the like. I'm not limiting to just these illustrators, but willing to be open to just about anything similar.

This group is not limited to just children's books, but also anything that was illustrated for kids at that time: albums, 45's, commercials, magazine ads, games, toys, etc. If it's retro, and it looks cool, let's see it! (See below for examples.)

If you're a member of The Kid, stop by and tell us who you are. We'd love to meet ya.

You can check out submissions from the top 5 contributors: Eric Sturdevant, Glen Mullaly, Dan Goodsell, Julia Miller, and oh yeah...me.

Some examples from the group:

Paper Arts & Crafts: cutting

Alice & Martin Provensen 1
Image courtesy of Glen Mullaly.

The Big Brass Band Record
Image courtesy of MrMack.

Mary Blair ice cream carton
Image courtesy of rock-paper-scissors.

songs for 4's and 5's
Image courtesy of - julia -.

Dr Seuss Roscoe model kit
Image courtesy of grickily.

Heinlein 2
Image courtesy of Glen Mullaly.

Upp med ridån, cover
Image courtesy of David at Klockarp Foundation.

The Horse That Liked Sandwiches
Image courtesy of Eric Sturdevant.

Image courtesy of Leif Peng.

If you like this sort of thing, there are plenty of other Flickr groups that might interest you. The first one that's of particular interest is Mid-century Illustrated, featuring artwork from the same era, but opened to ALL illustration, not just kid stuff. Leif Peng heads that one up with Julia.

I've actually started up a sister group to The Retro Kid, called The Retro Teen. Other groups I administer:

Vintage Science
Mid-Century Science
Vintage Education
Jim Flora Art

Other groups of interest:

Vintage Children's Books
Vintage Cookbooks
Golden Age of Advertising (1950's - 1970's)
Eye Candy: Children's Books from the 60's and 70's
Vintage Christmas
Mid-Century Illustrated Originals
Typography of the 50's
The Atomic Housewife



Happy Voting Day

Hail to the Chief
Something's in the air today. Can't you feel it?

Hail Columbia
It's not just the brisk autumn atmosphere. Almost like in Mary Poppins, where the changing of the winds signified something new just over the horizon.

In honor of this monumental day, here are a few scans from various music books in my collection. The first two are from Proudly We Sing, illustrated by Robert J. Lee. 1958.

Old Abe Lincoln
These next two are from one of my favorite books, The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs, illustrated by the amazing Aurelius Battaglia. It was published in 1952.

Hail Columbia

Lastly, a wonderfully simple illustration by the brilliant husband/wife team, Alice & Martin Provensen. From Instruments of the Orchestra, 1962.

Go out and vote today, people! I did.