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“they really need to upgrade their font.” (merely-a-thought monday]

font

it runs in the family.  we are font-picky.   truth, we are font-obsessive.

when My Girl was younger and we would make a trip to the library, she would scan along the shelves.  with scorn she would scoff at titles – not because of the title, but because of the font used on the spine.  “it can’t be any good if they didn’t pay any attention to the font they used,” she’d dismissively roll her eyes.

i am known to go on and on about fonts.  d can tell you.  i am consistently surprised at how little regard is given to the chosen font in the delivery of a message – a title – a branding.  i am often heard saying, “what were they thinking?”  and when d can’t relate i text or show 20; i know he will join me in my rant.

we were recently walking in downtown chicago through the neighborhoods heading north with My Boy.  we passed by a barnes & noble.  glancing over, he derisively declared, “they really need to upgrade their font.”  i started laughing when i saw d’s face; i know he was thinking i’m surrounded by them, these font-fussy folks.  i couldn’t be prouder.

you have to admit though.  you have, at least a time or two, noticed a font and either thought, “wow! i love the way that looks!” or “yuck.  that doesn’t fit at all.”  you have been on a website where the front page boasts six or seven different fonts, all different colors, no continuity, no crispness.  yuck.  it’s a mishmash for your eyes and makes you quickly lose interest, likely the opposite of what the site was trying to encourage.

take the title in the image above.  a gift, it is literally the title of a book on one of my shelves.  offering no opinion on the book itself, i just want to say that based on the font for the title merry thoughts i never would have purchased it.  i mean, look at it!  does that look merry to you??  it looks more like a halloween font than any kind of merry font. is it sarcastic font?  is it tongue-in-cheek font?  hardly.  that font would have stopped me.  boom!  no purchase.   what were they thinking?

serifs. sans serif.  the kerning, the capitalization or lack thereof.  the use of punctuation. the color of the font.  overuse of italics.  bold style vs regular.  the amount of clean space.  etc. etc. etc.  all of it.  it all counts.

i love design.  inspired from years and years of watching and listening and learning and probably asking too many questions, sitting over the shoulders of 20 and justine as they worked on album covers and posters and such, i now love working on designing recognition around font or a certain ‘look’, fresh ideas for brands or organizations that seem dated or tired or just boring.  there is no shortage.  look around.  so many graphics.  so little attention to detail.  what are they thinking?

we are never bored driving across town, across the state, across the country.  there i am, in our giant-sign-laden-land, gesturing and ranting, pointing out the billboards with design-police diatribes.  “they really need to upgrade their font!” i announce.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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our daisy. [d.r. thursday]

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if there is an icon image for us, this would be it. the full image of david’s daisy painting includes language:  you said, “i’ll be the one.” yes. you are. 

i was the one holding the daisy.  way back when now, in baggage claim, thinking he would have no idea who i was, i texted him i would be the one holding the daisy.   we hadn’t ever met yet, but our backandforthandbackandforth email letters had been going on for about six months and it was time to see the face of the other half of the backandforth.

i was nervous in the airport waiting.  i got there early, which, in and of itself, is a feat because i am not a way-too-early-to-the-airport person.  i visited the mirror in the ladies room a number of times, checking my outfit, my hair, making sure i had no food in my teeth (linda can tell you bill t. had made me paranoid about this).  the evening before, i agonized over what to wear.  a nice outfit?  a dress?  leggings and a tunic?  i ended up with my favorite old jeans, my boots and a big oversized black chenille sweater.  i needed to feel like me.

the girl in the airport restroom was waiting for her fiance to return from the service; their wedding was merely two months away.  she asked me who i was there to meet and i told her the (short) version of the story.  she laughed and said, “ah.  it’s obvious.  you two will find out you are soulmates, ” which made me laugh.  clearly that was silly.

i only knew his face from a tiny photo on a website.  i had seen photographs of his coffee cup in various settings and his paintings (which i loved), but not his face.  the identifying daisy in baggage claim – in my belief – was necessary.

that daisy was quivering when this guy with jeans, boots and a black shirt and outer jacket was walking toward me and i realized the girl in the bathroom might be right.  a kind face and easy stride, he walked up to me and, laughing, we hugged.  we skipped out of the airport, the daisy cheering us on.

the rest is history, as they say.  there have been uphills and downhills; the roller coaster for two artists living together would challenge any six flags amusement ride.  life beginning together as two grown-up adults is navigable but requires much negotiation.  two people with different pasts – one of us with children, one of us without – is full of lessons and storytelling and learning curves.  the smack-dab in the middle of middle age brings its own neuroticisms; the late 50s is not necessarily a time that you feel at the very apex of feeling good in your body.  we pay attention to health and diet and know our time together is not the decades and decades of our parents’ times together.  we try to maximize moments.  and we sometimes struggle with the feeling of starting over.  not the resilient twenties or thirties of our first marriages, yet starting again with much of the same arduous uphill climb.

so in the roadtrip of this life together were i to assign an icon it would be this daisy.  because this daisy in the painting on our wall reminds us:  i’ll be the one. yes. you are.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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daisy ©️ 2012 david robinson


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kneel. [d.r. thursday]

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of all his watercolors, i remember this one.  maybe it’s universe-timing but the image of a person kneeling silently in reflection, in prayer, fading into the blue of eternal sky and the hinted suggestion of sun seems particularly synchronistic.  the fluidity of line, the brushstroke revealing the image of humanity – in a transitory time here as part of the whole.  a blurry-edged fleeting existence in all of time’s galaxy.

but the destruction, the disregard, the disrespect.  people who disassociate with the truth of here and now, gone tomorrow.  intent on pillaging the universe’s glee that each of us is here, each of us is exquisite, each of us can positively impact another.  this place is a place of profound beauty, the sky and the sun sure day to day.

perhaps the lure of this painting is the inkblot-exercise.  depending on what you focus on, the figure will be there, the figure will disappear.

perhaps the point is the earnest time on our knees, whether or not literal.  the questions we ask, the things for which we give thanks, the time to focus, the imploring to help us notice it all.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2000 david robinson

 


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“make hundreds.” [merely-a-thought monday]

make hundreds

when he said, “make hundreds”, he wasn’t referring to blogposts.  my sweet poppo was for-sure-analog and didn’t really even know what a blog was.  he was sending me off to school or work, calling after me to “make hundreds”, a tad bit of pressure for an A+ seeking student but taken with a bit of a grain of salt because my poppo said it with great love.  today starts the one-hundredth week of our blogposts in the melange and daddy-o would be impressed.  it’s one hundred weeks, after all.

clearly, in just a few short weeks it will be two full years.  two years that we have sat next to each other and written a post that was inspired by the same image, the same quote, the same painting or piece of music.  it has been a profound experience.  we have written on the raft with dogdog and babycat curled up next to us, on the beach, in the high mountains, in hotels and airbnbs, in coffeehouses, in relatives’ homes, in the noise of a city, in the quiet on island.  whether or not others are reading my words, i look forward to every single day of writing and am stunned to think that i probably have more in the way of written word now than songs.  is that possible?  (even at a mere 500 words a post it is somewhere around 250,000 words, about 3-4 novels worth.)  it is the best stuff of sitting up in the maple tree outside my growing-up-house on long island for hours on end, writing, writing, writing.

we sit at the starting gate with our inspiration of the day and then, without looking at what the other is writing, we expound on what we see or feel or think.  it’s ‘he said, she said.’  we’ve often thought about, and might just follow through, capturing them into a journal where the same image or quote could stimulate a third person’s writing.  a ‘he said, she said, you said’ book. having a prompt is the juicy stuff that makes it absolute fun.

my posts are often stories, emotional – perhaps poetic – glimpses into our life. david’s are more esoteric, more complex.  a friend of ours said she can tell the difference without even looking.  goodness!  i’m sure that is true.  when we share our writing with each other, reading aloud, i often wonder about the value of what i’ve said.  like recording an album, these are words ‘put out there’ for all to see and you and i both know that judgement is alive and well.  but i always bravely try to remember what our point is.

we wanted a place to put a variety-pack of endeavors, a place that our conglomerate artistries could live under some kind of umbrella.  that umbrella became our‘studio melange’ and we found we could offer our individual work (paintings and music) in addition to our cartoons (earlier on, the melange included chicken marsala and flawed cartoon) as well as the quotes we jotted down each week and the images i recorded on camera that we found pertinent or thought-provoking.  about a year along the line we changed the melange and added ‘merely-a-thought monday’ and ‘not-so-flawed wednesday’ in lieu of our cartoons.

if you pare our melange down you will find one overwhelming similarity.  hundreds upon hundreds of moments.  moments captured, moments written down, moments to remember, moments we’d sometimes rather forget, moments of confusion, moments of regret, moments of incredulousness, moments of fear, moments of scary honesty, moments of challenge, moments of pushing back, moments of questioning, moments of indescribable joy and moments of deep sorrow.  all of them moments of life, a reminder to grasp onto them and hold on dearly.  for that is what we have.  the ability to make moments.  the ability to make moments count.

make hundreds.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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guide star. [d.r. thursday]

hotel art

last night we watched cnn’s broadcast movie about linda ronstadt “the sound of my voice”.  a star in every facet.  as we watched , we revisited times of our lives – times when the music we listened to was simpler, less engineered, less auto-tuned, less machinated, less acrobatic.  it was music of melody and harmony, stylistically less thickened by tracks of extraneous stuff.  it was indeed purer.  linda ronstadt, now in her 80s and dealing with the effects of parkinson’s, particularly on her voice, was a powerhouse raised in music, surrounded by music and who, with generosity, graced us all with her music for decades.  her voice goes on.

we are attracted to simpler.  simpler melodies minus the gymnastic riffs and with simpler production, simpler paintings with great depth or color or message.  we are analog; there’s no doubt about it.  and as we watched a john denver christmas in aspen the other day i found myself yearning for that simplicity, john denver’s voice – both his writing voice and singing voice – effortlessly clear.

the common thread of less is more.  it had impact on us, on our art forms.

when d was messing around in the studio recently he painted these very simple elements that often appear in his paintings:  a star, a flower, petals. it’s not natural for him to paint without a figure.  i imagine he was experimenting, paring down.  i would liken that to me recording a song on the ukulele.  it’s not natural for me to record without a piano.  but experimenting is good and paring down is an exercise.  especially in times of mostly-quiet easels and mostly-empty lyric sheets.

linda ronstadt’s story is one of unparalleled success and a great number of layers of experiment, a constant delve into another style of music, always paring it down to dedication to her absolute love of singing.

in the midst of all the layers, all the experimentation, all the paring down, all the silent canvases and hushed keys, we find our guide stars.  and we go on.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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©️ 2019 david robinson, kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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may you be. [d.r. thursday]

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the things i know to be important.  the things on my list to strive for.  each day a new day to try.

may you be peace.  may you be kindness.  may you be an expression of gratitude.  may you be fair.  may you be a good listener.  may you be curious.  may you be inclusive.  may you be communal.  may you be always learning.  may you be always giving.  may you be dedicated to truth.  may you be forgiving.  may you forgive yourself.  may you be affectionate.  may you be generous.  may you be loyal.  may you be present in the moment you are living.  may you be questioning of darkness.  may you be protective of others less fortunate.  may you stand up to inequality, inequity, violence of any sort.  may you be complimentary.  may you see the simplest of things.  may you push back against ignorance and the desire to not see.  may you choose health.  may you resist wastefulness.  may you trust your intuition.  may you be calm.  may you embrace entertaining thoughts different than your own.  may you be able to discern the difference between aggressive and forward-moving.   may you say thank you.  may you abstain from comparison and competition.  may you be honestly empathetic.  may you stand in your shoes and give wide berth to vanity.  may you be resilient.  may you avoid yelling at others.  may you try not to ignore others.  may you be understanding.  may you softly care for living creatures.  may you be suspicious of agenda and may you speak into it.  may you be clean and tidy in your space in the world.  may you breathe easily.  may you help those who need help.  may you lift others up.  may you teach good things to little ones.  may you be with voice.  may you be filled with spirit.  may you be excited.  may you leave things better than you found them.  may you be creative.  may you worry about the earth and those who follow you on it.  may you be responsible.  may you be progressive.  may you be a bright light.  may you love.  may you be gentle.  may you be a good human.

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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MAY YOU BE/MAY YOU BE PEACE ©️ 2015 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 


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merry! [two artists tuesday]

jingle johns

the upnorthgang gathered around the table.  the glasses were lined up.  multiples of alike wine glasses, aldi winking owl wine at the ready.  we had a keyboard for tuning, sharpies in hand and were seriously dedicated to playing christmas songs on wine-filled glassware.  jay had seen tuned wine glasses in a catalog, but at $245 a set, we thrifty upnorthgangers knew we could do better. plus, we all could play instruments – guitar, piano, clarinet, trumpet, cello, pipe organ, handbells, ukulele, violin…  i mean, we are a talented group of people! hours later, we had composed a new christmas song, which shall remain un-named in this post, and had realized that our songlist would definitely remain short, for indeed we needed at least another octave of wine glasses and, having sipped the excess out of the glasses while tuning, we were out of wine.  next up on the musical challenge list?  charlie’s pickle jars!

so passing the jingle johns at lincoln park zoo it doesn’t seem so out-of-the-ordinary to hear music emanating from the, er, portapotties.  The Boy groaned and begged me to not take a picture, but the wineglassperformingartist in me couldn’t resist.

why not take every opportunity to play some music, i say.

christmas eve.  a good reason to sing your heart out.  merry!

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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