Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Travel Bucket list

While I was procrastinating on my Book Illustration homework (That will be posted after the quarter is over for sure), I was thinking about all the places that I wanted to travel when I get the chance and the money. Here are some of these places:
1: Niagara Falls- I live 90 min away and I still haven't been there.
2: Cross-country road trip- This is something that I've really wanted to do. There are so many places in the United States that I want to visit, and are naturally beautiful. I want to go back to Grand Canyon National Park again, but I also want to visit Mt Rushmore, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and that park where all the giant redwoods are. I want to visit the badlands in the Dacotas and Big Sky Country in Montana. I want to see the Rockies in Utah and Colorado. The Sonoran Desert. There are a ton more places out west that are beautiful or interesting to visit.
3: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia- I hear it's really beautiful, so I'd like to go hiking there, and hiking in the Appalachian Mountains.
4: Washington DC- I've been to three other nation's capitals but I've never been to my own. This needs to change.
5: Seattle, WA- Why not?
6: Vancouver, British Columbia- Great Bear Rainforest. I've wanted to go for a long time.
7: Alaska- I don't know where in Alaska, but I want to see it.
8: San Fransisco, CA, Santa Fe, NM.
9: These places I've already visited, but I want to go again: Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach CA, Boston MA, Ogonquit ME (and elsewhere in Maine), Savannah GA. New York City NY.
10: Saratoga Springs NY, my hometown . Screw Rochester. It's too cold here.
Now for the foreign places which are a little more fun:
1: Mach Pichu, Peru- When I was a child I had this computer game where you could travel to different countries and learn a little paragraph about them. Machu Pichu has always been top of my list.
2: Morocco- I went for a week last year and it was amazing. There were places there that I didn't get to see, and I want to sleep in the Sahara again!
3: Thailand- It looks really interesting. I don't even know what to say.
4: Great Wall of China- Again when I was young, I wanted to do the People to People student Ambassadors program. There was a trip to China that I really really wanted to go on, but that never happened and I still want to go.
5: Venice, Italy- I lived in Italy for almost a year and I didn't go. I kind of have to if I'm going to be living there. I want to go in the fall though so there are fewer tourists.
6: Scotland- I really want to go hiking there.
7: Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland- Because it's awesome.
8: Dublin, Ireland- To return to the land of my ancestors I guess. Also it sounds like a fun city.
9: Rzeszów, Kracow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Poland and the Carpathian mountains- My Mother's family is originally from Rzeszòw, Poland and I've wanted to visit.
10: Oaxaca, Monte Albàn, Mexico- Mayan Temples!
Well... there's plenty more places that I want to go. Hopefully I'll be able to get there :)

Was Darwin Wrong?



Above is the link for and abstract of the article and another for the full text article. I was really happy to see this because I'm a lady most interested in facts, in history and in science (As well as art, but I tend to be more interested in the technical, graphic, or representational aspects of art. Which is why I'm an illustration student and not a fine artist.)
My personal opinion is that the knowledge that we have gained from questioning beliefs like the traditional creation story taught in the Bible has helped us to better understand our world and how it works. There's really no mysticism about it, just more stuff that we don't know now, but may eventually find out. Rejecting this knowledge is putting us as human beings back to a time where we didn't understand our world or didn't care to. Knowledge is power, and we have the power now to find out more about ourselves as a species and about the Earth and our universe on a broader scale. Why do we hide from that instead of embracing the beautifully crafted beings that we are living in this beautifully crafted Universe? Crafted by a god or by forces of nature, that I can not say and will not comment on.
Of course Darwin was wrong about some things (one of which being that men are genetically superior to women, which as a woman aware of her own intelligence I find that alarming), but his best idea as it happens is one where there is overwhelming evidence to vouch for it's correctness.
Please read if you have the time, I thought it was really interesting.

Paint is thicker than water....

I'm starting a more professional blog, so I'm moving some of my posts from that blog here, so that my other blog is only about my artwork rather than including any personal posts. Here's one about my grandma :)

I was thinking about it, and I think that I'm going to make an Etsy shop soon. Not just for myself and for marketing my own art, but to market my mother's art and my grandmother's art. Also to help them sell antiques and other craft supplies that have been clogging my mother's home and also my grandmother's.
You see, we are all painters. Three generations of us and I'm the first one of us to get a BFA (or so I hope, we'll see if I make it through this last quarter). My grandmother has been painting for about 30 years now about ten years before I was born. In addition to being an awesome painter (medium: oil on canvas, which she on a number of occasions has submitted to art shows), she is a mom of three, grandmother to six and rescently, great-grandma to one! A school nurse, my oftentimes babysitter, constant reader, awesome cook.... Constantly busy, and I love to call her and talk to her when I get the chance (once or twice even from Italy). My grandma rocks. She was one of the people (my mom also) that taught me to not only read (I started at age 4) but to love books with a passion hotter than 451 degrees.
When I was 9, she helped me paint pears on a slate. That was our thing that all the girls in the family did with grandma when they turned 9. She also painted bird houses with my little brother and I at this time. I still have them!
Oh yea, I forgot to mention that in addition to big oil paintings my grandma paints in a folk art style on boxes, slates, birdhouses and other stuff, sews, makes hooked rugs, quilts, dolls, little mouse Christmas ornaments.....
I can't talk enough about how awesome my grandma is.
My mom is also awesome. She also was in the school system, though as a elementary school teacher. Taught my brother and I to read, to love art, to love everything really and to try my hardest and to try to achieve my greatest potential.
She also paints and takes photographs, though the tech aspect is hard :P She also has submitted paintings to art shows, the most resent to help support restoration of Saratoga monuments (I don't remember which, I think it was the Spirit of Life fountain in Congress Park). In addition to supporting two kids in college (of course with the help of our dad :P) she also is going back to school for an associates degree in Interior Design. She began this endeavour while still working full time, and continued after retirement. I am so excited and proud of her.
I'm going to post some photos of where we work, examples of some of our work because though we are all painters, our styles are wildly different, of course, because we are all wildly different people. My art is more graphic and I use digital media much much more than my mother, and infinitely more than my grandma who I'm pretty sure missed the tutorial on how to turn one on. My mother loves watercolours and is experimental with her style and media. It's very soft, gentle in the palette and  mark-making though, and you can tell what kind of person she is by looking at it. My grandmother is very traditional, though you can also tell that she has thoroughly developed her style. This is not at all surprising since she has been painting for at least 30 years.
I love them, I miss them and I have the best wishes for their personal projects.
Hopefully more art soon, probably in the Archaeological Illustration realm, and probably more watercolours and stuff. I have probably 18 projects from my sketchbook class and 6 images from my book illustration class. So..... lots of work this term!
Now, back to actual painting instead of just talking about it :P

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tribute to International Women's Day

  SO. This blog is not a political blog. It is an art and travel blog for the purposes of recording my study abroad experience, for posting my work and work in progress so I have a timeline of my progress, and for contact with my family.
   Even though I've been in Europe since September, I've been following the news in the States, and what I'm hearing is appalling. I don't know if it's because I've been reading biased news sources (I try to find unbiased news, but often I read articles off friend's facebook pages. Usually I read Huffington Post and articles published by the Associated Press, but I also take a look at BBC and Al Jazeera), but I'm appalled that we are battling for women's rights in 2012 and for our right to assembly.

  A point that caught my attention in particular is the debate about whether insurance companies should provide the option for contraceptive coverage (specifically birth control) for employees of Christian institutions, for example Catholic schools or hospitals. The argument that I hear against this issue, is that tax payers don't want to pay for something that is against their beliefs (the use of contraceptives). The solution to that is: no one is paying for their contraceptives, only the employees that choose to take them, and the insurance companies. The way insurance works is that the employee pays into insurance, and then they receive coverage based on the policies of that company. The tax payers have nothing to do with it. Another important point is that birth control is not only a medication used to prevent pregnancy, it is used to regulate some women's hormonal problems so that they can have a healthy body. In this way, prevention of pregnancy is a side affect.
   Birth control is used for relieving menstrual pain (some women I know will throw up or pass out from the pain, bad cramps feel like you have been physically beaten around the lower back and abdomen), lighter menstrual periods (which reduces the risk of anemia from excessive bleeding), and treatment of premenstrual dysphoric disorder to name a few. From my own experience, PMS is a serious problem, and I swear that my grades, relationships, and mental health during my high school and early college years suffered from PMS. Birth control in some women, alleviates this. Birth control comes in many different forms and options, of which the pill form is most common. These pills come in one month pill packs where the woman takes one pill a day for the month, and without insurance, can cost up to 75 dollars a month. I know because I asked at a pharmacy. Through my university (Rochester Institute of Technology), birth control costs 15 dollars a month. Both these figures are excluding the physical examination that you need in order for a doctor to prescribe you this medication, which costs more money. In Italy, the same prescription is available over the counter with out a prescription and with no questions asked. I know this because in my Italian Lit class, we happen to have just finished reading short book regarding women's rights by Dacia Maraini.
   Long story short, taking birth control is an individuals choice. This choice does not affect anyone but the woman who makes this choice. So why is it anyone's business if a woman takes birth control? Providing birth control in an insurance policy does not mean that every woman insured is going to take advantage of this option. It means that a woman can gain access to birth control if she gets a prescription from a doctor that agrees that it is good for her health. Another point is that not providing contraceptive coverage does not prevent a woman from buying it out of pocket. It's expensive, it's a pain to go without insurance, but it can and often is done. If these institutions don't like their employees to use contraceptives, then they should stop paying them their wages entirely. How absurd is that?
  Also. Viagra is covered by many insurance companies. This medication provides relief to many other symptoms besides erectile dysfunction, but there has never been such a heated debate about providing insurance coverage for a drug that directly facilitates someones personal life. Why is this? Could it be that mostly men are making these decisions?
  Anyway, many of the employees of these institutions are not Christian, or agree with the belief that it is wrong to use contraceptives, so shouldn't they have the same coverage? Coverage that may help them deal with hormonal issues, or to simply prevent pregnancy before they are ready?
  I think that the answer is an obvious one. I think that contraceptive coverage should be provided to employees of all institutions, on the grounds that hormonal contraceptives are a legitimate medication in treating numerous heath problems that affect women. It should be provided, and the woman and her doctor are left to decide if the choice is right for her.
  Another issue that has been in the news lately is the cuts made to Planned Parenthood. The idea is that taxpayers don't want to pay for something that is against their beliefs. This time, abortion in addition to contraception. Presently, no public money is used to facilitate abortions through Planned Parenthood. I agree that people shouldn't have to pay for things that they don't agree with or don't believe in. I neither believe in or support the United States involvement in the Middle East and other parts of the world, yet as a tax payer, I have to pay for that. My parents also had to pay school taxes even though my brother and I attended 7 years of Catholic elementary school. Wouldn't it be more effective for us to use that money to help disadvantaged women get breast exams and rape crisis services? I'd be more than happy to help teen girls have access to the morning after pill, for free, at Planned Parenthood. I'd be more than happy to help schools provide adequate sex education for high school students. Knowledge is power, in this case, power to make choices regarding ones own body.
  Sex education is schools has been one of my pet issues. I think that if parents can't stop their own children from having sex, no one can, and if teens and young adults are going to be doing it anyway, they should know how to be safe.
   An example is: USE A CONDOM. They are about a dollar a piece, and they come with paper directions in the box. How easy is that? Not only is it very effective in preventing pregnancy if it is used properly, it is also very effectively prevents STD's. So what is the problem with teaching sex education to students, and not just settling for abstinence only sex education, which statistically isn't as effective? Hence, why we have the abortion problem in the first place.
   I can't say enough on this issue. Teens have the ability to choose for themselves if they want to have sex, and many do. What they do not have the ability to do, is to choose what is taught in their schools, or what the policy is regarding curriculum. Therefore, it is up to US to give them the power to make informed decisions.
   I don't know the answers to these questions, I just have my own beliefs. But I think that a lot of people have the same ideas or beliefs, and I think that they are valid. I think that these beliefs should be heard, which brings me to our First Amendment right to assembly.
    I don't advocate for trespassing, or damaging property in the act of taking advantage of the right to assembly, but peacefully protesting in a public space is a right. As seen in Richmond,VA recently, and during the Occupy protests, United States citizens have been arrested for peaceful, legal, protests on public grounds. Two examples are the protests in Madison WI and Richmond VA. In both peaceful protests, riot police were called in to disperse the crowd which HAD EVERY RIGHT TO BE THERE. The protest in Madison, was about workers rights, and the one in Richmond was about the issue of contraceptive coverage. This is a blatant attack on our first amendment rights, and I'm not going to go into how many different levels of wrong this is. My question is: who's making money off of this? Everyday US citizens aren't, they're the ones paying the police their overtime in taxes. They're the ones sacrificing money for education, for example, to pay for this.
  These have been some of my thoughts lately. I need to do some more research, but to me, it really looks like the rights and needs of everyday citizens are being neglected for a few powerful people to make a buck.

  Tomorrow is International Women's Day, so please, think about these issues from different perspectives, and try to make well informed opinions :)

   On a very different note, more work in progress to come! Ciao!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


     I have been severely neglecting this blog and it looks like I've fallen off the face of the earth. But fear not, I'm not dead yet, and I've been super busy. So. Here are some things that I've been up to:

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   My boyfriend and I went on a trip to London for a weekend in December and we went to the science museum and the British museum! This was at the science museum, taken for his sister, who loves dinosaurs :)
    After my term ended, I spent Christmas in Naples with the bf and his family. It was a nice change from the traditional Polish Christmas meal that my family makes, but I missed them a lot. The families got to meet for the first time via skype!
    Then it was off to....

My computer is being finicky presently, so these are sideways. Sorry.
    Paris! My family flew in in early January, and we spent 5 days out of the 2 weeks that they were here in Paris.

Our hotel was right down the street from the Moulin Rouge! And the porno district!

Flew into Pisa.

   We spent the rest of the time in Italy.

Then a train to Florence.
I took my parents to Naples also, but I really didn't take any photos with my camera because it's almost broken. After they left, I went back up north, and visited Siena for the first time. It was really cute. I also saw the preserved head of Saint Catherine and that was very cool.

So. That was very brief, and there was a lot more that has been going on with finals, then bf's family visiting, then my family visiting, then moving back to Florence, then beginning classes again. I've been traveling only to Naples or in the general area of Florence due to budgeting issues (my bank account came down with poor college student syndrome indefinitely), but I've been visiting a lot of interesting places in Naples, like Sulfatara (a volcanic crater that spews sulfur fumes) and I visited an island in the bay of Naples area, Ischia. They are both very beautiful places, and hopefully there will be some photos coming for my diligent readers (jk I don't have those :p ).

Also, here's some of the stuff that I've been working on:

Work in progress for Florence Sketchbook

Sideways pic of a print I developed for my Classic Photography class.

Another sideways print, because my computer is finicky or I'm being lazy.

And.... My desk.
Well... That's the update. There definitely will be more work soon, but side projects are going a bit slow as I took on another class this term and I have a TON of reading. In Italian. So it's kind of eating my time. It's worth it because it's helping learning the language a lot, but there's nothing like speaking and practicing. Ciao!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Re-Touched Watercolors

I've re-touched two of my earlier watercolor paintings for the final today. I still have some things to revise, but at least it's almost over :)

Turkey vulture. Watercolor, gouaches, watercolor pencil.

Elk. Watercolor, gouaches, colored pencil, ink.

Jumping fox. Watercolor, gouaches, watercolor pencil.

The pics are also better quality. I think these turned out ok, though I still have a lot of work to do in order to become proficient with watercolor and gouaches.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Final Digital Illustration

Here's my final for Digital Graphic Illustration. There's stuff that I wanna fix, but the computer keeps spazzing out :/ Anyway:

Rose garden, Piazzale Michelangelo
I love the rose garden right below Piazzale Michelangelo. It's probably one of my favorite places in Florence. I hope I can get up there more often next semester!