Technology

Technology is wonderful – when it works.

Shortly after my last post a while ago, my email stopped working on my 5 year old iMac desktop, which houses all my photos. After 12 hours on the phone with Apple over several days, the plan was to upgrade the outdated operating system to get email working, buy 2TB of space on iCloud, and upload all my photos and documents to the Cloud.

My Apple technician couldn’t have been nicer or more patient! Apple has upped the ante on its customer service by assigning the same tech person to handle my case from start to finish.

However, this well-conceived plan went awry. 

It took two days to download and install the operating system, 6 days to back up to my external drive, and 10 days to upload my extensive photo collection to the Cloud (at 30-60 GB/day). And the task isn’t completely finished. Fortunately, I have an iPad. (I promise not bore you with the details of my broken HP printer and Nikon camera…)

It’s ridiculous how much time this process took. There must be a better way. Until Apple finds it, I’m rethinking my long term digital storage strategy. For now, I’m good.

Admittedly, I have to share the blame. When Jay lost his emails after an Apple update, my motto became, “When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, that’s an antiquated philosophy. My new motto is: “Upgrade” and “Delete”, both of which I can do more often.

This is a roundabout way of explaining how I took 3 trips this summer without blogging. But then it’s never too late, is it?

We went to Montreal for a lovely 50th anniversary celebration with the family, to Maine for my “You CAN Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!” exhibit and talk, and then Toronto for Jay’s bridge tournament where I got reacquainted with my Toronto family. 

During this time, I discovered I missed blogging.

I’m hoping that when I get my 10th Anniversary iPhone with its mega memory, I’ll experience the joy of the latest technology – and having more flexibility to blog on the road.

Dunkin’ Donuts Instagram

In honor of National Donut Day on June 2, Dunkin’ Donuts featured my paintings on Instagram Story and feed during their weeklong celebration.

For those of you who aren’t on Instagram, click here to see the Instagram Story video:  National Donut Day – Donut Art of Beverly Shipko. (FYI, there’s no sound.)

Opening frame of the Dunkin’ Donut’s Instagram Story. Courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this publicly, but I don’t get tired of watching it.

As you know, the Instagram feed of my Dunkin’ Donuts commission stays up.  How exciting to see 17,163 likes to date! My phone was going crazy with notifications about new Instagram followers over the last few days.

Unfortunately the Instagram Story came down after 24 hours. Although it was expected, it was a letdown.

But Kerry Fitzgerald, Assitant Social Media Director of Dunkin’ Donuts, came to the rescue! She was kind enough to forward this the video of the Instagram Story – without me even asking! The Story got tens of thousands of responses.

Thank you, Kerry and Dunkin’ Donuts, for this wonderful opportunity. Kerry, it has been an absolute pleasure working with you over the last several months.

I’m lucky you found me on the Internet! 

Met Some “Perfect Strangers” in the NYC Subway

After enjoying Chuck Close “Subway Portraits” mosaic installations, I opted for the Second Avenue subway to 72nd Street (instead of the Lexington Line) on my way to the Frick Museum. This time it was Vik Muniz’s “Perfect Strangers” that wowed me with larger-than-life mosaic figures like this.

Detail

Even though it was a quiet day and the subway was empty when I arrived, it didn’t feel that way. I never felt alone with all the “Perfect Strangers” of everyday New Yorkers scattered strategically on the walls. And they were perfect from concept to execution in their breadth of subjects, whimsey, range of emotions, and just plain presence.

So perfect that sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the real people and mosaic figures from a distance. Can you guess which figure is live in this photo? 

Vik Muniz shows us a wide range every day people. The poignant pictures of kids and parents stood out. 

Like the Chuck Close installation, the mosaic details were extraordinary too.

A trail of red balloons was a unifying element that kept popping out in unexpected places. The balloons brought out the silliness in me – as well as the live perfect strangers who were so willing to take my photo (everyone smiled when I asked!)

Apparently I wasn’t alone in my attraction to these balloons. I found this man looking up at one of the entrances, and wondered why – until I looked up and saw the red balloon way up at the top. As I got closer, I was drawn to the variety of colors scattered among yellow glass tiles in his jacket.

Many of the portraits depicted tradespeople in work clothes, everyone from a repairmen, rabbi to a nurses – and Vik Muniz’x son dressed in a tiger costume (Tony the Tiger?).

After I got home and did a google search, I found out this unobtrusive man carrying a green bag of vegetables was Daniel Bolud.

Courtesy of https://ny.eater.com and Daniel Bolud/Facebook

These underground masterpieces recalled  the William Penn “Small Trades” photography series I had just seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I would recommend.  

What made these figures extraordinary is that I could identify with so many of them – especially this man rushing for his train when his briefcase flew out of his hands, spewing papers all over. I felt sorry for him.


I saw myself in the tourists taking photos, and the woman carrying her New York bag (like the one I used when I first moved to NYC).

I could image myself trying to navigate the subway system with luggage.

The bonus was that I always felt well protected by New York’s finest.

Between the Vik Muniz installation at 72nd and the Chuck Close installation at 88th, I saw one of the greatest art shows of the entire weekend in the subway. The two installations complement each other perfectly. I can’t wait to explore the 96th and 73rd Street stops.

As Rebecca Sobel wrote, the best new museum in New York City is underground. Bravo! 

Tips on Displaying Small Paintings

Today I wanted to take a few minutes to share my experience hanging little panel paintings with you.

Problem: Now that I have over 60 small panel paintings, displaying them has become challenging. For several years, my piano did double duty as a display case. But it only holds 20 panels.

Solution: My framer, Joe Sablow at Artistic Services in White Plains, NY, came up with a solution for displaying small panel paintings, similar to display concepts at crafts fairs.

He made large wooden boards that hung on the wall, and glued black fabric down to velcro the panels to the fabric.

Next Problem: As a test, I tried sticking a few panels on and they were so crooked! (And every time I put them down, they kept sticking to my tablecloth!)

Next Solution: In the middle of the night, I came up with the idea of wrapping the boards with black yarn as guidelines for the borders, rows and columns. So I tried it. And it worked.

The End Result: These two panels were the first I put together on Thursday, 2 days before the Open Studio. I was pretty proud of how straight the rows and columns were. Not perfect, but pretty good. You can’t even see the black yarn against the black fabric.

The Details of Process: To my fellow artists out there seeking solutions to their own display problems, my apologies for not taking photos of process (what a mess it was in the dining room for 2 days!). I was so far behind in getting ready for the Open Studio that this post was the furthest thing from my mind.

The morning after I came up with the yarn idea, Jay ran to A.I.Friedman to get supplies, while my friend Eve and I put black velcro on the back of all the small panel paintings. First we had to peel (using pliers!) the old velcro off. I had being used the loop side instead of the hook side!

My advice when using velcro: plan ahead and put the hook side on the panels to  leave yourself the option to hang your panels on fabric.

The yarn placement took a lot of measuring and experimenting to figure out.

In the end, I wrapped 8 pieces of yard, 4 vertical (2 on the borders, 2 between the columns) and 4 horizontal (2 on the borders, 2 between the rows) around the first board – being careful to run the yard under the picture wire in the back.

By Friday night, I finished 5 boards and we had a family bonding experience hanging them.

Since I was still nervous about pounding nails in my newly painted walls, I approached this task gingerly – actually using a tape measure instead of “eyeballing” the placement.

Each family member was in charge of holding a board as we explored spacing on the wall. As you can see, I ended up on the step ladder.

We got pretty lucky the first time. Here we are assessing our handiwork.

In the end, I was thrilled that I only had to punch one extra hole in the wall to adjust the left panel.

In case you think they are going downhill from the above photo, here’s how the wall with 27 panels came out. 

I still had the piano and two other boards like this one for my non-dessert Challenge pieces.

So I’m ready for next year!

If you have any questions about specifics of the process, let me know and I’ll do my best to help.

It Takes a Village

I know I say this every year after my Open Studio, but I could never do this alone. There are always so many moving parts. This year felt more rushed since I repainted my studio and tried a new display system for my small panel paintings.

Here is the family crew, Bonnie, Jay, Laura and I. We sure do clean up well!

From previous years, you probably know our friend Maritza, who is an indispensable part of the team. Somehow she just knows what I need to do before I do! Maritza, I am grateful for your friendship and your ongoing support.

Here Maritza is with Bonnie putting the finishing touch on the dessert table.

And here’s Bonnie’s handiwork. If Bonnie ever wants a second career, I think there’s a place for her in the food world.

And a special thanks to my friend Eve, who spent hours here in the two days leading up to the event helping me velcro, label and arrange 60 panel paintings.

Eve and I were so busy that I didn’t even think of taking photos of her and the process, which would have been interesting for all of you to see. What a mess the dining room was! In fact, I would have liked to see the pics so we could all give ourselves a pat on the back for getting everything together in record time. Next year.

Until then.

A Fun Oreo Cookie Contest!

This year’s Oreo Cookie Contest started off quietly enough, with these three boys carefully plotting their strategies and taking their bites.

The contestants kept on coming, and the bitten Oreo Cookie Contest entries rapidly piled up on our kitchen table.

Then on Sunday these two biters arrived, Jill and Rick. This was Rick’s first visit to my Open Studio, and he was a willing participant. He had talked about coming since last year, so he was ready, as was Jill.

After taking a look around, Rick sat down at the table and started chomping down, holding his plate under his chin to catch the crumbs. (Notice he didn’t have an audience yet…)

He was so disappointed in his first entry, that we encouraged him to try again. He got fancy with this cookie, and basically crushed it… and let all the crumbs fall out of his mouth. Clearly he knew I liked crumbs.

As Rick was assessing his entry, and writing his name on the plate so I would know which bite was his (as if I could forget!), he described his entry as regurgitated crumbs (spoken like a true doctor!).

The regurgitation comment really caught us by surprise. You can see his wife Jill laughing hysterically in the background at that comment.

It was a very funny moment that had us all belly laughing, including Rick.


Bonnie was having a hard time holding it together at the other end of the table.

All of this biting worked up Rick’s appetite for carrot cake, and he suggested I sponsor a second contest…

Rick certainly has a knack for biting Oreo Cookies, which you can see here (maybe carrot cake not so much…). How he got all that icing to hang out is a mystery to me. So to Blake, the 2015 Oreo Cookie Contest Winner, I say, “Watch out!”

I’m definitely not declaring this cookie the winner – especially since I haven’t painted any of the Oreos yet. I am suggesting that it’s interesting, along with entries from many other contestants. It was a good contest and I am inspired to get to work.

However, I will say that Rick won my Funniest Contest Participant Award! And for that, there wasn’t even a close second.

Rick, you should be proud!

2017 Open Studio

Thank you all for coming to my Open Studio!

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a mini photo-blog tour. FYI. I meant to take an action video once people arrived, but I was too busy – and forgot to ask anyone else to do it.

When the big day arrived last Saturday, Bonnie and I were ready and waiting for our first guests, who arriving promptly at 11:00am.

My studio was amazingly clean, with just one table of oil paint tubes and brushes. I even surprised myself!

This display greeted everyone at the front door, totally arranged by Bonnie. Bravo! My big Confection Obsession painting was in the front hall too.

Confection Obsession by Beverly Shipko, Oil, 36 x 48 inches

With the new white walls, it really felt like a gallery.

And can you guess what got the most comments of all?

The broccoli, of course! Over the mantle and on the easel.

This panel of sweets attracted a lot of attention too.

It’s always fun to see who walks through the door. There’s never a dull moment. Here we are with Theresa, who made the first purchase of the weekend.

Liv of Riviera Bakehouse thoughtfully arrived with a box full of her tantalizing mini-cupcakes for our dessert table (yes, we had real edible desserts!). Perhaps there’s a mini-cupcake painting in my future…

Of course, our traditional donut holes were on hand from Dunkin’ Donuts – ostensibly for the kids, but downed by adults. Naturally, Jay dug right in.

We had neighbors.

Friends.

Loyal fans who come back annually. Somehow Samantha magically grew up into a young lady since last year!

After a whirlwind two days – including an artists party on Saturday night – our last visitor arrived on Sunday. Here’s Kathy, from my Kraft General Foods days. How nice it was to finally sit down and catch up!

And how funny it was that Bonnie looks like her daughter in this photo with all the curly hair.

Oh yes, did I forget to mention all the kitchen action with the Oreo Cookie Contest? We’ll get to that in my next post.

I hope you can stand the suspense.

Happy 75th, M&Ms!

Here’s a little painting that I had sketched for the January Challenge. It was just waiting patiently on its easel, crying out for me to finish it before this weekend’s Open Studio.

Happy 75th, M&Ms! by Beverly Shipko, Oil on wood panel, 5 x 7 inches

This painting turned into a commemorative painting marking M&M’s 75th birthday, and the special pack marking this milestone.

It took a few mistakes for me to internalize how much the package changed. At first, I didn’t realized that the logo color has been reversed. The M&Ms logo in the special pack is white instead of the standard brown.


Out of habit, I started painting the logo brown late last night. I was struggling and I didn’t know why. When I finally figured it out, I wiped off the brown. This morning I repaired the damage.

Happy 75th, M&M! makes me smile. I’m not exactly sure why. Do you?