Still Unsettled

I am still floating out there with my fish. Touch of snow still clinging. I thought it would be gone today. When you get older never read too far into the weather forecast on your Iphone. I thought it was going to be in the 50s today….that is tomorrow. So still cold. Still cloudy. Still waiting for hoses to thaw.

And still waiting for inspiration on something to keep me occupied artistically until company comes for the holidays.

I finished the eight small pieces. I tried to not do them all at once, but never mind. I just kept going. All finished, framed and on the wall with the other pieces, all made for an April exhibit.

Here is one.

All in black specimen type frames.

I think I added a touch of something to this one after I photographed it. Funny how something comes to you after you think it is finished.

Anyway, those are on the wall. And then to something else that these prompted. Going back to drawing some of the bits of Nature in the studio.

I found a lovely moleskine type sketchbook that Inga Hunter from Australia gave me a while back. Then I blocked out a section and picked out three things that would fit. My first thought was that I would do watercolors in light layers to build up color. But once I got the new Graph Gear mechanical pencil with a .3 graphite lead, it became all about the drawing, the shading, the building up. It felt good to get out my drawing tools.

The new pencil.

The other tools because .3 is not going to give a whole lot of darks.

A private student had the Graph Gear pencil and this lovely mechanical eraser. I bought them both together on Amazon…my store of choice and necessity anymore. Rummaging through my pencil box is always fun. I like the sound of those graphite sticks bumping into each other. And this Australian pencil box bought at an airport on my way out of the country is wonderful to slide open to find other treasures. I bought this large soft brush somewhere because I just liked the look of it. But it is indispensable in brushing away eraser crumbs instead of using an already graphite-covered edge of my hand. And those gummy erasers that make nasty dark dirty marks simply disappear somewhere in their bellies, never to be seen again. Magic. And a great tension reliever.

So here is how that drawing ended up. I tried to take my time. But less than two hours later what more can I do?

I have three more things that I will arrange and draw next. Killing time. Trying to stay focused. Waiting for someone to visit. Thinking way too much about things that I probably shouldn’t be thinking about.  Sending letters and faxes to selfish, incompetent Congress members who seem totally focused on lining their donors’ pockets as well as their own. When did we get so politically pathetic? November 9th, 2016 is probably the correct answer to that. We just need a November, 2018 to start getting it right again.


I have one more week before company comes. I could easily fill Inga’s book by then. I just ordered more graphite leads for my new pencil. To make the order worthwhile, I tossed in a few colored inks for intaglios. After the holidays I will get back to the press and try to work with color. It seems most of what I like doing has very little color….earth tones at best. And it is not my gloomy mood or the gloomy weather. I just like dull colors and bright people.

Til next week.

White Line Printmaking December Class

This morning I finished teaching seven students how to make white line prints. It was only a total of two and one half days but they accomplished quite a bit. Here is some of it on the show and tell table.

Andy’s work above. And some details from the class.

Amy’s work. I think I have a convert here and we really loved her designs.

Carol’s little carved bird was a sweet image. Jill borrowed the pattern for her own carvings.

Pam’s first landscape. And below her candle cards and trees.

And then snow added to her trees in the woods. Lovely!

Pamela’s holly leaves.

Susan’s poinsettia block and print. She made several of this beauty.

And then her lovely still life.

I tried to get more of my Christmas cards pulled from the block. And now am working on a tiny scene of a pine in the snow with a small present and bow. More of that later. In the meantime I came home from class to find a happy face in the foyer.

Til later.

That Time of Year

Starting now the bucks are staying close to the house and corn. They nudge the little ones out of the way and follow the girls into the bushes. We have one old matriarch who has raised several fawns over the years. She does not hesitate to push back and run these big boys off if they get bothersome. Males can be a bother to some of us older females.

We are finishing up the Thanksgiving weekend with projects around the house. Our son comes down this time of year and helps out. He is making wine glasses out of the tops of the wine bottles that his dad cut to make drinks glasses from the bottoms. He spent several hours making the turned bases from scraps of wood for the bases. Lee and I now have a set he made for us. We will test them out in a couple of hours.

This one was made with a bit of charred wormy chestnut left over from Lee’s large dining room table he made several years ago. Most of our guests enjoyed drinking from these as well as learning how Patrick made them.

Besides the wine selection there is always the Thanksgiving feast of turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry relish, green beans (haricot verts). Followed up with a wonderful pumpkin ginger cheese cake and pumpkin pie with additional wines.

All these Thanksgiving meals look the same. Someone missed the gravy on this one. Lots of filling our plates and stomachs and then groaning about it afterwards. More of the tradition. There is always such good conversations going on. Mostly politics and art. Politics because we have no guests that can possibly ignore the abominable situation our country finds itself in this past year, and art because we all love it. Below is what sits on the chest by the new Christmas tree this year. My sculptures based on Robert Hughes’ book titled, Fatal Shore, about the convict settlement of Australia.

Last year Patrick and I decided that we would do a 19 Crimes themed tree. All I needed to do was save nineteen empty bottles of the wine with the convicts pictured on the labels and presenting corks depicting one of those crimes that got them deported down under. The wine is good and fairly inexpensive. Lately the nineteenth crime was released and I found mine just in time to make the deadline for an opportunity to go to a party in Alcatraz. Not my idea of a night out but I have collected an embarrassingly amount of corks, visited their distributor in Melbourne and feel I need to carry through with whatever is offered by the makers of such good stuff.

Recently they came out with an app for the Iphone that makes the character on the label come to life to give you three short statements about their plight. Their heads turn, eyes blink, mouth moves….all terribly clever. All making sure that you have a complete selection to show your guests how amazing it all is. The company deserves having a themed Christmas tree for all their efforts and added amusements in my life. So here it is. Using the same large beams that we assemble each year and configure to fit our theme.  Remember the Cow Story from two years ago?

Very un-Christmas-like and then last years Oil Can Collection tree?

Well here we are now!

There are all nineteen crimes represented on nineteen bottles that include the warden. Wine red ribbons flow from upturned bottles into wine glasses down below. The grape clusters are made from stained corks grouped together. My friend, Moe, gave me iron rats a few years ago and they scurry in and out of the stashed bottles. The Amazon-ordered grape leaves arrived just in time. We arranged the beams to give us the maximum of “serving” areas. When it gets darker and we open another bottle, I will photograph it with all the remote controlled lights glowing. We love it.

Here are some details.

The two cab savs sit side by side here. The one on the left was the convict whose descendants objected to his being put on the label and his replacement on the right. The quality stayed the same.


And the Hard Chard lady convict who carried the nineteenth crime to me. I particularly like her sad tale.


At the top of the tree perched on a barrel are the first and latest reds.  The newest one (laying down) is called “the uprising” and has been aged for thirty days in rum barrels. His label has scorched edges and seems the only one with a sense of humor.

And more details of spilling wine and cork grape clusters. I will get back to this later….the sun is about to set and I need to find the cork screw.

Okay, it is darker and here are some more with the lighted candles.

Finishing with the warden. This was great fun. Boggles the mind what Patrick and I will do next year to top this one!

Til later….

Alone in the Studio

Sadie is looking for the students we had in the studio last week. All she could find was the local turkey family. It is just a week before the Thanksgiving holiday and the leaves are leaving rather quickly.

I am busy in the studio working on pieces for the exhibit next April when I return from Australia. Here is one of the work tables with all the pieces (actually just about half) needed to make decisions on placement, arrangement and commitment. I am combining papers, prints, cloth and bits of Nature onto boards.

I like lining up lines that relate to the overall “landscape” of the piece.

And I am just showing the detail shots of some of the four finished pieces.

Some like the one above include a wood engraving I did a few years back on a paper purchased in China.

Some are a bit narrative using several cropped wood block relief prints about my yard and fish pond.

Here is one that I thought was finished but decided to add just a bit of an etching done in Australia.

These details are feeding into plans for extra small and more intimate pieces.

While in Japan we would walk very early in the mornings, often in the mist. I carved a wood engraving of the small stacked rice stems in the fields along the road just the other side of small bamboo fences. The “outtakes” of these prints are coming in handy now for the new work.

This afternoon I will take all the built spacers that have to fit in between the glass and the collage and cover them with black paper before the tedious job of fitting them into the frame.  I should just buy black foam core material for this, but hate to waste the scraps of museum board so cut and layer up the thicknesses I need. If I paid for professional framing, the cost would be so much more and I rather like the challenge of doing it.

Last night we went over to a neighbors for a bit of refreshment. This is what greeted us in the front yard.

Isn’t that lit tree sweet? It just sits there in the woods as a reminder that more than Thanksgiving is coming. I am not all that ready for any of it. The year went too fast. And I was reminded last night by another neighbor that I used to be more social with taking turns hosting gatherings of neighbors and their friends. Then, he reminded me, I declared that I no longer wanted to do it, so take me off the list. It did not take very long before it was more strangers than friends that gathered around the table….but even some of the “friends” I realized I did not care to spend an evening with, much less feed them.

Once you become part of a community there are expectations of performance.  And I am simply too much beyond having the willingness to participate. It was a lovely evening with good food and very good company. Lots of catching up with some of the neighbors I do enjoy and we could come home not feeling we had to host the next one. I think there can be rewards for being just a touch ornery. Age with a sense of limited time can do that to a person.

Now I should be thinking about the menu for Thanksgiving….something to feed nine people I very much look forward to feeding and spending time with. I can already hear the conversations of art and politics…..opinions on both are easy to share over good food and wine.

Hopefully some of them will compose a letter for the Trump bowl made by one of the students last week to be mailed to the White House soon.

*And if any of you want to contribute to the bowl, I will send you the address to have your letter added.

And just for fun here is some of the art that showed up at Art Group last Sunday. I am proud to contribute dryer lint to my fellow artist so he can add to the mystique of these pieces. The one in the foreground is a “Fake News Detector.”

We could not get it to work in my house….too much National Public Radio.

Til the holiday next week is over.