Something With Pictures

I saw one of these on someone else’s blog. They are made from Lake Michigan rocks and encased in vellum. How could I not want to buy the last two available from Shanna Leino. She is an extraordinary book artist and tool maker. Now my responsibility is to keep them clean. Do not sit them onto painted, smeary, muddy, gluey surfaces. They are between 3.5 and 4.5 inches and quite heavy. Perfect for holding things in place….clean things.

This week in the studio I painted 192 small 2″ x 4″ sheets of kozo paper with 153 watercolors made from the soils of Australia.

When they were dry I sealed the color in on both sides. Sorting them according to colors so that they move through the country by color was a bit of a challenge. I am fairly satisfied now.

Even the very pale sheets have some color clinging to their edges. Here you can see that they go from the greys to creams to light terre vertes to pale yellows and then on to more intense colors. Deeper yellow ochres through the browns to reds and finishing with a nice caput mortuum…deep brownish red….old blood.

My intention with these is to stitch on each sheet before it is folded into a folio and then coptic stitched to the next one in line. I want the long book to flow like the endless landscape of Australia. I want to roll it back and forth between my hands. At least that is the plan.

The thread will be something I bought over there. A cream or beige or Eucalyptus leaf green. Not sure about that yet. Maybe all three?

I have been dipping into these watercolors for several projects.

This one now housed in the South Australia Museum.

This one now in Australia’s National Library.

The Lake Mungo book housed in Queensland State Library.

There were many, many hand pulled prints colored with these same watercolors.

Another thing I did this week was take all of my pop up book collection to Western Carolina University where I received my BFA in 1997. There were over ninety titles. So many were gifts and so many more I just found irresistible. Many came from museum gift shops and were extremely complex in their movements.  They were very happy to receive this collection and told me that the artist book collection I gave them late last year is now housed in their museum. I like that students can have access to these books. Much better than having them in boxes here.

Here is the only pop up book I kept, the one I made myself….Art History Pops Up.

This one was so much fun to make. Ten iconic art images throughout history. We do not have access to the shiny slick papers that make pop ups work so well. It is tedious and very wearing on the movable parts to make one. At least that was my experience so far. I have been asked to work on another with someone knowledgeable on the history of the book. I hope I can live up to his expectations. More on that project later in the year.

Meanwhile that is it for now. But one more thing, the novella, Kind Gestures, is now on my website, offered in spaced out chapters.

Til next week.

The Reason for Writing “Kind Gestures”

I don’t have any pictures for this blog entry. If I did one would be the entrance to a diner, a diner in a small southern town. There would be blue chipped paint on the door and a sign hanging inside the window that said, “Open”. Then there would be a picture of the town taken from the top of hill looking down Main Street. And if you had a magnifying glass, you could make out the diner, Marty’s. You might also make out Veronica’s Boutique, a framing shop, the library, the corner gas station and the town park and cemetary. All the places that came to life as I attempted to tell a story whose action only takes place in one day.

I wrote almost all of this story about three years ago.

A friend pointed out, correctly, that I seemed a bit uncomfortable when in the company of a group of women. She was right. Groups of men are easier for me. There is something so familiar about them from my childhood. A comfort that drove me to write and do artwork about much later in graduate school.

She was not only right, but I was being unfair by staying away from women in groups. One on one I was fine. I thought of women as being more honest when singled out. In groups their personal stories changed to fit some desire to be “one of the girls.” Or so I thought.

I really needed to pay better attention. I needed to not be so sure that, “Being in a hardware store with the low rumble of men’s voices was so much better than being in a beauty parlor with the chattering of more than one woman.”

So I took my yellow dog pad of paper to a private place here on our property. I wrote down seven women’s names. Next to the names I wrote an age.

And one at a time I listened to what they had to say. I gave them one fictional day only for me to care about them. And even the ones that took on a less than favorable light, I gave second chances. I listened to each one and made a place for them in my story.

When I finished writing what was later to be titled, Kind Gestures, I realized that some of the women did not even like my company, let alone the company of others in the book. And I wonder what it was about them that made me put them in the background and on the periphery of what was happening that day in August.

I actually miss them. I miss listening to them. They are so much more than I shared in this short novella.

Louise Penny who wrote the captivating stories about Three Pines, a small imagined town in Canada, said in one of later ones that while living with her husband’s dementia, Three Pines was a place she could go to. I think she went there because as a writer, there is a control that might just not be in our daily lives and we need to feel that something can happen by just our saying so.

Oliver, North Carolina might  be my very own Three Pines. I have wanted to go back there and see more of these women and the lives they live.

When I wrote the story I thought like most writers that I might try to get it published. First by some famous publishing house, then maybe even self-publishing. But I have lost interest in doing that. It takes time and one hell of a lot of self-promotion that is not anything I have time or interest in.

But I did feel that unless I let these women’s stories out, I could not go back to see how they are. My time with them in that one day might be all there was.

So here they all are in the story titled, Kind Gestures. By putting the story on my website, I can do just what they and I wanted….a place for them to be seen and heard.

It is just a story. The kind of story that if you had a series of Saturdays in a bar and a comfortable stool and just one person to listen, it would be enough. Saturdays and bar stools are far and few between for me at my age, so this will have to do.

Next blog comes with pictures!

I Am Back With More Randomness and Clarifications

But first! I was just notified that one of my entries to the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize was accepted. This is very exciting because there were four jurors involved in making selections. I have not had work accepted since 2011 in this extraordinary exhibition and the theme of integrating natural sciences with art fits so much of the work I do using pigments of Australia for commentary.

But otherwise, back to the original blog that I had a hold on until I talked with my web adviser.

The girls are back doing the weeding, putting down mulch, placing pine straw, resetting loose stepping stones, etc. I dug out my snake who sunk rather low this winter and put him in a new spot. Just looking at the yard work makes me tired so it is wonderful to have some enthusiastic help.

Now if I could just find someone to do the inside things like replace faucet washers, patch water damaged ceilings, tighten things down, etc, that would be really nice. It is the maintenance that is beyond us here, but “here” is what we know and it seems that here is where we will be.

I took this picture and the next one just sitting and watching the morning sun come through the window and fall on my New Zealand flax baskets. Each year when I went to Australia I would weave one of these. This last trip I did not. No NZ flax and even less time. So this wall full of them is likely to be all there will be.


Barbara Rowe, an Australian basket maker, inspired me to make these baskets. Hers were simple perfection in structure, technique and shapes. She would place them in her house, then apartment where the light created shadows and the slightest air movement shifted their positions and made them seem alive. I saw her this last visit and she has not changed one bit. Over eighty years of age, still weaving and still an inspiration.

Speaking of perfection, I visited Kerr Grabowski’s class this week at the Folk School. She and her students came over to see my studio. A very talented bunch doing what I think they call “de-constructed silk screen”. I could not resist buying this very long and beautifully patterned scarf from Kerr.

I liked this end detail of her cat supposedly dreaming of a fish.

Kerr’s work is so distinct and if you ever get a chance to take her workshop or buy her work, just do it. The next time she is in town we are hoping to work together here in my studio if at all possible. I like sharing space with others that are so passionately involved in their work. It creates a good atmosphere in the room where we both can just get on with it in our own spaces and then break for sustenance later in the day.

I was going to tell you about changes in the website.

Soon you will see a “https” in front of the That means that the website is safe. Without having this done, and paying the extra cost, there could be warnings saying something to the effect of “website not safe”. This would be a total off-putting message to see. So to understand more about that little change go to:

And next, very soon, due to new regulations and warnings, there will be a notification at the bottom of my website that there will be “cookies”. These are not as invasive as we used to think. Everyone who has a website will have to have this information posted in the next two to three months. To learn more about just what that means please go to this sight and read.

These are new compliances that are necessary if you have a website followed internationally. For me personally, I do not mind the “cookies”. They help me get to what I am looking for much quicker when using the internet.

I can not think if there is anything else to post this week. So just in case, I will put this post on hold for a day or so.

And while I was on hold, I started new work using even more of those watercolors from Australian soils. These small pages will be made into individual folios and then sorted by colors to be stitched together one after the other to shape into the contours of Australia.

So here is only 24 of the near to 300 watercolors to date.