Still Feel Frozen/Stuck/Impotent

This is the best I could do this morning. Went to the grocery store, bought three bunches of flowers for $10. They flopped about in this pitcher so I went and cut back a bush in the yard….some of them (the bushes)  just won’t stay still and keep reaching to places they shouldn’t be….anyway, I stuck them in to hold the flowers up. Some of the flowers broke in my rough handling. All I wanted was something that looked nice for the table when art group comes tomorrow. Even sticking flowers in water seems to be hard to do. I dumped them out in the sink and started over….broke a few more but at least they look better than this, at least I think so now.

A really bright spot for the week was having a private student staying in the apartment and being here in the studio for two days. It was good for me to see how easy someone else works, how they make marks, how they don’t seem to mind doing lots and lots of drawings that may or may not end up being used as the starting point for a new tapestry. To see someone just take joy in the making, in the doing…..and not think about what comes next.

When was it when I began to not be able to pick up a pencil, pen, paper, paint, brush just for the shear joy of it? When was it that I thought whatever it was I was going to do, it had to have some deeper meaning? It had to be ABOUT something…..anything, but ABOUT something.

But having Tommye here to work beside this week and prepare earth pigments and making her a travel journal helped. I am going to do something without thinking so much. I am going to do lots of somethings without thinking too much. BUT to break myself into a new way of doing just for the sake of doing, I am going to start small. I am going to cut my papers up into small sheets. No bigger than 5 by 7 inches. That way if I don’t like whatever the thoughtless work I am doing looks like, all of them will easily fit in the waste bin. It is a simple way to work. Pick up a piece of paper. Pick up a tool. Make some marks. Do it again. And again. Then throw them out.

Anyone can do this. I can do this. I might even try it later today. Unless I find some way to avoid it.

Besides feeling like a BB in a boxcar lately I have been wandering around the yard to avoid the studio. And I am struck by the beauty of the fungi this fall. Take a look.

And then this growing next to the eucalyptus that I put in a pot on the porch.

So that was the week. Scattered. Watching political theater. Writing letters of protest. Visiting with friends who were in town. Picking up paper and putting it down again. Sharpening pencils only to put them back in the drawer. And on. And on.

For a woman/artist who was obsessed with the thoughts of “am I doing enough?” and “am I doing it right?” I have drifted.

Drifting, that is where I am, drifting between where I was and where I am going.

For now I will drift upstairs, avoid going into the studio, and see what I can do for Lee. I will fix lunch and then drift back down stairs and cut up some paper so it is ready when I am.

Til next week.

What’s Next?

My art is narrative, a story retold with paints, pencil, collage and collections. Each work is a personal expression of time, place and thought. It is what I call “evidence of experience” garnered from my writings, sketchbooks and the things I gather that have meaning beyond their intended purpose.

Those words wrapped around the walls of David’s Fine Art Gallery several years ago when I had a solo show there. The gallery was long and narrow and just the other side of these arches. In fact the arches as indentations in the wall gave places to delineate bodies of work.

Now it has doubled in size by incorporating the bakery next door and become a lovely place to have something to eat. It was a surprise to sit in a booth, look over and realize where I was and what once happened there.

And now I wonder what to do next. What is a person who always made things based on content supposed to do when there is often times little interest in working on something that matters? The politics of our country and for that matter the world, are ripe for art works. But as I have said before, few of my artist friends choose to address this. It is exhausting enough just to follow the news on a daily basis, so the studio beckons to just come down and make something.

“Just make something” seems a bit like wading in shallow waters. I could keep myself busy, amused but certainly not that interested, that compelled to start something let alone finish it. I am at a cross road.

What’s next?

I do not want to make things just to pile them up. The time and energy for doing that would be better spent cleaning house, throwing things out, not adding more.

But I have thought of something. Words. Words on paper. Small papers.

Write another small book and not even bother to think about editioning it. But start by taking an image of a favorite piece of artwork done by my hands from before. Something that had content, had meaning and had to be completed in a visual form of expression.

Then reacting verbally to that image whether the words are about the intention of the work or completely unrelated except by what it may trigger now. How does it make me feel now? What does the color, the line, the form make me see. And how do I respond to that in words.

So this week after a private student has come and gone, I will start thinking and writing. Some of it I will share here in the almost only place I have to talk about art and how it matters.

Here are a few images of old work that has the capacity to provoke further thought.

These seem a good place to start. It is only a beginning.

I will leave with this for now……written at another time when I needed to just listen.


The Sigh

I like the quiet of myself.

There are no unnecessary noises.

Just the scratch

of pen on paper.


And of course the occasional sigh.


Is it fatigue or exasperation?

More often I think it is a longing.

But for what I do not know.


The sigh is a noise the heart makes.

A cry in a way that says,

“I am here….

 and I want something.”


And all I want is quiet

So I can figure out


What is mattering to the heart today.


Sandy Webster

Changing Out Sketchbook Signatures

This is a quick cover to hold three signatures from my travel sketchbook below and a pocket to hold collectibles from my trip in March to Australia.

I simply snip out the used signatures and then restitch them into the spine of a new cover.

Then replace them.

Now I can use this book for my next trip down under. Which by the way is now all sorted with a first stop in Hobart to be with friends a few days before coming to Melbourne to stay a day or so at my favorite hotel and then off to Grampians Textures with exciting students. One of them is taking me up to Baldessin Press for several days before I head off to Geelong area to teach before returning to Melbourne and flying home. If it goes as my travel agent has planned, I will be flying Virgin Airlines Australia. Never used them before but always up for new adventures.

Anyway, back to the sketchbook. I designed this travel box/book to hold just the right amount of paints, hand made and purchased watercolors, pencil, sharpener, eraser, brush etc. The leather cover part has a pocket attached inside to hold a small palette and is a good place to tuck things.

Here is some of the insides of the transferred signatures.

First stop and most favorite stop is Jude’s in Hobart for a cuppa.

Space between signatures.

How three hole signature is sewn….going in through center hole in signature and rigid spine, in one of the other two holes, across the center hole and out the third hole to come back in on the other side of the inside long stitch to do a square knot over that long stitch. Easy and secures it just fine.

Here is the spine.

And there was enough space left at the back of the book to glue in a sandwich bag to hold all the bits and pieces collected on that trip.

I always glue these “pockets” with the opening toward the signatures so as not to lose things but still have access.

So now to just stitch those new signatures into the old sketch portfolio and I am all ready to go.

The past few days I did get twenty sets of cards packaged up. Tonight is another small dinner party for just four of us. The shrimp pasta dish the other day was quite successful and tonight it is a new recipe for balsamic chicken over rice.

And here is the dam this morning….beautiful as they lower the level for winter. I used to take my students out here to gather pigments for making local watercolors. Pretty isn’t it?

Til later when I find something else that looks interesting.

Printmaking and Pigments


I did not like the way the first carving for the cockatoo turned out. Too much white on white.

I should have taken the time to do a drawing and then it would have been obvious. Late in the day I have little patience and should just leave the studio.

I had to carve a new block for the cockatoo and gum tree bloom. The other did not have enough contrast for the bird that is white. But since there was no more of the linoleum blocks that were the same size, I resorted to a very old EZ cut rubber sheet. It worked but the material is so crumbly I don’t think I would use it again. Anyway the three birds of the Songlines series is finished. And the best thing to do the rubbing for transferring the image to the paper is this old child’s shoe last. See that flat spot? It is perfect! And it fits into the hand just right. No wooden spoon needed and the pressure is more evenly directed.

The emu and banksia was fun to carve.

Here they are colored in.

I used more of the Songlines book pages for these as well.

Now I just have to print up sets of cards and package them all up to take to Australia.

The back of the Australia pigments map was bothering me….just plain off white paper. So now I am doing this. Only three more sections to go and it will be finished. Probably put a sealer on it because it will be handled so much.

Here is a detail.

I am only using the watercolors made from soils of Australia. It seems as though I will never use them up. The studio smells of cloves because this box of watercolors that holds eighty-four different ones was rushed into the containers and closed up too soon. So I had to open each of them, to clean off and add oil of clove. That was a few years ago and they still smell like the old dentist offices of the late sixties, early seventies.

Anyway there is just enough of this painting on the back to leave a ghost like image when you hold the map up to the light. And that seems somehow appropriate. And it certainly takes care of my horror vacui.

Next week I will start printing the photos for Lee’s book for provoking memory.

We are having company for dinner tonight and again next Tuesday. If I keep the meals simple and wine at the ready, I can do this….but no where near as often as we did before. Things change.

Til next week.