Writing, Drawing, Thinking

Yesterday I was going through the photos on my IPhone and got caught up in some “used to bes”. It is not a good place to spend too much time. Things are so different now. Anyway I found this image from my old dining room table of things I was drawing into a sketchbook. “Dead things” as friends used to tell me when they’d see me hunched over something brown. So many of my sketchbooks have these types of drawings in them. Once while teaching in Alice Springs, a student brought me a pressed desert flower. She said, “I thought you might like something different from the dried out dead things.” It was a flattened pink bloom that I drew just as I saw it. And the poor blossom looked somehow deader than anything in my brown pile. Anyway, I thought of that as I moved this image to where it would be more accessible.

I love this picture of things that made me stop and look hard at their shapes, their colors, how I came to have them and who I was with when I brought them home to stay. They are good company.

So far there are twenty small illustrations for the Scrabble story. And it took that many for me to realize that they need to be redone…all of them. The good thing is that I am now more well-practiced with the colors I need to use. I think the pen is too harsh. I think they need to be drawn a bit larger in order to get the shading I am expecting. And in the more recent ones I have completely left out the native hen! But the good thing is that I am getting more familiar with the little fellows. So here are some more of the story in “preliminary drawings”.

The first attempt to make a boat.

How it is carried to the shore.

And its failure to stay afloat.

Starting over.

Heading toward the shore.

And failing again.

Earlier this week I took myself off to the bar with my short story. It was pouring down rain so no one was there but me when they opened at five. Good. Elizabeth fixed my Manhattan and I ordered a pizza after a spell of writing.

I need to make Joey’s story longer so will spend more time with him. I always get in the writing mood when it is close to poetry meetings. The next two Thursdays will be sharing words with others constantly putting feelings on pages.

Yesterday in the mail was a package from Australia. A friend thought I would like this apron with Australian animals on it. She was right. I love it and it now hangs right next to the flour canister in the pantry. I can’t seem to bake without covering myself with whatever is being beaten up in a bowl. It has to do with the false promise of a slow speed on a hand mixer. The first speed that one would think is slow,  covers me, the floor and the walls with its enthusiasm to get going.

BUT my son Patrick took home the hand mixer by General Electric that Lee had before we were married fifty-seven years ago. It had stopped working. So I had to buy the racing machine I now have. And the other day Patrick called to say it now is working just fine. The interior had a complete cast aluminum housing that he took apart to fix worn connections, and it is like new. those beaters know that the slow setting is slow, very slow. So I will have them back whenever he heads this way again.

Sorry, got side tracked. Here is that apron. Thank you so much Judith!

It is a dreary day. So I might get out of the studio and find a good movie to watch. And it is close enough to wine time, so movie and some wine.

I just had a thought, What if I stopped thinking of Beatrix Potter and did all my characters larger and in graphite, like the sketches in my large sketchbook. I can get so much more expression in their faces. What if the story was told in a much larger book? Maybe 10″ square…maybe bigger. I think it would be much more fun for me…and it is my story, my book. Why not? I might just tidy up the whole studio and start over. More on that later.

Did you know that the purpose of art is not to produce product but to produce thinking?

Anyway, I am off to pour a wine and pour over the movie options.

Til later….


More Works on Paper & in Books

The bitter cold has me inside more this past few days. Some of it admittedly streaming series that beg to be in the category of, “just one more episode”. I wanted to see how Succession ended. Then a few more Snowy Mountain MacGregor family episodes (even though they are a bit like Lassie episodes of Timmy down the well). The trees and scenery make it worthwhile. And last night a true story brought to life on the screen by terrific acting and compelling dialogue, The Man, His Wife and the Canoe.

But more drawings of the Scrabble story have been done…some a few times over….

And his friends sourcing materials to make a boat…

And three more rough drawings…

For some reason my Fastone Photo program has decided not to follow the instruction of rotating images, so this had to stay this way. I will research why this is happening later when I get this post off.

And while my basket making friends who also do lots of stitching, were gathered in Tasmania this past week I completed two more pages in the Gathering Book.

Each little scrap of fabric I pick up comes with a memory. Once they are connected to each other, I glue them down to a page and then fill the negative space with drawings of the things I have in the studio that have a connection to those at the gathering.

They have all returned home by now and I have closed the book until they gather again. Marla and I are going to gather things we no longer use in our work and send them down under before that next gathering for them to share with each other. They are wonderful at sharing and I like that some of my bits and pieces might be useful.

I have been asked to be a presenter for the Blue Ridge Writer’s Conference in April. It is all about self-publishing. Since I have muddled through six books this past year, I think I can share the experience with others asking questions about the different processes.

Poetry meeting is next week and since Covid is on the rise again, I think I will read Social Distance from the artist book I made with manipulated pages. I miss making books that take the form of ideas in the words. Remember all those Trump Books? Like the trump pincushion, they were good for relieving stress. Think I may need to get them back out.

And speaking of poetry, one of my fellow poets wrote this to me last week regarding my poems.

“….your particular talent of directness and complicated simplicity.”

Rather sums me up quite nicely.

All for now. I need a walk because it is near 50 degrees F. I want to wander through the lumber walls of my soon to be new neighbor and maybe send her pictures.

Til later….

It Seems I Have Been Busy

It has been very, very cold and will be for another week. Here is this morning driving down into my neighborhood.

And the ice build up on the bamboo spout into the pond at 9 degrees.

Patrick gave the cats some sort of new cat addiction from Japan…a silver vine that seems more potent than catnip. It must be so because Sadie is easily addicted and Dilly, never,,,,but she loves her stick!

I made oatmeal/golden raisin/slivered almond scones when it got colder.

And yesterday a ham/green onion/parsley/cheese quiche. Very good for several meals.

I also have been busy with the drawings keeping up with the story of Scrabble. Most of Beatrix Potter’s illustrations were on paper the size of a modern day photograph…about 6″ x 4″. My papers are cut to 3.5″ by 5″.  Her soft brown ink outlines were likely done using diluted ink in a fountain pen. I am trying to make a rust colored ink roller ball do the job. Whatever happens will get redone if I become dissatisfied with the drawing.

He now has five new friends and tools in a tool belt. Pretty soon they will start building boats to get Scrabble back to sea.

This week friends in Tasmania are gathering for one of their holidays for the shear fun of stitching and basketmaking. I get out my Gathering Book to vicariously stay in touch. This morning I put some scraps together. Background is leftovers from beige linen pants I made last year, then an eco-dyed scrap of wool jersey I bought from Aujke on a trip down under, one of those tabs that hold sleeves up from a well worn favorite linen shirt, scrap of rusted paper done in Claudia Lee’s class, off white lokta paper with a piece of an old kitchen towel that was the perfect color so I lifted it from the kitchen when I was an artist-in-residence. The thread is from an old wooden spool of thick black silk bought in Australia many, many years ago.

It will be fastened to the page and drawings added around it. The opposite page will get another small something before they (we) all go back home.

I will also have a bit of this red that Patrick brought down at Christmas. I was introduced to this wine by Janet DeBoer on a very early trip to Australia to do workshops….maybe 2000 at the latest. Anyway she found herself stuck taking care of me as I traveled from one place to another along the Queensland coast. This bit of libation helped get us well-acquainted. I thank her many times for inviting me to come there to teach in ’97 and many, many years after that. I told Patrick I was not going to share one drop of it and save it for myself to smile and remember.

I will stay in even though the sun is shining…well, until it is time to bundle up and do my loop through the neighborhood. I check on Sandi’s house being built just four doors down. It is a similar floor plan to mine and so much fun to see take shape. She is an artist doing mixed media and Nature paintings so it will be great to see how artwork plays a part in her decorating.

Til later….

Writing About Scrabble, the Rat, and Drawing As It Goes

We had a dusting of snow this past week, but only sticking to the mulch. Much more cold weather with predictions of more snow coming up for next week. I would like to see Spring! Even the mourning doves are huddling together around the pond.

I have been trying to capture Scrabble, the rat’s story by way of writing just so much and then doing the drawings to that point. So here it is so far…no illustration is more than 3″ across.

Scrabble at sea in his post atop the mast.

Then the shipwreck causes him to clamber into the captain’s wine crate to stay afloat.

He swims for shore.

And falls unconscious in the sand.

The native hen gives him a nudge to see if he is still alive.

He wakes to stare into the eyes of an echidna.

The story has gone a bit further but this is all the illustrations so far. Needless to say I am keeping myself entertained. When I am not drawing and coloring illustrations, I am writing poetry and working on short stories.  I stopped going to the bar for a good Manhattan and write in a quiet corner. They have changed the hours and now don’t open until five p.m. Seems more people would be there at that hour…and there would be so much chattering going on.

I went to the second monthly poetry meeting this week. There were so few of us there that we were able to have a good discussion of how and why we write.  I read this.

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.

S. Webster

They ask how long it took me to write this.  I say, 5 minutes tops. they ask how I manage to continually write in so few words such strong emotional feelings. I told them I don’t think…I just respond in words to a feeling that needs defining. I am not burdened by what form I should use, whether it should be sent somewhere for publishing, I do not think! I only react with words in an pattern that allows me and the reader to breathe and understand. That is how I see poetry. They say I am very adept at “free verse.” I am happy that they have found a place to put me.

I am improving with my tai chi classes. Which means I am not stumbling around so much like an old goat. The key is just keep at it. Also I am adding 25 minutes on the bike at the gym before heading off for coffee with the men.  It seems to be good for my knees as I pedal along and let my mind wander as I watch for the sun to come up through the window.

This week the basket makers are gathering again in Tasmania, so I will be able to pull out the Gathering Book and work along with them. It is so much fun to see the pictures on facebook of them all stitching and weaving together. They laugh a lot, and sometimes I can hear them from here. I miss them.

Not much else new here. I just plan on continuing. And thank you to those who send messages about how much they enjoy parts of the blog, certain sentences, another way of seeing the world through my experiences. I can feel you listening and am so grateful that you do, and take the time to tell me.

Til later…..