Back To That Studio!

Yesterday I received a lovely gift of two linen towels. They are from a friend in Australia who said she thought of me when she saw them….each dyed with elements of that country. Instead of using them as T towels she suggested I cut them into smaller bits to do something else with. I love her idea and her for thinking of me. Aren’t they beautiful? Gorgeous linen!

I even love the soft brown wrapping paper that I might just cut up and add to a book I am making of her sister’s postcards sent last month. It is still sitting on that messy table waiting for me to “fix” it.

But! Because I had two consecutive days in that messy studio and kept looking over at the Sandy Traveler, I pulled it onto the table. And started making changes. First off remove the boats from the top of her head, then coat her severely with Australian soil watercolors. Next gouge out the slash marks, more watercolors to fill in. Then tiny black dots for travel lines. Next cover the neck with all the tea bags collected and drunk with friends abroad. Finally a good spray of acrylic to the head and the addition of more collected bits to each side.  One boat returned to the scene.

Today I finished her up and am quite happy with it. Here is a view from the right brain side.

And the left brain side:

Here are some details:

Right brain loose collections…just pick it up and take home.

Left brain, the need to organize the collected bits.

The compass in the front surrounded with soils.

The boat.

I am satisfied with this piece and glad I listened to it this week as it begged for my attention.

Next up:

Sandy Writer.

I will return to the dormer idea that I used with the Sandy Printmaker. Each side will have one attached to her head and the open dictionary on her head. The right brain will likely be wadded up yellow dog papers with stubs of pencils whereas the left might just get tidy blank pages or very short poems. This one will be fun to do and fairly easy I think.

Then only one more…Sandy Homemaker. It will be the hardest I think. I would love the left side to have a drop down table perfectly set for a dinner party. More engineering will be needed but I am up for it.

My caregiver company is working hard to find just one person to look after Lee three times a week instead of two with last minute substitutes. It bothers me more than him because he just likes someone different to talk to. And he forgets who they were as soon as they drive away.

I just want order….my left brain is trying to take over now that I can’t use my right side so much.

Right now I might just wake him up to read our latest mystery…The Silent Patient. Supposed to be quite the thriller. Then it is deep into a book about preserving the world’s largest owl along the Russian border. Talk about diverse reading. After that an English country novel.

And one last final word on those British 50s series. The clothes! How do they find them all? And in all the sizes needed? And the hero’s hair. Smartly parted on the left so that those waves flow off to the right and the back almost shaved to just behind the ears. It is a very tidy look….the way any decent poet would have his hair cut. Enough. We are near the end of Grantchester. Oh, and those trousers with suspenders, most appealing….fedoras placed just so and ties about one third the length of Trump’s. The 50s and the Brits make brown a desirable color.

More later….

Back in Studio and Printing

Before I get to printing, here is the man who will put in a nice winding trail for Lee to wander and place some of his rocks. It will go in and out of the woods and switchback in places too steep to head straight back to the studio door.

And the last four days of drawings a day.

Old oregano

has very sparse leaves and blooms.

But is still potent.


Grape vines continue

to stretch out with grasping reach

of aspirations.

A Eucalyptus!

I bought all that the store had.

Five of seven live!


Distorted effort

of one of the surviving

Eucalyptus trees.


Now to the printing I had a chance to try yesterday. On Wednesday afternoon I worked on a small acrylic plate from Melbourne Etching, First the drawing, then place the plate over and copy.

I was inspired by the butterfly bushes in the yard.

Here is the first print….paper too wet.

I am sooo out of practice! The first test prints while I get the feel of wiping the plate.

And the one I picked out to add watercolors.

It felt so good to be back in the studio. I can etch plates over drawings upstairs and then use the time Lee has a minder to get back to printing.

I have approved the samples of The Stoat Story so will also be working on those books. Most of them will be mailed with the rest of the Bush Books to Australia. So grateful for the supporters down under. And their payments will be to Kangaroo Island restoration.

More later.

Mail Delivery

When you are in isolation/lockdown/ quarantine…whatever this is where mobility is limited….the mail becomes so important. Even junk mail is worth perusing. Lee loves it because junk mail is usually addressed to him.  He can’t really read that well anymore but he knows what his name looks like. After looking at the pictures he will ask if he should throw it out. Yes, put that one in the trash.

My mail is like a life line. I can’t seem to throw it out. I keep it where I can look at it over and over.

There is actually a very big bowl on a large chest in the living room that has at least three years of Christmas cards in it. Once a year I used to take them out, put them in a zip lock bag and stuff it into a cupboard. Now I leave them in the bowl. It was the signatures that got to me. Their name coming to me through their hand.

The form letters about family members and social doings for the year hold little interest anymore. It is the signed name that matters.  I make my own Christmas cards like I have for many, many years. And I sign my and Lee’s name to them. No printed form letters for us. Each year there are fewer people to make and mail cards to. It gets easier to keep with the tradition.

A favorite sister that passed away several years ago never forgot my birthday. She was the only one who it mattered enough to to send a card. Usually a card of some sweet Nature drawing or painting, usually a Hallmark card. But she always signed it “Lovingly, Normae”. When she passed the first thing I thought of was that that was the end of cards signed, “Lovingly”. And it was. I never knew of anyone else who signed cards or letters that way. She also had a destinctively pretty handwriting. Her cards always made me feel loved. She was a very thoughtful person…probably the most thoughtful of the six siblings I was part of….most are gone now.

I remember a movie that starred Paul Newman and Sally Field. They played a couple falling in love and one night she said she had to write a letter to her father. He asked why she didn’t just call him. Her answer, “Because when I hang up, he has nothing to hold onto.” That has always stayed with me. Letters and cards matter.

I have a special drawer where the good cards and letters go. They are the ones I can look at over and over and over.

Here are some.

All of these are from Australia. I keep them in their envelopes so I can smell the country they come from. So many of these cards come anonymously and are so funny in the way they are collaged together. A simple thoughtful greeting on the back, tucked in envelopes bearing exotic foreign stamps.

Another one on the left is from a papermaker/printmaker and feels delicious in the hand. Some come with treasures inside that the senders know will thrill me no end. Lee loves how excited I get when one of these comes in the mail.

And here is one that came just the other day. Just reading her words out loud was impossible without them catching in my throat. She was sending love and wanted me to know she has conversations with me in her head quite often. How good is that!

The card is a reproduction of my most favorite Australian printmaker, Cressida Campbell, who carves one block, adds watercolors to it, dampens it before going into the press for one print only. I always showed pictures of Cressida’s work when I taught white line printmaking. I love that the sender remembered how much I liked Cressida’s work. Also inside was this perfect gift, hand printed by an Australian artist whose towels I dry dishes with daily….it’s a block printed handkerchief for crying into.

Isn’t that lovely?

More later….with drawings.





More Time Spent Drawing/Painting/Walking

I love how the light shines through the grasses when Lee and I walk down to the mailbox on sunny summer mornings.

Things sparkle.

I went back to the six way book of wildflower paintings. It is a good thing my expectations are fairly low for this work.

The good part about it is how many I have managed to put in here and it still seems endless just to get to the end of this one section. The other thing I like is how the pages rustle together when I flip through the images.

I have kept up with the drawings a day and haiku.

Black, grey, taupe and red

are the colors of Guttermann

linen unwaxed threads.


My one last purchase

from the Australian button

lady of notions.

Covered chalk marker

and white vinyl eraser

are in the tool bag.


I wish these glasses

could let me see how to draw

them so much better.

I particularly like the single large spool of thread above. It was the button lady’s last time to come to the conferences in Australia and I had purchased these big spools of beige linen from her in the past. I would never use all the thread on this spool let alone the others. But once I hold this spool in my hand, I need to have it. I am sure that all those who attend the fibre conferences will miss the button lady. I am sure she has a name but “button lady” was what we all called her. You never knew what treasures she would have among all her buttons and sewing notions.

Today I drew the pair of scissors in the tool bag. Tomorrow I will draw the tool bag itself and then be through with that source for interesting drawing things. Maybe I will go back outside and pick up more bits of nature….we’ll see.

Better go.

Til later.