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.

Sketchbooks for Specific Places

An old friend in Australia reminded me after the last post that she was so happy to have one of the Common Thing books I talked about. Gloria Alport, who hosted me on several early teaching tours in the Sydney area. I smiled when she mentioned having the little book. The memories of being in her home and walking to her garden stepping on sample squares of upholstery textiles. They made such a lovely path, like magically marked slate stones embedded in the grass.

I also think of Gloria each time I attempt to draw something in a sketchbook. She took me to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and we drew things together. She told me that I made lines around the things I was drawing and to remember that those things were objects in a space, part in sharp detail and part fading away into the blur of edges. I remember that every time and remind myself to not just look at the outside edges but see what is happening in the space it takes up.

So I took along a sketchbook that I bought in New York City when Gwen Diehn and I were touring museums. It is a replica of one that Van Gogh used…..or so they say and of course i needed to have it. Here are a couple of drawings with Gwen done in that new book and the book itself.

Gwen has always been the fastest pen sketcher I know. It took some doing to keep up and get the ideas down quickly to use as reference later for my work about men in graduate school.

And here are the pages I was drawing with Gloria a short while later.

See what I mean?

Mostly I used this book only in museums and tried to get as much information as I could to take back home with me.

Here was my introduction to Bea Maddock, an Australian artist, print maker, and user of earth pigments. I could have stayed in front of this massive piece about the land of Tasmania and its Aboriginal history for two days and not seen all it had to offer.

Over the years that followed I had many more opportunities to see her work. And the only book about her that I have is more about her time as a print maker.

Later on I found myself in Vancouver at a museum without this little Van Gogh book so had to buy another small sketchbook in the museum store. It was an exhibition featuring the works of Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo. I evidently did not bother to make my way to Kahlo’s work. I was too busy looking at the trees of Emily Carrs, reading her words and Georgia O’Keefe’s.

“What is that vital thing the woods contains?”  Emily Carr

“It is the unexplainable things in Nature that make me feel the world is big, far beyond my understanding. I attempt to understand it by trying to put it in form, by finding the feeling of infinity on the horizon or just over the next hill.”  Georgia O’Keefe

I found this book I made to explain about altering images of fine quality inked magazine pictures and then using those in your own work once they are way beyond the original artists work. It was a National Geographic aerial view of someplace arid, changed using a cleaning solution after a few hours of making marks with gesso and clear glue.

I was also giving a lesson on coptic binding used on this book and not wasting paper by folding the too long parts back into the book rather than cut and toss.

I like the feel of this book in my hands. It is about 4.5 x by 5.5 inches x 1.5 inches thick. I wrote how the book was made on the inside front page, then being influenced by Emily Carr I did a wash of trees over the ball point ink writing.

I think I will use this for just thoughts…the kind you just need to get out. No drawings allowed.

Here are six days of drawings a day…even went a day ahead just to finish off this sketchbook. It was number one of four made to use this year. Now I can start on number two day after tomorrow.

A pink flowered shrub

was planted meandering

throughout the landscape.


Bright yellow wild weed

helps itself to the outer

untended fringes.

Honeysuckle vine

has crawled all over every

available tree.


Little blue-eyed grass

can’t decide whether to be

a grass or flower.

Tiny lavender

flowers on delicate stems

on spaced out leaves.


So called creeping thyme

actually moves along

at the rate of time.

Okay enough for now….taking a break and going to read.

til later.