Collage Museum (France)

More information here.

Purple Oxalis

Several weeks ago,  I got stranded on the Rileyville Diner's porch during a torrential storm.  Never having been on the porch for more than a few seconds, I hadn't noticed the amazing Oxalis growing by one of the built in benches.  It was breathtaking, more so considering the dark sky just inches away.

It is not quite shamrock shaped nor is it a true shamrock, but it is often used at St. Patrick Day events.  It is also a house plant, and one that grows well in the shade.

The next time I am at the cafe, I'll take a photograph of that particular Oxalis, with yellow blooms, cascading freely on the porch.


Artist Wish List

Category 1: Items that you can buy at any time

These might be art materials you don’t really need but would like to have anyway, just to experiment with.
Or, they could be small things which feel too frivolous or unnecessary to spend money on. (For instance, a subscription to an art-related magazine, or a visit to an art gallery or exhibition.)

Category 2: Items that require some “input”

These are things that would cost you a little more, either financially or in time. That’s why I use the word input. . . these items will require you to put in a little extra effort if you want to attain them.



Category 3: When “all your dreams have come true”

These are the items dreams are made of, the things you’ll probably need to save hard for, work hard for and dream big for.

Soltek easel

Ten recommended digital cameras here.

Macbook Pro 15" screen

Wish list concept via Empty Easel

The Canteo goes to rest with photos

Canteo at rest
 Canteo interior, paint samples

It's been a terribly long time since I received and preliminarily reviewed the Canteo journal, but now after all this time, the journal is filled to the brim with notations, dots and dashes, colour notes, and even watercolour tests.

It ran a long mile and succeeded far better than one would imagine and held up nicely.  In fact it held up better than many other journals that traveled a path this long and hard with me.  The cover is intact, and shows little to no wear.  The elastic pulled and pushed hundreds of times is perfect, the pages remained flat, and content as I tortured them with different inks, pens, and splashes of art media.

I'd give it a high mark and think about another one in the future.

I believe Nota Bene in Canada are stocking these.

Reposted with photographs; retired Canteo 11 July 2011


A journal forever: Do you remember, when?

Photo: US. Holocaust Museum

Although he didn't survive, his journal did.

Ellen Glasgow coming to my mailbox this week

 Ellen Glasgow 1909

After thinking and writing about Maine and female writers, I searched out Ellen Glasgow and found a copy of her novel Barren Ground for a buck on ebay and snatched it up.

PS - She arrived on 25 July and as I finished up Diane Johnson's book, I started Barren Ground on 26 July.


A gift at the foot of the mail box

 Fish painted with vintage Daler Rowney watercolor paint palette (upper right)
and lower left corner the making of a mini-palette from an old J. Herbin nib container (it holds 6 half pans)

Last week I saw a small glistening creature at the foot of the mail box.  At first I actually thought it was a living creature, but as I leaned closer to it I knew it wasn't alive.  I picked it up.  It was a small, dirt splattered soft rubber toy fish.

I wondered, but more on an unconscious level, why a small toy fish would be on my country road, laying at my feet.  We have many farmers living on or near my road but no children young enough to have such a prize fish.

Its symbolism:
Several religions have used the fish to symbolize life, spiritual change and motion: Fish were considered sacred to the Greeks and Romans. The first Christians represented trinity by three fishes. The icthus is used today as a symbol for christian community. Fish is also one of the eight sacred symbols of the Buddha. Throughout history fish have been associated with religion and worship.
The fish moves freely through water - a symbol of life which is honored in many cultures. Water is constantly flowing and the fish totem is an excellent teacher of transitions through life.
The flowing energy of the fish can also be applied to money matters - since money can be viewed as energy that should always flow freely. The fish can be a helper at times of movement and change in both financial and spiritual situations.
If you were born between Jul 22 - Aug 21, your Native American birth totem is the sturgeon.

More on fish.


The 32nd Sketchcrawl

Honesdale, PA courtesy Family Man Studio

The closest I get to urban is the town of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 18 miles as the turkey vulture flies from my very rural country road.  It is where I will be on Saturday, 23rd July to sketch crawl.

Bill renovated two adjoining building (see left blue house), named it Maude Alley and developed a snug, and inviting space for three shops, his own Milkweed, a  cafe and a quality outdoor garden with a bird feeder and comfortable wrought iron chairs.   The cafe has good coffee, always fresh and ranked on a scale 0-10 as a potential 9. 

Not only will I bring my sketchbook, and a kit of drawing media, I will bring my camera to capture a town I've never looked at with an artist's eye.  It is the cafe,  I'll head to first for that coffee and a drawing of the feeder--perhaps!


Stillman and Birn Sketchbooks

A few weeks ago I asked Mr. Kalman for some paper samples and he kindly included a small 4"" x 6 Gamma sketchbook.  I have been using it regularly to sketch some florals in and out of the house.

It is 100 lb/150 g/m vellum paper that appears to take pen, pencil, ink and watercolour washes without difficulty.  It is a strong ivory colour and pleasant on the eye after adding line.  The sketchbook contains 62 sheets/124 pages.  It appears both sides of the paper can be used without much bleed through or reveal.

 Orchid on dining room table,
Stillman and Birn Gamma 4x6 sketchbook
drawn with Safari (F) pen and J. Herbin Noire ink

I like the feel of the book, the paper and even the size, but this small version does not lay flat as you an see from the photo above.  I understand that the larger versions do.

The US based company has four other lines:  Alpha, Beta, Delta and Epsilon, each with different paper.

I hope to test drive my paper samples in the coming days and report back on their response to my usual media.

These sketchbooks are available at Utrecht and Wet Paint;  Stillman and Birn have a good looking web site describing their origin and their papers.

J. M. W. Turner's painting style

At Leisure Painter, a British channel, Mike Chaplin does a few wee videos (6 in total, none more than 6 minutes) of J. M. W. Turner's watercolour process.  It is sheer genius to recreate a method like Turner's 200 years later.   In the video below, we see Mike drawing in Turner's "in situ" style or in what has become more modern or fashionable lingo, en plein aire.

As I spent a good hour testing pencils in preparation for doing the Eden course, I was particularly taken by the second half of this video where Mr. Chaplin shows how Turner would use a pencil, holding it like a sword, and articulate light with opaque titanium white and chalk.

Delicious learning.

The last of the videos has some remarkable insight into wet into wet that are not so much new but individual in their approach.

So well watching and watching again.


Plein Aire or Plain Going

In the last ten years I've owned about 4 or 5 easels, a Guerrila, 2 custom pochades and a table top version.   I sold or gave away all of them.  I was in search of an easel that was easy to carry, but made for watercolour--and most of those I had were designed with oil, pastel or acrylic methods in mind.

I was recently introduced to En Plein Air Pro when I saw Citizen's Sketcher, Marc Taro Holman, standing in front of what looked like an easel to envy.

 Eric Michaels' En Plein Aire Easel

It is designed for watercolour, and is so simple I can hardly believe my eyes.

Now I have to figure out if I want to risk buying another easel and if my tripod is the right dimension for this set-up.

PS - I checked the reviews and oh, dear, Frank LaLumia recommends it and he is among my favourites in the plein aire kingdom.  More pondering and purse fidgeting.

PSS - A birdseye view of the easel and the Citizen Sketcher at the Lisboa Symposium, via Omar.


Fond memories of Maine

Sometimes we have a dream and try to capture it in our daily life.  I had that happen when I dreamed the dream of living in Maine. 

It may have started the summer I did a course in proprioceptive writing in Portland, and then spent a month in Liberty with a fellow writer in the program.  It was my sabbatical year with no schedule but pleasure.

Margaret had carved out a simple but enviable life, first struggling, then not prospering but enjoying those daily moments after a long drive 50 miles out and back from her job.  Her house was totally renovated from near shack condition to a tri-level abode of wonderful proportions and intimacy.  The stove run from the bottom up to the third floor bedrooms and kept her warm--especially in the hardness of some Maine winters.  Right off the open plan living and dining rooms was a two person deck that revealed the purest night skies.

While she worked, I wrote and cruised around in my white Honda wagon searching for everything or nothing.  The nearest town was Belfast, and it was there I fell in love.  The town, less than half a dozen streets long, ending at the Wharf, and two and a half streets wide, contained everything I held dear: a food cooperative, a book store, an amazingly well stocked library with an art gallery, a home decor shop, two clothing shops, one second hand and the other upscale, several galleries and a cafe that overlooked the ocean. 

Belfast, Main Street 

When I thought about retirement I fantasized May Sarton's memoirs, her Atlantic Ocean coastal house, and Belfast.  Fifteen years later I drove to Maine by way of Pittsburgh, where I had a 3 month sojourn, to be followed by leisurely driving through most of my old New England haunts: first into Connecticut where I stayed in Kent for a week and visited my regular spots in New Milford and Sherman, then through the Berkshires stopping to check out one of my regular town stops, Great Barrington, for coffee and a peek into JWS Art Supplies, always current in their offerings.

Then onto the Pioneer Valley and Northampton where I stayed for a few days, taking drives to Florence, Williamsburg and Amherst.  Bypassing Rhode Island, I took a less traveled road directly into Portsmouth (NH).

The drive always seemed shorter if I stopped at Portsmouth, had something to eat and went to my favourite shoe store, Footnotes on Market Street, to get summer shoes.  Maine then seemed within easy reach although Belfast would be another few hours.    I stopped again in Camden-Rockport where I bought a fountain pen at Rockport Blueprint, a pen I actually filled just this week with J. Herbin Lie de The ink and wrote with this morning.

Photo courtesy Jet Pens

I can't remember why I took one road and not another, and certainly why I passed by Brunswick without stopping and visiting my old haunt at the Jung Institute or another coffee for the road.

It seems as if this trip was yesterday, but it was the year Ruby Slippers was born, 2004.

Why this nostalgia?

This memory trip to Belfast really has everything to do with writers, and women writers in particular.  Whilst staying in Belfast, I ventured out to many other towns, and always stopped at the local bookstores, of which there are several, and asked and then bought books by local writers.  In Searsport, one town over from Belfast, I dropped by the Left Bank bookstore where I was introduced to Mary Ellen Chase.

I thought of Ms. Chase and her remarkable book Mary Peters, when a fellow blogger mentioned another women writer, now nearly forgotten and easily ignored:  Ellen Glasgow.  Ms. Glasgow won a Pulitzer and is a Virginia writer, a place I've visited often but rarely stayed.   My excuse for not knowing Ms. Glasgow's work is my infrequent visits below the Mason Dixon.   Only occasionally would my interior compass set me off South and other memories.

I think Ms. Glasgow's work has been reprinted.  I know that one or two of Mary Ellen Chase's works were reprinted locally.    But even in Women's Lit classes, neither of these two women writers are included, or at least not the last time I checked syllabuses.

In the end, I read many fine books about Maine, stayed in a charming motel on the Ocean, but left my dream behind and exceeding fond memories.

Perhaps one day we'll all be equals, reincarnation will prove legitimate and I will live in Maine, with the ocean's whispers, and the words of women writers written on the wind for all to hear.


Trial, error and the god complex has some of the most fascinating talks and this one hits home:  "it is very difficult to make good mistakes."

Occasionally, I wish I were either in the audience or at table with one of the speakers, and at the end of this talk  I wished I could be indulged and speak with Tim Harford for a few hours. 


Veronica Lawlor on the streets of New York

Just wonderful to see an urban artist like Veronica Lawlor on the streets of New York drawing with a dip pen and an unnamed, simple glass jar filled with india ink via Brooklyn Independent (BRIC).


Creative blocks

Discovered this thoughtful list of mental blocks to creative thinking via Ancient Artist and it sure makes sense to me.

Having worked in the sciences most of my adult life I discovered it was the deviation from the normative than often unleashed the answer to both simple and complicated questions.

Sometimes my colleagues approved of my tangential thoughts and how I linked one disparate idea to another, while others appreciated them. 

In the end, I got stuff done, but not always by the book, and more often than not, outside the rules. 

Now it is time to apply that way of thinking to those projects I have sitting and awaiting for my creative attention.

van gogh

Yesterday I discovered via a member at Wetcanvas a docudrama about Vincent van Gogh entitled, "van Gogh painted with words."

It is splendid, riveting and thoroughly authentic.

Using van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo as dialogue, and documents from people who knew him, the drama comes alive as if the viewer was part of the story and Vincent van Gogh hauntingly alive.  Part One below:

Whilst I lived in Amsterdam, the van Gogh Museum was still under construction but as I had a sublet flat just around the corner from the Museumplein, it was part of my day.

Theo's son was also a part of the landscape then, dressed like a painting by Lautrec,  deliciously funny, strolling the avenues with long strides and great aplomb.

Remembering,  I experience a strange, but strong sehnsucht  for those days in Amsterdam that are no more.


If you sketch, or if you love sketching

If you like sketches, journals and folks that sketch, and you haven't already discovered Urban Sketchers,  I think you are missing out on some terrific drawing in ink, watercolour and even some say, "with feet."

The group is holding its second annual symposium in Lisboa, Portugal at the end of the month and I have been living vicariously by reading the introductions of the instructors and hearing a little about the participants.

Arco do Triunfo Lisboa

Perhaps if I were feeling better and had known about the event earlier I might have considered going, not necessarily to the symposium--my drawings are just beginning to strike me as good enough--but to see two extraordinary friends who live in the City and who I haven't seen for many years.



Today as I traveled to my nearby town to do three errands, post two parcels, deposit an unexpected cheque and buy some food, I discovered a spider web on my side mirror, saw a raptor trying to catch a small robin and two red-wing hawks flying over the hill farm.

Reflecting  on these encounters reminded me of my days with the Zuni and the honorific given to me by my friends in the Dakotas, and entry into the Thunderbird clan.

What we meet in the natural world is part of us. 

Today I am flying, weaving and escaping.


Review: Creative Time and Space

There is a reason Rice Freeman Zachery 's book, "Creative Time and Space" has five stars at Amazon.  It is terrific.

It took me a few days to read it, or rather savour it, and today I finished on a high note after watching this video at talks about how we can easily make small changes, or try new things for 30 days.

One of several reasons the book is "terrific" is Rice Freeman Zachery's capacity to elicit both the mundane and the marvelous from each interview, regurgitate it into the written word, or in the case of her Notes from the Voodoo Lounge pod casts, spoken word, into meaningful, authentic responses.  It always seems as if she puts people at ease with her own ability to be real and spontaneous.

Although I was not familiar with many of those interviewed in Creative Time and Space, by the time I finished the book I felt as if I had been sitting beside them at a cafe sharing experiences.   And for those few artists I had read about, or followed over the years, I learned new information--all of which enriched my body of knowledge about how they work, what they think and who they are as people.

How it translates into my own "creative time and space" is yet to be tested, but what I do know is I accelerated cleaning up my "studio,"  have painted every day since I started the book, and feel a lightness that can be seen by Matt Cutts in his talk.

I did many of the "try this" exercises, keeping my present journal at hand and jotting down the questions, and often stopping my reading, to do them.

One of the sections, "Soul Space" really hit me.   It covered to some extent, "play, " and most importantly "permission to play."  Playing is not something that comes easily to me and I am going to work on this as a concept and a reality in that "everyday matters" mind set.

On a scale from one to ten, I'll rate this book a whooping 9.