Books: The Remarkable Cornell

From under glass, two editors bring to life both a book and CD of the remarkable Joseph Cornell and shed new light or perhaps less shadow on his work and his inventions.

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery (1943), Construction, 15 1/2 x 11 1/8 x 4 1/4 in

"The Manual of Marvels" is a must have on my holiday gift list and would be a wonderful addition to my Cornell collection of books.


Moved and Maddox

I've moved. 
I'm rattled.
I'm overwhelmed.
And I have very rural-like services that do not permit lingering on-line.  I did, however, catch Making a Mark and saw this short clip of Ford Maddox Brown's "Work."

The Pre-Raphaelites have always been among my favourites and I so wish I could catch this show at the Tate.  If you can, run because it has more than one hundred examples of this English period.


Winner: Seaside Studios

One of the blogs I regularly follow is Lisa Le Quelenec's Seaside Studios.  Lisa is a most wonderful artist who lives in and often paints and even draws those elements in nature I admire.

Well, recently Lisa celebrated a blog anniversary.  I commented.  And I won this painting.  It is now here in the US waiting to be framed and hung in my new home in October.

Lisa offers some of her work at here.

I am so pleased.


Tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy

For all those who knew him, for those that wished they knew him, and for those of us who had the privilege in Massachusetts to vote for him, this is a splendid, tear provoking tribute.

During these stressful 3-1/2 years, I've wished for the likes of Senator Kennedy to intervene and speak the truth.


How Flabby is your Brain?

via artist Wendy MacNaughton as it appeared in Forbes Magazine.


Black Bear in Pennsylvania

It came out of the grass so suddenly I wasn't sure if my eyes were deceiving me.   It was a youngster, black as can be and probably not very tall.

It is the first black bear I've been in this area although this article documents an increase of these bears in Pennsylvania.

Even if I had my camera with me I couldn't have snapped a photograph as the bear moved quickly, clearly frightened and I was in a moving vehicle.


En Plein Air in Plain Sight: Bryant Park

It must be exciting to be amidst the throngs in Bryant Park, and as painter Patti Mollica said, "“I was a little scared at first, but I feel like I can paint anywhere now.”

Patti Mollica, Bryant Park via the New York Times

And living more than 100 miles from the City I missed it.


Bill Moyers on Gun Violence, and the 2nd Amendment

Video courtesy of Crooks & Liars

Testing a permalink

What is a peramlink and why do I want to use it?

Katherine Tyrrell over at the always informative "Making a Mark," discusses it and shows one how.


Book Review: I feel bad about my neck, Nora Ephron

I have almost entirely given up buying fiction or even non-fiction so when Luci told me she had Nora Ephron's book I noodled her to death at her 4th of July gala to lend it to me.  And she did, and I finished it.

It is not a great book, but it is a must read book if you are a woman of a certain age.  Don't read it if you are under 50; don't read it if you are child-less; and certainly don't read it if you don't have an Ephron sensibility or a New York Woody Allen way of looking at the world as the world looks at you.

On page 105, Ephron says, and I quote, "I can't believe how real life never lets you down.  I can't understand why anyone would write fiction when what actually happens is so amazing."

One of two reasons it is annoying not owning a book is you can't (or won't) mark it up for quotations or passages that capture your attention.  Another reason is you have to avoid sleeping or eating with the book least you mess it up.

My poetry friend, Dottie, lent me a book last week and immediately after I read the two chapters I was interested in I wrapped it in cello to keep it clean until I return it.  She made a point of telling me not to read it with a messy attitude.   I didn't.

Wrinkled turkey neck (stock photo)
Back to the book with a ridiculous title, "I feel bad about my neck."

It is so good that while I didn't belly laugh, I chuckled often and nodded my head more times than usual in agreement, and thoroughly enjoyed it from page one to its conclusion.  Ephron writing, like Ephron movies are to be cherished for their down to earth quality, and simple, simple underlined, statements that resonate as brilliant long after you left the theatre or closed the book.

She takes the mundane and turns it into what her mother referred to "as copy."   She makes necks, strudel, death, wrinkles, buying shampoo or renting an apartment seem momentous and an adventure.

She'll be missed.


Science & Medicine: Diseases

Weeks ago I was lamenting how we, the people, are creating diseases, some well known like AIDS, and others yet named or identified.   This week Jim Robbins (the New York Times) lays it out clearly in his article, "The Ecology of Disease."

Malaria Life Cycle

HIV/AIDS life cycle

When I worked with colleagues on malaria, while others worked on T. cruzi, leprosy and later HIV, among others, we all looked at the same patterns.  We each elected to explore a different path, but in the end no path led any of us to a vaccine for any of the infectious diseases, not malaria, and not AIDS, not one parasite, or infectious disease, has a cure; none have a vaccine to eradicate it or even stem its tide.

Yes, we have drugs, but often these prove ineffective and occasionally, dangerous.

The eco-system is in now in peril, and that perilous journey is the path we, the people, are navigating.

Rain too much.
Rain too little.
Sudden change in plant life.
Introduction of a new nematode.
Disappearance of that mammal. 
Insufficient predators for deer.
No space for the bear, black or brown.

The list is endless.

We are not.


Rabbit Girl is searching for the right set of friends

And she may have found just the right crowd with the Maileg Rabbit families.   They come from Denmark, but Rabbit Girl has been able to communicate with them in Dutch (not the same, but similar enough to make good friendly sounds).


Heroes and Heroines

With the exception of "The Gladiator," I do believe that most, if not all, my heroes and heroines are writers, scientists, and the odd philosopher.

This week another funny, charming, bright heroine died: Nora Ephron.   The obituaries are pouring into my mailbox just like, "You've got mail."

Other recent deaths of those I'd call "my hero" was Maurice Sendak, a child-hood acquaintance and wonderful writer, artist and fellow Brooklyn-ite.

Even more recently a stunning hero, Ray Bradbury, passed away.


A Kelly Kilmer online class: tempting

It's been years since I've seen Kelly or taken a Kilmer class (in Westchester), but not nearly as many years since our group at yahoo disbanded.  I follow her blog "Kelly Kilmer Artist and Instructor," and her latest on-line workshop is very tempting.

AJ Tarot Deck 2001©

I do journal; I do sketch; I do make books and now I am trying out a pseudo-encaustic for Cynthia, but I am uneven, undisciplined and erratic since I retired.  Strange, instead of doing more art, I do less.

Illustration from my nearly defunct website

And the fact that this class will stay up forever makes it all the more appealing.


Artist: A look at Caravaggio

Have you ever seen a Caravaggio at a museum or a gallery (probably in Italy)?

The New York Times "Postcards" looks at the "Madonna di Loreto" in Rome,

Madonna di Loreto, Rome (via Wikipedia

but one of the paintings that had me enthralled was in a museum in Sicily.

Seppellimento di Santa Lucia" cm 408x300, Museo Nazionale Palazzo Bellomo, Siracusa  

It was Christmas 2004, and M and I spent nearly a month in Sicily.  Of the many towns, hamlets, and cities we visited, I think it was Siracusa that remains my favourite.  Every memory I have of the days and evenings we spent there are engraved on my eyelids.

It is also a special time in Siracusa (Syracuse) when the town/city celebrates Santa Lucia.  It was cold that day, and raining lightly, but still the entire populace came out to either walk in the parade through the main street, or to watch on the sidelines.  M and I did, too.

It was magnificent.

Lucia is carried through the streets and after the parade is over, the entire town celebrates with good food and fine wine.  And we did, too.  We went to a local restaurant and met with only the friendliest revelers, all of whom, bought us vino, and desserts.

The pensione we stayed at was terrific, on the ground floor with a beautiful outdoor paved garden and reasonably priced, even in Euros.

But it is the sea and the art that stays with me and keeps me going back to Sicily, if not in reality, in my imagination.  And Caravaggio's work, in person, the brush strokes, the depth of field, the realism, is perfect and near life-sized.


Alvin in paper

Early for an interview weeks ago in Hasbrouck, I stopped off at our singular stationer and art supply shop in Monticello.  On hand was Bob, the friendly at the front desk salesman, and just as I was about to pay and leave the store with some unneeded but purchased anyway office supplies, I remembered that the last time I was in they had the Rhodia notebooks on sale.

It seems they are discontinuing Rhodia, but added this new series by Alvin. 

Alvin ALG14

They are made in Turkey, seem to be utilitarian styles and have quality 80g/m vellum paper.  The pad I picked up is 4.3x6.7, gridded and perforated.  The pad was priced at $2.45.

Testing Pens

I tried a few pens on it, with various inks, and it seems like a good substitute for similar quick note pads I use at interviews.

Uranus, in particular, bleed through

However, several pens do create significant bleed through, in particular, the Uranus.

At this price, and with my penchant for writing tools, not a bad purchase.


Planning a Garden, 2nd Stage

Mixed Beds - Flowers and Vegetables

Beds and Containers, Mixed Plantings

Saracennia oreophila
Too much grass.  I have four areas going, one is encircled by a short fence, another is just beyond the walkway in the back of the house, a third is in development as a rain garden and the fourth is being prepared for some of the plants I suspect won't make it in containers beyond one season, but are perennials.

Today it is raining, and heavily, so no gardening just thinking, planning and catching up on garden books and magazines.

Our season is radically different than I am accustomed to and may be even more unpredictable with climatic changes.

Books: The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne Jones

A stimulating review of McCarthy's new book, "The Last Pre-raphaelite " in the Washington Post recently, written by Michael Dirda.

The Beguiling of Merlin, Burne-Jones, National Museum Liverpool


On Ray Bradbury

One of the princes of science fiction, and a most valuable mentor in writing, Ray Bradbury seemed ageless.  In fact, I thought he was far younger than his 91 years.

The WP has this to say.

And the New York Times obituary here.

NPR also did a review today in their update here.

I've read much of Ray Bradbury, his novels, novellas, short stories and even did a commemorative tarot deck with the Capolan's based on "Something Wicked this Way Comes," back a few years ago. I have to find the card I made because it was one I was rather fond of and even proud of at the time.

But of all Bradbury's writing, the book I cherish is the one he did on writing, "Zen in the Art of Writing."  He was masterful in creating a simple formula for his daily writing, and he wrote every day.  He permitted himself a free flow of imaginary by entering his cluttered but wonderful decorative workroom, pouncing on one object in the room and then...yes, writing!

When I lived in Providence (RI) during my sabbatical year from that awful B medical school, I did what Bradbury did.  I had a light front room, filled with what I loved, two desks, hundreds of books, and my favourite childhood doll, a small Macintosh SE, and plenty of time.  I didn't answer the phone or acknowledge the world until I wrote one thousand words.  I was able to keep this up the entire year after returning from a 3 month trip across the US (circa 1992).

That year in writing is memorable.  But Ray Bradbury is even more memorable and a wonderful influence to all writers, science fiction or otherwise.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.  I'll miss your voice in my ear.

Rabbit Girl and Zoe in Pittsburgh, Highland Park


Cartridge Connection

I didn't make the logical but not necessarily obvious connection that the Kaweco pens take standard sized cartridges.  I was concerned I'd run out and bought 3 packets in 3 different colours.

But it appears I have dozens of this size cartridge in J. Herbin canisters, some of which I bought in Portland at Oblations and others from Swisher, now dark.


An early gift

Joann gave me a lovely sumi set this week from China.  I found this good tutorial on grinding at Blue Heron, better known for their inventive water brushes.

Review: A.G. Spalding Fountain Pen

It will come, but a here's a tease.

AG Spalding Fountain, Pen, courtesy Jet Pens
I am not an active member of Facebook or Twitter, nor is it my intention to become active.  I am not socially inclined in that terrific pool of non-friends and friends alike.   Hence, I had no idea that the Facebook and Twitter social media world is involved in ways that I was totally and completely unaware of--including offering products.

Jet Pens, is among those offering products to review just that way.  However, Lily, kindly took my reluctance to be a part of the bigger world into consideration and sent me the AG Spalding fountain pen to review knowing my penchant for writing instruments and lack of social graces in this wider world.

But I've decided after reviewing several fountain pens, quickly, perhaps too quickly, that like automobiles and bluejeans, fountain pens need to be test driven.  I am doing that with the AG Spalding.  It is keeping up nicely and will receive a thorough review after it has hit the end of its ink fill.

Thanks, Lily and Jet Pens, for the pleasure of yet another pen to write and doodle with.


Fountain Pens Back in Favour

I've been using a fountain pen for decades, literally, and have always gotten odd looks and weird comments from many, most especially at a working meeting and an ink fill.

Now it appears (and I've seen this article circulating widely) the BBC is reporting the use and collection of fountain pens is on the rise.

It may even be true in my own family.
Kaweco Sport Ice, Fine (via Jet Pens

I bought my 8 year old grand-daughter, Anya Bean, a Kaweco Ice Sport from Jet Pens for her birthday next week after her mother gave me a lukewarm approval and Anya used mine with great success.

Beeswax is yunky on those brushes

On Saturday, 26 May, I picked up 10-year old Nicole, who would be my helper during a garage sale, and set her off on many chores.  But, she loves art so I decided we'd do a preliminary trial  using the beeswax I have been hoarding for ages, warming it up in a little pot, and letting her choose her own substrate. 

Potje for Melting Wax

Nicole used mat board and cut out some animal photographs from an old Antique magazine.  I think she enjoyed it and brought it home.

I am using the Art Media board, although I suspect it is too light weight for much manipulation.

Before I slapped on three coats of beeswax, I drew an outline of my intended image; it is still visible and will serve as a guide.

Set up outside on Judson's Guerrilla easel

Yesterday, 30 May, I stopped into Cynthia's to see how the honey products were laid out, and it is terrific and includes blocks of wax.  I also talked to the beekeeper later.

It is a cozy corner on a counter in the middle of the store between the gallery and the art shop.


BeesWax Challenge

Several months ago,  Cynthia, my friend and art supplier, gave me a sample of Multimedia Artboard to try out and compare to mat board as a possible substrate for a series of collages.  A US manufactured product always appeals to me, and the products data sheet indicates it is versatile.

As it seems I often get to town when she is not available or the shop is closed, months past before I was able to share my results with her.

On Friday she asked me to take on a challenge.

Would I do a beeswax or encaustic collage to accompany her product line of these art boards and the local honey she is selling.  She then gifted me with 5 8x10 sheets of the board.

Today I found the remains of a bumblebee on the back porch, an oddity.

And I also had a very edifying conversation with my neighbour.   At 82, CS, is our local beekeeping expert and extremely knowledgeable about all things nature.

All in a very bee-ful day.

Bee, Wikipedia

 Bee Anatomy, Wikipedia

It is my intention to do an abstract collage of a rhododendron arrangement in a Le Creuset jug

Cobalt blue Le Creuset jug

 on my dining room table, and possibly include the real, but unfortunately, now deceased bee.

Rhododendron leaves

Rhododendron blooms

A beautiful and rather mature rhododendron is growing outside my stairwell window and lovely to behold when in bloom. I pruned it a week or more ago and cut the top blooms for the jug.

(I have a new camera and haven't figured out how to view, capture and then post photographs yet.)

A magical unicorn

Saola ©

This horned animal was discovered in Vietnam and is nearly extinct.  More about the Saola can be found at the World Wildlife site.


Who is my guest?


I'm not certain if it is a crow or a raven that came today.  If he comes back tomorrow, I have to really pay attention to the beak and the shape of the body.

A similar or the same bird came to my office window for weeks last year, jabbering and peeking at the glass. 

I was so curious I rang up the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and spoke to the crow expert.  He may have lost his mate and is searching for a new one.  The crows generally travel in pairs.


Birds: Red winged blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird
This is one of several bird species that have been visiting.  He swoops down onto the front porch railing but he/she moves so quickly I can barely capture him in a photograph let alone by eye.

About Red Winged Blackbirds here.


What is art, and what attracts me to an artist?

Kurt D. Holomon
I ordered and received today, "On Foot, a Journal" not because I needed a journal to trek with, but because I am fascinated by Kurt D. Holomon's work.

via Amazon (where it was purchased)

If I'm not mistaken his journals were included in Danny Gregory's An Illustrated Life, but I either discovered or rediscovered Mr. Holomon serendipitously.

I often review blog lists and discover artists or sites that inspire, and that is how I came upon Kurt D. Holomon.

The 4x6 spiral bound trekker journal, On Foot, is a most pleasant surprise and I will be using it this summer, but it is not a true representation of his work.  The journal is fun to look at, has heavy weight paper, sort of paperbag colour and two roomy pockets at the back to collect those "on the road" collections.

Lisa Le Quelenec
I discovered Lisa Le Quelenec of Seaside Studios in a similar roundabout and rewarding way.  It was during a period when several bloggers were discussing and sharing watercolour mixes, and in particular those under explored colours like Payne's Grey, Neutral Tint, Indigo et al.

I had myself just done some smears here and there with those same colours and get into a small discussion about their value and their differences, stark in some cases, between brands.   I love the mystery associated with colour and how we relate to different colours and several colours in juxtaposition to one another.  Lisa and I shared some of our tests.

Midnight Stroll,  Lisa Le Quelenec, 2012 ©

Lisa is a remarkable artist whose work can be purchased at her Elsy shop.

I've always loved images of the sea, and the sky, and even have several works on my walls of quiet, and somewhat near and remote places.  Lisa's acrylics make me want to plunge into the painting and swim with the tides of her time and place.

Laverne Black
I am equally intrigued with the dense, the dark and the hidden.  I had the great pleasure of meeting Laverne Black, a Catskill photographer recently.  We first met at The Old Stone House in Hasbrouck, and as I was driving the Hasbrouck roads, a hamlet of Neversink,  I felt I understood where Laverne got her inspiration.

Fogging Day, Laverne Black ©

Then this past weekend Time and the Valley's Museum had its opening exhibit featuring some of Laverne's local barn photographs, and although the museum is not within easy reach, I made it a point of getting to see the exhibit and seeing Ms. Black again--a huge pleasure.

The Famous Artists
I've never been taken with Monet's haystacks, although I've seen them in Boston and Chicago.

It took me forever to appreciate van Gogh, and I lived just a stone's throw from the museum created in his name.  I finally understood him during a visit to Arles.

I loathed Picasso until I truly studied his work close hand and not just on a museum wall or an art book.

Messina's l'Annunciazione (Siracusa)

But I was taken with Rodin immediately; fell head over heels in love with Dali, and stopped by Messina's l'Annunciazione for hours.  It sits in Siracusa (Sicily) and is being slowly restored.

Detail (left) Messina l'Annunciazione (Siracusa)
There is no accounting for one's taste, and mine is eclectic.  I admire the Romantics as much as the Modernists; I am fascinated by the Surrealists, and admire the Post-Modernists.  I found Conceptional art intriguing especially as I had many Dutch friends in the movement who did excellent work.

Illustrations captivate me.  Children's book illustrators in particular

The Little Stranger, Willy Pogany

 Queen Guenevere, Jesse Marion King, 1875-1949

My own calling card (business card) is based on a King illustration; one I've used for about a decade.

And I continue to look and learn about art and what attracts me to a particular artist.

I'm really...Rosie


Why be happy when you could be normal?

I got it.  Yes, the Western Sullivan system came through this week with two of the three books I wanted, the first Winterson's memoir, the second Silas House's novel, Eli the Good.

I started Why be happy immediately, and I savoured every word, all of which fly off the pages with a contagious energy.

I haven't read Winterson since the 90s, but after I heard the interview she gave on Bookworm I knew I had to read this memoir. 

I had a difficult time returning it to the library and seriously think I will buy my own copy.  So many passages were brilliantly resonating that I wanted to highlight, underline and dog-ear pages.  Of course I didn't.  Of course I couldn't.

Jeanette Winterson didn't have a picture perfect youth, and from the memoir I gather she's had struggles just like the rest of us as an adult, but she is able to take her struggles and wrap them into sensitive sentences sprinkled with evocative thoughts.  She writes straight up, no pretensions, no allusions or illusions about her life, her background in Northern England, just outside Manchester and what it's like to be adopted and possibly unloved and unwanted.

She also has the gift of memorized or recalled poetry and the garnish of her reading material only adds to the overall whole of a writer writing about her life.

A masterful memoir, and worthy of many stars and fulsome accolades.

RIP: Maurice Sendak

The illustrator and children book writer blogospheres are all commemorating Maurice Sendak who died today, aged 83 (1928-2012).  Neither an illustrator nor an artist myself, I have always been a great admirer of Mr. Sendak, and his work. 

My favourite, where Mr. Sendak drew on my old stomping grounds, sending me back to my own childhood where Rosie, dresses up and performs from her cellar door--in Brooklyn, New York.

One of those books I always buy and bought for all the children dear to me, and in my life.