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.

Bragging rights: My daughter

I sit miles away.  I can't see her face.  I can't touch her, or lend her a hand with her new projects, but I can be proud, and I am of her work in Pittsburgh and the life she has made for herself and her family (Reid, Anya Bean and Ruby Slippers).

Marijke Hecht, via Pittsburgh Magazine ©

Yesterday, she was interviewed on the telly, and an article appeared in the Post Gazette about the work she is doing with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to rebuild an educational center in Frick Park.

Preen, preen, preen!


Amazing fodder for thought: Charles Dickens

The Law-Writer

“On the eastern borders of Chancery Lane, that is to say, more particularly in Cook’s Court, Cursitor Street, Mr. Snagsby, law-stationier, pursues his lawful calling. In the shade of Cook’s Court, at most times a shady place, Mr. Snagsby has dealt in all sorts of blank forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of parchment; in paper – foolscap, brief, draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in stamps; in office-quills, pens, ink, India-rubber, pounce, pins, pencils, sealing-wax, and wafers; in red tape and green ferret; in pocket-books, almanacs, diaries, and law-lists; in string boxes, rulers, inkstands – glass and leaden – pen-knives, scissors, bodkins, and other small office-cutlery; in short, in articles too numerous to mention, ever since he was out of his time and went into partnership with Peffer.”

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1852-1853

Found at Palimpsest, and clarified at Orange Crate Art, I thought this worth repeating.


Colonialism in Africa and HIV/AIDS

This headline glared out at me and startled me out my somnambulist state on this day. The article is an excerpt from an as yet to be published book, "Tinderbox" by Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin.

Nothing about it surprises me, but everything about it frightens me.

Having worked first with tropical diseases, primarily malaria, and later HIV and AIDS, I can only say that if the authors are even 50% accurate in their assessment of the transmission of the HIV virus from Colonial days to the pandemic of the 20th century, we haven't learned much about how fragile the eco-system is and moreover how easy it is to disrupt the balance of nature or that which is natural.

Plundering rubber and ivory in Africa is no different than the destruction of the Amazon region and its resources today, turning the indigenous people into pariah, and homeless refugees in their own land.  Not to mention the native non-human primates, bird and flora.

In Africa we got the HIV virus.  In the Amazon the natives never contracted malaria, but as soon as the builders of Empire took charge, their natural immunity dissolved.

Soon no one will be safe.


Rabbit Girl and Emily

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


The Honey Bee and Sennelier Watercolour

Someone else remembers Fowles' Magus

As a follower of Jung, the notion of synchronicity is always present in my mind so it comes as no surprise that NPR has this short piece on "remembering Fowles' Magus."

Selling stuff: 1st up Cameras

Long overdue, I am offering some photographic equipment for sale on pages.  

Make an offer if you are interested in any.

Authors: The Authenic Voice: Saul Bellow and Me

The New York Review of Books published, in two parts, an interview with Nobel Prize laureate, Saul Bellow. A most provocative, evocative piece for anyone but perhaps most especially those of the Jewish faith, born and raised in the United States before and immediately after those chilling World Wars and often until today.

It is written in his authentic voice, and raises so many questions for me, born more than three decades after him, but also the child of an immigrant Eastern European Jewish mother.  And this piece, written nearly two decades ago, could and should be written today, and it is perhaps for that reason the Review is publishing it.

My own experiences do not differ widely from Mr. Bellows, with several exceptions.  Those exceptions are my nearly perfect assimilation into the fabric of this country and beyond, so much so that my own immigrant Mother called me a "WASP."   This handle was given to me because I can and do get the table set, and all the fixings to the table in such a way that I can join rather serve my guests.  I did not laugh or scoff at my Mother, but rather preened at the thought that I could not be distinguished from my fellow citizens by religion, or occasionally locale.

So the second largest, but perhaps not only other difference between Saul Bellow and me is my failure to stay identified as Jewish, but rather strove to lessen rather than enlarge my heritage.

In the second part of the interview, Bellows moves into a philosophic tone and departs greatly from the personal and somehow this section was less engaging.

But perhaps reading the two combined convinced me to take a page from Bellow's playbill and not exaggerate, or offer up my background, but rather just embrace it as me.


Drawing to keep myself sane

The Book of Alfred Kantor is new to me, and regardless of how much and with what penetrating degree of research I've explored World War II, with an emphasis on the holocaust, new material springs up that reignites my exploratory path and sets me thinking.

Art Spiegelman's piece in the New York Review of Books got me thinking about my own feverish drawings, mostly at night, and even occasionally in the dark, with only a flicker of light, and wondering why, these last few months I've felt that same feeling Mr. Kantor had with his post-internment drawings--keeping myself sane with a pen or pencil in my hand.


Books: The Spinoza Problem

Perhaps the biggest problem with Spinoza is that he is surely, slowly being forgotten, neglected and undervalued for  the philosopher he was and the contributions he made to just plain questioning and thinking.

Irvin Yalom, a psychologist who writes novels, attempts apparently to not only understand and analyze Spinoza, but his antithetical other, Alfred Rosenberg, a thoroughly anti-Semitic tyrant of Hitler's Nazi regime in a new piece of fiction.

However, I reviewed my "book wish list" and if I add another book the cart will topple over and hit me in the head.