Happy New Year!

Although there is a terrific sounding party over at MP's today where many of my friends will be, there is bad weather predicted I am likely to stay in and cheer myself with a bottle of Porter.

Hope all are safe and looking forward to a New Year.


PS - Special greetings to Baby Jack, this his very first New Year!


Michelangelo's grocery list

It is amazing what mediabistro brings to my day.

via Bibliokept

Kelly McMasters first brought mediabistro to my attention in one of her Paris Review essays. 


Edgar Allan Poe and the mountain fog

The Morgan Library & Museum once more has a fascinating exhibit this month, and until January 26 of Edgar Allan Poe's works and related works by authors he influenced.

Energetic adventures not forthcoming, yet I might give a try for the Poe National Historical site, part of the Parks Department, in Pennsylvania, where Poe was most happy.

Dickens, too, is on exhibit.

At holiday season I do miss New York City.

And here in the lower Catskills on the Delaware we've had warm weather up until yesterday and today a light sprinkle of snow.   But for several days the fog was dense and nearly impossible to follow along even on the highway.


Writing in Isolation: Prison Memoir

It is remarkable to think that in 1858, an imprisoned man in Auburn (New York) could muster up 304 pages of life in prison, but Austin Reed did.

New York Times ©

Uncovered recently and now at Yale, the manuscript must be quite the eye full as it is handwritten, and undoubtedly a challenge to read, and now it is to be published.

It makes me think of my own struggle with writing.   Before the internet, I could sit down at a typewriter or an early computer, and write for ages.  Now I get distracted not by isolation but by popping emails, and searches for this or that.

When I had a place in the mountains, years ago, I would go there on weekends and write, often late into the night, with perhaps the radio on.  We didn't have much of a television.

I managed more than 300 pages, but these days it is difficult for me to meet my own schedule of one hour or 1000 words.

Yesterday, landlocked by snow and no car, I managed just over one thousand words, and the time seemed to fly by.

I am hoping to disengage and continue that pace.


Gifts for readers: non-traditional charities

Mediabistro published a list of 10 charities who encourage reading.

When I left New York seven years ago (time does fly) I donated more than 25 boxes of books to Books to Prisoners.

Two young strapping guys showed up, took the boxes with one arm, and carried them away, joyful at the bounty, and it wasn't even


Streetwise ©

So if you have books you aren't reading and want some book shelf, perhaps you'd consider donating to one of these charities.

Science Fiction the development stage

According to Wired [via mediabistro], we might have a Science Fiction Museum in Washington, D.C.

Jules Verne's studio © (via Wired)

In the early stages of raising funds.


So What about the Affordable Care Act is Working?

I just received two notices in the mail.

The first notice is that my insurance premium has gone up---not down.

And the second notice is that there are additional restrictions on my prescription plan.

New York State was touted as a State where insurance rates were decreasing.  Perhaps not so true as my plan is a retiree plan from New York State

So, how is the Affordable Care Act working?

Gobble, Gobble: Bread & Circus

Even after all these years I call "Whole Foods" "Bread & Circus" because I am stubborn and object to the gobbling up of the small or smallish in favour of the bigger, and biggest.

I first was introduced to Bread & Circus by my friend, Sherry Ryan, who lived on the East Side of Providence and could practically walk over, and perhaps she did.   When they opened I lived about 5 miles away but later I, too, lived in walking distance--at least on a good day.

One bad day, during a hurricane, one big enough to have the Mayor close the roads, Ed and I were stranded Downtown.  Being Ed, he got into that crazy jeep and rushed over to the grocer to get some provisions least we starve.   I worried when he didn't come back, quickly, phoned up and they paged him and sent him back to the studio, thus relieving my concerns and the Mayor's dictate.

I liked that.

I also liked the fact that when I moved to Western Massachusetts, they, too, had a Bread & Circus on rte 9, between Amherst & Northampton--so utterly convenient as I was working 3 counties and traveled that road almost daily, occasionally more often.

Brookline Store, 1975

I still have my two woven, bright green string Bread & Circus shoppers, and use them frequently.

But now I also have a yellow "Whole Foods" plastic bag I got in Pittsburgh.

Now it seems Whole Foods is opening all over, including Brooklyn.

What will it do to the Mom & Pop food stores all over Brooklyn who already sell "good food," "specialty items" and unusable vegetables and fruits.

Will they go out of business?  How much will they suffer for the turkeys that always gobble, gobble.


Early Kremer Pigments Palette

Certainly not the first, but among the early adopters of the Kremer palette, I was disappointed two times and remain disappointed.

I bought a palette somewhere between 2004-06, can't recall what year.  The first had cracked paint in a matter of days.  Returned it.   The second also developed the same issues.

Kremer Palette (closed)

Cracked colours

Full palette

Now here are photos of the third and last of the palettes.   Too late to return and I wonder what with so many talking about the Kremer and buying it, if it has improved.


Winter in the country side

Yesterday, it was cold but warm enough to go without mittens for a visit to Narrowsburg to see the Arts Alliance 6x6 show, and check out the Indie Market, second year, and this year with several of my friends having stuff to show & sell.

Daria Dorosh's great work © Dorosh
Surprisingly, Morgan also had a booth, manned by a student. 

J. Morgan Puett's clothing line ©

But by the time I had finished shopping at the market in my own town, my car stopped working altogether.  Not the battery.  Not the battery.   Something wrong, but what.

After an hour an unfamiliar car came up and it was a local AAA representative from another town with his two bright eyed children.   He tried the battery.  No dice.  I knew it wasn't the battery by this time because all the other elements worked, or at least that's how it seems to me.

He drove me home, 1.3m, with the groceries but all my paperwork is in the car and my walking around coat. 

He later towed it to my regular mechanic.  But it turns out my regular mechanic is unable to work on electrical issues and it may be the starter.  Now the car is 20m away and I don't know when it will be worked on, finished, and what is wrong.

The roads are nearly impassable; all the schools closed;  and I believe the library (a most unusual event).   Just now when I looked out the front door, I realized that a great deal of fog is coming up.

Pentamento ©

A good day to stay home. 

But when will my wheels be fixed?  And how much will it cost?

And are we in for a rough winter?

Watercolour Advice from Mark Holmes

Teoh Yi Chie  at Parkablog  has been interviewing artists about their tools of the trade--sketching.

Mark Taro Holmes, an Urban Sketcher and a very good one, recently shared his tools in an interview and made a few excellent points:

About the paint:

1) try the paints out in smaller size tubes until you know you "really like" the colour.

Pentamento's watercolours

I so wish I had been given this advice years ago when I started to paint with watercolour because now I have a huge collection of paint that will undoubtedly not get used.

About the paint brushes:

He says, and I often agree, that synthetics can be as good as the best sable.

My favourite synthetics these days are the Lowes Cornell 7020  & Utrecht's 228 sabettes.  

Both these synthetics hold a good point, are easy on the hand and inexpensive.


Keep those envelops: Dickinson Did!

Apparently, Emily Dickinson's trove of envelop draft poems have been recovered, published and on view at several museums, one of which is in NYC.

The Drawing Center
35 Wooster Street
New York, NY

Amazingly, the Dickinson/Walser pencil sketch book is on line to read (with good eyes) and view.  The Drawing Center (located in SoHo) is also selling the book for $20.00 plus postage.

For one brief moment, Mandela

I wrote this days ago but didn't post it.  Now Mr. Mandela has passed away.

Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela and I for one will always remember you with a smile on my face.

Today, in the New York Times, a video, looking back at his life, here.

It seems yet another film has been made about Nelson Mandela's life, this time, however, with the blessings and support of his immediate family.

This New York Times piece reminds me so clearly of the brief moment I met Mr. Mandela, a moment that I may have repeated often, but stands out more clearly today as I watch the political folly here in the US.

It was easy weather and I was outside 5 Penn Plaza.  At that time both our NYC headquarters and the offices of CNN shared space on alternate sides of the building.  Because of CNN's presence in the building, it was a frequent occurrence that popular figures in the news would appear and disappear suddenly on the stairs or on the busy thoroughfare of 8th Avenue waiting to be picked up by a taxi or a limo.

I don't know if I recognized him or just sort of fell into conversation with him because of his stature or the fact that he may have been with one or another of the cameramen I knew well.

Mr. Mandela, then, now more than a decade ago, was an imposing figure, tall, lean, and with the brightest smile this side of the Atlantic.

He was among, if not the single most generous of those news worthy figures to pop into or out of my vision and outings to the fresh air, little that there was, on this Avenue, and at this juncture of the City where not only is there heavy traffic but Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.


Which Water Brush?

Top to bottom:  Pentel, Holbein, Caran d'ache

Traveling back and forth from Pittsburgh through Lewisburg (PA) and State College (PA) gets me up front art supplies rather than relying solely on internet suppliers and thus I was able to see up close & test the new(ish) Caran d'ache waterbrush at Brushstrokes (Lewisburg).

I bought the Holbein from Jet Pens a couple of months ago and was excited to see this brush pen in the States.  

I was equally excited to see a European model, especially from a manufacturer like Caran d'ache.

So, how do they compare to each other, and the other two water brushes, also in my collection, the Sakura and the Kuretake (Jet Pens also carries a full line of Kuretake & Pentel brush pens).

The Holbein comes in two sizes: Medium and Large.  I have the Medium.

The Kuretake's come in various sizes, including a flat, one of a few manufactuers that offer this type.  Kuretake flats was among the 1st water brushes I owned and used on a trip to Sicily.  I used it so much it totally wore out and I recently replaced it.

The Pentels also come in various sizes and have a range of disposable pens in colours.

The Sakura is probably best known as the water brush that accompanies the Koi watercolor set(s) but it also sells individual brushes.

Holbein & Caran d'ache after use

Holbein & Caran d'ache closed

Holbein & Caran d'ache opened

I am often captured by looks, a shallow quality I am certain, and the Caran d'ache is very pretty and looks well designed.  However, it is not as functional as any of the others, and not as easy to use as the (new to me) Holbein.

Filling the Caran d'ache is tedious;  the Holbein not.   Releasing the water from the chamber of the Caran d'ache is not consistent;  the Holbein is. 

And although not as important the bristles on the Caran d'ache does not clean nearly as well as some of the other water brushes.

At nearly $10.00 it is unlikely I will be buying another Caran d'ache, although I will certainly consider more Holbein brushes.

My favourites thus far are the Koi and the Holbein, runners up Kuretake and Pentel.

Nearly never without a Rhodia

All the new notepads, and/or journals just don't compare to Rhodia.  


They flip back easily without breaking the upper spine, tear out smoothly and provide a paper surface that takes any writing utensil.  

And these Rhodia notepads are not expensive, either and often available where I shop.

More on Detroit's Museum

So, it seems someone in Detroit wants to sell the collection inasmuch as they got an appraisal from Christie's according to this piece in the New York Times.

Bruegel © New York Times

The sum is nowhere near the social value of having this work together, and in Detroit.

I can easily see a European museum offering a heady sum for the Bruegel above.


Who will save Detroit & its landmark museum?

Detroit Art Institute © New York Times

With the default and declaration of bankruptcy of Detroit, who will save this magnificent museum, a landmark and among the most extraordinary in the country?


How small a palette?

The size of a business card!

I failed to mention this very small palette came from Maria Coryell-Martin at Expeditionary Art and that I ordered and should receive this week some slightly larger inserts.