Friday, December 11, 2009


White paper anxiety can stifle even the most skilled writers and artists. The more you think about not choking, the more likely you will. After going through a whole sketch book and making lots of folded paper “magpies”  Finally, I painted something that looked like one of the pictures in my instruction book.

Yeah, still pretty wobbly, but better.

Then I went to U-Tube for help. I found a teacher who said to practice on paper towels and newsprint. Whew. I’ve got plenty of that stuff. But I still couldn’t manage the wedgie stroke that I needed for birds and butterflies. I convinced myself I needed new gear.

I don’t know about you, but when I go into a store that carries supplies for my hobbies I want to buy everything and take it home and arrange it on shelves and stash it in boxes just because it is SO COOL! This reminds me of a painting by James C. Christensen called, “Six Bird Hunters in Full Camouflage.” A copy of it is in his book, A Journey of the Imagination.

Christensen says you may only be able to see five of the six hunters. “The sixth bird hunter is very, very good.”

The tool is only as good as the user. Right. But, maybe, a new brush would make me paint better. You know, like those new shoes that turned your feet to wings.

It came in the mail today.

“The Medium Flow top quality, hand-selected combination brush…handmade by a master calligrapher.”
The brush is a wonder. Or, like Dumbo’s magic feather, it helped me jump off the cliff and fly.

Look! Birdies. The paper is just newsprint. Imagine what I can do if I go to the art supply store and buy rice paper!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Rising Sun--Rising Fog


Two Fogbows and two Self Portraits

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Too tight, too cluttered, too complicated is how my watercolor paintings are looking. In an effort to loosen up and simplify--
I dug out my oriental watercolor brushes and my sumi ink. I know. I know. This kind of art takes a serious investment of effort, time, training and discipline. All of which I have very little or none. But I love the beauty of those fluid lines done so effortlessly.
Here is what I wish I could do. This is a masterpiece by Jean Kigel. With a minimum of effort and a maximum of skill she produces the power of a horse. “Ma dao cheng gong.” “Where there are horses, there is success.”

I would be pleased to just produce a bird and some leaves like this without wobbling. But noOo.

So I Amazoned a book by Yolanda Mayhall,
got an extra supply of that luscious ink and started on the most simple of simples: bamboo.

I have done this all before---badly. I know I am supposed to learn to focus my Chi. Think steady with the mind and fluid with the body so I can “produce a stream of wind at the tip of the brush.” Who am I kidding? My balance is so poor I can’t even stand on one foot in tree position. (Although I like to blame that lack of ability on chubby thighs.)

Still, I try and try to paint those effortless strokes. I hold the brushes vertical with that calligraphy grip. I try to move freely with my whole arm and follow through with that twist that makes the point on the leaves. My efforts end in disaster. I fold the failures into paper cranes. (DH calls them magpies.)
I understand if you make a thousand cranes your wish will come true.

This is gonna take a while. >:P

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Like the taste of Ghirardelli Dark or the feel of an expensive sable---watercolor brush; I knew when I tried blogging that I would be back for more. Here is a place where I can speak for myself just ‘cause I want to.

What I didn’t anticipate was how my little domain would literally open up the world for me. After a year and a half of blogging I am more aware of the planet than in all the time I spent studying geography or environmental science. (Study may be the wrong word. I found those classes mostly tedious and only a means to a passing grade).

From Northern Ontario Canada to Adelaide Australia; from the coast of Scotland to the coast of South Africa I can be in touch with voices that resonate with mine. I know that no matter how very dark the night or how rotten the weather—somewhere the sun is shining and a warm breeze is lifting green leaves.

My disappointment is: I will probably never hear most of these voices with my ears or have an opportunity to look into their eyes. However, last summer my path crossed with a blogger and I found Linda Sue to be as genuine and creative as her words and pictures. The short time we spent together as she shared her world was a high point of a week long getaway. Meeting handsome Mr. Dexter was a bonus.

Later I asked her for a small sample of her skills. She designs and fashions amazing items out of wool. Visit her at All I’ve Ever Wanted to see samples of her work. I asked for one of her colorful pin cushions.

Yesterday I opened a box big enough to hold a free range turkey.

It was not a turkey.

I found, not a pin cushion, but a sofa cushion!

I will let photographs tell the story of her gift.

A couple of Dexter hairs give it personality. Knowing her hands spent hours putting together this piece of art makes it priceless