Friday, March 20, 2015

A little break

I am sick and family members are sick--coughing, sneezing, wheezing, blowing, groaning, whining. It's nothing serious, but it diminishes productivity, so instead of thinking of this blog with regretful anxiety I've decided to institute an official two week hiatus, while I catch up on other stuff. 

I do plan to get some work done in my garden. It's the season of high hopes! 

The illustration is by Cicely Mary Barker. I tried but cannot track it to its online source, It's from her book Groundsel and Necklaces.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I really wanted to share something new of my own in this post, but a cold virus has been getting me down, and I haven't done a line of art for days. I'm sleepy all day long. My sluggish, unwilling brain keeps presenting me with negative statements about my creative abilities, but that might be its mean way of making me do nothing and rest.

Spring is almost here and it actually shows. It's a mild, white, densely-foggy day. The old snow is melting into the sodden tan grass, and the birds have broken their winter silence. We opened the windows for a little while today to get fresh air in the house, and now some of my kids are outside making cardboard-box forts on dry spots on the driveway.

In a few weeks, maybe, flowers will come out, and a green mist will brighten gray-brown branches. In the meantime, here are some spring flowers by English illustrator Edward Julius Detmold. They can be found on

Update: I wrote yesterday, but did not post. Things change so quickly with a bit of warmth. Today the grass is greening up, the fog is gone, and little children, mine and neighbors, are busy outside, rejoicing in light, color and soft air. I hear their tuneless singing and their chatter like chirping birds. I also hear rocks thudding into plastic buckets. I wonder what that's about.

And I feel so much better today that I sketched and will do so again.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


Sometimes, when I have made some little thing with a bit of detail to it, someone says, "Oh, you have so much patience. I would never have the patience to do that," and I feel blank and slightly surprised. Huh? Patient? Me? I thought I was just having fun.

Certain kinds and stages of making trigger easy focus and a pleasant feeling of timelessness that might look like patience or discipline or endurance to someone who doesn't actually like making things. The early stages of carving a wax model are like that. While roughing out the basic shape I do fight impatience because I'm so eager to see my idea take shape, and I have to be careful not to go too fast and mess it up, but once the piece shows its basic gesture it's pure pleasure until I think, happily and mistakenly, that I'm almost done. That's when the long, hard part begins. I smooth the edges, trying to perfect fluid, graceful curves, but then I take off too much wax. I add more wax and refine the edges again, but accidentally nick a finished surface. I fill in the nick and smooth it out as if it had never been, but then I notice a bubble included when I added wax, so I ease it out with a hot tool, add more wax, and smooth it out again. I use a light hand, but delicate parts snap anyway beneath file and sandpaper, and I repair them, sometimes three or four times or more. It is tedious work. It is stressful, especially when I am working to a deadline (which I am not just now).

That's where I am with my leaf pendant.  I have spent hours smoothing, refining and repairing, and I think I actually am almost done. The aggravation has been greatly mitigated by listening while I work to The Mating Season, a Jeeves and Wooster book by English humorist P. G. Wodehouse, delightfully read by Jonathan Cecil. (The link will take you to YouTube and a few minutes of the story which you would have to buy to listen to in its entirety. I checked it out of the library instead.) Fiddling with hot wax mostly felt like a small price to pay for indulging in hours of delicious entertainment, so if someone remarks that I must really be patient, I suppose once again they will just be wrong.  I am more than ready, though, to start on my next project, a pendant shaped like a single lily-of-the-valley blossom.

On another  note, I have been enjoying paintings of interiors lately, pictures of simple rooms that open to the outside. They are straightforwardly real, yet feel symbolic as dreams, charged with quiet significance.

The two top paintings are by Danish artist Carl Vilhelm Halsoe (1863-1935). Google his name to find lots more peaceful, evocative interiors. The link is to Danish Wikipedia. He doesn't have an English entry yet. The last painting is by Adolph Menzel (1815-1905).