Monday, August 31, 2015

Slow Seeing

 The idea here is to find something that feels so good to look at that I don't want to rush through the drawing.  These fresh-picked red okra are velvety to the touch and this morning they even had a few raindrops sparkling on them from last night's shower.

Around 2:00 I had to go get my car inspected and the oil changed.  There were several emergencies at the car place, so I had to wait an hour to get this half hour job done.  I remembered a wonderful drawing that my friend Donna did a couple of years ago while she was in a mechanic's shop, and that moved me to see what I could enjoy seeing from the waiting room windows.  On the left I started with the chimney at top left and gradually crawled around the scene with my pen following my eyes until I had even included a few cars.  I never look at cars!  I can't even find my husband's car in a parking lot half the time.  I have a kind of car blindness that grows out of complete boredom with most cars.  But today I noticed that the sky was reflecting on the windshield and even on the roof of a car right in front of the shop.

On the right I had looked down the street and noticed that I could actually see my friends' loft down at the end of the street, without wearing any glasses, and it was great fun to start with their building and gradually build the streetscape, ending with a fine fat dumpster at the edge of the car place lot.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What I'm Liking to Look at Today

I was leaning on the kitchen counter this morning and I couldn't stop looking at the great colors on the back cover of my new sketchbook (made out of the Trader Joe bag that N so kindly brought me from Santa Fe).  In the dull grey of this --let's just say it-- gloomy-light  morning, the colors warmed up the whole kitchen, and I couldn't stop drinking it in.  Then and there I decided that today I would draw the things my eyes wanted to look at.

A little later I was dispatched by P to go to Lowe's for the exciting purchase of a new water filter for the sink.  He would install it if I would get it.  I made the drive while on the lookout for something wonderful to see.  And of course there were the patterned grasses growing at the exit ramp, and I made a quick sketch to help remember while at the red light at the next intersection.  I love the shadow shapes and the pattern of the stems under the cloud of seed heads.  They made me think of the patterns that I so love in Egyptian (and other) art;  so when I got home I drew mummy man's patterned inner coffin, which I was trying out in the outer coffin before it got completely hard.  Happily, the cover fits fine and the bandaged mummy fits perfectly within.

P and I went for a walk in the greyness, and the bright flowers of the Jerusalem artichoke plants that flourish in the woods near the old  apple orchard were great to look at.  I picked a handful to draw at home.  Once I started drawing I zeroed in on the patterns and slight shifts in formation that the flower parts move into and out of on the road to seed production.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

News from the Creepy Little Toyshop

I made a few leaps of progress on N's mummy today:  for starters, I found the perfect material to use for bandages:  beeswax impregnated cotton that is used as a fine alternative to plastic wrap and can be washed and reused for up to a year and is sold in Asheville at the Bee Keeper store downtown.  I bought a bread loaf wrapper piece of the stuff and cut a strip around 1.5 inches wide.  This is a great material for all your mummy bandage needs!  As you wrap you can mold it to the mummy, and it needs no further fastening.  An added advantage is that it smells just right-- beeswax and resins give it a yummy mysterious smell, perfect for a mummy in bandages.  Drawing 5453 shows the mummy with his painted mask on top of his bandaged mummified body.

I also made headway on the inner casket or case, as you can see in the two drawings on the left above.  I have it molded around the top of a marble rolling pin.  The terra cotta is the natural color of the air-dry clay, and I've decided to leave this inner case unpainted so that N and I can paint it together.  On the right above is the alternative mummy with mask but showing mummified clay body.

Then I made a trip to Tobacco Barn this afternoon when I realized I was not going to be able to make a good outer coffin out of clay.  A thorough and seemingly endless search of the place finally turned up a perfect little salesman's model cedar chest from the early 20th century.  The mummy in the bottom of the inner case fits perfectly.  I will leave the painting of the outer coffin for N and me to do together too.  He can use his hieroglyphics decoder to find some things to paint on it.  I am trusting that the top part of the inner case will slip right in on top of mummy man.  We can add lots of gold paint to the inside, too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

News From Our House

We need something cheering to focus on today, and that thing is:  Mexican sunflower seeds!  This summer's crop never came up, beaten as they were by the rudbeckia that took over the entire yard and all the gardens and actually cracks in the driveway.  But today I found a dead Mexican sunflower plant on the sidewalk in Montford when I was walking downtown, and I was able to gnaw and twist  off a dry seed head and carry it home to add to my growing supply of these seeds for next spring.

It was good to find a Mexican sunflower seed head, because here are the other house-related things that happened today:
1.  We discovered an ominous damp spot on the ceiling of one of the studio rooms.
2.  The hungry ground hog has returned and is again chewing on the doorsill of the back porch in spite of the pepper spray.
3.  We have faced the fact that ivy has damaged most of the exterior walls of our house, and we are going to have to scrape off the dry leavings and re-stain it come fall.
4.  The humidifier is broken.
5.  Our hemlocks have wooly adelgids again, this after the $800 treatment three years ago.  We knew it would probably happen, but still.
6.  The driveway needs sealing, and even though my proposal is to let it revert to dirt, P vetoes that idea.
7.  The washer is on its last legs and ditto the refrigerator.
8.  There are at least twenty ground hogs living in our backyard just beyond the little wooded area.  Their holes are like something you might find on the moon.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Seed Factories

I started a new book today made out of a Trader Joe bag (cover) and the last of my sumptuous paper from Cartiera Clandestina da Venezia.  All the drawings are of seed heads/dead flower heads from our gardens.  I can never get over the elegant architecture of a seed factory.  At the left are a dry Siberian iris pod, just cracking open to release its round ball-bearing-like seeds from their long chambers;  at the bottom is one of the million bee balm or bergamot dried heads with its tubular seeds and the scent of Earl Grey tea hanging on.

Above are a blasted zinnia flower, dry as toast, with its arrow-shaped seeds;  and a coneflower head almost ripe but not quite yet.  Its seeds are still truncated little green comets, and the birds are not yet feasting on it.  At the far right are the glossy, black berries of a Peruvian lily, the translucent flower petals like paper peeling off of an old wall.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Close Studies and a Map of a New Trail

Jesse was sprawled out on the floor of the porch this morning watching P repot a plant.  He seems to have picked up a little bulk this summer.  On the right are a series of close observations of some little cocoons from our front garden.  Most of these are empty except for the first two, which still have moths or butterflies inside.  They were attached to our toadflax plants, very delicate and beautifully articulated.  Number 5434 is a curious black, white, and orange beetle that was sucking nectar from a flower in the monarch butterfly area of the bird sanctuary down by Beaver Lake.  The beetle is colored exactly like a monarch butterfly.
I had gone to kill some time in the bird sanctuary by walking while waiting to go to my friend's house after running a bunch of errands in town.  I was walking all around areas that seemed to have been newly opened up for trails off of the main boardwalk.  I was walking off-trail at one point, trying to get through a place where the trail was overgrown, and I saw a woman walking along just above a slope so that she was at eye level and on the other side of a chain link fence.  I saw a place where a steep slope led up to a break in the fence, so I clawed my way up the slope and found a straight, well-groomed trail leading along the edge of the nearby lake!  In all the years I have wandered through the bird sanctuary I've never seen this trail or anyone on it.  So I mapped it as I walked it.  It turned out to be a perimeter trail for joggers and runners and fast walkers that joins up with the well-known trail around the grassy lawn-like lake shore.  There was at one point an old wooden picnic table in the woods beside the trail.  It was an interesting vantage point on the lake that we have canoed on so often.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Curiosities and Oddities

I love to draw other peoples' collections, and my friend J has one of the best ever.  Book Club met at her house today, and most of these drawings are of things that I have no name for but that are strange and lovely and evocative.
After I got home I drew Nate's mummy, who now has his bandages and is looking very solemn and boy-priestly.  Next up:  his coffin!