Monday, May 25, 2015

The Scent of Roses and Honeysuckle

Yesterday our good friends came over for dinner and brought with them a small bouquet of roses and honeysuckle from their yard.  I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply every time I passed the vase today, and I felt like I was on the trail in the warm sunlight.  Of course flowers don't smell wonderful to make people happy, but isn't it lucky that we love the same smells that bees and butterflies and ants and even flies do?
The marks on these three pages are made by scraps from proofs from the print I'm working on as well as proofs of the little stamps I've made to go with the print.  I was already throwing them in the recycle bin when one of them fell off the fistful I was ready to toss and landed on a page that I had tried out the little stamps on.  I decided to follow this random serendipity for two more.  Now I'm wondering about enlarging them and  carving large blocks of these ---

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Random Small Things

I spent a lot of time today carving little rubber cuts to go with a larger woodcut.  Here are proofs of them.  And then I noticed that the Peruvian lilies are dropping their petals and revealing their intricate six-sided ovaries packed with tiny seeds.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Can't Stay Away from That Honeysuckle and Rose Trail

 First the news-  all the hay that was rolled yesterday is now covered with white plastic and lined up in rows outside the barn where it will be stored for winter feed.  These rolls are almost as tall as I am!  I like them better when they're not covered and they smell sweet and have a glowy golden color; but even on this small organic farm, apparently the hay has to be wrapped by a truck that has a hay roll wrapping device.

P and I decided to walk back via the farm instead of the trail.  As we rounded the corner of the big bottom fields adjacent to the river, we could see the Frolicking Green Water Dragon, a very auspicious land form in Chinese geomancy.  You can see it here in the whipping, snake-like tracing of darker grasses that slides through the field.  An anthropologist on campus once told me it marked the archaic path of the river, and the ground there is the lowest elevation in the valley and is still a watercourse when it rains.  The reason it shows up is that the grasses that grow in it are different (water-loving) species than the field grasses.

We climbed up out of the valley and stood on a little overlook that is above a small pasture where a young milk cow is pastured.
We walked through the college garden, and at the far edge where it runs alongside the trail, we found the college mud wrestling pit.  Our recent dry weather has totally dried out the slippery, clayey mud, leaving it cracked.  Deep footprints from the last match are still in the bottom of the pit.

Across the garden we could see the apiary, where bee hives are kept behind a fence that is surrounded by an electric fence to keep bears out.

And at the bottom right is a single stem of the hay that is currently rolled up in the big white rolls.

Back at home Jesse slept away the afternoon in his own pool of sunlight.  And on the right is my African bug hat with its insect-chasing pom-poms.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Blogger and Hay-Making in the Sunshine

It was clear, dry, bright  but cool this afternoon.  Birds were chirping and the smell of honeysuckle and roses was on the soft breeze when Neenah and I headed out to the farm to finish up our week of drawing class.  I'm going to post my drawings from this afternoon first, and then some of Neenah's from this week.

This first drawing is just a mapping out of a future drawing.  I like the way the page looks though.

Our first long stop was at the chicken house in the garden, where some hens were pecking around in the straw in front of the house.  A little further along the trail we came to this lovely barn/shed building with what I think are some sort of aeration devices on the roof. 

My favorite scene of the day:  haying in the back field.  The little barn is a hay barn, and the hay rolls were in the field after being rolled by a machine and awaiting being rolled with white plastic.

 Here's Neenah's map of our downtown walk from yesterday.
 Here's the rest of the map, and I think I have it upside down.
Last night Neenah went to eat at the Ethiopian restaurant that we found yesterday at the end of our mapping excursion.  She noticed these words written in Ethiopian language on a wall in the restaurant and started drawing them.  The owner read and translated them for her.  She noticed some similarities between these letters and some in her language.

This is Neenah's sketch of the same field that I planned out.  It was a very detailed and complex drawing and we didn't want to spend too much of our limited time on it.  But there's enough information on it to finish it later.

Neenah's rendering of the chicken house and the low barn with the cupolas, not completely finished but with sufficient visual notes to complete them in a few minutes.  

The hay rows, the barn, and some hay rolls.  All done by Neenah, who told me she could not draw when we met on Monday!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mapping a Downtown Walk

My friend and student N wanted to learn how to draw a map of a walk today.  We were downtown, and she doesn't live here, so all she saw was a confusion of streets that shift and spin, change names mid-stream, and end abruptly.  We wanted to go to a dress shop to sketch some things in the window and to the Ethiopian restaurant to which she wanted to go eat tonight. The map starts at the top left above, goes straight down the page, then back up to the top at the number 1, ending at number 2.
On the second spread the map continues at number 3 at top left, goes down College Street, veers right onto Patton, goes left onto Coxe (at the big dot that signifies a red light), then left onto Commerce, ending at the *.  The inset map is upside down.  N's map is much nicer than mine.  We had a lot of fun!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

High Noon in the Field

If it's summer, I like it hot and dry and blindingly sunny with sharp black shadows and the white-hot susurrations of insects at noon.

N. and I went down to the old archaeological site area for class this  morning and painted in the shade of the sawmill until half-past noon.  On the way down there we heard and then saw a red-winged blackbird on a post.  It seemed to be a young one not quite adept at flying as it sat for a long enough

                                                                                                                         time to be drawn.

The field itself -- shimmering young wheat heads on top of light green stalks --came to an abrupt stop at the woods, inky darkness swallowing the light.
We walked back home under the noonday sun, like mad dogs and Englishmen, and found hidden Alpine strawberries in a small profusion under the leaves  of what I had thought were old barren strawberry plants near the  blueberries.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Here's Jesse, caught coming out of a great roll.  It looks like he's grabbing a look at himself.  Two minutes drawing.

On the left is another quick drawing, this one of the metal crane in the waiting room at the acupuncture clinic.  Later this morning my student from Santa Fe arrived at my house to begin our intensive drawing and watercolor workshop.  She came bearing wonderful gifts from the west:  fetishes!  On the right is a painting I did as a demo for her using her own fetish as a model.

On the left is a pod from a spice bush, and on the right is the beautiful gift N. brought to me-- a pair of bound bison fetishes, carved from found stone by Wilson Romero, a Cochiti Pueblo man.  These remind me of the wonderful, eerie, laden figures that we saw in archaeological museums in Spain.  They hum and buzz with energy.