Saturday, February 28, 2015

Groundhog Sighting and Bulb Pot Update

The beautiful bulb pot, the last in a series of three, is slowly moving into its return phase.  The last of the flowers are beginning to loosen and droop,, and the foliage is turning thin and yellow.  In a few days this pot will join the other one on the back porch in order to complete the returning of energy to bulbs and begin the quiet dormant period.  
Meanwhile the amaryllis, which began its glacial development back in December, is now actually getting ready to bloom.  And there are two blooms coming out of the bulb! 

This afternoon P and I walked back to the meadow behind our house, and on our way we spotted some action around the three groundhog holes that are in our little woods near the fenceline.  P had seen a groundhog sitting in the back woods a week or so ago, and we had thought 'great! at least one groundhog didn't see its shadow!'  Further confirmation today:  all three holes had clay-colored prints leading from the holes to adjacent holes, and in one case, the tracks led under the fence and out to the meadow.  One hole is dug under a patch of English ivy, and the cast off clay has raised a mound of ivy-covered clay that is now ivy-covered snow.  We know how deeply we have been sunk into winter funk when we get excited about groundhog action.  And not only groundhogs, but the snowdrops are getting ready to bloom, and the lenten roses have made it through the hard freezes of the past weeks!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Drawings of Space Around

Today's drawings were all over the sketch for the print.  I was only able to scan half at a time and for some reason photoshop isn't letting me put these two sides on the same layout.  Not a problem really except that I can't show the whole thing joined.  But you can see some more finished transitions and spaces.  I'm ready to start putting it on the blocks.  I'm calling this 5 drawings.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


 I drew for hours today but not things.  Today I placed xeroxes of things [charlottes] into small environments, with which they immediately interlocked and in concert which with they took on new meanings.  My intention is to form the environments into a single multi-faceted Wide Game.  Each of these below is a section of the larger sheet of paper that I'm working on, which will ultimately be translated into a woodcut.  The whole thing is taped together sections of xerox drawn on with pen.  I have a lot more to do, but a few of these are close to the way I want them.  A few seem like they would stand on their own as small prints.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Information about Jesse

 Jesse had just settled down for a nap as it began snowing in earnest tonight.  It was a frequently-shifting nap, however, and there was no one pose that lasted long enough to qualify as a pose.  Instead this series of gesture drawings will have to do.
I think it's interesting that some of these details of Jesse look more like dogs or lemurs than cats.  Definitely profile view is not the most telling angle for a cat.  I remember from art history class the observation that the ancient Egyptians always drew humans with the face and feet in profile but the shoulders and torso facing front because these were the angles that gave the best information about the human form.  I imagine a cat standing as though walking forward in profile but with its face facing front would be the most informative angle for cat information.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things As Events

The more closely I look at these flowers the more they become events, processes, temporary arrangements.  The same is true of people, Jesse, even the rock-hard charlottes.

Monday, February 23, 2015


When I started drawing these I thought of them as incomplete buds in the process of emerging.  After spending an hour with them, I see them each as perfect and complete. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015


On my way to the woods today I stopped by the front garden to see what if anything was still struggling along in spite of the record-breaking cold the past few weeks.  This afternoon the sun was out and the temp was around 50, but more snow and cold are expected later tonight and tomorrow.  Meanwhile, not much is making it in the garden.  Even the hardy lacinato kale looks stone dead.  But the old onions are sending up tentative green shoots, and the new Egyptian walking onions are still green in places.  Many of the new onions had been uprooted by frost heave, so I tucked them deeper into the soil.  My friend who gave them to me said they're from New Hampshire and will make it easily. 

In the woods, the putty root is looking fine.  The mosses are bright and crisp looking.  The rhododendron leaves have relaxed from the pencil-tight furls they were in earlier this week.  Nothing else is doing much.  I smelled bear funk twice on the high trails. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

More Explorations in the Tulip/Hyacinth/Crocus Pot

I keep getting new ideas for this Wide Game print, and I can't seem to stop drawing them.  The hyacinths are reorganizing themselves now into blooms, and they give a different slant to the terrain.
But truly,  Monday morning I will head to the xeroxery.  Assuming the wintery mix that is predicted for Monday doesn't amount to much.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Spring Coming Soon!

We aren't normally happy to see any of our resident groundhogs, but when this one made an appearance in the midst of this bitter cold day, we realized that this guy must NOT have seen his shadow on February 2;  we are therefore expecting an early end to this crazy cold weather!  The crocuses aren't blooming outside, but their presence in a pot of hyacinths, tulips, and crocuses makes us believe even more that spring is on its way.
And these two are just warmups for my soon-to-be-started Wide Game print.  I bought a new gouge today, and maybe tomorrow I'll get over to the copy center and play around with enlargements of sketches.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Big Catch-up Post - Drawing Moving Targets While in Motion

I thought I would do lots of drawing this week:  impossible!  Once I got to NJ, drawing slid down the list of priorities unless I could do it with N as part of some other activity.  This first drawing was the last still drawing that I did while on this week's trip to help my son with his two little kids while his wife had to be out of town.  I took an early flight out of Asheville, and the people in the waiting room were sleepy and mostly looking at their phones.  I drew the one person I saw who was reading a book.  On board the plane waiting for take-off, things were still relatively calm.   
I was drawing some slowly moving people in the Charlotte airport in between flights, when a woman came and sat next to me.  After a few  minutes she told me she liked my drawing.  We started talking a bit, and then she asked me to draw her.  So she went and sat across from me and posed.  She was wonderful to draw with her beautiful profile and her great scarf.
Waiting outside of Newark for my daughter-in-law to pick me up I spotted a small person in a long black robe with this incredible stark white tightly ringletted/dreadlocked/braided hair getting into a limo.  I drew as fast as I could, and she constantly moved.  It was a good warmup for my next drawing (4029),  five-year-old N, who helped me draw many of the rest of these sketches.   As soon as we arrived at his house we drew Gill Man.  I started at the head, and then N grabbed a pen and added scales and toes and fingers and properly electric eyes.  Then N popped a ring pop from his Valentine's bag into his mouth and told me to draw him, which I did, in the approximately 10 seconds, before he took off.
I should add that during most of these drawings with N, his two-year-old sister, A, was spinning and wheeling in the background, busily sticking Frozen stickers to pieces of paper, making toy sandwiches in her toy kitchen, scrabbling through N's tiny legos, which she loves (she calls all the figures 'Guy'), and putting the guys to sleep in between the squares of cloth that I had brought her.  In the drawings above, however, A was at daycare, and N and I were on the train going into Manhattan to the Museum of Natural History.  It was bitterly cold outside, but N sat calmly on the train and drew things out of his head.  He carried his colored pencils and notebook and gum (that we bought at the station) in his man bag, which you can see in 4030. 

 In the museum we mostly raced around and up and down stairs and checked out things and ate and bought the necessary gifts and saw a movie about natural disasters and many taxidermied[?] animals.  He drew animals and dinosaurs with me for a while, then would buzz off to some new thing, and I would race after him.
The best process for us was that I would start drawing something and he would sidle up to see what I was doing.  Then he would decide I wasn't doing it right, and he would say he would finish it.  And then he would finish it, race away, and I would chase after him.

Saturday morning N came down and played legos in his pjs for a long time.  Later his dad and sister and he and I went to a science museum together.  The drawing on the right is of a building that N made in a skyscraper exhibit activity.  This was shortly before the building was knocked down with great glee by another child.
Monday N and I went back into the city for another go at the Museum of Natural History, which I believe he considers to be a large gift shop with interesting exhibits tacked on.  On the train I drew a pile of luggage that the woman sitting across from us was dealing with.  At the right, a quick beginning sketch of some dinosaur bones, made in the few minutes while N was playing with a computer at the corner of the cabinet of bones.
A true motion study-- N on the train, the train shaking and shuddering, N adding to the drawing on the left (of him drinking a smoothie) while I drew.  On the right a drawing that we did together of an ostrich nest diorama.  We didn't see many things, but we saw very well the things we did see.
This is my favorite drawing of the whole week.  Nate started drawing on the train going home, a chimney of some kind.  Then he began spinning out a story and acting it out with his pen and a yellow pencil as he drew and narrated.  When he finished, he gave the book back to me and I drew his profile on the other side of the page.  I like how his drawing seems to come out of his head.

These last three drawings I did at the airport on the way home-- two people eating and talking next to one of the glass walls at a corner of the Body Shop.
The last drawing was calm and still.  Nothing moved except the woman's hands.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meeting Portraits

 I did tonight's drawings at a meeting, specifically while everyone was watching a demo of a fairly complicated little book structure.
Tomorrow morning early I will fly out of here to New Jersey for five days of family visiting!  I'll be drawing a lot but not posting until I get home and do a big catch-up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Slow Night at Cocula

I'm practicing drawing (and doing everything else) without glasses.  Love this new way of seeing the world, still a bit soft and fuzzy in the distance, but better depth perception and nice wide unobstructed peripheral vision.
It might be fun to try drawing with my right hand, too.

Monday, February 9, 2015

New Landscape for the Wide Game

A new bulb pot arrived the other day.  As it sprouts, the surface looks like a strange dessert landscape.  The charlottes are checking things out.  A new scale is in play here, as the sprouts are in the same scale as the charlottes for once.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


This one little page doesn't seem to have 20 drawings on it, but the note at the top explains that 12 of the drawings that I did yesterday and today were line illustrations for publication and could not be posted .  I assure you I worked for hours on these things (and not only did I work all day but I have poison ivy that began on my face and has now spread all over, and I am seriously whining).  So in spite of looking like Mrs. Potato Head I ventured out with P and friends last night to a great Korean restaurant for some stone bowl seafood rice, and made the quick drawing of a flat slab of a plate that dumplings were served on before dinner.

Tonight, still itchy and swollen and miserable, I reflected on how the current Jesse-inflicted charlotte carnage in the dead tulip pot expresses very well my state of mental health.  Sneaky winter poison ivy grrrr.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Farmyard at Twilight

Maya and I walked down to the farmyard as the sun was setting, down the trail, through the golden bamboo grove, past OwlMan,  through the garden,  past the chicken yard, up the hill, down the farm road, and into the little pasture  where the five fluffy sheep were clustered together in the chilly breeze.  After a few  minutes watching the sheep, we went over to the pigs and admired the dozen babies of one mama and then the teenaged group in the next pen.  Meanwhile a little Banty rooster was crowing in a scratchy, high-pitched voice and following us around.  We watched some hens settle down on top of a box.  No farm workers were in sight, and the animals were all making their noises.  Swallows dipped and swooped.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Puffy Sheep in the Thin WInter Light

M and I went for our weekly walk this morning.  Today our mission was to go down to the college farm and buy some eggs. M is moving to the other side of campus soon, and we're very excited about being able to walk to each others' houses through the farm and the woods and along the river.  It was very breezy and chilly, but on our way home we cut through a small pasture near the farm office.  A few sheep were being pastured in the field, and they were fluffy and puffy and very unshorn.  They also might have been pregnant-- hard to tell under all that wool-- and maybe being kept close to the farm center in case their babies arrived.  They were all sitting down in the grass when we spotted them (3972);  then as we approached them to get a better look, they began to lug themselves to their feet and move around a little.  M is very willing to wait while I draw and doesn't even make me feel like she's being patient and suppressing deep sighs;  so I happily drew these big mamas.  They were pretty much constantly moving, so these are essentially gesture drawings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Dregs

Sharing counter space with the glorious tulips is a pretty ceramic bowl that holds fruit and sometimes vegetables.  Tonight I had really given up on getting any drawings done for today (that is drawings that I could post;  I spent the day doing drawings for publication that I can't post yet.  They count!) As I stood there sniffing the tulips and telling myself it was way too late to start drawing, I noticed that all the occupants of the so-called fruit bowl were actually complete dregs.  The bowl looks like the bottom of the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator when you finally get to the bottom of it.  So I started doodling around and I give you:  the Dregs.

At top left is a wizened beet, extremely hairy.  Probably someone out there could rescue it and turn it into a nice soup or something, but not me!  I cook only from recipes, and I've never found one that calls for shriveled beets.  Below Mr. Hairy Beet on bottom left is the stalk that used to hold elephant garlic.  And slightly up from it is a dessicated clove of elephant garlic itself.  I don't like this stuff, but P does, and he always buys it but forgets to use it.  I leave it alone to turn brownish and bruised looking, and then we throw it out.

At top right is a lime that feels like a bocce ball, leathery and hard.  It was a promising purchase, destined to be sliced up and put in Maya's fizzy water, but it got lost among the potatoes and oranges, and now it would take a power tool to cut into it.  Just below the former lime is a nice Roma tomato that had a tiny fleck of black that has now grown with alarming swiftness into a festering black dent.  At bottom right is the partner of Mr. Hairy Beet, another hairy but shriveled beet.  This one still has a little of its original festive orange color, but the black stuff from the tomato seems to have spread to it.
We think these are all sufficiently dreggy to go out with the compost tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tulips That Smell Like Peonies

 Here are the tulips yesterday, continuing to emerge from the leaves and their green bud covers.
Today they're all the way out, except for one late-bloomer, and they not only have gorgeous apricot and pink petals but they smell like peonies.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Reddish Tulips in Grey Light

 The tulips that are in the pot of hyacinths and daffodils are slowly unfurling.
 Nothing better to brighten the greyest of days!
Meanwhile other tulips are already breaking through the almost-frozen soil in the garden.  Strange winter here--