Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Surprise Flowers

These are in the surprise basket of flowers that arrived today, a sweet thank you from K, Nate and Abby.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Skulls, Oats, a Plinth, a Door to Nowhere

Beautiful dinner out on the deck at our friends' house, soft breeze ruffling the tall grasses in the field near the house where their two little boys like to play hide and seek.  I can't not draw the fake marble plinth with the fake bronze head balanced on it,  the door standing in the weeds where the chicken house stood before bears tore it down and did in most of the hens.
"Draw the possum skull!" "And the dog skull,"someone says.  Soren draws a tooth.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Past Three Days

Those walking onions are on the move!
They're bending down, twirling around, sending out bulblets on tendrils, landing on the ground.
And today's drawings were all made at our friends' magical house and land up in the high mountains.  (That walking-onion-like patch at middle left is actually twirly garlic!)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Catch Up: 100 Drawings Part 2

It was very tricky to draw at the Liberty Science Museum, but while K had Abby downstairs in a little kids' room, I took Nate to the Infinity Net(?), which he loved and climbed through half a dozen times.  My job was to wait outside the net, which was essentially some curved step-like platforms enclosed in a net, slung out at second story level over the main lobby;  a little pause for drawing.
On the left is Abby in motion while asking me to draw her.  On the right are three drawings of a park bench.  I had stopped in the park after walking the kids to their school/bus stop.
On the left are little studies of nannies, moms, and little kids at the duck pond.  On the right are kids at the playground when I brought Abby there after school.  The little boy at top left was collecting sticks.  Abby is very social and likes to join in, so she kept bringing him sticks, which he kept rejecting--too short, too crooked, too fat.  She never gave up, and when she finally succeeded in giving him a good stick, he thanked her and said "that's a mikvah, which means a good thing to do."
The top left are more from Monday playground.  Bottom left are Tuesday morning before school when K and I took Abby to the barber shop for a bangs trim.  She was very pleased.
Tuesday night's excellent dinner, roasted kale salad with seared scallops for the grownups.  Recipe continues below:

I spent time during school hours Wednesday making a little Native American garden out in the backyard where all the square foot garden beds are, and then sketching the salad garden and the poolside table umbrella.
Airport and in-air drawings on the way home.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Catch-Up: 100 Drawings, Part 1

As you've probably heard, airport security screening is expected to take longer than usual due to more careful screening by fewer people.  Asheville airport has done its best to erect a labyrinthine maze and to add an extra screening booth and conveyor.  No more people than usual on Tuesday morning at 7:00.
And here are some of them in the waiting room.
And more at the gate in CLT.  I decided to draw only men just to add in a challenge sort of.
We're still on Tuesday here!  More men, and then a curious little poppet that was in a pile of Abby's stuff.  It was definitely homemade with a child-drawn face.  Hmmm.  On the right some treats from a little cafe bake shop in Maplewood.
I had two free days with my friend A, who came down from Vermont to hang out in Manhattan with me before E left on Friday and my working time started.  Our first trip was to the Morgan Library where we saw, among other things, an intriguing little show of power figures attached to spikes and nails and used to join buildings in the ancient middle east to the earth.
More of the Ancient Foundations show on the left, and on the right a start of a view on the Highline and some sculptural pieces from a garden there.
On our second day A and I went to the Rubin Museum to see an eerie show by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge of constructed fetish objects.
I had read a review of this show in the NYTimes and was lured in by a photo of the piece on the right.
Part of the show was the option to contribute a fetishistic offering.  I made the little doll at top left with Nate and Abby's help and directions.  In return I received a card with a red Psychic cross on it as a return offering.  The show was titled "Try to Alter Everything."

A left Friday morning, and so did E.  The rest of these drawings are from things around the house and from neighborhood outings with the kids.  On the top right is the rubble left from the tearing down of the old Maplewood post office.  Nate and I used to enjoy counting and drawing the 22 mail trucks that parked there every afternoon and hunting for rubber bands in the parking lot.  We reminisced about these outings while I drew and he told me details to include.
 A page of portraits including two of the sunflower seedlings we had potted.  This is getting too long for one day!  Will finish tomorrow.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tea Shop

Tomorrow I leave for ten days in Maplewood helping out with E and K's children while E is in China.  My friend A is coming down from VT for the first few days before E leaves so that we can go into the city and have some fun!  I'll be drawing a lot but maybe not posting everyday.

Today was a sparse drawing day-- a flight of birds landing on a berry- laden leather-leaf mohania bush in our yard this morning, and tea cakes at Dobra Tea this afternoon at book club.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ewes and Lambs

The sheep were grazing close in this afternoon.  Interesting to really look at their bodies like sacks of pumpkins, their splayed out forelegs as they lower their  mouths to the grass.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


What could be better than hanging on a fence sketching sheep, donkey, and a few steers grazing in knee-high grass under a luminous sky and talking on the phone to faraway Jacob?  And then, suddenly, six farm crew students stopped traffic and opened the gates, and the herd of steers slowly moved into the road with the students urging them on from behind as they flowed like a river to the pasture farther down the road.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Owen Pond

Not as exciting as a bobcat and bears, but Owen Pond at the end of the east River Trail late this morning yielded turtles on logs sunning, red winged blackbirds, duckies, and a Canada goose family with two chicks serene as swans making their way across the pond.
Then along the trail on the hike home I found ten river canes, which I carried on my shoulder and brought home to weave a snow pea trellis.  Honeysuckle and roses in bloom all along the trail, heaven.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


This evening's wildlife report:  three yearling bear cubs on their own in our front yard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Walking Like an Egyptian

I know you're a little bored with my fascination with the Egyptian walking onions, but these things have stretched their way out of their tissue-thin wraps and are now waving like toes in the air as they gain sufficient weight to bend their stalks down to the soil! 
But the real surprise of the day was that while P and I were eating out on the back porch we spied a large bobcat strolling through the back yard. For years we've heard that one of these lives up on Jones Mountain, but no one had seen it except one woman who had maybe spotted it once around 20 years ago.  

It was muscular and tawny, and only about 20 feet away from us.  We raced to find Jesse, who was at the front door and shot inside.  He has been glued to the screen on the porch for the last hour.

Monday, May 9, 2016


I've had this little dried up bud or immature cone on my drawing table for about a month.  I picked it up in the middle of the street, near a large magnolia tree; so I have an idea it might be a bud that fell off and never developed.  (7114). It's dry and crackly, about the size of a large palmetto bug/roach and similar in color.  These drawings show the progress of the dissection.

My first experience of botanical drawing was in third grade when Sister Sheila, my teacher, asked me to stay after school every day for a week and copy some botanical drawings that she had borrowed from someone.  She was unable to draw well enough to copy them so she asked me to do it for her, an assignment for a class she was taking.  I enjoyed drawing them very much, especially the ones that were of microscopic things.   

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The End of the Ramp Festival

Our friends who know about and actually grow ramps came over today.  We took a 4 1/2 mile hike then came home and cooked a feast that included the remaining ramps, which I quickly sketched in various settings before we chopped them up.
The lantern-like festival torches are wild chive buds that I found while we were tromping through the midday heat in the woods.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Outdoor Wedding vs Field Trip

There was a sweet wedding at the celebration place across from the east river trail late this afternoon.  I crouched down to get a close look at some chives while the string quartet was playing some Pachelbel;  the soft rose scent was everywhere on the breeze.  Suddenly a stampede of around 15 middle grade children and three teachers or camp leaders came galloping along the trail and landed on a rocky beach exactly across from the wedding.  The happy shrieks of kids playing in the water made an interesting addition to the music, which grew louder and faster.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ramp Omelet!

The roses are blooming in the woods but no honeysuckle yet.  Maybe next week.  Meanwhile I chopped up a few of the ramps and put them in a pan with two chopped up slices of bacon.  Then I added three beaten eggs and sprinkled cut up kale from the garden over the top.  I flipped one half of the circle of eggs over to make a ramp-bacon-kale omelet.  It was delicious but we could barely taste the ramps.  Tomorrow I'll be more bold with the ramps!  On the right is the Ramp King.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


I've heard about ramps ever since we moved to Asheville in the mid-80s but today was the first time I've ever actually seen them.  Whole Foods has a bin of local ramps!  I grabbed a bunch of them to paint, and tomorrow morning I'm going to scramble some eggs with bacon and ramps.  They have lily-like leaves, which makes sense since they're in the amaryllis family.
I have a friend who finds them in some woods nearby but won't divulge the exact location.  Ramp festivals are popular in towns in the areas where they grow.  One interesting fact I found is that the city of Chicago was named for a dense patch of ramps that grew in the marshy land near Lake Michigon.  The native people called them shikaakwa.
The Ramp Festival at Cosby, TN, chooses a Maid of Ramps.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

Much Info on the Lotus-like Plant!

First a quick couple of sketches from yesterday-- people eating at Thai Orchid:

Well, not the cows, but the two above and on the left.  The cows I drew today from inside their pasture.  I found out that Bellpepper is actually the little milk cow's name, and the big wooly sheep are nameless( at least according to the farm student   that I talked to).
Now press your nose close to this page or find your magnifying glasses, because I crammed eight drawings (life sized) and all the info I could find on this page.
This pod is the same as 7044 from 04.30 only drawn much more carefully from life while I was squatting down a few inches from the plant so I could see all the details of the pod.  The rest of these I drew from pictures on my phone.  The real plants are growing in a raised bed under a shade (drawings 7062 and 7064). 

I learned that the plant is a Jeffersonia Berberdaceae, commonly known as ground squirrel, twin leaf, helmet pod, rheumatism root, or yellow root.  It is so rare that people are asked to not harvest it.  Students at the college are growing it along with other native plants and medicinals. 

The flowers are white, with eight petals and yellow center parts. Inside the pod (which looks like a knight's helmet when it opens along a dehiscent line) contains a nut - like seed.  All parts of the plant are useful , especially the roots.  It is powerful medicine (read at the bottom of the page) and is poison in the wrong hands!