Wednesday 27 October 2010


 (Poppies; collage and ink sketch, ca. 9x9cm.)

One of the benefits of having a blog - I thought optimistically a few weeks ago - was that it would give me a little external incentive to actually sit down and write.  Regularly.  With a certain amount of discipline.  And routine.  My goal - knowing myself somewhat after these four decades we've spent together - was to post every three days.  A post every day was not going to happen.  Neither was a post every other day.  But I like the number three and I thought that it would be possible for me to actually meet the goal of writing a post every three days.  

(Crow; collage and ink sketch ca. 9x9cm.) 

Not so.  Time is slippery; like a well-oiled eel.  Before I know it, a week, or ten days, or more have passed without a posting.  It's not that I haven't been writing.  In fact, I think that having this blog is helping me to stick to my other writing goals: 25 pages per week on the latest draft of a middle grade reader novel I'm working on, and one new short story each month.  That's working.

(Abstract I; collage with Japanese, Indian, and Italian papers ca. 9x9cm.)

But my blog.  I think that part of the problem is the same one I have with writing letters back to people.  There is the desire to craft something thoughtful and well put together, something which the other person will really enjoy receiving.  But then I am daunted.  Do I have the time and energy to do such a thing just now?  Maybe I'd do a better job a little bit later today.  Or tomorrow.  Or in a week, or ten days, or more.  See how easily it happens?  

(Queen Anne's Lace; collage and ink sketch on 12x12 canvas)

At least while I've been neglecting my blog, I have been busy working in a new direction with my painting, which is in fact not painting at all.  As with my leather journals a couple of weeks back, I thought I'd make use of all of this gorgeous paper I've been hording for years now, and actually make something with it.  Getting ready for Christmas, I thought I'd work on small collages - some with and some without little ink drawings (which I so love doing!) 

That's been fun, but I missed my blog.  So here I am.  Climbing back on the wagon again and promising myself not to so negligent.  We'll see.  

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Studio Peek.

This past weekend, a colleague at our studio opened a show of his latest work.  It was fabulous.  (And can be seen at his web-site  I haven't taken the liberty of posting any here.)  We also opened our studio doors to the public, and in spite of cold, rainy, November-like weather, we had a pretty good turnout.  It was good to meet with people and get feedback on my paintings - something that I need, and I think most people who paint or write need, after working in isolation on projects.  The weekend was also a chance to challenge and stretch my remarkably poor German.  I felt like I could have slept for a week afterward.

But today I was back in the studio feeling encouraged and energetic.  I was also feeling a little bolder about showing my work so I'm using this opportunity to show a few of the pieces that I've been working on, and a bit of my studio space  (I love, love, love peeking into other people's work spaces.)    


This one above and the one below were painted in the months after my trip last November to Dartmoor.  I wanted to try to capture the haunting, eerie, nebulous nature of the landscape. 

This red one is actually an old one, but I've been looking at it again with the idea of carrying on with the technique, but applying new themes to it.  This one was inspired by the bark of trees and the leather of old books. 

This new one, still in progress and sitting on my easel, is inspired by the Norse myth of Yggdrasil and the three Norns who spend their days spinning the fates of men and gods under the tree, and who water its roots from the spring Uroarbrunnr.  Some of the paintings on the wall in the background were made by my younger son, Rowan, who spent Sunday at the studio with me, and was so inspired by all that was going on, he decided to make a few of his own paintings.

I managed to clean up my desk somewhat for the show.  The wall has an ever-changing selection of drawings, postcards, notes, and dried leaves and flowers taped to it.

Looking over me as I work is my Donkey Skin girl, inspired by that fairy tale, who happened a couple of weeks ago.  She has been joined by my Blue Man who used to hang on the bookshelf on the other end of the studio.

It was a good weekend which has confirmed how much I enjoy this creative path that I've chosen.  Or which has chosen me.  My thread has been spun.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Making Journals

For the past few months, I've been renting a small studio space in an artist co-op made up of ten artists each with their own room.  This weekend we're participating in an open studio event and today I went to the studio to finish a couple of paintings for it.  That didn't happen.  Instead, I started making tiny leather journals to pawn off at the event.  I've been carrying this leather, paper, and other book arts paraphernalia around with me for years (after pursuing book binding for a while) and decided to put it all to use.

I prepped the leather, signatures, and end papers. Lost of folding and slicing and cutting and piercing.  The gorgeous marbled paper was purchased in Florence on a trip years ago at a bindery (All'Ancora Secca) run by two sisters.  They marble the papers themselves, and make beautiful hard-covered journals covered in these papers.  

I sewed the signatures into the leather cover.  This part of the process I both love and hate.  What I love about it, is that this is when you really see the materials shaping up to become an actual book.  What I hate about it, is that this is when I'm most apt to make dyslexia-type mistakes and sew things upside down and inside out.  

It's always utter chaos as I near the finish line, no matter how well everything has been organized before hand.

And, finally, the journal.  I took amber beads from an old necklace to make a button-enclosure.  There is something so satisfying about taking beautiful materials, using simple, elegant tools, and hand crafting an item in pretty much the same way as it's been done for centuries. 

Tomorrow I have to get started on the other fourteen of them...

Monday 11 October 2010

Sunflowers, Swans, and an Old Woman Summer.

Yesterday my husband, step-son, and I snuck away for an afternoon bike ride to a local Biergarten.  We passed a pond where a weeping willow bent her branches down to the leaf-covered surface of the water, and where a pair of swans swam in tandem; and we passed a field with a delightfully incongruous crop of Christmas trees and sunflowers.  The weather was perfect with a crisp blue sky, a strong low sun, and the smell of Autumn in the air.  While it wasn't technically "Indian Summer", it was close, which made me think of the German term for it: "Altweibersommer" or Old Woman Summer.  I've heard that it's called that because of the webs spun from a Family of spiders known as Baldachinspinner, or Sheet Weavers, or Money Spiders.  In Autumn, one can often see their white gossamer threads floating and billowing on the air and in the trees like delicate strands of hair from an old woman.  I find that such a beautiful image: ethereal, whimsical, haunting. So much in keeping with the season.

Sunday 10 October 2010

The Crows Are Back

A watching crow sits on a lamp post on one of the bridges that spans the Isar.  

Friday 8 October 2010


The crows seem to be everywhere lately.  Perhaps they just stand out more against the sky which has gone from Summer blue to Autumn white.  They are living silhouettes perched on lamp posts around the city; or mischievous shadows swooping down, taunting dogs in the park.

(There would be a couple of photos to accompany this post, but I am experiencing blogspot-technical-difficulties.  Will back away slowly from computer, and take a little break for the sake of the safety of said computer.)