Monday, December 31, 2007

Bonaparte's Gull

Happy New Year!!
"They wove bright fables in the days of old,
When reason borrowed fancy's painted wings;
When truth's clear river flowed o'er sands of gold,
And told in song its high and mystic things!
And such the sweet and solemn tale of her
The pilgrim heart, to whom a dream was given,
That led her through the world,– Love's worshipper,–
To seek on earth for him...
-by T.K. Harvey

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Merlin King

Today I went out into the wide gray world. Did the sun even rise? I managed to get to a show of Edward Steichen's photographs. I loved the aspect of his work where he seems to be catching time in the photo. There was a gorgeous photo of the edge of Walden Pond, where the water was sepia toned but had this great quality of making me feel like sticking in my hand. I loved the caught moment in it, familiar even though it was taken 87 years ago. A lifetime.

Edward Steichen
Color coupler print
Minneapolis Institute of Arts Collection

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Mabel Dodge Luhan's place

Imagine a building divided into many rooms. The buildings may be large or small. Every wall of every room is covered with pictures of various sizes; perhaps they number many thousands. They represent in colour bits of nature-animals in sunlight or shadow, drinking, standing in water, lying on the grass; near to, a Crucifixion by a painter who does not believe in Christ; flowers; human figures sitting, standing, walking; often they are naked; many naked women, seen foreshortened from behind; apples and silver dishes; portrait of Councillor So and So; a sunset; lady in red; flying duck; portrait of Lady X; flying geese; lady in white; calves in shadow flecked with brilliant yellow sunlight; portrait of Prince Y; lady in green. All this is carefully printed in a book- name of artist-name of picture. People with these books in their hands go from wall to wall, turning over pages, reading the names. Then they go away, neither richer or poorer than when they came, and are absorbed at once in their business, which has nothing to do with art. Why did they come? In each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys. ...

With cold eyes and indifferent mind the spectators regard the work. Connoisseurs admire the "skill" (as one admires a tightrope walker), enjoy the "quality of painting" (as one enjoys a pasty). But hungry souls go away hungry. ... Those who could speak have said nothing, those who could hear have heard nothing.

-Wassily Kandinsky Concerning the Spiritual in Art translated by M.T.H. Sadler

a series of relations stemming from a dream

Ok, a dream of a bridge in NY city that I have never seen or been on.
A Georgia O'Keeffe show that had a painting of the very same bridge leading to Arthur Wesley Dow
a show of Stieglitz's photos, His gallery 291 to John Marin
biography and a mention leads to Marsden Hartley
Marsden Hartley's letters to Stieglitz lead to the Blue Riders,
Kandinsky, Marc, and etc.
of course Paul Strand
over then to DH Lawrence and Mabel Dodge Luhan
her friend Gertrude Stein circles back to Hartley,
A stay at Mabel's in Taos then to the Lawrence ranch to Willa Cather
Sideways backtrack a bit to Robert Henri leading to Edward Hopper
the Ashcan School
including the Arts Students League of NY which is hard to not find a notable connection to...
lately from there, Wolf Kahn
and finally onwards to:
Edwin Dickinson

This is an article about Andean Condors. I had the great fortune of working personally with one and he and I were secret sweethearts. He would come close to me edging over and hiss in his wheezy kind of way. His pink fleshy skin would turn crimson and he would throw out his gigantic wings in display. This would be accompanied by him bending his head down coyly and turning from side to side with his wings outstretched. I would murmur endearments to his masculine display and scratch him on the head. I miss working with him, he was a character. Above is a picture of him. A looker, no doubt.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Leftover shell

That is it, I draw myself up to my full height and say no more. So I will work and remember at last, to dream on my own.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I had such a great painting day yesterday and am hopefully about to have another today. The kind of talk that starts you in one place and leads you along to another. The ones where dreams are born and intense wonderings are aired. Ah well, it is not so bad, I will have one with the brush today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

a bit of memory

Sweet Apollo
how I miss you today

Monday, December 24, 2007

Twas the Night Before Christmas

and the cat already found her presents and opened others just for fun...

They got to unwrap presents early

She got a new toy to enjoy

Too Much Fun was had

Happy Holidays, whatever you may celebrate, may you enjoy friends, family, and good food.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Corby with a treat

I run around like mad
picking up handfuls of birds
and my tenderness
which after all is not made of water
asks the water for a face

-From Zbigniew Herbert -I Would Like to Describe translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Northern Hawk Owl today

Whatever is real casts a shadow.

-Jane Hirschfield

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

I feel as round as this junco today

I am having one of those "fat" days where my pants are tight and I feel rather bleh. You may know the days, where the hair is just not so great, and well the self-esteem is not the best. So I am in the grocery store and a man walks by with his cart. I don't really look at him but I do notice that he is looking at me. I walk by and carry on in my search for something glancing back once more (he is still looking). Then suddenly I hear a loud metallic crash as his cart slams into a pole.
I tried to be polite and not burst out laughing, so I walked away. Oh honey, even on bleh day I guess I got it still. I am still laughing about it even now.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Dog

The snow is really lovely and falling all day in these big giant flakes. I tried to get some pictures but snow is really hard to capture in a picture. I have been like a bear in a den all day, slowly making progress on my painting. I am listening to old folk songs on Pandora so the feeling sweet and cozy. Snowstorms are great when you don't have to go anywhere.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Watching for the storm (red fox)

We are supposed to get 20 some inches of snow tomorrow. I will post pictures if this really does manage to happen. People were stripping the shelves in the grocery stores like a bunch of maniacs. It was rather festive in a way.
Have them pick some new music to your taste at a great place to hear something new since radio generally stinks.
I have to remember that there are always times as I create a painting where I dislike it. It is kind of a given, dislike and then fix and then more dislike and further fixing. Hopefully they do not end on a sour note. It is the discipline of keeping the focus of the original impetus for the work that always reinvigorates the process of creating it. Sometimes I find myself going beyond the reason and when I do that I have difficulty finding the hook in a work that held my attention. My mind races ahead of my clumsy hands and wants to keep finding more and more things to paint. I have to have more patience and calm my focus to get back where I need to be. I am endlessly starting things and then as they go on I grow impatient with the subtle details needed to convey the work I am on. Oh, just be done I want to say impatient to express the next charged idea. I have to go back in and find the beauty of the painting even in its clumsy adolescence. I can be so steadfast on some things, harboring terribly strong crushes for years, patiently conveying a concept to someone who is confused, waiting for the perfect moment with a bird to get a photo, and so I must be this steadfast in my work and not be so ready to jump away from it. Mature painters can do that, sit with a work for years. I will be more patient in all things, see I can wait. I must take my time on things and not always want to rush rush. I cannot live like the world will be over tomorrow. I must have more hope and trust.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Twilight White Ibis

Letter [Persephone to Demeter]
by Rachel Zucker

At home, the bells were a high light-yellow
with no silver or gray just buttercup or sugar-and-lemon.

Here bodies are lined in blue against the sea.
And where red is red there is only red.

I have to be blue to bathe in the sea.
Red, to live in the red room with red air

to rest my head, red cheek down, on the red table.

Above, it was so green: brown, yellow, white, green.
My longing for red furious, sexual.

There things were alive but nothing moved.
Now I live near the sea in a place which has no blue and is not the sea.

Gulls flock, leeward then tangent
and pigeons bully them off the ground.

Hardly alive, almost blind-a hot geometry casts off
every color of the world. Everything moves, nothing alive.

In the red room there is a sky which is painted over in red
but is not red and was, once, the sky.

This is how I live.

A red table in a red room filled with air.
A woman, edged in blue, bathing in the blue sea.

The surface like the pale, scaled skin of fish
far below or above or away—

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fleeing Commorants

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W.B. Yeats

Monday, December 10, 2007


If the Rise of the Fish

If for a moment
the leaves fell upward,
if it seemed a small flock
of brown-orange birds
circled over the trees,
if they circled then scattered each in
its own direction for the lost seed
they had spotted in tall, gold-checkered grass.
If the bloom of flies on the window
in the morning sun, if their singing insistence
on grief and desire. If the fish.
If the rise of the fish.
If the blue morning held in the glass of the window,
if my fingers, my palms. If my thighs.
If your hands, if my thighs.
If the seeds, among all the lost gold of the grass.
If your hands on my thighs, if your tongue.
If the leaves. If the singing fell upward. If grief.
For a moment if singing and grief.
If the blue of the body fell upward, out of our hands.
If the morning held it like leaves.

-Jane Hirschfield

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I watched her, she was still beautiful in her ice blue jacket and skirt. Her hair was long and silver and hung free about her head, in a sense a defiance of all of the young girls in the laced up green dresses. She was the mother of the groom and stood with her husband in her orbit. He was gentle-faced but horribly overweight. He could barely move as the square edges of the tux cut into his fleshy jowls and wrists. I wondered at it, how he could have snagged her as she floated in the room, greeting the guests. I do not know their story, their romance or what she is really beneath her ice blue dress. I created my own as I sat among the guests at the table. I wooed them with my happy artifice and they did not know any difference. Oh lovely, lovely, she and I may be sharing the same dark dance; a facade. Who knows; but last night I wanted her to be an ally. I could see my life clearly placed before me in her, and I shuddered at the banality of it. Her son the groom was flushed and happy with his gorgeous but slightly non-emotive bride. She was young and elegant, a dancer in her white dress and long veil. It all seems so surreal she told us as she came to our table. The flowers were red roses with white lilies and orchids, their gentle scent came to us from the middle of our tables. As if summer had not left us in this dark winter evening, a warm world far away from the snow and ice. The magic beckoning me to some other place and some other history. The dancing began and I wanted to join them. All of the young women and men throwing themselves into the music with a jubilant abandon. No, I was matron, condemned to sit in this chair and dream of moving myself to the undulating music and losing all of these dark thoughts. So I smiled but wondered at how quickly I have become one of those who sit pounding at the bars of this cage of convention.

She fell, the white haired groom's mother. As the blood red of the rose in her stopped beating. Her heart had given in and the fun turned to horror as death plucked her up. The dark December was upon us as her daughter in the beautiful green dress screamed out her name. Mother, wake up, a chill over the room and confusion. The DJ calling for a doctor or someone to help her. Suddenly action broke out over the lethargic room, was it minutes before it happened? Seconds? It felt like forever she lay there on the floor with her heart stopped. Luckily someone performed CPR. The very exclusive country club did not have an emergency defibulator, which might have made all of the difference. We were told to go to the next room, all of us dressed and silent except for one drunk fool. The bride sat heavy in her dress, face etched as she discovered that her day of joy would always carry this weight. The groom sat by her side, as helpless as his father who stood mutely over his wife. I did not look at this scene, knowing I would not soon forget it since my mind grasps and holds pictures. I did not look as they wheeled her out to the ambulance and as her daughter the bridesmaid crying held her daughter and went to get in a car. As the bride walked out next to me, her makeup creating lines where the tears had fallen. Knowing that tonight was not part of the fairytale that it was meant to be. She put on her coat, resigned to her wedding night at the hospital. We all left silent, as we got our coats. That will not be me and I begin to rip down the bars of this cage. I am so shaken I cannot paint well today. I feel so damn mortal and I hope for the bride that the silver haired woman is ok.
Dead seabirds in Europe due to starvation, read it here

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Edwin Dickinson "The Fossil Hunters"

owned by the Whitney Museum of Art

Tundra Swans/one swan watching

Unnameable Heart

The cricket who
kept me company three days
has fallen silent
I don't know where.

There are so many
lives of which I know nothing.
Even my own. It moves now
through my fingers towards yours
and I know nothing
I can say that will name its heart.

A boat drifts far out
on the river below the mountains,
and below it
the fish, the great fish
that the one in the boat has come for,
swims in the shadow.

Perhaps the cricket is there, inside the fish.
Stranger things have happened.
I have looked everywhere else
for my lost companion.

From here, the shadow looks small,
but to the fish it is huge.
Range after range of mountains,
and still the old painters
found a place
where two could walk together, side by side.

-Jane Hirshfield from her book The Lives of the Heart

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

House Sparrow

Bird That Comes Just Before Our Kiss

A nest held by the cup, by the curve
Of our two throats. Each composed wing; to behold
That arrival, that settling

Into air between us-how she might grow
Tame, how she might eat from our hand! A sound came
In a slight way, but to draw back until

Each feather came into view, the hammer
Of the tiny heart, the underlidded eye,
Became what we did not do. The nearby

Of everything braced as if to ask was it enough
We had come this far. To look up even once
Was to lose the bird and what is made

Out of nowhere and nothing, the open place,
The sudden shape caused by what closes in.

Sophie Cabot Black

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow on the head is the new black darling...

Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love,
And not those things that they were emblems of.

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

From: The Circus Animals Desertion, By William Butler Yeats
fits my paintings perfectly as of late.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It begins with just a gentle echo of hope as I run my hand over the unprimed canvas. I can feel it as a whisper, this one, it says. It comes as a dream, a hush, a faint little voice. This painting comes to me so quietly and I think it may give my heart a voice.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tree Sparrow

Didn't see the Bohemian Waxwings today sadly, but had some good looks at old favorites, such as this tee sparrow. His foot was covered in ice that he was trying to thaw by sitting on it and pecking at it occasionally. He did not let me close enough to catch him or else I would have thawed it for him in my hands and given him more of a chance at survival.