Saturday, April 24, 2010


dove pair

Being spring, there's been a lot of dancing and pairing among the birds around here.  And nests appear.  Not for long, still, a pair will pause.
This paused pair are mourning doves, charcoal and pastel and a bit of graphite on a tan printmaking paper.  You can probably see the layers of markmaking up from the paper.  These doves are still for a moment, yet the layering gives them some bit of movement on the page, yes?
You can see them also at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Amy, still

April 13, 2010

Almost mid spring, almost mid April:  April 13 we will hereafter especially think of Amy, still, with us.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

winter to spring

Spring edge of the woods

Colors are coming out of the earth now. Winter—having been mostly about the skies and what was coming through the skies—is now receding as the earth activity presses and opens up. The days—despite still having fits of fierce wind and weather--are mostly about what the earth is up to: what is new, what is coming, colors.

Royal blue scilla and blue-violet glory of the snow and their green leaf clumps are just up. Daffodils are bold and bright. Yellows, lemons, whites, and with dashes of orange, they are high and trumpet-like in their green clumps, above the siennas of the leaf mold and still-damp earth. The bushes show full buds, a few blooms. Some floating yellow forsythia branches are at our woods’ edge. The trees are loaded with catkins, which show as dusty red or dusty gold fuzz around the dark limbs. Full color is rising. Any day now trees and bushes will become color (not lines). And they will buzz. All on earth is starting to teem.

Spring edge of the woods came together quickly, and I used many small marks: of pastel, charcoal, and graphite. I kept it as a sketch rather than develop it further (by defining the daffodils more, for example, or by adding white scilla or violets which were in my pencil thumbnail sketch) because there was a sense of vitality about the sketch.

early spring and rain

Early spring and rain is a small pastel-on-paper painting that I did a day after the sketch above it. On my drive to the studio, I had seen this patch of our neighborhood. Out of rain-soaked air and earth, these trees and lawn came in and out of focus. This “waftiness” of the view, as much as the trees and lawn themselves, is what I was trying to suggest.

Often my style of painting diverges depending on what prompts the work in the first place. I do not mind losing some stylistic cohesion sometimes; still, I do lose some stylistic cohesion sometimes!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

scroll, practice

qing                             yong

The scroll on the right shows the Chinese character yong, which means "forever," "eternity."  The Japanese use the same character, though they pronounce it eiYong (ei) contains the pictogram of water; maybe you can see the brushstrokes here as rivulets, as flow. The character is made of hand-ground ink on paper, mounted on the scroll, and I have added my vermilion red seal.

The five characters on the left, qing, are ink on practice paper.  The paper is thin, tough, and highly absorbent, carefully torn from a roll.  Here you can see that the brushstrokes vary according to relative wetness and pressure of the brush (in the first (top-right) character, qing, and the fourth character, kuai, you can see grey ink).  If you "scroll" down to my next blog entry, qing is explained a little more.

Calligraphy I practice almost every week alongside some students.  We become still--centered--and moving with the brush when we practice, and sometimes the calligraphy is good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010



This is a calligraphy practice from Tuesday night's class. Reading top to bottom, right to left:
qing     lao     i  kuai  r 
green   old      together    =    Young and Old Together

Sandi and I also practiced some plum blossom painting.  The plum is a symbol of hope and endurance, blooming as it does so early--even in the snow--and blooming often on branches that are very old.

Sandi's granddaughter Alexis practiced with us.  Such a young, talented calligrapher in our midst.

plum practice