Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Here is a poem by Tomas Transtromer, entitled From March '79.  The translator is John F. Deane.

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves out in all directions!
I come across the marks of roe-deer's hooves in the snow.
Language but no words.

Today is our leap year day.  Tomorrow is March.  Yesterday was an election day in our state; therefore, we were getting many phone calls and many phone messages with machine voices asking us to vote for Mitt or for Rick.  Phone calls that were not phone calls, words that were not words, machine voices using our first names.  Today the telephone was quiet.  And I came across the poem here, above.
The drawing below is quite large.  This is a detail:  maybe a bit of wildness there.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Yesterday I told Sally about my day in the studio and she said, "Oh, I love your birds."  So I'll post them here for her and you:  two bluebirds: one is a sketch, and one more detailed and more plumped up from the cold and wind.  It is still winter after all.  Yet we have glimpses of spring, including a few returning bluebirds.
At  I have a previous pair of bluebirds: one sketchy and one plumped!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

charcoal in winter


Snowing by the tracks

sketch for "Snowing"

Charcoal is made from burning wood--charring it--until the wood is velvety soft-hard.  Juncos' heads and napes look charcoal-black.  And the branches they alight upon are charcoal, pre-fired!  So I tried this Junco drawing almost entirely with charcoal.  The winter snow sketch has charcoal under it, almost as a skeleton. (In the sketch you can see the skeletal structure.)  In my studio I have a large can of charcoal powder, but I do not use it much.  The charcoal sticks, though, I love to use.  Strong enough to be crayon-like and to evoke structures (of trees, of railroad yards and such); still, the sticks can stroke paper with that velvety sheen, slight shimmer.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Evening coming

Leonard Cohen just released a new album of songs, Old Ideas.  Joan Didion has a new book, released a few months ago:  Blue Nights.  The album and the book are about mortality, about life aware of death.  Cohen and Didion are, after all, now old.

Their voices are quite different.  Leonard Cohen sounds like gravel.  Almost disintegrating, his very low voice has just enough enunciation to form words and some tune.  Joan Didion's prose is remarkably clear, precise, and detached, like ice when ice is smooth, translucent, and illuminating all contained in it:  but not here.  Her voice has cracked.  Uncomfortable repetitions and occasional confused oldness is in the writing (and still, the book is masterful).

Art with oldness has distinction.  I keep hearing the voices of Leonard Cohen and Joan Didion when they are not in the room.  Here is the refrain of the first song on Old Ideas.  The song is entitled "Going Home."

Going home
Without my sorrow
Going home
Sometime tomorrow
Going home
To where it is better
than before
Going home
Without my burden
Going home
Behind the curtain
Going home
Without the costume
that I wore