Saturday, April 13, 2019

Sheep in our world

This marvelous marble Ram's head is from the 2nd century AD, Roman, now in Chicago at the Art Institute.  Notice the hand above!  (The hand probably belonged to the man about to perform a sacrifice to the god Mars.)

An astonishingly fine book:  Eating Stone; Imagination and the Loss of the Wild by Ellen Meloy.  It's about bighorn sheep,"'wilderness' holdouts" since the late Pleistocene, now living in small enclaves of wild country in the American Southwest and Mexico, on the verge of extinction, again.  Do we intervene? If so, how? Who are these sheep?  We see them through Meloy's deft telling.  She tells us that to see them was a blessing.  The book is a gift.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Boshan Xianglu
Western Han, c 200 BC

This incense burner, about the size of a large fist, depicts a world of creatures, plants, paths, and immortals, which, when activated, becomes enshrouded in mist-vapors as if it is a high mountain.  I visit "Bo" whenever I visit the Art Institute in Chicago.  Still, after more than 2,000 years, the small lead-glazed earthenware jar can project an amazing 3-D landscape almost moving, almost burning again for us!
The disk behind Bo is a mirror.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

a moving still-life

This is a painting of Wang Shimin by Zeng Jing, from 1616.  The famous painter here is thoughtful, posed with fine, mudra-like fingers distractedly holding a fly-whisk.  He is in fact in mourning, his wife has died.  Amazing to me is that his head moves.  Or my eyes move from side to side of his face looking for another ear and so there is my movement around his headZeng Jing suggests this slight movement in a still sitter by painting Wang with one ear.  Gosh!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Courtly Hunts

If you are a member of a Court, Nature does not frighten you much: you are in a rarefied, guarded and pampered place.  Take a look at these playing cards from the early 1400's and you can see, in an amazingly artful way, this notion of Nature playing out a Hunt/Game, sometimes bloodily depicted, while the Court--King and Queen and some attendants--participate gracefully.  The four suits are Falcons, Ducks, Hounds, and Stags, and the "Face" cards are the Court.
You can see more of the wonderful cards at this Metropolitan Museum of Art site.

Left: 3 of Ducks, from The Stuttgart Playing Cards, ca. 1430. Made in Upper Rhineland, Germany. Paper (six layers in pasteboard) with gold ground and opaque paint over pen and ink; 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. (19.1 x 12.1 cm). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart. Right: On this card, the etched lines had raised forelegs, but the painter chose to lower them. 3 of Stags, from The Stuttgart Playing Cards, ca. 1430. Made in Upper Rhineland, Germany. Paper (six layers in pasteboard) with gold ground and opaque paint over pen and ink; 7 1/2 x 4 3/4 in. (19.1 x 12.1 cm). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Elephants at Zakouma (NYTimes photo)

Elephants are doing better in Chad at Zakouma National Park.  And six black rhinos have come to Zakouma this month from South Africa.  These are successes. 

See also:  The New York Times Sunday Travel: May 20 2018,
"Killing Field to Haven,"  a wonderful account by Rachel Nuwer of her visit to Zakouma.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sudan the Rhino

Yesterday, Sudan's health had improved slightly; he seemed to savor a mud bath in the rain, his caretakers said.  Sudan is 45 years old, and since 2009 he and two females--Najin and Fatu--have lived at Ol Pejeta Reserve in Kenya, cared for and protected 24 hours a day.
Sudan is the last surviving Northern White Rhinoceros.
You can view him here:
I have made a sketch of him: the sketch channels, a bit, life, I hope.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


There is a duck sanctuary I contacted in order to try and save a mallard.  Matthew returned my phone call and patiently talked through the steps I could take for the rescue.  It was nighttime.  The next day I could not find the injured mallard on the lake or around it.  Chances are not good that the mallard has survived the freezing cold.  I painted this mallard.  Here is the sanctuary's link:

Mallard, with thanks to various photographers, especially S. Javorsky
Does all art, no matter how small the painting, try to lift us out toward resurrection?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lions, Tigers, Bears, and Elephants

We went to the Wild Animal Sanctuary last week.  Please go there, to the website that is (click on the name).  For the animals, more than 800 acres now are set aside as a haven--safe, vast, restorative.  Lions, tigers, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, sheep, llamas, birds, a camel, and all:  we viewed them from up high so as to reduce their stress.  After bad lives, good people are helping them.

The same week I read about a rangers-and-armed forces, anti-poaching-and-community strengthening brigade in Mali for the protection of elephants.  Sgt. Djibril Sangare, a ranger with the brigade, said he has learned how to stay calm under the constant threat of attack, finding strength in the mission.  Sgt. Sangare said, "The work, it is love."
(See the New York Times, October 29, International, p. 8)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mountain Lion sighting

Our government confirmed a mountain lion sighting: June 21 in Bath township.  We used to have mountain lions in Michigan.  We've had some sightings in the past few years, but not this far south.  The land is NE of Lansing.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Male Goldfinch

They feed on the thistle seeds, abundant here now.  High, crooning, arching, summoning short songs.  Delightful.  This small painting of a Goldfinch is going down to Indianapolis next week. The birds will also be going south as soon as the thistles give up all, and they will go farther south than Indianapolis. They fly as far as Florida.  Will their feeding places be recovered there after Hurricane Irma?

Thursday, August 17, 2017


sketch of Tamba

This is probably Tamba, the more dominant of the two males.  Jasiri was nearby.  They are Southern White Rhinoceroses, now living at the Detroit Zoo.  Tamba in Swahili means "strut proudly," Jasiri means "courageous."  Tamba was getting his legs massaged with a lineament, from the fetlocks down, by his zookeeper caretaker when I was there. With such bodyweight loaded onto their legs, Rhinos challenge zoos to replicate a soft/hard mix for their pen's floor upon which they walk around every day.  (And of course the floor must be maintained/cleaned up every day.  Gosh.)

I think Detroit Zoo is doing a good job.  Probably really good.  You can see and even think about helping with the Rhinos at the Detroit Zoo here:

Watching the Rhinos, I felt like the world was there, in the pen with me.  Big world made to be this: creatures in the same space trying to enjoy the space together.  This is our challenge in this century isn't it:  making a good home for us All:  refugees, caretakers, onlookers, ignorers, All.