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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mascot extraordinaire

A mascot can really add:  lift a team, event, occasion, for All.  Look at Jetta here!
Jetta with Team Vihti

Here is a description of wonderful Jetta by Andrew Keh, writing from Hyrynsalmi, Finland:
"Jetta is a stuffed badger ensconced in a bird cage.  She acts as a mascot of sorts for a team of 12 friends who make the seven-hour drive each year from Vihti, near Helsinki, for the competition.  They bought the doll seven years ago from a junk store at a highway rest stop, and her fame around the swamp has grown ever since.  A couple of years ago, she was interviewed by a local newspaper."
The competition referred to is the 20th annual Swamp Soccer World Championships.  Here is a link:

Saturday, March 11, 2017


 Mallard pair
Canada goose
Here are a pair of mallards and a Canada goose.  We saw them together last year, well into winter, and then again as soon as the lake thawed in February.  The goose concerned me.  Geese are very social; this one did not mix with other geese.

There is an exhibit at the Japan Society in New York City, "A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints," in which many wakashu are depicted, young males who in Edo-period Japan are considered the height of beauty.  For a short time only, after puberty, wakashu permissibly could have intimacy with males or females who sought them out.  And so I thought of our "lone" goose.  Maybe he hadn't had a late molt last year, or a set-back or a loss.  Maybe this goose simply liked the company of ducks, or was trying out the company of ducks.  And the ducks liked him well enough.  They shared a short time of species- if not gender-mix.

This week we have seen groups of odd-numbered geese, often 5, sometimes 3.  We now think our lone goose is mixing with other geese.  Whatever!