art journal TOOLS…

January 29, 2012 § 7 Comments

(you’re right – the rubberbands are wrong.)





January 14, 2012 § 17 Comments

There’s a sculpture in the Chesterfield City Park. I’ve not liked it since it “broke ground” in 2009. “The Awakening” by Seward Johnson is 70 feet long and 17 feet high at its tallest point (top of the hand, above).

Nope, didn’t like it until the other morning when I walked around it and between it. In the meantime, kids and parents were there, talking, playing, climbing on it (the little ones) and then heading on toward the literal park playground.

I spent an hour there ’til my fingers turned numb and my coffee turned cold but everything changed in that time, that is, the sunlight and the space around the sculpture. And my impression.
It’s a fine place and space.
Can you feel it?

always throwing a punch of some sort…

November 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

(Renoir’s Alfred Sisley….photo snapped at the Chicago Institute of Art, allowable as long as no flash is used.) This image was chosen because it looks like he’s thinking about what Ernest is saying, below.

“What a writer has to do is write what hasn’t been written before or beat dead men at what they have done.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Thanks, Ernest. You have such a way with words. No, really.

If you can Get(ty) there…

August 14, 2011 § 10 Comments

Go north on the Pac Coast Highway to Malibu and watch for the sign. 
This magnificent place, invisible from the road, has a single right-lane turn only as its approach.
First “stop” as you drive nearly vertically uphill  is a check point where you’re asked if you have your ticket reservations.
Um, no, we don’t followed by hopeful smile.
The guard pats his pocket, then says “we have some here…” he pauses – ( should i tip him?) so I pause, too…and he does, after long moments, pull two tickets from his shirt pocket and hands them over. We drive up to the next check point. What will happen here?

The guard takes our tickets, says we’re good to go for the 3 o’clock entrance and I demure, with lifted eyebrows, asking if we are allowed to walk around prior to a 3 o clock entry?  
Oh, no, you can go right in. We just “clock ’em to even out crowds if necessary.

We drive on, slowly on the giant cobblestones that discourage any speed quicker than that of a turtle on holiday.
We have disappeared into foliage, then there is a garage, and the hint of some splendid concrete building, but nothing more to disembark, take an elevator and come out onto a patio of sorts (last picture) above and look around.

Egads. This is already a wonderful stop. We see the sea, and it really isn’t far off at all though it appears to be in the picture.

The sun is bright, we are enveloped here in the privacy of “museum” and follow paths that open to an amphitheatre (pictured) and the “villa” to the right. We descend again in an elevator to reach the first floor of the Villa and enter. At this point, I wouldn’t care if I saw any artwork at all. The place itself is art.

Built (within) to reflect a Roman home. For those of you who studied Latin, you’ll remember the atrium being the most important “place,” where guest are greeted, with mosaic on the floor around the impluvium (not pictured). Surrounding the atrium were the master famiy’s main rooms –  bedrooms, study, dining room. The back of the house was focused around the peristyleum which had a  small garden typically surrounded by columns and from here, the bathrooms, kitchen and triclunium where the family took its meals in the nicest weather. The peristyleum has no roof. 

However, in my blithe attempts at picturing this unique museum, I have given only glimpses of some of the architecture found on site; this museum is not a copy of a Roman household by any means but imitates on the its first level, partially, the general set up of such a household.

The grapes, pictures above, are real. Some of the other “architectural” photos are trompe l’oeil. But you won’t be fooled. And the statues are real, unique, authentic and more than 2000 years old. Remarkable. The umbrellas are for guests who walk about en plein air at this marvelous villa perched and anchored hillside.

Getty has quite an art stash here at the Villa,  reflecting the study of Greece, Rome and Etruria.
The Getty Center in LA is a whole other story, featuring his collection of Western Art from Middle Ages to the present.

It’s an experience to visit the Villa whose architecture and structure is as fascinating as the cultures portrayed within it.

Art…wherever it is…rules

July 12, 2011 § 4 Comments



father’s day…

June 19, 2011 § 6 Comments

photo snapped at the Chicago Art Institute of Monet’s waterlilies … there are many in this “series” with one of the grandest found here in St Louis at our Art Museum. It’s a must see.

Happy Father’s Day to all, to our respective “founders of the feast,” our hunters, our (ancient) heads of state, our co-care givers, our best friends, our keepers at the cave doors, and our TV remote “masters.”
And I say all of the above sincerely, aware that we women are right there, too, fitting into all the above categories as well, except, perhaps for the remote thing!

Sincere salutations to  honor all Dads, and all days!


June 16, 2011 § 14 Comments

This guy and his twin guard the front entrance to the Art Institute in Chicago. It’s clear by his stance, by the dip-and-curve of his tail that he means business.

And then, get up close to his face. It says: This place is mine and don’t take anything from here, except inspiration and memory and ideas.

It is odd to snap pictures of paintings; you can go through hoops to get the lighting and the color correct, all without flash which understandably is not allowed. You feel like you can and should snap pictures of the artwork, as though in so doing you can take something of it with you. But you’ll never get it right. Paintings are really three-dimensional and taking of photo of them literally flattens them.

(by Toulouse Lautrec)

Still, you may not want to buy the art postcards of any of the artwork that are found in the gift shop. These, too, cannot nearly capture anything of the artwork, except the memory of seeing it, of the way it makes you gasp when you walk from exhibit room to exhibit room, standing there staring at certain pieces that move you particularly, like the Caillebotte you saw here years ago on one of your first trips to Chicago with your husband and seeing the painting now is like seeing an old friend in the midst of this metropolis where everyone else is a stranger…

(by Caillebotte)

…being caught off guard by one of Renoir’s portraits of a child that is so sweet without being saccharine-sentimental…

(by Jean Auguste Renoir)

…getting smacked in the psyche by looking at the original of Van Gogh’s room in Provence, a piece made even headier by the fact that you lived there, in Provence for a spring and summer and you know what he saw and smelled in  the provencal air…

(by Van Gogh)

…and you duck into the “moderns” and think you have nothing to relate to with them, but then  O’Keefe’s skull and bones in shades of white calls from the wall and so does Hopper’s Blvd of Forgotten Dreams and so does that silly old, nearly clicheed American Gothic which is of a man and his daughter, not his wife, and you can hardly believe it. You’re standing there looking at it, and realize the artist stood there looking at it, too, while working on it. And you marvel.

And you realize that if you had to go to school again, you could learn it all here, looking at the artwork and understanding how and why it was created and what it means, suggests or ignores.

And you stop taking pictures and you just try to “get it,” to feel the message, the reason of it all.
And you think that if you could stop right there, sit on one of the benches off to the side and open a blank book, you could fill it with a story, right there in medias res, surrounded by all that history and paint.

another angle on zen…

June 4, 2011 § 11 Comments


Still “taking” journaling class tho’ have missed several due to work. What? How can work interfere, you ask.
Ah, well, it just does, I answer.  It’s been … busy. Terribly un-zen-ish.

So, tying together what’s mentioned so far, that is, journaling class and work and zen, here is something I learned in one journaling evening that you will think, at first blush, has nothing to do with journaling. And yet, somehow it does. Cheri Remington, our beloved journaling leader, took a workshop’s time to intro us to “zentangles.”  We talked about them, watched an excellent DVD demo and then, we got to work creating our own.

Nor and I were lost in it as soon as we began. Mine are typically simple, quick, tossed off in order to detox a little.
Take a look at some of these, complex, simple, beautiful. Beyond doodling ( I can hear you muttering about it being doodling – but that’s OK!)

I find myself zentangling in certain meetings (not out of disrespect, though.).
I create them when I cannot write (not time or place).
I am painting them all over a wood barstool in our kitchen.
And have offered to do them all over one of Snarl’s bicycles in black and white “tangles.” He remains skeptical.
I will do more, maybe even a quilt. Not just to affect a complete project but because I love the deliberateness and at the same time, the “lostness” of doing them.

There are books on doing it. Though some of you will find you are already creating them. High-end doodling? Perhaps. Junk art? mmmm….perhaps.  The new “wallpaper” in my home office?  Yup, I think so. Only several hundred more of them to go.

my first one…

Intrinsically simple, zentangles can go whacky with intensity and detail.
Use a 3×3 inch square.  Put dots in each of the four corners, about 1/2″ in from the paper’s edge. Connect the four dots to form an inner square. Now, within your square, draw one line through it, in any direction and touching any of the 4 sides of your square … or not.
And now you have “sections” within your little square. Using an extra extra extra fine (gel) pen, draw any sort of repetitive pattern within each of the sections. All in all, this can be considered a 3 to 4 minutes “exercise.”  Typically these are done in black ink on white paper. No reason to listen to any rules, though!

It is relaxing.
It slows any frantic-ness.
It offers something on which to concentrate.
It does not set out to be creative, necessarily. It sets out to do a focused “exercise.” The result, however, is fun, possibly dynamic.
It gives one something to do in time that seems otherwise…oddly or unnecessarily spent?

Just try it.

this one was done during a meeting

You might find a book or two on the subject interesting, at least to jumpstart your zentangle art.
And this is a wonderful site to read prior to inking your art!

rooster, but not codburn…

March 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Seem I have a thing for roosters (including TRUE GRIT’s Codburn) lately (see post, a few posts back) and for fooling around with changing my photos, too. This is one of my newest nutcrackers (yeah, well, nutcrackers are NOT just a Christmas, are they?) and this one has the rooster atop , while a pig, cow and dog circle him at his feet.  It’s a lovely little treatment. 

Otherwise mute in the midst of a coporate project this evening, I’m dropping this gentleman soldier here on the page for fun, just a way to say “hi” and going back to work.

It’s ok to write in bed if you can find a comfortable position. Those lap desks do help. In fact, it leans against the night stand and is an actually aesthetic reminder that yeah, maybe tired, but really, wouldn’t it be possible to eek out a few words?
Writing is about freedom.
Freedom is for everyone.
So then, is writing for everyone?
(Yes, she whispered.)

Birds for Writers…

November 15, 2010 § 11 Comments

photo taken on University Ave in Columbia, MO by DCL

We know that birds are terrortiorial and not all sweetness and light. They fight, they’re bitchy, they squawk (cheep) and holler (caw). But they sing and warble and trill, and they soar.

We watch them, love them and wonder what it would be like if one would eat from our hand, maybe sit momentarily on our palm and let us sense the down of its feathers and wait for the quiver of its hearbeat, ’til it flies off.

Birds have been the topic of a writers for ages.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott  (you’ve heard many rave about this one. It deserves it, from a writer’s point of view). She also has a novel called Imperfect Birds. (didn’t know that.)

The Birds (movie) by Alfred Hitchcock (nope. watching it once was enough. I don’t like seeing the birds turn even though overall, it was mob mentality. nope, once was enough )

Book of Dead Birds by Gail Brandeis (I mentioned this one more than  a dozen blog entries ago) and I did start reading it but I’ll tell ya, it’s different and I had to reread the first 10 pages several times to see what was going on. Anyway, I’ll report more on it later. It’s good. Disturbing in its way, but good.

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (short stories – excellent)

Birds of America by John James Audubon (the quintessnetial guide. Takes up serious bookshelf real estate, though.)

Bye Bye Birdie (movie)  Not one darn thing to do with birds. Threw it in here for fun. It’s a 1963 musical directed by George Sidney. Fun? yeah. Interesting cast including Dick van Dyke, Janet Leigh and Ann-Margret.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If you can think about this book/story without thinking about Gregory Peck, you’re ahead of the game. It’s also telling, that Harper Lee was friends with Truman Capote. Writers that hung out together. Who woulda guessed?

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Disturbing. Not the friendliest  bird in town. And then there’s that bit about the ravens at the Tower of London.

Icarus and Daedalus – myth. But who doesn’t think, at least once, about how cool it would be to actually fly?

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. 1969, coming of age story – would we now call it “memoir”? Nevetheless, an autobiography, from victim to self assured woman. Resonates.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.. Haven’t read it. But Bellezza inspired me to get as far as buying it so it’s on the TBR stack and I’m grateful.

Blackbird from the Beatles’ White Album. “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…take these broken wings and learn to fly…” Of course you know the words.

The above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of “birds” and lit/songs/screenplays/poetry.
Read or seen anything with “birds” in it lately?

May your Muse take flight with you on board.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with art at This Writing Life ....