Friday, July 8, 2011

Reprise: July 8, 2010: The Birdwatcher

Today I got email from a friend who visited my blog for the first time, and generously complimented my artwork. This made my day and prompted me to go back and take a look myself. I clicked on a tag at random, and was taken to this collage, which I made on July 8, 2010. Coincidence? Of course…

I have often wondered why, given how much I love my garden, I don’t do art inspired by it. I guess because I don’t need to. I have the real garden, and that is sufficient. Gardening moves me into another place, another state of mind, as does making art, but the two don’t intersect. Very little of my art has ever come from my day-to-day life, rather it comes from a place inside myself--where I would much rather spend my day-to-day life, if only I could discover how to merge the two. For me, that place contains mystery, humor, beauty, longing, and a magic lantern of images lovely, nostalgic, and sometimes bizarre. They flit across my mind, often so quickly I wonder if I’ll ever capture them on paper. In an instant the whole totality of the work, its flavor, colors, mood, vividly appears. The challenge of all art making is to fashion a piece that catches the viewer in a similar way and compels them to share the artist’s internal experience.

One evening last week while trolling through iTunes, I played some music (Manu Chao) that I listened to a lot when I was making collages for 3SIXTY5 last year, and I was amazed at how much the music awakened echoes of that most creative 7 months of my life. I had to turn it off and won’t listen again until I’m ready to make the time to work. But it’s tantalizing to know that this trigger exists to help me recreate that magical state of mind where creativity rules.

For now, back to the garden...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Kniphofia

Kniphofia, aka Red Hot Pokers or torch lilies, have pretty much taken over a wide swath of my front garden. 

This is a plant that looks better in the catalog than the garden (at least, my garden.) I grew them originally because one of my favorite personages, Vita Sackville-West, liked them and grew them at Sissinghurst. I’ve decided to remove them, in large part because they are over-sized for the area they are in, they keep spreading, and the foliage is quite expansive. Being natives of South Africa, they demand plenty of space. The first batch I dug out was encroaching on a boxwood (to the left in photo above) and removing them was quite a chore. I was digging under the box before I got all the kniphofia roots.  I was fearful that kniphofia might be like yucca, which regenerates if even the smallest sliver of root is left in the ground. After about 2 weeks, I have seen no signs of new plants emerging. So far, so good. Kniphofia does make quite a statement--maybe I should try some in a large pot? Or give them their own bed at the end of the lawn?  They would look stunning growing with purple and gold bearded irises...

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Art of the Garden

Iris siberica and peonies welcome springtime visitors to our yard
I recently lamented to my daughter that I have not done any artwork lately,
or posted to this blog since March!
She said that gardening it art, too. There's truth in that.

Oriental poppies in languid profusion

 Gardening is not for those seeking instant gratification, however.
Like creating a painting or collage,
the Process is the engine that drives the beauty, 
and this takes time and effort.

Morning glories visiting sunflowers

 Last year during 3SIXTY5, my aborted (after 7 grueling months)
collage-a-day-for-a-year project, I tried to force my creative Process
and ended up relinquishing too much of the rest of my life.
Including tending my gardens during the 2010 season.

Hollyhocks, liatris and others in a cottage garden border

So this year I'm catching up. In addition to shovels, spades and sweat,
I've broken out the books, and I'm re-educating myself on
those principles of soil chemistry and plant care
without which no garden can look its best.

English daisies and pansies display perky personality
The beauty of the gardens will reward and refresh me.
I'll be ready, come the cold weather, to let my own creative juices flow again.

"The one art that everyone chooses, or feels in some degree qualified to practice, is paradoxically the most complex of combines aesthetic judgments with science and craftsmanship in a kaleidoscope of two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. And yet on this flapping canvas [the gardener] tries to daub his vision of a better world..."
Hugh Johnson, The Principles of Gardening

Friday, March 18, 2011

If only I could get it to work...

I've wanted for a long time to design my own blog background, so I found instructions on the web, and went to work. After spending many hours in Photoshop (probably way more than would've been necessary, if I really knew PS) I created the above background design, based mostly on my own artwork, uploaded it to Flickr, followed the instructions and voila!...nothing. I end up with a plain white background. I'm sure the design will require much tweaking, but I can't tweak what I can't see. After many attempts at fiddling with the html per the instructions, I have given up for now. Maybe I saved the image incorrectly, or something. Any pointers from anyone who knows what they're doing in these matters, would be appreciated. For now, it's back to one of blogger's own backgrounds.

The small logo at center bottom is one I designed for myself years ago, pre-Collagitation. But I do like it, so I incorporated it into the background. In case I never do get the blasted thing working, here's the logo itself, based on my initials: 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Another way to help

Today I found a link which advertised 100% of sales to go to Japanese aid. It turned out to be a totally delightful site, Lil Blue Boo, where a very talented lady, Ashley, designs and sells children's clothing, sewing patterns, and other treats! The site is a visual delight too, you can take a look, and make a purchase to help Japan, via her badge (to the right of my page and down), or go directly to her Japan aid page via this link (please cut & paste it, I can't get blogger's link function to work):

Thank you, Ashley and Boo!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tears for Japan

We are so grateful that the family of my son-in-law, who is Japanese, are safe. But so many others in Japan are not, and all of us grieve and prayer for them. If you can, please donate generously to aid this stricken country. Even a wealthy country needs the help of the world community after a disaster of this magnitude. Here are some trustworthy and reliable sites where you can donate: (Catholic Relief Services)

Thank you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is it too early for the beach?

This piece is called Water Wings, and it's all about anticipation! Truth to tell, I haven't been to a beach--in summer, in a bathing suit--in quite awhile. Which does not mean I don't eagerly anticipate the weather when these things would be possible. Living close to the Allegheny River, I see broad, wavey water every time I drive just about anywhere, and it's easy to imagine being on it's shores (not that they are amenable to swimming; boating and fishing are the draws here.) When the sky is blue and the sun is shining, even if it's still cold out, the sight of the water sparkling in the sun and reflecting the blue sky instantly puts my mind into summer mode. Spring is just around the corner (never mind the snow outside.) Can summer be far behind?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sheer Opulence

"Less Is Not More," a painting I made in 1999 as a gift for an interior designer friend (whose initials are NLM.)

I think every artist loves “doing” their interiors. We may not be interior decorators but the urge is always there to use our surroundings as yet another creative outlet. My taste in interiors, like the art I make, tends to be of the “Less is Not More” school, and looks to the past rather than to current trends for aesthetic nourishment. I love looking at interior design (usually on the printed page) and there are many practitioners whose work I admire, ranging from icons like Nancy Lancaster and Sister Parrish, to current masters like Bunny Williams and John Saladino, and on to the wild frontiers of Diamond and Baratta. Now I have a new addition to my A-list:  I recently acquired a copy of Nicholas Haslam’s Sheer Opulence, subtitled Haslam Style:  Glamour in Contemporary Interiors

Opulence and glamour are, alas, not very evident in my present home, but I add touches where I can, and slake my thirst for those qualities by acquiring books such as this. Haslam originally trained as an artist, and the Introduction contains several of his interior watercolors. Haslam’s opulent aesthetic--why just one layer when more can be contrived to richer effect?--is achieved by obsessive attention to detail. Floral print draperies in a bedroom are given a “fuzzy, funky” edging made of 3 layers of heavily gathered, scallop-edged chintz, looking like rows of flower petals attached to the curtains. He can also do sparer, more restrained interiors that nevertheless exude style and that ineffable quality, “taste”, via that same attention to detail. A dignified, monochromatic London drawing room is saved from stodginess by a gorgeous chandelier, cascading drapery swags and deep fringe on an ottoman. Dee-lightful! 

After perusing these beautiful photos for days, I began reading the text. As a young man Haslam was introduced to some well-known personages among his parent’s contemporaries, including Lady Diana Cooper, Cecil Beaton, and Oliver Messel. Geoffrey Scott, author of The Architecture of Humanism, was his father’s cousin (and one of Vita Sackville-West’s lovers) and had a hand in decorating his parent's home. Haslam says these people “taught me the point of the past,” something so very lacking, it seems to me, in the education of today’s younger generations. Or am I showing my age?

“Every room should have a touch of pink in it, because it makes all the other colors sing.”
 -Nicholas Haslam

Along with this lovely book, I am currently reading Serious Pleasures, a biography of Stephen Tennant by Phillip Hoare, which contains photos (by Beaton) of rooms in his family home, Wilsford. Stephen was assisted in decorating Wilsford by Syrie Maugham, another iconic decorator. Pink was his favorite color. These books, one about a legendary aesthete and one by a contemporary artist/designer, make delightfully complementary reading. I recommend them both.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Wake-up Call

Today on Facebook, I followed a link in a post from Randel Plowman (one of the inspirations for my aborted collage-a-day project) and ended up in a wonderland of incredible artwork. Here is the link:

Via the links on the Oblog page, I entered the amazing worlds of Angelica Paez, Javier Rodriguez and Rodrigo de Fillipis. I urge you to do the same.

I can barely tell of the emotions that stirred in me by seeing their work. Surprise, appreciation, the joy of seeing talent put to such effective use, and also, ENVY. Having strayed so far of course from the purpose of starting this blog—to post a daily (or at least steady) stream of new artwork—I felt like I'd been turned to stone in the roadway while others dashed past leaving a shower of glorious artworks in their wake. *sigh*

Clearly, it is time for me to break out of this drift, and get back to my heart's core. Just to make myself feel better, I have re-posted a dozen favorite pieces of my own, to remind myself that, yes, I can actually make art when I choose to. (Click on the date to go to the original post.)

Best Friends Forever. Posted 2/23/10

Descension. Posted 6/11/10

Star Charts. Posted 5/11/10

A Bridefor Max Ernst.  Posted 4/16/10

Buddha Eggs. Posted 5/18/10

Le Chapeau fait l'Homme. Posted 6/9/10 

St. Theresa in Excelsis. Posted 4/11/10

The Walls of Jericho. Posted 7/13/10

Pleasure Dome. Posted 7/1/10

Egg Hunt. Posted 6/12/10

Clever Parrot. Posted 5/7/10

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Edward Gorey!

Today would’ve been Edward Gorey’s 86th birthday. Alas, he is no longer with us but I don’t doubt he can “hear” our birthday wishes. As my own homage to the Master of macabre wit, I offer photos of a recipe box I made several years ago (for one of the people I love most in the world, who is also a dedicated Gorey fan.)  The box is decoupaged with scenes based on EG’s drawings, combined with illustrations of vintage utensils and comestibles. I think Edward would’ve enjoyed it, and I hope you do, too.

The lid of the recipe box. Arsenical buns for all!

Front of the recipe box. Mr. Earbrass is perhaps having a nightmare?

Rear of box. Beware of attacking kitchen utensils.

Side of box. Green Gages and Crumply Bumplies for breakfast!

Other side of box. Welcome to Edward's kitchen.

The box open

Another view of open box

The interior features Victorian kitchen scenes. Don't they look cozy?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The War on Women

Not worried yet? Read this email from

Dear MoveOn member,
It might seem hyperbolic to say that Republicans have declared a war on women.
Sadly, it's not.
Just take a look at the top 10 shocking, crazy things Republicans have proposed in recent weeks. If you think this constitutes a war on women, please share this email far and wide—forward it, and post it on Facebook and Twitter.
I wish I could say these were the only examples of the Republican war on women. But it's just a sampling, and more is sure to come—unless we raise a ruckus and call them out. So please, share this email today.

Top 10 Shocking Attacks from the GOP War on Women

1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't.
2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."
3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)
4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids. 
5) In Congress, Republicans have proposed a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.
6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.
7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.
8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.
9) Congress voted yesterday on a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.
10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).
Please share this email today. Just click the links to post on Facebook and Twitter.
1. "'Forcible Rape' Language Remains In Bill To Restrict Abortion Funding," The Huffington Post, February 9, 2011
"Extreme Abortion Coverage Ban Introduced," Center for American Progress, January 20, 2011
2. "Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As 'Accusers,'" The Huffington Post, February 4, 2011
3. "South Dakota bill would legalize killing abortion doctors," Salon, February 15, 2011
4. "House GOP Proposes Cuts to Scores of Sacred Cows," National Journal, February 9, 2011
5. "New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion," Talking Points Memo, February 4, 2011
6. "Republican Officials Cut Head Start Funding, Saying Women Should be Married and Home with Kids," Think Progress, February 16, 2011
7. "Bye Bye, Big Bird. Hello, E. Coli," The New Republic, Feburary 12, 2011
8. "House GOP spending cuts will devastate women, families and economy," The Hill, February 16, 2011
9. "House passes measure stripping Planned Parenthood funding," MSNBC, February 18,2011
"GOP Spending Plan: X-ing Out Title X Family Planning Funds," Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2011
10. Ibid.
Birth Control for Horses, Not for Women," Blog for Choice, February 17, 2011
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday VyVy!

Today is the birthday of a friend of mine who also happens to be a brilliant young physician! So I made this birthday card for her. Have a happy one, VyVy!

I'm also excited because I recently found blogs by Teesha Moore, one of my favorite artists and the one-and-only creator of the planet-wide art phenomena called "zettiology," and also her husband Tracy's blog. Tracy Moore makes incredible hand-made books, in addition to producing fabulous journals like Teesha. Check them out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where the Lotus Goes in Winter

I have removed my blog background (except for some color), in the hopes that this will spur me to create my own background. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time.  Why not now? While I wait for Spring. The weather has been teasingly warm(er) here, I no longer feel like a lady locked in ice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

AValentine's Day Wish For You...

Search for a Hidden Heart

May your Valentine's Day be rich
in love, friendship, and chocolate. And may someone special discover your hidden heart.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Time for a Change...'s been happening for a long time anyway. Early on, I said the reason I was doing this blog was to get myself to make more art. It worked! For awhile. Perhaps my collage-a-day project was ill-conceived, given that I could not sustain the stresses that goal put on my time, sleep, and other commitments in my life. So, why not write posts about other things that interest me, or things in my life that others might find interesting? Next to art, the biggest category of personal obsessions is books--as well as music, interior decoration, food, gardening, animals, etc. The fact that reading a book is MUCH EASIER than producing art has something to do with it. bring you up to date with the highlights, and nadir, of my past several days:

Last Friday night I was delighted to attend Handel's Rinaldo when a friend's husband was not up to 3 hours of baroque opera!
Sorceress Armida (Alexandra Loutsion, center) has Almirena and Rinaldo (Shannon Dooley, left, and Stephanie Lauricella) under her power in Pittsburgh Opera's "Rinaldo."
© David Bachman Photography, 2010
The singing was nothing short of astounding, especially considering that these vocalists are members of Pittsburgh Opera's Artists in Residence program, singers-in-training, all so young that only one is just embarking on a professional career. Minimalist but effective sets, in combination with evocative lighting and costumes, also  made for a visually magical night. How about a little operatic beefcake?

Sexy & Shirtless: "Barihunk" Dan Kempson, who sang Argante in Rinaldo
Saturday night I attended a baby shower for a co-worker, and a fine, ribald old time was had by all! 

Sunday afternoon I picked up my daughter from a sibling reunion at her Dad's place, looking forward to spending Monday with her before putting her on a train back to NYC on Tuesday morning.

We watched the Steelers lose the Superbowl., in spite of this year's fabulous fight song, "Drink Up, Yinz Bitches!"...well, gotta give the other guys a chance to win once in awhile.

Alas, I awoke early Monday and found myself face to face with a nasty bout of the flu. I haven't been that sick in quite awhile, and lost my day with my daughter. Fortunately her Aunt was able to get her to the train station so she got home ok.

Last night I finally stopped the frequent dashes for the bathroom, but I stayed home from work today as well. I'll be back in harness tomorrow.

I'm online tonight, actually, because I was searching for pictures of the Honorable Stephen Tennant, whose biography, Serious Pleasures, I am currently reading. There's something about early-20th c personalities that I find utterly fascinating--Stephen Tennant, Diana Cooper, Ottoline Morrel, the Sitwells, the Mitfords, Vita Sackville-West, to name a few. Perhaps its that sense of temps perdu, of ways of life that are forever vanished, that makes the magic. Also, people seemed to conduct themselves with so much more panache and/or elegance in bygone times. Or does every generation think that?
Stephen Tennant costumed as Prince Charming

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The days are getting longer...

A melancholy faux-memory for a time when branches are bare,
nests are empty, and eggs are stones.

The days are getting longer, and I feel like I might start creating some art again. Seasonal depression is such a bore. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January is half over. WHAT?!? *sigh*

At least we are that much closer to Spring. On the other hand, winter can be so wonderfully beautiful. As a child, I loved to explore the woods near my home, especially after a heavy snowfall. Then the branches, arching close over my head with the weight of snow, became a magical, soft tunnel from which I emerged with my own sparkling mantle of white. Now, as an adult, having to commute through the ice and snow to spend my day doing what I do not prefer, can rob the season of its charm. How nice if we could declare winter to be one long holiday, compelled never to leave home unless we chose to visit friends or buy food to be eaten with our families in our warm kitchens.  

“Being in this room on a winter night, 
alone or with one or two great friends,
the sparkling coal fire with its low 
brass-bound fender, the familiar things all around,
sitting in a chair which becomes a nest 
with letters and papers and baskets and telephone
scattered on the floor, dogs comfortably 
settled by the fire, or near the draught of the door
according to their thickness of coat, 
is my idea of an evening happily spent.”

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire,  
The House: A Portrait of Chatsworth

Friday, January 7, 2011

And so begins another year…

"Angel of Light." Christmas 2010
I wish I had had the foresight to put up a post after Christmas that said “Holiday hiatus in effect, see you later!” I didn’t do so, because I had intended to keep up with Collagitation blog throughout the holidays. Next year I’ll know better—or try harder! I have this dilemma, where I still desire to post my own artwork, but, especially during the holidays, I didn’t make the time to do any. So I ended up not posting anything. However, I did take some nice pictures of the decorations in our house, so I’ll use some of those instead.
The arrangement above is situated in a corner of the dining room, which is an interior room with no windows so it is ideal for this type of display. I saw the crystal bowl full of lights and silver ornaments on a Christmas house tour several years ago, then later I found the lovely angel figure (at the Salvation Army store, no less) and I love how she looks hovering over the lit bowl.

My New Year’s Resolution, of course, is to resume regularly making artwork. I wish all of you a happy, productive, prosperous and serene year in 2011!

"Go into yourself and test the depths in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create."   Rainer Maria Rilke


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...