#stayinplace with cat

In the time of COVID-19

This post is a diary, of sorts. Bits and pieces of events and thoughts that fill my days. Bits to share with you, dear reader, as you construct your days during the time of Covid-19.

Onto week 5 of #stayinplace-

ART

Time to consider art; root through old pieces to re-work; “play” with new ideas, and to include some not-so-usual respites.

At least two weeks have been spent on re-working my artistic endeavors that are “failures” and remain so. Consolation: there is much to learn. The first was an edition broadside I made years ago. Beautiful handmade paper of linen and cotton with flower inclusions, poetry and letterpress with a misspelling! I worked for a week straight trying to salvage this. Sometimes there is no getting around the fact that something you love is not salvageable. Next, a flower drawing that went nowhere; finally, a collection of 8”x10” blue-jean handmade paper with disassembled monoprints hoping to re-work. Still waiting on inspiration with this!

Out of the failures, though, comes a very small edition of 20 prints, Kruh, that are my contribution to Pyramid Atlantic’s Member Print Exchange.  

From this, another series of 4 prints, Kruh.2, evolved for giving away to the first four requests [See, ABLUEBUNNY post for details, https://abluebunny.wordpress.com/portfolio/kruh-in-the-time-of-covid/

Three circles or kruhs (Czech)
three kruhs (circles)

Interspersed during the week and weekend were some delightful respites listed here:

Visual & Tactile Respites

Writers Center, Bethesda, MD – This one hour poetry session, Writing About Place, was so well planned by our instructor Mathu Subramanian that every participant was able to offer her work in progress. I am working in my poem as I write this post!

Rock Paper Plant [Pop-Up] – online workshop from a Washington, D.C., women-owned business. All materials for constructing an air plant were sent ahead of time; thorough and concise workshop by the co-founders, Alicia and Cielo, gave me tons of information on these strange and wonderful plants. Moreover, after logging off, I have a stunning plant to keep me company!

Auditory respites

Classical WETA 90.0 Radio – the most sublime piano piece of Debussy: Suite bergamasque, L. 75-3. Clair de Lune played by Lang Lang. It stopped me in my tracks. While the collection of his pieces are all worthwhile, it is this particular one that I play over and over.

https://youtu.be/85aTjlh66WA

Verified podcast – Riveting content about an Italian, serial rapist sensitively wrought by an outstanding production team including the Senior Producer, Dan Bloom, our local, Takoma Park, MD resident.

Epidsode 1 of 9 https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/stitcher/verified/e/67547326

Tomie dePaola

A tribute

The death of Tomie dePaola took way my breath. His presence through art and writing have been constant threads in my adult life. Before children, I emulated (read: copied) his drawing in order to learn illustration. I was, and remain, in love with the seeming simplicity of the lines and appeal of colors, In 1997 I was fortunate to be able to spend an entire half-hour in his presence at a workshop. Forgotten is the place where it was held, the name of the organization hosting it, and the names of others around me. What I do remember is the spontaneous artwork he encouraged:  my “Henry”, a young boy, with hair sticking straight up and socks fallen around his ankles. This sketch of mine has been discarded long ago, but not the memory of this encounter.

During the 1990s, which revolved around raising two spitfire boys, Tomie’s picture books were a constant presence. Read alouds over and over and over. Our weekly attendance at the Italian Catholic church, Holy Rosary in Washington, D.C., where I sang in the choir and hauled my sons up the circular steps into the choir loft with me, brought his Italian stories alive. Strega Nona was my own Nona incarnate. Big Anthony, well, we all have a Big Anthony in our lives. How could I not love these characters?

Never was his work two dimensional; never just paint on paper. His art was a good friend with whom one never feels out of sync; one who stands by you through thick and thin. And so, with his death, I offer a goodbye through the eyes of my Prudence, who he nurtured in me unbeknownst to him. A goodbye from a friend he never knew, but who was always there for him regardless.


De Paola, Tomie. Strega Nona. NY: Simon & Schuster Books for young Readers, 1975. Print.

The Anachronistic Mouse

Can you say “mouse”?

video of mouse
Click here for the video

Many years ago, during a brief stint as a technology teacher, I was sitting in the basement of the school building (isn’t is always a basement?) within the walls of my cinder-block office and pondering things, as I do. While thoughts were firing off into the ether I inadvertently found myself tracing the computer mouse at hand onto a piece of plain white paper.

Later that week, I began to play with the basic shape during my lunch periods.

The mouse became my mouse. I felt such a fondness for this two-dimensional fellow that I brought him home. And, lo, these many years he has been living quietly in my file flats undisturbed. Until now, during the pause in my life while I once again ponder things. He is “outed” and here, I introduce him to you. He may be a little cranky, but he makes me laugh.


Drawn, while bored, with a black marker, and colored with crayons in 2003;animated, while playing at home, in 2018.

Patience

photograph

During the past two years – especially during the summer months when I am at home and able to “do art” – I find myself stymied. It is so much easier to continue with my current “work. ” My adult life is now at a balance – equal number of years as an artist to that of a librarian. Oftentimes, I find myself preparing for a project only to look at the supplies without inspiration, or love. Not long ago I found myself ruthlessly ridding the supplies -untethering myself from the burden. Gone are the pastels. Gone are the acrylic paints. Gone are the hand cut stencils. Gone is all the papermaking paraphernalia – press, vats, dyes, molds and deckle. Given away with love.

I am no longer living life as an artist.

There was a time – the halcyon days of raising children – when it was my life. I awoke thinking about it. I spent the days working on art. Pondering life and art, in the quiet moments. In the afternoons or Sunday mornings, my children created art with my supplies laid before them on the floor of the studio, or outside on our porch. My husband built papermaking presses, pedestals for stone cutting, borrowed trucks to haul large equipment to and fro throughout the various studios shared with others. The artistic life created a center for me, and enveloped those I loved, which nurtured the art work.  A beautiful circle.

I look at these years lived “in the world”  – in the library world – as a gentle interlude.  Aging brings an ache – the ache to live as an artist again. I know in my bones that it will return for it has been resting these many years – new pencils and pens will be bought. There will be other colours and fresh paints. Patience, I tell myself.

Be patient.

subdued excitement with art.3

“The conflict between man and nature seems to have been one of the bases of Western civilization. In Japan, on the other hand, man has usually lived as part of nature, being embraced by it and commingling with it…”

art materials
Selected materials are exacto knife, scissors, stencils, pastels, bookbinding glue, bonefolder, digital scanner.

A downpour with no drama – no winds or thunder; all, silent and vertical. Dusk is misplaced today.

“Sea and Silence” by Deuter is playing softly.  I slice and cut; glue and tear-away; fold and observe.

Browsing through my book collection of artist’s books, long before the Internet, my right and left brain(s) are rattled to life – together.  Did they forget that they were a team during my day job of constant interaction? I fear so. I play with ideas on the assembly of parts, but nothing whole appeals to me. I go to bed with a trust I have not felt in a long time. A trust that “it” will work out.

This is a humbling experience. For as I regain my belief with this small act, there is the larger reminder that nothing is permanent.  It is all for in the now in my life.  Somehow this sense of impermanence brings a great relief as my eyes close, and the cat purrs.

art supplies close-up
I love patterns. While I play the piano with simple skill, it is the patterns of the music that always appeals to me visually.

Doing justice to the nature of the materials is my hope.


 

Oak, Hideyuli.  How to wrap 5 more eggs: Traditional Japanese packaging. New York: Weatherhill, 1984.  Print.

subdued excitement with art.2

acrylic
garish choices in acrylic paint

Is it hard to play?

This afternoon I plunged into art supplies scattered about me, slapping down paint and shapes – not much to my liking.  Formerly, I have used pots of acrylic paint with my book arts, but for some reason this has shifted to pastel. I find the colors hard and garish. I acknowledge that this has a fuller existential meaning (this, for another day).

I pause to consider that which lay before me. Ugh. Whatever it is, it is clearly not working. My “head” is intruding and insisting a reliance on the past. Known medium. Familiar brushes. After washing out my brushes, and tenderly placing them on the drying rack, I stop again and pause. Throughout my years creating numerous artists books and two-dimensional commissioned pieces, these same, inexpensive brushes brought at a local hardware store have serve me faithfully, and well. I feel a tenderness toward these instruments which slide effortlessly into the curves of my hands. It is not the brushes, nor is it the paint.

Bundling myself in well-worn scarf – a gift from my youngest son years ago – and slipping into my simple midnight blue coat, and greeting the cold air and a sky the color of turtle doves’ downy feathers, I step into the winter light. I leave, so upon returning I may play.