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Picturing a World


My husband found this jawbone back in the woods and took me to see it. So many possibilities! A prompt for a naturalist's lecture (it's a deer's jawbone). A witch's comb. A treasure for a boy's collection of feathers and bones. Ditto for a girl (with a magical twist and broken eggshells to boot). A patteran. Or that pattern of jawbone, pinecone, straw and twig—a spell laid, an artist's composition, a talisman with runes. What's your fancy?

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Story of a Farm

I came across Looking down to Horsleyhope Mill a while back. It seemed to me you could convert it to a hobbit village or imaginary farm in an earlier era as the setting for a story. I never got around to trying to sketch what I had in mind, but, by golly, John S. Goodall did a wildly better version in The Story of a Farm, one of his wordless books with cunning foldovers that show transformations. Luckily, our public library system has a copy. I borrowed it, loved it, and have just ordered a clean used copy at Biblio.com.

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In the week or so between Thanksgiving and Saint Nicholas Day, I try to keep Christmas frenzy at bay (with, of course, the minor cheating, like starting an Advent calendar). An annual rereading of Greer Gilman's Moonwise is a good compromise: mythic, ritual, and seasonal. So is literal walking in November woods. Yesterday, under a gray sky, I was on a hillside floored with fallen leaves and realized I was walking "in 'tCloudwood."

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Three doors

From time to time, a picture goes into my file of story prompts. I ran across this photograph of a corner in Peveril Castle the other day, and flash! a fiction! If I were better at art software, I could probably combine it with this photograph of Peveril Castle for a Tiny Illustrated Story. Read More 

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Carolus-Duran carte-de-visite

Maybe while New York is under a ghastly orange haze, it's wrong the wrong time to post a sepia photograph; but I got such a kick out running across this carte-de-visite , that I can't resist. According to the seller, the picture was taken in 1865 even though the card commemorates Carolus-Duran's winning of a silver medal at the World's Fair of 1878. And doesn't he look young and handsome! For Ferdinand Mulnier's sensitive portrait of Jeanette's other teacher, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, click here. For many more of Mulnier's photographs, click here.

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Susie Barstow

Exhibition alert: Women Reframe American Landscape: Susie Barstow & Her Circle is on view at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site from now until October 29th. The website has loads of information and images about this female artist who was as successful in her day as the men whose names are remembered for their grand paintings of the American landscape. Simultaneously comes publication of  the first book-length study of her life and art: Susie M. Barstow: Redefining the Hudson River School. I'll be going to the exhibition and look forward to learning more!

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Wilding Frieze

Exhibition alert: I couldn't help thinking of Dimples for President and The Flapper Queens when I saw Frieze in the review article The big picture: jazz age attitude captured by Dorothy Wilding. Wild, Wilding, wilder, and fun!

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Dark and light

Blog post alert: For those of you who follow a traditional calendar, this is the ninth day of Christmas. You'll be pleased by a few last glimpses of a delicious interior from Amy Merrick at Dennis Severs' House. And for those of you who think about writing historical fiction, Lucinda Douglas Menzies' photographs of the house are lovely help to visualizing the chiaroscuro of a pre-20th C winter. No wonder ghost stories are a part of the season!

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Barred track

As autumn wanes, I have been pondering this photograph of a Farm track and footpath in Bradfield Dale. The "dishevelled dryad loveliness" of the banked track is rudely interrupted by those straight, metallic lines in the gate. The gate bars mystery. Or does it? Visually, it has the odd effect of heightening the rich intricacy and organic fullness of nature that encroaches on the older manmade wall and track. It teases the mind with its incongruity; it makes what lies beyond more tantalizing. Visualize the picture without it: the proportions and recession become less interesting. Restore it and what do you get? Contrast, delayed gratification, ambiguity, the barb that pricks at complacency …. I'm still pondering.

Image © Copyright Bill Boaden and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

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Webb Jupiter!

Blog post alert: The brilliant composite photographs of Jupiter captured by NASA's James Webb telescope make you understand the appeal of optimistic science fiction!

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