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Picturing a World

Luggage tag art

I admired Jackie Morris's otters on luggage tags when she posted New Blues. They came to mind again when I got a haircut the other day. My hairdresser and I were discussing the slow deliveries and odd shortages that persist after the COVID lockdown. She can't find the little tissue squares used for giving permanents; a shipment of tea for me has gone missing. It was the tissue squares that linked up with the otters. Together, they reminded me of the vagaries of art supplies in certain societies.

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Bog Child

Somewhere recently, I saw Patrick Ness quoted as saying something along the lines of, "If you haven't read Siobhan Dowd, do yourself a favor and remedy the lack at once." So I went to the website of the Siobhan Dowd Trust and chose Bog Child for starters. Do yourself a favor!

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Small miracles

Ericka V, Augsburg Book of Signs (2021)

My day got off to a good start with progress on my current short story. Afterward, I read Kathleen Jennings' post, Observation Journal—Little Groves on what she likes "about "'little woods and wildernesses' in art and stories and life, and as art and stories." So much to think about, agree with, and send me out looking with new eyes. And then, THEN, I went to the post office. Waiting for me was Ericka V's exquisite miniature version—you can really turn the pages—of the Augsburg Book of Miracles. Perfection.

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Bjornerud, Conjuration

Ordinarily, in my writing life, I look at pictures to help with descriptions or suggest story lines, but Kristin Bjornerud's Conjuration with an Oath strikes me as emblematic of something at the heart of what all artists do. We call up stories or songs or paintings or dance and turn them loose,. They come out of our bare-footed selves and take on lives of their own. The look of concentration on the woman's face and the smallness of these pronghorn deer, moreover, are reassuring: Not every project or artifact has to be large; they live if we make them as fine as we can.

Via Myth and Moor, Come into animal presence, a post with more Bjornerud watercolors.

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Hockney, Contre-jour

How many times have you looked out a museum window or left an exhibition and seen the world differently? For just a little while you feel like you have stepped into a painting or else that you are seeing it as an artist might. If you're David Hockney, you paint it!

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Spring Cannot Be Cancelled

Last March, a review of Spring Cannot Be Cancelled by David Hockney and Martin Gayford led me to order a copy from a local bookseller and wait for its U.S. release. It would have been perfect for the late, cold springs we have in New England, especially while anxieties about vaccine availability and COVID restrictions were still strong. Bright colors, sophisticated conversation, a place of cultivated beauty and (let's face it) nostalgic ease of life. I thought about saving it for next spring, when I'm sure to need a lift again—but naaahhh, I'm reading it now during the first hot spell of June, and it has me gripped. Look at some double-page spreads and see why.

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Confectionary

One of those serendipitous finds during a search for something else. Forget whatever allegory the artist had in mind:—just try to feel between your fingers the rough texture of the crystallized sugar on the fruits and comfits in the bowl! And, of course, the taste—add anise?


Via Web Gallery of Art.

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Map of Leiden

Although COVID-19 quashed many events in 2020 intended to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, there were always books. During the lockdown, I read Jeremy Bangs' Strangers and Pilgrims: Travellers and Sojourner about the Pilgrims' earlier years in Leiden, Holland. Pieter Bast's 17th C aerial map of the city allowed me to wander Leiden's streets and visualize the neighborhood where Pastor John Robinson's congregation lived—as well as the larger city where so many other lives were being led.

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Hargus Creek

Jeanette Palmer, the central character in Where the Light Falls, is from Circleville, Ohio. One of my readers was surprised to hear that Circleville is a real place. It is and, as far as I can tell, lives up to its perfect name as the quintessential Midwestern small town. A paragraph in a 1909 diary I'm reading describes a late-June storm in Circleville so dark that fireflies came out at 5:00 p.m. The diarist and the people she is visiting play bridge, escort another visitor to the streetcar, "and then took in the picture show but declined to go with the crowd to see Hargus Creek out of bounds."

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Cornhill door as portal

Blog post alert: The idea of portals to other times or universes are a staple of speculative fiction, but real doors with illustrative panels can be portals for the imagination. They connect those who see them later to the period in which they were created and to the times or stories that they depict. Each of the bas-relief panels of William Gilbert's Door in Cornhill depicts an aspect of the district's history—here, for instance, as the locale of 17th C tailoring. And those faces! Couldn't they also spark a new story in response?
Via Spitalfileds Life

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