Thursday, October 24, 2013

you're the cream to my coffee

I guess I must have subliminally painted this one because I miss afternoon coffee with J. When he wasn't so busy with work, we would make coffee in the early afternoon, and sit out on the back deck and talk about life. It makes me happy to have a vignette of those times together.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

i'm starting to love poetry

I'm starting to love poetry. It's something I somehow missed the boat on. I never really understood it, never really understood how to read it. Poems always seem to take a long time to get to the point. And then you still have to decode them. Clearly, I have a problem with needing to do things fast. Anyway, what I am starting to appreciate about poetry is that you have to read a poem slowly. Poems force me to slow down. 

Here is a poem by Pablo Neruda. Although I am not an avid reader of poetry, I have always enjoyed Pablo Neruda:

The days aren't discarded or collected, they are bees
that burned with sweetness or maddened
the sting: the struggle continues,
the journeys go and come between honey and pain.
No, the net of the years doesn't unweave: there is no net.
They don't fall drop by drop from a river: there is no river.
Sleep doesn't divide life into halves,
or action, or silence, or honor:
life is like a stone, a single motion,
a lonesome bonfire reflected on the leaves,
an arrow, only one, slow or swift, a metal
that climbs or descends burning in your bones. 

Pablo Neruda - Still Another Day, XVIII

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

illustrator: isabelle arsenault

Love this French illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault.

I love her simple objects and creatures, as well as her creative scenes. Her application looks so effortless, yet every line and brushstroke is in exactly the right place.

illustrator: penelope dullaghan

Love her work: Penelope Dullaghan. These are a few selected pieces from her portfolio. Playful, earthy, fresh... love the line quality and color placement.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

a pinhole of opportunity

"What if DG never sees me draw?" I thought the other day, with a pang. I got out the crayons. We colored a bit, drew some doggies, some kitties and a ball ("ba!"). I couldn't help noting that we needed better crayons, with richer colors. 

Old me would notice something like that. 

I hate that it is hitting me now, with a family and a day job, no stability or money and no clue of how this is going to pan out, but I think I'm ready to pursue illustration. 

Part of me thinks this is the way it has to be. I have less free time and more responsibilities than ever before. But I've also taken a bigger bite of that thing called human experience. Suffering, longing, sacrificing, giving, taking, losing. I think I have a better idea of what I want to say. 

I don't mean that I know what I'm doing. I fully admit that my plans are vague, hatched from inspiration, sleep deprivation, and a yearning for more than the status quo. I know I have a lot to do and I know the odds are stacked against me and that I'm not the greatest artist out there and I might not get anywhere. 

But I also know that I'm not using my gift. I've been waiting for my window of opportunity for too long. What if life is always way too hard, and there's never a window of opportunity? 

I guess I'm creating that window. Well, call it a pinhole for now.

mysterious wisdom

God in his mysterious wisdom decided that the mundane things would have a proportionately bigger presence in my life than the deeper, more profound things I yearn for. Why?

I think to myself, maybe He knows. Maybe God knows that I need that heavy lifting, life experience, and deep, deep tiredness to force something small but lovely and utterly true out of the heap of clutter I call my life.

Monday, March 04, 2013

a poem for today

J sent this to me today and I thought it was wonderful. Coincidentally, one of the few optimistic poems of Philip Larkin's:

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon --
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

Philip Larkin, Coming

Monday, June 25, 2012


When I met God, my mind was quiet.

When my mind was quiet, it wandered back to a quiet place in my memory: a kiss. It was uncomplicated. It had weight to it and truth in it. 

I will always be grateful for the meeting, and the kiss. One gift was greater, but one was more tangible. Most days, it still is. I'm usually too deaf and dumb to notice holy things.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

inspiration: clare newberry

Lately, I have taken to collecting Clare Newberry books. The first, Mittens, I discovered by chance at Tacoma Book Center while sorting through used books over a lunch break. While the story itself is terrific, I (of course) was absolutely smitten with the illustrations. I guess it wasn't just because, as a little girl, I was smitten with kittens. The New York Times also praised the book, calling Mittens' 1936 ink drawings "the very best cat pictures that have ever been made." High praise for something so humble as cats.

I went back to the Book Center some time later with a friend and discovered Barkis, which won the Caldecott Honor in 1938. The charcoal, pencil and watercolor wash illustrations are so breathtaking.

I love coming across the old and wonderful by chance. Both of these books were published when a loaf of bread cost eight cents, our country was lingering between wars, and the depression was still underway. Come to think of it, things don't feel much different to me now, except for the part about bread, and the fact that the vast majority of children's book art isn't what it used to be.

While the art may truly suit the text, I have found that so many of today's children's book illustrations are ugly, gestural, angular, loud, and otherwise unlovely - really, unloved, if that's not too far a stretch - and they don't ask for more than a quick flip through. What I love about Clare Newberry's illustrations is the obvious time, talent, and pure joy of seeing poured into them. Although Newberry's pictures are simple, they tell so much, evidencing hours of practice and of studying the minute details until the characters came alive.

While I don't think that realism is the best and only style, I do believe that Newberry's commitment to realism continues to say so much about persistence, and about truly seeing. I don't know that today's children have enough opportunities to absorb that message in such a captivating and disarming way.

So, when I see old books as lovely as these, I have to snatch them up, intend to read them to my children often, and hope that the visual messages sink in just as much as the stories.