The Birds

I was going along in my sketchbooks happily drawing funny shaped houses and buildings and out of nowhere, birds crept onto the pages. These are very different from my Dirty Birds series that I did back in 2003/2004 when I was obsessed with, mainly, pigeons but other common urban birds as well. Clicking on any of the four images will open it in a separate window.

The one in the upper left is the first drawing and the one in the lower right is the last. For reasons I do not know, my favorite is the large white bird all by itself with its shadow, probably because of the simplicity of it. Do you have a favorite?

For comparison, here are two from the Dirty Birds series, which are very different from the birds above. To give a sense of scale, these are on full sheets of paper. The one on the bottom, Foraging, would barely fit into my car! I briefly referenced this series of work in another blog post where I was recapping how I ended up in the visual arts.

Pigeons, Mixed Media, Private Collection
Foraging, Mixed Media, Private Collection

The Round Houses

A few weeks ago, I was posting lots of building sketches where the buildings were very elongated rectangles (you can see them here and here). Then I decided to try using one of my brush pens to see if I could change the line. What resulted were buildings that had softer, organic shapes. Here are the results below.

Blue house with tree
Blue buildings at night
Blue houses
Row houses

Garden Sketches

Sorry if you are opening this post expecting a quaint garden scenes complete with water features, statues of St. Francis, and a rainbow of color but instead you are finding these:

The great thing about sketchbooks for me is that I never know what is going to appear. For the top piece, which I will call Tomato Volcano, I just wanted to glue stuff. I have a small tray of things I have cut out from prints and other interesting scraps of paper and found some leftover tomatoes from my I Was A Tomato Farmer book. I was attending a Zoom meeting and figured I needed to do something mindless so I could focus on what was being said. Result: tomatoes being flung from the top of a volcano! Next it was time to play with some micro metallic gel pens I have and a blue brush pen which resulted in this building with a garden growing up the side.

I also worked on a Zine for a few upcoming teaching projects. I will share that in a future post.

Week Ending: March 4, 2022

Well this week was challenging so I am going to start off with something that I am very happy about and that is the salad of the week. Actually, it is not really the salad “of the week” in that I made another salad, a beet salad, which I have made several times but this time I forgot to leave the beets separate so of course everything turned red. It tasted good but looked kind of funny. However, this one I am happiest about – a basic Waldorf Salad. It is something nobody thinks about much but actually it not only is pretty easy but it is made out of crap you most likely already have in your refrigerator. I substituted raisins for grapes and I like butter lettuce (also called Boston lettuce) for this. For my dressing I did a 2:1 of plain yogurt to mayonnaise (not Greek yogurt), a bit of lemon, dill and cardamom. I think it would also be good with crumbled blue cheese but I did not have that so I put out a brick of cheddar cheese to have with it. We do what we can, right?

Ok, I am not a food writer so what else? Well, at work, I finished another box of plants. Two boxes left which means less than 600 specimens left. If you are coming onto this blog for the first time, you can see what I am talking about here. But no poison ivy this week! Yay!

Oh, I virtually attended a presentation of my friend Marlene Adler’s book that she illustrated on Purim. You can see more of Marlene’s work here as well as with other organizations with which she is involved. Afterwards I had a mad desire for Hamantash and went on a recipe search. My friend Cindy has sent me this wonderful pastry in the mail before but the last time she attempted it, well, it never made it. She received it back in the mail many months later! I figured it would be moldy as it is very buttery but she said it was not moldy but was in the texture range of hockey pucks.

And, last weekend, my husband and I went to view my exhibition that opened at the Hickory Museum of Art. I will write more about this later as I was very, very overwhelmed seeing it for the first time. So for now, I can’t really say much other than the museum did a beautiful job displaying everything. Here is an overview of each case below.

Case 1, As I See Things, Hickory Museum of Art, 2022
Case 2, As I See Things, Hickory Museum of Art, 2022

Yep, they did a great job! Will go visit again and look better at the other new exhibitions as well. The difficulty this week had to do with allergies. My medicine that I normally take stopped working and triggered other allergy related issues. Ugh! Anyway, not that big of a deal, just annoying. So that is it for now.

My Mom Eating Cheese

For reasons I do not know I have had an irresistible urge to paint this picture of my Mother so I set myself to that task yesterday in one of my sketchbooks. I remember when I was a teenager my Mom would sit in a chair and watch TV and she also usually had a book or magazine on her lap. Once in a while she would say she wanted a piece of cheese, which at times I was put to the task of getting. So here she is, in her comfy robe, eating a piece of cheese. I do not believe we had a chair that looked like that although I do believe we had chairs that color. However, we did have bold flowered curtains. I also am well aware that when people cross their legs, it does not look like this. My Mom sat with her legs crossed and a slipper usually dangled off her one foot. I did not bother with the slippers.

Mom Eating a Piece of Cheese

Coincidentally, I read a fun poem yesterday morning by Billy Collins called The Lanyard about a gift a kid gives to his mom. You can read that poem here.

The Week Ending: February 25th, 2022

Every once in awhile I like to recap some pleasant or unusual highlights from my week. This is such a difficult time in the world, I figured I would share some more mundane, pleasant activities.

I drove back from Maryland on Monday after visiting with my family and the weather was very nice. Since this is a very long car ride, we get take out when I get home which is usually around dinner time. A new store opened near us that is a “concept supermarket”. Basically, it is mainly meant to take out prepared foods and pick up a few items. They don’t even have regular cashiers, all self checkout. The perimeter of the store is a bunch of Kiosks and we decided to get bar-b-q. So we each got a smoked pork platters (I got ribs, my husband got pulled pork) and sides. They also serve corn muffin tops, instead of hush puppies, which I am glad because I am not a fan of hush puppies. There was enough food for another meal for each of us and you could also say another two meals if you saved your muffin top for breakfast the next day (I did not, I had not eaten much on the road that day). But generally, I probably would. This came to a little over $20 so it is also a pretty good bargain as well as good food. I did attempt to food shop there this week out of pure curiosity and can honestly say it is not a great place for that for my purposes. They do have one feature I like that I photographed above which is cut your own herbs for 99 cents a sandwich size bag.

I went to work and the first plant I was greeted with to mount this week was Toxicodendron radicans, a.k.a. Poison Ivy! And the plant specimen was from NJ so it was not only Poison Ivy but it was decided that it was Poison Ivy with an attitude!

I like to conjure up odd salads because we tend to eat a lot of salads. Yesterday, I came up with this.

So what is this? It is Broccoli Rabe (known some places as Rapini) topped with kalamata olives, cannellini beans, a little bit of course shredded pecorino and a hard boiled egg half. It is dressed very lightly with olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil and a dash of red pepper flakes.

I will be teaching some botanical journaling classes so today I was working on some examples. The particular plant featured in this journal is a Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). It is not complete yet but I figured I would share what I have so far.

Above is the inside with the pages unfolded. It is a mixture of dried plants, drawings, rubbings, and collage.

This (above) is a close of of two of the interior pages and one of the exterior pages folded over. The exterior page shown is a rubbing of the tree’s bark.

The image above is from a part of the journal not yet finished. The one side to the left if a depiction of the trees’ trunks that are generally very tall and straight. This imaged is collaged from one of the bark rubbings. The two painted pages with nothing on them yet will be a cover page and an informational page that will tell about the tree. If you follow this blog, you may recall a few weeks ago I presented a How-To on botanical journaling on a local TV station. The link to that is here.

Valentine Buildings?

For the last two Fridays I have joined in a virtual group where the theme is writing letters. Now I am a person who actually does writes letters but the reason I joined in was more curiosity. Basically, there is a theme every week where the host plays music geared to that theme and perhaps you would write a letter to someone based on the theme. The first time I joined in it was mediation (perhaps you would write a thought provoking letter) and the second time it was valentines (write a love letter). About every 40 minutes the host stops the music and people engage in light conversation about whatever they were doing. As it turns out nobody really spends time writing letters, at least in the two sessions I attended. As for me, the first week I was working in my winter twig notebook and last week I was working in one of my sketchbooks. Other people were tending to a variety of works: embroidery, wood whittling, paperwork, bookbinding, you name it.

I had every intention of working on my tall skinny buildings that I have written recent posts on (also see here) Well, through listening to the music and I guess with the theme in the back of my brain, my buildings took a bit of a turn so here are the results. For me, my favorite is the last one, even though that is the least defined. I like the mysteriousness of it.

What I like about joining in this group is that it keeps me more focused. I would work on my sketchbook on my own but I would also have a tendency to multi task – go throw in laundry, go stir the soup, whatever. For some reason in this format, I tend to focus more. Possibly because I think I may miss something? The next piece of music selected (which is really terrific) or a break to chat and hear what others are up to? I think this type of activity is not for everybody and it takes a very good moderator to make sure it goes well which this group has. Though I may not join in every week, it is definitely an activity I will keep in mind if I am in the mood to be with people on a Friday afternoon yet be on my own. It is the best of both worlds.

Three Tall Buildings

If you have been poking around this blog, you will have seen a few recent posts from my sketch books featuring tall, tall buildings. After working on this theme on a small scale (the sketchbooks are 7 x 10 inches), I had the urge to draw these structures much larger. This piece was made on a full sheet of Rives BFK using acrylic paint, gesso, and Wolf’s carbon pencil. My friend Anders introduced me to these pencils. They produce a dense black line if you use them dry and if you use them wet, which is what I prefer, the line becomes even richer and more velvety. Below is the piece as it stands now and underneath that is a close up of the window and clouds. It is still sort of a work in progress because, as much as I love the dark lines, I am trying to decide if I want to tone a few down a bit more. One thing I do like is how the windows show through the clouds a bit. Also, I like that I was not too particular about cleaning up edges of windows or the buildings themselves. I welcome any comments or thoughts on this as I work it out.

Sketchbook: Tall, Tall Buildings #2

These are very different than the group of buildings from my last post, which tended to be done from a variety of wetter, heavier media. For these drawings I used mainly mechanical color pencils and fountain pen ink in brushes. I choose a different sketchbook made by Traveler’s Company, which has very smooth paper and is a good surface for the brush pens and mechanical pencils.

Click on any image below to enlarge it.

Sketchbook: The Tall, Tall Buildings

Here are a group of buildings I did over the past few days in my sketchbook. Buildings have long been part of my stable of imagery which makes sense to me since I am from Philadelphia. But the building images I am making now are very different; they are becoming much taller and thinner. More like apartment towers rather than small houses with triangular roofs or blocky rectangular office buildings. Anyway, these buildings are getting much skinnier it seems. For these sketches, I work in a variety of media since the paper takes both wet and dry media. In case anyone is wondering, it is a Canson Mixed Media 7″ x 10″ sketchbook. You can see some of my other building images here and here.

You can enlarge any of these images by clicking on them.