Tag Archives: art

Back in the saddle with eight legs

Back in the saddle with eight legs

Back in the studio after lots of time working on other projects — OK, yeah, a little TOO much time.  Got a bit of an artistic block, I think.  Too many ideas, too little motivation. After all, my next show isn’t for another —-  FEW WEEKS!!!  HOLY TIME SINK, BATMAN!  While online project management stuff can be really good, it can take ALL OF YOUR TIME just to learn and organize.

In other words, procrastinate.

But it’s all good.  I’ve got show applications in and am starting to hear back on the earlier ones, at least through early May.  First one (unless I get REALLY stir crazy before then) will be in Morristown NJ – at the Spring CraftMorristown show again.  Then maybe Syracuse, maybe Gaithersburg MD, definitely Rockville MD, and WE’RE OFF!  Oh, uh, off as in Off to the Races, not off as in time off. Outdoor show season — I’m looking at another 20-25 this year. Watch my calendar for the latest updates.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah. Back in the studio.



Watercolor on paper with a layer of clear acrylic above it with the last chapter of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea written in ink as contour, texture and shading.

Octopuses (that plural doesn’t look right… is it?) are amazing creatures. Intelligent, curious, and alien. Well, not really alien, but kinda.  You understand, right?  Anyway, this piece isn’t part of my Endangered Species series, even though a few of the critters I’ve painted are classified as Threatened, including several of the coral reef species and the sea turtle. But this is more a celebration of underwater life, and how really stunningly different most of the rest of the planet is from our usual home environs.


To wit: couch, dog, spouse:

Not that I’m saying that my home environ is anything to take for granted. On the contrary, I am DAILY thanking my lucky stars that I have what I do.  But I’m also incredibly grateful to be a part of this amazing planet, home to us and the beautiful alienish creatures we share it with.



Sticker shock, or why are my prices going up?

Sticker shock, or why are my prices going up?

Possibly the hardest part about being an artist full-time is trying to figure out how much I need to charge in order to continue doing what I’m doing.  Problem for most of us is that we’re artists, not accountants or bookkeepers.  Personally, my money management and planning skills are abysmal.

Obviously there are the material costs – paint, glass, ink, papers, mats, frames, boards, bags, etc.  OK, that’s easy.  Then there’s the overhead of running my studio – electric, heat, computer, etc.  So far, so good.


Now I’m doing shows about every other weekend… first there were the application fees just to be considered and juried in or out (usually $25-$35, some want $50 and up, which is insane).  How many shows did I apply to?  Dozens.  Several dozen.  I can’t quite remember. Some are online apps, some are email, some are snail mail, some are fax.  OK, now it’s getting a bit more complicated. And they all have to be paid early in the year.  THEN there are the actual booth fees for the shows I get into and commit to.  THOSE have to be paid early in the year, too, which means that I’ve shelled out thousands of dollars long before I get to see what kinds of sales I make at the shows.

You don’t want to know what those booth fees are.

Finally there are the expenses associated with each show – travel, food, lodging, etc.  Having to pick up a doohickey at Lowe’s just before the show opens because my doohickey broke.  Those I’m not so great at either, just ’cause I’m so focused on getting the show set up, run, and broken down I tend to leave that to retrospective bookkeeping (digging out wads of receipts from twelve different bags or pockets when I get home).WhittiersWaterfallCR.jpg

But those are things everyone has to deal with, more or less.  I am just organizationally-challenged. But I’m getting better at that because I have to.

I’ve kept my prices low as much as I can, to cover all of the above.  But you know, I realized that if I have to sell several of my beautiful creations just to make back my booth fee, that’s just basically handing my babies over to the promoters.  Yes, they’ve found new homes with customers that I trust will enjoy them and have their homes enriched by them… but for me, all I’ve gotten is out of the red.  Sometimes not even.

Like I said, I ain’t no businessman.  I’m an artist.  I spend a LOT of time on each piece, as you all know.  Why haven’t I fully valued the time I put into crafting each piece?  ‘Cause I’m dumb.

With that, I’m giving everyone fair warning that my prices will be going up. To fair market value. And hopefully to something that will help me continue to do what I love and what you enjoy.

As I said, it’s fair market value.  Why should people buy art at prices higher than the mass-produced pre-qualified pre-chewed and pre-interpreted stuff you can get at Target? Art is worth much more than paper, gas, doohickeys, and show expenses.  I look around at the artwork we have collected over the years from other artists and feel the beauty, hard work, individuality of expression and taste they’ve created in our home and in our lives.

From an article from artbusiness.com:

* Art is a powerful form of expression not only for the artists who create it, but also for those who own it. Art allows people to express their individuality and to represent their beliefs, feelings, hopes, convictions and philosophies in socially (and visually) acceptable and redeeming ways.

* Art encourages people to ask questions, introspect, think about new ideas, experience fresh new perspectives and most importantly, it encourages us to take brief moments out of our busy lives to reflect on more than just the mundanities of our daily existences.

* Art improves our quality of life. All you have to do is think about the difference between a room with bare walls and one with walls full of art.

* Art inspires us to think about and even visualize how life might one day be better than it is now.

* Art stimulates conversation, dialogue and interchange even between total strangers who might never otherwise say a single word to each other. It gives people permission to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and impressions that they might not ordinarily share.

* Children are fascinated by art. Art prompts children to ask questions and encourages them to fantasize, imagine, explore and expand their perceptions of reality, and to dream of unlimited possibilities. Art teaches children how to be creative and have fun with life and gives them permission to do so as well.

* Art personalizes and humanizes the places where we live and work. Art revives lifeless interiors– homes as well as businesses– and transforms them into unique, beautiful and engaging environments.

* Most artists live very modest lifestyles because to them, making art and making the world a more beautiful place is more important than making money.

* For those so inclined, art can be used to signify wealth, success or power and can even be used to intimidate. For example, imagine a CEO’s office appointed with a big bold, vibrant, dynamic painting hanging on the wall directly behind their desk, and two imposing larger-than-life sculptures strategically placed around the office. Anyone who sits and meets with this individual must also contend with their art.

* An original work of art is not only visually appealing, but it also radiates the personality, abilities, creativity, insight, inspiration, technical mastery, attitudes, and at its best, the brilliance and genius of the artist who created it. People who own art are not only able to experience, but also be inspired and uplifted by these qualities on an ongoing basis.

* An original work of art reflects, enhances and sometimes even magnifies the personality of the individual who owns it.

* Original works art have a certain energies about them that reproductions and mass-produced decorative items simply don’t have. You know just by looking at it that another human being made it, and not a machine.

* An impressive or extensive personal art collection can be likened in microcosm to that of a great museum, and certainly increases the esteem of the owner among his or her peers. In fact, many of the great personal art collections either end up in museums or become museums in and of themselves.

* Art makes people proud to live and recreate where they do. They point to their museums, public artworks, galleries, non-profits and cultural institutions with pride.

* Art makes people proud to work where they do. They point to their corporate or workplace art collections with pride. Seeing original art in the halls, lobbies and offices of their corporate headquarters has unconditionally positive, productive, inspirational and uplifting effects.

* Owning original art has unequivocally positive effects for those who own it. Simply put, it makes life more livable.

* For business people who like to make profits, either directly or indirectly, know that many people decide where to spend their time (and money) based on the art that businesses have on display. For example, commercial spaces such as restaurants, hotels and meeting places often attract people because of their impressive art and interior decor.

* Art is environmentally friendly, energy efficient and easy to maintain. It does not increase global warming, use fossil fuels or need to be serviced on a regular basis, and it’s certainly not just another expendable commodity destined for the landfill once it outlives its usefulness. Art never outlives its usefulness. In fact, it only gets better with time.

* Across the country and around the world, artists move into troubled or blighted neighborhoods or parts of cities that have fallen on hard times and revitalize them with their artistry. Property values increase, new businesses move in and the overall quality of life in those areas improves immeasurably. Sooner or later, the public at large discovers these wondrous transformations, and in some cases people actually travel great distances to visit these creative oases. In other words, buying art and supporting artists serves far higher purposes than simply decorating your walls. Your ongoing support provides artists with the means to continue improving the quality of life for us all.

Thanks for hearing me out, and thanks for your continued support.



P.S.  I’ll be honoring the show prices up until 7/25/17, when I hit the road again.  If you saw something you would like to buy, find it on my website shop and/or email me. -CB


The art of the sale, or the sale of the art?


Despite my best efforts to sabotage myself as a successful artist, I sold another piece of my artwork today.


Today was the second of the First Saturdays, a new venture to spread the joy of the Greater Ithaca Art Trail to the rest of the year. Because I’m technically “off the map” I don’t get a lot of visitors to my studio; hence I show most of my work at Salmon Pottery in Trumansburg the majority of the year. Last month I had no visitors, but that was OK… nobody had really heard of First Saturday Open Studio yet.  It was a good time to work quietly, or not-so-quietly, in the studio, working on a number of pieces in various stages of completion.  The studio was pretty much a disaster, and it was a good excuse to straighten up a bit.


For today, I pulled a few pieces off the shelves at Salmon to show in my studio; I realized that my walls are looking rather bare.  My new exploration into shadow art — etching poems into glass so that you can read the shadows in direct light — has been so successful that I’m having a bit of a hard time keeping things on the wall!  So, I needed more finished examples in the studio.

Two visitors came in on this bright and blustery day, and we had a lovely time (well, I did… I guess I shouldn’t speak for them) talking about art and travel and birds… I introduced them to my and Gordon’s artwork, and we kept talking while they looked around.  When the woman asked about pieces that are not for sale, I commented on the fact that there are a couple of pieces in the studio that do have NFS on the label… not at all thinking that what she was asking was “why don’t these have price tags?” and “how much are these pieces?”

Um, duh? The Art of the Sale class offered by the Ithaca Community Arts Partnership has been something I’ve been intending on taking, but for the same reason I hadn’t thought about putting my own price tags on my art or printing out the text for all of the pieces on the wall, I haven’t gotten organized enough to sign up.

Then, despite my complete inability to sell myself or my work, I sold Bronte’s Tree, a central image with the writing on the treetrunk on the back side of the glass so that the poem How Still, How Happy was written backwards.  I remembered where the sales book is, and miracle of miracles I remembered the password to my Square account so that I could accept a credit card.  I was hoping with all my will she would not ask what poem was written into the piece because I kept drawing a blank, and I had left the display text at Salmon Pottery.  She didn’t ask, but I promised to mail them the text.

She even granted me visitation rights, although I think that’s going a little over the edge… maybe a bit.



First Saturdays Open Studio, March 3 from 10-2


The Greater Ithaca Art Trail is holding its second of the new First Saturdays!  Come this Saturday, March 3, to any and all of the artists opening their studios to the public.

Come visit me at my studio, 5851 State Route 227 in Trumansburg, NY from 10-2.  This weekend, 10% all glass pendants by Nathan Bonnet.

Click here for pdf with list of artists: First Saturday Flyer March

Other types of Type (exploring micrography)


(image from Micrography exhibit site, Jewish Theological Seminary)

Kind of an old post from an old blog, but interesting to see other approaches to micrography.  Looks like all of these use text for filler or texture:


Check out The Godfather one… mindblowing.

Not much that looks hand written, though, except for the most traditional ones which are the Hebrew illustrations:

http://www.jtsa.edu/prebuilt/exhib/microg/index.shtml.   Again, mostly block filler or uniform line sizes.

(Image from Jewish Theological Seminary micrography exhibit site)


What the heck is an angwangtibo?  Here’s my take on the lemur-ish critter, using Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “Morning Song in the Jungle” as the text.  My second of two pieces so far using markers for the coloring.  Just for kicks. Text below.


“Morning Song in the Jungle”

One moment past our bodies cast
  No shadow on the plain;
Now clear and black they stride our track,
  And we run home again.
In morning-hush, each rock and bush
  Stands hard, and high, and raw:
Then give the Call:  "Good rest to all That keep the Jungle Law!"

Now horn and pelt our peoples melt
  In covert to abide;
Now, crouched and still, to cave and hill
  Our  Jungle Barons glide.
Now, stark and plain, Man's oxen strain,
  That draw the new-yoked plough;
Now, stripped and dread, the dawn is red
  Above the lit talao.

Ho! Get to lair! The sun's aflare
  Behind the breathing grass:
And creaking through the young bamboo
  The warning whispers pass.
By day made strange, the woods we range
  With blinking eyes we scan;
While down the skies the wild duck cries:
  "The Day--the Day to Man!"

The dew is dried that drenched our hide,
  Or washed about our way;
And where we drank, the puddled bank
  Is crisping into clay.
The traitor Dark gives up each mark
  Of stretched or hooded claw:
Then hear the Call:  "Good rest to all That keep the Jungle Law!"

– Rudyard Kipling

Kipling’s Angwangtibo

Closeup! Closeup!


OK, here’s a closer look, for all y’all wanting to try and read some of this, or at least to verify that it is indeed itty bitty writing:

And the original  (11″x14″ framed) looks like this:

Anatomy of Melancholy I (2011)


Author: Robert Burton (1577-1640)


This piece is the first of three pieces based on Robert Burton’s wonderfully written 17th century treatise on “melancholia,” or what is more frequently considered depression these days. He was a very well educated and literate writer in the days before systematic study of human psychology, and explored the causes, symptoms and treatment of melancholy in a very lyrical and often humorous prose.

The artwork is my first using solely a single line from start to finish, including the border; I used different sizes of pens to get darker or lighter, finer lines.  It is also by far the easiest to read! Just pick a point and go.



One of three pieces done in pencil and ink; all the lines, as usual, are ittybitty writing. This piece available at Salmon Pottery in Trumansburg, NY, or on Etsy

The Buried Life

Light flows our war of mocking words, and yet,
Behold, with tears mine eyes are wet!
I feel a nameless sadness o’er me roll.
Yes, yes, we know that we can jest,
We know, we know that we can smile!
But there’s a something in this breast,
To which thy light words bring no rest,
And thy gay smiles no anodyne.
Give me thy hand, and hush awhile,
And turn those limpid eyes on mine,
And let me read there, love! thy inmost soul.

Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal’d
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal’d
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick’d in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves–and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!

But we, my love!–doth a like spell benumb
Our hearts, our voices?–must we too be dumb?
Ah! well for us, if even we,
Even for a moment, can get free
Our heart, and have our lips unchain’d;
For that which seals them hath been deep-ordain’d!
Fate, which foresaw
How frivolous a baby man would be–
By what distractions he would be possess’d,
How he would pour himself in every strife,
And well-nigh change his own identity–
That it might keep from his capricious play
His genuine self, and force him to obey
Even in his own despite his being’s law,
Bade through the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us–to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.
And many a man in his own breast then delves,
But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.
And we have been on many thousand lines,
And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;
But hardly have we, for one little hour,
Been on our own line, have we been ourselves–
Hardly had skill to utter one of all
The nameless feelings that course through our breast,
But they course on for ever unexpress’d.
And long we try in vain to speak and act
Our hidden self, and what we say and do
Is eloquent, is well–but ‘t#is not true!
And then we will no more be rack’d
With inward striving, and demand
Of all the thousand nothings of the hour
Their stupefying power;
Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!
Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,
From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne
As from an infinitely distant land,
Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey
A melancholy into all our day.
Only–but this is rare–
When a belov{‘e}d hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Of the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear,
When our world-deafen’d ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caress’d–
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.
And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes.

Matthew Arnold

The Buried Life, in pencil and ink

An oldie but goodie…


I love the text for this piece (all the lines in the doors are text… sorry, but back then I wasn’t taking good photos):  “On Doors” by Christopher Morley

The opening and closing of doors are the most significant actions of man’s life. What a mystery lies in doors!

No man knows what awaits him when he opens a door. Even the most familiar room, where the clock ticks and the hearth glows red at dusk, may harbor surprises. The plumber may actually have called (while you were out) and fixed that leaking faucet. The cook may have had a fit of the vapors and demanded her passports. The wise man opens his front door with humility and a spirit of acceptance.

Which one of us has not sat in some ante-room and watched the inscrutable panels of a door that was full of meaning? Perhaps you were waiting to apply for a job; perhaps you had some “deal” you were ambitious to put over. You watched the confidential stenographer flit in and out, carelessly turning that mystic portal which, to you, revolved on hinges of fate. And then the young woman said, “Mr. Cranberry will see you now.” As you grasped the knob the thought flashed, “When I open this door again, what will have happened?”

There are many kinds of doors. Revolving doors for hotels, shops and
public buildings. These are typical of the brisk, bustling ways of
modern life. Can you imagine John Milton or William Penn skipping
through a revolving door? Then there are the curious little slatted
doors that still swing outside denatured bar-rooms and extend only from
shoulder to knee. There are trapdoors, sliding doors, double doors,
stage doors, prison doors, glass doors. But the symbol and mystery of a
door resides in its quality of concealment. A glass door is not a door
at all, but a window. The meaning of a door is to hide what lies inside;
to keep the heart in suspense.

Also, there are many ways of opening doors. There is the cheery push of
elbow with which the waiter shoves open the kitchen door when he bears
in your tray of supper. There is the suspicious and tentative withdrawal
of a door before the unhappy book agent or peddler. There is the genteel
and carefully modulated recession with which footmen swing wide the
oaken barriers of the great. There is the sympathetic and awful silence
of the dentist’s maid who opens the door into the operating room and,
without speaking, implies that the doctor is ready for you. There is the
brisk cataclysmic opening of a door when the nurse comes in, very early
in the morning–“It’s a boy!”

Doors are the symbol of privacy, of retreat, of the mind’s escape into
blissful quietude or sad secret struggle. A room without doors is not a
room, but a hallway. No matter where he is, a man can make himself at
home behind a closed door. The mind works best behind closed doors. Men
are not horses to be herded together. Dogs know the meaning and anguish
of doors. Have you ever noticed a puppy yearning at a shut portal? It is
a symbol of human life.

The opening of doors is a mystic act: it has in it some flavor of the
unknown, some sense of moving into a new moment, a new pattern of the
human rigmarole. It includes the highest glimpses of mortal gladness:
reunions, reconciliations, the bliss of lovers long parted. Even in
sadness, the opening of a door may bring relief: it changes and
redistributes human forces. But the closing of doors is far more
terrible. It is a confession of finality. Every door closed brings
something to an end. And there are degrees of sadness in the closing of
doors. A door slammed is a confession of weakness. A door gently shut
is often the most tragic gesture in life. Every one knows the seizure of
anguish that comes just after the closing of a door, when the loved one
is still near, within sound of voice, and yet already far away.

The opening and closing of doors is a part of the stern fluency of life.
Life will not stay still and let us alone. We are continually opening
doors with hope, closing them with despair. Life lasts not much longer
than a pipe of tobacco, and destiny knocks us out like the ashes.

The closing of a door is irrevocable. It snaps the packthread of the
heart. It is no avail to reopen, to go back. Pinero spoke nonsense when
he made Paula Tanqueray say, “The future is only the past entered
through another gate.” Alas, there is no other gate. When the door is
shut, it is shut forever. There is no other entrance to that vanished
pulse of time. “The moving finger writes, and having writ”–

There is a certain kind of door-shutting that will come to us all. The
kind of door-shutting that is done very quietly, with the sharp click of
the latch to break the stillness. They will think then, one hopes, of
our unfulfilled decencies rather than of our pluperfected misdemeanors.
Then they will go out and close the door.