Tag Archives: watercolor

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.


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


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.


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.

Evolution by Langdon Smith: A new LanguageArts creation


Ready for professional photo and then off to be framed!  Total of five separate layers, spaced 1/4″ to 3/8″ above one another.  Really hard to show in a photo, but you can see where the shadows fall to tell what layer a certain piece of text or etching is.  The poem is called Evolution by Langdon Smith, and it is wonderful:

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
  In the Paleozoic time,
 And side by side on the ebbing tide
  We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
 Or skittered with many a caudal flip
  Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
 My heart was rife with the joy of life,
  For I loved you even then.

 Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
  And mindless at last we died;
 And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
  We slumbered side by side.
 The world turned on in the lathe of time,
  The hot lands heaved amain,
 Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
  And crept into light again.

 We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
  And drab as a dead man's hand;
 We coiled at ease 'neath the dripping trees
  Or trailed through the mud and sand.
 Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
  Writing a language dumb,
 With never a spark in the empty dark
  To hint at a life to come.

 Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
  And happy we died once more;
 Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
  Of a Neocomian shore.
 The eons came and the eons fled
  And the sleep that wrapped us fast
 Was riven away in a newer day
  And the night of death was past.

 Then light and swift through the jungle trees
  We swung in our airy flights,
 Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
  In the hush of the moonless nights;
 And, oh! what beautiful years were there
  When our hearts clung each to each;
 When life was filled and our senses thrilled
  In the first faint dawn of speech.

 Thus life by life and love by love
  We passed through the cycles strange,
 And breath by breath and death by death
  We followed the chain of change.
 Till there came a time in the law of life
  When over the nursing side
 The shadows broke and soul awoke
  In a strange, dim dream of God.

 I was thewed like an Auruch bull
  And tusked like the great cave bear;
 And you, my sweet, from head to feet
  Were gowned in your glorious hair.
 Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
  When the night fell o'er the plain
 And the moon hung red o'er the river bed
  We mumbled the bones of the slain.

 I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
  And shaped it with brutish craft;
 I broke a shank from the woodland lank
  And fitted it, head and haft;
 Then I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
  Where the mammoth came to drink;
 Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
  And slew him upon the brink.

 Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
  Loud answered our kith and kin;
 From west and east to the crimson feast
  The clan came tramping in.
 O'er joint and gristle and padded hoof
  We fought and clawed and tore,
 And check by jowl with many a growl
  We talked the marvel o'er.

 I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
  With rude and hairy hand;
 I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
  That men might understand.
 For we lived by blood and the right of might
  Ere human laws were drawn,
 And the age of sin did not begin
  Till our brutal tush were gone.

 And that was a million years ago
  In a time that no man knows;
 Yet here tonight in the mellow light
  We sit at Delmonico's.
 Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
  Your hair is dark as jet,
 Your years are few, your life is new,
  Your soul untried, and yet -

 Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
  And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
 We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
  And deep in the Coralline crags;
 Our love is old, our lives are old,
  And death shall come amain;
 Should it come today, what man may say
  We shall not live again?

 God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
  And furnished them wings to fly;
 We sowed our spawn in the world's dim dawn,
  And I know that it shall not die,
 Though cities have sprung above the graves
  Where the crook-bone men make war
 And the oxwain creaks o'er the buried caves
  Where the mummied mammoths are.

 Then as we linger at luncheon here
  O'er many a dainty dish,
 Let us drink anew to the time when you
  Were a tadpole and I was a fish.
-- Langdon Smith