Archive for the ‘personal essay’ Category

milton station whenHere’s my Daily Art piece. I began with the found photo and you can find out more about why I chose it at my Mythos blog.

I scanned the original photo and adjusted the contrast a bit. Evidently the day it was taken the weather was overcast. Old black and white photos tend to be very low contrast. I wasn’t sure it would even scan well, but it did. My first step was to laser print the photo.

The linear quality of the telephone poles attracted me, as well as the handwritten notations. I have used stenciled telephone poles before in a piece called Camera Shy. I painted the Rives BFK® printmaking paper with Golden® Acrylic Micaceous Iron Oxide. This paint is worth getting if you are a fan of grey. It includes specular hematite ore and has a warm grey color, slightly shimmery. It doesn’t look like any other paint and it’s a big favorite of mine. It is expensive, as all good things are. I watered down the acrylic and it was still too opaque, so I kept washing it. The paper got really wet. This is not watercolor paper and I pushed it close to it’s limit…but it is good paper, just took a while to dry. This was ok since I got into a confunction with my printers and I had to alter that photo, but the clock was ticking on this one.

By the time I got the print out, the acrylic was dry and I took the telephone pole stencil and applied black acrylic paint. That has a short drying time. I adhered the photo copy down. The piece wasn’t finished and I wasn’t sure what it needed. Then I remembered the quote by Edmund White that I read this morning over coffee. “When a person dies, a library is burned.” I liked it so much I jotted it into my journal so that I would have it. I thought, this old photo has endured past the photographer’s own burned library…his story carried beyond his life. With the extra telephone poles, I had indicated further communication. That led to me handwriting the words “communicate-tell your story.” The photographer told his story, I found his photo and told my story through this art and in the writing of my other blog post. I hope you will go there. If you like art journaling, journaling, photography or using found photos, I think you will enjoy that post. I hope, at least, that you enjoy this art.

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shoe stampAs some of you know, I began my illustrious career as a Footgear Historian documenting the elusive Secret Society of the Black Shoes about a decade ago. Sadly, funding issues prohibited carrying on the investigation; it is wicked hard going undercover and costs a lot of money. I still harbored my dream but never realized that I was as close as my own attic to my next adventure.

So, I’m up there cleaning out stuff and run across this dusty old box of books. I open it up and it contained a bunch of those rare volumes of Readers Digest Condensed versions of actual novels. I set them aside for another day, there was simply too much to take in all at once. At the bottom of the box there was a book so plain and old I almost ignored it, but that it fell open and revealed the illustration above. I could not believe my eyes!

I scanned the copperplate for Medieval Footgear because this is the subject not only near and dear to my heart, but actually of my PhD. There are but a few authentic Medieval shoes shown, like the pointy toed ones, if you don’t count the Chinese one that is Medieval in attitude though not era. I am after all an Anglo Footgear Historian. I was a tad disappointed that the text of the book is in Latin, since I don’t read Latin. Not to be undone, I went to  source archives to see if I could validate the info in the book. I won’t bore you with the technical aspects, since I know you are not Footgear Experts such as I (how could you be?), but I will say that Dover was involved and proved invaluable. With the Dover historical woodcut images I am well on my way to groundbreaking exploration of Medieval Life as reflected in Shoes and Haberdashery. Yes, the Latin is a stumbling block but I make up for my lack of scholarship with imagination and common sense, common sense being sorely missed in Footgear Science.

Because so many of you are rank amateurs ignorant of the specifics of Medieval Footgear, I am beginning with Chapter 1, entitled “Barefoot”. We will explore both the Hazards and Advantages of Barefoot in the Medieval Era with the additional rare illustrations for which I am known.

I hope you will join me in the rich pageant of Shoes and Haberdashery that is not just prevalent but legion in the Medieval Era. Discovery will be slow and tedious and no doubt laborious in the extreme, but what can I do. Medieval Footgear being my passion  and stuff.

Mail art treasures

Posted: February 22, 2012 in personal essay
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I have a dear friend I have never met who specializes in spreading mail art treasures around the world. Being a lucky recipient of everything from mini zines on bees and elephants, full sized zines, including one featuring the Hand as a symbol, slips of poetry from some of the worlds best contemporary poets, printed on vellum and illustrated with rubber stamps, computer art and many 3-D stitched items, kiragama, origama and found objects. Even the envelopes are beautiful, adding an anticipation to the opening of the mail. Lunar Daughter has been sending me mail since 2000 and I have been saving it because it is too precious to dispose of. Period. In this day of hasty emails and faxes, who has a message worth saving like these are? I’m going thru all kinds of stuff in this house and I’ve run across this collection. At first I thought I might put the art into my own journals, with the poems and the stitching and the 3-D jewel encrusted branches and thereby mingle the contents with my own art and collection of ephemera. But handling the treasures, I realized I no more want to dissect these than to get a stick in the eye. The care in creation, concern for me expressed, concern for the environment discussed, the sheer loveliness of the objects Lunar Daughter has wrought require not disassembly for expediency’s sake but a place of honor. So I am devising a means to store these, better organize them and a mission to take them off the shelf periodically to review their individual and collective loveliness. Sometimes we need to slow down and examine what has heart and meaning for us, even if it means another small, decorated box on the shelf to hold that which has been created with joy, time and talent.

Happy Birthday to Me

Posted: January 2, 2012 in personal essay

There’s no birthday greeting like the one you send yourself, evidently. This is a picture of me at only several months of age so it’s as close to the original event as any of us want to get. I feel like celebrating marking my 56th birthday, even though I had to actually do the math to remember how old I was, probably a foreshadowing of things to come. haha. The observant among you will notice that my right hand is already curled up and ready for that big crayon and paint brush that will feature so prominently in my future. Today my friend is treating me to an elaborate breakfast buffet and a visit to her abode afterward. No telling what favors and surprises await later on. Hope each of you has a great day of celebration, birthday or not, and a Happy New Year.

Even in the 70’s the fountain pen was becoming old-fashioned and nearly obsolete, what with the recent release of Flair™ felt-tipped pens and the ubiquitous see-through hard plastic barreled Bics™ that were coming into vogue and would dominate the world market (and land fills) for decades to come. Yes, believe it or not, young whippersnappers, there was a time before felt-tipped pens in my living memory. A time when the major means of communication in a schoolroom was squeaky chalk on a dusty blackboard, and homework was done with a chunk of wood and lead (known in The Day as pencils). I am That Old.

Humankind has witnessed an unrelenting parade of writing implements, from dip quills to fountain pens, to pencils to ballpoint pens to felt-tipped pens to gel pens. Each improvement makes previous “models” rare, collectible antiques or curiosities to gawk over. Pencils have gone the way of the dinosaurs. This constant waxing and waning of writing products keeps us on edge. We don’t want to miss the release of the “next” Sharpie Retractable™ or gel color. Our writing tool hunger knows no bounds. The culture of writing implements is an arena where eager eagle-eyed office supply junkies roam the store aisles muttering “pens” under their breath like stiff-armed zombies in video games mutter “brains” under theirs.

It boils down to this – a pen is an ink delivery system. That’s all they do. Don’t we feel silly now? The problem is that some do it better than others, some don’t do it at all and some do it sporadically. Some cover nicely and some don’t. So it is not that we need so much ink delivered, it’s that we need it delivered the WAY WE WANT IT. We are an independent folk.  That is the basis for humanity’s love of the pen.  For instance, I won’t put up with a scratchy fountain pen to write with, but I will draw with it. But I won’t put up with a scratchy ballpoint pen at all. Life’s too short to mess with a scratchy ball point pen, but I know there are people out there that WILL tolerate it. I can’t conceive of WHY, but they WILL. Because I’ve been on the business end of too many scratchy ballpoint pens in too many places, like signing the check at a restaurant or borrowing a pen at the pharmacy check out. Oh yes, you feel my pain. The dang thing worked for the guy ahead of you but can you chicken scratch out your John Hancock here to save your life? You cannot. And because we are a thrifty folk, that pen will be there the NEXT time you come back to that restaurant, because there is a piece of ratty-assed paper at the register that they keep resuscitating that pen with. They Code Blue and IV Stat and press and squiggle and that bastard writes for them and then they hand it to you and it’s dead as a fence post and makes a deep furrow on your paper where your signature should be.

We didn’t know how good we had it with ballpoints until gel ink came along, reanimating the search for the Holy Grail of pens. Which gel is better? It’s a hard question to answer in the 90’s forward because although they were new, they pretty much sucked out loud. Talk about unpredictable. I had a boss that bought them by the dozens and laid them out on his desk, not just because he was obsessed but because they gave up the ghost so fast that he had to select another, and another, to finish signing his name. Who hasn’t been entranced by the fifty pen set at Sam’s Club and finally seduced to part with their $20 only to get home and find that out of fifty pens, eight of them write smoothly, twelve write sporadically and a full thirty need cold fusion to blast that gorgeous ink out of them, which you can SEE but not ACCESS. And here’s the other thing about gel pens—white ones. Whoever manufactured the first white ink pen should be tarred and feathered although they would probably enjoy it. They have wreaked upon humanity the final blow, the completely unattainable search for perfection. That would be a white pen that writes. Not only that, it must write for a while, and if you inspect the average white pen that MIGHT be the answer to all our misery, you will find that white pen has only been given, in the factory, HALF of it’s life potential. The barrel is only half-full, and I say this not in the optimist/pessimist, “The glass is half-empty” kind of way but in the way of, the barrel is only half-damn-full of white ink.  Immediately, your bliss in finding a white pen that delivers a line of opaque white ink, that is not the size of a railroad tie nor quanta, that covers black paper or paint and does it consistently and with a good attitude is going to have a life shorter than the chick in Love Story. Every time you use it you are contributing to it’s encroaching demise and this you cannot ignore. It taunts you. You have the perfect pen that you cannot use because using it will use it up and even though you BOUGHT it to use, it’s too good to waste on the likes of you. You pen snob you.

My husband is a pen snob. He is not a snob in any area except pens, and he doesn’t own any good ones except ones I’ve bought for him. Because he’s too cheap to buy good pens, but not too proud to use ones given him, like Amish people who don’t believe in electricity but will sit all night in your living room watching your TV. And when I say he is a pen snob believe me, because he turned his nose up at the Sharpie Retractable™ in microscopic fine point and that pen is as close to heaven as any of us will ever get on earth. He said, and I quote, “It isn’t all that, Terry.” This puts a perspective on the last eighteen years of my life. Because if you don’t like the Sharpie Retractable™, and you are alive, there is something quite wrong with you; something so hideously, insidiously evil that H.P. Lovecraft is looking frightened.  H.P. wrote with a fountain pen and would have given his left nard for a Sharpie Retractable™–at least the OPTION of it. But no, my husband prefers his G2™.

We live in troubling times, my friends. We live in a world that wants a dried up Bic™ to be immortal, a white pen barrel to be full of ink, the Sharpie Retractable™ to be universally loved (so that it will be around forever), and the fountain pen, with ink cartridges, readily available. Doesn’t seem like much to ask, does it?