December 2005 Archives

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End of the sketchbook. End of the old year. End of the gingerbread house. (The kids took an ice mallet to it.)

In a candlelit room I am thinking of the past year and the new one on the way. I'm listening to the radio, drinking water, and thinking about opening a bottle of champagne before we get too sleepy to enjoy it...

Happy New Year!

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Coming home from Christmas travels. One more page to go in this year's last sketchbook. From the passenger seat of our car, I drew a sketch of trees reflected in standing water - the ground is frozen, even though the air is above freezing, so melted snow doesn't drain from low-lying fields. I drew a box around that little picture, thinking I would fill the page with boxed sketches and studies. Then I noticed a mile marker askew and drew that, but it ran off the page and didn't really seem to belong in a box. And then I wanted to get some of the colors of the Pennsylvania winter landscape onto the page, so I drew with ink and then water-soluble oil pastel and just filled the rest of the space with part of the view on Interstate 80, headed west towards Pittsburgh.

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Everyone else on this train is doing a Sudoku puzzle. This seems to be the year of Sudoku. (I'm trying to draw, though my subjects keep changing positions and even seats...) Grand Central to Poughkeepsie - 7:18 p.m., after a day of museums.

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I think this is day 365 of drawing every day. (I may have misnumbered my days somewhere in the first 28, but I have drawn every day, and posted every drawing.)

This is Ipswich Bay, a rapid contour drawing as the boys are packing the car - we are headed home, by way of New York City and the Van Gogh drawing show.

I will draw again every day in the coming year - having too much fun to stop!

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Brothers stirring as they sleep. Pilot belongs to my father and Rocket belongs to my sister's family - but both households arrange for them to spend as much time as possible together, as they tend to pine and mope when separated. (Also known as "the other brothers," since my sons (10 and 15) are referred to as "the brothers" in my immediate household...)

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Warm enough to be rainy today. Whitecaps on Ipswich Bay, and this morning we woke to the sound of the foghorn.

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My sister, drawing (and drawn) by firelight in my parents' living room.

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Christmas preparations all over the place. Stockings are up and Santa is expected. Presents are wrapped and await the morning. Most of the household is now asleep... I'm still downstairs, enjoying the syncopated ticking of three old clocks. They'll chime the half hour, and I'll go up to bed myself. Happy Christmas Eve!

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An elderly sheep makes its way along the mantelpiece. It seems to have strayed from the Christmas Putz, or creche, this evening - perhaps eager to escape the enthusiastic small hands bent on rearranging things. Perhaps it didn't like following the camels.

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Snow-covered fields along Interstate 80, as we were headed eastward this morning.

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A lamp for the darkest, shortest day of the year.

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This bracelet is made of recycled typewriter keys. I remember what fun it was to type on grown-ups' manual typewriters when I was growing up. My friends and I would make up our own news stories and quizzes and fill-in-the-blank forms. If you typed too fast or in an uneven rhythm, the keys got stuck against one another, and you had to reach into the machine to free them. I'd get typewriter ink on my fingers that way. I liked all the special symbols you could get when you held down the shift or the shift-lock key. One friend's father's typewriter had a red and black ribbon - you must have been able to press some kind of lever to raise the ribbon and get red letters instead of black ones. There was a small bell that rang when you got to the end of a line, and then you got to throw the carriage return back to the beginning, an exceptionally satisfying physical experience. The shiny lever, the ticking sound, the smooth mechanical motion as the carriage engaged and then slid back to the beginning of the line. Sometimes I wish laptops came with carriage return levers... We have a rotary phone, so my children have had that experience, but I don't think we have a working manual typewriter in the house any more.

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As the holiday approaches, and the new year, I'm thinking about beginnings...

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Coffee beans on a piece of origami paper. Pen and ink and watercolor crayon.

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Christmas wrapping begins to happen in different corners of the house. Lots of good secrets and sudden rustling sounds. Scotch tape is hard to find - we have plenty of paper - for now.

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Pen and ink and then oil pastel. Some corners are just natural landing places for notes and work in progress.

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Brush pen and oil pastel, in layers. Intense color to set against the darkness outside. I can hear sleet coming down in waves. If rain melts enough of the icy road cover, we'll have school tomorrow. If not, vacation will start half a day early.

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Brush pen and then oil pastel. Part of my studio desktop.

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Macintosh in pen and ink.

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Guitar leaning against the fireplace wall.

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Gusting winds bring a sudden burst of fairytale storm: the air is thick with fat white wet snow, piling on every surface outside. The flurry passes. A child comes into the room and offers me a bite of her MacIntosh apple. Late Sunday afternoon music-makers practice in the dining room. I've read most of the paper, and now I'm going into the kitchen to turn some black beans and the leftover steak into chili for supper.

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Two marbles on the desktop. Larger than life-sized.

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A carnation blossom sits on a piece of white paper. I smudge the color around on the page and smell the carnation mixing with the smell of oil pastels.

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Two apples.

It is snowing - tiny rapid flakes. The kind of straight-down snowstorm where if you look long enough out into the falling snow you begin to feel yourself rising. Already a two hour delay has been called for schools in the morning.

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I've been challenged to do without my pens for a week, and since I found my missing pencil case! (cue: angelic chorus singing) I am cheerfully taking up the challenge, knowing that all my favorite pens/brushes are waiting for me later. Meanwhile, I'm using water-soluble oil pastels.

(This is a jar of home-made paste.)

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Drawing dried apricots and thinking of my misplaced pencil case...

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Another night, another paper clip.

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One paper clip after a night of reading many pages...

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Obsessive? No. Just drawing salt...

A very fine point pen, plus plenty of time (listening to local singer-songwriters) meant that a tribute to D. Price continued for over an hour... and I did learn a lot about the reflections on that one particular salt shaker.

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Pen and ink. Are those abstracted shadows or action lines? Hmm. I'm not telling. This popcorn was made on top of the stove - a good snack for a cold evening.

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Here's my first attempt at the "two-hour" journal from Gwen Diehn's The Decorated Journal. It took me two nights, one to sew and one to cover, but I probably didn't spend a lot more than an hour each night on this. The cover is thin leather, the paper is watercolor paper (a 22" x 30" sheet ripped into sixteenths), the signatures are stitched onto cords which make ridges on the spine.

Can't quite believe I made this. I can already see how I can make refinements in my technique with practice, but I am looking forward to making, carrying these around, and drawing every day in them in the coming year.

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We went to Vincent's Pizza Park in Forest Hills for supper tonight. Whether you still live here, or are part of the great Pittsburgh diaspora, you will probably have eaten pizza at Vincent's at least once. It can be charred and swimming in grease, but heaped with the works, it is pizza like no other.

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Tack hammer in pen and ink.

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