May 2006 Archives

Welcome to any visitors from Durga Keyser's Art in Abundance newsletter. This site is usually updated with a new drawing and a new post every day, but as you can see from earlier entries, I am away from home, and though I am drawing up a storm, I cannot get at all of my email, and I cannot post pictures. The site will be back to its usual rhythm on June 2.

Well... it turns out that internet access and being able to upload pictures to my site are two different things.

So though I am drawing every day while I am travelling, I will not be able to post anything but words until I return on June 2.

Yesterday's drawings look very much like the drawings I made while flying to Texas in March: a series of vignettes. The last thing I drew was of this place, though: some giant banana leaves outside the lanai off our little kitchenette in the dark. The other views were those neither here-nor-there air travel scenes.

Today's plans involve exploring on our own this morning, and then a trip to Mauna Kea to look at the stars tonight.

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I'm headed west again... A colleague and I are leading a student trip to the big island of Hawai'i. Lots of hiking planned, with some star-gazing, snorkelling, and tree-planting as well. We've gotten a Moleskine sketchbook for each student, and plan to spend time looking and drawing every day. (We'll be gone nine days.) One of the places we are staying has internet kiosks, so I'll do my best to post. I will be home again on June 2nd.

Note: in response to Karen's request, I am now posting larger views of my pages. Click on any image from now on, and you can see more detail, if you'd like.

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Bus stop with apple tree. A crabapple, I think, and shaggy-beautiful in and out of bloom. I walk past it on my way to school, when I am virtuously walking. This afternoon I was in the cafe across the street.

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At this time of year, so much has begun blooming that it is hard to know where to look first... This purple iris is a favorite of mine, from a transplanted batch given to me by a colleague who was retiring and selling her house. (And when I draw it, I can leave out the weeds which would be visible in a photograph, parrticularly that @#$#%# wild morning glory which regenerates from next to nothing and tries to choke everything in that corner of the yard.)

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Blanc Double de Coubert is in full bloom in the front of our house - undiscouraged by the rain and wind we've had in the past week. I stop and plunge my face into a blossom before setting out to go anywhere. So fragrant, and soft against my face. They don't last long in water - by tomorrow or the next day this one will have shrugged off its petals. But I picked it anyway.

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Study with watersoluble brush pen and gouache - took a while to dry. Late Friday night. I'm listening to Cole Porter after a long week, humming along, surprised at how many words I remember.

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For lunch tomorrow? (Ink and gouache.)

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Just after college, my apartment mate and I would joke about the fact that her older brother would sometimes call and have very little to say beyond the fact that he'd done his laundry or was planning to do his laundry. I don't think our own social life was all that much more glamorous, but we felt superior.

Today with the love of my life and all three children, I went to a big box store and bought socks and underwear for various members of the family. A special treat - an evening out - and do you want all cotton or is some lycra o.k.? Sometimes clean clothes or new socks are just exactly what you need.

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My husband and I were first time candidates for county democratic party committee today, in Pittsburgh's 8th ward, district 11. The day was cold and rainy, and fewer people than usual turned out to vote. I sat in the hallway of the elementary school, just outside the polling place in the gym, and spoke to neighbors and friends as they came and went. This year the county changed over from mechanical to electronic voting machines. (And the new machines at our polling place did not work for the first six-and-a-half hours of voting, so paper ballots were cast instead. Those ballot boxes were later sealed to be counted elsewhere.) The electronic machines, once working, spit out an adding machine tape-like summary of the results at the end of the evening, and the judge of elections at first tried to claim that candidates and observers needed to be at least 100 feet away from the table where the tape was being signed. Since the results were never read aloud, if we hadn't come closer we would not have been able to see a thing. Under polite pressure, she relented, but I still don't know the complete preliminary results from my district, since I don't know the tally of the paper ballots. I miss the old process, which was clumsy, but more transparent.

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She seems to be asleep under the coffee table. Everyone else has gone upstairs. I pick her up by one leg and put her on the sofa for the night.

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Ink and gouache. A bowl on the coffee table among the magazines and books.

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Made one week ago of ribbons and ivy and hyacinths and dandelion and thyme blossoms, this wreath hangs on a nail high in the front hall. Last year's crown, dried to a crisp tan, has been moved to a nail on the door to the basement. My daughter's idea... and so begin traditions. I didn't intend to save last year's crown, but somehow we did.

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Sleepiness sends me into semi-abstraction on this one, as I seem to be dozing and then painting again. Picture number 500. (Never assume that a small daily project will not change your view of the world.)

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I found myself quite happily stranded for a couple of hours early this evening, so I painted the view of one corner of the lobby of the Heinz Innovation Center and waited for my family to return from their movie. Sometimes it's nice not to have cell phones. They enjoyed their movie; I enjoyed my cancelled meeting.

Woolgathering has been included in the most recent edition of Carnival of the Creators, hosted by artist Jane Tomlinson. If you are a carnival visitor, welcome, and please return - I post a new drawing every day. If you are familiar with this site, but haven't visited a blog carnival before, you will want to explore the wonderful collection of annotated links which Jane has collected.

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The line of trees just beyond the soccer field this afternoon - a warm day. Felt good to take off my work jacket and listen to the sounds of practice, letting my eyes focus on color after a day of words. Gouache.

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A warm afternoon, and our front porch is on the west side of the house. I sat on the porch swing and drew and then since my little paintbox needs refilling with gouache, I got out my watercolor set and used those colors instead. Our roses are just beginning, but I haven't picked any yet. In the little green caper jar are blue wood hyacynths and a sprig of the late Korean lilac, 'Miss Kim.'

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This weekend, students at my school held a sale to benefit the founding of a sister school for girls in Afghanistan. Our school in Pittsburgh is an all-girls school, and students feel strongly about the importance of education for girls. This project is important to them, and they are grateful to have the opportunity to work with Fahima Vorgetts, the director of the Women for Afghan Women's Afghan Women's Fund. Fahima wrote about her recent visit to the region on the WAW website:


Our school in Ingeel district of Herat province, sponsored by the Ellis School of Pittsburgh PA, was very eager to see me. When the school was founded 2 1/2 years ago, 150 students registered; now there are 1150 girls studying there! I managed to give all the girls school supplies for a year. But there is still no school building, so students study in tents and some directly under the sun. I managed get them carpets since they were sitting on raw, hard ground. We also secured land for building a school. A portion of the land was donated by the villagers, and we bought the other portion at a discounted price. We walled in the land and hope to raise enough money to build the school soon. This is the only girls' school in a group of six villages. The school principal told me that they have to turn away 100s of girls because they don't have the money or space for more students. If we build this school, about 5,000 girls will benefit.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to:

Women for Afghan Women/AWF
32-17 College Point Blvd. Suite 206
Flushing, NY 11354
(write The Ellis School fund/AWF in the memo line)

I bought this pair of bangles and a scarf, and wished I could do more.

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This chrysanthemum drawn with a rarely-used pen, which scratched and spat at me. Composition echoed my feelings: edgy. I was tired and had misplaced my favorite fountain pen. Calmed down while drawing, and thought back over the day, mentally retracing my steps. Hmm. I was really slouching while reading the paper this morning. Tested the hypothesis... eureka. Favorite pen redisovered - with a number other interesting objects - between two sofa cushions downstairs.

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Drawn this morning while sitting under a tree, listening to the crackle of the kiln, the voices of those still awake, birdsong and early traffic. The breeze had a perfect edge of coolness to it after the night of fiery heat.

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I got to participate in an all night wood-firing with the clay students and teacher at my school. As the night gets darker, the hearth gets brighter and hotter. Students stoked the fire through the night and on into morning, to get the kiln up to a temperature of 2400 degrees F. Each year is different; each year the experience is wonderful.

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A bunch of flowers picked for me while I was taking a nap late this afternoon.

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Cut onion - but not a still life. Note the tiny yet realistic ants on the onion's surface. They have decided to visit our kitchen this week. Like fruit flies, they appear out of nowhere at this time of year. I wipe the countertops with renewed vigor, but they are not convinced.

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Welcome, visitors from Pop City Media!

Woolgathering and a number of other Pittsburgh blogs were featured today in an article in online magazine Pop City Media. (If you scroll down, you can see me typing in an uncharacteristically neat corner of my living room.) The article's author, Jennifer Baron, even manages to work in a mention of BlogHer '06! (Disclosure: Jennifer is a co-founder of the Pittsburgh Signs Project, with Greg Langel, Mark Stroup, and me.)

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Bananas by lamp and candlelight. Ink and gouache.

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Another sign of spring - sweet onions at the market. I begin to wonder what would happen if I chose no nominal subject for a drawing, but just let the cross-hatching become an end in itself... but part of the fun with pen and ink is the tension between making a representation of what I see and pushing the process towards abstraction.

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Perfect April weather, blue skies and a slight breeze. I sat and drew at the park playground while other family members were: playing on every piece of equipment at the playground, playing soccer, coaching soccer, and home doing yardwork/reading the paper. A quiet Sunday afternoon, and time to gather our energies for the week ahead.

I discovered that it was easiest for me to draw the gingko tree (left) from the tips of the branches down, rather than the other way around. The apple tree (? right) was drawn in a more usual way, working out from the trunk, and trying to figure out where the masses of leaves were. Both of my black fountain pens ran out of ink, so I decided that I was done.

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