July 2006 Archives

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In San Francisco now. We sat overlooking Baker Beach this afternoon and painted...

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A red caterpillar dropped out of the air and onto our table while our panel was speaking at BlogHer. The little creature pulsed forward across the tablecloth towards the damp spot left by the water pitcher, with the grace of a belly dancer, and the confidence of certain stardom.

She was admired, mo-blogged, podcast, and removed from the room on the top of an index card and Ms. Jen, Mrs. Kennedy, and I went back to talking about blogs as art vs. blogs as galleries or containers for art.

The day, like yesterday, contained so many conversations. Ideas sparked, and burst into being. Last year I attended the conference remotely, listening to podcasts during the fall as they became available, while I was walking to and from work. That gave me a great taste of the event, but nothing matches the serendipity and excitment of face-to-face meeting.

When the podcasts for the conference become available, I'll link to them, and if you are interested in women and blogging - think seriously about making your way to BlogHer'07.

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Between two of the hotel buildings is a fishpond with waterlilies in it. After dark tonight I sat, listened to distant hilarity and nearby frogs and fountain. I began with a blind contour drawing of the lily pads, and then added detail and color - all more or less by feel in the dark. After a day full of high-energy and specific technical information, it was restful to think about touching the edges of things with eye, pen, and then to wash over those surfaces with a brush and color.

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Fountain outside the section of the hotel where I am staying in San Jose for BlogHer. If I hadn't gotten up at four this morning (to catch my six-thirty flight) I might have something restrained and thoughtful to say about over-running water and ideas here. You will need to imagine that. I am going to sleep now.

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She fell asleep holding her beloved Mary. She'll still be asleep when I leave tomorrow morning, as will the boys. I'll be back Tuesday morning, after BlogHer in San Jose and a visit to Maria and family in San Francisco. I will have internet access throughout, so drawing and posting should continue without great pauses.

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"Look - a hot air balloon."
"Or maybe a light bulb?"
"I see a question mark."
Late afternoon at the city pool.

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Rudbeckia and Echinacea and a yarrow which looks like baby's breath - all tough as nails and able to thrive in my garden.

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An envelope sits near the edge. So many things to do in the next few days: projects to set in motion or keep in motion. I work at night when the house is quiet, and draw afterwards.

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Thinking about this view, two weeks from now... or years and years ago... Certain landscapes resonate. For me, it's this: the ocean, a distant promontory, and all the rest horizon and sky.

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Monopoly hotels have round chimneys. I don't think I'd have noticed that if I hadn't decided to draw one tonight. (The game was suspended for bedtime.)

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Picked last weekend on Gold Way or Melwood, near the shadow of the Bloomfield bridge. Just growing wild in the undergrowth at the edge of the alley there - tart, with a hint of red currant taste mixing with the raspberry flavor. I had never tasted them before, but we saw a woman picking them when we were out on our urban hike, and she called them wineberries. They were so good that we went back in the afternoon to pick more for ourselves.

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I can't remember how it felt to cool off in the city pool this afternoon - the humidity has settled upon us again, and the fan just moves the heat around. We have a few nights each year where the heat just stays and stays with us. This is one of them.

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Drawn while waiting in the car with two children - we stopped at the store after our trip to the pool, but one child didn't want to go in, one child lacked shoes, and I was content to sit still. Color added later- I wanted to keep the flatness of the ink without an all-white page.

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I was smitten by the wild roots of this onion. It looks as if it might have been caught in an electrical storm.

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At the end of next week I am going to BlogHer, a conference by and for women bloggers. (I'm speaking on a panel!) In the lead up to the conference, a movement began to get to know other bloggers better before we get there - an online mixer, beginning today. Deb tagged me, so here are the questions she asked in an email interview, with my answers.

1. When did you start blogging and why? Or Talk about your blog. What can I learn about you in under 5 minutes?

I started blogging in 2002, imagining woolgathering as kind of an online commonplace book, a place to do a little bit of semi-public writing and link to things which interested me. In December 2004, I decided I wanted to learn how to draw, and since people said that the way to learn to draw was to draw, I got a little Moleskine sketchbook and began drawing something in it every day. After I'd been drawing for 28 days, I posted a slideshow of the drawings to my blog, and then posted the next day's drawing. . . and I have been drawing and posting daily since then. 565 days and counting of learning to draw in public. You can watch a three and a half minute video I made about my work, here. I live in an old house in Pittsburgh, with three children (5, 11, 15) and a husband who also blogs.

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Trees and telephone wires outside my daughter's window, as it began to get dark tonight (but did not get much cooler). Gouache and ink.

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Went on a hike in the city today. Three hours, beginning in Oakland by Schenley High School, then walking up through the Upper Hill / Sugar Top neighborhood, and then down through Polish Hill and back into Oakland again. It was a little less than five miles, but very hilly, and hot and muggy. I wasn't able to pause to draw - I think I may need to organize a sketch crawl for that - but I did take pictures. This was painted at home from one of them - a hazy view of Garfield Heights and East Liberty from Herron Hill, one of the highest points in the city of Pittsburgh.

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Not a local one yet, but any day now... and meanwhile, even those from the grocery store have begun to tempt us again.

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Because when it is pushing 90 degrees inside and out, don't you want to pile pillows and woolly blankets and comforters into a giant heap and then sit underneath them for an hour or so?

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This big green pepper came in today's crate of vegetables. No local tomatoes yet, but zucchini and other midsummer vegetables are upon us.

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Note to self: When the 86B Frankstown bus runs late, just begin to draw - the bus will be there within five minutes. (This drawing was begun downtown, but finished from a snapshot at home. The bus did come.) Everything was running late today, as the traffic for the All Star game had downtown tied in cheerful knots.

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Street light near the swimming pool. It had not come on yet this afternoon, of course, but the sun bounced off the globe in a way that reminded me of the light to come.

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Our day lilies were late to start blooming this year, but began a couple of days ago. It's not a large planting, but they are doing well - out-competing the weeds, anyway.

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Bought a mango at the market day before yesterday. Just the way it can taste of peach and orange to me, it manages to be red and green at the same time. (Gouache and spattering.)

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Comments are back again. A little renaming, a little trouble-shooting, a little detective work, and the conversation can resume...

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A small brown bag of peanuts brought home after we went to the dedication of a plaque to honor the remaining wall of Forbes Field this afternoon. (The Pirates once played there, as did the Homestead Grays.) The city is full of pomp and baseball celebrations at the moment, in honor of the All Star game on Tuesday.

For the time being, comments are turned off. I am working on this issue with my hosting service, but spammers were attacking the script that runs the comment posting function, and until we find a solution, no more comments.

Feel free to send an email if you have a question or want to chat: mail at-sign elizabethperry dot com. I miss the conversation already, and hope to get this fixed VERY soon.

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Still awake, but very still.

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Red towel and a dent in the wall - the little spot where the bump on the doorknob bangs against it. (We've lived in the house eleven years. Still haven't put in a doorstopper on the baseboard. ) Pen and ink. Not quite as obsessive as I was last fall, when I drew another towel in another bathroom, but I should learn that it's never a good idea to begin to draw terrycloth late at night. No easy place to stop.

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Independence Day, and an appropriate dessert. We cooked out again, but it began to rain, so we ate on the porch and talked about things we can imagine doing with the yard. By the end of dinner, we had a second terrace, twinkling lights, an arbor, a swing hanging from the arbor, and that was just the beginning... Kublai Khan would have been proud.

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We went to Schenley Pool this afternoon, got our pool tags for the season, and enjoyed our time in and out of the water. Even with the holiday weekend crowd we had plenty of room to spread our towels in the shade of a tree. I drew, then went in for a while, then came out to warm up and add some color and a couple more captions to the drawing. At one point I thought it was beginning to rain, but it seems to be holding off, so we can cook out tonight.

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My zori - just where I kicked them off tonight. I remember when I was little I'd get a new pair at the beginning of the summer, and by mid-summer they'd be dented in just the right places by my feet, and the challenge would be to see if they'd last the summer before one of the stoppers pulled through the sole. These aren't dented yet, but are already comfortable. I got them for myself this spring in Hilo, so I should probably be calling them slippers, but they were zori when I was small, so they are zori to me still.

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Child sleeping on the sofa. Today I decided I wanted to wash color over this particular pen, even though this pen runs into the color when the color is very wet.

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Queen Anne's lace, picked by the side of a city parking lot. Now I know it is summer. We take it for granted, but I love how this flower is both tough and delicate. (Wikipedia tells me that it is more properly called wild carrot, or Daucus carota, and that the occasional dark red dot in the center was thought to represent where Queen Anne pricked her finger when making lace.)

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