February 2006 Archives

glass cubes

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Three glass cubes. Not sure how they're meant to be used, but they are about the size of ice cubes, and for all the usual reasons (glass, blue-green, light) I bought them for myself in San Francisco.

tulip, drying

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As some flowers dry in the vase, they curl and twist and become even more beautiful - gnarled and translucent shapes, like the hands of a very old woman. Fountain pen and wash.

61c cafe

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Sunday afternoon at the neighborhood cafe named for a bus route. Cold with flurries outside but bright and warm at our table. Coffee tasted good. Mark was reading Thoreau and making notes and our youngest ate a succession of pastries and drew pictures while I painted.

child watches old t.v.

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Another exploration of resist. A child sitting against the edge of the coffee table watches t.v. With rabbit ears and a circular antenna, our 13-inch set gets pretty good reception - good enough to watch the Simpsons on, at any rate.

last winter squash

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Somehow we haven't gotten around to eating this yet, even though I love butternut squash.

Today I discovered that the white china marker I bought last week resists ink and water... The challenge is that when I draw with white on white paper, I have only a general idea of where I'm putting the resist. Then as the ink and water wash over it, the picture emerges from the "blank" page, as if by magic.

toy boat and comforter

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Toy boat and comforter. Improvised seascape in ink, gouache, and watercolor crayon. Inspired by recent views of the Pacific, and by some of the beautiful work I've seen online today.

after the party

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Found still life - what was still on the coffee table after the birthday party was over.

backyard lemons

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My sister picked two lemons from the garden behind her house and I brought them home with me.

looking the other way

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More gouache from yesterday. Back in Pittsburgh, post red-eye flight. Hard to imagine in 29-degree weather that I was painting this in my shirtsleeves and looking out over the Pacific yesterday.

hiking view

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We went hiking today in the Marin headlands. Amazing landscapes - I'll try to post photos when I get home and have easier internet access. This is the view from the end of the Tennessee Valley trail.

bay view



One view from the observation tower at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. So much to look at - a 360-degree panorama of the region. I could draw and paint for weeks and weeks from the photos I've taken in the last two days, and my eyes and mind are full of 20th-century art - from the de Young's collection today, and from SF MOMA yesterday. Tomorrow we plan to go for a hike - and I'll draw and try to post again before taking the red-eye flight back towards Pittsburgh.


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San Francisco balcony. Fountain pen and brown ink.

gate, but no plane



Drawn and painted in the Denver Airport, while waiting for a much-delayed plane. Eventually it arrived, and I got to my destination at 2 a.m. I'm spending the weekend in San Francisco, and am excited enough to be here that I don't (really) mind the sleep deprivation. Besides, I know from experience that I am most apt to discover new things in my drawing process when I am tired. Guess it shakes me out of habits? I'm looking forward to a weekend of drawing with my sister and my mother.


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Harmonica, not mine, somewhat battered. Fountain pen, mine, with new permanent brown ink in it. Gouache over the top - very wet - ink didn't run.


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Fingers on the top of the page - with color. Tracing the line on a map? One thread of a cloth? Maybe...

hand's edge

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Edge of the day, edge of the hand, edge of the page, maybe even edge of the season? No, no, too soon for that. We will have more snow, but I am beginning to look for first signs of spring.

rubber band



A green rubber band and a red square. Gouache and ink.


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Fighting off a late winter cold, I decide to distract myself from self-pity by drawing my nose, larger than life. Brush pen and waterbrush.

still life with guitar pick

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Drawn with a fountain pen while listening to local musicians sing Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger/Leadbelly songs, and new songs in the spirit of the American radical tradition. A good place to be on a snowy evening.

tulip again



I have a new fountain pen - seafoam bluegreen with a fine, slightly flexible nib. I plan to get some sepia or brown ink for it, but wasn't ready to wait until then to try it out. So here is one of the tulips again.


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Fountain pen. I owe the model an apology - after saying that I wouldn't draw his face, it wound up in the picture after all.


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This is what I ignore while drawing tulips and oranges and sleeping children and bits of sky. Dust. Dust which clusters in the corners and nestles into the tangle of cords beside the sofa. I know that it isn't supposed to be there, but I'm nearsighted and distracted enough not to notice it most of the time. Besides, don't we choose unhealthy things to be our pet luxuries, our self-indulgences? What if dust took on the cachet of cigars or brandy or roquefort cheese? It could be cultivated, undisturbed, as a status symbol... a mark of luxurious idleness... glorious sloth. Sigh. Unlikely. I think of how it makes the shape of light visible, how it is as soft as lint, how it makes no noise and demands nothing of me. I will vacuum, I say.

Just not tonight.

purple tulip

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Watercolor crayon and ink.

asleep, with doll



Sometimes the doll is used as an excuse to put off bedtime. Finding her (or her blanket, or her notebook, or her little pillow) comes after brushing teeth and before finding warm socks and a good book in the order of urgent errands. But she is genuinely loved, read to, and talked about - a member of the household.

tulip study

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Thought of making a still life all in black and gold in honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers' big game today, maybe even with a Terrible Towel somewhere in it. Many people have such shrines and rituals surrounding the game. But I got caught up in watching and didn't stop to arrange things to draw.

Here's a study of tulips, instead. I notice that the black and gold got in there anyway.

yellow tulips

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Rain turned to near-snow today, but nothing stayed to whiten the ground. Bought flowers for the house, so that's what I wanted to draw. This is gouache, with no pencil or ink first.

tiny paintbox

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Until I spent time reading in Roz Stendahl's journals it never occured to me that you could empty and refill the tiny children's paintboxes which are given as party favors. But dabs of gouache dry in each section: white, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, cerulean, yellow ochre, and burnt umber, and they re-wet well with my Niji waterbrush. I put a little bit of white paper in the lid and covered it with packing tape so I can see the colors when I mix them, because the plastic case is so orange.

Painting tools which fit in my pencil case tempt me to experiment with them.

looking back...


This diary belongs to: is one of the blogs which was started after the workshop I taught last week at the Mattress Factory. It serializes the diary of the blog's author as an eight year old. I love the mix of images and transcribed text. I don't think I kept a diary for more than a week and a half until I was in high school and reading this, I wish I could go back in time and make myself keep going - the rhythm of the days is compelling, and the pages document the era as well as hint at the story of an individual.


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Went to the dentist tonight after work. Maybe having someone scratching at your teeth is not top on the list of ways to spend part of your evening, but when you are sitting there, you can't possibly be doing anything else. You open your mouth and you close your mouth. People take care of you. Sometimes a fine mist sprays across your face. Sometimes you taste mint. Music which is meant to be soothing plays in the background. Even if you don't like the music, you appreciate the gesture. And then your teeth are clean and smooth and you are full of peaceful resolutions for the future.

early evening sky

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New month, new sketchbook. Winter's branches are still bare, but the dark comes later every day.

apple and blanket

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More fun with ink and gouache. The blanket is made of old sweaters, felted in the washing machine and then pieced together.