Sunday, August 30, 2009

Young Potentates

"Don't dig me up!" said one of my potatoes today. "Just walk away, leave me in the dirt. Ain't nothin' goin' on here. Just chillin' with me mates, and the others in the root clan. You know, carrots, beets, onions."

Well, potatoes are down-to-earth and usually pretty well grounded. But the guy above looked suspicious to me, and he was arming the earthworms with little blunderbusses. So I dug him up and made hash browns out of him. And ate him.

Most tubers as you know get light headed when you dig them up. "Hey, look at me I'm a French Fry, I feel so thin and by the way, where's my skin?" Others just hum, "Mash me, mush me, butter me up."

I do know two tater tots however, who are on the cutting edge of coolness. These two young potentates more or less rule the western hemisphere. Not only are they brilliant, they are cute and seriously well read. Check out their review of Ben's and my newest book, The Boy Who Went Ape. Three cheers for the Talking Potatoes!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Of Faeries, Fauns and Forests

Forest Rogers is an artist who is rooted in the woods, in mystery, and in pain. She is a phenom. Her artwork is unbelievably well crafted, yet it is both worldly and other worldly. You must give it a look. If Michelangelo were around today, he would be visiting her blog. He would be asking for her input. "So, Forest, should Adam's pointy finger go like a this and touch? Or no a touch?"

Yes, I'm lame. But I'm trying to make a point. Great art.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Passion of a Good Heart

This is my baby (one of them). He is a beautiful son, father, and artist. Check out the interview with him in School Library Journal.

Also, checkout his brother Ben's post about sibling induced nightmares and pride.

Words that burn, cut, and heal

I love the way poets cut to the chase. Here are a couple of gems from Mary Bradley's new collection of poems:

Give Us This Day

Have you ever gone out before dawn
To discover, on the door-sill of the day,

Geese asleep on the bank of the river,
Every long neck looped,
Every sleek head tucked under a wing?

Or seen a fox,
Her tail streaming like a flag,
Arrow home over frozen fields
To dissolve in the blink of an eye into the woods?

Or watched sparrows--drab and disorderly,
Quarreling in fat voices over oily seeds at the feeder,
feathers rucked up by the wind, as they
Teeter and sway on their toes like little drunks?

If you have, then you might know this secret--

How everyday gulls along the shore
Flare and take to the sky at first light.

Come kick off the covers of sleep
Accept your share in morning's gold beauty;

Payment enough for us,
Poor beggars that we are,
Living from breath to breath.


In Another Life

Imagine August sun.
The willow pond is deeply cold.
The tire swing burns our bare feet
As we arc over the pool, then leap!
Icy water, closes over our heads, and
Silences the blue jay's scraping call in an instant.
This delicious day!
Screen door slamming after dinner,
We jump onto our bikes
And race each other to the meeting tree.
Making tomorrow's plans,
We track the summer nights
Across the hilltops of our childhood.
Finding the Big Dipper,
Counting shooting stars.
While time stands at a respectful distance,
Eavesdropping on our easy conversations,
While we grow up together in another life.


You may contact her at:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Talking Trees

I always talk to trees, and they talk back. I have had tree friends whom I have known over the years. They bring comfort and quiet. They bid us to sit and be still. "Listen." They whisper. Sir Isaac Newton was doing just that when he got docked on the noggin by an acorn. Or was it a pomegranate? "Splat!!", end of day dream. There goes the three laws of motion.

It has been said that in Washington state, not long ago, every cedar tree touched every other. When you wander in the rain forests here, you can believe it.

I began this painting as a sketch of an oak tree in Tehachapi, California. I didn't know where to go with it, so I just played with the branches. I painted a couple of limbs, and then put the painting away. Then months later, I did a couple more. A couple of years later...three more branches...and so on for years. Finally I realized that I wanted to live inside the tree, which had become autobiographical (a self portrait). So I added the door. Then I was done.

I titled this painting, Waiting for Spring in the House of Leaves. Notice, there is not a leaf on the tree. But the potential for jillions of leaves is on the waiting for art. Or life.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dog Gone

Yes, I like lattes. But only if they are well made. In Port Townsend, there are some great espresso spots. Particularly the hole-in-the-wall spot uptown. Oh, man, those are make-you-drive-out-of-the-way-good.

My dog, Bubba, was the model for this piece of art. He recently passed away, and I miss him. When he was born, he had about ten brothers and sisters. They would all frolick out on the back porch trying to tear each other's ears off and chew the deck to pieces. But Bubba would come to the window and stand on his back legs to look in at the people. Well, that worked. We chose him and sent the others packing.

Not only was he a good barista, he was a good artist's model. He was a great squirrel hunter, tree bark stripper, stick chaser, car chaser, cat comforter (oddly enough), beach bum, and loyal friend. Make that a double please...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back Yard Safari

The other day my grand-kids went a huntin' big game. Frogs. "Letmesee-lemmesee-lemmesee." There were oh, maybe a million wee green flappers hopping through the grass. I love to be reminded of what pure joy looks like.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I don't sprekenzie Deutch, so I really shouldn't use the word über, and my sons Ben and Jesse will hassle me for it. But they will agree that their sister, Faith, makes art that is full of exuberance. This is the illustration she did for the invite to her twin daughters birthday party.

The girls colored in her line drawing. Isn't it fancy? The party was fit for a fairy queen. Of all the presents, they liked the big cardboard box the best. Those fairies are funny that way...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sketch Like The Wind, You Fool

I'm speaking to myself.

I can't show what I am working on for my next book, because it is still revealing itself to me, and I have a ways to go. But I can show snippets of sketch therapy. Writers must write to see if they are still alive. Artists must sketch to see if their pen still works.

Seriously, folks, if you are an artist, then you must sketch just for the halibut.

Sketching is to the artist what A-1 oil is to ball bearings. Or, if you prefer, sketching for the artist is what waffle iron bumps are to the waffle. We're talking Belgium waffles.

Oh, what is it with words, they just lay there and stare back at you. O.K., I've got it, sketching is like your piano exercises. Do your scales, Richy. Da,da,da,da,da,da,da, da, da. I'm bored already, what good are these? I'll play jazz instead. Oh, little did I know that my Bach inventions depended on those exercises.

I like to give myself challenges. So, sometimes when I am sitting in the car, or on the ferry or anywhere in public, I try to sketch passers-by. If you try this, it gives you anywhere from ten to twenty seconds to grab their image. Their essence. Their gestalt. The gist of them. Their locomoco.

These exercises are invaluable to me, when I want to lighten up in my work. I am not trying to do great art, but I am trying to see, to capture. Catch and release.

Sketching is like stretching before a soccer game. If it's windy out then it's like being a leaf. Go with the breeze. Just sketch what comes. I wonder if Bach played soccer?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stealth Mode

I used to want to be an Indian. This was because they got to wear moccasins and beaded belts and shoot arrows at cowboys. Oh, yeah and wear feathers. Eagle feathers. You had to catch the eagle first. Not so easy. In grammar school, my friends and I used to spy on each other. We wore sunglasses or Zorro masks, hooded sweatshirts and moccasins, and prided ourselves on walking like a brave. We tried not to snap a twig, as we tip-toed through the bushes around neighborhood houses at dusk. This was way before ninjas.

I could so have been shot. As stealthy as we were, we could have learned a lot from Bambi's kith. This fawn comes to our place early every morning, looking for tender shoots, or anything that we are trying hard to grow. The deer control agriculture in Port Townsend, the way the Mafia controls sanitation in Chicago.

But I mean who could be angry with such a dear, I mean deer. Dear deer.