Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Creeps Bad Creeps

"Nothing says lovin' like somethin' in the oven..." so goes a harmless diddy which somehow went with cookies or flakey dinner rolls. But hum that at Halloween and everything gets wierded out. What is in the oven?

When I first met Susi, she said I gave her the creeps. I was crest fallen. Only later did she tell me that she meant the good creeps. You know like, oohhh-whoo-who. I guess. I'm not really sure.

Anyway, growing up (I know) I used to scour my folks library
and was drawn to books with wood engravings by Fritz Eichenberg (right).
He made everything look creepy. I felt like
it was Halloween year 'round.
Or maybe it was that I was reading Edgar Allen Poe and
Wuthering Heights.

But these are good creeps.

Like visitng my cousins. I would take the train
by myself from L.A. up to Palo Alto in the Bay area.

We road our bikes like bats out of hell.
I seem to remember riding to the graveyard a lot.
We were enthralled by the tombstones and
implications of those departed souls
and not departed remains.

Say hello to my little friend. Carefully laid out on my welcome mat, like my cat is a sushi chef.
Happy Halloween. You all give me the creeps. Good ones.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Molecular Barn Dance

When I was a boy, my brother-in-law took me and my dad to visit the mile long Stanford Linear Electron Accelerator. It blew me away. Not literally, or I would be little floaty bits of dust.

Since then I have often played around with circular images. I find them provoking and comforting. Circles are a continuum. They are everywhere. Atoms, molecules, the pupils of your eye, Charlie Brown's head, planets, the sun, wheels, B.B's, pancakes etc.

A collector in Switzerland has the original of this painting. I had Swiss chocolate, a Fuji apple, and Ugandan coffee for breakfast. That's sort of circular...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walk: Part II With Warning!

Who knew that caterpillars were romantics? See the heart hole in the leaf above?

Here are a few more pics from our one hour walk. One post could not contain all the wonders. Above is the entrance to our friend, Beth's garden. These bits of pottery came from a favorite remote beach. Junk Beach.

O.K. brace yourself. I must WARN you! If you keep reading you will see a possibly disturbing picture of rust. Turn back now if you can't handle the rude, relentless and indiscriminate determination of iron oxide.

If this were my mail box I would be dealing with some form of depression. But since it's not my mailbox, I find it exquisite. It makes me smile all over. Isn't it simply elegant? Go rust!

White ferns among the green. A very faerie thing.

I like lichen.

I think that this truck belongs to Guy Smiley from the Muppets (or it might belong to artist Steve Kennel...).

A wealth of gold coins for free. Makes me want to go for another walk.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Marching to Pretoria: Going on a Walk, Part I

When I was a kid, my family did a lot of singing in our 1949 GMC Carry All truck. One of my favorite songs declared, "We are marching to Pretoria, Pretoria, Pretoria...". I never realized where Pretoria was until we started boycotting South Africa because of apartheid. But when Harcourt wanted to do a translation of my book, Tom Thumb, into Afrikaans, I thought it a bad idea to boycott book making. So, I said, "Sure, do it; but also do a version of it in a tribal language." And they did also print a version in Xhosa. Cool.

All my life, however, I have imagined Pretoria to be a state of mind where good things greet you on a journey. So this evening we went on a walk to feed our friend's cat. A one hour walk can cure what ails you.

Plus, you meet pals along the way. I called these two, Chester and Marshal Dillon.

I am willing to wager that if you went on a walk from your front door, and looked about, you would find wonders to behold. Simple lovelies, and spots of beauty.

Furthermore, when you walk, you slow down and feel the earth and time turning. The wind messes with you, and the sky invites you to open up to the now.

Do you speak my language? Hey buddy, can you spare a tuna?

The Pacific Madrona tree (Arbutus Menziesii) is sensual in its beauty.

There are always surprises when you go for a walk, especially if you are marching to Pretoria. Here is a mermaid riding a bike. Haven't you wondered how they ride bikes? I can tell you I have laid awake at night wondering about just that. It's so simple! They swim through the air and hold on to the handlebars. This sculpture is the work of Port Townsend's own, Scott Jaster.

See what's waiting for you? Go for a walk with someone you love. March into the magic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Mysterious Whereabouts of Ben Watson, Former Blogger

Have you seen this person? Ben Watson used to wield a pretty snappy blog keyboard, but alas, he has vanished Into Thin Air (which I am currently reading-great book-in fact Nancy Pearl says it is a practically perfect book), but I digress...

There are rumors as to his whereabouts: a bar maid said she heard he was mowing lawns in Portugal.

Authorities decline to comment on his role as an undercover writer.

Extreme rock climbers swear that they passed him on the Hilary Step at the summit of Everest. This is unlikely as Canadian coffee baristas all agree that he could never make it that long without his double talls.

While we wait for news, I thought I'd show you some of his earlier work. The pink thing (above) was his very first bound book. This was the scene with all the firefighters. I thought he showed great character development, pacing, and pretty colors.

This rabbit is one of his character-driven stories. It reminds me of Edvard Munch's Scream. Or it could be the Easter Bunny.

Here Ben was exploring nonfiction. See the bird?

This character is a knight with a glowing sword. Perhaps a light saber.

In this scene, Ben has drawn himself ensconced in his snow fort. Snowballs are flying. As I remember he operated with a hair trigger aiming to destroy anything that moved.

Portrait of the artist/writer's mother. Title? Mommy.

This was a Happy Hanukkah card for his mother. Funny, I didn't realize he had converted. Are those cool flames, or what?

This piece speaks for itself.

Well, friends, keep looking. Ben's out there somewhere. He might even be writing. Which would be weird, since he sure hasn't used the old bloggy light saber in, like, forever...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Rain in Spain

Does it even rain in Spain? When I was there back in Sancho Panza's day, it was hot. In the Pacific Northwest, however, it does rain. A lot. We had industrial strength rain last night, all night. The bummer part? "I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wanderin', where it will go..."

The good part? These Shaggy Mane mushrooms pop up when it rains a lot after a dry spell. Coprinus comatus is also known as Lawyer's Wig and Inky Cap. The young nubbin ones are delectable in an omelette with Dubliner cheese, tomatoes and sprouts. (Duh, use caution-don't pick wild mushrooms unless you know for certain!) My friend, Dr. Ben Hunt says that the most common cause of poisoning in Seattle is from mushrooms. Gosh, way to rain on my own parade. Back to rain:

Newts like rain. They hide under boulders. At certain times of the year they cross our road and get squished. Sad. They usually move soooo slowwwly.

Great, I just read that the Tarucha granulosa newt is one of the most toxic animals known to science. Perfect. The toxin from the skin of one of those newts could kill 25,00 mice. Or one doufus artist. They examined fifty different predators of newts (frogs, kingfishers, herons etc.) and found that they had all died from eating the newt. I don't think the guy above is the assassin type. But wash your hands after handling.

Another good thing about the rain is to go inside, wash your hands, sit by the fire, and read a good book while it does its thing outside.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When Life Kicks Art's Butt, Art Kicks Right Back

I have a nasty art deadline for a book I'm working on. Actually the publisher wants to move the deadline up. Oh, goodie. So, I'm painting away, swish,swish,dab,dab,noodle,noodle...Then the mailman has the audacity to bring bills like they are bales of hay. What to do?

"Well, there is that studio tour coming up." " Yeah, but the front deck has turned to dust. The rain forest has re-claimed it." For real. "And I'm on a deadline," I whimper. "A book deadline!" Like that will silence reality once and for all.

I brought in expert help.

See, the deal is we needed the potential sales from the studio tour to pay an eentsie weentsie part of the bills. You know, for electricity. And waffle batter. But we had to fix the deck first or our studio visitors would have fallen into oblivion. Really. Yep, life got in the way of art. Again. But you know the saying, "When life gives you lemons, start throwing them." I'm pretty sure Sandy Koufax had a lemon tree in his yard. So.

Well, I couldn't have done it without Susi, Jesse, and Grandson T's help. Here the grandkids test out the finished deck. "Hey it works!"

Ringing the Cosanti bells (Paolo Soleri). A tradition when come to visit. The studio tour was a success. No one fell to the center of the earth. Lots of wonderful visitors. Thank you to everyone who made the trek to our studio. Thanks, Elaine and Said for responding to my earlier post and zooming all the way here from Kenmore. So nice to see everyone. We've made new friends. A bunch of art and oodles of books sold. A soup├žon of bills paid. Art and life find an amiable resolution.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Port Townsend Studio Tour

Yes, I did this art in the eighties.

Wahoo! This Saturday and Sunday loads of people will be visiting my studio, (and lots of other artists' studios in the area). The sucky part is that it means I have to vacuum. Come on by and visit. Time to get up close and personal. Hey, you can help me vacuum. You can see the whole enchilada of my art: sketches, abstracts, life drawings, paintings, and maquettes. We will have books available for purchase which I can sign and personalize, as well as limited edition prints.

I really hope you can make it. We are giving away Steinway grand pianos and full ride college scholarships to all of your children and grand children (while supply lasts). Poof! Whoah! that went fast.

So, that's an OPEN HOUSE AND STUDIO this weekend for the 11th Annual Port Townsend Art Studio Tour. Along with forty-six other local art studios, we will be open 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12. More details about our studio are available on the Art Port Townsend website

Be there or be square (and idle)!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Before I Went Bananas I Went Carrots

I was happy with this first cover painting for my book, The Magic Rabbit. But my editor wanted it a good bit brighter, with more room for the type. O.K., no problemo. Big SIGH. A litany of invectives usually stomp around in my wee little head canister when I have to re-do a piece of art. Especially when I am (like I said) happy with the thing. Giddy. Galopy, galopy pretend I'm a horse and canter around the room because I finished a book. Or so I thought. Nope. Re-do the cover. Go back to your studio, dog. Paint it again, Sam.

Ahem. Well on my next book, The Boy Who Went Ape, I was still kind of in rabbit world. The image above shows the ape in Benjamin's clothes at the library. Notice that the librarian, Miss Hush, is reading to the children. What's she reading? Gasp! What do you know? I could have put someone else's book. But I didn't. What can I say. Nancy Willard says that your last book lays its shadow across your next book. Especially if you painstakingly paint the shadow across it.

This is Benjamin (hey, he hasn't blogged in a while... what the heck, Ben??) back at the zoo finally making friends after some harrowing escapes.

Check out these two kind blog-o-rama reviews of TMR and TBWWA. First, a rabbit reviewed both books, (I kid you not) at The Adventures of Freckles and Deb, Bunny Bloggers. Thank you both. Heart, heart.

Next, Boy's Read reviewed Ben's and my book, The Boy Who Went Ape. Thanks a bunch!