Sidney bears a remarkable resmeblance to Woody Allen but in actual fact his personality could not be more different. Hector has a hangover after spending too much time at the local bar playing pool. Paulo spends his sundays pruning his grape vines and drinking espresso while listening to the short wave radio.
I saw Arta (not her real name) standing on the sidewalk in front of the library yesterday. She was holding several books under her arm, and reluctantly said hello as we walked past. Her kerchief was bright pink, such a great contrast to her dour contenance. She seemed to be waiting for someone, or something.
Last night I started “As I Lay Dying” and find myself wanting to do nothing but read. I love when a book takes hold of you immediately instead of trying to push and plod your way through something in a forced way. How many books have you started and felt guilty about not finishing, or not wanting to finish? I find as I get older I am much more able to get into the guts of a novel if it grips me, to sit with the language and let the characters become real entities (as if they truly exist in my world). When I finished the Road Home I was convinced that I could go visit the old farmhouse, have dinner there, and know that everything was just as Harrison left it, (the paintings on the walls, the dogs, Frieda).
But the most beautiful thing about good writing for me is that I find in many ways it tunes me into my own world more, forcing me to pay attention. I am presented with a way of looking, or rather a new way of seeing. After reading a passage about a breeze that runs through an old house carrying voices with it, i become fixated on this idea. I picture words and whispers moving around my own house on small wind currents. drafts carrying secrets. As I walk through town today to get the mail I will wonder what words the wind will bring me. Will they be dampened by the rain?
I have started leaving words on dead tree trunks for others to find. They are sometimes hard to see, you have to be really paying attention.
or you have to be wanting to find them.
“A feather dropped near the front door will rise and brush along the ceiling, slanting backward, until it reaches the down-turning current at the back door: so with voices. As you enter the hall, they sound as though they were speaking out of the air about your head.” ~William Faulkner
new site update…still working out the bugs.
I’m going to be adding a new section of children’s work to the portfolio section soon, keep you posted. I have computer brain. going to go look at something else other than this screen. (I rented the Secret of Roan Inish again, one of my all time favourites.)
please note: For the time being I will no longer be selling the Permission Cards as a perforated set of them can be found in Living Out Loud.
“We can only go so far with thinking, and then our minds must be refilled by the “thinginess” of life–landscapes, creatures, any sort of travel, people we could not imagine not having existed.” -Jim Harrison (fr. the road home)
creative spaces to travel to…
rae eames desk.
a cozy bookstore in paris.
writer’s cottages at Montalvo.
more writer’s cottages.
or you can buy your own.
Sometimes getting to the work is like trying to move while wearing lead shoes. I have to give myself little rewards for everything. (“If you finish this task you can sit outside for half an hour.”) The weather is reason enough to keep one from anything that needs doing.
I am currently working on a new promo which in fact I am quite excited about. I was speaking recently to a friend who is a graphic designer and we talked frankly about how we both got overwhelmed at the idea of doing a new promotion. Every time. A string of thoughts immediately fly in, must make sure it is appropriate, must have excellent presentation, must show our best work. All of these things only serve to pressure me to do something great, the bane of every artist. As I sort through my recent illustrations I feel inadequate and discouraged. And in fact most times it just causes me to give up in frustration.
So when I was asked by my new agent to do a two page promo showing a selection of my work I was a bit hesitant. She was asking for colour copies, something she could hand out to various publishers, brief bio, client list. Quick and dirty. Hmmmmmnn. Well, normally I would want to create a little booklet, a small portfolio with at least 12 pages, bound nicely, etc., etc. I would want to, and it would be too much for me to do. I got excited about trying something different. And I was reminded of one of the things I like to tell myself…do the OPPOSITE of what you thing you SHOULD do and see what happens.
So I went home and put together a two page colour promotion (in less than a day), showing several pieces, got it printed, and mailed it out. All in under three days total. No labouring for weeks, feeling grumpy and untalented. I feel pretty proud when I see all of my work and accomplishments sitting there simply on those two pages. Done.
So now I have decided that I am going to send this out to various clients too. My professional mind screams, “you haven’t sent out a colour copy since you were in art school, what will they think! Real illustrators do flashy printed promotions.” Yup it’s true. But I think I’m going to try it anyway, what the hell. The interesting thing here is that when I talk to art students I often tell them to just send out good colour copies, don’t fuss over it too much. Needing to follow my own advice.
Do the opposite. It is much better than getting overwhelmed, taking weeks, and potentially not doing it. Sometimes doing Less than expected means that you actually complete the task at hand.
(*above piece done for American Salon Magazine, April issue, on the topic of domestic violence)
One of my favourite things about reading has always been the research that arises from it. The connections from one place to another. A novel by Harrison has me looking up many words in the dictionary, different species of birds in my Peterson’s Field Guide (an old green covered volume circa 1952, I excitedly picked up for 25 cents at a yard sale), towns and villages in my world atlas, a multitude of authors including Henry Miller, Octavio Paz, Mary Douglas, Loren Eiseley, the list is endless. You will often find me reading with a pile of books spewn about. Maybe I am a researcher at heart, I so enjoy flipping through the thin, onion skin pages of dusty volume, the older the better. The Road Home has been a jackpot of references to other works, and my hungry page flipping fingers are happily placated. I believe in going directly to the source of something, nothing second hand. My journal thickens with random notes and references. I feel a bit like Nancy Drew again, attempting to get into the inner workings of the writer.
In one part Jim Harrison writes, “that a life properly lived is a “vale of soul-making*” (*a phrase that came from Keats.) I quickly became intrigued and had to research this concept. In short Keats was implying that “the soul grew and matured through love and suffering”. If we are to avoid these things we do not grow fully. Appropriate today for a culture that often medicates everything. I found a great paragraph discussing this if you care to read further.
Somewhat on this theme a new book meme is circulating and its rules are these (via ever so humble):
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
“Clearing clutter is about letting go and trusting the process of life to bring you what you need when you need it.” -Karen Kingston (Clearing Clutter with Feng Shui)
*I admit to looking around the room for a ‘cooler’ book, before I read that sentence, but alas this was the closest one.
character sketches for a job I’m working on. (the people are named after kids I went to kindergarten with. Maybe this is what they look like all grown up. I think Barb and Mildred are sisters now that I look at it, two years apart.)
*drawn directly with ink using the rotring artpen.