Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, January 31, 2011

The Last Day of January

Winter Meditation no.16

Looks to me like the winter meditation pieces are beginning to show signs of spring!  It may not look quite like it from this photo, but there are green beads at the top and those rows of stitches at the bottom....do they look just a bit like green grass to you?  One can only hope....meanwhile the snow and wind swirl around me.  An on-again-off-again day in the studio, as it seems kind of hard to concentrate.  It's WAY too early for spring fever, that's for sure.  I've been enjoying my periods of reading The Proust Project and and now I can't wait to read the actual books.  I am quite sure it is the nourishment I need at this point in my life.  By the way, I have really loved all the comments on that last post from Friday...thanks for your enthusiam! 

I'll leave you with this little book page, which almost got tossed away.  It was once part of a larger and more cumbersome piece that was clearly a failure, but once I tore it in two and saw this half, I realized right away that it was a Page From The Book of Lost Meaning.  Those strange marks clearly date from a time before the written language...and who knows what they mean.  You can read more of the description and see details here. Have a good evening and we'll see you tomorrow!

Page From The Book of Lost Meaning

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Need for Nourishment

On Tuesday, mid-way through the afternoon in the studio, I suddenly "hit the wall"....you know that feeling when you are absolutely done in and exhausted...I felt that way, but there was also a feeling even more pronounced....starvation.  I desperately needed food and nourishment in the form of language...I needed literature.  When you're in that really hungry state and you don't know what you want to eat, it can be terribly frustrating.  I live surrounded by books, many many of them unread, and yet each book I picked up was not the thing I craved.  You know that old saying, "water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink"....that was the state I was in.  I didn't want a story or a narrative, I wanted a language that would transport me. With reading, it works much the same as when I first look at a work of art and I am taken in by surface, texture and composition...some kind of global sense of it...and whatever image is represented is very secondary.  With literature, I really don't even care if there is a narrative, but the language and its cadence, the writing itself has to captivate me and absorbe me whole.  So, I took a nap and resolved to go the local library on my trip into town Wednesday for my one-afternoon-a-week job at the music museum.  There, I found all kind of unexpected treasures that filled me with the anticipation of reading pleasure and I couldn't wait to get home!  I started with a spare, newly published novella by an Austrian writer well known in his day between the wars, Stefan Zweig.  I love writing that is layered, but I also love writing that is spare.  But, here it is Friday and I've not actually started the novella itself, because I read the beautifully written introduction by Andre Aciman and was transfixed by his writing.  When I investigated Andre Aciman, a name vaguely familiar,  I found that he'd written a number of books, but also was the man behind The Proust Project....the book sitting on the shelf not two feet away from me, still unread after several years. There is a time and a place for everything...so that's what I'm reading now....I've come full circle....the book I needed to be reading was here all the time and I just didn't know it.  The Proust Project gathers short essays by 28 writers regarding their first reading of Marcel Proust and its effect on them, along with a fairly lengthy excerpt from Proust's writing that goes with each. Once I began reading this book, I knew that, of course, I must really read Proust all the way through this time (not starting and stopping as I am famous for doing) because his long, winding sentences weave their way in and out of all the ideas that are at the core of my need to express....time, memory, living, dying, experiencing the moment in the past, in the present and in the future, and sometimes all at once.  I'm not starving anymore....I'm engaged in a rather sumptuous meal and looking forward to a quiet weekend of reading and art making!

Winter Meditation no.15

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Made By Hand: Brian Sylvester

"The grand book of the universe... was written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is impossible to understand a single word of it."

Galileo Galilei (1623)

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes."

Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922)

Artist's Statement:

I started painting fifteen years ago, but not until I was laid off in 2008 did I have the opportunity to re-evaluate and make the decision to become a working artist, which I believe includes a commitment both to remain experimental and open in my own process, and to reach out through my work to help local businesses and art venues.
My 15 years working in floriculture are one of the many influences of my current work, in which I am exploring the way that abstract forms and bold colors can carry deep and complex meaning in our lives, be they the decorative and architectural elements in the structures we create around us, such as portals, gates and facades in tile, brick and iron, or the spiritual imagery of devotional mandalas that seem to combine the geometry of both the natural and spiritual world. I'm finding that there is indeed a universal place where art and science, the sacred and the mundane can meet, in certain forms and colors that seem to appeal to us unconsciously on a variety of levels, and hope to take this exploration further.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

ONE UP! Our New Word Game Addiction!

It's Wednesday and I started posting a meandering walk through the dictionary, but the other day it occurred to me that it could be fun to share this kind of dictionary-at-the-ready word game Johntimothy and I are playing...quite regularly. A bit of back story first though.  We're not television watchers at all and in fact, our big screen (well, quasi big screen) tv is used only for watching dvds. For entertainment, we read or work in the studio, watch movies or play cards.  For many years we have had a practice, strange as it may seem, of playing cribbage over dinner, especially during the week.  We're on the go so much and playing a low-key card game slows us down, allows for conversation while we eat, then linger to finish the game...sort of a way to unwind.  But, I got this wonderful little word tile game in my stocking this Christmas from Santa (aka Beth, my fantastic sister-in-law who picks the best gifts!) and the poor cribbage board has been forced to sit quietly behind us on another table as we happily play One Up with the dictionary always on hand.  In fact, I just bought an updated dictionary because the 30 year old one we had just wasn't up to snuff with the current lingo!!!  And so, after we'd played game after game through many a meal over the past month, it occcured to John that we should be keeping track of the words we make in these games as the transformations are pretty amazing.  Now none of you know me that well, but I jumped on that one, as I LOVE a good bit of documentation...it brings out the cataloger in me!  And so now I have a yellow pad full of the words and running scores, as well as  further refinements such as what letters were left at the end that couldn't be used and where was the one "wild card" tile played.

These are pictures of our current game in process.  We don't finish a game at one meal...it takes a lot of pondering time and while we like a bit of leisure, we haven't got THAT much time, so the game stays out on the table til it's finished. Here's a quick run down of the game.  101 tiles, all turned face down.
First player turns over three letters and if a word can be formed, makes a word (each word has a minimum of three letters) and from then on each player turns over one tile and either changes an existing word with it or makes a new word with the letters that have been turned over that haven't been put into play yet.  Here's the challenge though.  To use their example, Light can't become Lights or Enlighten, but it could turn into Slightly if the right combination of letters were turned over.  The first letter in each word doesn't count, but each letter after that is one point.  There is one wild tile that can be used for any letter, but it has to remain that letter throughout the game...I don't think it's come up yet in this game.
I think that gives you the gist....so here is a list of the transformations in words throughout the game that went from dinner on the 22nd through dinner on the 23rd.  

1/22-1/23 Dinner - Dinner


Letters Left:

Final Score:
Johntimothy: 96
Ms. P.: 80
Wild card tile: Don't know...this was before that piece of evidence was being documented

According to their simple rules, whoever sees the possibility of a word calls it out and gets the word, but we play a more refined version and our house rules allow a person to verify a word in the dictionary first before playing it....even while the other person bites their tongue over a word they see that can be made. Sometimes one of us sees a fantastic possibility and will give broad enough hints that the other one finally gets it and then, depending on the score at the time and how generous we're feeling, we'll split the points.  I happen to be pretty proud of having seen spinet and then later in the game, splinters!!! However, in this game Johntimothy clearly skunked me.  This is a great way to learn words....although we're always having to look the same strange words up time after time forgetting whether they were legitimate or not!  The truth is out...we're just a couple of word nerds!  But for those of you out there that like word games, it comes highly recommended by those in the Pizzuto household...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: White, week 4

Color: A Natural History of the Palette, by Victoria Finlay

If you are at all interested in color....that is pigment, this book is a must read!  I got it years ago and also read it years ago, which means alas, that I've actually retained very little of what I once read!  But, it's a fascinating look at where pigments come from, how they are made and used and the sometime dire consequences.  I was reminded of this when I scanned back through the chapter on white....some grim details about lead white...perhaps you'll indulge me with reading a few snippets here to pique your interest:

"The greatest of the whites, and certainly the cruellest, is made of lead.  European artists for hundreds of years have rated lead whit as one of the most important paints on their palette--it would often be used in the primer to preare their boards and canvases, and then they would mix it with other pigments to build up layers of color. Finally it would be used to dot the eyes, and for the highlights. If you look at Dutch still-life paintings, lead white is everywhere. You can see it in the glimmer on a silver jar, the snarl on a dog's canines, the slimy shine on a mass of deer entrails, or the shimmer on a pomegrante seed. Fresh or putrid, they all need to shine."

And a snippet of how it was made in Rhodes as described by Pliny in his Natural History

"Workers would put shaving of thin lead over a bowl filled with vinegar. The action of the acid on the thin metal would cause a chemical reaction and leave a white deposit of lead carbonate. The lead workers of Rhodes then powdered it, flattened it into little cakes and left it to dry in the summer sun."

Victoria Finlay travels the world in search of the stories of the pigments that have been used for thousands of years for artists, makeup, musical instruments...you name it!  Most fascinating and highly recommended....by me anyway!

And now a few instances of white paint used in different ways by some of my favorite artists on etsy!  Don't worry....I'm sure the paint is lead free! Follow the links back to their shops for further investigations into their work. Cheers!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Continues To Spin

Season of Growth

Spiral of Time

Well, time does have a way of moving on....let's say spiraling on, since we don't want to think of it as quite so linear...and sure enough, I finished the four pieces and shipped them off today, along with the last two from the Pearls On A String Series and 4 new little meditation drawings.  I feel good about having gotten everything done and am pretty happy with the work, given my anxiety!  I don't feel so good about the shambles the house is in or the plants that cry for water through parched leaves...and I've surely missed reading my blogs!  But ever so slowly getting caught up and finishing more new pieces for the shop in the midst of it all.  I actually did four new meditation pieces for the show, but they were too big for the little cellophane bags I'd bought, so made some little 3 x 5" meditation drawings, mounted on 5x7" handmade paper, which fit the bags just perfectly!  So now, I'll have four new meditation drawings for the shop!  I'll give you a glimpse of a couple of those on Friday.  Meanwhile, here are the last two new mounted pieces that have gone to the Teeny Tiny Art show at Three Graces Gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire...just in case you're in the vicinity.  Time to get back down and clean up the studio once more!  See you soon on your blog or mine!!!  

One last thing....I just want to thank all of you for your wonderful good cheer and support!  It means a great deal...my friends are there and always with keen insight and understanding!  Best wishes to all of you!

Rings of Memory

Love of Language

Friday, January 21, 2011

Under The Weight of My Own Pressure

My deadline is looming...the one to package up 6-10 pieces for the Teeny Tiny Art Show in New Hampshire.  Still trying to have new work for much of what I send, but as I suspected, I don't work well under pressure and as each day goes by, there is more of it building so that I have spent much of the day rushing the process, smearing ink that I've not given time to dry or adding bits of this or that just to add them, realizing immediately what a clumsy thing I have done.  But, such an interesting process, as once again, I listen to the voices at work there in the studio....trying desperately to help me, if only I'd relax and listen.  There were a couple of key moments when the Observer got through to me.  At one point this morning I had about 6 or 8 pieces in various stages in front of me on the desk, trying to work a little on each one and move it along, but as you can imagine I was feeling pretty fragmented.  I heard one of my better selves...."choose four that you will send and work on those and set all the others off to the side...can't you see that you can't even concentrate with so many irons in the fire?".....Gotcha!!!....I chose the four with the most possibilities and relaxed into working, but it wasn't long until I began to see the smudged ink on one of the pieces and realized I'd been rushing through the drawing, just so I could move on to the next one.  It wasn't until I slowed down even more this afternoon that I began to feel better about what was happening with the pieces.  Some people work better under pressure...a looming deadline somehow brings out the best in them....if only it were so with me.  

Have a great weekend....I know where I'll be, but that's not a bad thing!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Made By Hand: Gabriella Mirollo


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
Seamus Heaney  (1939-)
- from Death of a Naturalist (1966)

Be sure to check out these links to Gabriella's wonderful, inspiring blog and her delightful etsy shop!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Word Of The Week: "B"

Word of the week...going through the dictionary in alphabetical order, we're looking at a random sampling of words in the dictionary...

to see where it takes us. This week I landed on Blackwell hitch and read the definition, then flipped to the illustration found under the entry for knots. Curious about the origin of the name, I found myself at the Blackwall ship yards in London! Known as Blackwall Yard, it was engaged in ship building and later ship repairs there on Thames for 350 years, finally closing in 1987. Opening in 1617, it was built by the Honorable East India Company after they had outgrown their previous site at Deptford. Interesting information about its long history in this article from Wikipedia, which can be found here...check it out!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: White, week 3

The weeks go by way too quickly and I'm meandering slowly on this walk through the universe....so much to investigate just thinking about white and alas, so little time.   I'm afraid I never do a topic justice, as I think of it too late in the week to really have time to investigate.  I thought about lace as the topic for the week...when lace comes to my mind, it is usually white.  I've always been intrigued with the patterns and the intricate detail found in lace and never could wrap my mind around how it is made.  Even though most of it is machine made these days, it has a long history and yet it seems the term "lace" is rather generic and just refers to an "open work" fabric that has open holes made by either by hand or machine.  Well, that describes a lot of things and in fact, a list three columns long of the various kinds of lace can be found here. I had no idea! Even the Wikipedia definition found here lists the following: needle lace, cutwork, bobbin lace, tape lace, knotted lace, crocheted lace, knitted lace, machine made and guipure.  And what is tatting?  I feel as if I've just come upon a mansion, one with a long history and stories to tell, deep in the woods, but I just don't have the time to wind my way up to the door and really investigate.  I'll come back later, as I still don't really have the vaguest idea how these delicate patterns are made. Maybe some of you know something about the history of lace, but I know I'm more intrigued than ever.  I found a wealth of images on flickr, including collections of historic postcards of groups of women engaged in lacemaking, old master paintings which feature people wearing lace and beautiful examples of lace being made and collected by people the world over.  When I went on a search of lace on etsy, I found a great many examples of lace, both contemporary and vintage.  I was more interested in the vintage lace and was particularly struck by the beautiful photographs of lace in this shop, OhFaro. I've included just a few examples from her shop below.  She has this vintage lace and a lot of other wonderful items worth perusing!

Would love to know more about lace, so if anyone has any great links or sources of information, I'd be happy to have you share it here!  Thanks so much...see you tomorrow!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Echoing Circles of Time

Hope you all had a fine weekend! I'm back reporting from the studio today.  I must give thanks to Fiona Dempster of Paper Ponderings (a wonderful blog you can find here) for a quote from Madeleine L'Engle she posted on the 13th of this month.  I haven't gotten it out of my head and it continues to wind it's way through my being and now I see it coming out through my hands.  I requote it here so you'll know what I'm talking about with the rest of this post:

"But there is something about Time. The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. Clouds fill with rain and snow, empty themselves, and fill again.  The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, and minute hands, and second hands. Around goes the continual circle of the notes of the scale. Around goes the circle of night and day, the circle of weeks forever revolving, and of months, and of years."

The Small Rain by Madeleine L'Engle

I've always been aware of the cycles that run as constants through our lives, giving us continuity, a certain comforting predicatability, but this quote somehow grounds me as one soul in a continuing ever-growing circle of time.  Even though things move in cycles, I'm somehow used to thinking of time as linear and that I form a link in a chain whose beginning and ending I cannot begin to see.  And yet, life is circular, not at all linear and in the studio, as these things percolate, I begin to draw simple forms which make me think of tree rings....circles of time...or ripples on the water...more gentle circles flowing out, sometimes imperceptibly, toward infiinity.

The other day I was in our little stacked-wide-and-high studio storage area...there to fetch another handful of the yummy Johntimothy hand-made paper and I saw peeking out from under the stack an old unfinished drawing.  This was a ghastly thing, from a brief moment in time when I thought I should be working bigger, and so I got it into my head to stitch four sheets of this 11x15" handmade paper together.  Just dumb....I knew then that my work was about intimacy, but you know those moments of making something you feel should be made rather than the thing that needs to be made.  Of course the piece was ungainly and I'd folded it up and stuffed it into this bin.  When I pulled it out, I immediately saw the circles everywhere, the gingko leaves (even then symbols of time and memory for me) and knew that I was looking at the start of maybe a dozen small drawings.  I immediately commenced to cut the thing up and have begun a new series of work.

Not surprising, it's meditative and intuitive as I make marks and draw, thinking through my hands. I'm trying to have three of these little 5x5" pieces ready in a couple days to photograph, so I can send them to the show in New Hampshire. There will be a larger series of them and I'm not sure what it will be called, but I will know when the name announces itself.  It's best for me not to try to think of what it is to be called, as naming is a thing that should come from the work itself. I know the name will quietly knock on my door to announce itself when the time is right.

a work in progress

Meanwhile, the afternoon was spent (FINALLY) taking down the Christmas tree and putting everything away.  Everything is circular....didn't we just go through this activity of quietly wrapping each ornament in tissue paper that is now quite falling apart (yes, just about a year ago) and wasn't I looking out a window at the deep snow, light fading on cottonwood trees, the frozen mist floating over the river...it's just like last year and the year before.  

I'm reminded now of my blogging friends, some of whom have recently lost loved ones, other of whom have watched natural disaster threaten their homes.  These are the cycles of nature at work and we must recognize them for what they are....part of the endless circles forever revolving.  At once a comfort and a terror...nothing is permanent...everything evolving.  See you tomorrow...

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Session in the Studio With The Observer

It's Friday already...probably no one needs a reminder, but I just find it astounding that it's Friday already. I've had only a little time in the studio this week and I found myself feeling rushed, with a need to be productive--not conducive to actually having a good experience.  But, after all these years of watching and listening to the inner voice, I know what is actually happening...well, it's almost like each moment has an instant replay and the observer in me will send an echo in my ear.  Here's a bit of the account from yesterday afternoon..."look at you, you're frantic...trying too desperately to make the seasons pieces...do you think people are tired of your winter meditations?"  Well, yes and no.  Then, I tried to relax and remind myself there are no deadlines (sure there are...I've been invited to have work in a small works show in New Hampshire and I have to have six to ten pieces there at the end of the month...no deadlines, I can't be fooled into falling for that one these days!), I hear the echo a few moments later, "this desk is absolute chaos and it just gets worse as you squeeze the paint out of tubes and leave them lying about willy nilly...there are pencils and crayons, bits of thread and for crying out loud, would you clean up all those tiny beads rolling around all over the place....just stop. stop. stop. So I stopped and I knew that I just needed to straighten things up, get a little visual order as a way of slowing down and making the space to work. It is important to create a quiet, special place for centering and meditation and for me, the studio is that place and I found I was not honoring the process by creating the space for the flow to happen. The chaos of the studio was only fueling the frantic feeling inside. And so, it didn't take long, but I put things away, got some order back and felt immediately better. If you listen to yourself, you actually know more than you give yourself credit for, I usually find. I'll try to remember to leave the studio in a good state when I'm finished working, so that when I come back and sit down, the current can flow. This is another one of those somethings I need to be reminded of time and again!

Don't know how many of you know about my other blog, MissouriBendPaperWorks, where I have been posting a daily found text poem for the last year.  I've now decided to just post there once a week, on Wednesday, and have also developed a new way of making the poems that is satisfying and deliciously fun. It's a little meditation and always a surprise how the poem announces itself.  I start with a page of text from a book and scan the words, selecting some and painting others out with white acrylic paint. I guess I scan ahead a few lines to see where my next word or phrase will be and then keep painting until I get there.  The process kind of forces you to be in the moment and there is an excitement when the finished poem announces itself...plus I really love the look of white, black and the cream color of the paper....hmmmm, are these more winter meditations? Here's the poem I posted this week over at MissouriBendPaperWorks.

You have a duty to perform.
Do anything else, do any number
Of things, occupy your time fully.
And yet if you do not do this task,
All your time will have been wasted.


This quote appeared in the book I'm reading and it really struck me.  We each have our life's work....maybe you know what it is, maybe you don't.  But if you know, as I do, what I'm called to do, you'd better be about the business of doing it.  I've always said that for me, art is a calling, not a career.  You can certainly just make it a career, but for me it's a calling, not just a career.  I'll leave you with another winter meditation, from a time earlier in the week when I was most definitely in the flow.

Winter Meditation no.9

Have a great weekend...see you Monday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Made By Hand: Johntimothy Pizzuto

"Vestige", mezzotint, etching, screenprint, 2011

"Objects seems like witnesses, silent, unjudging, obdurate witnesses to the lives that go on in front of them, and it is for this reason that myths and fairytales have trees, stones, pictures that talk. 'If these walls could speak,' goes the old chestnut, for the world of ojbects seems to have been holding out on us fabulous and terrible histories that we can only imagine.  Perhaps we imbue objects with associational meaning to bring their otherness back within the fold of the familiar, to make their muteness speak, to associate them with the absences we know rather than those more profound absences we do not. It is not the spiritual but the material world that seems most marvelous and strange: the course of these material histories, of the endlessly recycled elements and the almost immortal objects from clay pots to plastic toys, these stubborn, indecipherable, discreet things whose history of motion without change is no different than that of mutable willfull flesh." 

--Rebecca Solnit, from the introductory essay in Once Removed: Portraits by J. John Priola, Arena Editions, 1998.

Johntimothy is Associate Professor of Printmaking at the University of South Dakota.  His out-of-date, still worth investigating, website can be found here!

Word Of The Week: "a"

Word of the Week: "a"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Walk Through The Universe: White, week 2

As I contemplated "white" this week, my mind turned, not surprisingly, to the idea of snow...it's part of life here in South Dakota this time of year.  This year, it seems, it's also a part of life for many folks that don't usually get to see it, including my brother in Athens, Georgia, who reported six inches of snow there the other day, just as we were getting our six inches here.

I thought about those beautifully delicate snow crystals that collect themselves together to form each single snowflake that falls, gently blanketing the landscape in unearthly quiet and the stunning white of reflected light.  I thought of Wilson A. Bentley, a self-educated Vermont farmer who  began to photograph snowflakes late in the 19th century by adapting a microscope to a bellows camera in order to capture an image of something so fleeting. Throughout his life he photographed thousands of them and in the process began an amazing collection of snowflake images of infinite variety.  I didn't know it until this week, but there is a museum dedicated to him in his hometown of Jericho, Vermont, along with a website which you can find here.  You can see a collection of images online and there are many books available as well, but here are a few chosen beauties:

My further wanderings into the world of snowy whiteness led me to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a vast storehouse of information and little-known facts.  It was through their website, found here, that I learned that in 1953, 187 inches of snow fell within seven days at Thompson Pass, Alaska and that in the western United States, snowpack contributes up to 75 percent of all year-round surface water supplies!  And get this...the answer to your burning question....why is snow white?  Here is the answer they give:

"Visible sunlight is white. Most natural materials absorb some sunlight which gives them their color. Snow, however, reflects most of the sunlight. The complex structure of snow crystals results in countless tiny surfaces from which visible light is efficiently reflected. What little sunlight is absorbed by snow is absorbed uniformly over the wavelengths of visible light thus giving snow its white appearance."

Fun facts to know and tell abound there....including some pretty fascinating photographs like this:

The Blizzard of 1888
The Great Blizzard of March 12, 1888, New York City

And then I found some great artistic images of snow from a few wonderful photographers on etsy.  There were so many to choose from, so here is a small selection:

Winter Morning, 8 x 10 fine art photography print

For those of you that live in a place with a winter that looks like this, stay warm and enjoy the season!

Monday, January 10, 2011


Here's what has been slowly building up over the last few days in our neck of the woods...or perhaps I should say...on our bank of the river.  The snow came down lightly, sometimes imperceptibly, for several days and by now it's pretty impressive.  Quiet and still, the perfect time for winter meditation! My cold is a bit better day by day and I found some energy to get into the studio yesterday, where I was relaxed enough to actually make something happen.  No....let's rephrase that.  Here's how it worked.  Going through my little stack of Japanese paper, eventually I relaxed enough to let something happen.  I started out by trying to make something happen, but The Observer part of me is always present in the room and sure enough, I got called on the carpet, so to speak...."you are trying to make the same drawings you've made before...you're just trying to repeat your success"....and moments later "you're now trying too hard not to make the same drawings you've made before...say what there is to say at this very moment with the most elegant means possible"....and that's when the flow began.  But I was definitely much of the way through the paper before I got there.  It's a process, it's always a process.

Once that flow starts, well things do start flowing pretty readily and the desk quickly turns into chaos, as I pull out thread, beads, buttons and then try to find a needle somewhere on the painted surface of that desk.  Here are a couple of quick shots of work in progress....some from the trying too hard stage and some from a point some moments later when I began to listen to The Observer.

It's good to be feeling fairly well again and I'm looking forward to the flow of time in the studio!  Hope your week has started out well!  See you tomorrow for A Walk Through The Universe!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Better Week Next Week

Well, it's the end of the first full week of the new year and I guess I'd have to say, I hope they get better than this one.  My husband had a nasty cold, which I now have, despite all attempts to keep it away. He also had some foot surgery yesterday, so is laid up for a few days.  He's quite a trooper though and is in good spirits and very little pain.  I'm just tired of coughing, as this thing has gone straight to my chest.  Needless to say, didn't have much quality time in the studio this week.

I went down late this afternoon, telling myself I'd have an hour to work...precisely the wrong thing to do.  Isn't it funny how we just never seem to learn?  I know this much about myself....I need plenty of open time ahead of me...time that is free and clear, without pressing things on my mind that need to be taken care of and without a deadline....which is why it seems I don't let myself get down there.  But for me, saying I have an hour to work, is like telling someone..."go ahead explore this new city with all the places to see and all the things to do, but be back in an hour."  At a time like that I'm just trying too hard to make something happen.  I should have just spent the time reading, but I feel like I need to produce and so I produced a few royal messes on some new seasons cycles pieces I'd started!  I took a picture, but I won't bore you with it...I know we've all been there.  But here are a couple pictures to share!

This is the beautiful handmade glass pen that Johntimothy gave me for my birthday over ten years ago.  It's such a lovely, delicate object...and it writes and draws beautifully!  I have new inks to play with and I've just cut down a small stack of Japanese paper...

...and plan to allow myself to play over the weekend.  I'll be back on Monday with a more upbeat report I'm sure!  Until then, have a great weekend...see you in a couple of days.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Made By Hand: Patti Roberts-Pizzuto

This is the first week for the new feature, Made By Hand, which is meant to be a tribute to artists and craftspersons who continue the long tradition of the hand crafted object and/or work of art.  A new artist is featured each week with a photograph of their hands, an image of their work and a snippet of inspiration, widsom or perhaps a quote.  I'll be the first to put my hands forward in this endeavor, in what I hope will be a growing collection of the hands that carry on traditional practices, along with those creating new ones!

one of my favorite quotes is an excerpt from 
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

"...Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines. For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)--they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for someone else--); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet, restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to sights of travel that rushed along high overhead and went flying with all the stars, --and it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who hve just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the scattered noises.  And it is not enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguised from ourselves--only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them."

Each Leaf A Universe, Each Night A Dream

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Word of the Week: "A"

Welcome...this is the first installment of a new feature, Word of the Week, that will post each Wednesday.  I'll go through the alphabet, using both upper and lower case of each letter and find a word at random in the dictionary...one that I don't know and maybe will be new to many of you as well.   I love a bit of structure and pattern, so I'm going to have fun....let's see 26 letters, one uppercase and one lower case....52 letters, 52 weeks in a year....Perfect!!!  Starting today with a capital "A", we have the Amga River....I'm off to check my atlas!