Lines

05/07/2018

 

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LINES

Charcoal lines. All lines curve.

Slight curves, concave or convex,

carry one life lived

end to end.

©TH 2018

Work includes the use of Sumi ink, charcoal pencil, Derwent pastel pencils, Studio Series color pencils, freely drawn.
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a toll

20/04/2018

This has not been a year of easing into aging. With retirement ahead, the days and months have elicited unrelenting attention to events filled with details that hold little meaning any longer. If one is in the constant state of readjusting one’s natural rhythms to the artificial, a toll is taken on body and spirit. Both of mine are bearing this toll. Through illness. Through a sense of fragmentation – the stress that builds from constant interruptions.

I long to do nothing. To be no one. To just exist and absorb the beauty of the world I find in my own small one. The plethora of birdsongs. The sun, on a cool windy day, seeping into my bones. The comforting weight of a warm blanket caressing my body as I lie still and silent. No obligations. No required responses. No pleasantries.

For a time, albeit, a small one in the longevity of my brief life on earth, I need this to ease into aging.

For now, I need to survive until that time in the oh so far, near future.


In my youth, I was at ease.

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the perfect O

26/03/2018

 

As a calligrapher, the two shapes to master are the straight line and the circle.

My affinity is with the circle.

So elegant. So whole.

So difficult to achieve.

Sheets of “o”s created with pointed pen, angled nibs, fat and thin brushes, fill empty spaces. Sheets upon sheets. With each new white, clean space hope is revived. During my twenty years as a calligrapher-artist, I have never mastered the circle. Yet, I have never lost my love and appreciation for this shape.

I have never lost hope.

Hope for wholeness.

Hope for an elegant world.

Hope that I may contribute to this by a mere stroke of the pen or brush.


Included are some studies of Os. Just the beginning. Always, the beginning.

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DNA

11/03/2018

Melancholy takes a bad rap. It is in my DNA. I would not extract, eject, or expel what runs through my veins for any reason.

Not.

Any.

Reason.

Melancholy fuels the creative urge. This dark, black side provides dark, black comic relief which only the few can abide. “Edward Goreys” of the world know this to be a truth. For yes, Wednesday’s child IS filled with woe; she is also filled with an astute sensibility for its mate.

Joy.

Yes, I am telling you joy is the underbelly of this pensive state. This is true. When it rises, perhaps rarely and quietly, through being- gazing at dust motes through sunlight – joy percolates, spilling out into the world.

You ask for truth.

It is this.

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The world needs melancholy more than joy.

Born on a Wednesday, I know this.


Calligraphy was rendered during my last year at St. Albans School with my wonderful Form I and Form II boys in our “Arts Club.”

Nuclear war

30/10/2016

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During the 1960s, I grow up under the constant threat of nuclear war. As an elementary student, I practice “duck and cover” regularly in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. A booming steel town where everyone is certain we would be a first target; in the 1970s this fear haunts my dreams; the 1980s, the fear of nuclear war surfaces again. Non-profit organizations rally our generation to action resulting in strong advocacy for peace by women of my generation*. I play my small part through art – “duck and cover” long gone as real response. Now, it is back. In today’s Washington Post Op-Ed section appears a piece – “Why is Trump suddenly talking about World War III?“.

A coincidence. There is this, dear reader. I participate in a wonderful online writing group – Juncture – with Philadelphia writer Beth Kephart. She sends out a “new” writing prompt – not about war, not about childhood – but this is my response.

She seems so tall, my mother, as I look up at her sideways. Her profile, shoulder-length hair, dark and thick, falls in gentle waves. The white shirtwaist dress worn with a large leather belt around her slim waist. She is beautiful, my mother. She is worried. I can tell this easily, as our neighbor barges in through our front door. I see her face change – softened to furrowed brow, relaxed to taut jawline, ruby red lips at the edge of a smile to one that is frowning.

I pull at her hand, the one where her arm rests against her side while the other holds her waist tightly. She turns her head slowly, tilted so she can meet my questions. It is only then I see the fear. Her eyes are filled up with fear. I know this is bad. I know not to ask, but I will. I need to know what news walked in so boldly without a second thought to us. Yes, right through that door – the one that is always open, always welcoming.  She speaks softly – not to me, not to anyone but herself. Perhaps she needs hearing this said aloud. Her voice needing to carry the weight of the words. “Kennedy is sending ships toward Cuba. This is World War III.”

Truth told. I do not believe in coincidence.


* This calligraphy exhibit, organized by Phyllis Goodnow in 1984, travelled to many sites including the U.S. House of Representatives, Cannon Office Bldg. in the Rotunda, Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Hood College in Frederick, Md. and more.
Applebaum, Anne. “Why Is Trump Suddenly Talking About World War III?” The Washington Post [Washington, D.C.] 30 Oct. 2016, Metropolitan Washington ed., sec. A: A21. The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.

July4ART: part two

12/07/2016

It is two weeks into July (almost) and I am myself moving very slowly with art; I am rusty, dear friend. My process is akin to the Tin Man (The Wizard of Oz) walking before Dorothy had the good sense to oil his joints. Thus far my stiff hand has lumbered  with pencils to:

  • draw calligraphic lines at a whim
  • color with pencils random places on the wallpaper reproduction
  • repeat these two steps on varying sizes of paper
  • reproduce a pencil drawing of the “key” onto my handmade paper (Why? I am not sure yet!)
  • use a three-hole stitch binding with two pieces of work (the simpliest, of course)
  • relentlessly ask myself, “What am I doing this for?” and “Who needs more stuff to put away?”

Letting go of reason or purpose and responding instinctively is a difficult behavior to regain after years of neglect. This process. This attempt to “make” art. This metaphor for  life.


Please note that you may read The Wizard of Oz in a beautiful color, 1900 edition online thanks to The Library of Congress.  Click HERE.

In college I read The Little Prince in French. Now, my eighth-grade students read it en français. The three, 5×7 calligraphic pieces were created by me more than a decade ago.

Working as an artist meant trying to sell work, and so the quote, being quite popular, was fair game.

Looking back, and thinking about my very young students struggling with translation, I am sad. Like le petit prince, I have the moments of disillusionment. Is the magic of words, or the intrinsic need of art-making subject to structured pedagogy and commerce  – two artificially constructed forms of human behavior? Where is the time to develop a love of reading, of experiencing words without the arduous task assigned? Where is the ability to create art without the need to produce a livelihood?small paintings
Your2

You3Have I loss my stamina for both – teaching & art – as I age?  I remember a time when being “in the act” of both filled me up. This year how do I live in the moments of these without the drag and pull into the orbits of the mundane?

While loss is my theme for this summer, pondering life on my planet sustains.

“Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes…And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance.”


de Saint Exupéry, and Katherine Woods, trans.  The Little Prince. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1971.  Print.

Awareness of a tension or a lack of harmony, as many online dictionaries declare, and living with this disharmony do not necessarily make a miserable life. The ability to trust the presence of the discord – to allow it to live with you, not against you – offers opportunities for self-examination, which generally take the form of soliloquy or an “internal dialogue.” (You can see, dear reader, how fond I am of the dictionary.)

While cleaning out the endlessly stocked “art closet” I came across this small painting from 1997.
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Without any doubt, this has to do with waiting for art to become harmonious with my Self, once again. The burden of this becomes lightened when I take time to ponder the meaning of its absence. While I am familiar with the feelings and intellectualism associated with this void, this time its nature is different. I have placed art to the side. I have chosen to defer my artistic life. A timetable ticks inside my chest – circulates patience through my veins, so that I might return to it with a full heart and mind.

Hope is the essence of living well.

Patience

25/05/2015

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During the past two years – especially during the summer months when I am at home and able to “do art” – I find myself stymied. It is so much easier to continue with my current “work. ” My adult life is now at a balance – equal number of years as an artist to that of a librarian. Oftentimes, I find myself preparing for a project only to look at the supplies without inspiration, or love. Not long ago I found myself ruthlessly ridding the supplies -untethering myself from the burden. Gone are the pastels. Gone are the acrylic paints. Gone are the hand cut stencils. Gone is all the papermaking paraphernalia – press, vats, dyes, molds and deckle. Given away with love.

I am no longer living life as an artist.

There was a time – the halcyon days of raising children – when it was my life. I awoke thinking about it. I spent the days working on art. Pondering life and art, in the quiet moments. In the afternoons or Sunday mornings, my children created art with my supplies laid before them on the floor of the studio, or outside on our porch. My husband built papermaking presses, pedestals for stone cutting, borrowed trucks to haul large equipment to and fro throughout the various studios shared with others. The artistic life created a center for me, and enveloped those I loved, which nurtured the art work.  A beautiful circle.

I look at these years lived “in the world”  – in the library world – as a gentle interlude.  Aging brings an ache – the ache to live as an artist again. I know in my bones that it will return for it has been resting these many years – new pencils and pens will be bought. There will be other colours and fresh paints. Patience, I tell myself.

Be patient.

Prudence knew she was a rat.

Why everyone else insisted that she was a cute, little mouse,

she hadn’t a clue!

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pru·dence  noun \ˈprü-dən(t)s\

1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason

2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs

3: skill and good judgment in the use of resources

4: caution or circumspection as to danger or risk

“Prudence.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prudence&gt;.

bow-tieYears ago I began a series of “Prudence” sketches whenever the mood hit me.  She has turned in to quite the character, of whom I am quite fond. Today, being such a beautiful day, I thought of how I might share her with you…she is a bit leery, but I assured her that you, dear readers, are very kind.

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