Ice Ice Baby


It is hot. Very very hot here in Northern NJ and it’s going to stay like this for days. I’m sitting in a cool office but feel badly for my dogs’ paws and I try to stay in the shade when I walk them. I am trying out some drawing on black paper; it doesn’t photograph very well but it’s a nice change. Drawing snowflakes, cool drinks and other icy items. 

Random Drawings from Last Week (#4)

building 1s

I tried a building for a change…or part of one anyway.  This is a large house on Riverside Drive in the 80s.  I was sitting across the street on a bench in Riverside Park.  Besides the fact that I only fit a tiny corner of it on the paper, it looks like it may fall down any minute.

botanical 1

I only planted herbs this year, and unlike last year they are doing great.  Lots of basil for pesto, and I trimmed back the mint and lavender and made a little kitchen bouquet.  On the right is a piece of my neighbor’s vine that keeps growing over the fence and attaching itself to the Rose of Sharon tree.  When I cut it off the tree, I discovered a snail on the underside of one leaf…can you see it?  After I drew it, I put the leaves with snail still firmly attached into the mint.

car comp 2

I’m really noticing that all cars look alike these days.

crumpled bag s

There were only a few Goldfish left in this crumpled up bag.

cats comp 3

The cat was restless last week, even while sleeping.

people 1s

The woman on the right had very short shorts and two huge shopping bags.

Unexpected Calligraphy

canvas back 3s

My grandmother always told me that the back of what you make with needle and thread should be as beautiful as the front.  Annerose Georgeson’s wonderful calligraphic paintings ( reminded me that I meant to post the back of my cross-stitched graph because it surprised me with the interesting patterns that appeared.

canvas back 1s

I’m sure I could use this idea for something else…stitching over watercolor comes to mind.

canvas back close up s

…to be added to that ever longer list of ideas.

canvas back full s

You can see the front of this collaboration with the poet Tetiana Aleksina here:

Until They Have Faces


My mother told me many years ago “It’s a man’s world”. I think this is still true. So many women in the world have no voice, no rights, no face. Will it ever change?


squat s

I usually do some stretching in the morning.  Last week I was wondering if I could picture myself and draw all the limbs in their proper places for some of the positions.  Squats work the leg muscles well, although I had a bit of trouble rendering the hands holding the weight.

relaxation posture 2s

This is a great stretch for your back, but my drawings of it are definitely not there yet.

arm and leg stretch s

On the other hand, this arm and leg stretch looks pretty accurate with some help from strategically placed shadows.

Missing 13

hermon s


I was in midtown the other day near the Morgan Museum, so I stopped by to look at the portrait drawing exhibit.  I didn’t write any information down when I was there, but a lot of the drawings that I think were Renaissance-era were done on tinted paper (blue was evidently popular for a number of years) with black, white, and red.  I decided to use the same technique for this portrait, although I used reddish brown rather than red.

Looking back, my previous “Missing” portrait also uses this technique (combined with a few other colors), but when I was drawing Hermon I was much more aware of the role each color played, especially the white as a highlighter.

Hermon has so much warmth in his smile; I hope he is well and no longer among the missing.

You can see the rest of the series here:

And the Morgan Museum, though its exhibit spaces are small, is always worth a visit.  They also currently have an “Alice in Wonderland” room that is fun, photography, and some oil landscape studies on paper to see.

Paper Amulet 2

rubin amulet comp

Last week I went to the Rubin Museum and did some sketches of masks, but the real reason I was there was to take a workshop.  Last March I posted a paper amulet I had made based on an old sketch I did at the museum (, but at that time I could not find any information about them online to see what they really looked like.  When I saw that the Rubin was offering a workshop on paper amulets I signed up, ready to compare my interpretation with the real thing.

inside of amulet 1a

Quite different, it turns out.  First, there’s what you can’t see:  on the inside of the paper is a mandala with blessings and prayers.  Originally these were painstakingly drawn for each amulet; now they are printed in black and white and then colored with the hues of the 5 elements:  earth (yellow), water (white), fire (red), air (blue) and space (green).  I like the addition of “space” to the four that are usually listed.  Gold color (we used a gold gel pen) and gold leaf is also added.  In addition, herbs and spices relating to the particular blessing are placed in the center.

rubin amulet side 1 close up s

There is a particular way that each is folded as well.  In the end we had tiny thick paper boxes.  Instead of stitching, as I had done, the 5 colors are wrapped around the amulet to hold it closed.  There are traditional wrappings, or you can make up your own.  They can be simple stripes, or woven with a needle;  the ends can be tucked inside, or tied on the outside and left as fringe.  There was not much time to do the wrapping, so most of us just did something spontaneous and simple.

paper amulet 2 comp

I had done another paper amulet of my own before I took the workshop.  I like the idea of the drawing inside.  And I’d like to explore the threads wrapping the paper.  But I like my own interpretation too.  And I did write my own sort of blessing or prayer inside, so it was certainly in the same spirit.

laughing buddha s

Because I now know the correct search term (Tibetan paper amulets), I found a few good references online:

The workshop was given by Carmen Mensink.  She lives in the Netherlands, but travels around the world giving workshops, and I highly recommend this one.  She is also an accomplished painter:

Spiral Jetty


Robert Smithson constructed this massive earthwork on the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake in 1970. It is considered his master work. Smithson was killed in a helicopter accident three years after the completion of this work.

I have always admired this work and while continuing to goof off at work  I made an attempt to draw the jetty. I’ve always wanted to see it in person but so far I haven’t. The coil is 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide. It took over six thousand tons of black basalt rocks and earth from the site. Pretty amazing. 

Flute Player


I found an old photo of my sister. I had forgotten that she used to play the flute; she was pretty good.  At work goofing off again and doing a sketch rather than work. I should do that more often. 

Junk Mail Art

junk mail 1 comp

Inspired by Claudia McGill and Her Art World (, I decided to repurpose some of the post cards I receive through the mailslot hawking various things into art rather than just tossing them in the paper recycling bag.  You would not believe how many people want to sell me insurance…

She paints on hers, and sometimes does great surrealistic poetry too, but collage was what first came to mind for me (she does great collages and paint/collage combinations as well).  I decided to do some masks, and then I used the leftover pieces of paper to make abstracts on other cards.

junk mail comp 2

The red and black mask is just a composite made from mask sketches I had, but the second striped mask is a direct reference to a great knitted mask I saw a few months ago at the Museum of American Folk Art (  The artist, Deborah Berger, was a knitting prodigy, and she has many items housed in the collection of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (, a place of wonder in itself–if you’re ever in Baltimore, visit!  As a knitter, I was fascinated by her creativity.

stripe man comp

At the time, I just made a pencil sketch as no photography was allowed, and I came home and made a collage mask from my sketch and what I remembered.  Memory is obviously a tricky thing!  Recently I found a photo of the mask accompanying an article about the exhibit, so I had the real thing to use for my junk mail collage.  I simplified it slightly, but it’s a pretty direct homage.  It does give me ideas for other things, as everything seems to do.  I like the stripey face.

I saw that Nina asked Claudia’s permission to steal her stick lady idea.  I did think of Nina and what she likes to do when I saw that post.  I didn’t actually ask for permission, but I did remark that the repurposed postcards were a good idea…hope you don’t mind Claudia.  And keep those inspirations coming!!



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