Cross Stitch Grid

cross stitch mandala s

I’ve been looking at the photos I have of old work and taking fresh photos of some of them.  When I pulled this textile piece out, I was amazed first at how much larger it was than I remembered it…18″ square.  I hadn’t remembered that I put a sleeve on the top back so I could hang it either.  I did this at least 5 years ago when I thinking a lot about grid-based  art.  I had some gingham fabric and I took one of my colored pencil grid experiments and tried to recreate the effects of crossing colors.  Then I put batting and a backing and lightly quilted a couple squares to give it more texture.

cross stitch mandala close up s

Like so much I do, it was an idea I had, but I never did anything else to develop the idea further.  I like it though; I found a hanger and put it on the wall to remind me to think about it at least, as I seem to be back to doing some grids.

cross stitch mandala blk grnd s

I did photos on both black and white, but the white shows the true colors much better.

Red Shoes


The shoe on the left is one my daughter made a long time ago. On the right is a twig I found and made into a shoe. Just a couple of mismatched red shoes for a rainy day. 

More Alice Neel

alice neel family group s

When I went to see the Nevelson show a few weeks ago, I also went to an exhibit of Alice Neel drawings in a gallery nearby.  I had been working on drawing family groups, and I knew she often used her own family as subjects.

neel couple s

I was surprised to see that she sometimes used markers for her drawings.  The couple above is quite large, probably 18 x 24 inches.

neel figure study s

I liked this early figure study, showing the subject in a few different outfits, at different angles.

neel brown paper s

Another early drawing looks like it may have been done on a paper bag.

neel early watercolor s

This sweet early watercolor portrays her mother with her daughter.

neel early landscape s

And here’s a simple watercolor landscape, also done when she was young.

neel watercolor comp

Later watercolors are also worked in different ways.  The woman appears to be first drawn in pencil and colored in with paint; the sisters were done as part of an integrated, painted scene.

neel pastel s

Neel also occasionally worked in pastel.

neel bw comp

Her imagined figural scenes contain lots of emotional impact.

neel figure 1 comp

The variety and depth of Alice Neel’s drawings are an inspiration and a reminder to stay open and flexible.  And to always keep exploring.

Goofing off at work


Instead of doing my work I got out my five colored pencils and did this little landscape. I’m enjoying playing around with the pencils and seeing all the combinations that are possible. Now it’s 5PM, time to call it a day!



A quick sketch of Gregg, a guy who’s been helping us out in the office. He is a traveling guy and reports he doesn’t eat or sleep much. He has nice blue eyes and is from Vermont. I did this from an iPhone shot I took of him the other day with my new colored pencils. Only used about five colors, though. 

Signs of spring 


Walking along my beloved railroad tracks I came across this clump of crocuses emerging from the dirty old leaves. That’s my shadow in the picture obscuring the clump a bit. There’s a lot of great stuff growing at the tracks: daffodils, wild violets and my favorite Indian pipes. Happy spring!

Once Again…

loretta s

Tempers silver in
hostage.  The delay denies.
In the law least.

I don’t actually think this resembles Loretta Lynch that closely, but it captures her intelligence and intensity.

As for Congress…(insert your own expletive here)

And thanks once again to Haiku generator for suggested lines.


smoking s

The blue plumes drift and
sway before my eyes–against my

grey skies they are quite blue,
perhaps merely gasps of ether

and disappointment fitfully
escaping from a covered heart–

caught, mirrored instantly, a
breath of these thin tourmalines,

a grey heart’s horizon of
silence, a shadowy cancan line–

–Frank O’Hara
March 1951

This is my watercolor of the photo that accompanied O’Hara’s poem in the book of early Joan Mitchell paintings that I took out of the library.  I looked for the poem on the internet without luck; perhaps that book is the only place it appeared.

O’Hara’s life intersected with many artists, including Joan Mitchell, and they often made art to accompany his words.  And of course he was inspired by them and their work as well.  One of his most famous poems, “Why I Am Not A Painter”, is ripe for reciprocal illustration, and I hope to get to it sometime in the future.


forearm s

Shall these bones live?  Shall these
bones live?
–TS Eliot

I still haven’t found my copy of “Anatomy for Artists”.  I haven’t seen it in quite awhile, so it may have disappeared as a result of one of my many moves.  So I took a book with photos of bones out of the library.  It would be better to be drawing actual bones I think, but the photos are quite good, with lots of subtlety.  Above:  forearm.  Below: upper end of femur.

upper end of femur s

Nina, on the other hand, has both a collection of animal bones and a known talent for rendering them (, (  Which I hope to see more of, Nina!

I’ll be working my way through the book in the meantime.


Moon and Venus

moon and venus

…outside my front window tonight.


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