Archive | July 2015

More Junk Mail Art

junk mail 3 comp

Always more to work from coming through that mail slot.  Why is Uber sending me self-congratulatory missives?  It’s like those postcards from politicians:  they aren’t changing anyone’s mind.

You can see more junk mail art here:

Endangered Species: The Sweater

4000 tigers 1s

I’ve spoken before about the show I saw at The Drawing Center with textiles as its theme (  It was interesting to me that a few of the artists used sweaters and sweater graphs in their work, but I was put off by the fact that they used sweaters that other people had designed, once again exploiting the creative work of those mostly anonymous and underpaid textile artists.

4000 tigers close up 3s

It occurred to me that I could exploit myself.  I’ve been re-purposing my unsold swatches from my own design work for pillows and dolls–why not make an artistic statement derived from their original purpose?  Over the 20+ years that I designed and made these miniature sweater fronts, I must have produced thousands of designs.  I have hundreds that were returned from my reps (because they didn’t sell) to choose from.

4000 tigers close up 2s

Animal skin as a motif is perennially popular; I decided to combine some of those patterned sweater designs with my concern about endangered species.   I embroidered in black and white duplicate stitch a statement–“there are less than 4000 wild tigers left in the world”–and a ghostly tiger face on top of the knit sweater front.

4000 tigers slant s

What do you think?

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.