Cautionary Tale

Years ago our family lived near a wooded area where all of the kids in the neighborhood loved to explore and build forts and play, but the youngest among us wasn’t permitted to go there alone, for obvious reasons. The training was attested to by the little girl from next door who announced quite solemnly to my mom one day that her “mother always told [her] never to go into The Forest.” This little ditty is for Micki.

Don’t Go into the Forest

From long ago, our elders cautioned us

That in the wood there lurked a dreadful beast

Whose fangs were fiercely fine, and for whose feast

A hearty haunch of whole rhinoceros

Was scarce an appetizer, and the main

Entrée, a village full of soldiers, knights

And heroes snapped up, each, in single bites,

Made more delicious by their screams of pain.

Our fear of this stayed abstract, since the hurt

Inflicted, terrible enough, was made

For full-grown animals and men, which stayed

The doom from us—but then we learned dessert

Was Children, and we changed our minds, for good,

About the lure of wand’ring in the wood!Digital illustration: Child, Mother, Monster

What Now?

I have heard others wonder, many a time, a thing that I have speculated on myself, namely, what the animals we look at so quizzically in nature, home or zoo think, in turn, of us. Do they even think of us at all, and if so, is it with curiosity? Is the curiosity limited to what we could feed them or whether, in point of fact, we could be fed to them–or does it go beyond this into realms we cannot even begin to guess?

As the calendar year trickles toward its end, many of us turn our inquiring minds toward the future and ask ourselves what lies ahead, and whether we can have any influence on it. We long to be happy and healthy, rich and free, but are often puzzled when directed to think not about how the universe can confer these delights upon our undeserving heads but instead, how we might earn or attain them by our own efforts.

For some reason, all of this recently began to merge in my own head, coalescing into an odd and perhaps contorted mystery of a related but new variant. Thanks to my appallingly unscientific mind, I suppose I have often pondered the universe in the same way that I do animals in relationship to humans, imagining the universe’s workings as some sort of parody of Baroque stage machinery. We occupy a stage on which we animals and plants and other living things act out a madly unscripted play amid the apparently clumsy clockworks of our artificially constructed container and wait for the deus ex machina resolution to clarify all that is, was and ever shall be collageSuddenly, though, I’m struck by a further thought that if there is indeed any such power running the show, perhaps the universe is looking at us, at me, in great consternation and mystification, wondering when and how I will be explained. It makes me feel smaller than ever in the grand scheme of things, yet somehow comforted that I may not be entirely alone in my wondering. Will the year ahead, or the decade or lifetime, see my questions answered? Will the universe get its answers? I can’t even begin to imagine. But I like the thought that whatever is waiting on the other side of New Year’s Day may be just that much more miraculous than all of the exciting and surprising and wonderful stuff that went before it. I, for one, plan to stick around until the curtain collage



photoThose things that I can see even with my eyes quite tightly closed are objects of reverence and awe. No matter how much I admire the visible world for its quirks and art and prettiness, I cannot always navigate it with precision. I often can’t recognize faces out of their expected contexts. I miss obvious details that people around me have noted with nonchalance. I fail to see the marvel in many a beautiful everyday thing.photoSo when the attractions of anything are so intense that they live, beyond existing in the visible world, within the depths of my mind’s eye, I accord them special significance. They become icons of a sort, or waking dreams. I can carry with me those images that hold their places in my soul with something stronger than mere physical presence can ever begin to attain.

Inspirational, My Eye!

Yes, my eyes are my inspiration. Lots of the stuff that’s put out there in the world as ‘inspirational’ doesn’t work that way for me, so to that I just say, ‘Inspirational my eye!’ but when it comes to gathering up visual data for idea generation, that’s what tends to get my engine revved up more truly. So I’m really enjoying my holiday rambles in search of same.Blog.12-30-2012.1

Yesterday R (my beloved spousal-person) and I and his parents were collected midday by R’s cousin and his wife and we all went into Gruene (Texas) for lunch and a short stroll together. Lunch was grand, the company was lovely, and the day was pleasant all through. But of course what I found the most enriching on the little walk was enjoying the numerous attractions of an old town designed to be pedestrian-friendly, tourist-enticing (there were oodles of the latter) and full of details not found in our own more northerly town.Blog.12-30-2012.2

So I took pictures as a mnemonic device to help me retain some of what we’d seen and to give me images from which to (literally) draw or make digital paintings. I also get out the camera whenever I simply want to be more observant, because it’s remarkable how having that little device in my hand makes me notice all sorts of things I wouldn’t otherwise see. This, naturally, is something of a potential irritation to R since it means that I get into my ‘interval training’ mode, as I call it, wherein on our walks he continues at a steady pace and I stop over and over again to take photos of little sweet-nothings, then dash to catch up with him, at least until I see the next item of interest. Mostly he’s quite tolerant of this method, but it’s been known to irk him (understandably) when the stop-and-start means he’s talking to me and doesn’t know I’m twenty–or fifty–feet behind him. I can still hear him, or I wouldn’t stop cold, but it’s not quite the same, I know. <Sheepish grin.> He does still manage to love me enough to keep going out for walks with me, even knowing I’ll do such a pesky thing every time.Blog.12-30-2012.3And that makes the walks all the more pleasurable, you can be sure. And it makes me all the more happy to take any good opportunity to go hunting for more input for my visual files whenever I can. Click! Snap! Smile, everybody!Blog.12-30-2012.4

In Search of Tech-Know Progress


colored markers on paperWhen I post drawings, they almost always require a digital tweak or ten to be clean and sharp enough for putting up on view. Most of the time, it’s merely the need for getting rid of visible dust and scratches or evening out the tone across the piece to more accurately reflect the appearance of the original, stuff like that. Even a direct high-definition scan doesn’t eliminate all of the little oddities.

No doubt there are endless ways to do what I do to the images much more simply and cleverly and efficiently. But having as little technological skill and wisdom as I have, I must content myself with doing in a hundred steps what others can do in ten. At least until I have the time, the money and the gumption to get the necessary education, anyway.

Still, slow and ambling and rambling as I am, I get the occasional urge to mess around with the existing drawing and manipulate it further digitally. Silly, yes, given that it takes me eons to do the first drawing part and a multitude more ages to do anything further via the digital medium. But you know how these things are: inspiration or perspiration, it’s all a command one has to obey once the Muse prods me in that direction. Here’s last night’s drawing (above), followed by the series of phases I put it through today. That is all. For image

digital image

digital image

digital image

digital image

digital image

digital image

digital image

digital image