Friday, November 27, 2009

Bitter Much?

by John Donne, 1572-1631

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Happy Thanksgiving, to those of you celebrating today!
We've got works by artist Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh.
I love the expression on her face in this photograph:
Photographed by Annan, c. 1906

She lived from 1864-1933 and was married to architect/designer/artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who said of his wife, "I have talent. She has genius."

Margaret did striking gesso panels. Gesso is a thick, traditionally white fluid made of a mixture of plaster or chalk and glue. It is usually used to prepare a canvas to be painted, but obviously, it has other uses as well.

Cheap Joe's Art Stuff says: "If you are not comfortable with using gesso, then you need to change that. Gesso is so much more than a surface preparation or primer for your paintings. It is a tool for creating some really great art. Did you know that you can mix gesso with paint to create colored gesso for creating tinted grounds? You can also use gesso mixed with paint to cover up mistakes, even big mistakes.
A few coats of gesso can turn even the most mediocre painting surface into a heavenly place to paint. If you enjoy painting on a rough surface, you can add texturing materials to your gesso or paint gesso right over a surface with great big “tooth”. For a smoother surface to create your art on, add several coats. You can even sand your layers once they dry to make a canvas that is like painting on fine porcelain."

"The Four Queens": Queen of Spades, 1909
by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh
from the Hunterian Art Gallery

A detail from Opera of the Sea
by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh

Artists Dai and Jenny Vaughan create gesso panels inspired by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. Here are two details from their interpretation of Margaret's original gesso panel, "Willow Wood," which is in Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow.

details from Homage to Willow Wood
by Vaughan Art Works

And here's one by Margaret's sister, Frances:

A Paradox, 1905
by Frances Macdonald McNair

~ About "The Four" (Margaret, Rennie, Margaret's sister Frances and her husband Herbert McNair)
~ Rennie Mackintosh Society article about gesso.
~ BBC article about a work by Margaret that brought a record price for Scottish art.
~ Two recipes for making gesso

Friday, November 20, 2009

Andrei Codrescu: When

By Andrei Codrescu

Once upon a time when there was no time,
when no one had any need for time because there was plenty of it,
when time was an idea whose time hadn't come,
when the pear tree produced peaches or toy trucks,
when fleas jumped into the sky wearing very heavy shoes,
when everybody ate what they cooked and scientists were always sick
because they had to eat bombs,
when dogs and cats were on the best of terms
and men and women never fought pitched battles
under the pitched tent, when children never took baths because they were always swimming,
there lived a very old storyteller
in a village high in the mountains
who told a very long story
day and night.
No one knew when he had begun telling this story
because he was always telling it
and you could drop by his house and listen to some of it
and then come back when you were old yourself
and listen to some more of it.
When I heard him the story hadn't even begun because he was
still busy telling when the story began.
Maybe, one day, we should drop in on him and listen some more,
maybe he has begun.
We will, okay, one day, when we have the time.

Posted with permission from Mr. Codrescu. This poem is in Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All, edited by Jonathan Cott and Mary Gimbel, 1980.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Take A Second Look

Fabulous book-inspired art from Quint Buchholz, based in Munich, Germany:

Eines Morgens im November
by Quint Buchholz

by Quint Buchholz

Mann auf einer Leiter
by Quint Buchholz

I have to revisit Gustave Dore every once in a while. I would like to see this life-sized:
Don Quixote Relives His Past Glories
by Gustave Dore

David Nittmann practices the fine art of "woodturning." Yes, these are made of wood!

The Mer-Ka-Ba Bifurcation
by David Nittmann

A Single Twist of Fate
by by David Nittmann

Random links:
~ Go on a tour of beautiful libraries with Curious Expeditions.
~ Paper engineer Marshall Alexander offers free paper toy printables.
~ I love Joseph Holston's colors.
~ Washington D.C. had a "Mural Jam" last summer. The result is Wow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Treasury for Your Past

Poetry by Alice Meynell, 1847-1922.

The Rainy Summer
by Alice Meynell

There’s much afoot in heaven and earth this year;
  The winds hunt up the sun, hunt up the moon,
Trouble the dubious dawn, hasten the drear
  Height of a threatening noon.

No breath of boughs, no breath of leaves, of fronds,
  May linger or grow warm; the trees are loud;
The forest, rooted, tosses in her bonds,
  And strains against the cloud.

No scents may pause within the garden-fold;
  The rifled flowers are cold as ocean-shells;

Bees, humming in the storm, carry their cold
  Wild honey to cold cells.

Drawing of Alice Meynell by John Singer Sargent


from Singers to Come
by Alice Meynell

Singers to come, what thoughts will start
  To song? What words of yours be sent
  Through man’s soul, and with earth be blent?
These worlds of nature and the heart
  Await you like an instrument.

Who knows what musical flocks of words
  Upon these pine-tree tops will light,
  And crown these towers in circling flight,
And cross these seas like summer birds,
  And give a voice to the day and night?

Something of you already is ours;
  Some mystic part of you belongs
  To us whose dreams your future throngs,
Who look on hills, and trees, and flowers,
  Which will mean so much in your songs.


Your Own Fair Youth
by Alice Meynell

Your own fair youth, you care so little for it—
  Smiling towards Heaven, you would not stay the advances
  Of time and change upon your happiest fancies.
I keep your golden hour, and will restore it.

If ever, in time to come, you would explore it—
  Your old self, whose thoughts went like last year’s pansies,
  Look unto me; no mirror keeps its glances;
In my unfailing praises now I store it.

To guard all joys of yours from Time’s estranging,
  I shall be then a treasury where your gay,
    Happy, and pensive past unaltered is.

I shall be then a garden charmed from changing,
  In which your June has never passed away.
    Walk there awhile among my memories.


The Essays of Alice Meynell

More info about Ms. Meynell, including her poems, essays, and biography

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All Heaven and Earth

When you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.
~Christopher Morley

Book covers this week. I don't know who some of the artists are, so please feel free to email me if you know.

The Day I Swapped My Dad for 2 Goldfish
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean

Both of these elegant covers are by Chad Gowey.

Red Sings From Treetops
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Now I'd like to show you multiple covers for the same book. Here are two for One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

And, Mark Twain's Huck Finn:

Do you have a favorite Huck?
A few links:

~ Michael Cho explains the process of crafting the cover for The Amazing Absorbing Boy.
~ Terrible Yellow Eyes, a collection of art inspired by Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
~ Read Write Think's Book Cover Creator

Friday, November 6, 2009


A bit of the praiseworthy Crossroads by Joyce Sutphen:

...The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

In My Bonehouse

Here's the first verse of The Panic Bird:

The Panic Bird
by Robert Phillips

just flew inside my chest. Some
days it lights inside my brain,
but today it's in my bonehouse,
rattling ribs like a birdcage...

Go read the rest!

The Hatching

The hatching
by Dove Rengger-Thorpe

Blue egg,
your thin shell is fragile;
it cracks in the hatching,
falls apart.

Small bird,
a whole world is destroyed
so you can stretch
your damp wings
and fly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Art Inspired By America's Best Idea

Maybe it was hearing about the PBS series The National Parks: America's Best Idea that made me think about national parks art. I've got some photos for you by Jeff L. Fox, a wilderness photographer based in Bozeman, Montana "who strives to capture the people, places, and mystique of America's unique wilderness heritage."

Sunset at Snyder Lake - Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, Montana
by Jeff L. Fox

Going to Sun Road in April - Glacier National Park, Montana
by Jeff L. Fox

Cirque of the Towers Reflected - Wind River Range, Wyoming
by Jeff L. Fox

Dusty Trails in Monture Creek - Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana
by Jeff L. Fox

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) is known for his paintings of Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, among other works.

Hot Springs of Gardiner's River
by Thomas Moran

In the Lava Beds
by Thomas Moran

by Thomas Moran

For 21 years, the parks had an annual "Arts for the Parks" competition. It appears to have ended in 2008, but you can take a peek at some of the winners at the Grand Canyon Association site.

And here is a painting from the competition:

Winter Dusting
by Denise Drummond

Now, some links:
~ How to See Rock Art
~ Take Part in Art at the Weir Farm National Historic Site.
~ John Muir's drawings (Who was John Muir?)
~ Photographer Ansel Adams. His site is having a National Parks Photography Contest, but you have to be quick -- the deadline is November 15th.
~ An ArtsEdge lesson on discovering national parks.