Taking nothing for granted

Most of the leaves have now parted from their security, having had their last dance with the breeze before touching the ground, where they joined others in the making of nature’s blanket that protects the earth from the night’s frost. As the sun’s pale golden yellow rises over the hills edge, mornings dew looses its grip, slowly surrendering to the spell of the warm light. So to the year approaches its last breathe, bringing not only a year to a close, but a decade of turmoil and uncertainties, which hopefully will also come to an end.

As I reflect upon the last ten years and my own challenges and demons, there is one bright spot. It started to blog seven months ago with the establishment of my first blog The Artist Within Us and this was shortly followed a month later with Four Seasons in a Life. It not only offered a new activity, it kept me from focusing upon my own situation and the stalemate that has lasted now six years.

In these past few months in which I have been blogging, a number of friendships have begun to blossom, exchanging private correspondence and more. Then there are the many wonderful readers who have acknowledged me with their favor by becoming a follower, all of which I greatly cherish, taking nothing for granted, including the comments they have left behind.

Shortly we embark upon another year and a new decade, one that lies before us like a blank page awaiting our mark. Where our journey will lead us over the next few months is anyone’s guess, I just know that we will each continue to share our separate paths, with one another, enriching each others life, one day at a time.

May your life be a blessing each day
as the sun graces your presence.


Caterina’s keys

In the spring of 2008 while working on a sculpture based my open-heart surgery that took place January of 2006, an idea took hold and since then has taken root. Never the less several more months would need to pass before I started searching for the various elements. Though a few elements are still missing, I have the foundation along with a couple of other essential objects in this assemblage. The base is an old wooden desk drawer that since has had a layer of golden foil added to it, changing the meaning from a utilitarian object to a personal shrine.

Spring 2008 at Diablo Valley College art department

The concept, like a pot of tea which has been slowly brewing, taking on colour, releasing its essence and filling the room with fragrance, so to has the mind contemplated the various aspects as to the artworks technical issues and final appearance. While time can become ones worst antagonist by altering the original course upon which one had set out on, the idea is too deeply entrenched for this to occur. This does not mean there is no room for allowing plenty of alternative paths to branch off into, without being unfaithful to the concept.

Another traveled one of these meandering paths after a story was shared and a comment exchanged, who then with great care and love placed two keys into an envelope, sending it by the hands of many unknown strangers participating in the mission, so that upon my trip home from southern California I would find waiting on the kitchen table a small package.

The packet had also two old fashioned keys drawn on it, along with the words “Art is Key” and “Art saves lives.” I carefully cut open the left side and gentle retrieved its content. With great anticipation and equal excitement I unfolded the antique gold tissue paper until the keys emerged from its safe keeping. Each key with its distinctive appearance and individual customized tag, offered a unique interpretation in the assemblages meaning. For now that decision would have to wait.

Yet after reading her enclosed note, I could not help but begin to ponder what Catering’s influence on the artwork, its impact or for that matter, its outcome would be. There would certainly be a shift in the artwork’s meaning, despite remaining truthful to the original concept and John Fowles' 1963 book, “The Collector.”

Caterina’s gift to me represents the very symbol of unlocking the personal mythology that a key represents and in the end it needed to come from another or it’s meaning could not be true to the idea of the artwork. Though the assemblage is far from complete, the artwork still remains in the gathering stage, but with either one of these keys, it has made a significant progress. For this I remain deeply indebted to Caterina and for helping me upon my journey.

Postscript: For those of you, who do not know Caterina Giglio’s blog La Dolce Vita, please have a look, as she combines various techniques in her multi-medium art.

For a review of Fowles’ first book "The Collector". He is also the author of "The French Lieutenant’s Woman."


The reason for my absence

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a friend I have know for the last twenty-eight years, asking if I could help and this would require traveling to southern California. Before our conversation concluded I knew what my answer would be, but I would need to first discuss this with the family. The following day I learned a little more for my purpose and we each reassured one another. I started packing clothing for a week, pulling a couple of books to read in the evening, along with my notebooks.

As the days progressed and we were reaching the end of last week, it became clear it would require staying a little longer then first agreed, but just passed midnight and the start of Thursday, I arrived home.

I have no regrets, though I never did get to read any of my books, visit LACMA, I did spend nine hours at The Getty, being overwhelmed by more than 250 large prints of the late Irving Penn, along with several other special exhibits. Over the next several weeks I will write about these exhibits and share photographs of the Getty’s architecture, including the pleasures discovered in an envelope sent to me from one of my followers in Colorado.

Having been out of my element and routine, it will take a couple of days to regain my footing so I can catch up on all the posts I have missed, considering I had mostly no Internet, let alone the evening news from New York to know what was going on else where.

Before closing I would like to welcome my latest followers, Caterina Giglio, La Dolce Vita; Kim Hambric, Merlin’s Musings; Anna Mavromatis, My Ephemera; Ange, Words on Wood; Victoria Pittman, by the same name; and our mystery person, a Londoner ex-patriot 'forever' living in Western U.S, Hot Toast and Jam.

Please have a look at the sidebar under Special Exhibits of the month, where you will find a link to the Getty and the Irving Penn exhibit and a little further down my recommendation for the blog of the month, artist Deb Schmit’s and her exceptional paintings.


The weekend after

This morning started with ease, first reading a wonderful letter from Angela in Toulouse, France sharing her Saturday morning activities and filling me in on her calligraphy group that I had asked about. With the weather outside sunny along with a chilling breeze, I remained in bed, contemplating today’s entrée, while a reply to Angela needs to wait just a little longer.

The day after thanksgiving was spent emptying the dishwasher, washing the remainder of the dishes, finding room in the refrigerator for all the leftovers, putting the dinning room back to the way it was prior to the festivities, and then a trip into the garden to collect the many piles of leaves that have fallen in the last two days. There were also the remains of a twelve-foot tree, which needed further cutting up. The smaller pieces liked twigs and small branches were recycled with the rest saved to the woodpile for use in the fireplace on cold nights.

During my time spent outside, the weather was like an unpredictable card game, with dashes of grey clouds sprinkling a fine rain now and then. Before the heavens opened up again and reveal a warm sun against a blue sky, it would disappear only to reappear twenty or so minutes later. When the work had finished and front door closed, I sat at the kitchen table looking out the window at the bird feeders hanging from our cherry tree. I watched the bird’s social interaction with each other, when our returning scrub jay made a racket and chased the other ones away.

While picking at the feeder he continued to sound off a warning that was only broken up by a sudden loud rolling thunder. Within two minutes, a torrential downpour began drenching and flooding our neighborhood. It lasted several minutes before passing on, returning our area to a peaceful calm in the remaining ten or so minutes of dusk before the sky was cloaked in darkness.

Now the sounds of crows are heard as fresh morning air enters through the open sliding door, awakening the spirit and I embrace a new day. I reach for my small buff coloured Moleskine notebook that is the size of a 3 by 5 inch index card, the one I carry with me at all times. I flip through its pages of scribbled down thoughts, potential ideas for a post or a few lines of a possible poem that rests between a to-do list or two, until I come to my pages of lists.

Only two posts ago I was languishing adrift without direction on various levels since my post ‘General Update’, which now feels like a distant memory. It helps to write things down, working out obstacles or the lack of direction and along with a little patience, ones own writings offer possibilities. My list of potential topics emerges over the days and begins to define the blogs goals and eventually its purpose.

There are still other things requiring my attention, such as selecting a noteworthy blog to recommend for the month of December, along with a museum exhibit by Sunday. Then there is the phone call that I received last night, asking for my help with a family matter in Southern California that would require my driving down in a couple of days. It seems that when one thing is completed, another challenge emerges, for now I will enjoy an early afternoon winters day visiting with neighbors and in the evening site down and answer a few emails before retiring for the evening.


A Thanksgiving Day remembered

Over the years I have accumulated my share of enough memorable memories of Thanksgiving Day feast, but there are always a few that remain dear even for all the wrong reasons. The earliest I remember goes as far back as 1957 and I happened to be eight years of age.

The table was nicely set with a tablecloth and I recall there was a candleholder with four white slender candles that bathed the room in deep warm amber tones. There was a small ceiling lamp that filled in the darker empty areas and the only reason I remember this particular Thanksgiving Day was that I could not stop talking.

I was certainly a chatterbox that evening and even after repeated warnings to button it up, I just would not listen. When all of a sudden out of nowhere, my mother’s hand struck my left cheek, but her astonishment and mine, my father’s hand had struck my right cheek at the same time I felt the burning sting on the other side of my face.

There was a momentary silence as my parents looked at each other in a bewildered surprise, while I turned my head from one side to the other looking at each of them with my own shocked expression before all three of us busted out laughing.

Now I cannot recall if I did finally keep quiet and paid attention to dinner or continued talking, I can say that it was that the following month my father won in a raffle a huge unabridged Webster’s Dictionary, which was presented to me on Christmas Day.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you are
surrounded with the sounds of laughter
and the fragrances of good food set
among family and friends on this
Thanksgiving Day.



General Update

My not posting as often should not be considered that I am losing interest in either of my blogs or for lack of something to say. Rather I have been preoccupied as to the direction my art is taking me, along with another reevaluation of both my blogs.

Since blogging these past five months, I have come across numerous incredible creative artists and their amazing artwork. This has had a profound impact and influence as how I view my own solitary art but also the roll of my blogs and the purpose they are to serve.

When I started painting in 2000, I had two views; and two directions I wanted to go, traditional and abstract. After attending several college courses in 2008 and a contemporary art history class in the spring of 2009, my creative perspective was shaken up and since then, it has been in a continuous state of transition. During this evolutionary period, it appears I am languishing motionless, adrift without wind to move me ahead, when in fact this period is being spent reflecting inward about my current state and my art.

Progress on the distressed canvases has been slow. One, the largest of the set, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm) finally saw movement with the addition of two beer ads. When I originally came across the German beer ad from Spaten and the American Ale from Budweiser, I thought I would have some fun. The idea was to cover over the Spaten glass of beer and then rip off portion of the American Ale, revealing the Spaten underneath. Now that this has been accomplished, the collage can be considered finished, though deep down I feel one element is still needed to truly consider this painting finished and ready for my signature.

Newsprint on canvas, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm)
Stage 4, layer eight

Newsprint on canvas, 20 x 20” (50.80 x 50.80 cm)
Stage 5, layer nine

Close-up of the beer ads
Stage 5, layer eight and nine

On the other hand the smallest of the canvases, 12 x 12” (30.48 x 30.48 cm) has seen progress that is fraught with mixed emotions. I see the drawing being successful, I also see technical failure, and now I come to a crossroad, having to decide if I let it go or make the corrections.

Untitled — in progress, 12 x 12” (30.48 x 30.48 cm)
Stage 6, watercolour pencil over graphite pencil drawing

I view failure as success if one learns from the error. What I am referring to is the illustration of the acorn squash, which should have had a white under painting in order to cover the newsprint from showing through and influencing the illustration and its spectrum of colours. As I keep finding it a visual distraction and the fact that the colours appear not pure, I must now decide if I shall go ahead and carefully cover up the drawing and redo all the pencil and watercolour work.

On a more positive note, it was ten days or so I started two small canvases, both 8x8 inches (20.32 x 20.32 cm) and instead of going for a distressed background, I opted for a typographical composition. As for the next step or layer, well that to is like being the ancient mariner adrift on a still ocean with an albatross for company.

Untitled — in progress, 8 x 8” (20.32 x 20.32 cm)
Stage 1, 4-5 layers of newsprint

Untitled — in progress, 8 x 8” (20.32 x 20.32 cm)
Stage 1, 4-5 layers of newsprint

In less than one week it is time to celebrate the day that brings friends and families together, around a table decked with decorations and packed with wonderful dishes, while at its center is a roasted bird, a turkey.

There were well made plans in the works, that in a few days I would go on my last photographic expedition for the year and accompanying me would be Bruce and his son Kevin, both of whom I had not seen in almost a year. I would share with them my previous explorations by returning to two of my favorite finds, discoveries made after taking my daughter back to Santa Cruz, then traveling the long way back home along the Pacific coast on the Cabrillo Highway, Highway One. However the day we choose was simple too close to the American holiday Thanksgiving Day and after some contemplation, we decided to postpone the trip for another day.

Until my next post I wish you my dear reader and fellow follower all the very best,


The Berlin Wall gets a facelift

Construction on the Berlin Wall began August 13, 1961, separating families and a nation; it remained in effect until September 11, 1989. Six months later on March 10, 1990 German reunification took place. Today, twenty years later, Berlin and the German nation celebrates a memory when the two were apart.

Tourists pass a painting on a segment of the reopened East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. The 105 wall paintings of the former Berlin Wall were restored for the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall in Nov. 2009. The same artists from 21 countries who created the paintings in 1990 repainted their pictures in the world's longest open-air art gallery after the concrete surface of the Wall was replaced.

Geir Moulson, Associated Press Writer; Photo: AP Photo/Gero Breloer

When the wall broke open, the influx of East Germans into West Germany was not necessarily all that welcomed, as both sides struggled to form a new alliance and coexist with the historical luggage either side was burdened with. However in recent years Germany began healing its wounds and started taking pride once more in itself as a people and as a nation.

The West German capital that was seated in Bonn since the end of the Second World War was moved back to the city of Berlin where it always had been. The city since has undergone a great change and continues to this day, evolving, reinventing itself as a center of intellectual and artistic importance.

“Test the Best” Trabbi who breaks through the wall, by Birgit Kinder.
Photo: Getty Images

As a reminder of a city divided in two, there still remains a 1316 meters (1439.2 yards) of the Berlin Wall, where 118 artist originally painted a section marking the historic event with a murals of their own design. To celebrate the twenty years since the opening of the wall, the East Side Gallery in Berlin has requested the original 118 international artists to return and restore their art to its former state. Not all artists took up East Side Galleries offer but 86 did and for their work were given 4000 Euro each.

Though I certainly applaud the East Side Gallery for their involvement these last fifteen to twenty years promoting the preservation and education of the remaining Berlin Wall, I do question who is taking part in the renewal of the wall. My concerns is that the remaining section of the Berlin wall is not reserved primarily for German artists, since they are the ones that have been affected directly by the walls prior presence, this would allow the German artists to leave a visual history. I should also note that not one former East German artist had been invited to take part in this event.

This picture was taken August 10, 1991 and artist Dmitri Vrubel 
begins restoring the mural in June of this year.
Photo: (dpa) Jan Bauer

The brotherhood kiss between Honecker and Breshnev by Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel 
is defaced and covered full of graffiti. September 2008
Foto: (dpa) Arno Burgi

As I look at the images that are featured on the East Side Gallery website or other German news media, my personal view is that hardly any section of the restored wall reflects anything like what the wall looked liked when I visited Berlin in 1970 and 1974. What is missing is the graffiti, the political slogans and posters, the anti government remarks, personal messages and memorials to those who died trying to escape Communism. It all has been wiped clean, erasing twenty years of German history as if it never happened and mostly replacing it with contemporary designs.

This is what the wall looked like at Mühlenstraße back in March of 2009, 
having lost all traces of nineteen years of art.
Photo: (ddp) Michael Gottschalk

My views are only a single opinion and have no bearing on the events taking place. I personally do not wish to forget the former appearance these concrete walls held and therefore treasure the painting I painted in honour of the walls opening. You can see the painting at The Artist Within Us and read about my trip through the former East Germany by train.

I recommend a visit to the East Side Gallery website as they have documented the artists refurbishing the 4318 foot wall and you are able to see the individual sections as they are now.
All photographs featured on this post have copyrights belonging to the photographer and/or their representative agency.


A moment now cherished even more

It has been a most somber day and even the nature seems to grieve, as the sky remains overcast with only a few sporadic openings allowing for a little dab of manganese blue sky to show briefly before disappearing. Last night I learned from my son that a friend from his days in high school had committed suicide by hanging.

Though I had not seen Anthony in the last three years, he was a frequent visitor to our home for a number of years, as he and my son Armont played guitar together for hours on hours, filling the house with a lively spirit, which was to the delight of my wife and me.

Why the two never continued their friendship after graduation is not clear, but for me there is a memory I wish to share.

One day in February 2005 at Pinole Valley High School I walked around the campus waiting for our daughter Ariana, since Armont had finished his classes that I met up with Anthony and his girlfriend Sammy. She was leaning into Anthony for comfort and security and he stood tall, secure, with his arm around her. Neither spoke much. I said ‘Hi Anthony’ and he responded likewise, then Sammy in her soft voice, barely audible, also said ‘Hi’.

Sammy and Anthony Warriner

Original title: My Love – Sammy & Anthony, February 17, 2005, image #03091
Digital Duo-tone photograph

The next five seconds now appear more like a very long silence in which everything came to a standstill while the universe all around us all kept moving on. I remember taking one step back, raised my little digital camera to take this photograph of the two.

Even after taking the photograph and having lowered my camera, the silence continued a little longer before we entered into conversation and that Armont would join us. It was only then that our space once again entered into the reality that was happening all around us.

Looking back as I had a few times over the years whenever I came across this photograph, I felt Anthony and Sammy allowed me into a very private tender moment between the two of them. His trust permitted me to capture not only that moment, but also their vulnerability.

Anthony leaves behind a wife and a one and a half year old boy named Odin.

May your soul find rest and the 
peaceful solitude it is seeking.


When is a work in progress finished?

More than six months ago I started with an idea by adding modeling paste in the form of vertical textures to represent a build up of drips and when I completed this stage, the surface was painted over with acrylic and fine tuned with a number of glazes in oil. Since then it remained tucked away with the other unfinished canvases, along with the blue painters tape still attached to the sides, despite considering it was a finished painting. Still I could not shake the feeling that there was more that needed to be said, even though having followed through on the original concept on all points.

Three weeks ago while working in the garden, I came across a number of very delicate roots from a birch tree that had invaded a flowerbed I was preparing for spring. Upon closer inspection of these roots, I noticed there fragile structure and felt they resembled arteries and veins and could be used in a painting, considering I still had not dealt with the open-heart surgery in artistic terms. While I continued gardening, the mind was actively involved figuring out ways to work with these wonderful roots, when the painting from months ago came to mind.

A few days later I pulled the canvas, dusted off the sides and experimented with a few strands of roots to see how they would interact with the textures. Once satisfied that this would be the path to take, I proceeded with my usual cautionary attitude, covered the surface with regular gel medium and strategically placed the roots onto the medium. That evening I studied the results, analyzing every aspect of the progress, only to decide to wait until morning, when under natural light I could best judge the next step to be taken.

With a fresh perspective I concluded a few more roots would need to be added, especially one that would rise off the surface and so appear three-dimensional, now that I had planned to introduce tissue paper into the mix and did not wish for it to be just a cover. Once the new pieces of roots had adhered and dried to the surface, it was time to add the buff coloured mulberry tissue paper.

I had used tissue paper before as a top layer in which I tore numerous small openings, allowing the textured surface beneath to poke through; it was this approach I was now embarking upon for this canvas. After covering the surface the artwork was set aside, in order to contemplate on the current process and instead of overnight, the canvas remained set aside for almost two weeks.

Though there were still some technical issues to be resolved the art work in progress finally had achieved a level of completion in which it could be considered finished, now that the relationship of surface texture and the roots all interacted with their new skin. All that needed to be resolved was making the suspended tissue paper stronger, then protecting the entire surface and settling upon a title.

Well that was yesterday . . .

After further serious contemplation I decided one more layer of mulberry tissue was required since too much of the roots dominated the surface visually and I still had not achieved the desired effect.

The process of the second tissue paper layer needed to be applied with greater control since there were areas that did have the desired look and were not to be covered. This would mean tearing up larger sections of tissue paper and adding them as if composing a puzzle until a homogenous look was achieved so that it did not resemble having been patched.

Now that I consider this canvas a finished piece of artwork, I view it not as a success nor a failure, but rather a study in the process of materials and their relationship with one another. For it has spawned numerous ideas on how to improve upon the relationship of the materials used in this artwork when considering another canvas that deals directly with my heart and the surgery I underwent.

Art is a process, nothing more. A process of adding, subtracting, subtracting and adding until the artists hand stops, pulls away and the artist takes a step back.

Now I just need to settle on a title; any suggestions?


A fable to inspire a life

There are books that mirror our lives,
as there are books that have an impact upon a life

More than just few years ago when I was perusing the nature section of our local bookstore, that I came across a book called The Man Who Planted Trees. It is a rather thin book, with the pages amounting to no more than the thickness of a pencil, even after having been padded with numerous wonderful woodcut illustrations by Michael McCurdy, in this reissue honouring the twentieth anniversary when it was first published by Chelsa Green Publishing Company as a book. Before the first publication in book form, the short story, or fable as some would call it, was first published in 1954 and appeared in Vogue magazine.

The Man Who Planted Trees, cover
1985 Paperback edition, second printing

The short story by French author Jean Giono brings to life a Shepard who plants acorns every day over a period of thirty years, every time he went on his daily walks, transforming a scared landscape from years of war into a forest of hope. The books fable has mirrored my attempts to plant as many trees as possible.

The Man Who Planted Trees, cover
Hardbound version, first edition, April 2005

For as long as I can remember, I have had a personal relationship with trees. At the age of twelve I came home with a small young cutting of a branch that I had broken off from a larger branch and stuck into the ground behind our ascending staircase to the house front door. The location was by no means ideal, but this little patch of land was mine to do with as I choose. Within two years the branch had grown considerable, reaching the top of the staircase, By the time we moved out a year and a half later, it was more like a mature tree, still having more to grow before being fully grown as a eucalyptus tree.

inside view, pages 28-29
Hardbound version, first edition, April 2005

These days, for almost a decade now, I have raised trees from seeds. Beginning with seedpods from a California buckeye chestnut, gathered from the wild and transplanted into large 25-gallon nursery buckets, where they remained for two to three years. After achieving the desired height, they were planted on our hillside, others passed along to friends and even sent overseas while still a seedpod, but showing signs of life.

close-up view, page 11
© Michael McCurdy - All rights reserved

This year’s bounty of seedlings has exceeded any previous year. From a dozen plus California buckeye chestnut, there are about a dozen and a half Chinese Elm, ranging from a foot to two feet in size. My most prized are Japanese maple, grown for the first time. They’re still very delicate when compared to the other two species, never the less precious.

As autumn’s curtain call is fast approaching, the garden was blessed with this year’s first rain after have suffered a two-year drought and water rationing. This major storm was the remnants of a Pacific typhoon that stretched beyond its normal travels, reaching our coastline with its gentle fury, filling our streams and lakes with water.

close-up view, page vii
© Michael McCurdy - All rights reserved

The Man Who Planted Trees — twentieth anniversary edition
Jean Giono with illustrations by Michael McCurdy
Chelsea Green Publications Company: Link
ISBN 1-9311498-72-5

Some additional links to check out

American Forests: Link
National Alliance for Community Trees: Link
National Arbor Day Foundation: Link
National Tree Trust: Link
National Urban & Community Forestry Advisory Council: Link
Trees for the Future Organization: Link

Tree Canada Trust: Link

The Woodland Trust: Link

Information on the author Jean Giono and The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees text and authors biography: Link
The animation video of the story being read in French: Link
Copyrights vs the stories freedom: Link


Seeking a more personalized blog appearance

I am aware that I have not posted in these last twenty-one days or so and though like a number of new bloggers who make a good start only to fizzle out after a few weeks or months, I can assure that is not the case here. During my absence I have been busy visiting other blogs, studying their designs and layouts, occasionally commenting and exchanging correspondence, including posting a few days ago to The Artist Within Us, my other blog. On top of all this, there was a major distraction, as our daughter Ariana was now moving away from home to attend the University of Santa Cruz and though it is only 94.3 miles away, we are now experiencing the ‘empty nest syndrome’, even though our son Armont is still living at home, attending a college near by. Then last Tuesday we all celebrated his twenty-first birthday and all along it felt like we just brought him home from the hospital where he was born. In the meantime I have been reworking my two sites, developing a third, assisting my friend Ian and his blog Abstract Minimalism, which is about half way where we would like it to be. So you can see, there has been a lot of excitement around here and the dust that was stirred up, still has not settled.

You might have also notice the masthead has been changed from a water lily, to reflect the new season in which we find ourselves, with a photograph of a red Japanese maple growing in our front yard. Normally I like everything tack sharp and with no motion, but the breeze was blowing and my inner voice—to which I do not listen to enough—kept insisting I continue. Even the sidebar here and at my other blog has been revamped, not once but twice, with a few more adjustments due in the next couple of weeks, for a total of six redesigns since I started in April. This included just adding a number of photographs to break up the text flow. So where is all this going?

Apart from the author’s voice setting the tone of a blog, there is also the design of the site, which reflects a person’s personality. Take for example Lorraine Stobie, a mixed media collage artists, whose site Creative Daily was professionally designed by Trudi Sessons of Two Dresses Studio, who’s expertise in digital manipulation of multiple images and objects I have a great respect for. She not only took into account the visual aspects of a good blog design, like its flow, usage of colour and overall readability, but also Lorraine’s personality and the type of artwork she does.

This was achieved by including elements that are part of Lorraine’s life and were then arranged in a collage that enhanced the blogs visual appeal and placed off to the sides of the main page. However the full effect of the collages artwork only comes to shine when viewing Lorraine’s ‘biography’ page, which can be reach by a separate link that is located towards the top of the sidebar.

Even here the biography icon and other, like ‘Email Me’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Archives’, and others, are all carefully designed with a repeating diamond pattern that is also used for Lorraine’s signature at the end of each post. In the end, the site sets itself apart from others, like a persons individual thumbprint, while retaining similarities to other crafting blogs.

In contrast to Lorraine’s bit of whimsy and special airiness is Layers, an artists whose work I greatly admire. Donna’s blog takes a different approach, by making use of the sidebar with photographs of her life, her surroundings and her interests, all of which is supported by her posts with images and the stories she tells. Her blog takes on a more Spartan approach, or if you will, a Wabi-Sabi sense of design, with a background colour that suggest one has entered into a blog with a Zen atmosphere; all of which reflects back to her style of artwork.

Though Donna’s artwork is comprised of richly layered metaphors, symbols, and a personal mythology, these appear at first glance in contrast to her Zen surroundings. This symbiosis of an oxymoron may have you scratching your head, but it is the very essence that comprises Donna’s spirit. Like most artists, she is a deeply complex individual with a ‘want and desire’ to absorb herself into her surroundings, emerging from it with new energies and ready to express her personal creative vision.

From these and other sites I have leaned a great deal and though I have thirty years experience as a graphic designer in collateral material and books, designing for the web or a blog is very different, even though there are a few similarities. So for now I continue making adjustments to my blogs, double-checking that both sidebars match in their placement of specific elements, while fine-tuning other aspects of the sites so that your visit will be a comfortable one.

Apart from having been preoccupied, I have managed to savor a few moments here and there, doing photography and exploring techniques I last used over thirty years ago, but now capturing images digitally with minimal application of software. My paintings on the other hand progress with their usual steady slowness, trying to overcome the fear of a wrong move and hoping for that touch of blindness in which inspiration takes over and the hand moves in charge of itself.

In the meantime I reflect upon a comment made to my previous posts at The Artist Within Us, about influences, an influence as far back as ones childhood and now having an effect upon the art one creates, Donna replied and in part said: “. . . the more personal your work becomes the more connection there is with others.

Postscript: Earlier in the day, under natural light, I had photographed a crane fly on a painters canvas drop cloth and by the evening decided to play around with it. After scanning envelops of letters from a previous relationship, some thirty years ago, I began extracting a number of these various elements and rearranging them on to the photograph of the crane fly.

Tipula abdominalis — Giant Crane Fly
Digital Multi-medium, October 9, 2009

Blogs mentioned in this post

Trudi Sessons — Two Dresses Studio
Lorraine Stobie — Creative Daily
Donna Watson — Layers
Ian Foster — Abstract Minimalism
My other blog — The Artist Within Us