Coming to you from the depths of frigid February: I forgot to post this, but it’s a nice reminder of what may occur six month hence. Which, really, is no time at all. tombasil
 (Originally written October 13th, 2014)
“Lilacs on a bush are better than orchids. And dandelions and devil grass are better! Why? Because they bend you over and turn you away from all the people in the town for a little while and sweat you and get you down where you remember you got a nose again. And when you’re all to yourself that way, you’re really proud of yourself for a little while; you get to thinking things through, alone. Gardening is the handiest excuse for being a philosopher. Nobody guesses, nobody accuses, nobody knows, but there you are, Plato in the peonies, Socrates force-growing his own hemlock. A man toting a sack of blood manure across his lawn is kin to Atlas letting the world spin easy on his shoulder.”
― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
(I recommend everyone read Dandelion Wine, at least once, preferably in time with the season.)
What’s left of summer number twenty-nine: A line of tomatoes on the sill above the kitchen sink in various stages of ripeness, a freezer bursting with bag upon bag of blanched greens, ten cubic yards of earth on the front lawn (the remnant of three months worth of do-it-yourself driveway installation), five hundred thousand EMT Basic flash cards next to the couch, a new teal one-piece (worn thrice), a few roses too full of their own self-importance to notice the frosts, a pile of smooth lake rocks forgotten by the front door, seed packets laid to rest in a cool, dry place, a sense of regret, and the last chapters of Dandelion Wine.
And pictures. For no other reason than the desire to keep a sense of the colors, the patterns, and the small, forgettable delights of a free afternoon spent enjoying the fruits of Spring labor.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


White peony: Fresh whipped cream and clean sheets and expensive stationary. I want to eat it and live in it and wear it.



Such a chaste little bridal cap. This was my first year planting sugar snap peas and they did not disappoint, though they did get a bit out of hand.


Early farmer’s market haul. Thoughts of this sustain me through February. Most of the time.


As fleeting as it may have been, the growing season was a riot of color. And for my first time planting a proper garden, I’m rather pleased by the results.


So. Much. Kale. Five times this much at the end of October.


All that lovely color, even in a photograph viewed in the dead of winter, has the capacity to revive the spirit a bit.



Perfect bite: Recently picked French breakfast radish, some kind of herb or green, and hummus on freshly baked baguette rounds.


Another perfect little snack or lunch. Pickled chioggia beets, red onion, and goat cheese on fresh made crostini.

Another perfect little snack or lunch. Pickled chioggia beets, red onion, and goat cheese on fresh made crostini.

A whole wheat pastry tart with lemon boy tomatoes and...something else I can't remember. Probably some kind of cheese involved.

A whole wheat pastry tart with lemon boy tomatoes, eggplant, and…something else I can’t remember. Probably some kind of cheese involved.


More works in progress. Always in progress.

Eh. I know what this should look like, but I can never do what’s needed. And I hate practice.

Random piece of thick paper and an afternoon. Done a while ago, when I was substitute teaching. Some students in the art classes liked watching me draw.

This was started two years ago at Pigeon Lake, and I’m still not sure what to do with it. The bird is nice.
I…don’t know where I’m going with this one.

At work, the coffee cup sleeves come in long boxes and are separated by sheets of thick brown paper. In a moment of calm, I did a quick doodle and brought it home. After a few months, I finally started adding pastel. I don’t mind it. Fussing around with gouache, which I’d never used, I admit. Could be a snippet from a children’s illustration. Might finish.

This one is done. And probably my favorite. Pencil on the back of a 3×5 business card, done during waiting moments, church sermons. Shading helps me think, absorb. Turns out, the most mindless creations are those that I end up liking the most. I’m a product of the times, I suppose.

LRU: First 5k of the Year!

What with this, that, and the other thing, I found myself running a charity 5k this past Saturday. The organization that was trying to raise funds and awareness is called A Full Life and it’s the real deal: An organization that actively works to provide those they help with the ability to achieve self-sufficiency, personal growth, and sustaining relationships. Their current mission overseas is to provide an equine therapy program for physically and cognitively disabled orphans. Previously, they helped found a working farm that gives older orphans, who would otherwise be on the street, the life skills necessary to create a life for themselves. The whole endeavor is spectacular.

In short, I wanted to show some support by running the 5k, thinking that it would be a good gauge of how far I’d fallen through a rather snowy, frigid Winter full of buttery things to eat. Somehow, Stephen and I wound up right at the starting line. With all the fast runners. The ones who, though they may or may not have cared about the charity, obviously cared about their time. And when that buzzer went, I went. Way faster than I intended. I couldn’t lag when everyone else was busting tail! I couldn’t do it! Even though I was breathing deeply and often by the end of the first mile. Stephen, of course, having promised to run with me instead of quickly, surged back and forth to keep from getting bored. And when he told me that my first mile time was 7:30 I thought “Holy cats. I’ve never run a 7:30 mile. At least not that I know of. Two miles more isn’t that long, right? Can I keep this up? Suppose we’ll see.” And I did. Somehow, I finished in 23:08, and average of 7:26 per mile, which isn’t stellar, but it’s better than anything I’d done before. I even got a third place for my age group! Granted, the age groups were every four years, but still. Both Stephen and I were a bit flabbergasted. Of course, after telling me I did a good job, the next words out of my husbands mouth were, “You know this means your runs will have to be faster from now on.”


*sigh* I suppose they will. Especially if I want to get under 20 minutes.


More works in progress and sketchbook pages.

I’ve been poring over my James Christensen book lately, and have been trying to sketch with his work in mind. Not to copy or merely emulate, but to try to understand how he uses shape, line, and pattern to create his lovely little drawings and characters. Since I tend to get fed up with a line as soon as I put it down and try to erase it, I’ve been working with a Sharpie pen.

sk7That fellow up in the corner reminds me of Saint Nicolas.




I’ve also been trying to reacquaint myself with wet media, and have been failing, mostly. At least with this one. But it’s been a good learning experience in what media works best with my methods and propensities. This still has another hour or so left before it’s done.


How this work looked this morning.


I sketched this out ages ago. The finished product looks great in my head. If I weren’t so afraid of oils (I’m messy), I’d like to try a Maxfield Parrish technique. One of these days, perhaps.

Sketchbook: Works In Progress (Mostly)

These are a few more projects that I’m working on, or have finished. Two came about because I found some cast-off pieces of paper and board and decided to mess about. One was commissioned by a friend as a gift for her brother.


I don’t really know about this one. We’ll see what it’s all about when I feel like it’s finished.


A rather small little study in watercolor. About 3X5. Will continue detail with colored pencil and pen and ink or gouache.


“Expiring Frog”

A fun little piece. A friend bought a book of terrible poetry as a Christmas gift for her brother and thought that an illustrated awful poem by Dickens would be a nice accompaniment. This particular gem is from “Pickwick Papers”. The style is William Morris. The lettering is . . . not fantastic. Oh well.

studioAnother work in progress–my studio. It’s a lovely, light-filled space with, get this, storage. Which is why I’m baffled as to why I don’t spend more time there. I’m pretty much a catastrophic idiot. The homely chair in the corner was added so that I could read or cogitate for a bit after work. This helps the mind get into the mood for creation. Well, it usually does.

Bit By Bit

“Bit by bit, we should eat the head of a rat.” If memory serves, this is a verse from a West African scripture. Whatever the contextual meaning may actually be, I find myself repeating it when I feel overwhelmed by life and underwhelmed with myself. Literally it refers to the fact that if one were to eat the head of a rat all in one go to get to the tasty bits inside the skull (waste not), there is a danger of cutting oneself or choking on the bones. The essence of the phrase is this: Don’t take everything at once. Understand that worthwhile pursuits are generally only achieved through continual and patient work. Every day, a little can be done to attain a goal, but large goals are rarely achieved solely in one day. (I know I’m rubbish with epigrams. Forgive me.) The key and oftentimes point of contention here, for yours truly, is do a little every day. There are weeks when, despite cleaning the house and cooking and reading and doing laundry after work, I feel as if I’ve done absolutely nothing useful. Because no matter how lazy I can be (quite lazy), I still have loftier goals than just having a clean home, clean clothing, and tasty dinner. These are good goals, certainly, but they are not the acme of my personal vision.

God, in His wisdom as the only source of pure joy, has given me a talent. And a mind. And a host of other things that I perpetually misuse and take for granted. When I allow these personal and material resources to become stagnant, I quickly enter a state of great unrest. For one of the resources not given to me is drive. Motivation. Daily impetus. The want to achieve is there, but the minute-by-minute willpower necessary for me to work consistently towards my goals is quite a bit of work in and of itself. “Just Do It” is all well and good for those who don’t have mental and emotional roadblocks, for whom the desire to rest during the day doesn’t exist. If I can’t do something right now and perfectly the first time, I lose much of my interest to try. Frankly, it’s terrible and I hate whining about it, but it’s part of my brokenness and I just have to overcome it, dagnabbit.

All this just because I’m not done with this drawing yet, despite having started it months ago, and I’m just so peeved that I have no one to blame but myself. Anyhow. Eighty percent done is better than zero percent, right?


wingcrown2 wingcrown


More old sketches. There’s a pile of sketchbooks in various sizes heaped in my studio bookshelves and there’s probably only one that’s full. Jumping from project to project, book to book, is a deeply ingrained habit of mine. While I do wish I could just finish something for Heaven’s sake, working through design issues and various sketchbooks can lead to interesting discoveries. Sometimes, I find an old idea that I had forgotten about or a few interesting characters that start a new train of though. Or I find a method that obviously didn’t work and should rightly have been abandoned. As always, every little bit of growth gives me hope. Anyhow, I just picked up one of those abandoned sketchbooks and I don’t mind these doodles.

ghsktch  I like the hairchstdyCharacter ideas from…I don’t remember what. chsty2Character studies done while reading “Many Waters” by Madeleine L’Engle

fash1Messing around with Prismacolor markers…meh. I try to do these quickly, and it often shows.

fash2 fash3Regardless of her lack of upper appendages, I rather like this one