Accidental poetry

I have a cello in my living room.
It was given to me by a friend who teaches stringed instruments to middle schoolers (brave woman)
she reassured me it was beyond help
I should make art on it
or in it
or with it
she gave me two, but I sent one to a friend in Virginia, who said she wanted to do something with it
or on it
or to it
and this one was in my studio for a year.
I love the tuning pegs (only two remained)
and the curve of shoulder and hip that is so human, and the gorgeous curl at the top of the neck
but it was weighing on me
so I lifted it out of the space it inhabited, and the neck came off
and part of the top right shoulder peeled off, so I can see inside it, and all the empty space
that is supposed to remain unseen, but full of music to be brought forth
but I spilled it out, or someone did, starting with the crack in the front, and the next in the back
and losing the tuning pegs and strings falling off (just thinking about this is making me weepy)
and so it sits, hopeful, broken, expectant, on the floor in my living room

Yesterday I drove to Amherst with a dead sparrow on the windshield.
It was stuck on a wiper
no red light lasted long enough for to me to leap to its rescue
until I pulled in behind Morrill and waited for Alice, and rescued the tiny body
into a plastic tray that held the frozen macarons from Trader Joe.
Alice thought I had a very realistic fake bird, with tiny wire feet
I was stupidly pleased to be able to hold a bird, and see how well I have been depicting the feathering
around the neck and head, of the birds I drew in February,
and how far I have yet to go on the long flight feathers, depicting the texture and direction of them
And now it is resting in the plastic tray in the back seat of my car,
because I cannot bring myself to toss it under the hedge,
where it was going originally before my car got in the way
I keep holding it gently
spreading the wings to admire those pinions that lofted her to the neighbor’s feeder
and back to the hedge

Both things, a dead bird, a dead cello, feel too precious to simply throw away
but too useless to keep, and keep how?
The cello in the freezer? The dead bird in the living room?
Cutting seems …rude, or unkind
burying impossible

I would like to make art with the bird and the cello, or on them or to them
but it doesn’t feel right yet
and so I wait here
dead cello in the living room
dead bird in the cold car
and see if the future will speak to me

Parallel projects

I have backed into a slow motion kitchen renovation. We needed a new stove, because the old stove was dying by inches and the last thing had broken that made it crazy frustrating to use. We realized we’d need to put the new one in on the outside wall, so we could vent it. So a friend helped me pull out the old cabinets and counter along that wall, and a plumber came and moved the gas pipe to where the new stove would be, and the stove delivery guys delivered the new one and took away the old one, and then the plumber came back and made the gas go, so I can once again be cooking with gas. The local building inspector approved the changes today. I put two coats of paint on the part of the ceiling I could reach (because a lot of the things taken out of the old cabinets are in the other end of the kitchen and it is impassable) and have washed the walls down (that I can reach) and I keep trudging along doing the next thing and the next thing and the thing after that.


My other project are the #dailyfeb2019 drawings I am doing using Autodesk’s Sketchbook program and a tablet. I am still working out how to use it, in much the same way (I tell myself) I was working out the basics of paint last February. So far I have one tool experiment, one seagull, and an owl I traced to try to get the hang of it.

Daily February 2019

four small tins

Join in now!

I wrote a more detailed description of the project at Clever Manka’s blog. The gist is – make a thing, or do a thing, every day, for all of February.

Choose something small and manageable, that you have materials on hand for and that won’t take more than 15 or 20 minutes a day at minimum. You can always work more!

Choose something that can be counted or measured, that does not require any judgement about whether or not it is done.

Take a picture and post it to Instagram. Tag it #dailyFeb2019 then browse around and see what other people are working on. I’m on Instagram, friend me so I can see too!

Write it down!

I want to write more, so I have started by writing about a (short, relatively simple) process I’ve been using to light up art I am installing in tiny tins. I pitched it to Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine but to my chagrin they stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

So I wrote it up neatly, took nice pictures, and posted it to Instructables – a veritable treasure trove of things to make and think about making. If you want to put a LED in a tin to light up a tiny artwork, this is the place to look. Thank you!

vale MMXVIII, receperint MMXIX

Or farewell 2018, welcome (I hope) 2019

I have pretty much eschewed making resolutions for the last decade. Resolutions do not serve me as well as working on a project, or focusing on a word or feeling. My most fervent wish for 2018 was to go sailing, and I absolutely did that with Windjammer Angelique, and it was delightful. I would like to do more of that in 2019, but life may hand me some different options.

I am changing up my system for keeping track of work, lists and ideas, moving from a desk based book to a pocket based book. I am looking forward to spending time in my studio, and experimenting with sewing things in three dimensions. Beyond that, I tend to hunker down with my existing habits in the cold and the dark, and re-emerge in early March ready to change things up.

Here’s hoping 2019 is different in good ways, and maintains some of the best of 2018. Just for reminiscing, here are some of the parts of 2018 I am most pleased with:

Merry and Bright

Or at least minimally soggy and depressed. We are having mad swings of weather, beyond what is usual for New England, and it is unsettling.

Tomorrow we gather with friends and candles at the UMass Sunwheel to light a single candle and curse the darkness. It is a completely made up ritual. Al delivers a homily on axial tilt and coming and going of the sun, we shout curses at the oncoming darkness, and light candles to hold it off. Eventually we finish (in the dark) and go out for Chinese food, and end the evening with a ceremonial burning of the things we want to get rid of from the past year (written on slips of paper or scraps of wood and tossed in the wood stove).

I’ve been working on a series of deeply experimental three dimensional works. I was inspired by some ceramic work I saw at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan in early October.

I have been referring to them as “weird brown things” or “weird brown triangles” to the amusement of friends of Facebook. The twisty ones are a second experiment, and the ones I am currently working on have more sides, and are in new colors, so none of the descriptors except weird continues to hold…

I’m taking some time off now, I’ll be back in the new year, with some new work. And new ideas for what to do.