Danny Gregory and I Discuss Visual Journaling From May 2008: Part one of a two-part podcast. Danny Gregory, author of "An Illustrated Life," talks to me about journaling, art media, and materials…The second part is in the same location. Be sure to check out the great interviews he does with other artists included in his book!
Finding Bits of Time Ricë Freeman-Zachery, author of "Creative Time and Space," talks to me about finding time to be creative. (Taped October 23, 2009.)
Remembrance Day is a day of quiet contemplation for me. Since we still have service men and women in harms way I hope you will pause at some point today to think about the sacrifice of many, and to discover a way you can pay something back.
No photos, no poppies that I can find. I'll go out and look again before I give up. We have an overgrown garden now where the flowers used to be. Neither of us are gardeners. And I think this last year we reached the tipping point of too many new little trees in that plot of ground and the poppies just couldn't come up.
I will spend time in introspection like I usually do. But it also is time for some action. I need to change the bunny habitat we've allowed (since the girls died). It has now made the yard into a red-tailed hawk habitat, which actually isn't a bad thing, but I still think something has to be done. So today will definitely be a day of "jungling," which is what I call my feeble attempts at keeping the plant kingdom under control during our growing season!
Do you know a veteran? The family of someone currently in the military? Is there something you can do for them? Shopping, babysitting, carpooling, gardening, snow shoveling (which happily we aren't dealing with just yet here)? You get the idea. If your life is self-absorbed, selfish, hectic, harried, striving, complacent, or merely content, today's a great day to make a change, not just for today…
…and I double-dog dare you to rewatch Breaker Morant. (Not about WWI, but you'll get the point.)
"It's a new kind of war George. It's a new war for a new century."
Seven years ago my second Alaskan Malamute bitch Dottie (Black Ice's Spellbreaker, AKA Dorothy, Dot, Smudge, Dotster, Dot-T, Sweet-T, well you get the idea) passed away from liver cancer. When I was filming a bunch of "Prized Possession Episodes" the ball caught my eye. It is the perfect post for today, because as always on this day, and most days, I'll think about Dottie. I like to celebrate her life.
It has often been remarked that I am Victorian in my propensity to collect mementos of this type. (And I do admit to a total fascination with Victorian hair pictures!) Some people set it aside with a "well she did spend so much time studying Dickens, after all." Actually, it started way before that, in the Philippines, when my favorite doll was tossed the same day I got my typhoid and cholera boosters. Excuses of the doll's dishevelled and worn state didn't make the loss easier to bear. If anything those excuses seemed to highlight the capriciousness and nonsensical judgment behind the disappearance of loved objects, people, and animals. I have never regretted learning this lesson again and again, early in life.
We each of us approach life's lessons differently, absorb them differently. I have kept a journal since childhood because of the same impulse that causes me to save Dottie's ball. I can capture things on the page, before they vanish.
Desperation is absent from this act. Things change, things go, it's that simple. But as they change I do like a record of now. It all seems as natural to me as breathing.
And that ball, with its toothmarks seems like a journal of Dot's chewing to me.
Dogs helped me learn this lesson—dogs and one budgie.
There is a line between obsession and celebration. Dogs can teach you the joy of that boundary. Birds, well they can't really help much with that. But damn they are pretty to look at, which brings us to drawing, and being in the now, and well—I guess maybe they can help with that boundary after all.
You can view my Daily Dots
on my website. For almost five years, until her death, I drew Dottie
daily and filled 43 volumes with the sketches. Another memento mori.
Another happy celebration of her life.
Will Powers, was the design and production manager at the Minnesota Historical Press in St. Paul for the past 11 years. He passed away recently. You can read his obituary here. He was respected throughout the local and national publishing community. Last night at Open Book a memorial service was held for Powers with family and colleagues speaking about his importance in their personal and professional lives. Powers loved jazz and between speakers Butch Thompson played jazz piano selections, and ended with a clarinet piece. After the memorial wine was served while the crowd celebrated Powers' life and viewed selections of his design and printing work on display.
In my brief professional contact with Powers I knew he cared passionately about his work and the details of his craft. It is inspiring to see the impact such individuals have on the community.
Left: journal sketch of a Boston Terrier for a painting series I am working on. Page size 6.5 inches square. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and gouache. Click on the image for an enlargement.
Today is Emma’s death day (you would expect a student of Victorian Lit. to hold such memorials). The change in seasons is always more difficult without the girls venturing forth with me each day, discovering the changes as they accumulate into a seasonal reality. When you train dogs to track something marvelous happens. Their noses become an extension of your own sense. Their observations become additional information for your brain. Together you speak the language of wonder with a vocabulary of discovery. It’s seamless, immediate, and more than a little thrilling.
How can you be sad when you were given such a gift?
My friend, artist Richard Crammer died Thursday morning. (He turned 56 on Monday.) On February 5, 2007 he was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma. His left leg was amputated and he underwent a series of chemo treatments which were unsuccessful.
I want to take a moment to share a couple thoughts about Richard and the gratitude I have towards him. His life and talent need to be celebrated and remembered.