Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poetic Journey - Winter of My Dismay

What is it about the final days of a year that seem so without hope at times? As if the new year will not belong to us but to others. And the woes of the previous year will follow us wherever we go.

The Winter of My Dismay

The blankets all tangled strangle my sleep
I fight to stay abed and put off the day
My pets hold me down
To keep me from flying away
Escaping the reality that waits
Please let me sleep.

The mornings are so dark
Matching my mood these days
Even the stars are wrapped in blankets of clouds
To stay warm and snug just a little longer
I wrap myself in comforter before my computer
One dim light and a mug of hot coffee.

The darkness and cold outside that circle
Are chilling to the soul
Prospects damp my spirit even more
Hope, when I can find it
Is warming for but a moment
The light so far away.

Spring seems impossible
In this my winter of dismay
Light and hope so very remote
I am not sure I want to make the journey
Just curl up in some snug corner of this endless maze
And sleep forever.

(c) J. Binford-Bell - December 29, 2009

And so begins this week's poetic journey. Hopefully you have something to offer us travelers which will lead us to the light. Your own or a favorite you wish to share. Just leave a comment with your web address (url). We are a multi-blog poetic journey.

NicholasV on Intelliblog

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meeting of Minds

Artists are frequently solitary creatures. Much like the ravens pictured above they often fly solo but when they meet there is a great deal of chatter that takes place. I am not sure what information Ravens impart to each other when they meet in a venue, but with artists the conversation can be difficult to track if you are an outsider.

My jeweler friend, Jessica, invited me to Christmas dinner and some studio time. I am a newbee with jewelry as painting is my current focus. I say current because any artist seems to leave a trail of bread crumbs, previous artistic loves, behind them. The common denominators are there in all arts - design, composition, seeking the limits, colors, balance, etc. And what changes are the techniques used. The more you explore your particular art the more you know the limits. This can be good and bad. The good is you are always seeking that edge. The bad part is that it can make you a bit stale.

So artists of my acquaintance are workshop junkies or collectors of books on arts, visitors of galleries, etc. Yesterday's invitation by Jessica was a wonderful Christmas present. I got to pop into her world and learn something outside my "field of vision," and through my innocent questions give her peeks into "why not's." After we covered the basics of metal folding she went to one area of the studio and I to another and "created" but a certain energy or synergy began to develop.

In to this mix came Ethan who also does jewelry and wood work with more questions and ideas. By the time the Christmas repast was served, excellently cooked by Ronnie, I should have been exhausted but I was high as a kite. Dinner conversation bounced around from wood to metal to cooking. After dinner wood dominated the conversation with the men and us women talked of opening new gallery platforms for our work, new directions we wanted to explore, and the glory of "lab time" or tithing which is possible in the depth of winter. Time to refuel our creative juices.

What amazes me often is how far forward I can go in my particular chosen art of the moment by stepping into the art of another for a recess as it were. How wonderful it is for solitary birds to meet up on a patch of snow and chatter. Do you think Ravens fly differently after they meet?

Note: to see a folded metal pendant previously made by Jessica Duke.

Friday, December 25, 2009

In the Beginning

I was looking recently for pictures of arches for new paintings. This search usually begins in my own archives of photographs taken during my travels about the Colorado Plateau. But as I was looking for arches I had never painted I found myself in Google Images and pulled up the above watercolor of Window Rock. Sadly I can not give credit to the artist because it was found on a blog which also did not give credit. I think it is a great rendition of the arch in question without all the park service stuff in front of it, so it went into my art ideas folder on my computer. And was forgotten.

If indeed artists forget anything beyond where they put that new paintbrush. We're spacey because some segment of the brain is always involved with ideas. So when I began to tackle the problems of a "self-portrait" (boy, has this been on the back burner percolating away for a long time) this arch came to mind. You are probably reminded of those black and white episodes of Lost in Space that waved his arms and shouted, "Does not compute." (Which, of course, I also had to Google.)

Who knows how an artist's mind works. Or doesn't work as I found out this morning when I was sure it was Saturday. But I digress.

Back to the self-portrait and its relationship with the opening photograph of Window Rock. Yes, there is some artistic license with the image. I am not as honest as Van Gogh.

All of which brings me to the subject of self-portraits. Why have artists through the ages been compelled to paint them? Lack of funds for a model to pose? Maybe. Self-absorption? Possibly. Traditional? Could be.

This could devolve into merely a face in the rock. Speaking of which I have a photograph I took which has five faces in the rocks. That should be quite interesting to do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poetic Journey - Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

When I was a kid my father used to recite this poem to us every night around Christmas. When I got older I would recite it to my kid sister. It seemed appropriate to feature it here on Poetic Journey for the week.

If you have a favorite poem or an original you have written and wish to join the poetic journey for this week please leave a comment with your url. And a Happy Christmas to all.

Nicholas V on Intelliblog 

We have a new participant to Poetic Journey this week Svetlana

Note: The information I found on Wikipedia about this poem was very interesting so I recommend a visit. Also when I was Googling I found quite a "Christian" backlash to this family favorite. Following a link on Wiki I was delighted to learn more about the illustrator of one of the first editions of the poem, Jessie Wilcox Smith.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poetic Journey - How Doth the Little Crocodile

Christmas season is a time for kids. And as a child I loved Lewis Carroll. Well, I still love Lewis Carroll and today Poem Hunter sent me the following little ditty.

How Doth the Little Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Lewis Carroll

More poems from Lewis Carroll

Heatherbelle at Never on Sunday

NicholasV at Intelliblog

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Visit to the Art Store

I went to the local art supply store yesterday. When I say local I mean over the mountain in Taos. Roads were at last clear and cabin fever had risen to an all time pitch so my neighbor and I hopped in her SUV with lists clutched tightly in hand and did the shops.

Groceries were our main excuse but Artisans was a necessity. I needed stretcher bars for my triptych and to do a self-portrait for a juried event coming up. I have been toying with the self-portrait concept for a bit longer than the triptych so this seemed like a great excuse to get me off the bench.  And I needed to pick up some of my more favorite colors of my favorite liquid watercolor.

Then of course there is just the walking down the aisles and looking to see if there is anything new and exciting to add to your shopping list. And the staff at Artisans is very helpful and always likes to point out new items they have in and the current sales, etc. And the windows are filled with fliers on workshops being offered and upcoming artistic exhibits, etc. I always have to pet the blank books. I love blank pages for sketching or writing poems, etc. But I have several and it wasn't in the budget this trip.

Jan and I have developed this rhythm when shopping of hitting a want to go to and then a have to go to followed by another reward for having done that. So after Artisans there was the dreaded Wal-Mart and then Monet's Kitchen for our reward. Kitchen stores are a delight for artists - well, this artist at least. I can stand transfixed before the display of Fiesta Ware or the shiny array of All-Clad pots and pans for hours if allowed. Jan got a new cast-iron dutch oven and I celebrated with two Fiesta Ware coffee mugs - one red and one yellow. Just the sort of bright spot in my morning coffee ritual I needed.

I won't bore you with the rest of the shopping but after the void of the snow storm, followed by the awakening of the senses browsing down aisle of color and shapes I came home feeling totally inspired to start putting pencil to paper, but had a county road plowing meeting to attend instead. Wish I could say my mind stayed on subject. Part of it did. But I also kept reducing people to shapes and colors. You take inspiration where you can find it.

The sun should warm the studio nicely today so time to use all this muse energy for constructive ends.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poetic Journey - Storm Warning

I took the above picture of the red sky dawn the day our current winter storm hit in earnest. Guess that red sky in morning/sailors take warning works in the mountains too.

Storm Warning

I looked out the window
And headed back to the kitchen
This day requires
Another coup of coffee
Another log on the fire.

Embracing my mug
Like Linus blanket
I begged for just a hint of sun
Some thin light through waves of white
A promise the snow would pass.

I wished for more logs
Beside the wood stove
Ignored the dogs
Who wanted a walk
Poured myself another mug of coffee.

Would the wind ease up a bit
Before I had to venture out
Make that trek to the wood shed
For more firewood
Can you get lost in 20 feet?

Another cup of coffee
Another biscuit for the worthless dogs
Who have never learned to fetch logs
Why must one throw a stick
For it to be returned.

Socks and boots, and muffler
Coat and hat and gloves
All needful things to venture out
Dogs sure this is a walk
To the woodshed. Just.

This stormy day
Of wind, and snow and cold
Requires another cup of coffee
Another log on the fire
A good book.

No way, dogs, do you need a walk.
Out of my easy chair.

(c) J. Binford-Bell, 12-08-2009

If you have a poem to share with us this week please leave me a message here or on Facebook with your URL. This is a multi-blog poetic event.

Aussie Lynn DownUnder

Catfish Tales: The Gift

Intelliblog with Winter Vs. Spring

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The above image is of the most famous of Byzantine Ivory triptychs: The Harberville Triptych. Triptychs arose in early Christian art and were generally were three panels with the center larger and the sides folded in to protect the work from dusty cathedrals. The word triptych, often spelled triptic these days, comes from the Greek τρίπτυχο, from tri- "three" + ptychē "fold".

Triptychs don't necessarily fold any more. Nor are they limited to religious subjects. And the size of the panels is more open. Francis Bacon did the triptych below and all the panels are of the same size. And not hinged.

It there are rules these days they are a lot looser. It does have to be three. And the three must look good together and also individually. With the above triptych each painting is a stand alone work of art.

I like this one hanging together but I don't know of the left panel could stand alone because unlike the center and right one it has no strong focus.

And the above triptych is really three paintings displayed together. There is no "overlap" of image from one to the other. They are merely all of one pallet with repetitive motifs and similar theme.

So, why all this discussion of triptychs? Because I plan on painting one. I am leaning toward the larger panel in the center because I like the sense of balance that contributes. And I want the three panels together to look like one painting as in the middle example. But I also want all three panels to be a painting within themselves.

It is a lot more difficult than it seems at first blush. So now on to picking a subject; most likely canyons or arches. And then working on the sketch. It will govern the porportions of my canvases.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Little Things

I have known friends that loved to do miniatures and never quite understood the attraction. It seemed like a lot of work for just a tiny little painting. Some of those friends worked in sizes way smaller than 4 x 4 so they might consider these new hand painted Christmas ornaments huge. And I am not sure I am going smaller but I did have a passing thought about 3 x 3 last night. Excuse the flash glare on the above photo.

Doing these little mission paintings was rather fun. I went for simplified versions of some of those I ordinarily paint. No balconies with latia railings. And while I toyed with the idea my spiral stars and soaring ravens seemed not to be possible either in this small format. But I did sign them. And last night I hung them on my tree.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Little Things

I love decorating trees. My collection of ornaments is quite eclectic.  This is probably due to living in neighborhoods where people did trees in all one color. Mom liked white flocked trees with blue lights. A neighbor did one with just pink ostrich plumes.

I have one by one collected ornaments. Many of them hand made by friends. Others given to me by friends. And for almost a decade every year I picked a different ornament making project and gifted my friends with them. Saving one or more for myself. Then came the decade of no trees. The Mardi Gras mask business got in the way and then the ski accident. Last Christmas just finding the decorations I had hidden away was a major effort. And then I got a tree too big for my stock of ornaments. I went into buy mode because the economy had them reduced to half price weeks before Christmas.

This year I decided to make an ornament or two. I have the time and the technology as I am fond of saying. What I came up with was of course hand painted.

I had these little clayboard panels that were 4" x 4" that I had gotten to experiment with techniques on and to use in classes I teach. I had a pack of four and so away I went. I have a huge tree so these are no way outsized. I was so happy with the result I even signed them on back. I am now going to paint little churches on four more squares cut from an 8" x 10" panel that had a chipped corner.

And no, I was not intending to sell them. Tithing is necessary from time to time. This is just fun. And some of my friends may get a gift of one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Poetic Journey for Wednesday - Sorry

I used to apologize for everything - even the rain. A counselor made me try to break the habit. Convinced me I was not at fault for all the woes of the world. Lately I have noticed my tendency to say, "I'm sorry," even when it is not my fault has returned. And so came this poem.


Sorry is such a tiny word
But so much used and abused
So often forgotten when need the most
Too much buried under excuses
That rain hallow.

Five letters and only four unique
Tiny but of such consequence
Especially when not used
When required.

Chasms open
Friendships break with no bridges back
And so meaningless
When said too often as if magic
Like abra cadabra.

Sorry it's raining
Sorry you feel so bad
Sorry I wasn't aware
I mentioned a forbidden subject
But it wasn't me
Who need to say, "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry you used an excuse
So very elaborate and complicated
When a simple Sorry would have surficed
Just one simple word
So very difficult for so many to say

Sorry, sorry, sorry
But not my fault
But I will say sorry again
If it will make it easier
For you to say
I'm Sorry.

(c) J. Binford-Bell December 2009

If you have a poem you wrote or just one you read you would like to share leave a comment with your url. I will link you in to our Poetic Journey for this first Wednesday in December.

Nicholas V joins our journey on Intelliblog