Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Krohn Conservatory Sketchbook

I am excited to announce the Krohn Conservatory will be selling mini-sketchbooks with a sketch I did on the cover.  The sketchbook folds to a 5 1/4'' square and will be sold in their gift shop.  This sketch is one I did with Christina Wald and Amy Bogard about a year ago.  You can see the whole sketch here.  Sketching is a great way to enjoy the Krohn.  I think it helps one to slow down and really see the plants and animals.  So if you visit bring your pencil and paper or buy a sketchbook!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Taft Ale House Sketch

Last Friday Christina Wald and I went sketching at the Taft Ale House.  It was a rainy day so we decided to sketch inside.  If you haven't been to this rehabbed old church made into a restaurant/bar then you need to go.  The renovation is quite stunning (you can see photos here).  I enjoyed their attention to all the details from the wallpaper, to the chandeliers, and even the toilet paper holders. 

Their logo is of Taft sitting in a bath tub.  If you don't know the story, Taft was a rather large man and may have gotten stuck in the White House bathtub.  An extra wide bath tub was also requested for him on his trip at sea on the USS North Carolina (more info here about these stories).  The logo for the restaurant depicts Taft in a bathtub holding a glass of beer.  You can visit their website to see their logo plus their food and drink menus. All in all a very nice way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Miami Whitewater

If you live in Cincinnati and have never taken the Miami Whitewater bike trail then you are missing out.  And the same might be said if you take the bike trail and never get off your bike, which is what I normally do.  But last time I went I let myself stop more often and I was literally "pulled over" several times by some amazing plants like the nodding thistle above. 

I know many of the plants in this blog entry are considered invasive weeds but that doesn't mean that I won't marvel at their form and structure.  The prickly, large head of the thistle in the photo above is really quite remarkable in its compact boldness.  And the many-armed star-burst structure of the wild parsnip below is also striking, but in a totally different diffuse and airy way.

About two-thirds of the way around the bike path there is a picnic table where we usually stop to take a break.  There is a horse trail that runs behind it and as I walked along the path the color, symmetry, and elegance of this spiderwort (an Ohio native) caught my eye. 

“The women loved everything that grew on God's earth, even weeds.
She knew that even the weeds were capable of doing miracles she never could.”
- Emily Flim

Some of the wild parnsips (above) grow quite tall.  This one was about my height.  I love the repetition of form and scale in this plant.

The plantago below is certainly considered a weed by most everyone.  But there was something so lovely about its ephemeral, white tutu and riotous bloomers that I had to take its photo. 

I am always in awe of what I see when I slow down.  And I think this applies whether one is on a bike ride, a walk or just going about one's day. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Spring"field Antique Show

Last month I went to the "Spring"field Antique Extravaganza with my parents.  I usually take a zillion photos but this time I only took one.  I didn't think I was going to post it but I fell in love with this rusty, orange beauty.  Plus, I couldn't resist the pun.

I also usually buy my share of little knick-knacky items but below was my only purchase.  Well I should say my mom's only purchase for me.  It will replace the particle board drawing table I drug up from the basement.  A definite improvement I must say.  Thank you mom!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Art Exhibitions

I am so excited to be participating in two juried exhibitions this month!  The first exhibit is the Zanesville Museum of Art's 71st Ohio Annual Exhibition.  And the second is the Art Comes Alive show that will take place here in Cincinnati.  If you are interested in attending either exhibit see below and click the link to the exhibit pages.

 71st Annual Ohio Exhibition at the Zanesville Museum of Art
June 11- Aug 21
620 Military Rd.
Zanesville, OH 43701

Art Comes Alive
June 20- July 24
310 Culvert St., 5th floor
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

California Retreat

Last week I went to a meditation retreat in California.  The nice thing about traveling to the west coast from Ohio is that it is easy to wake up early and for this night owl the morning light is quite a treat.  Every morning before breakfast I took a nice stroll with my camera.  The first day I didn't go very far because I was obsessed by how the sun was hitting the weeds along the road.  I sat down to photograph the pineapple weed below and then noticed the clover next to me.  In every direction I looked, the light was hitting every thing in the most spectacular way!  

I thought about doing a whole post just about the pineapple weed above and took dozens of photos of it.  I love the way the light illuminated the conical lime green orbs. 

At least once a day I took the dirt road in the photo above and ended up at the oak tree below.  One day I tried to have a rest against it and ants crawled all over me.  I had to strip down to my skivvies and give everything a good shake.  Luckily it was just me and the wild turkeys doing our dance.

I was also quite impressed by the size and beauty of pine cones along the road.  And I felt lucky every time I found a "star" dandelion like the one below.

I also have to mention the amazing colors of the muscle-red wood and peeling bark of the manzanita tree above.  Every one of the manzanitas had such character and strength - maybe from living in such a dry environment.

My friend Jodi and I also found lots of oak galls on our walks.  They reminded me of the Japanese art form of creating shiny balls of earth and water called Dorodango (check it out it is awesome!), although I prefer the cracked, earthy appearance of the galls.  If I made mud balls I would want them to look like this.

After a week of soaking in all this beauty and sitting in meditation I realized that the mystery both surrounds us and lies within us.  Whether you prefer looking out or in, it doesn't matter...but look at it...notice it...for it permeates everything... everywhere... at all times... if we only have eyes to see it.

"After chopping through dense salal and hacking off ironwood bushes for an hour or so, I stopped, exhausted. I found myself standing motionless, intensely aware of all of the life around me, the breathing moss, the chattering birds, the living earth. I was as much a part of the woods as any millipede or cedar tree. At that moment, too, I was aware of the mystery." -Margaret D. McGee

"Existence is a mystery.  We aren't here to solve the mystery...we are only here to see that we are the mystery." - Matt Kahn

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Muir Woods

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world."  -John Muir

Last week I visited a friend in California and we took a day trip to Muir Woods to see the redwoods. It was a Saturday and we were worried it would be crowded so we almost didn't go.  But I am so happy we went because it was a place unlike any other.  Although there was a decent crowd of tourists there is an air of majesty and quietude that permeates these woods.  The tallest tree is over 250 feet, the widest over 14 feet, and some of them are over 1,000 years old..  One feels dwarfed by these giants and it is easy to feel that we are just a blip on their aged radar.

It is ironic that my favorite photo from Muir Woods was of a giant horsetail (above) and not a giant redwood.  But if you follow this blog you know I love repetition and getting up close to things.  And I really liked the way the many thin threads of the horsetail perfectly illustrated John Muir's quote. I picture myself trying to tug on just one thread knowing that it will move all the threads.  I also learned that the roots of the redwood trees only go down 10-13 feet, but they spread out nearly 100 feet interconnecting with the roots of other trees.  I picture them helping to hold each other upright when it is windy.

It was also interesting to learn the importance of fog to these giant trees.  Apparently the trees are able to take in fog that has condensed on the leaves through tiny pores.  I never thought about trees "drinking" in the fog before this trip.  (I learned here redwoods were the first trees found to move water in both directions.)

Maybe it's because I am reading Sally Kempton's book about the many-armed yoga goddesses, but when I saw this last photo it appeared to me to be a goddess looking down at me waving all of her arms. Just looking at her now I feel her power and am humbled to have had the chance to stand at her feet and observe her majesty.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Spring energy is in full bloom right now in Ohio and I have come across so many interesting things on my walks I can't keep up!  If I forget my camera even one day things have changed dramatically by the next time I am out again.

The flower below is from a rather weedy looking plant in my backyard. I always want to pull it but never do because it has the prettiest pink blooms every spring.  I have asked several botanist friends but I can't figure out what it is.  I thought it might be a plantain (Plantago) of some sort, but I can't find any with pink flowers. If you know what it is please let me know in the comments.  Regardless of its name I love the form of the beautiful pink inflorescence.

Right next to this pink flowering plant is our mill stone fountain.  One day I was sitting in front of it and decided to try and photograph the water that bubbles up out of it.  It was around seven in the evening and the light was sparkling in the most beautiful way.  I had never tried to photograph moving water like this and was quite pleased with the amazing globular forms in the images.  The water seems so alive, and even more so when you hear the sound it makes.  I included an audio file below the photo so you could hear it too.

I also took a gazillion photos of bees on crocuses this year trying to get one in focus.  The photo below was the best one.

You might not recognize the Virgina bluebell below.  Its blooms had not opened yet and I loved the incredible design created by these flowers.  This flower is so awesome because the blooms are pink before they bloom and gradually turn blue as they open.  You can see an open one here.

Each year I think, "Oh, I've already photographed this flower or that bee" but I am always happily surprised when I see the same flower (or bee) in a new way.  If you really think about it you will never see anything in exactly the same way because everything is constantly changing.

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
  - T.S.Eliot

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Acorn Linocut - Part 2

I finally finished printing the giant linocut acorns!  It has truly been quite a learning experience for me.  I learned that:
  • It will take me months to complete a project like this
  • You need to sharpen your linocut tool every day with a slipstrop
  • I friggin love carving and listening to music 
  • It is really hard to print a big black area evenly
  • I need help to print this large
  • I will have extremely strong arms if I keep this up
  • I need to clean the basement so the whole house is not disrupted by large prints laying everywhere
The list could go on and on, but in the end this experience has only wet my appetite to do more.

I also had fun documenting the process.  Below you can see photos at each stage.

1) Complete full-size pencil sketch.

2) Transfer to Safety-Kut.

3) Carve design.

4) Ink the plate.

5) Print!

It was interesting to me because in the end I may have been just as excited about the photos of the plate and print as I was about the actual print.  Maybe down the road I will make some note cards of the photos. (You can click on the images to enlarge.)

As I said above, one of the biggest lessons I learned was that I need help during the printing process because the paper is so big.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my next door neighbor John.  He not only shot the following video of me inking the plate for the first time, but he helped me lay each sheet of paper down onto the inked plate and then meticulously rub every square inch until our arms were going to fall off.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, John!

(Music and permission given by Kodomo)

As you can see in the video this was the first time I inked the plate to make a test print.  I quickly realized I needed to buy a bigger brayer!

Below are a few more photos of the final print.

At some point I hope to be selling these prints either online or in a gallery.  I will keep you posted!