Friday, November 26, 2010

Baby with cat, in progress

for my secret project. Not quite done yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bethany with Crown of Thorns (The Human Condition II)


I did this as yet possibly unfinished painting in the car driving to and from Krista's baptism last night. I did it on my iPad using Artrage. I did not start from a photo of any kind, not even a reference photo-- it's a freehand digital finger painting. I used almost all the available tools--experimenting with them, just for the fun of it. I combined things that might be hard to combine on paper: oils, acrylics, water colors, pastels, crayons, pencils, air bush, etc. I think I used everything.

I painted it in the car in the dark in the backseat hurtling along the freeway over bumps and around turns. I am working to learn the new iPad Artrage. I couldn't have painted with oils or acrylics in that situation. I couldn't even type--I tried it!

For some reason, I kept wanting to add a crown of thorns, but felt it would be sacrilegious. I was thinking perhaps it reminds me, maybe because of the colors, of a famous painting of Jesus with the crown of thorns. I had a painting in mind, after I thought of it, but I googled it and couldn't find it. Maybe it wasn't a famous painting. Maybe just something I saw in someone's house. Originally, Bethany wasn't smiling. Smiling, it seems like a crown of thorns would be wholly inappropriate.

Click image to view larger.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Writing Letters

ONE more for the secret project.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloweeh--in progress

The making of the annual halloween card/self-portrait

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Messy Baby Tentative Final

I am not really happy with this, but mainly, I am unhappy with the scan of it. The electric blue, for example. The original painting is somewhat softer.

Look back to see earlier versions (process).

The Messy Baby project continued

After an hour of severe flickering, our power went out last night--it flickered while I was cooking--making cooking difficult, and went out while were eating--I was painting this picture. I packed up and went to R'dale and spent the evening in my studio painting--a large area of GPF had no power--high winds, downed trees--but Detroit was unaffected.

I know there are lots of things wrong with this as YET unfinished picture, but I had such a good time painting it that I felt like an artist for maybe the first time ever. (NOT DONE YET!)

Remember, this is a SECRET project, so don't mention it.

Scroll down to the older blog posts see the entire process of this painting.

This is a multi-media piece, which so far has gouache, pencil, acrylic and water color. It is the final image I am interested in, not any sense of faithfulness to a particular medium. However, I must say, I really enjoyed the process.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Messy baby--started the painting with gouache

First two colors added

Messy baby sketch

The first (ha ha) step of making a painting is the sketch.

reference photos (art) for next painting

I had to email the composit to myself and print it on another printer. Now I am ready to sketch. Scroll down to learn more about the process and up to see future steps, when available.

Messy Baby Digital composit

I am going to start a new painting and I spent the morning creating a digital composit from which to paint--that it, a reference to study as I work. This is for a children's book I am working on--I'd say more but it's a secret.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Self-portrait of the artist with Andy Warhol showing original photograph

Inquiring minds want to know. The original photo was taken at the DIA
by Heidi Chester.  Click images to view larger.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

On Process

I got some posterboard for a project and am testing the paint
(gouache) on it. These are unfnihsed for now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Paintings

Many years ago, I squatted in the pouring rain with my Nikkormat and my mother--who held an umbrella over my head--and snapped a photo of a yellow lady's slipper on the property of my botany professor, John L. Morrison. As a gift, he had the picture printed for me. It sat on the wall many long years and got all faded.

I was trying to learn Sketchbook Pro app on my new iPad and decided that I wanted to "finger paint" a picture of the Yellow Lady's slipper. It took me 3 1/2 weeks to complete it, in part because I was a newbie, and in part because I'm not that good. My friend Pam Perkins Frederick asked me to paint one on paper, which did--in gouache on green paper. I did it in three sessions.

The top picture is the new painting for Pam in gouache. The second picture is the same one 3rd draft, the third picture is the scan from the end of my first session working on it. I forgot to scan it at the end of my second session. The fourth picture is the iPad version which I made for Ballookey. I did not look at that while doing the new painting, I looked only at the original photograph. I did not draw either of these nor use a photograph in any way other than for reference. I painted them from scratch, both of them. The final picture is the original ancient photograph printed in 1971 but probably taken several years earlier.

I had considered doing one in water color and one in oils or acrylics, or both, but I'm tired of it for now and want to paint something new. (For some reason, I never get tired of painting Keith.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Excerpts from White Horses by Douglas Milliken


He always calls her at work. Like a faint insectile whine—while in the drafting room explaining a layout to a trainee or sorting out a plan, while in the cloakroom or walking down the hall to the bathroom—her name will drone over the PA. You’ve a call on Line 2. Then a pause, always a pause, implying the opinion of everyone listening. It’s your husband. Always needing to ask an irrelevant question. Always pulling her from her work. It’s embarrassing. If she’s on the road with her partner, viewing a site or just catching a bite to eat, her cell-phone will vibrate in her pocket or chirp like a lost bird from inside the hermetic confines of the truck, from where she’s left it behind.

He likes to know what she’s up to, he says. Little red pushpins on a map. He likes to know she’s okay. Meanwhile, April holds forth its war of attrition, floods the culverts with runoff and rain, chokes the gutters, makes a mess.

It’s not that he’s jealous, she thinks, suspicious or fearful of an imagined usurper. He’s just needy. Like a baby and its bottle. Never secure if too long apart. His voice is a hand on her shoulder. From her drafting table, she watches her co-workers as they come and go, protected from the elements by rain-lashed vaulting glass. She watches the way they move their legs, the way they flash their teeth, speaking in muscle and skin, and she wonders if this problem is pandemic. If men are always needy when they ought to be jealous. And if men are always jealous when they ought to be alone.

Sequence III: Night Country

The moon sets behind the silver hillside of your shoulder, spilling night over your heath and moor, your harbor and mountain range in slumber—knees drawn up and hands folded to your breast—as I lie in our bed beside you, reading the shadow map of your back-turned body’s keyhole silhouette. The tide of your breathing ribs. Clouds rising from your arctic lips. I lie beside you and yearn to sink into you. To ease my hand from the cool dark into the warm tangle of hair at the nape of your neck, to find and unbraid the stitching zipper woven along your spine. Pull you open and step inside as if into a labyrinth of root and stone, allowing your continents to draw me in and embrace me with their gravity. I press my feet through the inside of your feet. My hands through the inside of your hands. Feel my lungs inflate as your lungs inflate, your ocean engulfing the whole of my sea. Feel my eyes blending with what your sleeping eyes see. Feeling the distinction fade.

from A Broken Leg or Broken Wing

I found my cat in the hayloft above the horse stalls, above the snorts and knickers and hard clumping hooves. Above the lattice of girders and beams, the sweet smell of oats and cold manure, I found him: all narrow-ribbed and matted in the belly, striped in snow leopard grey. Over a foot of snow had worked its way in between the clapboards, sweeping in a single great drift over and among the heaps of loose straw, and on this drift my dying cat slept.

I trudged through the calf-bracing snow and knelt beside my cat. I wanted to touch him but did not want to wake him. I watched his belly slowly rise and slowly settle with cold breath, watched his twitching tail, watched his fur ripple with a chill as the needle pricked his skin. Watched the poison merge with and become his blood. Watched his twitching tail still.

Afterward, I didn’t know what to do with him. How can you bury a cat when the ground is frozen and buried in snow? So I did nothing. Left him where he lay. Curled in a cue in the misplaced snow of the loft. I told myself I’d come back in the first thaw, bury him then when the frost momentarily slipped away. But the truth was, I didn’t dare touch him. I was scared he might not feel alive.

Somehow I managed to avoid the loft for a week. The horses got oats and water and were fine with oats until the farmer found out and made me shuck down more straw. Wide-set eyes and chapped hands clutching a pitchfork, thrusting to pass it to my hands. The steps up were drifted over again, no trace of my last climb up or down, but in the loft my cat lay still uncovered. A curl of grey on the white. And before I shucked the frozen straw down through the empty center of the barn, I knelt again beside my cat and finally touched him, stroked him as I should have stroked him before the needle bit in—before I fed him to the pinprick—and when he looked up at me with cold black eyes, not angry but simply accusing, it was not horror I felt but regret. I shouldn’t have treated him that way. I should have treated better this small thing that I loved.

His name was Brick. Like in the play about the hurdle jumper.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


So far tonight, I started a new portrait of Keith, I wrote pages 132-137 in Disappearing, and saved chapter 2 to send to you.  Last night, I saved chapter 1, but forgot to send it.  :-(

I'm interested to see how this portrait will turn out with more work.

Sent from my iPad

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Balance--a novel excerpt from Disappearing


Travesty's third grade notebook was set up in a similar way to the
5th grade notebook Terry had been studying earlier. Faded blue mimeos
of the assignments were taped to the left side of the notebook pages
and the assignments were completed by Travesty on the right side, and
sometimes continued on to the next pages. Perhaps all the teachers at
her school had attended a conference or a school meeting and had been
taught or had agreed to do it that way.

In third grade, Travesty's writing had been larger and more awkward
than it was two years later, but at the same times, more care had been
taken with each letter. Terry found drafts in the notebook at the
back like the ones she'd discovered in the later notebook. Terry
couldn't believe how much effort Travesty had put into her work, for
such a young child. There were notes and vocabulary suggestions in
the drafts, which helped explain to some extent Travesty's seemingly
above average writing skills, but not entirely.

Terry flipped past the essay on summer vacation and the next couple,
eager though she was to read them. She knew she didn't have much time
before Travesty returned, and was looking for something a little
different, possibly with some fresh information about the girl.
She stopped flipping when she saw the 4th assignment, which read:
"Something New: Tell us about something you have just learned, not at
school, but at home or somewhere outside school. Use specific sensory
details from your five senses.

Yes, all the teachers must have gone to the same workshop, or they
were using some general system or something, or taking handout
material from the same books. Terry turned to the right to see what
Travesty had written. How old would she have been then? Maybe nine?

Look Ma, One Hand, by Travesty X Brown

Just last week, I learned to do headstands and handstands. I started
with headstands. They were hard at first. My mother showed me how to
put my forehead on the ground, then put my knees on my elbows, and
then slowly lift my legs over my head. At first, I would sometimes do
a somersault, which I'd only just learned to do last year. Or I'd get
partway up and lose my balance and crash down. Or my legs would
wobble all around and I would do a split if I didn't come down right
away. I practiced on the rug in the living room so I wouldn't get

After a few days or maybe a week, I got so I could do it. I was so
excited. Then my Mom said, "Okay, good, now, how about a handstand?"
We walked over to Balduck Park. First Mom demonstrated how to do it.
She put her hands down onto the ground and kicked her feet above her
head and wobbled around a moment and then got steady. She balanced up
there, put her legs together, arched her back, smiled at me and then
dropped down. When she came down, she landed on her feet. My mom is
pretty athletic. She used to do gymnastics before she had me.
She showed me two more times, and then told me to do it. When I tried
it, I started losing my balance. She grabbed my legs and held them up
in the air until I was able to balance by myself. It only took me
five times to get the hang of it. The first time she didn't catch my
feet, I did a nosedive into the grass, and the smell of grass and
greenness was in my nose all day long. I could even taste it, sort of
like spinach.

Now I can do it almost every time I try. I don't even hear my heart
banging in my ears any more. I've gotten used to the way the world
looks upside down. I can do it in the gymnasium--I showed the gym
teacher. I'm so excited about it I want to show everyone. I will do
a show and tell for class if you want me to. The best thing is that
once I get into a handstand with two hands, sometimes, I can lift one
hand up and balance on just one hand.

Terry laughed. The teacher had given her an A++. She wondered if
Travesty could still do headstands and handstands. She remembered
when she had learned to do a handstand. She was in 9th grade,
fourteen years old. She'd been able to do headstands since she was in
second or third grade, but handstands she thought she'd never get.
Hah! She had gotten it, finally, and the pictures to prove it. She
was so proud of herself and happy. The pictures were at her parent's
house in upstate NY. She could picture the cabinet where her
childhood the albums were stored, and was sure they were still there.
She hadn't tried a handstand on land in years. She wondered if she
could still do it. She probably could do in water, but that was
easier, water was thicker than air and helped one get balanced. And
if you fell, you fell more slowly and just floated back to the
surface. Handstands in the water were fun and easy. But then again,
when was the last time she'd even done one of those? Not for a while.

Terry thought about balance. It took balance to do handstands.
Balance was something she had in short supply. Oh, she could walk
along a fence or stand on one foot for ten minutes. But her life was
out of balance in a much deeper way, and Terry wondered briefly how
she could fix that. What would a balanced life look like? She didn't
have a clue.

Terry had a feeling Travesty's life was out of balance, too, no matter
how good she was at handstands.

She heard Travesty coming, running into the house and then up the stairs.
Terry remembered her mother saying, as a joke, "Wipe that smile off
your face, you can cry, if you try." Terry wiped clean the expression
of sadness she'd felt overtaking her face as she thought about her
life, and replaced it with a welcoming smile for Travesty, who burst
through the door grinning widely.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Yellow Lady's Slipper Again

I am still struggling with this.  You probably will not even be able to see how it is different, but I've worked on it for hours and hours since the last send, including today while waiting and waiting at the cardiologist.  I am working on the iPad with my finger and with a "pogo stick".  The iPad art programs are harder to use than Photoshop or Artrage.

If I ever actually decide it is finished, I will say so.  It's sort of like working on a poem or novel, an endless process for me.

Did I mention that all the waiting at the doctor's office made my blood pressure go way up?  Ha ha, even the cardiologist recognized that as a problem.  He he he.  Sent from my iPad

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still in progress

BB has gotten up so we'll go start dinner.  I will work on this later maybe.  Sent from my iPad.

Unfinished iPad sketch

I have a new program on the iPad, sketchbook pro.  It has LAYERS.  I wish it were easier and quicker to open the menus.  I hope to work on this more later.  Sent from my iPad

Friday, July 16, 2010

Galloping Alzheimers!

I painted a picture of a homeless person (self-portrait) and had thend
turned wrong an no arm--I cut out a section of face, blurred it with
smudge and then with a drip spike in Art-rage. It's imperfect, but
better than no arm.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I painted this at Crosswinds restaurant in Whitehall, but I think I will do some more work on it. Click image to view larger. I did do more work on it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep


I force my body to lie still in the bed, tangle it with blankets

to tie it to the dark end of night, close my eyes,

and pretend to sleep, but inside my quiet legs,

my unquiet legs are running, running,

and the tattered moths my of eyes beat and beat

against the cage of my skull.


Somewhere, an invisible light keeps calling me,

a light I can't turn off, no matter how many times

I pull its chain.


I am as small as an ant.  I am a song in the wind.

Sleep holds its breath and counts and counts,

but there are never enough sheep, never enough

boring stories to fix me in the womb of darkness.

I tumble like a weed, a diaspore. I am an exploding star.

A memory rising from oblivion.  A haunting.




Mary Stebbins Taitt



Monday, May 10, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not Sniping at Sleep

"THE SNIPE HUNT" by Mary Stebbins Taitt (click image to view larger.)

Not Sniping at Sleep

Winged as a curlew, long-beaked as a woodcock,
sleep whistles and dives through the shattered night.
Searching, I scrabble through dark swamps
reeking of marsh gas and fetid with the smells
of rotting fish. My song bursts with yearning,
alternating chipping, burbling and fluting sounds,
like a sparrow held under water. My pleading
tastes like a mesh bag holding raw shrimp and crayfish.
Muddy ooze seeps cold through the knees and hem
of my nightgown, black muck and slime clings
to my fingers and toes. Burdocks and beggars ticks
burrow in my hair. I carry a snare for the snipe of sleep,
but when the bird swoops by and I reach to snag it,
my fingers pass, ethereal, through a taunting fantasia
of feathers, fog and clouds, of unborn sleep that drifts
past, damp, intangible and utterly unattainable.
Snipe dreams tumble by, hauntingly near
but always beyond reach. They refuse to descend
into my wake-parched eyes. I strain
toward the gibbering voices of dream phantoms.
They talk in tongues, whisper and twitter
in unlearned or unknown languages
and their aurora-colored feathers flutter
around my bed, falling like the warm snow
of dreams but never touching my face.
Long snipe beaks tear the night in strips,
shredding it into confettis of longing.
The snipe of sleep will be neither captured
nor kept. It cannot be domesticated.
Elusive, beyond wild, it ranges over
the incalculable waters of night.
It turns bedrooms into swamplands
and sanity into shrieking lunacy.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

A snipe hunt is a wild-goose chase or fool's errand. The term originated from a practical joke where experienced campers convinced inexperienced campers to capture a “snipe,” variously described as a bird or animal. The novice campers were given absurd methods of catching the snipe, such as running through the woods carrying a bag while making odd noises. Real snipes, shorebirds with long bills, are so difficult to catch for even experienced hunters that the word "sniper" originally meant someone skilled enough to shoot a snipe.

I am not a sniper of sleep. OR, on the other hand, maybe that’s exactly what I am! Perhaps I should stop sniping at sleep. Am I on a snipe hunt OR am I a sniper? If I CAPTURE a snipe, I can sleep—if I kill it, I shan’t sleep! This and the previous version at the Rolandale Silk Creek Retreat House in the Hiker Kitty Room. NaPoWriMo (National Poetry month) Instead of writing a new poem every day for National Poetry month, I've been working on the SAME poem over and over every day (pretty much like always.)

I redid both the art and the poetry and the new version can be found at The Smell of Sun (now called "Fool's Errand")

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My name is Mary

Hi. My name is Mary. I am eight and a half years old. I want to be
famous. Today I decide to be a famous artist. My Mom lets me use her
paints. I paint a picture of myself. I am looking at a picture my
father took of me, and I am wearing the same green and red bathrobe
over my Pajamas. But you can't see the color in the photo. My
painting doesn't look exactly like me. Mom says it's called "artistic

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quick sketch of BB in progress

#1)I get home from a walk ind find BB on the couch reading a motorcycle book.

#2)I grab my little sketchbook, water, a paintbrush, a pencil and a pen,

#3)and make a super quick pencil sketch. Even though I am quick, BB moves several times.

#4)I quickly ink the sketch with a pilot Precise (I change my mind about what pen to use).

#5)I brush plain clear water over the sketch. (I probably should not have brushed the pages of the book, but left them white.)

6)The nearly finished quick sketch. View a scan of the completed sketch here. (I will add the link tomorrow if I have time and maybe make these pictures bigger--I have to go now!)