Amidst Some Painful Endings

When I was younger, endings used to sneak up on me and smack me in the head.

Having lived a little more life, I can see them coming. “See” might be the wrong word—I can feel the impending sense of several endings starting to coalesce.

Even though I am aware that things will soon change, no amount of forethought or planning will really prepare me. Plus, the time I spend preparing would be time lost enjoying the remaining time.

The impending doom I feel made this quote resonate with me as a nugget of hope to cling to moving forward.

Sketchbook Revival: Day 5 Session 2

Yesterday was a day full of making art, and I’m still behind. That is wonderful!

The marvelous fact about registering for Sketchbook Revival is the flexibility of the program. Karen Abend puts together an intense schedule of workshops with two a day. However, she gives registrants access to the videos for a week or two beyond the event so everyone can work at their own pace.

The Day 5 Session 2 workshop was “Watercolor Collage Fodder” presented by Tiffany Sharpe (

I’ve heard fodder referred to as ephemera as well.

Tiffany breaks her collage work into two parts. The first part is the creation of fodder of all types. When she has a pile of materials (not necessarily related) she proceeds to the second part—composition.

For the purposes of this workshop she combined the two.

There is a lot going on here, and from your perspective quite a bit of it will make no sense at all because there was fodder that briefly appeared on the page and then was removed.

This was another collage I did not like as a whole.

The bits I did like:

The mushrooms were fun.

I am a collector of ephemera.

Last night I went to dinner at my friends’ house. While we were snacking and hanging out, I pulled out my pen and pocket notebook and drew the flower arrangement on the table.

This morning I added watercolor, a bit of cloth from the dog groomer, some scrap construction paper, and an idea, and made a different collage in my altered book.

All the tones are earth tones.

I think the large format of my sketchbook has been working against me where these collages are concerned.

Both of the instructors for the sessions have used smaller format pages for their collages, and in the hour or less timeframe, a few key elements can combine to fill the page.

What I have not liked about mine is they feel incomplete, and the compositions haven’t been coming together overall.

Solution: If there is another collage session, I’m still going to work in the big sketchbook, but I’m going to frame the piece from the very start. Probably a horizontal frame placed on the page in an asymmetrical manner. Hmmm, maybe I won’t wait.

But I have more sessions to do! This is a nice problem to have.

In the Nan-o-verse

There’s been quite a lot goin on in the Nan-o-verse, and you may hear about it someday or you may not. Who knows?

While things have been happening, I’ve still been playing in my altered book.

Inspired by Valentine’s Day. I’m surrounded by loving and caring people, and am infinitely appreciative of that fact.

Neurographic drawing…cuz everybody’s doing it.

Not Unrelated

The leaf at the foot of the stairs was batted down from the second floor, one step at a time, by Smithers in the early hours of the morning. It must have been the most fun Smithers has had in ages. She probably reached the bottom step and wished the flight went on forever.

Smithers is also responsible for the color scheme on this spread. I dipped my brush in a Windsor & Newton half pan in the dim light of the evening, and took a brush stroke on the page. I’d been aiming for burnt umber but I got aquamarine! Noooooo!

For a moment my mind could not resolve my inability to remember which colors were which in my palette—I’ve been using it for more than 10 years. I replace the pans as they are used with the exact same colors because I am comfortable with these colors. How could this happen??? I actually returned to the pan for a reload thinking perhaps it was a bit of aquamarine on top of the umber…nope.

How did this happen?

Then I recalled Smithers sitting in front of me the week before. Looking me in the eye, looking down at the closed and dry palette, using one deft swipe to send it crashing to the floor. It fell from the height of the coffee table, so what harm could it do?

I groaned, “Smiiitherrrs.” As I picked it up from the floor, I noticed one of the paints (not the pan, just the dried paint) was sitting on the floor next to the still closed palette.

Apparently, Smithers is magic. Ha…she wants me to think she is, but I can appreciate physics and force enough to understand the dynamics that allowed the palette to eject a small block of dry paint, and then come to a rest face down and closed.

I picked it up and put the paint back in its proper pan. There was a white hole where my burnt umber should be.

Kind reader, I crawled around on my floor in multiple sessions over the next three days searching for that missing chunk of paint—swearing at the rotten cat the whole time.

I’d resigned myself to ordering a new burnt umber half pan for the set, when I discovered the aquamarine pan had two lumps of paint! AHA!

It took the top chip out of the pan and put it back in its proper pan with a small feeling of relief washing over me, and a heart filled with forgiveness for Smithers…that sweet little scamp.

Last night was the first night I painted with my recovered palette and the paints were in the wrong place!

Smithers might be magic.

Both the burnt umber and the aquamarine had been dislodged from their pans in the short fall, they had then switched places COMPLETELY in the air so that, upon coming to rest, the burnt umber was in the bottom position of the aquamarine pan.

That is quite a feat of acrobatics in such a short distance.

Since I am currently under the influence of the Olympics, I believe I need one of the snowboarding judges to tell me what type of twisting madness was involved.

Not unrelated…everything is a little interconnected and fun to watch.

Walking Trees

If you’re a Tolkien fan, Ents spring to mind when walking trees are mentioned.

Prior to 2018 I had no further mental reference than Ents myself. But then I had the opportunity to stand under the Banyan tree in Lahaina Maui. That was a magical treat.

For the landscape company that maintains the tree, the mere mention of it probably makes their backs ache. A Banyan tree in the wild is a dense and impenetrable life form. The one in the center of Lahaina has been carefully sculpted to make rooms for a brick paved party with seating under its protective branches.

This sloppy bit of scribbling is my mental picture of this…

Photo by PaulT (Gunther Tschuch) taken in September of 2018.

That is all one tree! The tree branches grow so far they send down support trunks.

We are the limit of our own experiences. I still look at the Banyan and feel amazement and wonder. Anyone from Lahaina would say, “it’s just a tree, what’s the big deal.”

The big deal is that even with all of our shared experience as humans— eating, drinking, and sleeping on this planet—there were Banyan trees in your life from day 1, and it took me more than 50 years to find out they exist.

I may have seen a picture of this tree at some point in those first 50 years, but my mind would have considered it a copse of several manicured trees instead of one large tree.

The big deal is that I know a lot of stuff, but I am still learning.

A slightly smaller deal is, with the stack of craft paper I got from just one package, I have plenty of opportunities to make a much better rendering of this beautiful tree.