Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Sketchbook is in the Mail!

Just to keep you up to date, and depending on where you are in the world, the sketchbook can be seen in all its glory (with another 28,000!) at the Brooklyn Art House between Feb. 19-27, and Atlanta at the Granite Room on April 8-9. (For venues and dates, click here.)

So what's next?!

More writing...

This blog is primarily intended to invite you along on my traveling adventures, but another kind of adventure is about to begin, so I'm going to send you over to another just a minute...

Actually, this adventure has been going on since October, when I learned that Finishing Line Press had picked up a manuscript submitted for publication: my first poetry chapbook, Poems from the Boatyard. Yahoo!!!

So, after jumping through various publishing deadline hoops, in between travels to France and Italy, I am now in the 'marketing' phase, awaiting the pre-publication phase, which is set to occur for 6 weeks, starting on Feb. 15. And of course, marketing these days means SOCIAL MEDIA!!! BRING IT ON!!!

So the blog is up, and now officially open, and if you click here, you can be the first follower! I'll be continuing this one when travels pick up again, and I'll hope you'll join me in both adventures!

Thanks so much for being part of the journey. I appreciate you all, and your gracious and encouraging comments.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Tweaks & Fun

A few last shots, and as soon as we chip out of the Ice Age down here in Tyrone, I will slip-slide over to the PO and mail the sketchbook off!

Covering up

You saw the back cover already...and here's the rest, as I finish up the sketchbook this weekend. This is a napkin found at a friend's over the holidays, just perfect for the job. Atlanta Bread Co. takes in the inside cover position, along with a detail from another 'cat' napkin.

I'm just tweaking now, and will post the tweaks next, but this puppy is DONE!!! Lots of fun too!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poetic Meanderings...

We all know napkins were invented to record epiphanic moments in cafes, right? I don't need to explain that to anyone?

So here are a few of those moments, recorded for all time either in cafes, airplanes or entered into the sketchbook...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Graphics

What can I say...I really got into the graphic design of napkins...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Windows & North African Napkins

North Africa has some of the best paper napkins on which to do linocut prints (although the people there might disagree with this assessment!). Last year I did a series of linocuts on these napkins, so of course had to add at least one to the sketchbook.

The choice was a natural too, as “windows” was the theme of the linocuts—or rather, the elaborate grillwork on each window I saw—each one unique. I cut a window out of two pages, glued them together for strength, and added the linocut.

Evolution of the spread:

Inspiration for a second window spread followed a cheap meal in a Chinese restaurant, with all its accompanying kitsch: teabags, fortune cookies and mints on napkins. The fortune cookie wrapper became a window pane, and the other design elements arranged themselves around the window. (The ‘paper clip’ is drawn on, and I added another big splashy and colorful flower.)

For those who care, the two fortunes I picked up that day say:

“You will continue to take chances and be glad you did.”

“A fond memory will soon lead to a renewed friendship.”

I’m not sure either is or has come true…

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to the Sketchbook Project!!!

I better hurry up...deadline in two weeks, and since I'm traveling right before the deadline, I gotta get this puppy done and mailed by next Tuesday!

When we last left off, I was engaged with fonts, fruit and pan pastels. Here are a couple more designs I added to the sketchbook, gratified to finally have some color going:

Then I discovered those big splashy fun flowers could be peeled off and pasted in better than they could be drawn in with sloppy ole pastels.

I peeled and pasted for several pages…discovering in the process that those flowers were bordered with some interesting patterns…hmmm….could they be stamped in? You’ll see the answer on one of those pages: not without difficulty! But they could be drawn in, as you can see here:

So after some fun with that, I moved on to windows…which you will see next post!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Valley of Vision

Two days before I left for ItaIy, I came across the phrase “Valley of Vision.” The poet in me connected with the imagery, and I jotted it down in my notebook. I then poured myself a cup of tea, and opened the Scriptures to read the next chapter of Isaiah. What should my eyes fall on but these words: “An oracle concerning the Valley of Vision…” (Isa. 22:1). Hmmmm….now my spiritual antenna went up.

A few verses down, I read “Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.” (vs. 4) I stopped reading to ponder the emotion of a God and a prophet over the destruction of a people. I tried to imagine God, inconsolable over this destruction, refusing to be comforted; saying, in so many words, “Let me be to grieve alone.”

Four days later, I walked the grounds of Forterocca, at the foot of the mountains where the destruction of a people took place. And Isaiah’s words began to make sense, although...“the valley of the shadow of death” seemed more appropriate than “valley of vision.”

But we were truly in the Presence of God over our short time in Forterocca, being transformed as God shared his vision for this valley with us through others. We were confronted with a new thing: not a simple training program, no longer a generic invitation for all to come who would, but a radical call to artists (including ourselves) to lay down our lives for cross-bearing discipleship. Before I came to Italy, I was not enthusiastic about the time frame; after being a few days in the valley, the only question left was, “When do we start?”

The OM Italy team talked of the battles they have had, directly connected to that location: mysterious illnesses, team members not staying, or having to leave suddenly, or never arriving, due to a variety of obstacles. The darkness was great, but the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

We were indeed in a Valley of Vision, and we are called to be overcomers.

Since I’ve been home, the phrase continues to come in a variety of unexpected ways, and I close this blog series with one of the most startling: a prayer found in a Puritan devotional:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Arriverdeci Italia!

3:00 am: the church bells sound the hour. I lay there until my alarm goes off, then haul myself out of this skinny long bed, throw some water on my face, and get ready.

I find my groggy companions in the lobby. We pack breakfast, drink coffee, load Giorgio and pull out at 4:10, only 10 min. late. It’s a dark, cold morning. A shooting star waves a goodbye. The amber lights of Bobbio Pellice disappear in a long curve of the mountain switchback.

And so ends our time in the Pellice Valley. Our trek home begins…I will hit my own pillow 23 hours later…

Arrivederci Italia! Until the next time…

On the Late Massacre in Piedmont

Avenge O Lord thy slaughter'd Saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold,
Ev'n them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our Fathers worship't Stocks and Stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groanes
Who were thy Sheep and in their antient Fold
Slayn by the bloody Piemontese that roll'd
Mother with Infant down the Rocks. Their moans
The Vales redoubl'd to the Hills, and they
To Heav'n. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
O're all th' Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant: that from these may grow
A hunder'd-fold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian wo.

With the words of this sonnet the blind poet John Milton commemorated the terrible massacre of the Waldensians.

Sunday--Part 3

After lunch we took a walk over to see OM Italy’s headquarters in an old Waldensian temple, in the center of Torre Pellice. The team is moving the office to Forterocca soon, so this temple could be available for studio space for the training program—would it work? We went over to check space and lighting, and yes, it could.

We continue on along the river, then return to Jill and Anna’s. I don’t think any of us feels like talking anymore, but we need one more meeting. It is our last opportunity to talk with the Tellos, get our action points on various lists, and tie up all loose conversational threads--at least for the moment. After prayer and goodbyes to the wonderfully hospitable OM Italy team, we head home for a last meal with Iz, and then get down to business.

At 10:00 pm, we finish, and head for our rooms to pack and swap camera cards to download photos before we split up tomorrow. Iz, a former spa director and hair and make-up artist, offers to cut my hair. While she snips, we talk about spa facilities here at Forterocca—we are not joking! The Waldensians must be turning over in their graves...but we are not far from the French Riviera. A spa could be a viable source of income for Forterocca, no?!

After snips and chit-chat, I return to my room, pack all but what I’ll need in the morning, and set the alarm for 3:15 am. I need to be in the van tomorrow at 4 am. I hit the pillow about midnight…to lay awake for a good long while, wondering what in the world the Lord has in store for us next…

We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we're merely wondering how painful the best will be - C. S. Lewis