inspiration

Monday Meeting Doodles – Heart in my Hand

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The month of May was a bit crazy over here in my life on the outside of Illustrated Poetry! I apologize to everyone who left me such awesome comments on my last post – I may be behind in responding to them, but know that they were read and much appreciated.

I used to feel bad that I doodled in meetings, but I’ve since read at least one article (like this one) that says that doodling is a method of concentration and synthesizing information. So I’m off the hook (a little).  I am often pleasantly surprised what my mind comes up with when it’s supposed to be listening to something else. A very nice scientific presentation on spores resulted in the doodle above!

I hope everyone is well and I’ve been enjoying catching up with all of your blogs!

Meat and Potatoes, Myself

This was the first Overheard I did – inspired by a snippet of conversation I heard on Waikiki Beach last year. The speaker was just so earnest, it drew my attention away from the ocean views. I wonder if he was actually talking about food, or something else? I did wind up being fairly literal and making the speaker a potato himself. You can see the other Overheard I’ve posted here. Have a great weekend!

Excerpt Tuesday – Mars Being Red – Bell

IMG_4836 (1).jpg…In a red world, imprint
the valentine and blush of romance for the dark…
Marvin Bell (b. 1937)

It’s been a little while since I posted a new illustrated excerpt and it seems good timing to post this one – from Marvin Bell’s amazing short poem Mars Being Red (Mr. Bell is helping me continue a space theme after last week’s announcement of the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets, you see). Marvin Bell is a widely decorated poet, including being the first state Poet Laureate of Iowa, and is very active in the poetry community with more than 20 books of poems in print. You can read all of Mars Being Red here. Monoprint on newsprint by me (it was so so good to be working in this medium again after a long break from it!).

Furthering our theme of exploration and discovery, Little Monster Girl invited me to participate in her Weekly Chat this week – and the theme of the questions is “World Traveler” and is part of Cee’s Share Your World Q&A. Head on over to LMG’s blog, compare our answers (there are some interesting convergences) and sample some of her comics while you are at it! (although, warning: they are not always safe for work)

Ever run out of gas?
No – although I was the passenger once in a car that did run out of gas. The gas gauge was broken and my friend’s system for knowing when to get gas mostly involved her “gut feelings”. We were on the freeway when the engine began to sputter and lurch, and she veered off the next exit. The engine died as we coasted to the top of the off-ramp. There was a gas station right there though and luckily for us, it was downhill.

Which are better: black or green olives?
I love olives, so both. You can’t pick one over the other – a ridiculous notion!

If you were a great explorer, where would you go?
I try to be an explorer in as many ways as I can be today – traveling, meeting people from all over the world who have lived such different and fascinating lives, and expanding our understanding of the natural world as a scientist. Like LMG, I too will be traveling to Southeast Asia in a couple of weeks (perhaps our paths will cross, LMG?), and so the adventure continues!

Favorite 3 Quotes
(it is very hard to choose 3, I’d like to say)

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it.” – Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955)

“Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994)
I even did an illustration for this one a little ways back!
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Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week I was so grateful to be able to go out with some dear friends to hike in the desert and take 100’s of pictures of wildflowers. We went to Anza Borrego State Park, which is a simply fantastic place and a hidden California gem (no entry fee, no fee to camp in 95% of the park). The visitor center was staffed almost entirely by volunteers, who took the time with each one of us in waiting in line to send us to the best flower viewing locations. It made me grateful for our national and state park systems, which are always sadly underfunded, and the army of volunteers which keeps them going!

Next week I will be teaching a science workshop for high school students and I am looking forward to their infectious enthusiasm! It never gets dull to get excited about science!

Thanks again, LMG for inviting me to participate!

August Draw A Bird Day – The Emperor

TheEmperorI wanted to reveal the next drawing in my “Major Arcana” series for August’s Draw-A-Bird Day. Officially, Draw-A-Bird Day is April 8th each year: you can visit the D.A.B.D. website here – thank you to M.R. Emberson of A-Wing and A-Away for introducing us to it!  A number of artist-bloggers here on Word Press have been celebrating it by posting a bird drawing on the 8th of every month. Laura at Create Art Every Day is hosting this month’s birdy gathering! Thank you, Laura!

The Emperor is a Jabiru stork, one of the largest birds in South America: large males can stand 5 feet tall and have a 9 foot wingspan. They eat small animals of almost any variety – frogs, lizards, crustaceans, and even mice and other birds. Drawing (colored pencil and ink on paper) by me. Have a Happy Draw-A-Bird-Day! If you’d like to see the other two drawings in my bird themed Major Arcana series: The Tower and The Wheel of Fortune.

Illustrated Thursday -Bashō finds me in Japan

TKHU7896.jpgI didn’t design my trip to Japan to revolve around haiku, although considering the content of this blog, it would have been fitting! I went to Japan to hike on the Nakasendo Way (the old Edo era highway between Kyoto and Tokyo, now the equivalent of a national historic trail), be immersed in a totally new place and culture, and unplug. People do, in fact, plan whole trips around Bashō and his poetry (the tour company I used – and would highly recommend – even offers a “Bashō Tour”).  I am not so organized a traveler, however; it turned out that I would walk in the footsteps of Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) on at least two occasions during my trip.

Matsuo Bashō is one of the four Japanese haiku masters – together with Yosa no Buson (1716-1784), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), and Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Bashō moved around quite a bit during his life, living in a number of cities, as well as traveling extensively, including on parts of the Nakasendo Way.

Our second night on the trail, we stayed at a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast, called Sinchaya – or New Tea House. I learned “new” is a relative term in Japan, and seems to mean that the inn is merely several hundred years old. Across the road from the B&B was a beautiful pond and garden. I could see the garden from my room and was drawn to wander around and take photographs of it (like the photo above) while I waited for dinner to be ready. There was a brass plaque in the garden, but as it was entirely in Japanese and I was entirely out of reach of Google translate, its meaning remained a mystery to me.

The next morning, our guide informed us that it was tradition for the innkeepers to see us off as we lumbered back onto the Nakasendo Way. Our two lovely hosts did just that, enthusiastically waving and watching until we turned the corner and were out of sight. As the trail glided up between terraced rice paddies, our guide causally mentioned that Sinchaya – in particular, its pond and garden – was the source of a famous haiku written by Bashō. I looked it up later and discovered I had been part of a ritual going back 350 years.

Okuraretsu
okuritsu hateha
Kiso no aki

Seeing friends off
being seen off, and now —
autumn in Kiso

CBLD9906.jpgLater in the week, back in Tokyo in a torrential downpour, we darted from high-rise portico to high-rise portico with another guide. Sheltering under a non-descript overhang in the Nihonbashi district, our guide pointed to a beautiful stone with a brass plaque on the sidewalk. “Matsuo Bashō lived here,” she proudly proclaimed before asking, “Has anyone heard of haiku?” I raised my rain-slickered arm high. The plaque commemorated a haiku he wrote in about 1677:

Hokku nari
Matsuo Tosei
Yado no Haru

This is a hokku
Matsuo Tosei’s (“Green Peach”)
home on New Year.
Tr. Gabi Greve
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Several websites remarked that this haiku was Bashō’s official “grand opening” as a professional poet and teacher. Nihonbashi is now a maze of high rise office buildings – the bashi (bridge) spans the river in the permanent shade of an elevated highway. But tucked in every corner was history and in at least one case, poetry.

It is good to be back and I’m looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs. Don’t worry, you’ll be subjected to more pictures from Japan for many Silent Sundays to come!

Illustrated Thursday – OIW

IMG_3497.jpgWhen I learn a new art technique, especially one that opens up lots of creative possibilities, I have a strong tendency to go a *bit* overboard.

Me: “Transfer printing is amazing! LET US TRANSFER PRINT EVERYTHING!”

Usually, this level of enthusiasm translates into a fabulous new post, but this week, it was the new post’s downfall. My attempt to use printer transparencies with transfer printing for an illustration utterly failed (turns out that laser printer ≠ inkjet printer! Not even a little. Confusing the two for this technique does equal big mess though!). I have definitely not given up on the original post: while I trudge back to the office supply store to rectify the situation, let me bring you a monoprint that went right. “OIW” was my favorite print from a series where I was experimenting with combining random letters and numbers with various facial expressions to see how the characters would shift the mood of the print. Monoprint (ink on newsprint) by me. Enjoy!

Excerpt Wednesday – I am Singing the Cold Rain – Henson

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i am turning in the gray morning 
of my life
toward home
Lance Henson

I am indebted to Mr. Leonard Durso for introducing me to Lance Henson’s work on his most excellent poetry blog (if you aren’t familiar with Mr. Durso’s blog, click here to rectify that oversight!). I bookmarked his post featuring I am Singing the Cold Rain way back in October of last year, but I did not have the medium to realize my illustration for it. Enter transfer printing, introduced to me recently by my illustration class instructor. The line quality was exactly what I was looking for – I made a number of attempts for this verse, but this was the one that clearly spoke the words of the poem. To read the whole poem, also in the Cheyenne language, head over here. Mr. Henson has a blog as well – his poems are haunting and will stay with you for a long time. Illustration (ink transfer onto newsprint) by me.

Illustrated Poetry Links from All Over, Volume 3

SLKC5431.jpgI took the photo above inside Fallen Star, a site specific sculpture by Do Ho Suh located on the University of California, San Diego, campus. A visit to the “house” is a disorienting experience – and it is meant to be. It is a meditation on Mr. Suh’s experience emigrating from South Korea, leaving behind everything he had ever known. The house is mounted hanging over the ledge of a tall building, tipped at a 5% grade inside and a 10% grade outside. For reference, the chandelier hangs perfectly perpendicular.

It has been a little while since I shared some of my favorite illustrated poetry links from my travels around the internet and WordPress, in particular.

1. Artpoems by Ms. Jacqueline Davis – her whole blog, Driftless Page, really, is a breathtaking (and inspiring) exploration of calligraphy, word art, and book arts. It’s probably good she doesn’t have the “like” button enabled on her posts, because I would push it many many times!

2. Two illustrated poems by Ro? Comic – Ro? Comics are not usually poetry based, but the artist, Stay Square, has illustrated two poems, Momentos, 1 by W.D. Snodgrass and In the Desert by Stephen Crane. In the Desert is one of my favorite short poems, so it is awesome to see it made into a poetic comic strip.

3. Bustin Garin makes mixed media collages that often feature words, text, and script. His blog is in French, but his work needs no translation. The sheer variety of his art inspires me to recycle everything into a collage! If only mine would come out as good as his…

4. And the NYT needs no publicity, but I did find the link to the archives of their “A Picture and A Poem” column. I did my own response to one of the poems featured in April (click here to see it!)

Enjoy the links and may your house be always level!
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Short Poem Saturday – Second Fig – Millay

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A Saturday morning spent playing around with photo collages and a cheeky Edna St. Vincent Millay epigram is time well spent, I say!

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the collage, and perhaps be inspired by these three links:

1) Ms. Chiara Ricci-Tam, my friend and collaborator in science as well as art, has started her own WordPress Blog! I have been like a broken record over the last two years telling her that the folks on WP are some of the best there are, and that I have made new friends and connected with amazing artists, authors, and poets here. Now she’s here too –  and so, if you don’t mind, click on over to her brand new site Chiaroscurale and say hello!

2) Wave Erasure Books – a vibrant conversation on Twitter, started by Beat Company, reminded me of this awesome site and the one below. You (or the program if you click “random poem”) can erase words from classic texts to create something entirely new. You can also submit your erasure creations to their website to be added to the online collection.

3) Howl your work – this program will take any line you provide and “Howl with it.” I don’t think there is any other way to explain other than to show the results. I put today’s epigram into the algorithm, and this is what popped out:

safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!
America upon safe roof street after we’re Passaic, caresses
rocking Long suicide, singing Spaniard sanity radio rose fate were
returning hands to twelve gas a soul trucks governments! Bridge a not
demonic Chinatown the together of up Moloch who entered my soul early!
Moloch in whom Light streaming out of the actual pingpong of the moon
& their hands & a hung jury, and harlequin speech of suicide,
demanding instantaneous

Behold the power of random chance, computer algorithms, and Howl by Alan Ginsberg!

Excerpt Wednesday – Let It Enfold You – Bukowski

LetItEnfoldYouWritten towards the end of a very colorful and intensely creative life, “Let it Enfold You” by Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994), describes his arduous personal journey. I wanted to create something that attempted to capture the gesture and resolution of the journey  – while honoring what came before – all in one picture. Drawing (colored pencil on paper) and composition by me. To join Mr. Bukowski on this journey, for a few minutes at least, read the whole poem here. I am indebted to Beat Company for introducing me to this poem – in the comments section of my About Me page, no less! Proving once again that the WP community enriches, supports, and inspires us.