Tuesday, July 29, 2014


6x6 inch collage, in my sketchbook

Unbelievable, July is nearly over.  When I was teaching July was the only month that was reserved just for vacation activities - camping, biking, gardening, or whatever was good.  I don't do much of any of those things any more, except a bit of gardening, and that has been curtailed because of my stiff and sore knees.  The  flowers that come back on their own every year are still a source of joy, though. The bee balm has been glorious this summer, as are the lilies.  I try to cut some most every day and bring them inside to enjoy.

This summer has mostly been about the series of cemetery tours that I've been leading in connection with a local group that is restoring the chapel that was built around 1900.  My tours, which highlight interesting people from Janesville and the surrounding area, and old headstones and monuments, is free, although the chapel restoration folks are there every time serving cookies and water, and accepting donations to help pay for the new roof, foundation work, and stained glass window restoration.  The tours, which have been well attended, are fun to lead, but take lots of time to research, plot out, time and rehearse.  I finished writing the last one this week, and I look forward to not having the constant deadline hanging over me. My last tour is August 9th.

I'm also nearly finished with an online workshop centered on composition in connection to collage.  The teacher does work I admire, and I very much enjoyed a one day workshop with her last summer.  I'm not so sure that I'm getting as much from the online lessons, maybe because they were very specific, and there were a lot of them.  So many of them, in fact, that I had trouble keeping up.  That, plus the limits the instructor placed on the materials we could use, began to wear on me.  The class lasted five weeks, and I'm still not finished. I only post some of my completed assignments, because I just used whatever paper I want, which it not what the instructor had in mind.  The little collage at the top of this post is an example.  I just I just have problems following directions. Surprise!

My other summer art involves the community figure drawing studio at UW Whitewater.  I've miss a couple, but the sessions I've attended were great fun.  Thing is, what do I do with stacks of drawings of undraped models?  I suppose I must just look at it as practice, and not worry too much about the drawings, some of which I quite like.

I try to get out and socialize when the opportunity arises.  I spent a week in Kewaunee and Door counties recently, visiting my dear aunt, who is 85, and my brother and sister-in-law, who are a few years younger than I am.  It was fun visiting, going to art galleries, and driving the convertible with the top down.  Seems like there aren't all that many days in the year for doing that sort of thing.

Carpe diem.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gimme a Hand

I've been researching and writing a walk in one of our old local cemeteries, partly because I find it interesting, and partly to get people interested in local history as it is preserved in old headstones and monument.  There are, of course lots of symbolic carvings on old headstones, weeping willows, Bibles, lambs and doves, eagles and shields, anchors and sheaves of wheat.

But in Oak Hill, the oldest operating public cemetery in Janesville, the most common symbols are hands.  Clasped hands.  Hands pointing heavenward and hands reaching down from heaven.  Hands with Bibles, and hands grasping flowers.  Today I just wanted to share a few of them, because I find them so fascinating and lovely.