Posted tagged ‘artists’

The Sensation of Life on Earth

August 2, 2015

Yesterday we spent all day leaving the house, taking the dogs next door and chatting with our neighbours, waiting and waiting for someone to show up for a viewing of the house who never appeared. Today we decided after making the beds and other house-tidying measures, that we needed some balance and needed to get back to our lives rather than hovering around worrying about the house.

So we took our morning tea out on the driveway in the shade so I could comb all the hair blowing out of our chocolate Lab’s coat. We really haven’t spent any happy time with the pets for weeks. Then we had oat bran for breakfast and moved to the shade on the grass, and had two more cups of tea.

Enjoying this strange sensation of being out of the house and hearing birds and the breeze in the trees, we decided to eat lunch out there on the card table, and then after lunch the spouse mowed some of the lawn and used the weed-whacker, while I washed the dishes and then came out to draw a long-overdue weekly sketch on the table, that we had moved to the shade under the big maple and oak.

It was like getting out of prison. The wrens have had their babies and were darting about trying to feed them. The dogs lay on the grass and breathed the air, enjoying our company and the great outdoors. We both felt better, it was a much different and refreshing focus.

561. A new Pitcher Plant from the limestone mountains of Sarawak, Borneo
Marianne North, 1830-1890
Oil on paper
Marianne North Gallery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew


Isn’t that a beauty?

Inside the plant, things tend to disappear into a mottled jumble of colour, but outside the vines twist and reach, the veins of the leaves pulse with colour and energy from the sun, and the mountains envelop all growing things. Reminding me after today to spend more time out in nature, seeing the colours and breathing the air, focusing my eyes on the minutiae of life close-up, my feet magnetized by the Earth.




Turner Plays with Stars and Fluorescent Light Fixtures

July 30, 2015

Another postcard, recently from across the pond, which I finally found shoved in my nightie drawer with all the correspondence I have to catch up on. In a hurly-burly rush I put these postcards somewhere “safe” and then couldn’t find them.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851
Oil on Canvas, 91.1 x 122.6 cm
The National Gallery


I’m never sure with Turner if I’m looking at exactly what he painted. He was known for trying out new paints and formulas, some of which were fugitive, so what we see today is not always what he painted colour-wise. This is a bit murky but it’s supposed to be evening as the sun sets, so I guess this is what he wanted. OR it might be a study for a fuller painting.

I’ve had an epiphany from Mr. Turner: sometimes what you think you want is not what you want.

The spouse and I had a bit of a blowout yesterday due to too much stress and fretting. So today we worked on cleaning the top of the kitchen cupboards and putting new wax paper lining down, cleaning the kitchen light fixtures, cleaning the spice cupboard and the tea cupboard, cleaning the fridge, cleaning acrylic panels for fluorescent lights in the basement, and edging and sweeping the front walk and painting the stoop, all the small things that needed doing. We also cleaned the front door and the screen door windows there and touched up the window paint.

As a reward, I got my inexpensive Chinese Jinhao x750 fountain pen in the mail. I just have to clean it thoroughly to get any machine oil out and then rinse it and give it a spin with Diamine Meadow ink. A nice reward for a day’s work on fiddly stuff.

I shall be able to enjoy the evening star tonight, I can just see it reflected on the sea.




That Magical Siamese Cat, Looking for Jan Huston

July 25, 2015

This is a notecard with a lovely piece of art on it. I bought this card around 1985. I was working for a bank in downtown Toronto and had a long commute by bus. One of the managers had this card on her desk and when I inquired about it she had a cat that had recently died that looked like this. The Siamese cat I had at the time looked just like this too so I had to go buy the card at one of the fancy downtown card shops.

It was displayed with my cat figurines for years and when I packed them away recently to declutter for viewings of the house, I put the card in with my postcards. I have several nice notecards with cats that I bought for my collection, but that was long before I lost all my cat friends. We’ve always had a multiple cat household and it’s rather painful after losing nine of them over the years to have the collection and remember my youth when we were all healthy and bursting with life and plans for the future.

by Jan Huston


Look at those remarkable eyes. That is just like a Siamese, so blue and luminous. I have a picture of my cat Nollie sitting in a bunch of leaves just like this cat. There are forget-me-nots on the card among the grass and we have those in our front garden.

Jan Huston seems to have specialized in cat portraits. Back in the 1980s she had notecards and porcelain plates (one at least for the Franklin Mint of kittens), one crewel embroidery needlework kit with her cat art, and a large poster with a cat in tulips. For Athena International out of London, she produced this card (the art was also reproduced on a porcelain mug), one of rabbits, and one tiger that I can find, but I can find no biographical material on her.

I would love to know if she is still alive and painting and what happened to her, just because this piece of art means so much to me.



A Cat Reflects on Talent Gone from the World

July 22, 2015

I think I bought a package of notecards with this design around 1980 or so. I found it in the old set of drawers I threw out.



Mads Stage was a Danish artist who died in 2004. I was sorry to hear that as this is a favourite piece of art of mine.

His designs were used on postcards, stamps, greeting cards and notecards, ceramics, textiles, and books. He favoured birds and animals but also did cityscapes and landscapes, as well as scientific medical drawings.

What a loss, I always loved his artwork. He illustrated Walden, I would love that edition with his drawings, but it is only available in Danish, and is very pricey, alas.



The Rustle of Silk in Light

July 9, 2015

Another beautiful postcard from across the pond, this time received this year.

The Hon. Lady Baillie and her daughters, Susan and Pauline at Leeds Castle, Kent
by Etienne Drain 1947 © Leeds Castle Foundation


What I love about this is the light, the way you can almost feel the light coming through those spectacular windows, and washing over the viewer too.

Lady Baillie looks like she is wearing pleated silk chiffon and the girl in the blue dress must be wearing velvet. The girl on the right must be wearing raw silk. The whole thing is suffused with light and palpable texture, and then streams out over the lake into the green.

The View From The Window
by Ronald Stuart Thomas

Like a painting it is set before one,
But less brittle, ageless; these colours
Are renewed daily with variations
Of light and distance that no painter
Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,
Change, as slowly the cloud bruises
Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps
A black mood; but gold at evening
To cheer the heart. All through history
The great brush has not rested,
Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,
Looking coolly, or, as we now,
through the tears’ lenses, ever saw
This work and it was not finished?




The Database with the Answer

June 22, 2015

This is The Answer Deck miniature edition by New York artist Nicholas Zann, published by Running Press. One of the decks that escaped my notice until Steve encouraged me to get it. We should start a club: Steve Made Me Buy.


I consider black and white decks a sub-genre of my collection and I enjoy collecting them. I’ve never understood why others don’t like them as much, because the art is often way better than that in conventional decks, and the art in this is wonderful, I immediately liked it.

This is a shot of cards laid out on the spread sheet that comes with this kit, showing the back of the cards on the left. I never use the sheet but wanted to show it in the database as it came with the cards. In reality this red is much better, darker and more saturated, but my scanner always has problems with reds. The cards measure 50 x 79 mm.


Here are a couple more favourites from this deck. I’d forgotten how much I like it, so I’ll keep it out for a bit and use it.


The little booklet only has two signatures in it but they are Smyth-sewn, which is a sturdy bookbinding method that lies flat. It’s really quite unexpected for a booklet.

I was a bit surprised by the art in this deck because Nicholas Zann does much dreamier, softer portraits in oil, but he also likes cartoons and illustrations, so that ties in more with the art of this deck. Gosh, I just realized that he’s about 72 years-old now! Upon checking, I see that the full-size edition of these cards is going for whopping amounts on the secondary market, which makes me glad I bought a copy before it got too expensive, as the art is so appealing to me.

It holds up as a usable deck and a set of 73 pieces of artwork.

Database Mystics, Poets, and Darn Fine Artists

May 11, 2015

I notice that Penelope Cline has published her first full tarot deck, the Liminal Tarot, which reminded me of the one deck of hers I own.

That sort of expensive deck is well out of my price range these days but I bought her first deck The Mystic Rubaiyat, and because of the currency exchange and extra tax and administration fees when it came into Canada, it cost me $180 CAD. I used money from a settlement at my old job to pay for it, as it’s not the sort of thing I could afford regularly. I went through hell at that job, I figured I would get something tangible and uplifting from it.

I believe she still has copies of it available. For me, this is the epitome of her watercolour style and approach to art and literature. As she has mentioned on forums, some of these cards are very tarot-like, or at least like some of the Majors.

I wanted to get her Wild Green Chagallian Tarot which is a Majors-only deck and her Pen Tarot but could never afford them. However, Penelope did point me to a good biography of Chagall which I ordered in from the library and greatly enjoyed. I never really got Chagall until I saw Penelope’s deck and read the biography by Jackie Wullschlager.

It’s always worth talking to the artist and exploring, even if you can’t buy their deck!


“The Mystic Rubaiyat is a set of seventy-five cards created to illustrate the first edition of Edward Fitzgerald’s “translation” into English of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, part of a collection of four-line verses that survive from eleventh-century Persia.

The words of the appropriate quatrain appear below every illustration and in each of the decorated doorways, providing for a two-fold key to meditation.”


Apart from Penelope’s artwork, I bought this because my favourite Uncle used to recite passages from this particular Fitzgerald translation. I have copy 2/100 which rather astounds me as I’m generally not in on trends at the beginning, nor do I have money to buy limited editions, but I had that money from the job from hell and I used it wisely. The pleasant reverberations from this deck after a horrible few years are what I remember, and that’s as it should be.

This comes in presentation box with ribbon and a 17-page booklet and was released in 2007. I assume I bought it in that year; I remember writing my Uncle and telling him about the deck and he died early in 2009, so I just got it in time. It’s one of the finest things I own, simply because the artist has her own way and interests and they shine in her decks.

I’ve used it here if you want to see more cards.

Pleasant reverberations; the hand of the artist; the intellect and knowledge of the artist; shimmering colour and light; words and poetry. FINE, very fine.