room of clouds


clouds and hilltopI had to fetch some clouds to decorate the room of clouds. I sought them from the sky.

I climbed the hill and pulled them down.

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I took clouds from the pond’s reflection before the fish could come and swallow them.

fish face

Before the fish could swallow them, I would steal my clouds away.  Thus I gather clouds to decorate a wool gathering room.

In the room of clouds I’ll dream.  In a room of white cotton gauze, in a room of soft reflected light, where white on white reveals the floating thought, I muse.

From a pond of reflection I’ll fish for memories.  In a room that’s like a bright white page


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empty and spacious and bright, I’ll live.


the fish that foretell

two fishIf the past is prologue, if past behaviors predict future ones, what shall we say about choices we make?  Certainly some of a person’s personality is like a plot of land.  Put there by an invisible nature, shaped by what kinds of weather and forces, against what winds and tides, unknown and unstudied until we begin to question ourselves. I don’t wish to sound narcissistic.  I simply allude to the fact that we can wonder about what we do and why we do it.  The mind is a place.  Dreams are the thoughts that roamed when someone was not even aware of having motives.

Why’d I do that?  I recall the day. My father, then living, full of vigor, was outdoors too, his trestles set in the yard under the boughs of the maple trees, ready for mechanic work. In my mind I see him now, him ever curious, turning to watch me as I began, his face shaded by the brim of a straw hat he always wore.  I had bought two fish at the grocery store — a unique extravagance.  I had bought them only so that I might draw them.

Why fish?

I have made so many pictures since around the year 2000 of koi that they have become a sub-category in my art.  Did these two fish predicate the koi?  I find it intriguing to reflect back on all kinds of other paintings or drawings I’ve done of fish.  Of course I loved Winslow Homer. He nudged me in fishy direction.

Winslow Homer, watercolor


Now I seem to have a real fetish going.  I made my drawing a very long time ago, long before I knew that fish would be a staple of my artistic diet.  I can remember vividly that I purchased the fish from the Giant Food grocery store. I unwrapped them from the stiff white butcher paper, and set them up outside in the open air.  I had colored a sheet of drawing paper by hand in advance using ground up pastel mixed with diluted Elmer’s glue which I brushed over the surface and let to dry.  I made the drawing using pencil, Chinese sumi ink and touches of watercolor.

Needless to say that while they were fresh for drawing; after the session, they were not so fresh for eating.  They are immortalized here.  Does it seem like they’re looking at you?  It sure seemed like they were looking at me, somewhat accusingly at that.

Did two fish foretell these guys below?

So what are you doing right now that predicts tomorrow?

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green fish vase

The green fish vase,

fish vase wc (2)something that I found at the thrift shop, is a favorite object for me.  I have been drawing it today in watercolor and oil pastel, making drawings for a painting. Green Fish Vase (I should call it GFV for short) has a prominent place in a still life I’m developing.  These drawings are for practice and joy.

Both drawings are totally sloppy.  I have been throwing color at this thing aggressively. I am thinking about shapes and colors, and I’m very untidy about it.


Both drawings are a little vague on the right hand side because in the painting something else will be sitting in front of Green Fish Vase.  So the contour I draw here won’t actually find its way into the painting. But I like knowing the object well. The drawings are not just about the view in the painting.  They are about this wonderful, clunky, imaginative vase of green glass in the shape of a fish.

The second drawing completes the notebook of the post prior. It uses the last sheet of paper.


I’m beginning an oil study today, June 25.


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Pixel, the obsession

Thinking of resuming work on a large painting I began years ago.  To get back the sense of it I’ve drawn the principle actor of the picture, this fish.  I think of him as the Pixelated fish, “Pixel” for short because he started out as low resolution picture I found on the internet that I enlarged by a large magnitude.  He’s another of my obsessions.  (I could say “favorites” but “obsession” sounds so much more artsy and deep.)

Well, he swims by every now and then.  And he’s back.

Finishing Fish

koi finishing

I have begun finishing koi paintings.  It’s a strange process finishing a painting because it’s such an open-ended and uncertain process.  Of course, in truth, finishing is nothing more than continuing to paint until one is “done.”  If you have a very specific notion of what the image should look like, arriving at “done” is mostly a matter of nose grind-stoning.  But it’s very possible for a picture to be elusive right until the very last minute, which is kind of what I’m up against with these koi — and this is all the more ironic since I’m painting some of them from preexisting images.  All I need really do is just copy my image (the painting’s are enlargements of something), but somehow mystery enters during the translation.  I don’t recognize the paintings being at all identical to their sources — indeed they are so different that I can honestly say I have no idea how they will turn out.

I get some sense of what novelists talk about when they describe their characters taking over a novel while it’s being written.  I knew I was making progress on a painting when the koi started swimming — and that’s a good thing.  I want them to swim.  But I don’t know where they are going.  And you’d think I would know.

Why is the artist always the last to know?

Above, still unresolved swimming going on.

In the clouds


A giddy sensation of photons.  The clouds are soft.  Variations of white, shades and regions of white.  Edges that blend into cyan sky, edges rimmed in pale pearl blue-grey or edges of fine, filtered, pale spun gold.  Around the clouds blueness of blue — a theatre of air, a bowl of quickening molecules, like beads of life rounding, spinning out time, thought, creation, presence, sentience — rolling and rolling round the rims of the bowl.

Sentences.  The clouds float across the regions of airy blue like words on a bright living page, a god vocabulary, scrambling and unscrambling in grammar that resists translation.

One looks and then you step into the sky.  You thought walk yourself up there.  Not with feet, but with imaginating. 

It was totally silent and joyful.  I was alone, but not lonely.  My whole self filled the sky, yet I was small.  Quite small, like a bird, I was there, but I was not weighed by things as on earth.  I was air, too.

Fluid.  Look and delight.

When I was eight, we celebrated my birthday.  I was the hero.  My friends laughed and smiled, squeeled and clapped their hands.  At my party we ate ice cream and cake.  Our jaunty cardboard party hats shimmered like rainbows this way and that with our waving our heads.  I feel the band under my chin.  My cake was white with pink and blue swirls of icing.  Sweet pink roses and rich pale green leaves.  Doric swirls and corinthian cake architecture of white on white.  The spoons of brilliant pink plastic!  The spoons were half the size of real spoons as we were half the size of real people.  Decorated paper napkins.  A flat horizon stretching along the broad expanse of the table.  Happy children, we!

Light came streaming through the windows.  The air filled with our laughter.  We ate cake and ice creams and filled the room with bright noise and child light. 

My cake — oh, my cake like clouds.  We ate the sweet clouds.

Now this sky of endless blue from horizon to zenith and back — and around and the air is an upside down dish filled with sweet clouds.

You all know that the clouds will soon probably swim and turn into fish. 

Look down.  The air is filled with fish that fly through the water on their strong wings, pushing themselves through the denser molecules with strong muscles.    I thought maybe I was painting fish, but they were perhaps a flock of birds instead?  Or does it matter?  Fish or fowl?

No.  Listen to reason. 

Calm yourself.  These are clouds.  Look they are quite clearly, quite comfortingly bright white soft clouds, air dust, spun thought, whisps, whisps ….

Did you forget something?

God’s thoughts are not your thoughts.  And his ways are not your ways, says the Lord.

Look.  Some of God’s thoughts are bright molecular air with spaces between the spaces.

Here’s another view


Here’s another view — a close up — of the drawing I reworked while waiting on interminable hold today as I both drew and addressed financial matters at the same time (see previous post).

The drawing is made using Caran d’Ache wax crayons.  They are very messy and smudgy in a lovely, descriptive way.  Very blendable and versatile for drawing, the crayon color effects are almost as rich as painting.
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When I walk around the easel and look at the still life from the other side, it looks like this.  I think this is such a pretty view.  Sometimes it’s hard not to jump at doing this view right now.  But I have to finish the other one first.

And, you never know.  The fish might start to beckon again.

Fish?  Flowers?  Fish?  Flowers?  It’s tough!