Sunday, July 29, 2012


My bedroom window at dawn

Dearest Readers,
I’ve been staring at walls and my window this week in Vermont. I have one long, skinny window in my bedroom. It’s the first welcome sign I see when I wake up, and the last glow of light when I retire. On certain days when the wind is right, the whiff of donuts from a nearby bakery wafts through the dawn’s early light. Twice weekly band concert music in the park, the ubiquitous argumentative crow family, and Rutland’s twice daily ten-of-nine curfew horn blast past my window sill. The curfew is a remnant from the turn of the last century when it was a morning reminder for kids that school was about to start at 9am. At night it signified that 9pm was approaching, and all minors had to be off the streets. There is no curfew now and school starts earlier than 9am. A few years back there was an effort to do away with the horn, but people protested in favor of retaining the nostalgia. The horn emanates from the main fire station near me, and is also used as a warning siren in emergencies. It is very loud and very close to my place.
I’ve been tweeting haiku-ish window poems the past few days. Here are a few of them:

*In bed, staring out at the summer sky–a moist white membrane above my head.-July 16

*Night. The window a black rectangle in the wall. Sounds of rain, and my frightened pup panting on the mattress. -July 17

*6am. threatening rain. a crow flaps on the porch roof outside my window. Faint car sounds in the distance. -July 18

*Riled and roiled by wind and rain. Makes 50 shades of green outside my window. -July 19

*White window. A red tailed hawk screeches behind the thin veil of morning. -July 21

*white sky. maple leaves blurry in front. This is the view outside my window without glasses.
-July 23

*The open window welcomes the wind. Drawings flutter on the wall. In flies a magic carpet that swirls me around the room. -July 23

*Johnny Cash sails through the window. means band concert night at Main Street Park.   
-July 25

*Raining buckets, splashing on the sill. Etta James is catatonic–scared of thunder, lightening and gobs of rain. –July 26

*Northwesterly wind at dawn. Dellveneri's bakery donuts waft through the bedroom window. –July 27

I’m inspired by my Decatur GA friend Ruth Schowalter’s recent blog in praise of six of the murals of the late Hale Woodruff commissioned by Talledega College in Alabama in 1939, and now on view at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art.

In response, I photographed the six murals on view at the main Rutland VT post office downtown, by the late Bellows Falls Vermont artist, Stephen J. Belaski (1909-1987). They were commissioned in 1937 by the WPA as part of the depression era effort to give work to artists. These colorful wall paintings tell some of the stories of the American Revolution as played out by events in Vermont.
"Ethan Allen and His Green Mountain Boys"

"The Call to Unite"-Assembly of Mountain Fighters

"The Beach Seal"-Flogging of a NY Landgrabber by landowners in Vermont

"Freeing the First Slave in the State of Vermont"

"Benedict Arnold Commanding the First Naval Battle on Lake Champlain"

"The First Stroke for Independence-The Attack on the James Breckenridge Farm in Dorset"
 I close, dear readers, with the latest installment of Vermont plants that I remember from childhood, plus this week’s self portrait entitled “Rushed”, a figure sketch from the weekly live model class, and the start of a painting in my studio based on my first of five “test drawings” that I did the first week I arrived in Vermont. 
Have a great week, y’all.

Fuzzy bush


Wild grape vine
common weed
Self-Portrait-"Rushed", 10"x19", charcoal and pastel on colored paper
"Nude Figure", 10"x19", pastel on colored paper
start of "Cradled in the Nest of Loving Kindness", 46"x41", acrylic on canvas  7.26.2012
Test drawing for "Cradled in the Nest of Loving Kindness", 35"x40", charcoal, pastel on kraft paper 6.11.2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Removing a coat when the temperature climbs
Unhooking a tight brassiere,
Erasing a smudge from a bifocaled lens
Openly looking at fear.
Lifting a rug to discover the source
Of a smell or a lump or a creak,
Spotting a bird through a tangle of leaves,
Regarding the words that we speak.
 -Tuesday 7.10.2012
Dearest Readers,
 My tendency when blogging is to stretch and embellish the storytelling...not a lot, but just a smidge in the interest of keeping the reader interested. Drama can distort, and simplicities ignore ambiguities and complexities. I’ve been thinking a lot about honesty this year. It’s not just telling the truth vs telling lies. Honesty gets tangled up in being nice and wording a sentence for the least amount of conflict. I’ve been working at presenting my self in public as I would to my own mirror at home. I’ve got a habit of being perky when the situation just calls for straightforward, unencumbered being. It’s hard even recognizing when I do it. Little white dishonesties happen in my painting and writing too. Slowing down helps. I’ve revised two more of my “test” drawings to get deeper into what I’m feeling. 
Untitled Threshold Wings #1
Untitled Threshold Wings #1 Revised ©2012-35" x 39"
Acrylic and charcoal on kraft paper

Untitled Threshold Wings #2
Untitled Threshold Wings #2-Revised ©2012-35" x 39"
Acrylic oil stick and charcoal on kraft paper

I’m diving into the open figure drawing group that meets ever Thursday evening at the Chaffee Art Center nearby, letting it rip, showing all the line-work, even the corrections on the paper.

I’m still awed by the skyscapes here in Vermont. These were shot in E. Dummerston in the south western side of the state at my friends' rural home.

I continue to document more summer plants from childhood memories...

Lamb's Quarters or perhaps Jewel Weed

Sugar Maples with sap tubing for maple syrup
Tall dark droopy pine
Some sort of variegated leafy ground cover

I visited artists and friends this week who live in out-of-the-way rural havens. Here's artist Paedra Peter Bramhall's bronze sculpture pool in Bridgewater Corners Vermont at the top of a mountain,

and Michael Beale, below left, with Paedra in Paedra's studio with his large digital photo collages and glass sculptures. 
And these are my dear friends Gordon and Eleanora Faison at home in E. Dummerston, VT who are on the board of the Brattleboro Museum of Art.

My dog Etta runs free now off leash when we visit these beautiful places. She exhausts herself chasing down smells or a red tail hawk screeching overhead. Saturday night in E. Dummerston the blue-black night sky was studded with countless stars. It took my breath away.

I leave you my friends with this week's feeling self-portrait entitled "Content"
#89-Content 10 x 19-charcoal and pastel on paper

and "Helpful", the latest quilting of my vintage hankie portraits– here displayed outdoors in my lap.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Dearest Readers,

The leitmotif this week is what I saw below my head, or what I found above it.

The Dunn Building, Wales Street, Rutland VT 7.13.2012
 This is the Dunn Building in downtown Rutland. Cousins on my mother’s side built this structure for the Dunn Bowling Alley in the first half of the last century. It now houses the Salvation Army. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Dunn as was my mother’s middle name. I hadn’t planned on it, but events occurred this summer that have encouraged some genealogical research, and visits to a couple cemeteries to discover my Irish ancestors. The Dunn and Fagan families arrived in the area after the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800's. They started small farms, fought in the Civil War, and worked on the Rutland Railroad while others moved to Buffalo, towns in upstate New York, and Troy to find jobs.
–more on that in a later post.

Center Street, Rutland VT 7.10.2012
 Sky in Vermont has a life force that swings from serenity to anger and back again as the prevailing westerly winds encounter Canadian cold or North Atlantic fronts. Sky is riled and roiled by wind and rains, or pacified by blissful days of dry clear blue, fluffed with curls of cumulus. Nightime affords an array of stars and planets in a blanket of dense quiet.


 I’ve soothed myself by beginning to quilt my 89 vintage printed portrait hankies one at a time, rather than together on a bedspread. This is the view of the first one looking down at my knees sitting on a bench in Main Street Park. An 80 something woman named Esther told me she always walks through the park, but this was the first time she ever saw anyone doing “fancywork” as she called my needlework. It started a nice conversation. She lives in an apartment home formerly known as "Shadowlawn" that my parents rented a room in during the summers in the 1950s.

Academy of St. Aloysius uniform from memory

 At home in my studio I pinned a replica of my Catholic Grammar School uniform to quilting fabric and batting that I had spread on the floor. More to come on these projects.

I leave you, readers with the view on the ground beneath my feet. I’m compiling a botanical gallery of plants that I remember from my Vermont childhood.

This week’s poem at the bottom is entitled Sky. The weekly portrait is #15-Relieved.

Lush Ferns and low three-leaved ground cover

Bachelor Buttons

Black Eyed Susans

Small Brambly Roses (my name)

Brushy Wild Daisies (my name)

Catalpa Tree with seedpods in Main St. Park (flowers have passed)

Orange Choke Cherry Bush (childhood name)

Red Choke Cherry Bush (childhood name)

Dried "Coffee" Plant (childhood name)

Geranium and Petunias in window box

Popular climbing porch vine (name unknown)



Pompoms (childhood name for Hydrangea)

Bluebells (childhood name)

Queen Anne's Lace

Roadside variant of Bachelor Buttons

Abundant roadside yarrow-like flower

Yankee Clover (VT State Flower AKA Red Clover)

The three-leaved ground cover in flower

Tiger Lilies

Wildflower pond near the Rutland Hospital on Upper Allen Street 

Sky is an internal organ–
Hiding behind the mask
Of weather’s flourish and display.

Sky is a slip-slider
Of intestinal outpourings
And rootless indecision.

Sky, like skin is a membrane
That belies the warren worlds of gastric
Global dimensions beyond the surfaces of
Flat white heat or stunning cold.

Sky breathes out dew and damp,
fire and vapor, snow and smog.
Noisy grumblings leak through her screen
From hollow tunnels, and Hubbellian holes
Expelling atmospheric juices
From ages and ages ago.

Sky burps out puffy plops of gaseous nimbus,
Thunderheads, mackerel, anvil
And accumulating cumulus–
Traces of a bilious otherworld
Of tangled tubular turbulence
Coiled at her celestial core.

-Sunday 7.8.2012