Archive for December 2021

New Children’s Books!

December 20, 2021

I am happy to announce that two of my children’s books are newly available on Amazon! These are super sweet books that I wrote and illustrated a little while ago, but had only published in rather expensive editions that aren’t as easily available to the public.

ABC MOBILE is an alphabet book, designed for those who like the vehicular. It is essentially an ABC on wheels. (Really cute!)

THE ROAD I LIKE is about a grandma elephant traveling (by bike) to visit her grandchild. Of course, the road she likes is the one that takes her to the little child elephant. You can just see the pink dress and white bicycle helmet of the grandma on the bottom right of the cover above.

Do check them out, as well as my other children’s books on Amazon — Melanie Likes Melon, One Mississippi, Even Singing Was the Moon–and others! (Karin Gustafson) (Yes, Amazon is a horrible behemoth, but they have a rather inexpensive publishing platform.)

If you are interested in the more expensive editions of these and a few others I haven’t transferred yet, check out the Blurb site here.

Nothing Really Working

December 18, 2021


A whirlwind week.  If you live in an isolated place as I do (i.e. far from lights), it doesn’t particularly feel like Christmas is coming.  And yet the season bears down even on those of us who are no longer sure of today’s date!

I tend to be a person with a higher than average quotient of residual guilt. (As a child, original sin may have featured heavily in Sunday sermons, I don’t know.)  As a result, I obsess about getting some kind of gift for each of those I love, then even after I get something, I obsess about getting something better or different or compensatory or “real.” It’s nuts.  Especially since I also believe fervently that all this buying is terrible for the planet (as well as for my bank account.)

But enough of the shopping angst!!!!

I was lucky enough to have another zoom Inventory Drawing class with Peter Hristoff last week.  In the past, the serendipity of poor preparation has served me very well; alas not this week.

I still really enjoyed the class.  But the problem in terms of output (from my point of view) was that I tried to use colored inks and brushes, but with fresh, very flat, white surfaces.  (I had no gessoed newspaper or gessoed-over old drawings to work from.)

The plain flat white was disconcerting, and instead of just doing ink drawings, I tried to make ink paintings.  Not very successful with each prompt lasting a minute. My pages were also spiraled onto a pad, which doesn’t work so well with a wet medium, so I was combining too many things on a single page, and still, constantly tearing off the pages. 

I sound like someone whose dog ate their homework!  So many excuses!  Very silly, since I really enjoyed the actual class, and in the class itself, went with the flow!  So I’m learning something. 

In any case, above and below are a few of the drawings. 

 I wish all a happy weekend despite the uncertainty of Omicron.  Get boosted!  And, if you are feeling particularly generous, check out my new book!!!!!  Who Are You Kidding? And Other Stories of Strange Change.

Make Of It What You Will!

December 17, 2021

I just love drawing birds. I can’t say that I do them very well, but I like them. Years ago, imitating the format of drawing class I had with Peter Hristoff at the Met Museum, I took a sketch pad over to the Museum of Natural History, and hid in the dark aisles of the panoramas of North American birds–this was one of the emptier parts of a then very crowded museum–trying to sketch from once-life.

It was very informative–stuffed birds obviously stay still–and I remember noting that wings etc sprout in much different places on the bird’s body than I had ever understood. Unfortunately, that drawing session was terribly brief and has not been repeated (so I did not learn nearly enough.)

The reason for the early termination of the session–terminal embarrassment. I am not a great draftsperson, and there is something kind of awful about drawing in public and having people peer over your shoulder wondering why you are bothering!

That said, I hope one day to do it again, this time fearlessly!

In the meantime, here are some weird birds. And, possibly, a pepper shaker.

Take care, and if you have time on your hands, and a generous heart, check out my new book: Who Are You Kidding? And Other Stories of Strange Change.

Who Are You Kidding? And Other Stories of Strange Change

December 16, 2021

My new book of stories! It is a really interesting collection–some are comic, some sad, many surreal, all sort of real, all highly readable!

I readily confess that I love this book. A lot of the stories are fantastical; I am hoping you find them fantastic! (Haha!) Please do check it out. Available in paperback and kindle.

If anyone is open to reviewing on Amazon or elsewhere, I am happy to send you a free copy!!!! Or two!!!!


Listening Drawings

December 15, 2021

In a hectic world, it can be hard to just sit quietly.   I’m not talking about meditation—that’s hard, sure. But like so much in modern life, meditation is rather self-focused.  (Yes, you are not in front of a computer while meditating, but often in your own head.)

For me the times when sitting still is hardest are actually social times, times when sitting with another person, or a few people. I am so used to time filled up by the computer, the phone, or my own voice on the phone, my own words on the computer, that it it can be very hard to just sit quietly, device-free, with other people, to give them space to fill (if they wish), and to not jump in to fill that space before it’s had a chance to just stretch out before them.

What is a useful l tool for me, sometimes, is to draw while sitting still with other people. Yes, it can feel a bit rude. (I try at least to apologize for that.) And, luckily for me, the people I am with understand, more or less, that I have have a manic nervous energy (especially during these short winter days) that can be very jangling if not channeled.

So, the above and the below are listening drawings.

Of course, I understand that it would be better, that is, more evolved, and possibly more generous, to actually just sit still with people (i.e. not draw), and, I do that at times as well. But I have a childish nature. (Believe me, I came by it genetically.) And seeking ways to accommodate that childishness are sometimes (for me) more successful than just quashing it.

Anyway, take care! And do check back soon, as I have what I think of as exciting news (exciting to me) though I’m a little too worn out to announce it just yet!

Adding Unexpected Color

December 12, 2021

Hello all—a rather awful week on my end—lots of work!  But I was able to take my full Inventory Drawing class with Peter Hristoff, which was a very welcome break. 

As I’ve mentioned, Hristoff’s class calls for rapid drawing; Peter gives specific words to prompt each image, and then allocates about a minute or so per image.

Despite the fact that (i) it is a class—i.e. something to learn from; and (ii) that it is a class that moves very quickly, there is a still that very natural tendency to want to make “good” drawings; in other words, to perform, to excel, to make something worth keeping.

But as I’ve moved along, I’ve found myself letting go of that tendency a little. Of course, I still would like to make good drawings, but I’ve found that it is best to get feelings of performance (and the accompanying wish for acknowledgment) out of the way, and simply to respond to the prompt.

My wish to move out of performance mode has been strengthened of late because I’ve been so rushed! In prior semesters, I’ve tried to prepare for the class–get materials all set out before the zoom sessions begin, maybe even prepare some drawing surfaces.  But these last few weeks have been pretty fraught for me, so I’ve had to jump into class most of the time at the last minute, without much time to set up materials or surfaces. Honestly, I think preparing drawing surfaces is a great thing to do–as I noted a couple of posts ago, they can add unexpected depth and texture. But it’s been heartening to see that a lack of preparation can also have its good side, in that it forces one to just draw and not worry so much about the product.

In this past class, Peter focused on words drawn from Arabic poetry. Inspired by the idea of Middle Eastern tiles, he suggested that we do thirty one-minute drawings in one color, then go back and draw thirty more prompts on the previous pages in another color, and then go back and draw thirty more prompts on the same thirty pages in a third color. 

I followed this routine, more or less.  What was challenging for me is that (i) I used soft pastels (thick chalks) as those were the easiest colored implements I could find. (They are beautiful but not very exact for drawing.) Then, because the class moved so quickly, I did not have much time to choose the colors. I somehow landed with pale blue (that one was a choice), a dark green (that I thought, when I picked up the chalk, was going to be teal), and a pinkish red (which I repeatedly regretted!)  (I did sneak in a little yellow and lime green at moments.)

In the end, using colors that I felt uneasy about was freeing. And going back to previous drawings—fitting unexpected things into a drawing already started—was also very freeing. I felt, in other words, that I was learning!  I can’t really articulate what I learned—greater confidence? A greater willingness to use what is at hand? A more open view? I don’t know.  Still, I felt learning happening, and that is always something to be happy about. I post some of the drawings above and below.

I hope all are well in these uncertain times.  Take care. And thanks. 

Adding Context

December 5, 2021

Hello! I hope all are well and taking care.  By taking care, I mean trying to manage, yet not pretending that the Covid pandemic is over.

Of course, we all wish it were over. Another intense variant is jangling (even though scientists have warned for months that the low world-wide vaccination rates set the stage for new variants.) Still, here we are.

I am lucky enough not to have yet been directly affected by Omicron, but it has contributed to the hectic and uncertain background that seems to color so much today. But in the midst of that hecticness, I was able to take a part of Peter Hristoff’s Inventory Drawing class last week, which was devoted to prompts based upon the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca. Specifically Peter used words taken from Lorca’s poetry as prompts for drawings, starting with just one word at a time, and then combining separate words and short descriptive phrases. The drawings are all done in about a minute or two. 

The words were all English translations of Lorca’s words. (Lorca, of course, was a great Spanish poet and playwright, of the early 20th century, who was killed by Franco’s Nationalist forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.) 

I am certainly no expert on Lorca.  But his work is so strong–the wish for “green” in the midst of violence and hard-wired retribution is so intense and so creatively expressed–that it is hard for even my disjointed memory to blur the poignancy.  As a result, even a very generic word — like “hands”—when I know it has been chosen from a Lorca poem, brings up very different images than the word “hands” without that context. (My drawing based on “hands” below.)

They are not great drawings. I was traveling and had just a few non-messy drawing materials, and life being what it is, I was only able to take the initial part of the class. But even that bit was like a separate island of time and space, given the context of Lorca. (Of course, it wasn’t a completely placid island!)

While I tend to prefer to look at drawings without knowing their prompts, I think it is helpful here to include the prompts, as they give a greater sense of how context affects the image one comes up with. So, the one at the top was based (I think) on the words desert and dust storm. The ones below were sequentially, darkness; sleeping and tattoo; river which included also fire, bones, blossoms; mountain and beloved; well, wounds and summer; and, at the very bottom, ocean. (Note that I may be getting some of these wrong! Sorry, Peter!)

Note – I photographed some of these drawings at a time of day when I was able to capture refracted light on the image—of course,  that helps a lot!

Not Online Shoppers

December 3, 2021

I confess to being an online shopper but these little guys seem to get hats and bows in person, as it were.

All rights reserved, as always.