Wednesday, September 30, 2009

conversation and observation

I can not start the day without a proper cup of black tea, made in a pot. Visiting the delightful and inspiring Tea Appreciation Society yesterday I came across this fantastic site.

Nick Hand has been cycling around the coast of Britain since June in order to raise money for Parkinson's Disease Society. On the way he has been making these amazing short documentaries about artisans and craftspeople he meets: everyone from Billy Bragg and my own favourites, the Fence Collective, to a group of potters in Cley, Norfolk. These wee films are moving and marvelous and I plan to watch them all.

I only heard about Paul Smith 2 days ago, when I found out about him here. I like what he had to say about making things. Nick Hand made a soundslide with him as well: 'conversation and observation and the love of life is far more important than any of the other stuff.'

abc at tea

The picture is from here (though the Archbishop looks more crazed, less furtive, in the original).

David Dark posted the following, from dear Rowan Williams:
Jesus is God’s ‘revelation’ in a decisive sense not because he makes a dimly apprehended God clear to us, but because he challenges and queries an unusually clear sense of God: not because he makes things plainer—on the ‘veil-lifting’ model of revelation—but because he makes things darker.
There is a nice comment thread there as well.

This ties to my post/drawing from September 27th. I think lively faith in Jesus needs to embrace constant challenges to our clear notions of God. This is the opposite of fundamentalism. To paraphrase James Alison further, We worship a God who is Other, not one of the gods.

Monday, September 28, 2009

priest in kavala

One more post for the day. These pictures from artist Cecilia Levy, who spent the last month in Greece, seemed to capture an attentive holiness in the priest - I wanted to draw him and took up the new pens for a quick sketch. I am happy when I am drawing and these posts helped counter today's prevailing bad mood in the midst of ongoing (formal) unemployment.

more colour

I bought some new pens - a highlight of my week.

This was the first drawing, which turned out okay.

The week started slowly. Today was not a good day on the jobsearch front. Going to seek out some inspiration for the rest of the week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

other people's thoughts inform my own

Starting out the week discouraged on the job front. And this drawing did not come together in the way that I wanted. The portrait of Jesus is stolen from Si Smith. His drawings based on Jesus's story are amazing.

the kindness of (near) strangers

Two nicenesses from two artist acquaintances in the past two weeks.

I really like Michael Arthur's. work. He is a friend of friends and showed me his studio last week. He has two excellent op-eds in the New York Times: one on how he came to do what he does, and one on summer in the city. He also performs with Balthrop, Alabama - their site has some great examples of his work. Here's a video he made for Mike Viola:

And I found Austin Kleon's blog while looking for further examples of Joann Sfar's work. I asked Austin for advice on pens and he was kind enough to post in response.

I bought some pens at the weekend. Examples of work with new pens in a couple of posts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Steve Earle's hard compassion at the end of The Wire's fourth season blew me away. There is something in every episode of the show that blows me away.

wonky landscape

This drawing is not quite the way the scene really is (for a start, the boat is not larger than the house) but it was a nice reflective moment in the middle of the weekend.

I managed to watch The English Surgeon, which I posted about a couple of months ago, online. Very moving and worth a look if you have the time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

in the long-legged house

A play based on some of Mr. Berry's poems has just gone up in Louisville.

This, from the Omnivore's Dilemma, was very striking:
Take the issue of scale. I could sell a whole lot more chickens and eggs than I do. The're my most profitable items, and the market is telling me to produce more of them. Operating under the industrial paradigm, I could boost production however much I wanted - just buy more chicks and more feed, crank up that machine. But in a biological system you can never do just one thing, and I couldn't add any more chickens without messing with something else. - Joel Salatin.

Seems as though this has a wider application. I am thinking a lot about not just doing one thing and the need for the different things I take in (from food to music, writing, poetry, news, conversation, etc.) to feed one another.

This was all somehow reinforced seeing Howard Fishman and band perform selections from Dylan's Basement Tapes this evening - a really great show, which reminded me of David Dark quoting Dylan on Johnny Cash - Dylan saw 10,000 years of history falling from him. The whole of our gospel-laden history is laid out before us.

fry's delight

I'm having a run of drawings that actually look like their subjects. Hooray!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

sarah waters

Info here.

Picture from The Guardian. I have a copy of 'Fingersmith' but have not read it yet.

For once, I think it would be possible to pick the subject out of a crowd based on my drawing.

guy delisle in israel

Finding this made me happy. The aesthetic of the short documentary and the Swedish commentary give the whole a nice surreal touch that added to the pleasure of seeing M. Delisle share his work.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The fast fuzzy photo seemed more appropriate for this sketch, somehow. Looks a lot more like Peter Case than its original subject. But I like it anyway - not least because of the outsize guitar.

In a very funny head space this week. What to do, what to do?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

panelists and their panels

I went to a great panel moderated by Matt Madden at the Brooklyn Book Festival: Guy Delisle, Peter Kuper, and Sarah Glidden all spoke movingly and animatedly about their work.

M. Delisle is the only one of the four I have read: he signed my copy (thanks to a generous friend) of Shenzhen, which I am reading and loving right now. When I saw him hovering later in the festival I was a wee bit too shy to approach him again.

I marvel at how well he (and, from the way they speak, the others too) uniquely refracts the world and his experience of it through his work. They were all very encouraging of engagement with the world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'you can buy honestly priced food or you can buy irresponsibly priced food'

Joel Salatin, from this article, sent on by my friend Richard.

I am about to move into the section in Omnivore's Dilemma that features Joel most prominently.

And this, from the same Michael Pollan article, seems as good a summary of any of what it is that anyone who wants to eat good food responsibly is up against:

Shortly before I traveled to Virginia, I’d reread an essay by Wendell Berry in which he argued that reversing the damage done to local economies and the land by the juggernaut of world trade would take nothing less than “a revolt of local small producers and local consumers against the global industrialism of the corporations.” He detected the beginnings of such a rebellion in the rise of local food systems and the growing market “for good, fresh, trustworthy food, food from producers known and trusted by consumers.” Which, as he points out, “cannot be produced by a global corporation.” Berry would have me believe that what I was seeing in the Polyface salesroom represented a local uprising in a gathering worldwide rebellion against what he calls “the total economy.”

On a related matter: From the time I saw this post on David Dark's site, I have been angry again about the US healthcare mess. My position is very simple - healthcare for everyone. This is a theological and spiritual question. I thought about the church and this issue and I wondered for the first time in a while what the kind priest would say. This matters. It really matters.

I am listening to President Obama's speech right now.

Monday, September 7, 2009

drawings this week

I felt very uninspired in most of what I drew this week but decided to post sketchbook selections anyway.

I was happy with Alan's hands - even though he has two right thumbs.

I made these sketches, while reading this article.

The drawing of Nicholson Baker (who I have long wanted to read) is a copy. I thought trying to copy it might help me think about drawing. It did.

I hope and pray that Spike Jonze is happier than he looks here. I like the NYT magazine article (and the photos with it) a lot. My favourite quote: 'Catherine Keener, who was nominated for an Oscar for her work in “Being John Malkovich” and who plays a divorced mother in “Where the Wild Things Are,” told me that her 10-year-old son, Clyde, once asked her why Jonze didn’t live with his parents; apparently Clyde didn’t realize that Jonze was an adult.'

Thursday, September 3, 2009

industry of war and the industry of farming

Reminded twice in the past two days of war industry repercussions reaching through to today. Both of them to do with farming as industry. There was the quote above and then today in the Guardian an article on Monsanto. The odds against real change felt insurmountable again.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009