Tuesday, March 30, 2010

nature boy

My tub was full of dirt from cleaning plant pots. Letting the water seep out slow so the sediment would dry left a topographical landscape that I was taking photos of when Wilson got interested. A usual calm and collected checking out of the situation turned into a rare frenzy. He squirmed and rolled in the dirt and licked it passionately. He's been an indoor cat all his life, but it was obvious he instinctively wanted to burrow down into nature, too. Then he suddenly jumped out, bored, leaving new interesting marks.

Wilson Cat's latest installation: Tub.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


The daffodils have come up again as they have faithfully for 9 years since I first planted them, but I remain a cold wet bulb beneath the earth. The mono is making a long exit with a train of fatigue sweeping the floor on its way out. I'm still waking around noon and seeing only a few hours of sunlight before I go to work in the Yale basement. Were I less tired I'd be frustrated by limited daily consciousness and a weakened body, but instead I embrace the darkness and spend the nights making rivers of black ink on pine boards, which is endlessly fascinating to me. It's the first time I've really enjoyed drawing probably since I planted  those daffodils. I like the solitude of night to be alone with the lines. I like speaking only in pictures. I would burrow even deeper underground if I could. 

You, darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes 
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the dark pulls in everything;
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them,
powers and people.

And it is possible a great energy
is moving towards me.

I have faith in nights.

Friday, March 19, 2010


This week's Illustration Friday. Or, technically, last week's. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Another piece from The Chiru of High Tibet, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Houghton Mifflin Fall 2010.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. George

(Terry Moore photograph)

For years I've been constructing in my mind a heritage tour of places in my family history, but time always seems too short and obligations too heavy to actually do it. 

All last year I had a major pull towards Pennsylvania. It came up over and over, friends were going there or coming from there, events I wanted to go to were there, I had several spur of the moment invitations to travel there, none of which I acted upon and sorely regretted. In the fall on a trip back from NY state I missed the turn to CT and came very close to ending up there accidentally, hours out of my way, which was startling. 

In idly checking on some of the sites online today I found videos of one of major stops on my epic trip is being demolished. St. George's in Shenandoah, PA was the church that brought my great grandfather Francis to the US from Lithuania to paint the original murals in in 1907. Though I don't believe any of the current murals were his due to a fire in the 30s, watching machines tear through walls exposing bright paintings of saints to falling snow before crushing them is hard. It reminds me of the destruction of the Giottos in St. Francis of Assisi, which made me weep. It was not taken well by the Shenandoah community either, and it seems like much that could have been salvaged was tossed. The church didn't go down without a fight either, one of the demolition crew was killed in the process.

It's so strange to find all this out. I had really wanted to visit that church. Demolition started late last year, a little after I nearly accidentally ended up in that state. It's almost like it was calling me, even hitting me over the head to get me to notice. For someone who claims to pay attention to synchronicity I obviously still need a lot of practice. 

I've started digging, hoping to find someone who can direct me to any pieces that were preserved. I think I feel an irrational obsession coming on of finding a way to touch a piece of this church. Andrew Popalis has a great photo album of the church and the town in the early 1900s here.

Addendum: I did end up in Pennsylvania last year once, of all things, to go-go dance for a surf party at a competitive equestrian driving event, which in itself was highly unusual, and go-go dancing started for me in part because of Coney Island, another place being destroyed on my heritage tour. I think my white go-go boots still have the mud from PA.

The strange webs we weave. Below, Francis painting an unknown church. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

fan art

It's by far the best thing ever to get mail from kids saying your book inspired them. This one is especially great, from an elementary student in Connecticut, who made a 3-d shadow box of the opening page of Aziza's palace. Even the envelope was covered in drawings of One Riddle One Answer, and it definitely made me a little teary eyed. 

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Just finished the next wood painting in time for Illustration Friday.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Another spread from The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, coming this fall.