Frustrated Dreamer

My inclination at this moment is to feel guilty and terrible about not having added a new post to my blog in six weeks. But I’ve recently learned (through a book on meditation —Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg) that starting over is not necessarily a bad thing. This advice comes as a response to those who want to beat themselves up for losing focus during meditation.

But this is great advice because I’ve just been confronted with the idea that maybe I’m not as good at time management as I thought I was. In a video called “Five ways that people live their lives” in a course on called “Happiness Tips,” I identified with the description of the “frustrated dreamer” —a person that has goals, but needs to work on time management. Maybe you don’t see time management as related to focus, but I’m pretty sure it’s true at least for me. And therefore —thank you, Sharon Salzberg— all I have to do is start again.

So let’s hope that my new meditation practice and this insight into my time management and focus challenges helps me move in the right direction.

In the meantime, here are a few photos I took this morning during a short walking break.

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Found Texture

I finally got a picture of this gorgeous stop sign. For the record, this is not my handiwork! I do love it, though, and I wonder if the person who did it was aiming for beauty, or just aiming to vandalize.

Stop Sign

I’m sad to see how long it’s been since I added a new post —and also sad not to have any new artwork (of my own) to share. The good news is that I’ve been doing more writing, and that is how it usually goes in my life: either writing or art, but not both at once. So for now, I’m in a writing phase. Perhaps next time I’ll share a bit of that.

Staying Tuned In

Maybe I was tuned in because I needed to tune out from work. When I was out walking one day, I came across this piece of yarn on the sidewalk. Isn’t it beautiful?


Actually, when I first saw it, I thought, “ew, gross!” It reminded me of the yuckiest, cheapest yarn we were given back in the day for elementary school projects. Then I stopped and looked more carefully at it. It was a bright spot in the otherwise brown winter landscape. And when I bent down to look at it more closely, its texture contrasted wonderfully with the pavement. I surprised myself when I took out my phone to get a picture of it.

Now I’ve come across it in my photos folder, and it’s wonderful to me: the texture, the shape, the light, the color. Not sure what I’ll do with it, but it’s a simple pleasure to me right now.

I can’t post something like this without thinking of How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith. And I will link you to it through another favorite website, BrainPickings. Make sure you read the rules. Then follow them.

Happy New Year!

The holidays are almost over along with all that they involve: finishing up hand-made gifts, mailing packages, baking cookies, having guests. Just two more events on my horizon and then life can get back to normal… but I hope it doesn’t.

What I hope for is more making and less settling for a promise that tomorrow I will do it. This year I will be ruthless in protecting my time for creativity. I will draw. I will write. I will be a mother bear protecting my time.

May you also stand up to people, to tasks and to those seemingly-insignificant, practically invisible time-sucking …what? what are they? If you have read Momo (Michael Ende), —and I recommend you do!— you will know that they are the men in grey, smoking their cigars and draining the fun out of everything.


Someone had managed to avoid the men in grey. I came across this when I was walking in the woods. Let Making be a top priority in 2016!

Vacation time

It was a short vacation, but pleasant. I went to San Diego for the first time, and I stumbled upon the Mengei Museum. I chose that over the Museum of Modern Art, which I’d have gone to as well, if I’d had time.

I was thrilled to find something by James Castle. (For those of you in Bloomington, IN, check out James Castle: Portrait of an Artist (video) which is available at the Monroe County Public Library (Adult Audiovisual 709.2 Castle Jam).


And I got what I’d hoped for when I chose the Mengei: that is, to see something I would not otherwise seek out on my own. There was an exhibit on black dolls, which was an interesting view on both history and creativity.


Regaining independence

I’m afraid to look at the date of the last time I posted. Having a job now –even though it’s only part-time– makes finding creative time at home a serious challenge, much to my disappointment and sadness. But I’m going to figure this thing out. I have to. It’s either that, or I have to quit my job, which I truly enjoy for the most part. Plus I will admit, making money again is really satisfying.

Last night was art group, and I sat and felt bad about not having anything to add or to share. But my friends talked with me about it –this “lack of time.” And we found that that is not entirely true. Rather, I have not claimed my evening time for myself, and that is what I have to do. My children are no longer so dependent on me, and yet I stand by, ready to assist at every query. What it needs to be is this: I have to reclaim my life and my time. I have to regain my independence from them!

I’ve been thinking of my mom a lot lately –what with the holidays coming up and the way my family is continuing the German traditions my parents kept in their home. My mother was amazingly productive: always knitting sweaters and socks, sewing everything from skirts to bathing suits to coats, quilting, cross-stitching, on top of cooking almost every night, keeping the home in order, working in the garden, and yes– working part-time. What better role model could I ask for? It is my turn to follow in her footsteps.

With that in mind, here’s a little tribute photo to her: a glass of wine, which she would sip at as she even found time to relax on the couch watching a PBS program or reading a magazine or book, and her favorite book of Weihnachtslieder, which I still use every Advent Sunday when we sing.

Here’s to you, Mom!


Vanderpoel’s influence

My brother-in-law recommended The Human Figure by John H. Vanderpoel when he saw that I had a bunch of drawing anatomy books out from the library. This book was published in 1958. It’s crazy! And yet it is amazing how much a thorough description of anatomy can really help you see what you didn’t see before. Here’s one paragraph from the book:

The eyeballs enveloped by the lids protrude partially from their bony orbits. The plane of the orbits or sockets slopes inward from the frontal bone as it descends, making a decided angle with the plane of the forehead and cheek, giving the effect of the forehead being a step in advance of the plane of the cheek. The sockets are somewhat rectangular in form, and descend slightly from the nose outward; this drooping effect in the skull is counteracted in the living model by the eyebrows as they rise from their origin to the outside of the socket.

This is from the chapter on eyes, and it goes on like this for seven pages.

And yet, if you can stay awake and pay attention, it actually really helps. It’s also useful to refer to the studies that line the margins of the text.

After reading this (for as long as I could handle it in one sitting!), I made a few drawings of my daughter while she worked at the computer. This is probably one of my most accurate likenesses of her. So there you go!



I was catching up on some 99% Invisible podcasts. I love the crazy buildings and colors of Hundertwasser, so it was really cool to hear a whole podcast on him. Here are three pieces inspired by the podcast and by Hundertwasser himself. (I just looked up the podcast to make sure I had it right and it looks like my inspiration has a tiny mistake in it: the tiny detail of a simple article. Sigh.)

The first two are pen and watercolor brushes. The third is a playful experiment on Adobe Illustrator.