Thursday, February 28, 2008

Palette of etching inks

Palette of etching inks
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
To printmaking class and spent the day with some lovely people. Of course, they can all draw and that is painful, but I am mature enough to take it. I think. This is J's palette of inks for square prints she is preparing as an exercise. Way cool, as someone once said.
The weather continues beautiful and I am trying to identify a small orange flower that grows by the freeway in great profusion, It's not a poppy, not goldfields, and the flower doesn't seem to open wide, at least in the morning. It reminds me of some kind of seedling throwback descendent of calendula or gazania. I'll keep guessing and thinking, and will get it soon. Good night.

John Topham Butler house, Arizona, circa 1911

My mother, Olga Butler, is the girl in the low-waisted white dress by the gate. She died a few years back at age 96 3/4. I think she had to beat her mom, who lived until age 96 1/2.
This was another world, a world of hard work. I love the way these pictures show the whole house, along with the family. To have a nice place like this and a well-dressed family was a real achievement, against many odds. They all worked hard to maintain it and, in this particular case, almost lost it several times.
Nostalgia and the lost world: the fine strong voice of Pete Seeger, that pure uncorruptible spirit was on TV tonight. I had forgotten what a nice voice he had, sort of a rich quality, along with the infectious ability to get the folks to sing along. Most of the other folkies seem a little thin, vocally as well as spiritually, next to him, really. And sort of compromised by the willingness to do, say, a cigarette commercial, which was what caused him to leave The Weavers. He was who he was and stuck to it. He was lucky, I think, in the wife he chose--she had to work very hard. The documentary showed him chopping his own wood, which I hope he doesn't really have to still do all the time. I hope it was purely symbolic, because he didn't seem all that good at it, and I am not sure the ax was sharp. I hadn't known of his involvement in the movement to clean up the Hudson River. So he was involved in the best issues of his time: trade unionism, civil rights, peace, and ecological awareness. What a life!
There was some footage of Joan Baez--I had remembered her voice was spectacularly good, but had somehow forgotten the peculiar beauty of it.
It was lovely to revisit this time when I was young and we were all so hopeful. Most of it has come to naught and will have to be done all over again, if we can somehow manage it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Nice Hat

Nice Hat
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This always cheers me up. It's an etching with color from chine colle papers. I did a series of learning-how etchings, each with a woman and a bird. I was inspired by a series of paintings done by a student in a watercolor class of an Egyptian statuette and a ceramic crow. This was a mysterious subject and all the paintings were very beautiful. This hat is based on a straw hat Kiyoko wore one year at the haiku retreat. She tied down the brim with a scarf. This is more like a bonnet, but that was the inspiration.
So in this one little print, I hold a memory of a good watercolor class, a good printmaking class, and a good friend, my haiku teacher. If I didn't have the print, I could still have the memories, and I know this print will never mean much to anyone else. But I grin every time I see it.
Tonight the Man Who Knows How to Fix Everything stopped by for a surprise visit. He is doing a lot better after lymph-node surgery, but still has to have a lot of scans and testing to be sure the melanoma doesn't come back and kill him. It was great to see him and he seems to be doing well, at least for now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thinking about relief printing

My trip to the Lotus Garden almost two years ago is continuing to pay extra-fine dividends. The light just before noon was bright, but not too harsh. I am looking for images for solar plare relief printing. I worked on this tonight--from the original in color--and am very pleased with the result. But, since it is dark outside, I cannot make the solar plate right this minute. It will join the queue of projected projects.
Much needed rain again today, but the first daffodil buds have burst into rain-enhanced yellow splendor.

the precise placement
of blackbirds along a wire
--early winter rain


Last night we went out for a pizza; we have been trying all the little artisanal shops around here,This pizza was OK, but not astonishing, and the most fun about the evening was coming home to find the empty bread wrapper. The dachshund who jumps well had been able to score almost a full loaf off the counter. Her stomach was drum-tight.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Carmel Madonna high contrast

Carmel Madonna high contrast
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

I got out the solarplates I made a couple of years ago, and printed them relief instead of intaglio. This got me VERY excited about solorplates all over again. Of course, I need to order some--I have a couple left, but they may be too old to work anymore. I cannot do one as a test because it is raining and you want a clear sunny day to expose the plates to even UV light. I am thinking I will try this madonna, that I photographed the day we took Kiyoko to the Carmel Mission after the Haiku Retreat at Asilomar. This was in 2000 and I had my first digital camera. I took a lot of nice pictures that day and am still using them in various ways. I just modified this one to be only black and white, and plan to make a solarplate soon. It is fun to go back to old photos and things learnt in the past.
I wonder who carved this Madonna (or is she is a saint) or do they even know? In printmaking class yeaterday Alan said that many artists have been terrible people, and maybe the art we have left is the best of them.
Today there was heavy rain, yesterday too, and a windstorm is predicted. And already people have told me to stop worrying about the Sierra snowpack and drought. . .

PS: Did you notice?? Today is 2/22/2008. If you add all the twos, you get the eight. I thought this was interesting. I can be interested in very little, some people think.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Elvis lives, Mitchell, South Dakota

Sometimes when talk about where America is going (almost never with approval, the variation only comes in opinionis on how fast we are going there) gets to be more than a person can stand, something silly seems to satisfy a need, Here is one such frivol from a road trip.
Elvis as icon, and instantly recognizable. It seems like only yesterday that they had to raise the camera angle so his gyrating hips would not be transmitted to watchers of Ed Sullivan's TV show. What a sweet memory, good for at least one giggle. And then he got drafted.

When my husband was in graduate school, we lived with my parents. My youngst brother had an LP of the musical Bye, Bye, Birdie, He played it at least once every day. So to me that music belongs to that time, when my children were small and my brother was still in high school. And still alive.
Today it rained a great deal, intermittently throughout the day. At the end of the afternoon the sun came out and caused the newly washed foliage to gleam in the slanting light. There was a golden line on the rim of the green hills near Stanford.
Slightly later, clouds over the western foothills took a shape, like mountains of whipped cream, I hadn't seen before. There were creamy piles of froth, lots of lavender-tinted froth, darker lavender shadows and some peach-colored accents. Bright blue sky on one side of the valley, and a large gray cloud over the other. For the first time in quite a while, I had not brought my camera. So I am writing about it here, to help me remember how happy it made me.

rainswept sidewalks
blossoms of evergreen pear
arch over my head

Haiku are also good ways of remembering. Years later, one I have written will bring back the cicumstances when it was written: who was there, what we saw, what we were doing, or talking about.

Why, they are almost as good as a blog!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shiki, himself

Shiki, himself
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
At Shiki's haiku museum in Matsuyama, his almost-lifesize cardboard likeness shocked me as I came around a corner. His watercolors of persimmons, which he loved, and some of his belongings and other writings are in this museum, and their small paper frailty brings forth the man who died such a young and slow painful death from spinal tuberculosis.. It hasn't been that long ago, really, maybe slightly more than 100 years that he lived here and wrote so many astonishing haiku. Here are two of them in English versions.

an iris
whiter at twilight
in spring

A carp leaps up
the autumn moonlight

Look around, something womdeful is happening where you are, something of the grass, the birds or the trees. Walk down by the creek and look.
Last night on TV we watched a show about Kit Carson, whose Arapahoe wife's name, Waa-Nibe, translates as Singing Grass. Right now in California, after the rains, grass spears spring up everywhere. Maybe they are singing . . .

Monday, February 18, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Beautifully sunny day, It was 62 degrees in the middle of the day when I swam at the Y. I've got two more days to print something for class. Sigh.
This was one of my first experiments in digital collage. I love these gingko leaves. I remember a site that had all sorts of information on gingko designs and art and the trees themselves. I have been trying hard to find it for the last 20 minutes, so I could put a link here. But because there is so much interest in gingko, both as a medicine and as a design inspiration, I cannot locate this wonderful site. I have been able to save many of my bookmarked sites on but alas, this one has fallen victim to various equipment changes or one of the other vagaries of life. I would appreciate anyone who knows if this site is still out there to let me know. It was a work of love from someone and very thorough. I would love to visit it again. Just found it! Spend some time here, you will learn a lot and see some beautiful images.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Early Springtime in the Buddhagarden

Early Springtime
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Today I went to an art gallery opening for an exhibit of my friend Marianne's prints of trees. She's a member of the printmaking class I am taking this spring. Her sketches are from all around this area, as well as French Polynesia. She mage etched plates and printed some plates as both etched and relief plates. She also made collograph plates. She printed some plates with color, a la poupee, and some with chine colle, as well as printing some plates in sections.
The show was like a virtuoso demonstration of printmaking techniques, using the theme of trees, which was the unifying concept of the display, She also hung some of the printing plates. The gallery is in an old yellow house in downtown Redwood City. It is nice, but smallish for the amount of people who came. I enjoyed it very much, and hope to return when it is not quite so crowded.

Blue float

Blue float
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is what Davy Rothbart has to say about copyright issues on the FOUND items he has published in his books and magazines.
"We have been very vigilant to change the names and other identifying info on every note and letter in the books to protect people's identities. The last thing we'd want is to put someone in an awkward or embarrasing position! And Simon & Schuster lawyers asked us to include only excerpts of longer letters to protect against intellectual property issues. Sometimes I found this difficult and frustrating, since I really am not sure that someone's chain of Post-Its needs intellectual property protection, but we were always able to figure out something that worked. I was lucky to work with two lawyers for the FOUND books -- Steve Chung and Peter Karanjia -- who really had a deep understanding for the project and could help me conjure up creative solutions for minimizing the risk to S&S without sacrificing the quality of the finds."
Isn't it delightful to think that your grocery list is copyrighted as soon as you write it down?? And it you remember to renew your copyright, you protection can now last nearly forever. . .
So this lovely blue glass float is mine, mine, mine. . .
I am trying to write a poem about colors, here is one, blue, but I have not gotten very far with the poem yet. Good night.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Foliage in a Square

Square Deal
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
When I see New York on TV, it looks overwhelming, still I would like to spend a couple of weeks in the museums, , ,
I haven't been to New York since I was 11 and my mom sent me to the IceCapades with my father, so she could go and see MARLON BRANDO in Streetcar named Desire! We all also saw The Madwoman of Chaillot, of which I only remember the gray wig of the actress and perhaps something about a staricase. Memory is a funny and frangible thing.
We also went up in the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty--which Mom said she had gone up in the arm of on her trip
circa 1927. But what I remember best (I had 6 little brothers and sisters) was that my parents got me MY OWN pound of warm broken cashews from a subway vendor and Dad bought me a gardenia (the sweet, sweet smell) to wear on my coat. I saved the ribbon (folded into a little square) from that gardenia for many years, and would not be greatly surprised to turn it up now in a box of letters.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First spring bloom

First spring bloom
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

A fine printmaking class today. I haven't done any printing for three weeks, and have got to get cracking! This ikebana was made for the exhibit room at the art league where the class meets. It's an old building which has many interesting windows that create little corners of light and beauty in unexpected places.
The teacher is very interested in graphic novels and the narrative thread as expressed in both pictures and text. This is a place I have not been able to follow, but will give it another try. As a lifelong reader, I am a HUGE fan of the novel-novel, and find graphic novels too short, simplistic and just plain distracting. But he has such amazing world-class taste and discrimination that I should give it another try.
Narcissi are out, as are the evergreen pears and white-blossoming almonds. Many other things already blooming here in California-land, including some traffic jams both going to class and coming home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The cry of the wild duck is faintly white

It is interesting to think about colors and the meaning of colors. This is another infrared photo that surprised me. The round shapes of the made things against the shapes of vegetation is also beautiful.
Today, a redtail hawk flew just above the trees as I parked my car near this garden. It is very restful here; the fountain actually burbles.

tattered prayer flags
in an urban garden--
spring melancholy


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It won't be long now! Thinga are so early in sunny California. This is a shot of one of last year's daffodils, but the green spikes in the back yard are already at half height. And then will come butterflies and then fall and winter again. . .
There are so many fabulous blogs and so many fine artists posting stuff that I could spend all night just looking.
Today I entered a bookcase full of biographies, essays, letters, diaries and fiction into Librarything. And spent a lot of time rating the things I had read and putting subject tags on them. I love doing this, but the sad truth is that I am finding many books I haven't read and some I would like to reread. And quite a few with (sigh) a bookmark about a third of the way through the book. And I really am out of space, but working with my books usually reminds me of some other volume I always meant to read, or that there is something new by a favorite author. And many times, these books are available used for a dollar or two, plus about $4 for shipping. Which makes them subject to impulse purchase,
I found my (intact) copy, which was remaindered, of Andy Warhol's diaries which he kept pretty obsessively the last nine years of his cut-short life. Which reminded me of my Mom's copy, gone who knows where, but most probably to the dump. My mother bought this book when it was fairly new. She was fascinated with art, celebrity and popular culture (she pretty much participated in the Summer of Love at age 60)--which made this book a perfect fit for her. Often she had insomnia, but these illustrated diaries are so heavy she couldn't hold the book up to read in bed. Her solution? She razored it into sections, and read abotu 3/4 inch worth at a time, She talked about it a lot when she was reading it. She was also a gestalt therapist, so I imagine the psychological implications may have interested her, too. After she was finished, she duct-taped (honest!) the book back together along the spine which sort of worked, so it could be shelved. This duct-taped book graced one of her bookcases for the rest of her life, showing that books are really not that precious. I was shocked then (I don't even dogear pages!), but now I sort of get it.
Sleep well, and dream of yellow flowers, maybe large, silk-screened ones!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not yet leafed out, the pistache tree that feeds the birds

as reflected in the shiny blue paint of the new truck. Across the street, the everygreen pear is in full bloom. A good harbinger, coming a little after the intense yellow of acacia bloom. So spring will come, and soon.
I was thinking about Jim tonight, and remembered that he sent me this poem, after I wrote a heron haiku. I didn't know then that Jim's own "darkest winter" was held invisibly in Jim. We're still a long way from midsummer, but hey, that's the swell freedom of blogging.

Black Marsh Eclogue

Although it is midsummer,
the great blue heron
holds the darkest winter in his hunched shoulders,
those blue-turning-black clouds
rising over him
like a storm from the Pacific.

He stands alone in the black marsh,
more monument than bird.
He watches the hearts of things
and does not move or speak.

But when at last he flies,
his great wings cover the darkening sky,
and slowly,
as though praying,
he lifts,
almost motionless
as he pushes the world away.

Sam Hamill

(An eclogue (two syllables) is a short, terse, usually serious poem)--
this the the note Jim sent with the poem and I don't know if he wrote it, or if it is with the poem in one of Hamill's books.
Let's all go outside and look for birds and think about life's brevity and mysteries as carefully as we can. It is not as easy for us to push the workl away; being wingless, we have to deal with wars, past ones, present ones and those yet to come. Until we can figure THAT out. Good night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is a simplified detail of S's new car. I think the colors and shapes are gorgeous. It makes we want to get out the paints! The late afternoon sunlight was glinting on the facets of the headlight. The headlights are made of great expanses of expensive-looking glass. It is sort of overweening. Oh, dear.
Today was a really mellow warm sunny day. I went swimming again. A father was training his young son in the adjacent lanes of the pool. I couldn't tell exactly what he was yellng because it was not in English. The kid was trying hard to please and swimming his tiny heart out. The yelling was pretty unnerving; I hope it was just a harsh language.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Jordan River in a musuem

Outdoors in a museum
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is a way to see what your photos would look like in a museum. One way or another, you (I) can waste a lot of time profitably on the internet.
Today we got the big car we need for my tall husband who is having a lot of trouble pretzeling himself into cars since he fell last year and hurt his back. It's a used Toyota Tundra truck and I hope it will do the trick. I think we got a fair deal on it, although it is hard to believe that a used truck costs more than we paid for our house in 1965. The truck is quite longgggggggg and I won;t be trying to parallel park it anytime soon.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Originally uploaded by jhhymas
This is not WHERE I went swimming, but I did swim today, at the YMCA. Water was 82 degrees--air 60--wheh I slipped in. The funny woman who talks your ear off was stsill there. I had almost forgotten her, since we were gone for months during swimming season last year. Nice sunny day. I cam home feeling quite virtuous. Next week, I will start on a few simple exercise machines. Excelsior!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Started from her garden

Started from her garden
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
She told me the name of this this afternoon, and already I have forgotten it. But it was catching the patio light at lunchtime today, the day of printmaking class. I cannot seem to get started on a project. I think of them in the night, but when I get in the studio, I don't get started. But I brought my camera today, and the light from windows on two sides of the room made me very happy.
I think I should have stayed with writing and with photography, but I keep having this impulse toward made art. The sunsets tonight and last night made me dream of watercolor. Peach, permanent rose, muted violets tint the clouds below an ultramarine blue sky.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tree as friend

Tree as friend
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
I wonder what I should say to him? He edges the parking lot of the hotel where I stayed at the Dunes.
Today, another Bernd Heinrich book, The Trees in my Forest, that I recently ordered came in the mail. The former owner had taped in a small news item in which Heinrich corrected mistakes made about him in a previous news article. There were many errors and he made quick work of them, In this way, the worlds of author, reader and former-book-owner made a brief conjunction. In the back of the book, the list of trees is almost identical to the species on our woods in Emmet County, Michigan. It shoudl help me; I have identified most of the trees, but am still working on the shrubs.
From a comment left on my blog last night I discovered Beth's blog which gives a much more detailed explanation of A Year in the Maine Woods. She noticed the same things I had noticed--isn't that great?now I can write about something else--and she lives only 15 miles away from that Maine woods. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The cream separator

The cream separator
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
It's not as easy as getting the cream out of the milk. Which is a snap, if you have the right equipment, Let one little day slip and then it is easy to let the next and the next go by without posting to your own blog. I don't have any new pictures and there are too many things I want to talk about. How to begin, again?
I'll start with Bernd Heinrich, the raven fellow, who studies the woods. I wish I had got started on nature study much earlier in my life. In the last two days, I have read his books One Man's Owl, and A Year in the Maine Woods. In the process, I picked up some good hints as to what is going on in my own woods in Northwest Lower Michigan, Also, I am getting some interesting things to think about concerning the management of our woods. Selective cutting of timber, to open out the woods for different species is probably a better idea than I had been thinking. It will just be hard to find quality ecologically sound loggers and provide for protection of the woods in the future,
I have been struck throughout by the thoughtful consideration of issues of life, death and species survival with a careful scientific outlook and when he can, investigation. His investigation of the pupating cases of large moths and finding out how many of them had been parasitized by small wasps and other problems leads to his conclusion that he will not see any of these moths for many years is one example.
He talks of the geat wealth of seeds from trees, the huge amounts of mice which are eaten by owls and other predators, the oversupply of cluster flies, etc.
In all cases, there is a calm acceptance of the way life/nature is, and a respect for evolutionary process. There is just enough (but not too much, or too silly) information about the personsl events of daily life in the woods. He is investigating something almost every day; he follows his curiosity or new events or observations wherever they lead. He is also a long-distance runner, climb forest trees, and makes elegant scientific drawings, some of which are reproduced in the books. I love these books, as I loved the first book of his I read, Ravens in Winter. I plan to read everything of his that I can get.