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These are all over the yard at my relatives’ house. I knew as soon as I saw them that they would be today’s subject.

It’s a quick drawing because I am tired from every cell in my body’s being concentrated on digestion. I don’t set out to overeat at Thanksgiving, but I have to try a little of everything.

I’d like to draw these again, more slowly, and larger, in sepia conté crayon. Their beauty is something for which I am very thankful. I’ll bring them home.

#100days of art

“Or,” ink and colored pencil on a page of The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World, 21 x 17 cm

More about this piece here.

#100days

Eh, I said in my last entry that I’d post a photo of my next piece about ancient and current empires when it was finished, but why wait? Here it is in progress. Source text: The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World.

#100days

I’ve now been making art every day for over a month. I fell into my current series of projects by accident, as is so often the way, and am now happily spelunking in the caves of altered books, maps, U.S. politics, and white supremacy.

It started when I wanted to find a book to (photocopy and) alter. I poked around on our nonfiction shelves and came upon The Penguin Atlas of Ancient History, which I hadn’t even known we had. One of the benefits of living with a partner is that they spent decades accumulating books too, and even after 15 years together, I’m still discovering some. It is full of maps, and I love maps, so I pulled it out, found a couple of intriguing words on one of the text pages, and got to work.

The first word I noticed was “administration,” and another was “Nineveh,” which reminded me of a phrase about our future fate being like that of “Nineveh and Tyre” in some poem or other. Yeats, maybe.

The poem kept echoing in my head, until I had to look it up (ah, bless the internet) and re-discover it: not Yeats, but Rudyard Kipling, who had such a strange talent for reminding empire of its limitations even while proclaiming its glories.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! (“Recessional”)

Reading about these ancient cultures, and seeing all the maps showing the dominance of peoples whose names I’d never even heard of, like the Scythians, is like coming across the colossus of Ozymandias (Rameses II) in the desert–another poem that’s rattling around in my head. Some of these nations lasted for millennia. Ours hasn’t made it to its 250th birthday yet, and I’m wondering what shape it will be in when it gets there. So the words I’m highlighting as I draw my maps are about the collapse of our democracy from hostile forces, foreign and domestic.

I’ve also always been moved by the story of Nineveh in the book of Jonah. If an ancient city, one of the great ones of its time, could summon that kind of repentance and return to its ideals, can’t we?

Another theme that emerges without the author’s having intended it is the narrowness of his assumption that the “ancient world” consists of the Mediterranean, with forays as far as England to the north, western India to the east, and Ethiopia to the south: basically, the trading partners of the empires of the Mediterranean. The book was published in 1967. I showed it to my daughter as an example of the kinds of things I was taught in school, where our books were published around that time. It was a quiet, background kind of white supremacy, a constant hum informing us that nothing worth knowing about happened in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, the Americas, or most of Asia until Europeans got there.

I saw with some excitement that there is a New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History: Revised Edition, published in 2002, but alas, it still only covers the same region. A grand opportunity wasted to, if not expand the book, then at least make the title accurate.

I’ll post a picture when I’m done with my new piece.

#100days

Yesterday’s art project was brought to us by our wonderful branch library: a workshop in turning plain notebooks into beautiful journals via decoupage. The children’s librarian who led it provided lots of great papers, magazine clippings categorized by my daughter who volunteers there weekly, and withdrawn books such as X-Men comics and a volume of M. C. Escher’s art. As you can see, I used his Tower of Babel.

Drying:

Front cover:

Back cover:

#100days

It’s been almost a month now of making art for a little while every day. I missed it on Tuesday, just tumbling into bed and not even remembering until morning that I’d meant to do some art. I also forgot it was trash night.

This morning, I was so jazzed to continue the piece I’d begun the night before that I worked on it before even showering. And then it blessed my whole day. It’s more altered text, of the text from an Atlas of the Ancient World (sic; it’s the ancient Mediterranean and environs, a very small world) and inspired by the maps themselves, and the day’s impeachment hearing. I am feeling a deep kinship with ancient Nineveh, and admiration for the people if that city. They put on sackcloth and ashes and repented? Amazing.

Here are that piece and another, both still in progress.

#100days

The cat spends the entire day in one spot, but she actually seldom stays still for long. It’s hard for me to draw fast enough to capture one pose before she stretches and turns and settles into another one.

So here is Luna twice in quick succession.

I haven’t posted the past few days, but I did art every day except for Friday, when (what was I just saying about not waiting until the end of the day?) I lay down at around 9 p.m. and slept right through until the morning. So today I did two.

The first was this drawing done with the SketchbookX app.

I’m really enjoying having this app as a “sketchbook” available wherever I go. I usually carry a small paper sketchbook with me also, but carrying a full range of colors for it is not as easy.

Then I got back to the assemblage I’ve been working on. I think the collaged part is done, and tomorrow I can start stringing the threads that will hold an old-fashioned lock suspended in the middle.

I had no idea until tonight that I was going to incorporate music. I love those discoveries.

#100days

I need to start doing my art earlier in the day. If I don’t do it before work, then I can’t get to it until after the end of the work day, the drive home, and dinner. Then I’m tired.

Tonight it was not until after all of that, plus Halloween (a neighborhood affair: everyone goes up and down the commercial street, enjoying everyone else’s costumes), then a family viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas, that I got down to art time. Tiredness drove the content (a self-portrait at the kitchen table) and the medium (charcoal, because the drawer of drawing materials stuck and I couldn’t get at the conté crayons I was planning on), and they went together just right. Conté would’ve been too fussy.

Day 10 of #100days.

I think I’ve worked out what I’ll need to do with the threading when I can get to it, and I’ve borrowed my daughter’s bookbinding awl and made the holes along the sides that I’ll need. I am eager to get to that step, but there is more collaging to do of the inside first. When I’ve done some or all of that, tomorrow, I’ll post a photo.

That’s my day 7: one week of art every day. Are you doing #100days? Of what? How is it going for you?

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