It’s Not What it Seems – China

Peking story teller-02276

White winking Buddhas.

A vegetarian dinner of fish, eel,

chicken, and pork.


The Clan of the Cultural Revolution:

portraits in red, pink, and black.

Cloudlike rocks riddled with holes.

Straight-cut stones hiding the view.


Flaming Sun Day, Feet, Comfortable City,

Flexology: Foot and Body Massage.


The Temple of Marvelous Mystery.

Scholars revealing a little at a time.


Bitter melon, minced snails,

fresh young ginger with duck.


A very auspicious number like five.


Yin-yang, push, pull.

Holiday Spending Zone.


Cicadas make the woods more silent.

Birds make the valleys deeper.


Neon palm trees: electric yellow and green.

Two thin bamboo rafts floating silently down the Li.


Rainy summer night.

A street-cleaning truck playing

“We Wish You Merry Christmas.”

river Li-02296

Getting Locked in the National Library – Bhutan

One morning I took a taxi up the hill to see Mynak Tulku, the archivist at the National Library in Thimphu. He wasn’t there so I spent hours between the stacks painting all alone. Manuscripts are imprinted using wood blocks. The prayers are printed or written on long strips of handmade paper. These are stacked between two pieces of wood and  are wrapped in brilliantly colored cloth or in silk cloth held together with a leather thong. When I was hungry and tired I packed up and went hunting for the exit. All the lights were turned off. There was no one in the building. I wondered if they would come back after lunch or if they were closed until the next day. I had no phone with me. Deciding I’d better find an alternative way to get out I checked windows and any other possible exits. No luck, so I went back to the huge tall main door, went up to it and unlocked it, pushed and it opened quite easily. I was out in the bright sunshine, still all alone. So I started walking down the hill, eventually finding Thimphu. Click on the image to see the transfer print and sample of traditional textiles used for Bhutanese clothing.

Painting with a Three Year Old in a Prayer Room – Bhutan

After buying a gift of sugar and powdered milk, my friend took me to her mother’s home to meet her family. A taxi drove us outside of town where we were dropped off near an old wood bridge;  someone was giving the bridge a new coat of paint. It was a beautiful day. Peach trees were in blossom Player flags on high poles were fluttering in the breeze. We walked the rest of the way past water fountains, past pigs and a cow in bamboo pens, past hunting dogs tied up in front of a home and past clothes hung up in the sunshine. Looking ahead of me, sitting up on top of a hill, was Karma’s mother and sister traditionally dressed with their black hair cut in the traditional style. Not having a telephone, they didn’t know we were coming. I was offered yak butter tea or tea with milk and sugar and maze, “corn picked, fried and pounded.”

After tea my friend took me into a beautifully decorated prayer room which, among other things, had a photograph of the Dalai Lama, an altar and a cabinet filled with twelve holy books collected between carved boards, wrapped in orange cloth with blue, orange and gold ribbons. The older ones were made up of pages of calligraphy wrapped in silk and tied with a silken ribbon or leather. The classification system consists of tiny satin flags, color coded to match subjects. I painted with my friend’s three year old niece. She was shy, but I gave her a few crayons and paper. In a few minutes she was drawing, too.

They didn’t know I was coming, but my friend’s sister had prepared a full meal. We ate in the livingroom with her mother, sister and niece. The meal consisted of red rice, spinach, cheese potatoes cooked with onions and chilis, pork and green ferns from the forest. I asked how they had prepared our meal since they didn’t know I was coming. They grow their own potatoes. The rest of the meal was prepared from dried foods they had in their home,

This day was special, never to be forgotten.

Playing Around with Ideas – Bhutan

I’m working on three other scrolls, playing around with ideas.

Or this? I’m thinking of having a scroll that, when opened, transparent delicate pieces would hang loosely from the surface. Maybe I’ll attach the paper with thread. Glue or wax would be too rigid. I’d like to be able to take a scroll out and hang it in a place where the sun would shine through showing the transparency of the waxed areas and use of mulberry paper. Click on images. You will be able to see the audience at the Paro Dzong watching a 250 year old silk appliquéd thangka being unfurled.

Wind Horse – Woodblock with Print – Bhutan

The Wind Horse, shown on the the imprint of a prayer flag is a luck-bringing symbol. This horse can bring good luck, life force, health, influence and merit. On his back is the Flaming Jewel, a spiritual warrior, capable of fulfilling all wishes. The spiritual warrior is carried past the many obstacles leading into the sacred world. The word for Wind Horse (Lungta) has come to mean luck.

I found the wood block in Thimpu, when I was snooping around the shops near the contemporary art school. Using printers ink, and stamps on mulberry paper I made up some small pieces. I started to make an limited edition of five Artist’s Books on mulberry paper. They are scrolls about 62″ high. Now there are only four.  I tore up one last week while working on an idea. The torn pieces may be incorporated in the finished product. This print shown above may be added to one of the scrolls. It’s a work in progress.  (As usual click on the image to see it bigger)

Varnish and Ink from Bhutan Cover my Hands

Yesterday I did pick up a brush, but it was for polyurethane varnish. I went over to a friend’s studio where I met her daughter, a blogger I had been following. While we kept our hands busy making something, we quizzed each other about wordpress and blogging. It was great fun – fun to see each other’s faces and to have a conversation in person.

Seeking suggestions on what to add to the Bhutan scrolls I had made earlier, I brought them with me. Along with the scrolls, I brought prayer paper from Thimpu. When I was visiting Thimpu, I spent an afternoon at the saturday art school; we looked at each other’s work and painted together.  After school, one of the students took me to a store where I bought some prayer books. Actually, the books were separate pieces of printed handmade paper. Yesterday, I felt close to Bhutan. My wet varnish stained hands were covered with Bhutanese ink from the prayer paper. What will become of the box? Maybe it will become part of an Artist’s book about that part of the world at the base of Mt. Everest. Mt. Everest is so high; the white mountain was above the clouds on a clear day as we were flying towards the Paro airport. As usual, click on the images to see them bigger.

What Shall I do with the Handmade paper I created?

(click on the image to make it bigger)

Behind the Veteran’s Building  2001

Handmade paper using plant life from Napa, CA. pen and ink, watercolor,

Parchment paper, ink jet print, stamps, raffia, plastic

7 x 5 inches

It’s really easy to make your own paper. All you need is some scraps of paper, a blender from the kitchen and a framed screen. You’ll need some felt to sop up the excess water. After collecting leaves and tiny flowers I made the pulp. Before the new piece of paper was dry I inserted straw for a tie.  One day when my husband and I went on a hike, I jotted down some notes along the way. When I made this book I just just left the notes the way they were, made the font really tiny and printed it. The grasses and tiny flowers were collected during the hike. This kind of handmade book is called a single signature book, an Artist’s book.

Sunrise over San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge

This was the view we had from our apartment. We looked at a picture that was always changing. Besides making drawings and paintings for my Artists Book, I made photographs. This photograph was taken at 5:34 in the morning.1.3 sec at f/4.0 The focal length was 28mm ISO 200. I didn’t have a tripod so I set up my Canon EOS Digital rebel XTI  on a pile of books on a table. Then, I put the camera on  timer and experimented with different settings. A bit crazy, too, it was dark, I’m trying to see the dials with a flashlight – I have to remember where they are on the camera!  I’m trying to be quiet so I don’t wake up my husband, then of course when I do try that, I usually crash something.There’s not a lot of time to fiddle around because the light changes rapidly.

I’m working on how to show bigger images on my WordPress site here but so far all I can say it click on the image to see it bigger. It makes a difference. If anyone has a suggestion on a better layout for my blog, I’d love to hear about it.

The Bay Bridge – Artists’ Book

This is an Artists’ Book

An Artists’ Book is a work of art. It is not just a vehicle to contain a story and communicate non-visual ideas.

Different media are used in a unique way to create a book-like object.

These books are puzzles.

They are undefined.

The viewer and the artist make up their own story using clues from the book-like structure.

Text, image and structure are equally important in an Artists’ Book.

In The Bay Bridge my cover and spine is the steel box. The pages can be taken out of the box and looked at indvidually.

For a few years we lived in an apartment looking right out at the Oakland- San Francisco Bay Bridge. In a drawer near the window I kept a supply of the same  size  ‘pages’  for my Artists’ Book. I’d record what was going on outside my window. What happens is you have the same size  paper for each drawing and painting so you start to think of different ways to fill that piece of paper. The book is chuck full now. Included in the steel box are stories about connections I have had with the bridge.