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

Dazu – China

carved grotto rubbing-02271-2

 

Carved grotto rubbing on mulberry paper over pen and ink drawing 8″ x 6″

click on image to enlarge

Dazu

Alone on the bamboo bridge

hunched over from the weight of her pack,

an old woman layered in rags

wails her story to the trees.

Behind the dense green curtain of bamboo

her audience listens:

fifty thousand stone Buddhas,

donors, and Bodhisattvas,

carved one thousand years ago.

For a moment I leave Dazu thinking

of the opera house back home.

The Yangtze : Three Gorges, China

three-gorges-02263

Click on image to enlarge

In 2003, the world’s largest hydraulic dam transformed the Three Gorges into a deep currentless reservoir. Water flooded 28,000 acres of farmland, 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,352 villages. Eight thousand recognized archaeological sites were flooded and 1.4 million people were driven from their homes. In May 2002, my son and I took one of the last river boats through the Three Gorges before the Chinese government started to flood the area. I wrote the following poem when I returned from that trip. The drawing is from my sketchbook. While sketching on deck, another artist joined me. Unable to communicate with words, we enjoyed drawing together.

 

The Yangtze: Three Gorges

Coiled with mist, the cliffs rise

half a mile into the sky.

Looking up, past the trackers’ path,

past the hanging coffins, past the caves,

past the stunted trees,

I see deep blue sky.

Rising  Cloud Peak.

Sage Spring Peak.

The riverboat passes villages, orange groves,

fields of pink peach blossoms.

Tall limestone walls dwarf the town.

The river roars.

Winding narrowness,

shallow rapids,

dangerous whirlpools,

currents,

followed by quiet.

Head Rapid.

Chicken Wings.

Fish inscribed on White Crane Ridge:

two carp facing upstream,

one with a lotus sprig in his mouth,

mark ancient low-water levels.

On the road: barbers, plumbers, food sellers.

A welder creates jewelry with his blowtorch,

fired by a garden hose and a bottle of gasoline,

his foot pressing the bellows.

Under a red umbrella a woman sleeps,

sweet slices of watermelon by her side.

Children squat with a deck of cards.

Small groups of people eat noodles out of bowls.

Dressed in a tattered gown of silk

embroidered with dragons, an old man

sits near a persimmon tree.

All this will be underwater soon:

the temple with its wooden pavilions,

pagodas, loggias, reflecting pool,

the monkeys scampering among altars;

the storefronts, streets, houses, fields of rice.

Goddess Peak.

Witches’ Gorge.

What will happen to the Siberian cranes,

the white flag dolphin, the Chinese sturgeon,

the house tucked under a tree?

What will happen to the barbers, sellers, plumbers,

the little girl in yellow jelly shoes,

her mother selling Camel cigarettes?

In a home in Suzhou I saw this poem

on a piece of wood shaped like a banana leaf:

My mind-heart is like the reflection of the moon

in a deep pond on a snowy night

my creativity blooms like flowers

after the spring rain.

The old towpath clings to the rock face, high

on the north side of the mountain.

Trackers pulling boats on the Yangtze

sing back and forth, strange chanting melodies.

duck-02266

Warrior Challenges His Friend – Beijing, China

warrior-02281

warriors-02294-2

Click on image to enlarge

 

Peking Opera School

The warrior challenges his friend:

sticks for swords, young bodies swoop and lunge.

Play boots stomp on a pink Oriental rug.

Boys in workout gear,

black beards hooked over their ears

posture, eyebrows furrowed.

Teenaged girls are frivolous females,

fingers pointing, eyes dancing, white sheets

swirling.

Buoyant and tumbling, the loyal monkey

arranges himself on a lacquered stool,

his face clown white.

Fierce eyes, quick gestures,

gongs, drums and clappers

of hardwood and bamboo;

two men somersault,

a fight in the night.

 

Small as the stage is,

a few steps bring you far

beyond heaven.

monkey-02292-2

The Sketchbook Book Project 2013 – Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi-2736-2

Click on image to enlarge

Xoi Ga Bun   2001

Sticky rice, chicken, round rice noodles

Bamboo portfolio

Saunders Waterford, Arches 90wt, bamboo, spirit, rice and other paper from Vietnam, Old Vietnamese book, museum board, watercolor, rubbings, gouache,

Paintings and drawings, old Vietnamese book, Xerox transfers, fan, buffalo stamp, pen and ink, street litter,

Fabric, notepaper, newspaper, ribbon, thread, raffia

Poems by the artist

10 x 7 ¼ inches

The paper in Sketchbook Project 2013 http://www.sketchbookproject.com/ I received in the mail is thin and creamy colored. I’m planning on taking the book apart, using the original cover, but adding my own paper.

Photographing chairs has been an ongoing project of mine. This seems to be a good place to start.

Yesterday I printed on standard copy paper about 30 pages of images pertaining to chairs and sitting. This morning I’ll scan some drawings done during my travels. The paper is too thin to really dig into or paint on so I may gesso one side of the page to give it some body or cover the image with a clear mat medium. The images are both horizontal and vertical. We’ll see which orientation wins out.

The image above  is  from a book I made in Vietnam. I cut paper before we left on our trip. Each day I would take a few sheets to draw on. Some art supplies and a few sheets of paper fit in my backpack without having to carry around the weight of a sketchbook. The sheets of paper were separate too so I could put them together any way I wanted when I got home.

Drawing Deer with a Stick – Shall I make a Book?

The deer were hungry after the fire. Their ribs were showing. A couple of deer, followed by their babies, cautiously walked up to me. The buck appeared. I sat right down under a tree where I was standing. Rummaging though charcoal where a campfire had warmed the family during a summer visit, I found a stick and started to draw. A dozen sketches were made in one sitting. I’m thinking of making a book to sell at a reasonable price or to give away as presents to my friends. I could use a professional printing service  or I could take the drawings to a copy  store and have some books spiral bound for me. The other idea would be to create a book online. Any ideas? What do you think? How could I sell the Artists Books? Making the art is my thing. Marketing my art should be left to the experts in their field. As always, click on one of the images to enlarge.

This post is for Brad and his loving family.

Drawing with a Stick

double click on image to enlarge the drawings

While waiting to drive back from a painting workshop in Calistoga, I sat on the ground watching a cow and her son, “Tiny” who was a huge black bull. Using two 6″ x 8″ pads of paper I sketched the animals. Both sketch pads were open so while one ink drawing dried I sketched on the other pad. Holding a long stick, I dipped the end into a bottle of India ink and started to draw. Here are some of the results. I’m thinking of making it into a book. Maybe I’ll reduce them to the size of a cell phone, keep them separate and let people play, making up their own stories about these guys.