Ten years ago today I had no idea that this image — captured during a morning jog — marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. When I look at this image I remember when I took the photo, what I was thinking, where I was, who I needed to talk to, and why. Everything seemed to change that week.
I searched through the archives this morning as I waited for the work laptop to install software updates.
Five years ago this month I posted two blog posts. The entire month. Looking back, that may be an average. June is a light month for postings when compared year over year. Except in 2011 — that month 79 blog posts were offered.
Ten years ago to the date I posted the above photo in this blog post. Not mentioned at the time was that a female groundhog had eaten all the young broccoli and greens that had been planted earlier that spring. An expert was called in and he humanely captured the mother and her two pups. He informed me that groundhogs mate in early spring. Female groundhogs have really short pregnancies. So, by June the groundhog in our area was a very busy mother. It was difficult to get angry at the groundhog for eating most of my spring plantings. She was just doing what groundhogs do. Mother and pups were safely relocated to one of the nearest state parks.
Fifteen years ago this month I published a weekly column. I had been invited to contribute a weekly column by another writer. At some point I considered collecting those columns in to a book. But that manuscript, or manuscripts, is probably buried in a junk drawer somewhere in the garage.
Twenty years ago. No blog. No laptop. Just a black cloth hardback sketchbook. I sketched a model sheet for a comic book proposal.
Almost ten years ago to the date, Caleb Beissert, a poet, translator and musician, read a Lorca translation at the Kava Bar open mic. See original post: https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2011/06/08/caleb-reads-a-lorca-translation-at-the-kava-bar/
Two years later his book Beautiful, translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, would be published.
For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about the Asheville poets and the impact they made on my life.
Previously mentioned, the above image is an old sketch of the Luther Terry painting.
On weekends, I visited an art museum when I was younger. With pen and black cloth sketchbook, I recorded the painting in to my sketchbook. Practiced drawing. Researched an allegory.
But capitalism is a poor cultivator of the arts. For the price of an item of beauty and value, some would pay the same price for a 728 pixel wide by 60 pixel high web banner. A digital item that pastes at the top of a web page or email for a week or two and then disappears.
The lesson I quickly learned is that beauty is not useful. Art and design that is practical and commercial are valued in America. Sacrifice the permanent on the alter of immediate. This utilitarian principle fuels professional success. Or at least provides employment.
This drawing in my sketchbook reminds me that I once believed that beauty is lasting. And, I still do.
“Are you thinking about painting again?”
“I see the easel is up.”
“Yeah. I was cleaning up some stuff in the garage and wanted to see of the easel was in working order.”
“Sort of. . . the base wobbles. . . but that can be repaired with a wooden shim.”
“And you have a canvas on the easel.”
“Yes. . . well. . . wanted so see if the canvas was secure on the front lower horizontal bar. The top bar works. But I may need to replace the wing nut on the lower bar.
“Looks like you started painting.”
“No. Not really. Gessoed over an old painting. . . Several years ago.”
“What was wrong with the old painting?”
“It was a sketch. . .”
“Well, looks like supper is almost ready.”
“Yeah. . . you hungry?”
Later. After supper.
In the garage, old sketch books revealed ideas for paintings. Sharpie marker drawings. Charcoal sketches. Conte crayon drawings. Graphite sketches.
The sketch of a female profile. To be used in a composition inspired by a Luther Terry painting. An allegory. But who should model for the composition’s three figures? Many sketches. Poses. Lighting. All collected in thick hardcover black sketch books. One sketch earns a few minutes of consideration. Maybe. . .
A sigh. A glance outside the garage. Shadows lengthened to darkness. Sun has set.
The genre of blog writing is nearly obsolete. As far as I can tell. This is based on a conversation I had a couple months ago.
“You’re son told me you have a blog,” she said.
“Huh?” I replied.
My family was invited to a small, casual dinner party.
“Yeah, he also said you’re an artist and poet,” she said. “I used to have a blog. I mean. That was years ago. I’m not really a writer, but I blogged.”
She continued to tell me what she blogged about and where. We were both active around the same time period (by active I mean posting writings nearly daily). That was before the rise of the major social media platforms. I shared that part of what I enjoyed about the genre was the interaction with people. The exchange of ideas. The sense of being part of a greater community.
“I mostly just write on Facebook now,” she confessed. “Remember, back when, you could only leave a comment on a blog post?”
“That’s right,” I recalled out loud. “There were no like buttons or social media share icons.”
After that dinner party, I updated the art page of my blog. And planned to contribute more time and resources to blogging again.
I composed a post about the value of journaling with plan to publish it the first week of March. But it ended up in the draft folder.
Mid-March I wrote another post. This one was about discovering a collection of my old art work. But it too is in the draft folder. Well. Actually. I eventually posted it near the end of April.
But the genre of blog writing is passé. Outdated. Why do I still do this?
Then I remembered rule number eight: “Every word on your blog is a word not in your book.”
Shifting focus, I started work on a book. Or rather a series of books. Inspired by August Derleth’s Sac Prairie books, like Walden West and Countryman’s Journey. I set to work on the first manuscript.
Derleth presented a non-linear collection vignettes and entries about his home town. I moved in the direction of a daybook, or journal. Instead of spending a year at Walden Pond, or Sac Prairie, I collected entries and stories of a year in the life of a cultural creative edging toward a digital nomad.
Thoreau and Derleth drew from nature, whether from a pond or prairie. I discovered the ubiquitous screen became the prominent pool of inspiration for the first manuscript. One book manuscript became two and three. The metaphor of the glowing computer laptop screen began to crack and shatter by the fourth book manuscript.
The book series is part confession and part cautionary tale.
I deleted the blog. The only thing that remains of that original blog is the screen shot featured in this post.
In truth, I deleted all blogs I maintained. Except this one.
Ever have one of those moments when you realize you are not what you claimed or thought you were? Where an illusion of yourself, either self-imagined or externally imposed, dissipates.
Well, an interesting thing happened to me on the way to the Intermodal Station. While I had thirty minutes to spend, I lost my way through the labyrinthian shelves of Downtown Books in search of a Latin dictionary. Instead, I found a used English dictionary.
Knowing that half of the English language is built on the foundation of Latin, I found a delicious word: florilegium. Culling flowers is the literal definition. But “a volume of writings” reminded me of something else. The idea of gathering literary flowers or collecting the flowers of one’s reading. Somewhere between the Middle Ages and Renaissance the practice of writing quotes and excerpts from other texts began. Later it manifested itself in European culture as…
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Found this photo from my morning commute. A year ago.
Read a Frederick Buechner book on the morning train. And a Li Po book on the evening train.
From the archives. This goes back quite a few years. Before social media. And iPhones. How did I manage to create a regular comic strip with a full-time day job?
In truth it took a few years. Little by little. The style developed from pen and brush inking techniques — more realistic illustrations — to Sharpie® marker and Sakura Micron pen illustrations — more graphic and cartoonish. The intent was to streamline the process and art style in order to work quicker. However, the reality is that the graphic, cartoonish style takes just as much time as pen and brush. Just in different applications.
The character remains unnamed — loosely referred to as a young artist. Dressed with black turtleneck and unkept hair. The comic strip ran for maybe a year before the newspaper ended publication. A lot of newspapers and magazines shuddered that year.
I return to the “young artist.” To practice art work. A creative workout. Similar to physical fitness routines. An effort to keep the motor skills of drawing and illustration in shape.
Recent practice comic strips created remain unpublished. Private exercises. Not published in an independent newspaper. Not for public show on Instagram. Or Facebook. I do not have accounts on those social media platforms.
I may share them here. This has become a digital repository of material I find in old art portfolios and sketch books.