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March 24, 2023


I think you have thoroughly mastered charcoal rendering of woods in winter. But maybe scenes of the Central New York hills spoke to you in a way the Adirondack woods didn’t. I am admiring your sense of adventure and sheer nerve for haring away from the pavement and driving where you might have a long walk to get out. Did you know the road from another trip?

There is a certain Chinese quality to your charcoal drawings. Are those smudges intentional?

Events in my life and the life of a friend delayed my ability to read this post, but I kept looking deeply at the snowy scene top of this post. Thank you so much for writing about the mysterious creative process that involves both perseverance and something else that carries me forward when I am working on a piece that asks to be more than "good enough."

These winter scenes have reached me on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level, especially this one.

"Osip Mandelstam once made the enigmatic comment that he always knew when he was getting close to the end of a cycle of poems when he started writing about the stars."
Brilliant. Yes, one learns to recognize one's go-to themes and to become wary of them.

No, Peter, we didn't know the road -- we were just trusting in our 4-wheel drive Subaru.

Interesting observation, Kostas! And yes, those smudges are intentional - they form the background for layers that are going to go on top (see the picture at the top of this post to see what happened).

am: thank you for being, in so many ways, an "ideal reader" for what I am trying to do here. Knowing that the drawings and writing have touched you is a gift and encouragement for me.

Thanks for that comment, Dave. I agree that Mandelstam's observation is brilliant -- and helpful.

Hi Beth,
When I saw this drawing on Instagram, I decided I must look at it on my laptop. It is a gorgeous and brilliant drawing. From your description of doing it, I can imagine it must have been challenging! It could so easily have reduced into a rubble of black and white marks, but this picture rises above the medium in its magnificence.
Your writing gives equal food for thought. It is so difficult to take risks because the anxiety and fear can at times be crippling. But when you come out at the other end with whatever the result of those risks, the sense of satisfaction is enormous, as it must be for you now.

Priya, thank you so much, this is a real compliment coming from you, a master of charcoal, and I know you know what the challenges of the scene would have been -- in addition to the risk of taking it on in the first place.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.