Friday, March 19, 2010

Apple Tree Shadow ~

Gregory was here in dandyland for almost a week, working on a shadow puppet play with a school in Corbin. There were a lot of puppets to make, so I helped out. I did a herd of animals, and then an apple tree. The apple tree puppet serves two purposes; the school play needed one, and I needed a design for Eva, in the 4th quarter of You'll Always Come Back. I'd thought of doing Eva's scene as "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden" ~ 1800s style, and for that I'd need an apple tree. This is a shadow image of a piece of cut paper with LED lights.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sole of the Ancestress:

Today I started work on the soles of the shoes for the Ancestress in You'll Always Come Back. They're made of oak, with 19th century (rusted) nails driven in. The uppers will be of hammered copper, so Kim will need to wear socks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Alf, for reasons of his own, went across the road. I followed – my excuse was to supervise him there and back; the truth was that I wanted to walk up Dry Branch. The decisive motivation was to take photos of roots as references for the Old Grandmother painting I’m working on. The Yoruba call them “Aye” ~ meaning The Mothers, but also, connected by category; Space, planet - planets.

The roots are for her skirt. She hovers a few inches above the planet. The root tips dip into Dry Branch (really only dry in drought) and write, with dark indigo on faded old gold paper.

The Grandmothers wrote! With their actual hands, holding quills, on paper, whereas nowadays they do it solely with their minds, Ethereal Things!

The boundary turned out to be in a small briarpatch, neatly concealed by the effort of nearly avoiding scratches.

Then I noticed that the roots of the trees in my camera lens looked really strange, and then the rocks as well. I pressed the button that records the photons. I took a bunch of photographs.

I’m going to paint these images, about 5 of them, to illustrate certain spaces in the stream of time on my imaginary planet.
They are in a box, and you can choose any one and buy it for a price. This saves me from framing them, for which there is neither time nor money here in this world, yet.

But paintings of trees, stones and water, the sky reflected in the water, can be appealing. Of all the things I paint, besides flowers and birds, they’re the easiest to sell. Images of snow don’t go, even though I love it.

I wonder about The Grandmother in the painting. Her image is a bricollage of parts; a corseted black wedding dress like a sleek crow or a black crustacean, a stern face that’s seen its share of misdeeds and mistakes, hairdo in the shape of wind-torqued pine, on the attenuated rootlet writing she glides in place, posture more vertical than the labyrinth of trunks and branches behind her, in front the silhouette of a tiny bird.

Hopping to and fro through his native space of streamside tangle, I even catch a glimpse (but no photo, blithe spirit) of the Winter wren. It is this shape, but darkened in the shade, I plan to place in the foreground, before the box is closed.

The box is closed and lowered into the grave, cut into the frozen dark of the clay, surrounded by the snow, and that’s it, you walk away.

On the way back, before I got to where Bud and Bobby were burning a pile of branches that Bobby’d picked up to clear the edges of the field for the first spring mowing ~ “You know it’s Spring when the Hillbillies start burning things.” ~ I found an arc of dark green grass through the old dry field-wide mat, in stimulated symbiosis with the mycelia of moon-pulled meadow mushrooms, said, in folklore spread around the planet, to mark the footsteps of other beings that, in the prescribed prohibition of superstition shall here be un-named by me.

Now all I have to do is to clarify these categories, and do the actual work of putting paint on paper, careful at the boundaries, to reveal her in layers, wise, strong, still wearing the wedding dress of time; the last thing that the ancient Enchantress muse forgot how to do was sing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daniel Hoskins Dutton ~

My Grandfather, Daniel Hoskins Dutton ~ born 1861 - died 1937. Like my Dad, he was the 7th son of a 7th son. Watercolor.

Friday, March 12, 2010


This is my first try at fraktur, an old Pennsylvania-German decorative art. The Free Library of Philadelphia has a nice collection of fraktur, and an informative website.

Webpage for You'll Always Come Back ~

William & I just launched a webpage for You'll Always Come Back at

Thursday, March 11, 2010


About 30 years ago, in Paris, I met a beautiful gypsy girl from Uruguay. She was wearing a long skirt that looked like the crushed petals of a black poppy, and unlike the carefully coifed French women, had wild gorgeous hair free in the wind. Her name was Veronica Artagaveytia. She spoke 6 languages fluently, and had a little net bag to carry her notebook, and the moss, or something that looked like moss, that she rolled into cigarettes. We met at an avant garde ballet performance at the Pompidou Centre. The ballet was danced by a corp of very beautiful and highly skilled ballerinas, naked, who executed geometric patterns of classical steps with extreme precision and no emotion whatsoever. The set was a large scale video projection of buildings falling in earthquakes, floods, disasters of war, bombs, etc. The sound was alternately a very loud amplified faucet drip, alternated with an equally loud jackhammer. Veronica didn't care for it, and although I was impressed, I thought it was contrived.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was returning home the next morning.

After the ballet, having discovered that we had much in common besides an interest in dance, we decided to find a nice quiet cafe where we could talk. But walk as we did, up and down the cobbled streets of the Left Bank, the exact cafe eluded us. While we walked Veronica railed about the unnatural trimming of trees in Paris, in cities in general. She was headed to India, away from tree-trimming.

I told her that I was a hillbilly. "What is this Bill of the Hilly?!"

Finally she lost patience at my inability to find our cafe and declared that we would choose the very next cafe that appeared, regardless. The very next cafe that appeared was a militantly gay leather bar. We went in. Neither the owner nor the clientele seemed pleased. Veronica ignored their displeasure, if she noticed it at all, and we sat down at the bar.

The only drinks served besides hard liquor were champagne cocktails, so I ordered two. It was then that Veronica noticed the bartender's pet, an enormous Great Dane large enough to swallow both of us. What she noticed is that its ears and tail had been clipped, and this trimming, not of branches on a tree, but of a dog, sent her into a voluble tirade, in French, so that everyone who should hear it would. The waiter brought us our drinks. The drink for Veronica was tinted blue; mine was pink. To add injury to insult, after I paid, I realized that the waiter had short-changed me, about $20. Since my French wasn't even conversational, much less argumentative, I shrugged it off. Veronica's eyes widened at this, and she asked, "Doesn't that make you angry?" I told her no, that I was very pacifistic and only expressed anger in my dreams. Her response; "That is bad. We should go and get machine guns and come back and kill all of them." Headline: Hill Billy and Uruguay Gypsy kill in Paris Gay Bar.

Back home I got a postcard. I don't remember exactly what it said, but I remember she wrote that when we parted she felt a "tendresse" ~ "like saying goodbye to a river or a star."

Imagine my amazement when, a couple of days ago, I was deleting spam and just barely happened to assemble the letters in front of me into the name Veronica Artagaveytia before pressing the button! Of course she turned out to be a fabulous artist, and this video shows some of her work. I am so happy to find her again!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Ancestress:

(Watercolor on paper, 30" x 22," 2010)

My Grandmother, Sarah Belle Dutton, from a cabinet card album inscribed, "Presented to Sallie Dutton; by her husband Xmas 1896." I believe this photograph was taken before her marriage to my Grandfather, Daniel Hoskins Dutton, in 1893. Mutton leg sleeves were in fashion in the late 1880s. The plant beneath her is one of my mandrakes. Sarah Belle was an artist, needle-worker, herbalist, school teacher, accountant, farm manager, housewife, and the mother of eleven children.

(I'll try to take a better photo of this watercolor when the clouds move on!)