Sunday, February 19, 2017

Composition In Metal

Someone used whatever was available to cover an opening in a wall. I stopped to admire the repetition of vertical lines and the way that rust had gradually replaced the  paint. Was there any thought beyond pure utility that went into this patch of metal scraps? Did the unknown patcher deliberately turn the line in the white piece to match the corrugated lines? Was the green metal chosen instead of some other scrap because the patcher liked that bit of color?  We'll never know. Keep looking. Accidental compositions are out there everywhere.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Box of Chocolates

Is life really like a box of chocolates? If you go by the example of this box, you could say that life is orderly, up to a point, but that there are always some extra, more intriguing things that are worth trying to fit in, like those lovely hearts. Some parts of life are clearly spelled out for us, like the chocolates with printing on top. I'll just hope for fewer nuts and room for one or two more hearts

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Snowy Forsythia

Earlier this week, we had the best kind of snowfall, one that drifted down before dawn, frosting the lawns and trees but leaving the streets clear. It was magical for a few hours. The snow was already melting when I happened upon a bank of forsythia. Encouraged by a mild day here and there, it has unfurled its blossoms. I admired the way the snow set off the bright yellow clusters. More cold, gray days are ahead, but this convergence of winter and spring is a reminder that spring is inevitable. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Nature of Pink

Last Saturday, Washington was crowded with women and men wearing hats in every shade of pink. Before the march, a concern had been voiced that too much attention could be focused on all those pink hats, rather than the reasons why so many people had gathered. Pink has a complicated history. Originally, pink was the "boy color" and blue was the "girl color." As late as the 1920s, magazines and department stores were recommending pink for boys. But by the 1940s, pink had become firmly associated with girls and no boy wanted anything pink. The McCarthy-era term "Pinko" carried connotations of weakness along with communist sympathies. Nowadays, pink has been coopted for the Breast Cancer Awareness machine. While it's a good cause, this inevitably reinforces the association of pink with all things feminine. Perhaps, at the very least, by continuing to wear those pink hats, pink will signify strong women (and men) who are unafraid to take a stand on issues important to them.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Winter View From Roosevelt Island

We tend to think of winter as a gray and charmless time, especially if there is no magical blanket of snow. Winter is a time of nuance, a good time to notice the many shades of rust and brown on the ground and in the undergrowth, to revel in the tracery of almost-black branches. Standing on Roosevelt Island in the middle of the Potomac River, I turned my back on the more photogenic views of Washington, DC and instead looked across to Virginia, where Rosslyn's office buildings rise up beyond the trees. Lines and angles in every tone of gray and blue-gray contrast with the irregularity of the branches. There is inspiration in this, and a reminder of how subtlety can be beautiful.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Inaugural Port-o-Potties

A big ceremonial event involves untold numbers of details that most of us never think about. Consider the upcoming presidential inauguration. In anticipation of the thousands of people who will crowd into the heart of Washington, port-o-potties have sprouted like dandelions on an untended lawn. They circle the museums and march down side streets. The most impressive group I've seen so far is the battalion lined up near the Canadian Embassy, ready for duty. Reports abound that tape is being used to obliterate the company name on the ones that might end up on camera during the parade. Let's all offer a word of gratitude to Don's Johns for filling a need when crowds gather, whether it is to applaud or to protest.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Every Color In the Rainbow

Is there an artist out there whose heart does not pitter patter a little faster at the sight of a big group of ANYTHING in a vast selection of colors? It probably starts with that first box of 64 crayons. As we try new media and new techniques, we experience that same thrill from a new tin of high quality colored pencils or that longed-for set of watercolors. Step inside a quilt shop and gaze down the length of the shelves: yellows, oranges, rusts, reds, burgundies, violets. Oh, the possibilities! Now, for me, my fixation is the Wonderfil thread display at Artistic Artifacts. So many colors, textures and weights, that it actually turns a corner in the shop. Let’s call it Threadlandia. I want to live there and stitch happily ever after. Check it out, along with all the other exotic and colorful things at