Friday, September 13, 2013

Falling Forward

As we northern Californians transition from summer into fall, we often hear that there are no real seasons here. The seasons are real, they are subtle. Brown leaves cover the sidewalk gutters, the hillsides have turned golden. There is a dry wind which adds a sense of danger because it means any small ember can erupt into a raging fire, such as the recent Yosemite "Rim Fire," burning wildlife habitat, homes built into the hillsides, and redwoods alike (the picture below was taking on August 26 at a campground about 80 miles north of Yosemite--as the crow flies).

Oh yes, we have seasons: the fire season that comes from August through October is very much a part of what all Californians know intimately.

For this season's Artist Trading Cards (hosted at, there are a number of swaps featuring the fall's festivals, including Mabun and Samhain (Celtic festivals) and Day of the Dead. I've finished cards for Mabon (May-bun). I've also finished a series on Picasso, using "Pieces of Guernica" to inspire me. Pablo's 1939 painting reflects the horror of a strafing of the northern Spanish town of Guernica (GuerNIca) which had been a stronghold of the Republican forces fighting the fascist Franco during the Spanish Civil War. The Germans and Italians joined with Franco to carry out this attack on civilians to the world's shock and horror; in many ways, it was a prelude of what would come during World War II. War, no matter where it is fed, always aims at civilians; we mustn't delude ourselves that only soldiers are the ones who are impacted by battle. Picasso really understood this.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Back to ATCs

After a year and a half of not drawing, collaging, or doing artist-trading-cards, I suddenly jumped back in. Well, not suddenly. Friends started asking if I was drawing any more, and I realized I missed this most meditative of my activities, and took up my pens and water-color pencils. Art asks nothing of me. I have no ambitions for my drawings other than to enjoy doing them and showing them off sometimes. It's so different than how I experience my writing or poetry. Refreshingly simple.

So here are some recent ATCs, sent off to the far corners of the country and the world. These were done for a swap to feature Native American themes. I chose to use words from Native poems or quotes from Native chieftains.

And yet, there is only one great thing. The only thing: to live to see in huts and on journeys the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world. -- Inuit Song

As my eyes search the prairie, I feel the summer in the spring. - Chippewa song

How lovely are thy holy groves God of heaven and earth. My soul longs and faints for the circle of they trees. My heart and my flesh sing with joy to thee O God of life. - Chinook psalter

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the morning light for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. - Tecumseh

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Honor of Japanese People Everywhere

Like many other Americans, I am struck numb by the devastation in Japan by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and send out my prayers for recovery and restoration of beautiful towns and nature. Growing up in California, I have long been influenced by Japanese culture. I was fed by Japanese-American farmers in the Central Valley, and loved art and poetry inspired by Japan. Here are some Artist-Trading-Cards I made a while back using Japanese imagery. Arigato, arigato, arigato.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rock and Roll Guitar Swap


Guitar heroes inspired me to make a few commemorative ATCs to honor Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Jimmy Page and Mississippi John Hurt. All eclectic different guitar styles. All who gave/give us intense pleasure with their music.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Celtic Roots

One of the hosts for Artist Trading Cards at ATCs for All regularly organizes swaps built around the major Celtic festivals and I have now participated in four of these: Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, Ostara, and Beltane. It has been a lot of fun to use the goal of finishing cards for these swaps to learn about some of my ancestral traditions, and I'm well aware of how primal these festivals are. The imagery is very earth-rooted: fire, flame, animals, plants. Each set of cards has been the result of very different inspirations and I am not sure I am seeing a pattern in them yet. I did not set out to copy a style from one batch to the next, although if I go through the year again doing these swaps, I may choose to do just that. Lammas is a Summer Holiday, arriving at August 1st; Mabon is an Autumn Equinox festival, and acorns are sometimes associated with it; Samhain is a harvest festival celebrated at the end of October: sacrificial animals are depicted; Ostara is celebrated at the Spring equinox and a lot of the imagery we get around Easter has deeper roots in this Northern European celebration of new life and regeneration; and, Beltane is associated with May Day and is celebrated with bonfires.

    Cards created for the Lammas Swap

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