Some of the many aspects of Ada

Ada plays for Lucy, our backyard goat.

Ada plays for Lucy, our backyard goat.

ada quiet portrait

This is our very quiet Ada.

ada LOUD portrait

And this is our very LOUD Ada.

Ada Hummingbird

Ada and friends waiting for a Hummingbird to light in their hands. (Because they have seen big brother Broadus quietly and gently capture and release them in a similar way.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Portrait of Fernanda and Notes on Process

This is an edited re-posting of of something I wrote a few days ago, hopefully free of blather. I picked up a virus from the kids and while they recovered quickly I developed pneumonia, a condition I am predisposed to. The last time this happened my fever spiked at 105.F and I wrote madly from my hospital room, fully under the influence of fever and meds. Alright so far, and then I hit “SEND”. A little later Naomi arrived and confiscated my laptop.

So I should have know better that to write and publish now. I have separated out the con-jumbled issues into two post. This, the first, is on art, Fernanda, her marvelous life, the umbrella of her sunshine, and my marvelous, forgotten pink painting. Maybe in he next post I will address the surprising discovery of liver cancer.

Fernanda Sosa

A current portrait of Fernanda Fernanda Sosa in her Caracas living room. A most cherished friendship. She is sitting in front of a painting I had almost forgotten; mixed media on printed upholstery fabric. The fabric was a cotton/linen blend of English origin. I wish I could find more.

I painted on the back, where the bleed from the repeated floral print was more subtle and more lovely than the actual print on the face of the linen. The added benefit to working on the back was that there is no Scotchguard to repel my paint. Later I discovered transparent gesso which would have sealed and protected the raw fabric from the materials I used in the painting. In that time concerns about archival quality were not topmost on my mind.

The painting was from a series that I called my “Rockheads”. It was a familiar process that began with unrolling a bolt of raw canvas, (or printed upholstery material) – onto cracked and broken lengths of sidewalk. I would mark out portrait or landscape-oriented rectangles as I went down the line and fill them with charcoal impressions picked up from the sidewalk. From there to the studio walls (I had forty foot long studio walls) and standing back and meditating on suggested images.

These paintings were process pieces that slowly cohered over time. I sharpened suggested images with charcoal, pastels, scrubbed in clear binder, continued with colored latex or acrylic washes. From there to solid color and finally to oils for finishing. Running out of inspiration on one image I would move down the line to work on another until ideas returned. Some of the discreet pictures grew into one another until they became inseparable, more challenging and interesting. When finished I cut them apart and stretched them.

This was a way of working carried over from a childhood of tracing images in the clouds and faces in the wood grain when I should have been focusing on math and science as I sat at my little wooden desk. I have never tired of it.

After reading “The Success and Failure of Picasso”, by John Berger, I went through a time when I looked at my work and judged it rather harshly, seeing it as too facile, too easy.  It was a way of working I enjoyed and that came naturally but my half-WASP background got in the way of total enjoyment and acceptance.

Picasso’s ultimate failure, according to what I took away from Berger, was that in his later years his subject – that being himself – was too small. He needed a larger subject. Not something to go into here but I puzzled over implications for me and my subject. I considered my subject to be my life, my stories, my recovery. My engagement with art was a major part of my recovery from a life that up to a certain point had truly not been very well or wisely lived. Art was essential to my healing and continued emotional and spiritual growth and continued well-being. I let go of the thought that my subject might be too small. It was necessary work that served an essential function.

new studio-56-Ada

How the paintings begin, with Ada at 2 years.

How they progress

How they progress

what they can become, over time

Posted in art, art and alchemy, maria fernanda sosa, painting, portraits, Process, recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Catfish and Snapper

Catfish and Snapper.

A little something from my friend, Don Jorge.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A little E.R. poem

I spent a little time in the Emergency Room at St. Vincent’s this morning. They found some pneumonia and I’m at home with good company (Broadus) and antibiotics. It turns out my ER Doc, Jamie Gagan, is a practicing artist disguised in a white coat. Here is a link to some of her work.

For what it’s worth here is a little poem I wrote on my phone as I lay on my back in my sick bed in my little cubicle. Thinking about… I don’t know, just thinking, making stuff up.

Every breath is a moment in time
a breath of yours is a breath of mine
Under the hill and far away
the children come the children play
Dusk brings a weekend of music and dreaming
Night is the home to which we are winging
Most awaken with the coming of dawn
And some remain at the fountain of song.

Here is a picture of some flowers Broadus brought me when I returned home. His eye was drawn to the identical yellows in the two different flowers and he made me a present.

Broadus brings flowersNot Hiroshi’s hands, but a kid’s refined hands already doing interesting work. He is just beginning his artistic journey. These are the hands of a 6’2″ fifteen year old finishing his first year at the New Mexico School for the Arts here in Santa Fe.

And here is a picture of the acequia running at the border of our back yard, and why I can call our place waterfront property. If it were not for this occasional storm-driven acequia flow creating a dense green swath through the city I would feel much less at home here in our High Desert setting.

Green Zone

Posted in 'tis a gift to be simple, acequia, art, broadus, callings, Dr. Jamie Gagan, nmsu, poetry, stories | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Hiroshi Sueyoshi and Jane on their swing through Santa Fe

I guess how to do this will come back to me as I write. And I need to write. First though, I am transferring my facebook post about Hiroshi and Jane’s visit over to this site. Because I know how to work with this one and I find facebook hectic, and when I want to think about things out loud I want a little quiet space to do it in. I do think I’ll start a new blog though. This is too cluttered, and I want to tell stories. Maybe over the weekend.

Here are the notes on Hiroshi’s visit.

I took these pictures of Hiroshi Sueyoshi’s hands today. He is holding a (as yet unidentified) black clay pot with a large center opening and a smaller opening at the top of the handle. A lamp? It is a Goodwill find I passed on to Hiroshi. Jane and Hiroshi are finishing the first leg of their Western Tour. It is a pleasure to see them again. Hiroshi was the first person I met on my first pass through Wilmington in 1978 when he was the Artist-in-Residence at CFCC. I was exploring the decommissioned WW2 floating torpedo repair factory the school was using for marine tech classrooms and I stumbled into his studio. I remember him as soft spoken and kind, a light in his eyes and the hint of a smile. I was in need of a friend at the time. The light is still there, so is the smile, so is the friend.

Hiroshi 2

Jane cajoled Ada, our 6 year old, to bring out her cello and play for us. Jane played first and knew all Ada’s tunes. It was a pleasure to see them together. Yesterday Broadus, Hiroshi, Jane and I went to brunch outside of Santa Fe at the San Marcos Feed Store and Cafe. Afterwards, in the Hardware store that is also part of the Feed Store and Cafe, Hiroshi bought horseshoes of various sizes, some brass hardware and a pair of spurs. Not silver, but very pretty.

Thanks to Jane Base, who emailed ahead to say they were coming. I hope to see Wilmington folks when we are back the last two weeks of July.

For those who do not know Hiroshi here are links to his website and to an article about him and his work.…

Hiroshi, Jane and Ada

Ada plays for Jane and Hiroshi. Jane, who teaches violin and piano, knew all the songs.

Hiroshi Sueyoshi(Wrightsville Beach Magazine)

Scrolling through the “Likes”(on Facebook) I see so many familiar names and faces. I have missed North Carolina, Wilmington friends and the water in particular. We have been living in a parched landscape – beautiful in its way – at 7,000 feet above my comfort zone for the last 8 years. We have added two mountain girls to our family, Ada Corrina Meridian Swinton, 6.5 years old, and Calliope Roselma Pearl, age 2, – Swinton, I beieve, but maybe Swinton-Mobbs. I forget, but I think the girls have both our names, just the reverse order from Broadus Mobbs, 15.5 years. We are a trip at the border, sorting it all out. We bought a house in Santa Fe in the Fall of ’14 and moved most of us down from the UWC-USA campus. Naomi still works there and commutes down with Calliope. She will soon be wearing other hats there though and will live with us in SF. We found a waterfront property. We back up to an Acequia, remnants of the old Spanish irrigation system. The water still flows during snow runoff, heavy rains in the mountains, and during the Monsoon season in July and August.

The Acequia Madre – the “Mother Acequia” – is a few blocks west. It runs torrents when it runs, the Flash Floods we are warned against. Our acequia doesn’t run dangerously though. Up to the knee on me. Calliope can’t play on her own but Broadus and Ada can build dams and bridges and float sticks and leaves. Even unused now the acequias still create thin green lines overgrown with grasses and trees across the city. We are five minutes from the old Plaza but we are in a bird paradise, the trees muffle the sounds of the city, we have two goats in the yard (life used to be so hard, now everything is easy because of you). Broadus wants baby chicks. Next week we will go back to the San Marcos Feed Store and Cafe, and pick out the ones he likes. I’ll rent a rototiller and till an area back by the acequia. A gentleman farmer I am not, but the assignment to Half-way house garden in Dorchester Mass saved my life and sanity once and I would like to return to the serenity, creativity, and spell-bound awe of those days. My feelings about living in NM have turned 180 degrees since moving to Santa Fe.
This feels like home. Quiet, and the screen of Chinese Elms spreading like live oaks. We found a sprawling place that needs work. There is a casita – a little house – for those of you who would like to visit and bring tidings from the East Coast or points more or less distant. The house is in Casa Alegre, one of several unbelievably sweet neighborhoods built by a guy named Stamm in the 50’s and 60’s.The 70’s too, but we are in a house built in the 50’s. Small, by today’s standards. Especially considering the converted garage I set up as a makeshift studio has been taken over by the three younger creatives living here. I’ll have to build a studio in the backyard. In the meantime I’ll used the breezeway, the interconnected porches of the houses. I will be exiting the movie business soon and be back to making stuff, the thing that has always felt like my natural calling. Anybody out there know how to make a living from Art? Hiroshi’s visit has brought up a creative surge. Facebook is such an odd way to keep up with people but sometimes it does feel good. This is better for me though.
Posted in a living treasure, Ada Swinton, art, awakening, Broadus Mobbs, cello, ceramics, friendship, getting the hell out of the movies, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, naomi swinton, writing to make sense of a life | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Broken Angel (Last Call)

What I have been up to. Beside being a daddy, working in the movies and etc. Here is a picture of a work-in-progress. Wax at this point, about 22 inches tall, ready to gate and vent and cast in bronze at the NMHU foundry. I think of it as a broken angel, or maybe a Wild Hunt survivor.  This is the third iteration as it has fallen apart or broken three times during making, gating and venting, and the work has been interrupted two or three times by out-of-town movies. I hope to finish and cast it over the summer. In the meantime Calliope has turned one, Broadus has turned fourteen. Ada will be six on the fourth of July and I’ll be one hundred and six in February. Naomi is, as always, timeless.   broken angel

Posted in "...where danger is there arises salvation also...", ada corinna, Broadus Mobbs, Calliope Zelma Pearl Swinton Mobbs, naomi swinton, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

living with one bowl?

Putting back more than I take? Good Orderly Direction? Not things I’ve been thinking about. A lot of bowls would have to go. I try to back to life. Good Orderly Direction? No. Maybe time for inventory? Look at who I am again. After all these years.

Posted in first steps, issues of long term sobriety | Leave a comment

Coal Miner’s Granddaughter

Looking over these photos I posted elsewhere I thought they might be of interest to some of you.

The photos are from a movie called “Country Justice”, filmed in Tazewell Virginia. (For a while it was known as “Coal Miner’s Grand-daughter”.) This was George C. Scott’s last movie. I was Scenic Charge, responsible for interviewing miners and collecting reference photos inside a working West Virginia low seam coal mine. This required traveling two miles inside the mountain, the ceiling never more than four feet above the floor. The miners spent their working lives crouched, crawling and shifting. I directed a crew of scenic artists and foam carvers in making a modified replication of what I saw in the mine. Our work was above ground, and light, compared to theirs.

A miner on his mining machine. (In West Virginia, across the state line from Tazewell, Virginia)

A miner on his mining machine. The grinding head is in the nose of the machine, about fifteen feet in front of the miner. The miners follow the coal seam, leaving pillars of coal to hold up the ceiling. Once the seam is exhausted the miners back out, collapsing the pillars and collecting the coal as they go.

Should the ceiling collapse on the miner, rescuers will dig in and grapple onto the back of the drilling machine and pull it out. It will quickly return to service, controlled, very likely, by another driver.  As you can see there is no overhead protection for the man.

This photo shows the actual West Virginia miners.

Despite the working conditions they were a hardy, cheerful lot.

A crew photo in the re-imagined mine.

Taswell Virginia had one motel at the time. Crew (and leads who wished) were housed with mining families. We were well fed and cared for. The local and family histories we heard did give us cause for reflection; me anyway. Generations of men worked the mines and everyone had lost someone to accident, black-lung, cave-ins, methane explosions which turned mine shafts into canon barrels, shooting miners across the valley to crash into the opposing mountain. We learned of strikes and shut-outs, shoot-outs and union-busting; the times and the economic hardships; the lack of choices for the young people. But there were also music, cheer, laughter and comfort to be shared. People are people, where ever we go. I’m glad I took this gig.
The set rigged for cave in.

Five thousand gallons of water rushed in on the actors. Among them was George C. Scott, who had to leave his oxygen bottle whenever he worked. A strong union guy, he refused to cross a picket line during the show. The production backed down.

Another shot of the real mine.

We prettied things up a bit.

Another wing of the set. When the shooting was over people from the community asked us to please leave the set in place. (We used a large municipal warehouse for Art Department and set construction.) Production agreed. We learned that for all the generations of men that had worked the mines, the women -wives, mothers, sisters, daughters – had never seen the inside of a mine, the places where their men spent their working lives. Viewing the sets gave them some idea of their loved ones working environments. A very approximate idea, as you can tell from the pictures. For other set pictures and examples of movie work – backdrops, etc. – please visit New Mexico Storyboards and Art to Go.

Posted in "...where danger is there arises salvation also...", "Country Justice" movie, Coal Miner's Granddaughter, george c. scott, lead scenic, low seam coal mines, scenic artist, set building foam carving, set painting, Tazewell Virginia, West Virginia coal miners | Leave a comment

ann, again

A note, and a response.
New comment on your post “Ann Bunting-Mock”
Author : Jeanne Scheerbaum
May, 2012
I just read a wonderful article by Ann Bunting-Mock in American Quilter magazine, January 2008.  Just want you, whomever you are, to know that she still is helping people with her ideas, words, and quilts, I am sure. It went on to explain that she began making anonymous women’s quilts from old quilt tops, rearranging, combining, repairing and finishing them, along with a ‘letter’ hidden, explaining who she was as a woman, but evidently without name.
What a marvelous way to continue ones legacy and belief in the “kind, character-building small acts such as picking up some trash, giving money to a charity drop-box, allowing someone to make a mistake or be unpleasant without getting angry….. . I find that taking myself out of the picture begins to shift something in my life and connects me to a great anonymous river of positive emotion.  The unexpected benefit of allowing and nurturing myself to embrace a bit of anonymity connects me uniquely to the world.”
Sounds like a special, giving and gentle woman to me. And she is swimming in that ‘great anonymous river of positive emotion’, a wonderful place to be, swimming in the good.  Quite a good and gentle woman!  Glad this site is still here.
Dear Jeanne,
When you left this note on my blog I was touched and pleased. I meant to get to you right away. It was thoughtful of you to write and tell me about the article, and to quote it at length. She was that good and gentle woman, and more. She had fire in her heart and expressed that, too. She helped where and as she could. I think she saw the big picture and the very small, the very human. She was smart and bright and human herself. I think she saw herself and the rest of us pretty clearly. She blessed our frailty and foibles and encouraged our gifts and strengths and was one with us, not apart. I know she suffered and she endured. She was student and teacher, darkness and light, spinning around a core of awe at the simplicity and the complexity of her universe. I’m glad you recognized her. I believe she would have recognized you.
I am waxing poetic. I live in Northern New Mexico with my small family. Our lives are quite crazy and we do our best to manage but things (like responding to mail) do slip through the cracks. Let me know if you are still out there.
I’m working out of town. I’ll post some pictures of the quilts she made for us when I get home.
This link is to a piece of writing dedicated to Ann’s memory. As is the painting I gave to her of a calf I saw in the mountains above Merida, Venezuela, while I was visiting friends there.
Posted in aan, ann bunting-mock, auld lang syne, callings, love | 1 Comment

back again

About finished with Tin Star, a pilot for a proposed Western series. If all goes well then there will be continuing gainful employment for at least some of the film community here.

Lone Ranger crewing up in ABQ. Building an Old Western town west of ABQ as well. Working on a big show can be like working in an art factory. Creative, but still a factory. I prefer smaller shows with lots of room in between for family, friends, art and travel.

I wonder, continue this blog, or set it free?




Posted in Elmo in Grouchland, film and television, film work, Gypsy Movie Trash, Lone Ranger, Merida, Muppets from Space, scenic artist, set painting, Tin Star, Venezuela | 8 Comments

Rest in Peace, Troy Davis

Troy Davis, Born October 9th, 1968. Killed at the stubborn whim of the state of Georgia September 21, 2011.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

looking for lost etching press

Kelton etching press

Kelton etching press, missing in action

Hello, my Wilmington NC, ex-creative community (Printmakers in particular!). I seem to have misplaced a very large (6 ft wheel), very heavy (burned out the clutch in my truck driving it down from Boston) and very old (120 years, plus or minus a few) etching press. This press was (if I recall) manufactured by M. M. Kelton Co, (Brooklyn ?) New York, in the late nineteenth century.

It was last seen at The Independent Art Company gallery. Someone asked to borrow it and I said ok. Later we took a 3 month gig in New Mexico that turned into 5 years and I managed to lose track of it. Recently I have needed access to a press and I remembered – everything except who I loaned it too. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this old, large, heavy, beautiful object please email me at or call: 910-233-2497. Thanks you so much. I miss your faces. See you soon, I hope.

Posted in etching and engraving, Kelton etching press, lost and found, lost Kelton press, MM Kelton Sons Brooklyn New York, Wilmington NC printmakers | 6 Comments

Glenn Buttkus writes again

Ada at two, standing in front of a jumble of scenes pulled from a full life, just like with Glenn’s Poem I posted below. Now she’s two and a half and painting. A firecracker, born on the 4th of July. The picture caught my attention when I was looking for an image to accompany Glen’s writing.

How They Found Me

steinbeck lost dog
women red roaring
skin bukowski cream
tour bra-flinging pow-wow
drake headstone nicholas tilt
moon mountain gods foot
old field school bus
weeping blood soldier
winged dance ballet laces
naked cat sonata
crazy cornflakes
gleason sleep number
aging mirror twin wrinkles
salmon toss trash talking
sphincter blues tacoma pier
bear lips bledsoe
broadsword bare nipples
whistle train sadness
byrd leg panties paso
egypt fist square sun
burroughs bath house break
zone creek serling owl
zelda doll cancer flowers
police poem handcuffed words
saxophone harjo tattoo tulsa
cd funsterville motorcycle lyrics
fidelo butt rash ride
pine violin ferrari bus
hilo bacon bungalow bobbing
picasso pears franco figs
fringed custer flight goggles
raven ranch poe park
eagle drive-in talon fort
poetics joyous morning meal.

Glenn Buttkus

February 2011

Glen’s blog is bibliosity. Check it out to see many more examples of his work and the work of his friends. You can also listen to him read his work there, and visit his marvelous image collections. And I have to say check out his On Patrol for a mind-blowing piece of writing. No soft or happy pictures there.

“What do I see? I see a barefoot angel looking at me. Also a snake. Where did that snake come from? And these red shoes? I would like one final blessing before heading out to cross that Supernatural Bridge, please.”


Posted in "...where danger is there arises salvation also...", ada corinna, bibliosity, dinky-dau, glenn buttkus, image collections, memory, On Patrol, storybook collaborative, supernatural bridges, Vietnam War | 5 Comments

Yemaya’s Children – the Orishas return

Another story from Damyanti in response to the image I put up as a writing prompt for her. I never know what will spark her writing or the direction it will take, but I am always delighted to read what comes out. She brings a magical sensibility and a chameleon-like ability to diffuse into the story and disappear until surprise! she opens her eyes and I see what she sees.

The picture she used is from a scroll (4′ x 25′) of connected-by-theme paintings which I later cut apart and stretched separately. I saw them as creation myths. This image was the first in the series. It is about 3.5′ x 4′. I used acrylic lay-in colors finished with oil glazes on printed linen (image painted on the reverse as the pattern’s bleed-through produces a more subtle background – also, no scotch-guard protective film on back). I’m glad Damyanti showed up to write the stories. Here is her story.

Yemaya’s Children

Quit swimming in the air, Kenny tells them, air is no place for fish.

But they refuse to listen.

During the day they forage amid the plants in their aquarium, driving him crazy most weeks because no sooner than he puts in a half-decent plant in their aquarium they set about ripping it apart. The Singapore Aquaria, set above the sparkling, man-made Sentosa beach, likes each of its aquariums to look as neat and well-groomed as Singapore parks, gardens, people and government. If Kenny, a Filipino, is to survive here he has to make sure the Blue Tialpia behave.

But the Tilapia do not know about the obsession for order that hovers about them.

Each moonlit night they rise from their aquarium, and before Kenny’s helpless eyes, they rise into the blue ether, taking their time.

Quit swimming in the air, come back here, Kenny orders them, or they’ll fire my ass.

The Yemaya will protect you, the Tilapia babble in a chorus, like precocious children. She is the mother of all us Orishas, the most powerful guardians of old, and of the lands, the rivers, and the ocean. She is our mother and yours, too.

I know who is my mother and she is back home sleeping in the Philippines, come back now or I’ll lose my job and she’ll starve, pleads Kenny, hiking up the pants that have slipped below his belly.

We’re the children of Yemaya, the now-faint fish voices rain down from the moonlit sky above the blue-black ocean, and the red-rimmed moon is our home.  Our job is to send dreams and desire to all creation, mate day with night, turn up in the dreams of newly-weds on land and in the sea, multiply the children of Yemaya.

If you’re so powerful, why do you swim about like a bunch of common fish in an aquarium? Come back down, air is no place for fish.

If fish do not belong in air, do you belong in this country of another, cleaning muck where you could have planted fields back home?

Kenny has no answer. The Blue Tilapia rise and fade till he can see them no more, they go home.

The next morning, Kenny does the same.

Posted in character, Damyanti Ghosh, damyantiwrites, ekphrasis, fiction, fish, image prompts, lucid dreaming, picture prompts, speed-writing, the Orishas, Uncategorized, writing, writing prompts, Yemaya's Children | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Damyanti Writes

I lifted Damyanti’s story from her blog, the Daily (w)rite : a daily ritual of writing. She wrote the story from the image I put up Feb 3rd. She spins amazing stories out of just about anything, just for exercise. I’ve known her maybe three years now and she just keeps going, and going, and going.

Meet Anna Williams and her hats, everybody.

Once you wear your hat you’ve gotta keep it on, they tell Anna, you have to become a legend because that is why you were born. Everyone in your family has done it. We married into it, Annie-girl, we bought it, traded it, bred it, so just you go ahead up on the stage and spit it out, and no matter what they’ll recognize it, because we wrote it into your chromosomes, baby, just go ahead, all right? Keep your hat on and you’ll be okay, they say, and give her a shove.

That was ten years ago and now she walks tall, a hard-headed girl, wearing many hats, a singer, songwriter, seductress, dancer, actress, diva, designer. A legend in the making, they say, we told you Anna-darling, just listen to us , they say, just keep your hat on and you’ll do well.

Sometimes though, she wears all of the hats together, and that’s when she has the most fun, though neither them nor anyone else knows it. To shrill whistles and hoarse cat-calls, under flashing strobe lights, surrounded by stale perfume, cigar smoke, and beer fumes, Anna purls her much-insured body the color of midnight, that otherwise appears on screen in flashes, covered by iron-clad contracts.

She wears a mask as she twirls around the cold, hard pole, and her hats–one hat upon the other– a red hat with tassels, an oriental hat with ostrich feathers, a fedora a top-hat, a blue balaclava, a wretched beanie embroidered with pearls, never letting any of them fall as she moves.

The elderly men in loosened, delirious ties do not know what awesome return-on-investment the cash they drop at the bar brings them. Anna Williams in the flesh, all of it on display.

Anna breathes in her freedom as she raises her leg strapped to stilettoes, she smells her abandonment in the upturn of her arms and the hardening of her nipples, in the bracing of her stomach she finds the strength of her spirit.

I have kept my hats on, Mom, Dad, I’m okay, Anna mutters under her breath as she whirls, eyes flaming. Glued to her head by the power of her will, her hats tilt, sway, but do not fall. Because once you wear a hat, baby, you better keep it on.

Posted in art, Daily (w)rite, Damyanti Ghosh, ekphrasis, hat chick, image prompts, painting, poetry, stories | Leave a comment

Creation Myth # 12

Two for Damyanti Ghosh, who requested image prompts. Survey her work at This drawing is of my niece, McKenzie Jones, when she was a teen-ager. Not so long ago…


At one time I was putting up new images every thursday as prompts for writers. Those prompts are still up and available. They are archived – along with the collaborations – at

This second image is from a scroll of creation myths. This was the first in the series. The size is about 3.5′ x 4′, acrylic lay-in finished with oil glazes on printed linen (image painted on the reverse where the bleed of pattern became a more subtle background).

If you write something be sure to leave a comment and a link back to your work so others can enjoy it also!

Posted in art, collaborative storybook, creation myth, creative process, Damyanti Ghosh, damyantiwrites, ekphrasis, image prompts, McKenzie Jones, poetry, stories | 11 Comments

able, reasonable, experienced, available on short notice

What is it about self-promotion and competition? Everybody says it is necessary for the artist but most of us hate it. Resume and availability now up on new website. Lots of varied experience in film and TV on the East Coast but out here in New Mexico I am mostly known as an able, experienced, multi-talented, creaky old set painter. I guess I have to let people know what else I can do. Check out new mexico storyboards. Let me know what you think please!

Posted in art for film and tv, competition, concept art, idea generation, illustration, new mexico storyboards and art to go, old school..., sculptor, self-promotion, storyboard artist | Leave a comment

She came, she bathed, I asked

(A reworking of a poem I wrote in a time of rooming houses, everyday visions, clawfooted bathtubs, visiting friends, tribal ghosts and protectors and conversations with god on the Dorchester Avenue bus.)

She came, she bathed, I asked,

“Are you and augury of love?
Or love itself?”

At that she laughed,
she made a splash.
Downstairs a door was opened and
in the sudden draft I saw
the legions tramp across her back.
Under glint-eyed standards
each man drew and poised to hack
with brittle spears and swords and axes
flesh made for kisses, not excesses.

Again she laughed as with my hand
I washed the scene away.

She said,

“I cannot tell the future dear,
nor predict it from your fits.
Am I an augury of love?
Or love itself?
Who knows?
Accept the present, dear,
And dear, accept the gift.”

Posted in art, love, lucid dreaming, poetry, stupid war | 7 Comments

what if?

What if we really couldn’t afford to take care of our elderly, infirm, sick, dying, homeless, wounded, maimed, disabled, crazy… ? What if even Defense had a budget so tight the argument over whether to pay for one B-1 Bomber or instead, pay for city schools, hospitals, firetrucks, meals, medicine, shelter simply evaporated. Evaporated into listless, desultory conversations about the way things used to be when it seemed that we had choices. It seemed we had choices and if we argued our preferences reason – and kindness – just might in the end prevail.

But then to get to what seems to be the end of the line and find that survival means paring down to essentials, eliminating the niceties, the superfluous, the frills, in just the way we do when stripping to fight – stripping ourselves of binding wraps, stripping our enemies of their humanity. We have to see them as not-people, as not-us, or suffer as we slay them. Even if we don’t slay but simply walk away, allowing them to not-thrive to their very deaths, it will be easier if they don’t seem human.

Will our sense of humor keep pace with our sense of the tragic, the flawed, the foolish if meaning and hope gurgle away? We are on a foundering ship but if we can, at least sometimes – laugh at life, at ourselves, at death, even as we throw the weak and helpless overboard, even as we know that we will inevitably follow them – then maybe we buy ourselves, and our healthy children, and our able friends – a little more time. Then we might survive. Then we might even survive to be worth something, remembering we did what we had to do in a time when there was no time for second guessing, and precious little time for tears. Laughter makes the gods crazy. If we want to outgrow them we need to laugh often and we need to laugh long. It wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and start laughing now.

… half-baked thoughts generated out of a National Geographic article on the Human population fast approaching 7 billion people. Happy New Epoch, everybody.

Images by 

Sebastião Salgado.

Posted in ...into the Valley of Death rode the Seven Billion, fragments, Global Poverty, global weather change, Mewling, overpopulation, Sebastião Salgado, the Great Re-Depression | 5 Comments

happy new year everyone

I hope the year proves to be really wonderful for all of us. I raise my little glass of air to you and yours. May we prosper, may we thrive, may we know meaning, love, and joy. May our paths be full of light and may we be invisible to the darkness. And to the darkmess.

Let’s look out for each other, drink more water, share strengths and skills, look around to see the individuals, currents and movements we were really meant to share our lives, our being with and move in those directions.

All the best,


Posted in wishes for the new year | Leave a comment

work in progress

Moved into new studio in the Spring of 2010 and started new canvas (6′ x 20′, minor monsterpiece). (Pics should be 2 post down from this one.) That work interrupted shortly thereafter by life and work. Finished in September painting on “Cowboys and Aliens” movie. Civilized hours, good people to work with. Home again now, centering down, contemplating the approach of my 2nd Saturn Return. (What do I want to let go of? What do I want to keep this time around?)

Thirty years ago the choice seemed perish or change. I changed, (had to, I’m just not as tough as my companeros who took things to the very bitter end) but I still wrestle with familiar demons. We spin through space (real?), across time (not real?) and splat against choices and endings: some immediately or ultimately fatal, some just painful new beginnings seasoning us for more of the same.

The issues may be familiar but I am thirty years older. Saturn may be positioned again as it was at the time of my birth but everything has also moved – along with all the rest of the stars in this spiral galactic arm – to some new place in the heavens. The idea of the Return is one more useful metaphor, this time borrowed from astrology. A poetic concept that speaks to me as I contemplate my years on the planet, and the ways in which I would like to spend the years that remain.

The life, I suppose, is the real work in progress. I have not been keeping this blog current. Life with a two year old, a ten year old, a 37 year old with kids of his own, a partner still stunning after all these years, my freelance work in the film industry means posts here are now few and far between. I see from the blog stats that people still check in from time to time. I want to thank and send out my best wishes to all who stop by here.


Posted in art, Broadus and Ada, cowboys and aliens, painting, poetry, Saturn Return, set painting, stories, the art of recovery, wall sized sketchbook, work in progress | Leave a comment


her bio, lifted from “Stop and Wander“, followed by a comment also sifted from there.

amuirin– I’m a blue-skinned bellydancer from the planet Melio 5 (not to be confused with the much more infamous Melio 15, home of Whilse Cornflapper, the 8 tongued double jointed gigolo/horse bandit). I have long, glittery pink hair and three earth degrees in Home Economics, Feminist Studies, and Deviant Psychology. I love horse back riding, long walks in the swamps and double bacon cheeseburgers with chocolate coated puppydog tails. I have been searching for a mate for a long time, but it’s hard to find an earthling who sings like David Bowie and can breathe underwater.

My goal in life is to someday harness my energies to write a big book of lies, instead of just typing small, sorry, manageable ones.

I live here. coastline2.jpg

That’s often enough to make people jealous.


Amurin, I enjoy the rhythms I find in your writing – rhythms of breathing, waking, sleeping, tossing and turning, coming and going, moon rise and moon set, the dark troughs and translucent spattering crests of waves breaking, opening, merging, receiving –

of friends disappearing, vanishing, sometimes returning and time unrolling out to its end over nothing, or something? I have to wonder if we all scrawl the same questions across our creations? “Who are we? What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?”



Posted in amuirin, best bios, friendshp, poetry, stop and wander, storytelling, writing | 2 Comments

work in progress

Posted in addiction, art, below the line, Broadus and Ada, charcoal drawing, cowboys and aliens, new studio, painting, Saturn Return, set painting, wall sized roughs, work in progress | Leave a comment

ada crazy hair

our little firecracker turned 2 on the 4th of July. I’ve been away from blogging (and painting and writing) for quite a few months. Work, family, a nest full of kids can do that. Does it to me anyway. Starting again with family pictures is a way of re-introducing and re-centering myself. I’m finished with my most recent movie project and have a little time at home now to get back to the writing, painting, making up stories. I would wish for more time at home but with half the country out of work it doesn’t seem the time to turn down a paying job. Not until my famous artist career lumps out of low gear anyway.

I’m trying to puzzle out how to make a gallery of pics I can then link to from this page, from one photo maybe, rather that have the whole gallery here. My wordpress skills are rusty from disuse. Can anyone tell me how to do that? Do I need to link to picasa or some other outside photo storage system?

Posted in ada corinna meridian swinton, cynthia webster, family and friends, is this love?, jason bruno, naomi swinton, spencer broadus aurelius mobbs, this is love, will scarlet and sabine violet | 3 Comments

firecracker girl turns 2

Ada, our 4th of July baby. I’m returning to something I wrote after she arrived. I made it up of course. I imagine it will be a few more years before she can tell me what it was really like.

The Daughter’s Song

I swim through the darkness, always upward, my eyes open,
looking ahead through the streaming dark water
to the wavering image of my father, smiling,
holding my eyes as I kick to him.
He knows the joy of my kicks and wriggles,
my speed in the water,
my delight at finding myself here,
and once more, a girl.
I rejoice in my strength,

reach for him through my image,
my image held, once again, as a twist of wind on water.

For a split second his blue eyes and broad smile overlay mine,
we see through each others eyes,
I touch his face, his rough beard, his strong hands take mine
and the image wavers but the love never does.

The wind whistles around us, singing the song it always sings
when I come back in. The birth song of ending, of beginning,

of having and holding, finding and releasing,
letting go and losing and finding and touching and singing

and losing and finding again.

Posted in Broadus and Ada, firecracker girl, home birth, jason bruno, kiss of the wind, naomi swinton, poetry, supernatural bridge, works in progress | 5 Comments

hello again…

Friends have left notes here over the past weeks and I have either been too busy – or too idle – to respond. I’m reluctant to return to this blog. Keeping it up requires mental and emotional space I don’t have to spare now. I sometimes think of starting a new one – anonymous this time, a place where I could post without self-consciousness.

Deb Szczech Zabel – such a great name – left a note here the other day which led me back to another post and the thread of our conversation, which was about missing friends and losing loved ones. I am re-posting the poem I found there, one I haven’t thought of in a while. Goodnight Marcia Ryder, and now so many others, wherever you are.

The Awakening


Poem for the Family

What so deeply underlies our baseline conceptions that fathom weights turn in circles and loop like one seeking hope in the ocean, swimming in waters far beyond waters we know?

What over-arches our thinking from such a far distance we can only guess… Maybe…. as above, so below?

What holds us here like the unknown unseeable holds the mosaic total?

Father swings through the trees, he wrestles crocodiles, white men, personal demons. I see a small jewel – green hills and blue ocean – rotating inside the compass of heaven. Fine silver threads in circles and spirals, fractured pinpoints of gold, ruby and emerald hang in a canopy of velvet. The absence of light does not equal darkness; sight shatters on far-away anvils and leaves hammer shards, finally silent.

Through transparent eyelids I watch a sandstorm cover the sun. Twilight rides not on light but whips around from darkness, a rude wind marshaling vast killing wings. Between sight and knowing are clear jelly curtains and outside, the mean blur of teeth. The wind is an iron-framed plow; a rusty, steaming, oil -flecked  stallion with shoes of blue steel, throwing up sand, clacking, spitting and clattering.

It is a torn accordion, wheezing and whistling, entropy compressed and then tortured through ripped leather fittings. The wind hits the dunes with cutting fists of diamond. It is here that my mother nurses her husband. She waits down the wind, the triumph of darkness, the blowing sand peeling skin, carving bones. As the rocks are ground down Mother swings Father onto the wind and leaps on behind him.

She seizes a good night not to go gentle in and leans to the stallion’s ear hissing: Is this the worst you can do, evil thing? A maniac riding a maniac wind, heels hard in its ribcage, fists in its mane, holding a man who is dying. She drives her heels in, she spurs the wind on, into the well of souls that they came from. The wind sends it’s unrest, it’s hornets and locusts but nothing remains here to kill or consume except death, and death is dying.

Time has unrolled to its end over nothing and no new myth comes. No milk streams through space from her breasts, no planets or galaxies spring from her forehead, or anus and he’s just crazy, with crazy thoughts, like: The child beside the elephant is so small, yet the elephant obeys him.

Higher now than she has ever been, she holds her husband through the driest time. The black wings of another wind sweep down. The ground turns upside down and vanishes. Stars take the place of the sand. Silence and stillness replace sound and movement and now the unteaching, in earnest, begins.

walking on water

Posted in my mythology, poetry, sun and moon, Uncategorized, walking on water | 18 Comments

How Many Stories Can A Picture Tell?

Catherine Nesbitt called the other day to buy a painting. It was her husband’s birthday and the painting gave Jim pleasure so she wanted him to have it. If the truth be told it wasn’t her favorite. The other painting they have been holding in safekeeping for me in North Carolina was actually the favorite, but that is one my 9 year old painted with me two years ago, when he was 7, and for a lot of reasons, mostly sentimental, we are not ready to part with it yet.

But Jim likes the other one a lot, too, and so we made the deal. I told her the image had been used as a writing prompt on the Storybook Collaborative and there might be writing that could come along with it and which might increase Jim’s pleasure. Of course she wanted to see what there was to see and so I dug to see what ekphrasis pieces people might have written about the painting. The painting to me was a constellation of images and I couldn’t remember, really, what might have been written. I hoped I would find something.

As luck would have it, I did find some things. I will post the image and the links to the writing below, because I think the story is interesting.

loopy heart

Loopy Heart (a.k.a. Mobius Heart: a.k.a. The Wheelbarrow Woman); mixed media,oils and charcoal on canvas, approx. 4’ x 3’

The first piece of writing I found was:

teach me death , by whypaisley

The second was:

Another Fine Day, by Doug Palmer

The third:

winged ventricle, from marlow44 (glenn buttkus)

(Click on the links to sample the flavor of their writing.)

And I was surprised to find that the third piece was my own, which I wrote in gibberish and then translated, and which I had entirely forgotten. I wrote the nonsense/sound poem for fun. The “translation” was something I did to squeeze a little more fun from the silly-talk. Both may be found here:


In my mind the poem and the painting fit somehow. Maybe because the painting reminded me of children’s book illustrations I grew up with. Sometimes I’ll look at a painting and wonder, where on earth did that come from? Then I’ll open some old children’s book, one of the Childcraft* series from the ‘50’s, say, and see a border illustration around a page and think, hmmm, that’s where they come from.

The painting itself was part of a series, in that they were all painted at roughly the same time. I try to do it that way – to always have multiple projects going – to protect myself from the tendency to torture a painting to death when I have only the one in front of me. With multiple projects I can turn from one to another when I run out of ideas for the first, working on the second, or third, or fourth, or fifth until ideas and a sense of direction for the first piece returns, or a sense of completion sets in.

Happy Birthday, Jim, best wishes always.

* Childcraft: hours of serene, happy, absorbed, enjoyment: projects, mythologies, stories, poetry, games, how to, and more.

Childcraft is also, I found after rediscovering the series 10 or 12 years ago in a thrift shop, easily recognizable as part of the institutionally racist, mid-century, white male dominated culture insinuating itself into every aspect of the lives of those of us growing up in the good old U.S. of A at the time.

Which is to say, it was invisible. To me, anyway. Like Crayola’s pink crayons, which were called “Flesh”, and the dusky red/burnt sienna, which was called “Indian Red”. Quite likely invisible to the authors of the series, as well. What am I overlooking today?

Posted in art, childcraft books, collaborative storybook, Crayola crayons, creative process, Doug Palmer, ekphrasis, image prompts, institutional racism, Jim and Cathleen Nesbitt, painting, poetry, selling art, the wheelbarrow woman, whypaisley, Wilmington NC | 7 Comments

image prompts

Nanda Sosa just emailed me the pictures below, which are of paintings hanging on the walls of her home in Caracas. I had forgotten them. Which means it has been too long since I visited that beautiful, amazing, troubled country and and enjoyed her beautiful, amazing people. Let’s hope sane leadership emerges soon.

Working on a year-long string of films took me into the magic but grueling land of below-the-line movie making, interrupting the flow of weekly prompts I had been posting here. I’m still not back in the studio so I won’t be posting images regularly until I am. But if anyone sees a story here and wants post a link to it in the comments section below, well, feel free. Maybe it will get the motor turning over again.

For samples of what others have done, click on the Storybook Collaborative link and scroll down.


Balancing Act, latex house paint and charcoal, approx 6′ x 4′, Courtesy of Maria Fernanda Sosa.


I have forgotten what I named this. Mixed media on bleed (reverse) of printed English linen. I wish I could find more. Approx. 3′ x 4′. Collection of Maria Fernanda Sosa.

Posted in art, below the line, ekphrasis, image prompts, maria fernanda sosa, painting, storybook collaborative, Venezuela, work in progress | 5 Comments

story marathon

Done. Story on demand for Scott Card’s six day writing intensive. I left the outline in the middle of the 1st paragraph and after that I never knew where the next sentence would take me. The story shows it but there is enough good there to continue working on it.

Card has an interesting thing to say about writer’s block. He sees it, if I understood him, as the mind shutting down because we are bored with the story, or have been untrue to the needs of the characters for fuller, richer development. His answer is to back up to where we were excited about the story and to put away or discard the parts where we had gotten lazy, or turned away because letting the story become what it needed to become was too much work, or we thought we didn’t know how to do it. According to Scott, when we follow this rule the zest for the story returns, the block evaporates, we are no longer shut down due to following an untrue path.

I would recommend this workshop to any serious writer. I’ll post the story after I take it to another level.

Posted in completion, idea generation, orson scott card, stories, storybook collaborative, Uncle Orson's Writing Class and Literary Boot Camp, works in progress, writing | 4 Comments


i wish i was there. i wish
i was almost anywhere but here.
most especially though,
i wish i was there, where you are.

these people are weird
and this place is strange.
the stars don’t look right,
neither the water
and the trees are all wrong.

how did i get here?
how long do i stay here?
do i really need to be here?
what was i thinking?

the higher power calls me:
hark it sings, hark hark hark,
hark hark hark hark hark hark hark.

the lower power though,
it has a fuller sound.
its sound is louder, rounder, hotter, redder.
it hisses more, and releases steam.
it has fur and juice and teeth,
runs faster, and closer to the ground.
i sure would like to be there. mmmmm…
i sure would like to be there.

we could do something with that power.
we could make something with that power.
if i don’t do something with that power…
i have to do something with that power.

maybe i should go home now.
at least i should call home now,
i could say, “honey,
put the phone down,
close your eyes,

just put the phone down
close your eyes, smile

i remember the smile
your kisses came in

i remember the hunger
the meeting, our hands.

Posted in distance, higher power, kisses, lower power, travel, wishes | 1 Comment

rikki once tikki now taviless

al and rick on the back lot, Hudsucker Proxy, The Crow

Al-x Chamyan and yours truly outside the model shop on "The Crow". I made up one after another of these cityscape "groundrows" to fill in the spaces beyond the last buildings of the miniature city the model makers built. Add lights and fog and the city seemed to sprawl in all directions. Al was working in construction on the same show. He rode his unicycle around the studio, sometimes juggling or playing his violin as he went. Favorite Al quote: "Carnival people? Oh yeah, they're pretty much just like movie people, only with integrity." By which I believe he meant that Carnival People know they are Carnies, but movie people think that they are something else.

Oh, Naomio, де ви? Ти зник в самій тонкої в важнічать

I was hoping for an emotionally clear space before heading out later in the week. Instead, I am frazzled to frizzled nub. And very short, too. Much shorter than I used to be, notwithstanding all the years I have spent trying to grow up. I am shorter now than I have ever been, except when I was smaller. I think I am down to about 3 feet, 11 inches. I am looking up at the people I used to look down on, just like they said would happen if I was not careful about the things I said and did, and the ways I said and did them.

I must have said some awful things, because I am even shorter now than I was a few minutes ago. My feet don’t reach the floor anymore and I have to keep sliding this laptop closer to the edge of the desk because my arms don’t go as far as they used to.

Well, I think I had better say good-by and go look for that pill that will make me taller. The ones that mother gave me didn’t do anything at all. But I have found some other ones that did all kinds of crazy things, made me tingle all over, weep, throw up, fall into fascinated gazination. There was one that turned my body into a wave, a long, extended one. It was so long that the front of me lost track of the back of me and I had a hard time particularizing myself again, and when I did, my particles were mostly in Egypt and I had to put them back together on the fly since apparently upon arriving I managed to really piss off the locals. I had to gigolo myself all the way back to America – which took a while because I wasn’t very good at it and because my particles were still arranging and rearranging themselves, which scared the ladies or the occasional gentleman I was lucky enough to find. I got slung overboard from a cruise liner once because, while particularizing, an ear and seven toes fell off and the woman wouldn’t stop screaming when she found them in the bed. The crew didn’t like it and made short work of me.

But I made it back somehow. I am having to jump on the keys to type now so I am going to say goodbye and go look for a large dung beetle to carry me to the medicine cabinet to look for those pills while there is still time.

Я тебе дуже люблю, naomio.

Your Little Rickie once tikki tavi but now so diminished. My tavi fell off and my tikki is starting to feel loose, so I’m gonna git gone before the whole mess evaporates, like Charlie’s did, last Thursda

Posted in Al-x, Alex Chamyan, carnival people, gigolo, half as good as rain and the people agree, my summer vacation, naomio, particularity, physics and slow jowls, pills, rikki tikki tavi, sliding out of the looking glass and onto the floor, twice as good as rain and the people agree, wave and pparticle ppparticle and wave | 4 Comments

I came, I bathed, I howled


There was a night when the lights went out – it was only for a second, but when they came back up everything had changed. I was dripping wet from the bath, rain was coming down in buckets outside and thunder rumbled, now from near, now from far, and occasionally with a crash that sounded just overhead.

I wasn’t worried about bathing during a lightening storm. I’ve always done pretty much what I wanted to do. Not to bait or tempt fate but neither afraid of small probabilities.

I was rising from my bath when the lights flickered and, suddenly dizzy, I reached for the wall to steady myself. I felt a small, rapid stabbing in the palm of my hand and felt a flash of  light – that is the only way I can describe it – fill my body. I looked down to see steam floating on the surface of the water and in the steam small sparkling lights the size of summer gnats. They moved this way and that in small circles and spirals and winked out as I watched.

But I had no time for the lights, no matter how pretty or fascinating, for it was my feet and legs which drew my attention and drained human feeling from my heart. One moment I am lean and tanned, the next I am furred like a dog, with a wiry coat like an airedale, but the color of a gray wolf down to the twisted yellow nails of my misshapen but still human feet.

I jumped from the water – rather I bounded from the water and twisted in mid-air, crashing down on the baby’s bath toys cluttering the bathroom floor and catching sight of myself in the mirror as I spun. The fur ran from my feet and legs to the middle of my chest, sprouting there even as I watched, new fine threads undulating softly then quickly thickening to the gray coarseness of the coat covering my legs and chest and throat. In the blink of an eye the fur covered the backs of my hands, my cheeks, jowls, brow and the bridge of my nose.

I sat down on the edge of the tub. A dream, a vision, a waking nightmare like ones I had experienced as a teen but which had not troubled me since. What else could it be? I spend half my life in my imagination. Something had rattled loose with the noise and thunder…I opened my eyes. My legs, the backs of my hands, my face in the mirror – the transformation was complete.

If I wasn’t dreaming, or ill, what could this be? But maybe I was ill, or sick or hurt! Maybe I had been struck by lightening. Maybe I couldn’t see it but I was actually lying on the floor, dying, and life was preparing me for the transition. Well, if that was the case then I wasn’t ready. Kids too young, still loved my wife, too much unfinished business. I closed my eyes and imagined bending down over my unconscious body, whispering into my ear like a lifeguard might, “Come back, you are not ready, this is not your time. There is too much left to do. Come back, we need you, come back.”

There was a sound at my back, from the bathroom door. The vision of myself beside my body vanished and I rose from my seat on the edge of the tub.

It was my daughter, just a little over one year old and now walking. She pushed the door open and her rapt expression turned joyous.

“Doggie!” she cried, the only word beside mama and uh-oh! that she knew. She toddled over, and threw her arms around my furry legs. I looked up to see my wife and son regarding me from the doorway. My wife was slowly shaking her head back and forth, her lips pursed, mirth barely contained. My son was staring in happy amazement.

“Cool!” he said, “I’ll go get some doggie treats from the neighbors.” He ran from the room.

“See if you can borrow a leash!” she called after him. Then she looked back at me.

“I like it,” she said. “It’s you.”

Posted in freewriting, making up stories, stories, storytelling | 6 Comments

gerard manley hopkins

nanda's painting

This is something I painted for Maria Fernanda Sosa, rolled up and carried to Venezuela to deliver to her. I probably owed her some money, I can’t remember now. Or maybe it was because her daughter, Fernanda Sosa, asked for it and I never could deny her. In any event this picture just surfaced. Nanda, if you read this, send me some decent pictures, please.




Gerard Manley Hopkins, ends his poem, “God’s Grandeur”, with the line,

“…Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”

In the previous post I matched one of my paintings with a poem or song I wrote some time ago. Both the song and the image have always brought a favorite poem by Hopkins to mind. When amuirin asked why I referenced Hopkins in the post I wanted to share the private reference and his poem.

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 to 1889)

I have always loved the poem, the poet’s love of wordplay and especially the last line. Not to mention the interesting man; an Anglican convert to Catholicism who became a Jesuit priest, a wordsmith, and who died young. Wikipedia has this to say about his death,

“…Although he probably suffered from what today might be diagnosed as either bipolar disorder or chronic unipolar depression, and battled a deep sense of anguish throughout his life, upon his death bed he evidently overcame some of that despondency, at times stygian in its intensity: his last words were “I am so happy, I am so happy.”

I just noticed the date of his death and see he was only 44 when he died. It makes me think of passages Robertson Davies wrote in Fifth Business, or maybe, What’s Bred in the Bone, where a priest is reflecting on his evolving understanding of the life of Jesus. The priest (if I remember this correctly), now an old man, is speaking to someone he knew in his youth, when he was new to the priesthood and his fervor was strong and his ideas about Christ and religion seemingly set for life.

“How do you feel about your religion now? The same as you did then?” his questioner asks.

“I am more than twice as old now as Jesus was when he died,” said the old priest. “Things do look very different, from where I am today.”

Forgive the paraphrasing and the misremembering, all you Davies fans. What struck me at the time I read the passage was the likely truth of the old man’s words. I was younger then – 33 or 34, about the age of Jesus when he died – and I thought that some day I might look back on those words and weigh them.

Well, I am too busy to weigh them now. All I can do is hold them up in the light of this coffee shop window and turn them a bit. They seem true, the light shines through them. I can reflect on the life and pain and glory of Gerard Manley Hopkins from a new perspective, that of outliving his 44 years; that of surviving some hellish years of my own.

I don’t have any great wisdom or insight to offer, just that yes, things do look different from the perch at the end of the branch. Flight is inviting, it always has been. Endurance is important, if only because we say it is. Not leaving the branch before our time means everything in the world to those who’s lives we light, and to those whom in turn light our own.

Thank you, amuirin, for your question. I am so glad you are able to stop and wander.

Posted in 'tis a gift to be simple, amuirin, awakening, christ, fernanda sosa, fifth business, gerard manley hopkins, God's Grandeur, jesuits, nanda, poetry, stop and wander, supernatural bridge, what's bred in the bone, with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. | 2 Comments

song for amuirin


Now Cleo faced the nighttime

she thought the urge a little strange

her pencil and papers

in a stack before her

hoping darkness

her thoughts would arrange.


She stared out of the window

thought of her lover sleeping alone

and all of the children

and all of the kisses

and all of their future undone.


And the nighttime drifted by her

and she moved along curled in it

past windows of houses

waiting for morning

searching for a someday

that might be yet.


There must still be room for trying

for this thing that makes life complete,

for the laughter of children

budging doubt into knowing,

she waited for the stars to speak.


But the stars speak only in rainbows,

speak in flickers too quick to record,

but you catch what you can

plan to talk to the man

of the future you can still afford.


Because nothing never springs from something.

Something always something begets.

Be it more be it less

be it good as your guess

be it good as honest effort deserves.


There’s a path out in the forest

forever closed to all but the sure.

You’ll go there tomorrow

if he will go also

and pray the path

your steps will endure.


And the darkness grows a little older,

grows old and round as motherhood.

Old as part seeking wholeness,

the crack in the moment

morning is born,

perhaps the day can be good.

Christ! Perhaps the day can be good.

Posted in amuirin, children, cleo, gerard manley hopkins, image prompts, paint dept., painting, passion, poem, poetry, relationships, stop and wander, with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. | 4 Comments

in with the whirl, out with the swirl

don’t struggle against the irresistible: the answer to surviving a fall into a whirlpool.

A small madness took me, and now I am back from Chicago. Four hours in a line stretching around a city block, a five minute interview and a thank you very much and I’m out on the street again, glad I didn’t haul a lot of crap up with me. It looked like somewhere between 1,500 to 2,000 artists were there in line. All genders, sexes, sizes, ages, colors and probably the whole human range of maturity, ability, native talent and training, attitude, aptitude, genius.

Informal portfolio reviews were happening all down the line as people got to know their neighbors and shared their work. I stood in line with theresa handy, who showed us beautiful, evocative painted landscapes with structures, figures, bare trees and other elements drawn from nature, placed in her pictures and half concealed by her washes and stark design and muted colors. She lives in St. Paul and shows in Chicago and Minneapolis. I would trade work with her. With any of these artists, actually.

theresa handy

Wading Boy, by Theresa Handy

christopher stuart, of Noblesville, IN, was next to open his portfolio to us there on the sidewalk. Multi-talented, capable and brilliant; well known as a product designer as well as a sculptor and a hell of a painter. Check out his website.


Noblesville Co-op by Christopher Stuart

Nancy Pirri, Chicago artist, and a spirited magnet, draws and prints on ceramic vessels and large sculptural pieces and figures. Textured and evocative work by one waiting in line with the rest of us.


from Ancestry series, tiles by Nanci Pirri

Chicago Artist, Rodney Swanstrom showed us prints of paintings based on geometric skylight shapes, using interference colors which do not read well in this photo but shimmer in life.


Skylight Forest, by Rodney Swanstrom

I wish I had collected more contact info as others around us were equally interesting and accomplished artists. Up and down the three block line people spontaneously divided into groups and clusters and shared their work with each other. Too bad the energy and talent could not have been further mobilized by the event organizers to somehow offer a larger show and share event.

So, while my trip was impulse driven and still strikes me as and absurd thing to do with my time and money, it was also an exercise in following through with something new. I met and enjoyed people outside my circle, pulled together my portfolio and prioritized my intention to move away from film work and back into my studio.

Also, I saw a little bit of Chicago, and I want to see more.

Posted in 2, 2000 artists in 4 hours, Bravo's Untitled Art Project,, christopher stuart, Nanci Pirri, rodney swanstrom, theresa handy | 7 Comments

Blog Reorganization and Bravo cattle call update

Returning from work taking me so many months away from this blog I have started back by rearranging the furniture here (so to speak), an old, old way of getting control over my life. I used to do it so often I finally put everything in my studio on wheels – workbenches, couches, chairs, work stools, tables, easels. I even put myself on wheels, rollerblades, constantly rearranging myself, I suppose. I’ll look for some studio pics to post later.


Bravo’s Untitled Art Project

“It’s so wrong, it’s right.”

“We have all seen you make a fool of yourself, but not on national TV. Do it.”

“You are a casting Director’s dream.” (But you should get a haircut, buy some shoes and fix that broken tooth.)

Great response to the previous post concerning Bravo’s Untitled Art Project. Awesome. Hits shot through the ceiling. Most had nothing to do with me but indicate a high level of interest in the subject. Good luck, all you contenders.

My plan is to have fun with it, use the application forms and requirements to answer questions I need to be asking myself and to push myself to do things I need to be doing anyway: putting together a portfolio of current work and greatest hits, cleaning up this blog , bringing my resume up to date, thinking about my work in the film industry and my desire to move my career to the direction of becoming a rich and famous artist – or a self-supporting one, at least.

The wisdom of the ancients is that everything passes and my experience so far confirms it. If I had a turkey and a bucket of frogs for every time I have publicly embarrassed myself I would truck them to Central Park and release them, and then we’d really have some fun. So I’m not worried. Too much. If I’d gone ahead and shot myself, like sometimes I thought I oughta, well, there wouldn’t be much left of me, now would there?

So I’ll fly to Chicago Wednesday morning, attend the casting call Thursday morning, and fly back to Albuquerque Friday morning. Call will be held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A place I have always wanted to see. Anyone want to offer a couch to crash on or suggest a cheap motel near the school?

I’ll be the guy in the clown suit, life in a backpack, pushing a shopping cart full of old newspapers, crushed carnival horns, rusted crap (I love rust), a sketchbook, a notebook, an ocean, a seahorse, marbles, some shiny hooks, snakes enough for two…  also a basket of frogs, a cornfield, a waterfall, a house big enough for all the family, and all the friends, and all the ghosts of our ancestors, the unborn, and everyone who never had a chance, and all those who got burned, and all who are frightened, and all who are alone, and all who search for meaning, and all who follow a calling, and all who know the gods, in all their many shapes and forms, and all who recognize them in the people around them, and all who don’t.

I’ve heard this somewhere before. Oh, yeah, here.

Posted in blog history, Bravo's Untitled Art Project, Chicago, dreams,, images, notable collaborations, storybook collaborative, tapestry, Uncle Orson's Writing Class and Literary Boot Camp, words | 3 Comments

War Games; and Bravo’s UNTITLED ART PROJECT

paintball hero

We played paintball in the mountains here, with friends from work. I sprained my ankle and broke a rib and had quarter sized bruises all over my body. I limped for a week and still hold my side when I laugh or cough. It was great. We played capture the flag, every man for himself, king of the hill, team against team, assassinate the president (or protect the president, depending upon the side we were on.) In this photo Broadus was the president. He is displaying his helmet, and the green ooze from the shot Danny got off when he jumped up out of the brush and shot him between the eyes. We, the protectors, didn’t know that the game was supposed to be over when the president was shot. So we shot Danny, dozens of times, and then we shot him some more, just for good measure.


Broadus found a killer place to wait in ambush. He got us all, one by one.


the gods of war call, and we go.


we go nuts, but we go.

But there is another side to Mr B, one we call Ferdinand the Bull. He drags his reading chair to the soccer field, opens his book, and the world around him disappears as the world inside his hands opens and surrounds him. Sometimes, when we know he is really, really in another world we throw things at him, or drop the baby in his lap. But usually, we leave him alone. He is amazing.

ferdinand the bull

Now, tonight: who am I?

Eating raw broccoli from the garden, other green things, lots of bean burritos. Almost bit into a snail hidden among the curly lettuce. Curly snail foot, greenish brown and speckled, riding curly leaves, frizzy edged lettuce.

Tripping over crap in the hallway. Dirty laundry, tools, brushes, books, reference material, mail on the floor; unfolded clean laundry spilling over the living room couch. Ruined paint shoes… all I have left now. Choose any two.

Managing to keep garden watered and critters fed – 2 pigmy hedgehogs from Madagascar or Zanzibar, some such place – and the fish alive, and in clean tanks, too, but all other housekeeping has gone to hell.

Writing from the bathtub. Decided not to drown myself but should be careful of electrocution. When is the last time I backed up this macbook pro?

Finished 10 week gig on Paul, a new movie in production here, brought to you by the British comedy team behind Shawn of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz. No scoops to be found here but will sell secrets cheap through back door channels. I’ll find or make up some interesting lies. Cheap, cheap, cheap, just like the little birdy said.

I have got to be out of my mind to write this here, but here I go anyway. I have just filled out the 22 page application for Bravo’s Chicago cattle call for under-recognized and/or mid-career artists who would like to compete in a reality show against others of their own, surely pathetic kind. Okay, I’m speaking for myself now, as I ponder selling out to the man – or to the woman, to be more precise. Sarah Jessica Parker is the executive producer behind this Bravo enterprise. But then, all art is commercial art, yes? Unless one has outside means of support. It is just a matter of degree. And dignity. There is that.

So, wind me up for ten weeks, then release me from a movie while my family, my anchors, are away and all the weirdness rises to the top, just like Papa Jung said. The task of the human, he said, is to reconcile the opposites we find in our own nature. Fine, but it seems I can’t do it just once and expect the reconciliation to last. I gotta do it over, and over, and over again; meanwhile not letting the laptop slide into the bath.

Family is in NC, where we still have property, business, lots of stuff for Naomi to sort through, pack up, discard, give away, store or send out here. (We came here to NM for a three month gig at United World College. That was two and a half years ago.) Many of my paintings are still there in NC, the ones which were not abducted by my four sisters and taken to Boston to decorate their homes until I pay them back the money I borrowed back when I was a starving artist.

I am digressing. My plan was to reveal the fact that I bought a ticket to fly to Chicago next week to attend a cattle call for artists who think they would like to participate in a reality show to be produced by BRAVO & Ms Parker. Here is an interview Parker gave to ArtNet Magazine about the project, called the Untitled Art Project.

Now why would any self-respecting, stable, mature, experienced, talented and handsome artist want to do such a thing? If you have read this far then you deserve an answer.

  1. Because his son, Jason Bruno, said, “It’s so wrong, it’s right.”
  1. Because his friend, Ian Gold, said, “You are a casting Director’s dream.” (But you should get a haircut, buy some shoes and fix that broken tooth.)
  1. Because one of his oldest and orneriest, closest friends, Venezuelan graphic designer and political activist, Maria Fernanda Sosa, said, “We have all seen you make a fool of yourself, but not on national TV. Do it.”
  1. Because I realized that the application form held questions I need to answer anyway, if I want to move from supporting myself through film work to supporting myself through the work I produce in my studio; and the sifting and sorting and selecting of images is also important to do if I want to take my famous career to the next level.
  1. But the real reason is,  I believe, because the idea sends a shock of fear through me that I can feel down to the webs between my fingers and toes. Thinking about being in front of a camera is like mainlining a vasodilator, or staring straight into the Eye of Mordor.

So of course, I have to do it. #1 son, Jason Bruno, aka “Champ”, understands.

Well, I know I lost most of you during the year of movie work, Naomi’s over-committment, Broadus’ rollicking joy and Ada’s First Year. But maybe some of you do check back from time to time and when you do, you’ll find this long, thin, drawn out scream from someone who used to be just a regular guy but who is now rolling in dough, maybe, or maybe just cringing in embarrassment; or who maybe decided that those grapes probably were sour anyway.

But…. If you would like to be involved, there is something you could do. That is, to select 10 or 20 or however many favorite images from this blog: the storybook collaborative page, or from my website,, and email them to me ( Thumbnails are fine, and quick, intuitive selections of however many you want. Don’t trouble it too much. You should be able to drag and drop them. I have to take a portfolio of images to Chicago, and feedback would be interesting to me now. Your selections might help me narrow down my own.

If you want to participate in the show (God love you.) you are a little late, but you can still scramble and maybe pull it together. Twenty-two page application is online here. I only knew about it because last week Lakota sent me an email.

Interesting interview about all this with Magical Elves Casting Director Nick Gilhool on ARTFAGCITY.

So, wish me luck. I look forward to getting back to this blog, reorganizing and updating it, or else abandoning it and starting another one. It has been a rich experience. You are the most important part of it. I don’t want to get too far away from it, or from you.

Love to all,


p.s here is a photo of a work in progress, for Ada,

ada's pony, ada's world

and another, a storyboard exercise for Jack and the Beanstalk that Broadus and I are collaborating on.

jack and the Beanstalk storyboard, with Broadus

p.p.s almost forgot. Aug. 2nd – 8th I’ll be a participant in a writing workshop organized and led by Orson Scott Card, a favorite author. If I can’t get my famous art career off the ground, maybe I can work on being a famous writer.

p.p.p.s. maybe this blog will get me disqualified from consideration for the show. oh joy, oh sweet relief

Posted in art, art for film and tv, artfagcity, artnet magazine, Bravo Untitled Art Project,, Broadus and Ada, collaborative storybook, family, film work, four sisters,, Ian Gold, jason bruno, Magical Elves, Mormon, naomi swinton, new work, Nick Gilhool, orson scott card, paint dept., paintball, Pretty Matches, reality tv, Sarah Jessica Parker, the writing life, Uncle Orson's Writing Class and Literary Boot Camp, united world college, works in progress | 32 Comments

firecracker girl turns one: (some of) the year in pictures

Happy 4th (now 5th) of July, everyone, and Happy Birthday, Ada Corinna Meridian Swinton.

She is a fierce and funny newcomer, strong and determined. The universe is her home, and for now, we are her country.

Who knows where these kids will go, what they will see, what they will do? We follow our imperative and they fight their way in. We bear, feed, clothe, nurture, protect and educate them. We love and would die for them. Time will tell us who they are and why they have come. Whatever they become, whatever their tasks or missions are to be, whatever joys or sorrows come to them, they will always be our children. They say the beggar supplicates, but the son and daughter appropriate. Appropriate away, children. Broadus has claimed half my studio as his birthright. What happens when Ada claims her share? Or Jason, the grown son, carrying his weight now, and with children of his own? We all move over a little, and make room. I hope they like our music.

july 3, 2008

Naomi, 3 July 2008

july 3, hours later

later in the evening of the same day


and a few hours later


and she’s here


and we call her, Ada.

naomi, broadus & ada, day 1

naomi, broadus & ada, day 1




Now a year has passed since she arrived, moist and pink and howling. She’s feisty, determined, smart and funny. She’s walking! She adores her older brother, Broadus, and in turn he loves, protects and plays with her. We are lucky, happy, and grateful. We are humbled by the beauty in our lives and the strength and love of family and friends. We wish to thank each and all for their love and prayers and help this year. We could not have done it by ourselves.

naomi and ada, at 3 months

rick and ada (1 of 1)


(photo by Logan Bunting Mock)


basket B, basket A

basket B, basket A 2

basket B, Basket A 3

basket B, basket A 4

clown face

1. ada piano

3. n, b, a in backpack

4. R, B & A

5. to see as one

2. clambering, looking, moving about

Ada and Naomi, 11 months

happy boy

and I am out of practice blogging, and now out of time. Tomorrow should be my last day on “Paul”, the movie I am working on. Then to find my place again with my own creative work. We have been working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for months, leaving only time for family and sleeping. I look forward to catching up with my friends here. Thank you for checking in from time to time and for the notes you have left here. I am looking forward to time in the studio, time with family and friends, and to a week-long writing workshop with Orson Scott Card in August. (Hear me, Pepek?) That should get the wheels turning.

Thank you, Amuirin for the video below, which I lifted from your blog yesterday. It is perfect for Ada’s birthday.

p.s. enigma, thanks for the horoscope. we read it again. it fits.

Posted in ada corinna, ada's first birthday, amuirin, broadus aurelius, callings, egnima, family, homebirth, joyce ellen davis, logan bunting-mock, love, naomi swinton, orson scott card, painting, uncle pepek, works in progress, yael naim | 3 Comments

and now she’s awake

I swam through the darkness, always upward, my eyes open,
seeing ahead through the streaming dark water.
On the other side, the wavering image of my father, smiling,
holding my eyes as I swam to him.
We both knew the joy of my kicks and wriggles,
my speed in the water,
my delight at finding myself here,
and once more, a girl.
We shared that delight in my strength, that rejoicing,
and felt as one the split second I swam through my reflection,
held as a twist of the wind on the water,
when I reached through the surface to touch him.
For a split second my baby blues and my broad smile overlay his,
and each saw through the others eyes.
I touched his face; his rough beard and my chubby fingers met
and the love never wavered while
the wind sang the song it sings: of having and holding,
finding and releasing, letting go and losing,
finding and touching and singing again.

Posted in ada corinna, home for a few days, sleeping babies, with rest the poetry returns | 13 Comments

what i saw this morning at 4:30 am as I was leaving Santa Fe

as I was packing to leave the motel to drive to work in Albuquerque


Posted in ada corinna meridian swinton | 6 Comments