“It gives me such a sense of peace to draw; more than prayer, walks, anything. I can close myself completely in the line, lose myself in it,” wrote 24-year-old Sylvia Plath in a letter to her mother. She describes coming upon a bull in a field (at least, she thought they were bulls for “they seemed to have no utters”) and sitting down on a river bank to draw those cows—”my first cows.” Her drawings aren’t perfect or particularly noteworthy. But Sylvia Plath is one of those writers who I admire reflexively. When I was younger, before I knew better, I admired her for her tragedy, for her sadness and her bitter bleak world. Now, I admire her language. She writes with the same sparsity with which she draws: simple, bold, present.
If you, like me, get the Sunday night blues, here’s something that might get you excited for the work week: inspiring photos of artists at work! Photographer Jake Green spent the past year documenting children’s illustrators in their studios and the results are intimate, sharp, and cool. The above picture is of Katja Spitzer, a Berlin-based artist, drawing one of her colorful creatures. (If you’ve got little ones, take note: her book Let’s Go Outside is so cheerful and bright, I bet kiddos would love it.) I always enjoy seeing how creative types work, and Green’s photographs make me feel like I’m peering through the window, spying on their process (but in a nice, admiring, non-creepy way… is that possible?) Take a closer look here.
It’s been a strange, exciting, unnerving couple of weeks. I took up smoking again, I quit smoking again. I stopped drinking, then I drank all the wine. I followed my gut, and I ended up dizzy, sick, happy, relieved.
But seriously, on the whole, things are going really, really well.
I made the decision a few weeks ago to leave my full-time job as managing editor at Maine magazine and strike out into the world of freelance. Not because I didn’t love my job—I did, which is what makes leaving so crazy and hard—but because I love writing even more. I’ll still be freelancing for the magazine (hurrah!) and I’m also going to have more time to work on personal projects, like my short stories and my poetry and this here blog (double hurrah!).
But being home all the time also means I spend most of my day in various states of odd-dress/undress. It means I slouch around in sweatpants for hours before deciding suddenly that it’s time to break in that pair of heels that never fit. Too lazy to put on an outfit, I end up in heels and a quilted down vest, chewing on the end of a honey straw and trying to decide whether it’s worth it to put on pants (the answer is usually no).
I was going to say something more profound about Hope Gangloff’s languorous young ladies, but it’s late and I do have work to do tomorrow. Instead, I’ll just let them be.
She’s talented, that’s for sure. Check out Hope’s website here.
It’s been a long, difficult winter. Frigid and unrelenting. Bitter cold in a way that feels almost violating, seeping under my clothes and into my skin, settling in my bones and turning those elegant calcified shapes into fragile pieces of ice, ready to shatter at a moments notice.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of winter.
But I am very much in love with Zaria Forman’s series of drawings, “Greenland: Chasing the Ice.” In August 2012, she lead an arctic expedition for the purposes of capturing the icy landscape in art. Inspired by her mother’s desire to head north, Zaria struck out on history’s second trip with this goal (the first was in 1869, led by the American painter William Bradford). Tragically, though Zaria’s mother was instrumental in planning the expedition, she didn’t live to see it through. “Documenting climate change, the work addresses the concept of saying goodbye on scales both global and personal,” Zaria writes. “In Greenland, I scattered my mother’s ashes amidst the melting ice.”
Whoa, right? It’s big, heavy, sad, lovely work. And the drawings, as you might have noticed, are stunning. Zaria also traveled to Svalbard (a peninsula at the northern tip of Sweden) and produced many drawings based on that experience. Her work is amazing. Delicate, detailed, but so, so cold. It makes me shiver to look at it.