Tag Archives: watercolor

Letters from Russia / development notes, sketches, drafts

Letters from Russia, mixed-media epistolary literature project, 2004

In 2004, I created a mixed-media creative writing project called “Letters from Russia” which was meant to be a series of well,… *obviously* letters written from Russia from the point of view of a cobbler in Napoleon’s army to his lover in France. All in all an unlikely and complicated conceit conceived as was a way to discuss various topics around love and war.

Appropriately, was written/crafted as part of a program at Evergreen State College called “Poets and Philosophers Discuss Love and War” which was my final “seminar” (at Evergreen, you don’t take courses and classes, rather programs and seminars and independent contracts and other non-traditional interdisciplinary learning contexts). This program involved going to Lake Crescent on Olympic Peninsula with three faculty members with different specialties – philosophy, history and poetry/creative writing – staying in cabins, doing the Evergreen-ubiquitous group projects and assignments of various kinds but also working on an individual big project amidst mediation.

Unsurprisingly, I was keen to do something “big” to finish off my hard won Bachelor of Arts degree which spanned 17 years and four or five colleges/universities depending on how you count them. A “capstone” of a sort. {digression: previously thought a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing was my path and with that would come a big project/thesis or whatever, since that wasn’t going to happen, wanted to do something that felt like similar for personal satisfaction}

So, at the idyllic lakefront surrounding, i diligently worked along on this complicated house of cards – in between long stretches of partying, drinking racks of beer, usual herbs, one guy brought a motorboat and a gun – I mean none of it made sense.

I did a few of the assigned assignments (writing something about explaining peace to a banana slug or other contrived drudgery) while putting this project together in my head. I could imagine the finished product: wanted an “artifact” with tactility and vague sense of authenticity despite it being completely fictional.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is letters-from-russia-dossier-042.jpg
sparks of inspiration and outline

The finished result was series of letters written on different pieces of paper stock from my suitcase stationery stash, compiled to create the feeling that the protagonist “Henri” (all the characters were named after French Canadian hockey players) was with the army, scavenging any kind of paper he could find, and using different sorts of writing materials. Then I added a series of illustrations, paintings, other visual expressions in various medium and styles (and worked in the character of an Italian conscript with his unit who is a painter as an excuse to include these paintings).

let’s write in cursive with inky fountain pens on handmade paper, such authentic-ness

I wrote some test letters (readers may notice original drafts used a different name for the recipient of the letters) to try out some different papers, handwriting styles, pens and to find my rhythm. Once I found my rhythm it all came together very quickly but finding that vibe and materials and to start was a real challenge.

Continue reading Letters from Russia / development notes, sketches, drafts

Diptych(ish): from Rhodt, Germany / castle (watercolour + photo)

Once upon a time in 1992, I hitch-hiked around Germany (and other Western European countries) experienced many hi-jinks and met up with my dear pal Trevor in a magical, fairytale town near the Rhine River called Rhodt unter Rietburg.

To earn some Deutsche Marks, we would gather chestnuts in the woods, and sell them to the tourists who enjoyed eating Kastanien, boiled, while drinking the excellent local wine.

While passing time at our “stand,” I painted the local environs.

Now, with the wonders of the Internet, I can find photos of the scenes I only remember has faded watercolour pencil sketches (i did not take a camera).

In this case, one of “crazy” King Ludwig’s summer villa/castle of some kind… Resplendent with ancient grape vines in the foreground.

[update] here’s another one from the view straightahead from the wine press where we sold the chestnuts – looking at one of the beautifully plastered houses with vines growing all around, now connected with its real life inspiration via Google streets view.

See also: 3 photos and 1 item & Rhodt watercolours

Scrapjournal: Pacific Crossing / sketches & annotations (2017)

Pacific Crossing: map and conditions to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska (unable to port due to weather so head to Japan)

This scrapjournal is an “accordion-style” book (think that’s what you’d call it… though doesn’t create the dulcet tones of the musical instrument)  anyhow the paper unfolds in one long swath in vaguely Japanese-style.

Appropriately, the book is laden with sketches sketched in Japan whilst traveling by ship and stopping in a various ports of call from Hokkaido to Kyushu. First in pencil, then pen, then coloured with watercolours (sometimes pencils), and decorated with ephemeral bits. 

Pacific Crossing: annotations and observations re: ship life and operations (pen only)

What follows are a few sample hastily-snapped pages for archival amusement as not all are photographed and, as life goes, i no longer have this book, alas. If this situation changes, i’ll diligently update.

Pacific Crossing: annotations and observations re: ship life and operations (colour)

Continue reading Scrapjournal: Pacific Crossing / sketches & annotations (2017)

Post’d: envelope backs – basic manila with inky stamps

Post’d: envelope backs – basic manila with inky stamps

To remind and inspire myself, i often photograph envelopes before they embark on their journey. The fronts contain folks’ personal address (which i shoot to keep a record i never actually look back upon to recall who i’ve mailed) so i shan’t share that bit, but i will gallery up the backs – really for no purpose, just for amusement and artsy funtimes. 

This batch are under-stated (made in Penang, Malaysia to transport watercolour pictograms) hearty manila card-sized and adorned with new-that-day inky stamps proclaiming various instructions or attributes, along with my distinctive seal of approval.

Post’d: envelope backs – basic manila with inky stamps

Continue reading Post’d: envelope backs – basic manila with inky stamps

Post’d: Fresh(ish) Moo postcards

Fresh Moo cards (June 2015)

The folks at Moo.com make lovely postcards as well as greeting cards and “friendship” cards (though i suppose could be used for your business-type introductions as well). One of the great aspects –along with the exceptional quality – is you can choose a different “front” for each in the batch of 100. In other words: all the same on the back, all different on the front. Can upload images via Flickr or directly (and other ways too).

Anyhow, this is batch of postcards, received in June 2015, was made with my collections of art on the front including the “Gravelly Beach” series, static montage, global rambles and so on. They were quickly written upon and/or shared in other ways. You can get a special deal on shipping and help me keep up my postcards habit but ordering via my magic Moo.com affiliate link.

Fresh Moo cards (June 2015)

Continue reading Post’d: Fresh(ish) Moo postcards

Pictograms: Pokhara health home (watercolour pencil)

Pictogram: Pokhara (health home window)
Pictogram: Pokhara health home, gratitude card with window view of World Peace Stupa (watercolour)

Pictogram: Pokhara health home, gratitude cards
Pictogram: Pokhara health home, gratitude cards

Pictogram: Pokhara health home (single card)
Pictogram: Pokhara health home,  gratitude card

Pictogram: Pokhara health home, Gratitude card with view of World Peace Stupa (watercolour)
Pictogram: Pokhara health home, Gratitude card, front/back (watercolour + photo + ink)

Post’d: Telegrams re-mixed for a un-modern, post-forgotten age

Postcard still-life - Telegram collage
Postcard still-life – Telegram collage

Telegrams re-mixed for a un-modern, post-forgotten age. Water coloured with paints from a dollar store > cryptic messages scribbled fountain pen > inky stamps applied appropriately > chopped with tiny scissors > glued > addressed > mailed to magic makers worldwide > digitized for your possible convenience, enjoyment and/or pleasure.


Pictograms: Notes to adventurers (mixed media + ephemera)

Pictogram: Letter Heather for India (outside)
Pictogram: Letter Heather for India (outside)

Various handmade “pictograms” from from watercolour notebook paper and various foreign postage stamps and inky stamps – mostly made in Newfoundland and Labrador, though some in Nova Scotia whilst i was rambling Maritime Canada seeking a home (which i did not find).

Post’d: Pictograms from Newfoundland and Labrador, July 2017

Continue reading Pictograms: Notes to adventurers (mixed media + ephemera)