Empty chair

Chairs are more than just furniture. They have personalities, through design, the wear and tear of service, and the familiarity we bestow upon them. They grow to be identified with the people whose favorite perches they become over time, especially in a family home. A chair evokes the memory of how it is animated, suffused with life when filled by the one who claims it. When that person departs, his aura persists.

Yesterday morning, I was stunned by the news that longtime friends of mine had lost their son just four days before to the ravages of depression and the terrible storms of mood disorder. It hit very close to home. This heartbreaking excerpt from his obituary, written by his mother:

"Mental illness is an obscure and solitary disease, society’s dark secret. It is a reality for one in five of us. Joshua battled his affliction every day and night of his life. Please help end the stigma. Support the struggle by kindly sending a contribution to the Mental Health Association of Orange County or to the National Alliance of Mental Illness."

The morning sunlight filtering into my quiet house. This empty chair, softly highlighted, floating in shadows. I imagine my friends sitting with their grief, wanting to comfort them, knowing I can't. They cherished their son, encouraged and stood by him in every way they could, but his illness eventually consumed him.

Theo and Joe, you honor Josh by sharing this. I'm moved by your courage. I know that his chair will never be empty.


8-1/4" x 11", 2B graphite pencil


Each day

Moments from two mornings. Mood and outlook leak into images on paper. Evidence of seeing and feeling. The desire and need to connect, musings included or withheld. How much to reveal; what to say, what to keep private. The anxiety of being judged or misunderstood against the loneliness and pain of isolation. Will what I post touch anyone, help someone to feel inspired, encouraged, or worthy? Find joy or wonder in the everyday, strength and determination when all seems dark, or simply the comfort of recognizing a kindred spirit in this bewildering world? I hope so.
morning glories, 6" x 7", 2B graphite and colored pencilsrainy morning, 8" x 11", Derwent Inktense colored pencils


Un-still life

Ever try to draw a three year old? They never stop moving. And dogs aren't much different than human children. You'd think that while they're napping, (a lot of the time), that they'd hold still. They don't, not for more than a few seconds at a time. Makes it tempting to use a camera to freeze the image, but then, at least for me, the spirit of the living moment is lost. I'd rather struggle to focus my full attention and bear the frustration of amateurish results than to forfeit the direct experience. I want more than to be a skilled copyist.

That said, I wish that life would hold still sometimes. Or at least slow down.



Begonias with Noble

Yesterday Noble, Ina and I went down to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania to see the Andrew Wyeth 100th birth year exhibition. Me for the third time. It was inspiring and intimidating.

Today, Noble came over to finish an acrylic painting she started yesterday afternoon. I set her up on the patio then decided to join her. I'm pretty sure that had she not come by, I wouldn't have pulled out my new watercolors (gift from Ina), and spent whatever interval standing out there in front of an easel, next to my daughter, trying to do something worthy of the paper and paint it took to produce an image. So here, an impression of a pot of begonias.

For the record, I've given up on trying to be like Andrew Wyeth. Or Winslow Homer. Or John Singer Sargent. I'm just trying to be whoever I'm supposed to be. I won't give up on that.

watercolor on paper, 24" x 18"


Sketchbook pages September 2-3, 2017