Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Isn't she lovely, people?

Shortly after I took this photo, the day's sunlight, in the words of James Branch Cabell, "took the last cloud going West" here on the left coast. Above is a photo of a local treasure, built in 1926. The owner, Alan Michaan, has traditionally used one of the four faces of the marquee for advocacy over the years, most recently for the abandonment of electronic voting and the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. On Saturdays, Women in Black (an organization protesting the Occupation of Palestine) faces a Zionist organization on the opposite corner. It's a good time to recall Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?"

If you like, you can read into the conjunction of words in the photo.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


In Through the Looking Glass, Alice meets a fawn in the woods. Neither human nor deer can recall identity or name, and they walk together peacefully to the end of the wood ...

Here the fawn gave a sudden bound into the air, and shook itself free from Alice's arms. "I'm a Fawn!" it cried out in a voice of delight. "And, dear me! You're a human child!" a sudden look of alarm came into its beautiful brown eyes, and in another moment it had darted away at full speed.

In looking for visual reference for stags on the internet I found, besides some humans who might more properly be described as jackasses, this sculpture

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Click on the X above to see the treasure. It's two years old, if you have a youtube membership think about leaving a comment for these guys because...there should be more of this in the world. I had seen a couple of posts recently querying the nature of art, on kyklops and on a site I just found today, Nigel Ayers. Anyway, I like the idea that it's for generating good in the world...

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I know that some good things happened this year, but I'm still reeling. Is anyone with me here?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Presenting the Blogosphere many flavors as there are bloggers.  No resemblance to any bloggers living or dead is intended by the above, unless you like the idea...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

St. George and the Dragon

Here's a very old illustration I did as a card many years ago. I suppose what appeals to me about the time of year is an English/European world that exists in literature in which pagan motifs were incorporated into the newly dominant paradigm. One example is the chorus of the Holly and the Ivy, the original being:

O the rising of the sun,
The running of the deer,
The playing of the merrier gods,
Sweet singing all in the choir.

Merrier gods being changed to "merry organ" to fit it in to the new religion. 

But I love the borderlands.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another Scary Matron

In came the doctor
In came the nurse
In came the lady
With the alligator purse.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I was struck by this post at Airform Archives some weeks back, in which comment was made on the art on the back of an old photograph being more interesting than the photographs on the front. I discovered yesterday that I appear to have a card by the same designer - the photography studio was located in Nebraska rather than Arkansas, but there are the same fine details, the same conflated Japanese and Chinese elements seen through Western eyes, and a central suspended device - in this case, a fan. Did the designer travel with a printing press, or was he centrally located in the corn belt? In placing these miniature worlds (the central panel showing the woman and child at the well is only half an inch tall), did the artist expect that they would live on after him? I think of the electrician in Mike Rose's Minds at Work , who braided electrical wire inside a wall, not because it was useful to do so, but because it was beautiful.

Edit: You are encouraged to click to enlarge. I'm just saying...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Local Designer

Here you see Cynthia Lloyd in the doorway of her store,Cyzuki Indus-tries, at 4020 Broadway in Oakland. The dress you see in the window has images of Obama silkscreened onto it.Cynthia takes recycled clothes and manufacturer's samples and reworks them into funky but strictly tailored wear for clubbing or just strutting around town. She told me she likes her seams on the outside, because they are harsh. She's just a few doors down from Mama's Royal Cafe, an Oakland institution, and is mostly just open on Saturdays. You can check some of her work out on etsy if you aren't in the neighborhood.  

Edit: Blog title changed due to spam

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Comet found on the Ground

Just caught my eye...and here's a little old school cross hatching for the background. More local color tomorrow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Voices/Rabbit sings the Blues

Following my obsession with animals with flowers or flower-like notes coming out of their mouths. Added as a t shirt to redbubble.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Viennese Matron

Freud analyzing a sphinx-like patient.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old pirate at Carnivale

...he's still got a trick or two up his sleeve. There ought to be a Tom Waits song.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Sense of Place

The shot at left shows Bowden, a walkway down the hill from where I live. This is the walkway at the foot of which I took the green man photo yesterday. Past the tree you see a fence. This fronts a yard in which a man named Norm, who is quite old, lives in the little wooden structure with the blue door. He takes good car of the the squirrels in the area, who have no hesitation in approaching and looking up at you as if they are about to speak. Apparently he cut a little section of the fence out so they could come and go through a squirrel-sized doorway.

I've been looking at some blogs lately whose authors post photographs as well as history of their areas/travels in their country. Here are just three, in New York , in Paris and in Bangalore . Turns out there is a center for this, as I found out from the last link, That's my World , for any armchair travellers that are feeling the need to get away.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Green Man on the way to U.K.

This is my contribution to the pole decorating project at thisidorderedlife, now on its way to Knaresborough (and I still want to know what a Knare is). It's my version of a green man, an old pagan character. Here's a link to one that was spotted in Australia (You can see where Arthur Rackham got ideas from). Here is one in Norway. Here's a namesake pub where the specials are tailored to the current economy (presumably resembling in no way the pub in the Kingsley Amis novel of the same name). Who wants to meet me in front of a crackling blaze?

Finally, here is a modern-day version of ineffable mystery.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rambunctious Meme

My post for illustrationfriday. The doggerel was inspired by verse on authorblog.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


There is something beautiful about decay, as has been noted before. In the eighteenth century, the bored and landed constructed fake ruins on the grounds of their estate, sometimes employing hermits to live in them. Decay suggests a mysterious past which can be reconstructed according to the leanings of the viewer. Decaying monuments come in all sizes, as is shown in a recent post about  Jeanne Williamson's rubber band ball.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!


Please note: blog author is in an extremely sour mood due to having been ticketed in Berkeley while delivering little craft items she hoped to sell for Christmas. Her advice: don't drive in Berkeley, California.  Illustration friday post tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

White Rabbit Surfing

Another Design for redbubble...Also an excuse to link to a youtube video of the best moments of the odd David Milch series John from Cincinnatti, that is, two wicked cool songs (by Joe Strummer and Bob Dylan respectively) , and surfing footage at the end of one of the show's stars, Grayson Fletcher, a third generation surfer (with somewhat negligible acting abilities). Watching 30 seconds of this kid surfing gives me chills and then causes me to tear up and feel better about the human race. Caution : Footage contains two naked folks hugging on the beach and implied sexual act under the covers. Oh - also bad language and a rude gesture and Luke Perry furrowing his brow. I think that's it.
Wave is after Hiroshige and adapted from an earlier post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Tom, he was a piper's son
He learnt to play when he was young
And all the tunes that he could play
Was Over the Hills and Far Away
        - Traditional English Song

Monday, December 8, 2008

Alice Vs. The Mad Hatter

I decided this made sense in color, so I went ahead and put it on redbubble. But I'm sure I will be seeking opinions in the future as I frequently feel indecisive.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Candle Cave

I took this photo of a candle because it looked like a cave of light, which in turn reminded me of Coleridge's "sunny pleasure dome all made of ice". I have been thinking also about John Dobson, the Sidewalk Astronomer. For a number of years I went to yoga retreats at the Sivananda Farm in Grass Valley and he was a regular speaker there (they have improving lectures available when you are not doing yoga or chanting). He is a ninety-three year old former vedantic monk (he at one point had to stop making telescopes in order to remain in the monastery - Giordano Bruno, anyone?) who took his DIY telesopes to the street in order to inform people about astronomy, a remarkable sense of mission which he continues with speaking engagements. In person, he has precisely the sort of presentation that I am imagine Charles Dodgson would have had - both tentative and jocular.
I have a handout from one retreat in which Dobson says "Descended as we are from [ancient marine life], we can think of ourselves, even now, as little bags of sea water, hung out on clotheslines of bone, gulping oxygen directly from the gas layer above use, and shambling out across the rocks to gaze with starry eyes, through the blackness of night, at the vast expanse of the universe beyond."

In more quotidian news, I'm working on something I will post tomorrow which I'd like a vote for black and white or color (for redbubble, of course).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hanuman saves Lakshman

When Rama's brother Lakshman lay dying, Hanuman was told the only way to save his life was to fetch a healing herb from the Himalayas. He grew to giant height and leapt across the leagues to find the mountain. Unable to distinguish the herb, he uprooted the entire mountain and placed it on his palm. As he was returning, the sun began to rise. As he had been told that Lakshman would die if he did not have the herb before sunrise, Hanuman captured the sun under his arm and continued his journey. Rama's brother was saved and all was well. 
This also makes me think of my nephew (at seven) drawing a drowning man being rescued by a man with a long stretchy arm which went out and looped around the victim and proceeded back to shore.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Illustration Friday's prompt is "similar", so I thought of the Mad Hatter's riddle "Why is a raven like a writing desk?", a riddle with no answer. It occurred to me that Poe could have been inspired to write his famous poem by the impenetrability of this conundrum - unfortunately for that theory, his poem was published decades before Carroll's book. It had been my intention to draw this with no digital enhancements, however due to poor planning I left out the bottle of ink with quill pen, so that has been applied afterwards.In the planning stage: Edgar Allen poe surfing. With the raven, of course.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Over the Limit

A window on Piedmont Avenue ready to be loaded with gilded items- nowhere near the mountains despite its name, therefore the only snow we see will be of an interior artificial nature. Note the two hour time limit...some of us wish The Holidays came with such parameters*.

*Edit: see cat in previous post

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Massive wrapping

This lovely cat was made by one of the artists at Creative Growth, a local art center where disabled people make art (it was unsigned). I bought it at one of their Holiday Sales. At a similar center in England, plans are afoot at this disordered life to wrap 26 poles with knitted or textile pieces by anyone who cares to participate, the idea being inspired by grrl+dog's wrapping of streetlights with knitted creations on the streets of Sydney.

If you'd like to participate, visit this disordered life to find out details and address in England. Remember if posting from the U.S.: 9x 12 priority mail envelopes can be used to send up to 4 lbs worth of anything you can jam into them for $11.95: If you're sending under 12 oz., use an envelope NOT a box to send in (big difference in price).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Imperialist

Thought it was time for another illustration. Let's hope we've seen the last of this guy for awhile. The horse is tired. I have a special announcement for crafters tomorrow.

Edit: Here are some adjective possibilities: clucked up, cluck handed, cackleheaded. Please feel free to add your own.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rather Random

Here is a photo of the lovely Olive, my friend Katherine's dog, wearing a winter garment I made for her. I like to think that it is the sort of thing Dame Edith Head might have designed for Audrey Hepburn if Audrey Hepburn had been a small dog. But possibly this is a conceited thought (see under: Wind in the Willows, Toad's song).

I like the Gothic stuff at this time of year. Just wanted to say, for those who thought Pan's Labyrinth was a great movie but would never consider seeing Hellboy2 - just go ahead and rent it. The commentary by Guillermo Del Toro (AKA Papa Bear) is worth the price of admission in itself, and the film is quite beautiful. Apparently he does all the monster voices himself, which is exactly what I would do in his position. 

This time of year gives me a taste for the Gothic stuff, so from my tiny bully pulpit, I'm going to list some favorites in case anyone is looking.

I don't know what the connection is between bloggers and dogs, but a lot of you seem to have canine companions. This woman wrote one book 11 years ago. She breaks your heart, but it's lovely.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas 
Described as "chick lit for nerds" by one reviewer. Quite a yarn.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
The first two books are the best. If William Blake had written young adult fiction...

To quote the Ramones, "Hey Daddy-o, I don't wanna go down/in the basement".
James told one of these stories to a roomful of Cambridge dons every Christmas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stick in Barrington, R.I.

I am feeling a bit verklempt ...elephants and redwoods is located in in Rhode Island. I had mentioned that I lived in Barrington many years ago, and this stick has been placed on the East Bay bike path there. Thanks, E. - The photos are lovely also.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stick in Oslo and Chapter 3

This stick arrived somewhat the worse for wear after its long journey, but has now been repaired and sent out into the world by Son of Incogneato, who writes:

The deed is now done; your magik stick has been released into the population of Oslo.
I placed it yesterday (27.11.08) outside the main public library in Oslo, Deichmanske Bibliotek; it is one of my favourite haunts and attracts artsy-fartsy people like me. I put it at the foot of a statue of Arne Garborg, the famous Norwegian writer. You might be interested to know that Garborg translated the Odyssey into Nynorsk, or New Norwegian, which is one of the two forms of modern Norwegian.
In any case, I hung around with my camera for a while to see if I could document the Taking of the Stick, but as I had no takers, I went into the library to fetch some reading material. Pleasant was my surprise when I exited forty minutes later and your illustrious stick was gone.

Son also took on the challenge of adding Chapter 3 to the purple Prose Story. If anyone wants to take on Chapter 4, leave a comment for him that you'd like to do so, then a second comment when you've done so. You'll need to provide links to the Chapter before and after yours.

Note: Stick #9 is still available

Friday, November 28, 2008

Taste the Sky

This is based on a recollection I have of staying with friends in Upstate New York - Kate was sticking her tongue out to catch snowflakes and Julia was commenting on it. At least, that's my recollection. Simple pleasures. 

Illustration Friday Edit: Well, snowflakes are floating balloons. I had posted this for today and thought it could squeak by. I did post a more conventional balloon a few weeks back.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, Here's hoping every one in blogland has as much as they want of what they like most.

A nonsense poem, anon., this is one I can imagine Alan Rickman (who I intend to do a portrait of soon, because it's been long enough since last time I watched Snowcake) reciting in a sonorous voice:

The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt
It is to keep the lightning out.
But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Purple Prose: The second chapter is here at a thousand words. Leave a comment there if you'd like to write the next chapter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nother Sheep

Here is the companion piece to the superhero sheep. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chapter One/Purple Prose

My arrival at the shabby seaside town of B_ _ _ _ _ was quite accidental (or so I thought). I had merely departed the train several stops early, as I was unwilling to face what waited for me at home. It had taken me little time to settle my late aunt's estate, as she had ever been a model of prudence and forethought. Now I stood in the misty grey street as evening began to close in - an early dark, as it was the off-season. A spot of color appeared when a neon light went on in a shop window. Its electrical connection was evidently imperfect, as the light flickered intermittently. I approached the window, idly curious as to what sort of optimistic soul expected to do business at that hour and in that place.

This is part one of the exquisite corpse web experiment. Lucy has already volunteered to write the second part or paragraph. When she's posted it, I will link both here and in a new links box at right (titled PURPLE PROSE). To follow the story, you'll have to follow the link.  I expect that any individual chapter wold need have a link* to what precedes it in place, and then link forward to the next post, so anyone coming in mid-story can track it back. We'll see where it goes - I'll be following it, and if at some point it lacks a volunteer for say a week, I'll jump in and bring it back here. Anyone can provide a conclusion at any time, and can start a new story. If you don't like writing in the first person, a third person could kill off the first person narrator - it's all up to the author. Can't wait to follow this!

*links for these should be to the individual post. Click on the time of the post or the title and you will go to a page with a specific address. Copy that address and link in the post with a href etc.

P.S. Thanks Lettie , whose pics of Eastbourne pier inspired this story beginning.

Purple Prose: The second chapter is here at a thousand words

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sticks for placement

Three more sticks for placement. Let me know if you would like a stick (in the comments) and I will send you one. The intent is that the stick be placed somewhere for a stranger to find, simply for the delight of it.  If you photograph it after placement, I will post the photo here with a link to your blog, as I did on November 18 and on November 20.

For a stick cousin with an unusual placement, see born a girl

I will post the first segment of the story with illustration tomorrow, I thought maybe it was too much to have both in the same post.

Edit:Stick #8 has been claimed. Who wants to place 7 & 9? 7 has a silver smile I found on the ground, btw.

Edit; #7 has been claimed. Who would like # 6? It might look nice in snow...

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Here's another t-shirt design I just put on redbubble. Just for fun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Opinion/Grey Eminence

This is my illustrationfriday submission for this week. It's an old drawing I did from the long-ago time of rapidographs, which was originally a collage of an owl head pasted on a mountain. You can see the artist's opinion of authority here, the artist admits to retaining certain personality characteristics from adolescence.

This is the first new post since I was tagged by two wonderfully talented illustration friday artists,Parisa and Tomas. with a meme about 7 things about yourself. I'm going to alter the rules here, in emulation of Priya at the Plum Tree with her variations on ate/8, and list 7 things that are personal Heaven (rhymes with 7).  1.Temeraire books by Naomi Novik, 2. The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, 3. Butternut Squash soup, 4. Just watched: The Princess and the Warrior, thanks T. for the recommendation and Happy Birthday, 5. The Tiger Lilies and their German-Gothic-loving-hands-at-home-puppet-terror-version of StruwwelPeter, 6. Dancing,7. This Bee at elephants and redwoods. I am so smitten!

As for passing it on, I'm just going to say...I've been mulling over some exquisite corpse internet thing, ie, starting a story here, then linking to the next person to post the next (say 3-line) chapter. Anybody up for being next if I start? I'll just repeat, I do like the dark stuff at this time of year.

Friday, November 21, 2008


This is not a terribly distinguished photo, and mostly about the story. Last week I noticed a crew cutting down some sizable trees in a yard in my neighborhood. This is always distressing, and I decided to check to see if the above tree, near the place I lived in five years ago, was still there. As you can see, it is still doing its patient work of breaking up the asphalt and seems to have sprouted a relative since my time. Things with roots are patient. In the Other City (as this Oaklander refers to San Francisco) there is a tree court. People have to prove to a judge that there is a reason to cut down a tree of mature years on their property. Maybe that's true in other cities?

Why the crown in the corner? Just an example of  the human need to assert primacy as a contrast to the tree. Crowns abound in the city of Oakland for extremely humble businesses. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stick in Louisiana

This stick went to Christine at Forget-Me-Not Antiques and Treasures in Louisiana. Stop by if you are in Denham, or see her site for information about geneology. Christine wrote

"It took me a while to find the right place to "hide" the stick/wand. I finally found the perfect spot on a recent visit to our Alma Mater's mascot, Mike the Tiger at LSU. By the time we took the picture then went to see Mike and came back it was gone!"

I plan to post more sticks on Monday if anyone wants to participate - Just ask and I will send you a stick, the idea being to leave it for someone to find. If you take a photo of it once it's placed, I will post here with a link to your website (if you like). Or, design your own sticks and leave them for people to discover. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Bird Card

I am getting a small run of this greeting card printed for friends and relatives. It's a variation on an earlier illustration. The final will fold to 4" x 5", the inside will simply say "Happy Holidays". If anyone would like to order some, let me know - you can send me a check. They'll be $1.50 each, and will come with an undistinguished white envelope, shipping included in the U.S. My email is smsanford(at) (sneaky disguise of symbol to fool spammers) to make arrangements. If not, just enjoy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stick in Vancouver

Stick #3 from the post of October 20 was placed by Nao at teatimetraveller.
Nao said in her email:"There is a trail, in a forest, on a hill, above the sea, where Gus and I go walking. We are fairly certain that quite a lot of Faeries live here too. Since your wand reminded us of the "little people" we thought we'd take it to an enchanted place. We left it on a bed of velvety moss, growing on an old cedar stump, on the side of muddy and magical path. Many good hearted folks, and their children, and their four legged friends come wandering here. I am very sure that your beautiful wand will be found by someone very special, that is of course, unless the Faeries find it first, in which case, they might want to keep it for themselves."

Thanks. Gus and Nao. I hope to post more sticks to send out soon.

This just in: another stick has been placed - photo on Thursday. I don't know about you all, but I'm getting an overwhelming urge to rent some current-ish Doctor Who DVD and stay in this evening making more sticks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama changing a tire

Here's another editorial post, Detroit in trouble is referenced, but there could be a reference to greening the automobile industry there. My illustration site
is now refurbished, though much of the work on it has appeared here previously.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


A little bit of Venice still in this week's first post. This goes with the illustrationfriday prompt "pretend". I've also added it to my t shirt designs on redbubble.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Venice Shop Window

This window makes me think of E.T.A. Hoffman's story about the man who fell in love with a beautiful automaton. Hoffman is known as the German Poe. I frequently reread his story "the Golden Flowerpot" at this time of the year, when the borders between the worlds grow thin.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Venetian Scene#2

Some posts I am pleased about are coming up for next week. On Tuesday I will be posting narrative and photo about the destination of the first stick to be placed. One stick is going to be a collaborative effort due to the fact that it did not arrive at its destination whole. Otherwise, the illustrations will be resuming. The illustration friday challenge this week is pretend, something will be going up Sunday for that. Have an inspiring weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Venetian Scene

Looks like the sun broke through for a little while here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rain in Venice

This table had been left out in a ittle square after some communal celebration.