Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I went to Kew Gardens in the summer of last year and purchased this plant.  I call it a name other than what it is known by.  It used to be a strong, hale and happy plant.  It had the look of one that enjoys conversation.  In retrospect I wonder if it was the sort of enjoyment that is valued only by those who lack almost all other pleasures, like a man who never sees the tent we call the sky.  I don't know.  All I know is it never told me it was suffering for want of light and almost overnight its strength failed, and now I am sure it will die, although it lives by the window.  You can not take death masks of plants or I would have done so.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A page from an old sketchbook. In those days I was using a dip pen for everything; it's amazing I didn't spill india ink over everything.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It's a rare day that I live up to my own standards. That's how it should be. "I am still learning," said Goya in his old age.

But occasionally I manage a drawing in which the simplicity of line and the fullness of the composition admit no further attempts, and I feel satisfied. There is one here. This is another:

I confess his rather beatific smile may be why I like it so much.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another view of Florence, done as an experiment with water-soluble crayons. I used to wander the city almost daily and makes sketches like this one. As a way of teaching yourself how to paint with watercolours, I recommend it.

Perhaps I should mention that this is an early one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2 researchers

...of violence in the Renaissance and the early middle ages respectively.

I drew them with an overlarge brush pen during a lecture.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Plague Doctor

By the end of the 17th century, the great waves of pestilence that had periodically swept Europe since the Black Death had come to an end. Consequently, the medical importance of the plague doctor, such as it was, also subsided.

The costume, however, with its sinister mask and black habit, was firmly entrenched in the public imagination. At some point in the 18th century, it entered the ambiguous and erotic territory of the Venetian Carnevale, where it joined a cast of characters otherwise drawn from the commedia dell'arte.

We may suppose that it served then, as now, as a memento mori. There is something in every festival, but especially carnivals, that is ripe with the promise of loss.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A stream east of Florence

Just east of Florence is the small hamlet of Ponte a Mensola. It's named for its equally small stream, the Mensola, which runs down from the northern hills into the Arno. This is a view of it:

It was done with a dip pen and india ink.