Poking Out in the World

Taking a Balloon For a Walk

Trying to be clear when 
the day sometimes can’t manage

Days trying to be even while
It’s sometimes not.

and might say grackle like
These all could be

are a decent compromise
Let’s say,
A compromise.

I just recently got hold of some Roher & Klingner fast drying SketchInk™ . That, combined with a few Faber-Castell Polychromous™ colored pencils, has made revisiting some ink line sketches a lot of fun and full of surprises.

Taking a balloon out for a walk

Full Disclosure: For whatever it’s worth, I’m not supported by either of these companies and am certain that neither one knows that I exist.

Now …where was I?

I’ve got oodles of pocket A6 sketchbooks I keep in almost every pocket of my clothing and book bags … not to mention strewn around my nightstand. These are so liberating to just throw down quick sketches while waiting in line somewhere or sitting on a rickety tram or just scribbling out thumbnail ideas or just scribbling for the hell of it in bed or almost anywhere else.

This format lets me sketch without being distracted or intimidated by the possibility of anything like a finished work resulting in the end.

I guess that should be the idea with all of my sketchbooks regardless of size. They’re sketchbooks dedicated to sketching. I’ll just have to agree that I have trouble remembering that … and, that so many things in general would be better if I didn’t*.

So …

… the ink handles really well in both dip pen and brush. The colors are bold expressions of mostly unsaturated pigments — think assertive earth tones? 🤔.

They do seem to handle differently The fact that they dry much more quickly than any other drawing ink I’m used to makes them great for working on some of my sketchbooks that are not designed for wet applications. This fast drying process also leads to a variety of outcomes for subsequent layers. Like watercolor, it’s fun and thrilling trying to control — or at least interact with — it.

I’ve also heard that the SketchInk™ family of drawing inks mix quite well with each other which doesn’t surprise me. The muted nature of these colors makes me guess that they’re unlikely to overpower one another. I only have two of them (Frieda and Thea) so … **

* English teacher’s note to self: gotta love the flexibility of those auxiliary verbs

** I’ve got to take a break mid sentence here. I’ll finish that thought and this post sometime soon, I hope 🤞

How’s Everyone’s Sanity and Balance Doing?

I feel a need to check in with whoever’s there. Coming across this sketch I did from exactly two years ago, and a thorny late poem by William Carlos Williams really drives home for me this sudden urge to connect with … something.

I tried to have only two things in mind back while I was nervously sketching this while listening to news about protests against common sense Covid-19 protection, namely:

  1. to think about anything other than myself and everything else that was worrying me even sicker than I was at that time. Which time? Well … chronic illnesses — especially ones causing cognitive damage — make that one kinda tricky to pin down. These were some of the unravelings happening within my “edge of one of many circles.” Past the palm at the edge of that mind the “de facto” stabilities of most things I had held my exterior to hold were collapsed or collapsing.
  2. to see how my new Canson Mix Media 9*12’ sketchbook behaved with different charcoals and inks.
GA on my mind

Many of these worries were universal, like Covid-19 (and the ways it was then being dealt with) or Climate Change (and the ways it was then being dealt with) or, say, systemic racism or the continued growth of a Trumpist fascist state (and the ways …)

A society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.

James Baldwin

Other worries were more individualized. For me, the growing disability and ferocious pain that Multiple Sclerosis was doling out had eclipsed itself on every frayed fiber. There were a few times that I looked deep down into myself and swore to remember that “yes, it really was this indescribably agonizing!” so a future me would not forget when/if things ever moved past the present state.

Georgia continued – pen & ink

That was two years ago

  • That was before George Floyd.
  • It was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the new (hot) Cold War arrived.
  • It was before attitudes about vaccination against covid insanely became ferocious ideological and political tenets.
  • It was before almost two million (and counting) people had died of covid.
  • There hadn’t yet been a coup attempt on the Capitol and the illusion that America was not in an existential crisis was still generally held. Now democracy itself seems impossible to sustain going forward.
  • I hadn’t realized that even while having long been deeply impressed by the first part of that quote of James Baldwin about a society needing to assume that it is stable, I had no clue how blind I was in failing to appreciate the crucial remainder of that sentence All this while being an “artist” no less.
  • Oh yeah … my then lousy condition has continued to worsen.

The ways so many things have fallen apart since April 2020 — when I made those sketches — make the worried existence of two years ago seem charmingly naive.

William Carlos Williams wrote a poem in 1961 titled “Poem” where emotionally and spiritually he was also confronting the clash of madnesses of the then not too distant past with the even more terrifying madness that followed through his present; he might as well have written it today.

William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams


William Carlos Williams

The plastic surgeon who has
concerned himself
with the repair of the mole

on my ear could not be
more pointedly

let all men confess it
Gaugin or Van Gogh
were intimates

who fell out finally
and parted going
to the ends of the earth

to be apart, wild men
one of them cut
his ear off with a pair of shears

which made him none the less
a surpassing genius
this happened

yesterday forgive him
he was mad
and who among us has retained

his sanity or balance
in the course the
events have taken since these days

Here’s to looking forward to a day when this poem is not applicable to that day’s then present.

In the meantime, given that the instability of everything is making itself achingly clear, I don’t know that an artist is needed to fill that role right now. Rather, I’ll just keep being aware that my search for something stable under our violent sun is futile and keep on creating images anyway.

Cheers 🥂