Archive for May, 2010

Act IV. The Arrival.

Boulder, COBoulder, CO, originally uploaded by marcusnelson.

Call me a new resident of Boulder, Colorado.

Already I’m excited about the new color palette for painting. I may have to purchase a few new pans of watercolor in order to suit my new environment. Definitely less blue here (except for the sky, which is very blue), and more oranges, yellows, and purples. Also, everyone has bright red poppies in their gardens: so beautiful!

Wildflowers and Mountains - Boulder, ColoradoWildflowers and Mountains – Boulder, Colorador, originally uploaded by bglass_6838.


Act III: The Departure

Have I mentioned that I’m moving across the country? I’m exchanging the Appalachian Mountains for the Rockies, and saying goodbye to everything I love about Appalachia and the American Southeast:

Me, 1989 or 1990

I started this blog when I was farming in the heartland of Virginia last summer. I wanted to reconcile my passion for place— that real, earthy spot where you stand –with the global networks of the internet. I posted about things like strawberry rhubarb crisps, eating disorders and farming, and handsome farmers (see #5). I wanted to post all my art in one place, and prove that “rural” doesn’t mean “lacking in culture.”

I admit that, during the school year, I forgot my focus on rural politics and got caught up in art supplies. But I still saw those things as connected: binding my own books connects me to generations of Appalachians who made their own clothing, furniture, and instruments. And even if I was no longer living next to the old plantation slave quarters, I still focused on race through my studies, posts, and in my life. Sure, I had some difficulty readjusting to a liberal arts school where most of my peers were from the urban centers on the coasts– but the main themes of my life (and of this blog) remained the same:

Self-Sufficiency (D-I-Y. Crafting. Creating. Energy independence. Independent women. Growing your own food.)

Rurality (Community. Music on porches. Real-life interactions).

Agriculture (Dirt. Dark soil. Sweaty bandanas. Staking tomatoes.)

Art and Design (Art supplies. Meditative safety. Blank pages. Flex nibs. Watercolor.)

Literature (Everywhere. All the time. The story of each life. The collective story of all lives.)

Politics (Being a woman. Being white. Being Southern. Being Appalachian. Being educated.)

Poetry (Powerful poets. Contemporary poets. Poetry saving lives.)

And So Now…

Here I am headed toward a new climate, a new altitude, a new landscape. But I don’t think it will be forever (what ever is?). I’ll be missing a lot about this part of the country. I’ll be back.

Combined: Blank Habana and Pelikan M400

This combination must be the personal “grail” that they talk about in the pen world: a large BLANK (!) Habana notebook by Quo Vadis, and a Pelikan M400 in (limited edition) white tortoise, with a fine flexible nib.

The Pelikan fountain pen was a joint graduation gift from four of my aunts. I don’t come from a family with a lot of disposable income, so this was a big gesture for all of them to purchase together. And when I came home from my graduation luncheon, I had a package with a large blank Habana notebook waiting for me– which I’m going to call a freebie graduation gift from the ever-generous Karen Doherty at Exaclair.

Now, before I start the, ahem, Very Official Review, I’ll give you my totally unprofessional, 100% emotional reaction:


I actually love this combination more than words can express. Okay, that’s not totally true– I’m an English major, and I do have the words to express. For example:

The large blank Habana has all the qualities that moleskine-lovers love about moleskine– a streamlined and elegant design, opens flat for writing, includes a ribbon bookmark and handy pocket inside the back cover– except for one small thing: the Habana notebook is far superior.

Here’s why:

  • The paper in the Habana is 90g “Clairefontaine” paper. (I’m not sure why “Clairefontaine” is in quotes on the label, but I think they’re just making sure we know what kind of paper is inside). It’s responsive to fountain pens and refuses to allow bleedthrough. There is some show-through, but not enough to bother me (which is saying something– usually I’m a stickler about show-through). Compare this to– well, we all know how moleskine responds to fountain pens…
  • Clairefontaine makes their own paper, which is SO rare in a globalized world. This cuts down on exploitation (both environmentally and in terms of human labor). They have an amazing documentation of their paper process: made from from sustainably managed forests (certified by PEFC), they don’t use any bleach, and they compost their factory waste? Holy crap. On the other hand, basically no one knows where moleskine paper comes from… although they have started a new line of “earth-friendly” products (a phrase that I don’t trust at all).
  • The large Habana notebook is definitely larger than the regular size moleskine– in a good way! When I used moleskine notebooks, I remember my hands would begin to cramp about halfway through, and I had to abandon any chance of good handwriting. The large Habana is definitely still slim and compact, but large enough for an artist who likes to draw and design in her notebooks.
  • The blank pages are a new thing for the Habana notebook. This was the one reason why I never purchased a Habana notebook before– because I need some blank pages to draw! And now– well, now they’re seductively blank…
  • Did I mention that it opens flat? Or has a pretty sexy color scheme? And a handy pocket? And a ribbon bookmark? Alright, I’ll just let the pictures talk from here.

I Graduated! (From College!)

Damn Straight, Magna Cum Laude

I’m going through some Major Life Transitions (MLT’s!) right now, which may result in sparser posting. But who knows! It may also result in more frequent posting. If all goes as planned, I’ll be filled with all the creative energy of change, and I look forward to sharing the art and writing that emerges from that.

Blog Talk (Some Recommendations)

Part of why I blog, even as somebody who generally fights for analog over digital, is because it can open doors to a kind of community. So, I wanted to talk up some blogs that I’ve enjoyed lately!

Darkly Wise, Rudely Great is the blog of philosopher, author, and commentator D.A. Young. He has some good things to say about a technological world, and I like the emphasis that he places on his real/family life in conjunction with his profession.

Leigh Reyes. What more can I say? Totally indulgent artsy-pen goodness, plus fantastic videos of nib action (sounds dirty?)

Drawing With A Squirrel is the blog of “Gentian,” whose delicate watercolors and drawings are some serious eye candy. Her portraits and still lifes verge on the edge of abstraction, but they definitely reflect a controlled drawerly discipline. Plus, she has some excellent art supply reviews.

Handmade Book with Clairefontaine Paper

In this post, I hinted at a new Book that I was binding using several different sample Clairefontaine papers: Graf It sketch padDCP Digital Color Printing Paper,Calligraphy Art Pad, and the Ingres Pastel Pad.

All the papers serve very different functions, so binding them into one journal is a way for me to provide a more extensive review of each type of paper. And, a way to keep me artistically on my toes! (Sure, we’ll go with that).

I used a simple long stitch and then glued the bound signatures into the cover. To make the cover, I used leftover mat board from an art project, and covered it in some blue ribbon.

(Making a new book without buying anything new = so rewarding.)

I’ve already been using this book throughout the exam season, so that’s why there are already some extra papers sticking out of it.

I think the order of use is: DCP copy paper, pastel paper, Graf It sketch paper, and then the calligraphy paper. I’ll try to post more extensive reviews as I finish each section. However, I have played around with all four papers already, so I can at least provide some preliminary thoughts…

  • So far, I’m loving the paper from the calligraphy pad— especially the off-white color, which I’m not used to seeing in Clairefontaine/Rhodia products. This paper is SO smooth, but less “slippery” than regular Clairefontaine paper. Plus, it’s a bit heavier which means it can handle wet media (sort of).
  • I was actually surprised how much I liked the Graf It sketchpad: it seems like a similar product to those “all-use” sketchbooks that you can buy at craft stores, with the rough-ish paper, but the quality of the Graf-it paper is a huge step up.
  • I love the DCP printing paper because it seems like basic Clairefontaine paper, but has the benefit of being available as loose sheets. I think when I bind small books for gifts in the future, I’ll use this paper instead of regular computer printer paper to fill them. Like the paper in Clairefontaine notebooks, though, it doesn’t offer the same versatility that the calligraphy paper and graf it paper do– it’s definitely more light weight, and not compatible with wet media. My guess is that it’s best used for writing and inking (and of course, printing. I’ll get to that in a later post)
  • The paper from the Ingres pastel pad seems really, really similar to the paper in the Exacompta sketchbook: it’s off-white, laid paper. And hey, I love the Exacompta sketchbook, so this just may be excellent paper. I found that it takes both wet and dry media equally well, and pastels are buttery smooth when used on this paper. This will be my first extended paper review, in the next few days.

Love Where You Came From

…I’m not going to say, “Happy Mothers Day,” because it’s a silly holiday that reinforces the idea of nuclear families and maternal instincts in women. Sorry to be a downer!

I’m taking today to appreciate what a positive, inspirational force my mother is, and how much I respect her as a woman, not as a mother.

Mom and Me, 1989

Also, reading suggestion for today: In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, by Alice Walker.

Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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