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From the post, Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life:

Excerpted from designer Debbie Millman’s book, Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life & Design


Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

– Margaret Atwood, from Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

For all artists – ways to improve your artistic vision – from photographer and teacher, Robert Rodriquez, Jr.:

Let go of identification and labeling. Learn to see the world as color, masses, values, shapes and edges.

 Develop a curious mind. Cultivate a childlike awareness and freedom, as if you have never seen nature before.

 Understand your own personal visual biases, those objects and colors that you notice and those that you tend to ignore.

 Study the art of others, especially painters. Try to understand their compositional choices and how they establish their focal point.

 Practice developing a vigilant eye. Always look for artistic potential wherever you are.

 Study light and all it’s variations; warm, cool, side, front, back, reflected, and diffused.

 Work to improve and sharpen your visual literacy. Learn to identify what separates a captivating image from a technically proficient image.

 Forget making masterpieces, learn to value practice.

Excellent advice from an incredible artist…

Robert Rodriguez, Jr.Robert Rodriquez, Jr.


From American Arts Quarterly:

“Conservation illuminates the ingenuity of paint handling—be it a deceptively simple brushstroke, a dexterous fleck of paint from a fingertip or even the judicious tilt of a puddle of colored water to a composition’s ideal location. When art history is conducted with no connection to the messy, ineffable, alchemical process of art, then it becomes, in James Elkins’s eloquent phrase, “a meager reading of pictures.” Instead, it must grapple with the substance of art. It must understand that: “To a painter, [oil paint] is the life’s blood: a substance so utterly entrancing, infuriating, and ravishingly beautiful that it makes it worthwhile to go back into the studio every morning, year after year, for an entire lifetime.”

– excerpted from Techniques of the American Artist: From Experimental Chemistry to Representing Paint

brooklyn-bridge-in-winter_hassamBrooklyn Bridge in Winter
Childe Hassam, 1904




via My Modern Met:

As the autumn leaves change color, nature provides us with other reminders that fall is on the way. The trees shower us with acorns—another symbol of the changing season. Online shop Bullseye Beads pays homage to the hearty nut with handmade pendants made of glass.


To form the translucent pieces, artisan Beth Ruth uses Italian and German soda lime glass and a table torch. The pods are shaped one at a time and annealed—heated and slowly cooled—overnight in a digitally-controlled kiln. Afterwards, Ruth tops each of the orbs with a real acorn cap that was sealed in museum wax.


Many of the pendants boast rich fall browns and oranges, but the pieces are available in a variety of colors—some even have tiny objects encased within them.


Just one more…


You know someone who would absolutely love this…c’mon…spring for it…er…fall for it…

Bullseye Bead shop…some are very limited editions…



A true image of craftsmanship and the aesthetics of type…


Also visit The Beauty of Engraving website presented by Neenah Paper…where I’ve lived for many years…

Alessandra Ferri   Alessandra Ferri in Lower Manhattan.  Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

It was late April, and the ballerina Alessandra Ferri was rehearsing the balcony pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Herman Cornejo in American Ballet Theater’s Lower Manhattan studios. The liquid fluidity, gorgeously arched feet and dramatic intensity that have characterized Ms. Ferri’s long career were all in evidence, and onlookers were watching with rapt appreciation.

Ms. Ferri does know what she is doing. On Thursday night, she is returning, at 53, to the Metropolitan Opera House stage to dance, for just one performance, the teenage Juliet — probably her most famous role — which she first danced at 21, in 1984, as a principal at the Royal Ballet.

“I was a little afraid of doing it again,” Ms. Ferri said after the rehearsal. “I went through many stages of indecision and fear and excitement. Then at one point, I thought, I’m only alive once: Why not?”

Dancers have relatively short careers. Because of the demands the profession makes on the body, retiring in the mid-40s — as Ms. Ferri did — is considered a very good run.

“When I retired, it was the end of my career, and that’s still true. My career is over. I have gone back to the pure joy of what I feel when I dance.

– from Alessandra Ferri Makes the Most of a Dance With Father Time, NYT, 6/22/2016

Via the NY Times: Write an Essay, and You Can Own My Newspaper, Vermont Man Says:

The owner of a weekly newspaper in Vermont wanted someone to take over the business that had been his life’s passion for the last 30 years.

So the owner, Ross Connelly, struck on an idea.

On Wednesday he announced an essay contest with a unique prize: the newspaper itself.

The (Hardwick) Gazette serves in delivering news and information to Hardwick, which is about 60 miles east of Burlington, Vt., and nine other towns in northeastern Vermont that are mostly rural and agricultural, with pockets of poverty.

The 127-year-old newspaper features the traditional coverage of birth announcements, the police blotter, obituaries, high school sports and community news. But it has also included hard-hitting articles about the embezzlement of public funds and a scandal that led to a seven-year prison sentence for a bank’s chief executive.

The newspaper, which has two full-time employees, including Mr. Connelly, three part-time workers and a corps of correspondents, grossed $240,000 last year. It is free of liens or a mortgage. The contest winner would get the newspaper’s building (a second story that once housed an apartment where Mr. Connelly and his wife lived is now office space), its furniture and fixtures, and all the materials needed to run the business.

Mr. Connelly said he was seeking a minimum of 700 submissions. The entry fee is $175…The contest begins on Saturday and lasts until Aug. 11.

Essays can be up to 400 words and must describe “the entrant’s skills and vision for owning a paid weekly newspaper in the new millennium…”

Here’s your chance. Contest website and rules are here. No online submissions. No credit cards. No Paypal. By mail only…with a check or money order and two self-addressed stamped envelopes to be included.

Open your booklet and begin…


shapiro quote combined

– from Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
by Dani Shapiro


dani shapiroDani Shapiro

From Flying Lessons,  a short story in the collection, Stranger Things Happen by author Kelly Link:

June went to St. Andrews. She thought it would be pleasant to spend a day by the sea. The train was full and she sat next to a fat, freckled woman eating sandwiches, one after the other. June watched her mouth open and close, measuring out the swish and click of the train on the tracks like a metronome.

When the sandwiches were gone, the woman took out a hardcover book. There was a man and a woman on the cover, embracing, his face turned into her shoulder, her hair falling across her face. As if they were ashamed to be caught like this, half-naked before the eyes of strangers. Lily liked that sort of book. The name of the author was Rose Read.

It sounded like a conjuring name, an ingredient in a love spell, a made-up, let’s pretend name. Leaning over the woman’s speckled-egg arm, June looked at the photo on the back. Mile-long curlicued eyelashes, and a plump, secretive smile. Probably the author’s real name was Agnes Frumple; probably those eyelashes weren’t real, either. The woman saw June staring. “It’s called Arrows of Beauty. Quite good,” she said. “All about Helen of Troy, and it’s very well researched.”

“Really,” June said. She spent the next half an hour looking across the aisle, out of the opposite window. There were several Americans on the train, dressed in tourist plaids, their voices flat and bright and bored. June wondered if her honeymooners would come to this someday, traveling not out of love but boredom, shifting restlessly in their narrow seats. Are we there yet? Where are we?

Shortly before the train pulled into Leuchars station, the woman fell asleep. Arrows of Beauty dropped from her slack fingers, and slid down the incline of her lap. June caught it before it hit the floor. She got onto the station platform, the book tucked under her arm.

Published by Small Beer Press…also can be found at Indiebound

woman on subwayWoman Reading on Subway, New York, 1957
photo: Inge Morath

[h/t to Library Journal for the lead in…]

© Bill Israel

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