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A Great Resource

Updated: Mar 4

Do you ever think about what we did before the day of...cell phones, the internet, Google? Yesterday I found myself wondering what an octopus's mouth looks like and I just hit google and there were many images both realistic and cartoon-y. How did I do anything before Google? In the old days a wonderful way to find images was the Picture Collection at the New York Public Library. I wrote about it in the early days of this blog, so here it is.


One of my favorite places in New York is the picture collection of the New York Public Library.



It's a magical place--a treasure. Say you want to look at pictures of mole rats, or shoe fashions in the fifteenth century, or Byzantine architecture. You just walk in and tell the librarian what you

re looking for. She writes down the shelf and file numbers--you find a fat folder and sit down at a table to leaf through a pile of pictures, some of them decades old. I know you can do the same thing on the internet now but there's something about holding those papers in your hand. And, you can take them home with your library card.

Here's a treasure I've had in my own files for years. I must have been looking for pictures of angels and came upon this painting. I was knocked out by the energy of these two figures, the rich color and the intense gaze of the young man. I especially love the angel's feet.


oil painting of an Angel and young man, Verrocchio
Tobias and The Angel by Andrea del Verrocchio

Here's the story as told by novelist/theologian Frederick Buechner.

TOBIAS WAS A YOUNG man when he ran into the angel Raphael, and not knowing that he was an angel at all, let alone one of seven great ones who stand and enter before the glory of the Lord, Tobias hired him at a drachma a day to be his traveling companion. Accompanied by Tobias's dog, they had a series of adventures that were nothing less than extraordinary.


Tobias almost lost his foot to a great fish. He discovered a cure for his father's blindness. He picked up a large sum of money that his father had left with a friend. And after first curing a young woman named Sarah of a demon who had caused her first seven husbands to perish on their wedding nights, he not only married her himself but lived to tell the tale.

But the best part of the story is the short, no-nonsense prayer with which he married her. "And now I take not this my sister for lust, but in truth," he said. "Command that I and she may find mercy and grow old together. Amen" (Tobit 8:8-9).


Never has the knot been more securely or simply or eloquently tied, and it's small wonder that it lasted them through a long and happy marriage that did not come to an end until Tobias died in peace at the age of one hundred and seventeen.


Nice story, huh? I just had to draw that angel.




Now that I look at it I see that the left arm is way out of proportion. Oh, well. After a while, I decided to put something in the hand instead of that little jar of fish oil so I helped myself to some of Sam's baseball cards, making this "Trading With the Angel," part of the series inspired by my grandmother's comment, "Did you hear Tommy John got Traded to the Angels?" Some little boys I know were horrified at what I'd done to the cards.

Thank you, Mr. Verrochio, 575 years later your painting is still thrilling.

Why was I looking for an octopus's mouth? I'm taking a break from Pagoda in the Pines;



I don't hate it I"m just a little tired of it so I'm putting it away and beginning a new drawing, a companion piece to my House of Green.


Pen & Ink drawing of a House Underwater

I've done one but it doesn't really match--too wide and a different pallet. You can see here what a difference good lighting makes when shooting art work.

The new one will be an interior view with an octopus in the basement. I found this photo quite a while ago and knew I'd use it someday. I love the twining tentacles but what's that stuff he's expelling? probably something nasty so I'll turn it into beautiful bubbles. and what will the face look like? That's where Google came in.

Photograph of an octopus shooting ink

Here's a first step.



Have a great weekend!


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2 Comments


Very cool start to your squidlet!! Mara 🦑♥

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Guest
Feb 23

Sadly, I think the NYPL shut down the Picture Collection.

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