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Less is a Bore

I made this etching after I gave up teaching to concentrate more fully on my art. My children were in school full time and my days were now my own. I first spent hours and months just filling little blank books with images and quotes that caught my attention.

I crammed into this piece everything I could think of to define a new phase of my life. As I think back, maybe I was defining myself as an artist.

I put the seven continents across the top, each with an indigenous animal.

On either side is a great ocean—on the left, the Atlantic, with an allegorical figure of Europe from the plaza outside Musee D’Orsay in Paris. She’s sitting with a stag under a pine tree.

On the right is the Pacific, with a palm tree, a parrot, and a pineapple. I'm not sure why I put a seal there.

Two cows honor my years in Vermont.

My family is represented by our signs of the Zodiac; an Aquarius Bear for Arthur, Taurus, the Bull for me, Cancer, the Crab for Jessie and Capricorn, the Goat, for Sam. You can find those yourself.

And some of my favorite saints;

Saint Barbara, patron saint of architects and those about to be struck by lightning.

St. Honore, patron saint of bakers—appropriate for my family history

San Isidro, who prayed so fervently that God sent an angel to do his plowing so he could spend all his time in prayer. Where is the patron saint of cooking dinner?

St. Joseph, for his patience and forbearance.

The Lion? Maybe he’s Aslan, the Christ figure from the Narnia Chronicles, maybe he’s one of the lions who guard the New York Public Library. I was starting to write a little; I loved Stuart Davis, with his use of words as part of his compositions,

so I wanted to put in some words; the words and phrases I had randomly scribbled into my little blank books. I’m not sure of all their sources. Remember, I did this on a brass etching plate and the image is a mirror of the plate--so I had to write everything backward. Hello, Leonardo.

Restore that easy laughter, liberal generosity and the yearning for what is good, just and sublime.

Value yourself enough to absorb the relentless disciplines of art.

“Accuracy for the sake of imagination.” Eugene Delacroix

Refinement and rigor

Clarity, health and human connection—this is from a biography of the poet Anne Sexton, describing what she yearned for.

Faithfulness without malice, humor without flippancy,

Texture, surface, form, line, color, luminosity

“Patience, doggedness, thoughtfulness, and desire give wings to natural gifts.”

Substance and style, style and substance

Refinement and rigor emotional generosity

Elation Hopelessness Panic

Common sense, dignity, modesty, candor, self-worth, loyalty, and faith. I think these were listed somewhere as the qualities that die in the face of a totalitarian government.


From the Bible. Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Above all, “Less is a Bore.”

January 10, 2020

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