in which we are introduced to the tumblies, look at some more watercolor samples, and explore narratives


It was a windy day in New Paltz, New York, and I was wearing a muumuu. It's a rather nice muumuu, vintage Hawaiian, bright red, that I bought for $45 from a lovely lady named Shabbat who plays guitar and sells homemade and vintage clothes. Anyway, it was a windy day and we all know nothing picks up wind quite as well as a muumuu. And thus the Tumblies were born. There's really very little concept behind the Tumblies outside of cuteness--they're small, lightweight girls in large dresses who drift through the air in a variety of themes. They're very straightforward, universally accessible. My mother tells me I should market them to Hallmark, and I just might. The top three images are some examples of them--the ones I like best, anyway. They are, top to bottom, Aeronautic Tumblies (note the protective eyewear), Tumblies of Summer, and Pollen Tumblies. Like I said, their main concept is being adorable, since I can't be expected to plumb the dark oceans of emotion all the time. Sometimes I just need some cute. These Tumblies are created using watercolor, ink and colored pencil on paper.

Below the Tumblies are two pieces that speak, in a way, to
my other interest, which is writing. Generally, I don't mix my writing and my art. They come from very different areas of myself and I find it ultimately detrimental to both disciplines to mix them. Maybe it's vanity--I like my art to be able to communicate without words, and my writing to be able to communicate without images. Graphic novels and comics, in case you were wondering, bore me to tears from the standpoint of a creator, though illustration doesn't repel me quite so much. The second picture from the bottom is a rare exception (one of them, anyway). She is a character from a story I once started to write, and have put on the back burner for the time being. Her name is Mary, and her tattoo is a snake that wraps around both arms and over her shoulders. The one overlap I have is a habit of sketching characters. Something about seeing them physically as I see them in my head is helpful. There are two other, similar images from this story showing other characters, but Mary remains my favorite. It's India and acrylic ink and pen on paper, the same smallish (about 3" X 5" ish) paper the Tumblies are on. I'm really bad at identifying paper types, you'll have to forgive me.

Below Mary is a rather strange image--even for me--that occurred one evening seemingly out of nowhere. The day, I recall, had been filled with rather sordid activity as befits college kids in an empty summer house, so maybe that has something to do with its origin. The result, anyway, were those wonderfully ugly children all stained with mulberry juice--or possibly something more gruesome. Mullberry juice does make one look rather like the undead if one gets it all over one's face. This image, unlike Mary, has no greater narrative, but is one of the rare images in which I've used text. I don't generally. For me it's too rigid and, like I said before, I like my art to not need the addition of text to make its meaning or even feeling clear. But there's always an exception. Here's one of them, watercolor and pen on Bristol plate (I remember that, because it's in big letters on the pad), 8.5" X 11".

I'm getting better at water media, and there's something nice about it. For one thing, unlike oils, water media is nontoxic and can be used in the comfort of your living space, which is a nice break from standing in the basement. They're also easily portable and easily prepared and cleaned up. My watercolor, ink, and gouache palette is a piece of aluminum foil, for example, and all the paint tubes can fit into the relish jar I use for water. With the exception of We Were Eating Mullberries, all the images here were created during the month I was living on my good friend Jillian's futon. I had no permanent studio space at the time, and obviously I couldn't use (toxic) oils in her apartment, so my only outlet, artistically, was water media. So if you're ever camped out in someone's living room for a period of time, bring your watercolors.