Category Archives: Artists

Seed, soil, and insects

A beautiful seed catalog cover (image source)

A beautiful seed catalog cover by Beatriz Carmen Mendoza (image source.)

Isn’t this seed catalog cover lovely? You can see more of the artist’s works here. What initially caught my eye in this picture is the creature in the upper right hand corner. My father-in-law and I last week saw a curious thing – a creature that moved and had a tail like a hummingbird but had a body, wings, and antennae like a bee. We were perplexed, having never seen anything like it. I googled “hummingbird bee” and found out that it is what’s known as a hummingbird moth.

My wonderful father-in-law built a raised bed for us while he was here. I have been planning a vegetable garden, digging in the dirt and learning about the soil in these parts. Some dry levity from the cooperative extension service:

“Well-aged manure is an excellent soil amendment material… Once it is sufficiently composted, manure has no ‘barnyard smell’. A load of fresh manure in your driveway, however, may raise some concerns among your neighbors.”

I have two small helpers, aged 3 and 5 years. Our three-year-old, as he turned over dirt beside me, with his little spade, kept saying, “Thank you for helping, Mommy.”  Today our five-year-old broke up dirt clods with me, then had a very thrilling time with his brother running around being scared by the great big gusts of wind that made the trees creak.

Being a Christ-bearer

This is a photo of a page from one of the children's picture books, Christopher, the Holy Giant by Tomie de Paola. There's a master illustrator.

This is a photo of a page from one of our children’s picture books, Christopher, the Holy Giant by Tomie de Paola.

When on Monday night (and on Tuesday night), it feels like it ought to be Friday night, you can tell something’s up. Mama said there’d be days like these.

Some days it feels like one is trudging through water, impeded at every step. Tonight this illustration of Tomie de Paola’s came to mind, and in light of it, days like these seem much better than they did before – because being a Christian is being a Christ-bearer, after all.

More Robinson Crusoe

N. C. Wyeth illustration for Robinson Crusoe (Image source)

N. C. Wyeth illustration for Robinson Crusoe (Image source)

One isn’t supposed to judge a book by its cover; evidently one oughtn’t judge a book by its first four chapters, either. Now I’m on chapter eight – Robinson Crusoe has had an awakening of conscience and changed his outlook on life. How did I not see that coming? The book has gotten much more interesting altogether.

I wondered whether the American illustrator Howard Pyle had done any illustrations for Robinson Crusoe, as that would seem right up his alley. I can’t find evidence online that he had, but one of his students, N. C. Wyeth, made beautiful ones, above and below.

N. C. Wyeth illustration (Image source)

N. C. Wyeth illustration (Image source)

N. C. Wyeth illustration (Image source)

N. C. Wyeth illustration (Image source)

A little nonsense

Some day I want to make a study, just for fun, of writers who were also artists; or artists who were also writers, even if writers of nonsense, like Edward Lear.

Sometimes I feel like the Old Man of Peru, don’t you?

There was an Old Man of Peru,
Who never knew what he should do;
So he tore off his hair,
And behaved like a bear,
That intrinsic Old Man of Peru.

Texas, y’all’s Texas

I’m back! Did you wonder if I’d ever write again? I wondered myself.

Last week we returned, after a brief sojourn in Texas, to Gramp and Granny’s house. “Back from the ‘Holy Land’?” Gramp enquired.

I was a little shocked; it is funny, but the expression seems irreverent. My husband told me it’s an old saying.  It’s true that many Texans have a state pride that’s outsized compared to that of other states’ inhabitants; “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” after all. My own home state’s not like that so much. I imagine that in moments of leisure its people are more likely to be contemplating a post-retirement move to Arizona, than the virtues of our fair state.

My mother-in-law illustrated two coloring books about the state of Texas during the 70s. I saw them for the first time last week, and they are delightful. Here’s a sampling:


CavernsofSonoraI wish I could post all the drawings here! I love her illustration style. We, luckily, get to see it now and then in letters, and when she draws for the children when she visits.

Speaking of living clay

We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisified until it has a certain character. . . Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble; he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life — the work which he loves. . . he will take endless trouble — and would doubtless thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.

-C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Here at last!


Here’s a fast sketch of our little bundle of boy, who arrived – at last! – two weeks ago, almost two weeks after his due date.

He’s a gorgeous baby – I know, I would think so, but really it’s true. I look at his little form and marvel – the greatest artist on earth might be able to paint, or sculpt, such a beautiful baby, but never create one out of living clay.

Little man is doing well and so are we, all the more so because he’s here!