Friday, May 25, 2012


A pair of Canadian Geese let me be alarmingly close to their gosling by the Charles River the other morning. I sat still while the curious babies crowded around me, and mom and dad let them explore. It was a magical kind of moment, as geese are very special to me. 
Every spring in Boston, I admire the baby ducks and geese. They are a marking point of almost-summer for me. I've never gotten so close before!
I hope you're all having a lovely May! Back soon with more sketchbook and art.
xo, Amanda

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

night owl: a blessing and a curse.

I can't sleep.
Exactly a month left of teaching before "summer vacation" (a.k.a. returning to my past life of retail a few days a week and painting constantly), and my night owl ways are creeping back quickly as though they've been summoned by my impending months off.
This whole week, I simply have not been able to sleep.
I am a night owl at heart, something I inherited from my artist mother that is perpetuated by my own feeling that there is always something to do, a painting to be painted, an essay to be written, a book to be read, quiet to be absorbed. 
I cherished my nights last year especially while painting for "Depending upon the nature of the beast." I would stay up till 4, 5, 6 in the morning painting. The thing is, I usually don't get to sleep late after doing this. I'd have to get up and go to work and go about my day as though I'd slept all night. But, somehow, I'd be fine.
Something switched this year. My wonderful new job managed to retrained me sleep-wise, and all year I have been in bed by midnight and still found time to do all the things I needed to do. I don't know if I could exist on 3 hours of sleep a night anymore if I tried.
All this week, though, I cannot sleep. Maybe I still haven't gotten back to normal after spending two weeks "six hours ahead" in Switzerland. I'm not sure if it's insomnia or if, subconsciously, I am planning on returning to night owl status as soon as school lets out.
This isn't my plan. I like getting a full night's sleep and getting up early and making the most of the day.    But part of me feels nostalgic for late nights in the summer.
They began with watching I Love Lucy marathons on Nick at Nite's Block Party Summer with my mom and sister.
In recent years, they include painting with the windows open to the city-dark, navy and glowing with street lamps, the faint sound of cars and insects and train whistles.
Sleeping with the windows open is so beautiful, I want to be awake to enjoy it.
There is a subtle thrill to seeing the sky change from dark to pastel and knowing that you spent all that time making something.
I once read that people are born pre-dispositioned to be a night owl or an early-to-bed, early-to-rise type. I believed that statement until this year, when I was so convinced that I had retrained myself to adhere to a completely new schedule. I'm beginning to wonder if I believed too soon, though, and am thinking that this summer will be the true test.
So what about you - are you a night owl? And if so, what do you think compels you to be that way? Are you an artist? A musician? Or just someone who loves the night? I'm really curious.
So I'm off to try and sleep now. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Textile Museum: Saint Gallen, Switzerland

The morning I landed in Switzerland, I took the train from the Zurich airport to St. Gallen where I'd later be meeting Eleanor to head into Gais. I had a lot of time to kill, and found an amazing textile museum. Its hot pink screen-printed brochure of religious iconography caught my eye in a tourist info stop, and I made my way from there.
Museums comfort me while traveling. They are the link to home, the link to one of my favorite past times: being able to wander quietly, looking at interesting things; the time and space to think.
The textile museum has bright green walls, fabrics you can touch, a library of books (ancient and new). The current show was amazing: the textiles of the Catholic church, with pieces dating way back. They also had a screening room where you could watch the fashion show from Fellini's Roma. I sat there and watched it a few times over. 
It was the perfect way to spend my first afternoon in Switzerland.
I hope you all had a lovely week!
xo, Amanda

Monday, May 7, 2012

the swiss-italian sketchbook

Sketchbook pages from Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.
I hope you all had a beautiful weekend!
xo, Amanda

Thursday, May 3, 2012

for caesar's I am, and wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

A new book to add to the list of "books that have meant very much to me": Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
Written in numbered paragraphs, sometimes subsequently related and other times not, she tells, in subtle code, the simplified story of a relationship that effected her deeply encased in her immense and overwhelming love for the color blue.
Blue is my favorite color, and when I spotted this book at the Booksmith, I felt very happy to have found it. I love the way Nelson feels about blue. It is how I have described feeling about birch bark - the endless search for something within it, without really knowing what. The love is in the search.
I read it quickly over the past three days. The book had an odd way of always playing off something I had just heard someone else say, something I had just thought or just written down, or something one of the kids did or said at school. The book is a rarity in that I feel so grateful for having read it, so grateful to the author for having written it. I always feel lucky when I stumble on a book like that. 
The day after I began to read it, one of my students asked me, "What's your favorite color?" 
"Blue," I told her.
"What's your favorite number?"
She saturated a piece of paper with blue, leaving a white space in the shape of the letter A for my name. In the negative space of the A, she put 3 lines of varying length (a Japanese 3; she said it looked better than the 2). I folded it up and put it in Bluets; it just seemed too perfect. Such a perfect coincidence. 
In general, I admire Nelson's touching honesty about what it means to be "blue." I think the way she speaks of it is something that many creative types will relate to, even though that's not the point.
Long story short, it struck a chord in me that has not been struck by a book in a while now. It's beautiful, and I loved it.