Friday, March 30, 2012

Benny and the Urchins

Benny and the Urchins
watercolor sketch
9 x 12
Canson Multimedia Paper
This is my sketch to prepare for the final one that will be in the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library.  The final one will be smaller.

There are four urchins in this picture.

I'm excited and pleased because I did the whole thing without looking at any reference photos--maybe it would be better if I had, but there it is--completely uninfluenced by anything but my own mind.  Yeah, there should be another rock in front of the tide pool, but no one is perfect.

Benny and the Urchins

When Benny and his parents were visiting Catalunya, they met a boy that everyone called "The Urchin." Benny's Mom told Benny that an urchin was a raggedy or mischievous boy. This boy was very raggedy.
Benny played on the beach with the urchin boy, and learned that his name with Miguel. He discovered that Miguel was called "The Urchin" in part because he ate sea urchins. He ate sea urchins because he had no parents and was homeless . He also ate clams, mussels, and fish that he herded into traps he built in the sand along the shore.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
image credit: me (detail from watercolor painting)
(Story to be continued at some future date.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Benny with the ferret ((Semi)-final)

Benny and the Ferret
5 x 7
on arches cold-pressed 140 lb/300 gm paper
This is my watercolor painting on the actual page of the sketchbook for the sketchbook project for the Brooklyn Art Museum (as opposed to the earlier one which was just a quick sketch.)  In the final final version, I may or may not make a few adjustments.

Poppies in Rain
Acrylic on Paper
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt

From the Dark Centers of Flowers

Sometimes, I journey into darkness
while every shadow harbors a malevolent bat
whose wings reach out, sticky as spider webs
to trap me.
It’s a lovely day, friends say, trying
to cheer me. The sun shines; its warmth
caresses my skin, but in the shade, bats gather,
gnashing their teeth as their claws grow pointy.
When I bend to smell the flowers, the bats
ambush me. They pour from the center
of each blossom like flying monkeys,
like a plague of locusts.
When they eat holes in me, I am moth-eaten;
I am Swiss cheese. I am lace curtains
blackened by coal-fired ovens. I am despair.
The sun shines through me.
I am a pattern of light.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
location: Detroit, San Francisco
photosource: me (acrylic painting) (detail from "the Misunderstanding")

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Collaboration with Roma

I did the right side and the small fly on the lower left, and Roma did the rest of the Left side. She took the photo with her cell phone because her scanner was down.

W is for Wolverine and revised poem

Benny and the Wolverine
For the Sketchbook Project for the Brooklyn Art Museum.

and from my Cowbird "journal:"

Into the Flame-Trees

I want to apologize, because this is a new version of an "old" story, one I wrote yesterday for Sara Nics, but have revised it enough that I want to repost it.

Into the Flame-Trees

How can I, tired, travel-weary, and toughened
to boot-leather, find my way home
to myself? I look for a trail back to the person I was, once, sweet,
smiling, innocent, but the trail has grown up with briars
and Russian olive, a thicket as sharp and impenetrable
as the past. Looking into that haunted darkness,
I see a gauntlet of memories, terrors and nightmares.
and the lost child I seek, the one
who contains my goodness, lifts her arms toward me and wails.
To reach her, to lift her to my heart, I must fight
my way back through thornapple, cut-grass and poison ivy.
I must unravel strands of rusted barbed wire
like the maiden, Eliza, who wove sweaters
of nettles until her hands bled. My blood
acts as a compass, spins out the direction
to trek. But I fear I am not strong enough, energetic enough,
courageous enough to make the journey home. I raise
one bare foot, step into the prickly ash, and howl.
My child-self, my heart, calls to me, from a vast distance,
a small cry, almost inaudible, like that of a newborn,
taking her first breath.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
for Sara Nics, Frankie the K and Brian P
120328-1001-2a(4), 120327-1815-1c(3), 120327-1538-1st
"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing
evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the
rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil
cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing
to destroy a piece of his own heart?
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (1918-2008)
photo credit, Bruce W. Stebbins, 1973. In photo: me and Amy Mincolla, who is standing in for my inner child in this story. The photo was in upstate NY, but I used Detroit as the location, because that's where I am now.

(Poem originally posted to Cowbird)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Work

The Misunderstanding
Benny and the Brontosaurus
And a brand new first draft poem originally written on Cowbird:

Into the Flames by Mary Stebbins Taitt ·

 How does a heart - tired, traveled, and toughened - find its way home?

I look for the trail back to the person I was, once, smiling, innocent, sweet,

but the trail is grown up with briars and Russian olive, a thicket as sharp and impenetrable as the past.

What I see is a gauntlet of memories, of terrors and nightmares,

I know I have to run back through that horror to find the seed of the child that lived in the heart that was mine.

I have to unravel the barbed wire strands like the maiden who wove sweaters of nettles until her hands bled.

I have to bleed again and again inside, to take that path back to my heart. Am I strong enough,

courageous enough? I raise one foot step into the flames, and howl.

My heart calls back to me, a small cry, like that of a newborn.

 Mary Stebbins Taitt for Sara Nics, Frankie the K and Brian P "sprouted" from a story by Sara Nics 120327-1538-1st

This did not come out right.  See it on cowbird.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

V is for Vampire

V is for Vampire Bat
5 x 7 on Canson Canvas Paper.
I drew it with markers and then touched it up a little with gouache.
These pages will not be together in the actual book.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Self-portrait of the Artist as a girl with worms
digital, small
Self-portrait as a girl with worms, by me, for Cowbird, to go with a very short story I wrote in response to someone else's story: We walked a quarter of a mile from home to the bus stop, and on rainy days, the bus would honk and honk for me to hurry, because all the other kids had run up to get out of the rain, but I was dawdling, picking up worms off the road and moving them to dry ground so they wouldn't be run over by cars.

New Self portrait and Two new "stories"

I joined cowbird, which is a place for personal stories. 

I needed a picture of myself so I created this self-portrait:

Self portrait with Self Portrait
I wrote two short pieces in cowbird, one of them linked to someone else's story I had just read:

Sun-Warmed Soil

Spring came early and I worry about galloping global warming as I get out my seeds and little starter pots. I rake the leaves out of the gardens so the new seedlings won’t be buried by robins scratching and put them in the compost, to haul back to the gardens when they get established.

Once I had a garden that was solid clay, baked ceramic hard and impossible to dig.  The shovel bounced off the ground as if it were rock. I dumped a load of sand on it and multiple loads of leaves and manure.  I had goats and chickens then, no shortage of fertilizer.  Finally, I had a great garden with fat ears of sweet corn and huge pumpkins—and then I had to move.

Now, with the smells of moist, sun-warmed soil and the wonderful texture of freshly greening grass massaging my bare feet, I study my new gardens, the snowdrops and aconites already gone by, the tulips, daffodils and hellebores resplendent.  Hoping the neighbors aren’t watching, I dance a little jig.

Late Worms

We walked a quarter of a mile from home to the bus stop, and on rainy days, the bus would honk and honk for me to hurry, because all the other kids had run up to get out of the rain, but I was dawdling, picking up worms off the road and moving them to dry ground so they wouldn't be run over by cars.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

E is for Eel

Benny and the Electric Eel
5 x 7
Copic pen and multiliner
on Canson Canvas paper
I won't be doing this project again--5 x 7 is too small for me to work.

D is for Dinosaur

D is for Dinosaur
For the Sketchbook Project for the Brooklyn Art Library and for Frankie, 5 x 7 Canson Canvas Paper, Copic markers and a touch of Copic multi-liner,  I probably will not do any more 5 x 7 sketchbooks.  My hand isn't steady enough to work that small.  This one is maybe my favorite so far?

Somehow, in spite of the fact that I have multiple art blogs, this has become my art blog.

I think it's because I never think my art is good enough to post to the actual art blog.  :-(

This one might be good enough?

Y is for Yeti

I'm making very slow progress on the little book I am making for Frankie and the Sketchbook project.  I find painting in oils on 5 x 7 size canvas very difficult.  I will not do it this way again,

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunset Swans, 7 minutes

Sunset swans
7-minute sketch
watercolor on Arches cold-pressed paper
I am not terribly fond of this painting, but that's not entirely the point.  I have a tendency to labor over watercolors and overwork them, so I wanted to spend some time painting as quickly as possible to learn o work quickly and not labor the painting.  However, I was unhappy with the previous one and spent two more minutes adding a touch of blue.  I may want to redo it more carefully.  But I need to do these quick sketches, like finger exercises, even if they do not always turn out well.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Swan Sunset 5-minute sketch

Swan Sunset
5-minute watercolor sketch,
Sorry I haven't been around lately, been working on my poems for my reading tomorrow at Musings.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Renaissance Multimedia Paper Test #2

Testing Renaissance Multimedia Paper (Arches)
colored pencil, Copic Marker, Sakura Pigment pens, pastels
The paper had enough tooth and enough smoothness to work well for all of these media.


of the seven media I tested today and yesterday, only the Copic markers bled through the paper strips.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Multimedia Paper Test #1

Multimedia Paper Test #1. Erica Chappuis gave me some samples of paper from a sketchbook she got and I have tested them with, from top to bottom: acrylics, watercolor, water soluble oil pastels (Portfolio) and gouache. Subject, my hubby, Keith. The paper did not bleed through with any of those media and the results were excellent ((barring my own incompetence and, since this is just a test, lack of time commitment to make it more excellent.)  I think it is important to not have bleed-through so you can use both sides of the paper.

Monday, March 05, 2012


Cheetah, by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt, from the ten-minute sketch series. Done in Portfolio water soluble oil pastels on Canson Multimedia 9 x 12 paper (in my sketchbook) at dinner tonight, drawn quickly and then painted with plain water.

Keith on Couch, 5-minute sketch

Biker Buddy on Couch
5-minute sketch
Copic marker on Bristol
9 x 12
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
last night

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Super-Quick 5-minute Marker Sketch of Biker Buddy

Biker Buddy (keith
in wide-tip Copic Marker
9 x 12 watercolor paper
less than 5 minutes
I did this at dinner last night--it is, like all my work, imperfect, but I am pleased that my skill has developed to the point where SOMETIMES I can make a quick sketch and have it come out relatively well.

I have not been posting much to my Detroit Daily Blog for some time now, but I wandered around downtown for several hours the other day and took lots of pictures and am posting them, one day at a time, if I have time, to my Detroit Daily Blog.