Friday, July 30, 2010

Free Friday: Vintage Luggage Labels

I am always happy to return home after spending time away in hotels, as I am a bit reclusive, or perhaps even agoraphobic, so to celebrate being back home, here are a couple vintage hotel luggage labels to use in your art projects, or stick them on your luggage for that globetrotter look, even if you don’t leave the house. Give the image a click or two to download the hi-res file.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Saving Grace

After all these battles,
all these victories and losses,
there is a saving grace, a love;
a canteen offered to a friend or a foe;
a sharing of the cool water of compassion,
a caring at the open door;
opening beyond words,
beyond our own world,
where we are the open door;
where we are the cool water;
where we are the saving grace.
Where we are.
You and I.
We are that.

Saving Grace, an original oil painting by Michael Douglas Jones

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beautiful Dreamers

Journal Entry: September 7, 1862.

Two days ago in the afternoon, we forded the Potomac River and rode into Poolesville, Maryland, where we found the citizens cheerfully accepting our currency of the Confederacy. With new boots and books, we are camping tonight near New Market, a fine old town, though not nearly as friendly. As I said, the wind here in Maryland blows sometimes south, sometimes north. No matter; I am content to sit with my books in the quiet of this evening.

I treasure books, the texture of books, the print pressed into the page; even as a child visiting my cousins in Fredericksburg; they would be outside playing hoops and sticks, and I would be inside, in a corner chair, while the adults conversed, or danced to “Oh! Susanna”. There in my corner complete, reading, running my fingers over the pages, alone, but never lonely. At home, I kept a small wooden cigar box full of bits of paper and printed pictures which seemed almost magical. I might spend hours arranging the papers in patterns, as if it were a whole world made of paper, and it was my puzzle to put in place. My father worried about me, I know, but my mother encouraged me, and besides, I could run and ride as well as anyone in the county and there was no better marksman for miles.

My friend, Simeon Paytes, a fellow trooper of Company E, told me that I will perhaps return in a future life as an artist. Simeon is a Spotsylvania gentleman, well educated and worldly, but not uppity, impeccably dressed, but no nob, nor gal-boy. He is a private, as I am, but when he is going down the line, I bet the fancy girls mistake him for ole J.E.B. Stuart himself.

So, Simeon said that he had read, and it might happen that we would all return to this world in another form, a reincarnation, one life after another until we reach some higher place. I listened, but I supposed that it wasn’t logical for one person to be born again as a new person. It seemed to me that one person becomes all peoples, just as the pear tree leaf in autumn falls onto the earth, and blends with the soil that blends with water and sun to become the trees growing pears that are eaten by people, so that the pears become part of people; all in all; each in all, and all in each. We are all of everything and everywhere at once.

Simeon pulled at his beard a bit as he pondered, “So,” he said, “the blood of all the boys dying on these fields will blend together, and in a hundred, fifty years or so, we won’t be able to tell the Federals from the Secesh, so we won’t wage war, because we would be killing ourselves?”

“Sounds logical.” I said.

Simeon smiled a curious smile, gathered up his traps and walked away whistling “Hard Times Come Again No More”, and I went back to blend with my books.

PAYTES, SIMEON C.: Enlisted. 4/10/62 in 9th Virginia Cavalry, Co. E. He was hospitalized with gonorrhea, Aug.-Sept. 1864, but then present on most rolls thru 10/1/64 final roll. Paroled at Lynchburg, 4/15/65. Drew a pension in Spotsylvania Co. in 1920. Simeon's sister married into the Jones family in 1859.

Americans were first exposed to Buddhism around 1850 from Chinese immigrants.

"Hard Times Come Again No More" was written by Stephen Foster in 1855, and he wrote "Beautiful Dreamer" shortly before his death in 1864 at age 37.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blood & Thunder

Journal Entry: Edwards Ferry on the Potomac River, September 4, 1862

Tomorrow, we move into Maryland to take a taste of devastation to the north. Northern newspapers are full of horrific headlines, as if the popular “blood & thunder” novels were now being played out on fields of fire in a faraway land, but those fields are our home lands, and those fires are our homes. The readers are blood thirsty; the editors feed that thirst. The happy news of weddings and births has been crowded out of the pages, replaced by scenes of southern suffering. This war has become a shocking stage for a bloodlust that has been quickly growing, like the population, for years. The young, buoyant nation of our forefathers, that worked together to elevate the citizenry, has taken a turn towards destruction and sensationalism. Where we once came together in a crisis or disaster, our interest now seems to be simply self-interest. I hate to spread this mayhem to another state, but perhaps war must be seen first hand, if we are ever to see peace.

So, it is into Maryland, we shall go. Maryland is a state in a contrary state of mind, for as many citizens lean south as lean towards the north, somewhat akin to a pine sapling depending on the day’s breeze for its direction. Entering a Maryland town, we will never know how we shall be received; if the wind will be blowing north or south. Even President Lincoln was so unsure of her leanings that, last year, he jailed 31 Maryland legislators suspected of favoring secession, as it would have been devastating to have Washington City surrounded by secession states.

Were we not weary of war, this would be a fine adventure. A year ago, almost to a man, we had never left Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and now, here we are at Edwards Ferry, about to cross the Potomac River into the mountains of Maryland. From a distance, it is a beautiful, idyllic scene, but what waits; I fear it shall be blood and thunder.

Free Friday, finally: Beach Bundle

I am a day late for Free Friday this week; I was at the ocean with my girls, and stayed off the internet, which was not difficult, due to the spotty wi-fi. I am not very good at relaxing on the beach, especially when it is crowded. As I said (in character) last week, I avoid the babble and chatter of crowds. That irritates the girls, but it is probably a bit late to change my reclusive ways, though they try each day.

So, here are a few beach images for your free use; cigarette cards again; you know I love these little cards. These are images I used in a “Beach Bundle” project last year. Give the image a click or two to download the hi-res file, and then dive in. I will be back tonight or tomorrow with a new post; I was able to find a few quiet moments of creation, amid the recreation.

We are the lucky, the blessed, on this beach; the breeze blowing away the day.
Wish you were here. J'ai souhaité que tu étais ici.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Free Friday: Butterfly Blue

For Free Friday this week, I offer a thank-you gift for Kelly Rae Roberts and the flight crew from Flying Lessons. We all had a great time learning about our wings, and are making progress, each in our own sky.

These blue butterfly cigarette cards are part of a 50 card “British Butterflies” series published in 1927 by Wills’s Cigarettes of Great Britain. The originals measure 1 3/8” x 2 5/8”. Cigarette cards work wonderfully in collage and assemblage, and I use them in almost every collage I make; when I can’t find one to match my meaning, I fabricate one myself. To make this artifact look authentic, I print on high resolution 90 lb. paper, and then use “YES!Glue” to bond the print to another piece of 90 lb. paper, before trimming and rounding the corners. A nail file can age the edges a bit, so it has an antique look. I will usually add subtle changes to the card in Photoshop before printing to give it my own spin. Give the image a click or two to download the hi-res file, and then let your imagination fly.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Allemande Right

Journal Entry: August 4, 1862

When camping away from the regiment is an option, I always ride in that direction. I am still not accustomed to the babble and chatter of the cities and camps. I much prefer the chittering of chipmunks and the basso profundo of bullfrogs near the creeks. Add to these an even thunderstorm where the clouding sky breaks in the west, revealing ribbons of purples, pinks, and oranges, without a trace of militia blue or cadet grey, and I am as good as home. Sitting in my saddle, under my gum blanket, the air is damp and sweet with the scent of wild blossoms and rain. As good as home; and then the subtle scent of doubt sets upon me.

At times, I think myself a parlor soldier, a dandy dressed for the travelling gypsy show. This afternoon, the grateful ladies in Bowling Green were waving their handkerchiefs as I rode through the city in my shell jacket and cavalry boots, a Navy Colt on my side, my slouch hat tilted ever so slightly; a member of The Ninth Virginia Cavalry that rode Allemande right around McClellan’s army. I tip my hat to show my confidence, but I am a reluctant hero. A veteran, yes, but I have no taste for fighting; most men do not; they long to return to their green agrestic homes. Many cavalrymen return home from time to time, mostly under the guise of acquiring suitable horses. Were I not the courier to Colonel Lee, I would probably do the same, for I miss my girls; all of them, the blonde, buxom ones and the smallest ones, barefoot on tiptoe. Oh, to be with them all tonight, dancing the Virginia Reel, or simply listening to bullfrogs beneath purple pink skies.

Tomorrow, we will move towards Hanover Courthouse, where I shall bury a parcel of books I have acquired in recent weeks. The field of action is about to shift northward and I will need to travel light. The coming weeks of thunderstorms will be all blues and greys, and I fear the sounds shall be like nothing I have heard before.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Free Friday: Drink Up

Well, this image seems appropriate for the weekend. I have always loved this old photo postcard, but haven’t found a place to use it in my collages. Perhaps you can find a place for it; click on the image for the hi-res file.

Friday, July 2, 2010

FreeFriday: The Waltz

This week, I offer for your consideration and free use in your projects, the graphics that I used as part of an assemblage called “The Waltz”. I have moved the elements a bit so they are more usable separately. It might even make a nice bookmark. If the waltz steps seem a little odd, it is because I have added a circling movement to the dance. I am rather fond of circles. My text, which also accompanied an earlier oil painting, reads:

We could see them,
from the parlor,
where we wavered with the waltz;
children dancing,
in the garden,
to the rhythm of the world.

Have a happy holiday weekend, and dance to that rhythm.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Small Deeds

Journal Entry: July 1, 1862

Tonight, we will sleep on the wet roadside near the Chickahominy River. This falling rain may wash away the blood of the thousands lost today on Malvern Hill, but if this destruction continues, every person will be gone; every structure, every tree will be burned, and all that shall remain will be the detritus of this once sylvan paradise. There is little trace of the past and little hope for a future; there is only now, and all that I have to give now are the seeds from my pocket. I have a habit of keeping seeds from any fruit I had the pleasure to have eaten, because of stories told by my Ohioan relatives; the tales of Johnny Appleseed, who died around the time I was born. Now on the grim days, when I feel as though I have so little to give, I still carry a seed to remind me that it is not these great armies that change this world; it is the small deeds, the small seeds planted for someone you might never know. Perhaps, amid this destruction, if I can at least plant a seed, I have accomplished some small act of compassion. Perhaps one day, a tree grown from these small seeds might provide shade or sustenance to some other weary traveler.