Tripping on the cosmos

You know you have a solid and helpful family when they save you from yourself and gently encourage you to move away from personal ranting on social media to other, more productive pursuits. That is what happened this week and I am pleased to say I began the long over due catch up on some personal creative time during November break.

While I was doing some quick research for this post I stumbled upon Neil deGrasse Tyson. Even more appropriately, he seems to get that people – for whatever reason – including those expending Herculean energy on not ranting about professional and moral injustices – are in a hurry.)

I was looking for a quote on cosmos (not necessarily the flower – but I will get to that in a minute) and instead I found this quote which sums up both what has been on my mind professionally and what gives me mental strength as I go back to work next week:

“You’ve never seen me debate anybody. On anything. Ever. My investment of time, as an educator, in my judgment, is best served teaching people how to think about the world around them. Teach them how to pose a question. How to judge whether one thing is true versus another.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Keeping in mind that making art, thinking about art is different than astrophysics in that there is often more than one true answer, this stumbled upon piece of literary information affirms my core belief. My job as an elementary art educator is to help children build curiosity about their visual world and build personal capacity and a visual vocabulary to express the truths they discover.

So, there are lots of quotes on the universal COSMOS. I will let you look that up if you like and with that I will move on to COSMOS, the flower and my quick little foray back into printmaking this week.

This was my first year growing cosmos, the plant. A gift of mixed seeds from my mom. Out of the mix, and out of power of deduction, I believe the one that produced for me is called Bright Lights.

The plant structure itself was airy, the flowers visually interesting in their variegation. They added large shape colour blocks in cut bouquets and stronger colour hits in the garden.

More interesting to me was their seed formation and the beautiful and delicate skeletal spikes that formed in the autumn. (No photo, because I’m in a hurry.)

These unique and lovely seed pods are what inspired the linocut study below:

Linocut studies. B. Wanhill, November 2021. iPhone X.

My visual question was: Could I create an image that would capture the fragile beauty of these forms?

I was hoping to use this image as my annual Christmas card but I feel there is an imbalance between background and seed heads. The two seed heads in the centre are heavier than I would like and I don’t want to hurry a resolution. I feel that I have somewhat answered that visual question in the bottom three, but as my personal week draws to a close today and I have to go to school to prep clay for next week and finish up report card marks, any further investigation on this matter will have to wait.

And now I have another book I want to read…

Wisdom


Linocut. Detail “Wisdom” B. Wanhill, 2018

This year’s Christmas card is entitled “Wisdom” after the idea that three dried flower heads of Astrantia major could stand in for the three wisemen encircling the guiding star. My Christmas cards tend to be less visually seasonal in theme so as to still be relevant when they arrive after the intended festive date. But there is the back story if you were wondering.

Life has been busy and this blog has really become a bi-annual affair. Instagram has replaced it as the lightning quick alternative to documenting life via iPhoneography. (And so I have chosen to embed Instagram into this space – if the words don’t change much in this column, you can see that I’m alive and well-ish over in the next!)

I enjoyed making this year’s image. It came easily and I wonder if the (somewhat) weekly drawing I’ve been doing for the perpetual journal I started last January has had some influence after all. I will update you on that creative activity in the next post scheduled before January 1st.

This year’s Christmas wish for you is really for me: wisdom to help make sense of the world and how to function within it peacefully.

Postscript: because I now rarely frequent this site, I downgraded my subscription. So the formatting has changed. Also, as I am not a company and don’t plan on selling anything on here in the near future, so I have changed my domain name from bwanhill.com to bwanhill.ca. I’m not sure what impact that has on subscribers or this blog. I guess I will wait and see…  

Linocut. “Wisdom” Christmas card design B. Wanhill, 2018

Small offerings

Christmas snowflake 2017
B. Wanhill, December 2017. Linocut. Caligo relief ink on Strathmore. 3.25″ x 3.5″

I’ve always been drawn to small. Takes up less space. Economical. Energy efficient.

As I reflect on another year gone, I see that this size parameter also measures the amount of posts I have added to this site and the amount of mark making I produced this year. So realize this entry won’t take up much time… and look closely!

For a month I was diligent about keeping a daily sketchbook practice. I spent 20 minutes to 2 hours every night recording mostly pieces from my garden. As garden specimens dwindled, I turned to recording words and other items. I am glad that I recorded a beautiful brooch my Mom gifted me, as it became the inspiration for the linocut Christmas card I designed this year.

I hope in the coming months I will pick up a more frequent drawing practice, but I know that work will be demanding between January through to March and then it will be garden season once again! (I have also continued with spinning, which I will record in another post.) Best wishes for a bright New Year. Peace and creativity to you – even if you find it in small ways.

Sketchbook Sept 28_17

Sketchbook Oct 1_17

Sketchbook Oct 4_17

Sketchbook Oct 13_17

sketchbook-oct-18_171.jpeg

Sketchbook Nov 13_17