Friday, March 29, 2019


I am scampering to meet a deadline this week to finish my latest Sketchbook Project book for the Brooklyn Art Library. I'm encouraging you to browse their website. You can look up my sketchbooks (The ABCDarian and Little Hopes) that are in the library already or browse other artists' books by artists such as Lisa Comperry, Christine Brooks and Lori Ann Crittenden.

The Brooklyn Art Library: an amazing, creative collection of artwork for everyone to savor.

photo by Christy

While I'm working on my sketchbook, I thought a good list of books would be just the way to start Spring. Since it is also the close of Women's History Month, I have limited the list to women authors (except at the end).

Recommended by several people:
Educated by Tara Westover
A memoir of a young woman who rises above her upbringing.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Virago Book of Women Gardeners by Deborah Kellaway
The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies by Jason Fagone, yes a male author, but what a story about Elizabeth Smith, who along with her husband William Friedman, invented modern cryptography and helped to break German and Japanese codes during WWI and WWII.

From Micki C:
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
After a friend's death, a woman takes in the Great Dane left behind though her apartment building doesn't allow pets. The story covers the difficulties, almost madness and delights the woman finds in her relationship with a canine.   
Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton
A novel of the effects the Hiroshima bomb on survivors and one family in particular.
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran ( a Bay Area author)
The tale of a boy and his two mothers, one his immigrant mother and the other the mother who adopted him.
The Dreamers by Karen Walker
A virus causes people to go to sleep and to dream dangerously.
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
 A widow uses her inheritance to buy a building and turns it into a bookshop, much to the consternation of some of the residents of the small town. The book was written in 1978, and was made into a movie in 2017.
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
Three stories loosely connected. The book has been selected as one of the best of 2018.
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngman
Story of a relationship between two strangers on the other side of 60.
Samurai's Garden by Gail Sukiyama

From Joan, who recommended several books at the beginning of this list:
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
A novel based in 2016 with characters who represent the issues of economics, the environment, and politics in our culture.

Here are my selections for Good Reads

From Marcia:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
The story begins with two lovers in Korea, a pregnancy, a separation and marriage to another, a move to Japan, and how the beginning of the story affects succeeding generations.
House of Gold by Natasha Solomons
A novel based on the Rothchild family.

From Linda D:
They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
A story of a Jewish family in NYC & how each member copes with the father's death & how each deals with the problem of what to do with their mother.
Just After Midnight or any of the other 36 novels by Catherine Ryan Hyde who wrote Pay It Forward
Stories of friendship, trust, and the valuable connections between people
Sullivan's Island by Dorothea Benton Frank
A low country tale that is the first of a series.
Still Waters by Viveca Sten
The first of six stories of murders on Sandhamm Island
Any book by Anne Perry, a mystery writer, who sets her novels in London in the 19th and early 20th century.

From Jan H:
When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph
An oldie, but a goodie
Sideways Rain by Nancy Elliott Sydney, M.D.
An itinerant doctor's memoir of 20 years in the Aleutian and Priboliff Islands. Sydney is a poet, pilot and a cellist who writes of the landscape and the people she meets in these remote places.
Bossypants by Tina Fey

From Mary, who recommended several of the books at the beginning, also suggested:
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
 A novel set along the North Carolina coast.  The story deals with the death of a prominent man in the small community and the suspicions of town people towards a young girl who lives for most of her life alone in the Marsh.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil
A Rwandan genocide survivor tells her story of terror, asylum, and recovery of her past. 

And Bill's Good Read Recommendations

If you have more suggestions for Good Reads, please add them in the comment section or email at

Good websites to find good reads:

Friday, March 22, 2019


Design with type by Martha Slavin

We read type. We write words. We use parts of the alphabet all the time. We don't think much about the fonts we use or see. When I graduated from college, I planned to be a graphic designer so that I could play with type and design layouts. I went to art school and built a portfolio, but eventually chose teaching instead.

Many women stayed in design as a career. Two female designers that I'm featuring as part of Women's History Month have flourished in the commercial world of graphic design. They are the ones who create new fonts or design with type. Every packaged product you pick up has been in the hands of a designer.

Louise Fili is well known for her sophisticated, European look that she applies to labeling, logos, postage, and packaging. Her work is luscious, sensual and clean. Fili created the Love stamp for the U.S. post office.

LOVE stamp by Louise Fili

Take a look at her website, which I've located at the end of this post, for the Before and her resolutions of After of labels for such companies as Good Housekeeping and Hanky Panky. You will see how carefully she creates the space around the letters and how much thought she gives to what she is designing.

Logo by Louise Fili  Notice how the alpaca's nose extends beyond the border

Another well-known designer, Margo Chase, began working in LA in the entertainment industry. She created the title for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and many album covers using her Goth sense of design. She didn't limit herself to Goth. She founded a design group and refreshed more mainstream brands such as Nestle's Coffeemate and Mr. Clean.

Fonts designed by Margo Chase

Both of these designers are creative and play with letters even when they develop something as utilitarian as a 7-Up can. Fili and Chase want to entice you to look at the packaging and make a purchase. They design fonts for a specific purpose or brand.

In contrast, Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman, two designers from Switzerland, created the font Helvetica in the 1950s. You see Helvetica everywhere. There is a reason for that. The two designers were followers of the International Typographic Style developed in the 1920s, which emphasized neutral, objective designs. Miedinger and Hoffman succeeded with Helvetica, which is why you see this font in airports, restaurants, shops, and on packaging and logos. It is easy to read and has no emotional connection to the words displayed.

Next time you read a book take another look at the cover. Does the font draw you to the book before you even turn past the cover?
When you pick up a package, does the font help explain what will be inside?
Is the font friendly, dramatic, quirky?
What makes you decide from one package or another, or one book from another?
We buy products for many reasons. One of those is the design of the packaging.

You can find more information about my Women's History Month choices, Louise Fili and Margo Chase, at their websites. Both websites are a visual treat:

Enjoy the Vernal Equinox. Notice the light.

Friday, March 15, 2019


Because of the mass murders in New Zealand, I am not posting my usual blog. I hope we all take a moment today to think of ourselves as human beings, related to each other.

Friday, March 8, 2019


To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, I painted a bunch of postcards with yellow flowers to send to Love Notes and Global Art Swap postcard members. While I painted and since it is also Women's History Month, I thought of women artists and what little recognition they have received. Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, or Mary Cassatt are artists we are all familiar with. If you studied art history, you might remember Louise Bourgeois, Kathe Kollwitz, Louise Nevelson or Helen Frankenthaler. If you love photography, you will know Diane Arbus, Imogene Cunningham, Annie Leibovitz, Cindy Sherman and Dorothea Lange. I couldn't go much furrther in making a list.

I stopped painting and continued to search for women artists. I came up with a good list that I have included at the bottom of this page. I recognized only a few of the names, but I found their work to be both interesting and diverse. I scoured the National Museum of Women in the Arts to find more. I linked Bernarda Bryson Shahn and Elaine de Kooning to their more famous husbands.  Many others stand on their own merits, but without the recognition that many male artists received.

Looking at my postcards with yellow flowers, I remembered Vera Neumann from my childhood. My mother encouraged me to follow Vera, a well-known clothing and house linen designer, because she had made a success of an art career. In college, I loved the work of Sister Mary Corita Kent, a silk screen artist who used bright colors to convey her social justice messages in the 1960s. I hadn't thought of these two artists in a long time, but I realized as I worked this week what an influence they both had been on my own artwork.

          You can look at a gallery of Vera Neumann's work here:

You can see more of Corita Kent's artwork here:

Here is my list, so far, of women artists from the last hundred years:
Fine Artists:
Sonia Delauney, Natalia Goncharova, Bernarda Bryson Shahn,  Milena Pavlovic-Barili
Adrienne Piper, Carmen Herrara, Agnes Martin, Amelia Palaez, Judy Chicago,
Pat Steir, Elaine de Kooning and Jay DeFeo
Lygia Clark, Eve Hesse, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell (not the singer),
Grace Hartigan, Perle Fine, Alice Neel, Mary Abbott, Judith Godwin, Sonia Gechtoff
Ray Eames (who worked with her husband Ray Eames as a design team)
Lucienne Day (who worked with her husband Robin  Day as a design team)
Vera Neumann, Sister Mary Corita Kent, Margo Chase, and Louise Fili

What mentor did you follow who helped you to be the person you are today?

Check out these websites for more information on women artists and designers:

National Museum of Women in the Arts
Huffington Post:

Join the Love Notes Postcard Project and the Global Art Swap:

Friday, March 1, 2019


 Every month for the last five years, a group of friends gather at my home for Craft Day. We sit working on unfinished projects that would otherwise languish in closets. Some knit, some make quick fleece blankets for gifts, some make jewelry, others put together photo albums or do paper crafts or quilt squares. We all have projects we haven't finished that have accumulated in a drawer or on a top shelf. We spend a few hours together to work on them. Most of all we chat about children, grandchildren, recipes, restaurants, vacations, and universal issues that affect us all.

Since the beginning, I've been working on two unfinished Christmas projects. One is a cross stitch stocking that I started in 1990 as a gift for our son, which originally I saved to labor on during summer vacations and never completed. The other is an embroidered ribbon-weaving runner for our dining room table. I've worked on both off and on since we started meeting. I've finally finished the cross stitching on the stocking and completed the herringbone stitch that connects the ribbons on the runner. The tops are complete, but I still haven't added the backing material to finish either project.

Each strand of ribbon is connected with a herringbone stitch done in gold threads.
No wonder it took me so long to finish!

We take a break at noon for our Stone Salad and a cup of soup. I provide the greens for the salad and a soup. Everyone else either brings one thing to add to the salad, such as nuts, tomatoes, roasted vegetables, salsa, cheeses or dried fruit. Or they make welcome additions such as deviled eggs, delicious rolls or homemade desserts.

Here's a recipe for one Craft Day soup:

Chunky Vegetable-Lentil Soup
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup dry lentils
1 lb. small mushrooms, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small yam, chopped
1 half chicken breast, roasted and shredded
6 1/2 cups of chicken stock
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon peel
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook till tender. Stir occasionally.Add lentils and cook and stir for one minute.
Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, stock, parsley, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Divide among soup bowls.

At the end of the day, we've all made a little progress on our projects and we've all had a chance to enjoy each other's friendship. Our group members have changed over time as some have moved away or have made other commitments. Some of the members who have moved away come back to Craft Day when they are in town. What started as a way to clean out all of our unfinished projects has become a lively day with endearing friends.

As Nadeem Aslam said, "Pull a thread here and you will find it's attached to the rest of the world."

Many Craft Day members
I found Nadeem Aslam's quote at Holstee, a company whose purpose is to help people live more fully and mindfully.
Visit their website:  You will be glad you did.


A friend, Chandra Lynn, posts regularly on her blog, Pics & Posts. Check out today's post on the last day of Black History Month at
You will be glad you did.