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Sally Nixon: Illustrator Starting the Week with Margaret Monday

I hadn’t done a Margaret Mondays in awhile, and then I found illustrator Sally Nixon on Instagram.  She has a character named Margaret who seems to have randomly shown up one day, and kept coming back on Mondays. I love a Margaret who has a dog named Nora Ephron and reallys digs donuts.

I was looking for pen and ink drawings on Instagram because I started drawing again, and I am fascinated by hatch and cross hatch marks.  Sally Nixon creates a wonderful atmospheric world from black lines.  She mentions “netflixing the hell out of the X Files” to encourage the atmosphere, which Stratoz and I started watching this spring, for the first time.  It’s definitely affected my dreams, though not with the same artistic flair as Sally Nixon.

This last one isn’t a Margaret Monday, but I love the quilt ~ reminds me of another my loves.

Around the Square by Margaret Almon
Around the Square by Margaret Almon, glass on wood, 8×8 inches ©2007

Drawing as Meditation

Fabriano Sketchbook in Orange
Fabriano Sketchbook in Orange

This orange notebook is my reward for getting my tax organizer to the accountant.  I love the way the cover picks up different shades.  In 2004, I took a drawing class at the community college, as part of my year of experimenting with different mediums, on my way to making mosaics.  I was one of those “I can’t draw” people until I read Betty Edwards Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and that book gave me the courage to take a class.  

I slowly stopped drawing as I became engrossed with mosaics, but I came across a book on Urban Sketching at the library, and suddenly I was ready to draw again.  Then I heard Danny Gregory on NPR’s Here and Now, talking about drawing as a way to connect with your own creativity, and the present moment of your life in his book Art a Before Breakfast.  

Wheeled Mosaic Nippers in Green Pencil by Margaret Almon.
Wheeled Mosaic Nippers in Green Pencil by Margaret Almon.

I have been sketching each day, and for those moments, I am practicing seeing what my subjects look like, not what I assume them to look like.  I find my mind races ahead with judgements like, “Those wheels are perfectly round because wheels are round” or “This is too hard to draw.”  It is a relief to go back to looking at what I am sketching, and follow the contours.


Sextant. Marsden Hartley.

If a Clear Delight Visits You: Marsden Hartley, Modernist Painter and Poet

Sextant.  Marsden Hartley.
Sextant(c. 1917) by Marsden Hartley. Oil on Panel. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Wayne Stratz

Another photo from my and Stratoz’s trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum, of Marsden Hartley’s Sextant. I knew Hartley’s name, but as as poet, not a painter, from my days of writing poetry and going to school for an MFA.   The sextant reminded me of Stratoz’s drafting tools, many of which came from his father, a draftsman(who learned Autocad in his 60’s so he could keep working), especially the compass.  Both a sextant and a compass have a moveable limb, and can measure angles, though sextants are for navigation, and compasses for drawing, but both are a way of finding our way and knowing the world.  Stratoz made a video of his doodling, which starts with a compass.  His stained glass arose from a desire to take his doodles and incarnate them in glass.   I love watching Stratoz draw, as he spins the paper, and the lines blossom.


Here is a poem by Marsden Hartley, which originally appeared in Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1920.

To C——
By Marsden Hartley
From “Sunlight Persuasions”
IF a clear delight visits you
Of an uncertain afternoon,
When you thought the time
For new delights was over for that day,
Say to yourself, who rule many a lost         5
Moment in this shadowy domain,
Saving it from its dusty grey perdition,
Say to yourself that is a flash
Of lightning from a so affectionate west,
Where the clear sky, that you know, resides.         10
The rainbow has crossed the desert once again.
I took the blade of bliss and notched it
In a roseate place.
It shed a crimson stream—
That was our flush of joy.         15

They will come

In the way they always come,
Swinging gilded fancies round your head.
So it is with surfaces.
They will walk around you         20
Strip branches of their blooms for you—
Young carpets for young ways.
With me it is different.
Stars, when they strike         25
Edge to edge,
Make fierce resplendent fire.
I have lived with bright stone,
Burned like carnelian in the sun,
Myself;         30
Myself seen branches wither.
Carbon is a diamond—
It cuts the very crystal from the globe.
You are so beautiful
To listen.         35