optical game

Cartographers have always known that the direction of light on a topographical object affects how we see it, whether it is seen as a mountain or a hole in the ground.

Here is a wonderful example of this.  These are goose footprints as I photographed them on the Lake Ontario shore the other day.

And here is what they look like turned 180°. Pretty cool, eh?


maxfield parrish morning

The sun was rising in the east, the clouds were moving from the west, and the sky looked like this. A front was coming through this morning; the wind ahead of the front started blowing and the sky cleared of clouds and became blue.

I love watching the weather.


winter on lake ontario

Noon on the Lake Ontario shore. West wind. Mid-20s Fahrenheit. Sun. Clouds. Ice on the beach, the water. Open water beyond. Cold.

Perfect winter day.


merry christmas

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, during those days when less and less daylight lightens our days, this plant on top of my refrigerator does all it can to brighten the nights.

I look at the blooms every time I open the fridge door.


get your heart beating

This fellow, Ken Block, does some very interesting things with a Subaru WRX. Click on his name to see those things.


grey day antidote

Red Sky in Morning
about 45 inches x 45 inches
art quilt

This piece is hanging in the Milne Library Gallery in Geneseo, New York, as part of my Vicious Scissors show there. I thought of it this morning as I looked out the window at the bleak, grey sky that is so very emblematic of upstate New York winters. A red dawn is what I need today.


snow in december

A near-monochromatic day, it was, with temperature about 17 degrees Fahrenheit. The snow was crispy, the sun was hiding.


ballooning out of proportion

Mole's Mountain
14 inches high x 11 inches wide

Let's always remember that, to a mole, a molehill is a mountain.

IF: balloon.

ps. This is a photo of the work. The large scanner is at work; I'll replace this image with a scanned one once I get it scanned.


I am back

I Think
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Very late in the week for Illustration Friday's opinion. I had to think about it.


ah, cold softness

And now, winter. So much for that forsythia...


forsythia in the fall

This straggly forsythia shrub manages to flower in the fall when its leaves are turning purple. Seems like a desperate survival scheme.


Exhibit opening

Vicious Scissors
Paper and fiber collage by Ren Vasiliev
On exhibit at Milne Library Gallery, November 13, 2008 to January 11, 2009
State University of New York College at Geneseo
Opening reception, Thursday, November 13, 5–7 pm
Milne 213
Artist Q&A at 5:30


um...what can I say?

Get Well Soon
7 inches high x 5 inches wide



if only life were so easy, eh?

This made me smile.


raking leaves....or not

Passive aggressive invisible fence.


moon in morning

Time: Last week, sunrise.
Place: Near Redfield, Tug Hill Plateau, NY.
Weather: Crispy cold, frost, clear sky.
Breath deeply of the chill air. Relish the sun rays. Walk to the water of the Salmon River Reservoir. Watch the mist rise from the warm water into the autumn sky. Sigh contentedly.


who and what and how

You For Me, Me For Me
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Here is how it went.
Strings: attachments: theory: physics: science: dimensions: weavings: knots. Who ties what to whom.


how to be good

10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Sugary:sickening:flattering:suave:unctuous:oily:greasy:slippery:slithery:honey-tongued:self-righteous:smug. Beware of how things are said.

erosion will take all

In the far distance is the cooling tower for Nine Mile Point Nuclear Powerplant, which is nine miles east of the two tall smokestacks that are to the right of the tower on the horizon. They are for a conventional powerplant in Oswego. However, the point of this photo, really, is the interesting formation of eroded shoreline called Chimney Bluffs, now a New York State Park on the shore of Lake Ontario. Nice place.


time to go

10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Packed and going. I have all that I need along with some things given by others, things I have no use for, but don't argue against too loudly. They mean well, those who give.


breaking traditions

Every year at about this time, the American Sewing Expo does its thing in Michigan. And a most remarkable woman, Lynn Krawczyk, curates an exhibit of art quilts on some theme. This year's theme was With One Voice. We each made a 12 inch x 12 inch block that somehow showed something good in the world. The image above is the entire set of blocks. My entry is in the second column from the left, third from the bottom. I suggest that you all take a look at the online catalog of each person's work and her thinking behind it.

This group of pieces will be traveling around, so go see it, if you can:
Fabrications Retreat
Garland Resort
Lewiston, Michigan
October 7 - 10, 2008

Carnegie Center for the Arts
Three Rivers Michigan
November 9 - December 20, 2008

212 Arts Center
Saline, Michigan
July 1 - 31, 2009

Siouxland Samplers Quilt Guild
Siouxland City Convention Center
Sioux City, IA
September 19 - 20, 2009


back to kane mountain

A view of the actual tower from the other weekend, courtesy of my hiking partner.


do something

10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Clique, clack; chitter, chatter.
All we ever do is talk.


from kane mountain

A short walk up Kane Mountain near Caroga Lake, New York, yields this view from the top of the firetower that is still standing healthily there.


no reason

Contrarian Fate
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday word: island. This is how it went: island, alone, swim to shore, what goes around comes around, contrarian fate. Nothing happens for the best—it just happens; not expected and separate from desire. Nothing happens for the worst, either—it just happens.


cluttering rocks

Listen carefully, and you will hear the rocks moving, rearranging their clutter (see Illustration Friday).


what will we remember

This Was
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday wanted memories this week. I want to know what we will remember, not what we remember now, because that is how we might make a good future.


piece for michigan

Women's Revenge
12 inches x 12 inches
art quilt

Every fall, there is an art quilt exhibit at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan, curated by Lynn Krawczyk. And every year there is a theme: this year's theme is With One Voice, about all that is good in the world. All the pieces will be 12" x 12" and will hang together, side by side, to make one large piece.

This is my entry. It came out of my desire to see women truly run the world, which would mean a complete overthrow of the world's entrenched patriarchism. And maybe, just maybe, in the next presidential election there will indeed be a woman as candidate. And then, in the one after that, maybe we will actually elect a woman. Then, a hundred years later, the women running the world will be able to do it on their terms, not the ones left over from the centuries before.


end of summer

The official photographs for my good friend's wedding were being held below the balcony where the ceremony had taken place. The unofficial photograph from above: the bride and groom with her family.


business as usual

Second Nature
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday: routine; that which is habitual, customary, automatic.
Yeah. Nothing new here.


free the beast

Remove the Monster
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday word: detach. I wanted to illustrate the theme more closely than I have before. Usually, I riff on the word and get going somewhere else. If I'm ever to really illustrate anything, I should try to do that, eh? So, here it is. Tell me if it works.

And yeah, I missed two weeks. Hated to do that; traveling and working on a needlework piece for a show, the deadline for which was moved a week earlier than I originally expected it to be. Yikes! I finished on time. And now am back here.

um...see here

A little bit of. . . what should I call it? Bragging? Self-promotion? Giggly appreciation for the attention! That's it!!!

See GoFlyingTurtle's spotlight on my collages here. And then go look at the rest of his work here.

glacial remnant

This, the smallest of the Great Lakes, is large enough to swallow my self and leave me clear, peaceful, and sated. It yields up rocks and glass, soothing noise that drowns out all else, and a geohistory beyond imagining.


back in new york state

The Erie Canal, as seen here in Pittsford, is one of my favorite waterways. Not as grand as the Missouri River, but certainly the initiator of all the manipulations done to the rivers in the interior. Fie on the dams. But read Ivan Doig's Bucking the Sun for a human view of the building of the Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri in Montana.


last of north dakota

The Enchanted Highway is one fellow's sculptural gallery. Geese in Flight is just off I-94; the rest wend their way south on the little two-lane road through the prairie.

last of montana

Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River is the largest earth-filled dam in the United States. Its purpose was to provide flood control and jobs, especially jobs, during The New Deal.


population clock

Blink to 7 Billion
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Another week, another theme on Illustration Friday: canned. Spam. Sardines. Crowds. Population growth. Check out the World Population Clock for estimates of increases. Short of a really, really big disaster, we are reproducing ourselves at a truly remarkable rate. If our governments worked this fast, we'd get lots done.


south of confluence

The Madison River Valley is here below the Madison Mountains. Ranching in the lowland, mining in the highland. This was a hot day—temperatures in the 90sF, low humidity—but a good one to go looking at one of the rivers that becomes part of the Missouri River.



This is the sound of the start of the Missouri River, at the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers (the Gallatin comes in a mile downstream).



How Much
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday theme: enough.

People have been asking about how I make my collages, do I do them digitally or what?
I use scissors, X-Acto knife, glue stick, bristol board. I scan the finished thing; that's the only digital thing I do and only when I'm done putting all the pieces together. I get the pieces from magazines, catalogs, and any other printed material that comes my way.


today's encounters

Mule Deer on the top, Pelican on the bottom; all on the Missouri River in the Lake Holter area.

And what kind of snake is this? We each took a look at each other and went our separate ways.



Gates of the Mountains on the Missouri River open and close and open and close as a boat moves upstream and side to side on the river. At first, it just looks like the river ends in a rock wall. Then one gate opens and the view upriver opens further. Then that gate obscures the opening, but just about right away, the other side opens and the upstream portion is visible once more. But the canyon never opens completely until the end and only then can the river's course be seen as coming through this narrow portal.

This place is beautiful, but full of motorboats and fishermen and tourboats, which, of course, is how I saw the place. Sigh. My little boat would have been quieter (assuming no other traffic).


where to be, what to be

Lost in a Fog of Melancholy
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Once again, Illustration Friday's weekly theme has arrived: foggy, an adjective. I made it into the noun that sometimes surrounds me.


clark fork river valley

The settlement called Deerlodge, off I-90, is the home of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, a working cattle ranch which is also part of the National Park System. The mountains in the beyond are the Flint Creek Range. This is a dry land, about 10 inches of precipitation a year. The snowmelt on the highest mountains is watched carefully, hoping that there is still snow on the 4th of July. That usually means that there will be enough water in the streams for the rest of the year.

The Clark Fork Valley is a Superfund site, however, because of the mining residue from Butte and neighboring mining towns. Nothing is as it seems.



Postcard photo copyright Lawrence Dodge

Here, the view of the entire confluence.

missouri headwaters

The confluence of the Jefferson River and the Madison River to become the Missouri River is a quiet place, dominated by the sound of water running, rushing, going. The sky is big, here, yes. The water is full and swift.

Not a mile later, the Gallatin River, coming from the east, joins the new Missouri and this, now, is the Missouri River. This is a place to return to, to sit, to dream, to be quiet from the human world.

gates to hell

Postcard photo copyright Scott Wheeler 2001

Postcard caption: "Butte, Montana, at sub-zero temperatures, where steam from present day heating systems is a vague reminder of the heyday of the copper mining and smelting industries of the 1800s. The Anselmo mine gallows frame is featured on the front."

That says it all, eh?


pH 2

pH 2
10 inches high x 8 inches wide

Illustration Friday's theme was sour. A good friend and critic challenged me to do this collage with no animals.

Here it is.


basin street studio

My second floor studio.