135Journals: Art Card Collage

19 Oct Collaged art cards by AlexandraHH, October 2017
Collaged art cards by AlexandraHH, October 2017

Collaged art cards by AlexandraHH, October 2017

Yesterday, I was making art cards. Which is to say, I made a form of art that is created on pieces of paper that are 2 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches—the size of a playing card. Often, they are created ON a playing card. This is a form of art I have been experimenting with for a long time. It is difficult because it is small, but it also lets me try things quickly and discard them if they don’t work. Also, I am keeping pieces and thinking about making assemblages in the future. I am actually not sure what it all adds up to, which is part of the fun.

Art cards come in two official types—Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) and Art Card Originals and Editions ACEOS. ATCs are only supposed to be traded between artists for free. ACEOs can be sold on Ebay and in person and god knows where else. Usually, the cards should have some documentation on the back explaining their provenance. Each art card should be at least substantially original.

Anyway, my latest experiments in art card making are all about color and collage as you can see. Most of the ones above are on watercolor paper, though a few are on cards with magazine images collaged on them. I have either painted watercolors on the watercolor paper or I have marbled the paper. On top of that I have collaged magazine flowers (or are they sea creatures)? I actually don’t know what they are. I have a feeling of what they are. They are the feeling of force and expanding and stubbornness that comes out of me. Call me crazy, but I do feel as if I have a certain energy inside of me that says “NO!” (as in, no, I will not be crushed), and a lot of that resistance and force is expressed by the sunbursts straight on and the rays going sideways. They’re sort of the same thing, if you see what I mean. All of them project outward, like the Big Bang. So make of it what you will.

I suppose the combination of colors is rather oceanlike, too, now that I look at it. So maybe it is more of an ocean than a field of flowers. You may notice that there is part of a paper lace doily in a bottom card. I spend a lot of time treating papers with various tinctures of color. I make various elixirs and soak and spray white papers to get various color effects. That was originally a white paper but now it has various gradations of pinkish, yellow, orange that you can’t quite see here. I spend a lot of trouble and fascination on such things.

These explorations in art cards are a great interest to me, whatever meaning they may have to another person, because they help show how pleasingly objects relate in size within a space. They show how different colors look side by side. They show what rules you should keep and what you can reak. One new thing I tried for the first time yesterday is making a card like the third one in the second row, with the big purple squidlike fan of arms. I liked the way that one turned out and see more possibilities there.

135JournalsAudioReview: Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Podcast

19 Sep

Feeling puple. April 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Got my podcast listening face on. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

I’m sitting here among my breakfast crumbs, verklempt. I have just finished listening to the Season Two, Episode Five, edition of Revisionist History Podcast, which is entitled, “The Prime Minister and the Prof.” It is about the friendship of Winston Churchill to an odd scientist named Frederick Lindemann which affected the course of World War II in some painful ways. Although I consider myself a history buff and am rarely surprised by “Did you know” history stories, I was stunned by hearing about a brutal famine in Bengal in 1943 and its effects.

If you are familiar with the work of Malcolm Gladwell, you will no doubt know that one of the gifts of his style is his ability to follow the golden thread of his curiosity down some very unexpected byways and draw some very interesting conclusions. At times, this is also his curse, as some of those conclusions can seem, at least to me, rather simplistic. Still, if taken in the proper spirit of skepticism, it is fascinating to go along on the journey of Gladwell’s lightning mind. And I also like to consider his way of thinking as a role model for how I can tackle a wayward question that occurs to me–to pursue it, wherever it goes, and learn whatever I learn on the journey to its answer. He reminds me that it really does take a lifetime to become an educated person, and that there are many different ways to learn.

There are two seasons of ten episodes each of Revisionist History now available on http://panoply.fm/ which has a number of other great podcasts, including the The Gist, http://panoply.fm/podcasts/SM7755575778, Unorthodox, http://panoply.fm/podcasts/unorthodox, The Grift, http://panoply.fm/podcasts/thegrift, and more. The husband and I devoured all of Season One in a single gulp, and we’re trying to ration ourselves with season 2. I could give you the titles of what is in Season 1_-Saigon 1965 is one episode. The Big Man Can’t Shoot is another. Food Fight is another. But what you really need to know is: What you assume in the beginning is not where you’ll end up at the end. And you’ll go through a very interesting journey to learn why. It’s a really great way to spend 35 minutes or so, one that you’ll remember long after it’s over. Two thumbs definitely up!

Live Drawing the Eclipse

21 Aug

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A back garden, eclipse, August 2017, Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

A back garden, eclipse, August 2017, Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

The Magical Place My Husband Took Me

4 Jun
The mighty Hudson. June 1, 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

The mighty Hudson. June 1, 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Last week, my husband said, “This Thursday is the surprise I told you about. I’ll bet you aren’t even curious, are you?”
“Not really.”
“You’re so easy to trick,” he said. “Everything is a surprise for you.”
(I probably shouldn’t say that on a blog, should I? It’s not that I’m never suspicious. It’s just that when it comes to my husband, my experience has taught me that most surprises tend to be nice ones. So I am not anxious with him. I feel quite at peace with my honest, tenderhearted life partner.
So on Thursday, we got in the car, drove north into New York state, and listened to a book on Audible quite pleasantly while I doodled in my journal, and I didn’t pay too much attention until we got to a very pretty town along the Hudson River. And then, he hefted our backpack and my capacious Bag of Amusements into a walk into the woods. It ended in climbing a short bridge to an old-fashioned lighthouse on the Hudson River, which has been turned into a bed and breakfast, for only two couples per night. He had gotten the reservations in January! It was a complete surprise. It was a magical–quaint and pretty on the inside, and surrounded by water and light on the outside. We watched the sky and the clouds and the water for hour that day and the next morning. Every once in a while fish (herring?) would just flop and create circles. Fleets of clouds moved busily across the sky. Vs of geese honked northward and so did the occasional barge or sailboat. Silvery trains tooted by on the east bank. Shadows shimmered across the blue and green mountains. The water shimmered with light and dark. What a glorious ancient river, it filled me with yearning, and what a companion, the one person with whom I can sit in quietness for hours in peace and still feel understood and understanding. It was so happy, and to be there was like storing nutrition to feed the leanness of some future difficult day.

Monk, Imperious King of the Bed

24 Apr

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Monk. April 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Monk. April 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Three Beautiful Musical Collections on YouTube That Will Make Your Toes Curl With Pleasure

21 Apr


The World is so ugly sometimes, but music is so, so full of enchantment, no? Here are a few gems I have found to soothe away a little of the suffering:

♫ The most BEAUTIFUL choral music EVER written
Collegium Regale Music of Inner Harmony sung by the world’s best choirs.
This collection contains two and a half hours of gorgeous pieces such as Samuel Barber’s transcendent Agnus Dei . . . to lovely pieces by composers such as Bach, Pergolesi, Elgar, Tallis, and more. Then there’s a partapart two, and a part three!! So there are more than 10 hours of this lusciousness, perfect for study, thinking, and dreaming.

Putumayo presents: Jewish Odyssey

I happen to own this as a CD, as I do many other Putumayo CDs. I am a Putumayo groupie. Once upon a time, Putumayo used to have a clothes store in New York, and I still have some of their clothes, now practically rags. Sigh. I love world music, and even took a hideously boring ethnomusicology class in college. (All I learned was, and I don’t even know if this is correct, is “Jaap Kunst was the Father of Ethnomusicology Type IA.”) and Putumayo has gone around the world making fascinating collections. Are they typical of what the world has to offer? I can’t say for sure. But I know that Putumayo has brought many new sounds to my delighted ear. In this particular collection, there are a wide variety of singers showing that Israel has a lot going on musically, and draws on many different traditions. My favorites included the poignant yet danceable Fel Shara by the KlesRoym, The many different musical collections. The gentle Ija Mia Mi Kerida – Janet Esim, and the Shalom Aleichem by Fortuna that made me want to cry.

Putumayo presents: Jewish Odyssey

Best of Sufi Songs.

Four Words: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I repeat. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. If you have not heard the indescribable voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan–no, if you have not been stabbed in the heart and nailed to the wall by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and then somehow walked away gasping, then you have not lived, my friend. How do I describe this voice. His singing is frank and direct, with a slight roughness at the edges, and then, he can go on extended passionate arpeggios that are both melody and percussion at the same time. There is vigor and passion in his singing that is so exciting. He is just one of many great Sufi singers. For those who don’t know what the Sufi faith is, it is a branch of the Sufi religion which–and please, people who are actual practitioners of Sufism, please feel to correct me, I am only writing to my best understanding here–is part of Islam, and which has an exceptionally open, joyful, and ecstatic view of human relationship to God. The most famous practitioner of Sufism the incredible poet Rumi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi) about whom I would like to write one day. Anyway, my husband and I recently had the pleasure of going to see one of the modern great Sufi singers recently, Sanam Marvi in New York, and she was a rock star, truly. But about this collection..It features music by Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan and many other Sufi Singers, AND there are parts two and three. So put it on and you will have hours of mystical pleasure.


Miss Green

20 Apr
Miss Green. Alexandra Hanson-Harding. April 2017.

Miss Green. Alexandra Hanson-Harding. April 2017.

I am in my green period. That is to say, I am curious to see if I can make people look like people using colors other than people colors. I am using the Ipad program called Sketches and my finger to do these experiments. I have not yet used more than the most basic tools, to my shame, nor have I tried using a stylus, as I am just a wee baby Ipad artist. Nor am I using the best program yet, which I understand to be Procreate. But, Excelsior, onward and upward! Ipad art is an amazing medium because it gives one the chance to experiment rapidly without expense or a feeling of loss.

Gefilte Fish, the Good Kind

20 Apr
Gefilte Fish, the good kind. By Alexandra Hanso-Harding, April 2017. P

Gefilte Fish, the good kind. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding, April 2017.

Tonight the husband served me some delicious gefilte fish. The good kind. You may ask, what is the good kind? Is it Rokeach? Is it Manischewitz? Yehudah? Mrs. Adler’s? Is it what? The answer, my friend, is something I found out by accident one year when I went to a kosher supermarket in Passaic, New Jersey, and couldn’t find any jars of gefilte fish at all. I don’t know why. I wasn’t looking in the right place, or they were sold out, or maybe the fact that it was just before Pesach and it was as crowded AF with harried mothers who had about 8 kids each in tow (I am in awe). But I did find something intriguing I’d never seen before: Frozen gefilte fish in a log, wrapped in white paper. It looked . . . less gelatinous than your everyday gefilte fish, which to my mind was a good thing. While I enjoy the taste of the gefilte, the nebulous edges of the jarred beast unsettle me.

I brought home a mighty log of the gefilte fish and my husband said, “What exactly do you do with that thing? It’s frozen.”
I hadn’t exactly thought of “reading the directions” at that point. “I don’t know, just warm it up, I guess,” I said.
“Hmm,” he said, squinting at the side of the package. “It says here that you have to simmer it in a broth of two quarts of water, carrots, onions, salt, and pepper for an hour and a half.”
“My point exactly,” I said with a glare. “I was already going to do that.”
I thumped around and actually followed the directions–you put the log of gefilte fish in the water still wrapped in its inner paper wrapping, and let it bob around in the pot with the carrots and onions. And it comes out making the whole house smell nice, with a faint sweet warm fishy-in-a-nice way, carrot and oniony smell. The gefilte fish has a sweetness and a firmness that is just right with some lovely horseradish with beets, for instance, to give it a little bite, and it truly just was the good kind, and now that’s the kind we always, always get.

Saint with Book

13 Apr
Saint with book, Seville. A. Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Saint with book, Seville. A. Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Feeling Purple

12 Apr
Feeling puple. April 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Feeling purple. April 2017. Alexandra Hanson-Harding.