A little update

Every time I’ve been sick in the past few years, I’ve been astonished at how awful I can feel even when my illness isn’t serious. I’m about a week into some sort of viral thing that started as a cranky stomach and has turned into allover body aches and general malaise. I suppose it might just be lack of food that’s making me so miserable; I’ve averaged maybe one small meal each day since this thing started, and have been spending nearly all my time in bed.* I’ve gone out for the occasional small walk but even half a mile tires me out. It is most unpleasant.

On the plus side, I’ve read my way through an impressive eight romance novel(la)s in the past few days. If I had my Agatha Christie collection here (it’s at my parents’ house) I would have been going through those like a lighted match, but as it is, romances suit my attention span just as well. And several of them have been by writers of color, which is very exciting. Beverly Jenkins is particularly excellent. Chalk it up to internalized racism that I have no problem reading Regency novels by white authors with all-white casts of characters, but it never occurred to me to pick up any Black-authored historicals about Black characters. Well, I’m converted now!

Nothing else to say, really. But have some pictures.

While we were in Seattle I noticed an artist making portraits in quite a different style than the usual sidewalk caricatures. I sat for her for twenty minutes. I like it, but my Facebook friends’ consensus is that it doesn’t really capture my essence. But what can one expect in twenty minutes?


We saw these moths all over Whidbey Island.


The lovely Bonnie Stinson had invited us there, to Whidbey, to visit Hedgebrook. Among other things, Hedgebrook offers free-of-charge residencies to selected women writers; the writers are given a comfortable cabin and all their meals are provided. My friends who’ve been in residence have raved about it, and after spending a couple of hours on the grounds, I can see why. Even just as a day visitor, every single person I spoke to (from the director to the kitchen staff) made me feel so welcome I was almost embarrassed, and the overall atmosphere is so peaceful and nurturing.

I holed up in the farmhouse kitchen for an hour, sketching, while the housekeeper, chef, gardener, and other various staff members went in and out, doing their work or just fetching drinks or snacks.



I also peeked into their library (where Erik hung out while I was sketching), and was pleasantly surprised to see The Places We’ve Been, the anthology in which one of my travel essays appears. It turns out one of the other contributors is a Hedgebrook alum, hence its inclusion in their library.


After Hedgebrook, we visited Double Bluff beach.



So many barnacles. Such driftwood. Wow.


By the time we left Seattle, Erik was ill, I wasn’t feeling so great, and we were both terribly sleep-deprived (July 5 is not the best day for an early morning flight). But I tried to make some iPad sketches from the plane.


I knew the sketches wouldn’t look like much, so I was tempted to just skip them, but I find them intriguing, taken together.



And that intrigue reminds me that it’s still useful to create, even when what we’re creating seems pointless. Always I’m reminded that when something calls to me, there’s a reason. And often we learn what we’re making (or seeing) only by making it.



I also found this great quote the other day, from a book called Art and Fear: “The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.”



And then there’s this, from photos we took at our friends’ wedding dinner last weekend.
Silly animation

*And because I know at least some of you are wondering: no, not pregnant.
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10 responses to “A little update

  1. So sorry you aren’t feeling well. Bed rest and romance novels sound like a good way to pass the time though. The kitchen sketch at Hedgebrook is quite detailed. Did it take longer than usual to sketch? Haven’t you mentioned Hedgebrook before? Take good care of yourself and feel good soon!!

    • Thank you for the good thoughts, Sherry! I read your comment at the time, but haven’t gotten to replying until now. Yes, I applied for a writing residency at Hedgebrook some years ago (didn’t get in; it’s more competitive than Harvard, I think!), and then recently they reposted one of my posts on their blog. It’s nice to have this friendly relationship with them!

      The kitchen sketch actually went faster than the painted kitchen portraits I’ve been doing! But it’s still a substantial sketch, yes; I’m not sure exactly how long I was sitting there, but it was a good chunk of time.

  2. Dear Lisa, I hope you feel better soon. What a lovely post! I love your style of writing. It is always pleasure to read your words and thoughts. I like your portrait. It is different to your style but it is done by somebody else, from another artist perspective and time (20 mins). Susan captured you quite well. I do love your sketches of that beautiful simplicity (I think that they are absolutely great) and I love your kitchen sketch (I am big fan of your space/places sketches. I wish I could capture details so well). Big, big, big hugs to you!!!! and much love!!!!

  3. Your sketches are so lovely, Lisa. I hope you are on the mend and I’m so glad you experienced our little slice of heaven here. If your travels bring you up this way again, give me a shout- I’m a short ferry ride away from Whidbey!

    • Thank you so much, Julie Christine! That illness really took me out of my stride, but I’m finally getting back into things, thank goodness. I shudder to think how long it’s going to take me to recover from things when I’m much older, if it takes me this long at 32. ;b I really did love it up there and hope to get back at some point soon! I’ll let you know! And I love the photos you post on FB, btw — the “view while writing” type. So evocative.

  4. I wonder if a ‘street artist’ has ever concentrated on a certain aspect of their subject’s face – eyes, mouth, nose or a combination of thereof – and dealt with those aspects in detail? I rather like your portrait, but I REALLY like the sketch you did of the kitchen – the pots and pans are arranged like a floral centerpiece! And I love the photo of you meditating in a room of driftwood!

    Moths? I just can’t.

    • Thank you, Aubrey! I’ve often thought I’d like to set myself up on some sidewalk and use the “street artist” persona to do creative experiments. But I’ve never dared. There’s enough introvert in me to hold me back.

      I find moths very beautiful, and also a nuisance.

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