Comet Takes Command

The post below came across the Facebook feed this afternoon and made me cry a bit.

To me, the speaking cat be my recently-laid-to-rest Charlie, and the new cat be our puppy Comet. Yeah, I know, Comet is a dog. It was, however, suggested to me that during the two months that both Charlie and Comet shared our house, Charlie shared all his secrets with Comet. When all the secrets were shared, and Charlie was confident that Comet could handle everything, Charlie let himself rest. Continue reading

Longsword and Imagination Collide Unexpectedly

I’ve been studying 14th century German longsword for over a year now. It’s a wonderful martial art which has help me recover some (and make gains in other areas) of my physical prowess that’s rather fallen apart with middle age and parenthood.

Recently, I learned a new guard in which you hold the sword low and in front of you, pointed off to the side. This guard, in the German tradition, is called Schrankhut (the barrier guard). See some photos here of real longsword practitioners demonstrating the guard.

My quick sketch of Schrankhut

My quick sketch of Schrankhut

Continue reading

Sewing Saturday – My New Lab Coat

Yeah, I know. I’m not publishing this on a Saturday. But I did the sewing on Saturday. Last Saturday, in fact.

But I was also slightly (ok, very) sick at the time, so I only took pictures and didn’t do much else (aside from the sewing, of course.)

Truth be told, I actually didn’t sew much that day either, except for four buttonholes and four buttons. What I did instead was paint.

But let’s go back to the title. What’s this about a new lab coat?

I work in a lab. I’m a geochemist. Lab coats are basically obligatory. The problem is, lab coats tend not to fit well. No matter what size you get, they’re ill fitting and you have to roll the sleeves – which can be a problem.

I’ve been known to do a little sewing, so I decided to make a lab coat that was fitted exactly to me. And since I would make my own lab coat, this one would be… special. Continue reading

Computer Art Portfolio

Two times in the last week I’ve found myself in a position of offering to do computerized artwork for friends. This is something I’m always happy to do. I love doing art, I just don’t often have time any more.

Most people don’t think of me as an artist, though many who are near me know that I have made one or two t-shirt designs. Continue reading

Vrr’ak’l

Today I’m sorting my field equipment for my field season (a month of camping) which starts in about a week. In the process, I’m cleaning up my home office a bit.

I was putting some of my old artwork away, and I came across this tiny scratch board drawing.

image

It’s a Vrr’ak’l from the Stink Bug story. I drew this more than 20 years ago. Guess I’ve been thinking about these guys for a while.

HEMA – inspiration through perspiration

It seems that a great number of practitioners of the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA – think of them as the Knightly Arts of Swordplay) are also writers and enjoyers of great literature. This seems to be the case for women, anyway. I am a member of an international group of female HEMA participants, called Esfinges, and this question was put forward to the writers in the group:

How many of you are inspired in your art by the things you read, and what in particular inspires you?

I hadn’t really thought about it. I know that attempting to write a novel that included swordplay is what made me seek out an instructor so that I could finally properly study HEMA. But I was already interested. I’d been fascinated with swordplay and the discipline of knighthood for what seems to have been the better part of my life. But I’ve also always wanted to be a writer. So which came first, the sword or the pen?

It’s funny as I think about it, because I think both followed from imagery. I know this, because images of swords have been a part of my repertoire for years. Check out this painting I did in high school. There are swords there. I was trying to capture a moonlit battle. I don’t think I succeeded, but I still like the painting.

Caniberons sword fighting. Acrylic on canvas board. Done back in high school. See? My interest in swordplay goes way back! All rights reserved.

Caniberons sword fighting. Acrylic on canvas board. Done back in high school. See? My interest in swordplay goes way back! All rights reserved.

When I think about the sword, I see pictures. Images of the gallant knight on his steed. The violent battle, ending with the battered and bloodied knight kneeling in prayer over his lifeless opponent. I feel it in my chest – the pounding of my heart. And in my arms and back – the violent shock of steel meeting steel. Reading solidifies these images, as does watching sword fights (especially those that are realistically choreographed), or looking at page after page of photos in knights in armor. Writing is how I try to express these feeling and visual impressions. Actively participating further helps me find that connection between the real and the envisioned.

Then I write and practice more, and rewrite and read books and papers, and I rewrite once more after pondering deeply for a few days.

Both my writing and my desire to participate in HEMA derive their inspiration from the images conjured in my head when thinking about the knightly arts. I have always felt that European swordplay is one of the most elegant displays of art in action. There is beauty in the discipline that crosses over to all arenas of life. I long for that peace that comes from such mastery of the body and mind, that is reflected in HEMA. I struggle to express it in my writing. I hope some day to find it and feel it. It’s there. I know it.