Images from Iona, Scotland

This post was inspired by the passing of Leonard, Cohen.

I first listened to Leonard Cohen on a most special trip to Iona Scotland.


For those of you who don’t know, Iona is a very spiritual place; the birthplace of Christianity throughout Scotland. They say the layer between heaven and earth is “thinner” on Iona.


Every time I hear a song by Leonard Cohen, I go back there in my mind.

Anthem is one of my favorites. Here are the lyrics and what Leonard Cohen said about them. No matter what you believe, they seem relevant to today.


The lyrics:

The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove she will be caught again
bought and sold and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood of every government –
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.


Leonard Cohen once explained the meaning of the song as follows:

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
– from Diamonds in the Line


Sorry, I couldn’t resist one more sheep photo!

Have a great weekend.  Go out and be the light!





Observational Value Drawings

It was so nice to be back in class this week and working with the Teens on creating Observational Value Drawings.


We practiced observational still life drawing – drawing from real life set ups using measuring techniques. I started by letting the students pick the objects they wanted to draw and setting up their own still life’s.  The only requirement was that half of the object be in the light and half in the shadow.


Working on tinted paper, we used charcoal and followed these steps to create a value drawing:

  1. Use tinted paper and draw big rough shapes.   Check accuracy with:
    1. Negative Space
    2. Horizontal Lines
    3. Symmetry
    4. Diagonals
    5. Verticals
  2. Lightly apply vine charcoal to entire drawing – holding the vine charcoal on its side color over entire drawing.
  3. Create a 2-value drawing – squint and erase all large light areas.
  4. Squint and color in darkest darks.
  5. Adjust middle values drawing into image using your kneaded eraser. Readjust the lights and darks as you work on the middle values.
  6. Pick your focal point and emphasize with higher contrast, sharper edges and more detail.
  7. Lastly apply the highlights, (lightest lights) with white Conte crayon. Note that highlights will follow the form of the object.


It was the first time that many of the students had drawn from “real life” and worked with charcoal. They did a great job! Here is a look at their work.



Visions of Tangier, Morocco

A trip to Tangier is a feast for your senses – the smells of Cayenne (felfla), cinnamon (karfa), turmeric (quekoum) and our favorite cumin (kamoon). The taste of Mint Tea. The sounds of the call to prayer broadcast from every Mosque and the visual stimulation of so many colors framed by the African sunlight.



I understand why Matisse loved Morocco – where even chipped paint looks like a piece of art.



Maybe some of the activities one was reputed to experience in Tangier have subsided – you don’t need to travel to Tangier to “rock the Kasbah” when you can buy hashish around the corner on the way to the gym in the morning (well, at least in Seattle).  But to look out of your window across the city and hear the sounds and smell the smells, that is something you can experience only in this great city.



Here are some glimpses of Tangier. What you won’t see are photos of many people – they request you not to photograph them and I wanted to be respectful.   The few images of people I caught were as they walked through my viewfinder.   Even if I could of photographed people, you wouldn’t of seen many women. The absence of women was notable – men everywhere, lounging on the street corners, managing the shops, going into Mosque – but almost no women.









The most unusual experience – when we walked into a restaurant for dinner and they searched my purse and wanded us for weapons.


The touristiest thing we did – riding camels. So dorky but so fun.


What we enjoyed the most – wandering the streets that are so narrow you can run your hands down both sides of the street while you walk along.


It’s a big world, get out there and explore it.