Into the deep (part 4)

This layer was added this morning (3-29-16).

Additions –
bronze and gold gel pen
white chalk pen
decoupage glue
“abandoned coral” Distress stain
the broken tip of a key (found)
glitter gem

Top left

top right


bottom left (pleased to discover that the edge of the book page didn’t glue down well. I’ll add a red stamp here later)


bottom right (The glue will go shiny and translucent when dried. The key tip reminds me of Noah’s ark.)


Middle detail


I’m reminded of the photographic idea of dodge and burn. I’m highlighting certain areas and downplaying others. I try to make it look like it is all planned, but I’m making it up as I go along. It is a voyage of discovery.

This is kind of like when I painted the bathroom by myself. It took four hours. I was alone with my own thoughts all that time, and it was a little intense. This is also part of why I partly dislike how I exercise – water aerobics. I can’t listen to an audiobook while I do it, and I can’t take down notes of ideas I have. I’m stuck with myself, and that is hard sometimes. But I do it because it is always important. If you can’t stand being by yourself, then who would want to spend time with you? Friendships need to be constructed of two equal people who can stand on their own, and work even stronger together. If one or both lean on the other too much, it is harmful.

Inside the Kaaba

Muslims face the Kaaba five times a day in prayer, no matter where they are in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people turn towards this immense cube (which is what “Kaaba” means).

Did you know that it isn’t solid? It has a place to worship inside. The Kaaba is a mosque, a holy house. It is said to have been originally built by Adam and Eve, then restored by Abraham and Ishmael, as the very first place to worship the One God, who Muslims call Allah.

The interior is 13 m (43 feet) high, and the sides are about 10.15 m (33.3 ft) by 8.24 m (27 ft). There are no windows but there are lanterns.


These are screenshots from a 3D animation of the interior.

kaaba 4

kaaba 3

This is a top-down map of it.


These are cutaway illustrations.

Kaaba inside

What is inside the Kaaba

What is inside the Kaaba

The Kaaba used to be opened twice a week for anyone to pray inside. But now it is opened just twice a year, and then for only dignitaries and exclusive guests, who enter to ceremonially clean it. The door is 2.13 m (7 feet) above ground. There is a wooden staircase on wheels that is used to reach the door.

The key is kept by one tribe. Here are pictures of the key.

k key

k key2

This is all very interesting, but I think this is the most interesting part– if you are inside the Kaaba, what direction do you pray? You are in the center of the center of worship.

The 12th century Sufi mystic and friend of the poet Rumi, Shams of Tabriz said – “The Kaaba is in the middle of the world. All faces turn toward it. See! Each is worshipping the soul of each.”

Now try this. Visualize that you are inside the Kaaba every time you pray, no matter where you are, no matter what faith tradition you practice. You are in the epicenter. You are in the eye of the storm. You are in the heart of the Creator. You are in the first holy place ever made by human hands. Hold that feeling in your heart.  You don’t have to face any direction.  Your prayers go directly to God, right where you are.


(Pictures and information are from Wikipedia and other online sources. All copyright belongs to the original owner. Used for educational uses only.)

Into the deep (part 3)

This is the third layer of this painting. This was painted Monday (3/28/16) morning, right before work. I’d not planned enough time to use this color blend on “November Rain” as well, as I’d intended. I barely had enough time to work on this. I find that it helps me if I can work on some bit of the art every day. Not only is it relaxing, it gives me something to look forward to. Each layer takes several hours to dry, so working on it in the morning and evening is a good use of time.

I added a blend of paint using these colors – manganese blue, deep violet, and phthalocyanine blue. I used my standard way of blending paint right from the palette. The colors aren’t quite this bright in reality.



top left


top right


bottom left


bottom right


November rain

This is a work in progress. This is the second layer. This is the companion to “Deep art” (which the title itself is a work in progress). I was working on this one first and had spare paint to use up.

Here is the original full canvas.

I fingerpainted the original colors onto the canvas about a year ago. I don’t remember what colors I used. This was before I started documenting the layers of my creations. I also thought that I was done with this because I liked it like it was. However, after reading several Nick Bantock books, I’ve decided to push it a little more. Plus – canvases aren’t cheap and they take up space. So it is either add more to them or start finding a market for what I’ve done. Speaking of that – if you like what I’ve made, let me know. We can work out a price that is good for both of us.

Here is the second layer full canvas.

november rain1

Top left detail.

I’ve added some washi tape and stamps. I’ve learned the hard way that if I’m too liberal with the matte medium, it covers over areas of the paint outside of what I’m trying to glue down, leaving a dull smear. Also added are layers of tissue paper that I colored using Distress Ink stains. I let them dry first, and affixed them to the painting colored side down.

The paint colors that are in the second layer are titanium white, cadmium yellow deep hue, and Payne’s grey. I put blobs of them into a large yogurt lid and put some glazing medium on top. I blended them only as I went, using the brush.

Top right detail.

Bottom left detail.

Bottom right detail.

Into the deep (part 2)

This is the full piece, but just the second layer. More to come. I’m documenting the creation of it.

The base of this was a generic painting background I did maybe a year ago. Yesterday, I was working on another piece and had some spare paint. I fished around the not-yet-completed stack of canvases and found this one. I decided to add some pages to it first because I like the look of words showing through paint. It is hard for me to remember what order things should be done, but I’m getting better. Rather than just gluing or painting on the canvas by feel, I’m trying to think about how I want the finished piece to look.

(top left detail)

Sometimes making art is about just going with the feeling, and sometimes it is about trying to say something. Sometimes it is a little of both.

(top middle detail)

I dug around my “to be torn up” pile of books and chose “The Silent World” by Captain J. Y. Cousteau.


(bottom right detail)

Tearing up books to use in art was a hard thing to get over, being a life-long reader and a library worker. I have about five books to do this with, and I got them all for free. I guess ideally I’d use different books for each piece, but I can’t justify trashing a book for just three or four pages.


(middle detail)

I pulled out random pages, and here are the chapter titles for the three different pages. I liked them enough to make sure that I don’t totally obscure them.

Drowned museum
Cave diving
Treasure below.

I don’t remember what the base coat colors are. The paint colors that are over the pages are – titanium white, cadmium yellow deep hue, Payne’s grey. I put blobs of them into a large yogurt lid and put some glazing medium on top. I blended them only as I went, using the brush. I was surprised to discover the mix ended up being a mossy green. It looks worn, like rocks with lichens. But it also looks a bit like bird poop. While trying to remove some of the paint from the pages so I could see the words, the paper tore. I liked the look, so I kept doing it.

I’m meditating while working on this about young people who are lost, who haven’t been raised with any moral foundations. They don’t know right from wrong because they weren’t ever taught. After a certain point, a person is too old to be taught this in any meaningful way. On the surface, they look normal, but deep underneath there is darkness. These people are the scariest of all, because they don’t even know when they have crossed a line.

This is a way to meditate and pray yet make something at the same time.


Remember when Jesus said that the words of the Pharisees were like walking over dead bodies? This is in Luke 11:44 –

“Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves. People walk over you not even knowing that they have become defiled.” (from “Religious Hypocrites Discredited” in the Condensed Gospel rendition.)

(The original reads “Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves; the people who walk over them don’t know it.”)

What does this mean? How bad is it to have contact with a dead body? Pretty bad, it turns out.

The entire 19th chapter of Numbers covers the very difficult process of becoming ritually clean after contact with a dead body. I’ve included it at the end of this post so you can read it for yourself.

This is no simple process – you can’t do it overnight.

Here is the summary –
First, a pure and unblemished red heifer that has never been yoked has to be taken outside of the camp and slaughtered. Then all of it is burned to ash, along with cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn. The ash is mixed with water, and that water is then used to purify the person who was rendered unclean from a dead body.

All along the way, each person involved in the process of creating this substance becomes unclean themselves for various lengths of time. There are four different people who become unclean – the priest, the person who burns the heifer, the person who gathers the ashes, and the person who sprinkles the water on the unclean person. This is a huge inconvenience for each person involved. Being unclean means that you are separated from other people to various degrees.
The person is unclean for seven days, and must be purified with the water on the third and seventh day. If not, he is cut off from Israel forever, and remains perpetually unclean.

It is bad enough when you intentionally become unclean – but terrible when it is unintentional. You are defiled, and you don’t even know. You won’t know that you have to undergo the process to become clean because you don’t even know you are unclean.

What Jesus is saying is that the teachings of the Pharisees are leading people so astray that they are in danger of becoming unclean to the point that they will never be able to be part of the community again. The fact that they don’t even know that they have become defiled means that they don’t have an opportunity to become clean again. He is warning us about false teachers today as well. Always match up whatever any minister tells you with the Word of God to make sure that you don’t get misled.

Numbers 19 (Holman Christian Standard Bible translation)
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 2 “This is the legal statute that the Lord has commanded: Instruct the Israelites to bring you an unblemished red cow that has no defect and has never been yoked. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest, and he will have it brought outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. 5 The cow must be burned in his sight. Its hide, flesh, and blood, are to be burned along with its dung. 6 The priest is to take cedar wood, hyssop, and crimson yarn, and throw them onto the fire where the cow is burning. 7 Then the priest must wash his clothes and bathe his body in water; after that he may enter the camp, but he will remain ceremonially unclean until evening. 8 The one who burned the cow must also wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he will remain unclean until evening. 9 “A man who is clean is to gather up the cow’s ashes and deposit them outside the camp in a ceremonially clean place. The ashes must be kept by the Israelite community for preparing the water to remove impurity; it is a sin offering. 10 Then the one who gathers up the cow’s ashes must wash his clothes, and he will remain unclean until evening. This is a permanent statute for the Israelites and for the foreigner who resides among them. 11 “The person who touches any human corpse will be unclean for seven days. 12 He is to purify himself with the water on the third day and the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13 Anyone who touches a body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. That person will be cut off from Israel. He remains unclean because the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, and his uncleanness is still on him. 14 “This is the law when a person dies in a tent: everyone who enters the tent and everyone who is already in the tent will be unclean for seven days, 15 and any open container without a lid tied on it is unclean. 16 Anyone in the open field who touches a person who has been killed by the sword or has died, or who even touches a human bone, or a grave, will be unclean for seven days. 17 For the purification of the unclean person, they are to take some of the ashes of the burnt sin offering, put them in a jar, and add fresh water to them. 18 A person who is clean is to take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle the tent, all the furnishings, and the people who were there. He is also to sprinkle the one who touched a bone, a grave, a corpse, or a person who had been killed. 19 “The one who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third day and the seventh day. After he purifies the unclean person on the seventh day, the one being purified must wash his clothes and bathe in water, and he will be clean by evening. 20 But a person who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21 This is a permanent statute for them. The person who sprinkles the water for impurity is to wash his clothes, and whoever touches the water for impurity will be unclean until evening. 22 Anything the unclean person touches will become unclean, and anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening.”

Lamb meatballs

Makes four servings. Total prep time is about an hour and a half.


1 pound ground lamb

half a cup of fresh breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon of Kabsa

1 tablespoon of dried ground lemon

1 tablespoon of parsley

1 teaspoon of salt

A tablespoon of unsalted butter

olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan


I used grass-fed lamb. This was available in my local grocery store in the organic section. I used two pieces of week-old Italian bread from the Publix bakery. The Kabsa is a spice blend found at an Middle-Eastern grocery. I bought the dried ground lemon from an Ethiopian market. I used plain dried parsley, but fresh would be good too, if you avoid the stems. I used Himalayan pink salt and ground it up with a mortar and pestle.


Mix the breadcrumbs, Kabsa, ground lemon, parsley, and salt together. I did it all in the food processor because I’d used that to render the bread.

Put the ground lamb into a large bowl that has a lid. Add the breadcrumb and spice mix. Mix together thoroughly using your hands. Leave as a big lump in the bowl and put the lid on the bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour.

When it is time to cook, add the butter first to a large deep sauté pan and let it melt at medium-high heat. Then add the olive oil, making sure that it covers the entire pan. You don’t want the meatballs swimming in it – this is not a deep-fryer – but you also don’t want bare patches. Select a pan that is wide enough that the meatballs do not touch.

Form the meatballs with your hands, and add them to the pan. You want to heat the meatballs so they are seared and brown on the outside, but still moist (yet cooked through) on the inside. Thus, use medium-high heat at first, rotating the meatballs to sear the outside. Lower the heat a couple of notches after about five minutes. Rotate the meatballs every five minutes or so.

When done, drain on a plate that has several layers of paper towel.

Serve as is, or with a tzatziki sauce.


Kenopsia 032516

n. the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.

created 3-25-16
Strathmore art journal
glue stick
art paper
ad from AAA travel magazine
chopsticks wrapper from a Japanese restaurant I ate at alone on my day off, even though my husband had been gone on a trip for a week and had just come back.


enouement 031716

n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front.

created 3-17-16
Strathmore art journal
glue stick
art paper
map pieces
origami paper


semaphorism 031316

n. a conversational hint that you have something personal to say on the subject but don’t go any further—an emphatic nod, a half-told anecdote, an enigmatic ‘I know the feeling’—which you place into conversations like those little flags that warn diggers of something buried underground: maybe a cable that secretly powers your house, maybe a fiberoptic link to some foreign country.

Created around 3-13-16
Strathmore art journal
glue stick
art paper