Category Archives: creative living


  Sometimes the fascination of items from Norse culture is in the personality and lore of the design and sometimes as a connector to the creator. Reproductions remind us of who came before us. New designs that give homage to the past  revisit what we know in new ways. Handcrafted items by descendants of ancient […]

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Commitment: Upstream by Mary Oliver

  In her book Upstream the Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver says of creative commitment, “There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. …The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and […]

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I did not participate in any of the women’s rallies yesterday, but here is my small protest sign. Several months ago I worked on a modification to the women’s gender symbol. Well, today its meaning is enhanced. Mr. Trump said yesterday that he will work for all Americans. That we the people will run this […]

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Book People Bonding

This is a story about book people, a table, and some croc-a-mole. Once upon a time Ron McCutchan, then Art Director for Cricket Magazine, had a couple of pot luck meetups at my house for authors and illustrators working for Cricket. One reason was social The whole Emberley clan came: Ed, Barbara, Michael, and Rebecca. […]

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Finding a Critique Group to Nurture Your Fire

You’ve heard of Burning Man, right? The arty, fire-infused festival takes place each Labor Day week in the middle of the 400 square mile Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Disclaimer: It’s not kid rated, but does serve as a tantalizing analogy. Imagine that you are there in 1996 when 8,000 people come to witness it […]

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Two May Residencies

Iceland, 2015 Being invited for an artist or author residency is such an honor. Last May I went to northern Iceland for a week long artist residency to help seventy kids in grades one to ten paint murals. The school was Valsárskóli in Svalbarðsströnd, which is across the fjord from where my son Eric and […]

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Female Power Symbol

Today we walked among snow-encrusted trees at Maudslay State Park and an idea came to me. Now that I have drawn it, let me explain. Symbols can be powerful. Consider Gerald Holtom’s peace symbol, which he designed for the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War in the fifties. It is now widely used and is […]

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Advice from a kid: Miranda at age 9 and at age 13

A while ago I posted an interview here with Miranda, a very special person to me. Recently, I asked her similar questions about her reading habits and those of kids she knows. The answers show a trajectory  and are useful information for writers, so I also posted this on Nine-year-old Miranda and I went […]

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Pain-free Writing and Art

also posted on most visuals by author Here’s something for writers and illustrators to consider: the painful physical effects of your work. Don’t laugh. I kid you not. You might think that the arm in the photo (mine, actually) looks pretty healthy. After years of making welded steel sculpture using all sorts of heavy […]

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The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards: A Golden Key

What do Ezra Jack Keats, Sylvia Plath, Stephen King, Richard Avedon, Truman Capote, Robert McClosky, and Andy Warhol have in common, besides being incredibly creative? Ding. Time’s up. Each won a Scholastic Art & Writing Award when they were in their teens. Of this experience Richard Avedon, among others, said winning was “the defining moment […]

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Perfect Weather for Creative Work

Today the weather is perfect for writing, drawing, painting, or other creative work. It’s 9 degrees F. and snowing like crazy. There’ll probably be an additional 12″ by the time it’s over, on top of the 22″ we already had. Bookmark

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The Whistler at Sanctuary Arts

Today we installed The Whistler (painted steel, 101″ x 18″ x 18″) at the wonderful Sanctuary Arts in Eliot, Maine. Christopher Gowell is an amazing woman who has collected a vibrant community of artists who take and teach workshops and live life creatively. Josh and Lauren run a foundry there too. And every summer there […]

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Nara Park sculpture name

Usually I name my sculptures myself, but there’s a first time for everything. During a celebration bash that was held June 1 at Nara Park in Acton, MA, a kinetic sculpture that I built, based on a design by Carolyn Wirth, was dedicated. The Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council, a division of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which […]

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International #MuseumDay

My brother Tom is in Boston for six weeks while undergoing radiation treatments and today Egils and I went with him to the Museum of Fine Arts. We were there from about 10:45 until 4:30 when we had to stop before our heads would explode. We started with the gorgeous quilt exhibit that demonstrates so […]

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Last day of school

The last day of the semester…and for me the last semester, too. For the past fifteen years I’ve been teaching in the Art Department at Middlesex Community College, in Bedford and Lowell, MA. Standing among eighteen new students in each class and encouraging them through fifteen weeks of growth has been an awesome experience. I […]

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Commission for Nara Park

It wasn’t snowing when we installed this sculpture  in Nara Park, but the little pond was frozen. This commission from the Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council was a collaboration between designer Carolyn Wirth and my construction of the sculpture at my studio. Members of the Cultural Council chose the site, which is just perfect for this wind […]

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Bearded Horde

Last night, after a month of strange events, something extraordinary happened. A bunch of guys, mostly bearded, rose from the dead. They threw things, struck them with weapons that exploded into splinters, and slid along in the dirt. They were quirky and had superstitious mannerisms. They spat and ran, chewed and slammed into walls. Hordes of […]

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Blog Hop!

When Paul Czajak invited me into Jody Jenson Shaffer‘s Children’s Writers’ Blog Hop I thought – why would I not? The plan, as you may already know, is that each author answers the same four questions on his/her own blog, then invites three others to do the same. Like the branching of a tree, the ideas […]

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Sculpture Commission for Di & Jack Clymer

Friday and Saturday, May 31 and June 1 from 9:00-4:00, the Concord Museum in Concord, MA is sponsoring Garden Affairs, this year’s iteration of their annual garden tour. For the first time, one of my sculptures will be included In October of 2010 Di & Jack Clymer commissioned a kinetic steel sculpture that was a […]

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SCBWI New York: tribal gathering

Denizens of the night sky, nine foot children, a steampunk moth, eerie coincidences, and electric connections between people… SCBWI New York this past weekend was surprisingly poignant and permeated by an encouraging optimism about children’s book publishing. But first was the getting there. Kristine Asselin, co-cordinator of the SCBWI conference in New England this May […]

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