Back in the winter of 1976, I sketched this backyard tree while falling snow hid the towering Rocky Mountains behind it. From the warmth of a nearby fireplace, I spent most of a morning trying to capture the leafless tree’s limbs exactly as I saw them. At 12 years old, I had never spent so much time drawing a single subject, nor did I know that the process of drawing from life would be a life long pursuit.
The aromatic flavor of Meyer lemons hasÂ always been a favorite in our house. These trees areÂ native to China and wereÂ brought to the United States by Frank N. Meyer about a century ago. Thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin, this fruitÂ doesnâ€™t have the pucker power of aÂ common lemon. Instead, itsÂ subtle sweetness softens theÂ acid to impart aÂ velvety mouth feel. Since Meyer lemons are tough to find in grocery stores, I surprised Marilyn a few years ago with a potted Meyer lemon tree for her birthday.
Recently, the nights have been extra cold, so weâ€™ve broughtÂ the tiny tree indoors at night, returningÂ it to the garden each morning to benefit from theÂ sun. With only a few leaves left, this sturdy citrus produced two dozen lemons this year. One by one the yellow orbs have ripened and dropped and weâ€™ve happily gathered them to use in drinks, cookies, and marinade.
Seven years ago my wife and I decided to decorate this old Greek column for Christmas instead of the usual tree. We wrapped lights around the column, put a blanket of cotton snow at its base, and selected a pig lamp to adorn the top. We loved it, and have decorated the column like this every year.
Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!
Danny Gregory is a world renown sketch artist who also happens to be a great writer. His brand new book, A Kiss Before You Go. will be available in bookstores everywhere on November 27. Itâ€™s a follow-up to his popular â€œEveryday Mattersâ€ book that was published in 2003. I canâ€™t wait to get my hands on a copy. Hereâ€™s a preview.
***Book Review 01/08/13***
Last November I purchased an advanced copy of A Kiss Before You Go as a birthday gift to myself. I looked forward to receiving it and on delivery day, breezed through its beautiful pages, then set the book on my nightstand to enjoy before sleep. That night, I chose another book instead, thinking “I’ll read Danny’s book tomorrow.” After several weeks of delay, I realized I had to ask myself, “What’s going on?”
It became clear to me that I was afraid to read the book. Over the last few years, I have grieved over the loss of my mother, grandmother, a close friend, and the near loss of my wife. By now I’m aware of what grieving feels like, I know loneliness all too intimately, and I understand what it feels like to sort through belongings of a loved one whose life ended tragically short. Did I need to dig up these emotions by reading Danny’s book?
Well, tonight I finally curled up on the sofa and read A Kiss Before You Go all the way through. I couldn’t put it down. Danny has written such an honest and tender book that I need not have been afraid to read it. It helped me understand my own feelings of loss, regret and sadness. Ultimately, this warm and heartfelt book lifted my spirits, reminding me that I’m really not so alone in the world. Tragedy cannot be undone, but the haunting feelings that remain can be comforted.
Danny’s artwork sparkles with joy and sorrow as vivid watercolors splash, drip, and run with emotion across the page. The entire book is handwritten, blending text with artwork and making the entire book fuse as one. A Kiss Before You Go is a treasure and will help keep Patti’s warm heart from fading.
My wife Marilyn loves to read. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, she’s always interested in a good story. Reading she says, helps calm her active mind and allows her to relax. I love reading books too and on a rainy day like today, cozying up with a good book is pure pleasure. Today I picked the book George Seurat, The Drawings off the shelf and thumbed through it for the hundredth time. I admire Seurat’s drawings for the way he works with light and shadow, composition, and mood. His drawings have a quiet, almost meditative spirit with a touch of melancholy.
Inspired by Seurat’s beautiful drawings, I decide to try his technique for myself. After returning from my studio with a contÃ© crayon and some laid paper, I search the house for a subject that will work well with high contrast lighting. In the living room I find Marilyn reading on the couch with a floor lamp illuminating her book in the near darkness. After setting up my art supplies, a couple of hours pass like minutes. I have forgotten how much I enjoy drawing Marilyn and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do so more often. There’s nothing better than drawing on a rainy, near winter’s night, especially if someone special is nearby.