Thursday, April 22, 2010

Melinda and the Magical Mechanical Pentel Pencil

Is anything sacred anymore? I mean, what is sacred? This being Earth Day and all, it would be a good idea to take a moment to reaffirm that earth is sacred. How many of you out there remember how wacky people were thought to be on the first celebration of Earth Day in 1970?!

We've come a long way, in some ways good, others devastatingly worrisome.

I'm a saver. We artists hang on to things, don't we, knowing that we might need them for a future project?

Sometime in the last century, a really long time ago, a friend gave me a Pentel Mechanical Pencil as a gift. At the time, it was very expensive and I thought pencils were pencils.

They are not. Some of them are sacred, like many of the things you hold dear over the years.

Waxing nostalgic isn't always a bad thing. I went looking for my sacred pencil and did not find it. I bought a surrogate because, while I know my old friend will show up one day to surprise me, I'm missing what a good pencil can do.

Maybe it can't compete with this drawing and subsequent stained glass commission I worked on in the 1980s, but I can hope. When I see this window, I remember the day I was commissioned to build stained glass to fill a space. I sat staring at a very bright, very blank piece of white paper, with a deadline over my head. Then, I picked up the mechanical pencil and made a small mark. A woman's head and shoulders began to appear and the pencil carried the line all the way around the edges of her skirt. My eyes followed the line and I was stunned and grateful to see the image.

Today, with this newer pencil, I am drawing differently, but with the same purpose as before. This image is of a Norfolk pine branch that I've manipulated slightly in Photoshop. As soon as the clouds travel east, I'll make a solarplate of the image and finish the mail art piece.

No matter how enlightened we are about our mythology, I'll bet we can all agree that on this Earth Day, she (earth) is sacred and worthy of honor. So is your talent and the work you do.


Edgar said...

Hey! I think you're onto something with this:

mail art solar plate + earth day = low environmental impact, earth-friendly art. (There's something in there about the Sun, too, but I can't put my finger on it.)

On the general post -- I'd be willing to add 'art' into the bag of sacred things. After all these millenia, art is still magic, and we're still shamans of the medium.

Thanks for making me think about Earth Day in relation to art. Many Magical Moments to you, Melinda!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar. I like thinking about all that you said about art, the sacred and shamans of the medium.

Wow. And, thank you so much for helping me wrangle the magic wands, the clone tools, and scale layers. Man, I hate computers sometimes.

Hope you work some magic in your favorite medium soon.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

I have a favourite pencil.
I stole it from my brother.
He was also an architect and it is a technical pencil for drawing straight lines.
But is mine now and I will never give it back.
I can draw squigly lines with it.

I call it re-cycling.

It is sacred (and mine).

Melinda said...

I have a 'brother' in Scotland.
He is a fine artist.
Writing is his other talent.
It is all his,
even with an accent,
He lightens the world.

Sending you a hug, flying over the pond, clearly and without any ash.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Flying hugs back to you to, wee sis!

Barbara Muir said...

I love this. Your talent is worthy of honour. I didn't know you do stained glass, but then in a way I'm not suprised. So magnificent each project you take on. Super artist rides again. If sacred has any meaning, then the earth must be our definition. Happy Belated Earth Day.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo Barbara

cohen labelle said...

Melinda this is an inspired, splendid thought provoking post!

I must admit I only knew it was earth day because I read it in the Toronto Star Thursday morning. A day is hardly enough. Do you think perhaps we need something drastic like Earth Year on a collective basis to tackle the huge environmental issues that loom before us?

Melinda, I salute your pencil. The pencil is indeed a noble tool. I knew an artist who always swooned over his wolff’s 3b carbon pencil and used it as an argument or proof for the existence of God. His practice was to cut his pencils in half so as to be the perfect hand held length, and chisel one end to a fine point. He had a large mug filled with them ready to go. Then I knew another artist, an atheist, who felt that the eraser, if there was a god, was god’s gift to the artist. For me it’s my serrated wire tools that I use for cross-hatching on clay and Italian rasps for plaster. And the wonder of it all is that this is all old technology!

As you know I am inspired and fascinated by your mail art projects! I hope by now the clouds have shifted to the east and your mail art piece is well on its way to completion!
XO Marcia

Melinda said...

I'm so glad you agree, Barbara, about the sacredness of the earth.

It's a wonderful thing for us artists to honor each other and, especially, the art that we do. We administer healing to the world and to ourselves as we continue to make art and share the work.

Virtual hugs and best wishes for the earth!

Melinda said...

Yes! Let's begin to think of the sacredness of the earth and respond with respect each and every day! I wonder how our perspectives might change if we declared "Earth Year." Wow. I like your idea.

I'm touched by your friends' two different experiences with their favorite pencils and erasers. There is such poignancy in their views. Really love those stories!

You make another important point: the tools we often love the most are of old technology. They are tactile and they have personality.

You're such an inspiration to me and yes, the clouds are leaving and I'm on the project again. It may take a few weeks to get it done, sent out and then permission to share, but I will as soon as I am able.

Until then, I think I'll paint something too.

Looking forward to visiting your blog and seeing what you're up to!

Jeffrey J. Boron said...

Ah sweet nostalgia...Happy Earth Day to you every day Melinda...your thoughts on the sacredness of Mother Earth highlight for me the fact that as a whole we humans have lost touch with her and sadly continue to hole our own boat...


"Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste to the sky as well as the earth!"
(Henry David Thoreau)

"Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children."
(an Indian proverb)


Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Jeffrey, for such a thoughtful reply and beautiful quotes. I'm in total agreement.

You are helping to honor all that is sacred in the world with your fantastic artwork.

Linny D. Vine said...

Melinda, that missing mechanical pencil may be magical but you definitely are! Happy belated earth day and happy honoring of her and you and your magicalness!(I'm still doing the cool style finger snappin' for another of your amazing creations.)