Saturday, June 28, 2008


Tombstone Richard Atwell 1828 - 1873
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Last week I took a brief look in the General Protestant Cemetery in St. John's, which is one of the original cemeteries for this city, dating back to the early 1800s. There are a number of relatives buried there from my mother's paternal side of the family and I did a quick search to see if I could find any headstones. I did locate one, of a great, great uncle, (I think) who was master mason, involved in building the Gower Street Wesleyan Church. He unfortunately died from a fall while building the church shortly before it was complete in 1873. His tombstone is a testament to the art of stone masonry, being tall, columnar with ornate carving and precise deep lettering that has survived more than 130 years.

In the late 1800s hospitals tended to be for infectious diseases and doctors instead made house calls, so most individuals were confined to their own homes when ill. However, the thought of broken bones, possible head or internal injuries, being moved from the church to his house and the pain involved for this man leading up to his death, just makes me shudder.

Whether I have connections to family members or not, I have always found cemeteries very interesting places, especially the older ones that are full of history and much potential for sketching. Some people think this is a bit odd, but I like to explore and enjoy the amazing sculptural shapes of monuments, reading the headstones and imagining life in the mid 1800s in St. John's.

I hope to go to this cemetery again tomorrow if the weather holds and do a more thorough search for more headstones. I have great, great, great, great grandparents that I would like to have more permanent records of. Many headstones have been ravaged by time and weather and I intend to take some newsprint and charcoal with me to do some rubbings. Once a weak point has been found in a carving or headstone and it topples, the information on it is gone forever.

There are more tips on headstone rubbings and other methods of capturing headstone carvings here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Herbal art

You wanted something?

The weather finally warmed up and Tripod decided to bake his little brain in the greenhouse. I found him asleep on a shelf, tucked in between shelves of begonias. He slept the afternoon away there in nearly 30C temperatures. He's an odd cat...

Meanwhile I inspected my herb garden to see what's survived the winter. I need to move my medicinal herb bed and either eliminate or at least restrain some plants which are threatening to take over. All the rain this year has made things very lush and now the heat has them rocketing upwards.

I harvest the herbs just as they flower as that is when the oils are at their peak point. They are then dried in a shady place to preserve colour and oils as much as possible. The objective is to have a dried imitation of the original plant, not a browned leaf that shatters at a touch.

One of the herbs that has done well is Blue Vervain. This herb has beautiful blue spires of flowers that look glorious in a group as they are now.

I counted thirty varieties of medicinal and culinary herbs currently in the garden and I want to record them in more than a simple photographic way. I found little blank paged book with 24 double sided pages which I must have bought some time ago but that got stuffed away in my art cupboard. I'm considering filling this book with 24 different medicinal herb drawings and perhaps some writing about the herb to go with each drawing. I'll create a cover and back for the book and it could be an interesting piece both in terms of art and herbal medicine.

I'll aim to see what I can come up with during July. Watch this space. I have visitors this week so its slowing both my drawing and blogging, but this is a long weekend for me, so I'll play at catch up then.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Laptop sleeve design

I bought a new laptop a couple of weeks ago and have been searching for an interesting travel case for it. There are endless utilitarian black cases on the market and some outrageously expensive coloured ones. I have been toying with the idea of making my own case using fabrics padding and the deconstruction of an old leather coat, but never seem to have enough time to work out the logistics of it

Then I came across Skooba Design. They have produced a cream coloured Skooba Skin laptop sleeve that I can draw my own design on! There are some designs shown on the site and I love this Muppet drawing. The possibilities are endless, and it could be a perfect marketing tool for my art as well as a design piece in itself. I could create a main drawing looping around the sleeve or do a series of small ones. I could incorporate the shape of the bag into a drawing.

Markers are used to create the designs from what I can understand at this point but it may be open to experimentation. However, I would imagine that markers would be the most permanent solution to a bag that would be handled. I wouldn't want my efforts disappearing after being used a few times or being caught in a shower of rain.

I've ordered one of the bags to fit my new laptop and now will have a week or 10 days to wait while it ships from New York. Meanwhile I can play with designs and figure out what I will draw on the sleeve once it arrives.

I did a little more research and found a number of websites that offer unique designer laptop sleeves.

Then there are the 'do-it-yourself' laptop sleeves to create.

Knitted Aran laptop sleeve
Laptop bag
Felted laptop sleeve

And not forgetting the Macs


I have finished my 1460 portrait. I'm not 100% pleased with it, as I haven't been able to get a good smooth dark background. And it looks even worse once scanned. But I'm calling it done and don't want to fiddle with it anymore or it will just get worse. As well the tooth of the paper has taken all the graphite that it can hold so there's no point in frustrating myself.