Book Review: Colors of the Immortal Palette by Caroline M. Yoachim (three stars)

Book Review: Colors of the Immortal Palette by Caroline M. Yoachim (three stars)

(Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)

“You are the foreigner they fear. The outsider.” “And a woman besides,” I mutter. “If I don’t carve out space for myself, they will steal whatever inspiration they like from my culture and my art and erase me from the conversation.”

Interesting concept: The twentieth and twenty-first centuries as seen by a mixed race immortal who hangs out (mostly) in Paris and Chicago. She’s an artist, hence the palette trope. Well done perspective and inner voice.

“The coldness of a headline that speaks not of the people killed but of the power the American country now wields.”

Quibble: the protagonist knew everything that happened as soon as it happened. In real life there’s more uncertainty. For example, the first use of an atomic bomb.

“The new generation isn’t weighed down by centuries of history, the experience of how far we’ve come. Their basis of reference is the time of their childhood, not of mine.”

Yoachim got the perspective right, especially her disconnect from the new generation’s point of view. Wanted to like Mariko.

“As a tree grows, so too do its roots.”

(2022 Hugo Awards novelette finalist)

Book Review: The Art of Stars Wars: the Mandalorian by Phil Szostak. (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Art of Stars Wars: the Mandalorian by Phil Szostak. (Four Stars)

“These stories were something that I had been working on for a long time. I didn’t know it would be for television. But I loved the idea of doing a story [after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi.” Jon Favreau

This book will appeal to three, possibly overlapping, sets of people: fans of Stars Wars, those who have noticed and liked the art displayed with the closing credits of The Mandalorian television series, and those curious about the creation prop and set designs. All three should be satisfied with one caveat: the text font is so tiny and thin it impedes reading the text. So what, you say, this is about the art. Well, yes, but the text deserved better treatment.

“While flipping through these pages I am transported back in time, not just to 2018 but all the way back to 1977. We’ve honored George Lucas’s design philosophy in order to realize Jon Favreau’s bold new vision.” Doug Chiang, executive creative director

The book follows the creative process tracing The Mandalorian back to its roots in spaghetti westerns, samurai classics, and Boba Fett and IG-11. The artifacts spring from World War Two and Gulf War aircraft, ancient firearms, and assorted machine parts. The evolution of the title character’s armor and the Yoda child are especially interesting.

“Our ambitions can make the Force into something terrible even when our intentions might have been good. The Mandalorian has a choice: do his job … or take this lost child in and protect it, become it’s guardian.” Dave Filoni

Book Review: Fresh Watercolour by Ray Campbell Smith Four Stars


Book Review: Fresh Watercolour: Bring Light to Your Painting by Ray Campbell Smith

Four Stars

Sorry, no quotable quotes. Smith writes well, but it’s a lot like reading assembly directions–they only make sense to one doing the assembling.

The pictures, on the other hand. Should be enjoyable to anyone who likes art, and watercolor in particular. Smith demonstrates how to get luminescent skies and depth with a minimum of busyness in paintings. (I can’t insert illustrations without violating his ownership rights, of course. See cover art.)

A Good Quarter for Art

Hatteras Then

My self-supporting hobby—as opposed to my money-pit writing hobby—is painting in watercolors.

I took up watercolors in 2003, under the tutelage of Susan Hinton, NWS. Since then I have joined the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society, the Virginia Watercolor Society and the Lee Artists Association.

I paint with transparent pigments (no white or black) on watercolor paper and canvas. As you can see, my approach reflects my former years of painting oils. I like dramatic contrasts and fully-saturated colors, taking advantage of a few tricks which only watercolor allows.silver maple burst sm

My paintings have been selected for inclusion in the Great Eight Exhibition (Wichita, KS), the Rocky Mountain National (Golden, CO), the Western National (Grand Junction, CO), the International Watermedia (Colorado Springs, CO), several annual Virginia Watercolor Society member shows, and other exhibits in Colorado, Kansas and Virginia. I often exhibit at Windermere Art Gallery in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Ashland Winter 2 smRecently I exhibited a one-man show at Westminster-Canterbury Richmond, a retirement community, and sold four paintings, the most I’ve ever sold at a single event. Thumbnails of those paintings accompany this article.


three irises 2 sm

The banners that rotate over the top of this blog are details from my paintings. Other samples of my art may be from at my gallery on Flickr.

I Wonder

dawe plexus 27

=========©gabriel dawe========

On August 25, 2012 Voyager I passed through the heliopause to become the first manmade object to enter interstellar space. Last week I read Einstein’s The Theory of Relativity and Other Essays. Saturday Treva and I viewed the WONDER exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D. C.

How do these events connect? Reading Einstein set me thinking about Voyager I because he claims real physics only applies in interstellar space—far from the interference of stars and the debris fields (including planets) which orbit them. Reflecting on questions of weight versus inertia, and reality versus theory, and art, I came to realize how little we know—about ourselves, about everything.

Avoiding math that would hurt my head, I understand that the great physics question of two last centuries was reconciling gravity and inertia. Einstein says the force that keeps an object at rest (or continuing in the direction it’s already going) is not the same as the force that apparently is pulling it downward from the surface of the earth. Yet they act simultaneously on everything.

Out beyond Voyager it’s empty and cold, but not dark. If you were riding on Voyager, you’d see all the stars we see—probably better. How does the light get there? Photons? Even way out there the mass of our Sun and other stars would tug on you. How? We don’t know.

Until late in the nineteenth century, scientists still referred to aether (not the chemical diethyl ether) as the material which filled space and carried light, gravity, etc. because they couldn’t figure out how light and gravity could cross nothing. Think about it. Before the concept of the photon as a massless carrier of light energy, scientists had no way to explain a phenomena we all experience daily. Even still, no one’s seen a photon. We just see the effects of their presence. Very pretty effects sometimes. As Gabriel Dawes’ plexus art at the Renwick or Crystal Bridges Galleries (above) illustrates.

Gravity poses the same problem. Scientists think/hope there may be gravitons that similarly “mediate” gravity. But there are problems with that idea. Too deep for me.

I look up at a night sky. How does light travel through nothing, unmeasurable unless it interacts with something, until it interacts with my retina, which sends nerve impulses to my brain, which presents an image to my consciousness (whatever that is), which “I” see as stars?

I do wonder.


Robert Genn (1936-2014)

Robert Genn died this week. Many never heard of him, but he visited a circle of artists twice each week by an email letter. His postings were both encouragement and instruction, leavened with a fair measure of philosophy.

His daughter Sarah plans to continue–has already started to continue the art letters.

“We live our short spans in the vortex of a miracle, and while we may not be the center of that vortex, it is magic to be anywhere in there.” Robert Genn

Farewell, Robert



Movie Review: Frozen (3 Stars)

Frozen Frozen

(3 out of 5 stars)

BEWARE: Spoilers

(Seen twice: once in theaters, once on Blu-Ray)

Whoever writes liner notes for Disney must be illiterate. “Walt Disney Studios presents a chilly twist on one of the most humorous and heartwarming stories ever told.” Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen”? I don’t think so. The original Snow Queen was more like the White Witch in C. S. LewisNarnia than the older sister of this adaptation. In fact, this entire story is pretty much cut from whole cloth. (Not that that’s a bad thing, and not that Disney hasn’t turned fairy tales inside out before–often to good effect.)

Making the protagonists sisters was genius. Continue reading

Olympic Finale

Hooray! The Olympics are over. We can go to bed at a decent time. They aren’t, you say? Well, to us, everything after the women’s figure skating final is a mere formality. While a good time wasn’t had by all, there was some really good performances and at least one questionable score. (See my previous posting about art at the Olympics.)

Yes, Eric showed us how to record the shows to view later. But, given our TV watching habits–or non-habits, we’d never watch them. WE hear some children have never seen commercials and think the TV is broke when one pops up because their parents always “fast forward” through them.

Now we can go to bed before 10 again. Nite ‘all.

And The East German Judge . . .

No event should be included in the Olympics which is scored by a judge. If finishing order or a clock or a tape measure is insufficient proof of who won, relying on the eyes and judgment of mere mortals moves the event from sport into art. I’m okay with art; I fancy myself an artist. I’m happy to have my work judged; I’m even happier to win. But that’s art–subjective. Sports should objective. Judges aren’t; can’t be.

Having said that, we enjoyed the Ice Dancing finals Monday night. I’m prejudiced (yes, me, too–we all are one way or the other) in favor of skaters who wore classical costumes and skated to Romantic (as opposed to romantic, and certainly Modern and modern) music.

The biggest problem with supposedly impartial judging is not political (like the infamous East German judge), but Continue reading