There are those who are angry at how Donald Trump is being treated. “They aren’t coming after me,” he told a crowd some time ago, “they’re coming after you.” Many Americans believe this is true and they will stand by a anyone who will stand by them.

The problem for the right is that the experts have betrayed those who look up to them time and time and time again. This erodes confidence in their expertise and makes people think their expertise has dwindled to one thing: expertise in manipulation.

The thing about manipulation is, it doesn’t work when those who are being manipulated catch on. There are those on the right ready to offer Trump up as a whole burnt offering to placate the outraged decencies of this decent country. And yet, he has been more manipulated than manipulating in the eyes of many, and this is for him political capital. The clumsy scheming for which he lives rent-free in the minds of many is what he most brings out in anybody who opposes him. Beware of opposing him!

The notion that Trump is too toxic is for those who are unwilling to represent what they’d like to think of as the fringe but is in fact a large part of the USA. The problem with taking the moral high ground is that it is hard from that limited territory to find sufficient common ground.

There are those who think they oppose him out of courage and not from lack of prudence. What does it say about their fine principles, however, when because they are so scrupulous about their bedfellows that they find themselves in bed with the left’s outrage machine?

President Trump is earning still more capital, and I predict he will proceed entrepreneurially with it. Those who are disgusted with their fellow-citizens for following him are in full cry again. They want principles of leadership, integrity, decency! Why, after all, would anybody choose to be born in this country if it were not, after due consideration, solely on its merits as a land of decency? Donald Trump is more in touch with all the varieties of what America actually is. And his knowledge of their circumstances is for him political capital. He can be sidelined to the role of kingmaker, but only if there is someone who has the strength to stand up and take the abuse like he does. Are there conservatives who can when so many are ready to dish it out instead?

In politics there is of course a lot of manipulation. With the internet, we can even pick whose manipulation we prefer by tuning out all the rest. But to assume that the divide is between those who manipulate and those who do the manipulating seems to be a fundamental miscalculation. It is a miscalculation that those merely signaling about the moral high ground are doomed to repeat.

There are people who clean the floors, who hand coffee and breakfast sandwiches through windows, who dig up the streets, who still smoke in bars, who install solar panels, whose career is in call centers or in what is starting to look like another dead end: driving vehicles. Many of them are decent in many ways, but many of them fall below the high-minded ideal of American decency. Who, after all, lives an ideal? There are people who have only learned by trial and error how to spend and save money, who live in a chaos or borderline chaos of disrupted families and situations in which a pretense of decency eludes them, who talk about their first bankruptcy and can’t keep their closest relatives straight because there all too many factors going into the calculation. Even John Podhoretz acknowledges, Trump says to Hillary Clinton’s deplorables: I like you, I like you, I like you. People should learn from Hillary Clinton how little political capital there is in activating reflexes of disgust and fears of contamination.

Now there is another unscrupulous attempt to peel decent people away from Trump. The problem is that if it is not decently done, it is going to backfire.

The shifting of the spectrum is interesting. Robert George has been watching Tulsi Gabbard and predicts she will switch parties and run next time. She’s getting poised to do so. She’s the only appealing candidate the left had to offer last time, and she did not appeal that much to the left. It may be that this intellectual dark web political coalition might pull enough together to launch an alternative, and perhaps she’s the figurehead at the prow of their accelerating ship. Perhaps there will be a new political party that is more representative.

Blue and Orange

I’ve not been a big one for cobalt blue until these last days when the hue seems to be growing on me. So blue stands opposite orange on the color wheel.

Orange & Blue

It is too bad some water fell on the bottom half and ruined the smoothness of the waters. Musing on this, it occurs to one that really the yellow should not be at the top. So one switches.


And here the disgrace is that the blending achieved of the yellow and cadmium red was lost by working on the bottom too soon and not watching as the orange ran down and formed too definite a line. So:


That’s more like it, except that my monitor isn’t doing a lot of justice to the range of hues, as if the thing were under the scrutiny of harsh, bad light. Not entirely successful of course, with things returning at the top that should have been left to dry; my thing with all this is that if only I were more patient, I might get better results. But that’s the way you want the yellow. However, one does not always pay attention to the things one is trying to get right, and so one accidentally produces something keepable (I’ve only ever done anything worth hanging onto accidentally):

Never Mind

You will see the orange has migrated to some lower conflagration. We have departed also from cobalt blue because phthalocyanine blue stains and so I like it for trees. Besides, it’s cooler, wintry, and so it seems it helps suggest the arboreal shade.

Towers for the Future

One of the reasons for the things that come out when I paint–the main one–is my limitations. Putting that aside arbitrarily, let us consider also this: John Lukacs when he speak of the future speaks of a new barbarism. I don’t doubt very much whatever is coming (and that’s more a present than a future) can be safely designated the new barbarism. So here are my visions for the future: towers for the epoch of new barbarism.

Too curvy.
Too curvy.

More like it.
More like it.

The lower window is a mistake.
The lower window is a mistake.

A whole future lansdcape. Those windows are wrong, but we are getting there.
A whole future lansdcape. Those windows are wrong, but we are getting there.

Of Trees

So now there are more trees in my life. Whatever else one says about central Ohio–and there really doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to say–the trees grow well here. Not that I copy them, but I study them and I love them.

I end up throwing away a lot of watercolors, and even though you were not really interested, I’m about to help you understand why. It helps me, at least, to plainly work out a thing or two; and if you have been reading this blog for any time at all you’ll realize that is the main function it has.

It all started with that other tree I surprised myself with recently. I’ve been working to recover something like it without much success at that stated goal, but with curious gains–none of which really add up to the same. This rabbity thing is the first watercolor I’ve done in the USA. It is more due to sprinkling wet paper with color as I opened dry tubes after long neglect.

Below, is a sky I wish I could produce more consistently. In this case, washing out the trees afterward was better than not. It is a ghostly thing that is sometimes left behind. The learning of that seems particularly endless (which makes it rich) because different colors react variously, because you can wash things out with running water, or soak them and gently rub things off, or take a soft sable brush to them, or a sponge, etc.

Please crop me!

So then I thought, what if I do the background, fade it, and then do the startling tree? That’s when I learned the overall shape of the tree matters. The first one below has a nice, startling tree with no very interesting overall branch structure (though I daresay individually some are pretty ok). The second is not much eh? But decidedly interesting grass.

Please just crop everything out but the grass!

Now on this next (especially compared to the previous thing) one feels one can again begin to believe in the concept of progress. Particularly happy seem to me the colors, especially considering not much else is. You see I faded parts of the tree (genius!), but just parts.

This last is getting somewhere, especially if I take and crop it. Actually, cropping may save more than this last one, but it is a useful option and especially since my scanner is too small for the size of paper I’m presently using.

The magical tree which produces not leaves, but color itself.

A Celebration Tree

Well, the good news yesterday was that there is no reason to keep me here after August. So I think we will probably return in September or October to the land of deciduous trees, neatly missing summer.

Won’t that be wonderful?

And in three days time there shall appear on the internet my Rodo inspired fiction of the ruler who turns into a roach. I shall not, however, link to it on the Lord’s Day. Monday will be time enough.


Well, nobody other than my mom may be interested, but one posts for one’s mom alone, doesn’t one?

I decided to do more skies and see if the sky would comment on the rest, given the preponderance. It is wonderful what blotting a wet wash will leave in the way of clouds.

So maybe there the sky was left to comment too much. One also from time to time thinks of the color scheme, and this one here is not bad. But one does feel the mountains need to be elaborated a bit.

It looks awfully good on the card. A personal favorite, though I’m not sure the proportions of each ridge work.

So there you have the skies offering a comment, eh? Wish I had used a smaller brush on the grass.

Nice sense of motion on those unmoving objects. Wizardy, it seems to me. If I could somehow do that for the trees . . .

There’s a color scheme to be pleased with. And what sky ever commented like that pink one? Well, maybe the following:

That’s one where I think that when I get good at actually painting any significant shapes, a significant shape would be rather interesting to have under that sky.

Without consultation, Katrina went and bought me some more watercoloring paper. You can see the texture. I think this is what everybody used to use in 1963.

The limited elements in this one make it a good one to keep working on. I have various things I want to try with those pines, one of which is getting them to resemble pines more.

Interesting what you can do, eh? I’m going to try a few more of that one.


I greet you, communicants. It has been a few days and lest you wander off into a dark wood of despair and self-hatred, some distractions I bring.

I have a new way of painting. The first fruits was the David cloud formerly displayed. To it may now be added a few pleasing results. I’m getting so good, I sometimes think, I ought to see about going to school for it.

This one is unambitious and not bad. The nice thing about being unambitious is that even if you don’t accomplish much, you don’t screw up as much.

The sky below is particularly felicitous eh? What was not quite so felicitous was the deer that ended up resembling a donkey and eventually mostly vanished, as you will no doubt be able to see.

The wife of me, a woman of taste, likes this below. I do too. I wish I knew what makes it a bit cartoonish, but I have not put my finger on it.

Speaking of putting one’s finger on it, the wife of me said this one looked like something for a Children’s book. It is dedicated to S.W. (if one may be permitted to dedicate, from time to time, a watercolor) who ought to know what Yggdrasil is.

And this last one is dedicated to premillennialists everywhere, especially E.W. who is a die-hard. I told him it is the closest I’ll get to it now.

A Cloud

Best cloud I’ve ever done. New paper, new way of taping the paper down, new brush, and quite the going over. I’m awfully proud of this here cloud.

And now, the artist looking old and crooked. Apparently the Icelandic sweater is more suggestive of a space suit to certain types of people.

Thanks to David for the picture. In honor of him and fundamentalism, I’ll call the cloud David.


Or perhaps you will say sienna or auburn–shades of brown. The thing with computers is you don’t know what people are getting. The Sap Green and its hues have had a rough time on my screen at least. What I did was notice that my Alizarine Crimson and Burnt Umber were the least used tubes, so I was generous with them and added in a little white, mixing variously as I went along till it was all mixed totally.

Every time I look at it I think, “Where are you riding O Riders of Rohan?” I think it is the mountains, but I’m not entirely sure why. I had to chop off the bottom as it became irremediable, but thus the thing was saved–which is what I really do: rescue things from the abysmal.

This one was painted and was nothing at all, with some dismally failed pines. So I waited for it to dry thoroughly and washed it thoroughly and then came back in the foreground with burnt umber and perhaps something else. Katrina said it looked like another planet and for that I am grateful.

Not much reserve (the white part you don’t paint) but just enough, eh?

And here a variation for those of you tired of trees or of mountains, trees and mountains in the winter.

I call this one Winter of Trees & Mountains. You’ll have to imagine harder to get the russet in it, I suppose, since its inclusion in this category is entirely gratuitous.

After the Season of Long Rain

After the rainy season comes the dry, which we are now enjoying. There is a richness of the color green, as it does not come fresh like when you have a spring. You have a renewing and a glory quite mature.

The skies then, in Bogotá are blue, the sun is clear, the pines shimmer green, and white clouds go slowly by. Between the buildings sometimes you see sunsets. I have a tree that when the sun’s behind it (it is squeezed between a tall house and the apartments across the way) its leaves are all mysterious, black and swaying in a dust of gold.

The highland sun is strong, but that is all. It does not get hot, we are too high for that. Never unpleasant indoors, and usually the breeze outdoors as long as you stay out of the blazing sun: unless you want the clear and blazing sun.

A pleasant place, this land, especially in these summer months of late December, January and February. Everybody at this point is on holiday too.

Here’s something which might be as it is down in the torrid Magdalena valley, where perhaps the trees begin to vanish into light, and in the fervent heat the elements begin to mingle.

Various & Sundry

This is the cleanup category. I’ll comment below the scan just to be inconsistent.

I painted this one out of a book, with the step by step. I like it because it reminds me of Columbus, OH. Columbus has all these wonderful metroparks in which I have spent about a third of my life. The winters there are mild, and the painting reminds me of November there. The great outdoors of the suburban cities of the USA is one thing I chiefly miss.

Not particularly noteworthy except to say it isn’t as bad as the worst of them and that I painted it while listening to John MacArthur defend credo-baptizm before a bunch of presbos.

Another one out of a book. I think I actually improved on the book. Later, I tried to repeat it and was unable. Felicitous the colors, eh? I sometimes paint with not enough colors out and trying to use up things: this one was not that way. Felicitous the sky. (Subsequently taken up in the internationally famous Triage Poetry winter issue ;)

I dreamed this. No kidding: the vague city, the orange sky, the yellow ochre in the lights. I added the lemon yellow but I dreamed that prussian blue. And I think the painting actually comes close to the dream: of course you know what things dreams are, and what made of, and how perhaps they change in the memory. But this one is no imitation–that I can tell. Lock, stock and barrel mine or at least given to me in visions of the night.

So I did a second take, with darker skies and on a smaller bit of paper. I added the cloud and now it looks like the city is dreaming, which is a pleasant consideration.

I wish I had known exactly how to add further still at an unearthly height, a luminary clock against the sky because it does seem to proclaim the time is neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.

Not that I’m above imitating even after the gods have visited me personally. One has a creative dream about twice in thirty-six years, it seems. The mountains above were not intended. The snow in the foreishground is not ok. Still, it is cold and urban and what could be better?

A bit less variation in color. It is on a card the size of a business card. More abstract the city, starker the winter, better the whole.

The End.


I wish I could get closer to what I’m after with trees. I probably just need to devote myself. Don’t see myself devoting to anything but my present job though. This first was drawn, then practiced on smaller pieces, then painted on this original drawing taken from something I googled.

One of the four practice pieces was this next. It reminds me of spring, which in my mind is always the dirtiest season of the year.

This is quite recent. Wish the bank weren’t botched, but the sky is good! I have a really hard time with pines.

Rain. Isn’t that green quite wet looking? And I was pleased with the relationship the mountains and the clouds set up. I don’t have violet or purple in the Brazilian set of paints which is what I started out with. I don’t remember exactly, but I reckon the mountain is the crimson and prussian blue of the clouds. That kind of thing helps.

This next was one of the earliest. I added around the trees–I mean I painted the trees first, not last–and pulled it off. I think part of my success in those days was that I listened to recorded books and so took my time. Ought to return to that when I go back to painting in great bouts.

And a more recent development with the same sort of invasion of yellow in mind. The purple there is Chinese.

See what you can do with watercolors? You can set up the background. I, however, seldom set up things as I did in this one.

This last is very recent. Nice twilightishness, eh? I’m very pleased with the trees, something about winter to the way they stand there aside from their leaflessness. It reminds me of the long journeys we would take from Minneapolis to Columbus; it was late afternoon usually when we got to Indiana; this reminds me of that a bit, except they don’t really have mountains in Indiana. I removed paint from the mountains to make them sheerer. I wish I had added a star or two to the darker parts of the sky. Maybe I still will.


Here is more of my artless drawing: the Ghashly House.

It has it’s own charm, doesn’t it? It also has Lemon Yellow, the color I am lowest on.

I think what makes this next artless work is the white at the top. The whole thing is rather plain and rather devoid of effort, but it pleases me with its sense of winter hanging over everything.

And speaking of artless, this next one is a good example of what watercolors can do for the atmosphere. Nothing but a row of houses. The road somehow turned into a body of water, the lamp came out ok, but it was without true justification till the Azarin Crimson streaked the sky–rather obviously on the left–and charged the whole atmosphere.

The process for this next was that I did these cottages five times, each time drawing them a little better. Limited colors can be good, especially if you get the right ones together. Here, if I remember correctly, Burnt Umber and the Azarin Crimson.

When I get individual colors, and not a pack of tubes, I have to get Marigold or Magnolia or something like that. A good red, not one that makes you wonder like Azarin Crimson.

The nice thing about watercolors is that you can come back and charge the atmosphere, or leave, as in this case, cobbles in the waters that work. This one is simple, just that I tried wet on dry by waiting for the first stages to finish. It is an early work, but I’m still fond of it. I think I googled some place in Wales.


And one doesn’t always imitate. One gets tired, and it is rather fiddly. What about one’s own inner vision?

It hasn’t happened to me for years, but when I was a kid I used to have these dreams or nightmares of disproportion. In my own private language I called them Stompera, a sort of nightmare of disproportion involving an English noun with a Spanish ending otherwise known as Spanglish. I would dream of heavy leaden flowers on slender stalks, that sort of thing. I would wake up and it would be with me still, and at one point I thought it was because I would fall asleep with my arms under my pillow and cut off my circulation. I quit sleeping that way and have ever since been cautious. Anyway, this first one, with the light troubling that grey sky reminds me of that: not the flower/windmills or whatever they are.

Next, the city sort of crouching near a body of water, with some kind of subliminal, gigantic eagle to the right of it and a view that goes beyond the atmosphere above, caused by sprinkling salt on a still wet coat of prussian blue.

Is it a mad moon or is it the sun? What with the stars (removing the wet paint with a dry brush does that) one thinks of a moon. It also helps that the hut seems slightly (or not so slightly) misaligned, and that shadow is decidedly off. Weirdly, it all comes together–at least to me it does.

This next was such a fluke, and yet it is one of the paintings I’m most proud of–you may have seen it before. The face was an accident, the blots of burnt sienna that invade the prussian blue dabblings, the anemone or whatever it is at the bottom the idle fiddling with a puddle. Then I saw it and boldly added the fish. The white was added to the wet blue and . . . behaved marvelously.

The psychotic Christmas tree. I have turned my attention now to providing seasonal interior decoration.


Google Iceland and you’ll get a lot of things worth painting. I have many, many Iceland failures in my swollen failure folder. But here are some successes. This little church is one. You can see my structures are artlessly drawn–one does not use rulers and one draws with a rather bold, irrevocable line rather than in tentative reiterated attempts. It gives the building a quality I like, like the good illustrations some children’s stories sometimes have. I guess I just have this natural talent for being artless.

Then there is the skyline of Reykjavik. I first did it small (sixth of a page, as with the church). . .

then it worked out large (whole page). . .

then I decided I was done with drawing it first and would get another angle. It came out flat, till I swiped it with this large, chinese brush that smells of cornsilk, and lo! There was rain and the colors took on drama somehow (I can honestly say that most of the good stuff I do is an accident).

And this last is not Iceland. I think it was the USA, but I tried not to make the houses look too American (no aesthetic appeal). Then it had nothing, till I removed paint and set the old cornsilk brush on it.

Cobalt blue on that one. Not a favorite but you can see it works there. I like the brightness of Phthalo blue, and I like the darkness of Prussian blue, and I have no other blues. Eventually, I want to at least include indigo.

Mountains, Gandalf!

I suppose it started with Icelandic mountains. These were sunset. I drew them in pencil before attempting this. One of the great things to do is not use a whole lot of colors.

I led up to this next gradually. Lots of attempts like waves, with increasing success like the incoming tide. Probably my final word on mountains. Wonderful how the color of the sky bled down into the mountains and not the other way around.

Along the way to these mountains, I had a lot of things my teacher objected to. She is not of the opinions that mountains should all be even, like so many heaps of pointy earth. I never asked her, though I did think it, whether or not she had ever considered what mountains created by dwarves digging in the vicinity would be expected to look like.

Little hut in the mountains, one of the few full page successes in this realm.

These mini chaps turn out well rather more frequently than not. Maybe it is the paper: it is business card type paper. Maybe it is that I have to be fiddly since they’re small. You’re probably seeing them at their actual size.

Yes, I’m rather pleased with the sky in the blue one. A bit tumultuous, eh?

And here is one that succeeds perhaps because of the lavender sky. You learn that the combination of colors you use can make or break the whole thing. It is very recent, the latest in my skill.