Category Archives: Muse

Walk with Me Here

Rearranging furniture in my living room today, something I used to do a lot of when I was younger. I don’t have a lot of options because I have a very large, heavy slab of giant sequoia sitting on three rocks as a “coffee table”. Finding ways to work within the confines of this massive presence, that I cannot move without big help, and the fact that it’s just me to do the moving — again.

Stopped to check email and found a link from Robert Wilkinson at Aquarius Papers talking about the dance between the planet mercury and the sun happening right now…with mercury in direct motion, racing ahead of the sun (making a “superior conjunction”)…he says, “At this conjunction, mind is no longer following life, trying to catch up to it. Now mind races forward as herald, catching glimpses of knowledge, perception, and understanding that shows us where life is headed in the near future….we’ll use the ‘fusion of life and mind’ to reconstruct, repair, and/or restore harmony, balance, and connections between the individual and the collective, and the links between the conscious and unconscious sides of life. This could mean links within us related to the past and some social wreckage we went through, or restoring some sort of inner harmony related to past ‘storms.’ Any repair or reconstruction work we do can show us the constructive results of prior destructive events that stimulated us to new accomplishments.”

Many people think the country is in big trouble (few political details needed) with waves of hopelessness, disgust, intense judgment of others, bullets flying for real and masquerading as words, spoken and written, with the real intention of causing harm to all life forms. I want to race beyond these old stuck mind-sets, personally and collectlively, and begin to live again in ways never-before-seen.

[“Walk with Me Here” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort]

Three wishes…

[Looking for a genie in a bottle.]

1.   I wish I had made this art work.
2.   I wish I could make work like this in my own words.
3.   I wish I could see this work in person.

Simon Evans

(for larger images go to this page click on image and then enjoy portfolio)

Everything I Have, 2008
Pen, paper, scotch tape, white out
60 1/4 X 40 1/8 inches

Symptoms of Loneliness, 2009
Pen, paper, scotch tape, correction fluid
28 1/2 X 39 3/8 inches

One Hundred Mix CDs for New York, 2008
Mixed media
57 1/4 X 79 1/4 X 2 1/2 inches

The story behind the art…

Saw a wonderful Indie movie on PBS last night called “Between the Folds” about the art of paper-folding (origami.) One artist, Chris Palmer, talked about how we only see about 1/3 of the art in any final artwork hung on a wall.  The real part of the art itself, the other 2/3, is in the making of it. This process is much more than the art itself. As he talked about this, he was carefully folding, unfolding, refolding about an 18 in square piece of paper for 5 hours as they filmed him.

Seeing the process of the art-making, or actually doing it yourself, is the profound part of the art: the story of it.  This is what the Three Rivers Artists’ Studio Tour is about, giving you glimpses of this process. It is about the artist and the space called the Studio, and what happens there because of the movement of the artist’s hands. Come to the Studio Tour on March 19-20-21 and let yourself be inspired to sprout the artist within you.


More of the paper folding art:

Chris Palmer

Paul Jackson

Vincent Floderer

See links and descriptions of all the paper artists in the film here.

More ABC’s

from Google Earth taken over the Netherlands
via boingboing

Poetry: the land speaks and a cowboy listens

John Dofflemyer, another  “stream” from the Kaweah Land and Arts Festival, steward, rancher, poet living on Dry Creek in the Kaweah River Watershed:

This poem was posted September 21, 2009 on his Dry Crik Journal


I grope in the shadows, run my hand
along the familiar and feel the soft
moss on forgotten piles of granite.

Surely a thread of grace appears
here in the half-light, illuminated
between the stone-cold dead

and the musty smell of living –
surely there is some solace
missed by the genius of science

in these scattered, fractured ruins
where I may rest my head and relax.
Off in the valley, bright head and

red tail lights stream urgently
to the churning wind above me,
the wings of ravens returning

from the fields, a squadron strung
high for miles to the oak trees
beyond the ridgelines we never see.

©John Dofflemyer

Do you want some Dry Crik poetry books on your personal library shelf?
Find them here.

More from the land and arts festival…

Paul Buxman: painter and farmer from Dinuba

At the Kaweah Land and Arts Festival, Paul talked gently and reverently about his work and life.  He told us to live our life and then paint it, so that the art-making really becomes secondary to the actual living itself.  Many artists “live” for their art, instead letting the art emerge from the simple living of the life.  I loved having the wafts of oil paint scent come across the air at Kaweah Oaks Preserve as Paul painted on Saturday.

When you meet Paul one of these days, ask him to tell you about lazy susan on his kitchen table.




About Paul, from his website:

Farmer and Artist Paul Buxman has been farming and painting the San Joaquin Valley for over 40 years. His dedication to discovering sustainable farming methods have influenced people world wide. He has been the subject of many documentaries including National Geographic, PBS, Sixty Minutes, Bill Moyer, CBS Nightly News, California Heartland, Canadian Public Broadcasting, Australian Public Broadcasting and many local news broadcasts.

His art has had a strong impact on many people in America, not just collectors, but on other painters as well. He teaches and “preaches” simplicity and honesty as key to great art. He encourages others to paint what they know. “Painting should be a visual autobiography. Paint those subjects with which you are the most intimately acquainted.”

Paul works primarily in oil, but he also works in pastel.

He has held exhibits at the Fresno Art Center, The Hanford Art Center, The Haggin Museum in Stockton, The Bakersfield Art Museum, The Modesto Art Museum, The Great Valley Center in Modesto and the beautiful Villa del Sol d’Oro in Sierra Madre, California.

His works have been displayed in the Senate Chambers in both Washington, D. C. and California. His paintings are in small and large, public and private collections throughout the United States of America.

The palmistry of mountains…

There comes a time…

when you see something that pretty much sums up everything,

when you are gifted a glimpse, ever so feebly, of your life from so broad a perspective you may as well be looking down from the moon,

when poet people from the past show up in today, and the past is changed, like time moves backwards instead of forwards (which it does sometimes),

and you know the place where you live so well that you can point to the exact spot, on a map with no road signs, no town names, no boundaries of any kind…but just fine black, delicate lines, tracing the wrinkles, like in a human palm, of mountain and valley, where water has had the audacity to rush and drop over rocks and sand, seeping into roots of willow, sycamore, and mugwort (used by local Native Peoples as the equivalent of holy sage.)

Tonight I pin-pointed exactly where I live, on such a map, offered as “art” in a 12 foot, or more, by 6 foot, or more, lithograph quilt of the Kaweah Watershed, “hung” on a gallery wall.

Headliners for the Kaweah Land and Arts Festival on November 6-8, artist Matthew Rangel and writer/photographer John Spivey are exhibiting lithographs and photographs throughout November at Arts Visalia Gallery, 214 E. Oak, Visalia CA, open Wed-Sat 12-5 pm.

10DueEastfromMoroRock-largeStronghold – Due East from Moro Rock, lithograph
©Matthew Rangel

John Spivey
“We are part of something so profound that to call it random acts of chaotic probability, or to alternatively call it God, simplistically reduces this profundity to a shadow of what it really is. The ultimate answer to this environmental question is that we all have to learn how to live in relationship with this profound nature of life.”

©John Spivey, from exhibit at Arts Visalia “Luminosity of Stone
see also,

Spivey is author of The Great Western Divide, CrowsCry Press 2006.
“Is your mind abundant? How has it come to its present state of being?  Is is full of the nuance and fluidity of life or is it rigid and barren, painful and lonely?  It is never too late to come back to the fullness of who you really are, to come back to knowing.  Are you willing to restore the abundant landscape of your mind, maybe restory it? Is there an original story, one without words, only just knowing? Put another log on the fire if you wish to go further into all of this.  You need to stoke the fire a little for yourself.” page 45


New work ©Elsah Cort one of nine images finished today
in the form of 5X5 inch cards in a series called Square One.

Digital collage
from original mandala painting
and photograph of Kaweah River at my favorite swimmin’ hole
at the home of friends who live on Dinely Drive in Three Rivers.

Out on a limb…

Addendum image for previous post called
Dreaming up art…always in the long now


cover of The New Yorker, October 5, 2009
called “On the Edge” by Gürbüz Dogan

Kinetic Photography: something new to try?

Here is where I first came across the notion of kinetic photography, also known as camera tossing.  This is very intriguing to me.  Not sure if I have the guts to try it yet. May just try shaking, bouncing, moving the camera without the toss.  Could call it camera-dancing!

mtnrockdhh_5 mtnrockdhh_9 clickykbd_1
photo sources, left to right El Ray, Matt Gorecki, Quinet

Read a blog totally dedicated to camera tossing by Ryan Gallagher.

How to do it from his instruction page where to see more details: “My best tip is to start indoors, although there are many opportunities for great tosses outdoors, indoor tossing enables you to create a safer more controlled environment in which you can start to experiment. Find a simple light source such as a lamp or TV, about 5ft away from this place cushions (or anything else soft) on the on the floor then kneel down, holding the camera just above them. Toss the camera about a foot into the air and press the shutter as late as you can before letting go, being careful to toss the camera straight up. Then let the camera do all the work while you concentrate on the catch!”

Living walls…green art

Getting ready for the Three Rivers Environmental Weekend this Saturday and Sunday with the Green Home Tour, where I will be hosting a booth for the California Native Plant Society…..and also looking forward to the cooler temperatures coming in tomorrow and this week and knowing that soon I will be able to work out in the garden again without the stifling heat….plants are on my mind.

Here is my latest “foundling” online
from artist EDINA TOKODI who paints with plants:


her succulent wall in Brooklyn originally seen on

Dreaming up art…always in the Long Now

Just some notions to share from a 9 year old essay by Brian Eno, one of the founders on the Long Now Foundation.

Humans are capable of a unique trick: creating realities by first imagining them, by experiencing them in their minds. When Martin Luther King said “I have a dream…” , he was inviting others to dream it with him. Once a dream becomes shared in that way, current reality gets measured against it and then modified towards it. As soon as we sense the possibility of a more desirable world, we begin behaving differently – as though that world is starting to come into existence, as though, in our minds at least, we’re already there. The dream becomes an invisible force which pulls us forward. By this process it starts to come true. The act of imagining something makes it real.

This imaginative process can be seeded and nurtured by artists and designers, for, since the beginning of the 20th century, artists have been moving away from an idea of art as something finished, perfect, definitive and unchanging towards a view of artworks as processes or the seeds for processes – things that exist and change in time, things that are never finished…..Artworks in general are increasingly regarded as seeds – seeds for processes that need a viewer’s (or a whole culture’s) active mind in which to develop. Increasingly working with time, culture-makers see themselves as people who start things, not finish them.

Read the full essay on the long now website.

(Here is a ted talk video about the long now 10,000 year clock from Stewart Brand)

Contemplation of the long now reminds me of this image:
(I use this image in my burnout retreats as a vision of learning to deal with burnout in ways not always clear or easy to follow–a lesson in trusting.)


art by Quint Buchholz, see his website (in German)

Saturday afternoon grazing…

Visiting some of my favorite blogs….resting and keeping cool……waiting for summer to be truly over……and for rain to soak the earth again….(talked with bed and breakfast guests from New York the other day and we were contemplating the practicality of building an aqueduct from east to west to carry all the rain water they don’t want to my back yard)…reading more blogs like but does it float? and Hello Bauldoff and the design blog where I failed the cheese/typography test wishing I could eat the cheese and see the typefaces…all this while the cat, Milly, licks my leg for a brisk cat tongue massage (sorry to get so personal, but it is part of now)…while Sleepless in Seattle, on TV for the 1027th time, provides a background soundtrack and keeps referring to magic and tierra misou which I don’t think I can spell, but also would like to eat, even though I’d rather have chocolate…telling myself that my break is almost over and I need to get back to sorting and sifting the studio stuff all fluffed up with the new floor going in……
and finally, here’s this:


folded paper typface by Daniell Spint via Hello Bauldoff


**tweeting this stuff @Cort_art
while the TV sings to me “give me a wink and a smile.”

and a break isn’t a break without a visit to @badbanana

Human innovation is the camera…

These rocks and earth-forms were originally sun-warmed water.
Were they not?
Then the planet cooled and settled to what we are now


“Hideaway” digital art by Inga Nielson
[all over google images as a photo of the sun and moon at the North Pole]


from the website of German astrophysics student,
Inga Nielsen
(age 20 something)

My name is Inga Nielson and I welcome you to my homepage Gate to Nowhere. Many of the images in these galleries were done with a programm called TerraGen, a scenery generator, which was developed by Matt Fairclough. You can download a freeware version of the program at Planetside or at Terradreams. Most of the images are postworked with Photoshop. Parts of the landscapes and scenes are painted with a graphics tablet and some images are painted entirely. Additionally I use Matte Painting to create the scenes that come to my mind.

Mandala as Living Organism


A microscopic photograph of a marine diatom alga
Actinoptychus heliopelta

made by Dr. Stephen Nagy of Helena, Montana

“Diatoms are microscopic, unicellular organisms that occur abundantly in marine and freshwater plankton. They form a major part of the food chain. The body is composed of two halves, which fit together like a tiny pill box. The cell walls contain silica, which is preserved in deposits known as siliceous or diatomaceous earths (ooze). Once hardened into rock it is called diatomite. The high porosity of this rock enables it to be used for filters, fillers and as a mild abrasive.” source

from the Encyclopedia of Life


Read more about these living mandalas.

Thank you to @lilalabs and @bcultral who tweeted this morning about these images: Microscope Photography
(very strange and beautiful images)

A font library from the past

The Medieval version of a font library found in a 500 year old book, that was probably used as a sample book of alphabets, is now on public display. The Macclesfield Alphabet Book from the 1500’s has been acquired by the British Library.  Its existence was unknown until recently, having been in the family library collection since 1750.  It has 14 different alphabets illustrated decoratively with human faces and other embellishments.


Dr Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, said:

“The acquisition of the Macclesfield Alphabet Book is tremendously exciting, as it is the most complete set of designs for manuscript decoration known to have survived from late-medieval Britain. The ‘abcs’ are wonderfully illustrated – including letters formed using animals and people – and I hope that those who go to see it on display at the British Library will be captivated by its inventiveness, and that researchers will begin an interesting debate on its origin, models, and function.”



(information and images gathered via and today’s press release from the British Library)

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes: books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. 


I love words.  Mostly English ones for now, since it is the language I speak. I love letters, typefaces, that is, also known as fonts in our computerized cosmos. If someone on twitter tweets with links to anything with the word “typography” in it, I have to immediately check it out.  I enjoyed watching the movie, Helvetica, named after the most popular typeface of all times (so far.)

I used to do a lot of writing, printing very neatly in a kind-of cursive combo, with my own hand (nurses had to write a lot of nurses notes.) I have also been known to cut out words and phrases from magazines and newspapers and later add them to small collage statements (that don’t always make sense.)  Lately, it has mostly been a tap dance with fingers on a keyboard (so glad now, but not then, that I was forced to take a typing class in the 60’s in high school because girls had to grow up to be secretaries in those days (or nurses)) with the laptop for summer blog reveries. I still have not really figured out how to use the font management software I paid extra for so I could have thousands of alphabets at my command.

Now I come across this Alphabet made by a photographer from France, Bela Borsodi, first seen on blog called HELLO BAULDOFF (via twitter and all that jazz.)  Looking forward to the book to be printed in this typeface.


Accidental landscape

How many computers does a real artist need?  At least more than one.

the not-far-fall of July 5

the not-far-fall of July 5

[……visit the forest for another view……]

So much depends…

So much depends on the arrival of a new scanner to replace the one the came several weeks ago which scanned with such poor quality that I had to research how to to return items to amazon for the first time in all these years of being unable to resist buying things over the internet especially after a pleasant call to someone who works at amazon who told me I had just a few days to return the old-but-new-to-me scanner by July 6 with the free return UPS mailing label they gave me to print on my printer and tape to the original scanner box which thankfully I saved and could carry quite easily to the UPS store in Visalia requiring the obligatory forty-five minute drive to do other errands besides the UPS store feeling so sorry that our local UPS source was closing after being known at Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs while apparantly not being able to sustain a profit adequate enough in these so-called “tough economic times” to stay open also long enough for me to bring in some new cards I will be making as a local Three Rivers artist using the second new scanner that is coming again from amazon just because they do make it so easy to buy from them along with mostly cheaper prices than anywhere else and listening to or rather reading the comments about the epson scanner I have now ordered and will apparantly arrive on Tuesday that is supposed to be good if you don’t use the epson software but the ICE software to scan negatives albeit slowly so they say but I don’t really care about time these days as I gave up counting time while still releasing old patterns of daily panic thoughts about what I am supposed to be doing with my life and how I appear to others which is the biggest waste of time my mind often flounders in as something I have seen as a leo curse and constant distraction since not one of us has an unfiltered view of each other so we are often not knowing each other in ways that we could especially for the artists in us who are supposed to see the heart of things as society often likes to tell us we can do even though our views that become actual objects of art don’t always make the grade at the least the grade we like to put on ourselves as we are the ones who can’t see our real selves the most and it really depends on how and if we do this truth telling so we’d all be much better off as we grow up adding touches of kindness and a few dashes of fun loving spirit along with some more-often-than-we-do-it-now washing of desparately dirty windows necessary to all aspects of daily living so we could totally ecstatically enjoy this being human…..

Mandala that tweets


Tweet Wheel

Life is a circle that spirals.
Often we re-visit issues thought to be over.
They come around in new form if we need a message.

this morning’s Burnout Blip from @thedeeperwell

About the Tweet Wheel from “Unfortunately, TweetWheel no longer exists (its domain, is now just a parked domain with a bunch of ads). However, it was one of the most beautiful Twitter visualizations out there, and Twitter app directory Twitdom still has an image of the tool in action.”

The tried and true…

May 21, 2009

To the Editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham

Dear Mr. Meacham,

Watching my pennies these days (which is not the emphasis of this letter) I have been thinking I would miss my Newsweek if I did not renew my subscription.
Now seeing my last May 25 issue,  Newsweekcover I can comfortably release the desire for a subscription because the magazine I thought I would miss is already gone. Poof!

This negative response to the new format is not just because I am too accustomed to the now old format.  It is not because I am resistant to change.  It is because this new one feels fake, full of pretense and is a jumble of typefaces (maybe it is just the enlarged red words in some of titles. No, it is also the content page that is unreadable, even with my reading glasses.)

Sometimes the tried and true is the tried and true.

This new form is over designed and something is just not right with it.  I don’t think it will save your magazine in print.

I find your website much easier to read than this new magazine, so I will still read some of your offerings, but I won’t be paying for a subscription renewal.

Thank you for the past years of enjoyable and thought-provoking reading in print.

Write a new chapter in the story of stuff…

A notion about recycling stuff…change it into art.

Don’t put it in the recycling bin or the trash can.  Hang it on the wall or wear it or sit on it or grow a plant in it or send it as a handcrafted greeting card or make it into a book cover or hang your earings on it or hang it on your ears or frame a photograph with it or hang it on your Christmas tree or put it on your birthday cake or teach your children with it or trade with someone else for a their stuff as new art media or just make it useful in itself once again.

Transform the consumer/consume/discard economy, which is already crashing as I write, to an art-based economy.

Here is a something you can watch: the story of stuff


Become a master collage artist using the stuff of this life.

This is art…from Sulamith Wulfing

images images-3 images-4 images-2 images-11

Sulamith Wulfing is the creator of these artworks.  She lived in Germany from 1901 to 1989.  She started painting at age 4 and died at age 88.

I discovered her work in the mid 1970’s at a book shop on Colorado Boulevard in Glendale.  I still have all the postcards and greeting cards I found so many years ago.  At that time, I could not find out anything about her, did not even know if she was a she. Then my good friend found the now out-of-print book, The Fantastic Art of Sulamith Wulfing edited by David Larkin (I see it is going for $160 on amazon) and part of the mystery of Sulamith was revealed to me.  She said she saw these beautiful angels and fairies when she was a child and often drew from memory.  She spent her early childhood only in the presence of her Theosophist parents and did not play with other children, but alone for hours in the magical forests of Germany.

A few years after finding the original images, I moved to Three Rivers and met my dear friends, photographer, Gene Gray, and his wife, Marion, who upon seeing a few of my Sulamith cards, opened a drawer and out came her cherished collection of many of the same images.

Marion and Gene and Sulamith are all gone now, but the images of Sulamith Wulfing are all over the internet, on cards and posters and little books, and I still have some of Gene’s photographs (wish I had more.)

Who will be seeing and savoring our work in the years to come?
Don’t forget your work is not really your own, and it may have a life much longer than you.

Share it generously and fully.

more about Sulamith…


buddhapetalsweb I give up. What’s next?

My grandfather, an earlybird pilot, Walter E. Lees, brought this buddha back from China in the 1940’s. I never got to talk to him about where and how he found this. He died when I was 7 (and I knew nothing about Buddha to ask questions.) He did give me my first beer, though, and he was also left-handed. Me, too.

Can I see the forest for the trees?


Another blog…..another blog….another blog….another blog…..another blog….another blog….another blog