Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

For upcoming classes and events
visit my website –

Monday, October 19, 2015

New Work

I recently created two pieces for an upcoming exhibit of my work
The Moving Line : Calligraphic Expression  opening next month.
(See details below.)

I wanted to make something new that explored a visual idea
and my curiosity about the naming of things.

First I created a large calligraphic map of the Hudson River Estuary -
no roads, no towns, no human made borders - just the shapes and names of the waterways
and mountain ranges that feed into and surround this big river.

Around the border I wrote the names that had been given to the Hudson River by
the Iroquois, the Lenape and the Mohegan tribes - and the French, Dutch and English explorers -
and by Henry Hudson himself.

It was surprisingly difficult to find maps that provided this information clearly. 
(The person I spoke to at the Dept. of Environmental Conservation said that they had thrown out
most of their printed topographic maps and shifted to online downloads. ) 
Thanks to Erik Kiviat at Hudsonia for the loan of an old relief map of New York State
and a map by Gary Allen "The Hudson Estuary as Bioregion" from 1986.  

I painted in watercolor, gradually building up the elements of the design over hours,
contemplating and enjoying the forms of this watershed network as I worked. 
The slowness of the process was settling. I let the need for perfection relax
and the alive imperfect line unfurl.

Water Words

This past summer I read a book by Robert MacFarlane, a British nature writer, which included
a large glossary of words, a dictionary of "place-terms" collected from across the British Isles,
words that described the land forms, the waterways, the woods, the farms, the weather,
drawing from the Welsh, Gaelic, East Anglia, Scottish dialects and more. 

This glossary inspired me to begin looking for the old words interwoven with the Hudson Valley
rooted and handed down from the Dutch, English and Indian cultures. 
Was there a language of this landscape that I could gather and re-enliven through handwriting ?

I searched in the Local History Collections of the town libraries and spoke to elders
in the community. Words began to collect in my notebooks. For this upcoming show
I gathered all the terms I had found for water forms and wrote them out in a flowing watery way
with a big blue brushstroke coursing behind it all. 

The letters moved across the page, counterbalancing, maneuvering, lifting up and dropping down
like ripples in a stream. I wrote quickly, intuitively, sensing the whole while focused on the parts. 

I hope to continue the search for words that describe this landscape - old words, new words - 
celebrating the rich fluency of language that connects humans with place. 
By bringing handwritten letters into this mix the nature-based expressive imagery 
of the alphabet can be restored ! 

For anyone in the Hudson Valley here is the information about these upcoming events 
all happening at Unison Arts Center in New Paltz, NY .
For more information contact -

with Steve Gorn, David Lopato, Harvey Sorgen & Barbara Bash
Saturday November 7, 8 pm

THE MOVING LINE : Calligraphic Expression / Barbara Bash
Opening Sunday November 8, 4 - 6 pm
Exhibit will run through December 6

BRUSH SPIRIT / Barbara Bash
Saturday, November 21, 1 - 4 pm

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Crickets & Koi !

At the end of August I was deeply involved in a delightful arts and community event
at Sky Lake Retreat Center in Rosendale, New York.

The inspiration for this came from a image on a Japanese scroll
showing poets sitting by a stream, writing haiku and sipping wine.

Here in upstate New York, on a late summer afternoon,
we offered a spontaneous haiku / brush / flute event in celebration of water . . .

People began to arrive, gathering around the gazebo at the edge of the lake.

Brushes and paper banners were ready -

The music began - the sound of the flute traveling across the water.
The first poem was spoken . . .

Crickets tuning again
and again
notes of a flute hover
over summer's drone.

Bobbi Katz 

The first banner was created, lifted up,
and hung on a bamboo pole.

A song was sung - more poems were spoken -
banners were touched with ink and carried forth.
Some kind of dream was unfolding
with voice and note and stroke intermingling in the moment . . .

A step ladder waits
beside the empty banner pole - 
the mind slowly climbs. 

Will Nixon

Tropicana orange juice
taught me faith.


I think the flutes 
sound like water. 
What do the birds think ? 

Violet Snow

The sound of one flute playing
Is not the sound of one hand clapping
Simple is hard.

Harriet Hyams

A promenade of banners began to appear and was viewed . . .

Here are the eight banners that were created -
in response to the words, the music, the space.

 Barbara Bash

 Nancy Ostrovsky

Philip Ellis Foster

 Barbara Bash

Nancy Ostrovsky

Philip Ellis Foster

Phyllis Segura

 Barbara Bash / Nancy Ostrovsky / Philip Ellis Foster

At the end the artists all came up - 

From left to right - Youko Yamamoto (delicious Japanese food) Steve Gorn (music)
Nancy Ostrovsky (visuals) Harvey Kaiser (music) Sparrow (spoken word)
Bobbi Katz (spoken word) Harriet Hyams (spoken word) Barbara Bash (visuals)
Robert Morris (spoken word) Philip Ellis Foster (visuals) Rob Sanducci (music) 
Violet Snow (spoken word) Ami Madeleine - not pictured (music)

Look what you've done
All you people
Out there

What a night. 

Robert Morris

And here I am - happy amongst it all - 
getting ready to clean up !

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I was recently part of an interesting exhibit in New York City at The Westbeth Gallery.
The show was titled "Correspondence" and was curated by my friend Steve Clorfeine.
He had offered boxes of letters and postcards that he had received over the years
to a group of artists to play with, transform, and create artwork exploring, as he wrote -
"Correspondence : relationship across time and space."

I visited his studio this past winter to look through the boxes
and picked up a postcard and some fragments of typed letters.

Here is what I created - and what I wrote about the piece . . .

The image on this postcard drew me in and then the story on the back provided more information.
A boat with a heavy shipment of concrete sinking down slowly in the water.
I added fragments of typed letters to the waves and a cancellation stamp moon to the sky.
Then I began to write out a background field of thoughts and feelings, following the
movement of life within, allowing my inner landscape to be touched by the outer image,
layered, complex, somewhat hidden - giving voice to the weight and goodness of sinking,
dropping down, going deep, letting go . . .

Here are a few of the other pieces that were part of the show -

Two panels from her four panel box that opened to reveal mysterious forms -
so evocative and intimate !

Lanny Harrison - LETTERS TO MIMI
A lively collage using letters that Steve Clorfeine had written to Lanny's mother.

Suzy Sureck - DROP ME A LINE
An exquisite cascading of letters down the wall -
illuminated and dancing with gravity.

Ralph Lee - AIR MAIL
This piece covered one whole wall - playful and flying -
created by the beloved puppeteer and celebration artist.

Gurmi Lama - CHORTEN
A monument to the Buddha or other great teachers.
This one was decorated with small strands of prayer flags
made out of colorful postage stamps.

A beautifully wrought painting of a stack of mail - catalogues, cards, publicity -
that we usually put aside, then throw out.
Giving attention to something ordinary, everyday, and overlooked.

Theresa Antonellis - ONE TO ONE (One Line to One Breath)
Stretching across a wall, each breath a line - in relationship to the page -
to the stroke - to the moment - again and again. 

It was all such an interesting and creative offering !

You can view more of the art from the show here -

Friday, March 27, 2015

Daily Practice

Here is what showed up today in my daily writing practice.

Each morning I fill a large sheet of rice paper with brush handwriting,
following the touch of hair on paper, the lively letterforms, and my thoughts -
often beginning with the observable world and finding, at the end,
what is close and intimate.

It is interesting to me that I wrote there was "nothing to publish"
and then felt the pull to send this out after all . . . perhaps there was nothing to lose.

Sharing in the spirit of offering handwriting as a path of connection.

Enjoy the leaping letters - and read the "translation" below . . .

Make some order to table - place the black bowl
of ink in front of the white expanse of paper - lean
back a bit relaxing the pushing forward posture - feel
the cool air on my arms through the sweater - look
up and out and note the sky beginning to cloud over
the light dimming a little - one dove marches along
the top of the stone wall - touching in on the day - my
need for steadiness and doing the enlivening work -
black ink on my finger where the brush rests - the
mark of creative engagement - the ting of brush
ferrule on glass bowl edge - the tiny moves of life
& expression - so small - only seen by me in this mo-
ment - nothing to publish - and yet this is the heart
of the matter - noticing - intimate - close - small - here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rustic Dancers

I spend an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum in New York
wandering through the galleries.
As I walk I start to feel overwhelmed by the vast visual expression
of humans through the centuries,
each exquisite object a world of attention and care.
Where do I fit in ?
My head feels heavy and my feet drag . . .

I find a quiet spot to sit and write out the confusion,
letting the sadness spill forth and settle through the touch of pen on paper
and my familiar honest handwriting.

Then I get up and head into the Asian Collection.

I had walked past these earthenware figures many times in the past,
loving their roughness and wacky smiles.
But then I would think "tomb figures" - oooh - dead space - don't want to go there . . .

This time I let them delight me.
They are back from the dead - encased in a glass tomb now
but surrounded by the movement of humans passing by.

I stop, open the sketchbook, and dance with them for awhile.

The exchange lifts my spirits.
I am back in connection again.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Circling . . .


Friday, January 23, 2015

Three Buddhas

Some from past sketchbooks -
one fresh from today . . .