Tunes for a Monday Morning
Tree Stories II: Tree Elders

On Your Desk

The Museum of Natural History January 23, 2011 239

We start in New York City today, with the desk of my old friend and anthology-editing partner-in-crime Ellen Datlow. Ellen lives in Greenwich Village, sharing an old-New-York style apartment with her feline companions, an impressive art collection, and an overwhelming number of books. Her work space is a glass-topped cocktail table at the center of her living-room, surrounded by piles of manuscripts, galleys, and books for review.

"The photograph is a bit of an optical illusion," she says, "because what it's actually showing is the view looking down through the glass of the table top to the contents of the drawer below. That's where I keep some of my Zuni fetishes and small pieces of Native American pottery from my travels in the American southwest, as well as sea shells, a fossil tooth, and many (too many) other items. My mouse pad is from Finland. The jawbone laying against my printer was found at a flea market in Seattle. The photograph on my computer screen was one I took on Kangaroo Island, Australia, this past autumn."

A former fiction editor for Omni Magazine, Event Horizon, and Sci Fiction, Ellen now edits anthologies for children, teenagers, and adult readers (often in partnership with me), and she has won more honors and awards than I can count. She has edited all kinds of fiction over the years but she specializes in the short story form, and is an absolute master at this (in my humble opinion). Information on her many, many fine books can be found over on her website.


Carrie, an artist in Somerset, England, also fills her work space with an interesting assortment of found objects and tiny treasures, albeit in a slightly more organized fashion. Her desk is pictured in the photograph above and in the next three photos below.

"I'm an aspiring children's book illustrator and writer," she says, "currently building up a professional portfolio. But I am also a Mum of two little ones and run a Picture Framing business full-time with my husband, so time for art is very hard to come by at the moment. These pictures of my work space are from the last time I properly worked there, just after Christmas, and the paintings on the desk are still waiting to be finished....

"I tend to fill my art space with lots of little gathered treasures I have hoarded: feathers, bones, bits of lichen and bark, images and objects I like -- although the cupboard is really supposed to be for my brushes, pencils, paints, and smaller sketch books."

Carrie creates enchanting art inspired by mythology, archaeology, and her love of literature and wilderness. Stop by her beautiful blog, Windsongs & Wordhoards, to have a look.



Carrie 4

Next we travel to Portland, Oregon and the desk of mask-maker Monica Roxburgh, pictured below.  “I love seeing glimpses of artist’s studios," she writes, "and I have been enjoying the 'On Your Desk' series. But the motivation to contribute a photo myself came only after discovering I have to dismantle my whole painting desk area in a few weeks as we will finally be insulating the (very cold) basement where I do most of my mask-making. So this quick snapshot documents the desk as it is now, the result of several years accumulation of strata. It will be interesting to compare how it looks upon reassembly.”

Visit Monica's blog, Goblin Art, to see her very magical work. (And good luck with the move, Monica!)

On my desk - Goblin Art

Now we bounce to the other side of the world, where it's summer right now in the studio of Australian blogger, artist, and myth-maker Goddess Leonie Allan (in the next two photos below). "I live," she says, "in the only town in the world named after the goddess Persephone, a little piece of tropical paradise called Proserpine. I paint goddess art, illustrate e-books, make videos, and take on a bazillion creative projects (as evidenced by The Pile on the right side of my desk). My love Chris and I live in a 100-year-old cottage that my grandmother used to live in, where our studio is a tiny room off to the side. When I'm in the studio creating up a rainbow, I'm usually there with Chris, our baby daughter Ostara, and our two very fluffy puppies. The paintings on the wall are mine, and the prints and postcards are some of the beautiful art that inspires me."

To learn more about the artist and her vibrant, spirited work, please visit her blog: Goddess Guidebook: Your Guide to Being a Goddess.

Goddess Leonie's studio 2

Goddess Leonie's studio 1

We end today by going back to where we started: the north-east coast of America. The sequence of photographs below come from Pilar Teishin (a.k.a "mama p") who lives in the Greater Boston area. "I'm trained as an artist (BA) and mental health counselor (MS), but at the moment I'm a stay-at-home-mom," Pilar says, "so my writing is getting most of my attention these days. It's very portable, and I can attend to it in quiet moments.

"One thing I noticed about my desk is that it's not so much what's ON it that inspires me, but how the atmosphere AROUND it changes.  As the mother of a very young child, I've found I've got to wake very early in order to get any work done. And so I meet my muse just before sunrise. When I decided to photograph the morning's progress, I was really stunned at just how the progress of morning itself mirrors my mind and consciousness, and thus informs my work."






Please visit Pilar's web journal, A Sacred Friendship, at the evocative address: She describes it as "a buddhist-pagan mama-artist-priest in real life blog," and it is lovely indeed.

I'm particularly charmed by Pilar's photos because I, too, get up before the sun and love watching the light change as I fact, I'm doing so right now. (It's 6 a.m. by UK time, and I've been here in the studio for about an hour.) There is a candle lit on my desk, and I write by its light and the glow the computer screen -- while Tilly sits rapt in front of the studio's big floor-to-ceiling windows, gazing out into the dark: ears cocked, nose twitching as she spies on the little night creatures scurrying home before sunrise.

Last year Howard and I went to a comedy show at our village hall, and one of the comedians (I can't remember his name) was warming up the audience by asking various questions, one of which was: "Who in this room got up the earliest today?" It turned out, unsurprisingly, to be me. Then he asked who got up the latest, which turned out to be Howard, a definite night owl. Someone called out, "Yeah, and they're married!" -- which got a big laugh. But you know, it works. We're a couple who came to marriage after years of solitary living. By being such opposites in this way, each of us still has our time of day for restorative solitude, for sharing the quiet of the house and the backyard studios with just the wind, the owls of the wood, little Tilly, and our own imaginations. For me, that's when the muse comes knocking.

If you'll excuse me, I hear her footsteps approaching now....

My desk pre-dawn

Tilly at the windowMy desk this morning, and Tilly at the window as the sun rises over the moor.