On Your Desk
Friday, December 17, 2010
The desk above belongs to the Queen of Fairy Tales, my good friend Jane Yolen, whose work has inspired and influenced so many of us in the mythic arts field. There's magic in that desk. There must be, for Jane has produced an extraordinary number of books over the years, telling exquisite tales that seem to flow from her pen with an ease that I wonder at...and envy! Or is the magic all in her hands -- which we see at work, in a blur of motion, in the photo below?
I'll turn to one of Jane's own poems to settle the question:
If you ask me,
I would have to say
all the world's magic
comes directly from the mouth.
And of course she's right.
Regarding her desktop photo, Jane says: "This is at the big desk at my house in western Massachusetts where I actually work very little. It was my husband David's old desk, in his old study. I now mostly work in the tv room with a laptop. Both photos were taken by my son Jason Stemple, in 2008, for an autobiography for kids we did together called On the Slant. And you should note that I have worked hard at losing 45 pounds since then!
"I envy folks their beautiful work spaces. And for about 20 years I had a lovely attic writing room overlooking Massachusetts farmland. Very nineteenth century view. But have given up the winding stairs for comfort and safety."
The next desk (above) also belongs to one of my very favorite people and very favorite tellers of magical tales: writer and musician Charles de Lint, in Ottowa, Canada. "This is my desk at home in the city," he says [rather than at his country cottage by a lake]. " I was tempted to stage it a bit -- clear up the clutter, maybe even dust for a change! -- but then it wouldn't be a snapshot of a working desk, would it? And who has the time?
"I do most of my writing here--at least when I'm at home. I can write anywhere I can plug in a laptop. For most of this summer my 'desk' was my sister-in-law Lynn's dining room table in the country, where I'd work in the morning before going down to the construction site that became our cottage, and then again late at night. But I don't have a picture of it. Home's a favourite place to write with everything I like close at hand . . . but working in your library at the Tucson house beats it, mostly for the view out the window when I look up. That's something I can't imagine ever tiring of. Right now, all I see is a snowy street."
Here's that desert view that Charles is talking about (which I often miss too):
Speaking of Tucson, Arizona: The photographs below come from Tucson fiber artist Annie Gordon, whose work space isn't confined to a desktop but spreads out wherever she finds the room: the floor, the dining room table....
"I make wall quilts, clothes, and full-sized quilts," says Annie, "always with the help of my two red tabby boys, Duncan and Fergus. I moved to a two-bedroom apartment a couple of years ago so that I could have a room for all my art stuff. In these photos I am working on a commissioned jeans quilt, which was a lot of fun -- and afforded ample piles of fabric for the boys to lay on."
Carol Price, in Princess Anne, Maryland (on the Delmarva Peninsula), is another artist with muses in feline form. " I am a maker of things, which is perhaps the best way to describe my work. I simply love to make. I love textiles and fiber, therefore I sew, quilt, embroider, appliqué, knit, crochet, and hand dye fabric and yarn. I also sculpt in paper mache and paint (mostly watercolor) and sketch. I keep a written journal and a sketch journal of whatever catches my fancy. I use my sketch journal as a nature journal and use it to plan fiber projects and paper mache projects (both journals are visible in the picture [below])."
Like me, early morning is Carol's favorite time of day. "I wake around 4:30am, feed my tribe of cats, make coffee, and commence with the project(s) of the moment. Everything in the house is quiet and I can work in peace and solitude for a few hours, before I have to get ready for work and ready my son for school. Also, my ever changing inspiration board is visible behind my current sculpture projects."
Our last photos of the day come from writer and artist Kris Waldherr in Brooklyn, the creator of many magical books and much wondrous art. We knew each other years ago here in Devon (back before either of us had ever published much of anything...lordy but weren't we young back then, Kris?), and we've kept in touch with each other's mythic journeys ever since. About the pictures below she says:
"My studio is set in a storefront in the Victorian Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn; we open it up as a gallery to the community on the weekends. Our children's art events are especially popular.
"Right now, I'm writing a novel, The Lily Maid, which is set during the Aesthetics art movement of 1880s England. These days there are lots of manuscript pages cluttering up the proceedings, rather than paints and pencils.....
"I've also included a view of my 'door of projects' (created with chalkboard paint). I recently started a digital publishing imprint, Art and Words Editions—the details are never-ending."
More desktops and wonders tomorrow.
If you'd like to contribute a picture to the "On Your Desk" series, you are very welcome to do so. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photo) in the first post of the series. Click here for the full series so far, and here for our last photo series: "The View from Your Window."