These days I keep my spirits up by listening to podcasts like Every Little Thing, and that's how I learned that the fork--that voluptuous utensil, as one listener called it--didn't find its place on the table until the mid- to late nineteenth century. The fork traces its roots back to Persia and to the Byzantine Empire, but it took fashionable courtesans during the Renaissance to introduce the fork among the aristocracy in Italy and later in France. First used mostly to eat candied fruit, the Church soon condemned its wider use as an instrument of the devil.
Big shoutout to Every Little Thing!!!!
What is it about cats that's so fascinating? On a personal level, the current absence of a cat in my life is at least one good reason I want to draw them. And now that I've gone digital (for now, anyway), their form is an easy one to experiment with, and the feline pokerface one that suits my mood. Right now, for example, I wouldn't want to draw pigs. They look too happy, even when they really have nothing to smile about. Especially in this country.
The skill I'm trying my hand at in these two pieces is digital collage. I must say, it was a lot of fun to digitally cut up an older painting and incorporate it here.
My mother is one of the few people who actually reads my not so regular blog--hello Mom!--and lately she's been unhappy about the gloominess of my posts. She has a point ... So, to lighten things up a bit, I'll be sharing some of my latest adventures with digital illustration. Last year I participated in a demo of the Procreate app at the local Apple store, and, as a total neophyte to digital illustration (and someone also quite suspicious of anything that doesn't allow me to feel the texture of things) was impressed. Really impressed! It took a pandemic to finally get me to give this a try. This past week I've spent every free hour experimenting. The biggest challenge for me (and there are many) is to create an image that looks the least digital possible. I was very fortunate to run across an instructional video by the wonderful illustrator and fabulous "creative encourager" Terry Runyan (!!!) and thanks to her entered through the right(as in 'correct') door into the world of digital illustration. Here's my first failed attempt at a animation. You got it. It doesn't move. But I'll figure it out eventually.
The outfit on the left was developed by a French physician during the seventeenth century to offer protection against the plague. His contemporary, the German engraver Paulus Fürst, titled his iconic image of the scary-looking garb “Kleidung wider den Tod”, “Dress against death.” So … is a pretty little mask too much to ask?
I painted this piece for the SCBWI monthly illustration challenge. The April prompt was "Cooped up." I decided to focus on the collective experience, all of us cooped up, as well as on the space between us, fraught with danger and yet so full of possibility.
How will we fill it, all this space between us? Will our dreams and good intentions be enough?
The storm will pass
And you will leave the house and walk
Until you find
A shiny upside-down world left behind
By the rain.
You’ll want to fall
Into the vice versa-world of
What might be.
Once a puddle-jumping child,
Learned long ago
That you can’t fall into the sky.
And so you’ll look
For the magic beanstalk seed
That will grow down into the promised land
At your feet.
Copyright 2020 Anna Witte
Bad weather horses shake their manes
And drown the world in sheets of rain
Their breath blinds windows to the light
Their temper turns day into night
We make small rooms out of our fear
And curl the heart into a fist
And hope the chimney will not fall
And hope that meal was not our last
And hope this sheet is not a shroud
And that we didn’t hear their shrieks
In the sky above the clouds.
Those who don’t trust, wish they could pray,
And those who pray, begin to doubt
That there ever was a summer
That unfurled our wrinkled souls
When we ran toward each other
Across meadows made of gold
Where we shed the furs of winter
And swam naked in a stream
Where we kissed those we would never
Dare to kiss outside a dream.
©2020 Anna Witte
I lie wishing for an angel
To lean in close,
Place a cool, androgynous hand on my head
And quell this anxious fire when
Shrill chatter pulls me out of bed
And to the window.
Would we need angels if
We understood these bats
That beat their wings
Against the soul?
©2020 Anna Witte
Whoever said a watched pot never boils
never listened to the soft hum of the water
as it unfurls into tendrils of steam,
never felt the rising heat warm his face in the morning chill,
never saw the lazy swirl of the surface
before it breaks into a song of bubbles,
into a cauldron of promises and spells
the watching of which keeps me,
for a moment,
on the threshold between the past and the future,
©2020 Anna Witte
These days, when gatherings of more than two are prohibited, those who can, make the most of it. Never before have I seen so many couples walk hand in hand. Every day is Valentine’s Day, it seems, in this country of the emotionally restrained.
On the narrow sidewalk,
I see them coming
three of them.
We pass each other,
lips pressed together
in breathless smiles.
©2020 Anna Witte
The candle in my neighbors’ kitchen window,
lit every single day at dawn.
The students in the German for Refugees class
who this week cleaned their teacher’s desk with disinfectant
before his arrival.
The smile of apology
on the face of the woman who sells me eggs this morning
as she avoids
touching my hand.
The elderly couple, holding on to each other
in the supermarket aisle
as they discuss
The children screaming with laughter as they race each other down the street
in the sunshine.
©2020 Anna Witte
On my bike ride to work
I lock horns with the wind
I curse as I pedal and curse.
Someone glides past me.
She guides her sleek ride with one hand.
In the other, a large flowering branch.
“Take this!” says the wind
and fills my mouth
with apple blossoms.
A little about myself:
Hello there and thank you for visiting my website! I have lived in Spain, Mexico, France and the United States, but now make my home in Germany. I have a Ph.D. in Literary Studies and a Master's in TESOL, and have published several books for children, among them El Loro Tico Tango and El Fandango de Lola, a 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book. As a writer and an artist I'm in constant conversation with my own anxious mind even as I celebrate the joyful possibilities of our crazy, incomprehensible world.