Nightingale Woman

“Nightingale Woman” was a poem by Tarbolde, written in 1996 on the Canopus Planet. It was said to be one of the most passionate love sonnets of its time. An excerpt of the sonnet from page 387 is all that is known from Star Trek lore (the first two lines).

MacHuginn, Cleric of Deneir, completed the sonnet, writing it for his love, the kenku Karrakaniin.


My love has wings – slender, feathered things,
With grace in upswept curves and tapered tips.
In every beat she strikes a chord that rings
As true as cherished words from readied lips.

My love’s dark eyes are quick, and undismayed
To pierce the shadowed veil of deepening night.
Oh, smould’ring gaze of moonlit thoughts betrayed
By sable feathers limned in silver light.

My lover’s mind takes flight, she claims my eyes,
As wingtips brush with whispered, promised, notes.
Each silken touch, a slow caress, gives rise
To fierce, enchanted cries from joyous throats.

Her slender curves my upswept wings now trace –
Stars gasp to watch our shimmering embrace.


featured image: one of MacHuginn’s feather darts

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The Artist

Being an artist can mean many different things.

For me, being an artist means that I draw, paint, play several musical instruments, photograph weird things, and occasionally sculpt clay, wood, metal, and leather. Although I actually did take university courses in drawing and sculpture at Dartmouth and in high school, much of what I know comes from self-study and working in the Claflin Jewelry Studio while I was a student.

Am I a great artist? Nope, but I’m not bad. I enjoy spending a lot of time on a piece, so that dedication usually shows through in the final product. Short, quick things are a bane, though. Why? Because I don’t draw/paint/sculpt often enough. I don’t practice flute regularly, and haven’t set a regular schedule for learning harp yet.

Even though I may not produce much art in any form, part of what I enjoy most about being an artist is being able to truly appreciate and be inspired by the work of others. To be capable of looking at someone’s painting and work out how they might have planned and executed the work, or to understand how impressive a musical performance is (or isn’t). I’m often inspired by history (Hello, Society for Creative Anachronism!) and fictional characters and places, in addition to the constant inspiration that is provided by the natural world. When I do create something worth sharing, I usually post it on DeviantArt, but I don’t photo-dump on there like some people tend to. It takes a pretty impressive or well-planned shot for me to put it on DeviantArt.

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The Harper, Deth

Deth from Riddle of Stars by Patricia Mckillip
Drawn in high school, based on an illustration in the edition of the book that our library had. Never really finished.

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MacHuginn’s Feather Darts

A sketch during a Dungeons and Dragons session last year – my character MacHuginn (one of the characters in Divergent Paths) commissioned a smith in ?? to make him a few dozen metal-tipped darts out of his feathers. He also uses them for making his own quills!

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My leather archery bracer, tooled leather.

Cameron taught me leatherworking last year, and I made a bracer so that I’d tear up my arm less while shooting. Since I have an Irish persona in the SCA and love Celtic knotwork, I ended up with this painstakingly time consuming piece!

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Claddagh ring, cast in silver. Terrible photo…

Much of my earlier work I don’t have photos of, since camera phones weren’t as common then and I wasn’t as interested in photography either. This Claddagh ring was carved in wax by hand, then molded and cast in silver in the Claflin Jewelry Studio at Dartmouth. Unfortunately, Cameron lost it several years ago… So no luck on taking a better photo.

I can take good photos though! These are from our road trip out west in July 2016. We had the Nikon 5300 with us, and had a great time visiting family and roaming around in parks, reservations, and fishing.


featured image: Raven ring, another Dungeons and Dragons sketch for MacHuginn (2016)

“A Chemist Looks at Parasitology”

Featuring: A pair of bioillustration pieces that I’m fairly proud of.
Looking back, I wish that I had already had the phenomemal photos that we later took of the parasites, so that I could have rendered them in more detail – perhaps someday I’ll go back and make an updated version of these.
Probopyrus pandalicola and Palaemonetes pugio

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Meet the love of my M.S. in Marine Sciences life…


 

I was introduced to the quirky poem “A Chemist Looks at Parasitology” at the 2015 meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Yes, these micro-sized monsters seem like science fiction – Why? – Because these are the real creatures that inspired amazing science fiction stories in the first place!

A Chemist Looks at Parasitology

Parasitology! Parasitology!
One part of science to two of mythology,
Oodles of doodles that you will insist
Are micro-sized monsters that just can’t exist,
Papers replete with long names in italics
Describing in jargon the fanciful antics
Of creatures who live on the fat of the land
In host after host without lifting a hand.
Parasitology! Queen of biology!
One part of science to two of mythology.
Don’t you owe nature a humble apology?

The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 58, No. 4, August 1972, p. 698
-Composed by A. E. R. Westman, and read at a dinner honoring the retirement of Dr. A. M. Fallis, on 31 May 1972, Toronto, Canada.


featured image: A grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio)

The Druid

Welcome in the spring time, on this blessed day of Imbolc – Brighid’s Day. Everyone in the northern hemisphere is seeing the seasons turn warmer, and the rebirth of life in a new year. It isn’t always pretty (snow slush and mud…), but it’s a promise that the world will indeed go on. We often forget about this cycle of death and rebirth, and we try to ignore that humans are part of the natural world, but nature never forgets. Why? Because it works. Surviving the cold dark winter nights, we are rewarded by the promise of abundance that spring always brings.

That is what celebrating this season is about, in any form. We rejoice in our ability to go on, to grow, and to find happiness for one more year. For many, this is represented by the ascension of Christ – forgiveness and rebirth. Children end up with eggs and rabbits to celebrate because they represent reproduction and plentiful food – new life and survival. Brighid (as goddess or saint) is a literal mother figure, protecting home and hearth – family and healing.



Let this season inspire you – think on what you will do with this year that the earth has entrusted to us. All of us rely on the earth for absolutely everything.

Awen

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Awen, a druidic symbol of inspiration

Where does creativity come from? Why does inspiration often come in bursts? How does a simple song touch the soul? What is my ‘creative side’?

There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you do not understand a thing – in no way does this invalidate its existence or value.

When we seek inspiration and try to connect with the emotions of other people, we are in truth reaching for the omnipresent force that holds all of us together. Something that is beyond a simple physical connection, that pushes our hearts and minds to leap forward to find new worlds, crossing imagined boundaries. For myself and many others, this fire is often found in seeking the myriad threads tying us to the environment. The elegance of a leaf, the cleansing feeling of a summer rain shower, the infinite blackness in a raven feather, the brutality of a predator’s attack – each of these sparks draws us from the anthropocentric world.

See me as the Sun on the mountaintop,
Feel me in the power of the seas.
Hear me in the laughter of the stream,
Power of nature, power of the trees.
– Damh the Bard, Song of Awen 

We aren’t always particularly good at listening for the call of Awen though, despite our frequent desire for that elusive “Fire in the Head.” Anxiety, uncertainty, time, preconceptions, isolation…there are many distractions that we often need to overcome before finding our own true paths to contentment. How do we do this in today’s world of plastic, politics, ambition, and consumerism? I don’t have the answers for you. Am I committed to continually trying? Absolutely.

Can you find a bit of Awen in your life today?

Today is not the beginning of my path – but it is a beginning.


featured image: Awen, a druidic symbol of inspiration (2016)

The Artist

For starters, all of the images you see on this site are mine.
Photos, drawings, paintings, digital media etc. Take a look on my DeviantArt page for examples of most of these. I used to work in the Claflin Jewelry Studio at Dartmouth College, which is where I learned my metalworking skills, and I also took some of the studio art classes while I was a student there. There are very few photos of any of my work from then, and most of it I gave away to friends and family. Needless to say, I don’t have the tools to do too much metalworking or pottery anymore, though I plan to at some point.

Most of my (minimal) skills with a camera are actually from working on my M.S. in Marine Sciences at Savannah State University. Besides photographing trips out to sea on the RV Savannah, I also used photography to enhance my publications and to create an epic video of parasites being spewed out of a shrimp…I’ve never wondered why I mix science and art, that’s for sure.

Traditional Art
Pencil & Staedtler markers
Acrylics for most painting
Gouache & pencil for medieval scrolls
Calligraphy: Speedball inks & nibs on Bristol board
Leatherwork
Pyrography
Metalworking
Pottery & sculpture

Photography/Videography Tools
Nikon D5300 DSLR camera with various lenses for macrophotography
GIMP photo editing studio
Windows 10
Droid Turbo 2 cellphone
BLIPS Smart Micro Optics lenses

featured image: Standing Stones