Tra-la! Posting at last, though short. Spring is taking its time to get here, but that's alright because there's something about the very bare and washed-out look the earth has this time of year that I like so much. The grass is yellowed and matted flat and almost surprised to meet the sky again. You can see the skeletal shapes of the trees as their branches twist weirdly, out and over, growing-growing-growing-this-way-and-then-suddenly-UP-UP-UP!-this-way-and-now-over-THAT-way-and-whooo!-out-into-a-hundred-different-directions.

But it is all so quiet. And lately, that is the most soothing sound of all.

Holiday postcards

Happy December!
Here are some cheery gumdrop Christmas cards I made recently.

I tried something new and had them printed as postcards this year. A baby step attempt to create a little less waste out there in the world. It's hard. I do love decorating envelopes and all the wrapping up...

As I posted here, there's no chance of a personal message with a postcard, so send me your address and I'll send you a cryptic, coded Christmasgram!

Happy Halloween!

I took today off because 1) it is my favorite holiday; 2) I never do; 3) this is payback for being too old, too tall, and too awkward to go trick-or-treating; and 4) I strongly feel this day should be a national holiday, especially if you live in the northeast, and I don't know why it isn't. I think these are all excellent reasons to take a day off.

For this year's jack o'lantern, I used one of Leo Lionni's illustrations from his charming story "Frederick" as a reference:

"And when they saw Frederick sitting there, staring at the meadow, they said, 'And now, Frederick?'
'I gather colors,' answered Frederick simply. 'For winter is grey.'" 

Here also is an October-y moon-cat, painted for my mom's birthday earlier this month. Oh there are days when I still expect to see my two funny little monsters running around the house -- especially on Halloween, when Pepper looked particularly spectacular (and most mischievous) against the pumpkin orange. 

I had never tried a tempera-like medium before and I say "tempera-like" because instead of pure pigments, I just ground up some of my pastels and mixed them with the egg yolk. I love being able to pile on layers (aka make mistakes and be able to cover them up) but I'm not sure how I feel about the egg part. I sort of badly mixed up part of the yolk with one of the green colors and I couldn't help but think that it looked like some weird rancid-but-not egg paste...glgughhh. (Sorry mom!) It did get better, though, and I hope to try this out again. 

Also this month I participated in the Inktober 2017 challenge on Instagram. A few posts were pretty darn banal but here are two fall-y ones from near the end that I quite like:

After initially being completely daunted (and momentarily forgetful that inks do in fact come in other colors besides black), I discovered that I really enjoyed testing out different ways of using the ink: wet on wet, mixing colors, letting the ink almost dry and then bleeding out the edges with water, and so on. On one of the posts Beth Garnett commented (we were talking about different media): "I love the bleed and the bloom [of ink] too much" ... that sums it up for me too!

You can see the rest of the posts here
In the meantime, and to all of those lucky ducks who can still go out tonight, have a wonderful and safe time, and stay warm!


I am an artist living along the southern coast of Lake Ontario, in upstate New York. I studied at the University of Rochester and later at the Cambridge School of Art in England, where I received my MA in Children's Book Illustration.

I am inspired and fascinated by the passage of time, memory, chance meetings, and the lovely, lonely New England coastline. I hope to explore these topics further in the picture-book format and right now, I am working on finishing the illustrations and texts for two story ideas.

My work generally involves a combination of graphite pencil, colored pencil, dry pastels, and the occasional wash.

NEW! Website: www.rosemaryshojaie.com
Email: rshojaie(at)gmail.com
Instagram: nausetrose

The title of this blog, "A sail, a sail", is of course a nod to Romeo and Benvolio picking on the Nurse. I've always loved that part in the Zeffirelli film, and it has stayed with me. 

The Summer Ends

I seem to be ending the month as I began it: shivering. The strange part about this is that only two days before - both then, as I sat sketching on the porch of a little cabin up in Old Forge and now, in the fading light of my apartment - it was boiling hot out. But in true upstate New York fashion, you never can tell what the weather will do. Just like life, I suppose. 

What a serene and silent spot that was. I realized, both suddenly and sadly, that I had forgotten what it was like to be in such a place (we used to live far, far downstate, smack-bang in the middle of Sterling Forest, where it sometimes seemed that there were more salamanders around than people). I have such vivid memories of that time, and so it was not without some disgust that I wondered, "Have I become so used to living in a suburb? Could I not live that kind of small-town life again?" 

We also visited the Adirondack Museum, at Blue Mountain. What a place. It is a sort of interactive museum-gallery and enormous-educational-experience all rolled into one. I can't recommend it enough. All I will say after leaving there is that I thank the heavens that I was not born a logger in the 19th century. Nope. Nor the wife of one nor the carthorse of one. How hardy everyone had to be back then....

But anyways. Now with The Colder Months ahead of us, and largely thanks to a few artist and writer friends, I'm feeling quite inspired to start up the Lapsed Blog again. The time gets away from me so easily...that I felt very certainly and sharply this month. 

So good-bye, late-summer, you wistful thing. You were a funny sort of sometimes-sad adventure. We saw Ships, some waterfalls, almost teetered at the edge of a cliff, travelled to moose-territory-part-of-the-state, went to THE hardware store, didn't catch a crab, and managed to make it out alive. 

US Brig Niagara, at the Port of Rochester

I look forward to October.

Moon baby

A coworker of mine recently had a beautiful baby boy and this is the picture I did for the occasion, complete with three sleepy, lounging felines.

Also in time for the grand full moon that is up in the sky right now. I was sorry to miss last night's sky but it was very overcast and stormy yesterday. Here's hoping for tonight. Not the sliver above, of course, but that is probably my most favorite shape and, well, I couldn't resist!

Death by shopping

Somewhere between forgetting to bring it with me and The Crippling Fear of the Blank Page, I admit I am pretty terrible about keeping a regular sketchbook. But I'm trying! So here's to sketch-booking more and to the recording of...amusing...situations that sometimes come up...

Thanks to ABK for the "ghosts of husbands-past" quip.

The Tranquil Quartet, episode 1

Some dynamics - the other kind! - and a quick sketch from quartet today. It's been a while since I've posted and since I returned from Bologna I've been doing some color and character work (I've put a few new images are up on the website and Instagram) but it only hit me today that I have such a fine, fine outlet for the latter right in front of me.

(And yes, we are a group of five because we double the second violin part...including all the shameless snickering.)

Norooz and Bologna

Happy first day of spring! As I mentioned elsewhere, "spring" is one of those peculiar upstate New York terms (a regional dialect for "snow," if you hadn't guessed) that doesn't happen here until about May...and even then it's touch and go for a bit. Here's what the good old neighborhood looked like a few days ago:

Now having said that, if you live here long enough, you'll find some crazy types whose minds seem to have been frozen clean away in the cold, who only have a very vague recollection of a time when they could lounge about outside in short sleeves. Even worse, when everyone is grumbling about how eternal and dark and oppressive the winter is, these loons seem to take special pleasure (especially when there is a last jolly big BANG at the end of the season) in getting on the Florida-dreamers' already-frayed nerves with comments like, "Oh, isn't it just fantastic out!" (Tact, friends, tact!)

Now, in my defense...yes, you guessed it, biggest culprit of all of the above - and slipping into the first person here, not unlike when Athos (remember?), over far too much wine, is telling a more and more horrified D'Artagnan about a certain unfortunate episode of his past - the winter this year has been an exceptionally sorry, mild thing. Pah! Move north? Avec plaisir. The election was certainly more than enough reason for that...

In any case, snow or no snow, I wish you a sunny and warm first day of spring and also a happy Norooz! May your goldfishes be swimming about cheerfully, may your sabzeh be green, and may you not over do it on the shirini. I wish you good health and best wishes for all the days to come. I sadly was far too late in getting the seeds going but in my imagination my haft seen looks divine ;) But these pretty fellows made their way to my table, and gosh I love them:

But the main reason for the delay is that I've been busily preparing for Bologna, which is now coming up very quickly. It's been a few years since I attended. Thoroughly nervous, inspired, but excited to see familiar faces and to return to a world, even for a brief moment, that I have been missing. 

Some work left to do now but here is a glimpse of what's happening on the table, which has gotten more and more crowded over the last several weeks:

See you in Italy!

Wind and a full moon

We had a mighty wind storm sweep through here two days ago, uprooting many, many trees, sending things flying, and cutting power across the city. And it's freezing out! Had some candles at the ready but no need in the end...so here is a little moon-face I was able to finish in time for the real one this weekend.


This post is for those beautiful souls out there who make me 
wonder on a daily basis why I should be so very lucky in friends...

Where would I be if I had not
seen the M5 cluster
gone to the Shahnameh lecture at the Fitzwilliam
started a fire in the printmaking room
canoed in a downpour
said ridiculous things about lunar eclipses
seen LB at CG
found a DLS compatriot
waited near a wooden bridge
wandered through a village with a crooked house
found two angels on Saxon Road and Argyle Street 
driven to the Cape
sketched a floating garden
seen a road race
started to sail
learned to skate
been reminded with so much kindness of places like this?

I should instead be very lonely and very lost. 
I should remap the stars...you are the constellations up there. 

New Year

Wishing you a simple, kind, and peaceful new year! May 2017 be the year you set sail, find your wings, take a leap of faith, and do all the things you know you were meant to do. 

Here is an embryo of an image I'm working on now. 

Far From Here

The ironic thing is that is the title of an idea I've been working on for the last few months. It has been the Weekend of the Long Blank Stares.

But now, right now, Suzanne.


I voted. I didn't really think about it. The act of voting, that is. Just like I forget, all the time, that it takes about five minutes to walk from my desk to the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Would that upset them, not thinking twice? Maybe it would make them smile instead, that it is so basic and normal a right that one hundred years later kids can grow up and hardly give it a second thought. Maybe that too is some silent, semi-oblivious, semi-forgetful, and unconscious way of giving thanks.

So thanks, SBA, FD, and others. I was sorry to forget you this morning but the hundreds and hundreds of people lined up, walking by, stickering your graves, and honoring your memories and life work, helped me remember.

Go to it, people, come on, you beautiful and good country. Still some time. V o t e.

Back to some pastels

What a medium. Learning that paper type is absolutely everything when it comes to pastels. Here's an image - revision number 9,651 and counting - from The Story that Never Ends (this is code) on the slickest, smoothest paper I've used yet. Only problem is that it sadly does not take masking fluid very well, whereas the card stock from before was excellent.


 I'd just be curious to know if you could see yourself as clear as someone who has had you on his mind. 

Keep writing and writing, sir! Love.