Guarding the Gate and a Good Story. . .


This is an art journal sketch of two wonderful sculptures that guard the entrance to our home. I thought I would introduce you to them and tell you a funny story too . . .

A couple of mornings ago, I opened my front door and saw this . . .


That Aspen was actually glowing gold. And I noticed the faithful pair who stand outside our gate through all the seasons, making sure that no evil enters.

They do a good job.

Even when they have bird droppings in their hair.

The birds love them very much.

They are 6 ft metal sculptures made of copper pipe by artist Mark Fischer of Turtle Clan Art. They have a beautiful patina which gets even better over time. Despite the bird droppings.

I posted this photo on my Instagram account because I post anything I find interesting there, and then I remembered . . .

I had started a sketch of those sculptures years ago – in a Moleskine journal – and never finished it. As my art journaling students know, this is perfectly OK not to finish a page, because you can always go back and do it later.

So, I went back, and discovered an interesting thing.

I had done the background of this spread with Pan Pastels, and then began working over it with watercolor pencils. I was unhappy because I found it more difficult to execute straight lines with watercolor pencil. I wanted to use watercolor paint, but the Moleskine sketchbook is not very friendly to watercolor paint.

So, I quit and let that page sit.

In the meanwhile, I have started to use M. Graham watercolors, and they stick to just about any surface.

I tried them, and they worked perfectly over the Pan Pastel. And the Pan Pastel sort of sealed the Moleskine page so there was no warping either.

That journal spread is finally done, and I can show you the full designs on these sculptures, and tell you a story that is a bit risqué (only a tiny bit), but cute.

We bought the guy on the left first. He had a name given by the artist which I don’t recall, but I renamed him “Easy Mark” after you know who, and the idea was that he would guard the front gate. I loved the hair branches for birds to sit on, and I really liked the strategically placed “fig leaf”.

We never get around to anything around here, and we did not get around to putting up the sculpture at the gate. We leaned him against a wall inside the courtyard instead – to wait for us to get around to him.

“Somebody might steal him,” said “not-so-easy” Mark.

“Nah,” said I.

Time passed and along came Indian Market, and there was the artist again with more sculptures, and I fell in love with one called “Four Winds”. She was so “me” with all those directions going on at the same time, and the perpetually surprised look on her face. And I thought Easy Mark would like her company at the gate. So, we bought her.

When we got home, we looked for Easy Mark so we could introduce the couple, and put them in place (finally).

He wasn’t there leaning against the wall. Oh no.

“Not-so-easy” Mark, who is prone to drama, thought right away the sculpture had been stolen and we hadn’t noticed.

But I, not so prone to drama, was sure he was around somewhere. And he was – he had simply been blown over behind the Aspen trees, and was hidden by shrubs and stuff.

I held Four Winds in place and sent Mark to rescue our fallen hero, and bring him out front to meet his new “girl”.

Easy Mark was excited. No, really, he WAS excited, because his fig leaf was pointing skyward (this is the risqué part, folks).

“He really seems to like her,” I said to Mark.

We laughed ourselves silly, and then had to repair Easy Mark. We couldn’t let him remain that way for more than four hours, according to TV commercials we had heard.

After some delicate leaf restoration surgery, we put the two of them together at the gate, where the birds rejoiced, and they have lived happily ever after.

The end.



  1. Your guardians are a beautiful couple. Their story made my week, I laughed so hard! Thanks for sharing both.

  2. HAH! What a wonderful story all the way from the poop to the fig leaf.
    You made them so wonderfully alive..the gate keepers that is, not the two other items previously mentioned. 🙂

  3. Really funny story – cracked me up that you had a time limit to get the repair done by!

  4. Love the story and I see the paint did do well on the page you made.

  5. Love it, love them! What a great story to have to tell and remember!

  6. Hilarious story!!
    And I will always remember that it is okay not to finish a page. I’ve revisited my Stillman & Birn from my first class with you (in Santa Fe) many times. And I do love M. Graham paints (you turned me on to them in Tubac). I have been doing some work with Pan Pastels and now I will try this technique. Thanks for sharing. Miss you. Hugs.

  7. I’m still smiling even after reading all the comments before me. Thanks and I love your blog and all you share.

  8. Beware the rising fig leaf! Storytelling (with pictures) at its best. Thanks for the smile!

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