A photograph of Sheep Mountain in the Huerfano Valley, wrapped in a boa of mist.

Magazines from Mountain Water Press

Mountain Water Press produces magazines on occasions and whim, on a schedule that evolves with fortuity, and always with an eye toward the discovery of abundant ordinary richness.

An0An (pronounced AH no wan) is an Ephemeron of pictures and notes from sketchbooks seen anew in a handsome magazine format. Designed by Joan Anderson, each edition includes work from her voluminous sketchbooks, along with contributions from guest artists. While the descriptions following are excerpts from the issues, the main content is visual. Click on the links below to enjoy a preview at blurb.com and the opportunity to purchase a copy of your own.

An0An Volume IV, No. 1

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“We recently got new lenses and oh, the world is clear again. What a gift is sight and all that it entails—the mechanics and poetry of our sense perceptions, light and shadow, color, our brains and various brain-like clusters, our hearts. We think of seeing as a mysterious full body-mind enterprise. Ancient images show bodies covered with eyes, every cell able to perceive. Surely sight is not limited to an eye/brain channel.

“Of particular interest to us is how drawing and painting enhance our seeing and enjoyment of the world around us. And how, with close examination and curiosity, seeing sharpens. How marvelous! It was Kimon Nicolaïdes, preëminent twentieth century drawing master, who exhorted his students to bring as many sense faculties to bear as possible when drawing—sight to be sure, and also all the ways touch, sound, and even smell fulfill drawing. Perhaps you’ve noticed, while sipping a Manhattan cocktail, the scent of incense cedar and and how, by that aroma, it conjures a pencil box? Curious.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol IV, No. 1

An0An Volume III, No. 3

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“Even at the beginning of winter here in the northern hemisphere, the trees have buds visible and waiting. It’s a possible metaphor for sketches—buds waiting for conditions to align in order to burst into another form, a leaf or flower. Though we also think of sketches as fully formed, what they are as they are. In truth everything morphs into something else. The world and we are in a continual flux. A moment of gratitude for that. We especially appreciate the way drawing affects how we notice the world in surprising ways when we walk outside. ” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol III, No. 3

An0An Volume III, No. 2

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“Collaboration is a kind of hybridized tool. From the simple act of creating in the same space, all kinds of discoveries are possible. For two days in April four friends joined me in the studio with the intention of creating the material for this issue. The invitation was called Team Play. To begin, we took a sheet of plain copy paper, a sheet of tracing paper, and a pencil. Paul Klee became our instructor via his description of drawing as “taking a line for a walk.” So, we drew—something, anything, literal, abstract. The option to paint the lines with a fine liner brush and gouache, easy decisions about color, staying in line, stepping out of line. Tracing opened another door, one that artists are often squeamish about entering. To trace is another way to hybridize how our pencil moves—so much to learn from others. Other artists, yes; and, also other anything! Trace how shadows fall, how leaves grow, how tile fits together. Lay all the drawings out, overlay them with tracings, and pull out the smartphone camera. Snap away. Rearrange. Snap more.

“We are at a manual/digital interface. Two tools—our hands and our devices—are mutable, profound, and deep. Possibilities and choices proliferate. Dizzyingly. Give it a try. Collaborate. Hybridize the tools at hand.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol III, No. 2

An0An Volume III, No. 1

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“Before attending the Western Mountain Seed Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I could have been described as seed-neutral. But there at the seed swap on Friday night was a small bag of Legendary Beauty Way Beans. Oh, my. It was a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk moment. Yes, if I had a cow, I might have traded her for those beans. It was the last bag. The woman in front of me chose them. Sigh. Feeling my disappointment, she was willing to share them with me. Glen Shoen, legendary corn-breeder and steward of the beans, said no. They must all be grown together to preserve their genetic diversity for seed saving. Glen is a generous man; he told me he had a basket of them on the seed shrine in the main conference hall. At the close of the conference he hand-selected my beans, five of each color, and sent me home to marvel at them...

“For an aficionada of sketchbooks, seeds are probably obvious. Sketchbooks are the seedbeds of the visual arts. This is the season. Nurture the seeds of your inspiration, give them a home in a book of your choosing. Given time and warmth, they may surprise you – with food for a long winter.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol III, No. 1

An0An Volume II, No. 3

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~ Mary Oliver

“Yes, our endless and proper work – attention. Endless stretches beyond view. Attention tethers it to now. Attention is the practice and training and delight of a sketchbook. Be delighted. It only happens Now.” ~ Joan Anderson

This issue includes sketchbook entries from guest contributor Emily KenCairn. She’s known to dedicate a sketchbook to Blue, say, or to Sleep, or to the curiosity of the noticing mind. She says, “My arrival at the practice of keeping a sketchbook came during an unlikely time – as I navigated the wilderness of new motherhood. One day I decided that if all I could do was make sleep charts of my sleepless infant’s resting habits, I’d do it in full color: awake in warm tones, sleep in cool tones. The reality of raising a child helped whittle away misconceptions I hold about sketchbooks — primarily, that there are rules I need to follow. When I let go of the ‘shoulds,’ I find myself coloring in squares of one sort or another, often with the same materials I used as a child.”

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. II, No. 3

An0An Volume II, No. 2

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine coverπαιδὸς ἡ βασιληίη
“The sovereignty of the child” ~ Heraclitus

“In an old sketchbook I found a page of notes headed by the quote above. Under the heading was a list of Greek words, all etymologically related, and their English translations. The list reads: παῖς/child; παίγνιον/game; παιδεία/education; παίζω/to play; παιδεύω/to rear, teach, guide.

“Written under the list of words is the following fragment from a source I failed to record: ‘The etymologies of the above words suggest that child [in Greek] is a metaphor for an energy that does not want to have its path predetermined or limited in any way…’ I don’t know who said this or if it is even a plausible translation of Heraclitus. But the root relations these Greek words weave is a fine web connecting how we educate ourselves, how we play, and how we guide and teach others. They point here: use the energy of the child we once were – open and unlimited. This is an insight to cultivate in keeping a sketchbook, the enthusiasm of play, the intensity of the game. It’s the energy of learning.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol II, No. 2

An0An Volume II, No. 1

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover “Beauty is a tool of propagation and a tactic of survival, used by men, women, deer, horses, dogs, flowers, pine trees, and by poems who must perpetuate themselves as best they can in spite of the hazards we place in their way.” ~ Robert Bringhurst, from Everywhere Being is Dancing: Twenty Pieces of Thinking. Counterpoint. 2009.

“One learns more in the woods than in books. The trees and rocks will teach you things you will not hear elsewhere.” ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux in a letter to Henry Murdach, Abbot of Vauclair. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux lived 1090 – 1153 C.E.)

This issue also features the work of guest contributor Mary Wright of Colorado. Bold, raw, tender is her way of seeing and capturing beauty from the flux of materials life offers. When asked if she’d like any words to accompany her images, she sent this, a sketchbook note to herself – five lines from Howard Nemerov: “Death is serious, or else all things are serious except death. A player who dies automatically disqualifies for the finals.”

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. II, No. 1

An0An Volume I, No. 5

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“Winter is settling in here in the northern hemisphere, the season of the longest night and clarity of starlight. Once, while on a painting retreat in a very rural mountain setting, I stepped out into a snowy winter night. There was no moon and the stars were the glory of the sky, so bright they were that I could see my shadow on the snow by their light. Incredible! I began that retreat by drawing. The studio was owned by a sculptor friend who had lots of objects around, in particular, shelves of Francoma pottery. It was a good beginning. Drawing makes it easy to settle down, to settle in. In this winter season of holy days, of gift giving and new beginnings, rededications, and starting fresh with resolutions, why not begin a sketchbook and resolve to draw? See the world anew. A mark of admiring the everyday of everything. The possibility of joy to the world.”
~ Joan Anderson

This issue also includes the work of guest artist Susana Levy, who lives in Mexico City. An avid keeper of sketchbooks, she says, “Abrir la libreta y sujetar la pluma, reconocer este espacio, este es tu hogar.” (Open the notebook and hold the pen; recognize this space, this is your home.)

Available for purchase. Preview Vol I, No. 5

An0An Volume I, No. 4

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover “In a dream I return a lost bunny to its mother: a large blue grey rabbit held in the arms of a French Canadian man wearing a Nepali cap in a mountain town.” ~ Joan Anderson

“I’ve come to the conclusion that drawing should be taught very seriously everywhere, in all schools, not just in art schools, because if you can draw, even a little bit, you can express all kinds of ideas that might otherwise be lost—delights, frustrations, whatever torments you or pleases you. Drawing helps you to put your thoughts in order. It can make you think in different ways. It naturally gives you a sense of harmony, of order.” ~ David Hockney from his Foreword to The Drawing Book by Jeffrey Camp

This issue includes work from guest artist John Horner, a prolific and passionate keeper of sketchbooks. He is also the founder and inspiration behind Studio 108 in Boulder, Colorado, a lively venue of art classes, music, and lectures.

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. I, No. 4

An0An Volume I, No. 3

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“…at the edge of the forest, where the map doesn’t go, from the top of the tree, here in the meadow, in the heart of the mountain, by the side of a pond, under the stars, swimming alone, running in moonlight, escaping the clock, tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat, with wind-riled hair, you’re racing downhill, jump across, into the mud, along the road, around the bend, out of sight, in the fragrance of rain, scale a cliff, roll down a hill, forage for lunch, catch & release, walk backwards, falling down, wading across, a river of sunlight. TAKE YOUR SKETCHBOOK.”

“Early morning I see a fine line of light shining in the sky among the winter branches. What could it be? Ah ha, the rising sun spangling one tiny branch. The next morning among the same branches, a sliver of moon.” ~ Joan Anderson

This issue features pages from the sketchbooks of Brooklyn artist Christine Howard Sandoval. See her work on pages 22-29. From Christine, “I try to communicate to my students how important keeping an active sketch book is for any creative person.”

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. I, No. 3

An0An Volume I, No. 2

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“It took me years to learn how to keep a sketchbook. It came down to its being personal. Earlier I had the impression that a sketchbook was obligatory for a painter and had to be polished, finished in some imagined way. With that attitude, I’d self-consciously fill a dozen pages or so and give up. I’m grateful for the years spent at a rural retreat center where I lost track of big artistic ambitions. I remember the moment of thinking, ‘This is my sketchbook; it can be anything.’ That was the first sketchbook I filled entirely.

“I usually keep two sketchbooks going at once: a large one that stays put and a small one I carry with me. A sketchbook is an easy traveling companion. ‘Take me with you.’ Oh yes, that’s right. Pick up your pencil and give it a go. Figure out how to proceed. Expect to be able to do it. Set out to record what you see and feel. Record is from the Latin recordari, to remember: re-, again + cord-, heart, mind. Beautiful.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. I, No. 2

An0An Volume I, No. 1

Image of Joan Anderson AnOAn Magazine cover“Drawing is a personal endeavor and a readily acquired skill. A sketchbook is a marvelous companion. Your own curiosity is the best teacher. It will lead you forth – into the many worlds around you and into the hidden world of your own imagination. Pick up a pencil; look closely at what is right in front of you and relax; you can start anywhere. Look at all kinds of drawings: old masters and modern masters (Bill Traylor, Jim Dine, Vija Celmins, Jennifer Bartlett, Jean Michel Basquiat, etc.), graffiti, illustrations. Copying is a wonderful way to learn; do it fearlessly. Scribble and jot, relax and look closely. Draw with friends. For beginners two helpful books are The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee & John Buscema.”

“It was that one drawing that sustained my curiosity. I drew those curving shapes over and over. And then, most magically, I began to see them everywhere on the island – in how the ocean water broke over the rocks, in the patterns of light on the bay, in the clouds, in how the hummocks of grass grew. The shape belonged to that place. Wow. But for drawing I’d have missed it.” ~ Joan Anderson

Available for purchase. Preview Vol. I, No. 1