Parktown: Bonisteel Trails


Stamps School of Art & Design, North Campus

For the longest time, the beauty of this secluded and small hill has confounded me. Tucked behind the art college, there is this sparsely trekked trail connecting you from the busy Fuller road up into the heart of North Campus. It is seriously one of the most picturesque, ripe areas for painting around campus as if the area was curated to function as inspiration for plein air artists. However, it seems to have been ignored by most art professors as a subject for study. It’s the same situation on the other side of the boulevard following the trail past the music college. There is this diversity of tree life and their strange distribution along the hill is something that shouldn’t me missed, and it’s definitely worth the trip between North and Central.

This image was taken on 11/16/21

Parktown: Olson Park, Part 2

Olson Park, North Campus

For this week I wanted to emphasize how much the landscape changes during this time of year. Taken at the same time of day in Olson Park, the foliage has begun to fall, the tall grass has browned, and the sky is overcast. However, life still persists right beside the trail and into the forest. This time of year marks the loss of summer abundance, yet there remains a beauty to be seen in the grays and the browns of dormant flora. One of my guiding principles for this blog is to capture Ann Arbor as we see it through its transition into different stages of life. Beauty can be found at every stage. Rather, it is more subtle at times and comes to you with a deeper appreciation of diversity of a fall or winter landscape.

I look forward to the leaves falling further.


This image was taken on 11/9/21.



Parktown: Olson Park, Part 1

Olson Park, North Campus

Olson Park is my absolute favorite place to visit around Ann Arbor, and I expect to paint more scenes in the future. In such a small place there are so many colors and vistas to be discovered, and the many snaking pathways give this illusion of taking a grand hike. At the moment of capturing my reference photos, it was early in the morning and the sun was shining through the brush. The air was cold, crisp, and the park was peaceful save for the highway adjacent to the park. It’s the most beautiful area to explore, and it’s a shame it’s tainted by the constant noise from cars in the distance.

Even so, it gives me great comfort to walk the paths alone and I hope you may seek out Olson Park as well.


This image was taken on 10/22/21.

Parktown: M-14 Exit 4 Bridge

M-14 Exit 4 Bridge, Central Campus

I have a long history with this highway overpass, strangely enough. I discovered these train tracks snaking between the many parks up the Huron River when first exploring Ann Arbor at the start of last year. Later during the winter time, I searched for a secluded spot to practice plein air oil painting and set up below the rumbling of cars of all places. I would not recommend painting in the winter without proper protective gear nor the sun to warm you up (even if I got a painting from the experience).

I was happy to return to this place and capture it again when I could finally use green on my canvas. The area has always struck me as a wonderful mixture of a desaturated human footprint, and the luscious abundance brought upon by nature.

This image was taken on 10/9/21.

Parktown: Argo Dam

Argo Dam, North Campus

B2B Ann Arbor is a bike path connecting the fringes of Ypsilanti along the Huron River and into Ann Arbor. Much of the path snakes its way through an aging concrete skeleton between the two cities, but I found myself particularly taken by the scenery at this dam while taking a breather. The whole area is teeming with cyclists, hikers, families, and all sorts of characters who stopped to listen to the water crashing from up above. There’s something about the cascading water and the bend of the river that had me wanting to take a swim. Unfortunately, the beautiful and luscious leaves of a Michigan summer are beginning to crumple up and desaturate. Such warm-weathered activities are now retired for the year, yet it helps me to appreciate the mornings which grow colder.

It certainly still won’t stop me from walking around and taking in the scenery.

This image was taken on 10/9/21.

The Magician’s Diaries: Clerical Healing Magic

Hello, my children,

It had not been but recently where I again pondered the unique disparities between more ancient holy magics and the modern understanding of proper casting. Many folk still retain their connection to the ancient gods. Such forces play games with the souls and ambitions of mortals, and it is quite savage I should say. Contrastingly, it is the way of the modern magician to worship those forebears which paved the way for our greater, shared understanding in such a manner that institutions like these could survive. The Ascended Eight, in their dreamful march towards deification, hoped to remove us mortals from the specific interference of Old Gods and their ever-encroaching spinning of fate. As the tales tell, these few nearly succeeded. However, there was but one matter which they were unable to strip from the domain of the ancient divines:  counteracting death.

Perhaps I should paint a different picture. The local gladiator, Khosula, finishes a match and returns to the pit where she is greeted by her retinue of cultists. Khosula, likely worshipping the mother of all ravens as a gladiator is one to do, sees death as inevitable and all but common in her line of work. Playing the dance of swords leads to a misstep every once in a while, and it behooves them to plead directly to the mother so that they may exist on the side of least bloodshed. However, in a society that celebrates the drama of near-death, an industry of gladiators falling left and right permits not continued feuding or public interest.

Individuals such as Khosula are sponsored by a respective church dedicated to one of the many Old Gods. Upon leaving the ring after a battle, every need is tended to and, importantly, every wound is healed. To have a represented combatant succeed in the colosseum is integral to establishing superiority over other, waning sects while too incentivizing the patronage of donors who bet well on such fighters. Again, the reality is that many of these gladiators do not believe in the organizations which feed them money and healing. It is merely a symbiotic relationship.

Such forces have the ability to both create and take awake the force of living, and upon evoking the name of one’s deity, these clerical magicians can repair skin where it had sloughed off. Superficial tears in tendons are knitted back together, in some cases, broken bones can be reconstructed with enough care and attention to anatomy. However, it is all a matter of timing and the quality of one’s resources.

Khosula now is a gilded celebrity, yet her early career often left her bruised and scarred with no relief or medical attention. One untimely day, despite dominating her opponent, she received an unlucky blow to her left eye that could not be healed, so now she stalks the battlefield having an imperfect blur of vision. Their powers are limited to the capabilities of the healer, which varies wildly amongst each worshipper based upon their true devotion and experience.

While not being perfect, this is what remains so tantalizing about the Old Gods. In a time of faith and high mortality, community leaders rise to power because they possess the immediate ability to relieve pain and to undo the shortcomings of one’s natural limitations. One can return from a wolf attack without the worry of infection, but there always remains a price to pay. The hunger which consumes you, that which owns you, transfers from wolf to the church.  Your price is favor and devotion to individuals defined by their idolatry of fickle, unpredictable allegories of universal experience.

The modern magician looks upon The Eight for guidance. While a wildly successful interpretation of systems of magic, The Eight were unable to properly resolve the issue of lifeforce. Some of you may be asking me where necromancy contributes to this larger conversation, but you must too recognize that necromancy involves the forfeit of the soul to reproduce tissue and rearrange nerves. 


While hope appears lost, that mustn’t stop you from the eternal march forward in the understanding of a world designed to limit the extent of mortal understanding. That is the way of the magician and The Eight before us, and that is how we will liberate ourselves from the obsessive eccentricities of the Old Gods once and for all. 


Until next time,

-The Magician