10 August 2014

Seasons of Light

Does the season dictate what we paint?  Or is it the play of light and shadow?  Or both?   These are small sketches I did over the past year -- some were painted in the winter/early spring in my travels up through Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire --  

Late Sun on Snowfields (mixed media; 8"x10")

Distant Mountains (mixed media; 8" x10")

While these were painted earlier this summer at the Cape --

Sand Dunes and Marshes (watercolor; 5" x7")

Cape Light (watercolor; 5" x 7")

Tracking the Sun (watercolor; 5" x 7")

Why landscapes and at other times abstracts?  I'm beginning to think that it may have much to do with the light.  In the winter and autumn, the light plays across the land, catching out colors and contours.  While in the summer, one often can't even see the land because your sight is overwhelmed with the intense light and the heat waves shimmering off the surfaces of water, sand and marshes.

Now I'm watching the late afternoon skies more often, noting the lowness of the sun, the cast of shadows stretching just a bit more across the gardens and lawns.  Temperatures have dropped at dusk and there's the need for a sweater or light jacket.

We have moved from the pastels of spring to the intense yellows and reds of late summer.  In a few weeks, the persimmons and ambers of autumn will take their place, along with the smell of woodsmoke and hot cocoa.  

But for now I'll take what I see, shift my toes in the cool grass and sip at a glass of chilled white wine while I splatter paints across the blank white page . . . 

In nature, light creates the color. In the picture,
color creates the light. 
Hans Hofmann 

02 August 2014

Slow summer painting

A world of color and hue, 
 a world that remembers the nuance of light and shadow, 
of how darkening waters still send up a glitter,
a spark of sunlight, 
  a world quiet but for birdsong drifting on air . . . 

Sometimes the brush works with you, sometimes not. 
Another layer of paint, 
 scrap back, 
begin again. 
Losing track of time -- is it day or is it night? 
Does it matter? 

Muscles begin to ache,
fingers cramp.

Has it been that long?
Must be.

The body needs time
to adjust,
not to fight the flow,
to corral the brushwork.

Slip aside,
step back,
surrender . .  . 


26 May 2014

Nothing going right? Go left!

Taking a break from painting. Taking a break from writing. Well, let's face -- I'm just taking a break from lots of things! The family gathering is over for the holidays; a great time was had by all. Today is quiet and the weather is changeable -- cloudy and cool, then the sun comes out and the humidity rockets. But I'm not complaining after the long winter and cold spring we've had here in New England.

I returned to my interest in digital photography and, more specifically, digital scrapbooking. I've been reading back issues of Digital Studio, as well as the current copy, and am intrigued by many of the digital artists and their works. I've tried this before but was always in a bit of a rush, so my attempts usually went bust. Also, although I have Photoshop Elements, I'm used to my old Jasc Paintshop. Not as powerful but it's a question of comfort. Someday I'll transition over.

With this image I was trying to work with my photos of flowers and was hoping to achieve a kind of mosaic effect that Donna Goar creates, which are awesome, but ran out of time. Still, I'm quite happy that I got this far -- at least for today.  The plumes and scrolls are from Anna Aspnes, a custom brush I created (compass), and a paraphrase from Georgia O'Keeffe.

When we try new things, there's always a learning curve; sometimes the curve is steeper than another.  And then my concern is, especially with digital images, that they are truly ephemeral, likely to disappear into cyberspace if we're not careful.  I think images like the one above would make a wonderful note card to send to someone you know who loves flowers and gardens -- and who does take the time to see a flower. 

*   *   *

When in the fresh mornings I go into my garden before anyone is awake,
I go for the time being into perfect happiness.
Celia Thaxter (1835 - 1894)

16 March 2014

Collaging with color
At a Glance

Taking advantage of the fairly mild weather -- no digging out from under snow and ice -- to get back to something more creative. I had begun these collages for an annual invitational, but never was able to reach the point where I wanted to inflict them on others . . . 

Not that I'm a big fan of pink but after looking out the window at white for weeks on end . . . well, you just want to see something invigorating for a change from gray, black, white and brown.

I've used these papers before, taken from Italian at a Glance (1920). The pages are quite brittle and the cover has fallen off, but I try to salvage the pages themselves.

The scrap of mathematics is from a child's primer from about 1910, and the pieces of fabric are scraps from old quilting projects.  I like them because they're soft and wrinkled, but when the acrylic gel is applied, it smooths them right out.

Earlier today I pulled out some old  paintings on birch panels and decided to 'upcycle' them into something a bit more abstract.  

I tend to be influenced by what I'm reading and yesterday I pulled a book off the shelf that I had forgotten about:  Barbara Rae Prints.  Talk about being hit by color -- Rae's monoprints and etchings are fantastical, surreal, dream-like.  

But now it's a race against time as the gardens will be screaming for work by mid-April -- and on top of all this, I've gotten back to writing again.  I'm hoping to have a manuscript (or two) ready for submittal by early May.  Well, at least that's the goal.  However, every time I set a goal, someone keeps moving those goal posts!

Here is the meaning of the happy moment:
color and I are one.     

Paul Klee

02 January 2014

A gift of life

New Year's resolutions.  Isn't it odd that most of us go through this little ritual every January?  We sit and ponder what we need or want to do to improve our life in the coming year; we contemplate the failures and successes from the previous year and hope for the best . . . 

But usually by spring some, if not all, these resolutions seem to fall by the wayside, to drift away with the spring rains and melt entirely under the blaze of a summer sun.

So why do we do it?  Is it that sense of a clean start to the year, a tossing out of the old with the last blast of a party horn toot?  

Who knows.  Maybe it's in the DNA.  Or if we had grandmothers and nuns in our early lives, there was always that tradition of clearing out the kitchens, placing coins and salt and bread on the doorsteps to welcome good luck -- (I'm not really sure what the nuns did, but I'm sure they did something similar.  Fresh rosaries, perhaps?) --

So let me share some of mine with you.  I'm sure some may be familiar . . . 

1)  To stay focused.  Oh, this is a hard one, believe me.  The temptation to wander off the planned route is strong, at least for me.  My daily work life is so structured that my free time is exactly that -- free!  It doesn't matter that for more than five years I've been working on writing a mystery novel (actually there are about three more in the process) -- I also paint, knit, crochet, garden (that's a big one as I love to be outside in the spring/summer/fall in the garden), read, quilt, walk . . . so many things, so little time!

2) To spend more time with my family.  My children are grown, the youngest in his senior year of college; my husband works part-time but his schedule is almost the opposite of mine.  The daily life, Monday-Friday, just doesn't leave much time for anything else.  But a concerted effort is my resolve, whether it's simply going for a walk together or food shopping together -- to make the time is important.

And 3) is a familiar one for many -- to get health(ier), to eat healthier, to be gentle with oneself because today's world is no longer 24/7 but rather 72/7!  We pack so much in, thanks to technology, that it's a wonder we don't implode at some point -- or maybe some of us do?

Last week during a little break while waiting for folks to stop by I visited Leslie Avon Miller's blog, textures shapes and color.  Her entry from earlier in the year struck me in all it's simplicity and beauty (see it here) -- and the image you see below absolutely struck me dumb, yet seemed to capture the sensibility of what I was seeking . . . 

egg shell drawings by Leslie Avon Miller
Our lives are fragile things.  We should treat them as a gift that is ours to cherish each moment, each hour.  So easily we lose sight of that.   This image is going to be posted at my desk so that each working day, I am reminded of my resolutions, of this gift of my life.

What image would you choose?  Why not share --

Peace to all in 2014 --

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