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13 November 2014

A late bloomer



O.k.  I know it.  I've tried joining the NaNoWriMo thing for several years (National Novel Writing Month, for those who are shaking their heads).  The goal is 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30, which equals approximately 1,666 words a day.  

Hmmm, shouldn't be too hard to do.  After all I have a graduate degree in English, I can type about 85 words a minute on a regular keyboard, I'm a librarian surrounded by books and writers every day of my work life, and I have several "works in progress," as they used to be called. 

So how come I sit for hours fretting, thinking, avoiding and just being plain obstructive?  I believe it's my innate sense of contrariness, something in these Irish bones that mentally thumbs its nose at authority, at some force telling me what I should do.  But of course that's just plain old procrastination. 

Oddly enough, now at mid-point in November, I feel this sudden urge to push through, like some kind of off-balance marathon runner.  I think some writers have to come at their work (and it is work) from a sideways angle.  Like those funny sand crabs that scuttle sideways, we prod at the thing, testing the water, turning our backs until that surge to pounce, to jump erupts -- even if only for a few hours or a few days.

We'll see what the next few weeks bring -- could be wonderful; could be a bunch of ka-ka.  But it's always an adventure, whether one writes, paints, composes, dances, sings.


Good luck to my 
fellow NaNoWriMo participants--
may the best crab win!

04 October 2014

What's on the Horizon?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. My bad, but summer is a tough time. Life just seems to gravitate to the outdoors, and I'm reluctant to come inside and sit in front of my computer and scanner and post images, thoughts, etc. 

But as the light begins to shift and autumn starts to roll in, to come inside -- especially on a day when it's drizzly and damp -- is not such a chore, is it? So as I started to sort and re-organize my space for the 'indoor season' I found some works from last winter, still resting on the easels, waiting patiently for me to notice them. 

Your works do become a kind of family, images filled with memories of contentment or frustration, eagerness, curiosity and yes, sometimes anger. However, I have good memories of these two -- both started out as something else; both were re-worked over other 'failures' with oil, cold wax (Dorlands) and bits of pastel (Sennelier).

Horizon1 (detail) (oil, wax, pastel; 10"x24")

There's something about the horizon line and bodies of water that intrigue me, whether I'm on the Cape or traveling through the farmlands of New England. These past weeks I pass field upon field of corn mowed down and bundled into rolled stacks, not unlike Monet's "Haystacks." 

As the late afternoon sunlight moves across the land, it is breathtaking. You want to slam on the brakes and capture the shadows and light, the dimming colors of hay and pine against cloud-laden skies.
 
Horizon2 (detail) (oil, wax, pastel; 10"x24")

These are partial scans of the larger work, too big to scan as a whole.  Each measures 10" x 24" and is painted on a birch panel, which I love more and more as I work on them.  They take a good deal of abuse, as I tend to use brayers rather than brushes, continually applying bits of paper toweling to remove paint, then add another layer, remove, add. During this process I also use the edge of the brayers to create marks that then reveal the layers below, a kind of construction/deconstruction process, and the panels hold up well.

I hope to continue this "Horizon" series on panels of varying sizes. I've always wanted to do a triptych or diptych, and I think the birch panels would work as you could clamp or screw the panels together.  One more note on this process:  depending on what brand toweling you use (or napkins), the brayer will often pick up the pattern ever so slightly, which makes for another layer of texture -- pretty cool!


We are enveloped and drenched in the marvelous, but we do not see. 
Baudelaire


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)




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