The War of the Woods

The War of the Woods

I mentioned my love of solitude in an earlier post. Love is probably not the right word. That’s like saying I love to breathe air. It’s much more about need. If I do not have enough silent space, besides becoming a bit grumpy (to which my husband will attest), I cannot think, see or hear as clearly, and then there is no art. I have the following wonderful and lofty quote taped inside the cover of an old journal: “Retirement is the laboratory of the spirit; interior solitude and silence are its two wings. All great works are prepared in the desert, including the redemption of the world. The precursors, the followers, the Master himself, all obeyed or have to obey one in the same law. Prophets, apostles, preachers, martyrs, pioneers of knowledge, inspired artists in every art, ordinary men and the Man-God, all pay tribute to loneliness, to the life of silence, to the night.” A.G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life. It is a very grand statement and any personal participation I may have in its truth is very, very small - but important. Painting is like going alone into the woods. It is the leaving behind of all clutter, both internal and external, all duty and demands - a determined hike to a secluded, quiet destination that is conducive to intense focus, to hearing, to joyful or plodding or difficult work. Depending on the stage of the painting, interruptions can be knot-in-the-stomach painful. Being unexpectedly called out of “the woods” entirely can be so unpleasant as to require a little prayer and deep breathing before responding so as to...
Vegetable Tableau

Vegetable Tableau

  This painting is a study in contrasts of a variety of shapes, textures and colors. The actors in this table-top tableau are: the ivory-colored garlic cloves with papery outer layers, the smooth, dull-skinned acorn and spaghetti squashes, the larger green squash with its barnacle-like growths, the shiny and wrinkled chard leaves, the polished, reddish radicchio with flowing white lines, the long bright carrots and the quiet little turnip facing the light. The eye is led around the lower rounded shapes, then the focus is sent upward in the fountain-like arch of the chard and back down in the pouring-out motion of the radicchio veins to the downward curve of the carrot tip curling over the edge of the table. The compact piling of the vegetables creates a cornucopia-type image of abundance while the surrounding darkness and dramatic lighting amplify the serenity of this interior...
Possibilities

Possibilities

Question: Best days of elementary school? Answer: When I got my new school supplies, including a handful of dangerously pointed pencils and stacks of white, blue-lined notebook paper. And then came those delicious first marks written on the clean, crisp page - oh the possibilities!  With that level of excitement over writing materials, you can imagine my joy in later years, opening my painting and drawing supplies for art classes. When I begin a new painting, I experience that anything-is-possible sensation again. I’m now painting primarily on smooth, beautiful wood panels. When starting a new work, I usually collect my ideas, notes, reference photos (shot by me in an earlier photo session) and then pull out some panels which I have either purchased from a supplier or had cut to specific sizes by a lumber yard. I spend lots of time thinking and staring. Mulling over intent and desire, I begin to further develop and refine my ideas and consider my compositions in relation to the various sizes of the panels. Later there will be sanding, brushing the panels with coats of gesso, more sanding, drawing, and of course, the first layers of painting. By then, certain parameters have been chosen, the coordinates are locked in and I am well on my way. But for now, at the beginning, it is all about choosing the destination and plotting the journey. Truly, anything is possible and that is its own kind of...
Seeing

Seeing

“Nobody sees a flower, really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time…” Georgia...
This One

This One

I often use shells in my still life paintings and have lots of them scattered around my house in little clusters - on a shelf, in a basket or bowl. I ignore them for long stretches of time, as one tends to do with familiar household objects. But then I find myself noticing them again, in amazement that what is essentially the abandoned home of some little water bound creature (maybe even something poisonous or vicious) offers such intriguing and wildly varied patterns and texture - and rich, elegant beauty. Why else would beachcombers stoop down and scoop up shell after shell after shell, gathering multi-colored collections of the wet, sandy treasures in their overflowing pails and packed pockets? So lovely to look at, to hold in the hand, I am drawn in once more, thinking…paint this...