27 July 2011

Don't marry a technique

... because when you overdo it, which one day you surely will, you will never be satisfied with the content. That was the lesson of early July. It is a bummer to put aside many long hours of work for maybe ... well, maybe never again. And when you are not satisfied, and look at the lesson lying there on your drawing table waiting for you to acknowledge it, its best to go all the way back to the beginning, Open your soul as a vessel, which rebuilds confidence while narrowing the field to a field you feel most comfortable wandering through. A home in which your heart beats and breaths are in sync. 

Indian Blanket Rock Garden
Here is a first, as far as I know, a painting I up and quit, don't like and then posted. Online. There was much promise, hours and full days spent running back and forth up the hill, down the hill, looking at the real thing and running back to lay it in. And when one glistening afternoon as a shaft of bright sunlight landed square on the full work, instead of the Indian Blanket clusters (Gloriosa Rudica), it had become a portrait of ah, rocks.. I'm only showing you an early phase because the later phase was not photographed, I had about 3 - 4 days left simulating dirt, which was coming out nicely, a mottling of Van Dyke and Antelope browns, but it was too late for the Indian Blankets.  I put the whole thing into the back of the closet, you know those kind of places for "someday" - Someday it might not be there and I will have forgotten about it kind of places?

Right away, I moved on to more familiar territory. Much father down the mountain is a valley we call the Flatlands. Every spring, thousands of sheep and their lambs are pastured on the other side of the fencing shown. Other times the occasional herd of cattle lease the land. Most of them time it is fallow and it is old enough to have grown mature Sage and unattended wild oats, cheat grass and weeds, all of it indigenous to the Transmontane region: desert thousands of feet above sea level mixed with mountain forests, heavily sprinkled with old growth Oak carpeting the canyons, the foothills and the flanks until, high up, where the top meets sky, it is all Alpine.  You'd need a helicopter to get up there.

Crow Alley
People whip past these scenes as if they are not there. Its like the upscale train Woody Allen stared into from the window of a dull grey commuter car filled with empty cheap seats, his train to nowhere.  He saw people in the next train whooping it up, toasting flutes of champagne, much laughter and celebration, jeweled women in evening gowns. As the train sped past him, he saw lovers, people dancing to a hot band from the Roaring Twenties. In this territory, I get to be him and them, simultaneously. The watcher and the celebrator.

Crows and Ravens circle slowly above the mountain tops, waiting on a thermal, floating noiselessly through the air and playing chase with each other.  In this unnoticed and seemingly invisible location, they have a entire runway for smooth landings complete with happy hour perches. To stand beneath lifts of feather is to be a silent air flight controller, unnecessary of course, and awed with every perfect arrival and departure. I don't think those passengers in fast cars would be interested. We have a long way to go to help them to see and sense the forces of Nature and none of it is simple when so few care at all about the world in which we live together.

Fortunately, every day is another lesson.
A great day is a day with lots of lessons.


Pangolin said...

Next time, just paint the flowers on white canvas and STOP!!!

One of my favorite flowers; tough as nails and very productive of cut flowers or happy to sit in a dry spot and get a bucket of water once a week.

nina said...

They are amazing, I agree. Before I knew what they were commonly called, I was sure they had to be "Little Owsleys".

Lesson learned Pangolin. Some things are so perfect just as they are they need no accompaniment.

chickory said...

i am reminded of that roberta flack song..."singing my life with his words...."

did you know from a psychic vibration this was my very struggle? The redemption in the painting of the flatlands is beautiful -in every sense of the word. You are an amazing artist; your powers of observation are supreme. Blanketflowers are hardy beauties arent they? Mine have taken over the perennial border...but I am fine with that.

nina said...

You are too kind! Thank you sweet girl.

One sole cluster of Indian Blankets is reported to do exactly what they are doing for you, taking over wherever a foothold can be found. They are striking and can be seen from afar, even now, off in the distance where they live in their rock garden, there is a welcome burst of brilliant red brightening up the horizon.

Yes, there is a psychic connection. I left a piece of my heart up around Rabun Gap somewhere.

chickory said...

I meant that I happened to be struggling with a rather large (40x40) painting of Flannery o connor. It went from good to awful to good again. It was a harsh week in painting. Then I came over and read this and it was so true!

I will be over to comment on DIALW soon - i know its about Turey!! But I am exhausted and need to wait until I can give a proper thoughtful comment. Rabun Gap!! its still beautiful.

LifeinCreation said...

I love how you describe the birds and their flight nina.

As I once shared with neil: I love watching the different birds around my house.  Hawks and eagles, ravens, robins, blue jays, swallows.  Canadian geese.  All with their own ways.  The bigger birds soaring and gliding in circles, looking for fish in the river below.  The blue jays chasing each other off and always trying to get the upper hand (naughty fellows).  The fat robins hopping around, looking for worms.  The geese in perfect formations in the sky.  But the swallows, ahh the swallows.  They are delightful to watch.  They dart around like adorable madmen, chasing each other all over the place, performing synchronistic aerial acrobatics, so playful and teasing and energetic.

Yes, nature is the greatest teacher.  And most divine inspiration.

nina said...

Thank you Life. Isn't it wonderful to see the old crowd return and the new babies when the seasons change? I get real antsy when the Dark-eyed Juncos are late. Every year they arrive later into the season, living proof of climate changes.