Friday, February 24, 2012

A Tiny Stroll in the Forest


I thought that spiral drawings might be the first work to be made in the new studio, 
but inspiartion came in the form of misty mountain ridges and dark, reaching trees: 
small paintings that relate to the ones I was doing when last I worked. The studio is 
starting to feel lived and worked in, with familiar piles of spiral drawings on the table
and small inspiration shelves above that are beginning to collect objects. 


Very exciting news for me - and anyone who comes to do a workshop or take a class-
is that they can now meet most of their needs in the studio! Thanks to a generous 
loan from my mother, I've installed a Nature's Head composting toilet. Originally 
designed for boats, its smaller than most others of its kind and about half the price.
It will also be a wonderful way of introducing people to green technology as all the 
toilet needs is some peat moss, a vent to the outside and a tiny bit of electricity for 
the built-in fan. Lots more about it on the website in the link above. I'll let you 
know how it works as time goes on. 


Pasha has made much progress making friends with the new space. The photo below
is from the early days when he wasn't quite sure. Now he comes inside to visit for 
fifteen minutes or so, several times a day. He no longer seems to think that the 
ceiling fan is a huge bird of pray which was quite scary at first!



We are in a strange cycle of unusually warm days when soft spring-like winds
call me outside. From the back door of the studio, a trail winds through the hemlocks
to the mossy wetlands. 



I've never looked quite as closely at this plant before and am
struck at how much it looks like a succulent.  



The deeper we venture into the forest, the deeper the snow, and Pasha finds 
the mossy trunks more comfortable than the hard snow. 


Little more than a husk, this badly diseased beech tree clings to life. 
At the top, it rests on a hemlock tree, and maybe because it is supported there, 
the trunk rounds out again and isn't quite as ravaged looking. 


The forest has much to teach me if I slow enough to notice it. 





I've been watching this tree carving being worked on for months, and now that 
the snows have melted around it, a large mound of woodchips is visible. I 
told the pileated woodpecker to stop here, but alas, woodpeckers are not 
quite as receptive as my students. 
  



Pasha and I walk back towards the house, passing the brown and shriveled
 garden to the lookout bench on the ledge. 


I lower myself very gently onto the bench as I think it may not 
last much longer, and wait for Pasha who has gotten side-tracked 
 in the garden. 




Here, the sunshine has melted most of the snow, and we drink in the 
 green moss medicine and delight in the compimentary color scheme.  




As if announcing their arrival, a band of crows calls out just as it flies 
over. I shift my gaze from the microcosm to infinity, and so does the camera. 





Even a tiny stroll in the forest weaves invisible threads of belonging, 
and seems always to stitch Pasha and me closer together.  

69 comments:

kd said...

beautiful. Love the forest in all seasons and moods. Your camera and words bring it's mood and the wondrous spirit right to us. Thank you. The composting toilet is a great idea - so glad you could put one in. Living lightly is so important.

Joel Le Blanc said...

Beautiful, enchanting photography!

ArtPropelled said...

Pasha is the star of the show today. I've enjoyed following her through the woods. Love the first 2 photos ..... the feeling of space in your painting ....and the sense of warmth in your studio. Gorgeous photo of the two of you!

stregata said...

Thank you for taking me along... your photos are wonderful. Aren't mosses and lichens the most fascinating plants!?

Donna~Q~ said...

A post full of Pasha goodness! I look at the photo of the two of you and think ~ "I know that kind of bonding, and how very dear it is!"

Thanks for posting the new studio art, and the woods stroll photos. So much beauty! I haven't gotten out much in this not-quite-winter and it is a good reminder to wander! Here's to Spring-on-the-breeze!

Moonfeiry said...

Wonderful photos! So much beauty and love in your blog (I like to visit it)

Stille Linde said...

The world is overflowing with medicine if we wish to see it. Here too it is spring, me too I met the crow calls. You're so close, you and Pasha, you even begin to resemble one another, do you know? :)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your kitty reminds me so much of the pet I had when I was 18... could have been a twin.. so beautiful.. her name was Chantzee.

Valerianna said...

Hi kd - thanks... hope the composting toilet works out well, I really am happy to be able to show people alternatives.

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Joel! No magic mushrooms in this post, but the way things are going, it'll be sooner than later!

Valerianna said...

The color in the painting is really more yellow, the photo makes it look somewhat salmon, but at least the depth did translate. Its been so long since I posted recent work, I decided to post it even though the photo isn't great. Pasha is a love to walk in the forest with, and, of course, he's always the start of the show around here!

Valerianna said...

Yes, its amazing that the soldier lichens are vibrant and the green mosses so green in the midst of Februrary. Ferns, too, I sometimes see them poking out from the snow still green. Maybe cause they are so close to Earth?

Valerianna said...

Its been hard for me to get out this winter, too. First it was so icy that walking on the road was scary, and the snow was too icy and crusty for snowshoes. Now its easier to walk, but I still find places too deep with snow and so have to turn around. Weird, weird winter!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Moonfeiry, glad you feel the love!

Valerianna said...

HA! I'm glad to hear that I may resemble my Pasha-kitty in some way as I think him quite attractive! Strange that we are feeling spring-like as we are still suppose to be in deep snows and cold winds. Though the light comes back this time of year, we are usually still two months away from anything slightly spring like except a day here or there of above freezing.

Valerianna said...

I recently met the identical twin of my kitty who died a few years ago. She needs a home and I'm tempted, but I don't want to upset the balance here with me and Pasha, so I haven't adopted her. Pasha is quite an old kitty and I think I owe it to him to have his last years alone with me.

deanna7trees said...

some beautiful words and images here. i just love that portal like opening in the tree. and interesting about that toilet...such a great idea. and beautiful Pasha.

AkasaWolfSong said...

I've just started following your blog, Valerianna, but I must tell you I find such peace here among your photo's and writings...

You and your Pasha are gorgeous in every sense of the word!

Namaste'

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Deanna, hope I love the toilet and don't mind emptying the "liquid" bottle somewhat frequently.

Valerianna said...

Hi AkasaWolfSong - thanks so much for your kind words... about the blog and me and Pasha! Welcome to following here. I'll pop over and check out your blogs.

susan christensen said...

Thanks for taking us along on the excursion through your February woods. I am inspired to take my camera out later this afternoon. The new studio is looking very comfortable, and I am glad Pasha is overcoming his Cat Fears. (I knew he would eventually). Love to you from our part of The Forest, sus

Nancy said...

From the tiny new growth, to the vastness overhead, to the excessive work of the woodpeckers...thanks for sharing!

gz said...

That first image is just right.

Pasha is looking good, I'd love a cat like that.

Trish said...

Love your photos...that lichen is amazing.
Your artwork is beautiful...misty mornings are such an inspiration.x

Valerianna said...

Hi Sus - thanks for joining me on our excursion. I knew Pasha would get over his cat fears, too, but I thought it was rather unreasonalbe since he had been in and out of the studio while it was being built and had no doors. Once I moved in and there were doors, he freaked out!

Valerianna said...

You're welcome, Nancy. Yes, isn't it quite excessive woodpecker work? Good word for it!

Valerianna said...

I do think he's quite handsome myself. Maine Coon cat, similar looking cats are Norwegian Forest cats and Siberians. They are rather outgoing cats, all of them I read. They are still very self-contained, but have a dog-like spirit at times. Not the
hide-away-in-the-closet kind of cat, no, there the center of attention kind!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Trish. That lichen always blows me away.

Mo Crow said...

the magic is happening love the new painting and tanks your for the stroll through your wintery woods with the mighty Pasha

Mo Crow said...

oops! thanks not tanks

Tammie Lee said...

you know i love that you have a new studio
and how wonderful that you have a green toilet for it, yea mom
your first piece of art is dreamy wonderful as are your glimpses of the world around you
i loved each one
sending a warm hello

Lynne said...

You've outdone yourself with the photographs in this post. Absolutely beautiful :-)

helen said...

I dreamt about using a composting toilet a few nights ago!!! I've never used one, but would love one day to have one....great for your studio...which is looking so warmly inviting and lived in now. I heart, heart, heart your "welcome mat' :~)

Goodness, your woodpeckers are industrious ~ I have never seen the like over here!!

I love that the hemlock gives such supporting friendship to the Beech in need....who, even ravaged with disease, is utterly beautiful....as is the ridged, silvered deadwood.

Thank you for my Sunday afternoon stroll through your woods, with a delightful peek at your new work, and the company of you and King Pasha among flashes of brightest green moss and silvery lichen. x

joe said...

i dream of the day when i return to the forest. it is the only thing i miss of my years in california. ok. the forest and the wonderful array of restaurants and art/supply shops within a few hours' drive.

your new studio is divine! of course, your paintings are as amazingly beautiful and full of depth and spirit, as always!

namaste'

Valerianna said...

The "tanks" was kind of cute..

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Lynne!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Tammie. I'm loving my studio, but this week I've been taking a much needed break from everything non-essential. And even essential creative expression! Its been good and I;m finding some balance.

Valerianna said...

The composting toilet is a GREAT solution for my studio on so many levels. As my bathroom is upstairs in my house, it made the thought of renting the space a little challenging as groups would need to traipse through the house and upstairs on an evening to use the bathroom. It seemed a must and I hope I love it!

Pileated woodpeckers are rather large and really quite amazing! Do follow the link to read about them!

I've been watching this particular diseased beech for years since I moved here. It was doing quite well for a while up there at the top, but two years ago the hemlock lots ITS top in an ice storm and now its also dying. Oh well, the way of things.

Everyone seems to notice that doormat! I love it to. Spiral trees, what could be better?

Valerianna said...

I had an intense dream the other night that I bought a beautiful seaside house with someone. An old victorian with incredible space and light. Just as we were moving in, I walked around the property - small and tucked into a row of sweet cottages at the shore, beach right there. But all of a sudden I started freaking out.. NO, I CAN"T do this, I CAN'T leave my forest... NO.. NO... it was sooo incredibly visceral, the feeling that I was leaving my family of trees and mosses. I might have to blog about that dream, soo intense.

I hope you make it back to the forest one day, and the good restaraunts and supply stores. I miss a few things about living in Providence - my amazing cat vet and the creative community, and the ocean right there.

Thanks for the feedback!

Penny Berens said...

I just love that Pasha....and your woods so similar to mine. You must be thrilled to be creating again in your lovely new space.

Valerianna said...

Thrilled, definitely! But I forced myself to take a rest this week, really slowed down, did some house stuff I've been putting off, and cooked good food. I feel better already and excited to have next week off from teaching, yipee!

I'm always struck at how similar the Northeastern forests are, even so far away. But then again, I see images from forests in the Northwest and they seem very familiar, too. Fascinating.

Pasha cat is really quite the character.

Sandra said...

Thank you for taking us through your lovely forest. What a sculpture of holes in the tree!! Also, your painting is wonderful!

Anne said...

Beautiful photos..:)

Lynn said...

Lovely to see your beautiful paintings on the studio walls; your forest is enchanting; and that last photo of you and Pasha is a delight! Your posts always fill me with warmth and wonder. Thank you.

Valerianna said...

Thank, Sandra - Amazing treework, hun? I really like it as a sculpture, kind of a mythical canoe if it were on its side. I imagine it will be someday, then I might need to bring it inside somewhere for a collaborative sculpture with the woodpecker!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Anne!

Valerianna said...

Hi Lynn - I really like that photo of me and Pasha, too. It was a quick hold the camera away from me and see what happened, I'm glad it worked!
Hope all is well in your world....

Angela Bell said...

What a beatiful post.I was there in the forest and Pasha is a fine cat!

ramona said...

It's good to see Pasha warming up to the new studio. Gorgeous photo of Pasha on mossy trunk!!
Warm wishes.

Carole said...

I enjoyed discovering the delights of your woods. We have a kitty just like Pasha named Nigella.

x
Carole

Valerianna said...

Glad you joined us on our walk Angela, I think I saw your tracks in the snow...

Valerianna said...

I like that pic of Pasha, too... I like capturing him when he's in his heightened awareness, wild moments, so PRESENT!

Valerianna said...

Hi Carole, I find the aethetics of Maine Coons quite irresistable, and their outgoing personalities.

Joanne said...

Your gentle painting is dream like and I can sense the mists of time in your work and forest surroundings.
Good to hear that Pasha is now brave enough to enter your studio space. I wonder if the new smell of wood and varnish also put her off visiting. Cats are funny about smells.
She does look beautiful and wily in your photos. Is she a Maine Coon?
The eco friendly loo is a good idea! ;-)
All the best with the creative workshops. I think they will be a great success!
Have a lovely week.

Best wishes,
Jo and Zigsa.

Valerianna said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Jo!
Yes, Pasha is a Maine Coon... I love the breed, he's wonderfully outgoing and engaged. I hear that's a Maine Coon trait. He's the second one I've had, the other one was also rather a character. And yes, cats are so very particular about smells and new places and such. He seems well over his anxiety about the studio now. Today he cried at the door several times to come in!

Velma said...

the studio looks so welcoming and cozy, it's new wood warm, inviting. your close-up of the british red caps throws me way back to once when i used them to dye some wool long ago. do you know this nick name: cock of the woods for pileated woodpecker?

Sophie Munns said...

I loved that painting Valerrianna!
And It was so delightful to take a walk with you... taking in the loo on our way!

With a backdrop like this it must be hard to be drawn away some days... the trees, the land and all it contains... moss... the moss... that amazing up-close shot with those little red tipped funghi?
Bliss.... I could almost believe myself there. What a magical place for this studio!
S

Barry said...

VA- I'm glad the muses took you in the direction of a misty mountain - what a beautiful piece to create in your new space. Looks like it is becoming lived in and will nuture you. I wish you well in this new part of your journey - may you create well, share well and be happy in it. And may T also grow to be part of it. B

sandra said...

i love how you said "mythical canoe" - my mind is floating with ideas now,,, and the neat thing, as of late i've been desiring a canoe! just the mention of that word sparks something deep inside me.

have a beautiful, peaceful day...

Valerianna said...

Boats and conoes have been on my mind lately - as a mythical travel metaphor. Are you going to get a canoe? I love kayaks, myself, so close to the water....

Just came in from shoveling copious amounts of snow from all the various paths and buildings.... seems like canoeing might be a ways off now!

Valerianna said...

I love those British Soldiers/ Red Caps - they are so small, but so very confident and the color is divine. What color do they produce? And, no, didn't know that name for the pilieated, they are so very loud and ambitious!

Valerianna said...

Definitely hard to leave some days Sophie. Sometimes hard to anything, this forest asks me to sit and listen and look a lot. Those little plants are lichen - british soldiers or red caps they're called. I love them as they usually stick up out of the green mosses, gotta love those colors!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Barry - I'm obsessed with the misty mountain views, and always enjoy seeing your view for inspiration. Thanks for the well wishes in the studio, next week is spring break from teaching, so I will have a lot of time to sink into work in the new space, yipee!

Velma said...

well, i used only the red cap and the color i obtained was pink...but, nowadays i would NOT boil the lichen (which is what i did) and a better hue might be obtained.

Ruthie said...

Valerianna, it is so inspiring to sit here and watch your new studio come alive. I see the forest is weaving its magic around you and your space. I love how things begin to collect too. Here in my own studio since I moved in last year, each and every surface has become covered with finds that have crept in & they all hold stories waiting to be unlocked. Love the rich hues in your photos, i just found a tiny fungi just like the one you did with bright red tips, such incredible striking colour, I still have no idea what it is? Worlds in miniature. x

Karen said...

Wonderful to see that you've settled in and have begun working in there now.It looks such a beautiful space. The compost toilet is a fantastic idea. So glad to see the handsome Pasha is getting used to the newness too. I love the photograph of him looking up the steps. Oh and what a lovely doormat. :) x

Valerianna said...

Hi Ruthie - I hope one day soon you'll show us what's collecting in your studio! I so love to see other people's inspiration and collections. Such a curious thing, how it seems we all love to see into people's homes, studios, collections of inspiration. I just can't get enough of that! Over here we call that lichen a British Soldiers or Red Caps, probably a close cousin to what you found.

Valerianna said...

Seems I hit it with that doormat! Lots of people commented on it!! I, too, love that shot of Pasha, something hesitant in his look - almost a tidbit of an Eeyore there.

Ruthie said...

I have a "studio " post lined up for some time soon ;-) It is fascinating to peep into the studios of others isn't it. I have one friend who loves to come & just sit & look in mine lol Hmm I shall go and look up red caps & British soldiers!