Monday, January 21, 2013

Owls & Winter Branches

"Snowy Owl in Flight" VClaff 2013

The days slowly brighten, but windy, bitter nights have taken hold. When the 
wind slows, a profound quiet settles in the forest. Occasional creaks and cracks 
echo in the frozen world, and in the night, the owls call deep in the forest or 
just outside my window. 

"Midwinter Owl" VClaff 2013


The barred owl that I thought had gone beyond the veils has come again to her 
perch in the clearing. I wonder if she feels the owl energy in the studio. I caught a 
glimpse of her tawny wings flashing by in the late afternoon one day, and I hear 
the crows chasing her off in the early mornings while I am still warm in bed. 



 "Great Gray Owl" VClaff 2013

In the studio, I've been filling the walls with owl drawings, and the ones in this 
post are now listed in my Etsy shop



I just today started experimenting with better papers, and this led to some 
drawings I've been thinking about that explore layering and the rhythm of  
winter branches. These drawings are on rigid illustration board, and so far I 
am very much enjoying the surface. 

new drawings 2013

 Winter Branches series VClaff 2013

"Winter Branches"  VClaff 2013

"Winter Branches 2"  VClaff 2013

On warmer days, Pasha keeps guard at the studio door, hoping I'll come out for 
a walk in the afternoon. 




One warm and sunny day, the forest - and a walk with Pasha - was irresistable. 
Looking first at plant stalks still standing in the garden, I was struck by how 
fragile these plants appear, yet snows and howling winds have yet to loose many 
a seed from its stalk. 





Although the snow was deep, it was packed down enough that I didn't need  
snowshoes, which is always nice. Pasha makes use of my tracks and I notice 
fox tracks used by raccoons, and coyote tracks used by a bobcat. Its surely 
easier to have someone else break trail, even if it is something that might 
eat you. 



 Fox track used only by a fox. 

Beneath the snow, the ancient world of mosses and ferns seems still very much 
alive. I bent low and admired this delicate fern on her mossy stone, drinking in 
the vibrant greens. 



Here is a short clip of Pasha on our walk. His enthusiasm is always a joy, and I was 
glad to finally catch him doing his dash up a tree. At the end of the video, we 
come to the spot with the coyote and fox tracks. You might notice them. The last 
film is of one of my favorite sounds, especially in the morning when everything else 
is still and the sun is just rising.  




61 comments:

Christine Linton said...

I was surprised to see your cat apparently enjoying the snow as mine is used to Aussie heatwaves. I like your new forest drawings, they have so much depth.

Valerianna said...

Oh no... Pasha MELTS in the heat, along with me. Actually, he also doesn't love it when it gets really, really cold. He doesn't mind warm-ish snow days, as this one was!

Hindustanka said...

Hello, Valerianna!you know I;m in love with your cat! It's so cute how he is walking on the snow and climbing the trees, he enjoys the forest so much!
I loved your drawings, they are beautiful!

layers said...

I love your winter branches series.. the branches seemed to grow and multiply and enclose me in a protective way.

Charlotte said...

A lovely post, resonant and full. I too love the depth the new surfaces are giving to your drawings. They reminded me of the lovely negatives my dad used to have hanging in strips, drying, from walks out. The large format camera had that same layered quality. Our Chi has enjoyed snow as well, although he is not as adventurous as Pasha.

Lynn said...

Beautiful Valerianna.
Lovely transparency and undulating movement in your newest pieces.
I agree - the sound of a fire is one of my favourites too. (I can't wait to live in a place again that has one.) The sound of crunching snow in your first video is another favourite of mine. Great to see Pasha darting up that tree!

gz said...

breathtaking!

It is good to use quality materials.

Rowan said...

The woods are so beautiful in the snow, you are so lucky to live in such wonderful surroundings.

india flint said...

i enjoyed that walk, thank you

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Beautiful, thanks for sharing, such a nice pace to live. Ah tree's love them. Signs of life flourishing, even under the snow, thats what i hope for.

Barry said...

VA - love the quiet ghostliness of your winter trees. Energetic cat. Crunchy snow. Crackling fire. All the sights and sounds of winter. Such beauty in the changing seasons. Go well. B

Juli said...

Beautiful work as always Valerianna. I've been feeling owl energy and have been painting trees this past week or so, something I never even thought of painting before, but now seems to be a time for trees for me and I am happy to oblige.
Ohh the sound of a crackling fire, how wonderful it is <3

Lois said...

I love coming to visit ~ always rich with inspiration. My Crouton would hop in footsteps in the deep snow, and piddle in each one. She stays in when it is bitter cold now that she is 10ish, waiting for balmy winter days to sit in the sun on the deck.

Valerianna said...

Hi Hindustanka - yes... Pasha does enjoy the forest! He was always looking for green places when we lived in the city, now, he's very happy that green is everywhere. (and me, too!)

Valerianna said...

I'm excited about these drawings... I like the idea fo them enclosing and protecting.

Valerianna said...

Interesting image - negatives hanging being like branches, cool.

Valerianna said...

I'm listening to the crackling fire as I write, Pasha sitting very close to the wood stove. Its a VERY cold morning and we are very happy for the fire!

Valerianna said...

Oh yes... absolutely. Its sooo very important to use materials that give you possibilities. One surely doesn't want to be limited!

Valerianna said...

I practice gratefulness every time I walk in the forest - or look out the window. We have a beautiful morning dusting of snow, sun is out and everything is sparkling.

Valerianna said...

Glad for the complany!

Valerianna said...

That was so beautiful - the ferns and mosses peeking out from the snow!

Valerianna said...

I do love the particular sounds of winter, everything stilled and at its essence.

Valerianna said...

The trees are calling you.... :)

Valerianna said...

Glad for your visit, Lois. Is Crouton a cat or dog? And, believe it or not, Pasha is at least 16 years old... and STILL he's quite the outdoor kitty!

Caterina Giglio said...

yes, your owl is attracted to you and is such a powerful totem... well done you on your white branch series, they are magnificent...

Penny Berens said...

Such a treat to take a woodland walk with Pasha! Thank you. And I simply love the winter branches series. Think I'll take a walk in the woods today.

Kimberly Wachtel said...

I'm loving all the new work you are producing. Seems that you are in the creative zone! Also like hearing of your animal visitors at Ravenwood and seeing the photos of the flower seed heads in the sunlight. All is beautiful...
xo

acornmoon said...

I have been admiring your owl paintings via your shop. How wonderful to have the real thing outside your window.

saskia said...

I love those winter branches and isn't it nice we can virtually share our winter walks with our four legged friends

Valerianna said...

thanks, Caterina... I'm liking them, and looking forward to making more, though today is a desk day.

Valerianna said...

Well, it was quite brief. I made longer ones that day, but that one caught the tree dashing!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Kim... Creative and dream zone... stirring that imaginal cauldron.

Valerianna said...

Valerie - I'm greatly flattered that you like my owls as you are quite the owl painter yourself!! I'm quite enamored of one or two of your owls.. I think there is one with a fox and a huge tree that I am quite in love with! Such a gift to have owls and come visit.

Valerianna said...

Yes... I like seeing your walks with your dog. They are good company, especially when they are full of joy!!

Sylvia Linsteadt said...

This is gorgeous, thank you! I love the animal tracks in the snow, the idea of using the places others have walked, even if those others might eat you, and the beauty of owls. Warm wintery wishes to you!

Tammie Lee said...

hello ~

how wonderful that you get to see and hear and owl. i love when that happens.

it is a joy to see your wonderful art and your kitty playing in the woods.

yesterday i was xc skiing in the woods and came upon fresh mountain lion tracks, we never know what we will find!

Valerianna said...

Lovely to have you visit, Sylvia... such a different climate from where you are, eh? Thanks for the warm wintery wishes.. I'll need them tonight when its 0 degrees and for the rest of the week as the temperatures sink lower and lower.

Warm wishes back :)

Valerianna said...

I've been meaning to find new ski boots for my 3-pin skis. I have SEVERAL pairs of good xc skis, and all of my boots were lost in my move here. Mostly I snow shoe, but lately I've been wanting to ski again. There's one rather good trail nearby that I'd love to ski soon.

Great that you saw a mountain lion print... makes one very aware in winter, doesn't it, of all the creatures around us?

jodi said...

I came here to tell you how nice your new artworks of layered branches were looking, but on the way to doing that I realized that actually this is a whole post of lovely layerings.... those branches, but also the footsteps, winter and summer landscapes, inner and outer environments.... Wonderful! And how amazing to have visits from such a beautiful owl!!!

Valerianna said...

Jodi - what a great observation... I hadn't noticed all the layers in the post! How interesting. Its a ying-yang kind of thing going on here, I guess. Thanks for the insight.

Lori ann said...

valerianna, the sounds of crunching snow, the gently crackling fire and your incredible art must be among the most beautiful things on earth. what a joy to visit here.

Valerianna said...

What an enthusiastic comment, thanks!

Sandra Dunn said...

Pasha is quite the climber. ha ha! :) Loved your videos.
Your owls are magic! Stay warm.

Ruthie Redden said...

How I love the call of the owls from the wood, they remind me so of my childhood when we would sit outside in the gloaming and my Grandpa would “talk” to the owls ~ hooting into the darkness & waiting a reply. I thought it was quite magical! Your owl paintings have the same magical feel to them, enchanting.

And I love the layering of your Winter branches, I was trying to capture the very same feel with my camera yesterday evening in the woods. I feel they tempt you to follow deeper into the woods. Hmm illustration board, now there's a thought! I had forgotten ;)

Trish said...

Goodness Valerianna I love your artwork.
I loved your videos too. I love wood burners, ours keeps our little house so warm and cozy.
I love the ferns, so green and alive, underneath the snow.
Sending much warmth to you.x

Sophie Munns said...

Stunning you Winter branches Valerianna ... just adored these new art works... will have to say more on the next visit... just want to sit with the feeling from those works!

Valerianna said...

His dash up the tree was lower than usual, but at least I caught it! Attempting to stay warm. Its taking a lot of wood to get things cozy in here!

Valerianna said...

And did your father get replies from the owls?

Never really worked on illustration board before, but its very much what I need for the winter branches. Got a pile more at the art store yesterday, but I'm debating if its just too cold to go heat the studio all day. Its about 6 F... um - 14 C... not going to get too much warmer today!

Valerianna said...

Hi Trish - Pasha and I spent our morning cozied up to the woodstove... brrrrr.... amazing, those ferns under the snow!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Sophie, I'll welcome your reflections on the new work sometime.

Velma Bolyard said...

woohoo, my comment just disappeared. love the owl, and i played both videos simultaneously-WAY cool!

Valerianna said...

Ha.... I'll have to try that!

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

I love the ethereal quality of the overlayered white ink in your winter branches series and I really love that first snowy owl in flight. I also love your description of listening to the sounds of the ice-gripped forest in the night - so many of us forget to just be still and listen...

Valerianna said...

Hi Carrie - I'm excited to explore those winter branches more... and that snowy owl is kind of intense, don't you think?? Folks either like it, or think its a bit haunting!

Ruthie Redden said...

He did , they used to hoot back! I have so many layers of clothes on when im working in the studio just now its quite comical. Keep warm!

Valerianna said...

Cool. Someone told me once that that confuses them... so I never tried it, but I've always wanted to. I think I will at least once and appologize if one comes. Or feed it a leftover Pasha catch, maybe that would be a nice gesture.

Oh dear.... yes. I know that feeling! I'm usually fine except for my feet, I am going to buy an inexpensive foot warmer heater so I don't have chilled feet. I can't STAND being cold while I'm working, just can't concentrate.

Heather said...

Your owls are amazing, and the trees are so spooky and evocative. You have just the right balance of freedom and control in your technique.

Judy Martin said...

the winter branches are worthy of a series. a series that would cover a gallery wall - do not sell these yet. Make more. Make them bigger.
Really . Wow.

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Heather.... that is the balance I'm usually seeking, glad you think I achieved it!

Valerianna said...

I knew these were to be kept around for a while.... and to make more... and to see what they become. Thanks for the input, Judy.

Nancy said...

So very nice to enter your world with you! Thanks for taking me along on the walk & warm up by the wood stove :)
Such peace in the images here.