Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dark Night Forests & Days of Snow


In these bitter cold nights, dreams of owls come to me. 
Slowly the days lengthen, but nights are snowy and long and full of 
creaks and snaps and the harmonic hum of a north wind 
through the hemlocks. 


It is here that my work still wanders - to trees swaying in the wind
 in the deep winter night. One thing led to another and the drawings 
took on a different shape, variations on a theme, explorations 
of what is possible. Some are both trees and marks, some, 
more marks than trees. 




I'm not sure where these are going. I made a lot of them. 
First small, then large. Some are unresolved. I could see them huge, 
but I am leaving them for the moment, needing to transition back 
to watercolors. 

The studio is warm and full of light. The issue with the heat seems to be 
fixed - fingers crossed!! I am enjoying long days there, working on balancing 
the demands of life and winter chores. Cold days mean many more trips to the 
woodshed to load wood into woodbin for the stove. 

One sunny day in the studio, 
a pinecone and its shadow caught my attention. 




Not wanting to spend too many hours outside these days, 
Pasha has discovered the little bed I put in the studio for him. 




The blizzard started Friday afternoon, Pasha and I were 
cozy in the studio, happily working (or snoozing) as the 
snow began to fall. 



On the worktable, a large-scale watercolor. I've had requests from 
two of the galleries I work with for larger work, and I've been wanting to 
work a bit larger, as well. I bumped up to a full sheet of watercolor paper, 
and it is a challenge with my technique of wet on wet and controlled bleeding. 
Really challenging. I'll continue to give it a whirl, working through the 
frustration, hoping for some results I am pleased with.  




By the time we headed for the house, the storm was in 
full-swing, snow collecting and winds blowing. Time 
to cook food and fill buckets just in case of a 
power outage. 


The morning view was impressive, that bump
through the trees is my car. 


I was completely unable to open the back door... so in lieu of 
trudging around the house with snowshoes, I took the glass out of 
the storm door and shoveled that way!


The old studio is completely buried in the snowplow pile.
After three hours of shoveling, I decided I'm leaving it!


Pasha navigates the trails. 


Out back, deep snow made shoveling quite a chore. 


...and the car.... a LONG time to dig that out!


I snowshoed over the deep snowpiles to the studio and shoveled 
back to the driveway. I hoped the plow would be back so I wouldn't need 
to commute in snowshoes until spring.  






Today was warm and beautiful and Pasha and I enjoyed our 
last rays ritual on the front stoop. He wasn't exactly a willing 
model for the camera....


69 comments:

  1. I just marvel at the snow paths you dug yourself. How competent you are.
    The paintings of trees are so different, and mesmerizing. Beautiful work!

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    1. Julie - it helped that the snow was very light and fluffy, but it STILL took me 3 hours!

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  2. Love the coiled energy and rhythm of the bare branches trees. Big snows are amazing things: I am just learning about the amazing effort needed to manage what comes down as such weightless, silent stuff - you and Pasha cat seem to have it worked out. 3 hours of shoveling is quite something! Glad you survived and creativity thrived in the storm .

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    1. Isn't it something, KD? It was snowing here today as I headed off on my long commute, but suppose to rain later :(

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  3. I enjoyed drifting with tree branches by the wind of a deep Winter night of your creation. Thank you for this vision into your snowy landscape, while I know it's not always as pleasant as I imagine it to be, to my desert eyes that have never seen it, snow remains a marvel.

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    1. Hussam - I love the snow, thankfully, otherwise I might not be so grateful right now! And, yes, I've been to your land... a very, very different kind of place. Both have their own magic.

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  4. Gosh, Valerianna, I really love the white trees blowing on those black papers, and can see them ten times this size.
    Pasha is charming in his little bed!
    stay warm dear ones, sus

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    1. Yes, 10 times as large would be good.... black paper, it seems, GOOD black paper isn't so easy to find reasonably priced. But I thought of taking many sheets and pinning them together to create a larger piece. We'll see what develops eventually.

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  5. Such a meditation on light. Winter is beautiful in all it's dangerous glory, you have an incredible home Valerianna.

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    1. Thanks, Charlotte, I like my little haven.

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  6. wow!!!! that's a major snowfall! love the white trees & isn't it great working on big sheets of paper, beautiful work!

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    1. Big is a nice change. Been a while since I've made big work... but these aren't really THAT big. I once made a painting 10 feet long!

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  7. hi, Valerianna!
    I'm always stunned by the pictures of snow in your forest...you cabin looks cozy and welcoming, and Pasha surely enjoys its warmness.
    Your paintings are mystical...over again :)
    Have a nice day!
    Anna

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    1. Hi Anna - Pasha is sort of stuck to the heat source in winter! Old cat, old bones, I think he gets cold easily. My father says he can relate!

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    2. Cats like to feel comfort, especially old ones, yes :)
      Take care!

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  8. Beautiful pictures, of the snow and the art work, Wow so much snow, thanks for sharing your window on your part of the world.

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    1. Your welcome... always fun to share photos of a good snowfall!

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  9. Wow! You really got snow! Need to show my daughters the shot of you shoveling through the door...they'll love it. They'd also love your carved out path. May just have to do that in the backyard with them. Make a little fort somewhere too.

    Your trees are so intriguing. They simply sing with joy at being able to dance in the wind.

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    1. I'm glad I thought of shoveling through the door!! Singing trees, I like that!

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  10. snow here was water soaked. impossible. but beautiful all the same.

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    1. Ugh. water soaked snow... it was snowing when I left on my long day today, but we might be waterlogged when I return, then it will FREEZE tonight, what fun! (not)

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  11. Valerianna, my heart skipped a beat, seeing your tree paintings. They really are amazing and I love seeing them altogether. That snow is deep!! It looks very cozy in the studio. I get a good vibe from the photos. A happy place!

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    1. Hi Robyn... glad you are enjoying the tree paintings.. something is stirring there, we'll see where they go.

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  12. Oh, it's like an alien landscape! Well, I suppose it IS, to me at least. We have several days of over 40˚C to look forward to here...want to swap, just for a day or two?!! ;-)

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    1. Oh dear, Christina, I would love to say yes... but 40+ and I am non-functional! I think YOU should come on over for a visit!!

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  13. Those swaying trees are absolutely stunning! Wow! Thanks for your support today. Hugs from Sweden, L

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  14. the tree paintings are so beautiful, they're like the negative of what I see walking in the evenings: black trees against white snow filled skies; boy, do you have a lot of snow to shovel, here the snows come and lay for a while, to slowly melt away....our clime is so much less austere.
    and what an evocative post title, matches the photo's exactly

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    1. We got more snow than usual in one storm, though this season has been relatively light on snow for these hills. Its now warming up quite a bit and I hear dripping on the roof! Interesting, hadn't thought about the negative aspect of these drawings!

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  15. Wow, that snow!
    Your paintings of the swaying trees are amazing. How can something so simple look so beautiful and be so effective... really. And the watercolor landscape on the wall... I think they are really beautiful.
    Your studio looks so cozy. I would like a little bed there too, like Pasha.x

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    1. Thanks for the great feedback, Trish. And my studio is really quite wonderful... the best part is, it was a GIFT!

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  16. I've just had the most enjoyable few minutes experiencing your winter. I know some of it is such a hard work, but OH, the beauty ....

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    1. Hi Sweetpea - it IS hardwork, but I love being out in it, so it could be worse. The beauty and magic of snow in the forest is worth a few hours of shoveling!

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  17. oh my, where do I start? your trees are fabulous and they look finished to me! your studio is so cozy and beautiful and love seeing your work in process, and what a tough guy you are to do all that shoveling and to live so self sufficiently... I am in complete admiration xx

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    1. Hi Caterina - I think I need time to see the trees, live with them more, get to know their story. I know there is something in them, just not sure where they might go from here. Heating with wood and living in the hills alone is definitely a commitment, but the big plow still comes to dig me out, thank the goddess!!

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  18. Your little snow-covered studio looks like heaven to me! So cozy...I just love it!! And that first owl picture is amazing. There is a magical, mysterious energy about it. I was mesmerized. You have a gift for capturing the spirit.

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    1. I was surely attempting to conjur a kind of magic and mystery with that owl drawing, glad it translates!!

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  19. it's all so lovely (except for how tiring it must be, and even that must give a sense of satisfaction, the clearing of paths...) so much snow. i can't imagine. LOVE your studio, pasha by the fire, and your trees, it is a wild wood.

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    1. Tiring, but it does get one out and working hard, I'd much rather that than a gym, any day!

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  20. So much cozy in those rooms, and it looks like Pasha agrees . The trees are indeed captivating and the shadows!

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    1. Pasha is a seeker of cozy... especially in winter!!

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  21. Wow- Your snowfall is incredible! Pasha looks like he's navigating through snowy mountains there! I love the photos of him curled up in his bed near the fire. So cute.
    I enjoy seeing your larger black and white tree images together like that - it's a beautiful series, V. And your
    larger watercolors on the work tables are looking lovely too.
    Artwork, snow shoveling, wood hauling - you have been a busy lady. May sunshine reign next in your forest.
    Hugs!

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    1. He IS navigating snowy mountains! The other day he was running around to all the shoveled and plowed areas to get his exercise cause if he attempted to go off road (well, path) he was buried!

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    2. He is a Maine Coon and a scout - well fit for this. :)

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    3. ha... yes, a scout, definitely!

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  22. wonderful photos and artwork............the dark forest, the swaying trees spoke to my heart and remembrance of living in such a place and time. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Lauren, thanks, and glad for your visit.

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  23. lovely snow, now it's half gone here, rained away, but snow again this morning. i loved the deep deep, but it's hard to move...especially through the door!

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    1. It rained here a small bit yesterday, but we started the day with a few inches of snow. We still have PLENTY! Its probably hard and crusty now. Wish I had had time for a snowshoe over the weekend. Oh well, soon.

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  24. Makes me weary just looking at your snow amounts! We only got a foot and it got so heavy so quickly. I have enjoyed your black/white/gray series...it's a lot of what we see in the hardwood forest these days of darkness. Hi Pasha..

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    1. Luckily the snow stayed light and fluffy the whole time I was shoveling. Only yesterday after dripping and some rain (dare I say that word!), the snow packed down and is now heavy.

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  25. Oh my Valerianna, and to think we here complain about a foot of snow!! It looks beautiful, but wow must have been hard work to shift it all, i suppose it kept you warm in the doing though!. Im loving your new "large" tree pieces, did they come easily to work on that scale. I so want to but really struggle with it! Keep warm, Pasha looks as snug as a bug x

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    1. If I'm making drawings - with the white ink - the scale bump is not hard at all. But the watercolors are very challenging that large. I might need to change the paper I work on... tried something today that seemed to work better. We'll see. Off to the art supply store tomorrow! A foot is still a lot of snow, over 2 is more than we usually get in one storm and it is definitely a lot to deal with!

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  26. Wow... did you get a TON of snow... so much piled high. Your beginning started off with your white branches on black.. seemed to match the ending with all your winter snow images.

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    1. Yes, I seem to be invoking dark and snow with my drawings! Well, and owls, too... been seeing those a lot lately, too!

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  27. whoa! that is a lot of snow!
    I think it is more than we have had all winter

    lovely to see all the various paintings you have been working on, so fabulous that a gallery is requesting your art.

    stay warm!

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    1. I always think you folks out west have waaay more snow than we, but we did sure get dumped on this time!

      I work with three galleries... two for a long time, one is new, and one is closing, so I'm still with two, I guess! However, my work was in so much transition while writing the grant for the new studio and then the building of the new studio that I haven't been exhibiting with either gallery at all. They each have work, but usually I don't sell much unless I have a big show, then I do well. So hopefully soon I'll get back on the showing schedule!!

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  28. beautiful photo-story of the storm! looks like you got about the same amount as we did here outside of Boston...

    when my sister was very sick a few years back, she dreamed of owls... they've been a totem ever since. Somehow, to dream about them seems magical.

    but I mostly stopped in to say -- I love those white on black tree studies you have begun... they are just amazing!

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    1. Thanks, Dee... those drawings really seem to be a hit!

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  29. Your little white owl is so delicately rendered and beautiful. I really like your style. And I'm just a little bit envious of your snow. The winter I've had where I'm at was more like a continuation of autumn but without the beautiful leaves. If the leaves can stay on the trees, then it jolly well better snow until things start blooming again!

    As a fellow watercolor artist, I'm interest to know what kind of paper you use. You have some extremely lovely textures and effects in your work. I am an Arches person myself.

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    1. Thank you, Grace. Its been rather warm of late, and though we still have a lot of snow, its been dripping and shrinking and that has made me sad!

      I use a few different papers for my watercolors. When working small-ish, I have a few I really love. I use Arches Hot Press, and BFK Rives Printmaking paper for a different kind of surface. Both are smooth. As I'm working larger, however, I'm trying different ones. I just bought some new paper that I love, its a man's name, but I can't remember the name! I'm also using the Arches Natural White Cold Press as I'm working larger.

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    2. I know the feeling. Where I'm at we got a little bit of an ice storm, but it all melted so quickly I hardly had time to enjoy it.

      I really like BFK Rives Printmaking paper as well. I use the Arches watercolor boards the most though because they can really take a lot of reworking.

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  30. Oh, oh, oh! I ADORE those paintings of the whitening trees on darkness/black. Close up and far away they have such a potent sense of a crackling, living energy - but something secret, something almost that human eyes aren't meant to see - that runs like wind through the cold night and on and on...I can't put it into words. I love them. Totally love them. I don't know if you'll ever have one for sale?

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    1. Hi Austin, happy for your visit. I've had that thought, too - that there the branch drawings have "something secret, something almost that human eyes aren't meant to see.." I can surely sell one! I've just been sitting with them before to know them better and see where they are going. So I see one wants to go to you!

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  31. Hi Valerianna, What a winter! it sounds like we received the same storms... one on top of another... too many that's for sure. You were diligent though with all that shoveling. I have heard of a few others who were totally snowed in too and not able to open their doors. It always makes me wonder how all the animals manage when the weather is this harsh.

    The sun was shining here today, snow was melting and I am ever so much looking forward to spring. Take acre.

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    1. We're in for snow/sleet and rain tomorrow. My fave (NOT!) and its a long commute day, so, this should be fun! And yes, the animals, how do they do it?

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  32. Hello Valerianna~ the trees are magnificent!!Jaw-dropping beautiful! They look like electricity sailing across the night sky...such power, such beauty!!!

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I love reading your comments and sometimes I'm good at responding right away, sometimes not! Glad you had a wander here, I hope you found the mossy path soft on your feet and heard the call of the Raven.