Sunday, April 14, 2013

Deep in the Forest

"Late Winter Forest",  watercolor, VClaff 2013

I've come to an important moment in the development of this new work. I've explored the possibilities of the technique, found its limits and understand a little better how to achieve a balance of allowing and controlling. Last week was particularly productive as I had a day off from teaching, which doesn't sound like much, but allowed a four day stretch to focus entirely on painting. 
"Winter Mists",  watercolor, VClaff 2013
All the small explorations have given me a confidence about what is possible, 
especially in the first wash layers. This week I began to play with sublte details
in the other layers as I get a clearer understanding of where I want to take the 
imagery. I also invested in a new brush (more expensive than you might think) 
which helps me achieve the detail I desire. I love the new brush, and now 
need a few more! I'm reminded of a chalk board in my father's woodshop that 
for years had the words - don't use cheap brushes - written on it. I completely 
agree. I have a good stock of very good brushes, but each way of working demands
specific tools, and as this work develops, I need different tools for different 
details. In the case of these paintings, each layer of paint demands a different 
kind of brush. 

"Winter Marsh",  watercolor, VClaff 2013
In the three paintings above, I'm getting at the essence of technique and image
In the top two, the subtle addition of dimensionality in the darker layer of trees 
suggests many directions I might go in. It seems the further I go with this work, 
the more expansive I feel. I am deep in the forest now, navigating by my intuition 
and possibly with the assistance of an unseen tree-spirit or two. 


Pasha is always there to guide me, too, though the last few days of cold and 
frozen percipitation, had him a tad on the grumpy side. On a particularly raw 
and wet day, I found him perched on the gas heater, enjoying the heat radiating 
off of the cast iron. 





 In contrast to the unfriendly week I posted about last time, this week has brought 
some lovely surprises! A gift in the mail from Grace at Windthread really made my 
day... a Grass Woman to add to the magic of my studio. She was placed on the 
windowsill temporarily until she finds her permanent place. When I looked at her 
later in the day, I noticed that she hadn't quite liked the position I had chosen for 
her, so instead, had leaned over and grabbed the candle holder. She is keeping 
company in the cozy corner with my sculpture Root Grandmother. I'm sure they are 
sharing many an important story about roots and grasses together. 




I'll leave you with a series of images from my walk yesterday... I walked slowly 
and found great pleasure in the last of the winter garden stocks and the vibrant
mosses now visible again as the snow melts. 



























36 comments:

Willow said...

Oh the grass and root ones cavorting ... such an interesting pair ! Beautiful images from your walk . That last photo with the textures, hues, and snow sparkle heart in the hollow ... so peaceful to gaze upon.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Valerianna, Your work exudes such a sense of mystery... and the collection together is breathtaking.
I agree about having the best tools you can, you never regret it.

Aurora Raven said...

I love your work. I am fond of conversing with Hekate and your images fill my mind's eye with her approach.

The final image, the others are fabulous with the contrast of green, brown and white, reminds me of a yoni waiting to birth the whispered approach of Spring.

Thank you.

Lori ann said...

your work is very beautiful, so dreamlike. love the green coming through the snow, how exciting to see the changes daily.

Nancy said...

Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful! I so wish I could feel...smell your woods. The last photo is a knockout!

Charlotte said...

Very beautiful. Your forest is starting to so signs of change. Here is wishing for warmer winds to guide your walks for a while.

ArtPropelled said...

Enjoying the photos of your walk. The moss looks amazing against the white snow. I agree with Gwen about the sense of mystery in your forest pieces. The group of paintings in your studio look otherworldly... yet familiar.

Marti said...

How lovely that Grass Woman has come to share her knowing and magic, alongside Root Woman. Both of you, grace in the desert, you Valerianna, in the moss and woods of the forest, spirit givers...the light in this series of watercolors holds such magical illumination; lights the path to...that is the magic and the mystery.

Valerianna said...

That little snow-heart was the jewel at the end of my walk :)

Valerianna said...

Thank you, Gwen - I'm enjoying the mystery... I'm glad it translates. Definitely one needs the best tools!

Valerianna said...

Hello Aurora Raven - I can see the Hekate energy in these... the dark wood.

Valerianna said...

Its amazing to look out at what was snow covered only a week ago and now see ground, strange and wonderful world!

Valerianna said...

I really enjoyed the smells on my walk, Nancy - there was a freshness about it and even a hint or two of soil, though from where, I didn't know!

Valerianna said...

Still firing up the wood stove, but warmer days are coming, I think!

Valerianna said...

otherworldly.... yet familiar - I like that!

Valerianna said...

Yes, Grass Woman is a magical addition to the studio... and such a contrast in her South West colors.

Carmine said...

I wonder how spring will influence the series you have been painting? Maybe it is there in your feelings of expansiveness and flow. Beautiful work and I love seeing Pasha's dear, furry, slightly grumpy face. It is so easy to tell when a cat is displeased, one of the many things I love about felines.

Valerianna said...

I wonder that, too, Carmine, as I don't feel at all drawn to using different colors at present in the paintings. But we will see what happens when the vibrant ferns come out and more vegetation dots the forest floor. Truly, felines wear their moods on their sleeves, so to speak! When it gets really serious, its all in the ears!

Velma Bolyard said...

i don't know if my comment went through, but these are so great! a huge thing, beautiful.

Valerianna said...

You get it - a huge thing. Having a little break now, looking forward to the end of the week and getting back into the studio.

india flint said...

your forests, whether watercoloured or photographed, are simply breathtaking

Sophie Munns said...

This was bliss reading your post Valerianna!
Just fund your Facebook Page and had to link to here!

Love the paintings and well.. I have to go back and read it again!
WOW!

Barry said...

VA - such amazing forest shots - the beautiful contrast of clear ice and rich green lichen - and the subtle script of nature on the tree trunk. May the sunshine and bring joy into you and your studio. B

Tammy said...

Enjoyed stopping over here to your lovely photos and paintings. I love your trees. I am also drawn to paint trees .....yours are very dreamy. I love the snow heart. Thanks again for stopping by and for your thoughtful words.

Valerianna said...

Thanks, India... breathtaking is an interesting word, now that I ponder it!

Valerianna said...

Hi Sophie - glad you found my FB page.. I suppose I should mention it here on the next post! I'm enjoying your enthusiasm!

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Barry - though today we have spring rains...

Valerianna said...

Hi Tammy - thanks for visiting RavenWood. Speaking of dreamy, some of the images have come to me in that space between dreaming and waking!

Mo Crow said...

please make cards & put them in your Etsy shop of that last photo of the ice heart in the womb of the tree I need some for friends and one for me!

Judy Martin said...

The paintings in the top photos and your thoughts about process and tools - very interesting and inspiring to read. That last photo - very special.

Valerianna said...

Oh, that's a good idea, Mo....

Valerianna said...

Hi Judy... I find it endlessly engaging to gain a little insight into the processes - both thought and technical - of artists working in different mediums. Or, for that matter, another painter might have such a different approach and have a very different technique even if working in the same medium, fascinating. I didn't see the snow-heart in the photo until I was editing the images, what a great surprise!

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

Hi Valerianna,
lovely to catch up with your blog and to see your work in progress.
It always amazes me what is possible with just paint, how we communicate feelings through our own visual language.
Seeing your forest through you eyes is wonderful.x

layers said...

Hello, you have such a way with your words and how you explain your process and what you are searching for... very inspirational.

Jo May said...

Your paintings have a gentle dream like feel about them. I enjoy reading about your life in the forest and seeing the nature that surrounds you. Root Grandmother is magical too with her stories from the forest. Pasha is still wild a beautiful. I love her pointy bat ears!
Hugs from Zigsa and me. xx

Tammie Lee said...

such a wonderful strand of glimpses of your world through your heart and a joy to see your art as well. Today we woke to a fresh half inch of snow... and so it goes.