Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sancturary In a Room of One's Own

"Mists", watercolor, VClaff, 2013
For one reason or another, the world hasn't felt like a friendly place of late. 
Journeying through these months of grief, I feel like a raw egg without a shell, 
and not as able to let the unconsiouss and lately downright unkind behavior of 
others slide off me. My studio has been a sanctuary of inspiration and solace, 
I am so grateful to have this room of my own. For those of you new to my blog, 
you may not know that I received a grant to build the studio, and my gratitude 
for this gift is ever deepening. (as always, click on the images to see them better)

"Winter Marsh", watercolor, VClaff 2013
I continue to explore the forest paintings with great enthusiasm, experimenting 
with bleeding techniques, layering and both the square and long rectangle formats. 
Each painting unfolds mysteriously as I watch how the first wash layer dries and 
suggests mists or light or something altogether undefineable, which is fine with me. 

"Mystery", watercolor, VClaff 2013
"Winter Trees", watercolor, VClaff 2013
"Trees - study", watercolor, VClaff 2013

Study, watercolor, VClaff 2013


Study 2, watercolor, VClaff 2013


Study 3, watercolor, VClaff 2013

The image below gives you a sense of the scale of the smaller paintings I begin
the day with, and below that, some of the larger pieces on the pinboard. A full 
sheet of watercolor paper is 22 x 30", and the largest I have made these so far. 
(BTW - the paper in the above images is NOT pink... I think I need to re-shoot these!)



Last week I slowed down my production of larger work as I waited for an order of 
watercolor paper to arrive. I took some time to sit outside and listen to the wind, 
watch the sunlight move around the studio, and dream a bit with the stones. 


Pasha and I sat outside the backdoor, finding a melted spot to enjoy the sunshine. 
Warm days but very cold nights has made the snow melt very slow, but I am beginning 
to see the tops of stones long buried. 


I thought I might try to get one of those "Artist in the Studio" pictures, in case I 
ever need one... I'm wearing my favorite wool hat that a friend gave me in graduate 
school many years ago. It seems to be a standard on studio days, and I'm sure you've 
seen it before. 




Today I ventured out into the forest to dump the ash from the wood stove. 
The snow had melted just enough for Pasha and I to walk a bit, avoiding the deeper 
snow still up to my knees. We were called to sit on logs and listen to the joyous singing of chickadees. Pasha, as usual, clambered up a tree and enteratained me as I sat and listened to wind and birdsong and the roar of the distant river, full with spring melt. 













Sitting listening on a mossy log, I was inspired by the texutres and colors and 
noticed a little owl face looking at me from a tree, do you see it?


Pasha went off exploring, but came to my whistle when I found a very large 
paw print in the snow. I must be a bit rusty with my tracking these days, as I 
can't quite identify this track. Its old and a bit melted, but looks maybe like 
a large cat who had long since passed through. 





Just as we were thinking of moving on, a chickadee came to a branch quite close 
to sing a bit. We stayed and listened as more and more birdsongs filled the forest. 
It may be cold and still quite snowy, but the birds are full of enthusiasm and 
I think they may be letting us know that warmer days are just ahead. 





54 comments:

  1. "Mystery" is amazing! well, that all are, but that one id my favorite! You are indeed lucky to have your space. I remember when it was going up...and now it is home, a solace. Nice, yes?!
    I love your Pasha (the cat who acts as a dog in my mind) Pasha may just be able to join CIRQUE DU SOLEIL one of these days! Excellent balancing among the trees :)
    Be gentle with yourself and take the time you need in your woods. I love how you love them.

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    1. CIRQUE DU SOLEIL for Pasha... Oh, what a great idea, but I must say I don't think he'd like the hours... he likes to nap a LOT!

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  2. Hi Valerianna, Pasha really knows how to enjoy your natural playground. Your work is so inspiring.. Love this series and the way the color blooms at the base of the trees. Cheers

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    1. Thanks, Gwen... and those little blooms are mysterious, I'm enjoying them, too. Pasha loves the tree-jungle-gym that is this forest!

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  3. Hello Valerianna, Having a studio sanctuary and the wonderful woods to walk in helps ease all things ...then to have such a lovely furry muse, your spirits must lift with all that. Ahh

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    1. Hi Willow - my furry muse definitely helps lift my spirits, especially when having fun in trees!

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  4. Hello, Valeriann!
    I can see that the Spring has arrived there too, and I hope you will better now.
    Lovely study of the trees...you made quiet many of the pictures already. I really like the misty forest in your images...
    Take care and have a productive week ahead :)

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    1. Thank you... hope your week is lovely, too!

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  5. You are creating so much beauty in that studio space.
    It is difficult to shrug off the unkindness of others at the best of times, it's downright unfair when you're in a raw state.
    Things have felt more than a bit wonky lately all around. Nature seems stuck. I'm so eagerly awaiting Spring. (There will be one this year, right?!?)

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    1. I think spring might be coming this week Lynn, but for how long??

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  6. It is a familiar thing, dear one, that sometimes hurt - more than anything else - chases us into the refuge of the studio and makes us work work work. You're winter landscapes are blossoming, and you're in my love.

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    1. Thank you, Barbara - yes, it seems that I am chanelling my emotions into the mystery of the woods... !

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  7. Your paintings are very haunting, maybe the melancholy has been used to good effect in inspiring these beautiful paintings? I am sending kindly and positive vibes your way.

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    1. Thank you, Valerie - I do hope that I don't need to stay melancholy for these paintings to continue, however!

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  8. i love this continued exploration of forest paintings, valerianna! their misty nature seems to be a cool blanket of protection draped across your surroundings to protect and nurture you from the evils of others, both bumbling and indelicate!

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    1. "Bumbling and indelicate", love that, possibly a bit too kind a description for one interaction last week, but I like the words! Glad you are enjoying the work and love the idea that they are spreading a cool blanket of protection... nice.

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  9. I am noticing more and more light in your paintings. I get the sense of emerging from the darkness into the light. I hope that is coming for you soon. Love the photos of your studio. I dream of such a place for myself. And Pasha's exuberance makes me smile. animals really know how to live, don't they?

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    1. hi Starr - yes, I guess the paintings are a bit lighter... I've been noticing the growing light even if the cold and snow still lingers. I hope you have a lovely studio one day, really, it has made all the difference in the world this year!

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  10. Your work is so beautiful and such an inspiration Valerianna. I agree with what Starr White says about the light in your paintings, when I look at them it feels as though I've been lost in the forest and am seeing the light of home finally.

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    1. Its nice to think that my work is an inspiration, thank you, Lottie Juliet! I'm enjoying seeing the work through other's eyes and seeing them in a new way.

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  11. Your work is becoming even more magical since you have had the studio and it's lovely to return to see what you are creating now after I have been away for so long. Blogging has such a gentle vibe compared to facebook.
    Pasha is still a gorgeous wild cat. Love seeing her climbing the trees and enjoying the woods!

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    1. Hi Jo - oh yes, think you are quite right about blogging vs. facebook, especially because one of the not so nice things of late was a comment on facebook about posting artwork for an ego boost and padding one's pockets. Hmmm. Anyway, glad you are finding magic in my work, I'm finding it magical to make!

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  12. Dear Val, I thought your white-on-black paintings were so sublime, and these new tree paintings are even more compelling.

    I'm glad your work and your studio give you a safe space in which to be tender and to breathe. I hope the coming spring will comfort your heart.

    Lately I feel "lost in the woods," and I keep coming back to look at your paintings. I'm not yet sure why, but there's something about looking at those parts-of-forest that echoes the thing I'm trying to say to myself. I'll get it at some point...

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    1. What an interesting response to the forest paintings, Virginia! I'm curious what they are reflecting back to you... they feel both nourishing and mysterious to me while I am making them - something deep and not quite defineable going on for me. If you get an insight into why looking at them is important for you, I'd love to know!

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  13. It is such a joy to watch you and the mighty brave Pasha explore your woods....and the paintings that come our of that exploration always touch my soul. I hope the world gently becomes a friendlier place for you.

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    1. Thank you, Penny - it's already a better week, and because I only had to teach today, I now have the rest of the week to paint! I'm pleased that the work touches your soul, what more could I ask for?

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  14. These new pieces are exquisite Valerianna. There is a reassuring sense of Presence, especially in the first four in the post, that offers a compelling invitation. Something is definitely speaking through these latest images. Saying "come, explore, there is something here for you." Love these!

    ~Peggy

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    1. Thanks for your feedback, Peggy, I like the thought of the work having Presence. They are almost too new for me to really SEE them fully, and I wonder if I as the maker, can ever really do that.

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  15. Unfortunately, there are a lot of internet trolls on facebook causing trouble. Don't be put off by them, it is part of the course there and I have had a few problems too! Facebook is a good tool for promoting your work and there is nothing wrong with that!
    Have a good week ahead and best wishes to you and Pasha.

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    1. Yes... it can be an unfriendly place!

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  16. VA - magnificent works - I love the mystery, whiteness and not thereness of Winter Trees. Go well. B

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    1. Thanks, Barry - I'm definitely interested in exploring that "not thereness" more in these pieces. Its all in the balance of a good wash and interesting tree forms emerging, allowing and controlling.

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  17. V - your tree paintings continue to evoke mystery and the deep silence of the Forest. Bravo!
    I love the pix of tree walking Pasha.
    -sus

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    1. I couldn't resist posting ALL of these pics of the tree walking Pasah, I thought it gave a sense of how he plays around up there!

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  18. I love the layers in your water color trees. It's like I can move around the mysterious woods. The shots of
    Pasha in action are a hoot! What a cool cat! Hope your snow melts soon!

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    1. Sandra - its melting all of a sudden!! Pasha has definitely been called a cool cat before, I sure think he is! I like that you feel yourself move around in the forest paintings.

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  19. your paintings are full of wonderful feeling and a joy to see.

    i am sorry about how the world feels to you at the moment, sending light and grace into the world around and within you.

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    1. Thank you, Tammie, I appreciate the light and grace!

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  20. A clue, a clue!

    I was talking to a friend yesterday about feeling lost in the woods lately. Then I corrected myself:

    "No, lost FROM the woods."

    So part of what your trees are saying to me is "come back."

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    1. OH! Great!! So good to figure that out! Do you live close or far from the woods?

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  21. So much delight: Pasha Pasha Pasha and Pasha up the trees! Stone hearts! (I have an ever growing collection too) . Am also loving the bird songs - read somwhere that birdsong helps plants grow and I certainly feel it deep in my blood and marrow: that expansion and unspiralling when I am out in the dawn with the birdsong all around: rebirth! renewal! Love the mystery , the dream-like quality in the paintings. They are mesmerizing. Thank you! for sharing! Reading your post bought a pool of calm, a bit of a virtual walk in the woods in a very busy and pressured time in my life!

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    1. Hi KD - yes, I know that about birdsong... its like indoor plants doing better when we sing or play music for them, very cool and common sense, too. And, Pasha was in his element that day. But today its raw and damp and he is on his sheepskin insdie after his morning rounds. Good luck with a hectic time, glad I could provide a bit of mesmeration ( is that a word? ) and calm.

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  22. ahh grief... i know the feeling so well... being cracked apart and reglued... takes time... as always it is lovely to come by and see the forest thru your eyes... x

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    1. Hi Cat - yup, that's it.. and the re-gluing part can be just so INTENSE!

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  23. you must be very happy with the depth of these paintings, they are really wonderful.

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    1. I'm getting somewhere, Velma, but this particular body of work is particularly hard for me to get a sense of for some reason. Maybe because its SOO different from what I was doing before, or maybe its just time, I will be able to see them better in a few months.

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  24. I live far from the woods that I want, though there's a scrubby tangle relatively close by that I will visit this weekend.

    I carry a forest on the inside, though, and it's time to spend more time there.

    Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. Ahhh, yes, the internal forest. May your journey be magical to that inner woodland!

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  25. Dear Valerianna, your paintings really are wonderful you know. I love them.
    The owl in the tree is remarkable!
    We all need a friend like Pasha to keep us company.
    Sending much love and peace to you.xxx

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    1. Hi Trish - thanks for the feedback on the new work, I'm very much enjoying how they are unfolding. As I write, Pasha is curled up on the blanket next to me... I called and called him as I set out on my walk today, but he didn't come. When I got back, he seemed so dismayed that I had gone without him! He's been very close ever since. :(

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  26. I am sorry to hear of grief and ugliness and am so glad you have the solace of your private studio and the woods...

    Pasha looks like an owl in a few of those pictures.

    As usual, an exquisite series of photos, and many gorgeous works in progress. I love these trees as single pictures, but when they are grouped, they make me swoon.

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    1. Its been a better week... and continued solace in the studio and forest. Pasha does that owl thing now and again, and I'm not the only one who sees it. Now you, too! Swooning, wow, that's cool!

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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.