Sunday, May 4, 2014

Exploring Small Worlds

"Dark Forest", small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

I suppose I'm not too surprised by the dark and moody paintings that have come 
out of me since I began painting again. Its been a long, intense and challenging 
winter. I walked into the studio last Thursday, and began exploring small worlds. 



Small explorations, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

If you've been following my blog for a while, you probably know that I re-enter 
my creative process with multiple small pieces, exploring color, mood, and 
warming up my wash technique. The photo below gives a sense of scale, I 
hope, the smalles work in the lower left corner is just about 3" x5", about 
the size of the bottom left above. 




Though I haven't been in the studio working since December, I found a flow again immediately. This is not to say that I am satisfied with each piece, no, but with 
each, I learn something about where I am, what wants to be said on a large 
scale and what needs attention in my technique. I appreciate many of the small 
explorations in their own right, but enjoy the challenge of working larger and 
the visual impact the large forest paintings have on a space. When I get a few 
logistics worked out in the studio, I will begin a series of very large forests. 


Small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Gold Afternoon", VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Through the Hemlocks", VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Late Afternoon Light", small exploration VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Clearing", small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Dusk", small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Old One", small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

"Spring", small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

Small exploration, VClaff, watercolor on paper 2014

The painting below was started as a demonstration of my painting process for my 
open studio in December. It is a larger piece - half a sheet of watercolor paper. 
(not quite this orange, I don't think) It was just the first wash layer until today, 
when I worked most of the afternoon on the trees. It may still need one small tree 
on the right side, but we'll see. 


In progress, VClaff, watercolor on paper, 15" x 22" 2014 


Now that school is over until late August, I am settling into a new routine - having 
coffee and breakfast in the moss garden if the weather allows, and doing small 
chores before beginning work in the studio. Yesterday, I sat and watched the 
first bloodroot bloom of the season open before my eyes. I could not detect 
any movement, but bit by bit, it opened. Magical!





April was a very cold month, and now May is not warming up as much as it might,
either. My chore before the studio this morning, was to bring in a hefty load of 
firewood to warm the chilly nights ahead!! I'll leave you with images from my 
travels around town in April, and the tree around the corner which I have 
photographed over and over as it always has such a wonderful dialogue with the 
powerlines and clouds. 








45 comments:

  1. Hi V
    There is something gloriously mysterious about a dark and moody forest. I must admit that the last painting pic you posted was my favorite. I felt the morning sun rising. The sun is my Hope symbol.

    Take care. The Spring is finally showing her face.

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    Replies
    1. I saw the painting more as an autumnal orange leaf color, but I like the thought of the rising sun, Carol.

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  2. Wonderful to see your small explorations, V. Wishing you a warming very soon.
    xxoo, sus

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan. Wonder if you are warming up out your way?

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  3. joli retour à la peinture! biz

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  4. VA - love these small works - I think the creation of small works brings a great intensity to the pieces. Must be good to be emerging from winter. Go well. B

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    Replies
    1. Is good to emerge, Barry, though it sure is slow here. And, yes, the smal pieces are quite intense in such a small space.

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  5. Love your magical tree paintings! And those big, open skies...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lynn, lots of sky around here, once you leave the forest, that is :)

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  6. I so enjoy visiting your blog, learning of your enchanted forest. Thank you for showing us your latest tree paintings. They're just lovely!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janelle, and I appreciate your visits!!

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  7. Dark and moody though they may be, these small explorations are beautiful jewels in their own right. My favorite is "Through the Hemlocks" - it so reminds me of my place in the country. Wishing you some warmer weather, which has finally come to us at last, as I'm sure it will to you as well.... xo

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    1. I remember seeing some photos of your country cabin, I think. Tonight will be another fire night, but I DO think there is warm coming sometime soon. No doubt I'll be melting all too soon and wishing for cooler weather!

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  8. little things matter. small things can be big in the heart.

    i do love the forest, morning, noon and night. you have to dig deep to find treasure.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sandra, yes small things can be so very big in the heart, can't they?

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  9. I enjoyed this so much. Thank you! People are always encouraging me to work "bigger", but .. why?

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    1. I think there's value in both small and large work. Depends on what you as the artist want from the piece, seems to me. Small work is intimate, head-sized or smaller... the large pieces I want to do next might invite one to be inside them in a different way, in the body, not just the imagination and head.

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  10. Your trees have such character and life. I love the latest portraits of these characters in your woods. :) The bloodroot blooms are gorgeous. Wish you more green, blooms, warmth and an exquisite spring/summer to come.

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  11. Good to see Spring creeping in. We're still lighting the woodburner here, May isn't feeling too much like Maytime!!

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    Replies
    1. NO, not at all! I'm just about to light the woodstove here!

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  12. did it get lost? well, i wrote that your trees just get better and better, i love the grandparent tree, and oh, that bloodroot!

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    Replies
    1. I think you must have gotten lost, Velma, but here you are now. Oh, thanks about the trees, had one of those crazy days in the studio thinking, ahhh, breakthrough and then. OMG what the heck did I just paint!!

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  13. So good to see you back and your work hasn't skipped a beat!! The trees are so grand and regal; awakening to Spring.I just think the way you blend the softness of the light is amazing...they are truly beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karen... the trick of the light is letting the watercolor blend itself!!

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  14. Your forest pieces continue to be breathtaking. I feel a strong heart connection to them.
    This quote comes to mind.... I might even have left it in a comment before....
    "It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit." - Robert Louis Stevenson
    So glad you are painting again, Valerianna!

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    Replies
    1. Ooo... wonderful quote, Robyn, not sure I've seen it before, thanks!! Good one to share. Glad the work resonates with you, breathtaking is quite a word, I'm flattered!

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  15. Beautiful, as always. "Clearing" jumped right out at me ~ there's something about it; a pulse or rhythm that feels to me like dancing. Glad to see Spring finding its way to your forest :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Donna... well, spring is finding its way on a long, slow boat, it seems! But, I'm not complaining too much, I rather melt in hot and humid. "Clearing" definitely has a dancing tree - the small one on the right is surely moving.

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  16. Your work never ceases to inspire me.. Loving that your back and once again fired up and an inspired.. Have you looked at Darren Almond's trees? http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=darren%20almond
    This is the best link I could find..x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks fo the link, Julie, nice images!! I'm happy if I really do bring some inspiration, what could be better, really?

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  17. Such muscular and solid trees with real heft to them, whereas they seem ghostly in many of your earlier paintings. I wonder why. I hope your spring blossoms like the bloodroot into beauty.

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    1. Thanks, Carmine. And who knows about the muscular trees vs. ghostly, just working and change happens, I guess.

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  18. Good to hear you are back working in your studio Valerianna. I love the dark brooding trees and the orange background to the last one.

    It takes an artist to notice the small details. I hope May warms up quietly and gradually for you. Enjoy your new morning routine

    Jeanne
    x

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    Replies
    1. Finally some warm weather here, Jeanne, and the plants are starting to burst out of the ground!!

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  19. this is so good to see you trees again.".the old one....oooo the old tree
    i hope you gave your grieve a place
    my sadness about my dog is still so big......

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    Replies
    1. I have given my grieving a big place, or, rather, I am in a place of allowing and it comes when it wants to. I know the feeling, of having continued sadness about one's furry friend <3

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  20. I am glad to see you back in the 'flow' of painting and creating.. small is good to begin with... and creating is healing...

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  21. wonderful to see you painting again
    and time off for a while
    ah to meld into spring
    that wildflower is so beautiful!
    sweet days and nights to you~

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  22. hello,
    i was just re-reading your post and enjoying your paintings again.
    i once watched a lotus flower open as you did. it took an hour. it was just as you said, i could not really see the movement and then it was open, an hour later. a wonderful meditation!

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  23. Nature gives much to draw from and you translate it so well. Your trees are stunning.

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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.