Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quietly Tending

"Blue-Gray Morning" watercolor, 11"x15", VClaff, 2017

Here I am, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, after so many months. 
Spring is coming, some flowers are up, especially in the woodland garden. 
Today it is damp and raw and rainy, cold enough for a morning fire. 

"Afternoon" watercolor, 5"x10", VClaff, 2017

I've been busy this year, tending to my inner world that was rocked by the 
outer world and the new reality here in the United States. There is a lot to process. 
My studio has been a sanctuary, and the act of creating a refuge. I've been quiet, 
and my work - or myself inside my work - has emerged a bit from the deep forest to 
stand at the edges. Open spaces beyond the trees are visible - distant ridges, fields 
and ponds. I've been spending a lot of time with the reflections of trees and skies in 
water, and experimenting a bit with white watercolors. 

"At the Edge of the Woods" watercolor, 10"x10", VClaff, 2017

"Birches" watercolor, 5"x10", VClaff, 2017

"Snow on Pond" watercolor, 8" x10", VClaff, 2017

"Marsh Sunrise" watercolor, 7.5" x11", VClaff, 2017

March marked Rhu's third circle around the sun... he's been great company, 
as mischievous as ever, keeping me on me on my toes.

 We had a day-long visit from a barred owl, as friendly as ever. 
She watched the day unfold with one cracked eye as she snoozed on her perch.

I hope to be here more often as my days will soon open up when classes end 
tomorrow and I won't be off three days a week to teach. I appreciate 
a few followers who reached out to let me know they missed my posts
and to check to see that I was ok. In a world gone slightly mad, acts of 
kindness swell the heart.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Space to Breathe

"A Morning with Thrush Song" watercolor on paper, 15"x22", VClaff, 2016

 Rainy, dark days have taken root for a week now, the forest is murky, holding tight to shadows gathered at the trunks of drooping conifer boughs. Fires burn in winter-worn hearths, the smoke settling low, unable to rise above 
heavy mists. 

"Swamp, Mists & Peeper Songs", 22" x30", VClaff, 2016

I startled a bit to see how long it has been since I've come to share here, 
its been a long and somewhat challenging school year. Teaching is always 
rewarding, but I'm doing more of it and was feeling rather worn-out. With 
my commitments at school done this week, I am finding space again. 

"A Scent of Ferns" watercolor on paper, 15"x22", VClaff, 2016

My winter schedule was Monday through Wednesday teaching,Thursday and 
Friday in the studio. If I had to continue, Saturdays were spent in the studio as 
well. It was fruitful. Seeds that were planted in some of the paintings in the previous 
post have matured into work that feels close to capturing the deeply storied 
places I wander.

"A Place for Dreaming" watercolor on paper, 15"x22", VClaff, 2016

Just today I gathered up the paintings here from the framer, 
and tomorrow they will head off to a show at the NESTO Gallery at 
Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts. The show opens Friday, May 13, and
features a small group of alumni. If you are in the area, come by! For 
information about the gallery and directions, follow the link here.

"Water's Edge" watercolor on paper, 15"x22", VClaff, 2016
 Always at the meeting of a deadline, as work is collected from the framer, 
a pause to gather myself is needed. It has been a week of endings as groups 
gathered around the world to welcome in the spring, I said goodbye to a particularly inspiring group of students, and my new workheads off into the world for a time. A horribly neglected garden needs my attention, and some quiet dreaming 
beside the unfurling ferns is planned. 

In case you are wondering about Rhu Bear... he is doing well, monitoring 
my movements in the studio when I am there, and greeting me at the door to the 
house when I return from my travels, expecting belly rubs, of course.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Branches at Pond's Edge

"Pond's Edge - Branches" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

I need a week off to go deeper into work in the studio. Not going to paint is an exercise in discipline right now. When a crack opens into the mystery and I find myself sinking into a kind of deep soul state while painting, the desire to let everything else wait is strong. With the cold weather coming, wood to be put in and the usual responsibilities of life and teaching, tasks cannot be put off. 

"Pond's Edge - Laurel" watercolor on paper, 8"x10", VClaff 2015

"Maple" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

"Mysterious Light" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

It's good to be working again, good to be sinking deeply into these mysterious tree-worlds, good to have at least some time for it. I had so much time over the summer, but other things needed to happen... timing is everything. I've learned to trust it. 

Tree & Cloud - small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

The celebration of color continues - a short trip around town for errands is 
magical. Walks up the road are slow to soak in the fire of autumn. 
We've had the first flakes of winter, but nothing really stuck, and Rhu seems 
happy with the shifting of the seasons. I am, too - warm fires in the hearth, 
roasted roots and steamed kale and fresh cider and the time of bare 
branches swiftly approaching. For now, though, the most extraordinary 
tapestry of rusting colors covers the hillsides and I find myself gasping 
at the beauty of it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

At the Forest Edge

Small study, VClaff 2015
I remember stating clearly to a small circle of kindred souls, 
that what I desire most is to simplify, to create more time for dreaming 
and being, and to be less on my own and more connected to others. 
In the last few years, deaths - actual and metaphoric - have left me much 
on my own. I trust that my season of letting go has gifts for me -  the wisdom 
of deep, strong roots and a knowledge of the dark earth underneath, and 
maybe some truth yet unknown. Instead of simplifying, the need to bring in 
more to pay for my healing, not covered by insurance, has me busier than 
ever these last few months. I do hope that there is a way to simplify, be, 
dream and create more, and to find my way out of my hermitage.

Morning, VClaff, watercolor on paper, 2015
               Somehow, I found my way back to the studio though, and ideas that 
have been incubating for a long time are finding expression. Something in 
            the small study that wanted more attention came into a larger painting
            and I find myself at the edge of the forest, not as much in the deep 
            woodlands. As always, the small work allows me to explore many directions 
           and to find my way back into the creative process.
small study, VClaff 2015

small study, VClaff 2015

small study, VClaff 2015

Rhu is a bit of a distraction in the studio, running 
in and out through the hanging screens, wanting me 
to go out to the forest on beautiful, autumn days. 
Maybe when the door is shut and the hearth is 
heating, his visits will be to warm up by the stove, 
and not jump up on the drying paintings. 

At school, we've begun working with eco prints and 
contact printing, which this year's class is loving it. 
They are very willing to experiment and play and had 
a great time with the natural materials.

 We had some good results, and will do more dyeing 
this week. Their assignment is to use these papers 
in finished works incorporating drawing in some way.

 Color is bursting out everywhere right now, at times 
so amazing I gasp. 

                       And with the color, comes the push to get the wood in. 
                      This weekend was spent stacking the first two cords, always 
such a good feeling to see the pile shrink outside the shed, 
and become a neat stack inside. This week, the next two 
cords will be delivered and go into the shed.

 In the in between spaces, there are moments to wander
 the garden, finding joy in the small beauties - a hanging 
leaf, a stone angel among the rusting ferns, sweet Rhu 
enjoying a quiet moment on the stones, and a moment 
with moss.