Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Day of Stones and Spirals

In the studio, 
still journeying with spirals, 
circles and 

Thoughts of tree rings
and raked gravel in a Zen garden.

Crop circles, 
Pamela suggested, 
finger prints. 

Maybe I'll mount this one on wood....

Piles and piles on my table. 
Some I like, 
some will 
not survive 
the harvest. 

Different papers do different things. 
I think I've found my favorite. 

Re-arranged a shelf of inspiration, 
after a visit to 
my parents' house. 
Yet more 
they are passing on 
in preparation  
to move far away....

Dad found a collection 
of my most precious stones
 from a secret pebble 
beach in Greece. 

Washed and tumbled 
by turquoise water, 
rolled back and forth. 
I can feel them moving under me.

Memories flood back when I feel the 
smooth skin of polished stones - 
Sea-filled caves with blue-green
prisms of light, slight taste of salt, 
warm tomatoes, 
and fetta.  

I remember most of the  stones quite well, 
though I have not seen them in 
many years. 

Stones in the garden, 
carried from near and far, 
where a 
contemplates the 

Golden hues 
of late summer 
grace the forest clearing, 
Small white skinny-winged moths 
soak in the warm sun, 
and large, black crickets 
scramble about when I move 
a pot here and there. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Carving Spirals in Stone

Working in the studio yesterday, a slight breeze, 
grabbed a stone to hold the drying drawings... 
then noticed the paperweight 
I had chosen. 

Piles of these growing on my table. The conversation 
with these ancient symbols goes deeper and deeper. 

They often look the same, but slightly different. 
What makes me like one more than another? 
I'm getting some ideas
about that. 

My studio wall, spirals and meanders that were 
informing me before, are slowly coming down 
as these "seed stones" 
take up the board. 

I'm calling them that - seed stones - as that is what they are for me. 
It feels like carving when I am slowly, deliberately following the 
spirals around and around.....

And they are seeds, seeding ideas, words 
recorded in lists in my sketchbook. 

Clicking on the photo above once, then twice,
and the secret conversation with myself is 

The necklace I happened to wear yesterday while 
in the studio.....

A break in the moss garden for afternoon tea. Bengal Spice
with a touch of raw honey and milk in my raven mug.

A dash off to the farm around the corner to pick up share, 
anise hyssop added to the vase of flowers in the kitchen window, 
and fresh herbs to bundle and hang for cooking. 

All I wanted to do today was to immerse myself with spirals, 
ancient cricket sounds filling the space while working. 
Had to drive to another town and drop paintings off at a
shop. Wonderful, beautiful shop owned by wonderful, 
creative people. No time for spirals today- nor tomorrow, 
what will I do? 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Praise of Rain and Studio Stories

Meander stone and spiral drawing

birches turning yellow behind garden

As I write, the first gentle, soaking rain in 
weeks taps out a slow rhythm on the tin roof. I'm grinning 
with gratefulness. A cool, autumnal feeling day that called 
me deep within myself and found me tending the land and 
working in the studio. The birches have started turning and 
dropping leaves much earlier than usual. began the day by 
cutting the numerous saplings that sprout in the clearing - 
an ongoing necessary task to claim some open space in 
the midst of the forest. I trimmed hemlocks, cut black and 
yellow birch, keeping a few white ones for their graceful 
leaf-wind-dance. I could feel the rain coming - the smells, 
a certain density of clouds, the rustle of high leaves. 

As I wandered and worked, small signs of fall color 
peeped out from secret hiding places. 

I noticed that someone tasted the volunteer squash, 
probably the woodpile chipmunk who lives next to it. 
Guess it wasn't to her liking. 

After hauling the brush to a pile in the forest, I contemplated 
the cord and a half more of wood that needs to be stacked, 
but some images and ideas I'm working on drew me into the studio 
for more exploration. Sometimes, things that start as pure fun turn 
into something exciting. I didn't realize until today that the painted 
stones I made for my Myth and Symbol students in the spring related 
to the line doodle drawings I was doing last winter. 

line doodles 

Its not really surprising, I'm fascinated with these kinds 
of primal patterns, crop circle patterns and ancient 
symbols that are seen in cultures from all over the world. 
What is surprising is that they haven't ever found their way 
into my work in a sustained and significant way. 
Now, however, they are demanding attention. 

painted spiral stone

I've been obsessively making bleeding, primal pattern 
drawings the last few days, listening to stories told in the 
language of symbols. Patterns are speaking to me, though I 
hear them from a place just out of reach of my consciousness. 
I know obsessions to be very useful things to nurture when 
it comes to making art - they can take me on grand, new 
adventures if I have the courage to follow....    

I'm obviously being influenced by things on my studio table,
but then again, I chose to put them there.... 

Though the patterns aren't so different, its the surface they are 
on that gives each its particular quality. Gel pens on black paper, 
silver paint marker on stone, ink on watercolor and Yupo paper. 

What I'm excited about with these new drawings is 
the obvious influence the stone shapes have had on 
them. The line doodles are like patterns in space
that speak of microcosms and macrocosms - 
spinning electrons and galaxies. I see ancient 
artifacts and petroglyphs as I draw patterns within 
the stone-like forms in this work. Containing 
the patterns this way is a new way of working 
with much to explore. 

Above is a drawing on Yupo paper which is not 
absorbent at all so creates interesting bleed areas 
as the ink dries. Below is a detail. A bit like an eye...  

Two spirals on Yupo. The one on the right is still wet, 
if you click to enlarge, you will see the pooling ink. 

Three primal pattern drawings on watercolor paper. 

Who knows where all this will lead. For now, I'm happy 
to feel myself pulled into the studio. I have landscapes to 
make for an upcoming show and a gallery, both demanding 
that I commit to a body of work instead of a new exploration. 
I will keep making these drawings however, I'm too obsessed 
not to! They are new ingredients I am stirring into my 
cauldron of imagination. Always a good idea to change 
up the stew now and again to keep 
things interesting.... 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wild August Garden

"Tree", ink, 2010

Fall colors are beginning to appear here in more
abundance than usual this time of year. 
Our drought has continued, over a month
now of no serious rain. An occasional sprinkle 
here and there, but not enough to keep even  
some well adapted native plants from wilting and 
yellowing in anticipation of dying back. 
The birch leaves are all turning yellow, 
much like the color in the above drawing. 

The small water bowl in my garden holds the most precious
resource for the birds as all the ponds and mossy pools have 
dried up in the surrounding forest. Mornings it is visited 
by robins, juncos, thrushes, blue-jays and chickadees, 
bringing their appreciation and songs. Swimming at the 
river is still a treat, though the low flow means one needs to 
be on the lookout for leeches. A long, undulating dark thing
I thought was a stick came after me on Tuesday, but turned 
out to be a blood-sucking leech thing I just avoided.... ugh! 

In the studio, I have had moments here and there to explore 
and keep ideas flowing. Still playing with bleeding, this time 
with branching systems and tree-like forms.

My garden is surely a late-summer garden. I love the 
abundance of spires and umbels and lacey wisps in the 
August garden. The once green teasels have turned 
brown, and the blue globe thistle dances with the 
tall, airy coreopsis. 

 Lack of water has challenged my little garden this summer, 
 I'm just keeping things alive, not wanting to use too much 
water. I had a moment of panic when my water ran out 
while watering the garden the other day, and began major 
conservation - dug a hole in the woods for an outhouse, 
quit showering and bought water for drinking. Luckily, 
the lack of water for a time was due to a momentary water 
pump glitch, and it seems there is still plenty of water in 
my well. It was an important reminder, however, to feel my 
gratitude for the abundant aquifers in these hills and to 
consider being a little more vigilant with conservation. 

a garden on the edge... dry, dusty earth...

brown-eyed susan

 The wild abundance I love in my August garden is 
luckily still present even with the drought as many 
native plants are blooming away with just a little 
assistance from me.  

Quan Yin welcoming visitors to the house. 

Shooting photos amongst queen anne's lace 
yesterday in the slight breeze... 

A peach and yellow petunia calling out to pollinators 
with delicate and sensual forms. 

Things going to seed, 
and flowers on my windowsill. 

A beautiful butterfly in the moss garden today....

 Pasha called me out yesterday for a walk in 
the unusually crunchy hemlock forest.  
Not one mosquito followed me....