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.... 


A mermaid in the attic said...

I love these paintings, they speak to me of labyrinths to be walked, a journey within, but that is where I am at the moment I think. Spirals always hold my attention. These also seem like wood rings, telling the age of a tree...a different kind of clock, and way of seeing time, perhaps? Glad to hear you have some rain at last. We should have rain tomorrow, but Spring is here whether I like it or not. My Almond is blooming and the jonquils are out. Thanks for your kind and very wise words too.

stregata said...

Love these! Wishing you a wonderful August.

illustration poetry said...

dearest Lady, i really enjoy reading your blog and looking at all your pictures, do you really live in a forest?
are you a faery?

ArtPropelled said...

Autumn, tending the land and working in your studio .... it doesn't get much better than that. I'm enjoying your line doodles and your studio table .... the primal patterns and experiments. Happy stirring :-)

steven said...

valerianna this is beautiful work that clearly comes from both inside and outside yourself. the yupo paper is a bit of a revelation to me and i'm looking it up for myself. i had a smile on my face reading about the very short-lived - do i stack a cord and a half of wood or head into the studio - debate!!! no kidding!! steven

Unknown said...

it is very nice to visit your blog, i love your art and also the pictures

Umā said...

My mom used to love painting on Yupo! The ink eye painting reminds me of a white birch detail.

Isn't this rain wonderful? I hope some mushrooms come up.

Valerianna said...

mermaid - yes, labyrinths and wood rings... definitely in there!! So interesting to wrap my head around the southern hemisphere thing.... I must admit, I'm somewhat northern hemisphere-centric, but you are helping me with that awareness!

stregata - thanks, and wishing you a wonderful, Italian journey!

me- I'm glad you like what's offered here. Definitely friendly with faeries, more of an Earth Mamma, maybe a stone person or mossy tree, I am, and yes, plopped down in the midst of a huge expanse of trees...

ArtPropelled - thanks... and, yes, I do love when folks share the studio table... so intimate in some way!

steven - yes, definitely internal, mythic work these drawings. Left a comment on your blog about the Yupo... and today all that wood is wet with all night rain and heavy downpours today (yay!) so I'm off the hook for stacking until it dries up again.

lilasvb - Lovely that you visited, come again!

m - yes, white birch, hadn't seen that. How quickly things change.... from drought to deluge!

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

I love these new spiralling paintings... You are right - a very primal symbol seen in nature and in the earliest art...
They reminded me of paintings I was doing at foundation art college from the twisting growth patterns of decaying oak burr years ago, I'd almost forgotten...
And I love all the stones and objects all around your studio table - I must take some lessons from the way you surround yourself with objects that inspire :)

kaiteM said...

i became quite absorbed in your spiral stones and nearly forgot why i came here - it was about the natural dyeing. India's book is the best one i've seen, she's done so much research on different ways of trying it. Contact her at her blog or website about the book, she might know more about it's availability...k.

Valerianna said...

Hi Carrie- you reminded me that I shot photos of a bunch of tree rings recently... interesting how if we pay attention, or are in dialog with others, things start to reveal themselves from deep within the psyche. I must re-visit those photos... thanks!

kaite - glad the absorption is catchy... in my case, its truly obsession right now! Thanks for the india info.

Jasmine said...

Your work is looking wonderful. I've been influenced by stone art of late. Must be the magic of Anglesey creeping into my dreams. I've been drawing the simplified animals often found in cave paintings.

So glad to hear you have rain.

Dreaming Woods said...

we truly must be kindred spirits...
forest, nature is my true home also. my heart roots are tangled on the tree branches and ferns.

i must read your blog from the start when i go back in Finland tomorrow.


Valerianna said...

Hi Jasmine - thanks. I love simplified animal cave drawings as well, I hope you post some of the work
you are doing inspired by those.

Delila - I'm with you there- "my heart roots are tangled on the tree branches and ferns" ... and I had a wonderful journey in Finland years and years ago, mostly around Helskinki - some beautiful forests. It was January, cold and lovely. We went to some old mansion. It was around 1983 and I can;t remember details at all, just a deep resonance for the land. I was traveling to Latvia, ancestral home of my father's father's family.

buddhagirl said...

i just added your blog to my "pure inspiration list" on my blog. wow. your artwork is beautiful and photos are so soothing. i found you through m.heart's blog. glad to have stumbled upon another likeminded soul:)

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

Thankyou for visiting me, it was lovely to see you work those drawings are so evocative. I have to be amazed that you are fighting off the is freezing here in Australia brrrr!

Amanda said...

Very feminine and very wild. I'm entranced.

Tammie Lee said...

I truly enjoy seeing each bit of your art, there is something like finding a treasured stone as I look at them.

you have reminded me, I must start getting my wood pile together.

Ruthie Redden said...

Valerianna, i love that you have the courage, and your work & process always inspire & make me want to rush into my own studio space. thank you x x

Valerianna said...

Hi Jennifer - thanks for the enthusiasm, and for adding me to your sidebar, much appreciated! I look forward to visiting your blog.

Janette- Always interesting to wrap my mind around the northern vs. southern hemisphere thing... but keeping up with s. hemisphere bloggers is helping me remember the flip of seasons down under!

Amanda- mmm, yes, JUST what I'm getting at!!!

Tammie Lee - What a lovely comment, I love the idea of my work being like finding a treasured stone,
thank you! And, yes, to the wood pile! I'm ahead of the game for once, maybe I'll even have the wood all stacked in early September (?)

ruthie - I'm truly touched by your comment - and happy to inspire.... I find MUCH inspiration in your bloglands!

Anonymous said...

Your new work is most inspiring!
I have decided to pick up the paint brush again after many years and this post was just what I needed right now--a mixture of beautiful and playful work!
If you decide to sell them please let me know as I would love to have one of these grace my studio space!Many Blessings

Valerianna said...

Hi Nikiah - interesting you should wonder about the spirals being for sale. I'm looking into setting up an online shop and I will surely put a few of those in there! I;d love to think of one hanging over your way....

Cobalt Violet said...

Beautiful and spiritual ... I love them. I am reminded of the book long ago "the Spiral Dance." So much intensity and magic but delicate as well. I am mesmorized.