Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ancestors, Roots & Branches

"Gnarled Oak", 4x4" scratchbord panel

A gnarled, old oak dreamed itself into being
yesterday. With life at home so busy, its been 
weeks since images floating around in my imagination 
have come out on paper. In a quiet moment as my 
afternoon class worked, I found a piece of 
scratchbord panel and eagerly communed with
 the visual stories brewing inside me. 

For many years I lived on land that had once been 
a gathering place for Native Americans. It was said that 
a great oak near our house was a meeting tree for 
the local Eastern Woodland tribes. I spent many a day 
wandering in the forest there, and sitting under the huge, 
old oaks with their branches touching the Earth. 
I saw my first coyotes while sitting under 
one such oak, at the time that they were just beginning to 
re-inhabit the area. No one believed me, saying that what I saw 
was just dogs, until finally one day, others began to see coyotes 
also, and hear them singing in the night. 

I loved going to the Trailside Museum to see the Great Horned Owl 
who lived there and the little model of the Native village 
with its tiny dwellings and humans going about their daily lives, 
frozen in a story-tale of old. 

Yesterday, when this oak became my drawing, 
I remembered the amazingly huge oaks that I grew up 
with on that land of my youth. 

"Moon and Tree", 4x4" scratchboard panel

I love this bare-branch time.... a time of dark 
and ancestors, and the raw, undressed beauty of the land.
A few years ago, while meditating in a small, stone cave in 
a town not far from here, an image of "Reindeer Grandmother"
came to me. I was meditating on my ancestors, especially 
the branch from the Celtic lands, when a beautiful 
image of an ancient, wise and protective spirit came to me. 

I'm a tad protective of this image, its powerful for me, 
even with its awkward proportion (that arm!) and strange 
space. It came out quickly once I came home from my 
journey, and feels truly like a spirit watching over me. 

As the fall finds itself leaning towards winter, 
things are changing in my life. My parents have now 
packed the last of the house and moved to Florida! 
Its amazing to me, that they are soooo far away. I used
to be able to drive to see them in a couple of hours, 
now, its a plane ride. Oh my..... change... 

Speaking of change, my house has changed, too. 
A new window went in, and a few pieces of furniture 
that didn't go to Florida came to me. Below is 
my living room before the window, sofa and chest. 

And after:

Strange that my barometer for feeling more adult was the 
transition from a futon in the living room to a sofa!

The sofa is a hit with Pasha cat, or rather, the blanket 
on the sofa.  On cool and damp days, I am a 
cat door opener. Pasha stands at the door, staring 
at the knob. If I don't see him there, he whacks 
the heck out of the wind chimes on the knob
so I get the message loud and clear!

A few moment later he's back looking through the 
French doors with a desperate look, remembering the 
warmth of the wood stove and the cozy new blanket 
that has just come to live here.  

Its his favorite new bed, the "car blanket" that also didn't 
go to Florida. It was my grandfather's, and I think it 
was from a time when cars were open air. Yes, its 
really THAT old!

Today I hung a bird feeder from an old post outside the 
window, chancing a visit from the big, old bear. It was 
such a joy to sit in my living room, looking out the new 
window, watching the birds flitting about from 
hemlock to feeder. I'll wait to hang my new best 
hand-me-down feeder until I'm more sure that old 
bear has gone into dreaming. 


Luz said...

Una entrada muy bella su blog es muy artístico
Felicitaciones y saludos desde Argentina!

Sweetpea said...

That sofa looks supremely comfy. Perhaps it will offer you a cozy spot to think on things past while the window may offer you a path out to the future...

Thanks for inviting us in.

steven said...

what a very beautiful rich real world you live in, visit, and create. steven

Joanna said...

Those scratchboard images are really lovely. And I like to see your warm cozy living space too. I agree with Steven.

Medieval Muse said...

Your space is lovely and the new window certainly brings your outdoor world into better view. I think the cartoon, Simon's Cat, had one about the cat wanting out, then back in.

Love your tree artworks.

Aaron-Paul said...

I Love the Gnarled oak piece of work it was well worth the wait and what a beautiful nest you have created for yourself.

illustration poetry said...

Hi Valerianna, i really like your branches, i do.
i want to get lost in it.
and just disappear.

Penny Berens said...

Your use of scratchboards is wonderful it seems to lend itself to gnarled oaks. I'm still smiling at the antics of Pasha cat.

Gwen Buchanan said...

oh Valerianna, delightful surroundings.. I would feel quite at home there.. beautiful leafy view out your new bright window too.. so cozy!!

Valerianna said...

Gracias, Luz.... y saludos desde el bosque mysterioso!

Sweetpea- yes, the sofa is VERY comfortable. And I like the idea of remembering the past and dreaming into the future. Now my big dilemma is whether to sit looking at the fire, or turn to see the birds....

Thanks, Steven... I try!

Thanks, Joanna, I've been enjoying the rediscovery of scratchbord over that last year.... I had tried it before, but the tree imagery works really well in that medium.

Medieval Muse - thanks... and yes, I think I've see several cartoons about the in and out cat thing!

Aaron-Paul - thanks, I'm liking the Oak, too... its interesting with these drawings, they come out and surprise me because I'm not looking at anything... I just start making lines that I know are going to become tree/s and see what happens. I get so into the texture and light that I get surprised when I stop and look at the whole and an image has taken shape. As if I didn't do it myself. Strange.

sympathy - thanks, hope if you get lost, that the journey is a good one!

Penny- yes... more written on the scratchbord above. I love it for the tree imagery. And I was happy to get a shot of Pasha with that urgent look on his face.... I;m smiling, too, when I look back at it! Very Pasha. He's a GREAT manipulator!

Gwen - Thanks! Lovely coming from you, I've looked back at all your house posts with great admiration. In fact, I was inspired by your Gothic windows and thought even about making mullions in the Gothic style for this new window based on one of your posts. But, now that its in, I'm liking the simplicity... so who knows.

Ruthie Redden said...

Valerianna, your scratchboard tree pieces are stunning, images inspired by visions long ago that had soaked into your soul. I love your new space too x

Umā said...

Everything about this warms me.

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Valerianna, I get lost in a dream world reading your evocative posts.

Lovely scratchboard panels and painting and your new-look living room is indeed a very grown up space - I love your sofa and those cushions...!!

Just like Pasha, my Jess and Bobbi are enjoying snuggling on cosy warm throws on these cold rainy days. I'm intrigued - has the big old bear paid a visit yet?


Gina Cuff said...

What a gorgeous blog, Valerianna ! I really enjoyed reading your latest post and I've book marked you so I can come back often! I love how Pasha makes it known when he wants to go out. Cats are the best!


Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

A lovely post Valerianna,I've really enjoyed reading. It is the time of dark and ancestors indeed... Your Reindeer Grandmother is fascinating and obviously very personal to you. Almost like a female counterpart of Cernunnos or something even older from the times of nomadic arctic circle tribes following the reindeer migrations...
And your forest window view is wonderful... :)

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Ruthie!!

m - thanks... warming is good this time of year!

Jeanne - no, no bear yet. I'm feeling bolder, might be time to put out the other feeders, but he could show up at any time. If he does, I hope its during the day so I can share him with you all.

HI Gina - thanks for stopping by. Yes, cats are the best. Pasha learned the wind chime trick from his long-time adopted sibling, Sophia. She's been gone a couple years now, we miss her so....

Carrie- Yes, I have a thing for those northern arctic Reindeer Herders - have a lot of Norwegian music and wonder about my ancestors that came from Latvia. Not too far away from Norway. And she is a bit like a Cernunnos. Did you know that female reindeer have antlers? I've always felt I should, too, and was glad to learn that some female deer species have them! Well, at least Reindeer and their cousins, Caribou, don't know of any others....

Steven Cain said...

Wow, look at all of us... making cool places to live... Yours is absolutely wonderful! And such a handsom cat! Thanks for letting us drop in!

Valerianna said...

Hi Steven - I just noticed that you are my one hundredth follower! All of a sudden it seems, or I haven't been paying close attention. You are welcome anytime! I will tell Pasha you say he's handsome.... he enjoys the attention.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

it is such a gift, to be invited into your
home. this place is loved. the old woman
will be pleased to be here.

Beacee said...

Oh my goodness! I thought: What's a photo of Jacob doing there? Pasha cat looks so like him - especially the face at the window, wanting to come in!

summertime dreams said...

Love your oak images and the thoughts around both them and your reindeer grandmother. Very beautiful. And also your space is very warm and homey. Lovely, just lovely, I can't wait till I have a home like this with a kitty waiting to be let in. Puuurrrfection! hehe.

Danielle Barlow said...

I have to paint a forest within my house - you are so lucky to have one surrounding yours! Your room looks tranquil and lovely :)

ArtPropelled said...

The new window and sofa must give you such a lift. Your home looks so warm and inviting and I love the fact that you can see the forest from your living room. Your scratchboard panels are amazing! Enjoying the ones in your sidebar too.

Valerianna said...

Thanks, Grace! The old woman has been watching over me for about 6 months, but she recently got a new, more prominent place on the wall. I think she likes being able to see more and be seen as well.

Beabee- Is your Jacob a Maine Coon?

summertime dreams - I pined for YEARS before landing here, and I was so ready to nest once I did! Hope you land soon!

Danielle- I do love being plopped in the middle of the forest, though I do often suffer from full-sun envy in summers when others have 10ft tall sunflowers!

ArtPropelled- thanks and yes, I've been joking that I have forest TV going all day now and its sometimes hard to break away from the window to get anything done. Though I'm very much noticing all the oak leaves covering the carpet of mosses. Next weekend I need to rake a LOT, I might get a few areas done before the snows come....

Beacee said...

Yes Jacob's a Maine Coon, a big, beautiful softy with an American father and maternal grandfather.

ti-igra said...

Wow! What a fabulous story! I love trees and feel their power, speak with them:)
Great, fantastic pictures! I love them!

So beautiful house, large windows, behind which is a forest - this is a dream of each who loves nature! :)

Jasmine said...

Stunning work. And your home looks so inviting. I have missed visiting here while my computer was down. How we rely on technology!

(Karen) Lisa Daley said...

Thank you for a peaceful visit today, and for your kind comments about Jasmine on my blog. Your home is beautiful and I found looking at your tree calming. Hope your parents' move went easily and they're happy. I may pop in for another peek later on:>) Hugs, Lisa

Jo Potter said...

I love this post Valerianna!
The oak drawing and the painting of Reindeer Grandmother are very powerful and a really magical way to remember your ancestor's.
Your home looks beautiful. I can imagine Pasha must love that big comfy sofa. Ziggy is a sofa cat too! ;-))
Zigsa also howls at the door like mad when he wants to go out. I think pasha and Zig would get up to all kinds of mischief in the forest on moonlit nights! >^.^<

elena nuez said...

Doudou Diéne decia "en el bosque cuando las ramas se pelean, las raices se abrazan", y es en lo que he pensado nada más ver tu dibujo, me encanta, artista!!!

Lynn said...

Beautiful drawings. I love the story about the returning coyotes, and of finding your "Reindeer Grandmother". There really is magic still in the world.

rivergardenstudio said...

This post is filled with beauty. I actually thought I had written before, but it seems, only in my mind. Your woodlands and your closeness to your lushly forested world fill me with connections and that they are there if only we notice. Beautiful art and windows. roxanne

Lynne said...

How serene and and peaceful your space is. The window has made a big difference too, bringing in that beautiful view.

stephanie dosen said...

your house is looking oh so so so beautiful and full of sparkling energy