Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stories in the Snow

"Old One", drawing on 8x8" scratchbord panel

Thank you all for your heartfelt words on my last post, 
I was truly comforted by your support and well wishes.
As the days melt one into the other, we find our 
feet on the path of healing, feeling the strength 
of our family and the warm embraces of 
those near and far. 

I have been working on more tree drawings, 
 the obsessive mark-making a meditation in the fading 
winter light. I think the one above is my favorite so far, 
finished last night sitting close to the wood stove 
listening to an audio book of ancient days of 
road wandering and storytelling in England. 

"Mystery Tree", drawing on 4x4" scratchbord panel

A frozen world surrounds me, with a sweet dusting of 
snow, a blank parchment recording the travels
of the forest creatures. Below, the tracks of the fox, 
just outside the door, where many an encounter 
was had between fox and Pasha cat last spring.

Grandmother Winter's dark cloak hides the daylight early
away, yet the frozen jewels she spreads beneath her
reveal that silent ones have slipped past. I love this time
of year, able to read the traveling stories of the often  
invisible woodland wanderers.

Below, a collection of images from the last day 
of school. Student work from my class, Exploring the Natural World,
and the last photo, a collection of books projects from 
2D Design & Color. I hope you enjoy them as much as I!
(Click to enlarge)

Mixed-media - map cutout and collage by Sarah P. who 
shares my love of winter trees. 

A very large chalk pastel drawing - 20"x50" or so, 
by another Sarah.... lovely light!

A 3-d illustration of a poem by Riley, 
with detail below. 

Watercolor and color pencil drawings by Miriam.
Watercolor and pen & ink drawing by Justine below.

Atmospheric imaginary landscape by Jess, and 
"Animal Houses", by Austin below.

Mixed-media collage - lovely landscape by Kate, and
below, a collection of design books, and a peek at 
the studio at school where I teach. 

Alas, it is time to wrap myself in wool, down and fleece 
and venture out to bring in wood, fill bird feeders, and 
walk a bit to collect kindling. Pasha has been in 
and out many times already, for the temperature 
was only 12 degrees last I looked. I wonder if 
he'll join me on my chores to write our 
wandering stories in the snow? 


Umā said...

Amazing work by your students. It must be so inspiring to see their projects develop. And your trees! Gorgeous.

ramona said...

Wonderful images and words. Will you share the audio book you are listening to? Have a peaceful day.

Kimberly Wachtel said...

I love reading your post, seeing your new tree sketches and seeing your students work. All very, very lovely and good company on a cold, gray afternoon. Thank you, Valerianna!

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

It is always a pleasure to visit your blog and enjoy your surroundings.
I wish I could join your class!

Valerianna said...

m -thanks! And, yes, teaching offers many moments of inspiration!

ramona - thanks, the book is "Company of Liars", Karen Maitland. Medieval England during the first break out of the plague, a small band of folks find themselves tossed together on the road, each with their own tales to tell. Interesting mix of people, I'm only half way, and am enjoying it more and more.... some magical moments.

Kimberly - you're quite welcome. Sure IS cold.....

Kayla coo - I'd love to have you!

steven said...

valerianna, the 3d work hums for me big time! cool thinking to see words that way. i went for a bike ride along a lonely trail through a nearby wetland, lots of coyote trails and then one big wolf trail. i shivered . . . and it wasn't because of the cold. steven

Unknown said...

Your students' work is really wonderful. I love your Mystery Tree - seems sort of heart-like to me - life lines. We are under a blanket of snow in our part of the forest, too - walking under the bright morning star.

Valerianna said...

ramona - ps- the story I mention above is quite dark, I realize.... just to be fairwarned....

steven- yeah, it was the last in a series of projects done by Riley - each one progressively more successful in working with books. It hums for me, too!

susan - I like that Mystery Tree is kind of heart-like, I didn't see it before, but now I do, thanks.

stregata said...

Wonderful artwork - all of it! Pasha has an adorable face. My cats don't spend much time outside at the moment, too cold. Do the birds empty your feeders as fast as ours do? By noon, they are usually empty - and I put out about 2 pounds of seed every day.

Sweetpea said...

You must be VERY proud of your students...what fine work they have produced!

Acornmoon said...

I really enjoyed seeing the work of your students, such lovely books.
It is cold over here too, we have had some spectacular frosts.

Your old tree looks like it has been frozen and suspended in time, I love it.

I am having a giveaway on my blog and hope that you will join in.

(Karen) Lisa Daley said...

Your trees and your students' projects are beautiful! What a joy it must be to see results like this from your class. Hugs to you and Pasha, Lisa

Valerianna said...

stregata- I do go through a lot of seed, but I think you're birds have got mine beat! I'm not sure I could afford yours.....

Sweetpea- absolutely, this was a particularly rewarding semester.... a bunch of A's were given out!

acornmoon - I love that reading of my "Old One" drawing, frozen and suspended in time... it does look that way!

Lisa- yes....a joy, there are a lot of joyful moments in teaching, and when EVERYONE has done great work, its the best!

Donna Iona Drozda said...

It is a cold and snowy day here in Virginia and I hae invested my last long while soaking up your posts and filling up with your poetry, imagery, and soul depth...I am so very sorry to hear of our families recent loss...your voice being lent to the memorial must surely have been a balm for all.
The work that your students create is a testament to your ability to mentor the hearts and souls of our young ones...they are so very fortunate to be touched by your sensitivity.
Your gracious glorious grand mother trees are making me delirious with the desire to scratch into the surface of things in my studio and to send out an extra special honoring to the elder guardians who surround me here in my woods Great Horned Owls calling a duet at dusk and dawn and often through the night.

Your view is so filled with deep beauty... I feel the stronger when I am wandering among your tracks in the snow.

Valerianna said...

Donna -thank you for mirroring soul depth. And for receiving strength and beauty from here, a blessing for me, too.

Reading Tea Leaves said...

Dear Valerianna, I'm so heartened to hear your family are on the road to healing and gaining new strength with each passing day.

Your posts endow me with a sense of peace, reading about your surroundings and your daily chores ... Pasha's sweet face which obviously hides a steely determination ... encounters with a fox prove that!

Your student's artworks are tremendous achievements ... you must be so very proud of them.


Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou for your kind words on my blog. I wish you and your family peace and healing too xxx

What wonderful work your students have produced - I especially like the 'Animal Houses'.

Valerianna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Valerianna said...

Jeanne -Thanks, yes, we are healing more and more each day. Of course, its my niece who has the deepest grief to navigate. My sister says she is doing OK.. up and down, but getting LOTS of support. And I AM very proud of my students' work, outstanding, I think!

Danielle - Thanks, I too, love Animal Houses - these were made by a freshman/first year university student. Imagine what magic he'll be producing when he graduates! I look forward to seeing it!!

And, BTW, I made so many spelling and grammar mistakes on the comment above, I had to remove it... well, I guess I could have left it. But, anyway, I think my head is already out dancing around the Solstice Fire.... better get gathering my stuff!

Laura said...

so much beautiful art to be found here!!! your trees and your students studies of nature are absolutely gorgeous!

Jasmine said...

A spectacular post Valerianna. Just Beautiful. Have you listened to Old Peter's Russian Tales? If not you may be able to listen to them on BBC Radio 7 Iplayer. Your photo's, art and home remind me of some of these tales. Blessings to you in 2011 xJ

Ruthie Redden said...

Dear Valeriana, i have so much catching up to do. I am s sorry to hear of your & your nieces loss, sending you blessings x x x How wonderful to see some of your students work, i adore the painting by Miriam, wonderful studies & Riley's poem is as you say fab, it must be so rewarding to work with these folk. I am inspired too by your own beautiful tree pieces, very powerful. x