Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Misty Forests, Spiral Giveways, A Spin in the Air

"Golden Mists", watercolor 

The puddles from last month's rains have finally dried up, but our weather has been 
swinging from hot to cold. Last night I lit a fire in the wood stove to take the chill 
out, and awoke to warm sunshine in long, angular rays of forest morning light. 
As most of the garden tasks are finished (the big spring projects, that is..) I finally 
forced myself back into the studio to paint. It took a bit to find myself again... it 
always does after a break but I seem to think I should be able to walk right in, pick 
up a brush and have satisfactory images emerge effortlessly. I leave after the first 
day back knowing for sure that this time I've totally lost it, never will I paint well 
again. I could have easily flowed back into work if I hadn't decided to work on misty 
forest paintings instead of the high ridge views I'd done last. But the forest called 
to me as I had stored much visual inspiration from my wet spring walks. 

"Woodland Mystery", watercolor

"Green Light", watercolor

It seems the mystery behind the red door must be revealed... as several folks 
wondered what was hidden in there. Yes, it is my studio, warm and cozy in 
winter, but not so inviting in warm weather when dragonflies dart by the open 
door and Pasha cat comes in between wanderings to entice me to walk in the 
forest with him. In winter, he cries at the door and comes in for some heat 
and a nap. In summer, he just doesn't know why on earth I am sitting inside 
a dark room with lights on....

Inside, my table is piled with the new work, just untaped from boards. Some are
now listed in my Etsy shop, and some will stay stranded in limbo, not quite making 
the cut. 

My tools - If you've never bought good watercolor & brushes, you might not know 
that the shot below represents probably close to a thousand dollars. Can you believe 
that? I see one recently purchased brush that cost over $60, luckily, I got it half off. 
One advantage of teaching is getting to know the folks at the student art-kit supply 
store who let me know when good things are happening. As my work and technique 
develop, I've learned what brushes will give me a desired effect, so finding this 
large, flat, great quality brush that holds just the right amount of liquid was a find. 
There's nothing more frustrating to me than not having the right tools for the job.
I remember a chalk board in my father's workshop from my childhood that had the 
same thing written on it for years - "NEVER USE CHEAP VARNISH" - or was it brushes, 
I can't quite remember, but I completely agree either way!

As I look around the studio, I see two paintings from years ago that seem related 
to these new pieces - forest layers, dark tree silhouettes and mysterious light. 

Resting quietly on a pile of painted stones are two small spiral drawings.... 
they whispered to me that they want to go live with two of you in appreciation
for all the inspiration, community, wonderful comments and reflections you give. 
Way back in March, just before my trip to Florida, I noticed that I had almost one 
hundred followers. I decided I would do a giveaway, but somehow March went by 
and the milestone one hundredth mark was made and now it is June and there 
are a few short of two hundred of you readers...! So, I say, it really IS time for 
a giveaway!! (not to mention that I have now been the recipient of two 
blog giveaways - one lovely print from Christina at A Mermaid in the Attic and 
just now a cool autumn leaf from Barry over at Rustnstuff

So if you would like to participate, please leave a comment on this 
post by Monday and I will announce the winners next week. 

Out in the garden today, the happily grinning frog perched on his stones
 amongst the sweet woodruff and oregano caught my attention. 

 And the Jack-in-the-pulpit:

The little white geranium showed me she is 
not really all white, 

and just around the herb bed, a triplet of Irises. 

Pasha cat can usually be found on his bench for afternoon naps. I spotted 
him while photographing the queen of the garden, the Angelica, 
who is just about to bloom!

On closer inspection of napping cat, I noticed that one eye was surely peeking at me.
After a series of change-of-position circlings and resettling, the angle of one rear paw didn't quite make sense to me.... (I figured out after looking at this photo again 
thatwhat I THOUGHT was a rear paw is a front paw - that makes much more sense)

Later in the evening, when Pasha was tucked inside to meet his pre-dusk curfew, 
I wandered down the road in the last moments of sunlight. The fern glades are 
particularly enchanting right now, fresh green fronds all heading in the same 

A lovely flash of sunset hit me straight on when I emerged from the forest. The
neighbor's little barn driveway sparkled with color. 

I was reminded of this strange photo I took of the sky on June 1st. Maybe it
doesn't look strange, but it was a strange sky day. Intense thunderstorms turned 
into deadly tornados that hit not twenty miles south of here. We had hail the size 
of cumquats and high winds. I thought my windshield would break from the hail... 
Its rare for us to have tornados. I've since learned that every twenty years or so 
we get them, but this time they hit several cities and towns and did terrible 
damage and three dead. Thanks to those of you who emailed to find out if I 
was ok. The green-ish afternoon sky suddenly turned this pink-orange color, 

then into lavender-pink. There was definitely a "spin" in the air.....


Charlotte said...

The tree paintings are stunning: I love the mood and atmosphere you have created. They remimind me of the forests in Finland, near to my husbands Granparents house.

I know exactly what you mean by good brushes; it also applies to the paint, I was lucky enough to buy a wooden watercolour box when I was at University, in a sale, I happened to see the cost of replacing it recently. I think I would have to mortgage the house to start again.

You live in such a beautiful place, no wonder you are enticed out of the studio. Thanks for sharing it with us. Best Wishes, Charlotte

Donna~Q~ said...

Your new paintings are blissfully evocative ~ so beautiful! The photos of the sky on June 1st are amazing. Mother Nature has a delightfully fanciful palette sometimes, doesn't she? Pasha seems to be doing a good job of keeping an eye on the garden ~ felines seem to have a knack for finding the best places to relax!

Penny said...

Oh you were so lucky to get one of Barry' leaves, maybe,just maybe I would be lucky enough to win one of your lovely spirals. I love your trees, so simple but terribly effective.
Glad you didnt get the tornados but the hailstones sound pretty nasty.

Kate said...

I too think that the tree paintings are stunning; 'Woodland Mystery' particularly appeals as it reminds me of some of the hazy mist filled forests we have here in England once the summer is almost through.

Like your father before you, mine, who was a master craftsman, always encouraged us to buy the best tools we could afford; he thought that buying cheap led to frustration and was almost always a false economy as like as not you ended up having to replace them pretty rapidly. Great advice which like you, I've carried with me into adulthood. Experience has taught me it always pays off in the end.

Kate :-)

barbara said...

I have no words for your paintings of trees, really, they caught all the mysterious reality of trees, and I love these two spiral-stone-well paintings, these are deep deep wells and still deeper eyes and very, very, inviting :-) Come in, they say, come in, in here it is deep, here is everything :-)

Pasha looks like a véry close family member of what I woke up with today, one beside my head, one behind my back, one on my feet.

Thank you both, love.

steven said...

valerianna, it's interesting for me to read about your returning to the relationship with painting after an absence. it's as if the words are there but painting a sentence takes a little bit of relationship building doesn't it! i truly understand the extraordinary expense of getting the best tools and materials you can afford. i paint with teeny tiny triple zero's and there is a pronounced difference in quality that extends into the ability of the brush to hold water and move pigment. i love your tree paintings. you are truly inside each moment of the forest. steven

Yvette said...

I don't know where to begin my comment so I stay quiet and impressed

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Thank you for giving us a chance to actually see your art work in reality! It would be a wonderful thing to adorn my space, your paintings of the tree's moves my heart as my heart moves when im with the tree's on my walks! I think its the plain naturalness, which is terribly difficult to achieve.
(I think I should be disqualified now, as I sound like Im pashing on you) but still its true

A mermaid in the attic said...

The new work is just beautiful, though I will always love your spirals! I'm still feeling that uncomfortable inability to get started on anything much creative after the long fallow period of summer. I've been pattering around the edges a bit, doing some crochet, some gardening, some sewing, but that's about it. I can't seem to get motivated to start any new paintings or drawings. Or maybe I'm just percolating and it will all bubble over soon...I'm not sure. I have written a short story (first draft only) so I'm wondering if the muse is going to drag me in a different direction this year, and maybe there will be less drawing, more writing.

I love seeing other people's book collections, I noticed I have two that are on your desk, Andy Goldsworthy's 'Time' (isn't it wonderful?!), and 'The Altered Object'. And I just happened to pop over to Barry's blog from another blog I read, HerhimnBryn, and read that you won one of his beautiful leaves, and I thought, 'how wonderful, that's so perfect for Valerianna'...they are gorgeous aren't they...it's such a small world!

Rowan said...

I didn't realise that the tornados had got as far to the East as Mass! That must have been scary, I'm glad that you escaped relatively lightly.
I see that Pasha cat has a nice comfy cushion on his bench:)

Clare Wassermann said...

What a joyful post... a prayer !

Unknown said...

V, I know what you mean about that feeling "I will never be able to paint again" when back in the studio after a long break. Your work belies that however! Beautiful skies, my friend. xxoo sus

stephanie dosen said...

i am reading a book called the SIDHE...
and in it he is talking about stone age
celtic faery spirals he found in a cave...
etched in deep and lined with crystals.
and divine for communication!
just like telephone cords
or spiral antennae...
i thought of your
spirals at once!
and i marveled ♥
i must have called you on the spiral telephone! :D
thank you again for sharing your gift dear one!
your trees are deep and full and like always
your blog a magic magnet.. xoxoxo

Nikiah said...

I agree with all of the comments here--your new tree paintings are stunning--simply absolutely gorgeous!
I am still 100% in love with your spirals as well though and would LOVE to receive one to hang as inspiration in my studio!
Thank you!!
Bright Blessings

Penny Berens said...

A lovely studio and with the red door, it must be inviting you over all the time. How generous to share two of your lovely spirals...How lucky one would be to be a winner!

Velma Bolyard said...

i understand the push-pull of being in the work groove, and how weird it is when you ignore it. my injury has made me long for a strong and functional right hand...anyway, i'm glad you're making trees again. and spirals, too. so much to look at, so much to be thankful for.

Lunar Hine said...

How exciting! And congratulations for attracting so many followers. I move between visual and word art (occasionally combining them) and benefit from the break from each - although that getting-back-into-the-swing bit can be alarming.

Nancy said...

Beautiful post...the photos, the words and of course your work (which I love)...thanks for sharing it all.

Judy Martin said...

Your spirals and painted rocks rock me.

Umā said...

Your ability to capture the mood of the woods in paint, photography and words never fails to amaze me!

Beacee said...

Thank you for sharing your paintings and photos. Lovely to see Pasha cat enjoying the spring.

kd said...

I always love the way you take us into your world both on walks and the creative work and process. Going to your blog never fails to balance me when I am feel sad, lonely or a little battered by my journeying: you channel the forest and earth energy so beautifully. I would be honoured to be custodian of one of your spirals.

Sharmon Davidson said...

I love the sense of light in those tree paintings- it's like i'm there. Those sky photos are awesome, too; thanks for bringing us into your world...

jude said...

i enter another world coming here.

Lynn said...

Wonderful paintings.
Pasha is just scrumptious!

Jorgelina said...

I am organizing a virtual party my blog, I invite you to participate if you like it.
The theme of the party are the fairies.
On 24 June, "World Day of the fairies".
You can wear a button to your blog.
In my blog I have a translator.

therese said...

Oh, I love the painted rocks!

Valerianna said...

Hi everyone - A busy week and I've let the comments pile up so a mass response is in order! Thanks for all the feedback!