Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Salamander is the Dream of Water

In the warm and breezy afternoon, I took myself into the studio to work with 
spirals. Thinking this drawing was like lichen clinging to stone, a short something 
came to me. 

I found myself writing it in the margins of my sketchbook all day... I wonder why 
somedays words must come out of me, while other days I'm content with images 
and patterns and the quiet whisperings of the forest. 

I've been thinking about the necessity of walking a spiral path. In an email to 
a recently graduated student, I found myself writing about how important it is 
for artists to walk in circles. Most of the extraordinary people I know seem to 
walk crooked, spiraling paths of immense power and mystery. I suppose life IS 
a crooked path - and I wonder if much of the stress we have comes from thinking 
we can make the path straight, know the trajectory, and follow along from 
intention to goal at the end of the line. 

Learning to walk in the mystery is brave and essential for the creative process. 
I dance with the mystery while making paintings, starting from nothing and trusting 
I will know where to go. I think having learned to trust the creative flow has 
given me courage to walk through fear. Like walking through the dark forest in 
a faery tale, there are springs I must drink from, an old woman I must meet, 
and a ring I must bring to the king if I am to succeed in my quest. 

Peeking back at a watercolor book from several years ago, I found paintings 
that surely were seeds for my recent forest paintings. Seeing these suggests 
ways of working now, too. HA! Another spiral path, this one a spiral layering 
of time.  

On a recent outing I saw this ring. I imagine you're not surprised that it came 
home with me...

June in the forest was magnificent this year. The Mountain Laurel exploded 
into bloom and my walks were filled from ground to sky with white blossoms. 

Days of rain brought magical mushrooms. 

This one demanded contemplation, considering where 
it popped up. 

Giant ferns and wild irises together in the pond. 

 In the garden, some things are emerging, 

while others have gone to seed. 

There is much beauty when I lean in close and look under and through. 

Lunchtime tea in the garden. Pasha was the only invited guest. 

This grass captivated my attention all day. 
Delicate blooms undulated with the wind, 
a beautiful, graceful dance.

After tea, a catnap was in order. 
I wonder if I need to weed around Pasha's bench? 
The ferns seem to be claiming it for themselves. 

I did bring a fern inside to grace the windowsill, 
but not Pasha's nap-bench fern. 

I love this dreaming woman....

A luna moth stayed by the house all day one day, 
tucked in a fern where I placed him away from danger. 
He died the following morning. I do hope he found a female 
during the seven days of his life so RavenWood will have many of 
these magical moths next spring. 


Wayward Harper said...

so beautiful Valerianna, oh to live in a forest! And I've never really thought about it before but your right - in being an artist requires a huge trust in the creative flow. Trusting that a piece will turn out is often the thing that keeps me going through a difficult painting. No wonder so many don't create because of fear. If only we could all create like children and paint for the sheer joy of it and nothing else! And yes, spirals upon spirals, i think most live on very twisted paths :) (and thanks for posting the pic of the luna moth -so beautiful! I've never seen one before!)

Dreaming Woods said...

i just wish we could have luna moth's in Finland also. they are just so utterly beautiful creatures, very faery like, i think. your photographs are always so wonderful!!
i have learned to trust my own intuition when i create my jewelries. it took some time when i first begun to create them.

Charlotte said...

You live in the most beautiful place. Don't you find there is a smell and sound to a forest that is quite unique. My internal senses are scenting the leaf mould, coffee-like, hearing the whispering you have singing to you.
Thank you for opening the door to the garden; like Alice I enjoy peering through.

Acornmoon said...

I am more than a little envious of your lunar moth.

The ring you found has found the perfect place, in could have been made just for you, perhaps it was?

Penny Berens said...

Spiralling along in your footsteps and hoping that July will be a warmer and dryer month up here than June was.

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

Beautiful, just so beautiful. Having read your words about not walking straight lines, being a desired happenstance feel better about being so wonki!
It cheers me so to see you in such wonderful surroundings, and to be so kind as to share it with others, through your blog.

Lunar Hine said...

Well, what they said.
Your blog is a breath of deep forest air for us on rolling moorland.
And that perfect moth has a legacy of admiration.
Thank you.

A mermaid in the attic said...

Beautiful as always, your forest home looks so serene and nourishing! I am always scribbling things on paintings and drawings...and especially in book margins, I can't seem to help myself. :)

Unknown said...

So beautiful and serene, your spirals and surroundings bring such calm.

steven said...

valerianna this is such a wise and insightful posting: "life IS a crooked path - and I wonder if much of the stress we have comes from thinking we can make the path straight, know the trajectory, and follow along from intention to goal at the end of the line." i came to recognize the true helix of life after i'd lived a fair bit of it and was able to conenct the features and organization of nature to my own passage through this place. in understanding this, "mistakes" change their purpose and quality and become essential features of moving along the helix. learning, which changes with every moment, also becomes a model for the slow turning and layering that eventually maps your becoming! thankyou also for sharing the beautiful photographs! steven

Nancy said...

Yes...yes life is a very crooked path. It is good to remember that! That ring is just perfection. I love getting a peek at your days in your enchanted home space.
Oh...and dreaming woman...what a dream! Beautiful.

Unknown said...

'some things are emerging, while others have gone to seed' struck me as perfectly appropriate for how work in my studio goes!

and you are so right, artist do walk in circles. the thought is comforting.

Velma Bolyard said...

i missed lunas this year, but look and look, as you know. the spirals above are very strong.

trish said...

Wow, a beautiful post to read and such beautiful photos. Thank you.
Much love.

layers said...

Because we are so unique and different- I find it interesting to see what each of us are so attracted to... for me it is circles-- for you it is spirals-- though they have similarities too.. I used to take Tai Chi and one activity we did sometimes was walk around in a circle that was really a spiral.. and meditate..

Donna~Q~ said...

Wow ~ spirals, woodland delights and a tea party with Pasha! Thanks for a post filled with gorgeousness!

Lynn said...

At the risk of repeating myself - thank you for another beautiful post. Your garden is unreal. I love the photo of Pasha and the encroaching plants. I'm mad for silver rings, and yours is gorgeous.

Years ago, a friend of mine (from art class) and I used to think that people were divided into two groups: "straight line people" and "wavy line people" with us, of course, firmly in the latter camp. I have since come to believe that there is no straight path - but that everyone's path winds in different ways. And that fighting one's particular curve, can be frustrating at best.

Your spirals are wonderful. And I love seeing the words that are making their way around their perimeters.

Rowan said...

I really love your photographs of the different mushrooms, flowers and seedheads, they are so beautiful. I suspect the mushrooms this autumn will be scarce here as we've had such a dry spring and summer, I was quite surprised to see that you have so many already, they are mainly a late September/October thing in the UK.

helen said...

I wonder if I will ever get to see a Lunar Moth...thank you for sharing the one who chose you, and for a joy~filled stroll through your surroundings. Your ring is perfect. I made a walk~in spiral in our garden a few years ago

we don't have it any more and I miss it.
Blessed be Valerianna and Pasha ~

Cobalt Violet said...

What an incredible post! Love your spirals. So beautiful and organic.
Your photos are so lovely and I love your dreaming woman!

Michala Gyetvai (Kayla coo) said...

Your images are amazingly beautiful.
I love your spirals and agree that in order for creativity to flow we should not know our destination, just work instinctively.M x

the wild magnolia said...

"Learning to walk in the mystery...", to me denotes action, we keep on moving with focused intention and purpose.

Very helpful and insightful post. My spirit needed these words.

It has been only a few days since I saw for the first time a Luna Moth. I was enchanted. To live in the land of Luna Moth's is thrilling. To find a Luna Moth would send me into a happy dance of gratitude.

Your art work is very spiritual and so beautiful

Wonderful photos and sharing!

ramona said...

Wonderful, wonderful images! "lean in close and look under and through" so many wonderful things to see. The mushrooms are magnificent!!

Windsongs and Wordhoards said...

Wise words indeed for any artist to heed and beautiful images too! Your woodland studio looks very lovely and summery in amongst the flowers, must be a lovely place to work...
Thankyou for a very inspiring and peaceful post :)
Carrie... :)


I've pondered spirals for a long time, waiting for mystery to speak to me. Beautiful post and lovely blog. Mary Ann, Healing with Herbs blog

Tammie Lee said...

that ring is perfect for you
i would have been tempted to buy it too
so lovely to see your intimate photos of life
and your art and words touch my heart
lovely weekend to you~

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures and blog, I will follow you!

barbara said...

You touch me deep in my heart, with joy and with power, through everything you show and write here about the crooked, spiraling paths and the springs and the old woman. Best of all is the picture of Pasha having tea with you, what a guest ! a king of the forest !!! :-) On the picture of the catnap he's big friends with the fern on his fur, they're telling each other beautiful mysteries, I can see this. One day Valerianna, when it is time to weed around his throne, you will KNOW that ;-) Thank you for all.

Valerianna said...

Wayward Harper - Yes, the luna moth is something quite exceptional in this Northern climate, I think! Truly spectacular.

Delila - Maybe someday you can see a luna moth - do you have any of those amazing butterfly and moth places in Finland? We have one not too far away that I was utterly amazed when I visited. I was actually a bit ungrounded when I left because I had just spent an hour with hundreds of moths and butterflies from all over the world. It felt like I had spent one hundred years in faery land... it took me a long time to recover!

Charlotte - The forest does surely have its own scent - and sometimes it IS coffed when I sit in the garden and I have just dumped coffee grounds in the compost, its coffee-scented for sure! But most of the time its "fresh with hints of musk", or that's how I would describe the scent of the hemlock forest.

acornmoon - I think it surely was made just for me!

Penny - I do hope it is... and we need a little more warmth here, though I'm not complaining about the lack of hot, hot and humidity... but my vegetables are maturing very slowly this year.

The Cranky Crone - Oh I think being wonki is a very good thing!

Lunar Hine - And someday I want to visit your rolling moorland... its quite exquisite, too!

Mermaid - It is strange for me that somedays its words, somedays its images and patterns...

Juliet - Definitely calm, sometimes I MUST go somewhere to have a full-on energetic change! The river is always good for that, or downtown where there are so many people that I am amazed.

Steven - yes, definitely what you say about mistakes... surely they are not what we think they are at first glance!

Nancy - I do love that Dreaming Woman... It is by a small company called Bell Pine Art Farm. I like many of their sculptures, but LOVE this one.

Brooke - I feel the same way about things in the studio... definitely!

Velma - I hope you have some lunas next year... what I haven't
seen here yet this year is a polyphemus, another incredible moth. I think one might have been bumping into my screen the other night, but I couldn't get a good look. I'm keeping my eyes peeled...

Thanks, Trish!

Layers - I love circles, too, and especially when they are concentric. Sometimes my spiral drawings are actually a series of concentric circles overlaid. I practice Qigong and used to do Tai Chi. Definitely a lot of circles in both those practices!

Valerianna said...

Donna Q- I'm quite partial to that photo of tea with Pasha!

Lynn- I like that... I'm a "wavy line person", of course!

Rowan - I remember that about mushrooms from when I lived in Italy. If I remember correctly, there was a mushroom "season". Here, it really all depends on the amount of rain we get in spring, summer and fall - definitely none in winter.

Helen - I like your spiral garden path a lot. I have a labyrinth out in the woods a bit, though it never really was entirely completed. Someday I will finish it and spend more time there.... or maybe make it into a spiral path, that might be more fun!

Cobalt Violet - Dreaming Woman is cool - not my sculpture, or rather, I didn't make her... Pine Bell Art Farm- some sweet sculptures!

Kayla - Its clear to me that you work that way!

the wild magnolia - Living with luna moths is something special, but always so fleeting as they don't live long at all. So delicate and enchanting, I wonder at such incredible color....

Ramona - yup we had a great run of mushroom days. Its drying out a bit, so they are all starting to fade. They look like melted muck scattered here and there on the forest floor!

Swan Artworks - Now that I finally pried open the very sticky windows, I do enjoy the studio again, but until then, I was a bit hot in there!

Mary Ann - pondering spirals is a good companion to healing with herbs I think!

Tammie Lee - thanks! In the middle of a warm, wonderful weekend working in the garden.

Andressa- glad to have you, thanks for the feedback.

Stille Linde - Oh, I see it now. I was quite struck by the look on Pasha's face when I took this photo and the unusual color of his eyes - how they look just like the fern. I think I was disturbing something important, so I backed away quickly. I think that dreaming woman might have stepped right out of one of your drawings, don't you?

jude said...

i love the blurry paintings

Valerianna said...

jude- blurry is somehow very alive for me, like how my eye is never really still when I look at things.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Just magical photographs. A joy to see.
And speaking for myself, I should think to travel a straight line would be incredibly boring!

Barry said...

VA- this post just took me into overload - so many images and so many thoughts. Spirals, mushrooms, rings, paintings from days gone by - but the common thread is you on your journey. Continue to enjoy it and thanks for sharing snippets of it. B

Medieval Muse said...

Beautiful post!!! I love how you've connected all the pieces here like an intricate puzzle with Pasha as your wonderful, napping accomplice.

Straight lines are such a man-made device and often we seem so concerned with "point A" to "point B" in our working lives. Spirals give us another perspective, time overlapping, parallel - no looking back or towards a finish! Perhaps they are meant to teach us patience or to enjoy the moment? Your spiral paintings also remind me of the rings inside a tree.

Ruthie Redden said...

How wonderful to have luna moths visit your home, your home amongst the forest has such a restful feel to it. Since we came to live here, tucked almost under the boughs of the forest trees, i am sure i can feel the magic of that place seeping into my bones, and feeding my spirit & bringing me peace too.