Thursday, January 24, 2013

Deep Freeze

I don't usually pop in here to do quick posts. 
Why not? Here are some images from a bitter cold day. 
I was fascinated with the ice patterns that formed on the windows, 
and looking through the ice to the light and trees beyond. 

The wind is howling and the temperature is dropping to 
about - 9 degrees F (- 22 C), but after tonight, it will start getting a bit warmer. 
This time of year I am reminded of the scene in Dr. Zhivago where they are living 
in a frozen country estate, in one heated room. The image of the Ice Palace as I 
think it is called, is a strong memory from my childhood. 

There were a lot of VERY short outside jaunts today for Pasha, followed by long 
warm-ups by the fire. I stayed in, mostly. A good day for teaching prep, though the 
studio would have been nicer. I didn't want to use a ton of propane. But then 
I went to check on the studio and found I wasn't using ANY. Frozen, but the gas 
heater came on easily, so, not sure if there's a problem with the thermostat. 
I left it going fine, we'll see, choosing not to fret. Frozen inks and watercolors 
and glues... they'll thaw. Its happened once before in the old studio. 
And so it goes. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Owls & Winter Branches

"Snowy Owl in Flight" VClaff 2013

The days slowly brighten, but windy, bitter nights have taken hold. When the 
wind slows, a profound quiet settles in the forest. Occasional creaks and cracks 
echo in the frozen world, and in the night, the owls call deep in the forest or 
just outside my window. 

"Midwinter Owl" VClaff 2013

The barred owl that I thought had gone beyond the veils has come again to her 
perch in the clearing. I wonder if she feels the owl energy in the studio. I caught a 
glimpse of her tawny wings flashing by in the late afternoon one day, and I hear 
the crows chasing her off in the early mornings while I am still warm in bed. 

 "Great Gray Owl" VClaff 2013

In the studio, I've been filling the walls with owl drawings, and the ones in this 
post are now listed in my Etsy shop

I just today started experimenting with better papers, and this led to some 
drawings I've been thinking about that explore layering and the rhythm of  
winter branches. These drawings are on rigid illustration board, and so far I 
am very much enjoying the surface. 

new drawings 2013

 Winter Branches series VClaff 2013

"Winter Branches"  VClaff 2013

"Winter Branches 2"  VClaff 2013

On warmer days, Pasha keeps guard at the studio door, hoping I'll come out for 
a walk in the afternoon. 

One warm and sunny day, the forest - and a walk with Pasha - was irresistable. 
Looking first at plant stalks still standing in the garden, I was struck by how 
fragile these plants appear, yet snows and howling winds have yet to loose many 
a seed from its stalk. 

Although the snow was deep, it was packed down enough that I didn't need  
snowshoes, which is always nice. Pasha makes use of my tracks and I notice 
fox tracks used by raccoons, and coyote tracks used by a bobcat. Its surely 
easier to have someone else break trail, even if it is something that might 
eat you. 

 Fox track used only by a fox. 

Beneath the snow, the ancient world of mosses and ferns seems still very much 
alive. I bent low and admired this delicate fern on her mossy stone, drinking in 
the vibrant greens. 

Here is a short clip of Pasha on our walk. His enthusiasm is always a joy, and I was 
glad to finally catch him doing his dash up a tree. At the end of the video, we 
come to the spot with the coyote and fox tracks. You might notice them. The last 
film is of one of my favorite sounds, especially in the morning when everything else 
is still and the sun is just rising.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Taking Flight

"Owl in Flight", 7x5", VClaff, 2012

The white ink on black paper drawings that started as experiments are becoming 
something I'm very intrested in. As I continuded exploring the ink, I began to see 
the subtle layering possibilities when the ink is used at different saturations. The
owl drawing above is one of the latest ones, with more of an understanding of  
the materials. I'm on a quest for the best paper to use, as I've pushed the limits 
of the drawing paper I was using. I think I've found a good option for my drawing 
process and am excited to try it out. The drawing, Barred Owl on Branchbelow, 
is one of the earlier ones, and you can see I'm just beginning to play with ink 

"Barred Owl on Branch", 7x5", VClaff 2012

The owls have found their way into my Etsy shop, and because this work is not 
in any of the galleries that represent me, I can offer them at reasonable cost. In fact, 
this is true of most of the work in my shop. To take a look, click here, especially 
if you need a place to spend holiday money! I'm happy to say that the Owl in Flight drawing is flying off to KD at Nomad Dreaming  to live. Her present post shares photos 
of a beautiful, arctic visitor... go take a look! 

 "Forest", VClaff 2012

 "Owl in the Night", 7x5"  VClaff 2012

 "Winter Owl", 10x8", VClaff 2012

I'm offering the two drawings below at a discount because there is slight buckling 
in the paper. They are archival and will be fine, especially if they are matted. 
They will fit in standard mats sized for an 8 x 10" image. These are two of my 
favorites so far and are leading me into the a deeper exploration with the ink. 
The drawings are $95.00 plus shipping. If you are interested, you'll find my email 
listed on my profile page, or leave a comment here with information on how to 
contact you. 

After most of the month with periods of icing and then warming, we now have 
a steady cold upon us. The pre-snow garden was beautiful in its frozen state. 

And I've noticed that I'm looking rather frosty, too, 
now that my hair matches my gray woolen cap. 

Tucked in there, under the frozen, bending 
hemlocks is the studio, see it?

After celebrating a lovely Solstice with a small group ritual in the studio, 
I raced off the following day to get my father at the airport. We had our 
traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my sister and her family - the roast beef, 
Yorkshire Pudding, and home-made busch de noel was well worth the long drive!
(well, and the presents, too!) Dad and I shared a cold Christmas reading and 
walking and being quiet by the fire. 

I gave Dad two of my newer paintings - always good to give 
flat gifts for those flying long distances!

The snows came just in time for Dad to have his once a year 
shoveling experience, just so he doesn't forget how to. 

There was lots more reading by the fire after that. 

And for some older furry ones, there was much watching
from the window. 

Below - subject of watcher. 

 We stopped at the family mausoleum on Dad's way back to 
the airport. Its an impressive building that I haven't seen  
since I was a small child. Mom is buried outside, she wanted 
earth and not stone. I spread lots of birdseed cause she was 
an avid bird-watcher just like the old furry one. 

Dropped Dad at my sister's for an early morning airport run.... 
here's a goofy, blurry photo, just in case you think that the mood around 
here is mostly like the last post, don't worry, there's plenty of the below stuff, too. 

Back in the hills, winter snows and cold have settled in. 
I've shoveled a lot since Dad left only a few days ago. 

After all the shoveling, I have a warm, furry laptop. Way 
more soothing than the shiny, aluminum kind! He stays just long enough, 
then heads to his little rug once I'm warmed up a bit. Luckily the fire doesn't 
really escape the wood stove, just the heat.