Saturday, October 24, 2015

Branches at Pond's Edge

"Pond's Edge - Branches" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

I need a week off to go deeper into work in the studio. Not going to paint is an exercise in discipline right now. When a crack opens into the mystery and I find myself sinking into a kind of deep soul state while painting, the desire to let everything else wait is strong. With the cold weather coming, wood to be put in and the usual responsibilities of life and teaching, tasks cannot be put off. 

"Pond's Edge - Laurel" watercolor on paper, 8"x10", VClaff 2015

"Maple" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

"Mysterious Light" watercolor on paper, 11"x15", VClaff 2015

It's good to be working again, good to be sinking deeply into these mysterious tree-worlds, good to have at least some time for it. I had so much time over the summer, but other things needed to happen... timing is everything. I've learned to trust it. 

Tree & Cloud - small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

Small study, VClaff, 2015

The celebration of color continues - a short trip around town for errands is 
magical. Walks up the road are slow to soak in the fire of autumn. 
We've had the first flakes of winter, but nothing really stuck, and Rhu seems 
happy with the shifting of the seasons. I am, too - warm fires in the hearth, 
roasted roots and steamed kale and fresh cider and the time of bare 
branches swiftly approaching. For now, though, the most extraordinary 
tapestry of rusting colors covers the hillsides and I find myself gasping 
at the beauty of it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

At the Forest Edge

Small study, VClaff 2015
I remember stating clearly to a small circle of kindred souls, 
that what I desire most is to simplify, to create more time for dreaming 
and being, and to be less on my own and more connected to others. 
In the last few years, deaths - actual and metaphoric - have left me much 
on my own. I trust that my season of letting go has gifts for me -  the wisdom 
of deep, strong roots and a knowledge of the dark earth underneath, and 
maybe some truth yet unknown. Instead of simplifying, the need to bring in 
more to pay for my healing, not covered by insurance, has me busier than 
ever these last few months. I do hope that there is a way to simplify, be, 
dream and create more, and to find my way out of my hermitage.

Morning, VClaff, watercolor on paper, 2015
               Somehow, I found my way back to the studio though, and ideas that 
have been incubating for a long time are finding expression. Something in 
            the small study that wanted more attention came into a larger painting
            and I find myself at the edge of the forest, not as much in the deep 
            woodlands. As always, the small work allows me to explore many directions 
           and to find my way back into the creative process.
small study, VClaff 2015

small study, VClaff 2015

small study, VClaff 2015

Rhu is a bit of a distraction in the studio, running 
in and out through the hanging screens, wanting me 
to go out to the forest on beautiful, autumn days. 
Maybe when the door is shut and the hearth is 
heating, his visits will be to warm up by the stove, 
and not jump up on the drying paintings. 

At school, we've begun working with eco prints and 
contact printing, which this year's class is loving it. 
They are very willing to experiment and play and had 
a great time with the natural materials.

 We had some good results, and will do more dyeing 
this week. Their assignment is to use these papers 
in finished works incorporating drawing in some way.

 Color is bursting out everywhere right now, at times 
so amazing I gasp. 

                       And with the color, comes the push to get the wood in. 
                      This weekend was spent stacking the first two cords, always 
such a good feeling to see the pile shrink outside the shed, 
and become a neat stack inside. This week, the next two 
cords will be delivered and go into the shed.

 In the in between spaces, there are moments to wander
 the garden, finding joy in the small beauties - a hanging 
leaf, a stone angel among the rusting ferns, sweet Rhu 
enjoying a quiet moment on the stones, and a moment 
with moss.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Earth Medicine

If I told all the stories of the months between the last time I came here -
the story of an exceptionally challenging winter: deep, deep snow, arctic cold, 
storm after storm, roof raking, food poisoning, sledding a new cord of wood over 
the enormous snowplow mound to the woodshed, a major flood in the house 
when the washing machine overflowed (luckily missing the new bamboo floor) 
burn out and exhaustion -  it might explain my absence here, and how, 
when spring arrived and school ended, the only thing I wanted to do was to 
be outside reveling in the sensual medicine of the earth. 

I appreciate the emails from people wondering if all was OK. I am very much 
better than I've been in a few years, but, coming out of a very long, dark, 
underworld journey has meant a shifting so profound that, in my emerging, 
I am blinded and taking time to refocus. As anyone who has gone to 
the underworld knows, there are great gifts to be mined if one stays in the 
dark mystery, trusting that it will be done only when it is done. 

Being quiet, with my hands in the earth planting, moving stones and gathering 
them from the river, listening to frogs and birds and the gentle ringing of Japanese 
Temple bells in the Medicine Garden is replenishing the places that felt hollowed 
and emptied. 

I haven't been painting, all my creative energy is going into nurturing myself 
and the plants and finishing projects in the Medicine Garden. I have forced 
myself to do some of the business end of art, with a goal of finding a few 
new galleries to represent me as I am shifting away from the ones I've worked 
with before. Like most artists, this is my least favorite part of it all, but to balance
it with so much outside time is good. So if I am not in the studio, I am creating
beauty in the garden, and, for me, it is all about beauty, in the many ways 
that it can be defined. 

Rhu Bear is a big kitty now, just over a year, and over ten pounds. He is really
quite a character, mostly well behaved, but sometimes very, very naughty. He 
has obviously come here to fill my heart with joy and to throw in an occasional 
monkey wrench in case I'm getting too comfortable. 

Though these paintings were made while the snow was still waist deep (which 
actually wasn't that long ago!) I just got them back from my photographer and 
wanted to share them with you as I don't believe they were posted here yet. 
We'll see what happens when I get back into the studio, which will be soon, 
but I was finding lots of pathways to explore with these last ones.  

"Blue Shadows" watercolor on paper, 15" x 22", V. Claff, 2015

"Winter Forest" watercolor on paper, 15" x 22", V. Claff, 2015