I was sitting in my outdoor studio, feeling somewhat melancholic for the passing of an idyllic summer, with my son-in-law still here, and my dying dog still alert and all the hopes of a new household being fitted up for charm, sustainability, and warmth. At the same time, I'm in the moment, relishing what is here and now. Ambiguities like that are often best expressed through the painting process for me. I can't say that this painting shows my mental state, but it is just right for who I was yesterday and the day before, in that leafy, mosquito-ridden atelier.
These songbirds occasionally come by, looking like tropical gumdrops. They eat the glittering red dragonflies that enjoy our garden sprinkler.
I wondered about making this drum. The rawhide has been folded up for years and the crease shows. However, after making it and allowing it to dry, the sound was great. So, fine. I'll paint it and if people don't like the crease, they don't have to buy it.
I am trying to stick to my resolution of going to bed before midnight, but sometimes finishing a project that's going well takes precedence. 12:25 isn't that bad, right?
These tropical looking beauties sit in the tops of fir trees and sing like crazy.
We have suet feeders hanging around our property, including from my house eaves. The local butcher gives me fat trimmings, I render them down to a liquid in the solar oven, and then pour the result over birdseed. Downy woodpeckers especially adore these feeders, slamming against them as they land and making my house sound as though dinosaurs are attacking. In the right season, they also drum against the metal chimney. Ah, the peace and quiet of a rural life!
I photographed this little jewel in Cuba, but this spring there were dozens at my feeders in the Pacific Northwest. I am so glad they're not the size of eagles.
And they come with music. I wrote some canons to go with the text, roughly. Here are the Barnfish Canon and the Tent Caterpillar Canon.
Mom mailed me a red climbing rose for Valentine's day about 20 years ago. I planted it, and then after a few years it died under my draconian care. The rootstock under the graft took hold and it's actually a much better metaphor for Mom in its scrappier form. I've ever since remembered her with immediacy during the long months of their zaftig bloom.
Rose colors on the palette. I'm using acrylics because I'm getting ready for a show at Naked City Brewing in Seattle in September. Oils don't dry that fast, unless I invest in a medium that hastens drying, which isn't going to happen.
I have heard of artists who arrange their paints exactly so they always know, when the brush darts in that direction, they're going to get that specific color. Me, I am not interested in exact color. I want the colors to slap you around, and after that, whatever works. I squeeze stuff out on the palette and think, "hey! I could use that! ... I think. Let's see. ... Yeah, I can!" Back before we got a big enough bank of solar panels on our house, I used a studio light that was about half a watt, and I'd be painting away, and then in the morning light could see that what I had thought was green was purple, and the blue was red. It was usually just fine.
Inspired by the Bestiary I've been working on, I painted a drum with Violet-green Swallows and Medieval doodles.
I'd painted on the drum a few years ago but really didn't like the result. Just recently I realized that I could google to find out if it was possible to remove acrylic paint ... yep, it is. I spent some giddy hours scrubbing at the old image with rubbing alcohol, and a sufficiency came off.
So often in life, things seem impossible to overcome and then a simple solution comes along. The trick is to accept the solution and be happy that you found it, and not go on in self-recriminations. I didn't think of it before ... because I didn't. The end. And now I'm happy.
The Green Man is a favorite theme of mine. I like the intimacy of human interleaving with non-human. In this case, I wanted to do something with madrona blossoms, because, well, because. I like madronas.
So, I looked carefully at Brad Pitt's face to get an idea of proportions. Yes, that is Brad Pitt looking at you. With some modifications, of course.
The bird on the left is a robin who likes to stand in my garden every morning, making remarks. The bird on the right is a towhee, which ordinarily likes to snuffle around on the ground, leaving divots in the moss as it grips stuff, then flings it backwards with both feet to see what is scurrying around underneath. But I've seen them in madronas too.
I was listening to Terry Pratchett's "Feet of Clay" while painting this drum. I like to listen to text rather than music because it keeps the monkey mind occupied while the creative mind is allowed to do its thing. As a result, I can glance at much of my work and some book or other pops into my mind. That works for woolen hats, too. I used to read aloud to my kids while knitting, and I can still meet a customer of mine wearing a hat, and suddenly I remember C.S.Lewis' "The Silver Chair," or Brian Jacques' "Redwall" series. Like an external bibliography. Some people use card catalogues, I use paintings and woolen hats.