Sunday, July 6, 2008

(42) Burn

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper
$125, click HERE for reprints and cards

July 2, 2008. One day after my frustrated attempt to recapture my first water color at the orchard, I returned to the same area looking south down the run way. In contrast to my work just 24 hours earlier, this painting felt more alive. Nick had pushed pruned branches into a pile to burn. The pile had been much larger from prior days of burning. As I started to set up Nick arrived with his tractor and moved the remaining branches into one small pile leaving behind a large patch of scorched ground and ash. The patch was rich in color reminding me of the puddle that I painted just a few weeks earlier. Purples and blues wove through the dirt and ash. Heat from the burn in addition to the sun turned the grass just beyond the borders of the burn into embracing arms of orange and yellow.

An amazing thing occurred while I contemplated how to capture the few puffs of smoke that floated upward from the smoldering leaves and branches. Suddenly from the middle of the pile an eruption of smoke billowed up and with a southern wind I was engulfed in a thick gray veil. Ash fell around me sticking to the wet paper. Then, as quick as it came, the smoke lifted showing only a pillar or smoke rising from the center of the pile. A beautiful braid of yellow and pink smoke twisted through the center of the column. What an incredible site! As the yellow and pink faded, the tight column began to spread outward into a hazy cone.

As I progressed through the painting, I realized that the rows of apples on the right side of the work looked very much like green flames leaping from the earth. What a cool analogy. To the right of the pile can be seen a row of young saplings and the Packing House, a swath of red emerging from the smoke.

It is no wonder that fire and smoke can stimulate our imagination and inspire our soul. From Apollo and Prometheus of ancient Greek times, to the Spider Anansi of the Congo, to Attar (“ashes of roses”) from ancient Persia, to the Indian practice of keeping fire pits adorned by flowers and the noble colors of the kings (Arya)
, to the bible “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke” (Song of Solomon 3:6).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

(41) Year Two - Day 1

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $75

July 1, 2008. After one year from the first water color that I painted at the orcarhd (exactly one year to the day) I sat in a similar location looking west onto the Adirondacks, the lake and the small clearing just south of the huge Sumac stand. Moriah painting with me. As with Katra who I painted along side earlier in June, I enjoyed the conversation and company while creating.
My hope was to capture the same feeling that I experienced the prior year, which was not a good idea. As in other aspects of life, one can not truly capture the feeling of past moments. The attempt to relive this moment in time distracts from being fully present, which showed in my work. The colors became muddy as I worked to build contrast and unlike my painting a year early, this rendering was tighter and too technical. The paint seemed to plop on the page instead of flowing. Moriah’s painting jumped off the canvas in color and shape, mine sank into the paper like Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner’s Albatross.

(40) Puddle

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $125

June 7, 2008. Sitting in the organic orchard looking north following days of rain. Puddles formed in the ruts from the tractor, which I attempted to capture in this painting. The water of the puddle at first glance seemed only to show shades of brown, then gradually a variety of other colors materialized. Light orange and greens flickered on the edge of the water while slivers of blue wove around the blades of grass that pushed through the puddle’s surface. Small stones, gravel and dirt emerged as purple and blue patches.

On the right side can be seen a vanishing row of young saplings (“whips”). I enjoyed painting the tall grass on the left side of the painting and as the sun brightened so did the yellow grow throughout the space between the whips and the puddle. I used black in addition to purple to outline the water’s edge and tree borders. This was a fun work as I worked freely once the colors came to light.

(39) Willow Row

11 x 14” watercolor on 300 pound cold press paper - $75

June 7, 2008. Painted with Katra outside her and Tom’s house looking northwest toward the row of Willows. Surrounded by row upon row of apple trees are the majestic willows. Their grace and sweeping yellows melding with green make a wonderful subject. In the foreground are gnarly apples and a hill-like mound of compost. The smaller trees just above the compost rows are young peach trees. The conversation with Katra made the sitting go quickly.