Archive for birds
There have been clouds of wood shavings flying from the woodblocks in my studio these days – I’ve also been focused on drawing and making prints. I believe I’ve generated more prints in the last four or five months than the many previous years combined. Some might say I have been visited by my muse. I appreciate the concept of the muse in art – a spirit or source inspiring art creation… However, ideas and creations are not solely the responsibility of a potentially fleeting spirit outside the artist…
Another definition of muse is to have deep thoughts, or to meditate. This is a large part of how I see my artistic muse these days. It is not merely a presence visiting and inspiring – it is hard work, observation and time spent in the outdoors – and being driven as well by the desire to push my ideas to the next level ~ along with many hours of drawing and carving fine lines in wood.
I hope you enjoy my musings from the last few months…
These hot summer days are helping to precipitate some lovely blooming up at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Armed with our hats, water and cameras (of course) we strolled the garden and witnessed some of the most amazing flowers bursting forth in full glory… Including the favorite of many – lotus blossoms.
The eventual result after the lotus flower has lost it’s petals is the large seed pod that – to me – resembles an old-fashioned shower head. This day we saw all stages of the lotus, from just budding to petals gone or falling as we watched. One lotus even had a large spider poised on it’s stamen waiting for it’s eventual meal of tender, juicy bee.
I love the cattails this time of year. They are like velvet and so fresh and beautiful you want to cut them and bring them home.
The Chinese garden was lush with lotus flowers, black eyed susans and people. We watched a brief Qi Gong demonstration/class in front of the pond. Currently the garden is preparing the silk lantern exhibit – which will open in September. A yearly event, it constitutes hundreds of illuminated silk sculptural lanterns all created in Shanghai with a central theme and design chosen by the Montreal gardens.
This is the first time I have seen the Chinese Garden while the silk lantern exhibit is being installed. The pond was partially drained and you could see the platforms that will eventually hold amazing silk sculptures. The workers had begun with these lovely boats, which just peaked our interest to see the final result.
The gardens were followed by a wonderful meal at Rumi – “Rumi invites guests to experience the authentic cuisine and ambience of the Middle East , Central Asia and North Africa – known by many today as the cuisine of the Sufis”… a favorite stop after lunch is Cocoa Locale where you can stock up on the most amazing and original cakes I have ever tried!
The morning at the garden, the lovely meal at Rumi, and the stop at Cocoa Locale were enough to sustain the feeling of a wonderful day despite an hour and a half wait to get back across the border in the hot sun!
Since I can remember, I have loved to draw. Although I could sit for hours with a pencil as a kid, it’s even more fun now that I have been practicing for years and have the skills to put on paper what dwells in my imagination, or what is right in front of me. Drawing what you see is much more challenging than from the imagination. The more you draw, the more your skills improve. But, I’ll get back to drawing in a moment.
In my last year of high school we lived in Tokyo, Japan – which was an awesome experience on many, many levels. One of the coolest aspects of life in Tokyo was learning about Japanese culture, arts, traditions, foods. Another wonderful experience for me was a particular art teach at The American School in Japan, Ki Nimori. From Mr. Nimori I learned a great deal about making pottery. Although a short school year had me barely scratching the surface on all I had to learn in ceramics, I loved it.
Not to get too ‘artsy’ on my dear readers, but I really enjoy the process of creating art. I have often gravitated toward art media that require a lot of steps before the final product… Working in clay requires many steps – and I loved them all. One of the early steps is kneading the clay to remove air bubbles – which is a lot like kneading bread dough. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working to create something from seemingly nothing. A great teacher inspires, that is what Ki Nimori was for me.
When I returned to San Francisco to go to college I chose an Art major. At first I thought I would concentrate on ceramics after such a wonderful experience learning from Mr. Nimori. I cannot explain how my bubble was burst by the ceramics department (at that time) at San Francisco State University. Unfortunately, it was somewhat overrun with macho teachers who did little to inspire me. And so I gravitated back to an early and lasting love, drawing. Throughout my education at SFSU I continually explored new and untried realms, eventually settling into a groove with printmaking. This media offered lots of process – from untold number of steps required in lithography to create a final print – to the comparatively simple process of making a woodblock or linoleum block print.
With printmaking I could combine my love of drawing with the incredible process needed to make prints. And with the added benefit of the ability to make multiple final images of one exact design. When I graduated college I was deeply into etching, and learning to create photo-etchings. This was wonderful because it meant I could also incorporate another love – photography. The only difficulty I found to hours spent creating etchings and lithographs was the need for a printing press and especially the exposure to caustic and nasty chemicals.
Since my college days I have simplified my process by doing mainly woodblock printing… Partly because I did not wish to bring the intense chemicals required to create etchings into my home… And because I really enjoy the organic nature of cutting into wood to produce a drawing – and the combination of wood grain with drawing in the final print is the icing on the cake. Visits to Japan fed my love of block (or relief) printing through exposure to Japanese woodblock printing, which is incredible and detailed well beyond the prints I create. I may need to write more about Japanese prints later… Until then, I hope you enjoy some of my creations!
We wandered to Ausable Point on Lake Champlain today and found more wildlife than I expected on this chilly and dark December day! We were very surprised to find great blue herons in the area, I thought they would have migrated south by this time… But there was still open water – apparently allowing them a means of catching food. The first one we saw was so puffed up it looked as though it had donned a second feathery coat over it’s usual plumage.
Ausable Point is not far from Valcour Island Bird Conservation Area, which is home to the largest great blue heron rookery in New York State. Once there is no longer open water from which to fish they will eventually migrate further south, or perhaps east toward the ocean. Since todays birds are still so close to the rookery they are likely to be some of the first to return to it in the spring.
We also had the good fortune of watching a pileated woodpecker, mergansers and a rabbit. All were difficult for this newbie photographer to capture, but I hope you will get a flavor for the day!