How Organs Talk and Other Paintings

I’ve added some of my favorite painting meditations to my shop!

Forest Paintings

While I was painting my 100 treescapes it made me happy to have my studio and art practice full of forest imagery. It made so much sense that I, an artist who loves to spend as much time as possible out in the woods, would be a forest landscape painter.

Now my heart is calling me to focus on the abstract meditations I paint to express my experience of being an element of nature myself.

I feel a little grief in this. Anyone who has put effort into making a home for themselves will relate to the grief that comes when it’s time to move even when they are moving into a better place.

These are the last tree paintings I made. I wanted to post them together so they could be included in my on-line body of work before I rearrange my shop and portfolio to reflect my current focus. I know I will still paint forests. I might paint them for fun occasionally or they might become a new body of work after I’ve said all I need to with my abstracts.

Foraging Original Artist Book

I added my latest book to my shop this evening! “Foraging” is my first attempt at making an illustrated book spontaneously. Usually I draft the illustrations and plan where the text is going to go but I want to make a bunch of these with no planning to see how my art evolves. I am very excited about it. Let me know what you think!

Summer 2020

Today is the last day of summer. I recently started documenting my life and work with photos again. I stopped taking pictures regularly after I started using Instagram and became overwhelmed with the sheer volume of images, not to mention a little disturbed at the effort some people appeared to be exerting in order to make their life look good on social media. I didn’t stop taking pictures altogether but my goal became only to share what I thought my tiny social media audience would find meaningful about the week’s art making.

Now I’m taking them for myself again and collecting them by season on my web-site as part of my on-line sketchbook.

Tapestry

It is still warm in the woods and the foliage has already begun to retreat from the trails. One golden maple leaf lays on the ground dry, completely intact for a little while before she begins to transition to dirt.

*

Night slips through the window with the sound of passing cars, a little cool air.

It is so good: the end of a day. I did everything I could to live. There was just 30 minutes of wasted time when I was too polite to pry myself out of a conversation where each closing remark spurred a new idea even though we both wanted to move along to other things.

*

Being soft is not always joy. But I am so enamored with the gentle hint of Autumn encroaching in the air I don’t want to talk about anything else.

Eternity.

Surrender.

Home.

*

Today I took a long walk in the arboretum then lay in the grass for a couple hours doing nothing. I didn’t read a book, or draw, or even fall asleep. I watched the yellow leaves droop in the other wise green brush. I collected wiry pieces of dead grass in my socks where my blanket was too short.

It takes a lifetime to slough off everything we aren’t…why do I believe I should already be in blossoms? The trees take so much time to grow and then fruit. Then they spend decades weaving themselves thoughtfully into the tapestry of moments with their grand decay.

*

Sometimes I lose my appetite and I feel it like a protest: your priorities are all wrong.

Money.

Efficiency.

Not inconveniencing anybody.

Why do I believe I should only make things that will last forever?

*

At the far end of the creek the water trickles over a wide rock bed crossed with crevices. One song sparrow hops out of the salal at the creek’s edge to flit about the rocks in the shallow water rearranging leaves and eating bugs.

I cast off my white long-sleeve shirt while the song sparrow leaves a pile of white poop on the rocks.

What if our legacy is supposed to fit in a shoe box or a manila envelope? A few molecules of air when we say goodbye.

Foraging

Today I learned that one can discern the size of a tree’s leaves by their sounds.

*

In my early 20s I went to the health food store to buy some miso and got reprimanded by the guy behind the deli counter. “There’s a lot of searching in your face.” he pointed out with righteous derision.

I just wanted to know which fermented soy product was the best source of vitamin B12. But he knew, by some magic face reading technique, that I was stuck in an existential question that seeped into each smaller question making every decision a near life or death struggle.

Twenty some years later I’m sitting under a magnolia tree writing a letter from my many question. It’s an ongoing letter to celebrate the potential of these queries. A journal you could say.

I fall asleep in the meadow after writing my letter then wake in the company of a deer stepping lightly through the grass several yards away and feel my letters could be answered by her softness. The new age face reader was not wrong, but he also wasn’t adept.

* * *

Yesterday it was ninety degrees. The days are slowly getting shorter. The trees and shrubs are at their fullest and the crows are leaving their nests to gather in large groups, filling the sky right above the avenue as if they might take a hard right at the next intersection.

Recently I decided to make my heart my art business partner and while I can’t explain to you how this works there is a lightness to my days. I know what to do. Some projects I thought were necessary are shelved and when I walk through my favorite neighborhood path up the stairs under a low canopy of leaves there is no need to search for redemption in the luxuriousness.

* *

The crows are foraging on the forest floor. One juvenile screams at regular intervals. Another picks up a stick and drops it repeatedly.

Something startles the crows and they fly into the tree tops all at once.

Their soft black color is especially regal in the woods. As if they fly in the exact midpoint between a question and its answer, denizens of both realms with no need to make them separate places.

* * *

I’ve been angry lately. It’s such an unflattering story, this anger. But this morning I woke up feeling soft and tended to the ordinary. I folded laundry with the utmost care, attuned to the magnitude of dwelling lightly in my own neighborhood.

Then, I found in my shared house that there is a secret place in the early hours where I can sit with the flowers in the yard and talk to this anger. “What has it been like all this time waiting for someone else to think of you?”

* * *

Today it’s warm and the light is golden between leaf shadows. The squirrels chase each other up the rough tree trunks. The butterflies flutter about as if it’s no big deal to fly and people wander the trails queitly like shadows.

I sit with the trees and feel a peace between us. They knit oxygen and shade and house all my neighbors. I make carbon dioxide and silky shadows that carry sorrow, beauty and questions so I don’t have to leave them alone for the day while I act like someone else.

One evening I walked home to the sound of neighborhood bagpipes and it felt just like laying in the grass listening to leaves and melting into the earth. I lived most of my life with dust and shadows. My own body and aloneness because I never gave myself permission to sign on my own behalf. To trust that questions are like leaves and answers are whatever gravity and the wind agree to the day the leaf separates from the tree.