The pileated woodpeckers had been turning the tree behind me into sawdust and scolded me as I drew, but after a few moments flew off to another location. The cedar stump was another experience entirely. I was nicely settled drawing this stump and the beautiful turquoise lichens (which reminded me of the dawn I had seen in August with the sky turquoise and the clouds orange- turn your head to the side and see if it doesn't work for you too) when a squirrel arrived chattering and scolding. Then the flickers arrived creating a racket in the trees above me. It reminded me of a time near Canmore Alberta when as squirrel threw cones at me to get me to leave. This squirrel did not do that, however, he/she was certainly determined to distract me. Calm assurances that I would leave soon did nothing to slow the scold. Then when I did leave and was walking out of the woods I disturbed the raven pair lunching on termites and was resoundingly scolded again. Seems they had had enough of human interference for the day. And in some ways I was flattered by the attention. Usually they just ignore me.
I have spent some time this summer revisiting my drawings and sketches from past travels to wild spaces. Above is a painting that was begun in 2009 and finished this summer. It is full sheet watercolour started at Ivvavik National Park during an Artist in the Park experience with Parks Canada. I had concentrated on capturing the colours of the frost shattered rock on the near mountain because I didn't trust my memory to believe in the beauty and intensity of the colour.
This summer has seen me stay in Victoria. I have spent time exploring what is really important for me and how I want to contribute to community as I rested to heal from wrist surgery once again. The initial surgery happened after an accident at the start of a busy teaching season and this time the surgery was in the middle of the summer, traditionally my time to get outside to draw and to complete large canvas works studio. This year I took the time to heal, and rest and sleep and contemplate, reassess goals and also to rediscover a richness that was hidden in drawers full of unfinished paintings and sketchbooks full of undeveloped drawings. Without my wrist surgery making hiking uncomfortable I may not have taken the time to finish these until my dotage.
I finished this painting of Wildwood that was begun in 2008 when I was more involved with the efforts to preserve that beautiful working forest. It is also a full sheet watercolour painting. The young firs precariously growing in the darkness beneath cedar on a fallen tree. Chances of them surviving to rival the others in the painting are slim, but something about their determination and fragility, make their efforts admirable and eminently worthwhile.
I have been re-reading some books by John Berger as well. I love his prose. His words make me think deeply about the purpose of art and why I feel the strong need to communicate with art. Not a new impulse for artists, or for me. He suggests it has been an impulse that has existed since humans first breathed air, and long before language.
"Art, it would seem, is born like a foal who can walk straight away. The talent to make art accompanies the need for that art; they arrive together." (from 'here is where we meet' 2005, page 135)
I like the thought of need and talent (though I'd rather call it impulse) arriving together.
I hope you got out to see the eclipse. One of the wonders was the shadows cast by the holes between the leaves on the trees. This was pointed out to me by a young woman who also showed how to make a pinhole camera with her hands. Here are a few images I took of the projections. You can see the shadows change as the eclipse comes to an end. I wish someone had told us of this way to see the shape of the eclipse. Please help spread the word for next time!
This lovely little dragonfly was on the sidewalk near a friend's home. Most of the 'cellophane' had gone from it's wings so it could not fly, even with a launch, so I brought it home. It sits on my dining room table breathing quietly. I have never watched a dragonfly breathe before. The blue tail expands and contracts rhythmically. I took a short video and have posted it on my www.joannethomson.com home page. This site doesn't take videos...
Wishing you dragonfly encounters of your own. j
Another tree portrait: Hemlock this time. At least it was in a hemlock grove and had young hemlocks growing from it. So I think it was hemlock. It is such a busy place, Cathedral Grove, but quiets down wonderfully when you enter a conversation with one tree. People walk past without interrupting, even ask their children to be quiet and not disturb 'the artist'. Quite lovely, and worth remembering. If you want to sit quietly and be undisturbed, just open a book and hold a pencil. You need not draw. Looking is enough and almost as profound as drawing.
On Tuesday past I went for a walk in Francis King Park and drew this wonderful cedar stump. I went back today and did two more drawings, one of two spires of cedar scarred by the same fire and one of an ancient Douglas fir. The mosses and lichens were bright greens and soft turquoises with the recent rains and the spotted coralroot wild orchids are in bloom. There were hummingbirds, junco's, ravens and I startled one robin who had her nest in the hollow of a huge Douglas fir tree. Wonderful to sit smell the air. j
Welcome to "Wild Anticipation". I hope this site will be a gathering place for organizations and individuals who celebrate the preservation and restoration of wild places. I have been privileged to wander and draw and paint in those places and this exhibition is to show you a small part of the legacy of your hard work.
With gratitude. Joanne