Thursday, May 30, 2013

Heat Wave Redux

Last summer, during an intense July heat wave, I completed a series of small works on paper, employing colored pencil, watercolor, gouache; the series allowed me to conserve my body heat and not move from in front of the fan in my studio more than necessary. It turned out to be a very fruitful series of drawings, which nourished oil paintings that followed upon them in the fall. Have a look at the post from last summer: here.

Our spring this year, which unfolded so slowly, seemingly reluctantly, and then retreated back to late winter chill last week, has more than caught up with itself today, and we're having an extraordinarily hot afternoon. As it happens, I have just finished a new watercolor which was based on one of the drawings from last year's Heat Waves. The month of May has been a little overwrought, not just the weather, but myself also -- I've been mainlining adrenaline; but working in watercolor is, for me, a wonderful way to remember to breathe and flow. 

I completed my performance season just this afternoon with audition for the next season with Princeton Pro Musica. The hay is ripe for mowing here, and I was too nervous to feel my best, but I think our kind artistic director, Ryan James Brandau, knows well enough what my better days can be. I will one day learn to breathe better with a pounding heart, I hope, allergies or no.

Now I'll spend the next few months on my other artistic goals. With the dropback from the art world, I'll drop back too, from Facebook. I have no travel plans, I just want to sink into my work: to paint, draw, write, continue study in my private voice lessons, and also to get underway a new website, and learn Lightroom. I'd like to also pay a little more attention to what others might need from me -- I've been in survival mode for too long.

Tell me again, how long is summer?

Ravenna Taylor, 2013, watercolor, gouache, pencil, on handmade toned paper, 20 x 19.5 inches

See other smaller new drawings on my tumblr page, Here Today.

Monday, May 27, 2013

From Mother's Day to Memorial Day: Duty Calls

In the last few weeks, I set up a page on tumblr, and discovered a very clean interface that made photos of my drawings show very well. That's where I've been just lately, sorry Blogger friends! You can find the link to my tumblr at the right of this page, or HERE. Follow me there if you'd like. But I will resume updates on this blog. It just makes sense, after all this time. I will soon post here a new watercolor I've lately completed.

For now, this narrative to commemorate Memorial Day, and Mother's Day, and the merry month of May.

The first Robin hatched on Mother's Day.

Although the mother had been flighty during the incubation period, easily scared from the nest outside my practice room, once the nestlings were all hatched, it was easy to find a moment when she was gone, hunting for food for the chicks.

Unlike the Bluebirds, evidently, it is left to the mother to raise the brood alone.

In addition to working all day to keep the four nestlings fed, she did housekeeping on her visits to keep them clean of droppings.

On the last day I saw them, 15 days after the first hatch, they were looking very crowded. The weather had turned cool and I hoped they could stay and keep each other warm for just one more day.

On Memorial Day Monday, today, the nest was empty. I couldn't help thinking about all the hard-working mothers, and all the empty nests - about how much I wish that, after all that labor, no mother should have to outlive a child killed in conflict of any kind, nor should any human being be conscripted to fight for others, to possibly lose a life, a limb, or the semblance of well-being. I dedicate my Memorial Day post to peaceful resolutions to conflict.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

If Fish Could Fly

There's this:
dim-lit moss-aired mornings

and star-skinned fishes
like pilots at night

searching high for depth
skimming surface sedimentary scum

navigating cloudy skies
betwixt the midging twigs

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There's No Stopping It

Today was a spectacular first day of May. When I walk through my studio door, I am surrounded by my walls; there are skylights, and a glass door in back, but I can't see the day at all without stepping outside. I found myself going to the door and back quite a bit today, and it wasn't just for pleasure, but also a sense of some kind of moral duty, to watch the parade of flowers and birds and sparkling light, to cheer it on!

So we took an hour or two off and went to visit a local garden -- just someone's home, but he's a retired botanist who's been there for some 50 years, and has nurtured a very unusual garden on his 2 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It is largely "planted" with mosses - Dave said he hasn't so much planted them as nurtured them. Every May he opens up his garden to visitors and walks them through, telling his story. It is an inspiration, both the garden, and the gift to the community; he stirs excitement in gardeners and makes a wonderful model of what good can be done, by one person, in retirement. On our walk with him yesterday, we were joined by a woman from New Hope, and four other visitors who'd come all the way from the Poconos!

After the garden, I returned to the studio. The twilight was very crisp and it was hard not to keep walking to the door to look out at the light and shadows. When I turned to face the painting I've been working on lately, it seemed that I'd brought that light and clarity in with me. It gave me a lift, and I turned to drawing for a few more hours, looking for the seeds and spores, the flowers and the fruit.

Detail of Work in Progress

[As always, if you click on one of these photos, they open larger in a photo viewer - try it!]