It feels so satisfying to bring paintings to completion, the multitude of little drips and details, the compositions, colors, textures, flow and glow and expressions – right down to my squiggly signature. Finding the right title is fun too – Unwilding, Periphery and Hinterland – thanks to author and friend Christy Ann Conlin for playing the name game with me!
My little herd.
Lots of time to waffle on a title for this quadriptych as I try to claw back some time time in the studio! I see these leucistic deer as liminal figures in a dormant California winter landscape that is cut through by a highway – traces of which have caught the deer’s attention as the headlines of an oncoming car approach.
Inspire comes from the Latin: in- + spirare – to breathe.
So I breathe. I take deep lungfuls of clean forrest air, fragrant with bay laurel and dry brush. I am quiet so I can hear bird feathers beating against the breeze. I am still to gaze at the deer who freeze and gaze back at me before bounding away. I look for the lizards fleeing from my shadow. I take in every hue and texture and form of the dormant thickets that lace the woods. I take sensory notes and digital photographs. All of this will inhabit my paintings one day, some of it already has.
Clear blue sky and raking clouds.
Birds feasting in the persimmon tree.
Old pear orchard flaming red and gold.
Deer bounding through the silvered grasses.
Dormant forrest rich with texture and subtle color.
Here in emerald and blue…
Here in a green cascade over lavender…
Here in a gray tangle…
Here in a tunnel that leads to golden sunlight…
And here in the details of a desiccated leaf, seeds about to fly and the warning of poison oak and a dried thistle.
Live oak lounger.
Walking through light and shadow.
Soft and hairy leaves still clinging to water droplets.
I was quite taken with this riot of retro color going on at Three Sisters in Willow Glen! All this glittery, dazzling, saturated, kitsch was set up in an alcove the size of a phone booth. I felt like I’d entered the land of Dr. Seuss!
While not particularly a fan of orange, I fell in love with this little deer with her vintage coral beads and crazy orange antlers (oh, I guess she’s a he and I had wanted to call her Cora)! I thinks it’s the unexpected surprises that makes it all so fun.
The tree is all about complementary colors, contrasting textures, static shapes and sprays of movement. It’s vibrant and happy, I think I need a cocktail!
My eyes are still darting back and forth (like the pink Felix the cat clock). So much stimulation, it will be interesting to try and break down these elements that I find so compelling and playful here and try to draw creative inspiration from them!
Open a door and nature will follow.
My studio overlooks a beautiful ravine and while I love living close to nature I also love my roses so I have a jasmine covered fence which keeps the “wilderness” both in view and at bay. This way I can watch the deer take afternoon naps as I work or I can watch them romping past in the evening. Occasionally I’m careless and I leave the gate open or I underestimate the persistence of wildlife and I get a visit that’s close up and personal. I only regret these visits if I don’t have my camera in hand!
This visitor was a Columbian black-tailed deer, as opposed to the California mule deer which are also native to our area. He came with a doe but she was much more camera shy.
This young buck is so lovely, You can see the blue reflection of the sky and the green of the leaves in his antlers, a detail I wouldn’t have imagined without this close observation.
Likewise, I could not have imagined his illuminated whiskers and backlit, translucent pink ears with their delicate red veins. All really superb reference material for paintings!
I must remember to keep the door wide open more often!