Winter White

The Index of Days

Welcome to February! I've had a busy week in the studio and I'm going through the white paint, that's for sure! As our winter wonderland of white began to melt and evaporate, I noticed in my drives to town, that naturally more and more of the other colors in the landscape were reappearing. As readers might remember from my first post of the year in which I stated my desire to be more observant, I've been trying to do just that as I go out into the world....notice and pay attention. Sometimes little vignettes of the landscape take my breath away....sometimes it is color....or shape, or line. So, even as I worked on a couple more pieces in the Winter White series (see below), I was struck by the warm golden yellow of the grasses peaking up through what was left of the snow banks. Or that hedge of rich red in the dogwood bushes I would see here and there. My commute into town takes me along the golf course where an amazing willow tree holds forth majestically, with delicate lines and a most luscious golden yellow. And all that evergreen....and the umber browns against the snow and the soft blue gray of the distant bluffs....well, I was overwhelmed. 

And then somewhere, in the New York Times I believe, some image of people gathering hemp, that also took my breath away and it began to occur to me that all those things I saw and nearly wept over during the previous days, along with the things I'd read, the conversations I'd had, and everything else I'd seen and done, had become some kind of repository inside me. And I understood that, for me, the creative process, is one of accessing all that stored memory....and maybe the pieces are akin to mnemonic devices, of a sort.

I'd finished up the fourth and fifth in the Winter White Series and decided I'd break the ice on a couple of unfinished pieces on the same paper that had been staring me in the face for a couple of years. Perhaps you know the kind....those careful works you've spent countless hours on, yet remain dull and lifeless....and now lay abandoned.

The two pieces above were made using those two old drawings as a base. They were already divided in half, like a book page, and that notion of the book, along with everything I'd been thinking about, combined to lead me to create the pieces above. As I began to let go of the preciousness of the work I'd put in on those pages, the series title announced itself to me....Index of Days. What if you could capture memories in a way that would point to a conversation, or a thought you had....or an image you'd seen? If you could create some sort of index? What if you really let go and let your hand move across the page, following your instincts and wouldn't that inner repository of memory know just what to do to create the index? Maybe you wouldn't be able to articulate everything that came out, but you would recognize it as something interior, something that once resided in you and now was there to communicate with the world. Maybe others could access your index to find their way into their own interior.

I recognize a number of things in these pieces....the reference to the wispy red and ochre lines of those beautiful winter grasses rising up out of the ground and through the snow banks. I recognize the gingko leaf as a marker of memory and I traced it from a cut-out gingko leaf that lays on the corner of my desk. I recognized the reference to that rich hemp I saw momentarily, which reminded me once again of the grasses....the grasses that I love in the landscape here. And that spot of aqua....that was the color of the river I glimpsed briefly as I rounded the curve on the road back home.

Before I knew it, those old cast-off drawings had become enlivened....they reignited my interest in palimpsest as a metaphor for the richness of memory in the overlay of our accumulating days.

So, while the Winter White series will continue in some fashion, especially when we get the next snow that transforms our land, the Index of Days is an outgrowth of that series. As the snow melted and the edges of the landscape began to be seen again, there were new inspirations and a new kind of seeing. I'm excited by the release I felt when I finally let go of those drawings in limbo....letting go of the preciousness and trusting in my hands and heart.

The work I make is never planned....the work that sees the light of day, that is. My work comes from an interior place and the lesson to be learned over and over again, is the need to trust our own wisdom. 

So! As we move into February, I thought I'd have a bit of a sale over at Missouri Bend Studio....a kind of Art for the Heart sale....10% off in my shop to entice you to give a gift of original art to someone you love. Everything is on sale through February 15th. I'll be back here before then, but it's not to early to think about Valentines Day! 

Also, please remember you can always sign up for my monthly newsletter, which goes out the first of each month....I'm off to finish up the February issue right now. You can find the link on the About Us page of the website or by clicking here.

Enjoy your weekend. Cheers!



Winter White

Maybe it was the look of the winter-white world around me that inspired me to paint over a drawing I'd begun with various layers of white. Maybe it was the ethereal nature of white, inducing a kind of blindness, a metaphor for all the things we miss when we look...everything we are blind to, the visible and the invisible. Its all there, but we miss so much, of course. And maybe it was the ethereal nature of dreams, images arising from the subconscious in an effort to create meaning and memory from the events of our lives.

I found myself painting everything white. As I kept working on a drawing, following my intuition as is my usual practice, I began to cover areas with white acrylic and then began drawing and writing in white over top. With pencil the tiny squares I started in the middle of the page found their way down and further up the page into a tower. I never know, when I begin, what is about to happen, nor why, but by the end of a drawing like this, I usually come to know the meaning, for me, at least. Once I was confronted with the tower and acknowledged it was a tower, I understood that this was a reflection of the unnamed feelings inside me about this huge two story house being build right next door, where, until recently, there was just a small cabin....this house changes the landscape and the view, as it towers over us. So there it is, like a waking dream, where our mind creates literal versions of the metaphors we use to navigate, I gave some kind of form to my mixed feelings about that towering structure next door. That must be our little house....the little one over on the lower left.

Winter White no.1 (detail)

Winter White no.1 (detail)

A second drawing followed the first and I realized I was actually making a series of drawings based in white and though I searched for a series title, and waiting patiently (I thought) for its name to arise, I realized by mid-week that Winter White was really just right. After the foot of snow we had on Monday, transforming our little corner of the world once again into a winter wonderland, I realized the cool cast of these pieces really is a reflection of the physical world around me. It's winter....I'm basking in the beautiful whites of winter.

Winter White no.2 (detail)

Winter White no.2 (detail)

Wasn't there something in the news this past week about a meteor sighting somewhere in the upper midwest? That must be the reference in this no.2 drawing....and is that a mountain of snow? I'm not sure....I'm not ready to decode these entirely. It is interesting to me that the asemic writing is back in the work. The written word is magical for me....and powerful, needless to say. My day alternates between work in the studio, reading and photographing/posting/listing work online and in my Etsy shop. There is never enough time for any one of those things, so I try to balance it all. Along with a little yoga every that I've discovered this amazing yoga app (Down Dog), I actually look forward to my late afternoon time in the room we have set aside for yoga. 

Winter White no.3 (detail)

Winter White no.3 (detail)

Above is the third piece in the series. This looks like cloth to me, which I love....since I don't actually work on cloth. I'm becoming more active on Instagram (feel free to follow me here) and there I see the work of so many artists I admire, including textile artists. I love the look and feel of cloth and of stitching (which I think of as drawing) on cloth, but I've never gravitated to working on cloth myself. Paper is it for me....and sewing on paper suits me just fine, but in this piece I found myself piecing together scraps of imaginary cloth. Its just layered lines, but for me, they evoke the texture of cloth. 

So, I've got a couple more of these winter whites underway on my desk downstairs. I look forward to seeing how they unfold. It is interesting to see the way that the internalized events of my life and in the world around me come through in the work. I'll leave you with a view from earlier this week after our big snowstorm. It's a view I never tire of, that's for sure. Have a great weekend!

Winter snow January SQ.jpg