Blue Sky Day

Why does this day seem so wonderful?  The sky is that washed-clean intense blue after it rains.   It’s July—it’s supposed to be torrid and unbearable and instead there’s a cool breeze blowing.  I have the studio door open and the ceiling fan stirring things up.  Whatever I play on the stereo suddenly seems like the right music, and what’s on the easel seems fascinating for a change.  I’m spending a few days putting the late spring’s work to rights.  It was plenty flawed, with hundreds of sequences that jarred or disappointed.  I’m painting back into it with this breeze and …

Home

It’s been a quiet week of work,  so quiet I lost track of what day it was by Thursday.  Looking for a hook to hang a story from, I’d  resigned myself to not writing anything this week, it seemed so mundane.  Later I realized that the reverse was true. It was a  week lived on the highest plane.  It was a week spent as an artist.  Nearly all my hours were wrapped around a painting I’d started last week.  It was a reflection of the intense beauty of the land around here, plants growing exuberantly, the sky deeply blue, the …

Independence Day

How did you celebrate your independence?  I cut myself free of my everyday life and went on a trip back in time, and due west  in space.   I went to beautiful Black Mountain, NC.  After locating an old friend on the web,and a 35 year absence from the annual July 4th celebration in Black Mountain, my name was once again on the guest list. I have dim memories of a communal effort to make pounds and pounds of cole slaw some 35 years ago on July 4th in the old location of this party– The White House.  I remember our …

In Praise of June

July is brand new but it’s hard for me to let go of June in Carolina.  It’s the month I wait for all year… roses, lightning bugs, tomatoes, yellow sun, swimming, painting all day. The other night I woke up and opened the window.  The night sounds that burst into the room  made me stop mid-motion, holding onto the window frame, my mouth open in sleepy enchantment.  There was, surrounding my house, a web of sound,  an intricate woven form with nubs, holes and rhythms. To capture the best of the Carolina June day I’ve been getting up at six …

Painting water, eating corn

Today I’m painting the swirling patterns in a creek bed.  The last time I actually looked at those patterns was back in March, so at this point they are no longer observational, but instead an abstraction meant to create a mood in the viewer—the mood you’d find yourself in if you were standing in a voluptuous body of water and it moved around you in small surges and eddies.  And the sun was beaming down on it to add hypnotic patterns all around.  That’s some pretty vaunted prose for what I actually turn around and see on the canvas.  There …

Camping Trip

I’m just back from a flying camping trip to the Asheville area.  Last night I sat by  a river reading until all the daylight was gone.  This morning I woke up in my dew covered tent the moment the sun appeared.  The day started with a walk around a lake.  The lake was nearly covered with blooming pink waterlilies.  In the small spaces where the lilies didn’t grow Canada Geese swam with their young.  The goslings had such an attitude–like any teenager– I know what I’m doing.  Back off.  I don’t need you.  Or maybe that was just my perception.  …

summer rituals

The pattern of summer days is finally falling into place. Once the school year is over it takes me a few fretful days to find my place in such freedom. I’ve closed my classroom and come home to clean out my studio, readying it for long summer days of work. Next comes a difficult day or two of wheel-spinning. I’ve done this through enough seasonal cycles that I’ve learned the ways to trick myself into the change. Get up early. Get some exercise to lift the spirits and focus the mind. If starved for inspiration, a walk in nature helps. …

the kitchen

A couple of months ago I moved an easel into my kitchen. It seemed like I would get more work done in the evenings if my easel was in a cozy comfortable place. Sometimes, like a child, I don’t want to walk out across the dark yard to go to my studio. I want to stay in the warm light of the kitchen. This kitchen was first the domain of my great-grandmother and then my grandmother. I remember sitting in its warm light as a child, on top of a phone book, so I could reach the table. I also …

Introduction

One day it hit me.  I’d been playing with the idea of writing another book.  Friends who had listened to my stories urged me to continue spinning tales.  I couldn’t make peace, though, with the amount of time and energy and luck it would take to have another book come to light.  Instead of painting and living a life worth writing about, I imagined myself assembling and posting countless manuscripts to the offices of disinterested publishers where they’d languish in a pile until someone had the time to send the rejection.  Precious days of introspection and paint-pushing, quiet hours in …