Saturday, February 26, 2011

spring, forced


The daffodils were blooming because a grower had "forced" the bloom early, inside.  Sandi forced a branch of redbud from her yard last week, and she brought the successfully blooming branch to class on Tuesday for us to see.  I like the meaning of the word "force" here.  You too?

My studio is in a building owned by a floral company.  Deb, who is in charge of all the potted plants, had some daffodils out on the back racks this week.  The daffodils looked good, but they were on their way out of bloom (probably they were brought in to sell for Valentines Day, the 14th).  I borrowed a pot of daffodils and did some small color sketches.  Here is one of them.

Friday, February 25, 2011

spring, hopes

Hopes in new growth--of plants, seeds, yard and garden areas, travels--arise with spring.  Look at this wonderful poem about hope or, if you will, about language, about life, about art!  Last week M met Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, the poet.  She said to him about this poem that, at one point in a busy day with much and much with the children happening, she wondered to herself  WHAT WAS SHE DOING? WRITING POETRY IN THIS LANGUAGE THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T READ ANYMORE?  CRAZY!  And then she began writing the poem.  She writes in old Irish, Gaelic, and I have copied the Irish title here but not the Irish words of the poem, alas.  (You can find them, yes.)  The translation here is by Paul Muldoon.

Ceist na Teangan
(The Language Issue)

I place my hope on the water
in this little boat
of the language, the way a body might put
an infant

in a basket of intertwined
iris leaves,
its underside proofed
with bitumen and pitch,

then set the whole thing down amidst
the sedge
and bulrushes by the edge
of a river

only to have it borne hither and thither,
not knowing where it might end up;
in the lap, perhaps,
of some Pharaoh's daughter.

  -Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill    c.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

early spring

     With white plum blossoms
these nights to the faint light of dawn
     are turning.

(Shiraume ni akuru yo bakari to nari ni keri.)

The poem is by Buson, an eighteenth century Japanese poet and painter.  (The translation is by Edith Shiffert, in a book by Robert Hass, Twentieth Century Pleasures.)

We have more snow, and more snow will come tonight.  Still, any moment, we will see a bloom outside.  And seeing the bloom will fix a moment amid the turning from winter to spring.  The poem above is Buson's last poem.  He dictated it to his friend Gekkei, then fell asleep and died before morning.  "That one," he is said to have murmured, "should have a title, "Early Spring.'"

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dawn, thaw

Dawn, thaw

"Rosey-fingered dawn" is Homer's famous description.  My sketch (see below) says "orange creme" to describe the color of dawn that I woke up to yesterday.  How wonderful the dawn:  can I paint that color, that wonderful dawn?

At the foreground of the pencil-sketched field (below) is "tan dust," or thawed snow, which is not a great color but, still, a wonderful sight after months of earth-covering snow.  In the small painting, I have suggested the thaw with some of the paper showing under the shadowy blue.  I have suggested the dawn light with strong color.  The night-darkened treeline has only some detail; it is still waking up.

As I worked on this painting, I wondered if it would be the last winter view on my drawing table for awhile.

Dawn, thaw preliminary sketch

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

out of winter for a week

sandhill cranes

Three Sandhill Cranes walked into the back yard while Mother and I were having lunch last Tuesday at her house in Florida.  Last Thursday also, after lunch, I saw two Sandhill Cranes meandering in the back yard of Mother's neighbor Pattie. 

This sketch of Sandhills I did two weeks ago, up here in my northern Midwest studio, after leafing through a wonderful book, On Ancient Wings: The Sandhill Cranes of North America by Michael Forsberg.  How wonderful then for me to see these cranes in Florida when I was there, so soon again, and, you know, real!

I was in Florida for a week, the week when the Midwest and much of the rest of the country got blasted by snow and ice and winds and cold.   I suppose it is fitting then that my previous blog entry, the small painting of a blizzard, stayed as the current image on view here at Ai-jane during that week of icy storms.  Still, I like seeing cranes at any time, and this sketch of cranes, though simple, has a bit of the softness and stalk-iness of cranes coming through the charcoal strokes.  The simple view of cranes, in the midst of still-immense winter, pleases me.  You too?