Thursday, March 31, 2011

bird of spring


In our family, each year at the end of winter whenever we see a robin reappear, we report to each other.  Some of our family now live outside the zone where a robin, returned, can signal spring; still, those outsiders get the report about our sightings nonetheless.  You too?  Do you watch for a certain bird?

This small painting has various layers of pigment, charcoal and graphite, and fixatives.  I tried for a solid bird (our robins are big birds) with some bit of movement.

Do you know the pastel paintings of R.B. Kitaj.  They are wonderful, masterful, with much movement.  And though his subjects are mostly people in places, his people have avian tendencies, it seems to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

shadow and sunrise

March shadow, sunrise, thaw

Tetsuo, Takako, and Kentaro are OK.  We got this news in an email from Tetsuo, from Tokyo, yesterday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dream over withered fields

The last poem of the great Japanese poet Basho goes something like this:  (the translation is in Robert Hass's book, "Twentieth Century Pleasures")

Sick on a journey,
my dream hovers
over the withered fields.

Tabi ni yamite yume wa kare-no wo kakeme guru

Or, the translation could go:
as for Dream:  it hovers over the withered fields

We think of the Japanese and their distress and their withered fields, and our hearts go out to them.

In calligraphy Tuesday night, we brushed three characters for "dream hovering."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


winter to spring, finch

Goldfinches have returned en masse.  The finches' indeterminate color has a delicate sheen, almost a glow.  Soon enough the males will molt into bright gold plumage.    M has suggested "mandorla" when I asked him about the word "penumbrous" for the kind of glow that they show.  Mandorla is Italian for "almond," and it means an almond-shaped area of light in paintings (as in, especially, depictions of the resurrected Christ or Mary in the Assumption).  What a wonderful word.

You can see most of the pencil sketch in the finch above, and most of the first gouache layer of evergreens in the surround.  The finch here is on a branch; the one I saw was on a tube feeder.  This painting is a little roughly translated and unfinished-looking I suppose.   Still, I see the finch again in the painting.  And that is enough.  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

winter still, long

late winter, late afternoon, evergreens

Three evergreens were catching light and snow and casting long shadows, the foreground inter-changing with the background.  Never mind that it is still winter!  These three figures and their drama compelled me to sketch.

Alyce has asked for this painting to appear in a magazine and in her gallery.  Much of my work has been sitting during the winter.  Soon this one, and then the others will start going out, will start to appear (aper, ap parere) out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cranes again

Sandhill cranes in Florida, remembered

We all await cranes and geese flying north again.

I've done this small sketch with pastel and glue-water.  Distemper (or distempre in French) is painting with pigments suspended in glue, so my sketch here has some look of a distemper. Vuillard has done incredibly beautiful paintings with distemper, incredible because distemper is difficult to work with over an extended surface and build-up.