Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poetic Journey - Winter of My Dismay

What is it about the final days of a year that seem so without hope at times? As if the new year will not belong to us but to others. And the woes of the previous year will follow us wherever we go.

The Winter of My Dismay

The blankets all tangled strangle my sleep
I fight to stay abed and put off the day
My pets hold me down
To keep me from flying away
Escaping the reality that waits
Please let me sleep.

The mornings are so dark
Matching my mood these days
Even the stars are wrapped in blankets of clouds
To stay warm and snug just a little longer
I wrap myself in comforter before my computer
One dim light and a mug of hot coffee.

The darkness and cold outside that circle
Are chilling to the soul
Prospects damp my spirit even more
Hope, when I can find it
Is warming for but a moment
The light so far away.

Spring seems impossible
In this my winter of dismay
Light and hope so very remote
I am not sure I want to make the journey
Just curl up in some snug corner of this endless maze
And sleep forever.

(c) J. Binford-Bell - December 29, 2009

And so begins this week's poetic journey. Hopefully you have something to offer us travelers which will lead us to the light. Your own or a favorite you wish to share. Just leave a comment with your web address (url). We are a multi-blog poetic journey.

NicholasV on Intelliblog

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meeting of Minds

Artists are frequently solitary creatures. Much like the ravens pictured above they often fly solo but when they meet there is a great deal of chatter that takes place. I am not sure what information Ravens impart to each other when they meet in a venue, but with artists the conversation can be difficult to track if you are an outsider.

My jeweler friend, Jessica, invited me to Christmas dinner and some studio time. I am a newbee with jewelry as painting is my current focus. I say current because any artist seems to leave a trail of bread crumbs, previous artistic loves, behind them. The common denominators are there in all arts - design, composition, seeking the limits, colors, balance, etc. And what changes are the techniques used. The more you explore your particular art the more you know the limits. This can be good and bad. The good is you are always seeking that edge. The bad part is that it can make you a bit stale.

So artists of my acquaintance are workshop junkies or collectors of books on arts, visitors of galleries, etc. Yesterday's invitation by Jessica was a wonderful Christmas present. I got to pop into her world and learn something outside my "field of vision," and through my innocent questions give her peeks into "why not's." After we covered the basics of metal folding she went to one area of the studio and I to another and "created" but a certain energy or synergy began to develop.

In to this mix came Ethan who also does jewelry and wood work with more questions and ideas. By the time the Christmas repast was served, excellently cooked by Ronnie, I should have been exhausted but I was high as a kite. Dinner conversation bounced around from wood to metal to cooking. After dinner wood dominated the conversation with the men and us women talked of opening new gallery platforms for our work, new directions we wanted to explore, and the glory of "lab time" or tithing which is possible in the depth of winter. Time to refuel our creative juices.

What amazes me often is how far forward I can go in my particular chosen art of the moment by stepping into the art of another for a recess as it were. How wonderful it is for solitary birds to meet up on a patch of snow and chatter. Do you think Ravens fly differently after they meet?

Note: to see a folded metal pendant previously made by Jessica Duke.

Friday, December 25, 2009

In the Beginning

I was looking recently for pictures of arches for new paintings. This search usually begins in my own archives of photographs taken during my travels about the Colorado Plateau. But as I was looking for arches I had never painted I found myself in Google Images and pulled up the above watercolor of Window Rock. Sadly I can not give credit to the artist because it was found on a blog which also did not give credit. I think it is a great rendition of the arch in question without all the park service stuff in front of it, so it went into my art ideas folder on my computer. And was forgotten.

If indeed artists forget anything beyond where they put that new paintbrush. We're spacey because some segment of the brain is always involved with ideas. So when I began to tackle the problems of a "self-portrait" (boy, has this been on the back burner percolating away for a long time) this arch came to mind. You are probably reminded of those black and white episodes of Lost in Space that waved his arms and shouted, "Does not compute." (Which, of course, I also had to Google.)

Who knows how an artist's mind works. Or doesn't work as I found out this morning when I was sure it was Saturday. But I digress.

Back to the self-portrait and its relationship with the opening photograph of Window Rock. Yes, there is some artistic license with the image. I am not as honest as Van Gogh.

All of which brings me to the subject of self-portraits. Why have artists through the ages been compelled to paint them? Lack of funds for a model to pose? Maybe. Self-absorption? Possibly. Traditional? Could be.

This could devolve into merely a face in the rock. Speaking of which I have a photograph I took which has five faces in the rocks. That should be quite interesting to do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poetic Journey - Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
By Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

When I was a kid my father used to recite this poem to us every night around Christmas. When I got older I would recite it to my kid sister. It seemed appropriate to feature it here on Poetic Journey for the week.

If you have a favorite poem or an original you have written and wish to join the poetic journey for this week please leave a comment with your url. And a Happy Christmas to all.

Nicholas V on Intelliblog 

We have a new participant to Poetic Journey this week Svetlana

Note: The information I found on Wikipedia about this poem was very interesting so I recommend a visit. Also when I was Googling I found quite a "Christian" backlash to this family favorite. Following a link on Wiki I was delighted to learn more about the illustrator of one of the first editions of the poem, Jessie Wilcox Smith.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Poetic Journey - How Doth the Little Crocodile

Christmas season is a time for kids. And as a child I loved Lewis Carroll. Well, I still love Lewis Carroll and today Poem Hunter sent me the following little ditty.

How Doth the Little Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

Lewis Carroll

More poems from Lewis Carroll

Heatherbelle at Never on Sunday

NicholasV at Intelliblog

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Visit to the Art Store

I went to the local art supply store yesterday. When I say local I mean over the mountain in Taos. Roads were at last clear and cabin fever had risen to an all time pitch so my neighbor and I hopped in her SUV with lists clutched tightly in hand and did the shops.

Groceries were our main excuse but Artisans was a necessity. I needed stretcher bars for my triptych and to do a self-portrait for a juried event coming up. I have been toying with the self-portrait concept for a bit longer than the triptych so this seemed like a great excuse to get me off the bench.  And I needed to pick up some of my more favorite colors of my favorite liquid watercolor.

Then of course there is just the walking down the aisles and looking to see if there is anything new and exciting to add to your shopping list. And the staff at Artisans is very helpful and always likes to point out new items they have in and the current sales, etc. And the windows are filled with fliers on workshops being offered and upcoming artistic exhibits, etc. I always have to pet the blank books. I love blank pages for sketching or writing poems, etc. But I have several and it wasn't in the budget this trip.

Jan and I have developed this rhythm when shopping of hitting a want to go to and then a have to go to followed by another reward for having done that. So after Artisans there was the dreaded Wal-Mart and then Monet's Kitchen for our reward. Kitchen stores are a delight for artists - well, this artist at least. I can stand transfixed before the display of Fiesta Ware or the shiny array of All-Clad pots and pans for hours if allowed. Jan got a new cast-iron dutch oven and I celebrated with two Fiesta Ware coffee mugs - one red and one yellow. Just the sort of bright spot in my morning coffee ritual I needed.

I won't bore you with the rest of the shopping but after the void of the snow storm, followed by the awakening of the senses browsing down aisle of color and shapes I came home feeling totally inspired to start putting pencil to paper, but had a county road plowing meeting to attend instead. Wish I could say my mind stayed on subject. Part of it did. But I also kept reducing people to shapes and colors. You take inspiration where you can find it.

The sun should warm the studio nicely today so time to use all this muse energy for constructive ends.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poetic Journey - Storm Warning

I took the above picture of the red sky dawn the day our current winter storm hit in earnest. Guess that red sky in morning/sailors take warning works in the mountains too.

Storm Warning

I looked out the window
And headed back to the kitchen
This day requires
Another coup of coffee
Another log on the fire.

Embracing my mug
Like Linus blanket
I begged for just a hint of sun
Some thin light through waves of white
A promise the snow would pass.

I wished for more logs
Beside the wood stove
Ignored the dogs
Who wanted a walk
Poured myself another mug of coffee.

Would the wind ease up a bit
Before I had to venture out
Make that trek to the wood shed
For more firewood
Can you get lost in 20 feet?

Another cup of coffee
Another biscuit for the worthless dogs
Who have never learned to fetch logs
Why must one throw a stick
For it to be returned.

Socks and boots, and muffler
Coat and hat and gloves
All needful things to venture out
Dogs sure this is a walk
To the woodshed. Just.

This stormy day
Of wind, and snow and cold
Requires another cup of coffee
Another log on the fire
A good book.

No way, dogs, do you need a walk.
Out of my easy chair.

(c) J. Binford-Bell, 12-08-2009

If you have a poem to share with us this week please leave me a message here or on Facebook with your URL. This is a multi-blog poetic event.

Aussie Lynn DownUnder

Catfish Tales: The Gift

Intelliblog with Winter Vs. Spring

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The above image is of the most famous of Byzantine Ivory triptychs: The Harberville Triptych. Triptychs arose in early Christian art and were generally were three panels with the center larger and the sides folded in to protect the work from dusty cathedrals. The word triptych, often spelled triptic these days, comes from the Greek τρίπτυχο, from tri- "three" + ptychē "fold".

Triptychs don't necessarily fold any more. Nor are they limited to religious subjects. And the size of the panels is more open. Francis Bacon did the triptych below and all the panels are of the same size. And not hinged.

It there are rules these days they are a lot looser. It does have to be three. And the three must look good together and also individually. With the above triptych each painting is a stand alone work of art.

I like this one hanging together but I don't know of the left panel could stand alone because unlike the center and right one it has no strong focus.

And the above triptych is really three paintings displayed together. There is no "overlap" of image from one to the other. They are merely all of one pallet with repetitive motifs and similar theme.

So, why all this discussion of triptychs? Because I plan on painting one. I am leaning toward the larger panel in the center because I like the sense of balance that contributes. And I want the three panels together to look like one painting as in the middle example. But I also want all three panels to be a painting within themselves.

It is a lot more difficult than it seems at first blush. So now on to picking a subject; most likely canyons or arches. And then working on the sketch. It will govern the porportions of my canvases.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Little Things

I have known friends that loved to do miniatures and never quite understood the attraction. It seemed like a lot of work for just a tiny little painting. Some of those friends worked in sizes way smaller than 4 x 4 so they might consider these new hand painted Christmas ornaments huge. And I am not sure I am going smaller but I did have a passing thought about 3 x 3 last night. Excuse the flash glare on the above photo.

Doing these little mission paintings was rather fun. I went for simplified versions of some of those I ordinarily paint. No balconies with latia railings. And while I toyed with the idea my spiral stars and soaring ravens seemed not to be possible either in this small format. But I did sign them. And last night I hung them on my tree.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Little Things

I love decorating trees. My collection of ornaments is quite eclectic.  This is probably due to living in neighborhoods where people did trees in all one color. Mom liked white flocked trees with blue lights. A neighbor did one with just pink ostrich plumes.

I have one by one collected ornaments. Many of them hand made by friends. Others given to me by friends. And for almost a decade every year I picked a different ornament making project and gifted my friends with them. Saving one or more for myself. Then came the decade of no trees. The Mardi Gras mask business got in the way and then the ski accident. Last Christmas just finding the decorations I had hidden away was a major effort. And then I got a tree too big for my stock of ornaments. I went into buy mode because the economy had them reduced to half price weeks before Christmas.

This year I decided to make an ornament or two. I have the time and the technology as I am fond of saying. What I came up with was of course hand painted.

I had these little clayboard panels that were 4" x 4" that I had gotten to experiment with techniques on and to use in classes I teach. I had a pack of four and so away I went. I have a huge tree so these are no way outsized. I was so happy with the result I even signed them on back. I am now going to paint little churches on four more squares cut from an 8" x 10" panel that had a chipped corner.

And no, I was not intending to sell them. Tithing is necessary from time to time. This is just fun. And some of my friends may get a gift of one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Poetic Journey for Wednesday - Sorry

I used to apologize for everything - even the rain. A counselor made me try to break the habit. Convinced me I was not at fault for all the woes of the world. Lately I have noticed my tendency to say, "I'm sorry," even when it is not my fault has returned. And so came this poem.


Sorry is such a tiny word
But so much used and abused
So often forgotten when need the most
Too much buried under excuses
That rain hallow.

Five letters and only four unique
Tiny but of such consequence
Especially when not used
When required.

Chasms open
Friendships break with no bridges back
And so meaningless
When said too often as if magic
Like abra cadabra.

Sorry it's raining
Sorry you feel so bad
Sorry I wasn't aware
I mentioned a forbidden subject
But it wasn't me
Who need to say, "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry you used an excuse
So very elaborate and complicated
When a simple Sorry would have surficed
Just one simple word
So very difficult for so many to say

Sorry, sorry, sorry
But not my fault
But I will say sorry again
If it will make it easier
For you to say
I'm Sorry.

(c) J. Binford-Bell December 2009

If you have a poem you wrote or just one you read you would like to share leave a comment with your url. I will link you in to our Poetic Journey for this first Wednesday in December.

Nicholas V joins our journey on Intelliblog

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poetry Wednesday

Boy the weeks run fast this time of year. Hopefully after this weekend I will be able to slow down and enjoy the remaining days of 2009 and actually write a poem of my own. But for now I am thrilled some of our participants are writing, and that Poem Hunter keeps sending me good ones to post.


Knows he who tills this lonely field
To reap its scanty corn,
What mystic fruit his acres yield
At midnight and at morn?

In the long sunny afternoon,
The plain was full of ghosts,
I wandered up, I wandered down,
Beset by pensive hosts.

The winding Concord gleamed below,
Pouring as wide a flood
As when my brothers long ago,
Came with me to the wood.

But they are gone,— the holy ones,
Who trod with me this lonely vale,
The strong, star-bright companions
Are silent, low, and pale.

My good, my noble, in their prime,
Who made this world the feast it was,
Who learned with me the lore of time,
Who loved this dwelling-place.

They took this valley for their toy,
They played with it in every mood,
A cell for prayer, a hall for joy,
They treated nature as they would.

They colored the horizon round,
Stars flamed and faded as they bade,
All echoes hearkened for their sound,
They made the woodlands glad or mad.

I touch this flower of silken leaf
Which once our childhood knew
Its soft leaves wound me with a grief
Whose balsam never grew.

Hearken to yon pine warbler
Singing aloft in the tree;
Hearest thou, O traveller!
What he singeth to me?
Not unless God made sharp thine ear
With sorrow such as mine,
Out of that delicate lay couldst thou
The heavy dirge divine.

Go, lonely man, it saith,
They loved thee from their birth,
Their hands were pure, and pure their faith,
There are no such hearts on earth.

Ye drew one mother's milk,
One chamber held ye all;
A very tender history
Did in your childhood fall.

Ye cannot unlock your heart,
The key is gone with them;
The silent organ loudest chants
The master's requiem.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

More poems from Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nicholas V 

Never on Sunday 

My so called life

If you have a poem for this Wednesday leave a comment below.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now to Making the Frames

Guarded Passage
28 x 18 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is the third time I have done a "goddess" sitting in for Corona Arch. Each time I take another look the painting gets more mystical or visionary. And this is the largest of the ones I have done. The first with Navajo women tending their angora goats. And each rendition seems to have more water.

Spider Rock
18 x 10 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is one of the "accidental" pair I featured in the previous blog. The photo was not great because it was flash in-the-studio shot just showing its relationship to the previously finished painting. Spider Rock is a new subject for me. The Navajo believe it is where Spider Woman, the mother of weaving, resides. It's split peak rises from the floor of Canyon de Chelle on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. No doubt I will revisit this subject.

I frequently approach a new subject on a small canvas. It allows me to explore colors more easily. These study works are very popular with my collectors as they are more reasonable to buy. But also there is a freshness in my approach that can get lost in the retelling. Spider rock warrants a bigger canvas. And I thought Monumental Path that I did earlier this fall also did, but I changed the proportions of height and width rather than just size.

Rainbow Journey
14 x 18 Mixed Media on Canvas

This is not an abject failure because there are parts of the treatment of the subject I like a lot. When I poured the sky it did some awesome things. If this was paper I would cut the bottom off just above the goats and have the subject be just the sky and the monuments. And I may do that in another painting. Or I have heard of artists that re-stretch the canvas onto a smaller frame. For now I will frame it. someone may love it. I have been wrong before. And sometimes the frame can make all the difference.

My plan for frames for the three above and the partner of the one in the middle is to do multi-colored rather than just black. I got some acrylic paints that pick up the dominant colors in my paintings. The floater frames will be painted inside with one color, outside with another and a third color on the raised edge. I have toyed with this concept and found it very successful because it enlarges the painting and also unifies it with its frame.

Framed paintings pictures later, of course.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sometimes You Get Lucky

I have been preparing for the last show of the year and playing with new subjects and new proportions. Making canvases that are tall and thin or wide and short has been one of the happy possibilities of stretching my own canvas. Another plus of that extra labor is you save money on materials and so don't have to raise prices in a struggling economy.

I stretched up some new canvases and then began looking for subjects to be painted upon them. Then doing sketches. I painted the one on the left last week. It is the center segment of a larger painting I did years ago. I had not meant it to be one of a pair. I often do my churches painted on the diagonal in pairs; making one a night scene and the other a day scene. That was not the intention here. I stretched two canvases because I was exploring the compositional problems with tall and thin. I did not even do the sketch for the painting on the right of Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelle until this week. The other one was on a flat shelf waiting to be framed. I pulled it out yesterday to make room for a painting that needed to dry.

Last night I set them side by side for a "recent works from the studio" shot and to see which I preferred.  The colors I expected to go together. I work in the same palette especially in painting done within a like time frame. I was shocked to find the horizon lines are almost an exact match and it works either way you put them. So I will frame them as a pair.

I bought some acrylic paints on my last trip to Albuquerque so I could paint my frames to coordinate with my paintings. I was looking forward to that part of the process of getting ready for this show. Now I can hardly wait for this winter's artistic explorations. I want to do a triptych with three tall thin canvases covering one subject in thirds. Or two narrows and one square in the middle.

Been blogging a lot recently about the creative process, and exchanging ideas with a writer blogging about the same subject on Catfish Tales. Into the discussion of muses and inspiration and just plain doing I want to interject accident. Sometimes you just get lucky. And from that lucky accident you spring board to new possibilities.

Note: I apologize for the photos. Done with flash and artificial light. Today sometime I will do a formal photograph of Spider Rock. In a previous blog I already showcased Of the Valley.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Again? Then Poetry it Is

The Dream Called Life

From the Spanish of Pedro Calderon de la Barca

A dream it was in which I found myself.
And you that hail me now, then hailed me king,
In a brave palace that was all my own,
Within, and all without it, mine; until,
Drunk with excess of majesty and pride,
Methought I towered so big and swelled so wide
That of myself I burst the glittering bubble
Which my ambition had about me blown,
And all again was darkness. Such a dream
As this, in which I may be walking now,
Dispensing solemn justice to you shadows,
Who make believe to listen; but anon
Kings, princes, captains, warriors, plume and steel,
Aye, even with all your airy theatre,
May flit into the air you seem to rend
With acclamations, leaving me to wake
In the dark tower; or dreaming that I wake
From this that waking is; or this and that,
Both waking and both dreaming; such a doubt
Confounds and clouds our moral life about.
But whether wake or dreaming, this I know,
How dreamwise human glories come and go;
Whose momentary tenure not to break,
Walking as one who knows he soon may wake,
So fairly carry the full cup, so well
Disordered insolence and passion quell,
That there be nothing after to upbraid
Dreamer or doer in the part he played;
Whether tomorrow's dawn shall break the spell,
Or the last trumpet of the Eternal Day,
When dreaming, with the night, shall pass away.

Edward Fitzgerald

More poems from Edward Fitzgerald 

It is Wednesday again so fast. And once more I have not penned any poems of my own. Thank you PoemHunter! And Friends!

If you have a poem to share - you own or anothers - leave me a comment or message me your url. It is a multi-blog poetic journey so you don't have to be on any specific platform.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nobody Said This Would Be Easy

My friend Shers Gallagher on the blogspot Catfish Tales is blogging about the creative process. Her current subject is creating something out of nothing. I don't often start there - at zero - when I paint. I most often begin with a photograph; many of which I have taken myself on visits to historical sites and national parks, etc. But sometimes I just go thumbing through magazines. In the case of the Gila Wilderness Cliff Dwelling above I was thumbing through some old New Mexico Magazines a friend gave me.

In the interest of reducing clutter I was ripping out the photographs which I thought had potential to generate an interesting painting or two. The one I used for Hidden Away was from a slightly different angle then the one above.

I often tell visitors to my studio or booth at a fair, when they remark about my colors, that I do not paint what you saw but what you think you saw. My paintings fit into the Visionary School definition, but I painted like this before I knew there was such a thing. And it is not all my imagination. Various angles of the sun, time of day, quality of light for the day can change the colors of the sandstone. It is like a canvas upon which the atmosphere paints the colors. On the day the picture was taken at the top there was no magic afoot.

I would rather work from a photograph I personally took because it means I was there and whether I captured it or not I remember the magic. It is a more difficult road if I work from a cold picture in a magazine or on the internet. Preparing for this blog I Googled images of the Gila Cliff dwellings and also came up with the one below. There is more magic afoot. And I immediately stored it in my Art Ideas folder.

The photographs provide the basis for the drawings. I say basis because I get to "crop" and "alter" to make a good composition. Then if I am really, really wise I put the photograph away. I didn't with Hidden Away. I had it before me to check for shadows and light and found my mind wanting to follow the colors. Once, a long time ago, I was very, very good at rendering a subject faithfully. Digital cameras do that now. I can even take the above photo into Photoshop and apply sketch to it and come up with a delightful drawing.

Following religiously a photograph or a scene before you allows no room for magic. So when I was having problems with Hidden Away I put the magazine picture away into my folder of ideas. And walked away from the painting process for a few days. When I went back to it things had changed. It was then a painting and not a rendition. I had entered the world I had created and it took over. And the flock of ravens came.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Works

Of the Valley
18 x 10 Mixed Media on Canvas

Manzano of the Black Sheep
11 x 14 on Cradled Clayboard

Hidden Away
16 x 16 Mixed Media on Canvas

Little Chapel of the Lights
10 x 8 Mixed media on cradled clayboard

I promised to post my latest works when I finally got them photographed. This four makes eight new ones for the holiday market on Thanksgiving weekend. I have a few more I want to finish but the time is getting short and there is still framing to be done.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

That Magical Moment

A friend of mine on Facebook began a discussion topic on Picture Picks about the Creative Muse. I love ideas that get me thinking and this one definitely does. If you have not seen it please do. It is preamble to my discussion here today.

I have been working on paintings for an upcoming fair and experimenting with some new subjects and new shapes. It is one of the ways to call the muse forward, as it were. Repetition, which a lot of artists do because of the demand for certain work, can be very limiting. In my current group of paintings I am working with two repetitions, two new looks at older compositions, and two departures.

Painting is a process as in writing or composing music. And one may begin without the muse guiding you. You may instead be guided by all those things you learned in school like the rule of threes, and perspective, and the color wheel. And then a spark occurs or a transition away from your carefully laid plan. And among that group of paintings you are working on comes one that breaks out and becomes more.

Photography is a rather different duck in this pond of creating. You compose in the view finder and freeze the moment with a click of your finger. And yet it is still possible for some magic to happen even in that short frame of time that makes this one photograph among all the others on the roll of film or on your flash drive all that more special.

I was thinking about that this morning as I placed my three votes on the Picture Picks Event Furry, Fuzzy, Feathered Friends. There are a host of wonderful pictures in the 41 submitted for this event and yet a much smaller amount seems blessed with some special light, or composition, or movement of the subject. It is very difficult to define. I have sat in more classrooms than I want to admit and listened to professors claim they could manipulate that moment. Reproduce it at will.

NOT. We can learn from those exceptional gifts that are bestowed upon us if we are open to being guided. We can be grateful for when we capture that exceptional photograph or achieve that particularly magical composition on canvas, or on the piano, or in prose or poetry. But repeat it again, and again, and again? Try to imprison the muse. That would lessen it.

Yes, some artists do seem more a channel for greatness than others, but I am sure Mozart threw sheet music in the fireplace, and Shelley wrote and rewrote. That Ansel Adams trashed some negatives in the darkroom before they saw the light of day. Painting over a canvas and beginning again is nothing new to painters. Maybe those that are blessed with more magical moments are just those that do more: take more photographs, write more poems, paint more paintings.

They have at a minimum learned the mechanics. You must first begin with some understanding about what does not work in order to be pointed in the right direction for guidance on another level. And you must be willing to stretch the edges of the envelope. And then get self out of the way. And then learn to recognize it when it happens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poetry Wednesday - Already?

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

More poems from Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I loved this poem when young. I loved the way it made my mouth feel when I recited it outloud from memory. Do you have a poem that delights you in that way you would like to share. Or one you have written? Leave a message below or on Facebook with your url.

Never on Sunday  


Bee's Blog

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Production Time

I can frankly rather amaze myself at times. After a couple weeks of plutzing around with little to no progress on paintings I now have five being actively being worked, two in holding and four in the planning stages. I have hopes of finishing three tomorrow.

I am working on some new sizes - long and thin. Another artist friend of mine tells me the shape is popular because it fits in small spaces on walls. It means developing some drawings just for those shapes, however.

But I am finding that exciting. I have been looking up photographs I have taken to modify to fit. And I am going to feature more "New Mexico" canyon features like Spider Rock and Window Rock for my next fair in just three weeks from last Friday. Working on smaller paintings to fit the Christmas giving budget here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where I Get My Ideas

Like any artist I get my share of questions about where I get my ideas for paintings. And I have shared some of that here on this blog. But because of my "visionary use of color" I often get questions about where did I get the idea for an orange sky or a sun washed  church. The above photograph was taken out my studio door yesterday morning. Such dawns are not rare in New Mexico.

And sunsets have their own charm as they often wash the mountains with color. The Sandia Mountains outside of Albuquerque were named Sandia (watermelon) by the early Spanish conquerors because of the watermelon pink they can turn at sunset.

I live in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) Mountains for much the same reason. They can and often do turn blood read at sunset. Angel Fire was a term first used by much more recent locals to describe the heavenly pink the mountains, snow and clouds can turn at both dawn and sunset.

So the answer to the question, "Where do you get your colors?" is outside my studio windows.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poetic Journey for Wednesday

Canyon March to the Moon

Just got today's daily poem and it deals with the full moon. I have two calendars that mark the phases of the moon. One says today is the full Beaver moon and the other says yesterday was the Mourning Moon. I am not all that sure it matters. There is per astrological belief three days of influence around a full moon. And this lovey poem by Thoreau to celebrate it.

The Moon

Time wears her not; she doth his chariot guide;
Mortality below her orb is placed.

The full-orbed moon with unchanged ray
Mounts up the eastern sky,
Not doomed to these short nights for aye,
But shining steadily.

She does not wane, but my fortune,
Which her rays do not bless,
My wayward path declineth soon,
But she shines not the less.

And if she faintly glimmers here,
And paled is her light,
Yet alway in her proper sphere
She's mistress of the night.

Henry David Thoreau

 Bekkieann at My So-Called Life

NicholasV on Intelliblog

Our friend Heatherbelle on Never on Sunday 

Do you have a poem to share with us this week? Leave a comment or send me your url at Facebook.

Looking for the Perfect Picture

So much about art is business. It is the part I really don't like that much, and so when I do it I try to get it done in almost a marathon push. It does not make me a happy camper. I would literally rather be painting, but my last fair of the year is coming up this month and I would like to get a flier for my studio printed up to pass out at that fair. Plenty images of my art to include but no image of the artist I like that much, so I have been taking some.

The above one is top in Artist in her Studio category. It has all the elements - paintings in background, messy art desk behind, artistic hands, welcoming smile. If you think it is easy to set the timer on the tripoded camera, walk to the studio chair, pick up props, smile, and look like you didn't just do all that in 10 seconds you have another think coming.

I want to do a self-produced brochure for the time being and then play with content so I can have one printed for spring/summer fairs. Then there is a rack card and a post card and within a limited budget. But now that I have a studio I need to promote it and take advantage of the class and lesson area it provides. That means time spent on the business of art. Darn.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Multi-blog Poetry Wednesday

I wrote the following poem almost a year ago on the eve of the Witches Sabbath. The weather I think was quite different from today. We were enjoying an Indian summer and not an early winter.

Can you stop time?

Can you stop time
Hold the light
Summon the dark at will
Call forth spirits of the wood
Talk to the hawk
Soaring above?

If you could, would you?
Hold all things at abeyance
To your fickle will
And yet we dream, charm and plot
If only it were like so
Such happiness?

And were you to wish
Upon some star a precious thing
Would you down the road
Need to offer tariff
Payment not previously seen
Or agreed upon?

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Boil, boil, toil and trouble
Eye of newt and toe of frog
Abra cadrabra
Hocus Pocus
Pots of gold and fairy rings.

Give me this day
My daily bread
And deliver unto me
My fondest wish
Or just celebrate today
For what it is?

If you could, would you?
Stop time and hold the light
Call forth the spirits of the wood
Wish today gone
And yesterday back
Or just be content?

That this day
You watched the hawk soar
Heard the wind whisper through the grass
Felt the sun upon your face
And knew the spirts
That inhabited this wood.

And it was good.

(c) J. Binford-Bell October 2008

NicholasV on Intelliblog has a lovely poem  

Bee's Blog

Bev on To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme

Do you have a poem to share with us? Yours or just a favorite. Leave me your url here or on Facebook.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Being Creative with Frames

Once upon a time artists did not merely paint. They made their own paints from purchased pigments and they stretched and prepared their own canvas and they made and painted their own frames. In the 2003 movie The Girl with the Pearl Earring there are some rich scenes of Vermeer and his model for the picture mixing paints including the infamous Vermeer blue.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico majoring in fine arts we bought our paints but we stretched our canvases, coated them with rabbit skin glue that we prepared on a hot plate, and then applied gesso to finish the surface. It was in vogue at the time to not frame pictures. You painted the edges of the canvas as well as the front. Previously artists had made their own frames and some in my classes did.

Now you can buy any paint you want. No need to mix your own. And canvas comes pre-surfaced and pre-stretched.There is a huge business in manufactured frames, but framing costs are through the roof especially if you need a custom frame because of a custom size when you don't buy a pre-stretched canvas. So there is a return to the unframed painting with the painted edges, and a return to artists making their own frames.

I started doing my own basic floater frames this last year and painting them a basic black then I read that it was not unusual in the days of artists making their own frames to paint them to coordinate with the paintings they were for. And paintings of famous artists with the original hand made frames by the artist are highly valued. It is a frame made for the painting not to match the decor of the owner's living room. No doubt many were replaced so the decorator could have all ornate gold frames throughout the house. But after almost a year of experimenting with the no frame look I find pictures sell better with frames even if the buyer has every intention of replacing it. So why not have fun.

The two paintings above are sold. The frames are black on the inside and burnt orange on the outside. Then to compliment the painting one has purple on the facing edge and the other gold. I plan to get some more acrylic paints to coordinate with the watercolors I use in my paintings so I can further experiment with the matching frame concept. I am already stretching my own canvases (prepared already) so I can have some unique sizes to fit my subjects. I doubt I will go back to mixing my own egg tempera but I do know how. I learned that in high school.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Poetic Journey - Dancing toward Halloween

We are moving ever closer to Halloween and Kwika on To Rhyme or not to Rhyme as written our first spook inspired poem. I have started crunching one around in my head which I hope to have for next Wednesday when our them will be spooky poems of all sorts. For this week's poetic Journey you can just tip toe up to the subject like my poem below about the dead or avoid it all together like Aussie Lynn Downunder.

Heidi joins us again posting on Multiply - Welcome to my World 

Becky on My So-Called Life.

NicholasV on Intelliblog

Bee's Blog 

Do you have a poem of your own or anothers to offer up for our enjoyment? Leave a comment here or message me your url on Facebook. It is a multi-blog poetry tour.

1914 IV: The Dead

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.

Rupert Brooke

More poems from Rupert Brooke


Friday, October 16, 2009

New Platform/New Results?

Tucked Away
14 x 11 on Gallery Mount ClayBoard

When I was mass producing masks for stores across the country I had what I called my Lab Time. It was a period when orders were few and I could play with new designs and new painting schemes for existing designs. Lab times were critical to product growth. They are also key for creative growth.

I am currently going through a mini lab time. My inventory is good for the remaining show of the year at Thanksgiving, but my thought was to produce some smaller paintings that could be sold more in line with people's budget restraints. One of the ways to accomplish a lower price is to not frame a piece. The Gallery Mount ClayBoard by Ampersand is one platform currently being used by artists in my area and sold unframed. It comes in a texture for watercolor and a smoother one for other media.

In a discussion with one of the clerks at my favorite art store in the area - Artisan's - I decided to try the smoother one. They were running a sale which was beneficial. And they had some smaller sizes which fit my goal for the Holiday Market. An artist's work is a combination of his chosen medium and the platform - or what he/she paints upon. So to change a platform does produce different results.

Shepherd's Mission
10 x 8 on Gallery Mount Clayboard

My first problem was trying to get my liquid watercolors to behave the same way they do on watercolor canvas. I struggled with that doing Shepherd's Mission. It was a different surface and the paint was not going to behave in the same way. I finally gave that up in tucked away and adapted my style to the new platform.

I have two more pieces of this new platform to play with. Now that I know the rules I am hoping for better results. Will I replace my beloved watercolor canvas totally. I doubt it. What I am looking for is a subject that totally fits with the new treatment. And I am not sure I will not frame them. But through this process of play with a new platform I have remembered some old techniques and also gotten myself kicked out of a rut. Lap time is never wasted.