Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward

This image seems to sum up the year for me. Been there done that and have the bullet holes to prove it. It is in the lead to be my Epiphany card. I did not send out any Christmas cards this year because of the new computer and not appropriate software for the Windows 7 operating program. Bill Gates lies. Yes, it is friendlier than Vista but now all inclusive like XP. And because of the crash of my old computer I did not have the online download registries that would allow me to just upgrade. My incompetent computer nerd just keeps giving and giving and giving.

I have downloaded a free trial for Corel Paint Shop and am going to test it out on the Epiphany card and this photo. I am positive about the new opportunities with the new computer and the new year. I went looking for astrological forecasts and all of them were rather rosy and flowery and not me except this one from Big Sky Astrology on the occasion of the January 4 solar eclipse.

GeminiYou don’t like to get “heavy,” so most people never suspect that this is a lonely time of year for you, even when you’re surrounded by loved ones; and at this eclipse season, the weight of both loneliness and a fear of intimacy may feel particularly burdensome.  Trust, intimacy, and introspection can be overwhelming waters for you; as a human you naturally long for them when they’re absent; but when you have them, you may feel as though you’re drowning. What keeps you afloat as the new year begins is your commitment to something bright, happy and hopeful – be it your children, the child within you, your creative muse, a passionate pursuit, or simply the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow, bringing with it the possibility of joy.

This definitely fits with the new directions I am heading in my art this January. No fairs looming and enough work ready to submit for jurying into fairs I am now looking to do some edgy or dark pieces for exhibitions. Not making any forecasts for beyond January this year. The past year showed I had no control over goals anyway, but I do want to do more with my photography this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mag 46 - Tossed aside

Tossed Aside

The once beloved
The soft kid gloves he'd given her
Tossed Aside
Upon the hard wood floor
Like he had dropped her.

J. Binford-Bell 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Gifts of 2010

Nikon D90
When I was young and every Christmas meant a new doll my parents used to ask me to get out my dolls and clean and dress them all up to show my appreciation for them. My brother and I would also sort through our old toys and pick those we were passing along to the toy drive for poorer children. With my father we would clean and fix them up, and then put them in boxes and wrap them. Today toy drives are about purchasing new toys and I think there is a message missed in that.

This year of 2010 was not the best of years and my sister and I had promised each other a super Christmas and then there was the new computer for me and a new septic tank for me to bust the budgets. But my sister and her fur kids are joining me for Christmas and that is a wonderful gift in and of itself. Besides not all gifts are at Christmas.

As I grow older my friends and I have agreed to not feel we must gift at this time of year. It frees us up to find the perfect gift and the perfect time and wrap it and give it as a complete surprise. And sometimes they are not things but time spent together. Jessica deciding to go to the spa seriously and haul me along has been a wonderful gift. Getting in shape has been super but so has the windshield time to and from Taos. And my friend, Dianne, coming up to sit my house and four dogs and three cats while my sister and I escaped to Utah, or her opening up her house for Thanksgiving are immeasurable gifts.

And my sister gifted me this summer with a weekend at the St Francis in Santa Fe (photos of which were lost in the dreaded computer crash) and the Nikon D90 camera that just keeps giving and giving and giving. On another shopping trip to Santa Fe we jokingly gave each other identical all-in-one socket tools at Loew's. With all the other unpacking from the vehicles we both left this small item in our cars. Hers turned out to be the perfect thing to take off her high lift jack from the jeep when she got stuck in mud. I am putting mine in the emergency box.

Surviving 2010 has probably been the best gift of the year. I have a list of friends that did not make it. And thanks especially for my sister making it out of the Zuni Mountains this fall.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Orphan Child

The Bell Tower
On a recent trip to San Fidel, New Mexico my sister and I drove by the now abandoned San Fidel Indian School. It was one of the many church run boarding schools supported by the government in the late 1800's in the United States. Here is a link to NPR's program on the subject. I will let them tell the tale.

Fortunately we no longer take Indian children from their parents and their culture and this particular Catholic owned church and school is abandoned. Given the age and architecture of this church that is rather sad and so I recorded it digitally as I do many of the New Mexico Churches I see and one day plan to paint. It was a stormy day and the abandoned buildings seemed haunted by disturbing spirits. I know that is rather airy fairy but do believe negative energy can be attached to places.

One of the pictures I took had a raven on the north bell tower. Visions of Edgar Allan Poe. And Juan Carlos Castaneda. Death comes from the left - life from the right. As I contemplated painting this church I could not get past that vision so I decided to paint it. I knew it would be one of my orphan child paintings - paintings that don't fit with the body of my work due to subject or color - but while this is not my story to tell, it is also not my story to ignore. Those that do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

I was going to display this painting at the gala reception at the gallery last night but it didn't fit with the others I took. I plan to enter it in the Winter Invitational Exhibit. Juried exhibits are where many of my orphan children go. And they seem to win awards if not purchases.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Magpie 45 - Images


Icons of such early memory
Representatives of a faith not met
A toddler's awe at color
Seen from a stroller prison.

Rome from my mother's view
Her agenda imprinted
On to my memories
Cathedrals and ruins.

St. Peters and the Spanish Steps
Fettuccine at Al Fredos
Italian ice at the coliseum
An artist born?
Or shaped by those early images?

J. Binford-Bell
December 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mermories Attached

Memories Attached

The task to clean out the basement
But suddenly she was slip sliding away
Down Mill Hill
Dad beneath her
Little brother atop.

More, more they yelled in delight
Their father pulling them up the hill for another flight
None of the three of them knew when to stop
The snow so fresh
The air so cold.

Then suddenly her feet were gone numb
Her brother screaming with icy blue hands
Hours in front of the old wood stove
The pain of warming limbs.
Her mother distraught.

Big Red, their transport to other lands
Stored in the basement
Dad to the dog house
She and her brother to the couch
Seeing the snow from behind the glass.

That moment
She swore to escape
The bonds of playing it safe
But Big Red was for ever
Entombed in the basement with memories attached.

J. Binford-Bell

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Makes a Winner

Lamentation of the Spirits - Best of Show Illusions
It is that time of year again. No, not just the holidays, but when artists have to come up with some new work to submit to fairs, shows and exhibits. Judges for major fairs do not want to see the same work again and there is always this little line in judged exhibits - work must be completed in the last two years. To complicate matters one of the galleries I am in is having a retrospective of the original six female artists for its seventh anniversary. And the Moreno Valley Arts Council is calling for entries for a January exhibit. So while others are making the rounds of endless holiday parties I am trying to come up with at least three new and innovative works.

This always raises the question as to what makes a winner. A group of friends and I got into this discussion with photography recently. First it has to be a good. And this is true for all artistic endeavors, including poetry and music no doubt. Composition, which I would define as balance and proportion, is all important. And in painting or photography that balance and proportion extends to color and not merely the layout of shapes. A photographer can frame his shot and on the computer crop it to improve the composition. A painter gets total freedom over their composition.

The most important role of composition (and here I am going to expand and recklessly include poetry and music) is to catch the eye (or ear) of the viewer and draw them in. And move them deeper into the work and then release them. A static composition causes a subtle irritation in the viewer - a dissatisfaction. Admittedly their have been some movements in painting that sought just to slam the viewer against the canvas. Museums collect a lot of those.

I guess because I write I also believe that message or content is very important in the visual arts, but unfortunately has become rather back-staged (maybe it has something do do with those Slam movements). Art is so often today something pretty to hang on your walls. And those of us trying to make a living in these rough economic times are libel to pander to the masses on this. But this time of year, especially when entering a juried exhibit, we get to insert more message. It is by no means as obvious as in an essay but for those that are engaged in the work through composition it is there to be read.

When I am in the role of judge for an exhibition I always look for content. Does this very well crafted painting or photograph also say something to me? Those works that do make a statement will always win out over those which are just nicely practiced compositions of light and color. But judges are fickle. All viewers of art bring to the art their own experiences which alters their relationship to the work. Hey, I know people that don't like the Mona Lisa. Even the best of artists get rejected from time to time. And a prize winning piece can lose in the next competition.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Magpie 43 - Gone


The door
No holiday wreath
No lace curtains
The stoop  not swept of snow
Said it all.

Said it in ways
Her mother had not
Nor had the obit
In the small local paper
Or the lawyer reading the will.

It all hit home
In that instant
She saw the door
To the neat little cottage
Passed to her.

Her great aunt
Wasn't home
would never be again
Finally she was able to cry.

December 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Who Decides the Winners?

I am in a big holiday fair this weekend. I got into the fair by competing for a spot. And all of us are now competing for the attention of those coming to the fair, and for the precious dollars they have to spend.

I had not thought to enter this week's Magpie event until I went this morning to see the prompt and read some of the poems and there was this old "loving cup" trophy.

Why did they call them loving cups? Per Wiki a Loving cup is a shared drinking container traditionally used at weddings and banquets. It usually has two handles and is often made of silver. Loving cups are commonly used as trophies. They can be found in several European cultures one example is the Celtic quaich.


Such loving friends until that race
The trophy given
Pride of place on the shelf
The friendship the loss.

The loving cup
Once polished
And treasured
Left to tarnish in an attic box.

The friendship broken
Molders in a corner
Of my mind
I would have rather lost the race.

J. Binford-Bell
November 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Bright Side - Up a Ladder

Two of my favorite paintings this year have been the hardest to photograph. Homage and Portals are each 14 x 48 which means your wide angle zoom lens can add curvature that is not really there. And if they are not exactly level on the easel or your aim not at exact center your rectangle becomes a trapezoid. To complicate it all the smooth nature of the sky shows every subtle sheen of the light. So the camera is on a tripod, the sun past the windows of the studio, etc.

Naturally the photographs I took of these two paintings in June were lost in the computer debacle that I just experienced. Ergo they had to be rephotographed. Then the tripod broke. I seriously considered making do with just the progress photo of these two. Then I saw the ladder I had gotten out to take them down from the studio walls. I looked at the studio floor below the ladder and no streaks of sun, but would it be light enough that I could hold the camera steady enough?

The two on the jute rug
To hold the camera out over the center of the pair meant I could not lean far enough over to use the view finder or the viewer in back of the camera. I just held it out over what seemed to be the center and aimed down. I took about 20 photographs and picked the one which showed the squarest outline. Photoshop did the rest.

As I get into painting bigger and more irregular proportions I no doubt will revisit this arrangement. I do have a ladder which may be safer for this now that I know this technique works. This was my 6' tripod but I have a 13' one too. I guess some good always comes of misfortune. I didn't even get ladder shadows on the paintings.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creative Process - Photographing your work

Uncropped Cactus Blossom Panels
Back today to the visual creative journey. Poetry has just seemed easier of late. I was emotionally devastated by the loss of three years of digital files on my desktop computer and since I make a living with my painting, as opposed to my poetry, I have been most concerned about recovering my digital portfolio. The good news is I have put a lot of it on CD's for entry to shows or promotion of my art to galleries. And I also backed up a lot on FlickR. But some of the newer work had not gone through that process yet so I have been rephotographing it while taking pictures of my newer work

I have a new digital Nikon D90 that has twice the mega pixels as my D70 did and so it has allowed some creative ways to photograph smaller works. Above is four of my 8 x 8 inch cactus blossom panels. They have been a pain to photograph in the past as the easel swallows them and tripod configurations make it hard to square everything up. I photographed these four on the floor with my tripod mounted camera pointed down. Then in photoshop I cropped them to the four and saved and then cropped each individually.

Cholla Cactus Blossom
I like the diamond shape for smaller works and even use it on my 13 x 13 mission paintings. They have in the past been very good sellers. Placing them on the ground and photographing them seemed like a good approach too. I had four of them to rephotograph for my digital archives.
Mission at Moonrise

Mission at Sunrise


Placing them on the floor allowed me to avoid the glancing light through my studio windows as well as squaring up the camera with the painting. The floor method is, however, not going to work with the larger works I do because the tripod legs get in the way. But I am going to haunt some photography sites to see if there is a different tripod or a clip to go to the bottom center of my current tripod that will allow more of this technique.

Even if you are not a professional painter yet I think it is important to record your creative progress. I even print mine out and put them in a hard copy portfolio so I can thumb back through to remember previous successes or failures. I try to carry the successes forward and drop the failures but even in the failed paintings there can be a technique, subject or color I want to work with further.

Record your path. And back it up multiple ways. Don't depend upon only one backup system!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mag 40 -- Pearls for Frogs

Prince of Toads

Pearls before swine
Frogs to princes
With but a kiss.

Silk to satin
Pigs' ears to silk purses
My velvet purses full of trash
Not golden coin.

If wishes were horses
As the childhood rhyme promised
Beggars would ride
If trash was treasure
I rich lady I would be.

But here I sit taking stock of trinkets
Treasure troves of memories
Long forgotten through time
Their value only to me
Lingering with my fingers on their treasures.

Oh, I have wished upon a star
But I have given up my dreams
Of princes rampant
In velvet cloaks.

Pearls of wisdom
I have learned after kissing many toads
Come only with time.

J. Binford-Bell

Skies - in th beginning they were all blue

A sampling of skies
Haven't written a blog on the creative process lately so figured I was over due. And since yesterday I was working on some new 12 x 12 panels for the up coming Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Holiday Festival my mind was on skies. I begin with skies. This is in part because my skies are mainly poured or floated using the liquid watercolor I prefer. And it is partly because the sky sets the tone for the painting. And because while the scenery in New Mexico and the Colorado Plateau is awesome the skies are without parallel.

When I first began painting back in college I stuck with blue skies and they were a bit of an after thought. Frankly skies scared me because many a great painting (in my mind) was ruined by my treatment (or non-treatment) of the sky, as I saw it as merely a backdrop for the subject of the painting. Pouring skies was more than a technique change. It led me to a totally different approach to the entire painting.

 Of the four church panel paintings above the top two are going to be night scenes and the churches will have luminarias lining the path to the doors, and large rising full moons. The metallic glitter was another happy accident in my attempt to capture skies filled with stars. The bottom left is a sky I have done before and like for "hot desert days." The bottom right is a new sky. I am trying this one out. It is prompted in part by the top picture in the opening photograph, and in part by a photograph of Laguna Mission with a very stormy sky behind it.

My Tres Cruces triptych was an adventure in skies that worked. And difficult because it was on three separate canvases but had to look like one sky going from dawn to sunset to dusk. You may have noticed my skies are no longer blue.

Tres Cruces Triptych
Sometimes my adventures in poured skies work and sometimes they don't. I blogged previously about the struggle I had getting to that top pink sky with clouds. It really was an accident. Lots of my skies begin as accidents and then liking the effect I seek to repeat it. I have tried for sunset and gotten dawn as in the first time I did a yellow sky. Starry night skies are thankfully very repeatable as they are very popular. But while it is "repeatable" they are seldom exactly alike. Water and liquid watercolors have minds of their own even if I can urge them in different directions from time to time.

The skies make each painting unique, even when I repeat a subject, because they dictate the time of day, the light on the subject, and, most importantly, set the mood of the painting. Ergo they are seldom just blue. It always works better if I follow the sky rather than try to force the painting to a preconceived idea. Mind you I do have an idea of where I want a painting to go, it is just that sometimes the paint wins and those can be very happy adventures.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mag 39 and a Late Poetry Wednesday

Kill the old Red Rooster
My father in the closing days of World War II had read a popular book of the times about existing and thriving on an acre of land. He bought two and begun a house that in my memory never seemed done. We had a "truck garden" on half an acre and raised all our own vegetables and sold some too. And he raised and field trained Beagles and Irish Setters, and because of the training hunted for rabbits and all manners of birds. And Mom raised chickens and sold eggs. I was trained in egg gathering before school. God, how I hate chickens!

Kill That Old Red Rooster

Chickens little peeping in my skirts
Chicken shit on the bottoms of my feet
Egg snakes trapped in the fence
That big red rooster stalking me in the coop
Gathering eggs on a damp Missouri morning.

Eggs hatching in the incubator
Fluffy yellow chicks for Easter
Fried chicken for dinner
Scrambled eggs for breakfast
Hiding broken eggs that fell from the basket
I had swung at Rooster Red.

Washing eggs clean of chicken shit
Putting them gently in cartoons to deliver in the wagon
Dipping beheaded chickens in boiling water
Getting plucked feathers all over my face
Up my nose and all over my clothes.

The smell of warm blood and wet feathers
The squawk of the hens and the thud of the axe
Echoing in my dreams with the slithering egg snakes
On butchering day
But smiling that at last
That ole Red Rooster was gone.

J. Binford-Bell 2010

On blogger Magpie Tales has a weekly writing challenge. It is always nice to stretch our wings. Magpie Tales posts a visual or written prompt every week that a host of bloggers take up and develop into short tales and poems. This week the prompt was the picture of the Rooster above. I encourage my readers to go to the link above and read some of other entries linked there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Julia's Goodbye

Last of the Cape Lions


Julia forever young
Would lie in her plantation bed
Praying to hear
Her beloved lions
One last time
Before she slept.

Now I lay her down
Beneath the African soil
A simple stone to mark
Julia's so brief life
Broken by the paw
Of the last Cape Lion.

Julia A. Wilson
Passed this way
November 1858
And the lions she so loved
Left this earth with her.

j. binford-bell

Historical note: The long black maned Cape Lion was last reported seen in 1858, the year of Julia A's death and the carving of her head stone.


Fall's Leaves in Winter's Ice

Pull myself from under 
Winter's covers
Seek my slippers
My warm joggers
Feed the fur kids
Start the coffee
Boot the computer
Check the woodstove
For still hot coals.

Toss in a log or two
Carefully saved from the evening's fire
Pour myself a hot mug of coffee
And settle in at my computer chair
Pulling my afghan around my legs
Good morning etherworld
Still hours before my dawn
And the studio warms
Today I paint
But now I awake.

Slowly the morning unfolds
The night melting
Like the thin new winter's ice on the pond
The new logs catch
I sip the second cup of coffee
Fur kids arrayed around my feet
In the circle of warmth from the fire
We all await the coming of the sun
A new winter morning.

J. Binford-Bell 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cry The Sorrows - Poetry Wednesday

Cry the Sorrows
Cry the Sorrows

Weep for me
Mournful cliffs
Let the wind
Sing of sorrows
And on this day
Filled with loss
Of promise gone.

Cry the sorrows
Of loves and lives lost
An those that have moved on
Beyond the canyon walls
Sing of the memories
Etched in the cliffs
The sorrows of ages past.

Let the cliffs weep
For all they have seen pass
Cry the sorrows
Faces of stone
For all that has been
Cast off
Weep tears for love gone.

J. Binford-Bell October 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's in a Title?

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. William Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet

Spirit Flight
The problem with doing new paintings is coming up with unique titles for them. I rather loathe the habit of some artists of Untitled. I think it is a cop out. I admit to having done the Roman Numeral thing of Dawn I and Dawn II. I rather got into a Dawn thing at one time. Dawn over Abiquiu Mission or Dawn in Bryce, etc. Painting the same missions at different angles and in different lights does tax one on original titles. And with my cactus blossoms I have just called them Blossoms Large or Blossoms Small. But basically I think a title can make or break a work of art.

Let's take Spirit Flight above. It is of White House Ruins at Canyon de Chelle National Monument and certainly could carry any of that as a title. But I have done White House Ruins before and since and no doubt will do them again. So if I went by that I would be in the I, II, III thing. I named it Spirit Flight because of the ravens against the cliff wall. Inuits in Alaska believe that Ravens carry the spirits of the recently dead so they can rest before being reborn.

But since I have ravens in almost all my daylight pictures than any of those pictures could be called Spirit Flight too or Two and Three and Four. I did a small detail version of this painting and called it Tucked Away. Now there is a title that got me in trouble. Any cliff dwelling can be named Tucked Away, and unfortunately, without thinking, I used it twice. This tends to confuse galleries. And when they call to clarify their inventory it then confuses the artist. I reasoned that one out with size as one was 14 x 11 on artist's panel and the other was 16 x 20 on canvas.

I prefer my title cards to carry the size and medium and platform information as it solves a lot of problems most notably being a more expensive painting going for a far too cheap price. But I generally like my titles short. Lately I have been into one word titles like Cry, Reverence, Worship, Celebration, etc. From there they go to Cry the Sorrows, Reverence for the Dawn, Worship the Day, Celebration of the Moon. That occurs on what I call the second generation of a concept. But I frankly refuse to carry it to Celebration of the Moon II. But there have been Study for Rainbow Reflections, a smaller version of the larger Rainbow Reflections I did in order to work out color choices and compositional issues.

So what makes a good title? Short I think. At least short enough that it fits on one line of a title card (generally business card size). But also short enough to be remembered by the patron (seven words max), but unique enough it doesn't get confused with other works. It should also be in good English (following the rules for titles) and not misspelled. And if your painting has been lucky enough to catch the eye of a prospective buyer you don't want to turn them off with a negative title.

All that said I have a few new paintings to name today. I have gotten into the habit of writing titles on the back so if I forget what I named it and the title card goes amiss I can solve the debate with the gallery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Poetic Journey - Had I known

Thunder storm building

Had I Known
Had I known
That March day
As you prepared to drive away
I would not see you so again
Would I have
Hugged you tighter
Begged you to stay
Not merely waved?
Had I known 
That day in July
When your call took me away
From my painting
We would not talk again
Would my words Have been sweeter
Not so in a rush
To get back to my brush?
Love you bye 

Had I known
That December move away
Your life would be so short
Without me there
Would I have stayed
Endured more
In hopes to prolong yours
Not been so impatient
To get on with my life?

Had I known
That day in August
Standing beside your bed
You would so soon die
Leave me crying
Would I have made
More time
To spend with you
Should I have forseen
My last glimpse of you
Would be my last chance?

Had I known
That long ago day in May
I said I do
I would not be able
To change the course
Our lives would take
Would I still
Have tried
Would I still have
Loved you so?


J. Binford-Bell October 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sometimes it isn't as Easy as it Looks

Crying of the Sorrows
I have set down at my desk in the studio and whipped out four or five paintings in a week. And then there are those that seem to take weeks. Admittedly not because I am painting on them all that time, but because I am staring at them wondering what to do next. The above painting was one of those. I had this mental image and a sketch, but it was something I had not done before and the emotion I wanted to convey was the governing factor. I am finally happy at where the struggle has taken me in this new work of the Dark Period.

At the same time I began Sorrows I started work on another natural bridge picture for the second time. Yes, it failed. And all attempts to rescue it only taught me what was wrong so off came the canvas and a new one stretched. I am rather happy with the final result but before we got to this point I struggled with just tossing the whole concept away.

Welcoming the Dawn/Final Version
The one that was not working. Too much competition

Scrubbing off the sky in attempt to rescue. The painting is not as noisy but I ditched it.

New beginning but the sky is better but still not right
Sometimes it makes sense to just give up. The sketch is based on a very successful painting that sold very quickly, Bridge of Enchantments, which is featured in the column to the right of this blog. I liked the composition but wanted to do a dawn version. The focus has to be the background and the rising sun so I figured a very plain sky but with the division of the arch that was not easy. The sky needed more variance to be a unified whole and not two parts.

This sky was actually a mistake, but sometimes mistakes work
My attempt to paint over the sky and unify it was frustrating and at some point I misted it with soapy water for clouds and got more than I wanted. The pink just got all splotchy. I walked away from it while I decided whether I wanted to totally ditch the painting yet again, strip off the canvas and use the stretcher bars for something totally different.

When I came back to the studio I noticed the mix of paint and soapy water had become something and with just a bit of lifting with cue tips and dry brushing I was able to create a cloud filled sky. I am considering this technique (which I wrote down when it worked) to do a stormy sky by layering blues and grays then soaping and lifting.

This painting has its own folder on my desktop titled When Things Go Wrong. And yes I would have given up long before I reached the finished painting if I had not been learning things during the entire path. This painting proved I can often learn more when things go wrong than when things go right. That was certainly true with Welcoming the Dawn.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fabulous Foto Friday

Hang in There
I have taken a lot of photographs in the few months. In part because I have a new camera and also because I have journeyed to lands I have not visually recorded even though they are close. The picture above is one of the dozen or so of the hundreds I have taken that really stands out for me.

Who knows what makes a particular picture special of all that an avid photographer takes. First, I suppose, it has to be technically a good picture or it gets put in the digital trash very quickly. And secondly, for me at least, it has to be linked to a time and a place that held a strong memory. This was a great day in the Sand Stone Bluffs with my sister and our four fur kids. We were hanging around this one extended cliff face looking for just the right light from the setting sun.

I took several good shots that afternoon but this one has other elements like the shadows of the pines on the cliff face and that lone Ponderosa growing in the notch at the top. Life cannot be easy up there. And yet it looks like it is making it quite nicely, thank you. It becomes therefore a metaphor on life. At least my life, and my sister's life, of late. The going has been tough but we are still both hanging in there.

Because of all of that I probably will print this particular photo and mat and frame it for my wall. It will not doubt be featured in another blog.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lost - Poetry Wednesday


Oh, what I won't give
For a Google map of locations
For missing things.

I am ordinarily so good
Can find the smallest things
Amid the clutter in my life.

But of late I seem to be missing things
The second set of keys
I keep just in case the first is lost

My favorite hoodie from Canyonlands
The book I should have written this poem in
Did I leave it on the night stand in Raton?

And then there is Kathi, Alan and Marc
I last saw Marc in Raton
But not the same time as my book.

And where is my sense of timing
My ability to reach decisions
My infallible sense of direction.

I keep walking the same paths in my house
Hoping the book will be beside the lost sunglasses
Laid neatly by my spare keys atop my hoodie

I think I am losing it.
It is as if the key to finding myself
Is in finding what I have

J Binford-Bell
Composed on the computer because I lost my poetry journal
Oh, and my favorite pen.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Land that Inspires Me - The Creative Process

Sandstone Bluff or Castle Wall?
 Before I painted I photographed. I have painted plein aire but the sun and sand has gotten into my eyes and into my paints. Besides with a camera I can record in a short period of time more images to paint later in my studio. This last week, in addition to a visit with my sister (also a photographer), was a search for new images to record.

The Malpais of New Mexico, the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau which has provided lots of inspiration, was my destination this last week. Being on the edge instead of in the center was a new perspective. Below tall Ponderosa pines cast shadows on the sandstone bluffs.

Light and Shadow at Play on Sandstone

The other advantage of being on the edge of this huge geological formation is the vistas. Here the lava flow of the valley butts up with the sandstone cliffs.

Sandstone bluffs

Sandstone Arch or cathedral?
 I have told people that I paint the adobe missions of New Mexico because they remind me of the canyon walls I so love. Here the canyon walls remind me of a mission church. The light and shadow captured in this photograph will probably be used in paintings of both.

Vista of the bluffs to the East
I am looking for a long narrow composition to paint horizontally. This photograph and the one of the sandstone bluffs may furnish the basis for one or more such paintings.

And people that view my paintings often ask about the water in them. Water in the west is a gift and often a surprise like in the photographs below. I include water in canyon pictures almost as a magical charm, but in my recent exhibition into the Zuni mountains it surprised me in this hidden canyon.

Water protected in the rocks

The slot canyon
 In the water starved land of the New Mexico Malpais it is often the rocks that protect and shape the water but the water also has its effects on the rocks. In another picture I have of this canyon face there are images that can be developed. I will surprise you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Art Sunday - Friends and Neighbors

Sylvia Ford mixed media street scene
I was reading in the last few days about the Impressionists. What I have read many times before but which had not impressed upon me with quite the impact as before was that they knew each other. Many of them were friends. Lived and painted in the same areas and exhibited at the same salon. No doubt they influenced each other and their work.

That got me thinking of my circle of friends here in the Angel Fire/Black Lake area. Most of us have been in numerous fairs and exhibits with each other. And our works are displayed side by side in the Angel Fire Artspace Gallery. Sylvia Ford, above, is one of my favorite artists there. I like her as a person and love her work. We have talked about trades in our future.

Katherine McDermott started Artspace Gallery and works in many media including promotion. Not all artists are good at that. She has given us a space to display our work and sell it against some formidable odds like the economy. I particularly love and admire Katherine's pastels. The one below was in the 34th International Show in Raton, New Mexico.

Foggy Fall Morning by Katherine McDermott

I don't even attempt pastels. Does that increase my admiration of those that do the well? Yes, no doubt. And while I do string beads I do not form metal. Jessica Duke, my good friend, and one of the first of the artists at Artspace is a star at it. And yes, I do believe a painter can be inspired by sculpture and jewelry or any other media which is executed well. Jessica sculpts in silver, and paints in stone.

Turquoise and silver Necklace by Jessica Duke

Jessica likes my paintings and I like her jewelry. We have traded work before and no doubt will again.

And in any group of artists/friends there is always the one we follow, hoping all the time to reach their level. Jennifer Cavan, also one of the first artist exhibited at Artspace, is our benchmark of achievement. I just never want to be on the road as much as she is.

Crisp and Cool Morning, oil pastel by Jennifer Cavan
It is so wonderful to know that when I seem to have reached an impasse in new ideas I only have to stroll through Artspace and be challenged and inspired. Over the years I have watched them grow and improve and have worked to do the same.

Bridge of Enchantments by Jacqui Binford-Bell
BTW I believe all of us, except Sylvia, are on Facebook with our own profiles and fan pages so we are also ether friends.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Poetry Wednesday - Time


Time that fickle wave
Washing over us
Constantly changing flow
Creeping forward
Keeping awaited days
Just beyond our reach
Rushing forward
When we wish to savor
The Moment.

Tim that so fickle song
Doing the Minute Waltz
On decades of memories
Replaying a fleeting smile
In three part harmony
Launching us forward
Pushing us back

Time so fickle and so familiar
Haven't we been here before
I went to bed today
And awoke in yesterday
My love still alive
Beside me in bed
Forever gone
Lost in time
Come again

Oh so fickle time
Let's begin again
Once more with feeling
Just those moments 
I thought so unimportant
Forever etched
In instant replay
At the most ackward
Time moving against the flow.

Time oh fickle river
Moving us ever forward
Along life's river bed
Dancing on the surface
Eddies of memory
Backwaters of impatience
Don't leave me here
In memories
Of shorelines past.

J. Binford-Bell, September 2010