Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Poetic Journey - Growing up is optional

I have a friend that calls oil pastels just adult crayons. As a child I loved me little tin box of watercolors and carried them everywhere with me. And here I sit with just more expensive ones. Maybe there is something in the artist which never quite grows up. We hold within us the ability to play.


Childhood, sweet and sunny childhood,
With its careless, thoughtless air,
Like the verdant, tangled wildwood,
Wants the training hand of care.

See it springing all around us --
Glad to know, and quick to learn;
Asking questions that confound us;
Teaching lessons in its turn.

Who loves not its joyous revel,
Leaping lightly on the lawn,
Up the knoll, along the level,
Free and graceful as a fawn?

Let it revel; it is nature
Giving to the little dears
Strength of limb, and healthful features,
For the toil of coming years.

He who checks a child with terror,
Stops its play, and stills its song,
Not alone commits an error,
But a great and moral wrong.

Give it play, and never fear it --
Active life is no defect;
Never, never break its spirit --
Curb it only to direct.

Would you dam the flowing river,
Thinking it would cease to flow?
Onward it must go forever --
Better teach it where to go.

Childhood is a fountain welling,
Trace its channel in the sand,
And its currents, spreading, swelling,
Will revive the withered land.

Childhood is the vernal season;
Trim and train the tender shoot;
Love is to the coming reason,
As the blossom to the fruit.

Tender twigs are bent and folded --
Art to nature beauty lends;
Childhood easily is moulded;
Manhood breaks, but seldom bends.

David Bates

More poems from David Bates 

And Nicholas on Intelliblog has a poem by Blake for us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tres Cruces and Three Questions for Art Sunday

Tres Cruces
18 x 40 mixed media triptych on canvas
When I first conceived of this concept of a triptych I did not know all the questions that I would face. And I was not able to foresee some of the obstacles ahead. So far I think I have met them all rather well and have learned a lot. So today when I sat out to photograph the piece I wondered just how. Bigger than my easel. So I began with each piece individually. Each section is suppose to be a painting in its own right and not just part of the whole.

I think they do achieve that. But I would never want to sell them separately. So they must be priced as a group. But are all three pieces signed? Or just one?

Then came the problem of photographing them all together. I had to modify my easel with board and mat board to hold all three pieces on. Or I could join the three separate pictures together in Photoshop. But I don't know how to do that. Obviously it is time to get out the manual.
Or I could just throw myself to the mercy of my artistic and photographic friends and say, "Help!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poetic Journey - Wishing for Spring

Someday it Will Be Spring

Everyone on line is talking of spring and posting pictures of flowers in bloom. The photographic group I belong to on FaceBook is even having an event titled Spring. Meanwhile we are getting more snow. I know I will be able to gloat this summer when they are sweltering in triple digit heat and I am a balmy low eighties but at the moment the snowy landscape outside my studio windows is driving me up a wall. 

I unearthed the poem below from two years ago and the self-portrait in watercolor from four years ago.

Spring dreams

Deep into January
And the forecast is for snow
But all night the rain had beat
Upon my bedroom roof

The sound of most often heard
In the fickle days of June
Over the chuckle of the running brook
Carrying off the winter snow melt

I dreamed of lilacs
And shedding cats
Fair weather feathered friends returning
I awoke to be caught by the return of winter storms

I watched the birds in frenzy about the feeders
And taking shelter on my covered porch
I contented myself
With inside tasks only bringing in the wood for a fire

To compensate for the lack of sunshine
I absorbed myself in words and pictures
Listened to the music of Enya
And totally missed the silence of snow

Brief glances through icy windows
Revealed a white world beyond exploration
I told myself it could be fog or mist
Please not that much snow

I stepped out for more wood
Into champagne powder up to my knees
Surprised to discover
So much snow had crept up on me

While I had dreamed away the day
With hopes of spring
And mental pictures of summer
Winter had captured my day

(c) J. Binford-Bell  January 29, 2008

If you have a poem to share with us today please post a comment below or on my Facebook Fan Page.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More Progress on Triptych

Been working on the triptych a lot today. And achieved a lot of progress. This picture was taken before I began. And the following at the end of the day. Not exactly done yet but getting very close. Still need ravens in the sky and some more glazes and details. I am thus far happy with where it is going though we have gotten to that point where it calls the shots as it were.

Another painting that is almost done except for the ravens is the canyon scene with the red sky.

I did try to upload these all to Facebook Direct but it was being an !$@#! about uploads of photos tonight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Triptych Progress

Tres Cruces

I worked on the triptych and another painting today. I was not having much luck with the other. Everything I did with it seemed to be wrong and had to be redone. It isn't finished but I am a lot happier with it now. Given that streak of rotten luck I had my doubts about doing any work on the triptych.

After I had an early lunch and cooled down a bit I decided to at least lay in the main colors on the churches. Mission churches were built in two basic styles and for this painting I seemed to have chosen all of the single bell tower with cross type rather than the two towers. So on the churches there are three crosses so I am currently calling the painting Tres Cruces, which fits since it is also a three part painting. There are in fact five crosses in the triptych with the two road crosses in front.

Progress is much slower at this stage. No broad expanses of color laid in. I would like to finish it this week but don't want to rush it or the red sky painting I posted a progress photo of on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Poetic Journey - For Whom the Bell Tolls

San Antonio de Padua in Questa, NM

The Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe wants to demolish the above church. It has been closed since 2008 when one of the walls fell down. The community is in an uproar to save its historic church but a debate rages as to its value to the community and standing as historic. So the following poem seemed appropriate for this church I have so often painted.

For whom the Bell Tolls

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he
knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so
much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my
state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The
church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she
does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action
concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which
is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member.
And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is
of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is
not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several
translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness,
some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every
translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves
again for that library where every book shall lie open to one
another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not
upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this
bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the
door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in
which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were
mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers
first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring
first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of
this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to
make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be
ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him
that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that
minute that this occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God.
Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes
off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his
ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove
it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this
world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece
of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by
the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's
death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for
thee. Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing
of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but
must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the
misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness
if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath
enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and
ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man
carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none
coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he
travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not
current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our
home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to
, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a
mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his
affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this
consideration of another's danger I take mine own into
contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my
God, who is our only security.

John Donne

More poems from John Donne

Do you have a poem to add to our journey today?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Triptych Update

Triptych Sky - Progress Photo

The total expanse of my triptych is 40 inches so even if it was one painting instead of three the sky would be a bit tricky in watercolors. I have some watercolorist friends that have switched to oils or acrylic because of the difficulty of doing larger pieces. Oil, because of the out-gassing, is just not an alternative for me. And I detest acrylic. I used it for 15 years when doing masks and am firmly educated in its limitations. Blending is its biggest.

What I love about the liquid watercolors I am currently using is their ability to blend. And in the pouring of this sky they needed to blend themselves. There are only three colors used in this sky apart from the metallic gold. I sampled the blends by using a scrap of canvas I keep for such purposes. Not all colors play well with each other, but I was very happy with these three. I love the accidentals which occurred here like the orange and the magenta.

Being a triptych I painted the sky all at once with the three canvases laying side-by-side on a table. The colors needed to go from one to the other in a smooth transition (and around the edges of the canvas) and at the same time each painting needed to be complete within itself. So while looking at the whole I had to consider each piece of sky. Quite obviously this is going to have to be how to work the balance of the painting(s). Today the mountains and the foreground. Middle ground (the churches) will be last. The churches are unique to each painting but the three parts of the triptych share the sky, mountains and foreground.

Mind you I am making this up as I go along. This is my first ever triptych and I am learning a lot.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


What is it about the months of February and March that makes us want to push the envelope? At least those months are when I want to do something just a bit different. Beware the bored artist! This year my cure for boredom has been the triptych. Yesterday I finally got the canvases stretched.

Checking to see they are all the same height and square

Using the measure three or four times before cutting rule here. Since they will ultimately hang close together it is critical in my opinion that they are all squared up. I always check the 90 degree corners on stretcher bars before applying canvas, but have noticed some slight variance in a size because of how I fold over the corners of the canvas.

Assembled Stretcher bars being checked

In the foreground you will notice two other sets of stretcher bars not yet assembled. March and April are the months to be sure you have adequate inventory for the summer and fall fairs. The front set is for another study for a much larger piece I have a commission for. I am sure Michelangelo did studies for the Sistine ceiling. Glad I don't have that job. The triptych is becoming daunting enough. It's finished total size before framing will be 18 by 40 inches.

The plan as it were

Today the tracing paper "cartoon" gets transferred to the canvas and I mask out for the painting of the sky. I have some scraps of canvas to try my proposed sky on before tackling the actual piece. do doubt I will bore you with that process too. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poetic Journey - In to Out


Yes, even artists have paperwork. All the more so because we are "small business owners" involved in manufacturing. So many of the forms big businesses have to fill out and file we do too. But we don't have staff. Taxes loom and so I had to get a handle on the "In" baskets where I deposit receipts and "suspense" items. Every year about this time I swear I will develop a better method. Every year I don't. Ergo the following poem.

Outing the In

Into the In Box
With no

Digging through
Things once
Important enough.

In to the In Box
Like the last items
on the todo list.

Tossed at last
into the final
out box
The circular file

At last.

J. Binford-Bell March 2010

And the question remains why not the trash first? Do you have a poem to post for this week's poetic journey?

Willow Manor and Supernatural Nod which I found tripping through blogs