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.