Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cry the Sorrows

Canyon of 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
Whisper words 
I wish I had said.

Cry sorrows
Of loves and lives lost
And those that have gone
Beyond the canyon walls
Sing of the memories
Etched in the past.

Let the cliffs weep
For all who have passed this way
Oh, cry Sorrows
Faces of stone
For all that has been cast off
Weep tears for love gone.

J. Binford-Bell
Revised July 31, 2011

Note: I originally wrote this poem, and painted this picture in October 2010. Showing the painting to a customer at my studio yesterday I noticed I didn't even have a final photograph of it for the portfolio, just the one above taken as a record of work done. When I pulled up the poem this morning I noticed it was also lacking. It sorely needed editing. I should write an ode to the distance time provides.

Saturday, July 30, 2011




In the hours between dusk and dawn
I have been taking a long dark look
In the far reaches of my soul
Seeking bright memories among the pain
Looking for hope.

I have been seeking a positive note
Among the funeral dirges
But my vision blurs
With the tears of loss
Mourning the moments.

So very fleeting
Our time together
In the quantum concept of time
Your living like a shooting star
Lighting my life
But briefly.

And now I am left
With all these dark spaces
Filled with endless tears
Next life
You cry for me.

Jacqui Binford-Bell
August 2010

Note: Last August my ex-husband of nine years, dear friend of 23, died. He was reluctantly my soul mate and his loss hit me harder than I expected because we had been divorced for 13 years while remaining friends. I entered into what I call my "dark work" in painting and wrote numerous poems as an internal process to mourn his loss. Not all of them, paintings and poems, have seen the light of day. But as I near the year anniversary I am able to look back at this period and see its complexity, and the depth in fostered in my art and poetry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mag 75 - Dog Days

Dog Days

I sat on the top step of the porch
Partaking of my second glass of iced coffee
And watched the clouds boil
Over the nearby hills
Their dark bottoms hinting
At a possible relief to the drought.

Dad had called these the dog days
He grew up in the sultry south
I in the intra mountain west
For me dog days were those where we prayed for rain
And the dogs cowered under the porch
As protection from the thunder clouds.

The horizon is lit by bolts of lightning
The purr kids dash up the steps
Past me into the studio flicking their tails
Yes, I am an idiot, I say to the dogs hiding beneath me
But I love the smell of ozone in the air
The hint of damp in the breeze.

As the first huge drops of rain fall
I surrender my position
Hoping it is not for just a promise this time
Let the sky open up and christen the earth
Please dog days
Bring the drenching rains.

J. Binford-Bell
July 2011


The dog days are the most sultry days of summer. The actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate. Dog Days can also define a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress. The name comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity to the sun was responsible for the hot weather.

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name "Sirius" is derived from the Ancient Greek Σείριος Seirios ("glowing" or "scorcher"). The star has the Bayer designation Alpha Canis Majoris (α CMa). What the naked eye perceives as a single star is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main sequence star of spectral type A1V, termed Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA2, termed Sirius B. The distance separating Sirius A from its companion varies between 8.1 and 31.5 AU.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reaching for the Light


From the depths
The Shadows
The sun's enriching rays.


From dark despair
Seek the promised
Know the warmth denied.

What was once hidden
In a sandstone crypt
 Truth of life lived.


Achieving the impossible goal
Bask in the sun
The canyon walls.

J. Binford-Bell
July 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why Visit a Studio

On a recent trip to Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my friend Jessica and I visited several galleries in that area known for its galleries. An art gallery:  a room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited. On Canyon Road there are fewer pieces of art in every room of the gallery and the closest you are likely to get to the artist is his signature at the bottom of the painting.

Galleries generally represent only the most elite of artists in an area though it should be allowed that this is of the opinion of the gallery owner, who is not necessarily the primary artist displayed. In tough economic times even the galleries owned by an artist are hedging their bets by carrying the work of more than one artist. As a New Mexico resident and not unfamiliar with the art world I was rather at a loss as to the "elite aspect" of some of the artists. i.e. I hadn't a clue as to who they were, and like a tourist assumed because their work was getting upwards of $150 per square inch (no small canvases displayed) they had to be worth that price. Paintings ranged from $6000 to $19,000.

Which brings us to the number one reason for visiting a studio rather than a gallery: Price. Artists cannot charge less than the gallery that represented them but most artists with open studios are not represented on Canyon Road.

Reason #2: Variety. A studio is an artist's work space where they frequently display all their works not currently represented by a gallery including those pieces that are not large enough to be expensive enough to support rents on Canyon Road. And it is where works that "don't fit" in the smaller galleries that represent them are displayed.

Reason #3. Investment. A studio is where you can get in on the ground floor. Let's face it an artist currently getting $150 per square inch for a 30 x 40 inch painting is getting close to the ceiling in these tough economic times. If you are purchasing art for an investment you will have to wait a long, long time for a $20,000 painting to double in value. Meanwhile it is hanging over the couch reminding you of your error. And even the Canyon Road art can depreciate.

Reason #4:  Meeting the Artist. Being able to meet the creator of the art you buy is one of the reasons art fairs were so popular for so very long. It was a requirement that the artist be in the booth the entire fair. I find the paintings I sell are ones that have a story behind them (actually the vast majority of mine do) and it is telling the tale that customers drawn to a particular work get "hooked." And buying a piece of art from an artist in their studio becomes a whole other story to share with your guests.

Reason #5: Connection. How much easier it is to relate to a paint splattered painter looking for a paper towel than that snooty clerk at the gallery. How great to see other works in progress and know the process behind that fantastic sky in the painting you are taking home with you.

That is just five reasons. That the artist has more latitude to make a deal with you could be number 6 or just and addendum to number 1. The iced coffee and warm zucchini bread might be number 7. You only get treats an a gallery during opening events for which you have gotten an engraved invitation. The list could go on. Maybe in a later blog.

BTW I noticed that none of the galleries we visited on Canyon Road offered Giclee prints. I guess they cannot sell them for enough to pay the rent. And if they did they probably would be a great deal more expensive than the cost of the original from the artist at their studio.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Other Side of Tomorrow

The Other Side of Tomorrow

The Other Side

Poised on Today
Balanced precariously
In the moment
Trying to be here
And not beyond.

But always seeking
What awaits
Wanting to see beyond
To Tomorrow.

If I were to climb
The far ridge of tonight
Could I see
The other side of tomorrow
Beyond what I wish it to be?

And if I saw what awaited
Would I continue my journey
Or run back sobbing
To yesterday
Stand frozen in today?

If I could see
The other side of tomorrow
Would I want to travel on?
Beyond today
And Tomorrow.

J. Binford-Bell
Copyright July 2011

Note: The painting was inspired by a photograph taken in Lavender Canyon, Utah in May 2010. It was a wonderful day that heralded a change we could not see or, had we been warned, could have absorbed. The knowing of the future would have not changed much beyond our enjoyment of that day. And we enjoyed that day very much.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Creative Process - Tithing to the muse

As an accidental gardener I often wonder why it is that wildflowers you neglect, and weeds you try to destroy survive more than the flowers and plants you pay fortunes for and go to every effort to nurture. It is not the only paradox in the universe. It can be harder to start a fire than stem a random spark, or stop a malicious rumor with a single drop of the truth.

I made some decisions last weekend that opened up the whole realm of possible in my life - a life I had filled with too much busy work or intended flowers that must be weeded and nurtured. With the new openness I noticed the wild flowers and grasses growing just beyond my tended green space in my yard. And those that had thrived in that area I was watering during the drought. Those I had not had the time to mow down or weed out. Some of them are quite beautiful.

It took a week but the paintings are rehung and yesterday I actually sat down and finished one I had begun. One that did not fit my "style" but was an interesting experiment in techniques. It is hard to play with art when everyone figures they know what to expect from you, and it is difficult to waste time exploring techniques when a show looms to prepare for. Or to even play around with a second love like photography. I spoke with a student this week about tithing to the muse. It is so easy to fall into the raging waters of I must produce - this painting must be perfect - and get carried away with achieving perfection or rescuing a "mistake." We do learn from our mistakes if we will allow ourselves to make them. So we must tithe by playing with our talent - being open to the possibilities.

During the course of that lesson I worked on a few little examples on scraps of canvas. One of them begs me to explore further in that direction. And I look at the others and wonder if I could work them into a collage. I have not done a collage of scraps of this and that for decades. Too busy with my "real life." I have come to realize this week that I was too busy to notice what was real.

As for the weeds and wildflowers growing beyond the sprinkler's reach - they are pretty and survivors. I have come to appreciate their randomness.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mystic Passage

Mystic Passage/watercolor on canvas
Mystic Passage

I was so into the paint today that I was gone
Every fiber of my being
Layered one color upon another
On a surface outside myself

Sometimes it is just a painting I create
This craft I can do so mechanically
Today it was like giving birth
To a reality only I see
Given to you.

None of the words people speak or write
Seem to apply to what occurs
When I am unconscious of all
But the brush in my hand
The paint.

As if the paint pours from my soul
Down my veins to my fingertips
Appearing by magic
On once white canvas
A life.

Figures and shapes and visions emerge
Scenes I was not conscious I dreamt
I was so into the paint today
It was hard to pull out
Some of me
I left behind.

(c) J. Binford-Bell

Perfect Poet Award Cafe

Words fail me
When given an award
For words!

Mother warned me
I couldn't spell
Best not think of writing
Just paint.

J. Binford-Bell

I nominate Jeffery Lewis

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mag 73 - Let Me Out of Here

People of Chilmark by Benton
Let me out of here

She hated islands
Hated the sea
Would never have surrendered to sail
If he had not lured her there
With promises of romance.

She did not willingly
Let herself be hoisted to the dingy
She fought like a cat on the edge of the bath
Preferring to sink
With the ship.

As the waves swamped the life boat
She looked wishfully at her husband on the deck
Tried to transport herself to the tilting deck
Screaming let me out of here
She rode the wave overboard.

Stripping off her heavy garmets
She struck out toward the distant beach
The death boat and ship
Sinking behind her
Let me out of here she yelled.

The sea coughed her up
On the rocky Massachusetts shore
A widow and survivor
She clung to life
As all she had escaped vanished beneath the waves.

J. Binford-Bell
July 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of an Era

The Bell Tower
Today is set up for the last art fair I plan on doing with my paintings. From Monday forward my art will be on display in my studio and the galleries that represent me. And it will be joined by my photography. I think I am tired of being a split personality though that is pretty common for Gemini's. And fairs are expensive and tons of work for an ever diminishing return with the rise of fair fees and the decline of the economy. Somewhat sad as I have mastered booth display, set up and take down.

Rio Grande Holiday Market 2011
Once fairs were where you could go and buy original art from the artist themselves. Now it is more and more likely you will buy an ink jet print (giclee) some even printed on canvas and sold as not prints. And you might only get to meet the artist's booth assistant or relative as the artist is off at another fair. There are so many these days.

And the question that I found myself pondering more and more this last year was how much of my painting was just for "the booth." I think the Rio Grande fair last Thanksgiving was a prime example of how far I could take that. I did small churches on panels and cactus flowers on panels and even Christmas ornaments to fit small pocket books and Christmas lists when what I enjoy painting is more meaningful and diverse.

The Long Return
I have taken to calling it my dark work because it does not come under the category of  "Bright" preferred by one gallery I am in. But as one visitor to my booth at a recent fair pointed out it is not dark is spiritual energy.

The Other Side of Tomorrow

Spider Rock Triptych
I want to paint with a purpose beyond merely selling. I want to paint what it is that moves me and sell to those that are moved by what I paint. I have the studio. I am on Artistic Vistas and Treasures Trail and on Facebook with Binford-Bell Studio and with my sister with Binfords' Back Country Photography and that is where I want to base my marketing efforts. And paint what gives me joy.

Grand River Passage
Even if sometimes that is bright churches.

And with the studio you do get to meet the artist and buy real art. And this weekend I will be at the 30th Angel Fire Artsfest. If you are in the neighborhood come and see me and a select group of other artists displaying their wares in the spirit that began the whole art fair tradition. It never was about out doing Walmart you know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mag 72 - Quandary over Coffee

Wheat Field with Rising Sun by Van Gogh
Quandary Over Coffee

Standing on the sagging porch
Leaning dangerously against the aging support
Drinking in the morning quiet
The first cup of coffee.

The wheat just turning gold
Looks so full of promise
Days before harvest
Still so much that could go wrong.

Too much of the once needed rain
Hail knocking off the promising heads of grain
Wheat futures crashing
Or simply a broken columbine.

So much depends on the fields of wheat
The new porch for his wife
Mortgage payments for the bank
Seeds of winter wheat to plant.

So much labor has gone before
So much prayer and hope
For a bountiful harvest
And now all he can do is fret the whims of weather.

But today the sun is full
The sky empty of clouds
The forecast on the radio
Said the line of storms were going north.

The porch post creaks
Threatening to break at last
Straightening up he takes the last sip of coffee
And pours the dregs as offering on the Morning glories.

J. Binford-Bell
July 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Open to the possible

Slam the past shut
Lock the door to the road taken
Pause, back to the past
Take in the possible before you.

Why never burn bridges?
Close off the avenue to retreat
Leaving our options open
Keeps us guardians of the gate.

Flowers don't return to the bud
Birds rebuild their shells around them
Why remain open to defeat
Retreat down a path we loathed.

Why is it failure
To know the road taken
Is not our way
Look forward back firmly to the door.

Slam it shut
A chapter of our lives complete
Each door closed
Is a new path opened before us.
J. Binford-Bell 2011

Agonizing Reappraisal Week

Last week was the long awaited New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair; the best artists in New Mexico. I always feel very proud to be selected and then very out of it once I am there. It can be very cliquish. On Saturday with visitors to the fair slow most artists were roaming the aisles. One told me I should do jewelry; she really likes my jewelry. Two asked why I wasn't still doing masks; Rita, Katrina, Ike, etc. Another suggested my work was not sophisticated enough for that market.

This week I have not even unpacked my paintings. Artsfest begins the 8th and it will be my last arts fair with paintings. I will continue to paint but I am just so tired of fighting the Giclee market. The NMACF was suppose to seriously restrict them but I believe it is impossible. It is like the federal government trying to stop counterfeiting. BTW you can counterfeit paintings easier if you don't use metallics like I do. I don't like my work reduced to a flat ink jet print.

In my youth I hid behind a book or a camera when I was defeated or avoiding making a decision about something - or afraid of what the next person would say to me. So I stayed away from blogging and painting and just took pictures this week.

It was a great week for clouds and flowers and just being still and looking at the world around me.

Seeking inspiration and spiritual healing.

My muse seems to have flown away for the moment.