Sunday, June 24, 2012

In the Dark

Orsen Wells in Touch of Evil

In the Dark
evil lurks
hiding in the shadows
off an alley
or the bottom of the basement stairs.

are in grainy black and white
colored forever
by old movies
watched when I should be in bed.

Evil comes
forever unlit
with only the color
of blood red
dripping from an illuminated blade.

no bad can happen
if the lights were turned on
or stupid blonds
would kick of their high heels
and run for the light.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Puddle Wonderful

M. C. Esher Puddle

Puddle Wonderful

e.e. cummings wrote
A road less traveled by Peck
Splish Splash with Bobby
Mud and flood
here in the highlands.

Rubicon up
there is mud out there
time to hit the backroads
with my sister
and the fur kids.

One person's mud puddle
is another's play ground
and if there is mud
the forest is safe
from a chance wild fire.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2012

The forests of the mountain west are dry. The Whitewater Baldy, Little Bear and High Line Fire are eating up the forests. It is hard not to be envious of every puddle of water. Let it rain.

Check with Magpie Tales for some more serious takes on this prompt

The Creative Process - Birth of a Painting

Sky City Ladders by J. Binford-Bell

I travel with my camera looking for ideas for paintings. Or once, at least, that was the initial purpose for the Nikon.  And then the photos started being an end in themselves. But sometimes there is that good picture or a series of good pictures that isn't quite what you had in mind because of the wrong lens, the wrong light, the wrong angle . . . the gutters.

You get home from vacation and edit your photos and think, in a painting I can do away with those gutters. Time passes and I still haven't done that. Then in a Santa Fe office I saw a painting of Sky City and the ladders to the Kivas, and was remind of the painting I never did. I pulled up all the pictures I had taken that day on top of Acoma Mesa. It was more than just gutters that made them wrong.

First Sketch

On my work table was a sketch book where I had put in a drawing of the Ring of Fire eclipse with just a diagonal horizon below. I had been toying with what was going with that sun/moon combo -- a raven picking out a star from its edge? A canyon scape with river? Monument Valley? A mission church?

Or a Spirit Ladder! Or maybe a combination of several. The mesa with the pueblo being my canyon scape. And sneak in the towers of the Acoma Mission for my hint at the monuments of the Canyonlands.

Central Detail

Thank heaven for erasers. And after I do my basic sketch on drawing paper I convert to sketch to tracing paper because I can make some major changes by moving that over the sketch and transferring elements to different places or adjust perspective. Tracing paper also erases easier. Elements of the ladder and the building and ground upon which it rests were altered numerous times to give them stability and perspective.

At about this time I knew the ladder was going to be the central element and would be outsized as it reached for the eclipse above the pueblo. It represented the native spiritual beliefs. In the background are the towers of the mission representing the religion thrust upon the people.

Getting there

Now to place that detail into the whole. And put the pueblo on top of a mesa. I sketched in the sides of the butte and scribbled in a far horizon of the valley the sky city. Foreground was not quite right not that I could not create the drop with paint.

Possible foreground?

I like the idea but not quite the right size just yet and there needs to be more indication they are moving up a steep trail to the top. However too much foreground detail will take away from the focus of the painting.

Foreground details
I am liking the details of the mesa better and the size and placement of the figures but these scribbled in persons seem too much like sheep herders that I have used in my canyon paintings.

Sculpture at the Sky City Visitor's center

I think they will be carrying pots on their heads. And I like the head scarf as opposed to the shawls. I have transferred the sketch to the canvas but it is still not too late to do these little alterations to my women on the path. This is one of the paintings I will chronicle in photos for a blog or two. Hopefully the painting will be as rewarding as the sketching.

These days it is so easy to skip drawing. There are scanners and enlargers. You can take your photos and with a photo editing program reduce them to just lines to trace and transfer without the gutter. Or you can have it printed on canvas for you and then paint over the top. Creating a whole new scene requires a more creative process.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Still Life, 1670, detail by Jean Fran├žois de Le Motte


Not here.
Oh, why did I keep that?

Not there.
Upstairs or down?

Last seen
Coming in
Through the back door or front?
Going out.

Last Place?
No earlier
Made sense at the time.

A detail
In one of the great places to remember
Where it would be.

J. Binford-Bell
June 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

If Georgia Can Horde Paintings

Landscape by Georgia O'Keeffe

I read recently that Georgia O'Keeffe, who painted until she was 90, died with over a thousand recorded works in her possession. That is Unsold paintings that her agent and friends knew about. It is thought that she had a secret cache of more that nobody knew about or that she gave away as gifts without putting them on the official record. She didn't have an open studio and was a very private person.

I thought about O'Keeffe's inventory of paintings as I was rearranging my studio. There is, after all, just so much wall space available there. And some work I admit goes on the walls of my private residence. And some goes in boxes upstairs. I am not at the point that everything I paint sells. But I was of the opinion that would have been true of New Mexico's most renowned artist. It is both comforting and disturbing that it isn't so.

Past Reflections by J. Binford-Bell

A certain percentage of my work I am more than happy to hang on to like Past Reflections above. I can remember the Lake Powell boat trip with my sister that inspired this particular work. It hangs by my computer.

Mystic Passage by J. Binford-Bell

Mystic Passage I didn't even try to sell. I kept it around in my studio as inspiration. Then I loaned it out to the Chamber of Commerce and then the Village of Angel Fire. Now it is back in my studio. All artists must have their favorites. I have to wonder how many of the thousand paintings Georgia O'Keeffe officially had she really did not want to sell.

And did she ever question where she was going to put a painting she was working on. I must admit I sometimes look at my walls and the boxes upstairs and wonder why it is I want to paint another painting. But painters paint. That is what we do. Certainly Van Gogh never thought about whether his paintings matched anyone's couch.

And Georgia O'Keeffe seemed driven to record New Mexico and especially the area around Ghost Ranch. I love my canyons. And I want to capture that feeling I get when I walk them. And those that sell right off are not necessarily the ones I think which do that best.

As I write this I wonder if Georgia loved her flowers best. Or did she paint those because they sold. Of the one thousand left when she died were they mostly canyon walls or flowers? I, as I have stated in a previous blog, love her landscapes best. If I had been her I would have horded them.